P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


43 Pak nationals released
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

For him PoK, Indian Kashmir same place

Saifulla Khalid said for him Pakistan occupied Kashmir and the Indian Kashmir is the same place. “So, I don’t think I did anything wrong by crossing over the border,” he said.

Wagah, June 30
Fortythree Pakistani nationals, who had been lodged in Indian jails, most of them for illegally crossing over to this side, were released by the Indian government here today.

There were 10 fishermen and 33 civilians, who were brought here from jails of Punjab (12), Jammu and Kashmir (15), West Bengal (two), Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat (one each).

The released prisoners told The Tribune that they were made to languish in Indian jails beyond the actual quantum of sentence delivered by the courts.

Mohammad Sayeed (30) claimed that he was caught by the Indian forces in October, 1993, in Kupwara sector and had been kept in different jails all these years. “However, when my case was finally put up in a court for the charges of illegally crossing over to this side, the quantum of sentence awarded to me was less than two years,” he claimed.

Mumtaz Begum, who was brought here from Kolkata Central Jail, said she was sent to Saudi Arabia by her parents, where she got married. Later, her sister-in-law wanted her daughter’s hand for her son, some thing to which she did not agree. She was, therefore, sent to Bangladesh, from where a tout was to help her enter Pakistan. But, she was arrested without documents in India.

“I’m happy that I’ll be finally going back to my country and meet my parents,” she said.

Navid Iqbal Butt said he had come to Srinagar to meet his relatives 14 years ago when he was nabbed. “Later, my parents filed a petition in the Supreme Court that prisoners like me, who were languishing in Indian jails for years, should be released. Then my case was processed,” he said.

“No charges were proved against me but for crossing over into the Indian territory without any legal documents,” he said.

Syed Khalid Hussain claimed that Kashmir was a disputed territory and India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had himself said that in Parliament that the people of Kashmir should have the right to determine their status. “What matters is the sincerity of the Indian and Pakistani leaderships in finding a solution to the Kashmir problem,” he said.

An amount of Rs 3,83,571 and 5,64,070 was disbursed among seven Pakistani prisoners lodged in Punjab jails following a writ petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the prisoners be paid Rs 100 per day for overstay in jails after the expiry of their sentence, said a jail official.

In July, 250 Indian prisoners would be released by the Pakistan government to reciprocate the Indian government’s gesture.


Tribune Special
Chief Khalsa Diwan in fix over school land deal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

'The site for the proposed school was once a big garbage dump. Moreover, there used to be a sewerage outlet at the site. Hence, underground water at the site would remain contaminated for years to come.
Akali MP

Amritsar, June 30
The Chief Khalsa Diwan, the oldest Sikh body, is in a fix over the alleged “shady deal” of about two acres, purchased for constructing a building for Guru Harkrishan School at Bhararhiwal, near Bhagtanwala, here.

The deal is embroiled in controversies since one of the shareholders of the land is son of vice-president of the diwan Santokh Singh. Akali MP Rajmohinder Singh Majithia, who is also a member of the diwan, has criticised Dr Santokh Singh for allegedly facilitating the deal. The land belongs to his son and other relatives.

Majithia alleged that the site was once a big garbage dump. Moreover, there used to be a sewer outlet at the site. Hence, underground water at the site would remain contaminated for years to come.

However, Dr Santokh Singh claimed that the diwan rather used his “family connection and pressure” to purchase the land, once owned by his son and his late brother. He said the land was sold at Rs 900 per yard though the prevailing market rate then was much higher. His relatives, who lived abroad, had expressed their desire to take back the land from the diwan, if it did not want it.

President of the diwan Charnjit Singh Chadha said a proper procedure was adopted while purchasing the land. He said the land was okayed by the managing committee, comprising sub-committee members and secretary (honorary) of the diwan.

Dr Santokh Singh said in December, 2005, two members who were in charge of the diwan-run school, wrote to its president and secretary that the school had been looking for a piece of land, measuring about two acres, without which it could not get affiliation by the CBSE. Three sites were shortlisted.

“They approached me to prevail upon my relatives, who owned the land, to sell it to the diwan on minimum rate as it was to be used for educational purpose”, he claimed. The executive committee of the diwan gave a go-ahead for the deal.

However, the Akali MP, in a letter to the president of the diwan, said being the vice-president of the diwan, Dr Santokh Singh was instrumental in selling the land of his son and other relatives at “higher rate”, against the ethics and rules of the Sikh body. He alleged that rules were “bent” to strike the “shady deal” since there was no “buyer” of the land at that time. He has sought an inquiry by a retired Sikh judge into the deal.

The MP alleged that the issue of purchase of land was shown as part of the agenda of the committee. However, it was not even discussed at the meeting. He has also demanded for a test of underground water at the site since it had remained the biggest dumping ground of the municipal corporation for years.

However, Chadha said the corporation had stopped dumping garbage at the site and it would be the “most suitable” site for the proposed School. He claimed that the corporation had given its commitment to develop the site as a green belt.


Badal seeks industry’s help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said the government is keen to set up a textile park in the state, which has great potential for the development of textile industry. He said this during an interaction with a delegation of industrialists, led by S.P. Oswal, here today.

Badal expressed his concern over the growing unemployment and sought the support of the industry in sharpening the skills of the youth and making them competitive. He said the industry should provide technical support to ITI’s and should set up skill development centres and centres of excellence for the core sector of industry, especially in textile light equipment, chemical, pharmaceutical, mechanical and electrical industries.

Oswal informed the Chief Minister that 74 spinning units in the state had a capacity of 2 lakh spindles against the national capacity of 300 lakh spindles. He said the government should promote garment units keeping in view the employment potential of these units, especially for women.

Oswal also spoke about a program being run by the Vardhman Group for improving the employability of SC and BC graduates. He assured to replicate this example in all districts of the state.

Those who participated in the meeting included state industries minister Manoranjan Kalia, chief secretary R.I. Singh, and principal secretary to Chief Minister D.S. Guru.


To oppose further mediation efforts
Panel plans dharnas at houses of CMs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) has decided to stage dharnas in front of the official residences of Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana Parkash Singh Badal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, respectively, on July 9 in protest against their dilly-dallying attitude to registering more cases against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for allegedly indulging in blasphemous acts.

A jatha of 1,100, including women, would start a protest march from Gurdwara Amb Sahib, Mohali, to the residences of Badal and Hooda.

This was disclosed by the committee here today after its two-day meeting at Fatehgarh Sahib. Addressing a joint press conference, senior vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Daljit Singh Bittu, spokesman for the Damdami Taksal Bhai Mohkam Singh, Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh and convener of the Akal Federation Narain Singh said the resignation of president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Parmjit Singh Sarna as convener of the committee had been accepted. However, Sarna would continue to be its member.

Replying to a question, Bittu said Sarna had expressed his inability to continue as convener of the committee due to some personal reasons.

Taking a strong decision against the Congress for “shielding” the dera, the members announced that they would confront the party on all fronts for taking an “anti-Panthic” stance.

Meanwhile, the committee and Sant Samaj resolved their differences following a meeting. The former claimed that Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa had promised to send its two members, who had earlier been withdrawn from the committee, for the coming meetings. The committee had decided to support the decisions taken by the Sikh Clergy on June 27 rejecting the fresh apology. The committee, however, made it clear that it would oppose any mediation efforts in future.

The committee would also take out six protest marches in the Malwa region, including Faridkot, Muktsar, Barnala, Sangrur and Mansa, from July 15 to August 10.


Chahal seeks regular bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, the high-profile media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, today filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking regular bail in the case of attempt to murder (also known as land-grab case) registered against him by the Ludhiana police on June 10.

The petition, filed under section 439 CrPC, states that Chahal has been a victim of mala fide and political vendetta. To buttress this allegation, the petitioner further submits that he was arrested by the Ludhiana police in the said case on June 10 when he was coming out of the Vigilance Bureau premises after interrogation.

Chahal had been granted interim relief against arrest by Justice Uma Nath Singh in all cases registered or to be registered by the Vigilance Bureau, but the Ludhiana police, the petitioner submits, had already decided to arrest him and thus, kept a false case ready to implicate him.

The petition challenges the extension of Chahal’s judicial remand by a Ludhiana court and states that since three of the seven accused in the case have already been granted regular bail, Chahal should also be extended the same relief.

Incidentally, the court of judicial magistrate K.K. Bansal had extended the judicial remand of Chahal and three others till July 10 in the said case. Others whose remand was extended included Jaswinder Singh and his brothers Harbhajan Singh and Jagdish Singh, whose daughter is married to Chahal’s son.

The petition states that the FIR registered by the Ludhiana police was delayed by a period of seven months as the alleged attempt to grab the land in Daad village, according to the complainant, happened way back in October last year.

This delay, the petitioner submits, points to mala fide intentions of the police to implicate the petitioner in a false case and was “aimed at some different purpose”.

The petition is listed for hearing on July 2.


Master plan to be prepared for 40 cities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Urban areas of Punjab are all set for accelerated planned development. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday ordered the preparation of master plans and detailed project reports (DPRs) for 40 major towns of the state for their inclusion in the centrally sponsored Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).

Presiding over a meeting of MLAs and administrative secretaries, the Chief Minister said unplanned growth of urban areas was the bane of all civic problems being faced by the cities today. He asked the secretary, Local Government, to evolve master plans for every town keeping in view the perspective growth of the towns for the coming 25 years.

The Chief Minister said the report should focus on providing drinking water, sewerage network, sewerage treatment plant and solid waste treatment plant.

The secretary informed the Chief Minister that in the first phase the department had included 40 towns under the UIDSSMT project, besides including Amritsar and Ludhiana under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Bids had already been invited from global consultants for preparing the DPRs of 40 towns and these would be opened on July 2 next. Civic amenities of these towns would get a face-lift within two years.

The 40 towns that had been selected to be included in UIDSSMT were Batala, Gurdaspur, Majitha, Pathankot, Patti and Tarn Taran of the Amritsar region, Bathinda, Malout, Mansa and Gidderbaha of the Bathinda region, Abohar, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Moga and Zira of the Ferozepur region, Barnala, Banur, Dera Bassi, Malerkotla, Patiala, Rajpura, Sangrur and Zirakpur of the Patiala region, Khanna, Kharar, Mandi Gobindgarh, Nangal, Ropar and Sirhind of the Ludhiana region and Dasuya, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Phagwara, Adampur, Shahkot, Nakodar and Kartarpur of the Jalandhar region.

Earlier, the MLAs of Amritsar district brought forward the problems of their own constituencies. Bikram Singh Majithia pointed out that provision of suitable parking should be done.

He suggested that multi-storeyed parking slots be constructed at the Mall Road, Court Road, Hall Gate, Sabzi Mandi and Darbar Sahib to solve the chronic parking problem.

A team of the PWD will visit Amritsar on July 5 to identify the problems of roads in the district and take on-the-spot decisions for their redressal.


Stamp Duty
Govt incurs losses in crore
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 30
The government has been incurring losses to the tune of crores of rupees due to the evasion of stamp duty by land mafia in collusion with staff in the revenue department.

The land mafia, in collusion with officials of the revenue department, shows land being sold for residential usage as agricultural land in sale deeds.

Besides property dealers, politicians and businessmen, a former woman councillor has been booked in cases of stamp duty evasion.

The police station at South City recently registered four cases against nine persons for carving out illegal colonies on the agricultural land. The Sadar police station registered a case against eight persons for carving a residential colony at the Bohana chowk, again on the agricultural land.

Such illegal colonies are being set up without approval from PUDA. Illegal colonies can be seen on almost all highways at Bakiyana Basti, Dhunne Ke on the Ferozepur, Barnala and Ludhiana roads and on the Kotakpura bypass.

The police station at South City registered three cases against nearly 12 persons, including father of the present head of Beas-based Dera Radha Swami Gurmukh Singh Dhillon, advocate Budh Raj and Justice Gurbaksh Rai in April. However, the police closed the case against Dhillon on the ground that he sold the land for agricultural purpose.

All cases were registered under Sections 2 (1) 3, 5, 21 and 36 of the Property Regulation Act, 1995.


State’s share in armed forces to be enhanced: Minister
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 30
The Punjab government is not only planning to enhance the state’s share in the armed forces, in light of the shortage of about 18,000 officers in the Indian Army, but is also going to write to the Centre to make the salary package of officers and jawans attractive and restructure it on the lines of the Western countries.

At the same time, in its bid to streamline the functioning of the Punjab Police and to make the force more accountable, the new Police Act will be introduced by the state government in the next session of the Vidhan Sabha. The new Police Act was formulated in the wake of a directive of the Supreme Court.

“We feel that Punjab’s share in the armed forces can go up, particularly when about 18,000 vacancies of officers are lying vacant in the Indian Army. So, we are planning to prepare boys from Punjab under the guidance of the Punjab Sainik Welfare Board for entry into the armed forces,” said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab minister for cooperation.

“Unemployment is a major problem in Punjab.So we are planning to send our unemployed youth to the Army,” he added.

He further said people were not keen to join the armed forces for the want of an attractive package. The Punjab government was also going to write to the union defence minister that the salary package of army personnel be restructured on the pattern of the Western countries.

“Why do so many vacancies exist in the Army? The simple reason was that the service conditions in the armed forces have become tougher but at the same time the salaries have not been enhanced,” said Captain Singh.

Captain Singh, who was talking to mediapersons here today, was accompanied by Jalandhar deputy commissioner Ajit Singh Pannu and a group of Akali leaders, including Rajinder Singh, Charanjit Singh Channi, Jagbir Singh Brar and BJP leader K. D. Bhandari. He was here to unveil the statue of Capt Rupinder Singh Garcha who laid down his life while combating militants in J&K in June, 2000.

Referring to the plans of the Punjab Cooperation Department, Captain Singh said his department was contemplating contributing its bit towards the betterment of the Punjab youth by doubling the supply of fresh milk to the cities of Punjab.

“Our youths are falling prey to drugs which have spread their tentacles in Punjab like never before. On our part, we are going to double the supply of milk to the cities of Punjab shortly,” he said.


Singla reallocates work to Cong office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 30
Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla reallocated work to state office-bearers under instructions from national president Ashok Tanwar. Most of the districts will now have two in charges.

Efforts have been made to accommodate the sons of senior Congress leaders irrespective of their personal affiliation with varying factions.

According to a communication received here this afternoon, state secretary Mangat Ram Chayal will share responsibility as in charge of Muktsar district with Hira Sodhi, son of MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Others nominated as in charge for different districts are: Sukhwinder Singh Sukha Mann and Monty Sehgal (Amritsar rural); Bikram Singh Mofar and Harvinder Grover (Bathinda); Pradeep Rasrania and Amrinder Singh Sandhu Tikka (Faridkot); Karanbir Singh Brar Sarainaga and Ravi Inder Singh Brar (Ferozepore); Adhiraj Pratap Singh Bajwa and Saroj Arora (Gurdaspur); Jeewan Sharma and Ashwani Sharma (Hoshiarpur); Jasbir K Johny and Mandeep Sharma (Kapurthala); Jatinder Chopra and Raju Chopra (Ludhiana urban); Sonia Bharti and Hardeep Singh Chawla (Sangrur); Rajesh Jain Heera and Kuldeep Singh Benipal (Ropar); Yadwinder Singh Kang and Manish Bansal (Mohal); Vipin Bhatti and Simar Darshan Kaur (Tarn Taran); Akshay Bhanot and Sarabjit Singh Sandhu (Moga); Aman Arora (Patiala urban); Rajnish Garg (Mansa); Rajnish Shouri and Meenakshi Bhan (Fatehgarh Sahib); Abhay Singh and Satish Goldy (Nawanshehar).


‘IT return forms incomplete’
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, June 30
Members of the Taxation Bar Association raised objections over the new forms issued by the Income Tax Department.

Secretary of the association Anupam Gupta said the forms were incomplete and not easy to fill.

He stated that in form 2 there was no column for loss due to self-occupied house. Gupta added that in form 4 for persons doing business, in case of individuals carrying on more than one business, there was no provision for compiling separate trading, profit and loss account. He said the information in these forms was to be filled against specified column and no annexure was to be attached which makes it incomplete.

He said there were certain informations which the assessee wanted to give in the form to avoid harassment.

The members added that the last date for filing the return be extended keeping in view the availability of the forms and complexity involved in its filling.


Shopkeepers seek power
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 30
Shopkeepers of Kohlian village in Narot Jaimal Singh block situated on the Ujj river, 25 km from here, have been without electricity even after 60 years of Independence.

They have not been provided with commercial power connections by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Their shops are situated in the main chowk of the village which also houses a bus stop for Punjab Roadways buses and private mini-buses.

The shopkeepers in order to show resentment against the indifferent attitude of the PSEB held a demonstration here on Thursday.

They alleged that the MLA of the Narot Mehra constituency Bishamber Dass has not been helping them. Rampal Gupta, leader of the Shopkeepers Association, while talking to The Tribune said the delegation of shopkeepers had met the MLA several times.

He advised them to take up the matter with the power minister or the Chief Minister directly.


IMA to honour Dr Sandhu
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
The Indian Medical Association has decided to honour noted cancer superspecialist Dr Devinder Singh Sandhu, who has been awarded fellowship by world’s leading cancer institute Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York.

He will be honoured on the Doctor’s Day tomorrow in Patiala. Dr Sandhu is being honoured for performing Punjab’s first ever bone marrow transplant at DMC, Ludhiana, in 2006. He is the youngest member of the governing body of SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Das Medical and Dental College, Amritsar.

Dr Sandhu is known for systematic and professional management of leukemias and lymphomas (blood cancer). He has done DM (Doctorate of Medicine) in cancer from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Parkash Singh Badal has lauded his achievements. Dr Sandhu says his endeavour will be to develop a state-of-the-art cancer centre in the region.


Team to study Pak rural system
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
India is the largest democracy in the world with the distinction of having an effective panchayati raj system in place. However, there is still a need to carry out research on similar systems being practised in other countries.

This was stated by union panchayati raj, youth services and sports minister Manishankar Iyar before crossing over to Pakistan with a 60-member delegation today.

He said a high-level committee would study the Pakistani system of panchayati raj.


SGPC delegation to visit Pak

Amritsar, June 30
Taking serious note of media reports regarding the renovation of Sikh shrines in Pakistan using Muslim architecture, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) have decided to send a five-member delegation, led by former minister and committee member Sewa Singh Sekhwan, to Pakistan to get first-hand information in this regard.

Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, said yesterday that Hardilbri Singh Shah, Amrik Singh Vichhoa, Makhan Singh Nangal and Sant Tek Singh Dhanoula would be the other members of the delegation. — TNS


CM condoles Verma’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed grief over the sudden demise of Sahib Singh Verma.

Describing his death as a great personal loss and a moment of grief for the poor and farming community, Badal said Verma championed the cause of poor and the farmers for five decades and fought for their legitimate rights.


Bedi OSD to chief secy
Tribune News Service

D.M.S. Bedi
D.M.S. Bedi

Chandigarh, June 30
D.M.S. Bedi has been appointed officer on special duty to the chief secretary of Punjab.

He has been associated with various social organisations and is the general secretary of the Vir Deva Foundation, Chandigarh.

The foundation is dedicated to the cause of creating awareness about thalassemia and blood donation. He had also been the chairman of the Institute for Secretarial Practices and Development, a voluntary body of working secretaries of the region.


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