P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Industrial Package to Hill States
Sukhbir threatens to knock at SC door
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 3
The Punjab government may move the Supreme Court against the industrial package given by the Centre to neighbouring hill states. This was stated by president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal while responding to a query on extension of industrial package sought by newly elected Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Sukhbir was here to appear before a special court in a corruption case filed against the Badals by the previous Congress government.

He said Punjab had circumstances identical to those prevailing in neighbouring states of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir. Punjab is also a land-locked state. It has suffered due to terrorism and being a border state has suffered the most in two wars against Pakistan.

Many industries from Punjab have shifted their units to neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Punjab was losing revenue as well as employment opportunities due to special central package to neighbouring states.

Even other states like Gujarat are affected due to special package given to these hill states.

The Punjab government would urge the union government to either give similar industrial package to it too or scrap special incentives enjoyed by industry in other states. If the union government fails to respond to its request, Punjab would have no option but to move the Supreme Court in that connection, he said.

SANGRUR: Local government and industries minister Manoranjan Kalia on Thursday asked the Centre to announce a special package for agro-based industries in Punjab. He said the Centre should give special industrial package by keeping in mind natural resources of the state concerned.

The minister presented a cheque for Rs 1 crore to the deputy commissioner to hand over it to the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board for covering the open nullah in the Sunami gate area. Meanwhile, Kalia laid the foundation stone for the bus stand and a water works at Lehragaga. The minister also presented a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to representatives of the Garib Parvar Bhalai Fund for social activities.  


‘2008 to be year of delivery’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Describing 2008 as the year for delivery, SAD working president Sukhbir Badal said all promises made by the SAD-BJP alliance in their respective manifestos at the time of elections would be implemented this year.

Sukhbir was talking to media persons, sharing with them the agenda for the Punjabi NRI Sammelan here today. He said, “We will start by initiating the Mohali airport, for which an agreement will be signed between the Greater Mohali Development Authority (GMDA) and Airport Authority of India (AAI) on Friday.”

The Akali leader scuttled all speculations about his taking over as Chief Minister, saying that "I am not the only man (running the show). The complete vision of what our government does is prepared by a team and in my capacity I do monitor how things are progressing. But there is no such thing as my taking over. Badal saheb is the Chief Minister and he will continue to lead the state”.

Refusing to get embroiled into any controversy on the issue, Sukhbir said he was willing to discuss only the NRI Sammelan today. He announced that the state government had decided to make a database of NRIs across the globe by year end.

The two-day sammelan to be held on January 5-6 in Chandigarh and Jalandhar will receive over 200 NRIs in Chandigarh, more than 2,000 NRI will have an interactive session with the government and its functionaries in Jalandhar, Sukhbir added.

Among those who had sent their confirmation for attendance include Neena Gill, a EU MP from Brussels, former premier of British Columbia Ujjal Dosanjh, Ruby Dhalla, MP from Brampton, Ontario, Canadian MP Gurmant Grewal, Lord Diljit Singh Rana from UK, Ambassador Harcharan Dhody and leading hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, both from New York. 


Canadian delegation seeks transparency in NRI Sabha
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of Canada has sought a total revamp of the Punjab Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Sabha saying that the functioning of the organisations was far from being transparent or satisfactory.

President Kehar Singh Gill and general secretary Inderpal Singh Athwal, who have led a 150-member delegation from Canada to the Punjabi NRI sammelan being held on January 5 and 6 here, have said the sabha formed to assist the NRIs has failed in achieving any significant results owing to mismanagement.

“The members of the sabha have become property brokers. Instead of helping the NRIs whose properties have been illegally occupied or taken over by land or property mafias and helping them to get a complaint registered for trespassing, the sabha members try to act as middlemen and force the NRI to sell their property”, Gill said.

Athwal said we wish to know the activities of the NRI Sabha so that NRIs can regain some confidence in its activities. “What it has done so far and what it can do for the NRIs should be clear and transparent.”

Ten members of the NRI delegation from Toronto will participate in the Chandigarh session of the Punjabi NRI sammelan on Saturday and highlight issues and concerns facing the Punjabis in Canada. Listing out the main problems, the SAD office-bearers broadly categorised the issues that need to be highlighted into three categories. Problems faced by NRIs in India, their concerns abroad and individual problems.

Talking about the problems faced by NRI overseas, Gill listed the issues as lack of sympathy and support from the Indian government towards asylum seekers.

The NRIs were facing a big problem with regard to marriages, where either the bride or groom cheat or leave their spouse. Many have got embroiled in false dowry cases and have been declared proclaimed offenders. He has sought the government’s intervention to form a legislation to tackle this problem.

With regard to investments to be made in India, the SAD (Canada) has demanded the establishment of a single window for clearing of all projects. Besides, the NRI community, they said, was hounded and harassed by the Punjab police from the moment they land in India till they leave forcing many people to stay away. They have also asked the government to disclose the so called “black list” and to abolish it.

Leaders of the SAD (Canada) have also suggested that the government should have linkages with educational institutions in India with those overseas so that transition and assimilation of immigrants into foreign shores becomes easy. They have also pointed out that there was an alarming rise in the fake degrees being made and sold in Punjab, which had put governments overseas on an alert. 


NRIs have reservations on outcome
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Questions are being raised on the rationale of the government holding the Punjabi NRI sammelan year after year, especially when the government in power forgets almost immediately the issues and concerns raised at the sammelan by expatriates, who attend these conferences hoping their problems would be solved and aspirations met.

Qila Raipur MLA and only NRI legislator in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Jassi Khangura has asked the government to deal with NRI problems with earnestness. Making a strong appeal to the ruling SAD-BJP alliance Khangura said, “Please don’t turn the forthcoming Punjabi NRI sammelan to be held at Chandigarh and Jalandhar on January 5 and 6 into a sweet-talking shop, oblivious of the needs of the NRI community”.

Quoting from his experience of attending NRI sammelans in India spread over two decades, he said to work together with the NRI community, the government needed to understand the issues concerning people from here, living abroad. “Most NRI issues fit into four main brackets: those concerning their assets in Punjab (land, property, bank deposits,shares etc), matrimonial alliances, litigation (mostly intra-family) and problems concerning travel and transit”.

He has demanded that the government take steps to demonstrate its positive intent on NRI affairs. The first and foremost is making a legal definition of who is an NRI. The current provision is merely those defined by the Income Tax statutes. Second, an NRI register should be made that will be able to differentiate actual NRIs from those who are fooling the government and individuals here. Third, Khangura said, there was need to given an assurance to NRIs that they would not be implicated in false cases.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal stated in May 2007 that all NRI complaints would not be handled by anyone below the rank of DSP. Yet, daily hundreds of NRIs are hauled to police stations for interrogation, or worse, on false charges, with not a DSP in sight. He also advocated that the creation of a register of NRI assets would allow NRIs to voluntarily register their assets in Punjab for safeguarding these.

The fourth issue he proposes to raise at the sammellan is the demand that the government should display a proclaimed offenders register on Internet. “Sadly, many NRIs only learn of such a status on arrival in India. The government estimates that one in seven of the 14,000 odd POs in Punjab are NRIs. The vast majority of the NRIs were out of the country when they were declared POs, meaning that all such declarations are invalid”.

To prevent fraud in NRI marriages he suggested that an NRI seeking matrimonial alliance should be asked to present three overseas character references from individuals who have visited Punjab in the preceding 24 months. NRI partners not presenting any such references would not receive the support of the Punjab government in the event that the marriage fails.

Meanwhile, another NRI from the United Kingdom, Jagtar Singh Claire, in a letter to Badal, has said most NRIs who had built property are unable to enter their homes in India as these are usurped by people managing these properties in connivance with the Punjab Police, Land Registry Department and lawyers. Investors from most European countries do not invest in Punjab due to bad experience of their father's generation. They began to disinvest by selling their houses and properties. With regard to NRI issues, he too has made some suggestions like reorganising the land registration procedure.  


WHO-Recommended Model
Decks cleared for animal birth control in Punjab
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
The stage has been set for intensive animal birth control in Punjab. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) today decided to implement the WHO recommended model for fast-track sterilization of stray dogs in the state.

The pilot project will be first launched at Ludhiana, which tops the charts with an estimated population of 20,000 stray dogs. This is a conservative estimate, with the AWBI saying there could be over four lakh stray dogs in the city.

The decision to implement the pilot project at Ludhiana came this afternoon, following a meeting between AWBI chairman R.M. Kharb and Punjab animal husbandry minister G.S. Ranike, who promised to give land for the construction of shelters needed under the project. The ministry also said it would provide trained veterinarians for sterilization of dogs in Ludhiana.

Confirming the developments to The Tribune, Kharb said the MoU would soon be signed and the project launched in two months. The board, he said, had also asked the state government to conduct a census of stray dogs in Ludhiana. At the meeting today two different figures on Ludhiana’s stray dog population were presented. While the municipal corporation said the city had 20,000 dogs, the ministry’s figure was 8,400.

For its part, the project will be the first participatory animal birth control project ever to be started in Punjab, with the stakeholders including the local body, NGOs, the AWBI and the state government. “We will fund 50 per cent of the project and Ludhiana MC will fund the rest,” said Kharb, adding that this WHO backed model was highly effectively as it sought intensive sterilization. He was accompanied by secretary, AWBI D. Rajasekar.

Under the project, stakeholders cover 80 per cent stray dog population in the first two years of animal birth control. AWBI began implementing the model in India last year after it felt the old practice of sterilizing some dogs here and there was no good.

Depending on the success, the project will be extended elsewhere. It has already been implemented in Shimla and Dehra Dun. 


Cradle Scheme rocks with the first guest
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 3
The initiative taken by the district administration in launching the Cradle Scheme for abandoned newborns has paid off, with a mother of two girls here today legally handing over her third child, a one-month-old baby girl, to the district Red Cross Society.

Driven by poverty, Praveen Kaur, who works as a domestic help at Waryamnangal village, said her husband being handicapped, her family would be unable to bring up the child.

M.P. Galhotra, secretary of the society, said the woman said though it was as hard for her to part with the child, she was doing so as her child would have a better future.

Even though it had been announced that a person abandoning a child would not be quizzed, Praveen signed a legal agreement, wherein she said she would have no claim on the child henceforth and she could be adopted by any family through the five NGOs approved in the state. She added that she had taken the decision in consultation with her husband.

The child was immediately taken to the EMC Hospital for medical care. Deepak Sachdev, head of operations, EMC, said the child was healthy and had been taken to the ICU only to make sure her immediate medical and nutritional needs were taken care of.

The deputy commissioner said, “The child would be handed over to the Social Securities Department tomorrow. The district administration is looking forward to some NGO for adopting such children. Presently, the nearest approved NGO is based in Jalandhar,” he said. 


Three killed, 4 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, January 3
Three persons were killed and four injured in an accident at Dhuri road here today. A milk tanker , which was going towards Jind and truck going towards Jammu, collided Sangala village at Dhuri road 3 km from here.

Three persons - Ashwani Kumar son of Jagat Ram, Narinder Satia son of Saudagar Chand both residents of Jind and Bahadur a Nepali died on the spot while four persons- Malkeet Singh son of Updesh Singh resident of Hoshiarpur, Tejveer Singh son of Ram Singh resident of Jind , Karamjeet Singh son of Ram Behal resident of Faizabad , Parmod Kumar son of Hans Raj resident of Mukerian injured seriously.

Both vehicles had to be separated with the help of cranes in two hours. Traffic remained disrupted for two hours.

According to Malerkotla DSP Gurpreet Singh Sikand the police had registered a case of negligence in this connection.  


Physically challenged allege harassment 
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 3
Physically challenged persons, who had come to the office of the civil surgeon (CS) here from different parts of the district yeterday to get handicapped certificates prepared, raised slogans against the Badal government and the civil surgeon when they failed in getting certificates even till 5.30 pm yesterday.

Their medical examination for preparing the certificates was done yesterday. Civil surgeon Dr Satwant Bhalla said earlier she was busy due to the visit of the Chief Minister at Malerkotla and later she remained busy in official work which she could not disclose at this time. She said from 5.45 pm she was in her office till 7.30 pm and had signed all certificates prepared . She said 40 physically challenged persons had been examined .

Earlier, Kaka Singh, son of Baghel Singh from Amargarh village, told The Tribune that he, along with many physically challenged persons, had come to the CS’s office in the morning and till 5.30 pm they had not been issued the handicapped certificates. And now they had been asked by the staff to come on January 4 to collect the certificates, he added.

The same story was narrated by Baldev Dass from Rurki village, whose nine-year-old girl’s legs do not function, and some others. A leader of the Khet Mazdoor Union Darshana from Dhindsa village claimed many handicapped persons had already gone back home without collecting certificates and they would have to come again to the CS’s office for collecting certificates despite disability. She had come here with six handicapped persons from her village to help them in getting certificates 

Meanwhile, district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra criticised the health authorities for allegedly harassing physically challenged persons. He said he would write to the Punjab health minister regarding harassment to these people and 
the role of the civil surgeon in 
this regard.  


Baradari Gardens
Of poor upkeep, wild growth & garbage
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 3
Having been a cynosure for one and all for decades, the historical Baradari Gardens here seem to have fallen on bad days due to lack of maintenance. This is despite the fact that the district administration is busy finding ways for the resurrection of beautiful spots of Patiala.

The Baradari Gardens, surrounding the Baradari Palace in the north of the city, were set up by the then Maharaja Rajinder Singh, who had brought and planted rare saplings and trees apart for setting up a typical 19th century fern house and a rock garden.

With the passage of time, the Baradari gardens had such a huge popularity in the northern part of the country that people from distant areas flocked to Patiala.

Now, these beautiful and serene gardens have been left crying for attention, with efforts for their revival getting shunned midway for one reason or the other.

The foundation stone laid by former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on March 2, 2005, to revive the glory of the place only proved to be making mockery of the garden, as no practical effort was made later for the resurrection of the place by any of the authorities concerned.

A round of the place showed that the area earmarked for yoga and meditation was surrounded by thick grass. Plastic bags were littered everywhere, particularly between the yoga area and the Children’s Park.

Heaps of garbage could be witnessed at the place, and it seemed that no effort was made to clear it for months together. The children’s corner was in a shambles. There is a thick growth of grass here. The toy train at the place is lying non-functional and even derailed from the tracks.

Heaps of plastic bags, empty cans and paper could be seen around the central vista. If this was not enough, people were seen using broken water supply pipes in the garden for bath in the open. Stray cattle taking rest around the central vista was a common sight.

The gardens are also not receiving their share of water supply for irrigation purpose, as the channel supplying water to the place is lying non-functional for months owing to its alleged filling by the PWD authorities, who were constructing a fly-over on the 21 number level crossing. As a result, the garden had virtually got dried up.

On its part, the district administration was trying to get water for irrigation of the gardens at the earliest, apart from making some efforts for the revival of glory of the gardens. “ I have instructed the PWD officials to clear the water channel supplying water to the area within two days. Actually, the lack of maintenance of the place was more owing to lack of funds. We have planned to set up a restaurant and rent out a small place to some bank for setting up ATM. Besides, some hoardings could also be put up so that some income could be generated. Income earned from these places could be spent on the maintenance of gardens,” said deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal. 


Cop suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 3
In a surprise check of “peshi cell” (where under-trial prisoners are kept before they are taken to court for hearing) in the court complex here, district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh suspended inspector Sohan Lal after finding irregularities here today.

The SSP found policemen “mixed up” with the gangsters and criminals who had come for hearing. They were having tea and meeting their families.

“This is a serious security lapse and such type of behaviour is strictly prohibited” said the Kunwar confirming the news. Moreover, he added, the in charge of the cell was absent from duty and suspended.

Nearly 12 accused from local and other jails of the state, who had come along with police parties, were found roaming with handcuffs on outside the bakshikhana. Several of them were meeting their families like any day, he added. He said he was getting such complaints and after specific information today raided the complex.

The SSP said departmental action would be taken against those policemen belonging to the local police district accompanying the under- trial prisoners for their negligent attitude during duty. He added, he would also write to police chiefs of other districts, policemen of which had come with the accused for hearing, recommending strict action against them.

Meanwhile, the new bakshikhana has been started at new judicial complex here. 


  Consider TADA convicts’ early release: HC to Punjab
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Government to consider the case for premature release of a TADA convict behind bars for over 14 years after being convicted by a Faridkot court.

Taking up a petition filed by convict Teja Singh, Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court has also directed that his conviction for a jail offence will not be taken into consideration while taking up the matter. The Judge has also directed the government to do the needful within three months.

In his petition, Teja Singh, convicted for murder and offences under TADA and Sections 302, 307, 436, 427, 148, 149 of the IPC had claimed his continued detention even on completion of 14-year sentence was rendered illegal.

Teja Singh had added that the government had wrongly rejected his prayer for premature release. Going into the background of the matter, the petitioner had stated that he was convicted and sentenced on February 18, 1994. As on May 2, 2007, he had undergone 14 years, two months and 17 days of actual sentence.

He had added that by counting remissions and by excluding parole, he had undergone 19 years, seven months and three days of total sentence.

After hearing the arguments and going through the records, Justice Ranjit Singh observed: “The petitioner’s case was considered by the government for premature release vide order dated July 5, 2007…. The record of the petitioner-convict shows that he availed six months parole on the basis of fake farad of agriculture land on September 13, 2004. This is stated to be a serious offence as per Section 8.3 of Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners Rules, 1962”.

The Judge added: “It cannot be ignored that the petitioner has undergone over 14 years of RI as an actual sentence, whereas his sentence by including remissions works out to be more than 19 years.

“The provisions of Section 516-B of Punjab Jail Manual and the note appended thereto can also not be ignored. It says for the purpose of preparing the roll of prisoners under the above rules, the sentence awarded to a prisoner for an offence committed while in prison or during suspension of sentence is not to be taken into account.

“Purpose of this rule appears to be that sentence, which is awarded for a jail offence is not to be taken into account. It may otherwise sound reasonable to say that a person cannot be made to suffer on account of some minor infirmity, which he happens to incur while undergoing sentence. There may be something in what learned counsel for the petitioner says when he urges that the effect of punishment of forfeiture of 12 days remission even if given effect to, cannot lead to the consequences of non-consideration of the case of the petitioner for pre-mature release”.

The Judge concluded: “In view of the period of actual sentence undergone by the petitioner, and the fact that he has undergone sentence of more than 19 years by including the remissions, it would be fair to issue direction to the government to consider the case of the petitioner for pre-mature release by ignoring the conviction of the petitioner for a jail offence.


Case Against Badals
Two more witnesses depose
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 3
Two more witnesses today deposed before in special court here in the corruption case against Badals by the previous Congress government.

Darshan Singh DSP (vigilance) today endorsed his statement given earlier in the court. He stated in July 2003 he was posted DSP Chandigarh under the supervision of J.S. Kahlon SP (vigilance). He along with other members of the police and members of the technical team visited Balasar farm of Prakash Singh Badal on July 17 and July 18 in 2003.

As per court order we searched and prepared video graph. During the search nothing incriminating was recovered. The video film was prepared by Balraj Singh, police photographer. He also prepared a video film that was taken into possession by the police. The defence questioned Darshan Singh if signatures of the photographer were taken on video graph before it was sealed. To this the DSP said he had no knowledge about it.

The defence further questioned if he could certify the cassette handed over to them was the master cassette. To this also the DSP said he had no knowledge.

The other witness who deposed in the court today was Gurinder Singh Brar, manager Oriental Bank of Commerce branch in Karnal, Haryana. The manager also supported his statement given to the Vigilance regarding opening of bank accounts of Raghubir Inder Singh, Raghujit Singh and Sampuran Kaur, the prosecution witnesses.

The hearing of the case is to continue tomorrow also. 


’84 Riots
CBI under pressure, says witness’ counsel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Taking the CBI to task at a press conference, the counsel of Jasbir Singh, a witness of the 1984 anti - Sikh violence, said his statement could be recorded in another country while the CBI was requesting him come to India.

Criticising the CBI for holding a biased view, advocate for the witness Navkiran Singh said, “CBI is under pressure and not doing its duty in a fair manner and is pressurised by Tytler.”

The lawyer stated if the witness was outside India’s jurisdiction his statement could be recorded in another country under Section 166A (1) of the Cr P.C. He added in a letter addressed to the deputy superintendent of the CBI he had mentioned his client had been receiving life- threatening calls. Thus he won’t be able to come to India to get his statement recorded. Navkiran added as per the said Section if evidence was available in country or outside country then an application could be moved by the investigating officer to get the statement of the witness recorded at his present residence.

Listing other cases where the statement was recorded in similar circumstances he said, “In the Bofors case the statement of one of the witnesses was recorded while he was out of the country.”

Meanwhile, the advocate of the witness had informed the CBI through an e-mail that his statement can be recorded though he was out of country as per law and he was ready to join investigation. Replying to the mail, the CBI stated Jasbir was to be examined in depth in this matter and also required to point out the place where he had overheard the accused instigating the mob. The CBI added the witness’s examination under Section 161 of the CrP.C. was very important for taking the investigation to a logical end. For getting the statement recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC the witness has to depose before the trial court.

Aftermath the killing of former PM Indira Gandhi in 1984 several Sikhs were killed in Delhi and other cities. Allegations were levelled against Jagdish Tytler, Congress ex- minister that he had given instructions to kill Sikhs in the Delhi area. Jasbir stated he had overheard Tytler rebuking people for not killing a number of Sikhs in that area. 


Chahal’s case adjourned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
A case of attempt to murder and land-grab involving BIS Chahal, former media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was today adjourned for February 11 as judicial magistrate Harinder Kaur Sidhu was on leave.

Chahal was booked and arrested on June 10 at Ludhiana when he had gone to the office of the Vigilance Bureau for investigation into the City Centre scam. The case was registered against him and his relatives. Accused Jagdish Pal Singh was exempted from personal presence today by the duty magistrate. 


Science, commerce to enter rural schools
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 3
Expressing his concern at the absence of science and commerce faculties in rural schools of Punjab, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that these would be introduced soon.

He was speaking after inaugurating Godhewala Indoor stadium here today.

He said the government would open three schools in each assembly. Each school would be established at a cost between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh.

Badal also laid the foundation stone of an outdoor stadium and community centre worth Rs 7.50 crore.

The Chief Minister announced that a ring road connecting Baghapurana with Amritsar and Ferozepur roads would be constructed.  


Rs 1.5 lakh looted from trader
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 3
Four unidentified car-borne persons reportedly looted Rs 1.5 lakh from a cloth merchant on the Sultanwind road area here. He was also attacked with sharp-edged weapons.

Tarlok Singh, a resident of Kishan Garh Colony, was going towards his car after closing his shop situated in Golden Cloth Market when the accused looted the money after injuring him. They fled the scene after the incident. 


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