P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dullo, Bhattal skip major party rally
Cong mobilises workers in Malwa
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Nathana (Bathinda), September 9
Congress leaders, including MLAs, today held a rally here against the alleged atrocities being committed on party workers and public by the SAD-BJP regime.

The first major rally of the Congress in the Malwa region after the Assembly elections, it was aimed at mobilising party rank and file to oppose the “misrule of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal”.

President of the PPCC Shamsher Singh Dullo and leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were conspicuous by their absence at the rally. Most of the leaders, who attended the rally, were those who are loyal to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Apart from MLA, Nathana, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, who organised the rally, MLAs Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Makhan Singh, Mangat Rai and Ajit Singh Shant addressed the rally.

The MLAs gave a call to all Congress men to launch an agitation immediately against any incident of harassment of Congress men and public by the SAD-BJP regime. They said the party leadership would take such agitations to their logical end.

They alleged that Congress workers, including sarpanches and panchayat members, were being implicated in false criminal cases and insulted at police stations at the behest of the SAD-BJP leaders. The crime graph had been witnessing an upward trend ever since the alliance came to power.

Kangar alleged that in the Rampura Phul Assembly segment, no rule of law prevailed. What the members of the Akali Dal had been doing was law for the authorities concerned.

Makhan Singh said the financial health of Punjab had deteriorated to the extent that employees were not getting their salaries in time. The government was shattering the economy due to vested interests of certain ruling politicians.

The leaders announced that such rallies would be organised in other Assembly segments.


Widow stripped naked, tied to tree
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
A 60-year-old widow was stripped naked, tied to a peepal tree and beaten up mercilessly by residents of Ramdiwali Hinduan village, under the Chawinda Devi police station, about 35 km from here, last evening. The suspects, who belong to the same village, also smeared her face black.

The police arrested Shingara Singh, his son Gurmit Singh, Amarjit Kaur and Rattan Singh Rattu while Sheelo absconded.

District police (Amritsar rural) chief Iqbal Singh said the victim was kept tied to the tree at the village dharamshala till she was rescued by a police party. The suspects, who were allegedly wielding swords and sticks, warned the villagers against covering the woman with clothes.

She was “punished” allegedly for the kidnapping of the daughter of Shingara Singh by her nephew. The names of her son and daughter-in-law also figured in the FIR lodged in connection with the kidnapping.

The victim Sawinder Kaur said she, along with members of her family, had fled the village following threats to their lives by the suspects. They had been living in Gwal Mandi, Amritsar City, since then. However, on learning that the old-age pension was being distributed, she returned to the village yesterday. Shingara Singh, along with his wife, son and other two accomplices, barged into her house and started beating her up. They tore her clothes and dragged her to the dharamshala.

The suspects confessed that they had taken revenge on her by parading her naked for members of her family members were involved in the elopement of their daughter.

The police has registered a case under Sections 452, 354, 342, 509, 323, 120- B, 148 and 149 of the IPC. Senior superintendent of police (rural) Iqbal Singh said the police was conducting raids to nab Sheelo.


Amarinder backs Virk
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
Former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has come out in support of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk, who was arrested today by the Punjab police.

While talking to The Tribune, Amarinder said the arrest was a result of political vendetta and the Punjab government was out at victimising Virk, a Maharashtra cadre IPS officer, since the change of government.

“The Punjab government should have taken permission of the Maharashtra government before arresting him. Moreover, Virk being an IPS officer, permission from the union home ministry was also mandatory before arresting him. But the state government has bypassed all laws. I will meet the Prime Minister and ask for his intervention in the matter,” said Amarinder.

Amarinder described Virk, who was handpicked by him to be the DGP during his stint as the Chief Minister, as an upright and honest officer. He said Virk had been awarded for his gallantry and was a competent officer.

Virk was appointed for the top police post in the state after ignoring many senior IPS officers of the Punjab cadre. Some of them moved CAT against the appointment of Virk, but Amarinder personally took up the matter with the union home minister and got his appointment as Punjab DGP through.

His appointment also raised political unrest during the Assembly elections. The SAD and BJP demanded his removal, which was upheld by the Election Commission.

Routine case, says Badal

Harcharan Bains, media adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while speaking on behalf of the CM, said, “Unlike the previous government, Badal has no role in such cases. This is a routine case registered by the Vigilance Bureau. Let the courts decide what is wrong and what is right.” 


VB raids ex-terrorist Sukhi’s house
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 9
A team of Vigilance Bureau (VB) raided at Mota Singh Nagar house of former militant-turned-police cat Sukhjinder Singh Sukhi, alias Harjit Singh Kahlon, today. The raid was conducted in connection with a case against former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk of amassing property disproportionate to his known sources of income after his arrest today.

While Sukhi was not found at his residence, the VB sleuths seized several documents during the search of his house in the presence of his parents and his wife Pawandeep Kaur, who refused to speak anything to the media regarding the raid.

According to VB sources, several property documents, four passports, 24 credit cards, over 20 cheque and pass books of different banks, including HDFC, ICICI, UTI, PNB and Centurion Bank of Punjab, Rs 16,500 cash, a computer set including printer and scanner were seized from his house during the raid.

When the VB team did not find Sukhi at his house, some of its sleuths also raided a Punjab police constable Talwinder Singh’s house as it thought he might have been hiding there but Sukhi was not found there too.

Sukhi is already facing a case of cheating for making attempts to get a fake passport. The case was registered under Section 420 of IPC on the complaint of regional passport officer Amarjit Singh a few months ago.

A permanent resident of Hoshiarpur district, former militant Sukhi was reportedly rehabilitated in the name of Harjit Singh Kahlon after showing him dead in the police records. The Punjab police reportedly rehabilitated him to save him from any possible attack by the militants as he had helped the police after turning a cat in getting killed several active militants.

Meanwhile, there were also unconfirmed reports that a VB team had also searched Virk’s ancestral palatial house at Wadala village on the Nakodar road. Former Punjab DGP’s father Kuldeep Singh Virk, a retired IAS officer, is living there presently.

Terming the case against his son as politically motivated, Kuldeep Virk demanded a CBI probe into the case for bringing the truth to the fore.


Image-building spree by VB?
Prabhjot Singh/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is in the news again. The case it has registered against former Punjab DGP Sarabdeep Singh Virk, and three others, has once brought this “watchdog on corrupt Punjab officials” in the limelight again.

Interestingly, though the bureau has not registered many cases during the past six months, it has always remained in the headlines. Headed by Sumedh Singh Saini, an inspector-general, it registered a case against the former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on the basis of an inquiry conducted by one of former directors of the bureau CSR Reddy in the infamous Ludhiana City Centre scam.

Subsequently, it also registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, media adviser to Amarinder Singh.

The image of the bureau has got a considerable boost during the past few months. For example, deterrent action by the bureau in the case of the storage of foodgrains under the much-publicised atta-dal scheme and the evasion of tax in the Excise and Taxation Department has had the desired impact. And interestingly, there have been no accusations of “influenced or doctored investigations so far”.

While the SAD-BJP government maintains that the Vigilance Bureau was no more working as the “persecution agency of the state” and all complaints received by it were being investigated in a professional manner, the Congress continues to play the “political vendetta card” maintaining that only those closely associated with the previous regime were being targeted.

The ruling SAD-BJP regime, however, claims it had a different experience of the bureau. During the previous Congress regime, cases were registered on the basis of information conveyed through “rukas” - pieces of paper - without holding any preliminary inquiry. Arrested Akali leaders and workers were subjected to third-degree torture in custody. Cases were registered in a tearing hurry.


Police, media on tenterhooks

Kharar, September 9
The arrest of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk form Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi sent the police and media in a tizzy. Rumours of Virk to be produced before the magistrate in Kharar courts, kept the police and media on tenterhooks. Police sources said the Kharar police had been asked to keep its force ready in case Virk was to be produced in Kharar.

DC, Mohali, police officials from Majat police post and advocates were visiting the Kharar judicial complex to check the security arrangements. VIP and police vehicles in the complex attracted the attention of passersby. — TNS


Virk deserved his fate, says Dal Khalsa
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
With the arrest of former DGP S.S. Virk, the Dal Khalsa has sought a comprehensive inquiry into the reasons for allowing an officer on deputation to continue for such a long time and his unchecked and unlawful policing methods.

In a press statement, Kanwar Pal Singh, a spokesperson of the party, said the former DGP got a taste of his own medicine. Notoriety of the police had come full circle and Virk would now have to explain his illegal and unlawful deeds, he said.

“Though belated, a long arm of law has caught hold of a person who considered himself above the law. Virk has violated rule of law under the garb of fighting Punjab militancy”, said Kanwarpal Singh.


Punjab to build homes for poor, lower-rung staff
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
The dream of the homeless and Class III and IV employees of Punjab to own a house is finally coming true with Punjab Housefed all set to float residential complexes for the homeless and Class III and IV employees in different towns of Punjab.

A pilot project is set to kick off at Banur in Chandigarh's periphery, the area represented in the Punjab assembly by the cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Since good quality accommodation was scarce in the periphery, the project at Banur will cater to the lower strata of society and lower- rung employees of the government working in Chandigarh and the surrounding areas, according to official sources.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh had emphasised the need for providing homes to shelterless and Class III and IV employees keeping in view the SAD-BJP government's social objectives and pro-people initiatives at a recent meeting. The minister had desired that Housefed should undertake such projects in every district of the state so that the problem of housing shortage could be tackled.

"The housing complexes would go a long way in providing a roof over the heads of underprivileged sections of society, which had been at the receiving end of Congress regime during the past five years," Capt Kanwaljit Singh said.

Acting on the minister's directive, Housefed superintending engineer Amarjit Gupta prepared a detailed policy for the construction of cooperative housing complexes in the state.The policy stresses that before taking up the construction of these projects, Housefed would conduct a demand survey of the economically weaker sections and Class III and IV employees of the state.

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

"Reasonable prices and quality construction would be the hallmarks of the housing projects. Since the project is being undertaken by a government agency, profit is not the sole motive and savings in the project cost would be passed on to the allottees, the sources added.


Bid to smuggle arms from Pak
Anirudh Gupta
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur (Along the zero line), September 9
The BSF today foiled a major attempt by Pakistani agencies to smuggle a big consignment of sophisticated arms, including two AK-56 automatic rifles, one Mouser, four Pakistani-made 7.63 mm star pistols and a large quantity of ammunition, into Indian territory. Troops nabbed a smuggler from India who had come to receive the consignment. However, the three Pakistani smugglers, who came to deliver the consignment, crawled back into their territory under cover of darkness and thick ‘sarkanda’ growth. Intelligence agencies have already cautioned the security forces about evil designs of the anti-national agencies, which are reportedly trying to revive insurgency in this state.

Briefing mediapersons at the sector headquarters here today, DIG BSF Mohammed Akil said troops belonging to 130 Battalion noticed unusual movement on the Pakistani side of the border near Rattoke outpost three days ago. Apprehending an infiltration bid, the BSF deployed additional force in the area along the Cobra fencing. The Intelligence wing had also been alerted, he said.

The smugglers moved a PVC plastic pipe through the fencing, which, and started pushing the arms through it. They threw three bigger weapons over the fencing. At this movement, the BSF troops opened fire. The smugglers retaliated. After a brief shootout, the troops nabbed Balkar Singh of Beguwala village, under the Mallanwala police station. One double-barreled gun used by him, along with a mobile phone with Pakistani SIM and Rs 4,570 Indian currency, was seized.

Balkar had earlier been arrested in 1972-73 on the charges of spying for Pakistan and in 1994 along with 33 kg gold, arms, ammunition and narcotics.


Chemists cry foul over directives
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 9
Chemists of the city have been crying foul over the directives of the Punjab health department for making air conditioners mandatory in their establishments.

President of the Pathankot Wholesale Chemists Association Rakesh Mahajan said the orders had shattered small chemists who were hardly doing a business of Rs 1000 or less per day. Since the electricity consumption would be more than their daily sale, so following the orders would put the chemists in quandary.


‘Deteriorating education system behind society ills’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Eminent educationists, thinkers and writers, who attended the “Save Education-Save Punjab” conference held at the Teachers Home here today, said social awakening was a must to change the existing system, which had given birth to various evils in society.

The speakers, who came from various parts of the country, cautioned the intellectual section of society that time had come when they would have to come forward to save education so that Punjab could be saved.

Those who attended the conference included writer and Janpeeth award recipient Gurdial Singh, Sucha Singh Gill, eminent economist, S. S. Hundal, Tarsem Bahia, Harbhajan Singh Deol, Chaman Lal, Gurmeet Kaur, Kuldeep Puri, Rabinder Nath Sharma, Jagmohan Kaushal, educationists, Kulbir Singh Sidhu, former bureaucrat, Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI, Secondary Schools, Punjab, and Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, MP, Bathinda.

The speakers, while urging people to get themselves educated and awakened to face the problems in society, said they should fight against the commercialisation of education and reduction of allocation in budget for it by the successive governments.

Gurdial Singh said deterioration in the education and educational system was responsible for all ills of society. Sucha Singh Gill said successive governments had been spending crores of rupees for the protection and security of few individuals, but they had been showing empty coffers whenever the money to be spent on the spread of education was demanded.


Trident: Farmers to file references

Barnala, September 9
Senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra came to Barnala yesterday to conduct meetings with leaders of the BKU Ekta (Ugrahan) and Trident management group MD Rajinder Gupta.

Chandumajra said the BKU (U) had given its consent to give one more chance to the Trident management for settlement of the issue. Left out farmers would file their references for the payment of enhanced compensation in the local court by September 17. — OC


Petrol theft scandal unearthed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
A scandal pertaining to the theft of petrol and diesel from railway tankers has come to light today. It is believed that the stolen fuel was being sold at a cheaper rate.

Sources said after this scandal was made public by an electronic channel today, senior officials of Railway and IOC from Delhi rushed to Bathinda to make inquiries.

Interestingly, the General Railway Police, Railway Protection Force and Punjab police officials had started shifting responsibility to detect the scandal on one an other.

The accused had been stealing petrol and diesel from oil tankers and storing the same in different containers. Later, the accused would sell it off at a cheaper rate. A section of truck operators also used to buy fuel from such sellers.

The sources said this practice was causing losses worth lakhs to the oil company every month. In the past few years, the district police authorities had managed to nab some people, who had been supplying petrol and diesel at cheaper rates.


Govt failed to utilise funds: Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
Punjab has failed to avail funds granted by the Centre under the Rural Development Programme, while other states have utilised the funds to generate employment for rural youth during 2006-07.

This was stated here today by BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who convened a meeting of the Vigilance and Monitoring Committee in Amritsar on September 14 to review the implementation of the programme in this border district as the ministry has urged the MP to enquire whether any such meeting has been held during 2006-07 so that it could update the records.

According to the information provided to the BJP MP by the Ministry of Rural Development, five districts of Punjab, Amritsar, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Muktsar and Bathinda have failed to even organise meetings of the district-level vigilance and monitoring committees during the past couple of years.aAccording to sources, the Punjab government had utilised only 0.1 per cent funds provided by the centre.


Residents worried over dirty water
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 9
Taking note of contaminated potable water supply to the Sunder Nagar locality for over a fortnight, the Dhar SDM, who is also holding additional charge of Pathankot, has issued a show-cause notice to the Municipal Council.

After suspected cases of jaundice and much hue and cry over contaminated potable water by residents of Sunder Nagar and certain other parts,SDM Manshvi Kumar has asked the executive officer of the civil body, sub-divisional engineer of the Water Supply and Sewerage Board to solve the public problem on priority basis.

President of the civic body Shrawan Kumar said choked and old sewerage pipes that created the problem would be replaced soon. A sum of Rs 10 lakh would be issued to the Board authorities to replace them. Alternative arrangements had been made to provide clean potable water to the affected families, he added.


Dalit marchers held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 9
Around 75 Dalits, including women, who were taking out a march under the banner of the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan, were today arrested at Ghorrenav village, 8 km from Lehragagga. The arrested persons included national president of the association Jai Singh, who was leading the march.

They have been arrested under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC. The Moonak DSP said the arrests had been made as a preventive measure as there was an apprehension of a clash among the marchers and the landlords of the village. He said the landlords and some “siris” (agriculture workers) of the village were opposed to the march passing through the village.

The Lehragagga police said the arrested persons were provoking the marchers against the landlords.

Legal consultant of the association Gagandeep Kaur told this reporter over the phone that the activists of the body were on a peaceful “padyatra”, which had started from Fatehgarh Sahib on August 14 and was to culminate on December 6 at Ludhiana. 


Rajindra Hospital chronically ill
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Picture of neglect: The incinerator at the Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, has been out of order for the past 10 years.
Picture of neglect: The incinerator at the Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, has been out of order for the past 10 years. —Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, September 9
The Government Rajindra Hospital, once a premier healthcare institution of Punjab that attracted patients from all over the region, is now in a state of neglect.

Lack of funds, government apathy and shortage of specialists are some of the factors that have 
contributed to the slump in its reputation.

Several speciality departments, including cardiology, urology, and nephrology, are running only for academic purposes. These departments are woefully short of staff, particularly senior faculty, which has resulted in a sharp fall in the number of patients visiting the hospital.

Masters courses in paediatrics surgery and plastic surgery have been dropped for the want of senior faculty to teach students.

The fate of another course in the department of urology, which had been planned to be introduced, hangs in the balance.

Several senior faculty members of the hospital have left the hospital in the past one decade and started their own practice. The patients that were once treated at the hospital by the doctors are now spotted at the latter’s private nursing homes.

The government has done precious little to stem this and there has been no concerted effort to check the exodus of doctors from the hospital.

The facilities at the hospital have also been at the receiving end of the government apathy.

This 1,000-bed hospital is faced with a fiscal crisis due to lack of funds. The emergency wing has virtually no medicines at its disposal.

The hospital, which is attached to the Government Medical College, is the oldest referral hospital in the state.

However, the situation has come to such a pass that doctors struggle to run even emergency procedures without outside support.

The emergency department does not get any funds separately and has limited medicines at its disposal. These medicines, too, are used in extreme emergency situations.

The incinerator at the hospital has been out of order ever since its installation over 10 years ago.

Hazardous biomedical waste is dumped outside in a corner near the main building of the hospital.

The waste, which is carted off by the municipal corporation, has been a constant source of infection at the hospital.

Also, the incinerator, which was purchased in 1991, has never been in operation. Initially, the incinerator could not be used due to a dispute between the private firm that supplied it and the public works department.

Later, the high cost of operation went against it’s use.

The incinerator room, which is situated near the doctors’ hostel, is a picture of neglect with wild overgrowth all around it.


Rebuild toilets, panchayat told
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, September 9
The local administration has issued directives to the panchayat of Uksi Jattan village to reconstruct Dalit toilets that had been demolished a few days back that provoked unrest among the Dalit community of the village.

After the matter was reported in The Chandigarh Tribune, the local administration swung into action and asked the sarpanch to explain as to why the toilets had been pulled down.

The panchayat had reportedly razed the structures claiming that the land, on which the toilets had been brought-up, was used as a common passage by villagers. However, when The Tribune team visited the site, it was found that toilets were located at least 50 yards from the common passage.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |