P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cong tussle gets ugly
Dullo nobody to question me: Ex-CM
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today vented his ire on president of the PPCC Shamsher Singh Dullo.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone today, he said: “Dullo is nobody to question me. The decision to withdraw Congress candidates from the municipal corporation elections was mine.”

He was reacting to the statement of Dullo to mediapersons that Capt Amarinder Singh’s decision to boycott the local municipal corporation election was unjustified.

Dullo had also stated that the Congress high command was never taken into confidence before withdrawing candidates in the middle of polling. Dullo had said he, along with Jagmeet Brar and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, would seek action against those who called for a boycott of the elections.

Capt Amarinder Singh said there was open rigging at most of polling booths during the elections. Candidates complained to him that their agents and voters were not being allowed into polling booths.

Though Patiala MP and Congress workers had blocked traffic to register their protest against the rigging, election observers and district administration did not respond.

The decision to recall the candidates was mine and Samana MLA Brahm Mohindra had supported his idea. I fully take responsibility for the decision and Dullo had no authority to question me, he added.

In fact, Dullo and Joginder Dayal of the CPM had protested against the rigging in the elections in a joint statement issued a day after.

The former Chief Minister said he and his wife and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur had already informed Congress president Sonia Gandhi about the developments during the elections.

Insiders in the former Chief Minister’s camp alleged that instead of raising a voice against the open rigging and use of force by ruling party in the corporation elections, Congress leaders were targeting him in the tussle for power within the party.


Hooliganism in Gurdwara
SGPC to send 5-member team to Pakistan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
Shocked over the news of hooliganism by Muslim activists in Gurdwara Bhai Taru Singh in Naulakha Bazar, Lahore, the SGPC has decided to send a five-member fact-finding team to Pakistan to have the first hand information about the incident.

This was disclosed by the SGPC chief, Jathedar Avtar Singh while talking to The Tribune, here today.

The SGPC chief has also sent a missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing concern over the incident. The Daily Times of Pakistan had broken a news in its columns of August 20 that the entry of Sikhs had been banned into Gurdwara Bhai Taru Singh, which had been in control of the Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB) for almost 60 years.

The SGPC chief also spoke to Bishan Singh, president, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and expressed his concern over the incident.

However, Jathedar Avtar Singh alleged that the PSGPC chief was not giving him true picture of the incident and hence he had decided to send a delegation to Lahore to have the first hand information about the incident.

However, Dr Pritpal Singh, convener, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while sharing his concern over the incident said the SGPC should take up the responsibility to help the PSGPC to preserve Sikh shrines in Pakistan. On the other hand, Manmohan Singh, UK-based Dal Khalsa leader claimed that the incident was being exploited out of the proportion by vested interests.

The five-member committee which is likely to visit Pakistan include Baldev Singh, Jaswinder Singh Advocate, Balwinder Singh Jaura, T.S. Dhanaula and H.S. Gill.

The SGPC chief has also written to the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi, expressing his concern over the incident. However, PETPB chairman Lt Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan (retd) claimed that the gurdwara contained the shrine of a saint and that it had been open to both communities.

He said the ownership of the Sikh shrine had not changed hands. However, representatives of the Sikh community in Pakistan had alleged that hooligans had stopped them from entering the premises for the past two months with the support of PETPB officials.


Taking off turbans for security check in US irks SGPC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
The SGPC chief, Jathedar Avtar Singh, has taken a serious note of the humiliation being caused to turbaned Sikhs while travelling by air in the USA.

In a press statement here today, he said turban was a religious icon of the Sikhs and the community could not tolerate the rising incidence of taking off the turbans of Sikhs who travel by air on the pretext of security clearance in the USA.

Gurinder Singh, a resident of Sacramento in the USA, had allegedly faced humiliation at the hands of security and US police officials. He wrote to various Sikh organisations that he was asked to take off his turban for security clearance at the Buffalo airport.

Gurinder Singh is a real estate broker in California and Nevada and general secretary of the Northern Nevada Sikh Society. He has been living in the USA since 1996.

Similarly, Surjit Babra, another Sikh and president SkyLink, “was forced to remove his turban” at the LaGuardia airport in New York, allegedly as part of a security check.

Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament Gurbax Malhi, himself a turbaned Sikh, said in a press note,“while understanding and sharing the terrible circumstances which have led to this point”, the USA should “train and educate security personnel so that they respect the right of the Sikhs to wear turbans and do not subject them to this undignified and unnecessary procedure”.


Badal hints at cut in stamp duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
A day after the ruling SAD-BJP combine was talking of additional resource mobilisation, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the government was planning to reduce stamp duty in the state and bring it on a par with that of the Central government’s.

The Centre has already made its clear that the ideal stamp duty should be about 3 per cent to ensure more compliance. Badal said the gradual lowering of the duty would actually increase the revenue, as people would comply with it more diligently.

Badal while talking to journalists said the issue of resource mobilisation was being discussed between the SAD and the BJP. He referred to yesterday’s meeting between the alliance partners as “a routine affair.” Leaders of the two alliance partners had met yesterday and discussed the issue of raising the revenue.

Badal said chairmen of boards and corporations would be appointed within a month and the government would abolish redundant ones. He refused to divulge the number of such boards. Sounding a welcome note on the opening of truck route with Pakistan, Badal said he hoped that the routes would soon be opened for cars also.

The Chief Minister made it clear that he would not initiate action against any officer who may have cancelled the NOCs or changed the land-use permissions for industries. The NoCs were cancelled during the previous Congress regime while the land-use patterns were cancelled during the present regime.

On being asked if he would invite Sonia Gandhi, for the centenary celebrations to mark Bhagat Singh’s birth anniversary, Badal said the Central government was conducting the function in Amritsar, it was for them to invite people. The state government has also decided to acquire 52 acres for the cricket academy to be set up by the BCCI.


Fields in CM’s home dist still inundated
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Kotli Sangar (Muktsar), August 22
Even as Sukhbir Badal visited flood-hit areas of this district today, residents of around 20 villages of Muktsar, home district of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, have been living in hellish conditions for the past two weeks.

The surrounding areas of these villages are still inundated. Residents have no supply of potable water with water works having collapsed in the floods.

Spells of heavy rain, which had lashed the district in the first week of this month, had caused havoc on paddy and cotton crops in thousands of acres. More than 140 houses had been collapsed while scores of others had developed cracks.

Foul smell has started emanating from stagnant water. There is a danger of an epidemic spreading in the area if health department did not wake up to the problem soon.

Though Badal, during his visit to the flood-affected areas of this sub-division, had ordered special girdawri to assess the losses to the paddy and cotton crops, immediate relief came to the villagers today with Sukhbir directing the district administration to supply potable water to the villagers twice a day through tankers. He also directed the officials concerned to drain out water accumulated in the fields.

General secretary of the All-India Youth Akali Dal Kanwarjit Singh Rosy, who was instrumental in Sukhbir’s tour to the villages, said villagers had demanded that water should be drained out soon so that they could prepare their fields to sow the wheat crop.

Sukhbir, while interacting with villagers, said the state government would get the drains repaired to overcome the problem of water-logging.

However, a section villagers alleged that officials of the irrigation department never bothered to get silt removed from the drains. Whenever they approached the administration in connection with their problems, they were not listened to properly, they alleged.

They said they feared apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned could jeopardise the sowing of the wheat crop.


VC blames it on SSP
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The vice-chancellor of Punjabi university Swaran Singh Boparai today accused district police chief S.K. Asthana of not taking his phone calls and playing partisan in the developments on the university campus.

In a letter to the SSP, a copy of which was provided to The Tribune, the VC has stated that the university administration had, in the last two years, been firm and ensured discipline in the university. The discipline today was in tatters after the firing incident outside the university main gate yesterday.

“Former students whose entry we had banned are now the force behind the joint action committee and have created lawlessness. One student who was involved in yesterday’s clash is an active member of this committee.

“I have been advising you (SSP) in writing and on the phone that the partisan attitude of the police will jeopardise discipline in the university.”

Quoting his previous letters, he told the SSP that the university would hold him personally responsible for “any loss of life, limb or property in future” as it was believed the district police was turning a Nelson eye to the acts of rowdyism committed by outsiders in the university.

The VC said he has forced to make his letters to the SSP public as the latter was now responding to his calls.

The SSP said: “ I refute the allegations by the VC. There is no law and order problem in the university. Every action is taken to maintain order according to rules.”

On not taking the VC’s calls, he said: “I have always responded to his calls.”


25 booked, but no arrests yet

Patiala, August 22
The police booked 25 persons under attempt to murder and the arms Act following the violent clash outside the Punjabi University gate yesterday.

Those booked are Rajvinder Singh Dhanola, president of the YOI group in university, Malwinder Singh and Gurinder Singh, law students, Jatinder Pal Singh of MA Statistics, Lal Singh, Harvinder Singh, Gurbhej Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Akram. Six of the accused are in Rajindra Government Hospital.

No arrest has been made. Neither has the police made any effort to recover the arms used in the violence. Sources said the police was following a soft approach as some students involved were members of students’ union affiliated with the ruling party. — TNS


ISI supplying separatists with heroin
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 22
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is trying to revive terrorism in Punjab and is supplying Sikh separatists with heroin, which is sold in the open market to fund their disruptive activities.

This revelation has come to the fore by the disclosures made by two persons arrested by the Ludhiana rural police with 6 kg of the narcotic on August 21. The international price of the narcotic is over Rs 6 crore.

Senior superintendent of police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said one of the accused, Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sarpanch, had said Daya Singh Lahoria, a self-styled lieutenant-general of the Khalistan Liberation Force, was his maternal uncle and was lodged in the Nabha jail. Sukhwinder also confessed to his links with another terrorist outfit headed by Gurdeep Singh Jammu. He had received training in the use of firearms and assembling explosives in Pakistan, he added.

The accused revealed that he had gone to Pakistan as a member of a jatha in connection with the Gurparb of Guru Nanak Dev in 2005, where he met Wadhawa Singh, chief of Babbar Khalsa, Ranjit Singh Neeta of the Khalistan Jindabad Force, Paramjit Singh Panjwar and Asiq Gurki, alias Rana, and got arms training there.

Rana was supplying heroine and arms to groups active in Punjab besides supplying the narcotic to two smugglers, Bara and Numberdar, both residents of Bhikhiwind.

Sukhwinder also indulged in the sale of Indian fake currency printed by ISI, the SSP added.

The accused also disclosed that he was collecting money from the local sympathisers of terrorists living abroad. Bhullar said Baldev Singh, alias Vicky, a resident of Sathi Colony, Faridabad, now living at Sarai Colony, Faridabad, was an accomplice of Sukhwinder.


Amritsar-New York flight from 9/11
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 22
Air India is inducting two new generation environment-friendly 787 planes in its fleet by the end of next year while it plans to phase out its old planes with as many as 119 new aircraft by 2012-2013.

To refurbish its image and improve its services, it is also in the process of recruiting more air-hostesses.

“We are in the process of a complete makeover and we are going to spread our network. Five aircraft are joining our fleet next year. Besides, we are also ready for the induction of two environment-friendly 787 aircraft in our fleet by the end of 2008. The order for 119 new aircraft has been placed and these would be flying with us by 2012-2013. At the same time, we are also in the process of phasing out old passenger aircraft. The motive is to give the best service in the world to our valued customers. Comfort and convenience is the new mantra at Air India and our selected new flights will have state- of-the-art facilities like horizontal beds in the first and business class and on board entertainment in the economy class. The daily Mumbai-New York-Mumbai non-stop flight has facilities like audio-video on demand, 250 hours of video entrainment comprising Bollywood, Hollywood, Indian regional movies, programmes on sports, adventure, health, travel, yoga, environment, fashion, music videos, and comedy and cartoons for children,” said Air India (Northern India) general manager Rohita Jaidka.

Jaidka was addressing mediapersons along with Air India passenger sales manager (northern India) Anil Sabharwal.

Air India Express, a budget airline and subsidiary of Air India, is also planning to further strengthen its operations on the Amritsar-Dubai route. “We are currently operating five flights a week between Amritsar and Dubai. The number is going to increase to six from October or November as we are getting good response from people, particularly, Punjabis.

Air India Express is also going in for flights to destinations like Phuket, Port Blair, Male and Colombo from New Delhi,” said Jaidka and Sabharwal.

Air India is also going to launch four flights a week from Amritsar to New York via London and daily frequency to London and New York from Delhi from September 11 with B-777 aircraft. “Passengers will not have to pay anything for boarding or disembarking a flight at Amritsar,” said Jaidka.


Speaking Out
We will wait and watch

Member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal has accorded the status of industry to the film media in Punjab. He has said all incentives would be made available to those associated with film production. But pioneers of the state’s film and music industry are not impressed, reports Chitleen K. Sethi

Mehar Mittal
Mehar Mittal
This is one of the many empty promises. If the government wants to do something for the industry, it should offer easy loans for producing short entertaining films. The loans were stopped when large amounts of loans sank in flops. Punjab-based film-makers should be encouraged rather than inviting Punjabis based in Mumbai to set up base here. 
Jasbir Jassi
Jasbir Jassi
I am glad about the announcement but will be more so if it is implemented. Politicians need singers to gather crowds at election rallies but later no one comes back to us. The problem of music piracy needs urgent remedy otherwise the industry will face death. The performer should be given his due. Lets see what this government does. I am not too hopeful.
Pammi Bai
Pammi Bai
This is the first time a young politician has offered to do something for the film industry. I am hopeful that something will come out of it. Instead of offering piecemeal solutions, the government should work on formulating a culture policy, as in other states. Issues like piracy and training institutes can be covered under this policy.


BJP sets up cell
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
President of the Punjab unit of the BJP Rajinder Bhandari said here today main issue in the state at moment was of development and not resource mobilisation through more taxes. He said the BJP was for development of all sectors of Punjab’s economy, including urban areas, rural areas, trade, business, industry and agriculture without additional taxes on people.

Bhandari was here to inaugurate the cooperation cell of the party in main office for better interaction with party workers. From Monday to Friday, five days a week, one BJP minister, one BJP chief parliamentary secretary and one senior office- bearer will sit in party office by turn from 11 am to 1 pm. to attend to party workers and get their problems and grievances resolved. “ Even those not belonging to party can come to get their grievances redressed”, said Bhandari

On Monday, Manoranjan Kalia and Raj Khurana will be ‘on duty’ in cooperation cell and on Tuesday Tikshan Sud and Jagdish Sawhney will sit there. On Wednesday Laxmi Kanta and Satpal Gosain will sit in the party office and on Thursday it will be Master Mohan Lal and Sukhpal Singh. On Friday, Chaudhary Swarna Ram and Arunesh Shakir will be ‘on duty’.

I am of the view that revenue receipts can be substantially increased without resorting to fresh taxes, he added.


Uttarakhand benefits, Punjab suffers the most
Extended tax holiday scheme
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Uttarkhand has scored over both Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir both in securing fresh investment and generating employment opportunities under the extended tax holiday scheme of the centre.

Between January 7, 2003, and June 30, 2006, fresh investments in the industrial sector in Uttarkhand aggregated a whopping Rs 19,035.88 crore against fresh investments of Rs 2,053.24 crore in Himachal Pradesh and Rs 3,403.47 crore in Jammu and Kashmir during the same period.

Union Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam gave this information in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question raised by Punjab MP Naresh Gujral.

Uttarkhand not only secured substantial investment in its new industrial estates but also generated 1,40,972 new jobs in the last three years. Compared to Uttarkhand, both Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir lagged far behind in creating new job opportunities.

While new investments generated only 37,893 jobs in Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir could give employment to 72,209 persons.

Gujral wanted to know whether special incentives were being given to three hill states in north India or not. He also wanted to know the quantum of fresh investments in the three hill states and the number of new jobs that had been created by the new industrial units there.

The minister of state for finance informed the Upper House yesterday that while income tax concessions had been provided continuously to both Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh since April 1, 1993, similar concessions were extended to Uttarkhand from January 7, 2003.

Though Gujral also wanted to know the exact quantum of fresh investments and new jobs created in Punjab since 2002, Palanimanickam said he did not have details for Punjab.

Gujral maintained that Punjab had been lagging behind both in industrial investment and the generation of new job opportunities because of the special tax holiday extended to the neighbouring hill states.

He said that while the three hill states created 2.25 lakh new jobs besides securing investments of Rs 25,000 crore, Punjab had suffered. Its unemployed youth were also continuing to suffer.


Trucks across border
Sidhu satisfied with arrangements
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
Satisfied with temporary arrangements for the movement of trucks across the Indo-Pakistan border from October 1, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today sought a status report from the Union Home Ministry on the establishment of integrated check post (ICP) announced by the government last year.

About his meeting with director, Border Management, S.K. Swami, who had finalised the agreement with his Pakistani counterpart on Monday to facilitate the movement of trucks he (Sidhu) said the government must expedite construction of the post for hi-tech transshipment arrangements to overcome hurdles for hassle-free trade with Pakistan.

Sidhu said the government had prepared a state-of-the-art ICP at Rs 300 crore outlay which would include construction of six- lane road network to meet growing demand of the traders in both countries. He said the government was contemplating public- private participation and had sought bids for expression of interest by private participants.

He has invited Swami to visit Amritsar for discussions on the ICP.


Indian captive in Malaysia returns

Ludhiana, August 22
For a middle-aged Ferozepur-based couple, whose son was allegedly held captive in Malaysia happiness knew no bounds when he returned the Lok Bhalai Party through Indian embassy facilitated two days ago after his release.

Rakesh Kumar (25) along with his parents reached the Lok Bhalai Party office to thank its office-bearers Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, who took up his case.

Rakesh Kumar had paid Rs 1.50 lakh to a travel agent for entering Malaysia in June. He alleged that a few persons related to the travel agent held him captive.

His parents had to deposit Rs 40,000 in the Bank of Punjab account held by Harmesh Lal Chauhan as they had been receiving calls from a person for depositing Rs 50,000. — TNS


Experts to renovate Gurdwara Baba Atal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
The SGPC has been contemplating engaging experts for the renovation of the nine-storey Gurdwara Baba Atal, adjoining the Golden Temple complex to protect priceless frescos and the building design during the kar seva.

Earlier, the kar seva, carried out by babas to repair age-old murals at the gurdwara, and repair work of historical Ramgarhia Bungas in the Golden Temple complex had raked up a controversy. The murals on the first floor had been replaced with the bathroom tiles then.

The SGPC chief said he would hold meetings with experts, Sikh intellectuals before allowing the kar seva.

Interior walls of the first floor of the gurdwara have murals depicting the Sikh history. Less than 100 panels of murals are left on the first floor while the rest exist beyond recognition.

The murals would be repaired with colours and materials used by original artists.


SGPC holds kirtan durbar
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 22
A galaxy of ‘kirtankars,’ alongwith religious-story tellers regaled the audience, attended the kirtan durbar that started at Bhagi Bandar village of this district late last evening.

The two-day kirtan durbar was organised by the SGPC in association with the SAD. Chief Minister’s wife Surinder Kaur Badal and area in charge of the party Amarjit Singh Sidhu supervised the entire programme.

The competition was organised to celebrate the 301 years Guru Granth Sahib’s compilation. Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Balwant Singh Nandgarh, said the motive behind it was to make people aware Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh Gurus’ philosophy.


Ferozepur Mall — A walkers’ paradise
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, August 22
Residents of this sleepy border town, situated 12 km from the zero line on the Indo-Pakistan border, daily wakes up to the musical notes of maestros like Hariprashad Chaurasia, Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain. Thanks to the Cantonment Board and local Army authorities, the entire stretch of the Mall from the deputy commissioner’s residence up to the Golf Club has been equipped with facilities and is attracting a large number of civilians and Army personnel for refreshing walks amidst nature’s serenity.

Dotted with rows of blossoming trees on both sides of the road, the Mall has recently been widened and re-carpeted at an estimated cost of over Rs 2 crore. Fountains at various cross sections revitalise all fitness savvy people who now call it a walkers’ paradise.

The Mall, which begins from the Barki Square, was built to commemorate the bravery of those who made the supreme sacrifice during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict, closes for two hours in the morning and evening so that the people can enjoy their strolls without getting bothered about the hustle and bustle of traffic.

CMP personnel keep a hawk’s eye on those breaking the rules. An old-timer, Rajinder Sharma, remembers that before Independence, military band used to be daily in attendance on this road.

A feeling of astute patriotism engulfs the heart, the moment one walks past the war memorials built in the memory of the Indian officers, NCOs and men of VI KEO cavalry, who laid their lives during the 1914-1918 World War.

Opposite to it is the war memorial of the 20th Duke Cambridge’s Own Infantry (Brown Low’s Punjabis). It was built in the memory of those who attained martyrdom during the great war in France, Mesopotamia, Egypt, East Africa and frontiers of India. The two red stone monuments are located at the Flag Staff house crossing. The names of gallant martyrs are engraved on these monuments.

Another monument of historical importance was constructed in memory of the British and Indian officers, NCOs and the men of the 19th, 22nd and 24th battalion of the Punjab Regiment which laid down their lives during the World War I.

Former MLA, Gurnaib Brar regularly comes here for a morning walk.

DPRO Ashok Handa, who also praised the authorities, echoed similar views. Another resident, Anil Bhasin said due to the rapid industrialisation, one hardly got an opportunity to stroll. But this road is boon for fitness savvy people.


SAD (A) honours Hawara, Kanwaljit’s kin
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), August 22
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann announced today that the party would organise a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ to sack jathedars of five Takhts and appoint new ones as the present jathedars had “failed” to fulfill their duties, especially in the case of an insult to the Sikhism and its gurus by the Dera Sacha Sauda’s chief.

Mann also said Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh had asked Sikh youths to eliminate the dera’s head. The Jathedar had promised to weigh the person who brings the dera chief’s head against gold and silver. He said when Nandgarh had sons, so why he did not ask them to do so other than instigating those of others. He also called upon the Sikhs to oust dera followers, including Dera Sacha Sauda, Noor Mehliye and Bhaniarawala, from the state as was against Sikhism.

Mann was addressing a “Panthik convention”, dedicated to Bhai Kanwaljit Singh, who had died in a firing near Dera Sacha Sauda at Sunam on May 17. The convention was organised at the new grain market here today. Parminder Kaur, widow of Kanwaljit Singh, Bant Singh and Kuldeep Kaur, parents of Kanwaljit Singh, and Narinder Kaur, mother of Jagtar Singh Hawara, were honoured on the occasion.

Mann also urged the state government to immediately arrest Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh under Section 120-B of the IPC for murdering Kanwaljit Singh. He also demanded closure of all Sacha Sauda deras and a ban on “anti-Panth” literature.


Review of cases: Sukhbir to gain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Badal too stands to gain from Punjab government’s policy to review all cases registered during the previous Congress regime.

When voted to power the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered review of all cases. A review committee set-up at the level of the Deputy commissioner Faridkot, has suggested cases against Sukhbir be withdrawn. Final decision will be taken by the Home Department.

Three FIRs were registered against Sukhbir during the previous regime. However, the incident mentioned in the FIRs relates to 1999 when Sukhbir was union minister of state for industry while his father, at that time, was the Chief Minister of Punjab.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered registration of cases against Sukhbir after hearing petitions regarding the same. The court had ordered dropping of Section 307 from one of the cases. Two cases were registered in June last year while another one was registered in June 2002.


Judge told to give information under RTI
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
The chief information commissioner (CIC) has asked the District and Sessions Judge to provide information sought by applicants under the Right to Information Act. This is for the first time that the judiciary has been told that it was mandatory to give information under the Act.

Rajan Kashyap (CIC), along with Lt-Gen P.K. Grover (retd) and state information commissioner, based the order on the request of K.S. Kathuria, former assistant general manager of the Punjab and Sind Bank, to seek information from the judge regarding a criminal case filed against complainants who had been implicated on the basis of documents that had been tampered with in “complicity with certain junior officials”.

The CIC had rejected the contention of the judge stating that the failure of the public authority to appoint a public information officer (PIO) did not absolve it from the obligation to provide information.

The order said Section 19 (8) made it clear that a public authority was also under obligation to provide information where a PIO had not been appointed.

It further said the information sought was in the public domain. The proper maintenance, safety and sanctity of judicial records were of utmost importance in which the public was interested. 


Conference discusses information sharing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
To improve ties between the civil, police and military a conference was held at the cantonment here to discuss issues relating to the three establishments.

The conference discussed the sharing of information between the Army, police and intelligence agencies on enemy agents and terrorist outfits operating in border areas. It pointed out the problems arising out of land disputes of serving soldiers in forward areas.

Major-Gen K.M.S. Shergill, General Officer Commanding, Panthers Division, presided over the conference. Deputy GOC Brig R. Kapoor and deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu, DIG, Border Range, R. L. Bhagat, SSPs of Amritsar Urban and Rural Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh and Iqbal Singh, respectively, attended the conference.


Helpline for complaints
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The Punjab government today started a dedicated helpline to receive complaints, if any, regarding the quality/quantity and unavailability of subsidised wheat and dal at any depot of the state.

Telephone number 95-172-2702120 has been installed to monitor the distribution.

Complaints on this phone will be received by a nodal officer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all working days.

A spokesman of the government said all depot holders had been instructed to display this number boldly on the stock board of the depot. The helpline was only for the existing blue card holders. Any complaint regarding the non-inclusion of any family in this scheme should be forwarded to the deputy commissioner concerned , the spokesman added.

Guru Gobind Singh Marg

The Punjab government will soon take up a proposal with the ministry of road transport and highways to declare Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Takht Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib to Takht Sachkhand Hazoor Sahib, Nanded, Maharashtra, as a national highway.

Road network

A team of the national highways authority of India called on the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister’s office claimed that a major thrust on the modernisation of the road infrastructure in Punjab was on the cards.

The plan would cover the Amritsar-Pathankot (NH-15) road , the Chandigarh-Ludhiana (NH-95), the Ludhiana-Moga-Talwandi-Ferozepore (NH-95), the Jalandhar-Dhilwan section of the Jalandhar-Amritsar road (NH-1), the section from Desu Majra to Kurali of the Chandigarh-Ropar-Kiratpur road (NH-21), the Jalandhar-Panipat road and the Jalandhar to Wagah border road via Amritsar.

Relief for Bihar

Punjab will send fodder to the flood-affected areas of Bihar. The decision comes in response to a request made to this effect by Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar to despatch adequate quantity of fodder, especially wheat chaff (turi).


Cops clueless in woman’s murder
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 22
The police is still clueless in the murder of a 44-year-old woman employee of the BSNL here whose body was found at an isolated place on the Jammu-Jalandhar highway, near Maithal, on Sunday.

The badly decomposed body of Usha Khanna was found lying in a wooden box.

There is resentment among local residents over the working of the police in the case.

Superintendent of Police Harpreet Singh said the case would be solved soon.


Blue card makes villagers see red
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
A large number of villagers from in and around the subdivisional headquarters of the district today assembled outside the SDM office in protest against non-issuance of the blue card to them rendering them inept to avail of the benefits of the atta-dal scheme.

The villagers, mostly from the Ghanour segment, came with steel plates and spoons, and started beating the utensils to register their protest. Many alleged that even as several people, who were not even entitled to get the blue card, got it made, the deserving candidates were denied the card.

The villagers staged a dharna and raised slogans, voicing their concerns. They said although they had approached the officials concerned to get the blue card issued, nothing had come out of it.

However, SDM Gurtej Singh said special care had been taken while issuing the blue card and the administration was still vigilant.

He assured the protesters that in case they had not been able to get the card issued, they could apply afresh.


Project to provide water to 3,000 villages
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
In order to provide safe drinking water to about 3,000 villages in the state, the Punjab Government is implementing the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,280 crore over a period of five years.

Sources said the project was being implemented with the help of World Bank.

The sources said works to improve sanitation through rejuvenation of village ponds and small-bore sewerage system would also be carried out.

A special workshop to educate officers and villagers in procurement and financial management methods was held at the Maharani Club here today, which was chaired by Raj Kanal, programme director, State Programme Management Cell.

Kiran Ranjan Pal, senior procurement specialist, and Tanuj Mathur, senior financial specialist, from World Bank were among those present on the occasion.


Teej brings Aam Khas Bagh to life
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 22
The traditional festival of Teej has brought to life the otherwise abandoned historical building of Aam Khas Bagh, which is now being spruced up to host the festival being organised by the District Red Cross Society on August 24.

A rich feast of cultural events awaits the localites and visitors to the town during the festival, which will feature several competitions like mehndi, rangoli, painting along with traditional folk dances.

The historical building, which has been in a state of neglect, is being decked up with colourful lights and the sprawling gardens are being redone and trees and plants being trimmed. Several places are also being given a fresh coat of paint.

The building, which earlier housed a Punjab Tourism Resort, had been left to its fate, after the tourism department closed down its operations here. At one point of time the government had even decided to sell the new building complex at Aam Khas Bagh, but following concerns raised by many, the move was thwarted and the complex was handed over to the district administration.

Aam Khas Bagh, which now encompasses the new and old building complexes, was got built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for himself and also for the public. The Royal couple used to stay here in the old building complex, while going to and coming back from Lahore. There were adequate number of palaces for the comfortable stay of the Mughal emperors.

The complex was famous for a perfect air-conditioning system called 'Sarad Khana'. The Sheesh Mahal of the Daulat-Khana-e-Khas, the hamam and the tank had unique methods of heating water. The old complex, which has archaeological value, is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. 


308 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
As many as 308 persons donated blood at a camp organised at Thapar University under the leadership of varsity director Dr Abhijit Mukharjee, here today.

Income Tax commissioner G.C. Negi inaugurated the camp in the university auditorium. National Service Scheme, Thapar University had organised the camp, which was sponsored by Lions Club Premier and State Bank of Patiala.

Dean Student Affairs Dr N.K. Verma and NSS coordinator Dr Ravinder Agarwal motivated the students and staff to donate blood. The camp’s NSS programme officers Dr Kulvir Singh and Neelam Gulati encouraged the volunteers for this noble cause.


Amenities at Kabari Market are rubbish too
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The junk dealers, who were made to shift from Bahera Road in the walled city area to Transport Nagar on the outskirts, continue to be a harried lot with the place lacking basic amenities.

Working under extremely difficult conditions for the past two years, the junk dealers had hoped that the installation of Akali Dal government in the state would bring relief.

However, the situation has become grim with rains playing havoc in the area, leading to a lot of inconvenience to traders and customers.

Senior Akali Dal leader Sarup Singh Sehgal, who is president of the Kabari Market Association, had unsuccessfully contested the 2002 Assembly elections as the SAD nominee against former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh from the Patiala town Assembly segment.

Sehgal had taken up cudgels for the provision of basic amenities in the market, which has over 300 scrap dealers’ establishments. He said there were no public toilets, bus stops on the Patiala-Rajpura road and eateries at the market, leaving those visiting the place at the mercy of the tea vendors, who operate under unhygienic conditions. He added that nobody ever bothered to check the non-functional streetlights at the market, making it difficult for traders to work after sunset.

Recalling the origin of the market, Sehgal said the market was set up in 1965 on the Bahera Road and second hand tractors were sold and developed here. He added that most of the shopkeepers were Sikhs who had migrated from North West Frontier Province in Pakistan.

After 1976, applications were invited from time to time for provision of alternative sites to the shopkeepers on the outskirts of the town, Sehgal said, adding that it was only in 2005 that they were allotted sites for shops.

However, the Improvement Trust, which had developed the market, sadly forgot to maintain the market after the allotment of shops.


Relief for flood-hit after girdawari: DC
Tribune News Service

Rupnagar, August 22
The district administration will prepare a master plan to ensure sustained and planned development of all towns and villages of Rupnagar district.

Deputy commissioner Ajoy Kumar Sinha said this while addressing mediapersons at the Rupnagar Press Club here yesterday.

He said the flood-affected people of 29 villages of the district would be given adequate compensation after the completion of special girdawari of the flood-hit areas. 


Theft at Harike’s house: 8 acquitted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The eight accused of stealing five pots of gold from the ancestral house of Gurdial Singh Harike, former Prime Minister of Patiala state, have been acquitted by a court here.

Manjit Kaur, daughter-in-law of Gurdial Singh, in a complaint to the police in 2001 had accused two of her cousins Joginder Pal Harike and Surinder Pal Singh Harike and six others of stealing 1.5 quintal of gold filled in five pots from her ancestral house at Bakshiwal village near Patiala.

She had alleged the Muslims, who had migrated after the partition of the country, had left five pots full of gold with her father-in-law Gurdial Singh.

He dug pits and buried the gold in the house in 2001.

However, taking advantage of their absence, the accused dug the entire ancestral house and stole the gold.

In the court also, Manjit Kaur and her servant appeared as witnesses and stated that the five pots filled with gold were buried in their ancestral house in Bakshiwal.

The defence, however, said the allegations levelled against the accused were motivated. They alleged there was property dispute between the complainant and the accused. Moreover, the ancestral house in which the treasure was said to be buried was sold off by the complainants. It is highly unlikely the complainants while having the knowledge that a treasure is buried in the house sold it to someone else.

The court acquitted all accused in the case.


High Court
Process to appoint consumer forum chief under way
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Punjab advocate-general H.S. Mattewal today informed a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover that the Punjab government has initiated the process for the appointment of the chairman of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

He also averred that the process of sending a communication requesting the Chief Justice for recommending the name of a serving or retired judge was under way.

Mattewal’s submissions came in the wake of the resumed hearing on a PIL by advocate H.C. Arora which has sought directions for authorities concerned to fill the vacancy of the chairman of the commission which has been vacant for two months since the completion of tenure by Justice R.S. Mongia.

Importantly, Mattewal sought a week's time for seeking instructions from the state government about making appointments for the vacant posts of presidents and women members of various district consumer forums.

According to the Supreme Court directions, the state government has to send a request to the CJ of the high court concerned for recommending the name of a judge for appointment to this post. The bench had yesterday asked the AG to appear to apprise it with the action being taken in this regard.

3 dera followers file bail plea

Three Dera Sacha Sauda followers, all confined in Sangrur jail, today moved the High Court seeking regular bail under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) saying they had been falsely implicated by the Punjab Police.

Jagsir Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Megh Singh had been booked in a case bearing FIR No. 52, dated May 17, 2007, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Section 307, registered at the Sunam police station.

They have averred that they were victims of atrocities at the hands of the police, which was acting at the behest of the state government which is allegedly inimical towards the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda.

Mandi board chief gets notice

Justice Hemant Gupta today issued contempt notice to Punjab Mandi Board chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal for November 6. The judge asked him to show cause as to why proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act should not be initiated against him for wilful defiance of the court orders of September 12, 2001.

The order entailed directions not to change the wing of Jaswinder Kaur (petitioner) who was senior assistant (accounts) with the Engineering Wing of the board and working in the field.

The Board had ordered on May 30, 2007, that she be posted to the General Wing at the headquarters which was against the rules, her counsel averred.

Notice to Vigilance director-general

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notice to the Punjab government and its director-general, Vigilance, for November 28.

The notice came on a PIL seeking directions to respondents to ensure that the competent authorities immediately pass necessary orders for withholding or granting sanction for prosecution of 87 public servants who were all allegedly caught accepting the bribe.

Of this, 25 cases were sent by the police authorities for seeking sanction in 2006, three in the year 2005 and one in 2002. Petitioner H.C. Arora pointed out that as per directions of the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain versus Union of India case 1997 such sanctions should be granted or withheld within a period of two months but additional one month may be allowed where consultations were required with the attorney general or other officer in the AG's office.

The PIL also sought directions that orders for withholding or granting of such sanction in future should invariably be passed within two months.


Jawans held for ‘helping’ smugglers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Two Punjab Home Guard jawans were arrested for demanding bribe for not arresting those involved in smuggling. A police head constable has been evading arrest in the same case.

Police sources said head constable Iqbal Singh, along with Shinder Ram and Iqbal Singh, had set up a ‘naka’ in the Raman police station area on August 17 night without approval of higher police functionaries.

These policemen stopped two motorcycle-borne persons. On search they were found carrying 50 kg of poppy husk. However, both identified as Nachhattar Singh and Piara Singh, escaped from the spot throwing the poppy husk into nearby fields.

All three policemen started bargaining with the accused through their contact men for bribe from them for hushing up the matter. The accused also kept the poppy husk, thrown by them into fields with them as they did not deposit it with the Raman police station. The accused demanded Rs 20,000 bribe from the smugglers to hush up the matter .

Gurmail Singh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo said a tip-off was received in connection with the illegal act of the three policemen. He added two of three policemen were arrested while head constable Iqbal Singh was yet to be arrested.


6 held for stealing pumps

Batala, August 22
The district police claims to have arrested six members of a gang involved in the theft of submersible pumps. They have been identified as George Masih, Billa Masih, Sabi Masih, Pargat Masih, Hansa, George Masih, all residents of Gilawali near Batala. Those absconding are Geja and Roman Masiha of Murgi mohalla. — TNS


Conditions relaxed for pvt B.Ed colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The state government has decided to relax conditions for private B.Ed colleges in connection with the second phase of counselling for admissions beginning September 10. Thirtyeight colleges were not allowed to take part in the counselling for these did not fulfil the laid down conditions and some of these were defaulters on various other counts.

Education minister Upinderjit Kaur said today that the conditions had been relaxed only for the current academic session.

For recruitment of principals in these colleges, earlier, essential qualification was Ph.D in education with 10 years of teaching experience at the college level. Now, the condition has been relaxed to Ph.D degree in any subject with minimum seven years of teaching experience at the college level.

Earlier, recruitment of at least seven lecturers was a must in each of these colleges. Essential qualification for them was that they should have cleared NET. However, the government has allowed that at least four teachers should be recruited on a regular basis and they should be either M.Phil, or Ph.D or should have passed NET. The remaining three should be M.Ed. A representative of the DPI (Colleges) can be invited as a member of the selection committee in case there was no representative of the university concerned.

As these colleges were finding difficulty in recruiting principals, the government has allowed the recruitment of retired principals as heads of these institutions. For them, the recruitment age has been enhanced to 65 from 60 years.


PCCTU holds protest rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) today held a rally in protest against government failure to fulfill the promises made to them in their election manifestos. General secretary of the teachers’ union Kuldeep Singh alleged that the present government had gone a step forward than the previous government in imposing the cuts on grants to aided colleges. In the previous regime the grants-in-aid to colleges were reduced from Rs 111-crore to Rs 80-crore. However, the present government has further reduced it to Rs 60-crore, he added.

Posts lying vacant in aided colleges are being abolished and grant to institutions of higher learning is being reduced. Union president S.S.Hundal said the government was dilly-dallying on teachers’ demands. The union submitted a memorandum of their demands to the education minister, secretary and the DPI (Colleges) on June 6. However, the government has not even initiated a dialogue with them.

Under such circumstances they are left with no alternative other than launching an agitation. They would first organise dharnas across the state and adhere to symbolic boycott of work. In the second phase, the teacher’s day would be observed a protest days besides courting arrests. Their agitation would culminate on October 5.


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