P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


2 ULFA militants nabbed
They were working as waiters in hotel
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 13
In a joint operation with military intelligence (MI) the district police nabbed two ULFA militants from separate locations in the city in the wee hours today.

While hardcore ULFA militant Hemanta Roy was arrested from a hotel located near Luv-Kush Chowk, his accomplice Jagdish Das was nabbed from Damoria railway under-bridge. Both of them are residents of Shingra Para in Baksha district of Assam.

Interestingly, both of them in order to conceal their identity were working as waiters in the hotel from where Roy was arrested. While Jagdish had been working in the hotel for the past four months, Roy joined him about three months back.

The MI alerted the Jalandhar police, which cordoned off the hotel and nabbed Roy.

Talking to mediapersons, SSP Arpit Shukla said both militants belonged to self-styled 709 battalion of the ULFA. He said it would be clear only after their interrogation that whether they had reached Jalandhar only to use this place as a hideout or they wanted to carry out any militant activity here or they had come here in an attempt to revive militancy.

No arms and ammunition was recovered from them. However, five driving licences, two PAN cards, one camera and some defence maps and documents were seized from them.

An FIR under Sections 124-A, 120-B of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Official Secrets Act was registered against them.


Exam branch, registrar office locked
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The ongoing tussle at Punjabi University here got murkier today. Members of the joint action committee seeking the removal of the VC locked the examination branch and registrar office, paralysing administrative activity.

The gates of examination branch and registrar office were locked this morning by the members of the joint action committee. Some of the pro-VC students and staff members tried to break open the locks. This led to an altercation between the two groups. However, timely intervention of the police saved the situation. The abovesaid administrative wings of the university remained locked till 12 noon.

While addressing the dharna the president of the committee demanded the suspension of registrar B.S. Sandhu. They alleged that any employee who was arrested in graft case had to be suspended if he remained in police or judicial custody for more than 24 hours. However, despite the fact that the registrar had been arrested for more than six days now, the university had not ordered his suspension orders. The university was illegally continuing all benefits, including legal aid, to the registrar, they alleged.

On the other hand the VC said the act of the committee was irresponsible. The members of the committee stopped their own colleagues from working. “I asked the local policemen to get the locks of administrative blocks opened. They talked to their seniors.

However, their seniors directed them to let the dharna continue. I then had to call up the Chancellor (Governor). He rang up the police authorities here who got the dharna lifted. The police was not acting on its own in the matter,” the VC alleged.

Meanwhile, members of the committee have alleged that certain students egged by the university management tried to disrupt the peaceful dharna.


12 villages flooded; train mishap averted
Rly bridge collapse breaches Charan Ganga
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

People wade through water at Lodhipur village.
People wade through water at Lodhipur village.

Anandpur Sahib, August 13
A breach in the Charan Ganga rivulet following collapse of a part of a railway bridge led to the flooding of over 12 villages in the area.

The breach was caused following collapse of a part of the railway bridge opposite Gurdwara Kesgarh Sahib at around 5.50 am. The raging rivulet washed away the mud packed under the railway track, thereby leading to abrupt halting of a train from Nangal to Ambala. Around 250 passengers were aboard this train. No casualty was reported.

The breach led to the flooding of Chakhiyan, Beli, Bal, Aspur Kottan, Kavan Kot, Majri Gujran, Bajroor Baas, Neela Mataur, Chandour Bela, Shahpur Bela, Kotla, Thoda Majra, Jhingjhdi, Lodhipur, Gajpur, Harival and Burj villages.

Rescue operation in progress near the breach.
Rescue operation in progress near the breach. — Tribune photos by Vicky Gharu

Lodhipur, the nearest village to the breach, was submerged in 8-9 feet of water. While the Rupnagar administration claimed to have provided immediate relief, affected villagers cried foul. People were seen perched atop houses, while many low-lying houses in villages were washed away.

“It started raining incessantly at 3.30 am. Till 5.15 am all of us were trying to drain the water out. But a gush of water at 5.30 am from the Charan Ganga caught us by surprise,” said Kulwinder Kaur of Lodhipur village. She added that neither the administration nor the police had provided any kind of help.

She and her family had to wade through the water to procure certain documents from their homes. “We have lost everything. The breach has not been plugged and if it continues to rain, the flood situation will get worser. Where are we going to sleep?” she cried.

No funds for desilting

ADC (general) D. Purushartha said the Drainage Department had not received any funds for desilting of the Charan Ganga for the past 15 years. “As per department people, they have been repeatedly sending proposals for funds but in vain,” he said. He claimed that medical teams and rescue teams had been sent to all villages.

Meanwhile, Anandpur Sahib MLA Sant Ajit Singh, who also has a dera in Lodhipur, was evacuated on a tractor by DSP Benipal at around 10 am. He too alleged laxity on the part of administration in dealing with the situation. Sant Ajit Singh and Nangal MLA K.P.S. Rana alleged that the Charan Ganga had not been desilted since ages, thereby leading to the flooding.

“Till evening the Drainage Department had not started plugging the breach,” Rana said. They also demanded special girdawari.

The train driver, Bachittar Singh, said as soon as the engine passed over the bridge, he heard some odd sound and immediately brought the train to a halt. The accident relief train was rushed from Ambala with almost 100 rescue workers and engineers from the Mechanical and Technical Department.

Two JCBs were pressed into action for removing earth from near the track and filling up the collapsed area. Ambala division ADRM R.K. Saxena claimed that the work would be completed by 7.30 pm. The Una Himachal Express coming from Delhi and a local DMU were also cancelled.


Expired insecticides seized
Agriculture official at large; 9 nabbed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 13
The district agriculture authorities achieved a major success when one of its teams managed to unearth a huge cache of expired insecticides from an unauthorised godown at the dead of night yesterday.

The police, which accompanied the agriculture department team, arrested nine persons from the godown for their alleged involvement in keeping and selling the expired insecticides to farmers.

Dunger Singh, agriculture development officer (ADO), Bathinda, whose connivance with the accused surfaced during the investigation of the matter, was booked.

This is the second case where the team of agriculture department managed to seize the pesticides and insecticides, which were being sold in the markets in illegal manner. About two days ago, the agriculture department team seized the Chinese pesticides from a local godown, which were stored there for sale to farmers.

Official sources said about 10,000 litres of insecticides were stored in the godown located on Bathinda-Mansa road. About 90 per cent of the insecticides, which was seized by the team, had crossed their expiry dates.

The main accused involved in this illegal business were identified as Amandeep Singh and Jatinder Singh. The police had also arrested Tarun Kumar, Chandi Ram, Kishori Lal, Amandeep Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Chottu Singh and Amandeep Singh. All accused were arrested from the spot.

Paramjit Singh Sandhu, chief agriculture officer, Bathinda, said as per initial estimates, the cost of insecticides was around Rs 20 lakh. The godown was sealed yesterday night only and a section of policemen were put on duty with the intervention of deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari.

While claiming that Dunger Singh was in no way involved in this illegal business, he said the district police chief would be requested to do the justice. He said samples of all insecticides had been taken and rest of the material had been handed over to the custody of the police.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the police was trying to arrest Dunger Singh, who had absconded.


Kanwaljit for early solution to GMADA-MC row
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today underlined the need for specifically demarcating the areas for undertaking development works between the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) and the Municipal Council, Mohali, to ensure a rapid and overall development of Mohali. He has asked the chief secretary to convene a meeting for an early decision on the issue.

Owing to the ongoing tug-of-war between the elected body of the council and the GMADA, various civic services have been affected in Mohali, which the government is projecting as an upcoming modern high-tech city of Punjab.

In the absence of proper demarcation of functional responsibilities between the GMADA and council, people of Mohali are facing problems. There are a number of villages, including Madan Pura, Matore and Sahi Majra, in Mohali. These have faced lack of attention from the authorities concerned.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh today held a meeting with municipal councillors of Mohali and senior officers of the GMADA to sort of the issue.

He said the GMADA was constituted with a specific purpose of integrated development of the IT city and the chief secretary should ensure that because of any confusion over the jurisdiction of the two bodies, the purpose of the GMADA should not be defeated ab initio.

He reviewed the development works undertaken in Mohali. The chief administrator, GMADA, executive officer of the MC and councillors were present.

The councillors complained against the municipal authorities for allegedly ignoring their wards in execution of development works. Capt Kanwaljit Singh told the officers concerned to shun their casual attitude in executing development works.

Taking a serious note of worst sanitation conditions around Matour Village, he directed MC officials to personally visit the area to find out the solution to the inconvenience being faced by the people.

He said the recent incident of diarrhoea outbreak in Madanpur village was an eye opener for the MC officials and they should take effective and preventive measures in that connection. Two lives were claimed by diarrhoea in Mohali.

On the beautification and upkeep of parks in the city, chief administrator, GMADA, Krishan Kumar said they were roping in Milkfed, corporate houses and MNCs for the purpose.


Army truck impounded
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Unscrupulous elements seem to have adopted a novel modus operandi to evade value added tax (VAT) on the Punjab-Haryana border.

In a case that may bring embarrassment to the Indian Army, officials of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department have impounded an army vehicle illegally transporting goods from Delhi to Rajpura at the Shambu barrier.

Acting on specific information, a departmental team headed by Naresh Dubey, assistant excise and taxation commissioner posted at the information collection centre (ICC) at the Shambu border signalled an Army truck to stop on the night intervening August 11 and 12.

However, the truck driver, who was a civilian reportedly, transporting the vehicle from Jabbalpore to Udhampur, jumped the naka, put up by the department.

After a short chase, the truck was stopped and huge quantity of goods, mostly cosmetic items, were found in truck. The source of the goods valued at about Rs 2 lakh was doubtful as no bills was recovered from the driver.

Officials claimed that keeping in mind the seriousness of the matter the issue had been taken up with the Army authorities at Ambala.

The Army authorities had been asked to cooperate so that such incidents were not repeated. If the army vehicles were used by the unscrupulous elements, then their possibilities of being used by anti-national elements could not be ruled out, officials warned.

Defence vehicles are generally not checked at the ICCs. Talking to The Tribune Dubey said penal action under the VAT Act would be initiated against the driver. The penalty entails 50 per cent fine on the gross value of the contraband besides VAT at the usual rates, Dubey added.


Panchayati Raj system a ‘farce’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
“The Panchayati Raj system is hollow from within. Claims with regard to the empowerment of panchayats through devolution of power by the respective Punjab Governments over the years are a farce.

Upright and well-meaning sarpanches feel suffocated and humiliated in the existing system,” said Apar Singh Ghuman, sarpanch of Khera Kotli village in Dasuya block of Hoshiarpur.

He shared his experiences and difficulties being faced by panchayats in the countryside on the basis of his four-year experience as sarpanch and his interaction with his counterparts in other villages.

Apar Singh, who worked as a senior officer, was given the responsibility of heading village panchayat after retirement. “It was not out of choice but circumstances that I became sarpanch of the village,” said Apar Singh.

The first problem faced by panchayats is of infrastructure. “Around 80 per cent villages do not have proper panchayat ghars to house its offices. For gram sabha meetings, there are no rooms. Meetings are mostly held at the residence of village sarpanch. And those opposed to sarpanch do not attend such meetings,” he said. Panchayats did not have any furniture.

“Panchayat secretaries were overburdened. They were saddled with charge more than they could handle. Moreover, they also work at block offices. Sometimes, they were not available for weeks. Sarpanches keep looking for them for days. They should not be given charge of more than three villages,” said Apar Singh.

A secretary should visit one panchayat for at least two days a week. The system of providing grants to panchayats was discriminatory and whimsical, he added.

“All ruling political parties profess that grants are given without any bias. But it is not true,” he said.

Under the rules, all panchayats are required to hold a general house meeting in December to decided the development works required to be taken up and requirement of funds for these. However, this procedure was not being followed, he said.

Illegal occupation of panchayat lands was the biggest problem being faced most panchayats across the state, he added.

“Such practice not only blocks the development of villages concerned but leads to unnecessary litigation, creation of factionalism and wastage of resources,” he said.

There should be a special cell at the block level to take care of properties owned by village panchayats, he added.

The cell should be given the responsibility of maintaining records with regard to panchayat properties, including land, he said.

Panchayats are given work-related grants and on discretionary funds for miscellaneous expenditure.

This leads to manipulation in the accounts. Some part of funds in the annual grant should be earmarked as discretionary funds, he added.

A sarpanch is given honorarium of Rs 600 per month. It is a meager amount. The sarpanch has to move about a lot and spend money from his pocket, hence the honorarium should be enhanced, he said.

For carrying out development works, junior engineers should be available for technical advice to sarpanches. For the upkeep of records and accounts, minimum qualification for the office of sarpanch should also be fixed.

Panchayats should get all powers they were entitled to under the Constitution, he said.


Vigilance grills Jagjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
Not satisfied with property papers and replies of former minister Chaudhry Jagjit Singh on his alleged role in the City Centre Scam, the Vigilance Bureau has asked him to again appear before it on August 24.

The minister, who reached the local VB office, along with a few supporters, was quizzed for over three and a half hours by VB sleuths at noon.

On his previous visit, he was asked to submit the papers pertaining to all his properties and those owned by his family members.

VB sources said the minister submitted a file with a sheaf of papers to them and a covering letter mentioning the contents of the file.

On its scrutiny, the papers were found incomplete and did not contain the details of the properties asked by them.

He also could not explain the rapid growth of Master Gurbanta Singh College being run by a trust in the name of his father at Kartarpur and the sources of its funding.

The sources said Jagjit Singh gave vague replies to the queries posed by the investigators and appeared uncomfortable with the line of questioning.

The minister reportedly said he was not well versed with all legalities and could not grasp all that was required of him.

SSP Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu said they had acceded to the request of the minister and had allowed the minister to be accompanied by his CA and the relevant papers on the next date.

Later, the minister told mediapersons that he was being harassed on one pretext or the other and that he had submitted all documents.

“To put an end to this, I asked and have been allowed to bring my CA on the next date”, he added.


Case against minister dismissed
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 13
The case regarding Punjab transport minister having a fake law degree from N.M. Law College, Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, while serving as a teacher with Arya School, Pathankot, was dismissed by Pathankot sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM) H.S. Gill on Saturday.

The SDJM in his judgment observed that the complainant, Gurdev Singh of the Sunder Nagar locality of Pathankot, had filed the complaint against Master Mohan Lal Sharma, Punjab transport minister, in February while the latter had passed his LLB degree in 1991.

The complainant remained mum for more than 15 years for the reasons best known to him. The complaint had no concern with the school from where Mohan Lal Sharma had been drawing salary.

The judgment also states, “Neither any oral nor any documentary evidence has been placed in the file, which may prove that the accused has misappropriated or embezzled funds of Arya School. No rules and regulations have been placed in the file to prove that the accused has to obtain the permission from the school authorities or Education Department before taking admission in LLB course. There is no prima facie evidence which may show that the accused has committed any forgery.”


Tribune Impact
DEO’s appointment cancelled
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 13
K.B.S. Sidhu, secretary, Punjab Education Department (Schools), declared the May 21 orders appointing Resham Singh Aulakh as district education officer (secondary) as null and void. The district administration received the order here today.

The education department took the decision following publication of a news regarding contention between two Punjab School Education Board employees over the charge of district education officer on August 9. The dispute was affecting the working of the department.

Sidhu made clear in his letter that Gurdip Kaur Kaler would hold the post of the DEO (secondary).


Relief Against Octroi
MoD nod awaited
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, August 13
Traders belonging to the cantonments in Punjab have expressed resentment as unlike other parts of the state they have to still pay huge amounts of money as octroi.

There are three cantonments in the state - Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Amritsar. Though octroi was abolished in the state by the previous Congress regime, the cantonments still pay it as they fall under the administrative control of the union government.

In its election manifesto the SAD had promised that the octroi in these cantonments would be abolished as soon as they come to power, but still a lot needs to be done in this regard.

Under pressure from their local leaders representing these areas, the state government had recently convened a high-level meeting chaired by chief secretary R.I. Singh, which was attended by leaders from these cantonments, besides officials from the Departments of Defence Estates, Local Government and Finance.

At the meeting it was decided that the state government would financially compensate these cantonments on account of revenue loss and a proposal in this regard would be sent to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for its nod, which was still being awaited.

Harish Goyal, a local businessman, said the customers, including Army personnel, now prefer to go to nearby towns for shopping. Naresh Jain, president, Beopar Mandal, Ferozepur Cantt, demanded that the government should immediately compensate the cantonment boards.

Another businessman, I.D.Aggarwal, asserted that already due to stringent construction and development policies in the cantts, their businesses have not grown on a par with traders in nearby towns.

He demanded that till the time octroi was abolished from the cantonments, the state government should waive VAT to compensate them.

A.Shekhar Babu, CEO, Ferozepur Cantt, who also has the additional charge of Amritsar, stated that till date no communication has been received by the board 
from the state or central governments in this regard.


Atta-dal scheme starts from tomorrow
Resentment among ration depot holders
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Beneficiaries identified
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 13
As many as1,64,278 families have been identified to be eligible for the atta-dal scheme in this district. Deputy commissioner Karam Singh stated this at a press conference here today.

The DC added out of this number only 48972 families would be able to have this facility and it includes 6539 urban and the rest 33433 rural families.

The scheme would be inaugurated by Ranjit Singh Brahmpura minister for panchayats and rural development ,Punjab on August 15 when he would be here to unfurl the national flag on the Independence Day.

Patiala, August 13
The atta-dal scheme of the Punjab government is all set to be launched on Independence Day amidst resentment among ration depot holders.

Under the scheme the Department of Food and Civil Supplies will allot wheat and pulses to the ration depot holders who will supply these to the new blue card holders identified as beneficiaries under the atta-dal scheme by the government.

A family of five members or above will be given 35 kg wheat and 4 kg pulses a month at Rs 4 and Rs 20 per kg,respectively, from the ration depots against the blue card issued to them.

The families having less than five members, 7 kg wheat and 1 kg pulses will be given per member, officials in the department said.

However, the ration depot holders who are to distribute wheat and pulses under the scheme are a disgruntled lot.

They are alleging the government was not paying them any commission for distributing wheat and pulses. They will also have to pay transportation cost of wheat and pulses from government stores to their shops from their pockets.

At present the government is paying them just 7 paise per kg of sugar and 35 paise per litre of kerosene sold from their depots. If a meagre amount was paid to them, how would they meet expenses of running the depots, they alleged.

District food and civil supplies controller Kuldeep Bhatia said strict action, including cancellation of licence,would be taken against the depot holders not complying with the government orders to distribute wheat and pulses under the atta-dal scheme.

He said 80 per cent of the depot holders had already deposited the amount for the purchase of wheat and pulses under the scheme. Arrangements to launch the scheme had been completed.

The matter of paying minimum transportation charges to the depot holders was being considered by the government, he said.


More trouble in store for atta-dal scheme
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 13
The much-talked about atta-dal scheme of the Punjab government seems to be running into one controversy after the other.

Now, the depot owners - more than 14,000 in number - have expressed reluctance in implementing the same.

The government has refused to give any commission to the depot holders, besides there is no planning so far to ascertain who would bear the labour and storage charges of the atta and dal.

The depot holders, who would be providing the atta-dal to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Punjab, are apprehensive that in absence of any clear guidelines, the labour and storage charges would have to be borne by them. On the condition of anonymity, some of the depot holders told The Tribune that each one of them would have to shell out at least Rs 1,500-2,000 a month on this.

As per the directives issued by the Food and Civil Supply Department, it has been clearly mentioned that no commission would be paid to the depot holders.

They rued that due to this, it would become very difficult for them to carry out the scheme properly.

They stated that it was unbecoming of the state government to put such a burden on the depot holders, who with their limited resources were in no position to implement the atta-dal scheme in its present form.

They also lamented that the special flying squads that had been constituted would only add to their misery.

Meanwhile, director of state’s Food and Civil Supply Department S.P. Singh said the department was aware of the problem and it was working out a strategy to resolve the situation. He added that the department would come up with a suitable solution soon.

However, with only two days left before the scheme is formally launched, the depot holders are spending sleepless nights due to the prevailing uncertainty.


Panel opposes power plant on fertile land
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 13
The Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) has opposed the setting up of the proposed thermal plant against the wishes of farmers on their fertile lands.

It has asked the state government to frame rules to prevent the acquisition of fertile lands for non agriculture purposes.

Talking to this reporter here today, president of the district unit of the AFDR Master Tarsem Lal said a five-member committee of the district unit of the association had met farmers of Majhi and Beebar villages (Sangrur district), who told a fact-finding committee members that they were not ready to give their lands.

He said the farmers also told them that they had been protesting for the past several months against the proposed acquisition of their lands.

The committee also found that the farmers had been producing three crops in a year on the lands, which were to be acquired by the government for thermal plant.

Most of the farmers of Beebar village had migrated to this village from Pakistan in 1947. Thus they will be uprooted again if their lands are acquired.

The proposed thermal plant, having 1200 mega watt capacity, is to be set up on 1300 acres of these two villages by a private company, but the government has been keeping the farmers in dark about the name of the company and about the price of the land to be given to the farmers.

The fact-finding committee also claimed that more thermal plants would be set up. The committee also emphasised the reduction of transmission losses (25 per cent) and a check on power theft.

The committee also suggested the government to generate power from hydro projects and solar energy to meet the power demand of the state. |It also demanded stoppage of power free of cost to big farmers.


‘Peace process should continue’
Tribune News Service

Wagah, August 13
The peace process should continue whatever the conditions be in Pakistan and India to remove mistrust between the people, said Imtiaz Alam, secretary-general, South-Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), to the media at the Wagah joint checkpost today.

Heading a 42-member delegation to attend the two-day Hind-Pak Dosti Mela in Amritsar, Alam said the fourth round of peace talks between the two countries should continue.

He said there might be some delay due to elections in Pakistan in January but the authorities concerned should take the initiative to take the peace process further.

The SAFMA general secretary said both nations should liberalise the visa regime and added that visas should be issued at the checkpost itself and that too without any police report for businessmen, pilgrims, students and tourists.

He said the authorities should also work on reducing the negative list of South-Asia Free Trade Association (SAFTA). Instead of bureaucrats, members of the chambers of industries in the two counties should be made members of SAFTA.

Besides Alam, Shakila Rasheed of the Pakistan Peoples Party and members of the National Assembly, journalists and artistes were among those who crossed over to India to participate in the mela. The guests were welcomed by Kuldeep Nayyar, a veteran journalist.


Repoll for council V-P stayed
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the election for the post of vice-president of the municipal council here which was to be held at 4 pm today.

In an order, the court stayed the election, ordered on August 10, for today by Sangrur DC S. R. Laddar. Sabran Bhappa, who was elected vice-president of the council on July 12, 2007, by the Congress councillors filed a case against the suspension of her election.

Meanwhile, in a letter issued to executive officer of the MC, the ADC said due to the hearing of the case in the court on August 17, the meeting is postponed to August 18, 2007.


2 more councillors support SAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
Two more Independent newly elected municipal councillors here today expressed unconditional support to the SAD here today.

In a meeting with Information and Public Relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, councillor from ward No. 56, Surinder Kumar Viki and Vijay Kumar, who had won the Municipal Corporation elections from ward No. 57 pledged support to the SAD.

The corporation elections were held in Amritsar on August 8 and re-poll was held in ward Nos. 29, 40 and 5 yesterday.


Separate Gurdwara Panel
Decision to serve ultimatum on Hooda
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
After meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, SGPC members from Haryana have decided to serve an ultimatum on the Haryana government for the setting up of separate gurdwara committee.

Talking to The Tribune here today, general secretary of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC), Didar Singh Nalvi said elected members of the SGPC in Haryana were under pressure from the Sikh to take up the management of all gurdwaras in the state by packing up SGPC employees.

However, Nalvi said they would expect that the Central and state government would save the situation from becoming volatile by accepting their long standing demand.

He said if both the governments failed to come up to the expectations of the Sikh masses, then the Sangat would have forcibly control the historical gurdwaras, currently being managed by the SGPC.

He said during their meeting, Prime Minister had assured them that he would take up the matter with the government of Haryana for finding an amicable solution . "The Sikh of Haryana cannot wait any long ", he said.

To a question , Nalvi said during their meeting with the PM , a Sikh delegation from Haryana had urged him to use his good offices to get the Section 72 of the State Re-organisation Act of 1966 implemented which advocated creation of a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana.

He said a delegation of Haryana SGPC members and representatives of other Sikh bodies would also meet Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda shortly. He said they had already met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The HSGPC would also oppose the move of Punjab government to pass an All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act. Nalvi said this move was aimed at diverting the attention of the Sikh from Haryana who had been struggling for the separate committee.

The draft of the All-India Gurdwara Act, prepared by justice Harbans Singh and vetted by justice K.S. Tiwana, had given "insignificant importance" to Haryana so far as representation in the proposed state gurdwaras were concerned.


New chairman of North Zone Task Force
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
Director of the TB and Chest Diseases Hospital, Government Medical College, Patiala Dr Jai Kishen was elected chairman of the North Zone Task Force (North Zone) of India, sources said today.

The election was made during the two-day Fifth Zonal Task Force workshop. The North Zone covered more than 33 per cent population of India, which includes the states of UP, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Punjab and the UTs of Chandigarh and Delhi, the director said.

Dr Kishan said the medical colleges would play an important role in the operational research on tuberculosis. He added that these colleges were already contributing 16 per cent of the case detection of TB patients.

He assured the participants to make every effort so that the medical colleges of the north zone participated actively and sincerely in the training, teaching, advocacy, operational research and programme implementation so as to impart teaching to the forthcoming under-graduate medical students, paramedical students, doctors and paramedical doctors.

He appealed to all the doctors to give benefit of free diagnosis and free treatment available under the Revised National TB Control Programme of India.


Minister’s date with convicted juveniles
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 13
To know the difficulties of juveniles of the Observation and Special Home (OSH), Punjab health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, along with director of the department Dr S. P. S. Sohal, had discussion with them at Ram Colony camp, 5 Km. from here, today.

As many as 71 undertrial and convicted juveniles below 18 years are housed in the OSH.

Chawla gathered information about the causes of their imprisonment. Many of them told the minister that their fathers were addicts due to which their families always remained disturbed. Under these circumstances, they had indulged in bad company and committed petty crimes.

Two juveniles from Pakistan and Bangladesh expressed desire to stay in India after their release from the OSH.

Those juveniles who have crossed the age of 18 years, told the minister that they should be transferred to jails of their districts as their poor parents were not able to meet their travelling expenses.

Chawla assured them that she would take up the cases of those inmates who had committed petty crimes with the advocate-general of Punjab to get them released.

Civil surgeon Kamaljit Kaur said special monthly medical check-up camps would be organised for these juveniles.

The Sri Ram Charit Manas Parchar Mandal, a local NGO, in collaboration with the Health Department, organised a special medical camp. A team of doctors examined all inmates and provided medicines to them.

Later, the Minister inspected the kitchen and checked the cooked food.


HC reserves order on Chahal’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Even as B.I.S. Chahal, looking hale and hearty, waited with bated breath outside the courtroom, Justice Surya Kant prolonged the suspense by reserving order on his regular bail plea.

The plea came in the wake of an FIR registered against Chahal and others by the Ludhiana police for allegedly attempting to grab land at Daad village near Ludhiana.

Proceedings began on an animated note with the state counsel, Rita Kohli, going full steam against grant of relief to Chahal.

She referred extensively to apex court judgments to buttress her point that an influential man like Chahal didn’t deserve the court’s leniency.

She said recently the apex court had concluded in Babu Bhai Katara’s case that people like Katara, a Parliamentarian, were expected to behave better.

Placing Chahal on the same footing as Katara, Kohli asserted that he was once all powerful in Punjab and given his political position and clout, he was expected to behave in a dignified way. Kohli also cited Amarmani Tripathi and Pappu Yadav’s cases to clarify her point.

Even as Kohli termed Chahal as a special person wielding immense clout, Justice Surya Kant observed that “take it as an ordinary case and tell why he should not be granted bail”.

The judge also asked that as to how long the trial would take and how many witnesses the prosecution was citing. Kohli replied that there were 23 witnesses and assured the court that all efforts would be made towards a speedy trial.

The court also asked the state counsel to elaborate as to how, given the present situation, the petitioner (Chahal) could tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses.

Significantly, Kohli’s attempt to highlight the details of properties owned by Chahal was stopped midway by the judge who asked as to how the said details were relevant to the case in hand.

Chipping in with matching vigour, R.S. Cheema, counsel for the petitioner, said it was really interesting to find that with 50 people firing, no one in the gathering got a scratch. This meant that there was no firing at all.

Atul Lakhanpal pepped up the proceedings by saying that one of the accused in the Ludhiana FIR, Kartar Singh, whose petrol pump touched the land in question, was claimed to be dead by his son. Even the police believed the statement of the son without crosschecking the facts.

Another interesting fact, Lakhanpal averred, was that Kartar Singh had claimed to be a freedom fighter, though he was only nine years of age at the time of Independence, on the basis of forged documents.


High Court
Election to post of MC vice-president stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
A division bench, comprising Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice S.N. Aggarwal, today stayed the election to the office of Malerkotla Municipal Council vice-president, scheduled to be held today, on a plea by Sabran, wife of Mohd Salif who is a Malerkotla municipal councillor.

She averred that the she was elected the vice-president of the council on July 12 and had been declared elected by the convener (Jaspal Singh Jassi, SDM).

Later, the resolution was quashed by principal secretary, local government, on August 2, under the provision of Section 232 of the Punjab Municipal Act.

The petitioner alleged that the secretary had acted on the deputy commissioner, Sangrur, S.R. Laddar’s report.

It was also averred that there was a specific bar even to interference by courts in the election matter under the Constitution.

It was also submitted that the election to the post of vice-president could be set aside only by an election petition and not in the manner resorted to by the secretary, local government.


Woman, paramour held for murder
Tribune News Service

Rupnagar, August 13
The Rupnagar police has arrested Sukhdeep Kaur, alias Sukhi, and her alleged paramour Gurpreet Singh, alias Titu, a resident of Haveli Kalan, for reportedly killing Sukhi's husband on August 9.

Sukhi and Tuti are first cousins and were said to have illicit relations before Sukhi's marriage. Sukhi's husband Gurdeep Singh left for Dubai after three months of their marriage, and Sukhi continued her liaison with Titu.

Gurdeep returned from Dubai on August 1 and it was then that Titu and Sukhi decided to kill him. Gurdeep was shot dead on August 9 near here.

His friends Sukhjinder Singh, a resident of village Dugri Kolti, and Tarlochan Singh helped him kill Gurdeep.

The police has arrested Sukhi, Titu and Sukhjinder. A court has sent them in police custody till August 16.


‘Custodial death’: Case registered
Tribune News Service

Kharar, August 13
The Balongi police today registered a case against four unknown girls and their father for allegedly beating up Naresh Kumar and causing his death.

SHO Kharar Chand Singh said the case had been registered on the statement of Naresh's brother, Suresh, alias Bobby.

"Bobby has claimed that the incident took place on August 10 when Naresh wrongly knocked at a door in Balongi, where the four girls lived with their father. Bobby alleged that Naresh was badly beaten up by this family," Chand Singh added.

Thereafter, Bobby claimed to have got three calls from the Maloya police and his brother was handed over to him by 11 am.

Bobby then took Naresh to the UT barrier, where his condition deteriorated and was rushed to Mohali Civil Hospital.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem examination of the deceased was conducted today and viscera samples sent to Patiala forensic laboratory for further investigations.


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