P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC task force roughs up SAD (A) activists
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 25
The SGPC task force today roughed up some activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) while they were distributing “balance sheet of the SGPC”, here today. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), was delivering a speech in front of Akal Takht at that time.

However, a direct confrontation between SAD (A) activists and the Badal faction was averted since Mr Mann avoided going near Teja Singh Samundri Hall, the venue of the SGPC’s annual election. The SGPC had deployed its task force there as a precautionary measure.

Compiled and edited by Prof Jagmohan Singh, spokesperson of the SAD (A), and Mr Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary of the Dal Khalsa, the white paper lists 18 cases pending before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission regarding misappropriation of gurdwara funds.

Making a scathing attack on the budgeting procedures adopted by the SGPC, the document demands that a complete review and audit of the budget of the past two decades must be carried out.

Leaders of the rival Panthic factions, however, described the re-election of Mr Avtar Singh as an “unfortunate development”.

Mr Pritpal Singh, president of the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, alleged the re-election of Mr Avtar Singh had sent a wrong signal among the Panthic circles the world over.

Panthic leaders said they had succeeded in making their voice heard by fielding a rebel candidate against the official Badal Dal nominee.

Earlier, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh and Mr Daljit Singh jointly released the white paper on the working of the SGPC and the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

SGPC poll: sidelights

  • With Mr Gurwinder Singh Shampura contesting the election for the post of the SGPC chief as a rebel candidate, it has come to the fore that there is still a resentment among “Tohra loyalists” who have not yet accepted the merger of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (once headed by Jathedar Tohra) with the SAD.
  • Bibi Jagir Kaur, who conducted the secret voting for the annual election, addressed Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta as “Sardar Bahadur Sardar Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former minister, an ex-SGPC secretary and present SGPC member”. This led to a laughter in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh high priests.
  • When some members from Ludhiana stood up for voting, Bibi Jagir Kaur said “members from Ludhiana are extremely slow” being fully aware of the fact that the SGPC chief himself belonged to that city.


Shampura removed from SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal has removed the SGPC member, Mr Gurwinder Singh Shampura, from the primary membership of the party for his alleged anti-party activity. Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, secretary of the SAD, said the party President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had taken action against Mr Shampura.

He said Mr Shampura today contested the election for the presidentship of the SGPC against the party's official candidate, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, in Amritsar. Dr Cheema said that Mr Badal had told all concerned that anyone who violated the discipline of the party would be dealt with like Mr Shampura. "There is no place in the party for those who use their power against it," said Dr Cheema.

Farmers’ suicides
A wait too long for relief

Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Four years ago as Manjit Kaur and her family lay sleeping at night, her farmer-husband was picked up by “the bank” and taken away to an unknown spot and threatened. He owed them money and had been unable to pay back the loan. A few days later he committed suicide by drinking pesticide. Since then Manjit Kaur and her two children, a son and a daughter, are living in penury. They owned three acres of land which was sold off to pay a part of the debts. Today she still has to pay off almost Rs 3 lakh.

The stories of Hardip Kaur, Paramjeet Kaur, and Shinder are identical and what is even more troubling is that all these women belong to a single village-Sanghera-in the district of Barnala.

Today these women gathered together at a daylong consultation on farmers’ suicide held by the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (VHAP) and the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), at the Punjab Book Centre here.

“This has been prompted by the fact while the Central Government has announced relief and rehabilitation package for the families of farmers committing suicides in Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, no such announcement has been made for the kin of the families affected in Punjab,” said Veena Kumari, HRLN Coordinator in Chandigarh.

Two public hearings on farmers’ suicides were held in Lehragaga (Sangrur) on April 2 and Bathinda where the VHAP and the HRLN also conducted studies amongst 239 villages in Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar. In these villages the total number of suicide cases were 2561.

According to the findings the average number of suicides was 11 per village where 1/3 of the cases were from landless families, 1/3 from the families of marginal farmers and 1/3 from the families of small farmers with a whopping 60 per cent of them being Jat Sikh farmers. What is more in most cases the average land holding was less than 2.5 acres.

The highlights of the jury recommendations of the two public hearings held was presented and released by Dr K. Gopal Iyer, a retired sociology professor from Panjab University today and which listed several recommendations to deal with the crisis.

Veena Kumari said it was essential not only to provide a relief package to the families affected but a sustainable policy to ensure that suicides do not happen. “Loans should be waived away completely and that is the government’s responsibility,” she averred.

Manmohan Sharma, Executive Secretary, VHAP, stressed that a “way-out” urgently needed to be formulated by the government. “The outcome of development needs to be monitored and a system of micro-credit like in Bangladesh or cooperative farming needs to be implemented to protect farmers. Also gender issues must be addressed because it is the woman who suffers.”

At the end of the day it was determined that the government must take action otherwise, as one participant said, it would not be wrong to term suicides as “government murders.”


Village shows the way to beat AIDS
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Manuke (Jagraon) November 25
This village, situated in the deep interiors of Ludhiana district, has taught the world the way to fight the AIDS menace. While the prevalence of the deadly virus is growing elsewhere in the state at an alarming rate as suggested by a recent survey, residents of this village have won what seemed a lost battle against the disease just a few years ago.

With eleven deaths reported from the village, inhabited mainly by truck drivers and their families, from 1998 to 2000, the place was right up there on the AIDS map with the red light blinking all the time.

Yet, backed by a massive awareness campaign and strict adherence to preventive measures, all orchestrated by the village panchayat and elders, the village has not reported any new case during the last three years.

The village had shot into international limelight not only because of the high incidence of the fatal disease but because of the unique slogan and practice enforced to prevent its spread.

The slogan ‘Match blood reports, not horoscopes’ given by the then sarpanch and educationist, Mr Gurmukh Singh, was lapped up by the residents and strictly followed. It has worked as no fresh case of AIDS has been reported.

Small wonder that even Class VI students of the village, including girls, talk freely about the details of the disease and how to prevent it. In fact, it was from this class that the special AIDS prevention education started.

Mr Gurmukh Singh, who has won the Godfrey Philips Award, said he had to weather quite a storm in the village because of the campaign.

“When I came out in the open seeking help of the health department and the media in spreading awareness, I was even accused me of bringing a bad name to the village.”

He said they feared that no one would marry their sons and daughters because of the open admission that the village had one of the highest incidence of AIDS cases. The fears, he said, were not wrong as the campaign did affect some matrimony chances.

It was a minor sacrifice for winning a major battle. With the support of a majority of residents, including youngsters, he painted slogans all over the place educating them against AIDS.

Special education classes were held for barbers to teach them about sterilising their tools. The use of disposable syringe was enforced with such strictness that even illiterate migrant labourers now insist on it.

He remembers that the main task was to take on the truck drivers, who were the worst hit and had brought the virus to the village. His voice is choked when he remembers the families who were wiped off by the disease.

The fight was also against the taboos. “It was not easy to convince villagers from isolating the AIDS patient due to the widespread misconception that the virus would be transmitted.


Tribune Exclusive
Tribunal: OTS scheme encourages loan default
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
In a significant decision that could spell trouble for big industrial houses and their politician accomplices’ efforts to be excused from paying back huge loans taken from banks and financial institutions for their industries, the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Chandigarh, has come down heavily on such intents.

Passing a strongly worded order on a plea filed by the management of Arihant Industries, Mr A.K. Tripathi, Presiding Officer (PO), DRT-I, Chandigarh, has observed, “... while discharging my duties as a PO of DRT, I have come across a large number of cases where I felt that banks and financial institutions are granting heavy concessions by entering into settlement with borrowers under the scheme called one-time settlement (OTS). By such concessions, other debtors/borrowers also get encouraged to commit defaults in repayment, in anticipation that they would be granted concessions and rebates under the OTS scheme.”

The issue of big industrial houses, particularly those close to the government of the time, getting away with the non-repayment of loans worth hundreds of crores of rupees on flimsy grounds has been at the centre of a bitter debate among various sections of society. Whenever such arbitrary concessions are given to industrialists, the question why the same are not extended to debt-ridden farmers, hundreds of whom commit suicide every year, crops up. By conservative estimates, various state governments cause a loss of hundreds of crores of rupees every year to the exchequer by offering such schemes to rich industrialists, who do not want to repay loans taken by them.

After coming to power in 2002, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab, for example, has handed out favours in the shape of the OTS scheme, etc, to dozens of industrial houses, many of these owned by senior Congress leaders, including ministers.

In his order, Mr Tripathi has referred to this discrimination also - “...these banks/financial institutions have a different attitude towards those who come from lower income groups of society. They treat them strictly in accordance with rules and do not grant any concession or rebate, though RBI guidelines are the same.”

He further observed: “It is also often seen that entrepreneurs shift their industries from one state to another to avail themselves of various concessions and subsidies given by various governments for the purpose of industrial growth in a particular area and after the expiry of that period, industry becomes sick but not the industrialist.”

Mr Tripathi has also asked the Union Ministry of Finance, under whose control banks and financial institutions function, to set up a regulatory authority. “Neither a borrower/wilful defaulter should be allowed to take undue advantage of his position, nor any bank/financial institution should be allowed to exploit genuine defaulters,” the order says.


Rip-off — II
Industry owes Rs 1,780 cr to PSIDC
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Companies owned by who’s who of the region are on the list of defaulters, owing crores of rupees to the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), industry-aiding arm of the Punjab Government. In total, the PSIDC has to recover more than Rs 1,780 crore from companies with whom it had entered into a partnership or had forwarded a loan.

Surprisingly, the total investment of the PSIDC by way of principal amount is about Rs 440 crore. The remaining is the accrual on account of interest on delayed payments. Some of the payments have been overdue for more than a decade hence, the huge volume of interest, documents available with The Tribune reveal.

Under this list of defaulters are the companies owned by leading politicians connected with the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). A few of the owners are directly related to former chief ministers of the state.

A total of 197 companies have taken a loan from the PSIDC. The outstanding is Rs 207 crore by way of principal amount. Some of the loan is dead investment. Around 28 companies are under liquidation. Another 52 have been accepted as loss-making units by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). In such cases, the PSIDC may even struggle to get back the principal amount leave out the interest that itself is in excess of Rs 600 crore just for these two categories of companies.

Payments, if recovered, may not match the loss the PSIDC suffered by putting its money in such companies, said well-placed sources.

The PSIDC had given loans to companies by raising money by floating bonds that were purchased by members of the public and also private institutions during 1990’s. The borrowing rates of even nationalised banks hovered between 15 per cent and 17 per cent.

Then come the case of defaulting companies in which the PSIDC had entered into a partnership with the companies. Several of such companies defaulted and are now locked in arbitration proceedings. A senior IAS officer or a retired judge is normally appointed as an arbitrator. About 20 such defaulters alone have to pay up Rs 502 crore.

In these companies the PSIDC had collectively invested Rs 134 crore about a decade ago and entered into a partnership. Now the outstanding dues have swelled due to interest accrual.

These companies include Indian Acrylic, Arihant Threads, Cheema Spintex, Bhandari Exports, Cepham Milk Specialities, Euro Cotspin, Northland Sugar, Piccadily Sugar, Alpha Drugs, Herman Milkfoods, Dwariksdish Spinners, BSM Knitfab, Diamond Agro, Mangla Cotex, Rama Industries, Karan Cotsyn and Abhinav Cotspin (The OTS of the company is under consideration).

The Auditor General of Punjab has held the opinion in the past that profit earning units should not been offered one-time settlement scheme by the PSIDC as it was against the financial prudence.



PSEB’s 2,380-cr plan to cut losses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 25
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) management has sanctioned a high voltage distribution scheme (HVDS) worth Rs 2,380 crore to minimise technical and commercial losses, which has been causing huge financial loss to it. The PSEB will take a loan of Rs 2,380 crore from Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) for implementing the same.

The PSEB will be able to save 800 MW and Rs 4,000 crore in five years.It will be spending this amount on installing a plant to generate 800 MW. Official sources said under the scheme the PSEB would replace its low voltage distribution system with the HVDS to distract those who had been indulging in theft of electricity by running tubewells illegally through kundi connection.

“We are creating a network in such a way that it will not allow any one to steal power,” claimed Mr J.S. Sekhon, Member, Distribution, PSEB, adding that this scheme would be implemented in three to five years and every year the PSEB would be reducing its losses by 2 per cent. He disclosed that presently the technical and commercial losses were about 25 per cent and with the implementation of the scheme the losses would come to negligible.

The tenders for carrying out the work will be floated in February 2007 and work on the same will start from April 1, 2007. Under the scheme every tubewell motor pumpset would be given a dedicated electric transformer. These transformers will not get damaged due to overloading. Secondly, every consumer would be liable for explanation if the transformer installed at his tubewell got burnt due to overloading.

According to information, the PSEB management would be getting this scheme executed through outsourcing but it would be supplying the transformers and other equipment.

Official sources said through another decision the PSEB would be providing urban pattern power supply to cluster of five houses in rural areas, provided that these be located within 300 m of each other. 


Vinash, not Vikas Yatra: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 25
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, former state president of the BJP, has said that the crowd that “greeted” the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during “Vinash Yatra”, as he puts it, were managed by patwaris and other officials of the Revenue Department. This had thrown day-to-day work in offices out of gear, he said. He was here along with the party secretary, Mr Anil Sarin, to discuss prospects of candidates for the coming Vidhan Sabha elections. Mr Mittal had been nominated observer for Abohar, Fazilka, Ferozepore and Bathinda constituencies.

He alleged that the Chief Minister was misusing government funds for political gains by taking out yatras. Surprisingly the government had “no money” to restore pension benefits to the teachers who had retired from service in the government-aided private schools after May, 2003, but indiscriminately misutilised crores on the yatra that served no public purpose.

Had they cared for the people for the past 56 months and not backtracked on promises made in their manifesto, there would have been no need of playing the gimmick of yatra, he said.

Claiming that the SAD-BJP alliance would “very soon” finalise adjustment of seats besides the list of the candidates, he said no “weak” candidate would be fielded. The alliance was doing homework to ensure return to power. The list of candidates would be made public by mid-December, he added.

Mr Ravi Setia, president of the city unit of the party, spoke on recently undertaken activities. Later, Mr Mittal visited Dhaani Bishesharnath to meet the state BMS secretary, Mr Uma Shankar Shah, who was assaulted by some residents of the same village last month.


Speculation rife over Garg’s candidature
Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 25
The SAD high command's move to postpone a rally being held by ex-Akali minister and party ticket aspirant from Bathinda, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, has fuelled speculation on the SAD nominee from the Assembly constituency of Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla.

While a couple of months back Mr Garg appeared to be the only choice before the SAD, the entry of coloniser Mr Saroop Chand Singla in the political arena had reportedly forced the party to give a second thought. Mr Parkash Singh Badal had announced Mr Garg’s candidature at a state-level function of Dhanak Samaj sometime back here, though he later said nothing had been finalised.

The scenario changed with a buzz in the political circles that the party may opt for a financially sound candidate like Mr Singla to give the Finance Minister a tough fight. Mr Singla organised a lavish show of strength on November 16 under the pretext of his jewellery shop’s fourth anniversary and left no stone unturned to woo the Akali leadership. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Mr Sikander Singh Malooka were all praise for Mr Singla, who despite having no political background became a SAD ticket aspirant overnight.

Finding himself in a tight spot, the ex-minister too decided to hold a rally to convey to the party high command that he still stood a good chance. Mr Garg’s rally was scheduled to take place on November 28. Sources said he had got invitations printed apart from arranging buses to ferry people from the villages. But the party high command put off the rally to the third week of December.

Political observers feel that it didn’t augur well for Mr Garg.


Zila panel’s drive against Cong
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 25
The Zila Bachao Sangharsh Committee has decided to campaign against the Congress for the coming Assembly elections in the state claiming that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has failed to fulfil his promise of compensating the Ropar district for carving out Mohali as a separate district from it. The CM had assured that Ropar would be given divisional headquarters status, one more subdivision from other district added to Ropar district and setting up of the industrial units to compensate the losses.

The chairman of the committee, Dr R.S. Parmar, along with other members, while addressing a press conference here, said we have held two meetings with the former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal and he assured us of all possible help to compensate for the losses to the district. Mr Parmar said Mr Badal will address a gathering here on December 5 to make a formal announcement that if their party is voted to power in the coming elections, the Akali Dal (Badal) would fulfil the demands of the Zila Bachao Sangarsh Committee.


Govt handicraft centre to come up near Hoshiarpur
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 25
The Government of India has approved the Handicraft Development Centre (HDC) at Boothgarh village, about 7 km from here, on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India’s Rural Tourism Scheme.

Disclosing that at the first meeting of the District Project Implementation Committee (DPIC) entrusted with the responsibility of executing the project at mini secretariat here yesterday, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D. K. Tiwari, who is also Chairman of the DPIC, informed that the project report for this ambitious project was prepared in-house in June. A formal sanction has been received from the Union government. Giving further details, he informed that the HDC will come up on three-and-half acre land belonging to Gram Panchayat of Boothgarh village, which the panchayat had agreed to give for the project free of cost. The project envisages creation of the infrastructure and training. First installment amounting of Rs 40 lakh, which is 80 per cent of the hardware part, has been received.

Mr Tiwari expressed the hope that the project, conceived with the objective of providing sustainable livelihood and ushering integrated rural development, will go a long way in infusing fresh lease of life in plastic-inlay craft, the native craft of district Hoshiarpur, by promoting and popularising the craft on a wider scale.

The project will be executed by PWD (B&R) on a war footing so that the entire project is completed within the stipulated deadline of one year, he said.


Memorial to students’ uprising in shambles
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 25
The silently decaying building of the Regal cinema here which stood witness to students’ uprising of Punjab in 1972, that virtually had brought the state to a halt,  is in shambles.

Located in the heart of the city, the building which now houses a library, has a memorial status among locals, that reminds them of the students’ stir that had engulfed the whole of state following the killing of students by the police.

Puran Singh Sandhu, who was part of the agitation, recalling vividly the sequence of events said it all began when students of DM College here realised the cinema was charging more for tickets compared to cinemas in other parts of the region. He said students formed an action committee to exhort the cinema management to bring down ticket price.

“I was asked to visit cinemas of the adjoining districts and get a rate list, following which the action committee wrote to the cinema management demanding reduction in the ticket price”, Puran Singh said.

Though the management initially acceded to students’ demand but a later it refused to agree. This provoked students, who propagated against the cinema requesting the masses not to watch movies here. Notwithstanding loss of business, the cinema owners hired musclemen to teach students a lesson.

Puran Singh said it was on October 4, a day before the first killing that five students, who were mobilising the masses to boycott the cinema, were thrashed by the musclemen outside the cinema even house the police did nothing to stop the beating up.

This sparked widespread resentment among students of all other colleges of Moga, who also joined the protest. He said on the fateful day of October 5, students from all local colleges with staffers of the DM College and villagers from adjoining areas converged on Moga to participate in a procession demanding action against lax policemen.

However, crowds soon started marching towards the cinema, even as leaders of the procession were holding talks with the then Subdivisional Magistrate of Moga. The mob compelled the district civil and police administration chiefs to arrive here. While they were holding talks with the mob, a miscreant hit the DC with a rod that fractured his fingers. Perturbed by alarming proportions of the mob, the SSP fired a shot into the air. This was perceived as a signal by the policemen deputed on the spot, who started firing at the mob, killing two students instantly along with a passerby. The stampede that followed injured several others.

Two days after the incident, people again gathered outside the cinema demanding action against the guilty cops. The mob soon turned violent and the police again fired, killing four others.

This infuriated students across the state and the government machinery was brought to a standstill. Several buses were burnt across the state besides holding of protests.

Then Chief Minister Giani Zail Singh had to intervene to resolve the matter. He suspended not only the policemen who did not stop the beating up of the students, but also transferred the DC and the SSP, besides ordering a judicial probe by a high court judge. The government closed down the cinema and later took over the building.

Being centerstage of the widespread agitation, the Cinema considered still a symbol of students rising and the student organisations had hold meetings here from time to time as mark of respect to those who died in the police firing.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Arvinder Singh said recently there was a proposal to convert the cinema into an auditorium, but due to certain reasons nothing concrete could be done in this regard.

Meanwhile, the building of the cinema which was constructed during the British rule and is said to be of archaeological importance by some, is slowly withering the passage of time in absence of maintenance.


Scooter rally against drugs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 25
Local chemists, under the banner of Chemists and Druggists Association, Sangrur, took out a rally on scooters against drugs yesterday. Led by Mr Narinder Gupta, president of the association, the rally was organised to spread awareness among the people, especially youths, against adverse effects of drugs.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the rally at the Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre, near Mahavir Chowk, here. Among those present on the occasion were Mr Mohan Lal, SDM, Sangrur; Dr S.K. Bansal, Civil Surgeon; Mr Sukhwinder Singh Uppal, SP, and Mr Mohan Sharma, Project Director, Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre.


DIG’s death: Probe sought 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, state BJP president and MP, has demanded a CBI probe into the death of Jaswinder Singh, DIG, Orissa, who was posted as the head of anti-Naxalite operations in the trouble-torn state.

Mr Khanna, in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, today demanded an inquiry in all aspects related to the death of the DIG. He also demanded a suitable compensation and job for the kin of the late DIG. While stressing upon the responsibility of the Union Government in ensuring justice and a fair probe for the satisfaction of the family of the deceased officer, Mr Khanna has urged the Prime Minister to ensure an impartial probe.


Harmony Week concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
About 400 athletes in three categories - boys, girls and sub-junior section, participated in the 3 km races organised by the District Sports Office, Patiala, in connection with the National Communal Harmony Week which ended at Patiala today.

According to Mr R.K. Rishi, District Sports Officer, there was tremendous response to the competition in all categories. Mr R.P.S. Walia, Transport Officer, gave start to the races at the Polo Ground.

However, the ultimate honours went to Gurpal Singh of Government Mohindra College, Patiala, among boys; to Salma Khan among girls and Amandeep Kaur in the sub-junior section.


Unions restrained from holding dharna

Patiala, November 25
The court of Additional Session Judge (Senior Division) has restrained employees’ federations affiliated to the Punjab State Electricity Board trade unions from holding strikes, demonstrations, meetings, dharnas and gheraos within 300 meters radius from the wall of the Board.

The court also restrained the federations from raising slogans and from obstructing the entry of officers within a radius of 300 meters from the Board’s boundary wall.

The court passed these orders on an application moved by the Board’s Secretary and Deputy Secretary (Grievances and Welfare) under rule 1 and 2 with Section 151 of the CrPC for grant of interim injunction. TNS


Arhtiyas vow to support cause of farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Efforts have begun to bring about a positive turnaround in what is described as “not-so-happy” relations between arhtiyas (commission agents) and farmers in Punjab.

Recently, a meeting of commission agents was held at Samrala where two senior leaders of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, were invited by the Arhtiya Association, Punjab. Mr Tarsem Saini, president, Punjab Rice Shellers Association, was also present.

Confrontation between commission agents and farmers had turned into bloody feuds at certain places, especially in the Malwa belt in the recent past.

Mr Ravinder Singh Cheema, president, Arhtiya Association, told The Tribune that a delegation of arhtiyas from 103 grain markets participated in the meeting. “We took this initiative to bring about harmony in the relations between the farmers and commission agents”, he said.

At the meeting, it was felt that any improvement in the farm economy was in the interest of arhtiyas, who should support farmers on vital issues such as demand for increase in the price of food grains, especially wheat and paddy.

A resolution was also passed seeking an increase in the MSP of wheat to Rs 1,000 per quintal from the existing Rs 750. Mr Cheema said while farmers were given Rs 700 per quintal by the Union Government, private agencies, which procured the wheat, were selling it for Rs 1,100 per quintal.

He said if farmers would get higher price for wheat and paddy, it would also add to the income of commission agents. “We would keep our shutters down whenever in future farmers would give a call to support their genuine demands”, he added.

Mr Lakhowal, however, advised commission agents to lower the rate of interest advanced by them to farmers.


Land encroachment to be probed
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 25
Mr Surjit Singh, DC, Barnala, has ordered a probe into the alleged encroachments on the land of Government Girls School here. The DC has marked the inquiry to Mr Harcharan Singh Sandhu, SDM, Barnala.

The probe was ordered on the request made by the school staff and its Principal, Ms Kiran Bala.

Earlier, a delegation, led by Ms Kiran Bala, met the DC at his office on Friday. She also demanded construction of the boundary wall of the school. She told the district authorities that in absence of the boundary wall, a large part of the school playground was being encroached by the people living in the vicinity. Houses had been built on the playground.

The staff also apprised the authorities about unhygienic conditions in the school. They said it was disturbing that a part of the school premises was being used by passers-by for attending the calls of natural.

The DC assured the staff on the construction of the boundary wall. Mr Paramjeet Singh Mann, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Madan Lal Singla, member, trust, and a Congress leader also supported the delegation.


5 of gang arrested; smack seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 25
Four persons who were narcotics smugglers, including a resident of Amritsar district at Hanumangarh, 60 km from here, were arrested by the district police, sources said today. The kingpin of the gang had also been arrested at Sriganganagar, 40 km from here. The police seized 1.42 kg smack during the raid having a value of Rs 1.42 crore in the international market.

According to information, a police party led by DSP Rajesh Kumar and SHO Hari Ram Chaudhary raided house No. 7/173 at Housing Board Colony at Hanumangarh yesterday. Harjinder Singh Giani, owner of the house, managed to escape. The search led to the seizure of smack from Surjit Singh of Dhariwala village in Patti subdivision of Amritsar district, Shaukat Ali of Jhalar Patan, Ram Swarup of Baran village and his wife Luxmi. All have been arrested under the NDPS Act.

In Sriganganagar, Jai Singh Bawri (60) of Jhalawar was arrested during a raid at Ganeshgarh village. The police seized 125 gm smack and 1.10 kg of opium from him.

They have been remanded in police custody for nine days.


Arya College bus students’ nightmare
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 25
Injuries of girl students of Arya College, Noormahal received in last week’s accident of the college bus had not healed when a new bus bought by the management on the request of the students rammed into a train near Gumtala on Thursday morning.

The college bus that collided with the Dhanbad Express near Gumtala leaving three girls dead and over 20 injured had three accidents in the past fortnight besides escaping being hit by another train last week only, injured girls admitted to DMC hospital have revealed.

No lesson was learnt from the previous mistakes by bus driver Kulwinder Singh who could not anticipate the approaching train at unmanned railway crossing near Gumtala. Blaming the driver, booked for negligent by the Phillaur police, the students said he did not look for the train on the track.

Anita Rani, (19), a student of BA-Final Year one of the seven injured girls admitted to DMC hospital here said a few days ago they had another train just missed hitting the rear of their bus as the driver tried to hurriedly cross the unmanned crossing. Today luck was not on their side as the train ripped through rear part of the bus only. She said all injured or dead were seated in the rear half of the bus, “We just heard a loud train whistle and next moment we were tossed all around.” said Anita.

She was nursing wounded knees when the bus driver had rammed straight into the entry gate of a village 10 days ago. Besides that, students had suffered injuries when the same bus had rolled into a road side ditch a few days ago.

No action was taken against the bus driver, alleged Sulakhan Singh, maternal uncle of Sharanjit Kaur, another student hurt in the accident. He revealed Sharanjit too had suffered injuries in the previous accidents but the management revised to the way the buses were driven.

Mr Avtar Singh, a former ex-president of the college management was camping in the hospital, said no complaint had been received. He said it was just bad luck, “We had insured all students during admission only.” he stressed. He said these girls were given a new bus a few days ago only on their request as other students were travelling by new buses.

Of the nine girls rushed here in serious condition, two-Kirandeep Kaur and Daljinder Kaur succumbed to injuries. Remaining seven-Rajwinder Kaur, Sunita, Mandeep, Anita, Sharanjit Kaur, Rajbir Kaur and Bhavjot Kaur were reported out of danger.

Majority of the girls were from Pasla village.


Inter-school contest
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 25
“Expressions - 06” an “inter state school competition cultural extravaganza”, was organised on the campus of the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management & Computer Sciences, Mandi Gobindgarh today.

Ms Uma Ratra, Secretary, Child Welfare Council of Punjab was the chief guest. Ms Shalini Gupta, Director, DBIMCS, presided over the function. The competition was organised in various events comprising of solo dance and songs, mimicry, group dance (western) and group dance (folk), Fancy Dress Show, on the spot painting.


Heritage day

Ropar, November 25
Heritage Conservation Day was celebrated in Rayat and Bahra College of Education in Sahauran as a part of national integration and communal harmony Week here. Various competitions were organised. Those who won first prize included Kamalpreet Kaur in debate, Kavita in poem recitation, Tejinder Kaur in folk song. — TNS


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