P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Akalis want CBI probe into Mohali land scam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal, joined by the NDA and the CPI, in the Lok Sabha today demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged Rs 2000-crore “forest land scam” in Punjab and accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of being “hand-in-glove” with the culprits.

Akali leaders and NDA members staged a noisy walkout after the Congress-led UPA government rejected the demand for an inquiry by the premier-investigating agency.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Akali Dal leader S.S. Dhindsa alleged that some forest land in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh, had been given to a builder in contravention of rules and regulations.

Mr Dhindsa said the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab had in 2002 sold 120 acres in Mohali to a private party for setting up a mall in violation of laws governing forest land.

Mr Dhindsa and the BJP deputy leader in the House, Prof Vijay Kumar Malhotra, demanded a CBI inquiry into the scam as was done in the case of the Taj Corridor project.

Surprisingly, CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta joined the issue and also sought a CBI probe into the issue. The party has severed ties with the Congress in the state and the Left party’s move is seen as an attempt to position itself before the Assembly poll slated early next year.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi objected to the Opposition members raising the subject as it related entirely to the state government. The House had the tradition of discussing only issues relating to communal riots, atrocities on SC and ST and threat to national unity even if these related to the states.

Earlier, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee allowed Mr Dhindsa as a special case to air his views on the issue before a calling attention motion listed for the day was taken up.

While the BJP members walked out of the House immediately after Mr Dasmunsi’s remarks, the SAD members trooped into the well and had a heated argument with the Speaker before following the principal Opposition party. Congress MPs from Punjab, including Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, raised slogans to counter the allegations levelled by the Akalis.

Later, Akali leader Sukhbir Singh Badal told TNS that the ruling Congress had passed on unprecedented benefits to a private builder at Mohali in allowing him a residential and commercial complex. The entire deal was executed at the behest of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to suit Janta Land Promoters Limited (JLPL), owned by Mr Kulwant Singh, he claimed.

The JLPL had not even purchased the land for which the “change of land use” was sought and the change was allowed at the behest of the Chief Minister.

The builder made nearly Rs 1,500 crore from members of the public while the state lost hundreds of crores by way of revenue, he alleged. The Punjab Government had created circumstances to virtually push farmers to the corner which forced them to sell their land at throwaway prices to the builder. The JLPL then sold the same land as residential plots and commercial shops to members of the public at the prevailing market price, he claimed.


Govt forcing farmers to sell land to MNCs, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
Criticising the Congress for forcing poor farmers to sell their land at low price for mega projects, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal said today the Congress government had collected crores for granting permission for mega projects in the state. Corruption would be a major issue in the elections against the Congress. If voted to power we would cancel all deals of mega projects started in violations of rules and regulations.

We do not believe in ‘vindictive’ politics those involved in multi-crore scam in mega projects and land would be prosecuted as per the law he added.

Addressing a gathering here this evening Mr Badal said Punjab on the past five years had suffered various accounts due to wrong policies of the Congress government.

Chief Minister Amarinder has been making false claim in advertisements about development and creating jobs while in reality thousands of unemployed youths had been facing highhandedness of the police during protests for jobs. Farmers were forced to sell land at low price to benefit multinational companies.

Mr Badal said we were getting favourable response from people.

Mr Badal was here on the invitation of the Zila Bachao Sangharsh Committee promised that Ropar district would be given divisional headquarter status and one more sub-division added to it with consent of people and developments projects would also start.

He said decision to carved Mohali from Ropar was taken by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh without compensating Ropar district.

Chairman of the Zila Bachao Sangharsh Committee, Dr R.S Parmar, today joined the Akali Dal here. He said the decision was taken as the Chief Minister failed to fulfil his promises made to committee to compensate Ropar after separating Mohali from it.

SAD patron Sant Ajit Singh, general secretary (SAD) Balwinder Singh Bhundar, former minister Tara Singh Ladal, former MP Kamal Chowdhary, local MLA (Chamkaur Sahib) Satwant Kaur Sandhu also addressed the rallies.

Mr Badal announced if voted to power Ropar district would be made a divisional headquarters, adding one more sub-division into it to compensate the loss the district suffered after carving Mohali as separate district from it.


10,000 teachers join stir, students’ fate uncertain
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Fate of over five lakh students studying in 484 government-aided schools in Punjab came under cloud with 10,000 teachers of these schools joining the indefinite strike from today onwards.

Representatives of the protesting teachers informed TNS that with the strike getting intensified on the second day school exams to be held in December were going to be affected. The fate of the students was hanging fire as almost all these schools have joined the strike.

Not only this, the administrative functioning of these schools has been disrupted as other employees of these schools have joined hands with the teachers. Even the board examination formalities would not be performed if the strike continues at its present pace.

On the second day of the Jail Bharo Andolan, more than 253 teachers, including 126 women from Ludhiana, courted arrests after holding a rally outside the Office of the Director, Public Instructions, DPI (Schools), Punjab, in Sector 17 here this afternoon. The agitating teachers claimed that the managements of these schools were also backing the agitation.

They further asserted that the managements were also providing financial and other assistance.

They further disclosed that as per their plan teachers from across the state would court arrest till December 14 under the Jail Bharo Andolan.

They also made it clear that the teachers would not move bail applications until their demands are fulfilled.

After raising slogans outside the DPI office, the teachers marched toward the road dividing Sectors 16 and 17.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) (Central) S.S. Randhawa warned the agitators that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) had been imposed on the road and in case they crossed it, they would be arrested for violating the orders under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

At this, the protesters began raising slogans. Taking preventive action the police arrested and booking them under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC.

The teachers were fully prepared to stay in jail as they were carrying bags on their shoulders.

They boarded the police buses, which took them to the Sector 17 police station.

The representatives of the protesters addressed the gathering at the police station and lambasted the state government for its indifferent attitude towards the demands of the teachers.

The agitating teachers joined by other employees were demanding implementation of the 1992 Pension Scheme, which was stopped by the state government from June 1, 2003, and lifting of ban on recruitments.

Mr Gurmit Singh, general secretary of the union, announced that in continuance with the ongoing struggle, teachers from Sangrur, Barnala and Tarn Taran would also court arrest on Wednesday and Thursday. 


Fate to blame for Sidhu’s legal woes
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 5
Tomorrow when former BJP MP and ex-Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu is handed out a sentence by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court he would have nobody else but his fate to blame for the timing of the judgement.

For nothing but ill-luck could have been the reason why a case that was lying dormant among hundreds of other admitted cases since November 2000 should have been put on the fast-track.

Also, attempts by the then Congress Government led by Mr Beant Singh in 1995 to withdraw the case against Mr Sidhu in “public interest” did not yield any results as the then District and Sessions Judge, Patiala, Justice R.L. Anand (retd), dismissed the application filed by the prosecution. In his order, Justice Anand, who later became Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, ruled that there was no public interest in the plea filed under Section 321 of the CrPC and that it was mala fide and motivated.

Later, his order was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bench headed by Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Enquiries made by The Tribune have revealed that Mr Sidhu’s case was among the 150-odd criminal appeals against acquittal by lower courts that had been put up for further hearing in August this year suddenly.

The reason was that the High Court Registry was unable to prepare copybooks of pending appeals against convictions that had been listed for hearing. Due to this reason and in order to provide adequate work to 14 new Judges who had just taken oath then, the then Acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, ordered that all pending appeals against acquittals be listed for hearing before the three Division Benches dealing with criminal appeals.

Sources in the High Court say following the order all pending criminal appeals against acquittals were divided among the three Division Benches and listed for hearing.

Of these, about 40 appeals were put up before the Division Bench headed by Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill. Sources say the Bench has already dealt with 38 of the 40 appeals.

When Mr R.S. Cheema, the Advocate-General, Punjab, gave up Mr Sidhu’s brief after taking up his present assignment, Mr Sidhu’s legal team sought time from the Bench on the plea that they wanted to engage a senior advocate from New Delhi. However, the senior advocate, Mr U.U. Lalit, could not do much as the December 1 judgment of the High Court shows.

Adequate security

The Chandigarh Police will be making adequate security arrangements at the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ensure that peace prevails on Wednesday when the Court decides the issue of quantum of sentence to Mr Sidhu.

SAD (Badal) supremo Parkash Singh Badal, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley and other senior leaders of the SAD-BJP alliance are expected to be present in the court when the verdict is delivered. There are also reports that workers of the BJP and SAD (Badal) will also converge on the High Court in large numbers to express their solidarity with their leader.

However, leaving nothing to chance, the Chandigarh Police is planning to leave no stone unturned to ensure peace.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh, Mr Gaurav Yadav, told The Tribune that elaborate security arrangements would be made to ensure that nothing untoward takes place. He also disclosed that senior police officers have been in touch with High Court authorities to work out a detailed plan.


Pak national killed, 10 kg heroin seized
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore December 5
The Border Security Force today gunned down one Pakistani national who was trying to smuggle heroin in Indian territory and recovered 10 kg of heroin Mr Kailash Chander Jha, Officiating CO 7 battalion, BSF said today morning at 3:15 am, BSF constable Ram Asre Yadav spotted unusual movement on the Pakistani side near border pillar 192/14, 400 metres from Border outpost Jagdish along the zero line of Indo-Pakistan border.

Mr Jha told the constable spotted three Pakistani nationals throwing something over the cobra fence. After the Constable noticed the movement he alerted other colleagues at company headquarters BOP Jagdish.

Meanwhile Pakistani nationals started firing towards the BSF post with 7.63 mm Chinese-made pistol.

The BSF Jawan also retaliated and in the cross firing, one Pakistani national was killed whereas other two, giving covering fire to the slain smuggler escaped in darkness and went back towards Pakistani side.

As the nearest Pakistani BOP Akbarwala is only 500 metres from the place of incident which is manned by 11 Wing of Pakistani Rangers, connivance of the Rangers in this incident could not be ruled out, confided BSF officials.

Later, when BSF officials went to recover the body of the killed smuggler, they discovered eight packets of heroin each weighing 1 kg lying near the fencing on Indian side as two more packets were recovered from the possession of the killed.

In the morning at 6:30 am, when BSF officials were inspecting the area, they spotted footprints of two persons on the Indian side near the cobra fencing.

BSF sniffer dogs were pressed into service to trap the Indian smugglers who had come up to the border to receive the consignment but footprints went missing near the Dhussi Bandh.

BSF officials also recovered three cartridges and some used shells of 7.63 mm pistol from the place of incident.

Heroin packets bore the mark of Pakistani company in urdu language identified as “Marvel Ittifaq Company, Meer Agency No. 50/50”.

After the incident, BSF officials held a flag meeting with Pakistani Rangers to protest about the incident. BSF officials said there was specific intelligence information that some Pakistani agencies were trying to smuggle drugs and narcotics into India Instructions have been passed to the troops manning the border in this area to be vigilant especially during dark nights.


Fly-by-night firm dupes people of 28 cr
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 5
The police today claimed to have arrested an accused in a cheating case involving a fly-by-night firm which duped people to the tune of crores here.

According to the SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, the accused has been identified as Parminder Singh, a resident of Housefed Colony. Investigations in the case had revealed that the firm, United Group Personality Development and Insurance Consultant, had registered 80,000 members by charging them Rs 3,500 each.

The firm had reportedly amassed a whopping amount of Rs 28 crore. A case was registered against its MD Vimlesh Kumar, Sukhdarshan Singh and Tejinderpal Singh under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC and Sections 4/5 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Scheme (Banning) Act, 1978, at Kotwali police station.


EC ‘turns down’ SAD request
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 5
The Election Commission of India is understood to have told a Shiromani Akali Dal delegation that it cannot interfere in the affairs of the Punjab Government until the Model Code of Conduct is imposed on the state.

The code can be imposed only when the election schedule for the Assembly elections are announced. A party delegation, led by its general secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, met the three Election Commissioners in Delhi yesterday and apprised them of the situation prevailing in the state.

The delegation told officials that the Chief Minister was distributing public money and that the state exchequer was in bad shape. Also, the ruling party was transferring and posting officers according to its convenience, keeping in view the forthcoming elections in February, it alleged.

The delegation urged the commission to stop the state government from distributing crores of rupees and put an end to the transfers.

They added that a large number of Revenue Officers had been transferred in October after the publication of the voters’ lists on October 10.

The commission is understood to have told the delegation that it can intervene only when the election schedule has been announced and the model code implemented. However, the commission has taken note of the complaint of transfers in the Revenue Department made after October 10.

Meanwhile, it is learned that the commission is thinking of holding elections in three states - Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur - in mid-February. Four states, including UP, are slated to go to the polls next year.

It is also thinking of holding the election in Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur simultaneously.

The Election Commission is awaiting a report from the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the law and order situation and preparations for the poll in these states.

In this regard, Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal is on a two-day visit to Punjab, starting today, to assess the law and order situation. He will review the situation at Ludhiana tomorrow with senior police officers.

The Election Commission will decide about the election schedule after the receipt of report from the Ministry of Home Affairs.


NRI asks for BJP ticket from Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Mr Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, a former chairman of the overseas cell of the Indian National Congress, has approached the president of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Mr Rajnath Singh, for party ticket to contest from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

Mr Bajwa, who was inducted by Mr Rajnath Singh in BJP last month, said that he renounced his foreign nationality to offer his services as a candidate from Amritsar. He held that Mr Navjot Sidhu had quit his Lok Sabha seat to set high moral, ethical and moral standards. “In case there is a by-election, I am eager to contest from Amritsar,” said Mr Bajwa.

Claiming that he belonged to the Majha belt, Mr Bajwa held that he wanted to serve Amritsar with honesty, sincerity and dignity. He was hopeful that the party would consider his candidature seriously.


SAD leaders meet EC
Seek disqualification of all Cong MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
A high-level delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD), led by its secretary-general, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, met the Election Commission in Delhi yesterday and demanded disqualification of all 37 Congress MLAs from Punjab, who were holding office of profit. It also demanded that model code of conduct should be imposed in Punjab with immediate effect to stop misuse of government machinery and public money by the ruling Congress.

Mr Dhindsa was accompanied by the party’s general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Naresh Gujral, Member PAC, Mr Zora Singh Mann, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Bibi Paramjit Kaur Gulshan and Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, all Members of Parliament.

The delegation apprised the ECI that the Shiromani Akali Dal had filed a petition before the Governor of Punjab on March 26, 2006 under Clause 1 of Article 192 of the Constitution of India seeking disqualification of 37 Congress MLAs holding office of profit. The same petition was referred by the Governor to ECI.

The SAD leaders demanded that since the ECI had asked the respondents to file their reply before December 8, 2006, it should not delay it further as general elections to the Punjab Assembly were due in February 2006.

The delegation also brought to the notice of the ECI, that the ruling Indian National Congress party was brazenly misusing government machinery as well as taxpayer’s money.

It objected to the distribution of cheques of crores of rupees for various developmental works in the state by Mr Ran Inder Singh (son of the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amrinder Singh), which were otherwise supposed to be given by the elected representatives of the people. The delegation also brought it to the notice of the ECI that on the orders of the Chief Minister , the transport authorities were threatening the transporters not to provide buses for SAD-BJP rally to be held on December 8.

In the memorandum submitted to the ECI, it had been clearly mentioned, “The Chief Minister is misusing all state machinery for the purposes of Punjab Vikas Yatra, which is totally a political activity and part of election campaign of the Congress.

This yatra is being led jointly by the CM and the state Congress president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. The employees are being forced to bring people for this yatra and at places even schoolchildren are being forced to stand on roads to welcome this yatra.

Besides, crores of rupees are being spent on the publicity of this yatra by the Public Relations Department.” 


Office of profit issue: Cong MLAs preparing replies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
While the crucial meeting of the Punjab Council of Ministers, to be held on December 7, has been postponed to December 15, many of the Congress MLAs today remained busy in getting their reply prepared with regard to the ‘office of profit’ case. They are supposed to file the reply before the Election Commission by December 8.

On the complaint filed by the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, the Election Commission had issued show-cause notice to 37 Congress MLAs, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, asking them to file reply whether they were holding or not any office of profit as complained. The SAD-BJP had sought the disqualification of 37 Congress MLAs by making a complaint that they are holding the office of profit violating the relevant laws.

The MLAs concerned are to file reply individually. Sources said that on the direction of the state government certain law officers in the office of the Advocate General, Punjab were busy in preparing the reply for MLAs concerned.

And many of these MLAs were also supposed to transport the Congress workers for the proposed Badal village rally on December 8. As the venue of the rally is quite far from districts such as Amritsar and Gurdaspur, MLAs would face a lot of problems in the transportation of workers to Badal village. Traveling time on buses from Amritsar to Badal will be about 5 to 6 hours from border areas of Amritsar and Gurdaspur. “It will be huge task to reach the rally venue in time,” said a senior Congress leader.


Majha Akali Dal comes into being, to counter Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
A new Akali Dal is being established here to counter influence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), in the Majha belt. Announcing the formation of the Majha Akali Dal Mr Raghbir Singh, Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said that a 16-member executive, headed by him had been constituted to draft constitution of the party.

He said main objective of the new Akali Dal would be to demand federal structure for the country under which the Central government would keep four crucial ministries, including Defence, external affairs, communication and currency matters and railway under its control giving autonomy to states of the country. He said federal structure was given approval before the partition by the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikh. It was introduced by the British on June 25, 1946.

Referring to a resolution passed by the SAD in July 1965 under the presidentship of Master Tara Singh the SGPC secretary said Sikhs were to have the right to govern the state. He accused the senior leaders of the SAD that after passing the Anandpur Sahib resolution in 1973 they backtracked on the issue which would determine Sikh aspirations and they never took this issue to its logical conclusion.

He invited the leaders from all over the state especially, Taksali Sikhs to join the party to fight the hegemony of Mr Badal and his family. He said they would highlight corruption in the SGPC and also the misuse of ‘Guru ki Golak’ by Mr Badal and his cohorts.

Describing the clash between Akali Dal Amritsar activists and Shiv Sainiks as unfortunate added burning of an effigy was against Sikh tenets. He appealed for calm to both parties and said they must not vitiate peaceful atmosphere for political gains.


CPI to contest 26 seats: Dayal
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 5
The CPI will contest about 26 seats in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. The final list of these seats will be approved by the state executive of the CPI at its meeting convened on December 15 in Ludhiana. However, the CPI has so far announced the names of 12 Assembly constituencies, including Budhlada, Payal, Amritsar (West), Lehragaga, Khadoor Sahib, Valtoha, Majitha, Bathinda, Moga, Shatrana and Faridkot.

Talking to The Tribune today, Dr Joginder Dayal, a member of the national executive of the CPI, said before the CPI’s state executive meeting on December 15, a meeting of the three-party front, the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), would be convened this week in Chandigarh to finalise the modalities, regarding the elections.

Dr Dayal said the front would contest about 55 Assembly seats throughout the state, of which about 15 and 14 would be contested by the LBP and the CPM respectively. However the front would also make adjustments with other parties like the Jan Shakti led by Mr Ram Bilas Paswan, and the Jan Morcha led by Mr V.P. Singh, he added.

Dr Dayal said the front would contest the elections on a common minimum programme (CMP) though every party would also prepare its own manifesto.

He said the front would work to give an alternative government to the people of Punjab.

Dr Dayal also asked the Income Tax Department to issue notices to the Congress, SAD, and others asking them to submit the accounts of the money being spent on advertisements in the media. He also asked the Chief Election Commission to seek reply from the political parties in this regard.

Dr Dayal also levelled charges on the big industrial houses and corporate sector by saying that the rallies, being organised by the Congress and SAD, were being financed by them to protect their interests.

He said the Congress had already made a proposal to acquire about one lakh acres of land for the big industrial houses in the state.


Shiv Sena protest against Tarn Taran attack
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 5
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackrey) of Hoshiarpur district, led by Mr Ranjit Rana, president, Mr Chaman Lal, vice-president, and Mr Ashok Sethi, general secretary, staged a protest march from the Committee Bazar to Clock Tower here today to show their resentment against the attack by activists of the SAD (Amritsar) with sharp-edged weapons on workers of the Shiv Sena at Tarn Taran on December 3.

They were shouting slogans against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (Amritsar), and the Punjab Government.

The leaders alleged that Mr Mann was trying to create a gulf between the Hindus and Sikhs through his provocative speeches to disturb the peace in Punjab. The Shiv Sena would not allow Mr Mann to deliver such speeches at any cost. Hindu and Sikhs were brothers and could not be separated by any one, they added. Later, they burnt an effigy of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.


Mehta supporters decide to leave SSF
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Supporters of Rajinder Singh Mehta a former president of the Sikh Students Federation today decided to resign from the federation in protest against the attitude of president Gurcharan Singh Grewal.

Mr Sishpal Singh Mirakot, general secretary said here today that they had urged the party president to restore the word ‘Mehta’ with the federation as Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta’s services to the organisation could not be put aside. He said Mr Mehta had promoted interests of the federation.

Mr Mirakot had criticised some members of the district unit of the federation, who had resigned from the organisation a few weeks ago due to the style of functioning of Mr Grewal.

He said Mr Grewal was delaying a decision and not serious to resolve the problem. He declared they would serve the federation under Mr Mehta and would soon submit resignation to the federation president.


People “disillusioned” with rallies
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), December 5
Even as the SAD and the Congress are flexing their muscles to ensure a massive turnout at their December 8 rallies in Moga and Badal village respectively, it seems people here aren't much interested in their "number game politics".

The Tribune team today visited the dusty lanes of the former Chief Minister's village to explore his electorate's mindset at a time when a Congress Chief Minister has dared to test waters on his home turf.

Karnail Singh, a small farmer, said: "A common man like me stands nothing to gain out of these rallies which they are organizing to serve their own interests. I have three acres of land and life for me hasn't changed much in the last five years. Small farmers will be better off only when they get tube-well connection and free power."

The disillusionment with the political parties again came to the fore with 70-year-old Rup Chand echoing similar sentiments. "Instead of holding these shows of strength by spending crores of rupees these political parties should let people judge them by their work," he averred.

Pointing towards choked sewers and heaps of garbage, Parkash Chand, a shopkeeper, stated it had been like this for the past many years irrespective of the party ruling the state. Hardev Singh, an old village resident, said gone were the days when people trusted politicians.

Sukhdev Singh of Gaggar village, 3 km from Badal, said: "I have reaped rich cotton harvest with the aid of quality seeds and pesticides. The return of Congress regime will only see farmers prospering in the state."

He said he had suffered huge losses in cotton crop during the SAD regime and had ended up selling off his tractor. Sukhdev claims to be a loyal SAD voter for the last 40 years. "People here are fed up with Badal clan and if given a good alternative they would certainly vote for change," he concluded.

Meanwhile, preparations are on in full swing for the Congress' Vikas Rally schedule to take place at the village's procurement centre on Gidderbaha road. While the road adjacent to the venue is being recarpeted, the PSEB staff is busy installing a transformer for ensuring uninterrupted power supply to the rally.

A huge pandal spread over about 10 acres of land is being erected. Two light towers of the procurement centre are being shifted to the pandal area for providing a top view for media coverage.


Mann ‘rejects’ HC order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today said he had refused accept a verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court with regard to the release of his passport, that had been impounded earlier.

Mr Mann, addressing a press conference here said “Mr Justice S.K. Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said I can go abroad if I give an undertaking that I will not indulge in any activity that will lower the prestige of this country and that I will return to India on or before January 15, 2007, and thereafter, shall surrender the passport within three days to the court concerned.”

He said he was an honourable and self-respecting man and an undertaking like this was humiliating for a proud Sikh.

Mr Mann went on to add: “I reject such a humiliating order, that is against the principles of natural justice, violates my fundamental rights under Article 19 and defies international laws”.

The Indian Government had denied him a passport from 1984 to 1999. In 2005, it was impounded. Mr Mann said the case against him was that he had given a speech.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, allegedly involved in a corruption case, and Bibi Jagir Kaur, allegedly involved in a murder case, had been permitted to go abroad and their passports returned.

Article 14 of the Constitution entailed equality before the law, said Mr Mann, adding that he had never been convicted in any court of law.

Did the same rule and law apply to others like Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Arvind Khanna, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mr K. Natwar Singh, Mr Bhajan Lal, Mr Sajjan Kumar, Mr L.K. Advani and Mr Narinder Modi, among others, he asked.

Mr Mann said he would demand the immediate transfer of the Judge.


Rs 85 crore sanctioned for Wagah-Attari checkpost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Union Government has okayed a development plan of Rs 85 crore for infrastructure at the Wagah-Attari checkpost. This will include building of new arrival and departure terminals, which will be air-conditioned and have integrated facilities for customs and immigrations officials. The cargo handling facilities, to enable trade between the two countries, will also be augmented.

Another grant of Rs 19 crore has been okayed for the up-gradation of the Attari Railway Station. The Samjautha Express between Indian and Pakistan arrives and departs from Attari and the customs and immigration facilities will be augmented. Well-placed sources in the Punjab Government confirmed the development here tonight.


GCM of acquitted jawans reconvened
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Army today reconvened the General Court Martial (GCM) at Ferozepore of two Army jawans whom it had acquitted earlier for alleged loss of a carbine from unit premises, to reconsider its findings.

The court, presided over by Col Sanjeev Chauhan, had in August held Naib Subedar Madan Lal and Hav Krishan Kumar not guilty of all seven charges. A carbine was lost from 72 Medium Artillery Regiment, following which the aforementioned personnel were held blameworthy for stealing government property, abetment and giving false statements before the court of inquiry.

On assembly, the defence today objected to the court’s Judge Advocate (JA) being changed. Defence counsel, Col S K Aggarwal (retd), contended that changing the JA was illegal and without authority.


Work on superspeciality hospital begins
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 5
The construction on Baba Zorawar Singh Baba Fateh Singh memorial superspeciality mother-child hospital started at Peerjain village 8 km from here, today.

Mr T.R. Sarangal, MD, Punjab Health System Corporation, and other officials visited the site.

The Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone of the hospital on the eve of Saheedi Jor Mela last year.

Mr Sarangal said the hospital would have 60-bed capacity, eight private wards and latest equipment.

It would be constructed at a cost of Rs 7.66 crore and the work would be completed by October 2007.

He said as the Punjab Government did have superspeciality doctors, it was going to sign a contract with PGI, whose doctors would come here for treatment.

Those doing superspeciality in the PGI would be posted here. The hospital would be under the supervision of the PGI and would help in controlling the rush of patients in the PGI.


PSEB maintenance pays dividends
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
The PSEB Chairman, Mr Y.S. Ratra, has claimed that various research and maintenance works carried out by the board to increase efficiency of its thermal plants have resulted in excellent performance in different areas.

In a press note, he said Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, had created history by generating 307.392 million units in November 2006 with a plant load factor of 101.65 per cent which was the highest so far.

Due to the economical performance of the GHTP, coal and oil consumption had been reduced to 548 grams per unit and 0.17 millilitre per unit against 585 gm per unit and 0.24 millilitre per unit, respectively, during the corresponding period.

The plant had won many cash awards and shields from the Government of India for its performance from 2000 to 2004.

The GHTP had also qualified for meritorious performance award for 2004-05.


Neglect of education to farmers worries experts
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
Dr G.S. Kalkat, Chairman, Punjab Farmers Commission, has said the constant neglect of education available to about 70 per cent of Punjab’s population is going to create irreversible fractured social system.

Dr Kalkat, who inaugurated the one-day national seminar on the “Paradigm Shifts in the Development Strategy of Indian Economy” organised by the Department of Correspondence Courses, Punjabi university, in its Senate Hall, said about 70 per cent farmers of Punjab, were being deprived of basic necessities.

Dr Kalkat while focusing on the government’s priorities before and after Independence said special efforts and attention was required for small farmers to enable them to become better citizen of Punjab.

Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, who presided over the function, said extraordinary problems needed extraordinary strategies and solutions. He said new ways should be devised to do everything relevant to the societal needs and in the context of Punjab, education could play an important role in development process.

The seminar was well attended by the eminent scholars from all over India. 


7 held in fake currency racket case

Moga, December 5
The police has arrested seven persons in a fake currency racket allegedly run in northern states.

The police at a check post near Dharamkot flagged down a private car in which seven persons including Sukhchain Singh, Harbans Singh, Ram Rattan, Kuldip Singh, Kehar Singh, Tarsem Singh and Harjinder Singh were travelling. A search of the vehicle, the police found currency notes of various denominations worth Rs 3.5 lakh. Currency notes were found to be fake. The police placed the seven persons under arrest and registered a case.

Senior Superintendent of Police Pawan Kumar Rai said that Sukhchain Singh, Kuldip Singh and Ram Rattan were wanted by the police for their involvement in a case registered in August, this year.

He said the police found the gang procured fake currency from their accomplices Harjinder Singh and Gurmail Singh, still absconding. — TNS


Road rage: firing in air
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Four unidentified car-borne persons, reportedly from Jalandhar, fired into the air in the Putli Ghar Chowk here to intimidate local residents when their vehicle collided with another vehicle.

However, Navdip Sahbi, a local resident overpowered the alleged assailants who fled after hitting Mr Sahbi on head with the butt of the gun. He was taken to the Civil Hospital here with head injuries.

The police has registered a case at Islamabad police station. He said the District Transport Officer, Jalandhar would the contacted to get address of the alleged assailants.


Vigilance arrests ETO on graft charge

Patiala, December 5
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau today nabbed an Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO) of the mobile wing, Mr Baljit Singh, when he was trying to accept illegal gratification from a Ludhiana resident.

Acting on a complaint of one Jagmohan Singh, who owes a courier company in Ludhiana and from whom the ETO Mr Baljit Singh had taken some documents, a team of the Patiala Vigilance led by DSP Sharanjit Singh swooped on the ETO and caught him red handed when he was taking Rs 25,000 from Jagmohan Singh.

The ETO who works with the mobile wing of the State Excise Department, was allegedly demanding the bribe for returning the documents he had earlier taken from Jagmohan Singh.

A case under Section 7, 13 (2), 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been made out against the ETO. TNS


Youth stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
At 18-year-old youth Deepak was stabbed to death at Bela Chowk here this evening. He was a resident of Ali Mohalla here.

Deepak who was working in a private hospital was murdered with a sharp-edged weapon by another youth, according to the police.


Engineering colleges need to upgrade skills
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
During the fast-track selections recently by the Indian Air Force team at the Chandigarh Engineering College (CEC), Landran only 10 per cent of the 700 engineering graduates from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, qualified to appear before the selection board for the final interview.

The CEC Landran was one of the 13 centres set up by the Air Force across the country to recruit engineers from different regions in the country.

The success rate was woefully low. Candidates were given two tests. One was in general engineering and other was in the area of their respective specialization. However, most of them failed to clear even in their area of specialization. And many of them were also not very expressive during group discussions that was a part of the personality test.

There was an urgent need for various engineering colleges to improve the education standards of their students as well as the communication skills of their faculty members.

Mr Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chairman of the CEC, Landran, said that his institution was visited by 42 top Indian and multinational companies for on the campus placement. “ We have started the process of inter-campus placement system in our institute.

We call students from other engineering colleges in the state whenever companies visit us for recruitment purpose”.

He said that there was a huge demand for engineering graduates in the employment market but in this region the students were required to improve their communication skills tremendously.


Honour for Mata Gujri College teacher
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 5
“Dr. Dharminder Singh Ubha, Professor and Head, Department of Management Studies of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib has been invited to present his paper on “Corporate Governance: Solutions Through Indian Spiritual System” at an International Conference being hosted by University of the Thai and Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) from December 7 in Bangkok,”.

Dr. Ubha got distinction in the field of ethics, corporate governance and value-based management through Indian scriptures. He has already attended the world conference on Corporate Governance held in the UK.

Dr. Gurmohan Singh Walia, Director-Principal of the college said the participation of Dr. Ubha at international conferences in different countries had brought laurels to the college. He said the college had sponsored the registration fee of the conference under the benign leadership of Jathedar Avtar Singh, SGPC president.

Talking to The Tribune Dr. Ubha said his paper was based on the study of the Gita and the Guru Granth Sahib so as to explore values and ethic-based business principles and practices needed for good corporate governance. He said his endeavour was to highlight the great philosophy from India’s spiritual heritage so as to guide the destiny of the corporate world in its material pursuits.


Solve indigenous problems, engineers told
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 5
The three-day International Conference on Advances in Mechanical Engineering (AME 2006) organised by the Mechanical Engineering Department of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College concluded here today. Dr R.S. Khandpur, Director General, Pushpa Gujral Science City, Kapurthala, was the chief guest.

In his address, Dr R.S. Khandpur called upon the participating delegates to work in international research and development in team spirit. He said around 600 million of young Indian technocrats will be available in the coming decade for placement in various technical and IT companies.

Dr R.C. Bahl, Principal, Institute of Engineering and Emerging Technologies, Baddi, who presided over the valedictory function said researchers must take care of the indigenous problems of the country which include problems of farmers and small industry.

Dr D.S. Hira, Director-Principal of the college while thanking the delegates and the organising team of the Mechanical Engineering Department along with the expert committee, said their combined efforts had made the conference a success. 


V. Mohan takes over

Bathinda, December 5
Dr V. Mohan has taken over the charge of Director-Principal of the Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research here. He had been a visiting professor at Westminster Medical School, London, and had also worked as a consultant in public health in Saudi Arabia. — TNS


Teachers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
Hundreds of Education Guaranteed Scheme (EGS) teachers, who are on a continuous dharna since November 20 at the Mall road, held out a protest march to the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence here today.

The teachers, who later submitted a memorandum to the Patiala SDM, were stopped by the police before they could march towards the New Moti Bagh residence of the Chief Minister. 


Teachers strike work

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 5
All Government-aided privately managed schools in the district remained closed as the staff of these schools held a district-level protest rally at Ashoka Senior Secondary School Sirhind. The protesters raised slogans against the Government and said their protest would continue till the acceptance of their demands.

Addressing the rally, Mrs Gurinder Vir Kaur, district president of the association, said the government was not implementing their already conceded demands regarding the restoration of old-pension scheme etc. OC


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