P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cong not to fight Amarinder’s cases, says Bhattal
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Within days of her appointment as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee(PPCC) chief, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today charted a fresh course - it was conveyed that Bhattal means business and was backed by all factions of the party while the style of functioning of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh came under fire from senior party leaders.

Bhattal herself used diplomatic language saying Capt Amarinder Singh needs to fight it out in the courts. “In the past Congressmen have faced cases and fought them out on their own. The party is with him whenever he needs us. The party has not fought anybody’s case in the past,” she said adding the legal position of the case would be best known to him and speaking on it would not be of any help.

Ambika Soni, who was with Bhattal said: “I cannot say if the AICC is backing Amarinder or not. I am just a minister and cannot speak for the high command”.

The meeting, convened at the residence of Bhattal, portrayed some “unity” with loyalists of all factions joining in and some of them even making laudatory speeches. Bhattal had working president of the Punjab Congress Mohinder Kaypee by her side and all past presidents with the exception of Amarinder Singh and H.S. Hanspal. Bhattal clarified the two were away on some work and had conveyed their inability to attend.

Ambika Soni, known for her proximity to Sonia Gandhi, sent out a strong political message to Amarinder and his loyalists.

“Only Bhattal can challenge the SAD and she has been made the chief on the basis of the opinion of the leaders who were in the race for the PPCC chief’s post”. Soni even publicly quoted Lal Singh and Partap Bajwa, two contenders for the post, as having backed Bhattal.

Former PPCC president Varinder Kataria said workers had been distanced in the past five years and he hoped workers would now get due respect.Meanwhile, Bhattal also distanced herself from arrested DGP S.S.Virk saying,“ the party cannot support any officer”. On her continuation as the CLP leader she said, “It is for the party to decide, but I am ready to complete my duty”. Training her guns at the SAD, Bhattal said the ruling party was misusing official machinery. People were being harassed on political grounds. “In the six months of the SAD-BJP rule, we have seen incidents of firing and lathi charge at protesters. The fresh survey ordered for the kanak-dal scheme was just a ploy to benefit only SAD workers,” she said.

The Congress passed two resolutions- one praising the appointment of Rahul Gandhi as general secretary of the party and the second praising the Prime Minister for extending the national rural employment guarantee scheme to all districts of the country.


Misappropriation of Grants
150 sarpanches suspended, 200 under probe
Gurbax Puri

Tarn Taran, September 30
As many as 150 sarpanches have been suspended and probe completed against 200 others on the charge of misappropriation of grants of crores released to the panchayats by the previous government.

Ranjit Singh Brahampura, minister for rural development and panchayats, Punjab, stated at a rural gathering at Jawanda kalan village ,10 km from here, after inaugurating a religious place of Baba Ram Yogi. The minister said the previous government released grants worth Rs 14,00 crore under the Punjab Nirman Scheme. He added these grants were released to the panchayats loyal to the Congress party and its leaders hence the grants were misappropriated on a 
large scale.

The minister said three special squads had been formed d to probe the misappropriation of grants released during the Congress regime. He said those found guilty of misusing the panchayat grants would not be spared . The present government had released grants of Rs 100 crore to the panchayats for development purposes.


Truck movement: India, Pak to establish hotline
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 30
To iron out last-minute glitches for the smooth movement of cargo trucks across the Radcliffe line from tomorrow, senior Customs officers of India and Pakistan today held detailed discussions on various modalities at the Attari checkpost here.

The Indian delegation led by commissioner Talkeshwar Singh, along with additional commissioner Sanjay Saran, had a prolonged meeting with their Pakistani counterpart in this regard.

Both authorities have decided to establish a hotline in the series of confidence-building measures. The agreement signed in August had worked out the modalities.

A senior officer of the Ministry of External Affairs said on phone that India had offered 12 more items in the trade basket and talks were at a crucial stage with Pakistan. India is already sending five perishable duty-free items at present and is expected to add cotton and sugar in its range of products soon. Pakistan is already supplying cement to India.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will flag off 20 tomato-laden trucks to Pakistan while some items like dry dates were expected to come from Pakistan.


The porter trouble
Tribune News Service

Attari, September 30
Apprehending trouble, the district administration is working overtime to pacify porters operating on the Indian side. The nearly 1,400 porters have already threatened to launch an agitation to disrupt the much-touted exercise.

The porters are up in arms against the movement of trucks as they say that this will deprive them of their livelihood. Rejecting the promises made by the district administration that they will still be required in the new scheme of things, the posters have sworn to disrupt the movement of trucks.

“Presently the trucks stops close to the Radcliffe line and the goods are carried across the border by porters. Once the border is opened for movement of trucks, our services will not be required at all and we will be left to starve,” said Rajpal Singh, a porter.


12 hurt in clash over naam charcha
Thirty persons booked
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Alampur Mandra (Mansa), September 30
As many as 12 persons, including members of various Sikh organisations and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, were injured when a clash took place between them at this village, 25 km from Mansa, today.

The injured included two women.

The clash took place when a section of villagers tried to stop the naam charcha being organised by Lilli Kumar in his house at the village despite the fact that he was forbidden by the police authorities not to do the same.

All injured were taken to the civil hospital, Mansa. Bhog Singh and Amrik Singh, whose condition was stated to be serious, had been referred to a Patiala hospital.

A case in this connection had been registered against 18 identified and 12 unidentified persons under Sections 307, 148, 149 and 324 of the IPC on the statement of Amrik Singh, said SSP Ram Singh. The situation at the village was tense but under control.

According to information, a section of dera followers tried to hold naam charcha at this village yesterday.

However, a section of villagers belonging to different Sikh organisations opposed the same. A police party which reached the spot managed to bring a compromise between both groups under which the dera followers were asked not to do such a thing.

Today Lilli Kumar, a dera follower, started naam charcha in his house. When members of Sikh organisations and other villagers tried to stop it, a clash started. Both groups pelted each other with stones. Gurdeep Singh, SHO, Boha, also suffered injuries on one of his legs.

Deputy commissioner Surjeet Singh and SSP Ram Singh, along with other senior civil and police officials, reached the spot immediately on getting information.

Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, and some senior religious leaders of the region visited the civil hospital to enquire about the well-being of the injured.


A First for the State
Agro-based paper mill
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Punjab will soon boast of world’s biggest agro-residue-based paper manufacturing facility in its ongoing endeavour of agrilisation of its industry.

Before the turn of the year, a paper mill producing 275 tonnes of writing and printing paper a day will be commissioned in the Malwa belt (Dhaula village in Sangrur). At present, the mill uses 200 tonnes of wheat straw a day to produce 40,000 tonnes of printing and writing paper annually, and remains the country’s biggest paper unit using agro-residue. Once its second phase is commissioned, it will use 600 to 700 tonnes of wheat husk each day.

Of late, Punjab has been encouraging agro-based industries.

“The usage of wheat straw as raw material for paper production is a win-win situation for us as well as the wheat growing farmers of Punjab. Since wheat straw is abundantly available in the state, we have been successful in overcoming the constraints on the availability of raw material, primarily wood pulp,” says Rajinder Gupta, chief executive officer of Abhishek Industries.

The eco-friendly paper produced from the wheat straw has wide acceptance as some of the major publishers and printers are now using it. It is not only wheat straw which is being put to maximum use by the industry, even distilleries have started using grains for producing alcohol.

A new 40-crore distillery went into production in Ferozepur last week. Based on the broken rice “naqu,” the new distillery now produces 50,000 litres of alcohol a day. After commissioning of the second phase, it will start producing to its capacity of one lakh litres of alcohol a day,” says Deep Malhotra, chairman-cum-managing director of the company.

“The grain-based alcohol is not only better in quality, but one of its by-products, wet cafe, is a very useful component of cattle feed which helps in increasing the milk yield of milch cattle,” says Malhotra.

Earlier, the rice-millers used to sell “naqu” to roller mills for mixing it with wheat flour. Since the government has tightened its control over the ‘misuse of naqu’, its consumption by grain-based distillery would ensure both its better price and better utilisation. The new distillery also generates its own power, 1200 KW. The captive power generation is done though the use of another agro-residue, rice husk, adds Malhotra.

Since he comes from Faridkot district, he says he always wanted to invest back in Punjab though he has a number of both molasses and grain-based distilleries in Madhya Pradesh and a bottling unit in Alwar (Rajasthan).

He has also got a license to set up a Rs100-crore state of the art modern brewery in Haryana’s national capital region next year.


Mann flays attack on offices of daily

Patiala, September 30
President of SAD (A) Simranjit Singh Mann has demanded the arrest of alleged conspirators behind yesterday’s attack on the offices of a vernacular newspaper across the state.

Talking to mediapersons, he alleged that the attacks were planned by another dera of Punjab. Alleging that the police deliberately overlooked the conspiracy angle in yesterday’s violence against the vernacular daily, Mann stressed on getting a case registered under Section 120-B, IPC, against the accused. — TNS


SAD ignored Sidhu: BJP leader

Amritsar, September 30
A section of the BJP has expressed resentment over the SAD ignoring BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu during the national-level centenary celebrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh held here.

The senior BJP leader, who has been closely monitoring the relationship at the local level, felt that the SAD had purposely not allowed the MP to speak on the historic occasion sparking a speculation that something was amiss between the alliance partners.

Continuing his observation, he felt that Sidhu was ignored while constituting Amritsar Development Authority (ADA), the umbrella nodal agency for the comprehensive development of the city.

He said the irony of the situation was that it was the BJP MP who had tossed up the idea of the ADA and had worked with zeal for giving complete shape to this authority. — OC


Amritsar witnesses spurt in elopement cases
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
Cupid seems to have struck his arrows on teenagers in the region, leading to a sudden spurt in cases of elopement in the past few months. In most cases, the couples move court, seeking police protection in a bid to avoid police action initiated by their parents.

Even though the couples initially seek police protection, the trend has been that once the police cancels the FIR registered on the basis of the complaint by the parents, the girl ends up giving a statement to the police that she no longer has any threat perception.

While talking to The Tribune, SSP, Amritsar, Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said as many as 29 cases of elopement had been registered so far this year in sharp contrast to the corresponding count of 12 last year.

The elopement incidents, he added, were being reported from all sections of society.

Even in cases where the girl was a major, her parents concealed 
the real age to make sure the search was carried out, said 
the SSP.

In one such case, Gurmeet Kaur (name changed), who eloped with a boy and later married him against the wishes of her family, filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court last month pleading that she was now living with her husband in Gurdaspur district and perceived that there was threat to her life for having married secretly. She sought police protection.

As per directions of the court, the inquiry was entrusted to the DSP concerned.

The newly-wedded girl, however, later gave the statement to the police that she no longer faced any threat perception, ruling out any legal action on the writ petition.

“But by doing so the couples wriggle out of the police action initiated against them by their parents with the registration of the FIR,” he said.

Requesting anonymity, a couple from the Chheharta area in Amritsar, who married secretly after eloping from their homes, said they took detailed legal guidance from a lawyer on how to go about their marriage against the wishes of their parents.

“Since we have grown up here, both of us were apprehensive of going in for court marriage in the city itself lest some acquaintance should spot us,” said the girl.

“Even though boys and girls run away from their home with mutual consent, the parents of the girl insist that the police registers a case of abduction against the boy. Though the police tries its best to trace the two, the couples usually come back on their own after some time,” said the SSP.

“The sudden rise in the number of cases of elopement is intriguing and could be a detailed study on why the trend is picking up in this part of the state,” he added.


Badal exhorts villagers to invest in WB project
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), September 30
Besides granting cheques to panchayats, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today had another important task at hand for the welfare of villagers of the Lambi constituency, that is, convincing them to shell out a few lakh rupees for the World Bank-aided drinking water and sanitation 

"Sell a piece of land or utilise panchayat money, but I have a request that let this drinking water scheme of the World Bank (WB) come up as this will eradicate water-borne diseases like cancer and cholera from your villages," he said in his address at the sangat darshan programme at Lal Bai village.

According to this WB scheme, the village panchayat will have to pay 10 per cent of the total cost of the scheme in the form of user charges, 5 per cent in case of over 40 per cent SC population, while rest of the money will be paid back to the World Bank by the state government and the Centre.

Badal today held sangat darshan at seven villages, viz Beedowali, Chanoo, Lal Bai, Tharazwala, Dhaula, Deon Khera and Tapa Khera, repeatedly urging these panchayats to adopt this scheme.

"The officers are here today at your door-step, and it’s your chance now to demand the grant required for your necessities," Badal said at Beedowali, the first village where he held the sangat darshan this morning.

At Chanoo, a Public Health Department official said the proposed WB project in that village would cost Rs 1.25 crore, and 5 per cent of this amount would have to be bore by the villagers in the form of user charges.

The SAD chief, however, had a complaint to make in some of these villages- "the party did not get enough mandate from the Malwa region this time".

"I have intelligence inputs and I know each and every family which spoilt the votes this time", Badal said. "But do not worry, our government is for all of you," he added, while granting cheques in different villages which amounted to about Rs 1 crore.

A sarpanch while welcoming the Chief minister said, "We hope Badal will forgive us for not giving him enough mandate during the elections. And now we demand that his son Sukhbir Badal should be the next Chief Minister of Punjab”.


Pak music director turned approver in Bhagat Singh case?
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
Had Khursheed Anwar, a noted Pak music director of “Heer Ranjha and Parwana” fame, turned approver in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh case and died with a “guilty conscience” on October 30, 1984, in Lahore at the age of 70?

Research on the subject in Pakistan may reveal startling facts about the hanging of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. Talking to The Tribune here today, Chaudhary Manzoor Ahmad, a member the National Assembly, Kasoor, who belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party said two scholars had been deputed to do research on the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and related developments. He said a colleague of the late music director, revealed that the Anwar had himself confessed that he was misguided by a lawyer that by turning approver, he could save his and Bhagat Singh’s lives. However, it is a sad part of history that Anwar was saved from the gallows, but his acts could not save the life of Bhagat Singh.

Chaudhary Ahmad, who had specially come here to attend the birth centenary celebrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at his ancestral village of Narli, said it was a great historical co-incidence that the family of the honorary magistrate who had signed the death warrants of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev suffered a lot for three generations. The face of Ahmad Raza Kasuri(grandson of the honorary magistrate who signed the death warrants), a lawyer of General Pervez Musharraf from Lahore and son of late Nawab Ahmad Khan whose murder led to the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was blackened in full media glare when Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary was being celebrated in India.

Meanwhile, the Pak leader, who was accompanied by Ramesh Yadav, president, Folklore Academy Punjab, said he had raised the demand of opening the Khem Karan border and Hussainiwala border on the floor of Pakistan’s parliament. Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, an Akali MP, and Virsa Singh Valtoha, an MLA from Valtoha, also advocated the opening of the borders. Dr Ajnala said he would raise this dem and on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

On the current situation in Pakistan, Chaudhary Ahmad said his party would hold a high-level meeting on October 3 to decide on Musharraf’s plan to contest the presidential poll.

He said Benazir Bhutto was arriving in Pakistan on October 18 and the next course of action would be announced after her arrival.


The burning train
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 30
More than 1,000 passengers on board Bathinda-Fazilka diesel multiple unit (DMU), had a providential escape as a coach caught fire and the brakes of the train failed near Chack Pakhi village today.

According to reports, as the train stopped at Chack Pakhi station, the guard of the train, Sohan Lal, noticed smoke emanating from the bottom of his coach. He informed the driver of the train on his walkie-talkie. They tried to douse the flames with fire extinguishers.

According to Harish Kumar, driver of the train, as they were trying to extinguish the fire, the train started moving. He boarded the nearest coach and reached the engine compartment. He tried to apply the brakes, but realised that the brakes had failed. However, he succeeded in cutting the hose pipe and the back-up pipe and stopped the train at Banwala railway station.


Punjabi heritage to reach US museum
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 30
Viewing Punjabi heritage in the USA will become a reality in near future. A group of Punjab NRIs based in Sutter County of the USA have formed the Punjabi American Heritage Society to protect the Punjabi culture and acquaint others with it. Sutter County has 10 per cent Punjabi population.

Coordinator of the society Jasbir Singh Kang, who belongs to Patiala, while talking to The Tribune on phone said their society had entered an agreement with the Sutter county community museum. “We are planning a permanent exhibition there to showcase the story of migration of Punjabis to the USA in the last century. The purpose of the exhibition will be to educate the public on Punjabi traditions and Sikh religion. This will help people of the USA understand Punjabis in a better way,” he said.

Besides, the contribution of Punjabi Americans towards society, culture, faith and heritage will also be displayed.

Kang further said that we were in the process of collecting old pictures, artifacts, old passports, letters, posters, magazines, newspapers, coins, clothes or anything that was related to Punjabi heritage. An appeal had been issued to all concerned to help showcase 
Punjabi culture.

He said their heritage society was open to the idea of taking their endeavour to other places, depending on the response from people who would 
contribute with ideas and articles, Kang added.


Nuclear Deal
‘Don’t mortgage sovereignty’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 30
Delivering his keynote address an expert in the power sector and secretary, Delhi Science Forum, Dr D. Raghunandan, today asked the union government not to mortgage the sovereignty of the country for 40 years to the USA to procure nuclear fuel in the form of uranium, besides related technology.

He was addressing a programme on “Indo-US nuclear deal in the perspective of national sovereignty and energy security concerns” organised by “Janavadi Chetna Manch” at panchayat bhavan here.

The programme was jointly presided over by president of the Thinkers’ Forum, Chandigarh, J.S. Toor; head, Chemical Technology Department, SLIET, Longowal, Dr P.P. Kundu and a reader in the Economics Department of Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Balwinder Singh Tiwana.

Raghunandan further said the Indo-US nuclear deal would not only jeopardise the indigenous development, but also impose several restrictions on India to stop it from going ahead in the N-field.


Club members oppose DC’s decision
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 30
About 1,200 members of the Heritage Club of the holy city are up in arms against the district administration for dissolving the legally elected executive body of the club without citing any reason.

Vijay Dhingra, vice-president of the club, urged the state government to transfer deputy commissioner (DC) Kahan Singh Pannu for dissolving the legally elected body and unnecessarily interfering in the working of the club. While talking to mediapersons, he said as per the constitution of the club, the executive committee could not be dissolved till the next elections. He said the DC had appointed Paramjit Singh, SDM I, as its secretary and given him all powers after dissolving the body, whereas only honorary member of the club could be appointed to this post.

He added that the term of the executive body of the club expired in March 2007 after it got elected last year. He said he had simply initiated steps to conduct the elections to elect the new executive body of the club.

Dhingra alleged that recently Mohit Khanna, member of the Amritsar Games Association, who is a close confidant of Gulzar Singh Ranike, sports minister, was incorporated as vice-president of the club and later made its honorary member. He alleged that the DC was buckling under political pressure and had dissolved the body so that the minister could incorporate his own members as office-bearers of the club.

The vice-president also said whenever a government function was held in the city, the rooms booked were got cancelled without giving prior notice, thus embarrassing the club members who are respectable citizens. He further alleged that even the government officials who stayed here and had meals did not pay their bills in connivance with the manager of the club.

Rakesh Gupta, joint secretary, Vijay Bhandari, Devinder Singh Virdi and Vipin Mehra, all executive members, were among those present in the conference.


One killed in road accident
Tribune News Service

Kharar, September 30
A resident of the local Golden Colony was killed in a road accident here today.

Preetam Singh, a contractor, was going on a scooter along with his employee Paramjit Singh, a resident of Banmajra village, when a tractor-trailer hit them from behind near Grewal Hospital on National Highway-21.

Preetam was taken to the local Civil Hospital and later referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. He died on his way to the PGI. Paramjit sustained fractures.

The police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC against driver of the tractor-trailer Ajay Kumar, a resident of Rani Ka Basera, Muzaffarnagar.


Winged Surprise
The sea gull is here, already

Megha Mann/TNS
Ropar, September 30
Winged guests from Siberia have arrived at Ropar International Wetland, 15 days before the scheduled time. Having travelled a distance of more than 6,000 km, these birds were spotted on the wetland mid-week.

This year, the common pochard is the first to reach. Usually, it is the ruddy shell ducks which arrive first around October 10 to October 13. Common pochards are usually spotted in late October. 

"Though no specific reason can be stated for this early arrival, phenomenan like global warming may be one of the causes," points out ornithologist Jaspreet Singh, who has been keeping a tab on the wetland for the past 25 years. He has spotted 18 common pochards in the wetland. 

Besides common pochards, sea gulls are yet another early visitors that migrate from oceanic areas. However, the brahmani kite (a hunter bird) that swoops down even before the migratory birds, is missing this time. 

The brahmani kite preys upon resting migratory birds who are too tired after their flight. 

Ropar wetlands serve as an important resting place for migratory birds before they fly away to Burma and Sri Lanka. 

Besides common pochards and sea gulls, migratory birds such as the bar-headed goose from the Indo-Tibet border, mallard, shoveller, wigeon and gadwall are also part of the flock reaching the wetland. 

It also greets endangered species like the marbled teal, scaup duck, comb duck and grey leg goose (a game bird). 


Depot holder held for fraud

Bathinda, September 30
Bhola Singh, a depot holder of Blahar Mehma village, was arrested for his involvement in embezzlement in the distribution of subsidised food to beneficiaries.

The accused had been selling food items at subsidised rates meant for ration card holders in an open market to mint money, the police said.

Bhola kept the ration cards of about 75 beneficiaries of the village on the pretext that he would arrange more facilities for them on the basis of those ration cards. The accused then used these with forged signatures to take all subsidised items on behalf of them. — TNS


7-member gang of cheats busted
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 30
The district police claims to have busted a gang of cheats with the arrested seven persons, including a woman, after they sold a stolen truck laden with scrap to a trader.

According to DSP S.S. Boparai, the seven accused got hold of the truck, which had reportedly been stolen from Baroda, and forged the documents of the vehicle.

They then sold it to the owner of a blast furnace in Mandi Gobindgarh.

Suspecting foul play, one of the traders, Naresh Kumar, reported the matter to the police. After conducting preliminary investigations, the police registered a case against the seven.

The accused have been identified as Rajinder Kaur, Jatinder Singh, alias Kala, Jeet Singh, Harmesh Singh, Satish Kumar, Satish Kumar Verma and Ish Kumar, alias Ishu. In charge of the CIA staff Ashok Kumar said the matter was being investigated.


3 held for storing crackers illegally
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, September 30
The local police has arrested three persons on charge of storing crackers worth over Rs 1.5 lakh for the upcoming festival season without seeking the permission from the competent authority.

According to the police, the three persons had stored the crackers in their house in a residential area without following the laid down norms.

City SHO Bikramjit Singh Brar said the police got a tip-off that a family in Guru Teg Bahadur colony had allegedly stored crackers, which could pose a danger to the lives of people.

The police raided the house of Paramjit Singh. As he failed to produce a licence for storing the crackers, the police seized these and arrested the house owner along with Munish and Parveen. While another accused Suresh Kumar managed to escape. The SHO said a case under relevant sections of the IPC has been registered against four persons.


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