P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM dares Badal to debate on City Centre
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, September 18
With an eye on the ensuing Assembly elections in the state, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today challenged Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Parkash Singh Badal to hold an open discussion on the issue of development in the Vidhan Sabha session to be held from tomorrow.

The Chief Minister made this statement here today at a political rally after paying obeisance at Gurdwara Angeetha Sahib on the occasion of 'Gurgadi Diwas' of Guru Angad Dev at Khadoor Sahib.

Lashing out at Mr Badal and his party men for deliberately creating unruly scenes in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Friday to evade the discussion on development, Capt Amarinder Singh said he was adamant on presenting the factual position before the people of Punjab through the debate on development.

He said that the entire proceedings of the discussion in the state Assembly would be telecast live by the electronic media to enable the people to judge for themselves as to who were the real well wishers of the state.

The Chief Minister said Mr Badal was creating unwarranted furore over the City Centre issue at Ludhiana by blowing it out of proportion and levelling frivolous charges that Rs 2100 crore had been misappropriated in the alleged scam whereas the total cost of the project was Rs 152 crore. He asked Mr Badal to refrain to making false statements at least on the floor of the House for its sanctity. He, however, said the real face of Mr Badal had been unmasked and innocent people of Punjab no longer believed in his self-centered politics.

Capt Amarinder Singh also ridiculed Mr Badal for taking a donation of Rs 8 lakh from the Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) for his party. He said this action of Mr Badal was unpardonable as by doing so he had hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs. "It does not behove of Pakash Singh Badal as president of SAD to accept this donation from ITC - a tobacco giant thereby throwing the Sikh Maryada to the winds", asserted Capt Amarinder Singh.

Showing deep concern over the depletion of the water table, the Chief Minister said river water had gone down from 17.1 MAF in 1970 as per the study conducted by the BBMB to 14.3 MAF last year thereby further aggravating the situation. He said it was time to switch over to the new cropping pattern instead of wheat-paddy rotation to save water.

He said the state government had tied up with the world-renowned juice company Tropicana that would procure the entire supply malta juice at the two units being set up in Ferozepore and Hoshiarpur districts. Capt Amarinder Singh said 15 per cent of the cultivable land was being brought under citrus (malta) fruit cultivation.

The Chief Minister announced that the polluted water behind 'Boali Sahib' at Goindwal Sahib would be cleaned to maintain its religious sanctity. He said he would immediately send a team of officers of the Water Supply and Sewerage Department to undertake the noble venture at the earliest.

Lashing out at Mr Badal, Capt Amarinder Singh said commemoration of religious functions related to various anniversaries was not the sole prerogative of the SGPC and SAD. It is equally relevant and rather obligatory on our part to celebrate these historic occasions with religious fervour and devotion. He said the government had erected the 40- feet high 'khanda' at Muktsar on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of 40 Muktas in the home district of Mr Badal. 


Oppn to stage dharna outside House today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had run away from holding debate on development issues in the Punjab Assembly.

A spokesman for the SAD said it was evident from the way the ruling party got suspended the SAD and the BJP MLAs from the House on September 15. “The Chief Minister was scared of holding a debate on the development issues and because of that reason he got the Opposition suspended by using his party’s majority in the House”, the SAD spokesman said.

He said neither Akali and BJP MLAs staged any walkout from the House nor they boycotted its proceedings. “On what grounds the Treasury Benches got them suspended it was difficult to understand?” said the spokesman.

“The ruling party had nothing to say on development because it did nothing in the past four and half years and it opted out for an easy route of getting rid of the Opposition”, said the spokesman. “All suspended Akali and BJP MLAs will stage a dharna in front of the Punjab Assembly. They will put forth their view point on development issues outside the House”, he added. “We have come to know that policemen have been deployed in big numbers on the Assembly premises. However, they cannot stop Akali and BJP MLAs from entering into the Vidhan Sabha complex. They can only stop these MLAs from entering the House”, he added.

Counting failures of the Congress government, the spokesman said first time in the history of the state the agriculture production had declined. No new project in the industrial sector had been set up in the state. The Congress government did its best to get the Bathinda oil refinery project stalled.

Not a single unit of power had been added to the state’s power generation in the past four and half years. There were no new jobs for the unemployed youth, who were beaten up mercilessly by the police at the behest of the government during their protests. 


It’s advantage govt as Oppn stays away from House
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The controversial report of the Lokpal indicting four Punjab ministers of the Beant Singh government (between 1992 and 1995) following complaints from the public, is slated for discussion in the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow. And the discussion will take place in the absence of the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), whose all MLAs stand suspended from the House session.

Political observers opine the Congress stands to gain politically from the suspension of the SAD and the BJP MLAs. The Akalis will not be able to take part in the discussion on at least two important issues, including the report of the Lokpal.

The report of the Lokpal has indicted Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo ( now President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee), Mr Lal Singh, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma and Mr L.S. Randhawa. All four were ministers in the Beant Singh government. The issue is likely to be settled once and for all after the report is discussed in the Vidhan Sabha.

Naturally, the Congress MLAs are not going to oppose it. Technically, reports of the Lokpal are to be discussed in the Assembly for further action, if any.

Also, the much-publicised debate on development in Punjab will be a one-sided affair and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, may end up addressing just the Treasury Benches. The Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Leader of the Opposition, also stands suspended from the House session.

The Lokpal, Justice H.S. Rai, had indicted the Congress ministers, however, the then Governor, Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber, had rejected the report saying that “it was against natural justice”.

Justice Rai was appointed by Mr Badal during his tenure as Chief Minister. Later, the Governor sent his report to the Punjab Assembly. It remained in the Assembly during the Badal regime for five years. Mr Dullo and others challenged the appointment of Justice Rai. The court upheld their plea and declared the appointment as “null and void”.

Separately, the Akalis had submitted a privilege motion against Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, for allegedly tampering with the records of the Vidhan Sabha. The Speaker rejected the motion.

However, the Akalis could have raised the matter at any point of time in the House. With Chaudhary Jagjit Singh already facing flak over the Ludhiana city centre scam, presence of the Opposition in the House session could have embarrassed the government. 


Leaders trade charges at ‘Gurgaddi Divas’
Varinder Walia and Gurbaxpuri
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, September 18
Religious festivities took a back seat on 'Gurgaddi Divas' of the second Sikh master Guru Angad Dev and the occasion was utilised by conducting virtual election rallies by the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), SAD (A) and CPI here today.

While Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, dared Mr Badal to participate in a debate on development in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha tomorrow, the latter announced to hold Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting at Chandigarh tomorrow to chalk out further course of action, particularly after unearthing of City Centre scam .

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (Amritsar), held both the Congress and SAD (Badal) responsible for the present state of affairs in the state alleging that Mr Badal had taken control of all Sikh institutions, including the SGPC and Akal Takht, and had been using it for vested political interests.

He said the party would file a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard adding that Capt Amarinder Singh government had indulged in the City Centre scam and large-scale embezzlement. Mr Mann sought CBI inquiry into the City Centre scam.

Addressing SAD conference, Mr Badal announced to stage protest dharna by MPs/ MLAs of his party tomorrow. He claimed that the SAD/BJP combine would win the forthcoming Assembly elections slated for the next year with thumping majority.

He said signals for such victory were evident from the frequent telephone calls being made to him by top bureaucrats . He said the bureaucracy had now mended itself and started adopting cautious approach while dealing with SAD workers in the state. The money taken to Dubai by the Chief Minister would be brought back after coming to power. Mr Badal touched upon almost all segments of the society, including Dalits, and promised them all they expected from the state government.

Calling upon the Punjabis to give him a chance to form the government, Mr Badal said that he would give nightmarish experience to Capt Amarinder Singh and his coterie within one month of the formation of the government .

The SAD supremo, however, took a note of the simmering infighting in the party cadre of Majha region. He said the entire Akali leadership should assemble under the 'one flag', by sinking their differences.

Mr Badal said if voted to power, his government would give liberal jobs to all the deserving youths who had failed to get the same due to different priorities of the state government .

The CPI State Secretary, Mr Jagroop Singh, while addressing separate conference, took a serious note of the City Centre scam. He said it was unfortunate that the Congress government had indulged in embezzlement. The CPI leaders dubbed the Congress government as 'anti-people' and 'anti-working class'.


PM to share concern with Chief Ministers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will share his concerns on important issues such as power, shortage of food grain, rising prices, growing unemployment, poor infrastructure in rural areas in states and falling standard of education with the Chief Ministers of 11 states here on September 28.

Sources said the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers had been invited by the PHD Chambers of Commerce to discuss important issues. The Prime Minister will arrive at Ludhiana on September 27 and next day he will in the city beautiful to speak to Chief Ministers. The sources said the Chief Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal had been invited by the chamber.

On September 27, the Prime Minister would be making the use of remote control quite frequently. He would be launching rail service on the Chandigarh-Morinda track by operating the railway signal through a remote control device from Guru Nanak Stadium, Ludhiana. The Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, would flag off the train.

And through remote control, the Prime Minister would unveil the foundation stone of Ludhiana-Delhi- Kolkata railway corridor at the stadium. On that day, he is also scheduled to visit a farm at Laddowal village.

He would lay the foundation stone for the Knowledge City, comprising four national-level institutes, at Mohali.

The Punjab Government is expecting the announcement of package on Himachal pattern for border districts from the Prime Minister. Whether, he will announce the package during his September visit, it is not certain yet. " The Prime Minister is to arrive at the Amritsar border belt in October and it is expected he will announce the package during that visit", said the sources.

As Punjab is facing a big problem in promoting industry with manufacturing base, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been pressing the Union Government to announce some sort of package to give boost to the industry in the state. 


NRI society to honour Darshan Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The NRI Welfare Society of India will honour Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, a former Mayor of London Borough of Hounslow, with the “Hind Rattan Award” on the eve of the Republic Day function at the 26th International Congress of the NRIs in 2007.

Mr Grewal confirmed this while talking to mediapersons at a press conference here today. While commenting on the drug menace, Mr Grewal said, “The easy availability of drugs in Punjab is the biggest concern that faces society here. The drugs are available even in schools”, he said.

“Corruption in the system is another grave problem. I have discovered that even for small things, one is expected to pay the bribe. This is one of the biggest reasons why no big investment has come from NRIs despite repeated government assurances. The NRIs don’t trust the system here”, he said

On infrastructure in rural areas, he said, “The biggest drawback in the system here is lack of facilities in the rural sector. The children there do not avail the latest facilities, particularly in the sports.”

Born in Dhanaula village in Sangrur district, Mr Grewal graduated from Mahindra College, Patiala. He served in the Delhi Police as a Sub-Inspector. Mr Grewal immigrated to the UK in 1988.

He has been a cabinet member of the London Borough of Hounslow on several occasions and was a Mayor in 2005. He was also a party whip of the Labour party. He is on the governing body of the CMC, Ludhiana.


Conmen dupe companies of Rs 5.20 crore
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 18
The Gurdaspur police has managed to bust a gang of crooks that duped various companies of the region by issuing bogus cheques to the tune of Rs 5.20 crore.

The SSP, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, while talking to The Tribune, said investigations were on following a complaint by the Chief Manager of the Gurdaspur-based Bank of India branch. The manager in his complaint alleged that he had received bogus cheques to the tune of Rs 1.90 crore for clearance from various companies. However, on inquiry it was found that the cheques were issued against bogus accounts.

On inquiry, the police found that the cheque book from which the bogus cheques were issued was in the name of Mr Sushil Kumar, care of Central Jail, Gurdaspur. It was also found that the cheques were issued to various companies by Jagan Nath, a resident of Shimla Puri locality of Ludhiana and Jagtar Singh, a resident of Samrai village.

Both Jagan Nath, a resident of Ludhiana, and Sushil Kumar, a resident of Gurdaspur, were arrested by a team led by SHO City Sulakhan Singh.

During interrogation, the accused admitted that Jagan Nath was the kingpin of the gang. He originally belonged to Sirsa district of Haryana.

Jagan Nath first started duping pesticide making units in Bathinda district. He got registered fake cooperative societies. The orders were placed to pesticide making units in the name of cooperative societies and payments were made in the form of bogus cheques.

The companies generally without verifying the authenticity of the cheques used to supply him pesticides that he used to swindle. In case where the companies did not send material without receiving the payments he used to take commission in advance for facilitating their supplies to cooperative societies.

The other members of the gang, Sushil Kumar and Jagtar Singh, joined in 2005.

The gang duped Shanti Agro company of Saharanpur in 1986 by issuing a bogus cheque of Rs 4 lakh, Ajay Chemicals and Fertilizers company by issuing a cheque of Rs 4.5 lakh, a Srinagar-based company of Rs 32 lakh, Kisan Agro Chemical of Ganganagar of Rs 8 lakh, Phir Savera Agro company of Rajpura of Rs 2.50 lakh, a Ludhiana-based computer company of Rs 24 lakh, Gate Agro Chemical Meerut of Rs 4.50 lakh, Navyug Industries Delhi of Rs 3.50 lakh, Shiva Pipes, Jaipur, of Rs 50,000 and a Chandigarh-based American company of Rs 50 lakh.

A case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.


Miscreants throw acid on family watching TV
Surinder Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 18
In a shocking incident last night at a posh locality Cheema colony in Bassi Pathana town of this district, unidentified assailants threw acid on a family, while they were watching television in the lobby of their house.

Four members of the family, including three children and a lady, were seriously injured and rushed to Bawa Nursing Home, where the condition of one of them was said to be serious.

The family of Harish Gupta and of his brother Satish were watching television at night when unidentified men sprinkled acid on them through the lattice door. They started shrieking in severe pain and hearing their cries, male members in the house came out to chase the miscreants. But as they had cleverly thrown acid on the floor of the house, the chasers slipped as they approached the gate of the house and their clothes got burnt. In the meantime, the assailants escaped.

The injured are Isha (12), Ishan (10), Karan (3) and wife of Harish Gupta Mrs Seema (35).

The police has registered the case under Sections 307 and 34 of the IPC.

Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, SP(D), said the police was investigating the matter. Once the family recovered from the shock, the police would be able to get information if they had an enmity with anyone.

Meanwhile, Harish Gupta told The Tribune that the family had no enmity with anyone and could not tell the provocation of such an assault.


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