P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Recovery of stamp duty unjustified: Randhawa
To take up matter with CM
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, October 14
The government would reconsider imposing stamp duty on farmers who had taken agriculture loans, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, talking to The Tribune, said here today. He would take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

Imposing stamp duty on the farmers who had raised loans solely for agriculture purposes was unjustified, he said. The Congress government was pressing the union government to waive farmers’ loans. It had introduced a one-time loan settlement scheme for the benefit of the farmers. Under the scheme, the maximum interest levied on the farmers would be waived.

There was no logic in imposing stamp duty on the farmers who had raised loan for agriculture purposes, as agriculture was no more a profitable business. Due to the rising costs of inputs and lower support prices, the farmers were already finding it hard to make their ends meet.

The farmers who raised loans for agriculture purposes two to three years ago are being forced to pay stamp duty for mortgaging their land now.

The recoveries from the farmers are being affected after the audit department of the state raised objections in this regard.

The farmers have threatened to start an agitation in case government continues to issue them recovery notices for stamp duty.



Parties getting in poll mode
BJP conference today, SAD rally tomorrow
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
With Assembly elections not far, parties are getting in combat mode by organising rallies to showcase their strength.

While the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has planned a show of farmers’ support here on October 16, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has planned a “Nari Shakti Sammelan” at Abohar tomorrow.

The SAD and the BJP have planned the rallies to ensure that the maximum number of Central leaders are present to address the gatherings.

In Abohar, BJP national general secretary Arun Jaitely will be the main speaker while mahila morcha national president Karuna Shukla and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje will be the other major speakers, who will be joined by Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna and Mr Navjot Sidhu.

Most BJP leaders are expected to be here for the SAD rally on October 16. Both the BJP and the SAD have been targeting different sections of the electorate by holding exclusive rallies for Dalits, for traders, for women and for farmers.

They may go in for joint rallies at the end of the first phase, which they expect to coincide with the announcement of dates for Assembly elections.

The SAD, claiming to be the champion of farmers, plans to reiterate that its base in rural Punjab is intact. This will be the first major rally of the SAD here for a long time.

The Congress has been trying to appease different sections of society and is on a foundation stone-laying spree.

The Congress is hopeful that the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister will bring in solutions to sensitive issues facing farmers in the state.

A one-time settlement of farm loans, the main cause of suicides among farmers, and an intended package to help the state and its farmers to come out of the wheat-paddy cycle are expected.

The clearance to Halwara as a major international air hub will provide a fillip to both industry and agro-industry.

The party may go in for a rally later this month, where it expects the Prime Minister to unfold his gift to the state.

This will be an effective retort to the Chandigarh rally of the SAD, it feels.

The SAD started “akhand path” at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali this morning.

At the end of the recitation, a congregation would be held before the start of a procession for the Matka Chowk here, where the SAD planned a demonstration over the growing incidence of suicide among farmers.


Petition filed against misuse of SGPC funds
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Baldev Singh Sirsa has filed a petition in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) against the SGPC for allegedly misusing Dharm Parchar funds (DPC) for election purposes.

The petitioner alleged that SGPC funds were likely to be ‘misused’ to capture votes in the forthcoming General Assembly elections, due to be held in February next year, on the pattern of Kapurthala and Ajnala byelections.

On the other hand, Dr J.S. Kumar, a resident of Amritsar, has also served a legal notice on the SGPC President and other senior functionaries of the Shiromani Committee in which he apprehended ‘misuse’ of SGPC funds to benefit Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the next Assembly elections.

The petitioner, Mr Sirsa, said the funds of the Shiromani Committee could not be used for political purposes as per the provisions of Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. He alleged that the DPC had been violating the Gurdwara Act and causing financial loss to the SGPC by distributing funds for other purposes other than religion. He alleged that ‘manipulated applications’ from at least 50 SGPC controlled gurdwaras, hospitals, schools and individuals, making request to the SGPC have been obtained, allegedly seeking funds in cash or in the form of articles for the said institutions from the funds of the Shiromani Committee in one of the 117 Assembly constituencies of the state.

A similar pattern was likely to be adopted in the rest of the 116 Assembly constituencies, the petitioner alleged. He said this trend had to be stopped immediately and action be taken against all those who had violated the Gurdwara Act.

Mr Sirsa alleged that already a petition was pending against a former SGPC president for misuse of the DPC funds to the tune of lakhs of rupees in Kapurthala and Ajnala byelections, held in 2004, with a view to influence the voters.

The petitioner alleged that such ‘misappropriations’ are liable to be declared null and void and the officials concerned and office bearers, responsible for such sanctions, are liable to be disqualified for a period of five years.


Kin of police victims got insufficient relief: panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 14
Lawyers for Human Rights International (LFHRI) today said the compensation granted to the families of those killed by the police during insurgency was much less than what was expected.

They also said the compensation was given after nearly 20 years, which clearly shows that justice was not delivered.

Mr Navkiran Singh, General Secretary, LFHRI, said the compensation was granted to the kin of the people who were cremated illegally in the three cremation grounds of Amritsar district i.e. Durgiana Mandir, Patti and Tarn Taran.

He said the total number of bodies cremated were 2059 out of which 1245 were identified. He further said there were 814 unidentified bodies whose identification was yet to be done. But the government has not done anything in this regard and even their photographs were not taken at the time of cremation.

Mr Navkiran said the further course of action in this regard would be decided later after going through the entire judgment.

He said two LFHRI members, V.P.S. Bhatia and Parminder Sethi would look into the problems of the families of those who were cremated during the insurgency.

He said the NHRC had granted Rs 1.75 lakh to the identified persons cremated here and Rs 2.5 lakh to those 194 persons who were killed in police custody. Besides, there was no action to identify the 814 bodies and the government was doing nothing in this regard.

He further said the decision of NHRC had shattered the hopes of families of the victims of the state repression who had faced the wrath of the Punjab Police during the period from 1984 to 1994. The NHRC judgment was pronounced recently on October 10.

The commission was referred the matter by the Supreme Court on the basis of a petition moved by Mrs. Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of Mr Jaswant Singh Khalra.


Cop kicks pregnant woman in stomach
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot October 14
The unruly behaviour of Punjab Police personnel has come to the fore once again. Ranjeet Singh, a head constable posted here, allegedly kicked a pregnant woman, Puja, in the stomach and hit her mother on the head with a baseball bat.

Puja has now been admitted to the civil hospital here. Her condition is stated to be stable though the doctors have still kept her under observation to monitor the condition of the foetus.

Her mother, Kamlesh Rani, was unconscious till the filing of this report. The doctors treating her said her condition was stable.

According to sources, an altercation between the families of Puja and the head constable took place yesterday evening over the construction a temple in Golden Avenue colony in which they are residing.

As per the statement of the family members of Puja, the head constable along with his family members came to their house yesterday evening. They started abusing them challenged and them to come out and threw bricks at their house.

Kamlesh and her mother came out of the house to pacify them. However, Ranjeet, allegedly, hit Kamlesh on her head with a baseball bat after which she lost her consciousness. Puja, her two sisters — Arti and Neha — and their father, Vijay Sehgal, then came out of the house.

They were also, allegedly, attacked. While Puja was kicked in the stomach, her sisters and father were slapped by the accused.

The aggrieved family has lodged a police complaint against the accused constable.

The SSP Gurdaspur, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, when contacted, said the constable was being booked on the complaint of the injured family members.

It is the second incident in the past few months in Gurdaspur when unruly cops have attacked pregnant women. In the recent past, two Batala police cops posted as gunmen with a CPI leader had hit a pregnant woman in the stomach leading to death of the foetus.

A case was registered against the guilty cops and SSP Gurdaspur had recommended their dismissal from service. However, the sources said the aggrieved party had reached a compromise with the guilty cops in lieu of money.


Sisters commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 14
In a suicide pact, two sisters hailing from the local Deep Nagar locality ended their lives by jumping into a canal. Their bodies were recovered from near Bir Behman bridge last evening.

The deceased were identified as 16-year-old Rakesh Kaur and 14-year-old Basant Kaur, both of whom were students of a government school located on the Mall Road. Their father was employed in the MES.

Sources said both the sisters went missing on the intervening night of October 10-11 and their family members’ search for them drew a blank.

A report was lodged with the police.

Last evening, Sahara volunteers were intimated about two bodies floating in a canal.

A team of six volunteers fished out the bodies which were those of the missing sisters.

Both of them had tied their hands with each other while committing suicide.

A case was registered under Section 174 of the CrPC and their bodies were handed over to their family after a postmortem examination. The reason for the suicides is not known.

Meanwhile, in another incident, Jalaur Singh, a farmer from Bajak village, reportedly committed suicide. He was found unconscious near Nandgarh village last evening and was admitted to the Civil Hospital here, following which he breathed his last.

His family members said he was depressed for the past sometime and had consumed a poisonous substance.


Sukhbir dares CM on job provider claim
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal today dared Capt Amarinder Singh to organise a public rally of 20 lakh persons who had been given or were likely to be given jobs by the present government, as claimed by the Chief Minister in advertisements.

“If he can present one-tenth of such persons at the rally, I will honour him at the function and announce my withdrawal from the political scene in his favour.

“In case it is not so, the Chief Minister should confess to giving misinformation and withdraw from the contest.

“We dare him to release a list of 20 lakh persons who had been given jobs by the UPA government at the Centre throughout the country during its tenure”, he said.


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