P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Simple Marriages
SGPC urged to follow Delhi panel code
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The SGPC has been urged to follow in the footsteps of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee with regard to the enforcement of the simple Sikh marriage code. The Delhi committee has come out with a code asking Sikhs to avoid ostentation and the vulgar display of wealth at weddings.

It has opposed the evil of dowry that has become an integral part of Sikh marriages in various parts of the country. In Delhi, Sikh weddings have become a display of wealth.

Member of the Rajya Sabha and former Chief Election Commissioner of India M.S.Gill here today urged SGPC chief Avtar Singh to enforce a similar code in Punjab, where the dowry system had assumed such menacing proportions that the birth of a girl child was regarded as a sort of financial burden. He said the main reason for killing the female foetus in Punjab was the evil of dowry.

He said the Sikh religion was born out of social reform and it was the duty of the SGPC to bring about social and economic reforms in the Sikh community.

Gill said the SGPC should spend some time on the collective welfare of the community and come out with a reform programme.“In fact, the need of the hour is to take big initiatives on the reform front in the community”, he said.

He said Sikhs in Indore, Mumbai and other parts of the country had successfully enforced the code on simple marriages. Well-off farmers and rich Sikhs in urban areas such as Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar spent money recklessly on weddings.

They set a bad example for less fortunate members of the community. Many a time people in the rural areas had to take loans to meet the demand of dowry.

Gill said the SGPC should take steps to eliminate the dowry system from Punjab and also prevail upon the Sikh community to perform marriages in the simplest possible manner. He said the money thus saved could be utilised for some other productive purpose.


Fake Encounters
Probe panel gets another case
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The scope of the fact-finding panel set up by the Punjab police to go into allegations of fake encounters has been expanded and now one more case has been handed over to the panel for probe.

The panel is already looking into three such cases in which the Punjab police claimed to have killed a militant only to find later that the real person re-surfaced years after the “encounter”. And any more such case could also be handed over to it for probe.

Well-placed sources in the Punjab police said today the fact-finding panel, headed by additional director-general of police J.P. Birdi, had been asked to probe the fake encounter in which Jagraon-based militant Jagdish Singh Deesha was reported to have been killed. Deesha is alive and at present lodged in Nabha jail meaning thereby that somebody else had been killed and shown as Deesha.

The Birdi panel is also probing the encounters in which it was claimed that Gurnam Singh Bandala, Gurcharan Singh Giani, younger brother of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) supremo Surjit Singh Painta, and Jaspal Singh Bhatti were killed. All three are alive and the panel is closing in on families whose sons were “bumped-off” to show the elimination of these three.

Close on the heels comes the case of Deesha. In the past during his term in jail he told an inspecting team of the court that he was alive while the Punjab police had shown him as killed way back in 1993. Deesah was allegedly involved in about 10 incidents during the days of militancy.

An in-house preliminary inquiry by the police followed and it was found that Deesha’s claims made before the inspecting team were correct. The court asked for the records of his case which were reportedly not traceable in the police headquarters here.

DGP N.P.S. Aulakh has now handed over the case to Birdi, who has himself served long on field postings during the days of terrorism. A dedicated team of officials is posted with him to assist in the probe.

Meanwhile, the panel is about to submit its report of the first three cases and records are being collected from various courts and hospitals in the state, the sources added. The three militants re-surfaced some time early this year and a probe was started.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is keen that the matter is settled once and for all with compensation to the families and action against the erring cops.


Shaheed Udham Singh’s belongings
Has the govt forgotten these?
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 30
Freedom fighters, intellectuals and research scholars are unhappy with the Indian Government for not bringing back Shaheed Udham Singh’s invaluable articles, like a revolver, pocket diary, knife and a bullet, lying in the New Scotland Yard’s Asian Museum in London.
The revolver used by Shaheed Udham Singh for killing Michael F O’Dwyer.
The revolver used by Shaheed Udham Singh for killing Michael F O’Dwyer.

A research scholar on Shaheed Udham Singh’s life and works, Sikander Singh of Sangrur, told The Tribune here today that the revolver lying in the museum was the same which had been used by the martyr to kill former Lieut-Governor of Punjab Sir Michael F O’Dwyer on March 13, 1940, in Caxton Hall, London, to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The revolver was seized by the police from Caxton Hall while the pocket diary and the knife were seized from Shaheed Udham Singh during his frisking. The bullet was taken out from the body of O’Dwyer.

Giving details from the pocket diary, the scholar said on one page the martyr had written that “I have seen the world. The only ambition left is to see India free”.

Sikander Singh, a research scholar, poses with the martyr’s pocket diary.
Sikander Singh, a research scholar, poses with the martyr’s pocket diary.

On another page the martyr had written, “2000 Indians killed in Amritsar. Action is only the way to open the door”. In this pocket diary the martyr had also made an entry March 13 as “3 pm. Caxton Hall, SW I, meeting”.

Sikander Singh stated that the British Home Department and Scotland Yard had released some more files related to Shaheed Udham Singh under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000. These files had been closed for 100 years, till 2040 by the British government.

He said these files included two files of the prosecution’s record, a file related to the revolver, a file related to the murder of O’Dwyer, death sentence to Shaheed Udham Singh and a file of the Scotland Yard.


Beant Case
NHRC moved for rude behaviour by jail staff
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
On a day when the judgement in the Beant Singh assassination case was reserved by a special court, the Burail jail authorities were in the firing line of human rights activists and the media here today.

Even as mediapersons protested against the denial of entry to the main jail gate allegedly at the instance of the deputy jail superintendent, the Global Human Rights Council moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against the deputy jail superintendent and the jail welfare officer for allegedly violating the human rights of the defence counsel in the Beant Singh assassination case.

In an application before the NHRC, in which the UT Administrator and local IGP have also been made the parties, the council alleged that the defence counsel had been facing a very rude and indecent behaviour at the hands of the jail staff.

The frisking of the defence counsel while entering the courtroom inside the Burail jail was painful and mentally torturous as they were usually asked to remove socks and shoes.

As the defence counsel played the role of whistle blowers against alleged corruption prevailing in society, particularly the supplies of narcotics and alcohol inside the jail premises, they were being victimised by the jail authorities.

Citing a recent incident of July 28 when a defence counsel Gagan Aggarwal was allegedly roughed up by the jail staff, the complaint alleged that the defence counsel were threatened with the filing of a case against them.

"The jail authorities were making a mockery of the judgements of the Supreme Court on prisoner rights particularly in the Charles Sobhraj case," it alleged.

Meanwhile, the jail authorities were at the receiving end of media criticism for their alleged role in stopping them on the way to the jail entrance.

Even as the journalists protested against the jail staff's illegal act, deputy jail superintendent Subhash Chander, charged at the mediapersons in a fit of anger.

DSP (south) K.I.P. Singh intervened and took the mediapersons outside the main gate of the jail where they talked to the defence and the CBI counsel as part of their professional duties.


Mother meets Hawara after 2 yrs
Akash Ghai and Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
It was an unforgettable day for Narinder Kaur who got a chance to meet her son Jagtar Singh Hawara after two and a half years at Burail Jail today.

Narinder Kaur had come along with other family members to hear the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence in the Beant Singh assassination case.

Visibly depressed and shaken, she almost fainted after coming out of the jail. “Please do not bother me as I am not well,” said Narinder Kaur.

However, after a while she said she had met her son Jagtar Hawara during the court proceedings. “He seems to be fine and least scared of what destiny has in store for him,” she said.

“I came here to see and bless my son,” said Narinder, who was accompanied by her sister-in-law Sukhdev Kaur, brother Harminder Singh, nephews Mehar Singh and Gurdeep Singh, niece Baljeet Kaur and brother-in-law Dev Singh.

“Narinder Kaur felt uncomfortable inside the courtroom also and walked out soon,” said Sukhdev Kaur.

Sukhdev told mediapersons: “He boosted our morale saying there is no need to worry as he is mentally prepared for anything. Instead, he enquired about our village, family and relatives.”

Though the uncertainty of the fate of those convicted in the case kept their families tense, they maintained that they were ready for anything.

“We came to hear the sentence but it has again been deferred. However, we have faith in God and are prepared for everything”, said Mehar Singh and Gurdeep Singh, cousins of Hawara.

Confident of Shamsher’s innocence, his wife Baljinder Kaur, brother Bahgwant Singh and sister Gurcharan Kaur, said, “We are sure that Shamsher is innocent. Now we are waiting for the verdict.”

On being asked whether they would move the high court if the decision was against their expectations, they said, “We will decide after the pronouncement of the sentence.”

Family members of Lakhwinder held that since he had already spent so many years in jail, the pronouncement of the sentence would hardly matter.

In jail since the trial began, Lakwinder Singh is more worried about his family than himself.

His sister Sukwinder Kaur was asked to look after the youngest sibling, besides being advised to be “strict with him”.


Dilawar’s act unjustified, says father
Families of Beant’s assassins left shattered
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
As the assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh wait for the pronouncement of sentence by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, their families have been left destitute and shattered.

Harnek Singh, father of Dilawar Singh, the human bomb who killed Beant Singh, told TNS at his residence in the Guru Nanak Nagar locality here today: “I cannot term the act of my son as right.”

“Many hardliners are calling him a martyr. They may have collected crores in his name. However, none of them has ever visited the family for the past 12 years. They have being observing his death anniversary in foreign countries but nobody has taken the trouble to address the problems of affected families,” he said.

“Our family has survived just because I was a government employee in Punjabi University, Patiala. I am drawing a pension that helps us make both ends meet.”

He said Dilawar Singh was a jolly person. He never gave an indication of his allegiance to hardliners. “Just five days before he committed the act, I sought his consent for marriage. He, however, told me to wait for two months. The family was shocked when five days after the assassination of Beant Singh, we came to know that the person who acted as human bomb was Dilawar Singh,” he said.

Dilawar Singh’s elder brother works for a private company. His family remains aloof without interacting much with people in the colony.

Gurmeet Singh, another convict, was an engineering student when he became part of the plot to assassinate Beant Singh. His father Jaswinder Singh, who was a Punjabi University employee, died two years ago in an accident.

The ailing mother and physically challenged sister of Gurmeet Singh now stay in their house in Guru Nanak Nagar. Both of them are now surviving on the family pension.

Hardly anyone visits them these days, say neighbours. Both of them are concerned about the sentence to be pronounced on Gurmeet Singh.

The family of Lakhwinder Singh, another convict, is shattered. His house in Guru Nanak Nagar is in poor shape. None of his family members now stays in Patiala.

The house has been rented out. His father Darshan Singh, a sub-inspector with the Punjab Armed Police, has retained a room in the house.

He comes here for a few days to collect the rent. The tenants said the family was under immense tension. One of the sisters of Lakhwinder Singh tried to grab the house.

Their father, however, disowned her and her husband. His mother died in 2004 and his father now stays alone.


MC poll scene
10 file papers in Moga
Tribune News Service

Ashwani Cong candidate
Abohar, July 30
The Congress today put up Ashwani Kumar, son of the deceased councillor Mohan Lal, as its candidate for the municipal by-election to ward No. 21. Ashwani filed his nomination papers in the presence of city Congress president B.L. Nagpal and council president Tulsi Ram this afternoon. — OC

Moga, July 30
Ten persons filed nomination papers for by-elections to three municipal council and nagar council seats here today.

Darshan Kaur from the Congress, Gurminderjit Singh Bablu from the SAD-BJP combine and independents Gursewak Singh and Balbir Singh staked claim to ward No. 27.

The seat fell vacant following resignation by the then independent councillor Joginder Pal Jain, who had won the Moga Assembly seat on a Congress ticket.

For ward No. 31, Lakhpat Rai of the SAD-BJP, Chanchal Kumar of the Congress and independents Prem Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur filed their papers. This seat got vacated following the death of the SAD-BJP supported councillor Poonam Arora.

The ward No. 3 in the Baghapurana Nagar Council fell vacant after the demise of councillor Lal Singh in a road accident. His wife Harpal Kaur is contesting on the SAD ticket.

The scrutiny of papers would be done tomorrow. The elections would take place on August 8.


Eunuch in fray
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
The ward No. 35 of Patiala has a candidate who is giving restless time to both SAD and Congress candidates.

For the first time in the history of elections to the Patiala Municipal Corporation, Sonia Mahant, a eunuch, has filed nomination papers.

While talking to The Tribune, Sonia said the people of her area had forced her to file the nomination papers. The people were dejected with the misdeeds of the ruling party candidates.

“They urged me to contest the elections to teach a lesson to political parties, which have made contesting elections a business. I have no dear and near for whom I could abuse my position. I would work for the development of the area and solving the problems of the people of my ward”, she said.


CPI unit members quit
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
The CPI today received a setback when all members of its unit of the Verka Assembly constituency resigned from the primary membership of the party in protest against the allotment of three seats of the local MC to the Congress.

Baldev Singh Verka, district executive member of the party, said the CPI workers had been working hard to maintain the party’s presence in the area.


Workers ransack Cong Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 30
Infighting within the Congress took an ugly turn today when angry workers ransacked Congress Bhavan, burnt party flags and Sonia Gandhi’s poster over the issue of cancellation of ticket of their leader for the forthcoming MC poll.

The incident occurred when supporters of Manjit Kaur, who had earlier been declared the party candidate from ward No. 43 (reserved for women), came prepared for filing the nomination papers and asked for a party slip from officials at Congress Bhavan.

When the supporters were told that Manjit Kaur’s ticket had been cancelled and instead allotted to Kuldeep Kaur, a candidate from the Balmiki community after a protest held yesterday, they started objecting to it.

They came out of the office building in a huff. When they reportedly again tried to go inside to lodge their protest, the doors were shut.

The workers then went on a ravaging spree, breaking windowpanes of the building, barging inside, turning furniture upside down and even pulling down posters of the Congress leaders put up on the walls there.

After vandalising the office, the irate workers came out and sat in dharna there. They then procured party flags and Sonia Gandhi’s poster and burnt these within the bhavan complex. The police had already arrived at the spot but the protesters were allowed to go.


Ward No. 40 has 4 Cong contenders
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
With today being the last date for the filing of nominations for the MC elections, candidates of various parties and hundreds of their supporters virtually made a beeline for the mini secretariat to submit their papers.

As many as 320 candidates filed their nominations for 50 wards today. These included 50 Congress and 50 SAD/BJP candidates. In some wards, more than one candidate of a party filed nominations. From Ward No. 40, four Congress candidates have filed their nominations.

Both the Congress and the SAD/BJP are facing challenge from rebel candidates. Sources said both parties are facing this challenge in at least eight wards.

The district administration also swung into action with the deputy commissioner-cum-district election officer D.S. Grewal holding a meeting with representatives of all parties and urging them to maintain the code of conduct.

He warned that no candidate, irrespective of his political affiliations, would be allowed to use a religious place for electioneering. A warning was also given to candidates against defacing public buildings by pasting posters and hanging banners.

The administration had set up 50 polling stations and 186 booths. There are nearly 2.56 lakh voters who will be exercising their franchise on August 8 through 250 electronic voting machines.

Those whose voter cards are still being prepared, will be allowed to vote only after showing any identity proof.


Sunita new MC president
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 30
Sunita Malhotra of the SAD-BJP was today elected unanimously president of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana.

The election meeting was attended by 13 out of 14 councillors, including SAD MLA Didar Singh Bhatti.

One of the councillors is on a foreign tour. The meeting was presided over by Poonamjit Kaur, SDM, Bassi Pathana.

The name of Sunita was proposed by BJP councillor Surinder Kumar Babba and seconded by Om Parkash Makhija, Congress councillor, and all members supported her.

Poonamjit Kaur said the meeting was called to elect the president as previous president Amita Tangri had resigned.

Earlier, 10 councillors gathered at the residence of Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli SAD leader. The three councillors, belonging to the Bassi Pathana Vikas Manch, were brought to the venue by Gurwinder Singh Bhatti, son of MLA Didar Bhatti.

The police had made arrangements and nakas were erected on all roads leading to the council Office.

Sunita, while talking to mediapersons, said her main aim would be to eradicate corruption from the council. She donated Rs1 Lakh to the council and announced not to accept any salary from the council.


A school sans potable water, toilets
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 30
The Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, which had been designated as a model school by the previous state government, lacks potable drinking water and toilet facilities.

Interestingly, each school was to have better basic amenities under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, but this school was used only for holding seminars and rehearsals during the elections.

Recently the school had lost its boundary wall due to construction of a new road in the neighbourhood. Now cattle roam freely in its grounds.

Plagued by the problem of a faction-ridden teaching fraternity in the past, the institution, which boasts of having old students in top posts in the field of politics and administration, had been neglected by the authorities for many years. Poor academic results this year further brought its strength down.

Not only the secondary school for boys but also another one for girls recorded a sizable number of dropouts after the results were announced by the Punjab School Education Board.

Senior SAD-BJP activists, during a recent visit to the school, found that the roof of the science laboratory had collapsed. Some of the classrooms had already become non-usable. The Scouting hall had suffered pilferage and thefts in the past.

An old student, Virendra Kataria, had helped in the construction of new rooms from the MP Local Area Development Fund but shortage of rooms still haunts the institution.

The Irrigation Department had discontinued canal water supply for the playgrounds. The drinking water connection had been snapped due to non-payment of bills during the past decade.

Even otherwise it has now become an uphill task to get water supply and sewerage connections as the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board has fixed rates according to total area of the institution.

The SAD-BJP leaders assured that they would bring the sad state of affairs to the notice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and request him to sanction special grants for the oldest school in the region.


Tribune Impact
5 are cancer patients, says Health Dept
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 30
The 14-member team of the Health Department has confirmed five cancer patients while seven cases were placed under suspect category at Chandbaja village, near here, today.

The department came into action following the publication of a report in this regard in The Tribune on July 29.

Rakesh Gupta, chief medical officer (CMO), said a team comprising two doctors, two basic health workers, four nurses, four auxiliary nurse mid-wives and a laboratory technician visited the village. A camp was held at the village dispensary.

The health service practitioner at the dispensary said water and blood samples were collected from the village being inhabited by nearly 3,200 persons.

The confirmed patients are suffering from breast, tongue and liver cancer. The suspected cases were called at the civil hospital for tests.

The CMO said the blood samples were dispatched to Bathinda and water samples to Chandigarh.

However, the villagers suffering from the disease find themselves in a spot as majority of them are poor. Moreover, the department is already in grip of financial crunch.


Funds worth crores siphoned off
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Large-scale misappropriation of funds, which were provided to various panchayats to carry out development work in their respective villages under the Punjab nirman programme, has come to light.

Keeping in view frauds in the spending of funds meant for development work, the rural development and panchayats department has issued new instructions to avoid such a situation in future.

Rural development and panchayats minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, confirming reports of the embezzlement of funds, today said a few months before the assembly elections, about Rs 1,200 crore was provided to various panchayats for development projects. Most of the panchayats used their discretion in spending such funds.

He said the misappropriation of funds had been reported from all parts of the state. “ There may be only a handful of villages where funds were utilised in a proper manner,” he said.There are over 12,000 panchayats in Punjab.

He said that preliminary inquiries made by the officers concerned had revealed that if funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh were provided to a village, only about Rs 2 lakh had been spent on development work while the remaining amount had been siphoned off.

He said the officers were holding inquiries into the misappropriation. At certain places administrators had been appointed in place of sarpanches.

As a measure to check fraud in the spending of funds, the sarpanches had been told to hold meetings of the panchayats once a month. Block development officers would also be present at such meetings. If a sarpanch was absent at a meeting, a panch would hold it.

The panchayats had been told to put up boards in villages with regard to the total allocation of funds for development work, details of the expenditure and the balance amount available with the panchayat concerned . People would be entitled to hear the proceedings at the panchayat meetings.

They would also be entitled to inspect the records with regard to the expenditure on development projects. The records would be available with the panchayat secretary and he would have to show these to any person in the village on demand.

In future, besides sarpanches, even officials of the panchayats department ,including junior engineers and subdivisional engineers, would be equally responsible in the case of detection of fraud in the spending of money allocated for development purposes.

As the engineering staff provided a certificate with regard to the carrying out of development works, they should also be held responsible in the case of any fraud.

All district development and panchayat officers had been asked to clear within three months all pending cases with regard to the illegal occupation of panchayat land by influential persons.

In the case of delay beyond three months in disposing of such cases, the DDPO concerned would have give an explanation in this regard. Cases regarding the illegal occupation of panchayat land worth crores of rupees have been hanging fire for years.


8 of panchayat dept suspended
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 30
The State Rural Development and Panchayat Department has suspended eight staffers for having embezzled panchayat funds worth over Rs 50 lakh.

The suspended employees include one DDPO, three BDPOs, two JEs and two panchayat secretaries. The orders came after a departmental inquiry that established that the staffers had embezzled the panchayat funds of Chanarthal Kurd village.

The employees had been accused of not depositing the funds generated by leasing out the panchayat land of the village in the panchayat's bank account. It was found in the report that the accused had been bungling with the panchayat funds for the past three years.

According to deputy commissioner Alaknanda Dayal, the order to suspend the eight staffers were received from the state panchayat department. These accused were posted at different places across the state.

They include DDPO Jinderpal Singh Cheema, who was posted at Sangrur, BDPOs Sukhpal Singh (posted at Bhunerheri), Nishan Singh (posted at Khera) and Charanjot Singh Walia (posted at Banga), along with JEs Gurpreet Singh and Wazir Singh, both posted at Bhunerheri. Panchayat secretaries Balwinder Singh (posted at Majri) and Ravinder Singh at Khera were also suspended.

The orders to suspend the employees were issued by Satish Chandra, secretary of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department.

Sources in the panchayat department stated that an enquiry was still pending against the accused and the matter was being further investigated by the department.


Rural dept staff on strike
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
Even as employees of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat are on strike to press the state government to arrest those who had attacked district development and panchayat officer (DDPO), Gurdaspur, poor people of this region are finding it difficult to submit applications for getting subsidised food items under the atta-dal scheme of the state government.

A section of block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs) staged a dharna on the premises of the local Zila Parishad today. They protested against the murderous attack on the DDPO and the subsequent laxity on the part of authorities concerned to take action against the culprits.

The protesters pointed out that not only deserving people would suffer on account of the denial of benefits of the atta-dal scheme to them due to the non-submission of their applications by July 31, but also the beneficiaries of various pension schemes would not be able to get pensions on time due to strike.

They said whatever inconvenience was being caused to the people was due to the apathetic attitude of the state government as the culprits were not being arrested. They alleged the attackers were being supported by a senior leader in the state government.


Kiranjit panel members walk free
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
Hundreds of people belonging to different walks of life today gave a heroic welcome to Kiranjit Kand Action Committee members Prem Kumar, Manjeet Dhaner and Narian Dutt who were released from jail as their life sentence in a murder case was pardoned by the Governor.

As soon as the three stepped out of the main gate of central jail, people lifted them on their shoulders and garlanded them. They raised slogans of victory of truth over evil.

Kiranjit, daughter of a teacher, was allegedly abducted, raped and killed in Mehal Kalan village of Barnala district on July 29, 1997. Her body was found in fields on August 11, 1997.

The Kiranjit Kand Action Committee managed to get four persons involved in the case convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, the three members of the committee, Prem Kumar, Manjeet Dhaner and Narian Dutt, were accused of murdering a relative of one of the accused in the Kiranjit case. The three were tried and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

As the accused in the Kiranjit case were lodged in Sangrur jail, the three members of the committee were sent to Bathinda jail.

All three were on bail and today they came to central jail for completing the formalities to secure their release after their sentence was pardoned.


Jagjit Singh submits details
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 30
Former local bodies minister Jagjit Singh today submitted details of his movable and immovable property and income tax returns to Vigilance Bureau officials regarding the alleged multi-crore city centre project scam.

Sources said he also claimed before the officials that the government had all details of his foreign tours made during his tenure as minister with the Congress government. He claimed he had not made any “personal” tour.

A vigilance spokesman said they were not satisfied with his replies. He said the replies were evasive.


Thousands throng Panj pirs’ mazaars
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 30
Unfazed by the ongoing controversy over the control of the historic Panj pirs’ mazaars located on the outskirts of the town, more than 25,000 devotees paid obeisance during the annual fair today.

Bool Chand Sama and his family, who have been looking after the mazaars after migration from Pakpattan in the West Punjab province, continued their possession and supervised all arrangements for the annual fair, which attracted thousands of devotees from far-off places in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.


Gujjars reiterate demand for SC status
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 30
More than 11 crore Gujjars, comprising Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Jains, are not getting the benefits being received by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes even after 60 years of Independence.

This was stated by the national president of the All-India Gujjar Mahasabha, Col Kirori Lal Bainsla, while talking to mediapersons here today.

Colonel Bainsla said the demand of reservation by the Gujjar community had not ended.


Sale of damaged fertiliser
Markfed MD orders probe
Tribune News Service

Banur, July 30
Markfed MD G S Grewal has ordered a departmental inquiry into allegations that damaged fertiliser was being transported for sale from Banur godown.

A team, led by chief manager (Fertliser) Markfed, today visited the godown to probe the allegations that the fertiliser, that had been damaged during floods in 2000 and was still stocked in the godown, was being transported for sale.

Yesterday, two trucks were reportedly engaged by local Markfed officials to transport the fertiliser to Rajpura.

District manager, Markfed, H S Bains claimed that the fertiliser was being transported to Rajpura to clear the godown and make space for fresh stocks.

However, sources alleged that the fertiliser was being transported to Rajpura with an intention to mix it with fresh stock and sell it.

Bains insisted that some farmers of the area had demanded the fertiliser and they were paying for the transportation.

Commotion generated at the godown yesterday when the fertiliser lying in the godown was packed into fresh bags and loaded on to a truck.

One truck had already been filled and left for Rajpura. The police was called and the two trucks were impounded.

Chief manager (Fertilisers) Bal Mukand Sharma, along with a team of officials, visited the godown.

Sources said the insurance company had already paid Markfed for the damaged stock and in the federation’s records, there was no damaged fertiliser lying anywhere.

However, it was found that the fertiliser was lying in the godown. The Markfed team also met the local police officials here and reportedly asked them to carry out a probe.

Meanwhile, sources added that the MD had also marked an inquiry to the additional MD B J Randhawa.


Inside Babudom
Punjab officer heads national highway authority
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Jivtesh Singh Maini, an IAS officer of the 1974 batch of the Punjab cadre, has taken over as the chairman of the national highway authority of India (NHAI).

He has thus joined a select band of Punjab officers who rose to head a central government organisation.

The NHAI is one of the premier central organisations entrusted with the job of building infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, besides motorways in the country.

Two of his seniors, Jai Singh Gill and A.K. Dubey, headed the food corporation of India. While Gill now heads the Punjab power regulatory authority after superannuating as the chief secretary of Punjab, Dubey is the state election commissioner currently overseeing the conduct of municipal corporation elections in the state.

Maini will be superannuating in August, 2009. The only officer of the Punjab cadre who is senior to him and is on deputation with the government of India is Amitabha Pande of the 1971 batch, who retires in May next year.

Maini, a gold medallist in MA (economics) from Panjab University, had a stint as lecturer in Government College, Ludhiana, before he got into the IAS. Subsequently, he did his doctorate in environmental economics from Panjab University.

Before his elevation as the chairman, NHAI, Maini was the additional secretary and finance adviser in the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers.

After a stint as principal secretary to the then Chief Minister Beant Singh, Maini opted for central deputation and remained in the union capital since then.

In fact, the day Beant Singh was assassinated outside the civil secretariat, Maini was with him till a few minutes before the gruesome bombing.

Maini remained joint secretary in the ministry of electronics as well as in the ministry of environment and forests. In between, he remained principal resident commissioner-cum-state investment promotion commissioner of the Punjab government in Delhi.

His wife, Cookie Maini, a university teacher, is closely associated with IMTACH.


Arjuna awardee SP booked
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 30
An FIR was registered on Sunday against SP Balwinder Singh, an Arjuna awardee posted assistant commandant at the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) here, but the police took no step to arrest him.

Vibhor Kumar, SHO police station No. 4 where the FIR was registered, said, “Being a Punjab Police Services (PPS) officer, he could not arrest him on his own.

For that, he would have to get permission from district police chief.” He added he would write to SSP Arpit Shukla in this regard.

In his complaint submitted to the DGP, Dhanoa, stated Balwinder Singh was his friend and he had asked the latter to look after his house.

However, he took the possession of his house after asking the tenants to vacate the house and, thereafter, gave to other tenants on rent.


Arrest warrants against 8 dera workers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
The chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Bathinda, today issued arrest warrants against eight functionaries of Dera Sacha Sauda, including chairman of its political wing Ram Singh, on an application moved by the CIA police station in the court a few days ago.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the CJM had ordered that the arrest warrants would remain valid till September 1.

Meanwhile, a team of the city police station today went to Sirsa to arrest dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a criminal case.

The other seven functionaries of the dera include Gurbaz Singh, Sat Pal, Sampooran Singh, Gora Lal, Jagjit Singh, Gurdev Singh and Jagjit Singh.


3 child lifters arrested
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 30
The district police has busted a gang of child lifters and recovered two kidnapped children.

Lok Nath Angra,district police chief, said here today that the police received two complaints, one from Ram Kumar, a resident of Gurdaspur city, that his son Ajay Kumar (10) had been kidnapped by unknown persons and another from Parkash Muni that his son Birju had also been missing from Panchhi Colony, Gurdaspur, since last night.

Angra said a police party headed by ASI Avtar Singh raided the railway station and nabbed three culprits with the kidnapped boys while they were catching the train.

All three members of the gang had been identified as Darshan Lal, resident of Kartarpur,Jalandhar,Nonu, resident of Kapurthala, and Raju,resident of Jhanjara, Bihar.


Dowry claims another life
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 30
Yet another newly-wed woman fell victim to dowry menace when her in-laws at Balaggan village, near here, allegedly murdered her today.

Married to Paramjit Singh, Jyoti Bala was allegedly done to death by her in-laws this morning. Her parents came to know about the incident only after her body was sent to the Civil Hospital in the afternoon. The police arrested Paramjit and his mother on the complaint of Jyoti’s mother.

According to the police, Jyoti and Paramjit were married for over 18 months.

Another alleged accused in the case Manjit Kaur, sister-in-law of Jyoti, is still at large. A case under Section 304-A of the IPC has been registered.


Business houses to set up adarsh schools in Punjab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
In an initiative that promises the expansion of modern school education in Punjab, several top business houses have assured Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of setting up nearly 100 adarsh schools in various parts of the state.

A Punjab government spokesman said the groups which had agreed to pitch in with investments in the state's education sector, include Bharti, Gujarat Ambuja, Oswal, MGF, DLF, Unitech, Ranbaxy, Trident, Hero Honda, Apollo, Fortis, Steel strips and Nahar. He said private investment in the education ventures has been estimated at over Rs 300 crore.

The business houses announced their decision after a meeting with senior functionaries of the Punjab government. The meeting was called at the initiative of the SAD working president and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The spokesman said Hero Honda, Bharti and Ambuja groups had each agreed to start 10 modern schools. Other groups also announced their commitment to set up schools in sizeable numbers.

Bharti group will also work to improve at least 250 primary schools in remote areas of the state.

The Ambuja group will adopt 30 primary schools in the state to create modern education infrastructure.

It will also invest in three Industrial Training Institutes where students would be imparted advanced skills in definite areas of technology.

He said Punjab Chief Minister had reiterated his government's intention to revamp primary and secondary school educational scenario in public private participation mode.

The state government has declared that it would open an adarsh school in each block of the state and these schools would cater to poor students on merit-cum-means basis.

Badal assured them that they would be given freedom to provide top-quality education from pre-nursery to 10+2 level, to rural students.


Institute allowed to increase MBBS seats
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 30
The Centre has given the nod for the doubling of MBBS seats in the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC)-run Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at Vallah here.

The institute today received a letter of permisson from the Department of Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, confirming this, said this would help the institute to improve its financial condition.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) earlier had given its approval to increase the number of seats to 100.

It had given its approval for increasing the seats after the college authorities had agreed to shift the hospital staff, including doctors and paramedical staff, from its old Sri Guru Ram Das Hospital facing a shortage of staff and other state of art facilities.


SCs on priority list of varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
Punjabi University, Patiala, has always been forthcoming when it comes to helping the underprivileged.

Rather, it has been doing more than that, especially during the last three years.

The process started with the setting up of Yadavindra College of Engineering at Talwandi Sabo.

An official informed that 21 per cent seats in the college have been reserved for the students from the reserved categories as against eight per cent in other engineering colleges in the state.

Not only this, students from the deprived sections are also being provided free education in the college.

The university also scores an edge over the others as far as the number of employees from the backward classes is concerned.

Sources informed that the university had advertised and shortlisted 40 candidates for appointment as clerks but the process, however, was stalled after the state government imposed a ban on recruitments and promotions in the university.

“Some disgruntled elements are distorting facts and trying to mislead the public on this issue. They are raising false propaganda, based on selfish motives and using the media for cheap publicity,” sources informed.


Talwandi Sabo project: Bidders’ meeting held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab state electricity board today conducted a conference of bidders for the Talwandi Sabo power project.

Leading companies participated in it. It was stated that the project would be awarded to a developer selected on the basis of tariff-based competitive bidding.

The site of the project has been cleared by the central electricity authority and a notification under section 4 of the land acquisition act has been issued for acquiring about 2,100 acres.

Various studies have been commissioned and work is going on at the site. The bidding process has also started. Today was the day for open discussion at the bidders’ conference.

Among those who participated were NTPC, Tata Power, Reliance Energy, Lanco Infratech, Nagarjuna Construction, CESC Ltd, GMR Energy, Suez Energy, Chambal Infrastructure Ventures Ltd, CLP Construction, Adani Enterprises Ltd, Bilt Power Ltd, Essar Power Ltd, GVK Power, Jindal Steel and Power, Siti Energy and Sterlite Industries.


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