P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Sidhu sees red over mercy demand for Afzal
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 2
Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP from Amritsar, strongly criticised the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Gulam Nabi Azad, for demanding clemency for Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Pakistan-trained terrorist to be hanged on October 20.

He said Mr Farooq Abdullah, chief patron of National Conference had offered to meet the President of India to seek mercy for Mohammed Afzal Guru, if Mr Gulam Nabi Azad leads the regional voice.

He said every Indian should first and foremost think about the unity and integration of the country.

Mr Sidhu lambasted Congress leaders and said they had never appealed to the British rulers for granting mercy to Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Now a Congress Chief Minister was seeking clemency for the convict who had attacked the highest institution (Parliament) of the country.

Mr Sidhu was addressing a Press conference at the residence of Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, here this afternoon.

Referring to the claim of Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary, for having evidence of the ISI hand and Pak-based terrorist groups behind the recent Mumbai train blasts, he said Indian Government should stop all efforts towards peace between the two countries till complete end to infiltration by terrorist groups.

India was one of the biggest powers of the world and Pakistan could not afford strain relations with its strong neighbour, he said.

He strongly criticised the recent visit of Prime Minister to Punjab, saying that the PM had not announced any package for the state to provide relief to the farmers.

He said farmers were being crushed as they were not getting good returns on their agriculture produce. He said Capt Amarinder Singh’s government had allotted prime agricultural land worth Rs 400 crore at Goindwal to Reliance group for Rs 60 per sq yard.

Mr Sidhu demanded a CBI probe into the Ludhiana City Center scam and questioned why Capt Amarinder Singh was shying of the CBI inquiry if there was no scam.

He said Mr Arun Jaitley, former Union Law Minister and a senior BJP leader, had lodged a complaint with the Ludhiana Police Station into the said scam, but police had not registered any FIR in this connection as yet.

Referring to the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, Mr Sidhu said Punjab had a stock of more than one lakh tonne of wheat during last season.

He alleged that an artificial shortage was made to import wheat on higher rates. Central Government loan of Rs 25,000 crore on Punjab had increased to Re 62,000 crore during four-and-a-half year regime of Congress in the state.

Referring to the recent appointment of Mr Dilip Vengsarkar as Chairman of the selection committee of Indian Cricket Control Board, Mr Sidhu said he was a seasoned and committed player of the game.

When asked whether there was any possibility of Mr Saurav Ganguly coming back in the national team, he said he was a fine cricketer and had an excellent record and his exit from the game was the most unceremonious.


‘Indispensable’ officers, plush offices hallmark of Ludhiana police 
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 2
An airconditioned office that is lavishly and gorgeously furnished with fancy curtains, radiating flooring with Italian tiles, fancy chairs and table and a refrigerator that takes everybody by surprise. Because this is not the office of any corporate CEO, but that of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana Rural, Mr Manjit Singh Dhesi.

This is just an example and not an exception. Offices of other officers are no less attractive, rather those offices are far too better furnished than those of their senior officers.

Interestingly only the officers of the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police and above are entitled to install an air conditioner in their offices. And who foots the bill of the luxuries, particularly the airconditioners, which consume too much of electricity, remains a million dollar question.

And most of these officers have been staying in Ludhiana for invariably long tenures than usual, making them seem to be “too indispensable”. Otherwise, how can anybody explain or justify the stay of these officers in the city for years together without any transfers.

Even if they are transferred outside, that is only to break the continuity, they return within a short period of time. They manage their stay even when regimes change. Interestingly, these officers manage their postings in any of the regimes whether that of the Akalis or the Congress.

Questions are being raised within the police circles also over the continuous posting of such officers like Mr Manjit Singh Dhesi, Mr Satbir Singh Atwal, Mr Simratpal Singh Dhindsa and Mr R.K. Bakshi (all Deputy Superintendents of Police) here for quite a long period.

Similarly, there are some inspectors and sub-inspectors who are posted as station house officers within the Ludhiana district only. Some of them like Mr Arvind Puri, Mr Surinder Mohan, Mr G.S. Bains, Mr Balbir Singh, to name only a few, have seldom or never been posted out of the district.

Besides, there are others like Mr Waryam Singh, Mr Tahal Singh and Mr Sandeep Wadera, who are facing various criminal charges but continue to be posted as in charge of either one or the other police station or the CIA staff.

A number of police personnel who may be more competent but do not have required references and recommendations seldom manage to come out of the police line as the police stations or shuffled between a handful of inspectors and sub-inspectors only for the reasons best known to those who post them. This is considered to be one of the main reasons for increase in the corruption at the middle and the lower ranks and harassment to the general public.

It is a paradox that in Ludhiana, while the top-rung officers including the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Parag Jain, the SSP, Mr A.S. Rai and three SPs, Mr A.S. Chahal, Mr Rakesh Aggarwal and Mr Dinesh Pratap enjoy a clean image among the public, no such goodwill prevails among the general public about others in the lower-rung.


After spending lakhs on advt, govt forgets Mahatma
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 2
The state-level function, organised here to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was a poor show with neither the Punjab Finance and Health Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, coming to preside over the function nor Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, Cabinet ministers, MPs and MLAs turning up to pay tributes to the Mahatma.

The only important person present on behalf of the Punjab Government, in the capacity of chief guest,was the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harbans Lal.

It is worth mentioning here that by spending lakhs of rupees on the publication of advertisements in various English, Hindi and Punjabi newspapers, the Punjab Government had informed the people that “under the dynamic leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, a state-level function is being held on October 2, 2006, at 10.30 am in the District Administrative Complex, Sangrur.

“Mr Surinder Singla will preside over the function while Mr Dullo, Ministers of the Punjab Cabinet, MPs and MLAs will pay tributes to the father of the nation. All are requested to join. ”

Not only this, the state-level function, which was to start at 10.30 am, started at 12.35 pm after the delayed arrival of Dr Harbans Lal at the venue.

The function lasted for about only 45 minutes as it concluded at 1.20 pm with a vote of thanks proposed by Mr Subhash Grover, former district president of the Congress Committee.

Due to the delay in starting the function, resentment prevailed among several persons present on the occasion. A blood donation camp was also organised by a five-member team of the local Civil Hospital. Paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Harbans Lal asked the gathering to follow the path of non-violence, shown by the Mahatma.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, said Gandhiji gave such an ideology and philosophy which had been followed by several countries to get freedom.

Mr Jasbir Singh, advocate, former Punjab Minister; said the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi was relevant even today as war could not solve any problem. Prof Uday Partap Singh asked the government to include Gandhiji’s ideas and philosophy in school textbooks.


62 NCC cadets selected for R-Day parade
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 2
A three-day annual training camp of NCC cadets saw the selection of 62 boys and girls for inter-group competition to be held in Nilokheri and subsequent selection trials for the Republic Day parade in Chandigarh.

As per the information available, 205 NCC cadets from 14 colleges and 264 NCC cadets from 10 colleges of Patiala participated in the camp which comprised activities like rifle training, map reading, battle cross, parasailing and seminars on topics like blood donation and AIDS.

From the senior category 26 boys and 14 girls were selected, while 10 boys and 12 girls made it from the junior category.

These NCC cadets would now participate in an inter-group competition at Nilokheri on October 9 after which those selected would appear in selection trials in Chandigarh in November. As many as 120 NCC cadets would make it to the Republic Day parade from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Major N.K. Gosai, Lt-Col Bharpur Singh, Lt-Col S.S. Sidhu, Capt Rajiv Bhatnagar, Capt Buta Singh and Deepak Singla organised the camp and imparted training to the NCC cadets.


Dept mum over ‘misuse’ of forest land
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 2
The Forest Department has turned out to be powerless in getting information from the owner of Kikkar lodge, build in about 1800 acres private forest land in Nurpurbedi, about other building constructed by him in the area.

Despite the fact that the department has sought details twice about a residential building and a cowshed built by the owner, it failed to get any reply so far.

Sources in the department revealed that the influence of the owners was to the extent that even senior forest officials did not dare to visit the lodge to inspect it. The lodge was inaugurated by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 20 last year. A large number of politicians, including several MLAs, were present at the function.

It is learnt that the officials have sought information about the date when the construction was done on the private forest land and also whether the building was built taking into consideration the Forest Land Act and the Punjab Land Preservation Act.

The tariff of the cottages is Rs 5,500 for a couple, including meals. The owners also offer outdoors activities, including mountain biking and camel safaris. While the forest official not aware of kind facilities provided in the private forestland.

The lodge earlier came to limelight when the department had raised certain objections over its construction, suspecting violation under the Act. But later the district Revenue Department had given clean chit to it.

Confirming that the information from the owner of the lodge was sought twice and the department failed to get any reply, the Divisional Forest Officer, Mr S.S. Bhatti, said they had decided to send a reminder to the owner to provide information and allow inspection of the lodge.

When contacted, the proprietor of lodge, Mr Amarinder Singh, said they had sent reply to the department, asking them to visit the lodge to inspect it. “We will provide them all records, as we have not violated any laws”, he added.


New PAC to decide next SGPC chief: Badal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 2
Triggering speculations for the “change of guard” in the SGPC, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, has announced that the next Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party would decide the candidature of the next SGPC president and other office-bearers, even as the annual election in this regard is slated for the next month.

He, however, expressed his satisfaction over the performance of the present incumbent, Mr Avtar Singh. Earlier, Mr Badal had conveyed his displeasure to the SGPC chief for “mishandling and mismanagement” following ruckus at the time of the 400th year celebrations of the foundation of Akal Takht on July 2 and later tercentenary celebrations of “Sampurnta Divas” of Guru Granth Sahib at Amritsar and Damdama Sahib, respectively.

Mr Badal was annoyed with the SGPC chief for honouring Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), with a “siropa” at Damdama Sahib recently.

Meanwhile, the SGPC chief has announced that the fifth birth centenary of Baba Budha would be celebrated on October 24 and 25 at Kathunangal (Amritsar).

Sounding a note of warning, Mr Avtar Singh said “this time no political or administrative laxity would be tolerated” to mark the celebrations.

He said all should learn lesson from the past mistakes and weaknesses. Without naming Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and leaders of other Akali factions, the SGPC chief alleged that “ruckus” was created at the time of previous Sikh centenaries under a “deep rooted conspiracy” that denigrated the image of Sikh community all over the world.

He said as a preventive measure the SGPC would take all necessary steps to stop any “external interference” during the celebrations. He said the SGPC would celebrate the birth centenary of Baba Budha with the active support of the Sikh sangat.


Differences on poll between CPI, CPM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The CPI is determined to fight against the Congress in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. In fact, it has taken a tough stand against the ruling Congress in the state whereas at the national level it is supporting the Congress led-UPA government.

Differences have cropped between the state units of the CPI and the CPM on the approach to be adopted against the Congress in the elections. While the CPI has firmed up its stand to fight against the Congress in the elections, the CPM says its main objective is to stop the SAD-BJP, which it describes as a communal alliance, from coming to power.

A debate has begun between the state leadership of the CPI and the CPM on political issues facing the state. The secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Mr Jagroop Singh, wrote a two-page letter to Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPM, today. The letter, in which Mr Jagroop Singh raised several political and ideological issues vis-a-vis the political line of both parties, was released to the media this evening.

Taking a tough stand against the Amarinder Singh government, Mr Jagroop Singh stated in the letter that it was important to fight against communal forces, but at present it was equally important to wage a struggle against the Congress government, which had oppressed various sections of society. “ People are full of anger against the Congress government in the state”, said in the letter.

Mr Jagroop Singh said the Congress Council of Ministers in tandem with bureaucrats and others concerned had gone to the extent of adopting policies which were virtually aimed at “auctioning” the state. He said in such a situation no one could think of supporting the Congress government in the state.

“In case we make any effort to support the Congress In Punjab, we will lose the trust of people such as farmers, employees, unemployed youth, women, farm labour and others who have been supporting us in opposing the pro-rich policies of the Congress government”, said Mr Jagroop Singh in his letter.

The labour class was facing abject poverty because the number of working days had gone down tremendously and no increase had been made in the minimum wages for about four years by the present government. The debt burden had increased to Rs 24,000 crore in the case of farmers from Rs 5,700 crore in 1997-98 and the contract system had been introduced in employing persons in government departments. Rising prices had crippled people and big scandals were being exposed. What the police did to girl students in Ludhiana was most shameful. Even the middle class had been hit hard by the policies of the Congress government in the state, Mr Jagroop Singh said.

In these circumstances to fight against the Congress was not only justified but also the need of the hour to win the support of the people, he said, asking Prof Balwant Singh and other Communist leaders to be together in the struggle against the anti-people policies of the present regime in the state.


District unit of SAD (Longowal) joins SAD
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 2
Mr Satpal Singh Wadali, district president of the SAD (Longowal), along with other office-bearers and supporters joined the SAD here today.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD, while talking to mediapersons said the doors of the SAD were open to the Congressmen who were piqued over the rampant corruption of the Congress government in the state and were willing to join his party.

Mr Badal, while welcoming the decision of Mr Lakhbir Singh Lodhenangal, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Batala, of quitting the post and resigning from the Congress over the rampant corruption in the Improvement Trust, City Centre scam and molestation of female veterinary students by the police in Ludhiana said Mr Lodhenangal was welcomed to the party.

Commenting on the City Centre scam, Mr Badal said all parties in the state had sought investigation into the case by the CBI but as Capt Amarinder Singh was involved in the scam he was opposing the enquiry by a Central agency.

He said the SAD would soon have a meeting with NDA leaders in Delhi and submit a memorandum to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, urging him for the CBI enquiry into the case.

He said if they failed to do so then they would file a public interest litigation in the High Court seeking directions for the CBI enquiry. He said every step would be taken to expose the persons involved in the scam.

On the setting up of SEZ, Mr Badal said the main aim was to invite industries to the state, but the government should give farmers additional 30 per cent of the market value of their lands as compensation for displacing them.


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