P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Quash notification on land for SEZ, demand farmers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
Farmers held a protest rally, demanding quashing of the notification for acquiring 1218 acres of cultivable land for setting up a special economic zone (SEZ), here today.

They raised slogans against the state government for dislocating them from their ancestral villages.

They alleged that the government had issued a notification to acquire 1218 acres in seven villages, including Pandori Mehma, Cheete Kalan, Chheete Khurd and Mannan Wala, in Amritsar district at throwaway prices.

They announced that they would die rather than give their land for setting up the SEZ.

Mr Satnam Singh Pannu, state body member of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, said though Ms Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh had announced that no cultivable land would be acquired for the SEZ, the state government was lying that non-cultivable land was being acquired for it.

Mr Pannu said 7,500 acres of uncultivable land was available in the district, according to the Revenue Department.

He said if the state government wanted to set up the SEZ, it should have acquired that land notified by the department.

He said 99 per cent farmers whose land had been acquired in the district were small and marginal farmers.

Mr Surinder Singh, circle president of the Punjab State Electricity Board Union, said the government had been trying to do away with board employees by outsourcing jobs.

He thanked farmers for supporting board employees and declared that they would fight for the cause of farmers.


Farmers’ debt: one-time settlement scheme on cards
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Manmohan Singh government has planned big schemes to give relief to debt-ridden farmers in all states of the country. A beginning will be made by giving relief to such farmers in Punjab. This is what Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala, president of the All-India Kisan and Khet Mazdoor Congress, claims on the basis of his meetings with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

He said Mrs Gandhi was of the view that farmers, whose land was acquired to set up special economic zones, should be made stakeholders in such zones and also a member of each family should be given employment. The interest of landless labour in the villages to be acquired for an SEZ should also be taken care of. He said the owners of SEZs were required to be told to upgrade the skills of youth of the area, where zones had been proposed, to make them employable. Young persons were required to be made part and parcel of the benefits to be drawn by the owners from their SEZs.

Mr Surjewala, who visited Punjab Congress Bhavan here today, said both Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Gandhi were keen on one-time settlement, on the pattern of the industrial sector, of all sorts of loans of farmers in the country. The settlement would include the loans advanced by the private sector, including by moneylenders, he added.

“Wait for a few weeks to know what the Union Government is going to do to bring farmers out of the crisis in the country”, asserted Mr Surjewala, adding that he had a detailed discussion with the Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi at Nainital recently on various plans being finalised to give relief to farmers. Being the chairman of one of the main wings of the party, Mr Surjewala was a special invitee to the Chief Ministers’ conclave at Nainital. Agriculture was expected to be shifted to the Concurrent List in the Constitution.

He said the interest rate on bank loans would be reduced further to 6 per cent. It had been brought down to 7 per cent.

He said farmers had saved the honour of the country and the Congress government at the Centre was aware of this fact. He said the minimum support price of wheat would be announced before the beginning of its sowing.

“There will be an appreciable increase in the wheat MSP this time to encourage farmers to expand the area under it”, he said. “In fact, instead of announcing the MSP, the Union Government is thinking seriously of announcing remunerative prices for all staple foograins, ensuring 15 to 20 per cent return to farmers”, he added. “Once farmers started getting remunerative prices, they will not have to seek a relief package from any government”, he added. He said a package was just first aid whereas the need was to find a permanent solution to the crisis faced by farmers.

He said suicides by farmers in Punjab, especially in two districts, were a reality as was the case in other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. He said that Dr Manmohan Singh was seriously thinking of introducing crop insurance by taking the village as the unit instead of the block, which was the practice at present. The National Farmers Commission stated recently that since 1995, as many as 1,50,000 farmers had committed suicide in the country. Farmers in Haryana were also under great stress as in Punjab, he added.

Mr Surjewala said the Union Government was also preparing to tackle the problem of money advanced to farmers by moneylenders. He said that moneylending would not only be regulated but there would also be a cap on the rate of interest on the loans advanced by moneylenders to farmers. Loopholes in various Acts, which were in disuse now, would be removed to regulate moneylending. “Laws exist with regard to the regulation of moneylending but these are not being made applicable”, he said.


Nabbed spy murder accused in Pakistan
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 11
The suspected Pakistan spy Khalid Parvez who was arrested from the Pathankot Railway station a few days ago has turned out to be an murder accused from the neighbouring country.

Sources in the police said during interrogation Khalid Parvez revealed he was a constable in Pakistan’s Punjab police. For one year he also remained on security duty of present Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab.

In 1992 he attended a marriage ceremony in Shakargarh tehsil of Rawalpindi district. He had an altercation with some persons in the ceremony, whom he killed. There after he fled and was absconding since then. He also committed another murder in 1996.

The Pakistan government declared him a proclaimed offender in 2004. He entered India last year on the pretext of watching the India-Pakistan cricket match at Mohali. Thereafter he never returned and kept roaming from one city to another.

Khalid Parvez was arrested here initially on the charge of kidnapping the child of a constable of Jammu and Kashmir Police. He had kidnapped the child and brought him to Pathankot. Later he was arrested on the Pathankot Railway station a case of kidnapping was registered against him.

He was handed over the Punjab police recently which registered another case against him for forging identity, using the voter identity card of a rickshaw puller from Pathankot. The Punjab police claimed it had recovered a camera and photographs of the Army installations in the area from the arrested person.

However, the latest revelation by Khalid Parvez has raised doubts about the police theory that he was a spy. Doubts are being expressed on the fact that Khalid Parvez was a spy or an absconding accused from Pakistan.

Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, SSP Gurdaspur, said Khalid had admitted to being a wanted criminal in Pakistan. He, however, added he had also told that the Pakistan intelligence agencies had recruited him the recent past. He was also given espionage training by the Pakistan intelligence agencies.

The Pakistan agencies kept paying his family during his stay here. However, he stopped receiving financial help a few months ago. He also told the Pakistan government could seek extradition of Khalid Pervez as he was a wanted criminal. This can be done at the level of the Union Government.


Voices of dissent raised against Surinder Singla
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 11
While the top Congress leadership has kept silent over the spat between Kapurthala Congress president Sukhpal Singh Khaira and political secretary to the Punjab Finance Minister Anil Bhola, senior Congress leader Kewal Krishan Aggarwal today raised the matter at a meeting held to release list of new office-bearers at Congress Bhawan here.

Mr Aggarwal stated that if the district Congress chiefs were humiliated in such a manner what would happen with the party workers active at the grass-roots level. He said the political secretary to Finance Minister Surinder Singla drew salary from the government and he should behave properly with the Congress leaders. He demanded a probe into the matter to avert recurrence of such incidents. The meeting witnessed another interesting development when he demanded that a local candidate be fielded from Bathinda constituency for the Assembly elections. “We don’t want a candidate used to air-conditioned comfort in New Delhi and Chandigarh,” he added. His proposal drew applause from a section of party workers. Following this, Improvement Trust Chairman Jagroop Singh Gill proposed the name of district Congress president Ashok Kumar for Bathinda seat. Mr Gill said: “Though I’m also in the race for the party ticket, I would support the candidature of Mr Ashok Kumar who has devoted a long period of his life to the party.” However, when asked about the incumbent MLA, Mr Surinder Singla, he said being the MLA for the past five years he too was a local now.

Reacting to the demand, the district Congress president said that it was personal opinion of some party leaders and they would work for the candidate fielded by the party high command. “Our aim is to work for the party and ensure our candidate’s victory,” he added. When contacted, Mr Singla said he would not like to comment on either of the issues.


City Centre scam: SAD, BJP seek audience with PM
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal (B) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have sought an audience from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after he returns to New Delhi, to press for action against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Minister for Local Bodies Jagjit Singh and others allegedly responsible for the City Centre scam. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD (B), said here today preparations were on to file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking the registration of a case against the top brass of the state government on this issue.

The opposition leaders have already apprised the Governor, Punjab and President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of the details of the case.

Mr Badal, during two-hour stay here in connection with a social function alleged Mr Amarinder Singh would contest the election to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha by misusing official machinery. The SAD and the BJP were prepared to thwart such designs.

Mr Badal said new faces and better representation to the youth would be emphasised while selecting candidates. He added, things would be clear only at the time of the meeting of the coordination committee of the SAD-BJP alliance to be held after the notification by the Election Commission.


Badal selling party ticket, alleges CM
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jhunir (Mansa), October 11
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today accused SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal of selling party ticket to aspirants and promising the same to more than one contender from each constituency.

He levelled this charge while addressing a public meeting after laying the foundation stone of a cotton market and a neighbourhood campus of the Punjabi University here. He alleged that despite coming to power thrice, Mr Badal could not resolve the issue of water sharing with Haryana.

He alleged that Akalis had launched the Kapoori Morcha on the water issue, resulting in loss of thousands of lives. He claimed that innocent persons had been killed in the movement and no relative of any Akali leader was harmed.

He said the government had introduced the termination of river water agreements Bill in the Assembly, saving nine lakh hectares in southern districts, including Mansa, and the livelihood of 16 lakh families. He said cotton production did not cross the figure of 10 lakh bales during SAD rule while they were on the verge of achieving a record production of 26 lakh bales this year.

He alleged that the indiscriminate use of pesticides during the SAD regime had led to the contamination of canal water and the subsequent spread of cancer in villages. He announced that the government would put him behind bars and recover every penny of his ill-gotten money. He claimed that the entry of Reliance in the agricultural sector would benefit the farming community and their income would increase by four times.

Lauding the Punjabi University for its endeavour to educate the rural youth, he announced a grant of Rs 5 crore for the Baba Dhyan Dass Neighbourhood Campus. He announced that funds would not be an issue in extending quality education to rural students.

The Chief Minister laid the foundation stones of a grain market here and a drinking water project at Budhlada and unveiled a statue of martyr Joginder Singh at Datewas. The police resorted to mild cane charge on protesting unemployed B.Ed teachers, who started raising slogans as soon as Capt Amarinder Singh rose to make his speech. Activists of the Unemployed Lineman Union were also among the protesters.

A few irate women among whom the protesters were sitting beat them up, but the police controlled the situation.


SAD (Amritsar) launches party website
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, here today said that right-wing forces have started dominating various spheres of public life in the country. Even the Left parties had stopped speaking against such forces because of electoral considerations.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that such forces had always been trying to suppress minorities in one way or the other in the country. The Left parties were not opposing the death sentence to Mohammad Afzal because it would annoy the right wing forces which had gone all out to seek his execution.

Asked about his agenda in the coming Assembly elections, Mr Mann said that the main political parties had been winning elections by making false promises. “I cannot do the same as I am different from the usual political stock”, he added. Mr Mann, who launched his party’s website www.akalidalamritsar.com here today, said that the CPI and CPM were aware of his views. He said that all types of political information would be available on the website. It would also highlight environmental issues.

If such parties wanted to be a part of the third alternative to defeat the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress, then these parties should think of joining the political forces which had been whole-heartedly opposing such parties. He said it was a big conspiracy to ruin the education system in Punjab. Another conspiracy was to lure the youth towards drugs, he added. He said that under a well-planned scheme, the Disturbed Area Act was still in force in Punjab.

He said that unemployment, power deficit, sharing of river waters, rights of minorities and the collapse of industry were issues which would be raised by his party during the election campaign. He said that he was strongly in favour of opening the Wagah border for trade and good relations with Pakistan. He said that enmity with Pakistan was not in the interest of people of Punjab who live on the border. He said that he was opposed to India’s nuclear deal with America.

Talking about the murder of Prabhjinder Singh Dimpy, he said that government agencies were behind this murder. The Chandigarh police had not interrogated the woman, who was accompanying Dimpy at the time of his murder. The woman had lot of information, he added. When asked that Dimpy’s wife had alleged that an Akali leader was behind the murder, Mr Mann said that the Indian state had been resorting to extra-judicial killings of mafia dons. 


Nagra installed head of Cong kisan wing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
At a function organised at Punjab Congress Bhawan here today, Mr Kuljit Singh Nagra was installed president of the Punjab Kisan and Khet Mazdoor Congress.

The president of the All-India Kisan and Khet Mazdoor Congress, Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala, the Punjab Pradesh Congress president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, and PPCC general secretaries, including Mr Parminder Singh, Mr Rajpal Singh and Mr Bhag Singh, were among those present.


BJP ups the ante for Mayor’s ouster
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
The BJP will not allow the House of the local municipal corporation to function till it elects a new leader as Mayor Sunil Datti has been indicted in a land grab case.

Stating this here today, Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, BJP leader and former chairman of the improvement trust, said the party would hold protest rallies here till Mr Datti and trust chairman Jugal Kishore resigned.

The meeting of the House, scheduled for this evening, was postponed indefinitely as the ruling party feared a ruckus by BJP councillors on the issue.

Mr Arora alleged that Congress leaders were hand in glove with the land mafia.

He said 43 marlas at the Rattan Singh Chowk belonged to the trust and was a part of the Basant Avenue Scheme.

He said the trust had never given exemption to the so-called proprietors of the land.

He alleged that the person concerned did not deposit the fee with the trust.

He said the owner had filed a petition in the high court and made the Deputy Commissioner a party for issuing no-objection certificate by the trust and passing of the site map by the corporation.

He stated that the Deputy Commissioner had not appeared in court, due to which the case was decided ex parte.

He alleged that an advocate who could not win a case had been appointed to weaken cases in order to allow land grab.


No action against Arvind Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, said today that he had planned no action against Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress MLA from Sangrur. Mr Khanna’s residences at Sangrur,Delhi and here were raided by the CBI yesterday in connection with a defence deal. “We have no information regarding what the CBI has recovered from Mr Khanna’s residences”, he added. Raids had been conducted on residences of politicians earlier also.”

Without having any definite proof against Mr Khanna, no action could be taken against him”, he added. Asked about the tussle between Mr Surinder Singla’s personal assistant, Mr Bhola and the Kapurthala District Congress President, Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Mr Dullo said it was an internal matter of the party which would be resolved.


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