P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal Case
Khaira, other Cong MLAs to approach SC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
As Punjab Government's home and legal departments are working with great speed to protect Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his other family members in the case they are facing in a Ropar court, a group of Congress MLAs has decided to move the Supreme Court to seek retrial of the case outside the state, said Sukhpal Singh Khaira, a Congress MLA from Kapurthala district.

Speaking to a group of media persons here today, Khaira said the petition in this regard was being prepared and the evidence was being collected to prove the point that the state machinery was being used to save the Badals in a case of disproportionate assets.

He said while on the one hand opposition politicians and various officers like former DGP SS Virk were being victimised and prosecuted by the Badal government, on the other the Badals were in a tearing hurry to see the end of cases against them.

Khaira said the main purpose behind the winding up of the Vigilance Commission was to protect Badals in the cases they were facing.

Changing of the prosecution team was another step. And then most of the witnesses were made to turn hostile by the prosecution, he said.

Instead of defending the state which had filed a case against the Badals, the prosecution and home department were engaged in defending the Badals who were actually the accused, alleged Khaira.

He said along with five to 10 other Congress MLAs, he would file a petition in the Supreme Court.

"We would pray to the Supreme Court to immediately shift the Badals' case to some other state and order its retrial."

He said as only half the investigation was completed in a disproportionate case against Badals, the Supreme Court would be requested to ask the CBI to probe the allegations of properties held by them abroad.

He said the Badals were making all efforts to create their own monopoly on private-public transport system in the state.

They were buying permits of private bus operators by using all kinds of tactics, said Khaira.

"We would meet the Punjab Governor soon to bring this matter to his notice," he added.


4 witnesses depose before court
Tribune News service

Rupnagar, September 13
Four more witnesses deposed before the court of special judge G.S. Saran today in the case against Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal for having assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

Ravinder Mohan, an employee with Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), phase III B 2, Mohali, said in 2003 he was posted in the sector 17-B branch of OBC in Chandigarh and was working in the loan section.

He said Orbit Resorts Private Limited (Badal’s one of the properties), Gurgaon, had taken a loan of Rs 50 to Rs 55 crore from OBC. He added that cost of project was shown to be Rs 90 to Rs 95 crore and OBC had accorded a loan of Rs 12 crore. He also presented documents before the court.

Similarly, Mandeep Singh, posted in Centurion bank of Punjab, sector 9, Chandigarh, said an account was opened in his bank in 1996 to submit rent of Metro Plaza (Badal’s another property) and a partnership deed had been submitted in bank for the same.

Kirpal Singh, retired divisional soil conservation officer, said in 2003 he was posted as divisional forest conservation officer in Mohali.

On the instructions of Vigilance Bureau, he visited Pallanpur Farm House of Badal’s in Kharar and assessed the underground laid pipes.

He added that poultry farm was constructed in 1985 -86 and the pipes too seemed to have been laid in that time period.

However, assessments were made as per 2003 rates, which amounted to Rs 23, 200. He admitted before court that he had mentioned this thing in his report.

Baldev Singh, a retired deputy director, horticulture department, Punjab, said in July 2003 he was posted as assistant horticulture officer at Rupnagar.

He told court that he asked the then SDO Jagdeep Singh to make an assessment of trees planted in Pallanpur farm house. He said that he countersigned the report made by SDO.


Amarinder seeks blanket bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Former chief minister Amarinder Singh moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court today seeking directions for grant of a blanket bail to him in view of what he termed as politics of vendetta unleashed against him by the Akali-BJP government since it came to power in March this year.

“The SAD-BJP alliance led by Parkash Singh Badal does not seem to have any agenda except to unleash revenge against its political opponents,” the former chief minister has asserted while referring to various cases in which political rivals of the present regime have been implicated.

To buttress his assertion, he has referred to the case registered against him, his family members and associates by the state vigilance bureau in Ludhiana on March 23,2007, in connection with the alleged scam in the City Centre project.

Amarinder has prayed for the blanket bail against possible registration of cases in future to protect his liberty, dignity, reputation and image in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Punjab government was hounding and hunting almost all those who were associated with him during the five years of Congress rule, the former Chief Minister has averred.

“The manner and method adopted by the Punjab police in arresting its former chief S.S.Virk ignoring all norms and rules of law, shows the working of a vindictive mind which could go to any extent to take revenge,” Amarinder further avers while asserting it was shameless abuse of power and mockery of provisions of law, misuse of state machinery like the police and the vigilance bureau for involving opponents in false cases.

The former chief minister has also referred to recent governmental action against former DGP Virk, his former media adviser Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, former state vigilance bureau chief A.P. Pandey, among others.

The petition was likely to be taken up tomorrow or on Monday.


Skewed Sex Ratio
Now, female infanticide replaces foeticide: study
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
Has female infanticide taken the place of female foeticide in Punjab? The data collected by a Rajindra Hospital doctor Harshinder Kaur indicates towards this dangerous trend.

She has predicted that if this trend continued, the number females in Punjab after 20 years would be just one-third of the number of males. The study, that was presented by Dr Harshinder Kaur in the recently concluded national seminar at Rajiv Gandhi Law University here, has also been summoned by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Dr Harshinder Kaur has stated that five years ago the average sex ratio in Punjab was 970 females to 1,000 males. However, from the data collected from the vaccination campaigns of the state for children upto five years of age has revealed that there are just 700 girls per 1,000 male children.

This data is also corroborated by the number of patients registering at the paediatric ward of the government hospitals here. In paediatric wards of government hospitals also just on an average 700 girls are registering against per 1,000 male children.

In government schools too the ratio of female children taking admission against the male children is almost the same.

The trend has worsened if the recent data of vaccination is analysed. As per the recent census in Patiala district there are 754 females for 1,000 males.

During the first vaccination of children that is carried out at birth the above said ratio has sustained. However, in the second vaccination, that is carried out after two months the ratio of female child has dropped to an average of just 400 to 1,000 males. In the third vaccination that is carried out for measles after nine months, the ratio had reportedly gone down further.

The data clearly indicates that with the government now taking steps to check foeticide, the trend of female infanticide seemed to have increased.

A study conducted in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Ferozepur and Patiala districts in 1997 and 2005 has indicated that about 60 per cent parents don’t want a female child. The trend is corroborated through the recent incidents. In the year 2006-07 eight cases of abandoned newborn girl children had been brought to the Government Rajindra Hospital.

Dr Harshinder Kaur has suggested that law needs to be changed for protecting the girl child. Every death of a female child of less than six years of age should be reported to the appropriate authority and inquest proceedings need to initiated in every case to find the cause of death.

She has also conducted another study, in which it was illustrated that many females in rural areas were taking testosterone (male sex hormone) prescribed by RMP’s or quacks and this had led to increase in cases of cancer among women and the birth of eunuchs.

She has been given state award for the study.


CM for linking MSP with price index
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal blamed the Centre for anti- farmer policies and demanded linking of minimum support price (MSP) with the whole sale consumer price index for fair return to farmers.

Addressing the farmers after inaugurating two- day kisan mela at Punjab Agricultural University here today , Badal wanted the Centre to give relief to farmers in distress due to wrong policies of the Centre.

The Chief Minister said there was Rs 25,000 crore debt on the Punjabi farmers and 10,000 families had debt of more than Rs 2.50 lakh each. He also demanded a package from the Centre to bail out the beleaguered farmers.

Badal said the World Bank had approved marketing facilitation to assist the farmers in the marketing of produce, as farmers did not get fair price due to lack of knowledge of marketing. He added the PAU in collaboration with the state.

Concerned at the depletion of ground water due to paddy sowing and other water intensive crops, Badal wanted royalty for Punjab for this, as water was a natural resource on the pattern of royalty given to Madhya Pardesh, Bihar, Bengal and Jharkhand for the exploitation of coal and other minerals from the mines.



SAD to demand increase in paddy MSP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra today said his party would demand a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 900 per quintal for paddy from the Centre since the paddy production in the state was bound to be good this season. Addressing mediapersons at the PWD guesthouse here, Chandumajra said this demand of the SAD was justified and as the paddy production this year was bound to set a new record, the government would not have to import the same from other states. He added that if the Centre increased the MSP of paddy to Rs 900 per quintal, Punjab would be able to feed the entire country.

He also said the SAD was not inclined to stop free power and water to the agriculture sector as was being envisaged by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had recently criticised the state government for providing free power to the farmers. He also asked the Centre to formulate a scheme wherein rain water could be harvested in a scientific manner and used for irrigating agricultural tracts by diverting the same through two or more canals.

Stressing that the SAD was the only party, which was working for the interest of the farmers in the agrarian state.



Farmers blame govt

Ludhiana, September 13
Farmers from across the state appear to be too dissatisfied with the successive state governments, whom they blame for their sorry plight. They are of the view that whether the Congress or the Akalis were in power, the agriculture sector seemed to be their last priority.

The farmers, who had come here to attend the annual kisan mela at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), said the agricultural income continued to go down as the input costs were increasing. “They keep on telling us to diversify without giving us any alternative and viable options,” said Avtar Singh, a farmer from Barnala.

“The state governments try to pass the buck on the centre while they themselves hardly do anything. If the state governments were really interested in doing something positive, they had many ways and yet they keep on blaming the centre,” said Sarpanch Mahan Singh of Buddhathe village in Amritsar district.

Non-availability of quality seeds and manure, poor irrigation and water logging were the other problems highlighted by the farmers. “Even setting up of a tubewell is a Herculean task as the farmers are made to move from one office to another for getting a connection. For how long can we survive on submersible pumps?” asked visually disappointed Rajbir Singh of Khanna. — TNS



Border farmers stage dharna, demand relief
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 13
Farmers of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur districts staged a dharna in front of the BSF headquarters, Punjab frontier, against the alleged harassment and humiliation meted out to them by BSF personnel when they go to cultivate their fields across the fence.

The protesters demanded compensation in lieu of their land in question.

Rattan Singh Randhawa and Raghbir Singh, president and vice-president of the Border Area Sangharsh Committee, said people of that areas were facing a two pronged attack as they had to vacate their land whenever there was any border dispute or floods.

They lamented that the barbed wire erected on the border was in violation of the directions of the Kapoor Committee with the result that thousands of acres of their land had gone out of their reach. The force, for the fence and for no mans land had occupied acres of land and now more land was being demanded for raising a bundh all along the border.

The agitators also said they should be allowed to cultivate the land lying within the no man’s boundary and the fence.

If this was not possible for security reasons, we should be paid for our losses, they added. They also demanded a border area development board for the development of the affected areas.


Masih Case
Book SSP for murder: Probe
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
In yet another embarrassment for the Punjab Police, investigations by the police itself have found that an IPS officer, presently serving as SSP, a DSP and two Inspectors, were among those who were responsible for beating up a youth at Bhadaur, Barnala, in October last year. The youth, Ruben Masih, 35, had died allegedly due to injuries sustained in the police action.

This had led to widespread protests. The Shiromani Akali Dal - then in the opposition -- was among the protesters. The IPS officer in question enjoyed a “good rapport” with Capt Amarinder Singh and now is in the “good books” of the SAD.

An SP-level inquiry officer has recommended registration of a case under Sections 302, 201, 342, 323, 225 and 34 of the IPC against the four cops. The Punjab and Haryana High Court in May this year had asked the Punjab Police to conduct a probe and hand over the report within four months. A Patiala-based officer, Ranjit Singh Dhillon, was asked to inquire, well-placed sources in the police said today. The report is scheduled to be handed over to the court in 10 days.

Notably, the inquiry officer has suggested that Balbir Singh Ghunas, the Akali MLA from Bhadaur, was not found to be involved in the incident. The Amarinder Singh government had booked Ghunas under Section 302 of the IPC. The inquiry officer says in no way was Ghunas involved in inciting the mob.

The incident relates to demarcation of land between two gurdwaras last year. Shots were fired to disperse a mob at Bhadaur. The FIR had said Masih died in a stampede. The inquiry has now found out that Masih was among the 53 persons who had been rounded up by the police subsequent to the firing. These people were allegedly beaten up. Masih had sustained injuries and died a few hours later.

The FIR had named 42 persons from among members of the public and they were arrested and the trial was on in a Barnala court. The inquiry officer says even these people had been wrongly booked.


492 civilians died in Bluestar: Brig Rao
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
The former Brigadier who executed Operation Bluestar in June 1984 has come on record that some service rules were violated in the operation.

During cross examination in the court of Harjit Singh Khalsa, civil judge -cum-judicial magistrate first class, D.V. Rao (68) Brigadier, (retired) admitted heavy arms and ammunition, including hand grenades, were used in the Army operation . He also admitted he had not consulted any SGPC official or local administration while executing the operation .

The decision to flush out militants was taken by Gen K.Sundarji of Western Command , Gen K.S.Brar and Gen R.S. Dyal etc in the morning of June 5 and actual operation started at 10 pm. The timing coincided with the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev - fifth Sikh Master.

Some CBI officials accompanying Brig Rao threatened press photographers of dire consequences if they took his (Brig Rao’s) picture saying publication of his picture might pose threat to the former Brigadier.

Brigadier Rao had submitted evidence in an affidavit in the court in connection with the suit filed by some Jodhpur detainees against the Union of India and others for recovery.

Brigadier Rao, at present working in the Training Institute of Hyderabad, stated in June 1984 he was posted Commander, 350 Infantry Brigade in Jalandhar which was part of Ninth Infantry Division.

He was called by the civil administration to assist the civil authorities in clearing the Golden Temple complex of terrorists and to recover all illegal arms ammunitions, explosives etc from the complex.

He stated all major buildings in the Golden Temple were heavily fortified when he reached Amritsar on May 30, 1984. On reaching Amritsar , Brig Rao inspected the Golden Temple complex .

He, however, pleaded the Army Operation , codenamed “Bluestar” should not be considered an “attack” but it was a task , assigned to Army. Brigadier Rao, in his affidavit, has already stated special instructions were given to the troops no weapons should be fired at Sri Harmandar Sahib and heavy machine guns were not to be taken. The troops would not wear boots but caps and uniform.

The instructions were clear troops would respect Sri Harmandar Sahib with proper regards like they do in their temples. They would fire in self-defence only.

However, as the troops advanced, terrorists opened fire from all places, leading to heavy casualties of forces.

The Army suffered 83 deaths which included four officers, four JCOs and 75 other ranks while 13 officers, 16 JCOs and 220 other ranks received injuries. The casualties to the civilians inside the Golden Temple were 492 dead.

The Army had apprehended 433 persons who were segregated as terrorists from total of 1592 persons apprehended.


Dharam Yudh Morcha Silver Jubilee
Families of 5 martyrs boycott function
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Sarai Ke Pattan (Nurpur Bedi), September 13
Families of five martyrs and one person injured during Dharam Yudh Morcha today boycotted the silver jubilee observed. Alleging the organizing committee of not inviting them graciously, all six families boycotted the function that was presided over by Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, MP Avinash Rai Khanna and MLAs from Anandpur Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Balachaur and Morinda.

Martyr Darshan Singh’s father Amar Singh, Mangal Singh’s nephew Ranjeet Singh, Rugga Singh’s son Jarnail Singh, Sheetal Singh’s son Badal Singh Malhi and Mahinder Singh’s father Swarn Singh Bhalladi accused the organisers of not sending them invitation cards. Ajaib Singh, who was injured during the morcha, also boycotted the function.

The function was held to commemorate silver jubilee of the day when 34 Sikhs laid down their lives for the cause of Sikhism. These people were killed in a rail-bus accident near Tarn Taran while shifting from Amritsar to Bathinda after being arrested during the Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 - the biggest ever agitation that had been launched against imposition of emergency in the country.

Underlining various development projects initiated by SAD-BJP government, Badal said an action plan had been chalked out for achieving new heights in power sector. This would take the state from power deficit to a surplus within the next four years.

Badal announced that construction work at Sarai Pattan bridge, to be done at a cost of Rs 36 crore, would be started soon. He said a survey would also be conducted to identify various sites for installing deep tubewells to supply water for irrigation and drinking for the people of Kandi area. Regarding accordance of division status to Rupnagar, the CM said the Cabinet had already given its approval and the government would soon appoint a commissioner for Rupnagar division. On the occasion, Badal honoured the martyrs’ family members.

Earlier, he paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sahib, Sarai Pattan and installed a stone on which names of 34 martyrs and 14 injured were written.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion included patron SAD and MLA from Anandpur Sahib Sant Baba Ajit Singh, MP Avinash Rai Khanna, Jathedar Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh, former cabinet ministers Jathedar Tota Singh and Bibi Satwant Kaur, Arun Shakar and Nand Lal (chief parliamentary secretaries), MLA Morinda Ujjagar Singh Waddali, former MP Kamal Chaudhary.


‘Misuse’ is the key: BJP
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The issue of “cats” - militants- turned informers -- today had the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party coming out in the open. It differed not only with the views of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal but has also conveyed its concern on the matter to the BJP central leadership.

Party chief Rajinder Bhandari said “no system is bad if it is used in broader national interest”. Bhandari added he was referring to all systems devised to curb terror and it was not just the issue of “cats”. At this stage we should not go into details as who were cats and who were not, but if the system was misused it was wrong. Badal yesterday said he was not in favour of the police having used “cats”. The system was outside the legal framework, he had said, but had maintained silence when asked if he would inquire into “cats” of other officers.

Bhandari, clarified in the case of disproportionate assets registered against Virk the BJPs opinion was very clear that the case should continue as per law and let the law take its own course.

When terrorism gripped the state the motive was to save society and prime motive was to ensure peace . “It was wrong to compare and comment on those times with the normal situation of today”, said Bhandari adding the methods adopted during militancy should not be dug out in public. “Let it lie buried where it is”, the BJP chief added.

Meanwhile sources within the BJP said last night a meeting of the core committee of the party was held in Chandigarh. A few key functionaries of the RSS had also joined in. Two party functionaries were then asked to convey the concern to the party high command. A senior minister said “ the government should have restricted itself to the political opponents and not targeted the officialdom”. The officials should be left out of this fight.

This could divide bureaucracy and will have an adverse impact on the development schemes as the officials would fear taking decisions due to impending reprisals at a later stage in career.

The BJP’s Punjab unit has made its concern clear to the central leadership the Hindu vote in the state would feel alienated if militancy- related aspects are touched upon today.


VB refuses to return Virk’s briefcase
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 13
The Vigilance Bureau has refused to part with the contents of the briefcase it recovered from former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk when the VB team arrested him on September 9.

Taking up an application filed by Virk’s counsel the brief case and its contents be returned to them, sub-divisional judicial magistrate Lalit Singla ordered arguments in the case for September 15.

Virk had through his counsel moved an application on September 11 the briefcase had Rs 80,000 and some important documents in it and these be returned to them. They had also requested in case the originals could not be returned they should be at least be provided with photostat copies of all that the VB had claimed to have recovered from the briefcase.

However the VB in its reply filed before the court today stated the briefcase and its content were case property and could not be returned.

The bureau has claimed it has recovered diaries, writings pads and handwritten documents from Virk’s brief case. These papers claims the VB, have names of several Punjab VIPs, including politicians, police officers and several civil servants with whom either Virk or his family had financial or business transactions between 2000 and 2007. The VB claims the documents also contain details of the property owned by politicians and bureaucrats and an election plan for the Congress.


Kidney Removal
Man seeks probe
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
A migrant sevadar of Durgiana Temple, Shridhar Dubey, has alleged that a senior doctor of a government hospital removed the left kidney of his four-year-old daughter Sonia while removing a tumour during surgery done last year.

In a missive to the DGP today, demanding a probe into the case, Dubey alleged that Dr J.P.K. Shergill, the then professor and head surgical ward of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (GNDH), had removed the left kidney of the child without informing him or his wife, in August 2006. He alleged that the doctor showed them the tumour after the surgery and there was no kidney attached to it.

Dubey told The Tribune said that it came to his notice recently when he had gone to his native village in Gonda district (Uttar Pradesh). He said on the advice of a doctor, he got an ultrasound test done on the child after a swelling appeared on her abdomen. He immediately came back to the holy city with the child for further treatment, but the hospital authorities refused to admit her. He alleged that the authorities were not giving him the case file of his daughter so that he could get her treated elsewhere.

However, refuting the allegations as baseless, Dr Shergill said the kidney had to be removed as the girl was suffering from Wilnis tumour on the left kidney.


New transport policy on anvil
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
The Punjab government is on the verge unveiling a new transport policy. The draft of the policy will be brought before the council of ministers in the near future. In the new policy the public transport system, especially the buses, would be increased on roads to ease the rush of private transport.

Minister for Transport Mohan Lal gave this information while talking to The Tribune here today. He, along with senior officials of the department, was here to meet the passengers at the local bus stand to have suggestions for improving the public transport system.

He stated that the state roadways planned to start three-tier system of buses. This included ordinary buses, simple air-conditioned buses and integral coaches. The last category of buses would be in super deluxe category. However, still the fares of buses would be less as compared to other states.

In addition to that 700 new buses would be added under the kilometer scheme. The air-conditioned bus service would be provided to almost all religious places in and around the state, including Anandpur Sahib, Golden Temple and Katra.

The minister and other transport officials, however, found themselves in a spot over the recent news reports regarding the transport company owned by Badals, forcing small transporters into selling their routes to them. The minister when quizzed on the issue said he had not received any complaint in this regard. Secretary, Transport, and other senior officials of the department also remained tightlipped on the issue.

The minister also said that the road safety council would also be formed soon. He added that it had been brought to his notice that in many cases the victims of accidents in government buses failed to get compensation. The government had made arrangements to provide immediate compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 25,000-Rs 50,000 to those injured.


Hospital gets machine for cancer treatment
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
The state government is committed to upgrade the medical facilities in allopathy and ayush. Medical education and research minister Tikshan Sud said this at a press conference today after inaugurating a branch therapy machine at Government Rajindra Hospital for the treatment of cancer patients.

He said Rs 25 crore had been kept aside for the improvement and upgradation of medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges. A committee had been constituted under the chairmanship of Dr S.K. Mishra (former advisor, Ministry of Ayush) to prepare a master plan for the establishment of an ayurvedic university at Hoshiarpur.

He said telemedicine was being introduced in medical institutions as one of the main areas. The committee has already concluded its visit to Jodhpur Ayurvedic University and Jamnagar Ayurvedic University and a memorandum was being prepared for approval of the Cabinet.

For a foolproof admission to all medical and paramedical institutions in the state, online entrance test had been suggested, he added.

Sud and secretary, Medical Education and Information and Public Relation, Punjab, Jagjit Puri also planted saplings in the complex of Government Medical College, Patiala.


Malerkotla gears up for Ramzan
Vikrant Jindal

Malerkotla, September 13
The holy month of Ramzan-ul-Mubarak will commence in India on September 14, subject to confirmation from Delhi Jama Masjid, said Mufti Fuzailur Rahman Hilal Usmani, former Mufti-e-Punjab while talking to The Tribune here yesterday.

He said astronomical calculations suggested that there was also a little chance of sighting the new moon of Ramzan-ul-Mubarak in the evening of September 12, throughout the country. And if this happened, he said, Ramzan-ul-Mubarak would commence in India on September 13.

Elaborating the technical aspects, he said the required threshold values of the astronomical parameters are essential for sighting the new moon of Ramzan-ul-Mubarak.

The age of the new moon should be more than 31 hours at the time of twilight.

He thanked the cooperation extended by local traders for reducing the price of essential commodities during Ramzan and said this step would not only facilitate the fasting Muslims but also help business community to earn the blessings of Allah.

On the other hand, the local administration has also geared up for giving better facilities to the Muslims during this holy month in Malerkotla.


Badal, Kalia seek apology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and senior BJP minister in his government, Manoranjan Kalia, today described as "shocking and utterly insensitive" Centre's reported stand before the Supreme Court, questioning the very existence Lord Ram.

In a statement here today, Badal demanded that the government should tender a timely and unconditional apology to the masses "for having grievously hurt their religious sentiments."

Kalia said the Union Government had hurt sentiments of the people by its stand on Lord Ram.

He said the government should tender an apology in writing to people of the country.


High Court
Ration Card Fraud
HC issues notice to Moga DC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued notice to Centre, Punjab through home secretary, Moga DC and others over a PIL seeking probe either by the CBI or any other independent agency into ration-card fraud.

The petitioner, Gram Panchayat of Chharrik Patti Jangir village in Moga district, through its panch Gursewak Singh, prayed for directions to the Centre and the Punjab home secretary to inquire into the alleged fraud and take appropriate action against erring depot holders and gas agency owners, who too had been named as respondents in the petition.

Directions were also sought for quashing the orders, dated June 27 and July 23, and also that the CBI or any other independent agency should look into the matter.

Also, the erring depot-holders should be stopped from carrying on the alleged unfair business till the present petition was pending.

The facts of the case, according to the petition, are that as many as five depot holders and gas agency owners issued fresh ration cards to residents of Chharrik Patti village against old ration cards.

The depot holders, in connivance with the gas agencies concerned, had stamped the ration cards as “gas user”.

This was done despite the fact that maximum number of persons who had been issued ration cards were drawing kerosene from the depots concerned since long and were doing so even at the time of issue of ration cards.

On March 8, 2007, Gram Panchayat forwarded its grievances to the authorities concerned and on June 29, an inquiry was conducted whereby licences of the erring depot holders were suspended by the District Food and Supplies Controller (a respondent), Moga. Later, licences were restored after imposition of a fine of Rs 500.

Interestingly, On June 27, Tehsildar of Moga, after conducting a probe, found that ration cards had been stamped as “gas user” but consumers were found not having any gas cylinder and were getting the supply of only kerosene. At this, Moga SDM closed the cases.

Another inquiry was conducted on July 23, 2007, which traced some card holder with gas connection.

Wakf Board plea adjourned

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by the Punjab Wakf Board to September 20 following the request by the Punjab counsel who sought time to file the reply.

The Punjab Wakf Board has sought directions for protection and enforcement of Fundamental Rights of petitioner guaranteed under Article 26 of the Constitution of India and endorsed by the Wakf Act, 1995.

Also, the petitioner prayed for directions to quash the order, dated July 24, 2007, which was, according to the petition, not only a direct violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioner but also ultra vires the provisions of the Wakf Act.

It was also prayed to by the petitioner that respondents should be restrained from interfering, through exercise of power under the garb of Section 97 of the Wakf Act,1995, in the petitioner’s peaceful enjoyment of its Fundamental Rights and in carrying out its functions as mandated under Section 32 of the Wakf Act,1995.

The impugned July 27 order was issued by the Punjab Home Department under Section 97 of the Wakf Act. The said order had restrained the board from taking important decisions involving finances and properties of the board.

Another order, dated July 31, had been challenged by the Wakf Board.

The said order had warned the board against incurring any expenditure for pursuing a legal remedy in any manner which itself constituted a serious attack on the petitioner’s right to legal remedy.

HC seeks details of dera sadhvis

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today asked the Global Human Rights Council to file an affidavit as to how many sadhvis of Dera had approached it for protection and furnish their addresses.

The direction came during the hearing of a PIL seeking directions to the authorities concerned to shift sadhvis from the dera to safer places such as nari niketans and also compensate their families.


Sessions judge suspended
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 13
Local additional district and sessions judge Sukhdev Singh was today suspended on the orders of the Punjab And Haryana High Court. R.S. Rai has taken charge in his place.

Sukhdev Singh was served the suspension orders by the local nazar in an envelope when he came to the court as usual at 10 am.

There were reports in the media about 10 months back that he was allegedly found in an objectionable position with two girls from Rahhon town in Nawanshahr. 


Insurance co told to pay Rs 1 lakh

Sangrur, September 13
In an accident case, the local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Oriental Insurance Company Limited to pay Rs 1 lakh to Kanta Devi, widow of Sham Lal, and her two sons Narinder Kumar and Rakesh Kumar, all residents of Sangrur.

In his order president of the forum M.D. Sharma has also directed the insurance company to pay Rs 3,000 as compensation for mental tension and harassment to the complainants, besides paying Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses to them.

As per the case of three complainants (widow and her sons) late Sham Lal Jindal along with some other persons was travelling in the Tata Sumo (JK-02F-7823), driven by its driver. It was going to Rajouri from Jammu when it reached near Lambri on Rajouri road a truck hit the Tata Sumo, as a result of which Sham Lal Jindal and other occupants received multiple injuries. — TNS


State’s first mobile court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
A mobile court will also become functional in Punjab on October 2. Sources said the first mobile court would be held at Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district.

A new bus was being prepared in this regard. The Punjab and Haryana High Court and the state government were making preparations to launch the mobile court.


DSP probing dera case booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 13
A case under Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against Bathinda DSP (D) Surinderpal Singh, who is probing the criminal case registered against Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, he will continue to supervise the investigations, said Bathinda SSP Nau Nihal Singh.

Meanwhile, Barnala SSP Paramjit Singh Grewal said DSP Baljit Singh had been entrusted with the investigation into the case against Surinderpal Singh.


Rs 35 cr to revamp tech edu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Punjab Government has earmarked Rs 35 crore during the current fiscal year for imparting qualitative education to students.

Chaudhary Swarna Ram, technical education and industrial training minister, said professional courses had been started in these institutions to impart latest technical know-how to the students so that they could have better job opportunities.

He further said a centrally sponsored scheme such as the "centre of excellence" was also initiated in all industrial training institutions. Under this scheme six institutions have already been given the status of "centre of excellence" in the state.


Sud briefs CM on vacant seats in colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Medical Education Minister Tikshan Sud yesterday briefed Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with regard to admission in medical, dental and other colleges and vacant seats in BDS courses in private colleges. In MBBS there were 420 seats in private colleges out of which 391 have been filled. As many as 29 NRI seats were still vacant.

Sud told Badal, who had convened a meeting to know about the admission in medical, dental and other such colleges, that 337 out of 340 seats had been filled under government quota. However, under the management quota there were 155 vacant seats out of 340 seats.


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