P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

CM refutes Badal on loans
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 16
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today refuted claims of Shiromani Akali Dal president, Parkash Singh Badal farmers loans in the state stood at Rs 30,000 crore. He said, it was about Rs 25, 000 crore only and of this only Rs 2500 crore was bad debt.

The Chief Minister also announced the government would bring out a white paper on the Ludhiana City Centre covering all aspects, including allotment of sites.

Addressing a rally on the occasion of the 336th birth anniversary of Shiromani Shaheed Bairagi Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the Chief Minister had a dig at Mr Badal for forgetting the birth anniversary of the great sikh soldier. He said, “instead he was busy holding dharnas and misguiding people”.

The Chief Minister said, there was no question of waiving entire Rs 25,000 crore loans. He pointed out, even Mr Badal, when he was the Chief Minister, had said on record that agricultural loans could not be waived now he was trying to befool people by demanding the waiver.

He said, relief package was being worked out for those who could not repay the loans. He said, arthiyas were being taken into confidence for which a ministerial committee had been set up. For the debts related to nationalised banks the state had already approached the central government.

Cops fires rubber bullets on farmers, 24 hurt
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 16
More than 24 persons, including a security guard of the Superintendent of Police, were hurt as farmers and the police exchanged fire at Gharsana, a small town in neighbouring Sriganganagar district today.

According to information the Kisan Beopari Sangharsh Samiti, which had organised an agitation in October 2004, had given an ultimatum for better supply of water in canals last week.

The district administration clamped curfew and enforced prohibitory orders to check a maha-Panchayat at Gharsana. Talk with senior representatives of the civil administration had failed.

The government had expressed inability to make more water available, as reduction in the supply due to excess withdrawal of water from Punjab in the recent past. The people had set three police vehicles ablaze while defying prohibitory orders despite the deployment of more than 20 companies of armed police around Gharsana and Rawla mandi in the first phase of the agitation.

Sources said more than 10,000 farmers including 2500 women today marched in Gharsana.

Unconfirmed reports said a miscreant resorted to firing also. The police, initially, used rubber bullets injuring at least 24 dozen protesters including women. Later the police was noticed firing in the air, witnesses said.


Kamal Chaudhary joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,October 16
The former Congress Member of Parliament, Mr Kamal Chaudhary joined the Shiromani Akali Dal here today. He was welcomed to the party by the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with a siropa. Earlier, in the presence of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, he spoke to mediapersons.

Mr Kamal Chaudhary, a former squadron leader, joined the politics on the behest of the late Rajiv Gandhi in the eighties. He was elected to the Lok Sabha four times from Hoshiarpur. After joining the SAD, Mr Chaudhary said the Congress Government in Punjab was neck deep in scandals. “ I will launch a big struggle under the leadership of Mr Badal.”

He said the Congress government in Punjab had failed to provide relief to the people. his late father Chaudhary Balbir Singh had worked with Mr Badal for a long period.


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