P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Work on trust land in scam row begins
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Even as the Amritsar police has re-opened the case pertaining to the Rs 100-crore land scam after the change of government, the beneficiaries, including the brother of a senior IPS officer, have reportedly started work on the controversial land belonging to the Improvement Trust.

The then chairman of the Improvement Trust, Jugal Kishore Sharma, had written to the police on November 28 last, but no FIR could be registered against the persons involved in the ‘shady deal.’ Interestingly, the brother of the IPS officer was arrested in yet another 'fraud case' by the Mohali police yesterday, but he was later released on bail.

However, district police chief S.S. Srivastava said the inquiry was likely to be completed in a couple of days after seeking legal opinion of the District Attorney. He attributed the inordinate delay in completing the inquiry due to the announcement of assembly elections.

The Ranjit Avenue Welfare Society (AWS), headed by Mandeep Singh and V.P. Singh Bhatia sought a CBI inquiry into the ‘land scam.’ They also demanded immediate arrest of the ‘beneficiaries’ of the prime land, measuring 9500 yards on the basis of ‘forged land deeds.’ The AWS alleged that the police had failed to register an FIR due to the involvement of the brother of IPS officer. The association, however, appreciated the Mohali police which booked the brother of the IPS officer in another land scam and intimidation case. Certain senior politicians of the previous Congress government and officials of the local Municipal Corporation had also connived in the change of land use to help the private builders, though the land belongs to the Improvement Trust.

After dithering for a long time, the chairman of the Improvement Trust had written to the police to file the FIR against the company, headed by the brother of a senior IPS officer. The Improvement Trust believes that the land is worth over Rs 100 crore.

The Improvement Trust had alleged that ‘bogus deeds’ were prepared to usurp its land, opposite the District Red Cross Society office, in connivance with officials concerned.

The Trust had also described the RP Employer Private Limited as a ‘bogus’ firm.

The then chairman of the Improvement Trust had said that the complaint had been sent on the basis of the revenue record that established beyond doubt that the prime land belonged to the Trust.

Sources in the Improvement Trust said land use of the residential area could not be changed by the corporation especially if the case was pending in court.


Bhattal defends Amarinder’s UK visit
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 27
Defending Captain Amarinder Singh’s UK “sojourn”, leader of the Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said former Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh has “not run away”. He is very much in India.

Ms Bhattal alleged the SAD-BJP government led by Parkash Singh Badal was “running away” from giving practical shape to its “atta-dal” promise. “If they fail to start their much publicised “atta-dal” scheme from Baisakhi, we are going to greet Badal by beating empty “peepas” (tin container) and “thaalis” (plates),” said Ms Bhattal.

“They are indulging in vendetta and the SAD-BJP government is even harassing Congress workers at the grassroot level,” alleged Ms Bhattal.

Coming to the rescue of Amarinder Singh, Ms Bhattal said: “He (Captain Amarinder Singh) is gone for treatment and will return shortly. Before leaving the country he had informed me. Moreover, he has a right to consult his lawyer. Shamsher Singh Dullo is with us. Chaudhary Jagjit Singh is very much here in India. Had Badal not gone abroad for treatment. Anyone can go abroad. I can also go. If he is right on moral grounds, Badal should step down saying that he will assume power only whenever he gets clean chit in cases from the Supreme Court. We are not going to tolerate this policy of vendetta.

It will prove costly to them. If investigation ordered by our government into the City Centre project was right then why they are transferring the officers?” said Ms Bhattal, who was accompanied by Congress leaders Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Jai Kishan Saini, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Manoj Arora, Tejinder Bittu, Surinder Mahey, Chaudhary Manjinder Singh and Sukhpal Singh Khaira. She was here to participate in Ram Navami function.

Taking a dig at the SAD-BJP government, Ms Bhattal said it seemed two governments were running in Punjab. “One is run by Parkash Singh Badal and other by his son Sukhbir Badal. They were in a hurry to book Congress leaders that was why they did not deem it fit to discuss the matter during the session of Vidhan Sabha properly. But, we are going to return it to them in the same coin. It seems that the SAD-BJP has brought about “jungle raj” in Punjab. See what is happening in Phagwara. It is closed for four days. Whenever Akalis are in power they bring troubles for people. If Sukhbir Badal is demanding compensation for hailstorm-hit farmers from the PM, he should also thank the latter for Rs 100 bonus on the MSP of wheat. Actually, the SAD is running the government at the mercy of the BJP,” said Bhattal.

She alleged the SAD-BJP government was running away from its “dal-atta” promise. “In their manifesto, they had promised these commodities would be provided at cheaper prices to one and all. Now they have started saying that they would give the benefit to 30,000 families of the state,” said Bhattal.


Police in touch with immigration authorities
Pak Sikhs’ visit sans visa
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
The police has approached the Amritsar-based immigration authorities to seek information whether the Sikh jatha from Pakistan which visited Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, on March 24, was having a valid visa for the same or not.

Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, said the Amritsar-based immigration authorities had been approached as the police was having no information in connection with the movement of the Pak Sikh jatha. He added the police was aware of the fact that a Pak Sikh jatha was on tour in Punjab but it was not sure whether the jatha members had valid visa to visit Talwandi Sabo.

A Pakistan-based jatha, comprising nearly 60 Sikhs, which paid obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib gurdwara on the night of March 24, managed to stay there for hours without proper travel documents. This development sent the intelligence agencies in a tizzy and it took a serious view of the infringement. A cross section of high ranking security officials viewed this development as a “ serious cause of concern as the visit could have amounted a security threat in the border state of Punjab.”

The Jatha, which was led by Bishan Singh, president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, had visited Bhai Dall Singh Niwas. The police and the civil administration remained clueless about their stay.

Local police officials virtually washed of their hands of the controversial visit with Amarjit Singh, SHO, Talwandi Sabo saying it was the duty of the Takht Gurdwara Sahib gurdwara management to inform the police authorities.


Pak Sikhs want to marry in India

Patiala, March 27
The minority Sikh population in Pakistan is having a tough time in finding a suitable match for their children and are keen to marry them into Sikh families in India.

However, the stringent visa rules often discourages the Pakistani Sikhs from finding a match in India for their daughters 
or sons.

These views were expressed by the Sikhs who are currently on a pilgrimage to India. The pilgrimage has been organised by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdawara Parbandak Committee (PSGPC).

The PSGPC chief Bishan Singh is leading the ‘jatha’ of Sikh pilgrims which arrived here yesterday.

Talking to UNI here yesterday, a few of the members of the ‘jatha’ admitted that in the absence of a suitable match, they were left with no option but to marry their sons and daughters to relatives. ‘’The situation is such that at times, cousins enter into wedlock’’, a member of the ‘jatha’ said.

They revealed that only 30,000 Sikhs were currently residing in Pakistan and a majority of who wanted to settle their children in India, especially in Punjab. At times the stringent visa system discouraged families from seeking a match in India, they said while appealing to both India and Pakistan to ease visa restrictions.

“The marriage prospects are more in India, but at times due to visa rules, we prefer marriage within our country,” a Pakistani Sikh hailing from Peshawar said.

A Sikh woman on condition of anonymity said, “There are very few Sikh and Hindu families in Pakistan and we do not marry our children in Muslim families. Therefore, we are finding it difficult to find suitable partners for our children.”

Bishan Singh, president of the PSGPC, said if the governments of both countries opened borders many problems would be solved.

Another member of the ‘jatha’ revealed that he had married his daughter to a Sikh family settled in the West, due to visa restrictions to India. “Now I go and visit my daughter whenever I like”, he added.

Sarbat Singh, who hails from Peshawar and is also the president of the local gurdwara committee there, observed that they would feel a lot more secure marrying their wards in India, if the visa rules were simplified.

Regarding higher education and teaching Punjabi language in the Gurmukhi script in Pakistan, Dr Sahib Singh of Peshawar said Sikh families were now more concerned about the education of their wards. “The marriage prospects in India would be bright, if out wards are qualified as doctors and engineers”, he added. — UNI


Pollution board revokes authority given to pvt labs
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 27
The Punjab pollution control board (PPCB) has revoked the authority given to private laboratories for checking pollution levels of industry in the state. There were about five such private laboratories functioning across the state.

During the stint of the previous government, many private laboratories across the state were given the authority by the state to check the pollution levels in the industry. On the basis of certificates issued by them the no objection certificate to the red category industry was either extended or permissions given to them for expansion of units by the PPCB.

The new chairman of the PPCB Yogesh Goyal when contacted admitted that the authority extended to private laboratories by the previous government had been revoked. There were many complaints regarding the inadequate infrastructure available with the private laboratories for checking the pollution levels in the effluents of the red category industry.

The orders had been issued that the PPCB would now recognise the testing reports of the Thapar institute, the Shri Ram institute Delhi and own laboratories of the board. The industries that got no objection certificates on the reports of the private laboratories more than six months ago had ordered to get their samples re-checked from the above said laboratories.

Though it is very difficult to get the samples checked from the said three laboratories, the credibility of their reports is more important. The red category industry that generate a lot of toxic affluent cannot be allowed to go scot free just on the reports of the laboratories that do not have adequate infrastructure, the chairman said.

Meanwhile the sources available here also told that the PPCB had initiated the procedure to get back about Rs 12 crore that the previous chairman Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa had spent on the development of his Quadian assembly constituency. The amount from the board coffers was withdrawn by the previous chairman on the plea that the department of rural development would later refund the amount to the PPCB.

The chairman when asked admitted that the plea had been moved before the department of rural department to refund the amount spent by previous chairman to the board. The chairmanship of the PPCB had remained with the technocrats or bureaucrats.


Jatropha to be planted on encroached land
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Talwara, (Hoshiarpur), March 27
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has decided to plant jatropha on 300 hectares encroached on by farmers in over 10 villages surrounding the township. Cultivation of jatropha will bring the land under the control of management and bring income from the sale of crop in coming years.

In a novel way to oust farmers of villages in the vicinity of the township from the board land, the BBMB has initiated a four-year project with technical collaboration of a New Delhi-based institute Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) at a cost of Rs 1.69 crore.

Rich in oil content, jatropha contains about 35 per cent oil by weight and the oil could be converted into bio-diesel. Bio-diesel could be mixed with conventional HSD up to 20 per cent and the blend is excellent fuel for use in vehicle without modification in engines.

Talking to The Tribune, Chief Engineer Beas dam NK Jasraj, claimed the project would be taken up in two phases. Over two lakh saplings would be planted on 100 hectares in the first phase while the rest would be taken up in the second phase by cultivating nearly four lakh plants.

He maintained a nursery of two lakh saplings had already been developed adjacent main water Works of the BBMB on the Talwara-Shah Nehar barrage road. Ready by June-July the saplings would be planted in fields by August end. The saplings reared for the second phase from March to June would be in fields by July end 2008. besides this, 20 per cent extra saplings would also be raised every year to beat mortality rate, he added.

The jatropha plant gets matured after four years of plantation and starts giving optimum yield till 35 years. The management has target of producing 1750 tonnes of produces every year thus generating of Rs 87.50 lakh annually. The present value of jatropha seed is Rs 5 per kg.


Jail inmate commits suicide
DC orders magisterial inquiry
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
An undertrial, Raj Singh, today committed suicide by hanging himself in the Central Jail here. Sources here said he had hung himself in the bathroom with a parna (a piece of cloth used to cover the head) at about 10 am today.

The incident came to light in the morning when employees of the jail found Raj hanging in the bathroom. It is yet to be ascertained why he took the extreme step.

One theory put forward by jail sources is that the deceased was a drug addict and was very upset due to non-availability of drugs in the jail premises.

The jail officials, while imparting partial information about the possibility of the suicide, expressed inability to divulge the exact cause of the death of the undertrial.

Gurmeet Kaur, wife of the deceased, however, said, “It is really shocking that my husband committed suicide. I cannot believe it.” When asked if Raj Singh was a drug addict, she said, “It is an absolutely false allegation. He had never touched any drug in his life.”

The death of the undertrial has put a question mark on proper functioning of the jail authorities, besides exposing the lack of proper security arrangements and vigilance in the jail.

Even if it is proved that Raj committed suicide, the onus of protection of inmates still lies on the jail security staff. The issue has brought forth an urgent need to enhance security arrangements in the jail so that no such incidents take place in the future.

When contacted, the deputy superintendent jail, J.P. Singh said, “We found the undertrial hanging in the bathroom and immediately called the jail doctor. Since Raj Singh was unconscious, we rushed him to Government Rajindra Hospital. There he was declared brought dead.” He added that Raj’s body would be handed over to his family members after postmortem. Meanwhile, jail doctor Karan Jit Singh refused to comment on the case.

Deputy Commissioner D.S. Grewal said a case had been registered in the Tripuri police station. Officials have been directed to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report within two days. “Only after receiving the report will I be able to say something about the cause of the death,” he added. The DC ha also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the case.

Raj Singh, a resident of Ranbeer Pura village, had been in the jail since August last year. He had been facing four criminal cases, including an attempt to murder, cheating, and forgery.


Akalis lock MLA, wife on MC premises
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 27
Locking up of local legislator Joginder Pal Jain and his wife inside the Municipal Council premises late last night allegedly by some Akali councillors and their supporters has kicked off a controversy here.

According to sources, Joginder Pal Jain along with his wife Swaran Lata Jain, president of the MC and some of his supporters were locked inside the MC building by Akali councillors. The controversy started when some Akali councillors objected to the sitting of Joginder Pal Jain on the chair of the MC President.

The Akalis sought an explanation from Jain how he was holding a meeting with some officials of the MC even when he no longer was president of the civic body. When the legislator stated he was holding a meeting in connection with some development works to be undertaken in the constituency, the Akalis created a ruckus in the president’s office.

Speaking to The Tribune, Jain stated when the situation got out of his control, he along with his wife and other supporters decided to leave the MC building, but the Akalis locked them inside. He said he got in touch with other Congress councillors and asked to reach the MC building and bail them out of the situation. He said though they managed to come out of the building but the Akalis parked scooters in front of his car and started manhandling his driver. He alleged some of the Akali supporters were carrying baseball bats and when he told them that he had recognised them all, they disappeared amongst the mob. Jain said he had to face resistance from the Akalis who did not allow his vehicle to leave the MC premises but somehow he got out of the trouble site. He said the police inspector and his constables, who were asked to reach the scene, disappeared from there indicating the Akali government was going all out to threaten Congressmen.

After the incidence, Jain accompanied by four Congress legislators including Darshan Singh Brar from Bhagapurana, Ajit Singh Shant from Nihal Singh Wala, Joginder Singh from Panj Grian and former MP Kewal Singh today met senior police officials and made a complaint against five Akali councillors and their supporters.

Police officials maintained the matter was being looked into and action would be taken after preliminary investigations.

In the meantime, Jain stated in case no action was taken in this regard the Congress legislators would stage dharnas in the district. He said the matter would also be raised in the Assembly in the forthcoming session.


Chahal: no link with allotment of land

Chandigarh, March 27
B.I.S.Chahal, media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, today said he had no connection with the educational trust that was allotted land on lease in Jalandhar by the improvement trust.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone from Scotland, Chahal said he had read a news report in the Internet edition of The Tribune with regard to the linking of his name to the educational trust to which land was allotted. “ I want to make it clear that I have nothing to do with that educational trust and my name is being dragged into it.”

“I am under treatment in Scotland. I will return to India as soon as I recover from the illness”, he added. — TNS


CM urged to induct Bhatti in govt

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 27
Various organisations have urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and working president SAD (B) Sukhbir Badal to give historical district Fatehgarh Sahib representation in the government. They held a joint meeting at Sirhind yesterday and unanimously passed a resolution to this effect.

District president of the Beopar Mandal Varinder Rattan said they had urged the Chief Minister to induct lone SAD (B) MLA from the district Didar Singh Bhatti as chief parliamentary secretary in the government. Bhatti had won by more than 24,000 votes, so he must be inducted, he added. — OC


e-governance to check corruption, says Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 27
“Corruption erodes public confidence in the political system and to weed out it from the government and bring transparency in the functioning of government, steps are being taken to introduce e-governance in the state.” This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and working president of the SAD (B), at a press conference here this afternoon.

Mr Badal said first computerisation of land revenue records and providing of licences by all government departments would be done. It will bring transparency in the government functioning and help eradicate corruption.

Referring to the allegation of Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chief of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, against Mr Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister, Punjab, regarding his links with three women of Pakistan, including Arusa Alam, a Pakistan-based journalist, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded a probe into the allegations by the Union Home and External Ministry to bring truth before the people of Punjab. Mr Bitta levelled serious charges of moral turpitude against the former Chief Minister and suspected spying by all the said women for Pakistan.

He said the SAD (B) and the BJP had a clear policy regarding the acquisition of land for any project. No land would be acquired without the consent of the owner farmer.


Train catches fire, engine destroyed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
The engine of the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) Qadian-Amritsar train caught fire near Jaintipur railway station, 26 km from here. A portion of the compartment of the train, attached next to the engine was also destroyed in the fire but no passenger was injured.

According to the passengers, the fire was detected in time by the guard, who signalled the driver to stop the train and helped the passengers get off raising the alarm in time. a section of the passengers was of the view the fire started from brake leathers of the train or possibly due to a short circuit.

The train was scheduled to reach Jaintipur station at 5:20 pm but it was running 10 minutes behind schedule. It pulled in at 5:30 pm and five minutes later the engine was up in smoke.

Residents of adjoining villages reached the spot and helped passengers get down. Fire tenders from Batala, which is 17 km from the station, controlled the fire from spreading to other coaches. The engine was destroyed in the fire. The train was not travelling very fast and could be stopped in time,” said a passenger.

Almost all passengers in the train were headed for Amritsar and by 6:30 pm, most women passengers, along with children, had left for the bus stand at Sainiwal, which is less than 2 km from spot.

A passenger said woodwork in the coach was destroyed in the fire.


Compensation: Farmers for change in parameters
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
Farmers of the district have flayed the parameters adopted by the government for compensation for damage to crops due to inclement weather.

Talking to The Tribune, many farmers alleged that the government had kept village rather than acre as the parameter for awarding compensation. Villages that have suffered 70 per cent damage to crop would be given a compensation of Rs 5000 per acre as announced by the government.

However, if a single farmer with meagre land holding has suffered damage to crop while the crop in the rest of the village is intact, he would not be entitled to compensation as per the present criteria adopted by the government.

Gurbax Singh Balhera, district president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta), alleged that under the present criteria many small farmers would be deprived of the compensation announced by the government. Farmers having their land along the roads or drains would be worst sufferers, he said.


8-yr-old boy falls into well, dies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
In a shocking incident, an eight-year-old boy, who had come to spend his holidays at his mother's parental home at village Daun Kalan, 10 kms from here, died after he slipped into a disbanded panchayat-constructed well full of slush and garbage.

Information revealed that the boy Laddi was trying to trap a horde of butterflies with his friends when he accidentally slipped to death in the 35-feet deep well whose opening was covered with dry grass.

The district administration swung into action and made repeated attempts to rescue the child, but to no avail. Also present during the rescue operations were Ghanuar MLA Madan Lal Jalalpur, under whose area the village falls and former legislator Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur.

The fire brigade and local cops were pressed into service to rescue the boy. Nika Singh and Ujagar Singh, two youth of the village, risking their lives, went down into the well and brought Laddi out. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead. A pall of gloom descended on the village immediately after the news of Laddi's death reached its residents.

After the postmortem, Laddi’s body was taken to his native village located near Nabha town, where thousands of persons from nearby villages attended his cremation this evening.


Four die in accidents
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 27
Four persons, including two devotees returning from the Navratra fair at Mata Mansa Devi Shrine at Mansa Devi Complex, near Chandigarh, died in three road accidents in the town and the adjoining area since last night.

According to the police, Rakesh Kumar (22) and Ashwani Kumar (23) died on the spot when their motor cycle was hit by a vehicle at Ramnagar village, near here, on the Chandigarh-Patiala road last night.

They had reportedly left for the shrine early yesterday.

A 10-year-old boy, Vikas, was seriously injured when he was hit by a vehicle while crossing the Chandigarh-Patiala road near Gagan chowk today.

Vikas, who was crossing the road to partake of food at a temple across the road, was taken to the local civil hospital where he later died.

In another accident, two cyclists were seriously injured when they were hit by a truck near the Damanheri level crossing here.

While Prem Singh died on the spot, his friend Pappu was shifted to the local civil hospital in serious condition.


‘Cases of self-inflicted injuries on rise’
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, March 27
According to a study by Dr D.S. Bhullar, general secretary of the Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology and senior forensic medicine expert at the GGS Medical College, out of a total of 200 cases of injuries reported at colleges, 26 were diagnosed as being self inflicted or were suspected to be self inflicted injury cases.

Most cases were reported in the age group of 21-40 years. The instances were more than five times in men as compared to women. Rural urban ratio of such cases was found to be 1:6 in favour of the rural population.

It was also found several people showed little hesitation in inflicting grievous injuries to themselves to take revenge. In 65.4 per cent of the cases the injuries were simple in nature. however in 26.9 per cent cases the injuries were of grievous nature. While in another 7.85 per cent of the cases the injuries were found to be of mixed nature. In all 26 cases, the types of weapon used was sharp or heavy sharp type.

According to Dr Bhullar, who examined these cases, such persons could be booked by the law under three crimes harming themselves, attempting to level false charges and for giving false information. He stated there was increasing need to amend the law to punish the guilty involved in such crime.

People come up with such injuries to increase gravity of crime so that could settle a score. Experts in the medical profession maintained at times the doctors dealing with medico-legal injury cases failed to differentiate between fabricated and other kind of injury thus leading a variation in the final report that affect delivery of justice.

Meanwhile, Dr Bhullar who is also heading the in-service doctors wing of the state branch of the Indian Medical Association, hailed the statement of Health Minister of Punjab Laxmi Kanta Chawla in which she expressed concerns regarding the cases of fabricated injuries and demanded that high power committee of forensic medicine specialists and police officers be constituted to formulate a strategy to check such cases.


HC judge inspects courts

Tarn Taran, March 27
The court of the additional district and sessions judge here would start functioning in the second week of April. This was disclosed by Mr K.S. Grewal, a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High court yesterday.

He was here to inspect the courts of Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Kulbhushan Kumar and S.K. Singla, all judicial officers here. — OC


Barseem fodder fungus identified

Amritsar, March 27
Dr Inderjit Singh Dhanju, Agriculture officer, Punjab Agriculture Department today claimed having identified a deadly fungus of barseem fodder of main source of fodder in winter for milch animals in Punjab.

Dr Dhanju said he was working on this fungus for the past several years and observed this fungus attacked the barseem crop in March-April. He claimed this fungus was responsible for various diseases of animals, including partial blindness, paralysis and cancer etc thus affecting health of animal and production of milk and to human beings.

He said when milch animals consume the fodder, mycotoxin element of the fungus got deposited in animals fat and transferred to humans which is dangerous. He said the mycotoxin element was so strong that it was not destroyed even during cooking or boiling. He said a few agronomic practices and cultural control could overcome production of this fungus.

Dr Dhanju said the detection of this fungus would help for farmers. — OC


Temperature rise to hit wheat production: PAFC director

Amritsar, March 27
The target of wheat production in Punjab will be affected due to unexpected rise in temperature and heavy rain in certain areas of the state in the last month when grain was in the formation stage.

Mr Amardeep Singh Cheema, Director, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has demanded special wheat package for wheat growing states particularly Punjab. He said due to sudden climatic change colour of wheat had also changed which was unlikely to be lifted by government agencies. He said due to the cropping pattern in the past three decades soil health was also deteriorating and water table going down.

The PAFC Director said here he had also taken up the hailstorm compensation issue with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as this had to be done at the earliest in view of otherwise debt ridden farmers who were not in a position to bear this loss at this stage. He said procedural matter should not delay the package as the intention of the state government seemed to be sincere.

He said the minimum support price of Rs 850 per quintal of wheat announced by the Central government would not help out farmers as there was marginal profit of around 5 to 7 per cent as they had already suffered loss of about 10 to 15 per cent due to damage of wheat. — TNS


3 held, 13 stolen cars recovered
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 27
Police parties were sent last night from neighbouring Sriganganagar to this area to nab the kingpin of a gang involved in the theft of vehicles in the past few months. The police yesterday arrested three members of the gang and recovered 13 cars and four motor cycles. Three of the two-wheelers recovered from the gang had been stolen from Abohar, interrogation indicated. SP Vineeta Thakur formed three teams to trace stolen vehicles, a spokesman said today.

According to information, the gang allegedly headed by Nishan Singh Brar and Navtej Singh Mann had been stealing vehicles from Abohar, Malout, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Bikaner, Jaipur and Sriganganagar. The stolen vehicles were sold later in the roadside Sunday car and motor cycle bazaars after getting fake registration documents prepared. Shekhar Soni, a traffic consultant in the district transport office complex, Sriganganagar, has been identified as a conduit in the racket. He had been earlier reportedly booked for preparing such documents by scanning the signature of an officer using computer system, sources said. Some truck operators from different areas of Punjab had reportedly managed tax clearance certificates from Sriganganagar through agents in the past to carry on transportation to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, sources added. Some fake documents were prepared at Abohar also.

Param Jyoti, an IPS trainee posted at Sriganganagar, said two head constables informed her some persons were trying to sell a car stolen from Setia Colony on February 17 but could not succeed to do so on Sunday. SP Vineeta Thakur put a net around the suspects. On spotting a police party chasing them in the Sadbhawna Nagar the culprits tried to speed away but were nabbed. The SP on tips given by the culprits asked station house officers of all police stations to take action.

The police arrested Manoj Kumar (28), Ranjit Singh (26) and Karan Singh (26) and recovered 13 cars stolen from Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaipur besides four Hero Honda motor cycles stolen from Abohar and Ferozepore in addition to some fake number plates during searches at different places. The recovered vehicles include 5 Maruti 800, 3 Maruti Zen, 3 Esteem and 2 Honda City. They recently disposed of a Honda City car just for Rs 70,000. The culprits said they had no information on all members of the gang but identified six of them. The kingpin Nishan Singh owned 80 bighas of agriculture land, they said. Shekhar Soni had reportedly sold the seal and stamp of the DTO, Ferozepore, for Rs 3000 and charged Rs 1500 for the supplying seal and stamp of the DTO, Faridabad, the interrogation reportedly indicated.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested councillor Vijay Jog for verifying the credentials of a Bangladeshi national Noornabi alias Abdullah for getting a ration card issued in December 2006. The culprit resided in a rented room in Devnagar, Sriganganagar, for the past four months before his arrest for trying to get a passport issued on fraudulently prepared domicile. Jog was last evening remanded in judicial custody as the District and Sessions Judge had already rejected his pre-arrest bail plea.


Father, son booked in murder case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 27
The police has booked Raja Ram and his father, Om Parkash, residents of Hindumalkot, for murdering Amarjit, a roadside meat seller near the Dangarkhera village, 7 km from here, on the Abohar-Fazilka road, sources said today.

Amarjit, a resident of Ghallu village who was married at Hindumalkot, had been running the shop in a kiosk for some time. His brother, Ramesh Kumar, while identifying the culprits, alleged that they attacked Amarjit using sharp-edged weapons on Sunday evening and fled believing that he had died. However, the victim succumbed to his injuries later in Civil Hospital here. He was having strained relations with the in-laws, sources added.

Another report said Vishnu (25) son of Sheokaran, died of drowning in the pond at Sukhchain village in this subdivision yesterday. The body was recovered at 11 pm in the presence of civil and police officials who had been directed to rush there by SDM NS Brar.


Police clueless to robbery in house

Amritsar, March 27
The police has been clueless about the robbery at the house of an ex-serviceman even after 24 hours of the incident.

Unidentified armed persons looted jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh, a car and mobile phones from the house of Amrik Singh, an ex-serviceman after locking family members in the bathroom in the Rajasansi area here yesterday evening.

The accused entered the house on the name of a known person. The family members told the police that the accused after entering the house took the licensed weapons in their possession and then locked the family into the bathroom. They said the accused had covered faces. — OC


Cameras at varsity evaluation centres
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
For the first time in its history, Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to install video recording cameras at evaluation centres to bring about transparency and to check any malpractice. The university has created eight evaluation centres at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur.

Disclosing this to the media here today, professor in charge (examinations), Prof BR Batra said the annual under-graduate examinations of the university would commence on March 28 for which all necessary arrangements had been completed. He said about one lakh candidates of various academic disciplines would appear in these examinations.

Prof Batra said the university had set up 249 examination centres in various affiliated colleges and associate institutes of distance education for the smooth conduct of these examinations. He said principals of the colleges situated in the districts of Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Tarn Taran would act as local controllers of examinations. To check any outside interference, the university has also written to the district police chiefs to deploy sufficient police force.

He said the university had already dispatched the roll numbers and date-sheets to all the regular and private candidates. He advised the candidates to reach their examination centres at least half an hour before the commencement of their respective exams. He said the university would make earnest and sincere efforts to declare the results of major examinations before June 30.


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