P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Lathi charge on farmers; 2 cops, 25 agitators hurt
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 30
Clashes marred farmers’ agitation again today as a call for a bandh and ‘chakka’ jam paralysed life in neighbouring areas of Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar. Bus service to these districts from here was suspended forcing thousands of people to use trains.

The traders’ organisations joined the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti in giving a call for bandh today and used public address system fitted vehicles to appeal to people to join the stir. Violence that earlier was confined to Gharsana today spread to the Rawatsar area in Hanumangarh district. At least two police sub inspectors and 25 agitators, including four women, were injured in clashes this afternoon. The police resorted to lathi charge repeatedly.

A spokesman of the Sangharsh Samiti told this correspondent on the phone in the evening that all kinds of service had been hit in the areas located on the Hanumangarh-Bikaner and Sriganganagar-Bikaner roads. Hundreds of trucks loaded with commodities were stranded on the way. Operators were advised to keep their vehicles at a distance from the NH 15.

Agitation in Rawatsar area today completed a fortnight. Today more than 2000 men and women sat on a dharna at the office of the Sub Divisional Magistrate Rawatsar and tried to break barricades raised by the administration. The agitators threw stones as the police tried to push them. Thirty persons on both sides received injuries, five of them were serious, sources said.

Meanwhile senior leaders of the samiti this evening resolved to send a jatha to join the agitation at Rawla tomorrow.

Cremation of Chadu Ram, a farmer who had succumbed to injuries last week has been deferred. He was injured in lathi charge on October 16. The samiti has kept the body on the road in the Gharsana area.


Centre criticised for low MSP to farmers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 30
The Central Government is “forcing” privatisation of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) by announcing low minimum support price (MSP), thus making farmers sell their crop to private companies.

Stating this at a rally of the CITU, the AITUC and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha against the economic policies of the Central and the state governments here today, MP and Confederation of Industrial Trade Union (CITU) general secretary Tapan Sen said this would lead to problems for farmers in the future.

Mr Sen said private companies were luring farmers by give more price for their crops but within two or three years these companies would pay half the MSP to be announced by the Centre, as there would be no government agency left to buy wheat or paddy from the farmers.

This would result in increase in prices of foodgrain and create problems for the common man.

Mr Sen said various trade unions would observe a nationwide strike on December 14 to protest against the economic policies of the Central Government. He alleged that the UPA government at the Centre was following the policies adopted by the former NDA government.

He said the Centre was selling public sector units to multinational companies at throwaway prices due to which hundreds of persons were being rendered jobless.

Earlier, addressing the gathering CITU state president Prof Balwant Singh said the government was showing scarcity of fertilisers, which was forcing farmers to buy these on the black market.

He said due to this, the production cost of crops had increased considerably, resulting in heavy losses to farmers.

He also lashed out at the Punjab Government for adopting repressive policies against employees. He added that the Chief Minister was favouring multinational companies like Reliance by selling land at throwaway prices.


BKU welcomes hike in MSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
The general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, today welcomed the decision of the Union Government to hike the minimum support price of wheat by Rs 100 per quintal.

He said had the government given an MSP to match the import price of wheat, India would have had surplus production and could have even exported the grain.


New political combination emerging
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
A new political combination is emerging in Punjab. The objective of the combination is to have an understanding with various political parties except the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress on contesting the Assembly elections.

The main players in the combination will be Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh. The president of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Mr Chandumajra, told The Tribune that a sanjha Panthic muhaj (SPM) would be set up by him in association with Mr Mann and Mr Ravi Inder Singh.

He said the SPM would contest about 50 Assembly seats. On about 30 seats it would extend support to the candidates put up by the Left parties and secular front. On the remaining 37 seats, the SPM would extend support to candidates put up by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). He said this combination would make an all-out effort to stop the Congress and the SAD from winning the elections.

He said that discussion in this regard was in progress with the Left parties and the BSP. “ I am certain that the combination will play an important role in the Assembly elections”, he added. He said his party had cancelled the “parivartan march” that was to be held from November 1 to 15 in the state. “ Now we will hold a parivartan rally in Chandigarh on November 20”, he said. Mr Chandumajra said his party would not participate in the dharna to be organised outside the Golden Temple on November 2 by various groups. “ However, my party will be take part in the dharna which will be held in Ludhiana on November 8 by various Panthic parties”, he added.

Mr Chandumajra, who had convened a meeting of senior leaders of his party here today, said his party wanted that the Union Government should announce a relief package for small scale industries, farmers and Dalits immediately. Chandigarh should be transferred to Punjab and states should be given more powers. Industry in Punjab should be given concessions on the pattern of hill states. Sikh youths detained in various jails should be released and the death sentence given to Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar should be commuted. Last time when the Prime Minister visited Punjab, he disappointed all Punjabis by not giving a package to the state.

He said that unemployment and the use of drugs had emerged as two big problems of Punjab. There was also a crisis on the power front.

Talking about the recent clash between two groups of Akalis, Mr Chandumajra said it was unfortunate. He said the Sikh high priests should frame a code of conduct with regard to the functions being organised by the SGPC by using gurdwara funds. He said representatives of all Panthic parties should be given an opportunity to speak at such functions.


Opening of Hussainiwala route to Pakistan can boost trade
Ajay Banerjee and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 30
Discussions at any function, gathering, meetings of political parties, traders and even in a drawing-room in this border city invariably centres on the importance of opening of the India Pakistan border at Hussainiwala, 11 km from here. Significance of the opening this route is such that it is considered a magic-potion leading to all-round development of the city which had place of prominence during the British rule.

Last month when Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was quoted by the media having assured the Punjab Congress men that the process to open the Hussainiwala route on the Indo-Pakistan border at Ferozepore had been set in motion, there was a ray of hope for the city. City and its residents, have memories of flourishing trade with Pakistan that resulted into economic prosperity. The route was closed in 1971. Today the heavily guarded border at Hussainiwala is a place of pilgrimage for the hundreds, who daily homage to freedom fighters Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Young couple holding hands can be seen at the retreat ceremony when BSF jawans lower the national flag , but there is no sign of trade.

Residents of Ferozepore give an argument: in this age of long-range missiles, nuclear capabilities and fighter aircraft, the city is as safe or unsafe as say Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur or Mumbai. It is wrong to say that the city will be a “soft target” of the neighbouring country once the route is opened, says Mr Ashwani Mehta, president Beopar Mandal, Ferozepore.

Another 10 years of this pace in deciding the opening of the border and the city will be finished, he predicts. He says it is difficult to perceive what added risk can the country face by opening of the route or what safety does a closed border provides.

He alleges the strong businessmen lobby and political clout of Amritsar is hampering the opening of this route, as it will affect their commerce and trade. More than 40 lakh people living in Malwa will, however, benefit.

Young advocate, Gulshan Rai Monga says the area grows potatoes, carrots, capsicum and cauliflower in abundance and once the border opens the possibilities are endless. Apart from this there will be demand for hotel rooms, clothes, eatables, PCO services, snacks, taxi service, truckers, labourers, porters, money changers and cranes, he says.

The Pakistani dry fruit, grapes and cloth material have ready market in India. And similarly, sugar, tea, vegetables, paan, farm equipments from India are in great demand in Pakistan. Old timers reveal the cinema houses here attracted visitors from Pakistan in 1960’s when the Hussainiwala border was open as they were great fan of Indian movies and cinema.

President of the Brickkiln Owners Association, Rakesh Aggarwal, says Ferozepore has been long neglected and wants work should start on a war footing to create infrastructure if the border has is be opened soon. We needed better bridge across the Satluj and wider roads which allowed easy transportation of goods and crossing for people, he added.

Mr Parminder Singh “Pinki”, general secretary of the Punjab Congress says “efforts are on at the highest level to get the border opened. It is the biggest demand of Ferozepore and it will help adjoining districts of Moga, Faridkot, Bathinda and Muktsar also”.


Ambitious project to clean Bein
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 30
The state government in association with Eak Onkar Charitable Trust of Sant Baba Balbir Singh of Sichewal has prepared an ambitious project costing over Rs 75 crore to clean the holy Bein (earlier known as Kali Bein) and improve its surroundings.

In the first phase of the project, the flow of sewerage — originating from the adjoining 38 villages and seven towns of Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts — into the holy Bein would be stopped before January 31, 2007.

A sum of Rs 3 lakh each had been provided to these villages to make local arrangements in this regard.

Treatment plants would also be set up to purify water, which would be utilised for irrigation in respective villages.

This was stated by Principal Secretary of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, P. Ram, who is also in-charge of the project, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said the amount given to the towns for the project was yet to be finalised. A barrage would be constructed in the holy Bein at Budhu Barkat to streamline the flow of water. A sum of Rs 29 lakh had already been released in this regard.

In the second phase, a sewerage treatment facility would be built in all 38 villages and seven towns within the next three years.

Regular flow of water would be facilitated from Mukerian hydel channel into the holy Bein from Dhanoya village to Harike.

He said 20-foot-wide inspection road with cement-brick flooring would be constructed on either side of the holy Bein and 30-foot-wide plantation area would be created, which would have fruit and ornamental plants.

Besides, arrangements would be made to develop organic farming in the catchment area.

To encourage tourism, tourist spots would also be developed.

The Geological Survey of India had been asked to make a survey in the catchment area to identify heritage sites so that these could be developed for tourism.

He said the government would finance the project, while devotees of Sant Baba Balbir Singh would volunteer to complete the project.

After its completion, the Eak Onkar Charitable Trust would maintain the area.

D.K. Tiwari and Raminder Singh, both Deputy Commissioners of Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala, respectively, and Sant Balbir Singh were also present there.

Later, Mr Ram presided over a meeting of officers of the two districts and reviewed the proposed arrangements for the completion of the project.


SAD(A) to take out 3 protest rallies
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 30
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD(A), has announced to take out three protest marches against the Kathunangal incident from next week, when he fully recovers from injuries sustained during the clash.

While talking to mediapersons here today, he said SAD(A) had decided to take out these protest rallies bare footed. The first rally will be taken out to the native village of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

He further said the second march will be taken out to Akal Takhat against the partisian attitute and negative approach of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takhat towards other panthic organisations.

He alleged that Jathedar Akal Takhat was a puppet in the hands of Mr Badal, Bibi Surinder Kaur and Mr Sukhbir Badal. He said the third rally will be taken out against Birjinder Singh Hamdard, Managing Editor of Ajit, who is also hand in glove with the Badals and played a partial role through his paper. He tried to put the entire blame of violance at Kathunangal on SAD(A) through his writings and advertisements. He declared that his party would not give a call for the boycott of the paper.

He also criticised the criteria of the SGPC to confer “Panth Rattan” awards. He said those, who played a role in operation Blue Star had been confered the Panth Rattan award, where as great personalities of the Panth like Giani Dit Singh, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala and Sir Chotu Ram had been ignored.

He said the SAD(A) would confer Panth Rattan award to these personalities.


More jobs being created: Youth Congress
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 30
The Congress government has provided over 40,000 job opportunities for the youth in the state and more vacancies were being created in both the government and private sectors. This will help eradicate the problem of unemployment in the state, stated Mr Vijayinder Singla, president, Punjab Youth Congress, while presiding over a rally organised by the party at Town Hall here today.

He added that job selections in government departments were being made on the basis of merit of the candidates so as to send a positive message to the youth of the state.

He stated that with the Vidhan Sadha elections a few months away, the Youth Congress had started mobilising its cadre for the electoral battle by planning rallies in every district.

Mr Hans Raj Jossan Minister of State for Irrigation and Forests, Mr Parminder Singh Pinki, general secretary, PPCC, Mr Gurnaib Brar, president of the DCC, Mr Naresh Kataria, Mr Harinder Dhindsa, president, DYC, besides hundreds of Youth Congress leaders, workers and supporters participated in the rally today.

Talking to media persons, Mr Singla said due representation would be given to the Youth leaders in the allotment of tickets for the Assembly elections in the state.

About the rise in drug abuse, Mr Singla said the PYC has initiated several measures to prevent the youths of this granary of India from falling prey to drugs and other social evils.

He denied that there was any friction in the state Youth Congress cadre.


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