P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Agrarian politics rules House
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Agrarian politics, set in by the recent farm loan waver in the union Budget, dominated the proceedings on the third sitting of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha’s Budget Session. While the ruling SAD-BJP alliance “boo-booed” the waiver terming it a “fraud and a farce”, the Congress insisted that the Assembly pass a resolution thanking the UPA government for this generosity and sought a commitment from the government to announce a waiver of all loan to farmers from commission agents.

At one point the two sides got locked in a debate with the Congress insisting that it’s memorandum to the Prime Minister on February 25 resulted in Punjab farmers being included in the package. But the SAD legislators said Punjab benefited from the pressure it created on the Centre by holding the Insaaf Rally in Delhi on February 26. Here it was Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who got up and with folded hands appealed to both sides of the benches to rise above the “blame game” and work together for the benefit of Punjab.

Earlier in the day, the Congress had staged a walkout in the Zero Hour demanding a loan waiver for farmers that had been taken from commission agents. “Aartiyas and the money they have lent falls in the purview of the state list. So the government must adopt the pattern of waiver announced by Haryana and write off all loan from commission agents”, leader of the Opposition Bhattal had demanded. But after the Chief Minister suggested that the House should ask the Centre to waive this loan, Congress members walked out shouting slogans against the government.

Badal, however, suggested that the House should pass a resolution asking the Centre to waive the loans of the farmers due to commission agents. He also suggested that the farm labour and landless, including cultivators, be included in the list of people who “needed the government’s largess” in the form of a waiver.

Taking a cue from Badal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh insisted that a resolution on this be introduced and put to vote. But the Speaker did not allow it saying there would be opportunities for this later.

Soon after the Zero Hour, Bhattal had also demanded that the House bring in a resolution to appreciate and thank the UPA government for the celebrations of the 300th year of Guruta Gaddi Divas at Nanded in Maharashtra in October. The suggestion was readily accepted with the Chief Minister appreciating the Centre’s decision to build Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Anandpur Sahib to Hazoor Sahib. The Punjab government is also constructing a road from Anandpur Sahib to Talwandi Sabo. On the suggestion of Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, it has been proposed to build a road from Dera Baba Nanak to Sultanpur Lodi.

Badal made a statement saying he had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of chief secretary R. I. Singh to go into the details of the issue of loan waiver and calculate the benefit to Punjab farmers.

Gurdeep Singh Bhullar initiated a debate on the Governor’s Address, profusely thanking him. While Virsa Singh Valtoha thanked the Chief Minister for showing a vision for Punjab, it was again Bhattal who accused the SAD-BJP alliance of “giving the Governor a written speech to read”.


Job scheme: Oppn takes govt to task
Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Rural development and panchayat minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura today faced some hard questions from the Opposition, especially from Congress MLA from Pakka Kalan Makhan Singh, in the Assembly on the implementation of the national rural guarantee scheme in the state.

Makhan questioned that why a large chunk of funds was provided by the Union government under the scheme remained unutilised. Brahmpura said the scheme was implemented late in November last year in the state and because of that part of funds remained unutilised.

Brahmpura said Rs 40.73 crore was provided to state under the scheme and of it Rs 23.75 crore had been utilised so far. However, Makhan said why districts like Jalandhar had been given huge sum under the scheme compared to the sums earmarked for other districts. The minister replied money had been allocated by the Union government.

He further said only limited number of works like desilting of village ponds were covered under the scheme. However, intervening on this point, Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon asked Brahmpura to send officers to the countryside to identify more works that could be carried out under the scheme.

From the next financial year, the scheme will be implemented in all districts whereas Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar districts have been covered under it so far.

Raising an important issue related to education, Akali MLA from Valtoha Virsa Singh Valtoha said schools in the border belt were in poor shape for inadequate number of teachers. As many as 26 schools out of 54 being run by Zila Prishads remained locked. He suggested a separate cadre of teachers to serve in 18 blocks of the border belt.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education minister, said soon vacant posts of teacher would be filled as process to recruit 14,000 teachers was on.

Another important issue that attracted the attention of MLAs in the House was of truck unions. Asking the question in this regard, Iqbal Singh Jhundan, MLA from Dhuri, asked if the government would make an effort to streamline the functioning of truck unions, most of which were now controlled by evil elements with the help musclemen and gun power. Transport minister Mohan Lal said there was no plan to do so because unions were not covered under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal assured Sahni that he would talk to truckers.


Some light moments

Though there were over six instances that led to the House bursting into laughter, it was the witty dialogue between Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal that proved to be the most hilarious.

While replying to the Governor’s address, Bhattal waved the copy of the address at Badal wherein the latter has been described as a saint (Guru). “Badal sahib this reference in the Governor’s address can only indicate that you are being retired (from politics), as saints reside only in gurdwaras or deras”, she said, asking him to read the deeper meaning in the address. Badal sprung up and said: “I am willing to become a saint provided Bibiji (Bhattal) comes to touch his feet”.

Bhattal proved quick-witted and shot back: “I only bow my head before the Akal Purkh (the Almighty) and never before any individual, not the least before saints, who want women to bow before them”, throwing the House into splits.

Even earlier, when Captain Kanwaljit Singh kept getting up to interject when Bhattal was speaking, Bhattal with a very straight face turned to the speaker and requested, “Speaker sahib please get the seat where Capt Kanwaljit Singh is sitting repaired, it is perhaps some springs that keep making him jump up again and again”.

When Avtar Singh Brar from Faridkot district kept insisting on behalf of the Congress, asking Badal to announce loan waver for those who had not been included in the Central package, Badal shot back: “How is it that it is always we Fardikotis who are picked up to do the dirty work for the party”. Brar had earlier too made a parallel speech during the Governor’s address before the Congress staged a walkout.


CM keen on train tourism
Singapore-based company moots Rs 40-cr project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal accorded ‘in principle’ approval to the implementation of a Rs 40-crore train tourism project in collaboration with Singapore-based Orient Express Hotels, first of its kind in North India.

A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting between Badal and Tom Evers Swindell, Regional Director (Asia), Orient Express Group of Hotels Trains and Cruises, Singapore, here at Chief Minister’s residence late last evening.

Tom called on the Chief Minister and put forth a comprehensive proposal evincing keen interest to participate in the project and said he had visited various tourist spots in Punjab and discovered that there was a tremendous potential of train tourism in the state.

The company is operating 50 luxury hotels, restaurants, tourist trains and river cruise businesses operations in 25 countries, including the UK, the USA, Russia, Australia, France, Italy, Argentina and South Africa.

Badal directed the Tourism Department to chalk out an action plan and workout the modalities in this regard.


CM should clarify stand on loan waiver: Tewari
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
AICC spokesman Manish Tewari today urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to “clear” his stand on the Rs 60,000-crore loan waiver package for farmers in the recent union Budget.

Addressing a meet-the-press programme at the Chandigarh Press Club here today, Tewari said instead of misleading people, the Chief Minister should clarify whether he was in favour of the loan waiver scheme or against it.

Rubbishing allegations of the former Haryana finance minister Sampat Singh that the Budget was “directionless”, the AICC spokesman claimed that finance minister P. Chidambaram had clarified in Parliament that all farm loans for small and marginal farmers till March 31,2007, would be waived under the recent package. After the “pro-people” railway Budget, the general Budget was a “landmark budget” in the history of the country as all sections of society stood to benefit from it, he claimed.

Answering a question, the AICC secretary, who has recently been elevated as the party spokeman, claimed that it was not an “election budget” as the Lok Sabha elections were due only in 2009.


‘Farmer friendly Budget’
Congress to thank Manmohan, Sonia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
A meeting of the office-bearers, MPs, ex-MPs, MLAs, ex-MLAs, presidents of District Congress Committees and heads of front organisations and cells of the Punjab Congress here today resolved to thank UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and union finance minister P. Chidambaram for presenting the people and farmer- friendly Budget. The resolution said it was for the first time in the history of independent India agrarian economy had been given so much preference and importance.

In her presidential address Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said the Congress Party had always taken care of the poor and the common man and this year too the Budget had been prepared keeping needs of the common man in mind. The unprecedented and historic step to provide debt relief worth Rs 60,000 crore to the small and marginal farmer speaks volumes of the concern of UPA government under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. Talking about the statement of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal that only 29 per cent farmers of Punjab will benefit from the central debt relief package the chief secretary of his government counted the tally of beneficiaries to the extent of 70 per cent contradicting the Chief Minister’s figures.

Bhattal asked how the Akalis could influence the Budget in just three days by holding a rally on February 26 and pressurising the government into announcing a package on February 29. She said the Congress Party had convinced the union government by pleading the case of farmers for months in meetings with the Prime Minister, the union agriculture minister and the union finance minister. She added the Punjab Congress was preparing a comprehensive programme for the landless, the Scheduled Castes and the economically weaker sections of society to take up their case with the union government appropriately and in public interest.

She called upon the party rank and file to get ready for the forthcoming panchayat and municipal elections. She said the party had challenged the unconstitutional and undemocratic ordinance of Punjab government on indirect elections of sarpanches in the high court. She also asked the party workers to make to the Hola Mohalla political conference of the party at Anandpur Sahib on March 21.

She also announced the party would organise a conference on the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Bhattal said more than 3000 farmers and Congress workers from Punjab will participate in the thanks rally of March 9 at Ram Lila Ground, Delhi.

Working president of the Punjab Congress Mohinder Singh Kaypee, former presidents of state Congress Mohinder Singh Gill, Shamsher Singh Dullo, former speakers of Punjab Assembly Dr Kewal Krishan and Harnam Dass Johar and former M.P. Surinder Singla and MLAs and other leaders of the party attended the meeting.


Kashmir’s return gives hope to another family
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 4
The news of the release of Kashmir Singh by the Pakistan government has rekindled the hopes of the family of Kirpal Singh, another Indian prisoner facing death sentence and lodged in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Kirpal Singh’s two sisters Jagir Kaur and Dalbir Kaur reached the Indo-Pak border here yesterday, anticipating that Kashmir Singh, who was lodged in the same block in the jail as their brother, could give some first-hand account about what he was going through. They also sought to highlight their brother’s case for a mercy petition.

Talking to The Tribune, Jagir said 45-year-old Kirpal Singh was arrested in Pakistan in 1992 on charges of espionage and involvment in a bomb blast that took place in Islamabad.

“We receive three-four letters from him every month,” said Jagir with moist eyes. “Our mother passed away with the unfulfilled desire to see her son some day. He never forgets to send a token of love on Raksha Bandhan for us. Our families being economically weak, we have not been able to fight for our brother’s release all these years,” added Dalbir.

“Now that Kashmir Singh, about whom our brother used to mention in his letters, has been released, we are hopeful that he too might walk free soon. We have come to the border so that Kirpal’s case is highlighted and the Pakistan government sympathetically considers his application for release,” she said.

“All we know is that he is in block No. 1 of the jail, where he is lodged with a changed name,” said Jagir.

Gurmeet Singh Sandhu, a close friend of Kirpal, said unlike Kashmir and Sarbjit not many people know that Kirpal jail was facing death penalty. Kirpal, an ex-serviceman, had parted ways with his wife before being caught in Pakistan.


Having converted to Islam, he will be a Gursikh again
Prisoner number 786 proved lucky
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 4
Kashmir Singh’s prison number in high-security Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail, Lahore, was 786.

The use of this number is considered a substitute for Bismillah ("In the name of Allah" or "In the name of God") in Islam and it proved lucky for him.

Kashmir Singh, who was Ibrahim to his jail inmates, had learnt many Quranic verses during his imprisonment. Though the government of Pakistan claimed that Kashmir Singh became Ibrahim after his conversion to Islam, his family members said he is still a staunch Sikh and would continue to be “Gursikh”.

After his release, Kashmir Singh paid his obeisance at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, as a Sikh. His passport was also made in his real name, Kashmir Singh, son of late Sansar Singh, a resident of village Nangal Choran (Hoshiarpur), by the government of Pakistan.

However, the picture of Kashmir Singh, affixed on his passport, depicts him wearing a traditional Muslim cap, which he removed before walking into the Indian territory.

His wife Parmjit Kaur said that both Muslims and Sikhs believed in one God and hence she would not like to comment on this issue.

A close friend of Kashmir Singh said he might have converted to Islam on a temporary basis as taught during seven-day training by officials of intelligence agencies for espionage purposes. Though Pakistan officials had claimed that Kashmir Singh had been a practising Muslim for many years and used to offer prayers five times a day, his close friend G.C. Bhardwaj described it as rubbish.

It may be recalled that an official of Pakistan had claimed that Kashmir Singh had converted to Islam when he read about Prophet Ibrahim in Quran and was impressed by his teachings and asked his fellows in jail to call him Ibrahim.


Kashmir’s friends recall days in Pak jails
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 4
There was a feeling of nostalgia for Balbir Singh and Balwinder Singh, who met their friend Kashmir Singh, released here today by Pakistan after his mercy appeal was accepted by President Pervez Musharraf.

The two had spent jail terms with him in various Pakistan prisons on charges of spying.

Balbir and Balwinder, residents of Mahal and Gaunsabad villages of Amritsar district, respectively, had arrived at the Attari/Wagah Joint check-post early in the morning to meet Kashmir Singh. Tears rolled down their cheeks when they saw their friend crossing the border.

Balbir Singh, who had also been caught along with Kashmir Singh for spying, narrated to media how they were deceived by their Pakistani agent Aizaz Ahmed, who was to provide information and documents for military intelligence after Aizaz was caught by the Pakistani security agencies and revealed their whereabouts.

He said at the time of their arrest, they were planning to return to India, as Kashmir Singh had lost his purse and had also exhausted all funds.

Balbir said he, along with Kashmir, had been working for military intelligence and had crossed the border from Dauke village, which is connected to the Pakistan territory from three sides.

They were brutally tortured by security agencies there. He was sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment, and for spying was separated from Kashmir Singh, who was tried for other cases. Later, he was separated from Kashmir and did not know his fate till the news of his release appeared on TV channels.

He said he along with one Mohinder Lal of Jammu were released in 1986 after they pleaded with the inspector general and human rights bodies during their visits to the Kot Lakhpat jail, seeking their early release, as they had completed their jail term.

Balwinder Singh said he was also lodged in Jhelum, Kot Lakhpat in Lahore, Mianwlia, Bhawalpur and other jails of Pakistan along with Kashmir Singh. He said he was arrested by the Pakistani security agencies there in April 1974 and released in 1986.


Sarbjit is in high spirits: Kashmir
Burney gives hope for release of Sarbjit
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 4
Pakistan’s caretaker Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney, who was instrumental in securing the release of Kashmir Singh after 35 years of imprisonment, today promised Bikram Singh Majithia, public relations minister, to secure the release of Indian prisoners, including Sarbjit Singh, who have been languishing in Pakistani jails for a long time.

This assurance was given to Majithia while exchanging bouquets at the zero line here today. When Majithia tried to present the case of Sarbjit, Burney urged him to send it through proper channel.

Accepting the invitation of Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Burney said he wanted to cross over to India with Kashmir Singh, along with his family members, but could not do so due to some unavoidable reasons. He, however, promised to visit India in the near future after securing the release of other Indian prisoners languishing in Pak jails.

Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarbjit, who hugged Parmjit Kaur on the safe return of her husband, was delighted to know when Kashmir told her that “Sarbjit Singh is in high spirits”.

“This has rekindled the hope of the release of my brother like Kashmir Singh,” she said. She also showed the pictures of Sarbjit Singh with family members before inadvertently crossing over to Pakistan.

Sarabjit sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in bomb blasts in Pakistan is a victim of mistaken identity, claimed Dalbir Kaur.


Village accords hero’s welcome to Kashmir
Ravinder Sud

Hoshiarpur, March 4
It was not just a homecoming for Kashmir Singh of Nangal Choran village in Mahilpur block of this district, who was arrested in 1973 on espionage charges in Pakistan, but a hero’s welcome on his reunion with his family today.

Not only people from his native village joined Kashmir Singh's family in welcoming him, but inhabitants of adjoining villages thronged his village as he reached there.

Kashmir was brought in a procession and the scene was like a typical marriage scene, with drum beaters and caterers present on the occasion.

He went to the village gurdwara with his family and paid his obeisance there. A function was also organised in the village school to honour him.

He thanked Ansar Burney due to whose efforts he was released.

Kashmir Singh's wife Paramjit Kaur, who was accompanying him, along with MP Avinash Rai Khanna, said she had no words to express her joy.

Earlier, Kashmir Singh was received by deputy commissioner N. K. Wadhawan and SSP Hoshiarpur Sukhchain Singh and other officers of the district administration. Avinash Rai Khanna said Parkash Singh Badal had assured rehabilitation of Kashmir Singh. Efforts would also be made to get released Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh, who were still languishing in Pakistan jails, he added.


Badal thanks Pak minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed gratitude on behalf of people and government of Punjab to Pakistan’s acting minister for human rights Ansar Burney for securing the release of Kashmir Singh from Lahore’s central jail.

The Chief Minister also invited Kashmir Singh and his family to Chandigarh, where he would be officially felicitated.


Ludhiana draft master plan released
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 4
The Punjab government today released the draft master plan for Ludhiana for 2007-2021.The planning area for the period has been divided into five towns and 307 villages. These towns include Ludhiana, Phillaur, Sahnewal, Mullanpur and Doraha.

Ludhiana city is spread over 160 sq km and the draft area is over 1271 sq km. While four of the planned towns and 288 villages fall in Ludhiana district, one town and 19 villages fall in Jalandhar district.

One of the oldest cities in Punjab, the city also exemplifies what unplanned growth does to a town. “The aim of this plan is to make Ludhiana into a metropolis and the most vibrant centre to promote a balanced regional growth,” said Rajinder Sharma, chief town planner, Punjab.

The local planning area includes three planning zones: inner, middle and outer. The inner zone includes oldest parts of the town which is marked by a haphazard growth and old architecture and infrastructure. The middle zone includes the area between the old zone of the city up to Municipal Corporation limits. The periphery of the city has been included in the outer zone.

The plan prepared by the Department of Town and Country Planning has projected population of the local planning area in 2011 as 34 lakh and at least 48 lakh in 2021. The calculation is based on current population figures of Ludhiana which has touched 20 lakh.

Land use residential zones have also been planned on the basis of density of population. Mixed land use has been allowed along road networks and in some internal pockets.The major roads along with the mixed use have been planned include the GT Road from Ambala side and Jalandhar side; bypass from Sherpur chowk to the Jalandhar bypass chowk; Ludhiana-Ferozepur road, Ludhiana-Chandigarh road among others.

“Ludhiana holds an important position in Punjab, being the largest city. And Punjab is the fifth most urbanised state in the country. The plan’s importance as a result cannot be undermined,” said Sharma.

Tracing brief history of Ludhiana, the plan points out that it was established during the Lodhi dynasty and the first army establishment of the dynasty was set up in Mir Hota village. It also highlights the importance of the fort around which the city was settled, which now is nothing more than a ruin.

The plan gives importance to the Budha nallah stating it be preserved and restored to original glory. The plan also recommends creation of additional water bodies and the creation of a city forest on land available in the city.


Chemist Shops
Punjab restrained from inviting bids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Taking up a bunch of petitions challenging state of Punjab’s move of inviting bids for opening chemist shops in the state from private chemists and others, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice K.S. Ahluwalia restrained the government from doing so.

The Bench also issued a notice of motion for March 19 on the petitions alleging that the move was in contravention of the government’s earlier policy.

The petitions by the president of Punjab Chemist Association, Surjit Mehta, and other chemists of the state said for the past several years the state government had been maintaining that the chemist shops within civil hospitals should be run only by the government or by the Red Cross Society itself.

The reason was that private individuals managing these shops could in connivance with hospital staff fleecing public at large.

In a related petition filed in public interest, directions have been sought to the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) to prescribe reasonable percentage of rebate on the maximum retail price (MRP) of medicines, both branded and generic, at the fair price shops leased out in district level hospitals in the state. The tenders for the same had been invited for March 7.

The petition has been filed by the Poor Patients Relief Society through its secretary advocate H.C. Arora. The petitioner annexed strips and tablets of medicines with the PIL. Referring to the profit margins available to the retailers on the sale of medicines, he said it went up to 500 to 600 per cent.

The Division Bench issued a notice of motion to the Punjab government and the PHSC for March 19.

Notice to Tata Sky

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today issued a notice of motion for March 11 to Tata Sky on a petition filed by Ludhiana-based Pal News Media.

It was seeking directions to telecast its Channel-1 through respondent’s direct-to-home (DTH) service.

It was claimed by the petitioner that as per a recent survey conducted by a Mumbai-based company, Channel-1, has been rated among the top channels providing service in Punjabi.


Leader gives police the slip
ASI, 4 head constables suspended

Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 4
An ASI and four head constables (HCs) of the Punjab Police, posted at Sunam, were today suspended on the charge of negligence in duty as a prominent political leader of the Sunam area Rajinder Deepa today succeeded in leaving the Sunam Civil Hospital though these policemen were deputed in the hospital to keep a watch on him as a case against him and others was registered by the Sunam police for allegedly making an attack on his brother-in-law (wife’s brother) Aman Arora (organising secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee) yesterday at Sunam.

Following a reported clash between Deepa and Aman and their respective supporters in connection with a family property issue at Sunam yesterday, both sustained injuries and were admitted to the civil hospital. Aman as Congress candidate and Deepa as Independent candidate had unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly election from the Sunam constituency.

The ASI and four HCs were on guard duty to keep a watch on Deepa as he along with others was booked by the police.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh said on the charge of negligence in duty ASI Inder Singh and HCs Mann Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Harbans Singh, Jaswinder Singh had been suspended by the SP (D) (subject to approval by SSP) after conducting an inquiry.

The SSP also said the Sunam police had also arrested two alleged accused Labh Singh and Jagtar Singh in connection with the case.

Deepa had stated the previous day that his mother-in-law Parmeshwari Devi had forcibly constructed a wall in a portion of his house where he had been living for the past four to five years. When he came to know about it, he visited Sunam from Chandigarh and asked his mother-in-law about it, but she started abusing him. Meanwhile, Aman came to the site, and he and his supporters beat him up with lathis etc, he had added.

On the other hand, a supporter of Aman, District Youth Congress president Rajinder Singh Raja had claimed that Deepa and others had beaten up Aman when he went to save his mother.


Police remand for bureaucrat’s PA
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 4
Harbans Singh, personal assistant (PA) to Robin Gupta a senior IAS officer in Punjab, who was arrested by the vigilance bureau last evening was remanded to two-day police custody by a local court here today.

Sub-divisional judicial magistrate Lalit Singla heard the case at his residence as the vigilance team arrived at the court after the SDJM had left for the day.

Harbans Singh was arrested in a graft case registered by the bureau against him, Robin Gupta and a Gurdaspur resident Joga Singh, who was allegedly the conduit for Harbans Singh.

The public prosecutor told the court that the case was registered on the complaint of one Uttam Singh of village Kushhalpur, Gurdaspur, who had alleged that Harbans had demanded money to get his cases cleared from Gupta.

Gupta, one the senior-most IAS officers in the state, is financial commissioner (appeals).

Uttam Singh reportedly told the VB that he was introduced to Harbans through Joga Singh. Uttam Singh’s appeal regarding a land dispute was pending before Gupta and Harbans reportedly took him to Gupta, who asked him to do whatever Harbans told him. VB sources said Harbans demanded Rs 4 lakh and the deal was finalised at Rs 1.7 lakh. Uttam Singh also told the VB that he paid the amount in three instalments. However, when Harbans demanded another Rs 5000 to hand over him his papers, he decided to contact the VB.

The VB claimed before the judge that Rs 2.07 lakh was recovered from Harbans Singh’s house in Sector 39, from where he was caught red-handed last evening. The defence counsel Anil Kaushik told the court that Harbans had been falsely booked and the whole case had been fabricated to implicate a senior IAS officer. He told the court that the same officer was moved against earlier also when the Akalis came to power, and it was part of the vendetta series that the VB was indulging in.

Sources in the bureau said the IAS officer’s name figured in the complaint given by Uttam Singh. VB sources added the “parchis” recovered from Harbans Singh contained at least 15 names and the complete account of the “deals” that were struck in 2008. “These amount to Rs 6 to 8 lakh,” said the officer.

Robin Gupta said, “I have been wrongly dragged into a controversy in which I have no role whatsoever. My name is not in the list of accused mentioned in the FIR. There is no basis to put my name in the FIR since I have never met the complainant. I have been commissioner on seven occasions and with a totally clean record. Every property or account of mine is open to scrutiny by a competent agency at any time. Whatever property I have inherited in Delhi is from my parents.”


State to float Rs 765-cr loan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The Punjab government, in line with the RBI, has proposed to float a state loan of Rs 765.175 crore to raise part of the barrowings through the auction system.

A spokesman of the government said the loan would be utilised to finance expenditure of plan schemes and other development schemes already under way. He said the consent of the Central government had already been obtained to the float the loan required under Article 293 (3) of the Constitution. The stocks would be of 10 years’ tenure and the tenure would commence on March 10. The loan would be repaid at par on March 10, 2018, he added. The interest, however, would be paid every half yearly on September 10 and March 10.

World Consumer Rights Week

The Punjab government will launch a multi-media campaign to educate consumers regarding their rights and duties during “World Consumer Rights Day” to be celebrated in the state from March 15 to 21.

According to an official spokesman, educative literature, posters and pamphlets would be distributed among the public. Seminars and lectures would be organised and important judgements of consumer forums would be highlighted. Doordarshan and Radio would broadcast skits and plays focused on rights of consumers. School and colleges would organise essay and declamation contests besides painting and poster competitions to mark the week.

Diabetic retinopathy

The Government Medical College, Patiala, will soon start diabetic retinopathy treatment for eye disorders among diabetic patients by sophisticated equipment, benefiting lakhs of patients in Punjab.

Medical education minister Tikshan Sud said today that the Site Savers International, Mumbai, had supplied the equipment to the college.

NRI Sabha

Newly elected president of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, Kamaljit Singh on Tuesday called on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at his residence and assured him of cooperation to the state government for the welfare of the NRIs.

Kamaljit discussed with Badal a two-day Punjabi NRI sammelan to be held at Chandigarh and Jalandhar on January 5 and 6 respectively.


Assembly informed on pay panel notification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal today informed the Punjab Assembly that the terms of reference of the Punjab Pay Commission had been notified by the state. Replying to a question raised in this regard by Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Badal said the commission would give its report during the next financial year.

The Punjab government, in a smart move, notified the terms of reference of the commission only last evening and today a copy of the notification was provided to members in the House along with the reply of the question.

One of the terms of reference is to suggest cap on expenditure on salaries, wages and pensions as a percentage of revenue receipts of the state and other economy measures to fund additional expenditure on the implementation of its recommendations.

S.K. Tuteja has been appointed chairman of the commission. Its members are Amarjit Singh Oberoi, Prof B.S. Ghuman, and R.C. Nayyar, an IAS officer of the Punjab cadre.

In fact, the Government had delayed the terms of reference because it was awaiting for the report of the National Pay Commission.

According to information, it the Punjab government is likely to accept most of the recommendations of the national pay commission and ask the state government to include the same in its report.


Moga Sex Scam
Barjinder fears arrest, seeks HC intervention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
A day before Barjinder Singh, son of former Punjab education minister Tota Singh, was to appear before the CBI in the Moga sex scam, he expressed apprehensions of his arrest and implication in the matter at the behest of local MLA Joginder Pal Jain, today.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court for directions to the investigating agency to release him on bail in the event of his arrest, Barjinder Singh alleged the entire case was politically motivated. Elaborating, Barjinder Singh, the president of Youth Shiromani Akali Dal, said he was “being made an accused at the behest of Jain, sitting MLA of the Congress party at Moga”.

In an attempt to substantiate his allegations, Barjinder Singh alleged that police officer S.P. Sandhu was also made an accused in the case to settle scores with him because he had arrested the MLA in 2007 in a custom’s case. Barjinder Singh added that two more persons, Bhushan Garg and Inderjit Singh, facing trial in the initial case registered by the police, had moved an application alleging that they had been implicated at Barjinder Singh’s behest. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.


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 |