P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


One last time, Badal woos Sikh sangat
Varinder Walia/ Tribune News Service

A section of the congregation at the gurdwara in Baba Bakala
A section of the congregation at the gurdwara in Baba Bakala. — Photo by Davinder Bhangu

Baba Bakala, February 23
In violation of the code of conduct, SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal today held an election rally in the gurdwara premises here. A number of voters assembled in the holy premises to listen to the political speech of Mr Badal, who urged them to vote in favour of the Akali candidate, Mr Manjinder Singh Kang.

The rally was conducted on the bank of the sarover. However, Mr Jawahar Singh, manager of Gurdwara Nauvin Patshahi, said the control of the gurdwara was not with the SGPC. He claimed that the gurdwara belonged to Nihang sect Taruna Dal headed by Baba Makhan Singh.

However, media adviser to Mr Badal Harcharan Bains claimed that there was no code violation. He said before selecting the site for the rally, the SAD had ensured that it was not a “historical one.” He claimed he had information that Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa had also held an election rally at the same place.

When contacted , returning officer Kuldip Singh Chandi said he had been informed about the alleged violation “ just now.” He, however, had received no formal complaint so far.

Mr Badal held at least six rallies in Beas though he was informed about the stay on the Beas poll by the Supreme Court. Mr Badal asked his party men not to show any complacency. Welcoming the decision of the court, Mr Badal said the stand of his party stood vindicated that the atmosphere was not conducive to holding a “free and fair election.”


SAD ready with blueprint on Punjab, claims Kanwaljit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
Former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh said yesterday that his party had prepared a blueprint to rebuild the economy of Punjab to be implemented after it came into power.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, he said his party had decided to implement policies to make agriculture viable for small farmers having less than 10 acres of land holding in the first phase, to promote industrial and service sectors in the second phase and to encourage urban development in the third phase.

The main stress would be on taking the growth rate of Punjab, which was 2.4 per cent now, to 8.5 per cent, which was the national rate. Apart from it, emphasis would be on arranging jobs for youths, constituting 40 per cent of the total population of Punjab.

He said to put the economy of Punjab, which had been shattered by the Congress government, investment to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore would be needed per year for developing the required infrastructure. He added that it would be arranged through the public-private partnership.

“With the Assembly poll coming to an end, the era of political confrontation has disappeared and now the main and serious challenge before the SAD-BJP alliance is how to put Punjab back on the path of economic progress,” he said while pointing out that in the past five years the production of wheat and paddy had gone down by 20 per cent.

Not only this, the severe power crises, which had hit Punjab in the past five years due to failure of the Congress government to enhance the installed capacity of power generation from the existing 4,500 MW despite the fact that the demand went up to 8,000 MW, also led to negative growth in industries and led to the migration of industries from Punjab to other states.

He said the SAD-BJP alliance, if voted to power, would maintain law and order. It would also set up a commission headed by a high court judge to probe all excesses and police brutalities, which had taken place in the past five years on the instructions of certain political masters.

He added that only those mega projects would be reviewed in which there were complaints that the same had been cleared against a consideration.


CM cancels tea party on results eve

Patiala, February 23
Chief minister Amarinder Singh today cancelled his plans to host a tea party for the Congress leaders, party workers and prominent local citizens at his New Moti Bagh residence on February 26, a day before the announcement of state assembly poll results.

The tea party was cancelled as the chief minister’s detractors here started claiming it to be a “farewell party” from Capt Amarinder Singh as he had already “smelt” his party’s defeat in the polls.

Palace sources said the tea party had been planned to thank people of Patiala for their cooperation during the past five years as well as to express gratitude to those who have worked hard during the recent elections.

The CM’s supporters had earlier claimed that it was thanksgiving in advance as Capt Amarinder Singh was confident of poll victory and heading another government in the state. However, as the choice of the date was giving rise to “unnecessary speculation”, the decision of threw a party was cancelled the sources said. — UNI


Sukhbir seeks contempt case against vigilance
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 23
SAD general secretary Sukhbir Badal today filed an affidavit regarding income tax assessment reports about his properties and those of his family members while seeking contempt proceedings against officials of the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, for allegedly misleading the court regarding assessment of their properties before special court judge G.S Saran in a corruption case.

Pleading for contempt proceedings against vigilance officials, Sukhbir said the income tax department had assessed the properties, including Orbit Resort, the Balasar farmhouse and a house in Sector 9, Chandigarh, on the directions of the vigilance bureau. During its assessment, it had found the evaluation of the vigilance bureau wrong.

However, this fact was deliberately hidden by the bureau from the court.

Arguing in support of Badal, counsel and former advocate-general H.S Mattewal, accompanied by a battery of advocates, said the bureau had written to the income tax department at least 40 times regarding the assessment of properties of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur Badal and son Sukhbir Badal.

On the other hand, the investigating officer of the case, SP (vigilance), Surinder Pal Singh, submitted to the court that a report prepared by the income tax department may be relevant for proceeding under the income tax act, but could not be considered for framing of charges.


Booth officials feel cheated
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 23
The booth-level officials (BLOs) who had been assured “quick “ reimbursement of expenses borne by them during the election process feel cheated.

Claiming that they had a vital role in revision of the electoral rolls and enhancing the percentage of photo I-card holders from 62 to 82 per cent in this sub division, the BLOs in a memorandum faxed to the chief election officer, Punjab, today stated that they had been asked to carry a survey to identify the eligible voters who were yet to be issued photo I-cards as the Election Commission had directed the CEO to cover 100 per cent electorate in the special campaign.

The returning officers had assured that the expenses borne by the BLOs would be reimbursed after the completion of work assigned to them.

The BLOs said they were surprised to find that the CEO Punjab had directed the district returning officers to advise the BLOs to claim TA/DA from their respective department as per service rules. Their claims would be countersigned by the election tehsildar (DDO) as the practice had been in the previous elections.


Encroachers block Amritsar-Wagah road
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 23
Hundreds of residents, including women and children, whose 'illegal' huts in Kabir Park of the Kot Khalsa area here were demolished by the Amritsar Improvement Trust, blocked the Amritsar-Wagah GT road and raised slogans against the district administration here today.

Office-goers and students of Guru Nanak Dev University and Khalsa College had a difficult time in reaching their destination.

The blockade was lifted around 1 pm after officials of the district administration assured them that their meeting would be arranged with the SDM to redress their problems. Though the police was present at the scene but the officials of the district administration came only after the situation started turning worse.

Trust officials along with a heavy posse of police personnel had demolished about 80 huts and other structures yesterday. The residents who had been unauthorisedly living there for the past 35 years had clashed with the trust officials and the police had to resort to a mild lathi charge. The trust officials had also removed the structures installed by a marriage palace owner in the park.

The residents also manhandled people coming from either side of the road and were using abusive language against them and those living in the area. They also harassed students of the Khalsa College for Women and Guru Nanak Dev University.

Showing their voter cards they said they had to spend the whole night in the open while no political leader came to their rescue. They said if the trust authorities had given them the notice to vacate the site they would have made some alternative arrangements for their stay.

Senior officers of the district administration said they had merely followed the instructions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High court to get the site vacated so that it could be allotted to the original allottees.

Meanwhile, on the complaint of Sarabjit Singh, an employee of the improvement trust, the police has registered a case against some persons for assaulting and interfering in the working of government employees. Sarabjit Singh, in his complaint, had alleged that Rakesh Kumar, Sandeep Kumar and 15 women attacked them when they were carrying out the demolition work. The police has arrested Rakesh Kumar, while Sandeep Kumar has absconded.


Ugrahan arrested in attempt to murder case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 23
As part of efforts to arrest those farmers and leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) against whom a case under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) of the IPC had been registered on January 31 for causing injuries to policemen at Fatehgarh Chhanna village, the Barnala district police today arrested BKU state president Joginder Singh Ugrahan from the Sunam area.

Later, he was taken to Barnala. Ugrahan was reportedly going towards Sunam on his motorcycle when he was arrested.

When contacted, Barnala SP (Headquarters) S. P. S. Parmar told The Tribune this evening that except Ugrahan no other farmer leader had been arrested. The police today produced him in a court at Barnala, which remanded him in judicial custody till March 9.

He said efforts were being made to arrest the remaining persons as they were involved in causing injuries to the policemen while trying to enter the acquired land of the Trident Group forcibly on January 31 at Fatehgarh Chhanna village, near Barnala.

The state general secretary of the BKU (Ugrahan) Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan today strongly condemned the arrest of Ugrahan. He said the police had continuously been conducting raids on the houses of farmer leaders at Dhaula and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages to pressurise them for a compromise with the owners of the Trident Group on the issue of 376 acres of land in Dhaula, Fatehgarh Chhanna and Sangherra villages (near Barnala), acquired by the Punjab Government for the Trident Group. He also alleged that the police was acting as a “private army” of the Trident Group.

On the other hand, Parmar refuted all allegations levelled by Kokri Kalan by saying that the police had conducted raids on the houses of only those farmers and farmer leaders whose names figured in the FIR.


She fought militants, now backs ex-militant
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amarkot (Valtoha), February 23
Shaurya Chakra awardee Bibi Amarik Kaur, called the “lioness of border area”, who had fought back a number of militant attacks, is the star attraction in the Valtoha constituency.

What is baffling is the fact that she has been campaigning in favour of SAD candidate Virsa Singh Valtoha, once in the militant movement. Bibi Amrik Kaur, who received a number of awards, including Shaurya Chakra, when Mr Beant Singh was Chief Minister, said she decided to support the Akali candidate because several ' fabricated' cases had been registered against her and members of her family during the Capt Amarinder Singh rule.

Bibi Amarik Kaur said she was disillusioned with the government which had forgotten the “sacrifices” made by her family.

Bibi Amarik Kaur continued to fight even as her husband Shabeg Singh and domestic help Mukhtiar Singh were killed in an attack by militants on their house at Amarkot village. most attacks were engineered by the Babbar Khalsa.

Bibi Amrik Kaur would fight the militants in nightlong encounters with the help of her teenaged children, daughter Sarbjit Kaur and sons Nishan Singh and Satnam Singh.


Admn helps defuse caste tension
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 23
The district administration today defused tension between two castes following the incidents of forcible stopping of power supply to Guru Ravi Dass gurdwara on February 2 and vandalism at a Shiva temple on the eve of Mahashivratri at Rorian village.

Hindu organisations have called off their bandh on February 26.

D.K. Tiwari, deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, today convened a meeting of representatives of both castes, including Tikshan Sud, MLA, Bhagwan Singh Chohan and Onkar Singh Jhamat, both general secretaries of the BSP, Punjab unit, besides inhabitants of Rorian village, in his office which lasted over six hours.

The meeting decided that leaders of both communities would not issue statements against each other.


Stray dogs kill 13 sheep
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 23
Stray dogs roaming near the cremation ground for animals have killed 13 sheep at Choohriwala Dhanna village near here, residents said.

The stray dogs reportedly entered the shed owned by Bhagi Ram, a shephard in the village at 3.15 am. Neighbourers rushed with lathis to chase away the dogs but they had by then eaten 13 sheep, the residents said. There were more than 60 sheep in the shed. Six of them were rushed to the veterinary hospital. Stray dogs had attacked sheep and other cattle on February 12 after heavy rain and on February 15 killing a dozen on the spot..

The Akhil Bhartiya Jeev Raksha Bishnoi Sabha at a meeting here alleged that stray dogs had killed over 10 deer and black bucks after the February 12 rain.


High Court
Order to stop action on FIRs
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 23
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the authorities not to pursue further the FIRs registered against liquor contractors following an order dated January 9 issued by the District Magistrate, Nawanshahr.

A petition stands filed by the contractors of Nawanshahr against the order passed by the District Magistrate, Nawanshahr, under Section 144 CrPC. As per the order, the contractors were directed not sell any liquor except on production of identity cards, voter identity card/driving licence/passport and ration card and that too after obtaining the signatures of the customers in the prescribed proforma. The order further prescribed punishment under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code which provides for imprisonment also.

When the petition came up for hearing before the Division Bench comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Rajesh Bindal, advocate Mohan Jain, appearing for the contractors, maintained that the order passed by the District Magistrate was a direct infringement of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, which is the guiding statute governing the liquor trade in the State of Punjab.

He stated that as per the Punjab Excise Act, any violation in sale of liquor is punishable with fine whereas the order passed by the District Magistrate provided for imprisonment. He also stated that the authorities had also registered cases against the contractors in pursuance of the order.

After hearing the arguments, the court directed the authorities not to pursue the FIRs registered against the petitioners. Hearing will resume on March 5.


2 km-long telecom cable stolen
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 23
It can easily be termed as the biggest telecom wire theft in the state. Thieves stole over 2 km long 1,200 pair duct underground cable of the BSNL weighing 10 tonnes from near the office of the SP, Pathankot, and the city police station rendering over 3,000 telephones in Pathankot city non-functional. The appalled telecom authorities are finding the theft hard to digest.

The General Manager, BSNL, Pathankot circle, Mr Mausadi Lal, while talking to The Tribune, said as per initial estimates the theft caused a loss of about Rs 20 lakh. Besides, there was a loss of revenue and goodwill as about 3,000 telephones were non-functional.

Mr Lal said the theft was detected when a large number of complaints were received two days ago. There was no fault in the exchange. However, the telecom authorities were appalled when they realised that the entire underground duct cable located in the Gandhi crossing area in the heart of the city was missing.

A complaint was lodged with the police. It could take BSNL a few days to restore the services in the area as the heavyweight cable was being procured or brought from other stations, he said.

The eyewitnesses said they noticed some people working on telephone wires at midnight. They had come on a truck and were collecting cable.

Information available disclosed that the cable thieves came as BSNL officials. They had wooden rolls on which the wire was rolled after being dug out from the plastic ducts. The largest piece of the cable was around 800 metres. BSNL officials here said many people might have been involved in the theft as it was very difficult to take out such a heavy cable and then load it on the truck.

The police suspected the role of some insider in the theft. It believed only an insider could know the exact location and size of the cables.


Police hopeful of solving Rajan case
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 23
The mystery of a car that fell in the Bhakra canal a few days ago has become the talk of the town as well as a challenge for the district police. A special investigating team led by SP (D) Sukhwant Singh Gill is working day and night to trace Rajan, a trader and the occupant of the car, as well as to reach some logical conclusion.

Relatives, friends and business associates of Rajan recorded their statements with the police today at Fatehgarh Sahib and a district police party has also been sent to Jagadhari to record the statement of his wife. The police also got the record of all phone calls made by Rajan on that fateful night.

While talking to The Tribune SP Sukhwant Singh said the police had reached the conclusion that Rajan was not in the car when it fell in the canal as the windows were locked and no glass was broken. Moreover, he could not come out of the car easily as he was obese. He said there was no clue of kidnapping or suicide. He said it was sure that he had gone underground and hiding somewhere.

After investigating into the matter the police had come to know that he was under heavy debt. He was living in a rented house and running business from a rented shop. Moreover, he was the adopted son of Lala Chaman Lal.

His cell phone record revealed that at about 10.02pm he made a call to his wife telling that he was near the floating restaurant and was leaving for Jagadhari. The call lasted for 74 seconds. At 10.04pm he made another call to his friend Anmol saying that his car had fallen in a canal and he was drowning. The SP said the police was investigating his bank accounts to ascertain as to how much amount he withdrew from banks.

He added that his business associates and friends were giving different versions and it appeared that he told lies to everyone.

He said at present his cell phone was switched off, if he had drowned then it should have been out of the coverage area. The SP said it would take a day or two to trace him.


2 killed in road mishaps

Muktsar, February 23
It seems that riding a bicycle is not safe in the town anymore; at least, this is what the road accidents that took place in last couple of days suggest.

A youth named, Daljeet Singh, died after being hit by a rashly driven tractor near Guru Nanak College while he was distributing newspapers on Wednesday morning. A B.Lib student, he worked as a hawker to support to his family.

The police has launched a manhunt to nab Bhura Singh, tractor driver. On the very next day, an elderly man-riding pillion on a bicycle died after being hit by a speeding truck on the Bathinda road. — TNS


Man killed as revolver goes off
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 23
Rajinder Singh (23), son of Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Bajakhana village in Faridkot district, was allegedly died when a revolver accidentally went off at a marriage ceremony at Dharamgarh village near Sunam. The deceased was to get engaged shortly.

Rajinder, Army personnel, was a member of the marriage party, which had come from Bajakhana to Dharamgarh village. As per the hospital record, he was brought dead to the local Civil Hospital.


Medicos boycott classes

Amritsar, February 23
Students of government medical college boycotted their classes here today over yesterday's incident in which an intern was assaulted by a class IV employee of the college.

The boycott was in protest against the failure of the college authorities to provide adequate security to students residing in hostels in the college complex.

Meanwhile, the college authorities have suspended class IV employee Balwinder Kumar for allegedly assaulting the intern.

Puneet, president of the students union, said they had submitted a complaint to the SHO, Majitha police station, to register a case against the accused and his other associates.

The doctors also attached a medico-legal report of the victim with the complaint.

Intern Ranbir Singh Lobana was injured by the accused and six others yesterday when he had gone to drop his classmates at the gate of the college hostel.

Dr J.S. Dalal, principal of the college, said the accused Balwinder Kumar had been suspended and a three-member committee constituted to inquire into the matter. — TNS


Workshop on photo journalism
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Punjabi University conducted a one-day workshop on photo journalism yesterday. The theme of this workshop was to capture the beauty of Punjabi University. Giving information about the workshop, head of the department Dr H.S.Walia said that the students of the department had been divided into six groups and each group was being led and guided by one photo journalist. He said that this workshop would be a base to the yearly exhibition of photography in which photographs captured by the students of the department would be displayed. He added that the best photograph on university’s beauty will be awarded by the department. He said that the photographs captured during this workshop would also be displayed during the conference of the department to be held in March.

On this occasion, Dr G.S.Maan also provided tips to the students on photography. He talked about the importance of photography and photo captions in journalism. Showing a few award-winning photographs during the workshop, he elaborated on the appeal and impact of photographs on people.


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