P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vikas yatra traverses Akali bastion
Ajay Banerjee & Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Barnala, December 22
Even strong supporters of the Congress may have been surprised at the impressive turnout along the route of the “Vikas Yatra” led by Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, in this Akali-stronghold. It was a rousing welcome. A paraglider dropped leaflets, bagpipers played rehearsed tunes, Nihangs performed gatka, horses danced to drumbeats and men drummed traditional “nagaras” (huge round drums).

Probably, enthused by the response of people, the Chief Minister got down to do some hardcore political number crunching and talking to reporters claimed: “We will get 75 seats”. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his family should know we are winning, he said and went onto add that they (Akalis) should see the “wave” during the yatra and this is supposed to be an Akali stronghold.

Smile on the face of the Chief Minister, who was accompanied by beaming Kewal Dhillon and Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was an indication of the feelings in the Congress in response to the yatra that started from Sehna village in Barnala district.

The vikas yatra today covered four constituencies — Bhadaur (reserved), Barnala, Dhanaula and Sangrur. It was behind schedule by more than four hours as crowds virtually mobbed the cavalcade showering flowers and handing out applications as motorcycle-borne youths and a youth on a horse carrying the Congress flag rode alongside. Probably, a stern reminder of the area being an Akali bastion was at Pakho Kenchian village. A huge poster carrying the portrait of former Sangrur-MP, Simranjeet Singh Mann and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwala was put up by the SAD (Amritsar).

Apart from Sangrur which is represented by Congress-MLA Arvind Khanna, the other three MLA are from the Badal-faction of the SAD. Mr Khanna, whose family has been mentioned as one of the beneficiaries in the oil-for-food scam probed by Justice R.S. Pathak, was not present. His supporters had organised a show in Sangrur as posters having Khanna’s photographs were splashed across the town. Mr Amarinder Singh, replying to questions, denied the party was humiliating Mr Khanna, but he admitted that he had knowledge that Khanna would not be present at Sangrur.

On the elections, the Chief Minister said the party would release its manifesto by the middle of January and tickets finalised by the end of January. Ticket finalisation would be done by Ms Sonia Gandhi. The All-India Congress Committee will send central leaders to Punjab for campaigning. Ms Sonia Gandhi will come for at least four major rallies one in Majha, one in Doaba, and one each in western part of Malwa and eastern part of Malwa. Apart from this Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh will also come to address rallies in Punjab. His rallies would be separate from the rallies of Ms Sonia Gandhi.

The party will also call film stars for campaigning, the Chief Minister said.


CM’s Vikas Yatra omits Nabha from schedule
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 22
Preparations for the Vikas Yatra of Amarinder Singh in the town came to standstill with his change of schedule at the 11th hour. Officials heaved a sigh of relief but there are speculations in political circles that this is done due to the recent entry of Mr. Ramesh Singla in the congress party from the SAD (Badal) as he is seen as a rival of sitting MLA Kaka Randip Singh. Moreover, another congress leader Mahant Harinder Singh Khanoura is also claiming candidature for the elections. Many congress leaders are of the view that the CM has avoided Nabha as there are chances of confrontation among the followers of various congress leaders which will reflect badly at this stage.

The Municipal Council here has removed mercury lights from the Bhawanigarh Road to install these on the Circular Road. These lights are again installed at their previous places. Dozens of bamboo welcome gates erected by political leaders are being removed. 


high court
Death sentence upheld in triple murder case
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded by the District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur, to Des Raj for gunning down three persons, including a woman, over three years back.

Des Raj, resident of Qila Rehmatgarh, Malerkotla, had gunned down the trio following an altercation over a minor matter of throwing of waste with the family of deceased Manjit Kaur.

Enraged over the act of the neighbouring family in throwing rubbish regularly in front of their residence, the accused fired at them. While Manjit Kaur and Bhagwan Singh died on the spot, another person, Lal Singh, breathed his last in hospital. A case was registered at Police Station, Malerkotla, on February 16, 2003.

Upholding the death sentence awarded to the accused, the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Virender Singh and Mr Justice A.N. Jindal ordered that it would not be executed till the expiry of the period prescribed for appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Bench also dismissed the appeal of the accused and confirmed the death reference made by the trial court on December 7, 2005. The Bench, however, upheld the acquittal of the other accused.

In its order, the Bench headed by Mr Justice Virender Singh ruled that the horrendous act by the accused, which resulted in three casualties, besides injuries to four others, fell within the purview of the rarest of rare cases. Hence, it warranted a punishment not less than death, the Bench observed, adding that it had no hesitation in confirming the verdict handed down by the lower court.


A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Saron of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday dismissed the plea filed by Mr Animesh Roy, a senior scientist with Mohali-based National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER). Mr Roy had challenged the termination of his services by the NIPER management.

However, the Bench put an end to proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act. The petitioner had used harsh words against his counsel on hearing that the petition was being withdrawn because the Bench had found it not maintainable.

The Bench said it was sparing the petitioner from action under the Contempt of Court Act in the interest of justice. The petitioner's services were terminated after he had alleged that his seniors, including the Director, had created difficult situations for him, including financial, after he had declined to have them as co-authors for a research paper.

However, the Court held the petition not maintainable.

Woman ZP member, ADC trade charges
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 22
Woman Zila Parishad member from Sujanpur Ms Savita Jasrotia and ADC(D) Gurdaspur M.P. Singh today levelled charges of misbehaviour and use of foul language against each other.

Both threatened to file police complaint against each other. Ms Jasrotia told reporters at Pathankot today Parul, a girl from her area, was initially selected by the Zila Parishad as teacher in the ex-servicemen’s quota. Her name figured in the merit list and she was allotted Mera station. However, later her name was deleted from the list and she denied appointment letter.

She went to the ADC(D) who is in charge of the recruitment, to enquire about the matter. The officer misbehaved with her. Later when she tried to enquire about the status of the girl on phone the officer used foul language, she alleged.

She further alleged the Zila Parishad members had been kept in the dark regarding the recruitment process. I have already reported the misbehaviour of the officer with Congress president Shamsher Singh Dullo and the president of the Zila Parishad.

If no action was taken against the officer concerned I with many other members would resign my post, she alleged.

ADC(D) M.P. Singh denied the charges. He alleged on the contrary the husband of Ms Jasrotia misbehaved with him. He used casteist remarks and against me by dialling from different phone numbers. I am going to lodge a police complaint against the husband of Ms Jasrotia as I have kept records of the call made on cell phone by him, he said.

On the removal of name of Parul from selection list the ADC said as per criteria adopted internal assessment awarded to Guru Nanak Dev University B.Ed. students was taken into consideration. In the initial list inadvertently internal assessment marks of Parul were also taken into consideration due to which her name figured in the merit list.

However, mistake was realised and Parul’s name was removed as she did not stand in merit. The record of recruitment of teachers was open for scrutiny, he said.

Chairman of the Zila Parishad Balwinder Singh also denied that there had been any bungling in the recruitment. He said Ms Jasrotia rang her up irregularly yesterday night and told about the alleged misbehaviour by the ADC(D). He was trying for a compromise between the two parties.


Fewer holidays for staff in 2007
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
For Punjab Government employees, it will be fewer holidays in 2007. Out of total 24 public holidays notified by the department of personnel here today, as many as 10 fall on weekends, including seven on Saturdays.

At least two occasions fall on the same day, resulting in wastage of as many number of holidays. The only saving grace is that the employees will be able to enjoy eight long weekends in the new year.

The schedule of holidays released by the government says public offices will remain closed for Id-ul-Zuha on January 1, Guru Gobind Singh's birthday on January 5, Republic Day on January 26, Guru Ravi Das birthday on February 2.

The offices will remain closed for Maha Shivratri on February 16, Holi on March 4, Ram Navami on March 27, Mahavir Jayanti on March 31 and Good Friday on April 6. Holiday in connection with Baisakhi and Dr B.R. Ambedkar's birthday fall on April 14.

The May Day holiday will be observed on May 1, Guru Arjun Dev 's martyrdom day on June 16, Independence Day on August 15, Janamashtami on September 4 and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2.

Id-ul-Fitr holiday falls on October 14, Dusehra on October 21, Maharishi Valmiki's birthday on October 26, Diwali on November 9, Vishwakarma Day November 10, Guru Nanak Dev's birthday and Guru Teg Bahadur's martyrdom day on November 24 and Christmas on December 25.


Colourful start to Virasat mela
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 22
The three-day Virasat Mela today kicked off to a colourful start with a heritage march being organised from Baba Haji Rattan's dargah to the historic Quila Mubarak.

Bedecked elephants, camels and horses with youths dressed in traditional Punjabi attire riding them were leading the procession. Majestic chariots flanked by band parties also attracted people's attention. Various troupes of boys and girls performed Giddah and Bhangra atop tractor-trailers.

Traditional items like flour grinder and distillery used to extract jaggery were also put up in tableaux. Students of Mata Saheb Kaur Girls College and a local troupe displayed their 'gatka' skills. ‘Dhadis’ and ‘Kavishars’ too participated in the march. This time an attempt was made to rope in artistes from states like Rajasthan and Haryana for the procession.

People showed great enthusiasm and greeted the march at various points. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, and the working president of the Malwa Heritage Foundation, Mr L.R. Nayyar, were presented 'siropas' at Cloth Market when the march passed through the Mall Road. Sweets were distributed among those taking part in the procession.

However, the festivities turned unpleasant when a tractor-trailer carrying a few artistes, including women, overturned near Station Road injuring 12 of them. The Deputy Commissioner visited them in the evening. Later, he inaugurated Jaipalgarh, a heritage village, portraying the cultural heritage of Malwa, at the sports stadium.

Meanwhile, in the wake of prevailing cold weather conditions the organisers have changed the timing of the programme to be presented by Punjabi singer Manmohan Waris and satirist Mr Bhagwant Mann. Now the programme would take place on Sunday at 2 pm. 


Sonia’s assurance on prices
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 22
Expressing concern over steep hike in the prices of essential commodities in Punjab, All-India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi has assured veteran Congress leader Umrao Singh that the UPA government and the Prime Minister were in process of setting up a mechanism for addressing the issue.

Perturbed over the price hike, particularly, in Punjab, Mr Umrao Singh, a former MP and former Minister, had written a letter to Ms Sonia Gandhi. He had informed Ms Gandhi that despite the fact that Punjab was having Assembly elections in March, prices of pulses had risen to Rs. 60 a kg and that of wheat flour to Rs 15 a kg. “This is all-time high price in Punjab so far.

Poor people had been affected by the price rise of essential commodities, especially, pulses and flour. This may affect chances of Congress candidates in the Assembly elections.

The last BJP government was defeated because of high prices of onions,” said Mr Umrao Singh in his letter. In response to the letter, Ms Sonia Gandhi said she shared his views and hoped the situation would soon be brought under control. “The Congress party has been expressing concern regarding the rise in the prices of essential commodities and has discussed the matter repeatedly.

Most recently, this was deliberated upon in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on December 12. The UPA Government and the Prime Minister are aware of the situation and, in the process of setting up mechanisms for addressing the issue,” said Ms Gandhi in her letter to Mr Umrao Singh.


‘SAD-BJP raking up non-issues’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today said the defeat of the SAD-BJP combine in the municipal elections in Chandigarh, was a clear indication that the combine would also lose in a similar manner in the coming Punjab Assembly elections.

He said the SAD-BJP combine had no agenda for people of Punjab and it was just raking up non-issues. " People are aware that Punjab can only march ahead under the command of Capt Amarinder Singh", asserted Mr Singla.


Beware of travel agents, says Canadian MP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 22
On account of low growth of population in Canada, there is a wide scope of well- educated youths for settling there. Keeping in view the potential of Indian and Chinese youths, the Government of Canada is focusing on the well-educated persons of both these countries for providing them jobs.

This was disclosed by Mr Sukh Dhaliwal, MP from Canada, while talking to media persons here this afternoon.

He said unemployed youths interested in settling in Canada should avoid so-called travel agents. Many such youths had been exploited by these travel agents. They charged huge amounts from them for sending them to Canada but seldom succeeded in doing so.

Mr Sukh Dhaliwal exhorted NRIs to adopt at least their native village in Punjab for its overall development under a scheme of the state government in which 50 per cent funds were given by it and 50 per cent by the sponsoring person or agency.

He said a majority of the NRIs from Punjab were well-settled and were doing commendable jobs for the upliftment of those countries where they were earning their livelihood. It was their foremost duty to also contribute to the growth of their mother land.

He said rural areas of Punjab were still lacking basic infrastructural facilities on account of which a majority of rural people had either shifted to urban areas or were thinking to do so.


300 teachers detained before CM’s arrival
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 22
Nearly 300 teachers of government-Aided school held protest march with black flags in the main bazaar of the city. These teachers were showing black flags to protest in support of their demands.

They want to welcome the Chief Minster’s vikas yatra by showing black flags as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s cavalcade got late. All 300 teachers from 24 various schools gathered at Gandhi Arya senior secondary school for meals.

When the police got this information, it detained all teachers in the school premises for five hours . The police force was deployed at the four gates of the school. Till the Chief Minister’s convoy passed from Barnala no one was allowed to enter or leave the school premises.


Cops promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Police is all set to have a new Additional Director-General, three Inspectors-General and four Deputy Inspectors-General of Police.

The Departmental Promotion Committee, which met today, cleared the name of Mr G.D. Pandey for promotion as ADGP.

Mr Parag Jain, Mr Hardish Singh Randhawa and Mr Sanjiv Kalra have been approved for promotion as I-Gs.

Mr Varinder Kumar, Mr Ishwar Singh, Dr J.K. Jain and Ms Gurpreet Deol also got the clearance of the DPC for their promotion as DIG.

These promotions were reportedly done to beat the model code of conduct which can be imposed any time now.


Umranangal new Fatehgarh Sahib SSP

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 22
The Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal today took over the charge of Fatehgarh Sahib district.

The IPS officer visited Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara, before taking the charge. He was presented a ‘siropa’ (religious robe of honour) there.

Later, he held a meeting with senior police officers of the district at his new office here.

He appealed the people to cooperate with the district police in dealing with anti-social elements. He said law and order would be maintained in the district at every cost and justice would be given to all people in an impartial manner without any political consideration.

Mr Umranangal had earlier served as SSP of Fatehgarh Sahib from 1998 to 2000. Before his posting here, he was SSP Gurdaspur. — UNI


Granthi got killed by uncle, body recovered
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, December 22
Sukhjinder Singh, a granthi in Sant Baba Prem Singh gurdwara in Karian village near Dasuya area of Hoshiarpur district, was killed by contract killers.

His body was recovered today from Donera area on Gurdaspur-Dalhouise road by a joint investigating team of the Gurdaspur and the Hoshiarpur police.

Mr S.S. Dhindsa, SP, Hoshiarpur, said Sukhjinder Singh had been missing since last few days. His kin lodged a complaint with the police after which an investigation was initiated in the case.

During the investigation, it was found that Sukhjinder's father, Karnail Singh, who is serving in the Army, had some dispute over property with his brother, Chan Singh.

Chan Singh hatched a conspiracy to kill Sukhjinder Singh to get back at his father. He gave contract for killing Sukhjinder Singh to one Satnam Singh and his accomplices. Satnam Singh was known to Sukhjinder Singh. He, along with his accomplices, persuaded Sukhjinder Singh to come to Dalhouise with them to meet an NRI girl with whom they proposed to arrange his marriage.

Enroute to Dalhouise near Donera, Satnam Singh and his accomplices killed Sukhjinder Singh with blunt-edged weapons and disposed of his dead body near a natural drain.

The Hoshiarpur police arrested Satnam Singh and one of his accomplices, Karnail Singh. On the information provided by them, they today recovered the dead body of Sukhjinder Singh from Donera.


Two killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 22
Dense fog claimed lives of two persons while a father-son duo were injured when trucks coming from opposite directions had head on collision on the Bathinda-Dabwali road today morning. The deceased were identified as Balbir Singh and Kuldeep Singh, both brothers. The injured, Amarjeet Singh and Avtar Singh, were admitted to a hospital in Dabwali.


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