P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


DTO’s gunman beats up truck driver
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 5
The high-handedness of the Punjab Police once again was witnessed on the Gurdaspur-Mukerian road after a gunman of the district transport officer (DTO) thrashed a truck driver mercilessly and used abusive language.

The incident occurred at Chaba village when Abdul Ganni, driver of the truck, who was going to Patiala from Srinagar, failed to show certain documents of his vehicle to the DTO, S.P. Padda, who had laid a naka on the Gurdaspur bypass.

According to eyewitnesses, the truck driver failed to produce a fresh pass of Rs 500 per month, allegedly being issued by the department in connivance with its 'touts' to the truckers in the area. The pass is a kind of permit used by the truckers to cross the area. The pass had reportedly expired just two days before, according to Abdul.

The truckers alleged that the DTO asked Abdul to approach his gunman in this pretext. The gunman allegedly got irratated when Abdul approached him. He allegedly dashed his head against a truck, injuring him. The truck driver drove away towards Mukerain but was chased by DTOs gunmen at Chaba village. After a scuffle, the truck driver blocked the road. Other truckers also blocked the road for over an hour.

The case was reported to the police, following which Abdul was medically examined at the Civil Hospital, Gurdaspur. No case had been registered.

The DTO, however, claimed that Abdul drove away with his gunman Kalyan Sngh from Gurdaspur bypass to Chaba village. He claimed that Abdul was not carrying the necessary documents of his truck and on questioning he entered into a scuffle with his staffers.  


Ludhiana Ring Road
Defence Ministry’s clearance awaited
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The ring road project for the city, spelling respite to thousands of travellers in the crowded industrial town, has reached the desk of the Ministry of Defence for clearance. 

The project hanging fire for more than five years, if implemented, will mean saving more than an hour’s time for hundreds of vehicles in the unregulated and congested city roads.

Confirming the development, a senior Punjab Infrastructure Development Board official (PIDB) said certain areas of the Defence establishment at Badhowal on the Ferozepur road posed certain difficulty with the road alignments. Any change in the plan of the cantonment area needed approval from the Ministry of Defence, for obvious reasons, the official said. The government is also in possession of a project report compiled by a consultancy.

Besides a respite to travellers wanting to avoid entry into the city, the road will be of special benefit to trucks and long-route buses crossing the city for other destinations. The traffic diversion will also come as a welcome change for city residents.

The ring road project had been pending with the government, for five years due to several reasons. Following Supreme Court orders, the state government had set up the PIDB to mark the beginning of the road circumventing the entire crowded quarters in the city. In fact, the ring road will be taking care of avoiding a huge bulk of unwanted traffic from all directions into the city.

The officer said, "The government had faced objections from residents of certain areas along the proposed ring road earlier.However, the matter is now settled. Following a nod from the MoD, the work should commence, at the earliest".

In 2005, residents of Passey Nagar and Phullanwal village had objected to the government move on acquiring land for the ring road saying hundreds of families would be uprooted in case the "government went ahead with its 200-foot wide road".

Mohinder Singh, a senior citizen, said, "If one is travelling to Ferozepur from Chandigarh, he will have to travel across the entire length of the city and traffic moves at a tortoise pace during rush hours. The ring road will save time and provide comfort to daily travellers on different sections of the road map". 


Naib tehsildars working sans mandatory training
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
How officers can hijack a system can be seen in the case of Revenue Department, where a large number of naib tehsidars have been working without doing the mandatory administrative training of 18 weeks at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration.

Training at the institute is mandatory for all IAS, PCS, tehsidars, naib tehsildars and judicial officers. At the institute officers concerned are made familiar with the state’s laws, rules and regulations with regard to the revenue and certain other departments.

However, sources said a large number of naib tehsildars had been working on crucial posts for the past five or more years sans the mandatory training. Earlier, the number of such naib tehsildars was said to be 45. But recently 15 of them underwent the training after a lot of pressure from the government authorities concerned. Eleven more names were forwarded to the institute for the training, which will begin on January 7. Most of them have been skipping training on one pretext or the other, like busy in the revision of electoral rolls or elections or some other important job.

The sources said those posted in important towns and cities did not want to waste 18 days on training. Moreover, they feared that in their absence someone else could occupy their slot.

“All important cases by untrained naib tehsildars should be reopened and got examined from experts to see whether they had passed orders as per the rules or disposed of the matter with proper application of relevant laws,” said an expert in revenue matters. 


Mohali Airport
Badal betrayed Punjab: SAD(A)
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) alleged today that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had “stabbed in the back” of Punjab and Punjabis by accepting Haryana’s equal partnership in the Mohali international airport.

Talking to The Tribune today, general secretary of SAD(A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh said as the land for the Mohali international airport was being obtained by the government by uprooting farmers of Punjab, acceptance of Haryana’s equal partnership in the project was a “big blunder” on the part of Badal, for which Punjabis would not forgive him.

Alloarkh further alleged that Badal had earlier given up Punjab’s rights, including transfer of Punjabi speaking areas and Chandigarh to Punjab, and now he had accepted the entry of Haryana into Punjab by this act.

Alloarkh said the gherao of Orbit buses from 10 am to 2 pm on January 7 by the SAD(A) workers would be peaceful. However, he expressed apprehension that the gherao would be disturbed by “goondas” of bus owners, as they would sit in the buses as passengers to create disturbance.  


A Tribune Exclusive
Plot within plot in mind of Shingaar blast accused
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
Shingaar cinema blast accused and alleged terror trainer Gurpreet Singh had adopted the path of militancy to wash off a stigma on his family put by Babbar Khalsa International leaders during the militancy days in Punjab.

This is not the only sub-plot within the main plot of reviving terrorism. As per the disclosures made by Gurpreet Singh to the police, his father was killed by terrorists who believed he had helped the police.

Gurpreet has revealed to cops that the killers of his father were in the USA and he wanted to climb high in the militancy cadre to reach them and take revenge.

Police sources said Gurpreet maintains his father was not a traitor but a victim of a conspiracy hatched by his rivals in militants group. Even residents of Rurka and Jangpur villages where the family lived from time to time talk about the stigma in hushed tones.

His father Tarlok Singh, an absconding terrorist and proclaimed offender since 1992 as per police records and murdered as per family claims, had allegedly earned the stigma when Babbar Khalsa leaders accused him of helping the police in the arrest of another militant in 1992.

SSP R. K. Jaiswal told The Tribune that Gurpreet claims his father was dead in 1992 only and he and his family were often taunted for the cause of the death.

Ever since his arrest, the cops are trying to have a clear view of the mind of a militant to evolve strategies for combating terrorism in future. It was during such strenuous questioning that he revealed the story that was haunting him.

“My father had not crossed over to the police. He was killed. I wanted to clear me and family of the bad name. I wanted to do something big,” revealed a police official quoting Gurpreet.

The statement has put the status of his father in question. A section of police officials believed his father was in Pakistan and Gurpreet met him. However, the manner in which he revealed the stigma story has made the cops believe that Tarlok Singh is dead. However, till there is some concrete proof of his murder, he would remain a wanted terrorist and proclaimed offender.  


Hill chill beckons Amarinder, Aroosa
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Aroosa Alam, the famed Pakistani friend of Capt Amarinder Singh, has headed for the scenic Dochi-based farmhouse of her royal friend in Himachal Pradesh along with her three female and five male Pakistani friends.

Capt Amarinder Singh escorted a smiling Aroosa in his Ford Endeavour SUV while, other guests and security personnel followed them in one Innova, two Ambassador cars and one gypsy.

The cavalcade carrying the guests and Amarinder Singh zoomed out of Moti Bagh Palace around 11.30 am today.

Aroosa and her other Pakistani friends have been enjoying royal hospitality for the past about 10 days when she was driven in Moti Bagh Palace by Amarinder himself, kicking a lot of dust in his personal and political circles.

They are likely to stay in Dochi for three days, palace sources said. It could, however, not be ascertained whether Aroosa and other Pakistanis would come back to Patiala or go to Delhi for further travel back to Pakistan. Aroosa and most of her companions have Indian visas which are valid till January 23.

Aroosa and her friends hit the headlines when they went to the interior of the city on Friday to shop for famed Patiala articles such as utensils, paraandas, juttis, soaps, clothes and duppattas.

Aroosa, it is learnt, was wearing a yellow-green suit along with a black coat while, Amarinder was in his usual churidaar pyjama and an overcoat. Before boarding their vehicles, Amarinder, Aroosa and their friends enjoyed tea with biscuits around 10 am. Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur and their son Raninder Singh were present in the palace, but they did not bid goodbye to Aroosa and other Pakistanis, palace sources said. Initially, Amarinder and Aroosa, it was learnt, was to head for Delhi but, what made them alter their programme was the cold but somewhat pleasant weather of Dochi. 


Suffer power cuts for a month
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Lakhs of consumers facing long power cuts in rural and urban areas of Punjab are not likely to get any respite in the near future as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has failed to get power from other states.

If PSEB chairman Y.S Ratra is to be believed no power was available in the market for purchase by the PSEB for at least one month.

“We are not going to get any additional power to meet shortage till at least one month. I cannot say anything about the position beyond that,” said Ratra while talking to The Tribune.

There are about 62 lakh power consumers in Punjab, of which 42 lakh are in urban areas.

These include about 10 lakh tubewell connections.

The requirement of power in the state is around 1,000 lakh units while the availability is around 800 lakh units.

The power situation is so bad that people of rural areas are forced to bear prolonged power cuts ranging between 10 and 12 hours a day while people hooked with urban feeder are facing cuts of around six hours a day. The worst hit is the industry and agriculture sectors. 


He helped govt get 300 cr, but got no award
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
“I have gone through the contents of the enclosed note and would like that Madan Lal Garg, senior assistant, working in the Finance Budget-II branch of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, may be given a cash reward of Rs 51,000 out of the funds placed at my discretion and his services appreciated at the level of the chief secretary.

Besides, I would also like that a case of out of promotion of Madan Lal should be put up in a fortnight for my orders”. This was the note sent by previous Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the authorities concerned in the end of November, 2006.

However, the Assembly elections were declared by the Election Commission and Madan Lal could not be given the award and promotion and the award money.

Capt Amarinder Singh’s note was prompted by the recommendation made by the Finance Department appreciating the role of Madan Lal in reducing the interest burden of the state by some hundred crores by a special effort.

Madan Lal is posted in the Punjab Finance Department. He took up the debt swap matter with all departments concerned. In brief, Madan Lal made extra efforts to seek details from various departments with regard to the loan taken by them from various financial institutions and to make them swap the same with a loan available at lower rate of interest.

Madan Lal, who is said to be MA (economics) saved the state from the interest burden of more than Rs 300 crore, it is learnt. Loan worth more than Rs 9,000 crore taken on high rate was swapped with a loan of lower rate. It required dedication and hard work.

Appreciating his role, budget officer Kashmira Singh put up the note in this regard to the finance secretary, who agreeing to it forwarded it to the then finance minister and the Chief Minister for rewarding Madan Lal.

However, Madan Lal is yet to get the reward money and the out-of-turn promotion. Madan Lal refused to comment on it. However, he does the official duty sincerely.

He is an enviornmentalist and engaged in some other social activities. Under the Greentire programme launched by Yuvsatta, an NGO, he is engaged in promoting the use of bicycles in City Beautiful. He has been engaged in designing information, education and communication (IEC) material on HIV and AIDs awareness for “Rakshak,” a quarterly news bulletin of HIV/AIDS awareness. His organisation is also engaged in waste and garbage collection under the project, Sahyog, here. He is also a member of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, a national organisation working for literacy and scientific awareness and helping in preparing and publishing books under this campaign. 


Don’t appoint chairmen of trusts, corpns: Manch
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), an NGO led by Harbhajan Singh Gill, urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal not to appoint chairman of various Improvement Trusts and corporations as proposed by the government in view of financial constraints in the state.

In a letter to the CM, Gill said potable drinking water, adequate number of doctors and paramedical staff in government-run hospitals and dispensaries and teachers in government schools were crying for attention. The burden of Rs 100 crore to fund and administer these chairpersons would further burden the government without providing any ‘useful function,’ he added.  


Land Rip-off Case
Ex-estate officer’s role under VB scanner
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
In a land rip-off, the Punjab government in 1991 allotted five kanal of prime commercial property for just over Rs 4 lakh to the owner of a petrol pump located on Chandigarh-Ludhiana road. The land was handed over for just Rs 170 per square yard, even though its value even then was anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per square yard.

The entire exercise was apparently carried out in connivance with the officials of Punjab Urban Housing and Development Authority (PUDA), Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In fact, the then director and former estate officer’s role is under Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s scanner.

For the purpose of making the allotment, the authorities concerned allegedly took advantage of government’s instructions on disposal of plots owned by it. The instructions say an allottee will pay the price of excess area in case of marginal increase in the plot size due to on the spot measurement. The inapplicable guidelines guided the ‘smart officers to be generous’.

To make the matters worse, PUDA and GLADA chief administrators tried to justify the allotment on the ground that it was done for landscaping and beautification.

The scam surfaced after the petrol pump owner Surjit Singh and his son filed a petition seeking the quashing of a first information report registered in the matter.

Taking a serious note of the matter, Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the bureau to investigate the scam thoroughly. The judge also made it clear that the bureau would not leave any serving or retired officer responsible for the allotment, while posted in PUDA, GLADA or the housing department, including the then director, who had initially issued directions for the allotment of the plot.

Justice Ranjit Singh the then estate officer said, “The person who had allotted the plot without caring to see the policy instructions etc, would also be held responsible and accountable for this misconduct and for causing this wrongful loss to the government.”

The bureau has also been directed to ensure that the property remains with the government and no one makes an attempt to get the same by any means. If required to be disposed of, it would be ensured that the same is done by holding an open auction or any other known permissible mode that is generally adopted.

The department would also fix the reserve price of the plot on the basis of norms that are followed in this regard. The Vigilance Bureau would also submit status report on this investigation to the court after every three months.

The judge added that the petition would survive before the court to monitor the course of investigation so that no one is excused of his responsibility.

Giving details, the judge observed: “This case smells of a scam. How government officials can connive to benefit an individual to deprive it of its valuable property can be learnt from this case. Everything was done in a manner to give it a legal look, but underneath lay a smart move to usurp the government property for peanuts. Only deeper analysis has revealed the actual scheme and an attempt to usurp the government land in connivance with the staff of PUDA, and now GLADA.”

The judge further added: “How the employees of the PUDA, Estate Office, and also of the housing and urban development department, have acted tools in the hands of the petitioners to hand over the valuable property of the government.”

Virtually passing strictures against the PUDA and GLADA chief administrators, the judge ruled: “Shamelessly, both the officers had conceded the allotment of this land, terming it as small pieces of vacant land measuring 2,673 square yards. They still haven’t realised what fraud they have played or are justifying. They continue to justify that this was done for the purpose of landscaping and beautification.”

Before parting with the orders, the judge observed: “How can a plot measuring over five kanal be allotted in terms of a policy meant to apply for allotment of a marginal increase area of a plot allotted by the government? The Vigilance Bureau is perfectly justifying this FIR.” 


School land grab bid
Arrest of accused sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 5
The police should arrest the accused who were involved in the bid to grab the property of the 127-year-old Alexandra High School on Queens Road here.

Stating this to the media here today, Sadrick Sohan Lal and Daniel B. Dass, secretary, Amritsar Diocesan Trust Association (ADTA), and coordinator, Socio Economic Development Programme (SEDP), respectively, demanded the immediate arrest of those involved in the grabbing of the school property. A case had already been registered at the Civil Lines police station in this regard.

Some persons on May 17, 2006, had demolished the boundary wall of the school with the intention of grabbing the property worth Rs 1 crore. The land grabbers had dispersed as soon as hundreds of men and women of the Christian community gathered there, leaving behind two trucks containing cement, sand and other materials at the site.

Tabir ul Haque, who also claims himself to the bishop of the diocese of Amritsar, had presented fake power of attorney to lease out the property of the trust to the accused for 99 years.

Yakoob Santosh Sagar, the main accused, had been arrested from Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh.  


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
An armed robbery at a filling station at Chohal village took place today. According to police sources, at least five persons in a white Indica car went to the Khushi Ram and Sons petrol filling station at about 2.45 am. 

One person got down and gave Rs 500 to attendant Ashok Kumar to fill diesel in the car. The armed persons then told Ashok to hand over the keys of the cash drawer. When he refused, they beat up all employees and snatched the keys and decamped with the cash.  


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