P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Barnala becomes 20th district
Sushil Goyal and Prem Sharma
Tribune News Service

Barnala, November 19
Barnala became the 20th district of Punjab with the establishment of the Deputy Commissioner's office here today. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, along with the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and the Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardool Singh, were present on the occasion and attended a function organised at New Grain Market.

The Chief Minister said he had fulfilled a long-standing demand of the residents by creating Barnala as a district headquarter. He gave credit to Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, for getting district status for Barnala.

He also promised that Dhanaula tehsil, which was now a part of Tapa sub-division, would be made a part of Barnala sub-division.

In reply to a question Capt Amarinder Singh disclosed that the Punjab Government would now appoint PPS officers as SSPs in the police districts of the state.

However, the PPS officers would not be appointed in revenue districts, he clarified.

He disclosed that the government would soon clear the bad debts worth Rs 2,500 crore of the farmers. Talks with nationalised banks were in final stages in this regard. He urged the farmers to opt for cash crops as the level of ground water was decreasing at an alarming rate.

While admitting differences with the Punjab Congress President, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, the Chief Minister said Mr Dullo lacked perception as he wanted the entry of selective people into the Congress whereas I wanted entry of all those who had faith in the party’s ideology and in its President Sonia Gandhi.

He said the state government had urged the Central Government to change the strict norms for those living below the poverty line (BPL) as majority of the poor people of Punjab were not being covered under the existing norms. Capt Amarinder Singh also laid the foundation stones of a district administrative complex (DAC) at the ITI Chowk and a railway over bridge (ROB) over the level crossing near the police lines.

Addressing the rally, he lashed out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, for not doing anything for the development of the state though he had served as the Chief Minister for three times. An engineering institute in the form of a technical or polytechnic college would soon be set up here, he added.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, praised Capt Amarinder Singh for making Barnala a district. She said the Chief Minister succeeded where Akalis had failed. Prominent among those present on the occasion were Mr Vijay Inder Singla, President, Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Kewal Singh Dhillon, Vice-President of the PPCC, Mr Bachan Singh Pakho, a former MLA, and Mr Jasbir Singh Advocate, a former Punjab Minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A), today hailed the creation of Barnala as a district by the Amarinder Government. He also asked the state government to set up a Cancer Hospital in Barnala.


Govt ads banned by Punjab CS
Chitleen K Sethi and Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Within days of the Punjab and Haryana High Court taking strong note of its actions of allowing government advertisements to be misused for extracting political mileage for the ruling Congress Party, the Punjab Government has decided to end the practice.

In a letter to heads of all government departments, boards, corporations and civic bodies across the state, Chief Secretary, Punjab, K.R. Lakhanpal, has directed that the ongoing practice of issuing tender notices in the form of display advertisements in newspapers which carry photographs of government and ruling party functionaries should be stopped.

The letter also asks the heads of the departments to ensure strict compliance of the directive.

Taking up a PIL filed by advocate H.C. Arora, seeking directions to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to desist from inserting pictures of leaders of the ruling party in various advertisements, a Division Bench of the High Court had expressed disgust over the blatant misuse of public exchequer by the ruling party to further its ends.

The Bench had asked the state governments to clear their respective stands on the issue.

Government sources say while certainly belated, the decision has been taken only in order to avoid a legal setback in view of the strong critical observations made by the court during arguments. Incidentally, the Chief Secretary’s missive talks of economic stringency as the reason for the decision.

In his plea, Mr Arora has cited several instances of government advertisements being used to further the political ends of the ruling Congress. He has stated that photographs of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president S.S. Dullo, ministers and even party functionaries were being inserted in such advertisements, which was not desirable.

The order also assumes significance in view of the recent direction of the Supreme Court to the Central and the state governments to lay down guidelines for regulating the expenditure by its various departments on advertisements glorifying political leaders at the cost of tax payers’ money.

The Bench, which wanted the matter to be considered by the government on priority basis, observed that “lakhs and lakhs of rupees are spent on such advertisements and there has to be some regulations and guidelines.”


Complaint against PR top brass
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Punjab BJP yesterday submitted a complaint in a Sector 34 police station here against the Media Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Secretary and Director of Information and Public Relations, for allegedly forging a document for public use and misusing the government exchequer.

The complaint has been lodged in connection with a photo that was got published in an advertisement on November 9 in various newspapers. The complaint says the photo was morphed to show a bigger crowd during the Punjab Vikas Yatra.

Mr V.K. Khanna, president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said the complaint had been lodged against Mr B I S Chahal, Media Adviser to the CM, and Secretary of the Information and Public Relations Department, Mr Daman Vir Singh Jaspal, and Mr V K Sharma, Director of Information and Public Relations.

Mr Khanna said the images in the photo was doctored to ‘mislead’ the people.Mr Khanna said a huge loss to the state exchequer had been caused as crores had been spent to amplify the image of the CM.


Sangrur scribes kidnapped in Kolkata, freed
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Two Sangrur-based journalists of a Patiala newspaper, published both in Hindi and Punjab, were reportedly kidnapped from Kolkata on their arrival there on November 12. Reports from Kolkata said the kidnapping came to light last evening when the police called the newspaper editor at Patiala and verified the antecedents of the journalists.

They have been identified as Narinder Kumar Sharma and Rakesh Kumar Sharma, who work for “Press Ki Takat”. According to reports, the two were abducted by a taxi driver, apparently with the purpose of robbing them of their valuables, and later dumped on a road near Gopalpur when chased by the West Bengal police.

The two had gone to Kolkata to pay homage at Kali Ghat Temple.They are believed to have been rendered unconscious by the taxi driver who gave them some intoxicant with the objective of robbing them. They were noticed by some passersby who informed the police.

According to M. Shivranjan Jhangra, Editor of “Press Ki Takat”, a West Bengal police team started following the taxi.

Sensing trouble, the kidnapper threw the two journalists out of the cab. The police brought the two back and got them admitted to a local hospital. Since their belongings had been taken away by the taxi driver; they could not be identified till they regained consciousness late last night.


Government wants PPS officers as district chiefs
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
With just about a month left before the election code of conduct comes into force in Punjab, the Congress government in the state is desperate to post Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers on the crucial posts of Senior Superintendent of Police in various districts. Elections in the state are expected to be held in February next.

Following the judgment delivered by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case dealing with powers, functions and other duty-related issues of the police force- Resurgence India versus State of Punjab-the government was forced to remove all PPS officers from the cadre post of SSP.

During hearing as well as after the judgment, the Capt Amarinder Singh-led government had voiced its reluctance to remove PPS officers as district police chiefs. So much so that the government along with the Punjab Police Services Association had moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order, contending that the order was wrong.

Thereafter, the Supreme Court had remanded the matter back to the High Court for fresh consideration.

Sometime back, a Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar had begun re-hearing the matter. It is now fixed for further hearing on November 29.

According to sources, on the next hearing, the government plans to file an application seeking permission from the court to post PPS officers as district police chiefs. Sources said the government would request the court to consider its plea on the ground that it needed the services of PPS officers to man sensitive districts during the next elections.

However, IPS officers say the move is aimed at posting pliable PPS officers on the cadre posts of district police chief . The reason: young IPS officers, posted as SSPs, might not be that willing to extend a helping hand to the ruling party to clinch the elections.

That the government is desperate is evident from the fact it asked senior Supreme Court lawyer Nageshwar Rao to argue the matter on the last hearing before the Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Nijjar. Even the Bench asked why Mr Rao and not the AG was arguing the case.

The arbitrary action of the government to post PPS officers on cadre posts was also questioned by the Union Government, which had in February, 2004, asked Punjab to correct the anomaly.


Disappearance case cracked after 11 years
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 19
The police has solved the case of disappearance of Raman Kumar son of Avinash Chander of Kanungo mohalla of Hariana town of Hoshiarpur district after about 11 years.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said last evening on June 8, 1995, Munish Kumar informed the police his brother Raman Kumar (26) who was working as laboratory assistant in the GGDSD College, Hariana and also running scooter repair shop, went from house at 6 a.m. on June 5, 1995, but did not return home till date. He suspected kidnapping of his brother. An FIR (No. 49) under Section 364 of the IPC had been registered in this connection. Search by family members and the police proved futile.

A special team headed by the DSP (R), was constituted to solve the unsolved cases.

During investigation, it emerged Sanjiv Kumar alias Sheeh son of Mohinder Pal, Narinder Singh son of Ravail Singh, both residents of Hariana, who were friendly with Raman Kumar, were main suspects. The police interrogated the duo, who revealed that on June 5, 1995, they along with Raman Kumar, Satpal alias Satta son of Tarsem Singh of Hariana and Mohan Singh alias Mohna son of Bhagat Singh of Bassi Kale Khan consumed liquor at Dhakki Road, Hariana.

Later, they had a quarrel on some dispute with Raman Kumar and they assaulted the latter with a sharp-edged weapon. After killing him, they buried the body in the adjoining choe bed.

The SSP said a case under Sections 302 , 201 and 34 of the IPC had been registered against all of them and Narinder Singh and Sanjiv Kumar had been arrested.

The SSP further said accused Satpal Singh was already in prison in FIR No. 182 of October 20, 2004 under Section 365 of the IPC and in FIR No. 197 of October 15, 2004 under Section 302 and 34 of the IPC registered against him in the Hariana police station. Sanjiv Kumar, Satpal Singh and Mohan Singh had criminal background.

Mohan Singh is at large.

After getting demarcation from the arrested body of Raman Kumar would be recovered, he added.


NRI groom takes bride home in style
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 19
Punjabis love style and Mr Parvinder Singh, young NRI from Biharipur (Tarn Taran) village and settled in the UK, prove it by taking his bride home in a hired helicopter.

The marriage was, solmenised in a resort today, and he made his bride Anureet Kaur sit in a four-seater chopper and set-off on new journey of life with his wife amidst pomp and show. Before boarding the chopper smiling Parvinder and Anureet waved to relatives and curious onlookers.

It was second marriage in Punjab, making use of a helicopter for ‘doli’. Same helicopter of New Delhi based company was used in the marriage of another NRI at Ludhiana a year ago.

“We have been getting bookings for marriages in New Delhi and Mumbai, but, it is second such instance in Punjab. Punjabis have developed passion for style and novelty in marriages. The chopper was booked for five hours, which, will cost Rs 3 lakh,” said the managing director of the company, the company has started getting queries from prospective grooms and others, he added.

“Normally, our chopper is hired by politicians and businessmen of other states. But NRIs have started hiring chopper for making a style statement,” said company owner.

The newly weds reached Biharipur in 20 minutes. Special arrangement was made for helicopter’s landing and taking off at “the resort” and in Biharipur village, where, the chopper remained parked for the night due to reduced visibility in the evening. Security cover was provided by the local police, the groom and his family had prior permission in respect of helicopter.


Congress rally ‘rattled’ Akalis
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 19
Recent rally of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has boosted not only morale of the Congress workers but also rattled SAD leaders especially, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son Mr Sukhbir Singh. This was stated by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works and Education Departments Punjab.

Mr Bajwa claimed on account of policies and performance in every field, there was no anti-government feeling among people. All crops of farmers had been procured without hindrance during the past five-year regime of Mr Amarinder Singh. Transparency was observed in the recruitment of doctors and teachers who were recruited on merit, whereas posts were allegedly sold during the SAD-BJP regime.

He claimed the road show programme and Vikas rallies of Mr Amarinder Singh had proved successful in making relations cordial between public and the ruling party. The Congress had succeeded in breaking strong hold of the Akali Dal in the Malwa belt.

Mr Bajwa criticised the statement of Mr Badal on the holding of Sangat Darshan programmes if his party was voted to power. He said Mr Badal was trying to follow in the footsteps of old rulers to satisfy his ego. Mr Badal had not given any account of Rs 60 crore spent by him on Sangat Darshan programmes as a Chief Minister.

He said the government had decided to increase the monthly honorarium of village chowkidars from Rs 600/- to Rs 700/- each. It had already announced honorarium of Rs 600/- for village sarpanchs and Rs 500/- each for numberdars.

Referring to the posts of teachers in various government schools of the state, he said that 10000 ETT and BEd teachers had been recruited by Zila Parishads. 6700 teachers of master cadre by the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board. Apart from these recruitments, 4600 computer teachers had also been recruited by the Education Department and 2225 teachers would be recruited for 995 elementary schools. A control of these schools recently was transferred to Zila Parishads. Control of 2000 more primary single teacher schools would be handed over to Zila Parishads and would be upgraded to two teacher school for which 4000 teachers would be recruited by the Zila Parishads.


BJP sure of good show at rallies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
The Punjab unit of the BJP is all geared up for a show of strength at two rallies being organised tomorrow at Mansa and Sangrur, respectively. Crucially, the second rally is in Sangrur and senior Akali leader Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has already expressed his displeasure at the BJP for showing interest in that constituency.

In continuation of its series of rallies, christened as 'parivartan rallies', the BJP is confident of an impressive gathering in the Malwa heartland, said Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary, BJP, in a press note here today. “We will show to the people of Punjab that it does not take a government machinery to organise a rally.”

“The BJP is ready to take on any force in the state by virtue of sheer faith of its supporters and this will be best explained at tomorrow's rally,” Mr Grewal added.

The first rally tomorrow will be held at Dana Mandi, Mansa, at 11 a.m. and the second at Dana Mandi, Sangrur, at 1 p.m. The rallies will be attended by BJP's Kisan Morcha national president Vinod Pandey and president of the Punjab unit Avinash Rai Khanna along with senior party leaders Swarna Ram and state general secretary Vijay Sampla.

Mr Grewal claimed that the party's rallies at Batala, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar Cantonment, Amritsar and Fazilka had been a success.


CPM rally on Nov 26
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 19
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) Punjab will hold a rally here on November 26 to unite Leftist forces in to defeat the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine in the Assembly elections of the state.

Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary, CPM Punjab state said this here today.

Mr Pasla said all sections of people in the state were fed up with anti-people policies of the government as prices of essential commodities had become beyond reach of masses and the government had no direction to deal with this phenomenon. He said unemployment had forced the youth to come on to roads braving atrocities of the police and workers of the Congress.

On the functioning of the CPM, Mr Pasla said it was drifting from basic principles for which it was established in 1964.


Cong candidate wins MC ward byelection

Patiala, November 19
Congress candidate Anil Kumar Mangla today scored an impressive victory over his nearest rival Mr Anil Bajaj of the BJP, who was supported by the SAD (Badal), in the byelection to ward number 32 of the local Municipal Corporation. Polling took place today in a peaceful manner.

The State Election Commission had earlier annulled the election of ward number 32, which was held on October 28, after it received reports that miscreants had carried out booth capturing, indulged in bogus voting apart from attacking one polling officer.

Returning Officer Jaspal Mittal, while talking to TNS said that a total 2073 votes were polled and 2062 votes were found valid. TNS


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