P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Bid to usurp land worth Rs 100 cr
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
A year after the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation razed some illegal structures coming up on Public Works Department land in Bhaura village, some persons are allegedly trying to raise another structure in a bid to usurp this piece of 8 acres of land worth Rs 100 crore.

Originally belonging to the Public Works Department (PWD), the land has attracted sharks who are allegedly trying to grab every inch in connivance with some officials of the Revenue Department as the land was been mutated in the name of a tenant in violation of the rules.

The villagers of Bhaura have sent SOS calls to the Deputy Commissioner as well as Municipal Commissioner to come to their rescue and save the land. They are fighting a case in a local court also. They are demanding that a fresh demarcation of the land so that true situation can be gauged.

Till a year ago, as many as 7 kanals of land, worth Rs 10 crore in this village was a pond. Some private persons filled in the earth and raised the plinth level of the pond. The foundation of some structure was also laid. Following complaints by villagers, the MC demolished the structure.

The villagers of Bhaura alleged that an influential person of the village was selling the land at the rate of Rs 20,000 to Rs 27,000 per square yard. They further alleged that the connivance of the officials of Revenue Department could not be ruled out. Vindicating their stand, they said the land belonged to the PWD as per the revenue records earlier and a former Sarpanch of the village was a tenant. When and how the land was mutated in his name in violation of the rules was an indicator that some officials were involved in the scam.

They claimed that the pond existed at the spot till a year ago. They said their claims could be corroborated by testing the sample of soil taken from the second layer of earth which would prove that there was a pond.

‘‘A team can visit any time and get the soil samples tested from Punjab Agricultural University,’’ said Mr Gurmej Singh and Mr Darshan Singh, both villagers who have been moving from pillar to post for the last one year to get the scam unearthed.

Producing a copy of the jamabandi of 1963-64, in which the khasra number 27 was shown to be ‘Abaadi deh’ of Bhaura village, the villagers said that not only 7 kanals of land but the entire 8 acres worth Rs 100 crore were being usurped slowly and gradually.

The villagers also urged upon the authorities to look into the market near the GT Road claiming that the shops were also constructed on the PWD land. ‘‘If the government constitutes a commission to look into the Rs 100 crore scam, many skeletons will come out of the closet, ’’ claimed the villagers.

They also demanded that a public park should be constructed at the place of the pond so that the children and elderly persons of the village can play or spend their time in it.

Besides, they said, that the names of the officials of revenue records, who connived with the alleged grabbers should be made public and action should be taken against them. 


Seat-sharing poses problems for SAD-BJP
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Ten-year-old alliance partners, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who pose the only challenge to the ruling Congress in Punjab, are close to having a seat-sharing formula for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. But the ride for the combine, which had produced good electoral results in the past, is not proving to be smooth this time.

A few coordination meetings between groups led by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Arun Jaitley of the SAD and the BJP, respectively, have not led to a decision on the number of seats. So much so that a recent meeting held at Mr Dhindsa’s Chandigarh residence led to the hardening of postures. Sources said a final decision would be taken after a meeting between Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the BJP chief, Mr Rajnath Singh. An alliance is inevitable, admit leaders of both parties.

Insiders in both parties admit in private that seat-sharing is creating problems. A consensus has not been reached as both are talking about the “winning ability” of a party on a seat before a decision is taken.

BJP leaders say the party will not accept less than 23 seats, which is the number it contested in the last Assembly elections in 2002. The Akalis have so far offered nearly 15 seats and may increase the number of 18-20 to show some flexibility. The BJP debunks the theory that its winning only three seats in the 2002 elections has forced the SAD to offer fewer seats this time. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, all three BJP candidates, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Mr Vinod Khanna and Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu won from Hoshiarpur, Gursdaspur and Amritsar, respectively.

The top brass of the BJP in Punjab says: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it”. The Akalis, on the other hand, are also thinking of fielding Hindu candidates in the urban areas - the traditional stronghold of the BJP. Their argument is that Hindus in Punjab have no psychological problems in voting for an Akali candidate. 


Interviews for vets’ appointment from Sept 27
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
The Punjab Government has finally announced the interview dates for the recruitment of veterinary doctors in the state. The interviews would be conducted at Chandigarh from September 27 onwards and call letters are being sent to applicants.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president, Parkash Singh Badal today visited agitating unemployed veterinary doctors on the campus of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. Mr Badal visited doctors in the morning and assured them support of his party.

Condemning the police action against them on September 21, Mr Badal said, guilty should be punished. He regretted Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh had given a clean chit to cops.

Yesterday, Mr Sukhbir Badal also visited striking veterinary doctors and sympathised with them.

Official sources disclosed here today dates for interview of the veterinary doctors had been finalised after a meeting in Chandigarh. Earlier interview dates were postponed.

Striking veterinary doctors said, they were yet to learn about interview dates as none of them had received call letter so far. They hoped this time the government would not postpone interviews.


INTUC conference flays Punjab Govt
Dullo admits to ‘mistakes’
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
After Left affiliated trade unions, it was the turn of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), affiliated to the Congress, to bash the Congress government in the state for its “anti labour” policies. The occasion was the state level conference which was attended among others by national president, Dr G Sanjeeva Reddy and state president, Dr Subash Sharma.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Public Health Minister, Harnam Dass Johar, Parliamentary Secretary Surinder Dawer and ex Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Milkiat Singh Birmi were also present at the stage when INTUC leaders vented ire against the Congress government in the state. Apparently uncomfortable, Mr Birmi left the function midway.

INTUC president Dr Reddy regretted workers were brutalised by the police under the Congress rule and factories were closed down just to teach workers a lesson.

Speakers like, SK Tiwari alleged some Congress leaders were behaving like the stooges of the big industrialists and stood by the workers when they faced problems.

The economic resolution passed by the INTUC today was highly critical of the Congress government in the state. It said, “it is unfortunate that the Congress government in the state did not recognise INTUC as its aside friend”. The resolution added the state branch and its unions were pushed while rival trade unions were given preference. The resolution said, while the INTUC was ready and willing to play its role for the Congress but it was finding it difficult to face the masses.

However, the resolution was all praise for PCC president, Dullo saying, “we feel satisfied that present PCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo, who is close to the rank and file of INTUC”. It thanked “some ministers” for having appreciated the role of INTUC.

The ‘economic resolution’ supported economic policies of the AICC “adopted under the dynamic and farsighted leadership of Ms Sonia Gandhi, underscoring the importance of public sector, liberalisation with a human face, social security for all workers and poor sections, employment guarantee and the Congress hath, garib ke saath”.

PCC president, Dullo instead of correcting INTUC leaders for their outburst against the government admitted to some mistakes (of the government) which, he said, would be corrected soon. Other speakers like Mr Johar and Mr Dawer also did not contradict what INTUC leaders said. 


Awarded by Unesco, ignored by Punjab Government
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Way back in the 1960s, when late Balraj Sahni, a famed film actor, came to Punjab from Bollywood, renowned Punjabi novelist Jaswant Singh Kanwal and poet Prof Mohan Singh handed over to him a Punjabi book, which became a cherished gift for him.

After reading the book, Sahni invited the author of the book to stay with him in Mumbai. While inviting the author Sahni wrote, “This book will transform Punjab. You have done wonders! It has satiated me.”

The writer to receive invitation was Giani Gurdit Singh. And the book was “ Mera Pind”, a recognised classic work in Punjabi literature. Published in 1961, it is now in its seventh edition.

“ I stayed with Sahni for a month,” said Giani Gurdit Singh, who suffered an heart attack last week, recalling the days he spent amid film stars.

Even international bodies like Unesco recognised the worth of the book and awarded the author in 1967.

But unfortunately, neither the Punjab Government nor its Languages Department has given any recognition to Giani Gurdit Singh and his works till date. The Sahit Akademi has also not bestowed any honour on him.

Sahni, himself a man of letters, was not the only eminent person to hail ‘Mera Pind’. About the book, late Dr M.S. Randhawa had written: ‘Mera Pind’ is a unique, unparalleled work. Late Amrita Pritam had commented, “With his pen, Gurdit Singh has picked twigs of the lifestyle and culture of Punjab to create a literary nest through which we hear the call of the bird that is Punjab.” Prof Pritam Singh had observed, “This is not just a book, it is a village Veda or a jat Purana.”

The book is now part of syllabus at the school, college and university level and many scholars have done doctorate on it.

Asked about the birth of the book, Giani Gurdit Singh told The Tribune, “ First I wrote an article in my daily newspaper Parkash under the title ‘Mera Pind’. Literary circles lapped up that article immediately. Prof Pritam Singh and others asked me to write further on the subject. My style of writing Punjabi prose made me popular. It was my unique style that was immensely liked by literary circles”, he said.

“In 1956, I became a member of the Punjab Legislative Council. As a member I invited late Partap Singh Kairon to lay the foundation stone of the government school in my Mithewal village in Sangrur. We had both travelled from Chandigarh to the village. By chance that day I was carrying the rough draft of the ‘Mera Pind’. Kairon took the draft from and started reading it on the way. After going through its first chapter, he was elated. He motivated me to get the book published at the earliest and to write more on rural life,” recalled Giani Gurdit Singh.

‘Mera Pind’, a vivid picture of village life in prose, has been often compared with great classic ‘Mera Dagistan’ authored by late Rasool Hamjatove.

Giani Gurdit Singh is not only a prose writer. His research work on Guru Granth Sahib, other Sikh religious scriptures and religious literature has been recognised worldwide by the Sikh community. He is about to complete a book on ‘Purtan Birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib. While honouring him in 1991, the SGPC had given him honorific of Gurmat Acharya.

The heart ailment has not dampened his passion to write. “ I daily spend a few hours to finish my book on ‘Purtan Birs’. And then I give final touches to three more books on the rural life, which are in a way extension of ‘Mera Pind’. The title of the books will be: ‘Pind Da Ik Din’ , ‘Mere Pind De Lok’ and ‘Pind The Atamkatha’.


3 Pak militants killed in encounter with BSF
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 24
The Border Security Force last night gunned down three Pakistani militants when they tried to infiltrate into Indian territory in the Anoopgarh sector in the neighbouring Sriganganagar region. Three AK 56 rifles, three Chinese pistols, 20 grenades and some Indian and Pakistani currency were recovered from them.

Mr A.K. Jain Inspector-General, BSF, Rajasthan Frontiers, said three persons sneaked into Indian territory after cutting wired fencing at 11 pm last night near Sherpura border observation post in Anoopgarh sector. As they ignored signals to stop, the BSF opened firing. They exchanged fire and retreated. Additional force was rushed as intermittent firing continued. A commandant of the force was hit with fire from the intruders, Mr Jain added.

There was a silence after one-hour encounter. Charred bodies of infiltrators were found later inside Indian territory. It was established the slain militants were Pakistanis. The BSF recovered three AK 56 rifles, three Chinese pistols, 20 grenades, 10,000 rupees Indian currency and some Pakistani currency from the site. The bodies were handed over to the Sriganganagar police for post-mortem examination.

Sources said relation between the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers have been tense for the past few months. The Rangers, reportedly had refused to accept sweets from the BSF on the Independence Day. Six persons were arrested by the police while they were roaming near the international border, sources added.


Badal’s poser to Manmohan, Sonia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to clarify whether the Punjab Chief Minster, Capt Amarinder Singh, was acting in defiance of their instructions on the acquisition of land from farmers.

Mr Badal was reacting to the remarks made by the two leaders at the Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave at Nainital yesterday. Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Gandhi had categorically opposed the policy and the practice of acquiring land of farmers, especially of those with small holdings, on the pretext of modernisation or industrial expansion.

Mr Badal said both Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi could not be unaware of what had been happening in Punjab. The SAD President wanted to know what correctives the Congress high command had planned for states where violations were taking place.


Sonia’s stance vindicates my stand, says Jagmeet
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 24
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, former MP and a member of the AICC, said today that party president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, by cautioning the Chief Ministers during the Nainital conclave against acquiring productive agricultural land for special economic zones, had vindicated the stand taken by the CWC on his initiative.

Speaking to newsmen at the canal rest house before visiting villages hit by a hailstorm, Mr Brar said Mrs Gandhi had come to the rescue of farmers in Punjab and other states by expressing serious concern over the government’s policy on special economic zones (SEZ), which had become a highly contentious issue among farmers whose land had been acquired for these projects.

He was the first to oppose diversion of prime agricultural land for non-agricultural uses. Mrs Gandhi had refurbished the pro-farmer policies by making it clear that the state governments should go ahead without jeopardising agricultural prospects and that farmers must get proper compensation for their land.

Mr Brar reiterated that the Congress government in Punjab had annoyed millions of farmers by acquiring land besides earning a bad name in the City Centre project at Ludhiana. While hoping that the Vigilance Bureau would honestly complete the probe into the City Centre scam he wanted that those found guilty should be sacked before the Assembly elections.

Mr Brar urged the Union Government to extend the rural employment guarantee scheme, at present confined to Hoshiarpur district only, to the border district Ferozepore.


11 members of panel back Darshan Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 24
The controversy of Baba Budda College Beer Sahib (Thatha) Management Committee today took a new turn when 11 members of the committee along with chiefs of various other sects, organisations and political parties backed Baba Darshan Singh, president of the committee, and assured all support to him.

It is pertinent to mention here that three members of the management committee, alleging irregularities, had revolted against the management and formed an independent management to run the college. The rebel members, including Mr Gurmit Singh Thatha, had levelled allegations of misappropriation in the properties of college management by its president, Baba Darshan Singh.

At a meeting held at Gurdwara Sant Nivas, Beer Sahib, the participants rejected the newly formed college development and improvement committee by the rebel members.

Mr Hardial Singh Dhand, secretary of the management committee, said rebel members were themselves interferring in the management affairs. When the college management refused to entertain their interference, they started levelling allegations, he added. 


Amarinder has links with terrorists: Bitta
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) chairman Maninderjit Singh Bitta accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of being close to terrorists. He was speaking at a press conference held here.

Mr Bitta alleged that the recovery of a mobile phone from Daya Singh Lahoria from Nabha jail was not a routine affair. He alleged that the mobile phone reached Lahoria with the help of state government agencies.

He alleged that the ruling Congress in Punjab had been making an attempt to regain power after the next Assembly elections by taking the help of terrorists. He added that Daya Singh Lahoria was brought from Rajasthan to Punjab by the Punjab Police for this purpose only.

Demanding a CBI probe into this incident, he said those jail officials who were hand-in-glove with the terrorists lodged in the jail should be transferred.

He added that intelligence agencies had failed to keep tab on the activities of terrorists in the state. He said Jagtar Singh Hawara used to roam freely after escaping from Burail jail, but the intelligence agencies failed to catch him.

He also accused Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (Amritsar) president, of having close ties with terrorists.


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