P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SHO’s Suspension
Villagers block Sangrur-Delhi road 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 2
Presenting a unique example, a large number of residents from various villages, including Nawan Gaon, Hotipur, Therri, Mandvi, Khanauri and Bushera, today blocked the Sangrur-Delhi main road at Khanauri and staged a dharna for about three hours there in protest against the suspension of Khanauri SHO Rulda Singh. 

They were demanding the reinstatement of Rulda Singh and his posting at Khanauri as SHO again.

The protesters also termed Rulda Singh as an honest and dedicated police officer. They also claimed that injustice had been done to him as he had been placed under suspension without any reason. They also raised slogans in support of the police. Many were of the view there that perhaps this was the first instance in the state when the people had gathered to support a police officer.

Rulda Singh was placed under suspension yesterday following a road blockade and dharna by traders and members of other organisations at Khanauri in protest against the alleged beating up of a Khanauri iron merchant Ashok Kumar by the SHO and his police party at about 3.30 am yesterday.

The villagers lifted the dharna when Moonak DSP Balraj Singh reached there and gave an assurance to the protesters that justice would be done to the suspended SHO.


Six Akali men accused of rape
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 2
Under the “Lodge your own FIR” system a girl (25) today lodged an FIR against six persons of an Akali party for allegedly raping her.

The incident took place on December 22 last year. However, the police failed to register an FIR at that time. The victim, a daughter-in-law of a retired BSF inspector, approached the police and lodged the complaint by filling up the required form.

Meanwhile, the medical examination of the victim was conducted today and the samples sent to a Patiala forensic lab.

In the complaint she alleged that her father-in-law had supported an Akali party in the last elections of the sarpanch and the accused, who belonged to the opposition group in the same party, kept a grouse against her father-in-law. She alleged that the accused committed the crime to pressurise him and malign his image.

She alleged on December 22 when she had gone to a satsang, the accused Rashpal Singh, Jasbir Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Sarvan Singh and Jaswant Singh, kidnapped her after bundling her into a car. They took her to their residence at Pandori Waraich village, where they kept and raped her for two days. They then took her to an unknown place and then to Ludhiana from where she somehow escaped from their clutches.

A case has been registered. Sharvan Singh, father of the main accused Rashpal Singh, has been arrested in this regard, said the police.


Villagers to challenge sale of shamlat land
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
There seems to be no end to the loot of shamlat land across villages in the state. Now, residents of village Milkh in Chandigarh’s periphery would be approaching the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging an order of the director rural development and panchayat, Punjab, who has allowed the sale of a part of the village common land in favour of Rattan Singh, another resident of the village.

In this case, a handful of villagers are poised against the village panchayat, which is headed by Rattan Singh’s nephew. The panchayat had resolved to sell its shamlat land to Rattan Singh in May 2007. Rattan Singh was asked to pay for the land on the basis of the collector’s rates, which were fixed through the Block Development and Panchayat Officer and the District Development and Panchayat Officer.

Some villagers, led by Gurdev Singh, alleged through petitions to the director panchayat and rural development that the area that was once a village pond and part of the shamlat deh was “sold” to Rattan Singh illegally by the panchayat.

They pointed out that the land was in possession of Rattan Singh for over 60 years and in the 1990s, he was taken to court by another resident of the village.

This suit against Rattan Singh was dismissed as withdrawn only when he gave a statement that he will not encroach upon the Panchayat property.

The villagers added that the area which Rattan Singh was occupying was to be used for the discharge of sullage in the absence of which the Panchayat would have to find an alternative arrangement which would cost the Panchayat Rs 4 lakh.

Rattan Singh, on the other hand, told the authorities that an alternative site for discharge of the sullage was already available and he was ready to pay for the land. His version was seconded by the village panchayat.

Interestingly, in his orders, the director rural development and panchayat “found strength” in the statement of the panchayat that since Rattan Singh was in possession of the land for over 60 years, it would take the Panchayat years to get the land vacated.

The director also felt that if the panchayat “is to resort to the legal remedies for eviction of Rattan Singh, it would be an endless journey and the panchayat many have to incur huge expenses on the litigation.


SAD in a fix
Youth Akali Dal chief older than Sukhbir
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 2
President of the All-India Youth Akali Dal, Sharnjit Singh Dhillon, an MP from Ludhiana who is nine years older than the newly elected president of the mainstream Akali Dal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, has put the Akali Dal and Youth Dal in a fix.

Since the “new finding” has created a piquant situation, the newly elected SAD president may like to hand over the presidentship of the Youth Akali Dal to a person younger to him. With the result, Dhillon may be accommodated in the mainstream Akali Dal. A senior Akali leader, on the condition of anonymity, pointed out that a 55-year-old person could not be accepted as president of the Youth Akali Dal, especially at a time when the SAD president is much younger to him.

The biographical sketches of both MPs, published by the 14th Lok Sabha mentioned the date of birth of Sukhbir as July 9, 1962 (46 years) and that of Dhillon as April 18, 1953 (55 years). Sukhbir was married on November 21, 1991, while Dhillon married on January 31, 1982.

However, it has been a practice for the past two decades that once a person is appointed as president of the Youth Akali Dal or All-India Sikh Students Federation, he does not step down on his own.

The Youth Akali Dal was formed by the SAD before Operation Bluestar to counter the All-India Sikh Students Federation. Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra was nominated president of the Youth Akali Dal. He continued to be president for a long time though he had exceeded the age of youth. Later, Sher Singh Doomsheri remained president of the Youth Akali Dal till his assassination.

On the other hand, Bhai Amrik Singh remained president of the federation till his death in Operation Bluestar. Similarly, Harminder Singh Gill continued to be president of the AISSF till he joined the PPCC in 1995. Similarly, the president of other Sikh federations, including Rajinder Singh Mehta (now SGPC’s executive member), Gurcharn Singh Grewal and Karnail Singh Pirmohammad remained presidents of their respective outfits after many years of the completion of their studies.

Veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta said the Sikh leaders had been circumventing the constitution of the AISSF which had clearly mentioned that its president could hold the post for only two years after completion of their studies. However, many leaders of the AISSF and Youth Akali Dal try to “deceive the panth” by dyeing their beards.


International Wetland Day
Just a day or wake-up call?
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 2
International Wetland Day was observed here today. The ADC (G), Ropar, B. Purusartha, inaugurated the official function organised on the banks of the Ropar wetland area. However, harsh realities are threatening the wetland that was formed after the construction of the Ropar barrage on the Sutlej. The wetland area is shrinking due to encroachments by farmers while bird and animal population is reducing due to the increasing pollution.

Jaspreet Singh, a science teacher of a government school and an amateur ornithologist, has been keeping an eye on the wetland for the past three decades. He said the bird population there had reduced to a great extent. Earlier, you could see migratory bird in flocks. However, their presence here is now sparse. The wetland also had large population of crabs and tortoise. However, both species are almost extinct here now, he added.

Large parts of the wetland have been filled with silt coming from rivulets falling in the Sutlej. The farmers residing in surrounding areas have brought these silted-up areas under agriculture. They are also slowly reclaiming the wetland area due to which at places the width of wetland has reduced to just about 100 m. The encroachments are continuing on both sides.

The forest department has started legal proceeding to evict the encroachers. However, the process is very slow as compared to the continuing damage to the wetland.

The waste dumps of thermal plant and other industrial units in the vicinity of wetland is also a perennial threat to it. The studies conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board have indicated that pollution and suspended particulate in this area has been increasing in the past one decade.

Insensitivity of officials of the Department of Irrigation to the wetland ecology is another threat. In the recent past entire water was drained from the wetland area for maintenance of the Sirhind canal distributaries. Such acts disturb the food chain in the wetland. Lack of water would have annihilated the fish population, disturbing the entire food chain. Even if water has to be stopped, minimum amount should be retained in the wetland to sustain the wildlife, experts here opined.

Meanwhile, the district administration today organised painting competitions for students of various schools to promote awareness regarding wetlands among them. The experts spoke on the importance of wetlands in recharging underground water and sustaining wildlife.


Discharge of sewage, industrial waste into Sutlej
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Harike, February 2
Children, suffering from paralysis, will be born in Rajasthan, Malwa and Ferozepur sectors of the state in five years if steps are not taken by the union and state governments to check the flow of sewage and industrial effluents into the Sutlej waters near Ludhiana.

Environmentalists of the border districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran stated this at a programme organised by the Nature Care Society (NCS) at the Harike wetland and bird sanctuary to mark the World Wetlands Day today. Students of schools held a rally to awaken people to the ill-effects of polluted water of the Sutlej.

Showing confluence of the Beas and Sutlej in the Harike wetlands, Dr Aridaman Singh Mahal, patron of the NCS, said one could see the difference in water flowing in the rivers as the water flowing in the Sutlej had turned black and toxic due to sewage and industrial waste being discharged into the river at Ludhiana, while the water flowing into the Beas was clean.

Dr Mahal said the polluted water had already affected genes of people living in Ferozepur and Malwa regions and most of them were suffering from cancer. He said though the government was concerned about the rise in cancer cases in these areas, it was not showing an interest to control pollution of water by units at Ludhiana.

NCS patron Dr Mahal said the union and state governments had framed laws for this, but the authorities had not taken measures to deal with the units violating these. He said the government should close the PCB as it failed to stop these units from polluting the river.

He said even thousands of migratory birds, fish, wild animals died every year due to chemical residue dumped from many towns. Budda Nallah, Ludhiana, carries a huge amount of chemicals, causing big threat to the wildlife sanctuary.

He said recently the Rajasthan Chief Minister and other officials had visited the wetlands a few months ago in view of the poisonous water being supplied to Rajasthan and other areas through Rajasthan and Ferozepur feeder and had assured the residents of the area to take up the matter with the authorities concerned. But no steps were being taken to rid the river waters of industrial chemicals being thrown into the river by big industrial houses of the state.

Harjinder Singh Sandhu, president, NCS, warned the government people of the area would be forced to go on fast near the industrial units in Ludhiana besides blocking major roads there if the officials concerned failed to check water pollution by these industries.


Ludhiana farmers feel ‘double crossed’
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Mundian Khurd (Ludhiana), February 2
The story of land acquisition here and in adjoining villages for creating an industrial hub in Phase VIII, Focal Point, Ludhiana, is a classic tale of government apathy towards farmers and favouritism to industrialists.

Farmers divested of their land have only remained mute spectators while industry has not come up on a large section of the allotted land. To top it all, the government allowed certain allottees a change in layout plans and allowed residential and commercial areas within the same complex.

Farmers allege being double crossed by the government and are contemplating moving the courts. “During the 1990s, our land was taken for setting up industry, which never came up. We were compensated at agricultural land rates. Seeing the flats near completion on one of the lands and allegations about another one cutting residential plots has left us with no choice but to move court,” Nacchatar Singh, a farmer, said.

At least 40 persons, who had approached different authorities, were never compensated at all, he added.

Not just farmers, the Ludhiana Electroplaters Association, in a representation to the Chief Minister, have sought that allottees not be allowed to construct flats or sell plots.

“Except a couple of industries, most of the land allotted under this scheme has not been utilised for industry," Joginder Kumar, chairman of the association, said.

During the early 1990s, the Congress government allotted land to certain big names in the industry at the cost of Rs 126 per sq yard. Except a couple of them, none of the others did anything substantial in the name of industry.

Major chunks of land lie vacant. In 2003, the government issued a new notification allowing mega projects “by flouting all norms and allowed permission to existing industrial land and plot holders to convert them into industrial parks, estates, agro-parks and IT parks".

V.K. Janjua, director, Industries and Commerce, said, "The state has not allowed a total change in land use. The residential and commercial area components were added in the ratio of 30:10 within the identified mega projects and the remaining 60 per cent area will have the industry."

Janjua said, “We are aware of certain hassles in settling payments of a few plots because of a problem in defining the ownership. The department is not aware about any plots being offered on sale and in case any irregular practices were detected, the department will take necessary action.” Surinder Singh, another farmer, said, "The state policy in land compensation was also very shady. While we have been compensated at the rate of Rs 94 (following court interference), the recently acquired sites for new roads were given at least Rs 1 crore per acre.”

Harnek Singh said, “Even if the government has allowed partial housing and commercial activity within the project, does it not enhance the price of the land and its benefits?"

Joginder Kumar of the industrial association said, "Out of more than 50 acres of individual land allotment, at least two allottees had not used their land in more than two acres, years after the original allocation. One of the allottee had constructed flats and another one had cut small plots and become a multi-millionaire".


CM interacts with security course trainees
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 2
To get the loans of state farmers waived, provide an industrial package to Punjab on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and oppose the proposed formation of a separate Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in Haryana, the SAD(B) and BJP will stage a mass dharna on February 12 in Delhi.

This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while talking to media persons at Police Recruits Training Centre (PRTC), Jahan Khelan, 8 km from here today.

The Chief Minister interacted with 245 trainees of the security training course in the PRTC.

Parkash Singh Badal said the proposed dharna was a democratic right of the SAD for pressurising the union government to accept their demands for the welfare of Punjab. It would not create any bitterness between the relations of Punjab and Centre.

To solve the unemployment problem, a new security training course aimed at enabling the unemployed youth of Punjab to find suitable placement in the private sector had been commenced under the aegis of the newly formed Punjab Police Security Corporation at the PRTC, Jahan Khelan, from January 21. As much as Rs 40 crore had been earmarked for constructing its building.

The state government would also open special training centres in each district for imparting basic training to youths for joining the Army.

Keeping in view the heavy global demand of skilled and semi-skilled artisans in construction work, the state government in collaboration with L&T company would open a centre for imparting training in construction for the youth.

Referring to the controversy over challenging the supremacy of Akal Takht, Amritsar, by Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh of Patna Sahib, Badal said Jathedars of all Takhts should sit together to resolve this issue amicably.

Replying to a question regarding the alleged assault on and misbehaviour with the health minister Laxmi kanta Chawla by the superintendent of the Narcotic Control Bureau, Badal said he had issued instructions to the SSP, Amritsar, to take action in the matter.

Replying to another question, he said he had not thrust his son Sukhbir upon SAD. He was duly elected unanimously as president of the party. 


Banasar Garden
Vigilance takes records in possession
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 2
A Vigilance Bureau team from Chandigarh, led by joint director Harcharan Singh Bhullar, visited the Banasar Garden here yeserday and verified funds spent on the beautification and development of a garden a year ago. 

Local DSP (Vigilance) Roop Singh Maur was also present. The Vigilance had received a complaint for a probe into use of funds.

Maur said the Vigilance team had a round of the garden to see the work and also took records, related to the work, in its possession from different departments. The team also recorded the statements of some officials and municipal councillors in this regard. He said the team conducted the inquiry about the sources of collection of funds and expenditure made on the beautification and development works in the garden.


Centre for RTI Act
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 2
The local Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum and the People for Transparency, both NGOs, have jointly opened a centre for the Right to Information (RTI) Act at the local Guru Nanak Colony. 

The centre was inaugurated by Dr Malkiat Singh Khatra, a retired college teacher, here on last night.

President of the forum Dr A.S. Mann said the centre helpline mobile phone number was 9914133001. 


Dharamji wants to learn dance from me: Hema Malini
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Film star Dharmendra, famous for his free style of dancing, is now keen to learn this art. He has told his wife Hema Malini to become his dance coach.

“When my two daughters were born, he told me not to train them in dancing. However, both girls learnt this art quickly and now they perform alongside me at various places,” said Hema, an accomplished classical dancer and film star.

“Happy with the way our daughters have emerged as classical dancers, now Dharamji himself wants to learn it,” revealed Hema.

She said dance is a supreme form of divine worship.

Will Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Esha Deol and Aahna Deol be working together as a family in a film?

“Yes, a film can be made. We can work together. But it depends on Dharamji. If he comes out with some project in this regard, there can be the possibility of all of us working together in a film,” said Hema Malini, who is also a politician.

Referring to ‘Sholay’, she said, “Films like ‘Sholay’ can not be reproduced with same intensity.”

Hema, who does not like to talk about her age, performs yoga for about 45 minutes daily to keep herself fit. That is the secret of the glow on her face.

Hema quickly jumped to the defence of Dharmendra when questions were raised about his(Dharmendra) absence from the political scene, especially from the Bikaner Lok Sabha constituency from where he was elected to the Lok Sabha. “Dharamji has got several projects implemented in Bikaner. However, he is an introvert and not flashy. He prefers to remain inconspicuous while doing his job,” said Hema.

She added, “He is a great father. He loves his daughters. And both daughters also love their father immensely.” On the observation that film actors do not make good politicians, Hema said actors have to work in films to earn money. About Esha’s marriage, she said, “I am looking for a boy for her. But I will not force my choice on her.”

She had her take on Punjabi “paronthas”. “Once we stayed at our farm near Mumbai. As Dharamji is very found of paronthas and makhan(desi ghee), I also had to take the same food. In a few days I gained a lot of weight and my gaal (cheeks) ‘itni moti ho gai’. I had to diet to bring down my weight,” she revealed.


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