P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Gets two-day police remand
Chahal’s aide Baldev arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 14
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has arrested Baldev Singh Dhillon, a resident of Delhi and aide of B.I.S. Chahal, former media adviser to Capt Amarinder Singh, through whom he allegedly invested his ill-gotten money.

Bureau officials allege that Chahal is a benami partner in Dhillon’s business.

Dhillon was picked by vigilance officials from the office of Sagar Apartments in Tilak Nagar, New Delhi. He was residing in M-4/10 DLF Apartments, Phase II, Gurgaon. He was brought to Patiala at about 11 pm yesterday.

Vigilance officials today produced him in the court of the Additional CJM, Patiala, who remanded Dhillon in two-day police custody.

The Vigilance took his remand on the plea that they had to quiz him regarding the investments Chahal made through Dhillon.

The sources in the Bureau said Dhillon and Chahal took admission to the law course at Patiala in 1973. Chahal left the course after the first year to join government service while Dhillon completed the course. They, however, continued to remain close friends.

Dhillon started a property business in 1977 in front of Punjabi University, Patiala. He developed close relations with Capt Amarinder Singh and other senior bureaucrats through Chahal that allegedly helped him in flourishing his property business.

The sources said Dhillon also sold a property of the Amarinder Singh family in Patiala. During the terrorism period, he allegedly made a fortune selling disputed properties with the help of ‘right connections’.

In the early ’90s, Dhillon opened his office in Delhi and started property business.

Vigilance officials allege that Chahal invested his ill-gotten in transport business through Dhillon during the past five years. His hand is also being suspected in some real estate deals that were executed in the state during the regime of the previous Congress government.

The police has named Ranjit Singh Dhillon in the FIR registered against Chahal in the disproportionate assets case. It is being alleged that Chahal invested in 150 apartments in the UK through Ranjit Singh Dhillon.

Patiala Vigilance SP Shiv Kumar was not available for comments.


Chahal’s house raided

Patiala, July 14
Vigilance Bureau officials today raided the residence of B.I.S Chahal former media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tawakli morh at 7.30 pm.

Sources said Vigilance officials videographed luxury goods in Chahal’s house. The raid was on till the filing of this report. This is second time the house of Chahal has been raided by the Vigilance officials. Earlier also a team of Vigilance officials from Ludhiana had raided his residence.

After the raid an official list of the luxuries in the house of Chahal was released. — TNS


Dullo not allowed to meet Dimpa’s gunman
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 14
The Amritsar Central Jail authorities today did not allow Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Shamsher Singh Dullo to meet Dimpa’s gunman Pawan Kumar, who was shifted from the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial civil hospital to the jail last night.

Pawan was admitted to the hospital recently after the jail authorities refused to accept him due to his critical condition. He was allegedly tortured by the police during his remand.

The PPCC president, who went to meet the gunman in the jail, termed the incident as a glaring example of human rights violation. “What was the fault in becoming a gunman? The government is answerable to public”, he added. He said the central government would not remain a mute spectator to all that.

District president of the Congress (Rural) Sukhjinder Singh Lalli said if the SAD-BJP government continued to harass and torture Congress workers and policemen, attached with Congress leaders, the party would lay a siege to the office of the administration.

A police team of the Beas police station took the gunman along with it from the hospital at midnight. His leg was allegedly fractured and he was unable to walk. He was taken to the jail in a stretcher. Initially, the jail authorities did not allow him admission. However, at about 4 am he was admitted to the jail and shifted to the central jail hospital.

Civil Surgeon Lehmbar Singh said a team of doctors had examined Pawan. He said his foot was plastered for a fracture. Doctors discharged him at about 6pm. However, the police team reached late to take him to the jail.

Superintendent of the jail Rup Lal said Pawan had been admitted to the hospital inside the prison.

Meanwhile, counsel for Pawan Sunil Gorsi said they were moving to the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the police torture of the gunman and would file a criminal case against the police officers concerned. He said the gunmen were forced to sign on blank papers during their police remand. He alleged that Pawan was picked up by the police even though he was unable to walk.


Dera Row
Inter-state issue, says CM
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 14
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced that members of the Dhanak community would be given due representation in various boards and committees.

Badal made the announcement while presiding over a state-level function to mark the 609th birth anniversary of Saint Kabir.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Badal said Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo’s statement that Badal was not allowing the Dera Sacha Sauda-Sikh stand-off to settle down was out of his own political compulsions.

The dera controversy has become an inter-state issue. Hence, it should be solved accordingly, he said, adding that the Sikh high priests are the right authority to decide over the apology tendered by the dera.


When 2 Badals met, it poured

Bathinda, July 14
The route of the convoy of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who visited this town today, was changed by the district administration and the authorities concerned after heavy rain, which lashed the city early today, flooded various pockets.

Badal was here today to preside over a state-level function organised in connection with Kabir Jayanti by the Punjab Dhanak Samaj. Badal also visited the house of a section of local Akali leaders also.

Though the authorities concerned tried their best to take the Chief Minister to various venues from those roads which were not submerged, his cavalcade had to wade through the flooded streets while proceeding towards the venue of the function.

“As per the original plan, the cavalcade was supposed to pass from the Mall to reach the old hospital area. However, due to flooding of the Mall, the route was changed and the Amrik Singh road was used,” pointed out a policeman.

Meanwhile, heavy rain, which continued for about an hour, flooded a major part of the town. The situation was worse in low-lying areas as water entered houses. — TNS


Legislative council to be revived
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 14
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that the state had initiated the process of reviving the state legislative council. He said since the final authority to revive the council was with the central government, the state could only move a resolution to that effect.

Badal was addressing a press conference here today.

Replying to the allegations of political vendetta against Congress leaders, Badal said, “These are all baseless charges”. Immediately after taking over, the previous Congress government had booked nine former ministers owing allegiance to the SAD. “We have not booked any single leader of the party or any former minister or MLA.”


Security up as dera chief holds meeting
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 14
The Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh addressed a gathering inside Dera Maujpur Dham at Budhranwali village in neighbouring Sadulshehar subdivision of Sriganganagar district today and last evening. He had arrived yesterday in a cavalcade of more than 100 vehicles. Senior civil and police officials escorted it as it entered from the Haryana border.

Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar SPs had a meeting with the dera chief to pursue him for cancelling the satsang on Sunday but he refused. Most of the members of the supreme committee of the dera were accompanying him. 


Boycott of ‘premis’ unacceptable: Cong
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 14
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Shamsher Singh Dullo has announced that the "gurmata" (the holy resolution) of Sikh clergy, calling for a boycott of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda was "unacceptable" to the Congress, saying that they (Congress leaders) would continue to meet "premis" (followers of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh).

Talking to mediapersons here today, Dullo alleged that the Sikh high priests had been working at the behest of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and hence the edicts or directives being pronounced by jathedars had lost sanctity.

Dullo refused to come forward for mediation between Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikhs. He, however, said his party would cooperate with the ruling SAD/BJP in resolving the impasse.

‘Cong to blame’

SGPC chief Avtar Singh said Dullo, being a ‘patit’ Sikh, had no right to comment on the Sikh institutions. He alleged that the Congress was responsible for the ongoing dera row.


Sirsa team meets Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 14
Efforts to resolve the Dera Sacha Sauda-Sikh row received a major boost when a 25-member delegation “Shanti Samiti, Sirsa” today met Jathedar Akal Takht urging him to resolve the issue as early as possible in a peaceful manner.

The delegation included doctors, journalists, advocates, businessmen and leaders of various social and political organisations from Sirsa.

Talking to newspersons, leader of the delegation Jagdish Raj Chopra said they had come here not only with the signatures but also with the emotions and sentiments of one lakh people of his district to appeal Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti to find a peaceful solution to the dera row. He said the people of Sirsa also condemned the alleged blasphemous act of the dera chief Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and wanted that normalcy should return to the two states.

Chopra said they had also met the dera chief two days ago and had received a positive response from him in resolving the dera row. He claimed that the dera chief was also ready to take steps to resolve the issue, including sending a fresh apology.

The dera followers ended their 25-day chain fast on the instructions of the dera chief.


Dera chief trying to corrupt atmosphere
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 14
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar said the Dera Sacha Sauda chief was trying to vitiate the atmosphere by hold a 'Naam Charha' in Sri Ganganager, Rajasthan, tomorrow.

Speaking to mediapersons on the premises of Mata Gujri College, Makkar said the Rajasthan government should thwart the move of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh so that law and order was maintained.

Makkar said nothing could be done to resolve the dera row till the chief apologised in real sense. Playing down the claims made by former Akal Takht jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh that the SGPC and the KAC did nothing to resolve the row, Makkar stated that Bhai Ranjit Singh had himself done nothing in this direction and had no moral right to issue such statements.

Reacting to a question, Makkar said religious birs could only be given to those who have faith in the Guru Granth Sahib and not to those who have faith in dera leaders.

Defending the move of the Akal Takht to call off the Ratia conclave in Haryana, Makkar said the decision had been taken to avoid any confrontation.


Deptt of Correspondence Studies
No internal assessment at undergraduate level
Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
There will be no internal assessment from this session at the undergraduate level in the department of correspondence studies of Panjab University. This was decided at the meeting of the senate today.

The issue of internal assessment dominated the meeting for the first hour before the agenda was taken up. It was decided by vice-chancellor R.C. Sobti that “the total system would be reviewed and a committee would be constituted and feedback from students on the issue would be taken into account”.

The commencement of self-financing courses like LLB (3 years) and BA LLB (5 years) at the regional centre, Hoshiarpur, and an MBA programme at the Ludhiana regional centre also led to heated debate amongst the senators.

Explaining the situation with reference to the Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, which is draining Rs 16 crore of the university resources, Sobti elaborated that these were not lucrative.

It was then decided that a feasibility report would be worked out by a standing committee before approving such courses.

Similarly, the senate decided to have a cut-off date of March 31 for colleges seeking affiliations. All existing norms within the National Council of Teachers Education would be sent out to the colleges, which would have to conform to them before affiliation was sought.

The meeting also witnessed several arguments over granting provisional extension of affiliation for masters of business administration, commerce and information technology (MBACIT) at the Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women, Ludhiana, from this year.

Taking strong exception to his demand for an inquiry into this course not being met after it had come up for discussion at the senate earlier, Ashok Goyal explained: “The college is implying that this is a fourth specialisation within the MBA ambit (the others being HR, international business and general). MBA courses require the approval of the AICTE, which this college does not have. This is misleading students.”

He demanded that an inquiry be conducted into how the nomenclature changed into an MBA course in its prospectus.

The merger of the department of campus sports with the directorate of sports was defeated on the grounds that sports students on campus would be ignored. It will now be reviewed and a committee constituted to look into it.

With regard to the provisional admission of students in BA, BSc, B Com (I) even if they get less than 20 per cent marks and a compartment in their 10+2 from the Punjab School Education Board, Sobti was clear that it would be considered only for this year but there would be a “rethink for the next year”.

With regard to the inquiry committee constituted into the CET 2006 fiasco leading to the postponement of the CET exam, the senate decided to “accept the report and exonerate” Sodhi Ram, a former controller of examination.


MC Elections
BJP, SAD to share seats on old pattern
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Sharing of seats in Municipal Corporation elections, stopping the auction of defaulter industries, and appointments of chairpersons of boards and other government undertakings came up during the meeting of the SAD-BJP coordination committee held here today. Senior leaders of both the parties attended the meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash 
Singh Badal.

The appointment of chairpersons would be made after the MC elections. All agreed that instead of making appointments of political leaders as chairpersons at this stage, the leadership of both the parties should concentrate on winning the corporation elections.

Sources said seats by the SAD-BJP would he shared on the basis of the old formula that was used in the previous MC polls. As in some of the corporations, the number of wards had increased, distribution of enhanced seats would also be on the same proportion as was done earlier.

Sources said though some of the leaders urged for further delaying the corporation elections, at last the coordination committee reached on a consensus on holding the elections around August 10. In fact, a few days ago, local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia had announced that elections would be held by August 10.

Certain members argued that it would send a wrong signal if the government made any attempt to delay the elections further. For the allotment of seats and campaigning, both parties would have common coordination committees. After the Assembly elections, the SAD-BJP combine would be facing the first electoral test in corporation elections.

Another issue that came up was regarding stopping auctions of defaulter industries. BJP members of the coordination committee urged Badal to ask the authorities concerned to stop the auction and invite the owners of defaulter industries for a one-time settlement. It was stated that dues should be recovered from such industries by calculating on the basis of simple interest and no power bills should be charged from the day these industries stopped production.

Badal was told that many industrialists had installed industries as the state government had promised to give them subsidy. However, no subsidy was given to such industries for the past 10-12 years. A few crores were sanctioned recently to pay the subsidy. Due to the non-payment of promised subsidy, these industries had become unviable and defaulter.

Now, the government authorities had started issuing auction notices to these industries to recover dues. Sources said Badal assured the BJP leaders that he would soon make a policy statement to provide relief to defaulter industrialists.


Mand to lead SAD (A)

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 14
In view of senior party leader Sirmranjit Singh Mann being in jail and the cancellation of bail of its senior vice-president Daljit Singh Bittu, the SAD (A) has decided to nominate Dhian Singh Mand as the leader of the party.

Party office secretary Ranjit Singh Cheema said here today that Mand had been asked to lead the party as he was the next seniormost party leader. — TNS


Free people from clutches of land Act: MLAs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
“The country has become free but not people of the kandi belt of Punjab”. This is how Ujjagar Singh Wadali, SAD MLA from Morinda, here today described the plight of people of 631 villages of the kandi area facing serious problems because of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA).

Several restrictions have been imposed on farmers under sections of 4 and 5 of the PLPA. In case of violation, they are challaned and told to pay heavy fines. The PLPA has been enforced on about 2,60,000 acres in various villages of the kandi belt.

“ See our misfortune. We need permission from the state forest department, the fountainhead of corruption, for even doing minor work in our fields. We cannot level our fields, sink bore wells or cut our own trees without permission from that department”, he adds.

“We cannot even build houses on our own land. Though we are the owners of the land in the revenue records, the real owner is the forest department from which we have to take a permit or permission to lay pipes for irrigation, the construction of roads and other development work”, he adds.

And he was not alone in saying so. Sant Ajit Singh, Des Raj Dhugga, Nand Lal, all SAD MLAs, Amarjit Singh Shahi and Sukhpal Singh Nannu, both BJP MLAs, also expressed similar views at a meeting of opinion leaders of the kandi belt held under the chairmanship of Avinash Rai Khanna, Lok Sabha MP from Hoshiarpur. Vaneet Joshi, a member of the national executive of the youth wing of the BJP, had organised the meeting.

These MLAs led by Khanna have joined hands to free the people of the kandi belt from the “clutches of the PLPA.” All speakers, including Thakur Joginder Singh, Kamal Kishore and SGPC member Surinder Singh Thekedar said the enforcement of the PLPA had become a major source of corruption and exploitation of people in the kandi area. They sought the repealing of the PLPA.

The MLAs and Khanna assured panches, sarpanches and other persons who had gathered in a hall in Panjab University from Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Mohali and Gurdaspur districts that they would press for the repealing of the PLPA. They said the forest department had been misleading the Punjab government with regard to the PLPA, which had nothing to do with the forest act. “ We have discussed the issue with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and he has sought legal opinion from the advocate-general on the revoking of the PLPA”, said Khanna.

“ The PLPA was framed by the British government in India in 1900 to check land erosion but had now lost its relevance as dams had been constructed over the years for this purpose”, said Khanna. The forest department came under sharp attack from all speakers, including MLAs. They said corruption was rampant in the department and an inquiry needed to be conducted into its functioning on the pattern of the one being held in the city centre scam in Ludhiana.

Dhugga named a forest officer for plundering forest wealth. He urged the government to hold inquiries into the property held by certain officials of the forest department.

Almost all speakers said the public should be involved in a big way to enhance the forest cover in the state and the forest department should have no role to play in it. Dhugga also said an inquiry should be held into all forest fires.


Notice to govt in murder case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 14
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the principal secretary, Home Department, to explain as to why the prime accused named in a case registered at the local police station on June 11 had not been arrested so far.

The commission bench finding the complaint lodged by Shakuntala Rani, widow of Sant Ram, alias Kartar Singh, a case appropriate under Section 12 of the Human Rights Protection Act, issued a notice to the government with a direction that the explanation must be submitted before September 14.

Shakuntala Rani had alleged that some persons had killed her husband on June 10.


Staff on poll rolls duty rue govt apathy

Abohar, July 14
Even as scrutiny of electoral rolls, carrying photographs of the voters, is scheduled to begin on Monday, government employees are yet to be paid expenses incurred by them on the revision of the electoral rolls ahead of the last Assembly elections.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a rehearsal for the scrutiny process at the community hall here, booth-level officials (BLOs) said during the Assembly elections they had to make payments for stationery and petrol for two-wheelers from their resources to complete the revision of the electoral rolls and a drive to prepare photo I cards. However, their bills were yet to be reimbursed. — OC


Housefed houses for poor, govt staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Housefed is floating housing schemes for homeless and Class III and IV government employees in different towns of Punjab.

Initially, a pilot project is set to kick off at Banur, near Chandigarh. Since good quality accommodation is scarce on the periphery of Chandigarh, the project at Rajpura would cater to the lower strata of society and lower-rung employees of the government working in Chandigarh and surrounding areas, official sources said.

During a recent review meeting, cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh had emphasised the need for providing homes to shelterless and Class III and IV employees.

Housefed superintending engineer Amarjit Gupta has prepared a detailed policy for the construction of cooperative housing complexes.

The sources said a chunk of land measuring 27.88 acres was lying vacant with Sugarfed at Banur. Since Sugarfed was interested in disposing the land and had already written to the registrar, cooperative societies, efforts were being made to get the land transferred to Housefed at reasonable rates.


Workshop on public health in emergency
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 14
A two-day workshop on “Public Health in Emergency” was organised by the Indian Red Cross Society, National Headquarter, New Delhi, the International Federation of Red Cross and the Punjab State Red Cross Branch, Chandigarh, at a local hotel on the Sirhind road.

Dr V.K. Puri, secretary, Punjab State Red Cross Branch, said India was prone to various disasters like floods, earthquakes, drought and landslides which caused widespread human, material and environment losses. Therefore, in order to enhance community’s capability to cope with emergencies in an effective manner, one social worker, a doctor, district first aid training officer, a nurse, a lecturer and a student as Red Cross volunteer each from Mohali, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda were trained at this workshop.

Dr Puri further stated that more such district-level workshops would be held in July wherein seven other districts of Punjab were expected to participate. He said the persons trained at these workshops would further train the volunteers in their respective districts in order to build a strong network of the Red Cross volunteers to tackle emergency situations.

Amit Sharma, health coordinator from the International Federation of Red Cross, T.S. Vijay Laxmi, national coordinator, Ramesh Aggarwal, joint secretary, Punjab State Red Cross Branch, Dr Sandeep Kumar, senior resident from Rajindra Medical College and Hospital, Patiala, R.P. Verma, state coordinator, Punjab State Red Cross, Chandigarh, and Baljeet Kaur, a lecturer, were the resource persons at the workshop, workshop director K.K. Saini said. 


Play on foeticide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 14
The National Theatre Arts Society, Patiala, in association with the “Bhrun Sambhaal Ate Shishu Palan Kendra”, organised two plays at the Bhasha Bhawan, here today.

Director of the society Pran Sabharwal stated that the plays, which were on the issues of female foeticide and over-population, would persuade people not to abandon their newly born children in the open, but to avail of facilities being provided by the Shishu Pal Kendra.

The Rotary Club of Patiala and the State Bank of Patiala assured all cooperation for the success of this theatre campaign. 


High Court
Admission on NRI seats: Punjab to file affidavit
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday asked the secretary, Department of Medical Education and Research, to furnish an affidavit explaining the circumstances in which a notification regarding admissions on NRI seats was issued.

Even though the apex court has clearly stated that NRI seats in educational institutes across the country can be filled either by their children or their wards, the Punjab government had issued a notification for giving preference to the Indian candidates sponsored by them, or candidates willing to pay the equivalent amount in Indian currency.

Taking cognisance of the violation during the hearing of a petition, a Bench comprising Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Mr Justice Ajai Lamba, had observed: “In our view, it is a clear and flagrant violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court clearly stating that such seats can be utilised by the NRIs only for their children or wards. The provision incorporated in the notification goes far beyond and there by clearly constitutes contempt.”


Mealy Bug Attack
Farmers plough cotton crop
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 14
Having failed to control the attack of mealy bug on cotton crop coupled with the “apathetic attitude” of the authorities concerned, a section of the farmers of the cotton belt of Punjab has started ploughing standing cotton crop.

So far, standing cotton crop on about 2,000 acres has been ploughed by farmers and the trend is continuing.

The state agriculture department authorities, however, claim that the menace of mealy bug has started subsiding with the timely intervention of its field staff.

Official sources said standing cotton crop had been ploughed in 1,100 acres in Ferozepur district, 196 acres in Muktsar district, 300 acres in Bathinda district and 50 acres in Mansa district.

The sources added that the farmers had not ploughed standing cotton crop due to the attack of mealy bug alone as some of them switched over to paddy cultivation, hoping to get a better yield.

H. S. Bhatti, joint director (cotton), department of agriculture, Punjab, said the attack of mealy bug had been brought under control as farmers were being educated in this connection by organising village-level camps.

He added that the farmers had also been advised to clear the surroundings of their farms from congress grass and other waste plants, which were the main source of mealy bug.

He said the attack was prominent in certain pockets of Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts. Efforts were on to minimise the attack to facilitate farmers to get a better yield of cotton crop.


$9,000 for Gurbani promotion

Patiala, July 14
The Sikh Lehr, New Jersey, donated $9,000 to Punjabi University for the promotion of qualitative recital of the Gurbani and its interpretation by its Gurmat Sangeet department students.

While presenting the cheque to vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai, president of Sikh Lehr Harbhajan Singh said one of the main objectives of his organisation was to promote religious pluralism.

According to Harbhajan Singh, the donation was the "daswandh" (one-tenth of the earnings) of the yearly income of members of his organisation. — TNS


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