P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal Case
Prosecution for leaving remaining witnesses
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 8
Two senior officials, DIG (Crime) B.K. Uppal and DIG (BSF) S. Chatopadhaya today deposed before the special court here in the corruption case registered against the Badals even as the prosecution said it didn’t want to produce the remaining witnesses.

Uppal, who was then DIG (Vigilance) contested the statement of investigating officer and SP (Vigilance) Surinder Pal Singh.

Surinder, in his statement recorded before the court, had alleged that statements of witnesses Kuldeep Singh, Harminder Pal Singh, then DIG Gurinder Pal Singh, Ajit Singh, Satinder Mohan Singh, Amolak Singh, Jatinder Singh, Satish Kumar Malhotra, Karnaljit Singh, Surinder Singh, Gurjatinderpal Singh, Sukhbir Singh and Mehar Singh were recorded by Uppal and passed on to him just for signatures.

However, Uppal said he had not forwarded the statements of the witnesses for signatures to Surinder. He was part of the team that raided the properties of the Badals, including the Balasar farm, Killianwali petrol station, in July, 2003. However, he was not part of a second raid on the properties of the Badals. He admitted having signed the report prepared by a technical audit team regarding those properties.

Uppal found himself in a tight spot when the defence council questioned that how his official car as per the logbook was roaming in Chandigarh while he, along with the technical audit team, was conducting raids on properties of the Badals.

The vital witness, who deposed today, was Chatopadhaya, then DIG of Punjab, who was entrusted with the task of investigating the alleged foreign properties of the Badals.

Chatopadhya said he had information regarding foreign properties of the Badals. However, he could not find any substantial proof regarding them. He had submitted his report to the government on October 6, 2003. As we could not find any substantial proof about foreign properties of the Badals, nothing regarding it was mentioned in the challan presented in the court, he said.

After the deposition of these two witnesses, the public prosecutor moved an application before the court that he did not want to produce more witnesses in the case. The court fixed March 27 as the next date for discussion on the application of the prosecution.

The prosecution had earlier enlisted 138 witnesses in the case. Till 59 witnesses have deposed. Out of these, 27 witnesses have been declared hostile by the court on the plea of prosecution. Besides hostile witnesses, many more witnesses, including the investigating officer in the case, have changed their statements. Even the main complainant in the case, Balwant Singh, has changed his statement. He had said that he made the complaint at the behest of former media adviser to Capt Amarinder Singh B.I.S. Chahal.

In today’s hearing, the president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal was also present.


Elementary Education
Central nod to 260-cr package
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The Centre has approved a package of Rs 260 crore for elementary education in the state under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA).

Work on the ambitious project had halted for the past more than two months due to paucity of funds.

Confirming the development, a senior official of the department said, "We will be getting an additional grant of Rs 12 crore by the end of this month."

The grant has arrived close on the heels of a recently conducted survey by the SSA officials, which revealed that over one lakh children in the state are not enrolled even for elementary education. The survey revealed that there were 30,012 students in the age group of six to eight and at least 70,445 students in the age group of eight to 14 who were not attending school.

The official said the department would focus to first enrol the children who are in the age group of eight to 14, as they were the biggest possible target of starting off as child labour.

The previous grant was of Rs 185 crore. This time, the Centre has added another 87 crore to launch more elementary projects to bring down the number of illiterate.

Official sources in the SSA said the funds had started coming. The SSA would try new innovations to make the course material more attractive for students. The education also needs to be followed up with the parents, the official felt.

It is interesting to mention that Punjab has got a lesser share compared to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana who have been allotted more than Rs 350 crore each.

Besides, teaching and study material, the major chunk of the money will be spent on the construction of and maintenance of schools.


SP tranferred for corporal punishment
Varinder Walia and Gurbaxpuri
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, March 8
Superintendent of police (detective) Malwinder Singh Sidhu has been transferred to 13 Battalion, Chandigarh, on the orders of the DGP. The transfer orders came in the wake of a complaint made by two constables that Sidhu thrashed them during a surprise check at the Sadar police station here on March 2.

The constables had reportedly threatened to commit suicide for their humiliation in front of their colleagues.

Constables Avtar Singh and Jagjit Singh had lodged a complaint to SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, who conducted an inquiry into the incident. Chahal confirmed that the SP (D) was transferred to Chandigarh on the basis of his inquiry report. He said he had received a number of complaints, including manhandling of personnel, against the SP (D).

It was learnt that departmental action could be initiated against Sidhu by the Home Department as soon as the DGP sent his report to it.

However, Sidhu said it was the “prerogative of the government to transfer any officer”. Instead of giving details of the incident, he asked these correspondents not to publish the news item.

Sidhu thrashed the constables when one of them was found sleeping in the police station during duty hours. He made a duty officer to beat up the constables with a leather leash. However, no action has been taken against the officer.

Sidhu had faced serious charges during his stint as DSP. According to sources, the officer had kept a Nepali youth in “illegal detention” for three years.

The president of the Government Teachers Union Sucha Singh Ajnala has sought police protection for the victim constables. He alleged that they had gone underground following threats of “dire consequences” if they didn’t withdraw their complaints.


Farm Loan Waiver
Congress ‘thanksgiving’ rally in Delhi today
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
After the SAD-BJP, now it is the Punjab Pradesh Congress which has given the “Delhi chalo” call. Opposed to the ruling alliance’s rally which was to register protest with the Centre, the Congress rally is a “thanksgiving” to the UPA chairperson and the Prime Minister for acting as “messiahs” to farmers by announcing a national loan waiver of Rs 60,000 crore.

The party has chosen Sunday as the “big day” to join Congress workers from other parts of the country as it will make movement in Delhi easier. The Congress has chosen the Ram Lila Ground, the venue used by the SAD-BJP alliance.“This is a follow-up to our February 25 visit to Delhi when we presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister and made an appeal to Sonia Gandhi to announce a package for farmers in the union Budget. The UPA government has conceded our request and provided a loan waver of Rs 60,000 crore for the farmers. We will join Congress workers and leaders from the entire country for a ‘thanksgiving’ ceremony, Punjab Congress chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal told The Tribune before leaving for Delhi.

All-India Congress president Sonia Gandhi has summoned a meeting of all pradesh pesidents in Delhi on Monday.This will force Bhattal to come pack to Chandigarh after the rally to complete her reply to the Governor’s address in the ongoing Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, before returning to Delhi for the meeting.


Today’s woman: Her two faces
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 8
With most of the male members of families in the Maqboolpura locality becoming victims of drug abuse, women of the area are facing hardships in bringing up their children due to adversities beyond their control.

These women, along with poor girls, who are getting training in stitching and tailoring at the Citizen Forum, Vidhya Mandir School, came together here today to celebrate International Women’s Day. Iqbal Kaur, a retired professor from Punjabi Department, Guru Nanak Dev University, interacted with them. Langar was also organised on the occasion by V.M. Gupta and his wife, who celebrated their wedding anniversary today.

The main theme of the celebrations was spreading awareness about the girl child. Iqbal Kaur encouraged women and girls to desist from female foeticide. B.N. Sharma, a retired bank employee, and Satish Kumar Mohey of the Dr Mulkhraj Ashwani Kumar Mohey Trust also expressed their views.

Meanwhile, a large number of women activists of the Janwadi Istri Sabha, Punjab, burnt the effigy denoting anti-people policies of the state and Central governments outside Hall Gate here. Earlier, they organised a protest rally at the canal office. Various senior leaders of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Kisan Sangharsh Committee and other farmer organisations criticised the governments for privatisation of government-run departments. They demanded 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, equal rights for raising issues concerning them and filling of vacant posts.

Meanwhile, S.P. Bangar, District and Sessions Judge, while celebrating the day organised by the All-India Women Conference said there was need to spread awareness regarding the rights provided to women in Constitution and legal system.

Sangrur (TNS): Women under the banners of the Anganwari Workers and Helpers Union and the Nizikaran Virodhi Talmel Committee today raised voice against atrocities on women and female foeticide on International Women’s Day by taking out a protest march through the town and holding a rally at the district administrative complex here.

State finance secretary of the Anganwari Workers and Helpers Union Manjit Kaur, anganwari leader Karamjit Kaur, district level leader of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) Veer Pal Kaur spoke on the occasion.


Highlighting their plight through ‘jago’
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Shahkot, March 8
On the eve of International Women’s Day Dalit women of this area took out a “jago” to highlight the plight of the landless labourers and callous attitude of the government in fulfilling its poll promises.

The procession was stopped by a posse of police at some distance from the residence of revenue minister Ajit Singh Kohar. The protesters were informed that the minister was away to Chandigarh. He was contacted on the phone and a meeting was fixed for 6 pm today, following which the agitators disbursed.

The people behind the show were Gurbaksh Kaur Sadakpur, Anita Peter, Kamla, Paramjit Kaur and Mohinder Punia. The protest was held under the aegis of the Pendu Mazdoor Union.

“In the present context the aim was to expose the much-touted free power scheme for their households, which was a sham. After the announcement of the scheme we stopped paying our bills, following which PSEB employees came to disconnect the connections,” they said.

“When we resisted we were told that they had no such instructions and that we should either pay the bills or they would disconnect the power supply. Cases were registered against nine women at the local police station,” they alleged. Commenting on International Women’s Day, they said this was an urban concept limited to the educated class. At midnight we are still protesting while those who are planning seminars and events today would be busy rehearsing their speeches. 


‘Blasphemous’ Book in Hindi
Jathedar, Patna Sahib, asks SGPC chief to explain
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
The Sikh clergy of Takht Patna Sahib today sought the explanation of SGPC chief Avtar Singh for publishing a ‘blasphemous’ book “Sikh History” by the SGPC’s Dharm Parchar Committee.

The edict, pronounced by Sikh high priests of Patna Sahib, including its Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh, stated that action would be taken against the SGPC chief if he failed to submit a satisfactory reply by April 1 as per the Sikh maryada. They also a took serious view of the SGPC having failed to submit a satisfactory reply though the matter was highlighted in previous edict issued by Takht Patna Sahib.

The Jathedar, Patna Sahib, is reported to be angry for not being invited to the meetings of Akal Takht. Though Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal held a closed- door meeting with Jathedar Iqbal Singh, the SGPC chief and Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa in Delhi to bring about rapprochement between the Sikh clergy of Punjab and Patna Sahib, yet they refused to bury the hatchet.

The Panthic circles expressed dismay over the wrangling of the Jathedars responsible for taking up the disputes of the Sikh sangat from world over.

The today’s edict issued by the five Sikh high priests of Takht Patna Sahib took a serious view of the contents of the Hindi version of the Sikh history, full of historical blunders. Derogatory language has been used against Gurus and Sikh institutions by distorting the history.

The SGPC has already withdrawn the book and ordered a high-level probe.

Earlier, the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib had embarrassed Jathedar Akal Takht and the SGPC chief by taking a serious view of changing the Gurpurbs (anniversaries of Sikh Masters) as per the Nanakshahi Calendar (a solar calendar).

Takht Patna Sahib had also directed the Sikh sangat to reject the Nanakshahi calendar and observe all Gurpurbs per traditional Bikrami (Hindu) calendar. 


Correct Nanakshahi calendar: Nishan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Leiut-Col S.S. Nishan, former deputy director, Survey of India, today pointed out that several dates related to various important events in the Nanakshahi calendar were wrong and required to be corrected.

Speaking to the media here, he said the Nanakshahi calendar was dependent on the Gregorian calendar and could not be called an independent calendar. He said though it had been claimed that the Nanakshahi calendar was based on Gurbani, the names of 12 months and 7 days were not based on Gurbani, but lifted from a jantri.


IET chief donates body
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 8
Chairperson of IET, Bhaddal, Kumwinder Gurcharan Kaur marked International Women’s Day today by donating her body to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Talking to The Tribune, she said, “Donating body for the benefit of others is the best way to live even after death. I will try to motivate others for this noble cause”.

Dr Neelam Marwaha, head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, PGI, was the chief quest at the function to mark the day. The college organised many competitions too. Neeraj Joshi (creative slogan writing), Jasmeet Singh (book-mark writing), Aditi Oberoi (rangoli), Avneet Kaur and Neha Mehandi (kite flying) and Priyanka (paint the face) were the winners. Anupriya was adjudged “woman of the day”.


Federation seeks DA hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) today urged the state government to announce 6 per cent dearness allowance (DA) for government and other employees. Ranbir Dhillon, chief adviser to the federation, in a statement said the union government had already announced 6 per cent DA for its employees. 


2 die, 10 hurt in bus-jeep collision
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 8
Two persons were killed and 10 injured in a head-on collision between a bus and a jeep near Mehlan and Marad Kherra villages on the Sunam-Patiala road today.

The accident reportedly took place due to dense fog. The jeep, carrying 12 persons, was going towards Sunam from Mandi Gobindgarh, while the bus was on its way to Chandigarh.

The driver of the jeep Bobby Ram died on the spot, while one unidentified person was declared brought dead at the Sangrur Civil Hospital. The driver of the bus Ram Singh also sustained serious injuries.

Five injured persons Ghanshayam, Sunil, Rakesh, Roop and Ghaneshan were under treatment at the Sunam Civil Hospital, while others, including Sahibi Lal, Hari Ram and Chhotu Ram, were referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. The in charge of the Mehlan police post said the accident took place when the driver of the jeep was overtaking a truck. Due to dense fog, the jeep and the bus collided, he added. 


1 dies in mishap due to fog
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
Pakistan-bound 67 Up goodstrain met with an accident at an unmanned level-crossing near Gharindi village when a tractor-trailer rammed into it, resulting in the death of one person and injuries to two others.

The engine of the train got damaged and another one was brought from Amritsar to push the train to Attari. The train delayed for more than 3 hours.

Dense fog led to the accident. The tractor, laden with the material for a function, was on its way to Pul Kanjri.

All victims work as waiter for a tent house. While Avtar Singh succumbed to his injuries at the Attari hospital, the other injured were under treatment. According to stationmaster S.S. Madan, this is for the first time that a Pakistan-bound goodstrain has met with an accident.

Villagers took the injured to the hospital.

In charge of the Railway Protection Force, Attari, Bua Dass and in charge of the GRP Gurdial Singh, who reached the spot, said the mishap occurred due to dense fog in the morning.

The villagers said many accidents had occurred at the unmanned level-crossing. They have urged the railway minister to depute a person at the crossing.

Meanwhile, dense fog at Rajasansi International Airport, Amritsar, disrupted the schedule of most airlines. Airport sources said while the Air Deccan flight to Delhi was cancelled due to poor visibility due to fog, the Air Slovakia flight supposed to land at Amritsar was diverted to Delhi. The passengers of the Singapore Airlines flight, which was scheduled to take off last night, had to wait till afternoon as the plane could took off only after visibility improved.


Project reports of 7 towns approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Manoranjan Kalia, Local Government minister, Punjab, announced here today that Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for seven towns at a total cost of Rs 272 crore towards water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment plants in Ferozpur, Majitha, Malout, Pathankot, Patiala, Zirakpur and Bathinda had been approved under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).

He said the DPRs at an estimated cost of Rs 621 crore for water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment plants were in an advanced stage of being finalised and thereafter should be posted to the Government of India for funding for Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar, Jalandhar, Rajpura, Adampur, Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian, Kapurthala, Nakodar, Sunam and Nurmahal.

Kalia further said the water supply project for improvement and augmentation of water supply in Amritsar had been approved for Rs 19 crore. The work was in process. The Elevated Road Project for direct access to Harmandir Sahib for Rs 150 crore had also been approved and Rs 71 crore had been spent till February 29. The work was expected to be completed by December, 2008. Further, a project for Rs 360 crore for providing 100 per cent sewerage in Amritsar city had also been approved. 


Trident: BKU to block trains
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 8
The BKU(Ugrahan) has said as the Badal government had failed to implement the agreement over the acquisition of 376 acres for the Trident Group in Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages , it would block trains at Barnala from March 25, for an indefinite period.


Loan waiver BSM protest
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 8
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) will champion the cause of poor and landless labourers, said Satnam Kainth, president of the BSM at a state-level "Gariban layee ha da nahra mar” rally at nearby Banga town today. He said the BSM would launch a stir from May 1 in this regard. 


Only 10.5 pc students opt for maths, science
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 8
The number of students opting for science and mathematics in colleges of the state is decreasing at an alarming level. According to DPI (Colleges) Kanwarjit Singh, just 10.5 per cent students in the state were opting for science and mathematics. He was addressing a seminar titled “Strengthening science and mathematics education” organised by the Rayat and Bahra College of Education here today.

At the seminar, experts deliberated upon the degrading instruction in science and mathematics, particularly in the schools and colleges of Punjab.

They were of the view that a lack of quality teachers at schools and colleges was the reason for loss of interest in science and mathematics among students.

Dr Neelam Gulati Sharma, joint director, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, highlighted deficiencies in the syllabi of the Punjab School Education Board’s and the CBSE. She stressed the need to upgrade the PSEB syllabus, with special focus on mathematics and science.

Principal of Bhawan Vidyalaya Shashi Banerjee and Gurmeet Singh also spoke.

At the valedictory session, Professor Emeritus P.N. Joshi, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Niranjan Singh, DEO, Mohali, participated. Speaking on the occasion, vice-chairman, Rayat and Bahra Group of Colleges, Gurvinder Singh Bahra termed mathematics and science as inseparable subjects to the growth of education.


Writer remanded in judicial custody

Jalandhar, March 8
A local court today remanded Punjabi daily’s columnist Harbhjan Singh in 14-day judicial custody.

Judicial Magistrate A.K. Jain remanded Rozana Spokesman, a Punjabi daily published from Mohali, writer Harbhajan Singh to judicial custody till March 21.

A Punjab Police team yesterday had raided the daily office at Mohali and later arrested Harbhajan from Chandigarh for writing an alleged derogatory article on February 24 against a particular community.

A case under Section 295-A, IPC, was registered on the complaint of the Guru Ravi Dass Action Committee against the Punjabi daily’s Editor-in-Chief Joginder Singh and writer of the article Harbhajan Singh at No 4 police station here on February 25. — UNI


Congress flays raid on daily
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Punjab Congress has condemned the Punjab police’s raid on the premises of a Punjabi daily at Mohali. Congress spokesman and former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang said the raid was an attack on the freedom of Press by the SAD-BJP regime.

He said the media was a fourth pillar of democracy and the freedom of Press must be maintained at all cost. The government should refrain from such acts which were detrimental to democracy, he added.


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