P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM storms Akali turf
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Koomkalan/Raikot, November 9
The second day of Punjab Vikas Yatra came gift-wrapped in vibrant hues. As the CM moved away from the main roads into the alluring greens of the countryside, his road show appeared more purposeful than it did on the launch. It was more focused and less crowded as several ministers had been sent packing.

Only six politicians were allowed to move with the CM’s convoy that appeared more people-friendly today. In return, people, mainly women, thronged all 40 locations along the 119-km route which the CM traversed.

Escorted by hundreds of supporters, Capt Amarinder Singh entered the Akali belt with a bang, marking his first attendance at Dhaulran village in Koomkalan - Punjab’s largest constituency. An Akali stronghold, Koomkalan gave a warm reception to the CM, hoping he would address its woes.

At Dhaulran, he drove past villagers like Gurpreet Kaur, a mother of three daughters desperate to seek his recommendation for the Shagan scheme. “My eldest daughter just got married. I have made several visits to government offices to get Rs 5,000 due to us under the scheme, but to no avail,” she said.

Standing by her side was Surinder Kaur from Kiri Phagana who had been waiting for three hours to forward a complaint to the CM against her husband who had deserted her. But the CM was out of reach, expect at a few places like Machhiwara where he was cornered by Makkar Singh, an old farmer who walked up to him with his spade and seemed to ask what the CM was doing there. Security persons, however, sent him back.

The CM seemed to be enjoying his popularity at Machhiwara where Akali MLA Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal rules. He admitted: “I am overjoyed at the support the Akali belt is offering. I am confident that the forthcoming elections will be peaceful. Also, I am looking forward to the November 14 rally in Ludhiana where we will put up seven times more strength than the Akalis did in Chandigarh.”

Some people had hoped that the CM would upgrade Machhiwara to a tehsil but that did not happen. Flanked by PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, Food and Supplies Minister Lal Singh, Corporation Minister A.S. Samra, Excise and Taxation Minister Sardool Singh, Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla and other political bigwigs, the CM barely had time to address people.

He mainly smiled at people, who termed the yatra a “raunak mela.”

Adding to the enthusiasm and decibel levels was the sound of music. Folk dance troupes and brass bands members entertained the villagers and at the same time recorded CDs apprised them of the government’s achievements. The CDs were played along the route across the seven Assembly segments which the CM covered today. These were Koomkalan, Samrala, Payal, Ludhiana Rural, Dakha, Quila Raipur and Raikot.

His ‘little’ comrades

Like Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, schoolchildren also enjoyed their day out today. At many points along the Koomkalan-Raikot route which the Punjab Vikas Yatra followed today, they abandoned their classes to stand in CM’s reception. For them, it was twin advantage: they got to see the CM plus a holiday.

But the question which their presence along the route raised was— ‘‘Whether they are supposed to be there at all?’’ Recently, while taking suo moto cognizance of children’s presence at a government function in Kapurthala, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued a notice to the state government. Following this, the Education Department, Punjab, had reportedly issued a circular, instructing that children will not be brought out at such functions.

If that be so, the presence of children across the Koomkalan belt this morning was something to be taken seriously. They were sporting Congress flags and were raising pro-government slogans. At Ratti Pura, Government Elementary School children were spotted standing on roads.


  • Historic importance of route: The second day of Punjab CM’s yatra started from a spot, historically significant to Sikhs. He spent considerable time at Machhiwara, where Guru Gobind Singh is known to have recited the legendary verse: ‘‘Mittar pyare nu haal muridaan da kehna…’’
  • Banner falls on photojournalists: As the CM’s convoy was moving, a banner featuring portraits of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Amarinder Singh and S.S Dullo fell on the photojournalists who were busy capturing the CM’s ‘royal’ moments.
  • Currency garlands for Cong leaders: At Machhiwara, the cut outs of Sonia Gandhi, Capt Amarinder Singh and Dullo seemed very content, garlanded as they were with crisp currency notes.
  • Youth Congress energises yatra: Present with the CM all day was Vijay Singla, Punjab Youth Congress Chief who had mobilised workers from all 207 blocks to manage the show. Parminder Singh, general secretary of PPCC, was also enthusiastic about the sudden rise in adrenalin levels of the party workers.


CM’s yatra a farce: jobless pharmacists
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 9
Terming the Chief Minister's vikas yatra as vinash yatra, unemployed veterinary pharmacists today launched a protest march on the route of the CM's road show. However, the police stopped them at Rama Mandi.

The pharmacists staged a dharna against the police action. Talwandi Sabo SHO Balbir Singh Grewal said they were taking the protesters to the police station as they had "agreed to voluntarily accompany them."

Earlier, the Unemployed Veterinary Pharmacists Union chief, Mr Jaswinder Singh, said the CM had no right to take out such a massive road show as it would not benefit people and would put burden on the state exchequer.


Khanpur celebrates Bobby Jindal’s victory
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 9
Joyous over the election of Bobby Piyush Jindal to the House of Representatives from Louisiana’s 1st district, residents of Khanpur Village, native village of Mr Jindal and the Malerkotla town, near here, are praying for his success.

The relatives wish to have party when Bobby visits the area.

Celebrations were not confined to the village and the town. Some of his relatives are settled at Ludhiana and Chandigarh also.

According to Mr Krishan Jindal, a cousin of Bobby, the family was yet to greet Mr Amar Chand Jindal, father of Bobby, “we came to know about the victory from TV channels and reporters who called on us to know details. As members of our family are settled in Ludhiana and Chandigarh, besides Malerkotla, celebrations will be decided later”, responded Mr Kriskan Jindal, when asked about further programme.

Elders of the family, including Ms Kailash Wati and Ms Vijay Lakshami, paternal aunts, wished he should become the President of his country.

Harvinder, Simmi Jindal, Gulshan Jindal, Bhagwant Rai and Narinder Jaindal, all cousins, too expressed similar views.

Earlier, decision of Bobby not to visit India had pained contemporaries of Bobby’s father, Amar Chand. Even today, Mr Sudhama Ram Sharda, who had solemnised the marriage of Bobby’s parents, was slightly hurt that Jindal Sr. had not responded to his telephonic greetings on Bobbys victory.

“Amar Chand could have responded to our greetings, he said adding that they were nevertheless happy over the feat. He also justified conversion of Bobby from Christianity.

Contemporaries of Mr Amar Chand also celebrated the victory of Bobby. None of the family members of Bobby have ever visited them in the recent past, they had felt delighted over his victory.

Mr Sharda remembered Mr Madan Lal, grandfather of Bobby, was a staunch follower of the Sanatan Dharma and had objected to the marriage of his son, Amar Chand, according to Arya Samaj rites.

Mr Purshotam Lal Sharda, a local resident and one-time neighbour of Amar Nath, said that Amar Nath’s father, despite financial constraints, had got him admitted to Guru Nanak Engineering College at Ludhiana from where he graduated as an engineer. He later married Amar Nath to Raj Rani, another engineer, and the couple migrated to the USA afterwards.


Bibi Jagir Kaur seeks transfer of HC judge
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 9
Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur yesterday demanded transfer of Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Ranjit Singh Randhawa allegedly for using his influence for the political benefit of his brother-in-law, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is Kapurthala District Congress Committee president.

Talking to reporters here today, the Bibi said Mr Justice Randhawa, who is also the Inspecting Judge for Kapurthala, had dinner with judicial officers of Kapurthala district at the local circuit house during his official visit on November 4.

She claimed Mr Khaira and his father, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, a former Punjab minister, were also present at the dinner, maintaining this was an attempt to influence judicial officers, administrative and police officers for Mr Khaira’s benefit.

The Bibi demanded transfer of Mr Justice Randhawa from the Punjab and Haryana High Court as, according to her, “Justice should not only be done but seen to have been done”. She also demanded till the Judge’s transfer, he should be removed as inspecting Judge of Kapurthala district.

The Bibi said Mr Khaira had contested the last two Assembly elections against her from the Bholath constituency and was likely to contest against her from the same seat in the f Assembly elections.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, who is a Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) MLA, said Mr Justice Randhawa was a polling agent of Mr Khaira in the 2002 Assembly elections. Further, Mr Randhawa was Mr Khaira’s lawyer against her in an election petition filed in Punjab and High Court before becoming a Judge, she added.

The Bibi also claimed that Mr Khaira had hosted a party at the Lake Club, Chandigarh, after Mr Justice Randhawa’s appointment as high court Judge.

Apart from several high officials, some Punjab ministers and Congress leaders were also present in the party, she alleged.

She disclosed she would send a representation in this regard to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chairman of the Bar Council of India and the Chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana. She would also bring the matter to the notice of the President, the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Union Law Minister, she added.

She also alleged a number of false criminal cases had been filed against SAD workers at Mr Khaira’s behest. Further, Mr Khaira had also filed a defamation case in a Kapurthala court against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

When contacted, Mr Khaira told The Tribune that Bibi Jagir Kaur was raising baseless issues. She had no solid issue. “Mr Randhawa had the right to share dinner with his relatives after official work,” he added.


De-addiction centres duping youth
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 9
As if duping Punjabi youths under the pretext of sending them abroad wasn't enough, tricksters have begun cashing in on their desire to return to society's mainstream after falling prey to the drug menace. The police and health authorities here have raided two private de-addiction centres and got 19 inmates freed in the past 36 hours.

In the first case, a couple of youths after escaping from a private drug de-addiction centre, where they were allegedly kept in "illegal confinement", accused the centre authorities of denying them proper treatment and food despite charging a hefty fee. The police and the Health Department swung into action and raided the centre located near Oriental Bank of Commerce on Mansa road. However, they did not find any centre in charge there. The police then recorded the statements of 15-20 drug addicts who were lodged at the centre.

According to SI Prem Singh, the inmates alleged that they were hardly administered any medicine for de-addiction and were never given food on time. They further alleged that they were kept in illegal confinement for long periods and were not allowed to meet their parents. Rakesh Kumar, an addict from Malout, alleged that they were forced to wash clothes and mop up the floor. He alleged that they were denied all facilities promised to them when each of them paid Rs 4,000 for de-addiction. Some of the inmates also accused the centre authorities of thrashing them and showed injury marks to mediapersons. The police has registered a case against Sukhpal Singh and an 11-member panel of the centre under Sections 420, 342, 344, and 120B of the IPC.

In a similar case, the police yesterday raided New Nasha Mukti Kendar at Ganesha Basti and got 12 inmates freed. Police sources said inmates here too were allegedly kept in illegal confinement and some of them had not ventured out for the past one-and-a-half month. They alleged that they were charged fee anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 and were also beaten up at the centre. SSP Varinder Kumar said a person named Paramveer Mann was running this centre and his assistant, Rajeev Bhatia, had been arrested. He said the inmates of this centre had been shifted to the Red Cross e-addiction centre.

When contacted, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Maninderjeet Singh, said similar raids were being carried out in the district.


Punjab Human Rights panel accused of bias
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 9
The Federation of Pollution and Park Management Committee has accused the Punjab State Human Rights Commission of being unfair regarding complaints against the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

In a complaint to Mr S.S. Chana, president of the federation, alleged two complaints were made to the commission pertaining to the maintenance of parks and green belts and removal of garbage from the city.

Mr Chana said the federation comprising retired persons and senior citizens discuss issues of pollution in Ludhiana. After exhausting all options of the redress of grievance it approached the commission on May 5, 2003, regarding maintenance of parks and green belts. The Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, the Director, Local Bodies and the Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation were made the respondents. The commission passed final orders on March 17, 2005, directing respondents concerned to see to it that the parks and green belts were maintained properly.

Another complaint was related to garbage and solid waste. The respondents were asked for comments. The Principal Secretary did not respond. Comments from the PPCB and the Commissioner, LMC, were vague, said the federation.

According to Mr Chana, the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation did not appear despite the commission’s directions. He was asked to appear again by the commission.

The federation alleged the Commissioner is close to the Chief Minister and he met the Secretary of the PSHRC before appearing for a hearing on February 21, 2006. The Commissioner was not asked why garbage was scattered all over the city and overflowing the bins, was being burnt and not processed as required under the rules, the federation said.

Mr Chana said anomalies noticed in the final order were brought to the notice of the commission on September 5, 2006. The commission evaded main issues and treated the letter as a review petition which was never intended because “I knew the commission would never change its earlier stand on it”. Mr Chana alleged the commission disposed of the second complaint saying the Urban Local Bodies were autonomous bodies so the commission could not interfere in the working of these local bodies.


Akali Dal workers protest against police, block traffic
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sathiali, November 9
SAD workers from all over the district converged on the Quadian-Gurdaspur road at Sathiali here today in protest against the alleged police atrocities.

Hundreds of workers sat on the road raising slogans against the state government and the police. They blocked traffic from 12 noon to 3 pm.

They said the police had let loose a reign of terror against them. On many occasions, the police picked them up and forced to join the Congress, they alleged.

The latest provocation behind today’s protest was the alleged beating up of block general secretary of the Kanuwan wing of the SAD Sarabjit Singh by the police. The protesters alleged that the SHO kept Sarabjit Singh in illegal custody at the behest of a local minister and even tortured him.

The police, however, maintained that Sarabjit Singh was arrested as he had been booked under Section 326 of the IPC in connection with a case. They said another case had been registered against him for damaging a foundation stone laid by PWD Minister Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Former SAD minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan alleged the party workers had been booked and implicated in false cases. He particularly targeted the Kanuwan SHO and alleged he was working as a political agent rather than a public officer. Former ministers Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Sucha Singh Langah, SAD MLA, and Bikram Majhithia were among the other SAD leaders who addressed the dharna.


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