P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Jagmeet stays away from CM’s yatra
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Nihal Singh Wala/Kotkapura, November 10
Senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar made his presence felt by marking himself absent at the Punjab Vikas Yatra which entered its third day today. As the CM’s procession moved deep into the Malwa belt, generating curiosity and response, it appeared incomplete without Mr Brar, who holds a sway in the region.

That the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was expecting him around was evident from his remark: “Every Congress worker has risen to the occasion to make the Yatra a success. If Jagmeet Brar does not want to come forward, it is not our problem.” Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo also brushed aside the issue, saying, “We did not invite Jagmeet. He himself chose to go off to Ferozepore.”

The issue, however, was not as casual as party leaders projected it to be. It mirrored the face of an upcoming challenge - one which the Congress faces from within.

As of today, the yatra went on smoothly, at times well enough to confuse the best of political minds which were astounded by the massive reception an Akali-dominated area gave to a Congress CM.

The scene at Takhtoopura - one of the largest villages of the Nihal Singh Wala constituency in Moga - was one of revelry. Camping at the site of the historic Gurdwara Shri Takhtoopura Sahib were thousands of people, cheering the Congress leadership for the good he had done by protecting their crops. That Nihal Singh Wala has an Akali MLA, Mr Jeora Singh Bhagi, added spice to the affair.

And as responses to the yatra got better, even Congress supporters were caught guessing whether they would translate into votes. At Kangar in Rampura Phul, the response had been managed by Gurpreet Singh Kangar, sitting MLA and a former Akali. He changed sides when the Akalis denied him a ticket and chose Sikander Singh Malooka instead. The bitter rivalry between the two has come to Congress’ advantage.

At Nihal Singh Wala, on the other hand, local Congress leadership joined hands to stage a grand show. Interestingly, many Congress leaders of the region hail from Nihal Singh Wala, including former minister D.S. Brar, senior leader Mahesh Inder Singh (son of political heavyweight and two-time MP Gurcharan Singh), former minister Malti Thapar and Ajit Singh Shant, who aspires to contest from the reserve constituency on a Congress ticket this time.

Today he travelled 119 km along the Malwa belt, covering four Assembly segments falling in Moga (Nihal Singh Wala segment), Bathinda (Rampura Phul) and Faridkot (Panjgarain and Kotkapura segments) districts.



75 protesters held: Soon after the CM’s convoy left Bhakta Bhai to enter the Panjgarain constituency in Faridkot, hundreds of protesters pushed the security men around to make themselves heard. Among them were aggrieved B Ed teachers, discharged home guards, anganwari workers and Khet Mazdoor Union activists. About 75 B Ed teachers were arrested, while others were let off. All protesters were manhandled, some even lathicharged.

Special visitor: At Nihal Singh Wala, the CM had a special visitor - a stud, draped in a huge Congress flag. As soon as the CM moved closer, the horse rose in reception. Actually, he had been thrashed into action.

Ladoos and jalebis: Those who came to receive the CM were treated to a host of delicacies like ladoos, jalebis and halwa.

Children at work: The CM’s cavalcade was received not only by students of government schools but also those of private ones. At Nihal Singh Wala, students of Royal Convent School matched the Congress supporters’ zeal as they repeatedly raised the slogan: “Bole so nihal”.


Sonia, PM to be star campaigners
Tribune News Service

Nihal Singh Wala, November 10
Taking a break from the hectic schedule of his Vikas Yatra today, CM Amarinder Singh said the people were responding positively to the government’s policies. Admitting that the yatra was only the beginning of the Congress campaign in the state, he said star campaigners were yet to arrive.

The state Congress is pinning its hopes of victory on star campaigners Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The Vikas Yatra,” he said, “was helping the Punjab Congress build a momentum ahead of Ms Gandhi’s visit.” She is scheduled to come to Punjab in the last week of November.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress plans to hold rallies in between the many phases of the 5,800-km yatra, which it seeks to finish by mid-February. The CM denied the rumours about his contesting elections from anywhere but Patiala.


Cotton farmers cock-a-hoop
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Kangar (Bathinda), November 10
As the cavalcade of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh entered the cotton belt, farmers and farm labourers queued up on both sides of the road to thank him for efforts record cotton production in the region. Curiosity factor also worked to the CM’s advantage, as women came out in large numbers to catch a glimpse of him.

Mr Gurlabh Singh, a septuagenarian farmer from Bhai Rupa village, said, earlier they only had traditional wheat-paddy cycle to bank upon for entire year’s needs, but the Congress government had rejuvenated cotton scenario in Malwa. “I remember the days when I will stay in the market for over a fortnight awaiting procurement of my produce. Now, it takes a day or two for the entire process to be over,” he added. On the prevailing cotton prices that hover around the MSP of Rs 1,890, they said they had nothing to complain, as today at least they had sufficient cotton produce to take to the market. “The MSP was there during the Badal regime too, but where was the cotton,” wondered Jagtar Singh of Jalal village. “We will make 15 sprays on our crop and end up spending thousands on it. To top it those substandard sprays didn’t have impact on pests,” he added. He thanked the Captain government for making available quality seed and pesticide to the cotton farmers. “This year we’ve only sprayed twice and reaped a rich harvest,” he said. Jagsir Singh from Nathpura village said land prices had also shot up in the past three-four years. “The farmer having a debt of Rs 5 lakh earlier had to part with his three acres and today less than one acre would suffice for the purpose,” he added. Sukhbans Singh and Chanan Singh, both farm labourers from Kangar village, said bumper cotton crop had led to the generation of employment opportunities and increase in their earnings, as elderly women and children also join them in cotton picking. They said usually long cotton season ensured they had consistent income for most of the year.

Meanwhile, women were largely unaware of the poll issues and had merely come to see their Chief Minister whom they called ‘Raja’. “We have nothing to do with politics and have ventured out to see how the Captain looks like, as we’ve been hearing a lot about him for the past few years,” said Chhinder Kaur and Surjeet Kaur, both farm labourers working in a nearby field.


Help, cops say CM too fast for them
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Punjab Police has sought high-end sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for providing a security cover to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during the Punjab Vikas Yatra and also during the election campaign.

Informed sources said that as many as 10 Pajero vehicles have been sought for the Chief Minister’s security. The police authorities concerned have taken the plea that these are sturdy vehicles with better balance and least prone to over turning. The Pajero is considered one of the most luxurious vehicles and used mostly by the rich and famous.

Its base model sells in the market for Rs 28 lakh, it is learnt. However, to the state government it will cost to the tune of Rs 24 lakh per vehicle. “ The estimate is to spend Rs 2.40 crore on 10 vehicles,” say informed sources in the government.

Another justification given to buy these vehicles is that these are used by the security staff deployed to provide security cover to the Prime Minister and the other VVIPs in Delhi.

At present security staff attached to the Chief Minister is using Gypsies. They do not match the speed of the bullet proof vehicles in which the Chief Minister travels. Faster vehicles with better load bearing capacity are required, says sources.

Sources said that the proposal with regard to the buying of these vehicles was yet to get the final approval from the authorities concerned. It may be mentioned that the state government’s fascination to buy high end vehicles for ministers, parliamentary secretaries and top bureaucrats is unending.

Months ago Punjab ministers were provided with luxurious vehicles spending crores of rupees. They were provided with cars having a price tag in the range of Rs 16 lakh. And then parliament secretaries insisted that they should be treated on a par with ministers and should be provided with upper-class vehicles. Bowing to the pressures, the government provided them with luxury cars spending in the range of Rs 8 lakh per vehicle. And now there is a proposal to buy high end SUVs.


Judge questions need for Bill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Even as the Chief Justice of India has refused to comment on the Judges (Inquiry) Bill, a former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and present acting Chairperson of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, Justice R.L. Anand, today reacted sharply to the proposed legislation reported in the media today. Justice Anand also questioned the need for such a legislation.

The Bill is aimed at amending the 1968 Act to make the inquiries for any alleged misconduct against Supreme Court or High Court judges more "transparent". It will be introduced in Parliament during the coming winter session.

It has already become controversial in view of the growing reports of confrontation between the Executive and the Legislature and the Judiciary on certain crucial judgments delivered by the Supreme Court in the past two years.

In an informal chat with The Tribune, Justice Anand wondered if the proposed Bill represented the will of the people or the campaign of a few against the Judiciary. In a scathing comment on the intention of the Central Government behind the Bill, Justice Anand said the legislation was not an ordinary step. Instead it had vast implications and the main issue was whether it would strengthen the judicial institutions or place a fear psychosis among the judges.

"If the object of the proposed legislation is to judge the judges, then the procedure is already incorporated in the Constitution by way of the impeachment process. However, since the supporters of the Bill are arguing that the impeachment is not only difficult but also impossible, the Constitution can be amended in such a manner so as to take out those factors that hamper the achievement of the desired result," Justice Anand said.

Asked what kind of steps could be taken to check erring judges, Justice Anand said the code of conduct circulated by Justice J.S. Verma during his tenure as CJI could be given a statutory shape after amending it to suit the present times.

"To constitute a body with supervisory or appellate powers may not be in the larger interests of the Judiciary. I appeal to MPs to think rationally before passing this legislation," he added.


Son-crazy man kills wife, daughter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 10
In a gruesome incident, Gurwinder Singh, a resident of Jaspal Nagar, here killed his wife and one-and-a-half-month-old daughter for want of a son last night.

Laxmi, the deceased, married Gurwinder in 2004 and had two daughters. The accused was absconding after committing the crime. The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC.

Manjit Singh, a resident of Sharma Colony, Tarn Taran road, and father of the deceased, in his complaint, alleged that Gurwinder Singh used to quarrel with Laxmi and regularly beat her up for not giving birth to a male child. This year, too, Laxmi earned the ire of her husband after giving birth to a girl child.

Last night, when his wife and daughters were sleeping, he strangled the two to death and fled the house.

Meanwhile, in another incident, the Majitha police has booked wife and in-laws for allegedly poisoning her husband Kulbir Singh to death, a resident of village Dhal, for property. The accused include Daljit Kaur (wife), Narinder Kaur (mother-in-law), Gurmukh Singh (father-in-law) and Bau (brother-in-law), all residents of Bandala village.

In the complaint lodged with the police, Sarwan Singh, father of the deceased, alleged that the accused used to pressure him to transfer the property in her name. He said this remained the cause of constant bickering between the couple. 


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