P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


After synthetic khoya, now
15,000 lt of synthetic milk seized 
Health minister directs statewide raids
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
The Punjab Health Department authorities seized more than 15,000 litres of ‘synthetic milk’ from a tanker at Rajpura-based Gur Kirpa Vaishnu dhaba this afternoon.

Meanwhile,Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has directed Health officials to raid across the state to detect and curb sale and supply of ‘synthetic milk’ and food items. The Health Department authorities have also been asked to take preventive measures round the year. “We have made it our daily activity to check adulteration of food items,” asserted Chawla to The Tribune.

Apart from the tanker, 100 drums were recovered from the dhaba (roadside eatery) by the Health Department team that were alleged to be used for adulteration.

Civil surgeon Dr Usha Dhingra, and her team collected samples of the seized ‘milk’ and other items ,including white powder resembling condensed milk.

“Though we are going to get the seized material tested at food laboratories, prima facie, the entire quantity of seized ‘milk’ is synthetic.

The drums were perhaps used for the mixing of synthetic material,” said Dr Dhingra who reached the spot after her team raided the dhaba and seized the tanker there at 12.30 pm.

The owner of the dhaba allegedly slipped away along with his staff.

Health Department sources revealed the raid was made following a tip-off and the ‘synthetic’ milk was allegedly supplied to some big food and milk products manufacturing units of Patiala and surrounding areas. “We are going to initiate proper investigation and bring the guilty to book,” said Chawla who also reached the spot along with senior officials of her department.

Last week the Health Department had seized 5.5 quintals of synthetically made desi ghee from Amrtisar at the initiative of Chawla.


Siswan-Baddi link road approved
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Garibdass, November 22
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today approved construction of the Siswan- Baddi link road. Badal also approved widening of the Siswan- Kurali road.

It was decided at a meeting the Chief Minister had with PWD (B&R) officials last evening.

An inter-state project, the Siswan- Baddi link road construction has been hanging fire for seven years. The proposed inter-state road will reduce the distance between Chandigarh and Baddi to just 26 km, from 56 km, a route via Pinjore.

The Punjab PWD Department will lay 6-7 km stretch of road between Siswan and Baddi. The rest of the road part of which falls in Haryana and the rest in Himachal was already in place. The project had been delayed due to Punjab government. Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is said to have even written to the Centre construction of this road would lead to the shifting of units from Punjab to Himachal due to which Punjab was not in favour of linking the two states through this short- cut.

Secretary PWD (B&R) Karan Avtar Singh, who had attended the meeting chaired by Badal yesterday said the central Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had approved the enhanced cost of the project almost two months ago and the project was now on.

Approving the project under the Economic Importance and Inter-State Connectivity Scheme, the central ministry will pay about Rs 16 crore to Punjab for the construction of this stretch.

The stretch when complete, will join Baddi and Chandigarh through Siswan and to Ropar through Kurali. The road from Siswan to Chandigah through Mullanpur Garibdass village and the road from Siswan to Kurali though Majri village are already in place. The new route will provide direct link between the Ambala-Kalka highway and the Ropar-Chandigarh highway. It will also join the Ludhiana-Morinda road section at Kurali.

Yesterday’s meeting also decided the 16-km stretch of road linking Siswan to Kurali that connects over 50 villages will also be widened by the government. The road which is now 18 feet wide would be widened to at least 23 feet, said Karan Avtar Singh.

Earlier in the day yesterday these issues were brought to the notice of the Chief Minister by residents of the area during his visit to the house of Morinda MLA Ujagar Singh Badali. The Chief Minister had assured these issues will be resolved and had called for a meeting with the officials concerned in the evening.

The residents had also demanded a bypass from Siswan to Anandpur Sahib and the setting up of a catchment lake of the Siswan dam which could be promoted as a tourist spot.

The Chief Minister was on a visit to the MLA’s house to mourn the death of Badali’s father. The MLA had lost his father some days ago.


Over 3,000 tax defaulters to face action soon
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 22
Over 3,000 income tax defaulters, including big businessmen, who have been identified and notified by the Income Tax Department are going to face the music shortly.

Apparently, tired of their repeated efforts to get tax arrears released from big defaulters of Patiala region, the IT authorities have finally made up their mind to resort to stern steps, such as attachment of property and freezing of accounts, against the tax evaders. The department has been issuing notices and memos to such defaulters repeatedly but without success.

The Patiala region IT Department has set January 1, 2008, as the deadline for payment of arrears for the defaulters. Those failing to deposit the tax by January 1 were likely to face tough time as the department of Patiala region comprising Patiala district and parts of Fatehgarh and Sangrur districts are contemplating taking strict action.

Apart from big businessmen and traders, names of some salaried class people are also there in the list of defaulters prepared by the authorities. The outstanding tax arrears of the salaried class people were, however, not much and they were unlikely to face harsh treatment.

“ If they fail to pay tax this time, they are in for serious trouble. After this, we will initiate proceedings for attachment and sale of their properties as we have the power to do so,” said Rupinder Kaur Brar, additional commissioner, Income Tax (Patiala region).


Behave properly with MLAs, CM warns babus 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today warned bureaucracy against behaving indifferently with elected representatives and general public. Urging bureaucrats to behave properly with elected representatives, Badal said an MLA enjoyed a status even above the chief secretary as far as protocol was concerned.

He said officers should give due respect to elected representatives. The chief minister said this while answering questions with regard to the complaint submitted against Karanbir Singh Sidhu, secretary, education( school) by senior Punjab minister Tikshan Sud. “I have told Sidhu to meet Sud to sort out the issue,” said Badal.

Asked what was preventing the state government from revising minimum wages earlier revised seven years ago, Badal said the proposal in this regard was to be mooted by the labour minister. Asked about postponing the revision of sugarcane price, Badal said the government would keep in mind the interest of farmers as well as of others while taking a decision in this regard.

About unbundling of the PSEB, Badal said the government would do whatever would be in the interest of people of the state in this regard. When told that judiciary’s decision was going against the state government one after another, Badal said he had great regard for the judiciary.

Asked that registration of false cases had been proved following an inquiry, Badal said “it showed that his government was not biased against any one and it can hold inquiry to find out if any wrong had been committed at any level”.

Asked that Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had stated that the Badal government was ruining the traditional government school system by pursuing a wrong policy, Badal said the state government was committed to improving the quality of schools to impart quality education.

He said he had called a meeting of all district police chiefs and deputy commissioners on November 28 to instruct them to deal with drug menace and other social evils.

Badal said while the land was being acquired for the Talwandi Sabo thermal plant, the process to acquire land for the thermal plant at Goindwal had also been initiated. 


Cong proposes panel to study farmers’ suicides
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Coming down heavily on the SAD-BJP alliance for overlooking the plight of farmers in Punjab, the Punjab Congress proposed to set up a panel to study various factors for rising farmers’ suicides in the state. The panel will then approach the Union Government with its recommendations to come up with a comprehensive package to ameliorate the sufferings of the farming community.

Disclosing this to newsmen after the first general house meeting of the Punjab Congress held here today, party president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said the panel would come up with concrete proposal that would be sent to the UPA Chairperson and Prime Minister for follow-up action.

“It is the job of the ruling party, but the SAD-BJP alliance has failed to take up the issue with the Centre. We hope that during her visit to Punjab some time in February, Sonia Gandhi will bring an Andhra or Maharashtra type of package for the farmers”.

Though Bhattal did not spell out any specifics about the panel, but she indicated that the group put together for the purpose would look at various factors behind growing farmer suicides in Punjab and suggest remedies to improve the lot of the Punjab farmers. “We will ask for a special package for the debt-ridden farmers of the state from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and hope she will announce it during her proposed Punjab visit in February”.

Today’s meeting was primarily summoned to draw up a strategy to help and depute Punjab Congressmen in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to help the party there during 
the forthcoming general elections.

Besides taking up the scheduled business, the Congress also passed five agendas thanking the UPA government for its benevolent acts for the needy and at the same time appealed to the UPA government to intervene in Punjab for strengthening of the public distributing system (PDS).

Pointing out other issues that came up during the meeting, Bhattal said her party was very concerned at the political vendetta let loose against Congress workers in Punjab and demanded that it be stopped immediately.

In response to a specific question about her party’s role as an opposition, Bhattal said she and her fellow Congressmen were always in favour of joint political forums to discuss issues facing the state, but the Badal government preferred to sleep over important issues rather than seek the help of other parties to rid the state of problems such as the fiscal mess.

Repeating her demand to bring out a “white paper” on Punjab’s fiscal health, she also sought immediate abolishing of the newly imposed 4 per cent entry tax in Punjab.


Bhattal writes to Badal on vendetta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Punjab Congress President and leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has written a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take action against all those officials who allegedly registered false cases against Congress workers in Bholath assembly segment and appraise the Vidhan Sabha during the coming 
winter session about the action taken.

Referring to a report submitted by Deputy Inspector General (Crime) at the instance of the Punjab Governor, Bhattal has written, “I have learnt that the DIG concerned has sent a detailed report confirming the allegations of political vendetta levelled by our party MLA and the DIG has also recommended suitable action against those responsible for registering false cases against Congress workers.”


Khera complains against SGPC secy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 22
Senior Janata Dal (S) leader Balwant Singh Khera has filed a complaint with the State Information Officer (SIO), Chandigarh, against secretary, SGPC, Amritsar, Harbinder Singh, for not providing complete information regarding various trusts of the SGPC to him.

Khera here today alleged Harbinder had violated the Right to Information Act. 


Need to check fake NRI marriages: Girija
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
“Fake NRI marriages are playing havoc with girls in Punjab. There is a need to check fake NRI marriages and set guidelines and protocols to save our girls,” said Girija Vyas, chairperson, National Commission for Women, while talking to mediapersons here today on the sidelines of the two-day workshop on “Protection to women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: A stocktaking exercise” at Panjab University that began today.

“In fact, the commission is impressing upon the Centre the need for signing a protocol with the USA, Canada and the UK, where most of the girls get married, to monitor the increasing cases of fake marriages,” she added.

Coming back to the protection of women, Vyas categorically stated that even after one year of the enforcement of the Domestic Violence Act 2005, it had been adopted by only four states - Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.

“As per statistics of the Supreme Court as on July 31, 2007, a total number of 7,913 cases were registered out of which Rajasthan tops the list with 3,440 cases followed by Kerala with 1,028 cases. Punjab has 172 cases registered,” she said.

In Punjab, she said, the data could not be reflective of the cases that go unreported as they outnumber the ones reported.

Listing out the merits of the Act, Vyas said under the Act cognisance is taken within three days of filing the case and justice is dispensed within three months.

Rubbishing the contention that the Act was against men, she said: “In fact, it has been formulated as a tool for women to ensure their security. At the same time it restricts men’s excesses against women with the help of NGOs, protection officers and service providers.”

She said 34 new laws for the protection of women were being introduced this year of which seven had already been passed by Parliament. These include protection of the mentally sick women, aged women and devdasis. 


Taking care of education, shelter of homeless kids
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 22
The Sangrur Pingalwara, a branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, is a haven for homeless children as it has been providing not only shelter to homeless children but also educating them by sending them to schools and colleges.

At present 17 children (14 girls and 3 boys) of the pingalwara here have been studying in different classes. Of these 17 children, 12 are waifs. The mothers of two children also reside in Sangrur and Amritsar pingalwaras, respectively, while one child is orphan. The father of one child is mentally upset and lives at pingalwara here , while another child does not wish to go home.

Out of these 17 children, 12 are students of a local private school. They are: Maninder Kaur (+2), Sukhwinder Kaur (+1), Charanjit Kaur (class 2), Kirna (KG), Gurleen Kaur (KG), Ravneet Kaur (nursery), Lovleen Kaur (KG), Jasleen Kaur (nursery), Amritpal Kaur (KG), Muskan Preet Kaur (nursery), Komal Preet Kaur (pre-nursery) and Gurbhej Singh (pre-nursery).

Roshan Lal and Manmeet Kaur have been studying in different schools, while Paramjit Kaur doing B.P.Ed. final year at Physical College, Bhago Majra (near Kharar). However, Mandeep Kaur (class VIII) and Kulwant Singh (class V) will appear for their examinations as private candidates, said manager of the pingalwara Rajesh Kumar.

Chief administrator of the pingalwara, Tarlochan Singh Cheema, said students from pre-nursery up to class VIII were taught daily for two hours at the pingalwara.

He said two students of +2 (medical and arts) and a student of +1 (medical) also attend tuitions daily. The expenditure was being borne by the pingalwara, he added.

Cheema said the pingalwara authorities had purchased 17 bighas of land close to the existing pingalwara to set up a school for free education to poor students. He said this would be a co-educational school where students would be provided books free of cost.


Suman Kalyanpur to give Rafi awards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Renowned singer Suman Kalyanpur, who sang popular songs like ‘Ajhun na aaye balma, sawan beeta jaye’, ‘Aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche har juban par’and ‘Na na karte pyar tumhi se kar baithe’ etc will be the chief guest for Rafi nite to be organised by the Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society, Chandigarh, on December 15 at Bhargava auditorium, PGI.

She will give away Rafi awards to the winners of the competition which was held in July this year. The society will also honour her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution in the field of light music.

Nearly 40 male and female singers from the north will participate in this nite.


Bhai Mardana’s descendant wishes to recite Gurbani at Harmandar Sahib
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
The Sikhs in India and across the border will celebrate birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev but they have failed to give proper recognition to, by building a monument, Bhai Mardana, the disciple and rababi of the first Guru.

Ghulam Mohammad Chand ,a descendant of Bhai Mardana told The Tribune here yesterday even in Pakistan he and other descendents of Bhai Mardana were not allowed to offer prayers at Nanakana Sahib except once a couple of years ago. He said whenever they approached the Sikh jatha visiting Pakistan for reciting Gurbani they simply refused to accept their request saying they had brought their ragis for this purpose.

He said whenever they visited religious places in India and Pakistan the powers that be assured them to invite to the place but were soon forgotten. He rued it was only now the rababis had to seek permission before offering prayers at gurdwaras

Bhai Chand, accompanied by nephews Mohammed Afzal and Amjad Hussain is part of the nine-member delegation from Pakistan which would be participating in a function in New Delhi organised by the Saanje Rang Punjab de which would be showcasing similarities between cultures of two Punjabs. The group will also visit Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra.

The other members of the delegation are programme manager FM 103 Lahore Afzal Saahir, noted poet and composer Yasub Tahir, Augustin and Rabaika, art and craft teachers of Lahore college for women university and Kannaird college for women Lahore, respectively, classical singer and teacher Sameena Hassan Sayyad and young film maker Danial Rashid.

The noted rababi said the office-bearers of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) should initiate steps to establish a memorial or institution in the memory of Bhai Mardana where traditional and classical singing of Gurbani could be taught to the youth of the community.

Bhai Chand had was made to swallow a bitter pill as he was not allowed to recite Gurbani at sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple three years ago. But he vowed to keep on returning to Amritsar so long as his wish remained unfulfilled no matter how hard the obligations of Sikh Maryada pushed him.

He said they had to face visa problems as they were not able to get visas to visit Amritsar and other places in India annually. He said his another dream would be fulfilled if he was allowed to visit Rajasansi, the place of his birth where he used to watch his uncle Bhai Gyan Chand perform at a gurdwara there besides getting lessons from him in reciting Gurbani.


Bhindranwale’s portrait to find place in museum 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 22
Bowing to pressure from radical Sikh organisations, especially the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), headed by Bhai Mohkam Singh of the Damdami Taksal , the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today decided, in principle, to install the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, in the Sikh Museum in the Golden Temple complex after 23 years of his death in Operation Bluestar.

Responding to the ultimatum served by the KAC of a dharna in front of the SGPC office on the occasion of election of the Shiromani Committee , here tomorrow , Shiromani Committee chief Avtar Singh announced a portrait of Sant Bhindranwale would be installed before November 30 in the Sikh museum. Earlier , the Shiromani Akali Dal and the SGPC had been dilly-dallying on the issue as they apprehended a decision to put portrait of Bhindranwale might annoy the BJP - the coalition partner of the Akali Dal . Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh , however, announced the KAC and his outfit would take independent decision to install the picture of Bhindranwale if the SGPC failed to meet the deadline. He claimed the decision of the Shiromani Committee had come in the wake of the ultimatum , served by radical Sikh organisations .

For two decades, then acting head of the Damdami Taksal Baba Thakur Singh had virtually misled the Sikh masses by claiming Bhindranwale was alive . Baba Thakur Singh served as acting Jathedar of the taksal for 20 years after the death of Bhinranwale in June 1984.

The Damdami Taksal, which was termed “nursery of militancy” during the tenure of Bhindranwale, witnessed peaceful days under moderate leadership of Baba Thakur Singh. Though he was a man of a few words, yet he courted controversy by claiming Bhindranwale had escaped during the Army operation in June 1984 and was “in high spirits”. 


Plan to reduce traffic woes in Kharar 
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 22
The area residents of Kharar can now hope for some respite from traffic woes.

The SAS Nagar traffic police has charted out a plan to mitigate traffic chaos mainly on roads around Kharar, Kurali, Morinda, Gharuan and other areas. Besides making numbers of the patrolling vehicles public, no-parking zones and accident-prone areas in the area are also being identified with the help of the district administration.

DSP (traffic) Raka Ghira, who was here today to interact with the locals over traffic problems, said accident-prone areas in Zirakpur were also being identified. "These spots are being selected randomly on the basis of daily traffic accidents being reported. Once the identification is completed, we will install road signs and display boards with traffic lights at the requisite places. Also in more sensitive areas, traffic cops will be stationed to keep a check," she said.

Ghira added that the police overall was already suffering from shortage of staff and VIP duties, in the wake of which it became difficult to give special attention to traffic. The traffic police was also working with the district administration for declaring a few areas as no-parking zones and accordingly take action against the erring people.

At present, the police has two highway patrolling vans that run from Kharar to Banur and Gharuan to Morinda via Khanpur. These vans are accessible 24 hours on numbers 9876034443 and 9876849118 on these routes and can be reached in case of any eventuality.

The traffic, at opening and closure time of schools on highway, is also being regulated. "School traffic needs to be navigated with utmost care as it has lots of children. Keeping this in mind, traffic cops are stationed outside schools on highway, who regulate traffic," she added.

Raka also had interaction with the Kharar Tempo Union. She directed all the tempo owners to employ only trained drivers. "I've warned them against any kind of untrained person driving tempos. They not only risk their own lives, but also of persons they ferry and others on the road," she said.


Missing woman restored to family
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 22
A family from Ambala took back its missing mother from Disabled Caretaker Social Welfare Society, Padiala village.

Kaushalya Devi, a resident of Ambala, was found moving around in the markets of Kurali in May this year. "She was found in a sorry state, moving around screaming at people. The Kurali police has handed her over to us and we have been taking care of her," said Shamsher Singh, president of the society. He added that Kaushalya Devi was unable to tell her address and picked up a fight whenever asked about her whereabouts. "But now her condition has improved a lot. Her sons came while trying to trace her on November 19 and she immediately recognised them. She has been sent with them," Shamsher added.

Besides having mental problems, Kaushalya also suffered from skin ailments. The society had distributed her pictures in the local media from where her sons were able to trace her. They had come from village Ladsan in Ambala. 


Biotech conference draws positive response
Tribune News Service

Banur, November 22
A two-day national conference on “Emerging Trends in Biotechnology Engineering” that got under way at SUSCET, Tangori, here today evoked a tremendous response from leading biotech industries, pharmaceutical companies, government and semi- government R & D organisations and technical institutes from across the country.

The vice-chancellor of Panjab University, Prof R.C. Sobti, who was the chief guest at the inaugural function, touched upon the vast scope of research in different areas of biotechnology and elaborated upon the global-thrust areas. He motivated the delegates to develop a vision and a spirit of inquiry to excel in this emerging field.

The second issue of the departmental news letter “Bio Shots” was also released by Prof Sobti. He complimented the faculty and students on their efforts and advised them to look beyond the available information to experiment and to innovate in order to excel in this upcoming field. Dr Sobti and Dr Anand Bachhawat jointly released the souvenir of the conference. Manavjot Kaur, coordinator, proposed the vote of thanks.


Notice to Punjab in ‘detention’ case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Taking up a petition by Dal Khalsa leader Sarbjit Singh Ghuman seeking directions for an inquiry by the Ludhiana Chief Judicial Magistrate into the allegations of his detention and torture by the police, Mr Justice M.M.S. Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 21.

Claiming to have been treated in violation of the Supreme Court directions in the D.K. Basu versus State of West Bengal case by the police, he added that the intention was to extract information about an accused involved in a case related to the recovery of explosives.

In an attempt to substantiate his contentions, the petitioner also annexed copies of newspaper reports regarding his “detention” by the police after the recent Ludhiana bomb blast.

Giving details, the petitioner stated he was kept in illegal custody from October 18 to October 21. He was also abused and filthy language was used.

The petitioner added that while he was involved with the work of a socio-religious organisation, he came in contact with Gaganjeet Singh and Gurpreet Singh, both residents of Mullanpur village. The two were suspected by the police to be involved in a criminal case. The petitioner said Gurpreet had gone to Malaysia in July 2006, after which the petitioner lost contact with him. But on September 2, the police recovered a car in which explosives were found. The cops claimed that the occupant of the car who escaped was Gurpreet. The police also found that the car belonged to Sandeep Singh, a friend of the petitioner and a member of the same political party. 


Rape & Murder Case
PGI docs to examine victim’s body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the examination of a Ludhiana rape and murder victim by a board of experts at the PGI, Chandigarh.

The directions follow a petition seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for a post-mortem examination by a board of doctors from the PGI in the presence of a judicial magistrate so that the "correct version may come out" and the accused may not be able to escape from punishment for rape and murder of the petitioner's minor daughter.

Claiming to be an old widow working as a labourer, the petitioner had claimed that on November 14, her daughter was found lying dead on the third floor of a house in Sarabha Nagar of Ludhiana, where she worked as a maid servant.

The petitioner alleged that in the FIR registered on November 19 the facts were not recorded correctly and twists were given by the police to protect the accused. The petitioner also alleged that the post-mortem report too was manipulated.

Taking note of her contentions, a High Court Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, observed, "In view of the age of the girl and circumstances that led to her death, we would like to have the body of girl which has been preserved in the mortuary of Satluj hospital of Ludhiana, examined by an expert board of doctors of the PGI.”

The Bench also directed SSP and CMO Ludhiana to have the body examined and properly investigated again by a board to be constituted of experts by director, PGI, Chandigarh.

The court also directed that the director, PGI, should fix the time for the examination of body, which would be brought by the administration from Ludhiana. After the examination, the body would be taken back to Ludhiana. The Bench also directed that the report be sent to the court in a sealed cover. The case will now come up for hearing on November 29.


Khalra Murder
Feb 12 fixed for hearing wife’s petition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Over 12 years after human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra was abducted from his residence before being murdered, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed February 12 for hearing his wife Paramjit Kaur Khalra’s petition for directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the involvement of Punjab's former director-general of police K.P.S. Gill.

As the petition came up for hearing before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice S.K. Mittal and Justice K.C. Gupta, counsel for both Punjab and the CBI sought time for filing a reply in the matter.

In her petition, Paramjit Kaur had asserted that "hard evidence” had come on the trial court record about the then DGP Gill's involvement. As such, appropriate orders be issued to the CBI to further investigate the conspiracy angle and the involvement of the then DGP in abducting, illegally detaining, torturing and murdering Jaswant Singh Khalra.

Describing Gill as the "main accused", she had stated that the results of the investigation should be presented before the CBI court so that "he can be brought to justice". She had added that Gill had "escaped" due to partial and incomplete investigation.

Going into the circumstances leading to the filing of the petition, she had contended that at least two representations were forwarded to the CBI director for the completion of investigation in the murder case so that Gill could be held accountable, in accordance with law, for his crime. International human rights groups also wrote to the CBI director to take up the matter.

It may be recalled that another Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice A.N. Jindal, has already held Khalra was "abducted so that his life could be extinguished."

He was picked up from his house "at the instance of SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu" by DSP Jaspal Singh and other cops including Satnam Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Jasbir Singh and Prithipal Singh. He was tortured at the Jhabal police station before being shot. Finally, his body was disposed of near the Harike bridge.

The development assumes significance as witness Kuldeep Singh had, reportedly, alleged that he had seen Gill go into a room in which Khalra was being kept at Manawala in Taran Tarn.

As former special police officer, he had told the court that Gill and others had visited Sandhu's house in Manawala village in Taran Tarn a few days before Khalra was murdered in 1995.


Death sentence for killing daughter, wife
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
Sessions Judge G.K. Rai here today awarded death penality to Mohinder Singh of Haibowal Khurd on the charge of killing his daughter Geetu Verma and wife Veena Verma in January 2006.

The judge took special note of the fact that the convict had committed the crime when he was on parole in a rape case of his minor daughter Geetu. Earlier, he had been sentenced to undergo imprisonment for 12 years in that rape case in 2001.

Pronouncing the verdict, Rai held that the accused had committed the double murder intentionally.

The accused was booked on the statement of Shalu, his daughter.

The accsued had claimed before the court that his brother-in-law Sunil Kumar was eying his property and so he had implicated him falsely in the case. 


Saini Blast Case
Documents handed over to CBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the handing over of documents to the CBI in the 1991 Saini blast case.

The documents were handed over to the CBI standing counsel, Rajan Gupta, by Division Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Harbans Lal.

The bench had received a communication by post from the SP, CBI, which was listed before it, as the investigating agency has been asked by the high court to probe allegations that some of the absconding accused in the case had been liquidated by the police in fake encounters, and if so, to bring the guilty police officials to book.


Leather industries should take steps to clean drain: SC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Expressing dissatisfaction with an affidavit filed by the Punjab Leather Federation, Jalandhar, in a pollution matter, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that instead of highlighting their contribution, the leather industries should contribute more for cleaning Kala Sangha drain.

Taking up the matter, a Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice Vijender Jain, also expressed hope that Punjab’s director-cum-secretary, Small Scale Industries, would take initiative for dealing with the situation.

The Bench observed: “The affidavit filed by Lt Col J. S. Paul (retd), president, Punjab Leather Federation, Jalandhar, on behalf of the Punjab Leather Federation, does not inspire any confidence”.

“It has hardly any relevance that the annual turnover of the industry is Rs 700-800 crore. Our prime concern is about the loss being caused to the environment by the industries. We are not concerned with the fact that these leather industries contributed 10 per cent to the export. Our prime concern is to see how the environment has to be kept clean. These industries, instead of highlighting their contribution in export, should contribute more for cleaning the Kala Sangha drain and keep the balance of ecology”.

In his detailed order, the Bench ruled: “The matter pertains to the cleaning of the drain of pollutants being discharged in it. This is not a normal administrative matter. It relates to environmental hazards being created by the drain, which ultimately merges with the Satluj river and carries large-scale polluted water with it.

The Judges concluded: “We hope and trust that before the next date of hearing, the director-cum-secretary, Small Scale Industries, Punjab, will take initiative in dealing with the situation by deciding the matter and the decision taken be brought to the notice of this court”.

Allowing the filing of a fresh affidavit, the Judges also fixed January 17 as the next date of hearing in the matter.


Non-bailable warrants against 2
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 22
A local court today issued non-baliable warrants against Kuldeep Singh and Daljit Singh, both brothers of head constable Sukhwinder Singh, for intentionally avoiding the receipt of the summon orders through ordinary process.

The court has fixed the next date of hearing on December 21.

The court acted on a complaint made by Sheela Devi, wife of head constable Sukhwinder Singh, who claimed that her husband, Daljit and Kuldeep Singh had entered into a criminal conspiracy to defraud her.

In her complaint Sheela Devi has claimed that all the three had hatched a conspiracy to get her married to Sukhwinder Singh, who she alleged was already married.

She claimed that Sukhwinder Singh, in connivance with his brothers, also looted Rs 3.87 lakh from her and an FIR had been lodged against only Sukhwinder Singh while the police took no action against Daljit Singh and Kuldeep Singh.


Bar assn complains against its president
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 22
A delegation of the District Bar Association, under the leadership of N.S. Saifdipur, vice- president of the association, met the Patiala SSP and submitted a written complaint to him against Rakesh Gupta, president of the DBA

In a press note, Saifdipur said the construction company owned by Gupta had engaged in “misappropriation” of funds.


One killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 22
One person was killed in a road accident near the Mundi Kharar area today. The incident took place near the Mundi Kharar petrol pump when 22-year-old Ram Kishan was going from Kharar to Chajju Majra Colony.

A native of Uttar Pradesh, he has been living in Chajju Majra Colony with his brother Raju. He was riding a rickshaw when a speeding Maruti car hit him. He was taken to the local civil hospital from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

He succumbed to his injuries this morning at PGI.

The police have booked the car driver Manpreet Singh, a resident of Ballomajra village, under Sections 279 and 304 A, IPC. 


Potato Blight
PAU experts caution farmers
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune New Service

Ludhiana, November 22
Following reports of potato blight in Nangal Khunga village near Tanda in Hoshiarpur district, Punjab Agricultural University scientists have warned farmers in the state to start steps to prevent the disease which has caused more than 80 per cent loss the to the late sown crop in the state, on several occasions, during epidemic years. Epidemics were reported in 1985-86, 1989-90, 1992-93, 1997-98 and also in 2006-07.

Dr T.S Thind, of Department of Plant Pathology, said "we are not aware about any cases of blight during our visits all over the state, this year. However, in case facts of reported blight by the Jalandhar Potato Growers Association were true, farmers needed to wake up and act fast, because late blight generally makes first appearance in second week of November".

Dr Thind said it was premature to confirm any cases of blight without verification. Farmers need to ensure safety measures for the crop because the season these days was very congenial to allow blight suspectible crop to be exposed to infection.

The most suspectible areas in the sate for widespread crop loss due to potato blight, include Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Ropar districts. The disease is usually first observed in certain areas of Hoshiarpur notably in Sham Chaurasi, Mehtiana, Phuglana and Tanda areas.


Centre yet to recognise Tarn Taran as dist 

Tarn Taran, November 22
Though this historic township was declared the 19th district of the state by the former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the occasion of the 400th martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, 17 months ago, the union government was still to recognise it as a new district.

It was still being nominated as a part of the nearby Amritsar district for the implementation of various schemes announced by the union government.

So much so that officials of the district administration and other staff had not got any salaries for the last five months or more.

Parkash Singh, additional deputy commissioner (development), Tarn Taran, said today that every district had a District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) for the implementation of various schemes of the union government. But this was not true about this district. As there was no such agency, the district had failed to get sufficient funds for development and other purposes. The government had also failed to sanction posts of assistant project officer and investigator, he added.

He said the government employees, who were relieved due to the closing down of cooperative sugar mills, were being transferred to the district to tide over the staff shortage. However, this staff did not have proper training and thus were hampering the work of the administration. He said the administration was also facing an acute staff shortage.

Moreover, the state government is yet to set up district welfare and sainik welfare offices in Tarn Taran. However, Parkash Singh said Tarn Taran would be recognised as a district in the next financial year.


SC, BC children await scholarships
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
In what is a pointer towards the slow pace of government functioning, 11 lakh children belonging to the Scheduled Castes and backward classes studying in government and recognised schools have been waiting for their promised scholarships to be distributed while, separately, free books meant for poor children of SCs were, distributed in late October and early November.

All this even as the academic session started in April this year, thus the books reached the children six months after they had studied in their respective classes. Exams are scheduled in late February and early March next year.

Sources in the government said a sum of Rs 56 crore was to be distributed as scholarships to SC and BC children. This was to be done on a monthly basis but was not carried out. Now the finance department has sanctioned a sum of Rs 33 crore for the scholarships for period from April 1, 2007 to October 31, 2007. This money is yet to be distributed among the children, which includes girls. It is expected to be done by the end of this month.

As far as distribution of free books for poor SC children is concerned the department of social welfare despatched the books in late August. The books were specifically for classes XI and XII students. The complete distribution has been carried out only in the districts of Muktsar and Ferozepore. The others 18 districts have not informed the officials in the department about the progress. 


Teachers, mgmt fight over control of school
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
The authority to run the affairs of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh Khalsa High School, Sirhind, has become a bone of contention between the committee members of the educational society and the teachers of the school who are locked in a tug of war for the last 14 years over the issue.

Even after so many years and three court cases already settled, the discord among the teachers and the management committee is yet to be resolved.

The trouble started after the previous secretary of the society Dr Kartar Singh passed away in 1993. Following this, the senior most teacher of the school Mahinder Singh Bajwa was given the additional charge of head master.

Dissatisfied with the new arrangement, a faction amongst the society members starting levelling allegations against the head master, who allegedly took over the control of the society. The faction lead by Jaswant Singh, who claimed to have been made secretary after Dr Kartar Singh, went to the court against the new arrangement and subsequently won the case in lower court, then the district court and finally in the high court.

In the case filed by Jaswant Singh and some society members, it was stated that the teachers of the school had bypassed the society and taken over the control of the school in violation of the rules and regulations.

The court ordered that the authority to run the school be restored to the society. Following this, Dharam Singh was made the cashier and was asked to shoulder the responsibility of running the school. However, Jaswant Singh, at that time, got a resolution passed in which seven members of the management committee were ousted, including Dharam Singh who had already been given the charge of the cashier after the high court orders.

Jaswant Singh claimed that even after the management committee expelled the cashier, the teachers continued to let Dharam Singh look after the affairs of the school. He alleged that this was a deliberate attempt by the teachers to keep the control of the school with them. He said being a government-aided school, the said matter was also brought to the notice of the education department, which could not intervene and continued to issue grant-in-aid to the teachers, which was spent without the knowledge of the management society. 

Dharminder Singh, the present head master of the school, when contacted, said there had been a dispute since 1993 which had been resolved in the high court. However, some members of the management committee, having vested interests, were still not letting the things settle down in an attempt to secure complete control of the school. He said in the process, these committee members were doing irreparable damage to the school which had been imparting education in this part of the region since 1955. He suggested that the matter could only be resolved through 
table talk


Coop sugar mills not to be closed down
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22
Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said he was determined to protect interests of sugarcane growers to save cooperative sugar mills from collapsing. He said cooperative sugar mills, which were open to protect the interests of the farmers, would not be closed down.

He said managements of private sugarmills should change their attitude towards farmers and should get them their due. He said if the private mills did not crush cane this year, it would not only hit farmers but also consumers. If sugar was not manufactured this year, it would lead to rise in its prices affecting people all over the country.

Capt Kanwaljit said monopoly of private sugar mills could prove dangerous for farmers. Because of this reason, cooperative mills were being made operational in Punjab, he added. So far, no private mill has started crushing of sugarcane whereas cooperative mills had begun crushing of cane at certain places.


Mohali college drub DAV Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 22
On the second day of the Punjabi University Inter-College Kabaddi Tournament for men (Punjab style), DAV College from Bathinda trounced Government College, Mohali, 36-5 to surge ahead in the competition.

Khalsa College from Bela outplayed Government Ranbir College, Sangrur, 42-32 and University College, Rampura Phul, humbled Government College, Mohali, 57-7 to secure their berth in the next round of the tournament.

Khalsa College, Bela, later defeated Government College, Bathinda, 39-25 and Government Ranbir College prevailed upon Government College, Kotkapura, 45-20 points.

Presiding over the proceedings of the second day, Dr Gurmohan Walia, principal, Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, exhorted students to take part in sports and cultural activities. 


501 ASC Bn beat MES XI
Tribune New Service

Patiala, November 22
A fine batting of 57 not out and 4 for 17 by captain Ankur Gupta helped 501 ASC Battalion defeat MES XI Patiala by 7 wickets in the first Twenty-20 match which concluded at the Army Ground here yesterday.

Winning the toss, 501 ASC Bn decided to bowl first. MES XI managed to score 117 in 19.4 overs.

Brief score:

MES XI Patiala - 117 all out in 19.4 overs. (Gopal 37, Ranjit Dass 22, Jasbir Singh 17, (Ankur Gupta 4/17, N. S. Vasant 3/25 and Vishal Murada 1 for 22).

501 ASC Bn - 119 for 3 in 17 overs (Kuldip Kumar 25, J.P. Pandey 14 and Ankur Gupta 57 not out) (Jasbir Singh 1/20, Gopal 1/23 and Satwinder Singh 1/26) Man of the match - Ankur Gupta of ASC Bn. 


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