P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SAD, BJP leaders meet Governor
Seek Amarinder govt’s dismissal 
Tribune News

Chandigarh, September 23
The SAD-BJP combine today sought the dismissal of the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Led by the party President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD MLAs and MPs along with their counterparts from the BJP submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), urging him to use his constitutional and moral authority to get a criminal case registered against Capt Amarinder Singh under the Prevention of Corruption Act for his alleged involvement in the Rs 2,100 crore Ludhiana City Centre scam and also to dismiss his government.

The SAD and BJP leaders, who submitted a detailed account of the scandal to the Governor with copies of the letters written by various officers raising objections regarding making changes in the terms and conditions of the City Centre project to allegedly favour the builder, sought a CBI probe into the scam, focussing on the roles of the Chief Minister, the Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, and the Chairman of the now dissolved Ludhiana Improvement Trust in the scam.

Delegation members said the Chief Minister had betrayed the trust reposed in him as custodian of the people's interests. " As head of the executive, Capt Amarinder Singh was given the duty to protect the interests of the state. Instead, he has used his power and influence to perpetrate one of the biggest scandals in the history of the country", the Akali and BJP leaders alleged.

Linking Capt Amarinder Singh's trips to Dubai to alleged money-laundering, the SAD-BJP delegation said this aspect also required to be looked into.

"The Governor assured the delegation that he would do everything possible to ensure justice in the matter", said the SAD in a statement.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Manpreet Badal, Mr Tikshan Sood, Mrs Paramjit Kaur Gulshan and Bibi Jagir Kaur were among the members of the delegation.

Raising another issue, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal asked the Governor to intervene to ensure a judicial probe into the incident of molestation and repression by Punjab Police personnel against girl students and doctors at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, on Thursday. 


Badal to meet EC for fair poll
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
The SAD has decided to meet the Election Commission for urging him to make arrangements in Punjab for ensuring free and fair Assembly elections.

Expressing concern over incidents of police force against agitators, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal said the ruling Congress had allowed a section of police officials to resort to violence for ensuring the victory of the Congress candidates by terrorising the electorate. He said the party’s secretary general had been deputed to fix an appointment with the Chief Election Commissioner in this connection.

SAD bans dancers at poll rallies

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, today banned dancers at party rallies. He, however, said Dhadhi Jathas and those who sang religious and patriotic songs would be invited to Akali conferences. Mr Badal took this decision after he came to know that at some Akali conferences dancers were allowed to perform. 

Mr Badal, who was here to attend a function organised by a community, told mediapersons that the Chief Minister had allowed the men police personnel to hit the dignity and respect of “daughters of Punjab”, who were beaten up and “molested” in his (Capt Amarinder Singh’s) presence at Ludhiana a few days ago.

While seeking a judicial probe into the incident, Mr Badal said the Punjab Government should punish erring police officials. When the Akalis came to power, they would take such police officials to task as per the law of land.

Alleging that Capt Amarinder Singh had been trying to hush up the City Centre scam by handing over the inquiry to the Vigilance Bureau, the SAD president said a delegation of the party would meet the President and the Prime Minister of India at the earliest for seeking a CBI probe into the scam.

Not only this, the Akalis, when voted to power, would set aside all acquisitions of pieces of land belonging to farmers and others, which were done without consent of their owners.

Mr Badal, when asked that wife and mother of gangster Prabjinder Singh Dimpy, who was murdered in Chandigarh a few months ago, had levelled allegations against Mr Sukhbir Badal, said he and any member of his family was ready to face any inquiry in that connection. 


Centre to Punjab: move SC on delisting land
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The Government of India has put a damper on the Punjab Government’s move to get over 65,000 hectares in state out of purview of the various central and state Forest Acts.

In a communication from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests received by the state government on September 20, the state has been directed to seek relief in the matter from the Supreme Court adding that it (the Union Ministry) is not authorised to consider the said land for delisting from the Acts.

Other than the fact that this is a major setback for the Punjab Government with many of its ambitious plans of development of these areas now rendered futile, the step has also come as a shock since the Ministry has done a virtual turnaround on the issue.

On August 10, the Ministry had approved the delisting of these areas from these Acts but had added riders to this decision asking the state government to ensure that no commercial activity takes place in the de-listed land and that the land is kept “only for bona fide use for agriculture and for sustaining the livelihood of the people.”

And now the communication from the Ministry states: “The approval for delisting of land was given based on the honourable Supreme Court order dated September 9, 2005, which, inter alia, stated that the lands to be considered for delisting would be such lands which are under bona fide agricultural use. The relief sought by the state government with regard to the delisting of PLPA lands other than those under agricultural use does not fall within the purview of the Central Government in view of the Supreme Court order dated 9.9.2005. The state government may, therefore, seek relief from the honourable Supreme Court.”

Large portions of more than 470 villages in Punjab are “locked” under the provisions of the Preservation of Forest Act, 1900 which, following a High Court decision, also attract the provisions of the Indian Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Punjab had early this year sought approval from the Centre to exclude over 65,670 hectares of cultivable and inhabited land falling in the districts of SAS Nagar (then in Ropar), Ropar, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur from the operation of these Acts on the grounds that these had been listed under the PLPA “by mistake”.

Once conditional approval from the Ministry was received, the Punjab Government again wrote to the Centre to consider the case of Nada and Karoran villages falling in Mohali separately from the earlier request pertaining to the entire state since this particular area had to be brought under a Notified Area Committee (NAC).

Accepting the request, the Central Government approved the delisting of 265.59 hectares in Nada village and 442.11 hectares in Karoran village from these Acts but repeated the conditions. Stuck with “conditional” approval and under immense pressure from the local politicians who have a major vote bank in the area, the Punjab Government again wrote to the Ministry on August 17, to do away with the conditions in the “public interest”.

However, the latest communication from the Ministry sounds the death knell of any immediate possibility of the formation of the NAC. Desperate efforts were on by Congress leaders of the area to push through the move. Even the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh has sent a communication to Mr A. Raja, Union Minister for Environment and Forests wherein he has explained that “there has over a period of time emerged a township with 100 per cent urban character in the land of Nada, Karoran and Kansal,” requesting that these should be freed from the forest Acts. 


Dowry victim ends life
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 23
A married woman allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in Daon Majra village, near here, yesterday. Three persons were arrested by the police which said it was a dowry case.

Harbans Singh, a resident of Sahora village, had lodged a complaint alleging that Amanpreet Kaur was killed by her in-laws, who had been demanding dowry but their demands could not be met.

A case under Section 304 B of the IPC has been registered against the husband, Jaspal Singh, Jasvir Singh and Nacchatar Kaur in this regard.

Amanpreet Kaur belonged to a 1984 riot-hit family. A part of the riot relief that she got from the government she deposited as savings in the name of two small children of her husband from a previous marriage to her sister. Although most of the remaining amount was taken away by her in-laws, she was allegedly being harassed to hand over whatever money remained with her.

The elder sister of Amanpreet Kaur had been earlier been married to Jaspal Singh and they had two children. Amanpreet’s sister had allegedly died under mysterious circumstances after taking a poisonous substance. As the children were small, relatives persuaded Amanpreet Kaur to get married to Jaspal Singh.


Hail-hit farmers block traffic
Tribune Reporters

Abohar, September 23
Thousands of farmers, led by Mr Gurmail Singh, district secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), blocked vehicular traffic outside Alamgarh village on the National Highway-15 to express resentment over the “apathy” of the authorities towards the farming community ruined by a hailstorm.

They criticised Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, MLA from Balluana, and raised slogans against him.

Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary (Irrigation), and the Subdivisional Magistrate, Mr Jaskiran Singh, tried to pacify the agitating mob, stating that the Deputy Commissioner had ordered a special girdawari by the revenue staff to assess the loss.

Buses plying on the Abohar-Sriganganagar route were diverted to link roads as farmers parked tractor-trailers to block the highway.

Mr Gurmail Singh said the Congress-led Punjab Government had been making false promises. The Chief Minister had declared that all cooperative loans would be waived, but no resolution was moved in the recently concluded session of the Vidhan Sabha.

Hundreds of farmers in more than 25 villages were ruined as a hailstorm lashed the region yesterday noon, but till today no officer had bothered to visit any village.

Mr Bhatti, who represents the Balluana Assembly segment, had not even expressed lip-sympathy with the affected families. Such a state of affairs could no longer be tolerated, BKU activists said.

They lamented that revenue officials yesterday switched off their phones to evade complaints by elected representatives of the farming community.

Residents of Dharampura village and Kandhwala Amarkot also joined the protesters. Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, a former BJP MLA, while addressing the rally, expressed sympathy with the farmers.

Crops flattened

Fazilka: Hailstorm played havoc in several villages of Fazilka subdivision on Friday evening. According to Varun Roojam, SDM, Fazilka, standing cotton and paddy crops in about 20 villages have been damaged.

An on-the-spot survey by the SDM found that the worst-hit villages were Noor Samand, Ghurka, Dhani Gudranwali, Ladhuka Mandi, Ladhuka, Fatehgarh Tarobri, Lakha Asli, Lakha Karaharian, Kirianwali, Hamid Saidoke, Jamalke, Chack Khiva, Behak Khas, Hauz Gandhar, Barekan, Pattrewala, Bakainwala and Roop Nagar.

Cotton crop in about 5,000 acres has been flattened.

Mr Hans Raj Josan, Minister of State for Forest and Irrigation, visited some villages of Fazilka subdivision which fall in the Jalalabad Assembly segment, which he represents, and met farmers. He listened to their problems.


Punjab cuts a sorry figure in sex ratio, says expert
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
Dr S.G. Kabra from the Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur, today pointed out that the Fatehgarh Sahib district in particular and Punjab in general had the lowest sex ratio.

He said this while addressing a seminar on ‘Environmental pollution’ organised by the Journalism and Mass Communication Department of the Mata Gujri College here.

He made it clear that female foeticide was the predominant cause for the low sex ratio.

He said the sex ratio had always been low due to deteriorating semen and folic acid quality, antagonists in the environment and female hormone disruption due to pesticides.

He stressed that emphasis should be shifted from female foeticide to environmental causes.

Talking about the increase in incidence of cancer, Dr Kabra presented population-based registry reports for a few districts — Muktsar, Bathinda, Mansa, Patiala and Ropar.

He said the incidence of particular types of cancer like those of liver, food pipe, gall bladder, urinary bladder and blood, was high.

He said breast cancer was the most common among women in these districts, with one out of three cancer patients having it.

He said the incidence of cancer among women was one-and-a-half times more than in men.

Mr Umendra Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission, said Punjab had 1.5 per cent of the geographical area of the country and 4 per cent of the cropped area, but consumed 18 per cent of pesticides used in the country and 10 per cent of chemicals and fertilisers.


Beating up of IRS officer: DSP still not booked
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
The Additional Commissioner (Income Tax), Mr Ravi Sarangal, has decided to meet the DGP to lodge his complaint tomorrow even as no FIR has been registered against the erring DSP (Detective), Mr Ravinder Pal, who had thrashed the IRS officer (Mr Sarangal) in full public view on September 20 here.

Meanwhile, the mystery shrouding the vehicle being driven by the DSP was solved when its actual owner , Mr Joginder Singh, came forward to clarify that it did not bear a “fake number” as alleged by the IRS officer.

Earlier, Mr Sarangal had alleged that the DSP was driving a car with a “fake number” that collided with his vehicle.

The DSP, while talking to The Tribune, however, alleged that the IRS officer threatened him of dire consequences when their vehicles collided accidentally.

He said he himself underwent medical examination to establish his innocence that he was not under the influence of liquor as alleged by the IRS officer.

He alleged that Mr Sarangal also dropped the name of his elder brother, who is a senior IPS officer in Bihar.

The DSP claimed that he had got bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court and later from Supreme Court, considering that there were many gaps in the allegations of “custodial death” in 1992 at Chheharta in Amritsar.

He claimed that the FIR against him was cancelled at the DGP-level. He said there was no other case against him.

The DSP said he had faced terrorist attacks during his tenure as an SHO in Amritsar during the peak of militancy. He said his father, Mr S.P. Sharma, the then Additional SHO, Patti, was killed in a terrorist attack in 1983.

He said he took part in various encounters with terrorists who were carrying heavy reward on their heads and “served the nation” in a big way.

Mr Sarangal, however, said if the DSP was not booked, he would move the court to get justice. There was also a move to approach the Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, the IRS officer has sent his complaint to the SSP, Mr S.S. Srivastva, who has been deputed as Investigation Officer in the case by the Inspector-General of Police (Border), Mr Mohammad Mustaffa, through a registered post.


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