P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Wagah to be developed as global tourism centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Punjab will develop area on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border as a global tourism destination centre. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

The government also decided to focus on the preservation and maintenance of a network of major religious and cultural heritage sites across the state to highlight Punjab's unique historical identity. In addition, the state's ancient cultural life would also be replicated through projects like building an heritage village. One such village is already coming up near Amritsar.

Punjab will seek the services of world renowned experts in tourism infrastructure to design and develop a sprawling tourist facility with state-of-the-art recreation gadgetry, gardens, expansive parking space, restaurants and hotels near the site and along the Amritsar-Attari Road.

While the “Beating Retreat" ceremony would continue to be the focal point of tourist attraction, the government would use it to showcase Punjab's culture and broadbase tourism activity on and near the site.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board has asked the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, to immediately sanction Rs 35 crore under the central financial assistance (CFA) to develop Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Fatehgarh Sahib as tourist destinations in the state.

The central government has already sanctioned a project of Rs 557.58 lakh for the integrated development of the Attari-Wagha border. The projects to be developed include Attari Mahal and samadhi complex (Rs 149.43 lakh), Pul Kanjari (Rs 75.30 lakh), Neem Chameli complex (Rs 123.69 lakh) Rajasansi village carpet weaver complex (Rs 43.62 lakh), Saria Amanat Khan complex (Rs 28.38 lakh), Attari Intrnational railway station (Rs 32.21 lakh) and Ram Tirath complex (Rs 31.95 lakh).

The chief minister today asked the board to restructure its composition in order to make it broad-based under the chairmanship of the chief secretary with the nomination of at least four or five representatives of the people.

While reviewing the status of tourism projects sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Badal directed the finance department to promptly release the state's share for the timely execution of the ongoing projects. It was informed at the meeting that the Ministry of Tourism has so far released Rs 3647.18 lakh against its share of Rs 6339.72 lakh to the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board.


A Day of Resignations
Punjabi varsity VC puts in papers
Registrar Sandhu follows suit
Tribune News Service

S.S. Boparai
"When I am not sad over the resignation, why should you be sad
— S.S. Boparai

Patiala, November 27
Punjabi University vice-chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai has put in his papers. He confirmed here today that he had submitted his resignation to the Punjab Governor.

Boparai said he had submitted his resignation and said he would continue in office till it was accepted. He refused to comment on the reasons for his resignation. When asked if there was any pressure from any quarter on him to quit or he had resigned under duress, Boparai said he would not like to comment on his resignation at all.

Meanwhile, Baldev Singh Sandhu, registrar of the university, also resigned this morning. He went to the office of the vice-chancellor and put in his papers. S. S. Khaira, a senior faculty member of the Department of Law, was appointed acting registrar.

Sandhu said he was picked up for the post of registrar by Boparai and he continued in office till Boparai was there. “Now with the vice-chancellor resigning, I see no reason for myself to continue as registrar,” he said.

Boparai met a large number of guests, senior university faculty members. “There is no reason to be sad about this. When I am not sad over the resignation, why should you be sad,” he told one of his well-wishers who called him on the telephone.

The vice-chancellor said he had cancelled a series of foundation stone laying ceremonies that were scheduled for November 28 and 29 to avoid criticism.

Boparai was all praise for the faculty members, non-teaching employees and students of the university, who had extended their cooperation to him during his tenure as vice-chancellor.


Loss for govt, gain for NGOs, says Brij Bedi
Kiran Bedi quits
Ashok Sethi

Kiran Bedi and her husband Brij Bedi
Kiran Bedi and her husband Brij Bedi

Amritsar, November 27
Gloom descended over the holy city as the news of Kiran Bedi, first female IPS officer, resignation flashed on TV channels, bringing down curtains on one of the most illustrious career of a woman police officer.

Telephone calls started pouring in at her husband Brij Bedi’s residence. Describing the decision as both sad and of a major significance, he said the government had lost one of the most competent police officer due to the fact that the powers to be in Delhi had decided to ignore merit to promote her two-year junior officer to the coveted post of Commissioner of Police, New Delhi. He said it might be a major loss for the government but it would be a significant gain for the social organisations and the people of the country. He added that she would be able to devote more time for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden of society.

Brij, who is also a social activist, said as DGP, development and reforms, she had planned some important projects to reform the police force.

Taking a dig at the political powers, he said by ignoring merit the government had shown its inkling to promote mediocrity and allow officers of her calibre to fade away. He said Kiran was likely to devote her energies in running NGOs, including India Vision Foundation and Navjyoti.

He said his wife would launch a major campaign against drug addiction, AIDS awareness and schemes to improve the quality of life among jail inmates. He said she was likely to visit her home town soon.


SAD, BJP to meet today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
For the Badal government which is caught in a fiscal mess, tomorrow will be a significant day when two coalition partners-the SAD and the BJP-in the state government will meet to discuss mobilisation of resources and sort out the issue of appointment of politicians as chairpersons of various boards and corporations.

Members of the coordination committee of both the coalition partners are slated to meet early in the morning tomorrow. Members of the SAD’s coordination committee met here this evening to plan their strategy for tomorrow’s meeting.

The BJP has been seeking a due share from the appointments made at the political level by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The BJP wanted its man as chairman of the PSEB besides certain other oragnisations, including the Punjab water and sewerage board.

Already, Badal has appointed six chairpersons of important organisations and they are from the SAD quota. As three important portfolios, including local bodies, transport and industries are held by BJP ministers, they wanted to appoint BJP men as chairpersons of various organisations under the control of these departments. There are several corporations dealing with industries and chairpersons of those bodies are appointed from amongst politicians usually. What decision in this regard will be taken remains to be seen.

The second issue is of resource mobilisation to avoid hitting the critical situation on fiscal front in the state. Earlier, a number of meetings on this issue between the two partners had been held but without any result. However, sources said, at tomorrow’s meeting some decisions will certainly be taken keeping in view the existing fiscal situation in the state.

Besides, Badal will also address a meeting of deputy commissioners. The issue recently raked up by politicians was that they should be given due respect as public representatives whenever they visit offices of various heads of departments in districts.


Badal Case
Another witness declared hostile
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 27
Another witness in the corruption case against the Badals was declared hostile by court today at the request of the prosecution.

Surinder Singh, a cable operator of Patiala, today deposed before the court that he never made any statement before the vigilance. He stated that he had met B.I.S. Chahal a few years back. “I told Chahal that my father and brother had been convicted for 20 years in a criminal case and requested him get them released on parole. He got my signatures on some papers on the plea that my brother would be released on parole. I did not visit any vigilance or police official to give any statement.”

He had earlier given a statement to the vigilance that Kamaljit Singh, also of Patiala, had applied for the post of assistant plate maker in 1998. He said he had told him that Narotam Singh Dhillon, a nephew of Badal, was close to him and most of the works were done through him. I, along with Kamaljit, had gone to Badal village to meet Narotam. He said they paid Rs 1 lakh to Narotam for the job. However, Surinder today said he had never met Narotam.

The other two witnesses who deposed before the court today were Paramjit Singh Khehra, SP, vigilance bureau, and Gurmukh Singh, former DSP, Punjab Police. Both stuck to their earlier statements given before the vigilance.

Khehra stated that as per the directions of his senior officers he had conducted a search of a petrol station at Killyawali village, stated to be in the name of Gurdas Badal. The team had also gone to the premises of the State Bank of Patiala at the village to carry its ssessment. On July 13, 2003, a team carried out the assessment of Orbit Resort and got it video-graphed. On July 24 the police party, including him, carried out a search at the flats of Sukhbir Badal in New Delhi. The SP said the cassettes were handed to an investigating officer. He did not know whether the master print was handed to him or it was tampered with.

Gurmukh also maintained that he was part of the teams that inspected the properties of Badals located in Delhi.

Sukhbir Badal was present in the court today.


‘SAD flouting EC norms’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 27
In a complaint to the Election Commission, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission Balwant Singh Khera today demanded the SAD, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president of the party, be derecognised for their active participation in the matters of the SGPC and the DSGMC.

Khera told mediapersons here this evening that he had filed a petition before the commission on the matter. In the petition it has been alleged that the SAD has two constitutions, participates in the SGPC and DSGMC elections and uses religious symbols, scriptures and idioms.

Khera claimed that in reply to the commission, the SAD had admitted that it had two constitutions and one was sent to the Gurdwara Election Commission, Chandigarh, by mistake. Secondly, the party has not denied the fact that it had participated in the elections of the two committees, he said.

“A meeting of SGPC members was held in Teja Singh Samundari Hall and was addressed by the Chief Minister on November 22. Being a head of a political party, Badal was not supposed to address the committee meeting. His son Sukhbir Singh Badal was also present there. Both of them are not even members of the SGPC.


More transfers in SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 27
President of the SGPC Avtar Singh, in order to strengthen the management of the committee, transferred at least 12 higher officials of the committee on the second consecutive day today.

Controversial SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh has been delegated with more powers. He has got charge of trust and education besides his assigned work. Secretary Dalmegh Singh has been relatively relegated to the lower post with the assignment of duties to him under Section 85 and agriculture. Rup Singh, a literary persons and private secretary to the president, SGPC, would take care of Sikh problems emanating in foreign countries besides looking after Section 85, whereas additional secretary (publicity) Ranjit Singh has been appointed additional secretary (trust).

Assistant secretary (administrative wing) Angrez Singh would also act as private secretary to the SGPC president while assistant secretary (publicity) Ajaib Singh has been appointed assistant secretary (flying squad). Assistant secretary Harbhajan Singh has been transferred to the Dharam Prachar Committee while assistant secretary Balkar Singh and in charge (administrative wing) Gurbachan Singh have been transferred to the Sikh History Research Board. Accountant Jaswinder Singh has been made in charge (administrative wing).


Avtar Singh calls on Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 27
President of the SGPC Avtar Singh today called on Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, at latter’s residence here today. It was their first meeting after the annual election of the committee.

According to sources, the SGPC chief took up with Jathedar Vedanti the action of Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib, in honouring sacked SGPC secretary Raghbir Singh with “Hari Singh Nalua Award”.



AI passengers stranded for 12 hrs
Tribune News Service

"I was travelling with my wife and we had to spend the entire night on the waiting chairs, with no hospitality by the airline staff
— Daljeet Grewal, passenger

Amritsar, November 27
Passengers of Air India (AI 111) Amritsar-Delhi-London-New York flight were stranded today at the Rajasansi airport here for more than 12 hours as the plane supposed to carry them could not land due to heavy fog.

The flight scheduled for 3:30 am could not take off on time and the 125 passengers had to be eventually flown to Delhi by an AI-882 airplane, where they were lodged in a hotel for the night.

Daljeet Grewal, an NRI based in London, said it was a nightmarish experience to wait for the flight for so many hours. “I was travelling with my wife and we had to spend the entire night on the waiting chairs, with no hospitality by the airline staff,” he said.

Passengers complained that most of them had reached the airport around 11 pm last night and the Air India authorities failed to give them details regarding the flight.

“We were on our toes all this while, spending the night without food and sleep. I had business appointments in London for today but because of the airline’s poor services, the entire schedule had been disrupted,” said another passenger.

Ashwani Arora, station manager, Air India, said the flight could not land due to heavy fog but the airline took due care of the passengers and called in a special Indian plane to take them to Delhi. “These are unavoidable reasons,” he added.

Flight delays having become a matter of routine due to heavy fog enveloping the Rajasani airport. Air India has already decided to set up an engineering base in Amritsar, he said. This would bring some respite to the passengers who were kept on tenterhooks due to change in flight schedules and clearance from Delhi before flying long distance flights would not be needed.

Arora said Air India had also requested Indian authorities to help them set up a parking base here so that an aeroplane could wait for 24 hours in case of delays.


Dalai Lama for better Sino-Indian ties
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 27
The Dalai Lama has advocated strengthening of Sino-Indian relations.

“I pray for better relations between India and China,” he said here today while replying to a question whether India’s support to him was a hurdle to growth of better Sino-Indian ties.

The Dalai Lama was in Amritsar to participate in the third meeting of the Board of Religious Leaders and Elijah Interfaith Institute organised by the Guru Nanak Nishkan Sewak Jatha and Guru Nanak Dev University jointly.

He said though the relations between India and China were a “complex issue”, he, nevertheless, was in favour of the countries coming closer.

Asked about indications that his successor could be named during his lifetime itself, the Dalai Lama said the possibility was there but the final decision had to be taken by the Tibetan people. “Far back in 1969, I had said that the institution of Dalai Lama might not continue subject to the will of Tibetans,” he said.

Though the Tibetans are keen on negotiating, the Chinese government has maintained the stand that there is nothing like a Tibetan issue at all. “They dismiss the fact that there is a Tibetan issue,” he said.

This is the third meeting of the board. The last two meetings took place in Seville and Taiwan. Later, the Dalai Lama paid obeisance at the Golden Temple.


KLF activist being extradited from Canada
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 27
Khalistan Liberation Force( KLF) activist Jasbeer Singh Sheri, who had sneaked into Canada after completing a five-year sentence in connection with the seizure of 5 kg of RDX, is being extradited to India.

According to highly placed sources, Sheri, who was involved in a number of attacks on All-India Anti-Terrorist Front chief Manjinder Singh Bitta and other VIPs, was arrested by the Interpol from Vancouver today, where he had been living for the past about seven years. He had married a Canadian citizen Inder Kaur. However, they got divorced after five years.

Ranjit Singh, brother of Sheri, while talking to The Tribune from Vancouver said the KLF activist was summoned by the police in Vancouver on the pretext of some query.

However, later the police told him that he had been arrested because he was needed by the Indian police. He said there was nobody to look after his only son, Randip Singh, who was only four years old.

His brother said the family would approach the International Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International to know the whereabouts of Sheri.


1 cr bill not paid
Police station telephone line cut
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 27
Failing to recover outstanding bill payments, the telephone of the Sadar police station here has been disconnected. The cops had not bothered to pay the bill of their landline connection (220648) of BSNL for the past 58 months.

SDO, Telephone (City), Amarjit Singh said out of the amount of 29 bills, the police authorities, despite repeated reminders and requests, had paid not even a single penny. He said the residential phone of the DSP had already been discontinued.

According to the SDO, the department had withdrawn the outgoing telephone facility of the police station on July 13, as a warning before discontinuing it permanently. He disclosed that approximately Rs 1 crore was pending towards the 

The department has sent legal notices to defaulters, including prominent personalities of the town.


Cong MLAs seek action against drug mafia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Two Congress MLAs, Brahm Mohindra and Sukhpal Khaira, while reacting to a report in The Tribune on how drug trafficking was being fuelled by well-heeled people, have demanded action against all such persons who are suspected to be harbourers of traffickers or are directly involved in the drug trade.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will hold a review meeting of SSPs and deputy commissioners tomorrow where the issue of drug trafficking is expected to be discussed .

Mohindra, an MLA from Samana, said the problem of drug trafficking was very serious in nature and was ruining the youth of Punjab. Khaira, an MLA from Bholath, was equally critical and wanted anybody connected with it directly or indirectly to be punished.


Publicity panel for NRI sammelan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
The Punjab Government has constituted a four-member publicity committee under the chairmanship of Harcharan Bains, media adviser to the Chief Minister, for the forthcoming NRI sammelan.

A spokesman of the state government has said other members of the committee would be principal secretary, information and public relations, D.S. Jaspal, commissioner, NRI affairs, A.S. Chattwal, and director, information and public relations, Tejveer Singh.

The state government is organising the NRI sammelan on January 5 and 6 at Chandigarh and Jalandhar, respectively.


High Court
PIL seeks better conditions in jails
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Acting on a petition filed in public interest for directions to the state of Punjab and others to protect human rights, life and liberty of inmates lodged in the prisons across the state, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, also fixed March 18 as the next date of hearing on the petition filed by advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti.

Referring to news reports dated November 14, Bhatti stated in the petition that directions should also be issued for holding an inquiry into the circumstances leading to death of prisoner Mukthiar Singh lodged in Central Jail, Amritsar.

The petitioner also sought directions for framing a policy to look into similar matter so as to avert such incidents in future also.

Directions were also sought for the adoption of appropriate steps when the death of an inmate took place under mysterious circumstances or due to lack of medical infrastructure in the jail.

He added that a jail manual was in existence, yet there was no policy for providing medical care at the earliest to convicts, undertrials and detainees.


ASI invites HC wrath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Think twice before proceeding on leave to evade summons because the court may summon your leave record.

In one such matter, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has called for the leave details of an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and has directed service through the senior superintendent of police (SSP) concerned. The cop has been accused of pocketing money and ornaments of an arrested person.

Taking up the matter, Justice Ranjit Singh ruled: Notice issued to ASI Baldev Singh, impleaded as respondent number four in the matter, has been received back with report that it remained unserved as he has proceeded on leave for 30 days. This is seen as a clear case of evasion of service in connivance with the police officials.

The judge added: “Let the leave details of ASI Baldev Singh be placed on record… He be served through the SSP, Taran Taran. In case ASI Baldev Singh is not served summons while on leave, the SSP will be personally present on November 29.”

The directions were issued on a petition filed by a Pathankot resident against Punjab, Gurdaspur SSP and other respondents. Seeking the registration of a cheating and forgery case against the ASI under Sections 420, 409, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC, the petitioner had contended that Rs 80,460 in his pocket and a gold ring were taken by the ASI during his personal search at the time of arrest in a case. But after he was released, the ASI denied having anything in possession.


Two killed in road mishaps
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 27
Two persons were killed and six injured when a Tata Sumo and a tractor-trailer collided near Ubhawal village, near here, last evening.

Dalbir Singh (23) and Kuldeep Singh (24), both residents of Ubhawal village, were killed in the accident. Three injured persons, namely Seera Singh, Bagga Singh and Jarnail Singh, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Seriously injured Seera Singh was later referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

The post-mortem examination of the bodies of Dalbir and Kuldeep was conducted at the hospital today.

Meanwhile, Shanti (35), a resident of Saffidon town (Haryana), died in a mishap at the bus stand here today. Jai Bhagwan, brother-in-law of the deceased, said she had boarded a bus this morning from Jind to attend the bhog ceremony of a close relative here. She died when a bus hit her head, he added.

City in charge of the local police station said the police had registered a case against driver of the bus Gurnam Singh.


Killer of wife, son commits suicide

Hoshiarpur, November 27
The man who was absconding after killing his wife and son today committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree at Bharua village in the district.

The deceased identified as Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Jalandhar, had killed his wife and son in his house at Guru Ram Dass Nagar on the night of November 25. Sukhwinder had assaulted his wife Parminder Kaur, son Gurbax Singh and daughter Paramjit Kaur with a sword. Parminder Kaur and Gurbax Singh died on the spot while Paramjit Kaur got injuries and survived. After committing the crime Sukhwinder was absconding.

According SP (D) Sushil Kumar, his body was found hanging from a tree by villagers. The body has been sent for a post -mortem examination to Civil Hospital at Garhshankar. — UNI


Scribe assaulted at wedding
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, November 27
Neil Bhalinder Singh, a correspondent with the Punjabi Tribune, was allegedly assaulted last night during a wedding he had gone to attend.

He informed the police that he was leaving the venue of the wedding when he was surrounded by at least six persons who started beating him and crashed empty bottles on his head.

He was seriously injured and rushed to the Dera Bassi hospital.

He was told by the other guests at the wedding that the person who attacked him included Gurmeet Singh, a government school teacher.

A case has been registered and the police is investigating the matter.


GND varsity syndicate poll: Cheema meets Guv
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 27
Senior vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress and senator M.M.Singh Cheema met Lt Gen S.F.Rodrigues (retd), Governor-cum-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University, to apprise him about the “unwarranted” interference of government nominees in the varsity senate.

Taking the issue of delay in the prestigious election of three syndicate members from the senate of the university, third time senator and member, Finance Committee, Cheema sought the intervention of the Governor to ensure the election of the three syndicate members as per the university calendar.

After the meeting, Cheema claimed that the Governor assured him that appropriate steps would be taken as per university rules.


Student hurt in clash
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 27
A student was hurt in a minor fight on the premises of Guru Gobind Singh Modern Technology and Polytechnic College.

The incident took place on Monday at around 11 am when three students were allegedly beating up a junior. Ankit, a student of final year of electronics department, tried to intervene and save the junior and in the bid, the three students beat him up.

Ankit's friends rushed him to the Kharar civil hospital. He underwent X-ray tests and a fracture in one of his arms was detected.

Meanwhile, Kharar city SHO Manjeet Singh said Ankit’s statement had been recorded. "However, he did not name anyone. He told us that he was pushed from behind and does not know who did it," Manjeet added.


Solar Power
US company to set up plant in state
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 27
Punjab will have the largest solar energy power generation plant in India. To be set by an American company, the plant will generate 250 mega watts of “clean green” energy.

Minister for environment and non-conventional energy Bikramjit Singh Majithia, who held preliminary meetings with the company, said the project would see the light of the day once the Chief Minister gave the nod.

The minister told this to The Tribune on the sidelines of a function organised by the Punjab Police here today. “I cannot divulge the name of the company at this stage. The company has already set up a 250 mega watt solar generations plant in Texas, USA and has now offered to set up a similar plant here,” he said.

“They have asked us to suggest a place in Punjab where there is a large chunk of land available,” said Majithia. Solar generation power plants need vast area. The company has promised to offer competitive rates.

Sources said the state had also asked an Israel- based company to set up a pilot one mega watt solar power plant on a piece of land available with the National Institute of Renewable Energy Kapurthala. The company had offered to set up a 250 mega watt plant in Chandigarh but the land offered to it was found to be unsuitable.

Sources added the company had agreed to set up single mega watt photovoltaic cell solar plants in villages across Punjab. But this electricity would cost Rs 9 a unit once these plants become operational in two years from now.

“We intend to generate at least 1500 mega watts of power through non-conventional sources of energy in next three years,” he said.


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