P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


We can’t do away with ‘black list’: PM
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has categorically told the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh that the central government cannot completely do away with the “black list” of Sikhs amid reports that radical Sikhs in Punjab were still receiving funds from foreign countries, which may lead to the revival of militancy in the state.

The Prime Minister pointed out that Punjab militants were still being “induced” to carry out extremist activities in Punjab during their stay in Pakistan.

In reply to a missive of the SGPC, the Prime Minister stated, “I would like to assure you that our government has, and is, adopting a very enlightened policy in this regard (reviewing of black list).

It should not be correct to assume, as you have said in your (SGPC chief) letter, that no review has ever been conducted of the so-called ‘black lists’. He wrote that reviews of the ‘so-called black lists’ are periodically carried out and during the past three years, at least three such reviews have taken place.”

The Prime Minister further said the central government and its agencies had credible information of efforts being made by extremist groups to revive militancy in Punjab. He claimed that “much of this is concentrated in countries abroad, like the UK, Germany, Canada and specially Pakistan, where such groups receive a great deal of encouragement from remnants of extremist groups as well as support from other hostile forces”.

Referring to the bombing of the Shingaar cinema, he told the SGPC: “You would be aware of the bomb blasts in Shingar Cinema (Ludhiana) in October last year. The investigations into the incident are a matter of concern. Fourteen persons have so far been arrested and considerable quantities of RDX explosives, assorted arms, bomb-making material and ammunition recovered from them.

Investigations have revealed that the two masterminds responsible for the incident were induced to carry out such attacks during a visit they made to Pakistan. Investigations also suggest that the funding for this came from extremist elements in the US.”

He, however, expressed satisfaction over the return of peace in Punjab. “Undoubtedly, there is little support for militancy in Punjab today. Yet, as pointed out above, extremist groups elsewhere have not given up their attempts to revive the movement. A great deal of caution is hence called for,” reads the PM’s missive to the SGPC chief.

He, however, promised the SGPC chief that he was instructing the central agencies to ensure that during their periodic reviews, no one who does not deserve to be on these “black lists” finds a mention in them.

He hoped that the SGPC would be satisfied with the steps being taken by the central government and intelligence agencies to stop harassment of innocent NRIs travelling to India in the coming days.

It may be recalled that the SGPC president had written a letter to the Prime Minister on December 26 last year, accusing the central government of harassing “innocent NRI Sikhs” on the pretext of black list.


Rousing reception to Jagriti Yatra
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 3
The Guru Manyo Granth Jagriti Yatra entered Punjab today to a rousing reception. However, a 2-hour delay of the yatra forced Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to leave before he could receive the yatra.

The yatra was to enter Mohali from Chandigarh at 11 a.m. but reached the reception point at 1.45 p.m. The Chief Minister arrived at the venue at about 1 p.m. and left within 15 minutes after making a short speech. He said he had to leave as he was required to be present in the Vidhan Sabha at 2 p.m. for the obituary references.

In his speech, he congratulated Punjabis on the historic moment. Normally astute with words, Badal, however, kept referring to the yatra as “jaloos” and at one point, had to read out from a paper what the yatra was commemorating.

“We are fortunate that we are celebrating the 300th year of the ‘Guruta Gaddi Diwas’ of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in our lifetime,” he said, adding that the yatra had reached Punjab after covering 151 cities in different states and would cover the entire state during the next one and a half month. “God willing, I would be blessed with darshan at some other occasion while it is in Punjab,” he said.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala and now Governor Tamil Nadu also paid obeisance to the weapons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh and hand-written “Bir” of Sri Guru Granth Sahib that are being showcased as part of the yatra.

Badal also honoured P. S. Pasricha, former DGP of Maharashtra and chairman, Central National Development Committee of Sri Hazoor Sahib, Nanded.

Everyone tried to get close to the palki and bow their head before the Bir and the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh. An endless distribution of prasad continued all through. The yatra will be entering Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow.


Kiranbir, Padiala men clash on court premises
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 3
Supporters of Kiranbir Singh Kang, a close aide of SAD president Sukhbir Badal, today thrashed a supporter of Rajbir Singh Padiala, a SAD leader from Kharar, on the Ropar court premises today.

The incident took place at about 11 am when Kiranbir, along with his 12 Punjab police commandos, caught hold of Karanjit Singh, a supporter of Padiala, who had come to submit the judgement with regard to a murder case in the trial court at Ropar.

He with the help of his guards thrashed Karanjit and then took him to the office of the Ropar SSP.

Kiranbir claimed before the police that another supporter of Padiala, Alok Singh, was aiming at him with a revolver.

His guards noticed it and came in between. After getting noticed Alok, along with others, fled the court premises while Karanjit was caught. Alok was a history sheeter and many criminal cases were registered against him.

Meanwhile, Padiala at a press conference alleged that Kiranbir along with him was accused in a murder case registered against them on 23/03/2004 at Kharar. While he spent more than two years in jail before being bailed out, Kiranbir was declared a proclaimed offender.

After the present government took over a new inquiry was ordered. In this Kiranbir was absolved of the charges. The Kharar court, however, rejected the police inquiry absolving Kiranbir.

“Today the case was to come up before a trial court at Ropar. My supporters had gone there to hand over the Kharar court judgement. Kiranbir attacked my supporters just to prevent them from delivering the same. He also questioned the security cover extended to Kiranbir.

Rivalry between Kiranbir and Padiala has been going since a shoot-out case between both parties at Kharar at Badal’s rally in 2004.

Till the filing of this report the police had not registered a case in the matter. The SSP, Ropar, P.K. Sinha, said he had just received a compliant from Kiranbir. The case would be registered after an inquiry.


Loan Waiver
Badal rues exclusion of farm labour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has described farmers’ loan waiver in the union Budget as a farce, fraud and cruel joke on farmers of Punjab.

He said it was a big myth loans of farmers with holdings up to five acres
had been waived.

“It is only the default payment that has been waived, while the farmers will still have to pay the loan,” he said adding, “at best you can call it partial debt default readjustment scheme”.

Badal, who was accompanied by finance ministerManpreet Singh Badal, said the announcement by the union government had been made keeping in mind other states, while Punjab tended to suffer the most with the union government adopting a uniform formula for all farmers across the country.

Badal said while in most Indian states, 80 per cent farmers own less than 5 acres , neighbouring Haryana it is 50 per cent, while in Punjab only 29 per cent of the farmers fall in this category.

“While Punjab contributes over 50 per cent to the national food reserve, only 2 per cent of the Rs 60,000 crore will come to Punjab. To be specific Punjab farmers will get Rs 1,223 crore only”, this he said was grave injustice to the state that had depleted its water table and overused its land to feed the nation.

He said the formula followed by the Centre to benefit the farmers is skewed and had hit the Punjab farmers the most. He criticised the Centre for ignoring the 15-lakh odd farmer workers, equally affected as the small farmers by excluding them from the package. Besides, he said the tillers of land on “theka” had also been excluded.

The Chief Minister said nearly small farmers had taken 40 per cent of all farm loans from moneylenders; they too have been excluded from the package.

He suggested the government should either implement the recommendation of agriculture scientist M.S Swaminathan who had suggested the minimum support price to belinked to the cost of inputs plus 50 per cent profit or to link the MSP with the consumer price index.

He also demanded the setting up of a parliamentary committee or a committee of experts to study the problem of farmers across the country and extend relief based on conditions in individual states rather than a uniform policy for the nation.

The finance minister stated as opposed to the impression that the entire loan of farmers had been waived; it was just the default for loan taken as on March 31, 2007 and due for payment on December 31, 2007, that had been waived.

He said, “This is no solution to the farmers’ problem, but only a knee-jerk reaction in an election year”.


Asma for steps to repatriate prisoners in India,
Pak jails
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 3
Human rights bodies in Pakistan will soon start collecting antecedents of Indian and Pakistani prisoners still in jails of two countries for diplomatic and political reasons even after completing terms long ago.

Asma Jahangir, United Nations special rapporteur on Human Rights on Freedom of Religion or Belief, today told reporters that many prisoners were in jail as respective governments were not ready to take them back in the absence of documents of their identity.

She said they, with the cooperation of their counterparts in India, would launch a campaign to unite them with their families by repatriating them to respective countries.

Praising the condoning of the death sentence and release of Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh, who has spent more than 35 years of life in jails of Pakistan, Asma said they would also urge the governments of India and Pakistan to do away with death sentence.

Earlier, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, presented a memorandum to Asma for taking up the turban issue with the French government.

Later, a three-member delegation of the Dal Khalsa comprising Kanwarpal Singh, Harcharanjit Singh Dhami and Dr Manjinder Singh met the UN special rapporteur.


Cheated by Punjabi youth, M’rashtra woman
gets son back
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
A couple of days ago she succeeded in getting her 5-year-old son back from the possession of her “husband and in-laws” with the efforts of president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and the Phagwara police.

Her “husband” had reportedly married her in a temple at Shimla about seven years ago, keeping her in the dark about his first marriage. She has now two sons, Manraj (5) and Soojal (4), from this Phagwara-based industrialist “husband” (36).

This woman is Anju (32), who belongs to Nasik in Maharashtra. This plus II pass woman now makes both ends meet by sewing clothes at Nasik. She only wants rights for her children from their father and nothing for herself. Along with her 5-year-old son, she was produced before mediapersons at the PWD Rest House here today by Ramoowalia.

Ramoowalia said Anju and the industrialist from Phagwara, who had been visiting Nasik in connection with his factory business, came in contact at Nasik and the man married her claiming that he was unmarried.

They spent seven years together. During these years the boy time and again went to Phagwara, but he never took Anju along on one pretext or the other. However, she came to Phagwara in October last after her “husband” divorced his first wife, he added.

Narrating her tale of woes, Anju said after the birth of her first son in January, 2003, she came to know on phone from her “husband’s” first wife that he was already married. She said on October 17 last she finally came to Phagwara, along with her two sons, but was kept in captivity.

She was ousted from the house, along with her younger son, by her “husband” who kept her elder son Manraj and entire luggage, including ornaments, with him. At this she went back to Nasik on November 11, 2007.

Anju further said she read about the Lok Bhalai Party and it’s chief in a Punjabi daily and contacted Ramoowalia, who sent her Rs 5,000, with which she purchased a sewing machine.

She saved money and came to Delhi on February 28 last. On March 1, Ramoowalia sent her to Phagwara after talking to the police authorities. She said the Punjab police helped her a lot in getting her son and luggage back.

Ramoowalia said if her “husband” gave her a legal wife’s status and right in property, then it was okay, otherwise she would file a case in a Nasik court.

Ramoowalia also gave her Rs 20,000 (collected from four party supporters), which she reluctantly accepted.

Ramoowalia also produced four youths, who had been sent back under his party pressure to India from Manila by a travel agent.


BJP leaders to meet today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The BJP will devise its strategy tomorrow to neutralise the impact created by the loan waiver package announced by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for farmers.

The debate on the Budget proposals will begin tomorrow. Obviously, the loan waiver issue will dominate proceedings.

BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu said a group of leaders of the BJP would meet at the residence of senior BJP leader L.K. Advani early tomorrow in Delhi in this regard.

Congress leaders have started talking about the advancing of the Lok Sabha elections due to be held in May next year to take advantage of what they described as “positive atmosphere” created in favour of the government by the package.

It is expected that later the BJP will also hold a meeting with leaders of its allies. After consulting them, the BJP is expected to announce the package it would offer to the farm sector and tax-paying middleclass if it was voted to power in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Moreover there are certain loose ends in the package. First of all, the issue of non-institutional loans has not been addressed by the UPA government. There are 42.3 per cent farmers countrywide who have taken loans from non-institutional agencies.

Secondly, Chidambaram has not addressed the issue of farm labour and other poor sections which do not own land but are associated with the agricultural sector.


No one to take care of Kandi Canal
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, March 3
The indifferent attitude of the Punjab government has forced the Punjab Irrigation Department to virtually abandon the Kandi Canal (stage-I).

The canal running in the foothills of the Shivaliks and constructed for irrigation of Kandi area has not been repaired once.

Canal breaches have not only been causing huge losses to owners of small land holdings of the area but also posing continuous threat to people and their livestock.

Sources in the department revealed that no major repair work had been carried out on the canal even after its commissioning in 1998. Moreover, a stretch of 14 km of the canal constructed in 1978-79 also remained abandoned for over 20 years.

Experts are of the view that it had been constructed in such a topography which is 80-100 per cent gravel. Moreover, water flows with a higher velocity in this canal. The canal needs immediate repair for restraining further development of breaches.

A survey of the canal by the Tribune team revealed that wild growth on its banks and even on bottom and sides had led to cracks. The huge wild growth was even restraining the water flow at many places.

At many places cement on either sides of the canal had peeled off while burrows by rats and other reptiles were an open invitation for the breaches to further widen.

Sources in the department revealed that the officials had been taking up the issue with the department and the minister concerned, but in vain.

The canal officials have even submitted projects in this pretext to the chief engineer of the Irrigation Department and the deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, a number of times but the files are gathering dust.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Kandi Canal (stage-I) released water after plugging a major breach that developed in it between Asifpur-Gagarh villages near Talwara.

Additional deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, Mohinder Singh Kainth visited the site and assured compensation to certain farmers who had suffered losses because of floods in their fields.


Kanwaljit for special plan to better farmers’ lot
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 3
The union government should prepare and implement a special plan for strengthening farmers economically as waiving loans alone could not solve the debt problem of farmers and the agrarian crisis.

Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh stated this after a religious function at the district administrative complex here today.

The minister added that debt-related problems of the farmers needed to be examined in a serious manner for a long-term solution of the problems.

He said though the SAD-BJP government welcomed the agriculture loan waiver for farmers having holdings up to 5 acres, the state government wanted loan waiver for all farmers.

The minister said Punjab’s farmers had been facing poverty as they had not been given proper minimum support price (MSP) of the crops by the Centre, while farm-related expenses had increased to manifold in the past several years.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, with a smile, parried a question on the non-notification of terms and references of the Fifth Punjab Pay Commission by the Punjab government so far.


Sidhu for streamlining loans by money-lenders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu today urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to enact a law on the pattern of Maharashtra and certain states in the South to regulate the advancing of loans by money-lenders.

Speaking to the media here today, Sidhu said there was a need for a law to streamline the advancing of loans by money-lenders and non-institutional agencies.

“I have raised this issue at the meetings of the coordination committee of the SAD-BJP, and now I will again speak to the Chief Minister,” he said.

Under the law, a person who returned Rs 200 to a money-lender against the loan sum of Rs 100 should be considered free from the burden of loan. He said in Maharashtra the law, which is known as dham-dupat in local parlance, had been upheld by court.

Without streamlining the advancing of loan by money-lenders, it would be difficult to deal with crisis in the agriculture sector. He said the Act enacted at the behest of Sir Chhotu Ram in 1938 should be revised and reinforced in states like Punjab.

I would raise this issue at the national level also at the BJP’s meeting, he said.

He also urged to effect change in Section 21-A of the Banks Regulation Act that allows the banks to charge compound interest on the money advanced by them.

He said banks claim that they advance money to farm sector at 7 per cent, but actually they charge up to 20 per cent interest from farmers and other sections of society by resorting to the compounding of the interest rates.


Agreement signed for development of
medical institutes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
An agreement was signed today between the Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation (HSCC), a Government of India enterprise, and the Punjab government for providing consultancy for the construction of buildings in Government Guru Ram Dass Medical College and Hospital Complex Amritsar and the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, here at Punjab Bhawan.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, medical education and research minister Tikshan Sud and vice-chairman, State Planning Board, Prof J.S. Bajaj.

Executive director HSCC Sanjiv Sood and secretary medical education and research Jagjit Puri signed the agreement on behalf of the HSCC and the Punjab government, respectively.

Speaking on the occasion, Parkash Singh Badal said with the upgradation of these two prestigious institutions, medical education and health care would go a long way in setting up a new benchmark in quality health delivery system not only in northern India, but also in the Indian sub-continent.

Professor Bajaj stated that medical education and research department along with the BFUHS would be spending Rs 144.16 crore on the construction of new buildings of the BFUHS and Government Medical College, Amritsar.

Of this, Rs 77.10 crore would be spent on the new buildings of Government Medical College, Amritsar, with an area of 27450 sq m and Rs 67.06 crore on the BFUHS campus with an area of 39300 sq m.

In his address, Tikshan Sud said that the initiative of the state government was likely to go a long way in improving the infrastructure of the state's oldest century-old medical college in Amritsar and would qualitatively improve the delivery of medical education and health care services for the people of the area.

In Amritsar, the state government would be spending Rs 2 crore on the construction of additional floors in the Bebe Nanaki Mother and Child Care Centre on the premises of Govt. Medical College Amritsar.

Rs 21.60 crore would be spent on the Guru Tegh Bahadur Block for imaging and diagnostic services with a super-speciality ward which would have latest diagnostic equipment like CT Scan, MRI etc.

A sum of Rs 3 crore would be spent on the construction of Swami Vivekanand Drug Dependence Treatment Centre to provide counselling, treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents.

Sud further said that a new building for nursing college was also proposed at a cost of Rs 4 crore, whereas Rs 12.40 crore would be spent on hospital information system, picture archival communication system, laundry, CSSD and other logistics of the complex.


Sultanpur Lodhi declared holy city
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 3
The town founded by fifth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Arjan Dev has been declared holy city by the state government in the Excise Policy, 2008-2009.

Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district is the second town declared holy city by the government this time.

Official sources said here today that the government notified this today only under the Punjab Liquor Licence Rule-37.

An announcement to make the town a holy city was made by Capy Amarinder Singh, then Chief Minister, at a state-level function organised here on June 16, 2006, dedicated to the 500 martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev ji.

After declaring the town a holy city, all liquor shops will be shifted outside ‘lal dora’(boundary) of the town.


Hindu jatha leaves for Pak
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 3
A jatha of 160 Hindu pilgrims left for the Shri Katasraj Temple in Pakistan from Attari International Railway Station today to celebrate Shivratri.

Satish Kumar Goswami, leader of the jatha, said pilgrims from different parts of the region converged on the Durgiana Temple here early in the morning.

They took with them idols of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, which would be installed in different temples the jatha would visit in Lahore.

Most of the pilgrims had dressed themselves in traditional religious robes. The group of pilgrims will be visiting Shri Katasraj in Chakwal, Pakistan, to celebrate Shivratri.

Puja will be performed on March 6 at the holy sarovar, Amarkund Isnan, and the group will return to Shri Katasraj on March 8 to leave for India on March 10 after staying at Shri Krishna Mandir, Ravi Road, and other temples in Lahore.


Power Subsidy
PSEB to meet today on loans
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 3
The PSEB will hold a crucial meeting tomorrow to decide on the government proposal to adjust outstanding loan against subsidy for free power.

The proposal has been given by the government to escape the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) order withdrawing all subsidy against power in the state from March 1 due to failure of the state to give subsidy amount in cash to the PSEB despite its undertaking.

However, engineers in the PSEB are alleging that action of the state government is not only against the Electricity Act, 2003, but also against the National Electricity and the National Tariff Policies.

Book adjustment of subsidy against outstanding loans would not help the PSEB in meeting cash expenditures incurred in giving subsidised power supply by way of fuel, railway freight and power purchase. Therefore, this step of book adjustment directly contradicts the primary objective of the two abovesaid policies.

Under the National Electricity Policy, the state government was required to make a necessary Budget provision for grant of cash subsidy to the PSEB.

The budget provision was not made, as a result of which the state government could not give the subsidy in cash.

They also alleged that action of book adjustment was a contradiction and back-tracking by the chief secretary, Punjab, to PSERC on the commitment given through a letter, which had been accepted by commission.


Nod to sow PUSA-1121
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
PUSA-1121 high-yielding variety of paddy has been cleared for sowing in Punjab. Also two more hybrid varieties of Bt cotton have been cleared for sowing in the state.

Developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the variety was not approved for sowing in Punjab last year, but a large number of farmers had sown it in the state and got very good yield fetching them a very high price.

A meeting of the variety approval committee was held at Ludhiana and attended by director, Agriculture, Punjab, Balwinder Singh Sidhu, who is chairman of the committee, director, research, PAU, cane commissioner, Punjab, and other senior members of the committee.

PUSA-1121 needs less water compared to other varieties and is readily accepted in the international markets, especially in Arab countries. Sowing of paddy will start on June 10 in Punjab and Haryana.

“We have found this variety fit for sowing in the state,” said Sidhu and cleared it for sowing in the state officially. Certain farmers got yield up to 35 quintals from this variety last year. It is also sown in Haryana.

It fetched from Rs 1,600 per quintal to Rs 2,600 per quintal, almost double the ordinary varieties of paddy last year.

The Punjab basmati-2 developed by PAU, Ludhiana, has also been approved for sowing in the state. It has also shown a high yield.The committee also approved the sowing of RCH 308 and RCH 314, hybrid varieties of cotton in the state.

A variety of sweet corn has too been approved. Sugarcane’s COH -119 variety, which showed resistance to frost and cold during trial this winter, has also been approved for sowing. One variety of sunflower, PSH-566, has also been cleared for sowing after trials.


House pays homage to Bularia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha paid rich tributes to Raminder Singh Bularia, MLA from Amritsar South, who died recently.

Tributes were also paid to 11 others, including seven freedom fighters.

The House, at its sitting here this afternoon, also paid tributes to former MP and former minister Balbir Singh, three former MLAs Gurdial Singh, Ajaib Singh Raunta and Giani Rajinder Singh, besides seven freedom fighters Ved Parkash, Ujjagar Singh, Pritam Singh, Ram Singh Panchhi, Tehal Singh, Tara Singh and Walaiti Ram.

The House adjourned for the day after observing silence for 2 minutes.


‘Obituaries list should include Padma Shris’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Congress legislator from Qila Raipur Jassi Khangura has written a letter to Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, pointing out the omission of late Padma Shri awardees from the list of obituary references in the house.

Khangura has asked the speaker to include all Padma Shri awardees in future. “I request you give serious consideration to the matter. Padma Shri awardees have rendered great service to the nation. Therefore, it is only appropriate that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha duly pays tribute to the soul of the departed Punjabi Padma Shri recipients. Had this been there, the House we would today have been able to remember Sardar Kuldeep Singh Virk, late father of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk,” he has written.

Khangura said he wanted the speaker to review the policy of the Vidhan Sabha on this and include Padma Shri recipients on the House obituaries and list the obituary reference for Padma Shri Kuldeep Singh Virk for Tuesday.


Serving Warrants to Accused
HC asks Jalandhar SSP to file affidavit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Punjab police’s failure to keep tabs on the whereabouts of suspects during the pendency of appeals filed by the state against their acquittal in cases of heinous offences has once again come to the fore with the reported disappearance of two accused in a murder case.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D Anand, has asked the Jalandhar SSP to file affidavit giving details of the circumstances resulting in the inability of the authorities concerned to serve the warrants to the accused.

The murder case dates back to 1995. A first information report in the matter was registered at Jalandhar’s sadar police station for murder, common intention and other offences on October 13, 1995.

An appeal against the trial court’s orders dated December 6, 1996, was filed by the state of Punjab on April 26, 1997.

In his report, Jalandhar’s chief judicial magistrate had stated that respondent Sukhdeep Singh of Jalandhar district was missing from his house for four-five years, while respondent Amrik Singh from the same district was missing for a decade.

As the matter came up for hearing today, the Bench observed: In spite of repeated opportunities, the state has shown inability to serve the acquitted respondents. In view of such a stand, there is no justification to proceed further against the acquittal. The court cannot convict the respondents, who are not even being served”

The judges added: “At this stage, counsel for the state says one last opportunity may be given. In view of the position, one last opportunity is given to the state to serve the respondents, failing which it will be presumed that the state is not interested in proceeding against the respondents. The judges also fixed April 22 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Acting in a similar matter, the Bench had earlier decided to bring the matter to the notice of the state’s DGP. On an appeal, the court had observed: Counsel for the state says non-bailable warrants could not be executed. We are surprised at the report received by the Court that the Punjab Police is not competent enough to serve a person, whose acquittal is sought to be set aside”. The observations were made in January this year.


Notice to Punjab over indirect election of sarpanches
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 3
Just over a fortnight after the Punjab Government issued an ordinance paving the way for holding indirect elections of sarpanch in village panchayats, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 24 on a petition challenging it.

A High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover issued the notice of motion to the State of Punjab, secretary for the Departments of Home Affairs and Justice, Legal Remembrance and others.

In the petition filed in public interest, Nirmal Singh of Salamatpur village in Mohali district and five others had earlier sought directions to quash the notification contained in the ordinance for indirect elections.

Describing it as unconstitutional and illegal, the petitioners had added it had been designed with malafide intent after ignoring public interest. Counsel for the petitioners submitted that such an ordinance could be issued to meet an extraordinary situation which was not the case at present.

In fact, the ordinance had been enforced to achieve certain political ends, like restraining direct election of the sarpanch.

He added that the Governor had on February 13 issued a notification summoning Punjab Vidhan Sabha session from February 29.

The ordinance was issued when the session had been summoned. It was issued in violation of Article 172 and 213 of the Constitution. As such, it was liable to be quashed, the petitioners added.

Cantonment board polls

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, issued notice of motion for May 9 to the Union of India and others on a petition by advocate Sandeep Chopra for holding elections to the cantonment boards of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Ambala.

The petitioner argued such elections were necessary to provide proper representation to the civilian population of the areas under the cantonment boards to ensure development, in accordance with the provisions of Cantonment Board Act, 2006.

NoCs to petroleum outlets

Taking up a petition against issuance of no objection certificate to upcoming retail petroleum outlets of petroleum corporations in Punjab, the High Court on Monday issued notice of motion for July 14 to state and the Union of India.

In the petition, Basakha Singh Ghunas said in several cases, the NOCs were issued in violation of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment.


Candidate for sarpanch’s post shot dead
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 3
Sikandar Singh (34), a resident of Bhattal Bhai Ke village, 25 km from here, was shot dead by three youths of the same village last night at his village.

The accused used the double-barrel gun of the deceased to kill him. The accused were identified as Kanwaljit Singh, Hira Singh (both brothers) and Parsan Singh.

The deceased, who was a nominated candidate for the post of sarpanch, was coming to thank village elders for his candidature.

The accused, who were standing in his way, stopped him for a small talk. One of the accused snatched his rifle and fired at him from a close range.

He died on way to hospital. The accused fled from the spot.


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