P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Kanwaljit smells a rat in PM’s visit
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, December 16
The SAD today smelt rat in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposed two-day official visit to the state, starting December 19, terming it as gross misuse of the PM’s Office for “political purposes”.

Perturbed at the impending announcement of an economic package for the state ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections, SAD general secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh protested the visit, terming it “morally and legally” wrong.

“Dr Manmohan Singh is welcome to make a political visit to the state after the model code of conduct was enforced by the Election Commission later this month, he said, apprehending that the Prime Minister might announce a special economic package and inaugurate major projects with a view to further the prospects of the Congress in the elections.

Launching a scathing attack on the Congress-led UPA government and the Amarinder Singh government for the alleged neglect of interests of all sections of society, the Akali leader said both the Central and state governments had woken up from deep slumber to make announcements to woo voters ahead of the elections.

In fact, the UPA government had gone out of its way to extend tax holiday for industries of neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, which had harmed the Punjab industry.

During the past five years, the Congress government had turned a blind eye to the farmers’ plight, who were reeling under a Rs 25,000-crore debt.

Similarly, the debt on the Dalit community alone was estimated at Rs 2,000 crore, hinting at the sorry state of affairs of the state’s economy.

Earlier, Capt Kanwaljit Singh virtually kicked off the election campaign of the party from the Banur Assembly segment at a rally organised in Mubarikpur village, near here.

Addressing the rally, he alleged that Rs 100 crore had been wasted on the “Vikas Yatra” by the Chief Minister. SAD (youth wing) general secretary Jasjeet Singh Bunny also spoke.

Interestingly, Congress leader from Zirakpur Krishan Pal Sharma joined the rally along with his supporters.


Pathankot man’s link with Hizb to be probed
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 16
Decks have been cleared for the local police to probe into the alleged links of Prabhakar, a resident of Pathankot, with the arrested Hizbul terrorists and for the arrest of Javed Ahmed Kanwari, the main accused in the case.

The police had in August managed to arrest four persons who allegedly had links with the Jammu and Kashmir-based terrorist group Hizbul Mujahadeen. It had also seized 4.5 kg RDX and two AK-47 rifles from a terrorist hideout at Madhopur. These persons were running a transport company in partnership with Prabhakar at Madhopur.

However, before the police could act against Prabhakar, he lodged a complaint with the IG (Border range), Mr Mohamad Mustaffa. In it he had alleged that the local police was trying to frame him in this case. He also gave a cassette which carried his conversation with a SHO. In it the SHO was allegedly demanding money for relieving him from the case. The name of two SHOs figured in the conversation. The IG deputed the Amritsar SSP to inquire into the case.

The sources said the report had recommended departmental inquiry against the two SHOs. Besides, it also recommended probe into the alleged links terrorists with Prabhakar and to take steps to nab Javed Ahmed Kanwari, the main accused.

Interestingly, officials of the Jammu and Kashmir police had declined to acknowledge that Javed Ahmed Kanwari or other persons arrested by the local police had any links with the Hizbul Mujahadeen.


Pak paper: Sarbjit may get clemency
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
News about the probable release of Sarbjit Singh awaiting execution in Pakistan in connection with a series of bomb blasts there, was received with distribution of sweets in his native village Bhikhiwind in Amritsar district today. There was an atmosphere of festivity in the border town .

The daily Nawai Waqt of Pakistan, yesterday, quoting official sources, had claimed that Sarbjit might be released from Kot Lakhpat Jail , Lahore, on January 11 next year to coincide with the Id celebrations. The paper claimed that Pakistan wanted to send a goodwill gesture to India by ordering the release of Sarbjit before the proposed visit of Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, or Mr Parnab Mukherji, Foreign Minister, to Pakistan.

Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit , got the 'news' from Lahore-based journalist Khalid Mehmood Khalid. She at once distributed 'ladoos' among well-wishers.

However, Mr Abdul Hamid Rana , a lawyer of Sarbjit, refused to commend on the published news .

Talking to The Tribune, Ms Dalbir Kaur said she would celebrate 'Lohri' with enthusiasm on the release of her brother.


Punjab Police denies providing security to maid
Tribune New Service

Mohali, December 16
In yet another twist in the alleged rape case involving SAD MLA from Dhuri Gaganjit Singh Barnala, the Mohali police, under whose jurisdiction Nayagoan ( where the complainant resides) falls, today claimed that they had never provided any security cover to the complainant.

The maid's counsel had earlier alleged that she had changed her statement under pressure even when she was under security cover of the Punjab Police.

After the maid retracted from her allegation of rape against Barnala yesterday, the Chandigarh Police and Punjab Police officials had put onus of providing security protection to the complainant on one another.

SP (City), Mohali, Varinderpal Singh said though Nayagoan fell in their jurisdiction, they had not provided security cover to the maid .The Chandigarh Police is handling the case.

While talking to the media yesterday, the counsel for the maid had reportedly alleged that she was forced to change her statement despite security cover provided by the Punjab Police at her residence in Nayagaon.

Reacting to the council's allegations, a senior police official of the Chandigarh Police said the victim was under the protection of the Punjab Police.


Centre to set up panel for children
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 16
Ms Rajni Patil, Chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board, said yesterday that the Central Government had taken a decision to set up a national child commission on the lines of the National Women Commission for the integrated development of children in the country.

Ms Patil, while talking to the Tribune here, said the government was committed to raise the potential of youthful energies found in abundance in the children. The commission would look after the needs of the child education and provide them with conducive environment for the overall growth of their personality.

She said the much debated women’s reservation bill for granting 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state Assemblies would be introduced soon.

Launching a major campaign for the eradication of female foeticide on the lines of the pulse polio campaign here yesterday, Ms Patil stated that there was a need to re-orient the mindset of people towards the female child in order to curb the menace of female infanticide and foeticide.

Expressing her dismay over the rising trend of female foeticide, especially in the most prosperous belt of north Indian states, she said it was highly deplorable that most educated and wealthy class of people were destroying the female population for superstition and false social status. She said she was shocked at the sex ratio statistics that the states like Punjab, Haryana and Delhi were the worst affected by the syndrome.

She strongly emphasised the need to provide better quality education to the women for their economic empowerment.

Though the government had promulgated a legislation banning female infanticide in 1870, the problem still persisted. Therefore, she added, there was a need to transform the parochial approach of society as the enforcement of laws had their own pitfalls.

The board had set up a special task force to monitor the working of NGOs at present in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh so that the funds provided to them reach the poor and the needy. She said with a budget of Rs 250 crore they were offering cash assistance to over 20,000 NGOs in the country and the board was providing various facilities like family counselling, helpline, short stay home and running several self help groups. The board had sought the enhancement of their present annual grant to Rs 500 crore from the Planning Commission during the Eleventh Five Year Plan.


Mann for recall of Governor
To file appeal against Sidhu in Supreme Court
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 16
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann today demanded the recall of Punjab Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) as he was “instrumental” in getting Gaganjit Singh Barnala a clean chit in a case of rape.

Talking to mediaprersons here today, Mr Mann said the victim was under intense pressure to change her statement. He said constitutional positions should not be allowed to be misused.

The SAD (A) would also file an appeal in the Supreme Court to initiate legal proceedings against former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu under Section 302, IPC, he said.

Quantifying his statement, Mr Mann said Mr Sidhu was responsible for killing a man in a road rage case in Patiala.

On political alliance in the forthcoming Assembly elections, he said interested parties could join hands with his party.

Coming down heavily on the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress government, he said both were hoodwinking the common man by dangling the carrot of supply flour at Rs 4 per kg and pulses in a bid to garner the votes.

He said both had failed in giving any solace to the poor, especially the village folk who had been living without basic needs like power, medical care and education.


Mann supporters raise slogans
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 16
Activists of the SAD (A) and other Sikh organisations raised slogans against the police and the local administration at the local court complex here today.

The incident happened when Mann supporters, held responsible for the clash that took place between activists of the Shiv Sena and the SAD (A) around two weeks ago, were being produced in the court.

The accused were produced in the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Gurnam Singh, who again remanded them in judicial custody.


Durgiana panel to hold emergency meeting
To discuss embezzlement case against ex-chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 16
The Durgiana Managing Committee (DMC) has called an emergency meeting here tomorrow even as the city police has refused to register a case against its former president, Mr Surinder Arjun, for allegedly embezzling temple funds.

Mr Harnam Das Arora, president, DMC, disclosed this to The Tribune on the occasion of fixing of the gold plate having lord Krishan and Radha carved on it on the front door of the Durgiana Temple here today.

It is pertinent to mention here that the police had refused to register a case against Mr Arjun for breaking the Toshakhana, saying the case was sub-judice.

However, the office-bearers of the DMC felt that the police should have registered a case against its former president as no case of breaking of the locks of the Toshakhana was sub-judice. Moreover, Mr Arjun had taken away fixed deposits worth Rs 5 crore and some jewellery from the Toshakhana by breaking its locks when he was removed from the office on March 28 this year.

He said the Toshakhana was sealed by the then Executive Magistrate, Mr J.P. Salvan, on the directions of the District Magistrate.

It may be mentioned here that the new DMC headed by Mr Arora and former president, Mr Surinder Arjun, had been at logger heads since the new committee took over the management of the DMC. Both factions had been accusing each other for the mismanagement of the Durgiana Temple.

Mr Arora said it was very unfortunate on the part of the police for not registering a case as the case pertaining to the breaking of the Toshakhana was not sub-judice. The police buckled under pressure and informed them in this regard only on December 9 when they had sought information from the SSP about the progress in the case on November 11.

Meanwhile, Mr Arjun claimed that the SSP and the SP had given him clean chit after investigations as the DMC had filed false cases against him to keep him away form the affairs of the committee. He said the present committee was illegal as no elections could be held as per the directions of the court in this regard on March 31, 2001.


Sikh boy’s hair not cut, says police
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 16
The local police today clarified that the incident of snipping of hair of a Sikh boy in the Bhagapurana town two days ago never actually took place.

After conducting an investigation into the case, the police found out that the 15-year-old boy, Sukhjit Singh, had concocted the story to settle a personal score with Gurdev Singh, whom he had accused of snipping his hair.

The police claimed that Sukhjit had misled the police into believing that such an incident had taken place, whereas the fact remained that Sukhjit was being harassed by Gurdev on the phone.

Finding it hard to keep Gurdev at bay, Sukhjit had decided to frame the latter in a false case.

SSP Pawan Kumar Rai told The Tribune that the police had questioned several persons in the case during which it found out that the incident never occurred.

He said the boy also admitted to the fact that he had concocted the story.

The Bhagapurana police had registered a case against Gurdev and two unidentified persons on December 14 after Sukhjit, accompanied by his father Karamjit Singh and local Gurdwara Committee Chief Sadhu Singh, lodged a complaint with the police that three motor cycle-borne youths had chopped off his hair near the Bhagapurana bus stand.

The SSP said the police had recovered the blade borrowed by Sukhjit from a local barber to cut his hair.

He said the police was now in the process of registering a case against Gurdev for making offensive calls to Sukhjit.


1.69 cr to cast vote in poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The final voters list for the coming Assembly elections in the state will have 1.69 crore eligible voters spread across the state. This is an increase of about 2.11 lakh (1.26 pc) as the draft voters list had 1.67 crore voters.

Out of this increase, about 32,000 are new voters who have turned 18 since preparation of the last roll. The rest of the additions are on account of voters who have moved from one district to another, according to the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sundaram Krishna.

Those areas which deviate significantly from the average increase of 1.26 per cent will be subjected to another round of verification through booth-level officers to ensure that the changes are for valid reasons. A low percentage of objections filed (only 35,550) would indicate that the process of preparing electoral rolls has been reasonably clean and transparent, said the CEO. The lists have been printed for most constituencies. Voters who are left out of the rolls for any reason will be permitted to file applications under Form-6 for inclusion of names up to a couple of weeks or so before the poll. Their names will be included in a supplementary list if they are found eligible.

Simultaneously, work on issuing of photo ID cards to eligible voters in the 117 constituencies of the state had been taken up in two phases, which concluded on December 12.

The southern districts of the Malwa have done better than those in the north. Three constituencies have covered more than 90 per cent of the of their electorate through ID cards. These are Amloh in Fatehgarh Sahib district, Dirbha in Sangrur district and Gidderbaha in Muktsar.


Sikh Gurus’ teachings ‘relevant’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 16
The Governor of Uttaranchal, Mr Sudarshan Aggarwal, said today that the teachings of Sikh Gurus that every earning hand should part with 10 per cent of his or her income for the welfare of downtrodden was still relevant.

Mr Agarwal was presiding over the valedictory session of 23rd International Punjabi Vikas Conference, which was organised by the Department of Punjabi Language Development on the theme “Guru Arjan Dev and his era” at Punjabi University, here today.

He further said those, who belong to ‘haves’ sections of society should help in narrowing down the economic wedge existing between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Dr Dhanwant Kaur said this conference had attracted eminent scholars from India and abroad and would play a significant role in development of the Punjabi language. 


Principal killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 16
Prof Balwinder Singh Joshi, principal, Guru Nanak College, was killed and his wife grievously injured after two cars had a head-on collision on Moga Road on the outskirts of the town here yesterday night.

Three occupants in the other car, identified as Rajesh Dhand, Joginder Kandyal and Mohinder Pal Grover, were injured.

Several social and religious organisations have mourned the death of Prof Joshi.


Wireless wing ASIs seek promotion

Chandigarh, December 16
Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs), recruited in the wireless section of the Computer and Telecommunication wing of the Punjab Police about 18 years ago, have not yet got their first promotion.

Many ASIs, who were recruited along with them in wings such as the Punjab Armed Police, have become DSPs and Inspectors. There is disappointment among them because of stagnation. — TNS


Protesters block rail traffic
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 16
Activists of the Khooni Phatak Hatao Sangharsh Committee today blocked the rail traffic for about 45 minutes thus causing inconvenience to the commuters. They were protesting against the alleged delay in the construction of a railway under-bridge.

Due to this the Ambala-Ganganagar intercity, the Ganganagar-Bathinda passenger and the Jammu Tawi Express came to a halt. The protesters climbed atop engines and raised slogans against the government.

The SDM, Anil Garg and GRP officials reached the spot and pacified the protesters. The SDM said the Finance Minister had shown the sanction letter of the railway ministry to media in this regard. He said the work was stopped because the water pipeline and the cables were being shifted from the area.


Suicide by Naik

Ferozepore, December 16
Indian Air Force identified as Naik Shankar Lal allegedly committed suicide after he shot himself with his service rifle while on duty yesterday. He was posted here with an Army formation. Sources told Naik Shankar Lal, aged 50, hailed from Agra. — OC


Abhi murder

Hoshiarpur, December 16
After listening the arguments of the prosecution and defence counsels today, Mr G. K. Rai, District and Sessions Judge, has reserved his judgement till December 20, in the much-publicised Abhi Verma, alias Harry murder case.

A ninth standard student, Abhi Verma, son of a local jeweller Ravi Verma was kidnapped by persons known to his family on February 14, 2005, while he was going to the school. Varinder Singh, Jasvir Singh and his wife, Sonia, were arrested for kidnapping and killing Abhi. — OC


Two get 10-year jail
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 16
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr B. S. Sandhu, today sentenced two drug peddlers to 10 years’ imprisonment and fined them Rs 1 lakh each.

The Mehana police had booked Teja Singh, a resident of Khosa Randhir village, and his accomplice Nirmal Singh of Moga under the NDPS act in November 2004. The two had been arrested by the CIA staff while trying to smuggle 5.25 quintals of poppy husk into the district. 


Fall in the water table
Cut area under paddy in central Punjab, says panel
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Alarmed over a significant fall in the water table in central Punjab comprising Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Moga, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Patiala and Mansa districts, the Punjab State Farmers Commission has urged the authorities to cut the area under paddy by 5 lakh hectares in this region.

A report on the falling water table has been prepared by Mr Karam Singh, an agricultural economist, for the commission. A reduction in the area under paddy is needed to restore the water and ecological balance in that part of the state. Supporting evidence collected to map the subsoil water table in the region has revealed that in 84.6 per cent of the area the water table has reached a “critical” depth of 10 metres.

Dr P.S. Rangi, consultant in the commission, who has gone through the report, says that in 36.6 per cent of the area of central Punjab the water table has touched a depth of 15 metres and in 12.5 per cent of the area, 20 metres or more.

He said the average rainfall during the period 1998 to 2005 was only 437 mm. Because of the poor rainfall, more and more water was drawn from the ground to nurse the paddy crop.

The central region can only support 3 lakh hectares of the paddy crop with the existing water table. Only good rainfall can help sustain the paddy crop in the region. Rainfall of 794 mm in 1995 was the last one to benefit the water table in central Punjab by 0.73 metres. Otherwise, central Punjab has witnessed a fall in the water table over several years. It has been more pronounced since 1998.

Till 1979, the water table in central Punjab was a balanced one. Drought conditions in 1979 set the water table fall in motion.

The state has not recovered from this since then because the area under paddy began to increase. Farmers required to be educated not to transplant their paddy crop before June 15. It will help save subsoil water to some extent.


Cooperative farming catching up
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December16
Madhya Pradesh Governor Bal Ram Jakhar yesterday handed over keys of 55 tractors to representatives of the Khuyiannsarwar and Panj Kosi cooperative multipurpose society societies to promote cooperative farming, which he said was the only way to make farming economically viable.

Speaking at a brief function at a brief function at the cooperative complex, a brainchild of Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, Chairman IFFCO, developed at his ancestral Maujgarh village on the Abhohar-Sringanganagar road, the Governor asked the cooperators to observe honesty, sincerity and handwork to expand the movement.

Mr Sajjan Kumar, also former cooperatives minister, said so far 56 societies in the Ferozepore division had been equipped with tractors and 30,000 agriculture implements to supply to small and marginal farmers at affordable prices.


Doctor accuses bank of fraud
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 16
Dr Parmod Kumar, an orthopaedist, has accused authorities of the local HDFC Bank of preparing fixed deposit receipts worth Rs 1 lakh from his account by forging his signatures on the form. He lodged a complaint against three persons of the bank, including a branch manager, in the court of a Chief Judicial Magistrate in this regard on December 14. The complaint was filed under sections 420, 465, 471, 472, 473 and 120-B of the IPC.

In his complaint Dr Parmod had stated that on November 21 he visited the HDFC bank for withdrawing some money from his account but was surprised to find that Rs 1 lakh had wrongly been shown as withdrawn. He contacted the branch manager who failed to give satisfactory reply. The manager told him to confirm after two or three days. However, on November 24 he received fixed deposit receipts worth Rs 1 lakh from the bank.

He said the receipts were prepared by the bank without his consent as he had not signed any document for preparing them. He shot a letter to the branch manager demanding documents. The bank despatched documents vide a letter dated December 9. In it, the manager had stated that the bank received the fixed deposit form duly signed to book it from his account.

The branch manager also mentioned that his signatures were not forged because these were signed in the presence of a bank staff. According to him the form was signed on November 3, the day he visited the bank and took out the cash from its teller counter. The manager also mentioned that there was no error on the bank's part and it was booked as per his request.

In his complaint Dr Kumar also mentioned that the signatures on the form were forged as the writing was not his. He also mentioned in the complaint that the three accused had forged the document with an intention to cause a financial loss to him and to enhance their targets fixed by the bank. 


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