P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


23 girls taken to Goa for ‘flesh trade’, 15 rescued
Girls promised jobs in defence by ‘Army officer’
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 23
As many as 15 girls have been rescued from the clutches of a person who claims to be an Army officer, said president of the Lok Bhalai Party Balwant Singh Ramoowalia while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Ramoowalia said Amarjit Singh of Dehrke village falling under Jagraon of Ludhiana district, had taken as many as 23 girls belonging to poor families of Kamalpura and surrounding villages in Jagraon with him to Goa on the pretext of getting them recruited in the Army as nurses.

After keeping them in several hotels in Goa, he took them to Lucknow for getting their ‘medical’ done as the recruitment procedure, he said, adding that the parents of some of the girls also accompanied them.

After the parents realised that Amarjit was befooling them, they brought back 15 girls while eight girls were still with him, Mr Ramoowalia said. He alleged that the fake Army officer might sell these girls or push them into flesh trade.

Also a former union minister, Mr Ramoowalia said he had already talked to Goa DGP in this regard and would brought the matter to the notice of Jagraon SSP.

The rescued girls, LBP acting president Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, general secretary Ramandeep Singh Bharowal and Raikot halqa president Chamkor Singh Gill were also present during the press conference.

Paramjeet Kaur, mother of two girls, told The Tribune that Amarjit was her distant relative, so she sent her two daughters Karamjit Kaur and Simarjeet Kaur with him to Goa as he had posed himself as an Army officer and promised jobs for the sisters. While Karamjit had been rescued by a co-villager Iqbal Singh along with six girls on October 13, Simarjit was still with him, she added. Two villagers Jagtar Singh and Gurmeet Singh also rescued a batch of nine girls from Amarjit’s clutches.

Manjeet Kaur, mother of another victim Sandeep Kaur who is still with the accused, has the same worries. Similar is the case with Chand Singh of Kamalpura village, who had sent her daughter Baljeet Kaur to Goa.

Some other girls who were still with the accused included Roopinder Kaur of Kamalpura village, Jaspreet Kaur of Heran village, Kuldeep Kaur of Lopo village in Moga district and Satbir Kaur of Achorwal village in Ludhiana district.

One of the rescued girls Amandeep Kaur alleged that Amarjeet wanted them to push into the flesh trade.


Punjab in fix over DGP’s selection
Supreme Court guidelines
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Punjab Government is grappling with serious issues related to the selection and posting of the Punjab Police chief in the light of directions given by the Supreme Court with regard to police reforms that include the selection and minimum tenure of the Director-General of Police (state police chief), setting up of the state security commission, constituting of the police establishment board and setting up a police complaints authority.

The directions of the Supreme Court are to be implemented by December 31. The Union Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretaries of the state governments and the Union Territories are to file affidavits of compliance in the Supreme Court by January 3.

Sources said that after holding brainstorming sessions, the top brass of the Punjab government had referred certain important issues with regard to the implementation of the apex court directions to the Union Government for clarifications and guidance.

The Supreme Court direction says that the “ Director-General of Police of the state shall be selected by the state government from amongst the three seniormost officers of the department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation”.

However, it is not clear in the directions whether the officers empanelled for promotion should be only from the IPS cadre of the particular state of which the DGP is to be selected and posted or any officer from outside the state cadre can also be included in the panel. The present Punjab DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, is from the Maharashtra cadre. If the Union Government says that the panel of the officers should be only from IPS officers of that very state for which selection is to be made, it will become difficult for the state government to address this issue.

Another clarification sought by the state government is whether the directions will be applicable to the present DGP or will become operative after his retirement or on the completion a tenure of two years. Mr Virk will complete two years as DGP on January 31 next year. However, he is to retire in 2009.

The sources said another question related to the issue is whether a new DGP can be selected and posted if the election code of conduct is in operation. The Supreme Court directions are to come into effect from January 1, 2007. By that time, the code of conduct with regard to the Assembly elections will probably come into operation in the state.

The state government has also asked the Union Government whether the UPSC is to be supplied only with the names of the three seniormost officers of the Police Department or more names can be included in the panel.

Meanwhile, for setting up the state security commission, the main job of which will to ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the state police and to lay down the broad policy guidelines so that the state police always acts according to the laws of the land, the state government has selected the model recommended by the Sorabjee Committee.

The other two models were recommended by the National Human Rights Commission and the Ribeiro Committee.

The Supreme Court had directed the state governments concerned to select any of the three models which were part of the judgement delivered on September 22 this year. As for the Sorabjee Committee recommendations, the security commission, which will be a watchdog body, will be headed by the Chief Minister or the Home Minister and will have the DGP as its ex-officio secretary. The Leader of the Opposition will a member of the commission. Its other members will be the Chief Secretary and five independent members. It is not clear what the selection criteria for the independent members will be.

The sources said that as far as separation of the investigating police from the law and order maintaining police is concerned, Mr Virk had been asked to submit the blueprint to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in this regard within a month.


Police failure to trace woman irks villagers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 23
Resentment is brewing among the residents of Gadadobe village here over the alleged police failure in tracing out newly wedded Kuldeep Kaur hailing from the village even after 11 days of her abduction.

The residents gathered in large numbers at her father Joginder Singh’s home to sympathise with the family.

Joginder Singh said his daughter got married to Gurdas Singh of Bhagsar village on October 11 and the very next day she was abducted by a group of unidentified men while she was on her way to Bhagsar along with her husband and his cousin Sukhwant. He alleged that both of them did not make any effort to save her.

He said the police too had done little to find clues about her whereabouts. The victim’s mother Harbans Kaur too held her Gurdas responsible for her daughter’s abduction.

Village sarpanch Sameet Singh and former sarpanch Mahindro Devi said the incident had put a big question mark on the law and order situation in the state. They said the police had sought two days’ time to solve the case, but nothing had materialised even after 11 days of the incident. They warned that if Kuldeep could not be traced soon they would resort to protests and hunger strike.

Meanwhile, Gurdas’s parents said they had no role in her abduction and were cooperating with the police in every way.

SSP G Nageshwar Rao said the police had carried out a search operation in the entire area apart from sending messages and her photographs to police stations in neighbouring districts. He said the police was working on various theories and had sent some teams to different directions in this connection.


Land acquisition: farmers plan protest on Nov 8
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Following the failure of the Punjab Government to cancel notices for the acquisition of agricultural land in Barnala and Amritsar, members of nine farmers’ organisations of the state have decided to hold a protest for regaining the right to cultivate 378 acres in Barnala.

The decision was taken at a joint meeting of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), the Democratic Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Union, the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and the Zamin Bachao Committee of Barnala held here today. Mr Bhupinder Sambhar presided over the meeting.

Though the Union Government issued directions some weeks ago to the states not to acquire any agricultural land for special economic zones (SEZs) or for allotment to industrial houses, the Revenue Department has not revoked notices issued under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring 378 acres in Barnala for an industrial house and 1,218 acres for an SEZ.

The decision of the farmers to hold a statewide protest on November 8, just six days before the Congress is planning a major rally in Ludhiana to showcase its strength for the coming Assembly elections, assumes tremendous significance.

The nine farmers’ organisations also decided to hold dharnas at all district headquarters on November 8 besides a round-the-clock protest dharna in Amritsar.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan of the BKU (Ekta) told The Tribune that though the government had taken “forcible” possession of 376 acres of agricultural land in Fatehgarh Chhanna, Dhola and Sanghera villages, farmers had been protesting by not accepting the award. They had formed the Zamin Bachao Committee to save their land and had been agitating since then.

“We thought that the new directions of the Union Government would give us respite. But the Punjab Government appears to be heading for yet another confrontation with farmers. We will not allow an inch of agricultural land to be given for either an SEZ or to an industrial house,” said Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan.

The November 8 dharnas would also focus on other demands of the farmers which include the one-time settlement of debts, a reduction of interest on farm loans to 4 per cent, an amendment to the law to prohibit the passing of decrees for the recovery of farm loans, compensation of Rs 10 lakh to next of kin of those farmers who committed suicide because of their inability to repay loans and making the minimum support prices of various crops remunerative.


Jail authorities offer prisoners as servants
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 23
The Department of Jails has offered prisoners as servants for household and other chores to the license holder citizens. In a written communication issued recently the respective Jail Superintendents have asked the license holders if they wanted any prisoner for household or agriculture chores.

The license holders are those persons who are authorised by the Department of Jails to keep prisoners as servants in their houses, farms or business establishments. They are issued license or permit to have prisoners as servants on the basis of their capability to handle and feed them.

In Gurdaspur district many landlords have been issued such permits by the department. However, very few of them are now taking prisoners as servants.

One such license holder, Mr Amarjeet Singh Bajwa, a senior SAD leader from Quadian, while talking to The Tribune said earlier it was comparatively safe to had prisoners for working in your farms. However, the crime has increased to such an extent that you cannot trust prisoners. So, I have not opted for having prisoners as servants since past many years despite repeated requests of the department.

Many other families who have license have stopped taking prisoners as servants. The department had allowed respected citizens to take prisoners as servants as a reform movement. The prisoners who were sentenced for petty crimes and had good conduct as per the jail authorities were offered to the license holders.

During their stay with the license holders the prisoners had to report to the nearest police station every evening. Feeding and paying labour as fixed by the department was the responsibility of those taking prisoners as labourers. The aim of the move was to make the prisoners stay in open jails and allow them to chance to reform.

However, with the criminal becoming professional and hardcore the movement has lost momentum. These days there are very few takers for prisoners as they feel they are hardcore and cannot reform easily. 


Attack on doctor sparks strike in hospital
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 23
At least 30 unidentified persons assaulted Dr Des Raj in the emergency ward of the Civil Hospital here to express resentment against alleged negligence of a doctor of the hospital due to which Hamraj Kumar alias Sonu (32), of Gobindgarh mohalla (Bahadurpur), died last night. Windowpanes of the emergency ward were smashed.

The hospital staff including doctors and nurses, assembled in the emergency ward and went on a strike. They demanded strengthening of the police post of the hospital, registration of a case against the attackers and their arrest. Indoor and outdoor patients faced difficulty. Heavy police force arrived in the hospital, but attackers escaped from the hospital.

Dr G.P.S. Bedi, Senior Medical Officer of the hospital said a police post was set up in the hospital for the safety of the staff, but the employees did not come to rescue Dr Des Raj. He said a complaint had been sent to the Model Town police station in this regard.

Dr Bedi said Hamraj Kumar, who had consumed some poisonous substance at 8:25 p.m. last night was brought to the hospital at 10:35 p.m. in a serious condition. Pulse and heart beating of the patient was almost held up. When the doctor on duty expressed helplessness, the attendants wanted him to refer the patient to DMC, Ludhiana. On their requests the patient was referred to Ludhiana, but he died on the way. The attendants brought the body back to the hospital and kept it in its mortuary.

The SHO of the Model Town police station said a case had been registered.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against Dari of local Rishi Nagar, Shanker, a shopkeeper of the Phagwara road, Babba of Prahlad Nagar, Kala of Lachhman Dass Dharamshala, Nikka of Bahadurpur and Mintu Pathania of Chabbewal for harassing Hamraj Kumar due to which he consumed poison.

According to police sources, Hamraj Kumar had taken loan from the aforesaid persons. When they demanded their money back he took the drastic step to end his life.


100-year-old railway overbridge to be replaced
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
An over 100-year-old railway overbridge (ROB) that has become a major bottleneck in smooth traffic between Ferozepore city and Ferozepore cantonment will be dismantled soon. The Punjab Government has now sanctioned Rs 15.80 crore to build a new ROB.

Ferozepore city and Ferozepore cantonment are different Assembly segments. As the existing bridge is narrow, people of the area have been facing a lot of problems. They have been demanding the construction of a new bridge.

The bridge was declared unsafe for heavy traffic. Because of this reason, heavy vehicles had to take a circuitous route after covering 15 km extra to go from Ferozepore cantonment to the city. Promises made earlier to get a new ROB constructed had remained unfulfilled.

Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, who has been pursuing the bridge case, said the empowered committee cleared the new bridge proposal today. Already, Rs 4 crore has been advanced to the PWD for taking up construction work on a war footing. He said the remaining amount would be released by the government in two weeks’ time.

The old bridge was only 22 ft wide. However, the new one would be 33 ft wide. Moreover because of the old bridge, work on the electrification of the Ferozepore-Fazilka-Ganganagar rail track was also held up. There was no space under the bridge to fix electric wires.

The Secretary, Planning, Mr Satish Chandra, had put up a proposal to build the new ROB to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who approved it. Earlier, there was a plan to spend Rs 4 crore to remodel the old bridge. However, keeping in view the proposal to electrify the rail track, a decision was taken to construct a new ROB. Mr Parminder Singh said the height of the new bridge would be raised by 1.8 metres. The bridge had been designed by a national company.

He said with the construction of the new ROB, over 3 lakh people would be benefited. 


Two BSF jawans commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 23
Domestic circumstances allegedly drove Head Constable Haripal Singh belonging to 07 battalion of the BSF to take extreme step of committing suicide, revealed BSF sources here this evening.

According to information, Haripal Singh who was deployed at border outpost Bareke along the Indo-Pak border, near Hussianiwala, had called up his home before resorting to this drastic step. He had shot himself with service INSAS rifle on Sunday morning while being deployed at his post.

BSF sources revealed that Haripal Singh was perturbed due to some settlement problem pertaining to his daughter who had some medical problem. He had called up at his home several times in the past and was visibly upset for quite sometime, confided his colleagues.

In another case, Hardyal Singh belonging to 130 battalion of the BSF posted at Uggo Ke BOP was found dead with gunshot wounds. Senior BSF officials are silent on the incident, but sources said in this case too, the BSF constable had allegedly committed suicide.

BSF official said in the past such cases had been reported also specially during the festival season when the tendency of resorting to these drastic steps becomes high.


Notice to Chief Secy on ads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Accusing the Punjab Government of causing loss to the state exchequer by issuing advertisements allegedly full of lies, SAD general secretaries Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Balwinder Singh Bhunder, along with four other MLAs, have asked the state authorities to stop the issuance of such advertisements.

In a legal notice issued to state Chief Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal, Secretary (Information and Public Relations) D.S. Jaspal and another respondent, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and others alleged that the advertisements, aimed at influencing the mindset of people with a view to having unfair advantage, were being issued from public funds. As such, the entire exercise amounted to the misuse of the same.

They added that the advertisements, comparing the functioning of the Congress government in the state with the previous Akali government, not only contained half-baked truths but also exaggerated assertions.

The claims regarding the tenure of the Akalis between 1997 and 2002 were particularly full of lies, they alleged.


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