P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt to set up block-level farm machinery centres
Latest equipment for poor farmers
Tribune Reporters

Moga, January 19
With a view to providing access to sophisticated farm equipment to marginal farmers, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced setting up of block-level pools, equipped with common farm machinery, across the state.

Addressing a Arhtiyas-Kisan Sammelan here today, he said the government would provide 30 per cent subsidy for the project and the rest of the funds would be resourced through banks.

Badal announced that payments to farmers through cheques would not be mandatory. However, farmers would be free to opt for mode of payment for their produce, either through cheque by a procurement agency or cash by a commission agent.

He announced that the state government would issue long-term licences to the arhtiyas having the validity for 20 years at a very nominal fee of Rs 2,000 only.

If more than one firm were operating from a single shop, two plots would be allotted to them. The minimum time period for the transfer of a plot once allotted had also been reduced from seven to five years.

Underlining the need for another Green Revolution in the state, he said the SAD-BJP government was fully committed to the welfare of the farmers as well as arhtiyas as both had age-old socio-economic ties among them.

President, Bharti Kisan Union, Balbir Singh Rajewal blamed the Centre for acting as a tool in the hands of some multinational companies, which were out to capture the marketing network system of the state. He said the existing procurement system in the state was perfect and there was no need to replace it with a new one.

President, Punjab Arhtiays Association, Ravinder Singh Cheema aired the problems being faced by commission agents.

Thekriwala (Barnala): The appointments of chairmen of state marketing committees and improvement trusts will be made after the panchayat elections in the state.

This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who was in the village to pay tributes to Saheed Sewa Singh Thekriwala on his 74th “barsi”.

Badal felt there was a need to overhaul the entire education system. He said by the end of the current financial year, 14,000 school teachers would be recruited.

The Chief Minister differed on the view that Punjab was still a “disturbed” state. When he was confronted with the statement of SAD secretary-general and MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Badal said he had requested the Prime Minister to exclude Punjab from the list of disturbed states.

Later, Badal, along with party workers, paid tributes to Saheed Sewa Singh Thekriwala on his 74th “barsi” here. He announced a grant of Rs 1 crore for providing basic amenities in the village.

Nabha: In an era of coalition governments, the Centre could not think of discriminating against states, but it all depends upon how a case is presented before it. This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing a rally here. He alleged the Congress had ruled the country for more than 50 years and had always focused on dividing people for its vested interests.

When asked why no package for the debt-ridden farmers was given to Punjab by the Centre on the lines of southern states, Badal held Capt Amarinder Singh responsible for this. He said the latter had given in writing to the Centre that no farmer of the state had committed suicide during his tenure as Chief Minister. 


Rs 10 crore released towards DA arrears
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
As the Punjab government has released Rs 10 crore for payment of arrears to employees in respect of 50 per cent DA merger, the Punjab State-Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union has put off dharna to be held on January 22 here in front of the office of the DPI (Schools).

Manohar Lal Chopra, adviser, Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president, and Ashwani Kumar Sharma, press secretary of the union, here today said the government had also passed order approving the release of grant of second quarter starting from July, 2007, to September 2007 for 484 schools.

In fact, he said, Rs 6 crore had been released as grant for 100 schools of Ludhiana, Hoshiapur, Nawanshahr, Moga, Ferozepur and Fatehgarh Sahib and for schools of the remaining districts grant would be released after receipt of documents from the district education officers concerned.


Kamagata Maru: Ruby to urge Canadian govt for apology 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
The Canadian government is yet to apologise for the Kamagata Maru episode in which 376 passengers, largely Punjabis, were turned back by the then government after spending two months on the high seas off the coast of Canada.

Interacting with mediapersons here today, Canadian House of Commons member Ruby Dhalla said she would impress upon Prime Minister Stephen Harper to apologise on behalf of the Canadian Federal government to India and especially the Punjabi community for forcing the return of the ship in 1914.

The Liberal Party MP from Brampton-Springdale constituency said she had brought the matter not only to the notice of the Canadian government, but had even raised it in Parliament.

Replying to a query why the Canadian government was shying from tendering an apology to the Indians for the Kamagata Maru incident whereas it had already apologised to the Chinese community for a similar treatment, Dhalla denied the Canadian government discriminated against the Indians vis-a-vis the Chinese on this issue. However, she was quick to add that she and other Punjabi representatives would soon impress upon the federal government to do the needful.

Dhalla was also critical of the Punjab Police for beating up two kids after her bag containing visa documents and currency was misplaced at a function at Pohir village near Mandi Ahmedgarh some days ago.

“I have spoken to Punjab Police chief N.P.S. Aulakh and asked him to enquire into the matter. If the cops are guilty, they should be suitably punished,”she added.

At another press conference on the Kamagata Maru incident, president of the Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation (Canada), Sahib Singh Thind today demanded that the Canadian government must apologise for the incident.

Thind, an NRI settled in Canada for 35 years, said when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to attend the 12th function of the Mela Gadri Babiyan Da on August 6 last year, he had acknowledged the incident of Kamagata Maru.


Japan Bank project funds misutilised
Forest contractor spills beans
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 19
Officials of the Forest Department have misused the funds meant for afforestation under a Japan Bank-aided scheme during the previous Congress regime.

A forest contractor, Alfdeen, in whose name payments were made through cheques, has spilled the beans. In an affidavit submitted before the inquiry officer, a copy of which is available with The Tribune, Alfdeen has stated that he used to work in Mehengrowal, Kapat and Arniwal forest ranges in Shivalik Hills as a forest contractor.

The then forest officials, who were in charge of the area, including former DFO, Hoshiarpur, R.R. Kakkar and range officers Ashok Kalia and Ram Lal, used to issue cheques in his name for works carried out in forest areas. He would get the cheques encashed and handover the money to them.

Inquiry officer and conservator, research and technology, Harsh Kumar is holding an inquiry into the case, which had been marked by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to him.

Harsh said the inquiry had indicated misuse of forest funds. As per guidelines of the project, the DFO could not issue contracts worth more than Rs 1 lakh. It has come to light that works were split illegally to keep their limit less than Rs 1 lakh, thus enabling the DFO to allot works on contract instead of involving locals as labour.

He said the affidavit of the former contractor, in whose name maximum cheques were issued, has details of how the funds were misutilised. I would be submitting the report to the Chief Minister very soon, Harsh said.

Sources said certain higher officials of the department could face action for failing to check the misutilisation of the funds.

The contractor has revealed the forest officials had conspired to implicate former wildlife warden Gunraj Singh in a false poaching case as he raised his voice against the bungling. He has alleged that forest officials R.R. Kakkar, Paramjit Singh and Kulraj Singh had asked him to dump parts of a dead Sambar’s body at the farm of Gunraj at Hoshiarpur. When I refused, they hired a labourer to get the job done.

A raid at the farmhouse of Gunraj was conducted by forest officials at a time when he, along with Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, were helping the district authorities of Hoshiarpur in an inquiry into the alleged illegal felling of trees in the Mehengrowal forest range.

The Tribune had highlighted large-scale misuse of forest funds under the Japan Bank-aided project. It has been planned to bring 15 per cent area of the state under green cover. However, despite the fact that crores of rupees have been spent under the project, the forest cover in state is just 3.2 per cent.


SAD (A) against inviting Sarkozy
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 19
Simranjit Singh Maan SAD (A) today opposed inviting the French President for the Republic Day celebrations.

In a statement here, Mann said India should not procure any weapon from France.

He also said the Centre was prompt to react on the action of the Malaysian government against Indians residing there, but the same endeavour was found lacking when the French government enacted a law to prohibit the wearing of visible religious symbols in schools.


Crucial NDA meeting on Jan 22 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
A crucial meeting of the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) will be held in Delhi on January 22 at residence of the senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.

All Chief Ministers of the states ruled by the BJP or other constituents of the NDA have been invited to the meeting. Besides it, senior leaders of political parties part of the NDA have also been asked to attend the meeting.

It is the first meeting of the NDA constituents to be held at the residence of Advani after his nomination as party’s candidate for prime minisership. And it will also be the first meeting of the NDA after the BJP wins in the Assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal.

The issue of appointing new convener of the NDA is likely to be discussed at the meeting. Incumbent convener George Fernandes, who is holding the office for several years, is not keeping good health, it is learnt.

As a political strategy and to present a secular façade, the BJP leadership certainly would like to appoint someone from minorities as convener of the NDA. Appointment of Fernandes as convener of the NDA was part of that strategy of the BJP. Sources said names of persons like Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, who is one of the most trusted allies of the BJP, and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, can come up for discussion to appoint the convener.

The sources said at the meeting the ball would be set rolling to prepare the election strategy for the Lok Sabha elections due next year. Elated over its recent wins in the Assembly elections, the BJP leadership is now keen to lead from the front in the next Lok Sabha elections. However, the BJP is aware without the support of the NDA constituents it would not be able to reach its goal of recapturing the power at the Centre.

There are also some important issues on which the NDA is expected to finalise its response. Most important issue is of the reorganisation of the states for which the UPA government is keen to set up a reorganisation commission.

Then there is issue of the 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha constituencies. That issue is hanging fire for many years. Only yesterday, a senior BJP leader made a statement that she was for consensus among various parties in the country. On this issue, public posture of most of the political parties does not match with internal thinking.

Then the NDA constituents would also be asked to negotiate with their friends in other political parties such as Chandrababu Naidu, Om Parkash Chautala to make them part of the coalition for the purpose of contesting the Lok Sabha elections as more formidable alliance.


Turban Ban
Sukhbir writes to PM, French diplomat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Sukhbir Singh Badal, working president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, has expressed anguish and concern over incidents of racial prejudice and violation of human rights in France.

In communications to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the French ambassador in New Delhi, Sukhbir has sought the PM’s intervention to ensure there were no violations of human rights against Indians, especially Punjabi Sikhs in that country. Badal asked the Prime Minister to take up this issue with the French authorities.

He urged the Prime Minister to take a tough and clear stand with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, who would be visiting India on January 26, so that confidence of the Punjabis and Sikhs, in particular, could be restored.

Badal hoped the French government would take steps to respect fundamental right of religious freedom.

In a similar communication to the French ambassador, Badal said recent incidents of racial discrimination in France, particularly the case of ban on turbans in educational institutions, went contrary to multicultural ethos of that country. 


Bedi Issue
Patna Sahib Jathedar seeks meeting
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19
The Jathedar of Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh, has asked Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to call a meeting of Sikh high priests over the issue of Diljit Singh Bedi, who had resigned as assistant secretary following charges of “moral turpitude” a few days ago.

Challenging the supremacy of Akal Takht, Giani Iqbal Singh said he would take up the “Bedi” issue at Takht Patna Sahib if Akal Takht failed to convene a meeting of Sikh high priests by February 6. He claimed that Takht Patna Sahib was the supreme Sikh seat since Guru Gobind Singh, who created the Khalsa Panth, was born at Patna Sahib. Many Hukmnamas (edicts) had been issued from there since a long time. He further claimed that the Sikh Maryada came into force after many years of the creation of Akal Takht. However, he hastened to add that Akal Takht was created about four centuries ago by the sixth Sikh Master, Guru Hargobind Sahib, who gave the great concept of “Miri-Piri”.

Talking to The Tribune from Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh said the Takht secretariat was flooded with complaints against SGPC chief Avtar Singh and the executive for giving a “clean chit” to Bedi. Hence, Takht Patna Sahib had all rights to take up such Panthic issues.

When contacted, the SGPC chief said it was the prerogative of Jathedar Vedanti to speak on the issue. However, he said, though all five Takhts were highly respectable, major Panthic issues were invariably taken up at Akal Takht. 


Chahal out on Patiala streets 
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 19
In an apparent bid of ‘show of strength’ or to indicate his ‘resurgence’ in Patiala, Capt Amarinder Singh’s former media adviser Bharat Inder Singh Chahal ventured out and took ride on a motorcycle in the streets of the city today.

Not only that, Chahal went to appear in two cases against him in the district courts on a motorcycle. He also preferred this mode of transport to go to a shop at Kitaban Wala bazaar to savour ‘kachauris’ along with an advocate friend.

What surprised people of Patiala on Saturday morning was that Chahal was seen driving a motorcycle with a friend on the pillion. Chahal, sources said, came to his Twakli road residence early in the morning, had breakfast and picked up the motorcycle to head for the courts and subsequently to the bazaar.

He appeared in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate S.S. Panesar along with his counsel Narinder Pal Singh Warraich in a case related to the allegations against him that he had not paid for the furnishing of his kitchen in his Twakli road residence. Panesar fixed January 29 as the next date of hearing.

Chahal also appeared in another case wherein allegations against him were levelled by owners of the Bhagat Motor Company that he had forcibly taken a Mercedes Benz from them. Judicial Magistrate Jatinder Kaur fixed February 2 as the next date of hearing in this case.


Pak actor for exchange of knowhow, scripts
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19
The film industry in India will benefit significantly from the reciprocal exchange of technical knowhow and scripts as Pakistan has vast treasure of Sufi poetry and stories.

Noted Pakistani film actor-director Samina Peerzada stated this to The Tribune here today. She is in the city, along with her husband Usman Peerzada, to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award conferred posthumously on Rafi Peerzada by Manch-Rangmanch at Punjab Natshala.

Samina said at present film producers in Mumbai had to take the help of Pakistani film producers settled in western countries for shooting some of the scenes at various locations in Pakistan and were thus losing a considerable amount of money in the making of films. She said same was the case with Pakistani film producers who did not have the infrastructure and state-of-the-art laboratories to give finishing touches to the films.

Samina said the film industry in Pakistan had lagged behind as film producers in the country had made no investment in new technology and for developing the infrastructure for producing films. However, in India young film producers were serious in producing pictures projecting the plight of the common man, she added.

Talking about her 25-year stint in the film industry, Samina said “Zar Gul” (1995), “Khwahish” (1993), “Bulandi” (1990), “Bazar-e-Husn” (1988), “Mukhra” (1988), “Nazdeekiyan” (1986) and “The Blood of Hussain” (1981) were some of her successful films, besides directing two films “Shararat” (2003) and “Inteha” (1998).


Books on Sikhism in US library soon

Washington, January 19
Montgomery County has agreed to include books on Sikhism in its public libraries. This has been made possible because of the tireless efforts of Joginder Singh, a well-known philanthropist, and the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF).

The GGSF recently presented Montgomery County Department of Public Libraries director Parker Hamilton and New Germantown library agency manager Maria Padak Kari a plaque for "Excellence in Community Service". — ANI


Court can intervene if investigation is mala fide, says HC 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the court may issue appropriate directions while exercising its inherent powers if it is found that the investigating officers have failed to perform their statutory duties, or have acted in a manner that may make people lose faith in the investigating agency and the administration of justice.

In a judgement on the powers of courts to intervene under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Justice H.S. Bhalla of the high court asserted if the court, on the basis of mala fide intention on part of the investigating team, comes to a conclusion that injustice has been done, and mockery of law contained in the statute has been made, “then certainly to secure the ends of justice; and to preserve the faith of common people in the judicial system and in the administration of justice; interference of the court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is required to be invoked”.

The ruling comes on a petition filed by Punjab’s former director-general of police S.S. Virk for CBI probe in a corruption case against him. Claiming that the petition filed under Section 482 was not maintainable, Punjab’s additional advocate-general had during the course of arguments asserted that it was liable to be dismissed.

After hearing arguments in the case and going through the documents, the Judge ruled: “I am conscious of the fact that the powers possessed by the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are very wide. But at the same time, it also requires great caution in its exercise. Of course, no hard and fast rule can be laid down in regard to cases in which the court will exercise its extra-ordinary jurisdiction to secure the ends of justice. This reasoning of mine is also supported by the law contained in T. Moosa and etc. versus sub inspector of police, Vadakara police station, Ernakulam and etc. 2206 (3) RCR 221”.

The Judge further added: “I am also conscious of the fact that such powers can be invoked in exceptional and rare cases; and cannot be invoked as a matter of course. But in the present case, the complainant has stepped into the shoes of the investigating officer and is also heading the special investigating team. He has also actively participated during the course of investigations. And, in such like circumstances, powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deserve to be invoked”.


Kidnapping: One more held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
The district police succeeded in nabbing another accused in the high-profile kidnapping of a city youth Gagan Mahendru, alias Micky.

A police party, headed by Nurmahal SHO Inspector Satish Malhotra under the supervision of DSP Traffic Rajinder Singh, arrested Harpal Singh, alias Chhotta, of Kamam village falling under Mukandpur police station in Nawanshahr district.

SSP Arpit Shukla said a country-made pistol of .303-bore, one cartridge and an amount of Rs 65,000 were recovered from Harpal’s possession. While a kidnapping case had already been registered, a separate case under the 25 Arms Act was registered against Harpal.


3 suspended for escape of accused
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
An accused managed to escape from the custody of a Kapurthala police team when he had been taken to Goraya in Jalandhar for recovery in a case filed against him at Sultanpur Lodhi police station some time back.

A resident of Goraya, the accused Gurpreet Singh was taken to his house at Rurke Kalan village on Thursday. He pushed the police party aside and escaped in handcuffed position.

Kapurthala SSP Rakesh Agarwal told The Tribune that all three members of the police team, headed by Additional SHO of Sultanpur Lodhi police station Rajesh Kumar, an HC and a Home Guard jawan were suspended for dereliction in duty.

Gurpreet was arrested by the Tarn Taran police and he was taken by the Kapurthala police on the production of warrant in connection with a case registered against him at Sultanpur Lodhi police station. Over 40 cases of robbery and snatching, including nearly five in Kapurthala district, had been registered against him. 


ITBP team to ski down Everest
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
With the scaling of the Mount Everest not considered a “big deal” any more, a mountaineering team of the ITBP will soon undertake the first-ever expedition to “ski down” the summit.

The team will be led by DIG Harbhajan Singh, in charge of 26 BN Advanced Training Centre of the ITBP, near Baddowal, here. He is a highly decorated officer who has taken part in three ITBP Mt Everest expeditions, carried out successfully. He has just completed a special “ski down” practice session at the 20,000-foot Stok Kangri peak in Leh-Ladakh where minus 45 degrees temperature and weather conditions were akin to the Everest.

The team has skied down the Mount Avigamin in Garhwal, which is 24,100 ft high, in September. The Everest, with a height of 20,029 feet, offers far greater challenge as no team has ever skied down this summit so far.

“Some foreign mountaineers have done skiing at the Everest but those were isolated cases. No Indian or world team has scaled the summit under such an expedition,” said DIG Harbhajan Singh.

To ski down any peak, especially the Everest, requires double the strength, he said, adding, “most deaths on the Everest occurred when the climber had exhausted himself climbing and left no strength to ski down or fight the extreme weather conditions”. The 28-member team would take up the expedition in March, he added.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |