P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM announces medical college at Malerkotla
Extends Ashirwad Scheme to Muslims
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, October 24
On Id-ul-Fitr, as a gift to the residents of this Muslim-dominated town, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced the setting up of a medical college here. He also made an announcement to extend the Ashirwad Scheme for the daughters of economically poor Muslims as applicable to the Dalit and Christian families. Under the scheme, Rs 15,000 is given as a grant for the marriage of a girl.

Offering greetings to Muslims during the Id-ul-Fitr celebrations at the local idgah today, Capt Amarinder Singh also announced a grant of Rs 15 lakh for the development of the idgah. Along with Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Razia Sultana, MLA from Malerkotla and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, and Ms Perneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, also offered greetings to the Muslims.

Thousands of Muslims offered namaz on the occasion.

Capt Amarinder Singh said a medical and nursing college would be set up here on 25 acres to be provided by the Wakf Board. He further said investment on the college would be jointly made by the Punjab Government and the Wakf Board.

He said he had already sanctioned Rs 62 crore for the development of Malerkotla. He announced that the appointment of Mufti-e-Punjab would be made soon. He also said imams for the local Jama Masjid and Shahi Masjid would be appointed soon.

Talking to mediapersons, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Cabinet would decide on October 27 at its meeting about the creation of Barnala district. He said only full-fledged subdivisions could be included in a new district.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, would visit Punjab in the second half of November. He said there was no need to seek an economic package for Punjab as the Prime Minister had already given Rs 10,000-crore worth projects to Punjab. He said the state government was working to bail out the farmers from the debt burden.

He also said the promotional scale after four, nine and 14 years of service could not be given to the employees from 1996 as the state government was not in a position to pay Rs 2000 crore as arrears to the employees if it was given from 1996.

Meanwhile, Muslims offered namaz at a mosque in Sangrur on Id-ul-Fitr. Leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, Mr Harinderpal Singh, Mr Wazir Khan, and a leader of Lok Bhalai party Mr Sardar Ali offered greetings to the Muslims on the occasion.


Body of DIG to be flown to Delhi today
Family seeks Punjab chopper to fly body to Bodal
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dasuya (Hoshiarpur), October 24
The body of Jaswinder Singh, Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Orissa police who was killed yesterday allegedly by Naxalities, will be flown in to his native Bodal village in Hoshiarpur district. The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr Naveen Patnaik, today laid a wreath on the body of Mr Jaswinder Singh.

The body would be flown to Delhi from Orissa tomorrow morning. It is likely to reach Delhi at about 11 am.

Relatives of the deceased IPS officer have requested the Punjab Government to provide its helicopter for bringing the body to Bodal. If the helicopter is not provided, the body would have to be brought by road. In that case the cremation would take place on Thursday morning. A contingent of Hoshiarpur police has left for Delhi to receive the body.

Meanwhile, people from all over the area poured into native house of the deceased DIG to pay condolence with the family.

Ms Paramjeet Kaur, widow of Jaswinder Singh, and their two children Prabhsimram and Subhkarman reached Bodal today. Nasib Kaur, mother of Jaswinder Singh, and his wife were inconsolable. His elder brother Kulwinder Singh and two sisters also arrived today

The friends and relatives who gathered at the village remember Jaswinder as a soft-spoken and kind-hearted person. Despite being an IPS officer, he always came to the village as a common person.

His school education was from various stations across the country where his father who was in the Army was posted. Jaswinder did his post-graduation in English from Government College, Hoshiarpur.

After completing his education, he joined Punjab National Bank as a clerk at Hoshiarpur. Within six months, he qualified the test and became a probationary officer in the bank. He remained with the bank for about five years. Then he cleared the IAS and was selected for allied services. However, instead of joining the service, Jaswinder appeared for the IAS once again and cleared the exam in 1990.

This time he was allotted the IPS cadre in Orissa. Earlier also he had served as SP in Rayagada district which is infested with Naxalities. He was successful in curtailing the activities of Naxals there.

He was a role model for the people and youth of area who despite his humble beginning had managed to reach the highest strata in Indian police bureaucracy. He was always willing to help the people and youth from his native village, his friends said.

Jaswinder Singh had celebrated his 42nd birthday on October 19th. He had rung up his family members that day.

Jaswinder Singh had apprehended a threat to his family from the Naxals. Perhaps that is why he had kept his family at Jalandhar. His wife is a lecturer in a Nakodar-based college and the children are studying in 10+1.

He wanted to send his children to England for higher studies.

Mr Hardeep Singh Randhawa, DIG Punjab police, who also belongs to Bodal village today to express his grief with family. The SDM of Dasuya, Mr Rahul Chaba, also visited the family.


Police in touch with Goa authorities for rescue of 8 girls
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 24
The Punjab police is in touch with the Goa police for rescuing eight girls, from Kamalpura and surrounding villages in Jagraon, who are still reportedly with the accused Amarjit Singh, from Dehrke village.

Amarjit had allegedly taken 23 girls in separate batches with him to Goa, posing himself as lieutenant and promising them jobs of nurses in the Army. However he allegedly wanted to push them into flesh trade. Fifteen girls were rescued by two groups of their parents and brothers on different dates but eight are still with him.

Jagraon Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) R.K. Jaiswal told The Tribune that a case was registered against Amarjit Singh, and he was in touch with Goa Superintendent of Police (SP) South, Shekhar Sir Desai, in this regard.

Mr Jaiswal said apart from talking to Mr Shekhar twice on the phone, he had sent the photograph of the accused and other required information to him through e-mail for nabbing the accused and rescuing gullible girls.

The Jagraon SSP said a police team would also be sent to Goa within a day or two in this regard. Advance information had been provided to the Goa Police so that the accused could not flee from there, he added.

To a query, he said that some other persons, including the owners of some hotels, might be booked if found guilty.

Meanwhile, Jagraon DSP Paramjit Singh Goraya told The Tribune that an FIR had been registered against Amarjit Singh on the statement of Ajmer Singh of Kamalpura village the previous day itself. The FIR had been registered under sections 406 (Breach of Trust), 419 (Impersonation), 420 (Cheating),344, 346, 347 (deals with illegal confinement), 506 of the IPC (threatening) and under Sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act at Sadar police station.

The FIR was registered when Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia met the Jagraon SSP with the 15 rescued girls and the parents of eight ‘trapped’ girls the previous day.

In the meantime Mr Chamkor Singh Gill, Raikot area chief of the LBP pursuing the case of the girls, told The Tribune that accused Amarjit Singh had threatened to eliminate the complainant Ajmer Singh by pointing a pistol at him in Goa.

Mr Gill said that Ajmer Singh along with Baldev Singh and Iqbal Singh questioned the accused when they had found the accused with the girls in a hotel room locked from outside in Goa. At this, he threatened him. Six girls were brought back to Punjab. 


Amarinder to inaugurate Kathlore bridge today
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 24
The Punjab Government has decided to inaugurate the Kathlore bridge on October 25. A decision to this affect was taken yesterday after The Tribune reported regarding the inconvenience faced by people allowed to use the bridge just because it has not been inaugurated.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister told The Tribune Chief Minister Amarinder Singh would inaugurate the bridge tomorrow.

The bridge has 15 spans each of 42.4 metres. The total length of the bridge is 636 metres. The government has spent Rs 33.95 crore on the bridge.

The bridge opens a new route to Jammu and Kashmir besides connecting population of about one lakh in Narot and Bamiyal blocks with the rest of Gurdaspur district.

People of the area in monsoon season had to come to Gurdaspur through Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. However, now even people of Kathua can come to Gusdaspur through this route.

The bridge has reduced distance between the Dinanagar area of Gudsaspur and Kathua to just 26 km. It is one-third of what people had to travel for going to Jammu via Madhopur and Lakhanpur barrier. The new route will also open trade between border areas of Kathua and Gurdaspur district, Mr Bajwa said.

He added the road from Dinanagar to Kathua would be widened and strengthened under Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme.

On the claims of BJP MP from the area Vinod Khanna that he had facilitated the construction of the bridge Mr Bajwa said that the claim was baseless.

The BJP wanted to rake up the issue believing that it would get the same benefit as it did by creating chaos during the inauguration of Mukerian bridge. However, people of the area know that the construction of the bridge was started by the present Congress government and had been completed by the present government.

Meanwhile, the authorities today made elaborate security arrangements in and around the Kathlore bridge. A large number of policemen have been posted at the spot to prevent any untoward incident. The authorities are not taking any chances, taking lesson from the bloody battle that was fought between the police and SAD-BJP workers during the inauguration of the Mukerian bridge.

Now once again battlelines seem to have been drawn as both SAD-BJP and Congress workers are staking claims for facilitating the construction of the bridge.

BJP leadership today held secret parleys to decide the strategy of the party on the issue.


Farmers’ indebtedness issue may take centrestage
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The issue of indebtedness — one of the main reasons behind suicide by farmers in Punjab — is expected to take the political centre stage in the state.

“Being a sensitive issue, it is certain to be debated in political circles vigorously in days to come,” says a senior leader.

The Punjab Farmers Commission, an official body of the state government, has got a report prepared on farmer suicides in this regard and submitted it to the state government.

The study in this connection has been conducted by the Institute of Development and Communication on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“The report is mainly confined to enlisting reasons for suicides,” say sources.

While preparing the report, case studies have been conducted. “It is a mammoth task collecting data of suicide cases, as a proper census is needed in this regard,” sources add.

The commission, sources say, has sought a meeting with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to discuss the issue in detail with him.

They say the institute has studied the cases of suicide by farmers in all parts of the state. “In almost all cases, indebtedness has been found to be one of the main reasons.”

“The use of drugs, intoxicants, stress, family disputes and some other social factors have also played a role in such case. However, indebtedness is a common factor in most cases,” sources say.

It is a known fact that farmers in the state are under heavy debt. It has also been proved during the National Sample Survey that state farmers top at the national level as far as per head debt on them is concerned.

How should families of the farmers who end their life under stress of debt be compensated and what should be the quantum of the compensation? These are the issues yet to be resolved at the Chief Minister level.

The previous SAD-BJP government, after a lot of political and social pressure, had made a provision to give compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each to the next of kin. But how many families of deceased farmers got the compensation is not known. A study was also conducted by the institute on the level of indebtedness and related issues a few years ago.

Besides, a number of private organisations, including the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) — headed by Inderjeet Singh Jaijee, who was first to highlight this issue — had collected data with regard to suicide by farmers from the Sangrur-Mansa-Bathinda belt and other areas.

He had stated that several hundred farmers had committed suicide in the state since 1987.

The Chief Minister is expected to meet the Prime Minister on October 30 or 31 with regard to the issue of giving relief to debt-ridden farmers in the state.

With Assembly elections drawing closer, the state government seems to be caught in a difficult situation in the absence of any positive response from the Centre.


SAD, BJP legislators denied Sept salary
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and several other Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) MLAs, including Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, have not been given their salary for September. The BJP MLAs have also not got salary, it is learnt.

Sources in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariat told The Tribune today that about 70 per cent of the SAD MLAs had not given salary for the last month. There are 40 SAD and two BJP MLAs.

It is perhaps for the first time in the history of the Punjab Assembly that Opposition MLAs have not been given salary.

During the Assembly session last month, most of the SAD MLAs and two BJP MLAs were suspended from the House for disrupting its proceedings repeatedly. Following the suspension, the SAD and BJP MLAs stayed away from the House on September 15 and September 19. However, they remained on the premises of the Assembly and held a demonstration on both days outside the Assembly building to protest against their suspension.

Official sources said the salary of most of the SAD and BJP MLAs was not released for September because they were suspended from the House for two days and also did not attend the meetings of various committees of the House.

“We did not pay salary for the last month to most of the SAD and BJP MLAs because they did not take part in matters related to the Assembly”, said a senior officer of the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat.

“As they did not perform the tasks related to the Assembly, they were not entitled to salary. For absenteeism, salary can be denied to MLAs”, he added. Besides salary, most of these MLAs will also not get travelling allowance, etc. However, they will be entitled to constituency and other allowances such as the reimbursement of telephone bills, it is learnt. The SAD MLAs did not give in writing the reasons for staying away from the meetings of the committees.

The SAD secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, said it was an unfortunate development. He said in a democratic set-up such things should not happen. Denying salary to Opposition MLAs amounted to setting a wrong precedent.


Custodial death figures alarming in state
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Haunting facts about custodial deaths in Punjab: Every year on an average as many as 75 persons die in custody. Out of the total, 66 per cent of the deaths are eventually attributed to natural causes.

Interestingly, so many of the victims are aged between 20 and 30 years and the cause of death is more often stated to be heart attack and other medical problems. All this has raised doubts about the authenticity of the figures.

A substantial number of the victims belong to the not so affluent strata of the society and are taken into custody by the police on the allegations of indulging in petty offences.

All this has now given rise to the demand for adopting a scientific method of investigation, besides building up teams of specialised staff for handling cases. Taking the offences of petty thefts away from the preview of the police probe for the purpose of recovery and psychiatric examination of the arrested along with the physical examination are also being demanded.

In fact, jail staff and police officers, along with advocates and scholars participating in a seminar on custodial deaths at the Institute of Correctional Administration in Sector 26 here were of the opinion that the measures would go a long way in reducing the number of custodial deaths.

IPS Officer-cum-Inspector-General of Haryana Police K.P. Singh said deaths in several cases did occur due to natural causes because of the “police custody death syndrome”. Elaborating, he said under-nourished people with weak health were actually breathing their last in the custody because of the fear of the unknown.

But in several other cases, the police was under a tremendous pressure to effect recovery. And in the process, they were going up to the extent of indulging in third degree torture.

As such, the authorities concerned should frame a policy vide which the aggrieved should be asked to approach the insurance companies directly for compensation instead of burdening the police with the task of recovering the goods. The move would also go a long way in reducing implications by the police.

The Institute of Correctional Administration’s Deputy Director, Dr Upneet Lalli, said the arrested were taken for medical examinations, but hardly any attention was being paid to their state of mind during the period of their custody. As such, they should also be checked by a psychiatrist for diagnosing mental ailments. The police and the jail staff should also be trained to handle drug and other addicts.

Senior IAS officer S.K. Nayyar said in several custodial death cases the amount of compensation ordered by the courts were not actually reaching the families of the victims. As such, an action taken report should be submitted to the courts and the amount should be disbursed through the district administration.

Otherwise also, the scope of inquiry by the Judicial Magistrates should be increased to identify legal heirs for the purposes of paying the amount of compensation.


‘PM may announce package for Punjab’
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, October 24
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is likely to announce a package for Punjab during his visit next month, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Sports and Youth Affairs), Punjab Government, said at Kami Kalan village, near here, today.


Singla defends giving of ads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today said the government was well within its constitutional rights to come out with advertisements in newspapers highlighting its performance.

Mr Singla said the government was not doing anything wrong in issuing advertisements propagating its achievements in the past five years and also comparing these with those of the SAD-BJP alliance. When asked to clarify if public money was being spent on the advertisements, he said these were given to highlight the performance of the government and not the party.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Singla criticised the SAD’s application to the Election Commission and the Punjab and Haryana High Court for putting a bar on such advertisements. He clarified that the Punjab Government had not received any notice from the High Court.

“The SAD’s protest shows that it is scared and in panic over impending defeat in the Assembly elections due in few months from now as the truth is being published in the government advertisements,” he said, adding that the performance of the Congress government and that of the SAD-BJP alliance would be an issue in the poll.

Mr Singla said: “They cannot run away from their bad performance, total destruction of the state’s economy and even non-payment of salary and pension to employees and pensioners.” Quoting statistics, the Finance Minister said that during November-December, 2001 (just before the Assembly elections in 2002) the SAD-BJP alliance spent over Rs 1.38 crore on advertisements. Besides, it diverted Rs 4,543 crore from food credit to pay pensions and salaries. This was later converted into mid-term loans. All this was done without seeking the permission of the Reserve Bank of India, he added.

The state government was repaying Rs 65 crore monthly due to the wrong steps taken by SAD-BJP alliance, Mr Singla said.

Mr Singla said the state government procured 10 successive crops with payments within 24 hours to the farmers. He said during the regime of the SAD the procurement was riddled with hassles and corruption while the government was running on an overdraft. Mr Parkash Singh Badal never demanded any package during the Vajpayee-led NDA regime at the Centre.


Criminals in politics worry YC chief
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 24
Mr Vijay Inder Singla, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, expressed anguish over criminals entering in politics.

Talking to reporters at PWD Rest House here today, he said entry of criminals in all political parties had degraded politics and encouraged anti-social elements.

He has started screening of the state’s Youth Congress to get rid of such elements. a campaign will be launched to enrol maximum number of youths in the party for the development of down trodden.

Mr Singla said he under a mass contact programme in the state had visited Sangrur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Bathinda, Moga, Amritsar and Ropar districts and addressed rallies of youths there. He will cover all remaining districts of Punjab before November 6.

Mr Singla said Youth Congress workers Committees consisting of 15 to 25 members would be formed in all 12700 villages of state to strengthen the party to ensure victory of all Congress candidates in the election to the Assembly.

To how many seats for the Youth Congress will be demanded from the Congress high command in the election to the Assembly, Mr Singla said that winning prospects of a candidate would only be considered for ticket allotment.

On rising prices of essential commodities, he said he had suggested to the Chief Minister Punjab to strengthen the public distribution system and supply essential commodities to common man on subsidised rates.

On his first visit to Hoshiarpur after assuming the charge of state chief of the Youth Congress, Mr Singla was received by the office-bearers of the District Youth Congress led by President Mr Arun Dogra.

Later, Mr Singla addressed a rally of youth Congress Workers at Drama Stage here where more than 5000 workers from all over the district participated. Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, a Rajya Sabha Member and president of the DCC, Ram Rattan, Vice-President PPCC and many other leaders addressed the rally.


Suspended Cong leaders reinstated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The brother of Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar and his three loyalists, who were suspended from the Congress party at one point of time, were today given prime posts in the PPCC.

Mr Ripjit Brar, brother of Mr Brar, along with three others, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Harry, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, alias Kulbir Singh Bathinda, and Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, were taken back into the PPCC. While Mr Brar has been appointed as the general secretary, Mr Harry and Mr Sidhu have been appointed as secretaries. Mr Sandhu has been taken in as executive member.

These four were first suspended from the party for their utterances against the Chief Minister and his policies. The party set up a disciplinary committee where they pleaded that nothing was directed at the party and their primary membership be restored. They four had spoken up after the deal of Reliance Industries was highlighted in the newspapers.

Apart from Mr Brar’s brother and his loyalists, the others to be appointed today were vice-presidents — Mr Harmel Singh Dhillon and Mr Raghubir Singh; general secretaries — Mr Gurbachan Singh Babbehali and Mr Gurdass Girdhar; secretary — Mr Jagpal Singh Abulkhurana; and executive member — Mr Baljeet Singh.


Mann lashes out at Cong, BJP
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 24
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann has urged the people to strengthen the third front, if they wanted to save Punjab from the clutches of the Congress and the SAD.

He said both these parties were hand in glove with each other and were bent upon destroying the tenets of Sikhism, promoting family rule and corruption, beating of unemployed youths, forcing farmers under debt burden, grabbing their agriculture land to hand over it to big industrial houses and imposing taxes on the public.

The press conference was called to introduce certain SAD (A) leaders and workers led by Jassa Singh Galwadi, who had earlier deserted SAD (A) at the time of the SGPC elections and had now came back to party fold. He termed it as their homecoming.


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