P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Kidney scam
Complainant withdraws charge against doc
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
In a reprieve to Dr P.K. Sareen, who has been on the run following a complaint against him by Ludhiana resident Prof Kiran Kapoor demanding a probe alleging that the doctor was involved in kidney transplant outside Punjab, the complainant has agreed to withdraw the complaint. Dr Sareen is on the bail in the kidney scam case highlighted in 2002.

The case today took U-turn following the withdrawal of the complaint by the victim who tried to avoid the media.

Confirming this, police sources revealed that the woman was approached by the doctor through her acquaintance in Ludhiana and assured her to return all her money if she withdrew the complaint against him.

Dr Kapoor had complained to the local police for a probe against Dr Sareen on January 29 for his involvement in kidney transplant outside Punjab, besides getting her money back.

Dr Kapoor underwent a medical examination in June 2006 and Dr Sareen had told her she needed kidney transplant as both kidneys were damaged. She had alleged that the doctor had demanded Rs 10 lakh from her, but as she showed her inability to pay the amount and the matter was settled at Rs 8.5 lakh and the doctor demanded an advance of Rs 2.5 lakh to arrange for the kidney.

Sensing something fishy, she had asked the doctor to pay back her money. He refused saying money once paid was not refundable. She had alleged that the doctor asked her to reach 44, Hanuman Road, New Delhi, to match her kidney tissue with donor Shashi Pal. But as the tissue did not match she had to return. She further said as her condition deteriorated she consulted doctors of Aadil Hospital, Lahore, and was operated upon there on May 10.


Security drill review for CM,VVIPs
Do’s, don’ts to be updated 
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Two days after a bid on the life of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief, the Punjab government will review security arrangements for all VVIPs. 

A fresh list of do’s and don’ts for security drill for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and presidentof the SAD Sukhbir Badal,among other high-profile protectees will be drawn up.

A review will be done, sources in the Punjab Police said. Officials here admitted sanitising the entire route on which the CM or his son travelled on daily basis, was impossible.Though like the Dera chief, both enjoy Z-plus protection, police officials said in case of a blast like the one engineered on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a blast-proof vehicle was required. Such vehicles for the CM’s cavalcade are being retrofitted through the Ministry of Defence.

Though Z-plus is the highest form of security, the blast engineered near Karnal has raised eyebrows in security circles. Despite the Z-plus protection, a moving cavalcade on an unsanitised route, is an easy target for a determined group, said an official.

However, police officials are firm that guidelines like the ones followed by the top national security agencies in protecting VVIPs need to adhered too religiously and without fail. This includes frisking of everybody at functions, having dummy vehicles and keeping the movement of the VVIP a top secret.

Since the Chief Minister and his son are fairly social, small lapses continue to occur. The latest one being in Bathinda a couple of days ago when a portion of a dais at a function caved in under the weight of people who had crowded in for a photo opportunity.The local leadership usually invites these people and the police is helpless as it cannot frisk anybody to avoid offending anybody.

In November last year, a serious security lapse at function being attended by Sukhbir had sent alarm bells ringing. A man was caught with a hand gun at Jaito village.The man had crossed the first ring of security frisking and was apprehended by a cop at the second ring of security. The ones in the first ring have been suspended while those in the second ring rewarded.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Police dug out details of the suspect Baksheesh Singh. He has so far been booked in 21 cases and was acquitted in 17 of them. He is alleged to have gunned down five persons near Patran in 1992. In 1999, he was caught by the Delhi Police with 54 kg of RDX. In another incident he also fired at a police party that was carrying a nabbed militant.


PSEB: Badal gets wake-up call from Shinde
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has told Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that mounting financial loss and debt burden on the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will lead to its collapse.

Shinde had written a demi-official letter drawing Badal’s attention towards the deteriorating fiscal conditions of the PSEB. Shinde had based his observations on the report submitted to him by the top brass of his ministry after reviewing the performance and financial position of the state electricity boards in the country.

Expressing concern over the accumulated fiscal losses of Rs 6,500 crore and debt burden of Rs 10,000 crore, Shinde has told the state government that such a situation is not good for the PSEB. He has expressed worry with regard to the huge percentage of line losses of the PSEB. He has asked the state government to opt for reforms in the PSEB to bring down the line losses that are to the tune of 24 per cent. In fact, the line losses are even more than this, but certain part of these losses remain hidden in the free supply to the farm sector.

The Power Department has written to the Chief Minister whether another extension for the unbundling should be taken from the Union Government or not. In December, the state government had got extension, that was perhaps seventh extension since 2003, up to February 29.

As far as the clearance of the subsidy dues by the state government is concerned, sources said the issue would come up in the court of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission where a petition had been filed by the PSEB Engineers Association, urging the commission to direct the state government to clear the dues of subsidy or ask the PSEB to tell consumers who were given free power to pay the bill.


UK reintroduces long-term premium visa for Indians
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
To promote tourism, the United Kingdom (UK) has reintroduced long-term premium visa for Indian tourists and businessmen visiting the country. Stating this to the media here today, Chris Feist, second secretary, Visa Department, British High Commission, New Delhi, said the UK had started projecting the whole country as a tourism place as earlier tourists’ visit was restricted only to the capital London. 

He said earlier they had stopped the issuing visa to Indians above six-month period as undeserving persons were making entry into the country to seek better job avenues.

Feist was in the city to address various delegates, including tourism agents of the Punjab, to promote tourism in the UK at a seminar organised by the Department of Visit Britain. He said the government had recently changed the name of the department from British Tourist Authority to give it a tourist-friendly look.

He said though his country had made stringent laws to restrict the entry of undeserving youths, it had decided to issue visa for two to five years and was encouraging the immigration of right kind of people.

Addressing delegates Paramjit Bawa, country manager, India, said after Australia, India was ranked No. 2 in Asia Pacific.


Free Power to Farmers, SCs
SAD-BJP alliance puts off decision
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The SAD-BJP alliance has decided not to withdraw free power and other concessions extended farmers and Scheduled Castes (SCs) till elections of the Municipal Committees and Zila Parishads, scheduled to be held before April next, are over. 

The decision was taken on Friday last at a meeting of the coordination committee of the two parties keeping electoral prospects of the two parties in mind.

The BJP, so far, had been insisting on the government to withdraw free power to farmers and replace it with some kind of a subsidy. In turn, the BJP had agreed to allow the government to impose and increase urban taxes in the form of sewer and water cess, property tax, etc. The BJP had made that statements the free power would be withdrawn.

But both parties now feel it will be prudent to postpone and change the free power or subsidy till after the elections. Withdrawal of free power or imposition of urban taxes could mar prospects of candidates of the ruling alliance. Though the BJP has hardly any stake in the Zila Parishad elections, it had decided to contest the elections on its own in the municipal committees. The SAD will, however, contest both polls, supported by the BJP in the villages and after a seat adjustment in the municipal committees.

All members of the SAD-BJP alliance were not in favour of the move as they said this would continue to upset the financial apple cart in the state which is already in a precarious position. Senior leaders also said if results of these two elections proved to be favourable for the ruling alliance, these freebies might be extended till the parliamentary elections to be held in less than a year.

Already the atta-dal scheme implemented by the SAD, which was also part of its election manifesto, has been extended to 30 per cent of the Punjab population and is having a direct impact on the state’s economy. The free power to the farmers is costing close to Rs 2,500 crore to the state exchequer, with farmers power bill coming close to Rs 2,000 crore and another Rs 250 crore worth of power being consumed by the SCs. The state has another Rs 450 crore to pay as part of old dues.

A section within the SAD-BJP alliance feels instead of withdrawing free power, the efficiency of the PSEB should be improved. 


State seeks dairy board help for white revolution
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Punjab government has asked the Gujarat-based National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to prepare an action plan for the state to usher in a white revolution after declining agriculture produce and dwindling land holdings have curtailed the growth of the green revolution. 

Punjab’s cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh had visited Anand in Gujarat last month and sought the NDDB intervention in strengthening dairy cooperatives in the state.

“Farming in 10 acres or less has become unviable in Punjab, owing to high farm inputs and low cost of produce. It is therefore important to find alternate means of income generation for the still predominantly agrarian population in the state. Unless the rural economy is boosted, there is no possibility of the state’s economy being revived. We are looking at models in dairy development that would provide farmers an assured price and marketing of their produce,” Kanwaljit said.

Within the next fortnight a delegation from the NDDB would visit Punjab to hold a joint workshop with the employees of the Punjab Cooperative Department and Milkfed. The prime objective of the workshop would be set the ball rolling for the white revolution.According to the plan worked out, each farmer will be extended a loan to purchase a cow every year. At the second level, commercial dairy farming will be encouraged and farmers will be helped to diversify from traditional agriculture towards dairy farming. The Milkfed and the Punjab Cooperative Department will extend help in marketing of the produce and assure them of a remunerative price. 


Suvidha or asuvidha centres?
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 4
Though the suvidha centres at the district headquarters here and at the sub-divisional headquarters in the district have been set up for the “suvidha” (convenience) of the common masses, these are going to reportedly become “asuvidha” (inconvenience) centres in a couple of days as the state government has asked the administration to sell government lottery tickets there.

These suvidha centres were set up for the convenience of the common people who visit the district and sub-divisional headquarters to get work done in a smooth manner.

It is also learnt that the director of State Lotteries had sent 2,000 lottery tickets worth Rs 50 each to the district administration here to sell these through the suvidha centres. These tickets will now be sold at the centre here and all sub-divisional headquarters like Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sunam from February 4. On the sale of every lottery ticket the administration will get a commission, which will reportedly be spent on the maintenance of these centres.

However, there is an apprehension that people despite reluctance will have to purchase lottery tickets to get their work done in a smooth manner as the state government has handed over tickets to the administration to boost the sale of lottery tickets. If the tickets are sold forcibly at these centres to common masses, the ruling alliance will have to face the music in the ensuing local bodies and Lok Sabha elections.


Tribune Impact: Harike Wetlands
Report sought from PPCB
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 4
Taking suo motu notice of the report published in The Tribune regarding water pollution at the Harike wetlands and bird sanctuary due to discharge of industrial waste into the Sutlej, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has sought a detailed report from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Patiala, in this regard.

The commission asked the board to submit its report by March 28, the next date of hearing, along with the points proposing the steps to be taken to meet the challenge. The copy of the order has been sent along with the 
news item to secretary, PPCB, for strict compliance by the adjourned date.


Farmer alleges land grab, says police not registering FIR
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Phul Kuduwal (Jalandhar), February 4
Farmer Tarsem Lal of Phul Kuduwal village under Lohian police station has been making rounds of offices of different police officers for getting his agricultural land back from influential persons who had allegedly grabbed it at nearby Mundi Kalu village.

What to talk of helping him, the police did not even register an FIR even after a month against the persons who had forcibly acquired his 7.5 acres, alleged Tarsem to The Tribune.

Tarsem said three persons (all brothers) of Madhiala Chhana village and four persons of Mundi Kalu village grabbed his land on December 29, last year.

When he brought the matter to the notice of Lohian SHO Onkar Singh the next day, he did not lodge an FIR against them, he said, adding that following which he met the Shahkot DSP, the SSP and the DIG for justice.

Corroborating his statement, Mundi Kalu village sarpanch Balbir Singh said several villagers, including some panchayat members Hansa Singh, Chaman Singh and Parkash, had also met the DIG along with him in this connection.

Meanwhile, state president of the Pendu Mazdoor Union Tarsem Peter, who is pursuing his case, alleged that the police was shielding the land grabbers as they were close to a minister.

The farmer said his late father Gurdas Ram and now he had been cultivating the 7.5 acres for over three decades. While the government allotted them 2 acres, they would get the remaining land after despositing the nominal amount with the Revenue Department under a new scheme, he added.

Terming the allegations baseless, Shahkot DSP Diljinder Singh Dhillon said no FIR was registered as nobody had acquired the 2 acres allotted to him.

On the contrary, Tarsem himself had installed a tubewell on the 5.5 acres never been allotted to him, he added.

To a query that Tarsem and his family had been occupying the entire 7.5 acres for over three decades and they were trying to get transfer the remaining 5.5 acres in their names under the new scheme, he reiterated that Tarsem had illegally installed the tubewell on 5.5 acres government land.

The DSP said he had already conducted an inquiry into the case and submitted a report to his seniors.

Meanwhile, Tarsem has been called at DIG Narinder Pal Singh’s office on February 5.


Sikh clergy meeting today
Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj back Patna Sahib Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
In a setback to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Sikh clergy of Punjab, Damdami Taksal chief and president, Gurmat Sidhant Parchark Sant Samaj (GSPSS), Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa came out in support of Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib.

The Damdami Taksal chief said the Sikh clergy had no right to summon any Jathedar at Akal Takht. Baba Khalsa said today if the Sikh clergy initiated action against Jathedar, Patna Sahib, at its meeting scheduled here tomorrow, the Damdami Taksal, the Sant Samaj and many Nihang organisations would definitely give an appropriate reply. He said the Jathedar, Patna Sahib had raised valid objections regarding glaring discrepancies in the Nanakshahi calendar and the Sikh maryada.

The Damdami Taksal chief said the GSPSS would hold its next meeting on February 7 at Gurdwara Nanaksar to discuss the current Panthic crisis. He said while he was in support of a distinct calendar for the Sikh community, yet he was strong votary of removing glaring discrepancies in the Nanakshahi calendar which had divided the Sikh Panth. Similarly, the Sikh Panth must accept the fact that Dasam Granth was the creation of Guru Granth Sahib. He, however, said all Sikh organisations were united on one point that Guru Granth Sahib was supreme.

Baba Ghala Singh, president, Shabd Guru Parchar Sant Samaj, Baba Ram Singh, head of breakaway faction of the Damdami Taksal and many Sikh saints held a meeting with Jathedar Vedanti here.

Without naming any organisation, they alleged that it was unfortunate that many Panthic factions had turned their back on Akal Takht. They said while the Sant Samaj held all Takhts in high esteem, Akal Takht was the supreme authority for the Sikh community .

However, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, and deputy jathedar, Takht Hazoor Sahib, have not been not invited to attend the meeting here tomorrow.

Daljit Singh Bedi, who had resigned as assistant secretary, SGPC, following charges of moral turpitude met Jathedar, Akal Takht. However, the outcome could not be known.


Missing trader: Kin undergoes narco analysis
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 4
The Ropar police is using technology for solving the missing case of Pruduman Jain, an Uttar Pradesh-based businessman, who was running a pharmaceutical unit at the Baddi industrial area in Himachal Pradesh.

Pruduman had gone missing under mysterious circumstances in February 2007 from Ropar. His brother Aridaman Jain had lodged a complaint with the Ropar police, alleging that the partner of his brother in the Baddi-based industrial unit could be behind the plot.

In the complaint it was alleged that Pruduman was living in a rented house in Ropar. On February 3, 2007, he went for a walk but did not return. His brother expressed apprehension that Pruduman might had been kidnapped. The Ropar police, however, did not find any role of the partner in the case.

DIG, Ludhiana Range, Ishwar Singh said the brother of the missing trader had now been subjected to narco analysis and brain mapping test in Bangalore. The DIG was here to supervise the destruction of narcotic drugs seized by the Ropar police as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Kin abandon orphan girl
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Nangal, February 4
Teenager Sonia sits reclusively on a charpoy of the gurdwara at Bandlahri village. Abandoned by her own, she finds it difficult to face strangers coming to her with queries. Insecurity is writ large on her innocent face.

Sonia was found roaming in the forests near Bandlahri village by the sarpanch of the village last evening. He took the scared girl to the village gurdwara and handed her over to the women working there.

She narrates her tragic story that brings to the fore the inhuman attitude of her paternal uncle and aunt.

Sonia says she has never seen her parents. “Since birth I have been staying with my paternal uncle and aunt in a village near Ropar,” she says.

“I was never sent to school. My uncle and aunt used to force me to do all household chores,” she says further.

Yesterday her paternal aunt Nirmal brought her to Nangal by car. On reaching near the purana gurudwara area, she told Sonia to go to the gurdwara and bring some ‘dal’ so that they could have lunch.

When Sonia came out of the gurdwara she was shocked on not finding her aunt anywhere. She looked for her in the surrounding area, but there was nobody to answer her calls.

Bewildered, as she had never been out of her house, Sonia walked towards the forest area near the town. By late in the evening she had walked about 7 to 8 km to reach Bandlahri forest. She came in contact with the sarpanch of the village who dropped her at the village gurdwara.

Sonia does not remember the name of the village where she lived. All efforts of the gurdwara staff to locate the house of her uncle and aunt have yielded no result.

When asked if she wanted to return to her uncle and aunt, she replied a plain ‘No’. She said, “My uncle and aunt used to beat me, so I don’t want to return to them”.

The gurdwara managers here said Sonia would remain under their protection till someone came up with a valid claim to take her home. “She has come to the Guru’s house and we cannot throw her out now,” they said.

Sonia also remembers a phone number. However, it connected to Bahsin Bhavan in Ropar. People responding to the number said they had no knowledge of Sonia nor did they know any person linked to her.

Abandoned by her blood relations, the teenager orphan girl is now at the mercy destiny.


HC tells courts to be extra cautious
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In a significant judgement likely to go a long way in helping trial courts appreciate circumstantial evidence, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled established circumstances must not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused, but inconsistent with his innocence.

In a ruling on a murder appeal that is likely to serve as guidelines for the trial courts, the Bench, comprising Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Sham Sunder, ruled: When a case is based on circumstantial evidence, the court is bound to be extra cautious because circumstantial evidence has its own limitations.

Before acting on the evidence, the court must first see whether the circumstances put forward are satisfactorily proved and whether the proved circumstances are sufficient to bring home satisfactorily the guilt of the accused.

The Bench also ruled: While appreciating the circumstantial evidence, the court should not view in isolation the various circumstances…. It is necessary to take an overall view of the matter, but without substituting conjectures for legal inferences.

Incompatibility with innocence, besides compatibility with guilt, is called for in such cases because incriminating evidence can also be introduced during the investigation, and it is a matter of common knowledge that at times they are falsely introduced by way of padding by the investigating agency.

The ruling comes on an appeal filed by Anil Kumar of Ludhiana and others against the state of Punjab. The accused had challenged the orders convicting and sentencing them to life and other terms for offences, including murder.

Taking up the case, the judges observed: With a view to proving the guilt of the accused for offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC, it was incumbent for the prosecution to prove beyond doubt the death was homicidal.

In an instant case, the absence of any definite opinion of the doctor, who conducted the post-mortem examination on the body of Joginder Singh, that the death was homicidal, no offence punishable under Section 302 was constituted.

The trial court failed to scrutinise the medical evidence of law on the point. The judgement of conviction and order of sentence are liable to be set aside.

Before parting with the orders, the Judges concluded: The judgement of conviction and order of sentence dated June 1, 1998, rendered by the trial court are set aside.

Notice to ministry

A High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today issued notices for May 13 to the railway ministry and other respondents on a public interest litigation bringing to the fore the difficulties experienced by Amritsar residents due to traffic bottlenecks often created at the Joura Fatak or double crossing.

The petitioner, elected member of Amritsar Municipal Corporation Comrade Parvesh Rani said the crossing was located on Amritsar-Pathankot and Amritsar-Jalandhar sections of Northern Railways.

She has sought directions to the railway authorities to make proper arrangements for the smooth flow of traffic either by providing an over-bridge or an under-bridge.


Preserving Cultural Heritage
Modern school in backward area
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 4
Located in the foothills of the Lower Shivaliks, Indian Heritage School, under the aegis of the Doon Educational Society, has been grooming not only students of this rural area of the state by imparting quality education, but also preserving the cultural heritage of the country with commitment.

Established in so-called "kala pani" of Punjab, at Bungal village on the Pathankot-Dalhousie road, the school has come up with a unique idea of inculcating moral values and holistic development in children.

The school has all modern facilities the residents of this most backward area of the state had never dreamed of.

This perhaps is the only educational institution in this part of the region that has been teaching knitting to students during recreation.

Frequent tours to villages are part of the education to make students aware of culture and familiar with society and its day-to-day functioning.

With the motto of providing modern global education with Indian perspective to the students, the school lays emphasis on low student-teacher ratio (15:1) to make learning joyful and memorable experience, besides enhancing their reasoning power at the same time.

The school houses separate accommodation for teachers and a well-maintained hostel. Besides day-scholars, there are 33 students, including six foreigners.

School chairman Sunil Joshi claimed that besides mandatory subjects, the school has also been offering languages like Sanskrit, Spanish, French and Punjabi. Music, arts and theatre are an integral part of the curriculum.

"The school envisages global education, which will prepare children to face confidently the challenging demands of the 21st century.

The school places equal importance on cultural heritage and ethos of India," claimed Joshi.


Rs 100 cr for new blocks in 351 govt schools
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 4
With a view to strengthen the basic infrastructure in government schools, the Punjab government, with the assistance of Nabard, will spend Rs 100 crore on the construction of new blocks in 351 government senior secondary schools of the state.

Punjab PWD B&R minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa stated this here today after laying the foundation stones of the new blocks in the government senior secondary schools at Jakhepal, Cheema and Ubhawal villages.

Superintending engineer (SE) of the PWD B&R Amarjit Singh said work on the construction of the new blocks in 21 schools of Sangrur district would be completed at a cost of Rs 5.40 crore before March-end.


Four held for murder
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 4
The Gurdaspur police today solved the murder case of Lakha Masih of Gill Manj, Kahnuwan, who was murdered 18 months ago with sharp-edged weapons by some unidentified persons.

According to SSP Lok Nath Angra, Jeeto, widow of Masih, had lodged a complaint in Kahnuwan police station on June 22 last year that her husband Masih went out with Kanta Masih, but did not return. Masih’s body was recovered from a canal at Tatle village.

The accused are Kanta Masih, Malkiat Singh, Danial Masih and Jagtar Masih, all residents of the same village.


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