P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


4 of farmer’s family consume poison, die
Kamlesh Sharma

Khyali (Barnala), October 9
Four members of a farmer died after consuming a poisonous substance.

After the death of father-son duo Sukhwinder Kaur (28 ) of the famliy died today morning in DMC Ludhiana due to internal injuries. Fourth one is five-year-old granddaughter of deceased Mahinder Singh who has been struggling for life at DMC, Ludhiana.

All three died after consuming some poisonous drink due to poverty. Deceased are Mr Mahinder Singh of Khyali village (Mehalkalan) his 30-year-old son Sukhdev Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur wife of Sukhdev Singh.

According to sources, the family of Mahinder Singh had been in tension for the last few months. Financial hardship due to poor productivity of land. All the four members took some poisonous substance on Saturday morning. There used to be tension between the father and the son due to financial issues. On Saturday Sukhdev Singh inhaled some poisonous substance.

He also prevailed upon his wife Sukhwinder Kaur and five-year-old daughter to inhale the poisonous substance. When Mahinder Singh learnt about this he also inhaled the poisonous substance. Villagers took them to Raikot Civil Hospital. Sukhdev Singh died at Raikot while the condition of the remaining three was serious.

So all three were referred to the DMC Ludhiana. Mahinder Singh died on the way while Sukhdev Singh died yesterday. Sukhwinder Kaur died today morning.

According to sources, the family of Mahinder Singh had been facing hardship since long. Though he had 10 acres yet he was not able to meet daily needs. Land was not useful for agricultural purposes.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, expressed serious concern over incident.


Farmer commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 9
A debt-ridden farmer in his late 20s reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself from the roof of his residence at Bhaini Bagha village, near here, last night.

According to sources, the deceased, Gurjeet Singh (28), had 15 acres of land, of which he had mortgaged three acres. He was purportedly caught in a debt-trap as he owed about Rs 12 lakh to the State Bank of India and Land Mortgage Bank, Mansa. The deceased had two younger brothers, while he had married off his sister. A case was registered under Section 174 of the CrPC. 


3 women held for burning religious scriptures
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 9
Three women were arrested for reportedly trying to take possession of a granthi’s house and burning ‘gutkas’ (religious scriptures) at Deep Singh Nagar here today.

Sources said, Gurnand Singh, a granthi at a local gurdwara, had bought a house from the husband of one of the accused Gayatri Devi about a year ago.

On Saturday night Gayatri Devi along with her accomplices Veena Rani, Lakhwinder Kaur and Baljinder Singh allegedly broke open the lock of the granthi’s residence, threw his household goods out and burnt some religious scriptures lying inside.

When the granthi returned home today he found it ransacked and the ‘gutkas’ burnt after which he reported the matter to Takht Sri Damdama Sahib manager and the Kotwali police. The Takht manager, Mr Bharpur Singh, visited the spot along with ‘Panj Piaras’ and took possession of damaged scriptures.

The manager has demanded a strict action against those who had perpetrated the crime.

Sources said Gayatri Devi had allegedly opposed her husband Ravinder Kumar’s decision to sell their house to the granthi.

Following a complaint by Gurnand Singh, the police has registered a case against Gayatri Devi, Lakhvinder Kaur, Veena Rani, Shama Singh, Baljinder Singh, and six unidentified men under Sections 436, 447, 380, 506, 295A, 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Junk dealer, worker die in blast, probe initiated
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 9
Two persons were killed and another was injured following a blast in a junk-dealer’s shop in Guru Nanak Nagar near the Police Lines here today afternoon. The explosive seemed to be part of the Army’s scrap as several parts of scrap and four green coloured boxes were lying at the site of the blast.

Army has initiated a court of inquiry to know from where the junk-dealer had bought the scrap and how live explosive found its way into the scrap.

The deceased included junk-dealer Dev Raj (40) and a worker Jaspal Singh alias Jugal (17). While Dev Raj was declared brought dead in the Civil Hospital here whereas Jaspal Singh succumbed to his injures in the hospital.

Eyewitness, Palwinder Singh, who has welding shop near the junk-dealer’s shop and received minor injuries as a splinter had hit him on his back, told The Tribune that he was busy when he suddenly heard loud noise. Initially he thought some PSEB transformer had exploded, he said adding, however, in no time he realised that a blast in the scrap had taken place as the junk-dealer and his worker were lying on the ground.

Another eye-witness Jaspal Singh, who had rented the shop to the junk-dealer, said he was inside his house when the scrap exploded at around 1 pm. Coincidentally Maggar Singh, an uncle of worker Jugal, was passing through the area in his tractor trailer. Both injured were taken to the hospital in his trailer, he added.

Dev Raj’s brother Chander Shekhar, who is also a junk dealer, told The Tribune that he did not know from where his brother had bought the Army scrap. He said they keep on purchasing Army scrap at auctions from time to time.

Meanwhile senior Army and police officers including Station Commander Station Headquarter Kapurthala Dev Raj, SSP Rajiv Ahir visited the spot.

Station Commander Dev Raj said a court of inquiry had been initiated to know from where the scrap had been purchased. To a query, he admitted four green colour boxes were found at the site of the blast, SSP Rajiv Ahir said the police was taking the help of Army authorities to know what kind of explosive it was and from where it had been procured.


Kanshi Ram’s death will impact Punjab politics
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
The significance of Babu Kanshi Ram, founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who died late last evening, can be gauged in Punjab politics from today’s action of the state government. He was never a Minister in the state or at the national level, but as a tribute to him the Punjab Government, which is preparing for the Assembly elections due to be held in four months from now, today closed its offices after the lunch break.

Undoubtedly, the state government’s action has a political goal. In Punjab, where he was born and brought up, the Scheduled Castes population is almost one-third of the total population and matters a lot politically in the elections. Moreover, Kanshi Ram had a strong influence on a vast section of the Dalits and backward classes and commanded great respect among them in the state. He had won from Hoshiarpur, which is a non-reserved seat, in the Lok Sabha elections in 1996.

His Khawaspur village is just a few miles away from Ropar. The maximum number of people, who joined his funeral procession in Delhi today, had reached there from Punjab. The entire leadership of the BSP from Punjab, including its president, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, was in Delhi today.

After resigning from a defence organisation, Kanshi Ram worked hard in this region to establish the first employees’ federation and later the DS 4 (Dalit Soshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti). With his zeal and single-mindedness, he inspired many among the Dalits to bring about awakening among them with regard to their political, social and economic rights in this region.” We have a strong team of leaders which has unflinching faith in Kanshi Ram’s ideology in Punjab”, says Mr Paramjit Singh Kainth, secretary of the state unit of the BSP.

“We had been accompanying Kanshi Ram, who moved from one village to another on a bicycle to organise Dalits in the late 70s and 80s to convert them into a force that later broke the monopoly on state power of political parties such as the Congress dominated by leaders of the so-called super castes in Punjab and other parts of the country”, he adds. “He gave us courage and energy to speak for our people who have been subjected to inhuman treatment, oppression and all sorts of exploitation”, said Mr Kainth.

At one stage the BSP had three members of Parliament from Punjab and as many as nine BSP MLAs in the state Assembly.

Political observers say that the death of Kanshi Ram will create a sympathy wave among the Dalits and backward classes in Punjab for the BSP. “And such a sympathy wave can consolidate the Dalit power on one political platform in the days to come”, says a senior political leader. In Punjab, the BSP, which has already announced candidates for 45 Assembly constituencies, is keen on entering the election arena in a big way. Obviously, its leadership will present Kanshi Ram as a messiah, which he certainly was, of the Dalits. Among the candidates nominated by the BSP, 21 belong to the Scheduled Castes, 14 to backward classes and 10 to the general categories such as Jats, Khatris and Brahmins. Kanshi Ram’s death has come at a time when political parties are warming up for the Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the CPI leader, Dr Joginder Dayal, expressing grief over the death of the BSP supremo, said in separate statements that his work for the downtrodden and poor sections especially the Dalits, would be remembered for ages. 


Kanshi Ram ‘fails to fulfil mother’s wish’
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Khwaspura (Ropar), October 9
The native village of the founder of the BSP, Kanshi Ram, who died in New Delhi late last night, was silent today. The news of his death came here even as family members of the leader had been waiting for Kanshi Ram for over nine months to arrive here to immerse the ashes of his mother to fulfil her last wish.

The ashes of Bant Kaur, mother of Kanshi Ram who died in December 2005, are still preserved at his grandparents house in Bunga village.

After Dr B.R Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram was considered the prominent leader of Dalits. Sitting at his parental house in Khwaspura village, family members of the late leader were aggrieved that they were not allowed to meet Kanshi Ram by BSP supremo Mayawati while he was kept in her house in New Delhi for over three years following his illness. Only his one younger brother Dilwara Singh had been permitted to meet him on a few occasions.

In the absence of BSP workers and leaders of any other party, a few family members gathered here. Many were glued to the television set to get a glimpse of Kanshi Ram, as they had not seen him for a long time.

Eight relatives of the leader, including his two younger brothers, Dilwara Singh, Harbans Singh, and sister Swarn Kaur left for Delhi at about 2 am to seek his body.

A number of photographs of Mayawati with Kanshi Ram and his family members during their happy days captured here, are hanging on walls in the house. Commenting on Mayawati, Kanshi Ram’s relatives said there were days when Mayawati used to come here on her bicycle. Earlier, the family members of Kanshi Ram had a cordial relationship with her.


Separatist leader Thekedar attends wedding
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
UK-based separatist leader Jaswant Singh Thekedar, head of the parallel faction of the Dal Khalsa International, who carries a reward on his head, has quietly entered India on a valid passport, attending a wedding at Ambala yesterday.

Thekedar had been declared proclaimed offender and carried a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head after being accused of throwing cow parts into temples in Amritsar in 1982.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), who was close to Thekedar (60), said the latter had called him up after landing in India.

Mr Chandumajra had attended the birthday function of the son of Thekedar in the UK recently.

He said Thekedar was likely to meet him within a couple of days.

Raghbir Singh Sodhi, an Ambala-based journalist, confirmed that Thekedar attended the wedding of his grandson yesterday and went to an undisclosed destination after giving ‘shagun’ along with a resident of Amritsar.


Ex-MLA complains against minister’s political aide
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Slighted by the verbal altercation he allegedly had with a political aide of the Punjab Finance and Health Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, a former MLA and President of the Kapurthala District Congress Committee, Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, lodged a complaint with the Chandigarh Police here this morning.

Alleging that Mr Anil Bhola, a political aide of Mr Singla, not only "misbehaved" with him but also threatened him of dire consequences, Mr Khaira said he "felt insulted and humiliated" by a personal staff member of the minister at his official residence.

Narrating events, Mr Khaira said he had gone to call on the Finance and Health Minister with regard to the transfer of an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM). He stated that an Akali supporter remained posted at that station for 21 years. "I have recommended the transfer, but the ANM recommended by me was again transferred after three months with the intervention of Bhola", alleged Mr Khaira.

Mr Singla, he claimed, was in a tearing hurry as he had to attend a meeting. But before leaving, Mr Singla expressed his "strong displeasure" to Mr Khaira for not supporting him at the Phagwara "fiasco" where he -Mr Singla- had a spat with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

"I tried to explain to him that it was a totally avoidable controversy and in a democracy it was not proper for anyone to disrupt a leader of the Opposition from making his speech. I also reasoned with Mr Singla that since he had spoken first and raised the issue of Bathinda refinery, it was expected of the Opposition leader, to give his side also. Mr Singla was probably not satisfied with either my argument. . But Mr Singla said he did not agree with me to which I said that I too disagreed with him on that issue" said Mr Khaira.

But soon after Mr Singla left, alleges Mr Khaira, Mr Anil Bhola started "shouting at me. He went to the extent of saying that he did not care for District Congress Presidents like him. He threatened me again and again. I dared him to attack me or call the police."

Immediately after this incident I went to the police station and lodged a complaint there seeking action against Mr Bhola.

"Bhola should apologise for his conduct. In case, no action is taken both by the police and the minister, I would take up the matter with the party High Command as well as the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi. I will meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, soon.

When contacted over telephone Mr Singla while refuting the allegations maintained that it was absolutely wrong and nothing of that kind had happened. He further said Mr Khaira had come to his official residence for a case of transfer of an ANM about which he clearly told him that he would see the matter and act. "I did not threaten him" said Mr Singla.

The SHO of the Sector 3 Police Station, Inspector Rajinder Singh Dhani, confirmed that a complaint had been lodged in this connection. About the action, he maintained, "I have asked the investigation officer to verify the complaint and action will be taken on the basis of the outcome of the inquiry as per the law".


Singla clarifies on Phagwara spat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
The Punjab Finance and Health Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today clarified that political comments by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at a private function in Phagwara yesterday had provoked him to lodge a protest with the organisers of the function silently and in a dignified manner.

The organisers had asked Mr Badal to refrain from making any political statements. Realising that he had deviated from the topic, Mr Badal expressed his regrets and apologised to the audience in case anybody was hurt by his comments, claimed Mr Singla.

Mr Singla maintained that what he had said in his speech earlier was about the Bathinda Refinery and the delay in starting work on the project. “I talked only about the issue about which I had made a statement on the floor of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in presence of Mr Badal. As such his comments blaming us without naming our party for problems of the farmers or the industry was unfair and my protest was justified,” he added.

It was further corroborated when Mr Badal himself apologised to the audience and did not touch any political issues in the remaining part of his speech, Mr Singla added.


Road widening faces hurdles
Two important projects cleared by PMO
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Work on all important national highways has been moving in fits and starts or has slowed down due to various reasons in Punjab. In some cases work has started on one section of a road while it has been held up on another of the same road. There is also some good news for the state as two important road projects have been approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The projects facing hurdles are those pertaining to the widening of national highways in the state and were announced by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on his visits to Punjab spread across two years or so. The Punjab Government did an internal review of the projects in the last week of September and officials are now busy tying up the loose ends.

Documents available with The Tribune show that the worst case scenario relates to the four-laning project of the Chandigarh-Ropar-Kiratpur Sahib road. The National Highways Authority of India had fixed the date of completion for December, 2009. The bids for the 45 km Kurali-Kiratpur Sahib section have been invited and the work is yet to be allotted. However, the real problem is the Desu Majra (Kharar) and Kurali section. The contractor of the railway overbridge at Kurali has filed a civil suit against the four-laning of this section and work can only be taken up after a decision is announced on this case.

On the Jalandhar-Amritsar section of the National Highway work has started on the 49 km Amritsar and Dhilwan stretch and is expected to be completed by September, 2008. Even this work is going at a slow place and the company concerned was told to speed up things recently. However, to complete the entire stretch between Jalandhar and Amritsar, the NHAI is in the process of inviting fresh bids for the 20 km Dhilwan-Jalandhar section. This will take some time but the contractors will be asked to speed up on the section to try to complete it within the specified time.

On the 101 km Amritsar-Pathankot section of the National Highway the process of four-laning was to start but in this case the bids are yet to commence.


Pensioners’ body to contest Assembly poll
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 9
The Punjab State Pensioners Confederation has decided to contest Punjab Assembly elections.

Mr Bawa Dutt Rattan, general secretary of the Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, Barnala Subdivision would be the confederation candidate for the Barnala Assembly seat.

The decision to contest the elections was taken at a meeting of the Confederation in Ludhiana on October 5, under the chairmanship of Mr Inderpal Sharma, President Punjab State Pensioners Confederation.

Mr Mohinder Singh Parwana, state general secretary of the confederation informed that activists of the confederation from nine districts of Punjab took part in the meeting. He made it clear the confederation activists from Punjab would work for the victory of Mr Bawa Dutt Rattan by campaigning in Barnala.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |