P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Assembly Session
Amarinder attacks SAD-BJP govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Attacking the SAD-BJP government on the floor of the Punjab Assembly today, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the state government was telling lies to people of the state by making high-sounding statements with regard to development projects though it was just surviving on borrowed money. All attention remained focused him in the House.

Maintaining his cool in spite of the fact that SAD-BJP MLAs disrupted his speech by using various modes, including raising point of order repeatedly, Amarinder, who had come to the House loaded with facts, took pot shots on the state government counting its failures during the past one year.

Ruling SAD-BJP MLAs had come to the House with a clear strategy of not allowing Amarinder gain momentum at the time of speaking in the House. Ruling SAD-BJP MLAs disturbed Amarinder’s train of thoughts to break the flow of his speech.

Except the SAD-BJP MLAs, all others, including senior officers, heard him with rapt attention. Mediapersons chased him wherever he went. Congress MLAs met him turn by turn as the House proceedings came to an end. He was on his legs when the Speaker announced that the House timings were over for the day.

Amarinder was able to say what he wanted to say about the wobbling of Punjab’s economy and what he described as poor performance of the SAD-BJP government. Not just that, he made certain suggestions to set the things right.

Amarinder said his government had left Punjab in a sound fiscal health. He said during his government revenue deficit had come down from Rs 3,081 crore to Rs 2,033 crore and against revenue receipts of Rs 100, the expenditure had come down to Rs 63, whereas it was Rs 118 during the previous SAD-BJP government. Interest ratio had come down to 20 per cent from 35 per cent and plan achievement during the last year of the government (2006-07) had gone up to 143 per cent, whereas during the previous SAD-BJP government it was only 65 per cent. The present SAD-BJP government had destroyed the state, he added.

Counting his government’s achievements, he said he brought four major institutes to Mohali to set up a knowledge city there, played a crucial role in the project-related expansion of Chandigarh, gave a new direction to agriculture through the process of diversification, took cotton production to new heights, renegotiated the Bathinda refinery concessions with HPCL to save the state from a burden of Rs 12,000 crore and got approved the expansion of the Amritsar airport etc.

He said though the SAD-BJP government was making big announcements, it was unable to supply power even for two hours to people in the state. It preferred to set up a cricket stadium by closing Punjab Agricultural University’s cotton research centre at Bathinda. Even it diverted Rs 1.5 crore, the money allotted to save a historic gurdwara in the Bathinda fort, to set up at a shooting range at Badal.

Beg or borrow, but waive arhtiyas’ loan

Amarinder Singh today urged the Badal government to make arrangements to free farmers from loans of money lenders. “You may have to beg or borrow for it, but you must settle this issue as it was a state subject,” he added. “ The union government has played its role, and now it is your turn to do something for farmers,” he said. He emphasised for the diversification of agriculture and said it was the only way to save farmers in Punjab.


His presence adds spice
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
It was truly a day full of suspense till the end. Neither the ruling SAD-BJP alliance nor the Congress was sure as to how the Punjab Vidhan Sabha would react to the former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s first appearance in the House after his ceremonial swearing in as a MLA, a year ago.

The much-awaited first face-to-face confrontation between the former Chief Minister and present Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal not only rejuvenated a dull session debating Governor’s Address, but also proved to be a test of nerves for the Treasury Benches and the Opposition with the atmosphere being palpably charged.

“Liar”, “blatant lies”, “shame”, “what a disgrace,” were some of the most repeated words and sentences with both sides trying to take credit for the various development projects in the state.

Defending the Congress decisions during his regime, Amarinder Singh raised his voice at times, but did not lose his cool. “How can I continue when they (Opposition members) keep on popping up from their seats”, he told Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

At one point he got furious with information and public relations minister and said, “Chief Minister sahib, this young boy needs disciplining - I have known him since he was in his nappies, but he has turned out to be a brat”.

Both Congress and the ruling alliance MLA virtually vied with each other to win a match of wits. After industries minister Manoranjan Kalia went on and on in praise of the Chief Minister, Congress MLA from Qila Raipur, Jassi Khangura raising a point of orders said, “Badal Sahib beware, ‘eh taan tuhanu tor ke chadan ge,’ they will relent only after you depart - the kind of speech the minister is making is delivered on the first day of the House (obituary references)”, throwing the House into splits.

Amarinder told mediapersons, “I respect Sant, but not fake ones (reference made to Badal in the Governor’s Address) - he has claimed credit for most projects started by me - not more than 2 per cent of the claims in the Governors Address are genuine”. Badal’s too showed a lot of presence of mind, at one point when Amarinder told Badal, “check” what is the correct position, Badal interjected and said, “I check all the time, I even check you daily and know where you go”.

When Amarinder read out a paragraph from the Harvard Business Review that lauded him for developing infrastructure in Punjab, Majitha got up to ask if the report had been written by a Pakistani journalists (referring to Aroosa Alam).

Partap Bajwa of the Congress took pot shots at Kalia saying, “ the BJP high command has not responded to his pleas of making him the deputy Chief Minister, now he is trying to get the position by buttering Badal”. While many legislators repeatedly addressed Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister and Badal called him “Raja Sahib”, Amarinder responded to some issues by saying “I will check and let you know”, only to be reminded that he was no longer the Chief Minister.


House comes to Sarabjit’s aid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Cutting across party lines, members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today unanimously adopted a resolution asking for commuting the death sentence of Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner who is on a death row in a Pakistani jail on charges of causing death of 14 persons by triggering a bomb blast.

The resolution moved by Virsa Singh Valthoha (SAD) and seconded by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appealed to the Union government to take up the issue of Sarabjit's release with the government of Pakistan.

“The same compassion should be shown towards Sarabjit as was shown while releasing Kashmir Singh, another Indian prisoner who was granted pardon and sent back home (to India) last week,” the resolution stated.


BJP Infighting
Nangal chief, gen secy booked
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Nangal, March 10
Infighting in the BJP here has come to the fore again, with the result that today block president of BJP Rakesh Sharma, general secretary Harikrishan Kaka, SC cell secretary Tarlok Bains and Kamal Gai, Bharatiya Yuva Morcha president, were among others booked by the local police on a complaint of former block president of Chander Kumar Bajaj and senior BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal.

In his complaint before the police, Bajaj alleged that last evening he went to the rented house of Mittal at Shivalik Avenue Colony. There certain BJP leaders locked and thrashed him in the rented room of Mittal.

The police has booked the accused, including the owner of the house H.K. Sharma, Naresh Chawla, Shubash Bhashi and other BJP leaders. All accused are absconding. Sources available here said the BJP leaders had rushed to the party high command office in Chandigarh to apprise them about their position.

Mittal said on phone that the accused BJP leaders had been involved in anti-party activities. He had already complained against them to the party high command. The office of Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna at Nangal was being used for the alleged anti-party activities by the accused. “I have already complained to Khanna and other senior leaders of the party in this regard,” he said.

About the house in dispute, he said, “I am just a tenant. The law will take its course against those involved,” he added.

Rakesh Sharma while talking to newsmen termed the allegations as baseless. He said Mittal was trying to forcibly take procession of the house. H.K. Sharma is a BJP worker and had given the house to Mittal only during elections. Now Mittal and his men want to grab it. We would report the matter to the party high command, he added.

Bhupinder Nath Dewan, district president of the BJP, said he had brought the matter to the notice of the party high command.

Sources available here said both pro and anti-Mittal groups clashed last night over the possession of the house. The anti-Mittal group came in support of H.K. Sharma, who wanted to get it vacated. 


Jatha rues deletion of snaps by Rangers
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 10
Members of the Hindu jatha which returned from Pakistan here today after celebrating Shivratri at the Katasraj shrine alleged that pictures clicked by them with their digital cameras were deleted and two video cassettes confiscated by Pakistan Rangers on their way back.

A female pilgrim, who alighted at the Attari international railway station, told The Tribune that she had carried a camera along to capture memorable moments of the week-long stay in Pakistan. “I have been to Pakistan in the past as well and there has never been such a restriction on taking pictures,” she alleged.

Besides, the stringent security measures that the pilgrims had to go through also dampened the spirits of most of them. “After being thoroughly checked by the customs staff, we were again frisked on reaching Gurdwara Dera Sahib, where the jatha was put up,” said another pilgrim.

Mahant Vinay Kumar Bairagi said the Pakistan customs authorities issued a ticket for even the idol of Lord Shiva, weighing about 65 kg, along with other pilgrims. “An amount of Rs 150 was charged for the idol, including Rs 50 for transportation. It was rather strange that the idol was counted among ordinary passengers,” he said.

He said he had managed to get hold of a historic hymn addressed to Amarkund, the holy pond surrounding Sri Katasraj, from religious sources in Hardwar and it was made a part of the religious ceremonies this time.

It was also a common demand of most pilgrims that considering the relatively inconvenient travel by rail, the Pakistan authorities should allow religious jathas to travel by road.

Krishan Singh Bawa, chairman, Housefed, said it would come as a big relief for hundreds of pilgrims visiting Pakistan every year if they are allowed to travel by road. “The Indian and Pakistan authorities should discuss this issue in the interest of general public,” he said.

On the brighter side, the pilgrims were unequivocal in appreciating the steps taken by the Pakistan government to revive the lost glory of the historic Katasraj temple. “The beautification work is on in full swing and the vicinity of the temple has already been cleaned up,” said Ramesh Joshi, chairman, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (urban), Ludhiana.

Jeewan Dhawan, member, working committee, SAD, said a separate bathing area in the holy pond was being constructed and a layer of marble was being laid on the temple stairs and floor.

K.N.Sethi, a pilgrim who suffered heart attack during the pilgrimage, was all praise for the Pakistan administration, which immediately rushed him to Pakistan Cardiology Institute, Lahore. “They even allowed me to travel by road up to Wagah, from where I joined the jatha,” he said.

Satish Kumar Goswami, who led the jatha, said Shivratri was celebrated with religious fervour at the temple. Denying reports that there was a restriction on photography, he said he had clicked pictures of the ceremonies performed in the temple.

The jatha in question had left for Pakistan on March 3.

The Shree Katas Raj Tirath Welfare Development Board appreciated the welcome given to the jatha by the Pakistan government.


Weak dollar: Cargo handling becomes highly

Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, March 10
While exporters are facing a crunch in view of the weakening of the dollar for the past few months and trying to cope up to cut the cost to remain in competition in global markets, the movement of cargo out of the Rajasansi airport can come as an economic boon due to reduced cost of cargo handling as compared to other cargos in the country.

A recent survey conducted by a leading NGO has provided details that Amritsar being a strategically located airport in close proximity to major exporting destinations throughout Punjab, including Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Mohali, and Jammu, exporters have found much to their cheer that the transportation cost was remarkably low by 40 to 50 per cent vis-à-vis the major export hub at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

The survey also remarked that the time consumed for the movement of export consignment from Punjab areas, was far less as compared to moving the cargo to Delhi. This would definitely give a major boost to exporters to curtail their transportation cost and make the exportable cargo highly economical in view of the rising rupee against the U S dollar.

Another major point which the surveyors have pointed is that air freight tariff offered by various international air operators out of Amritsar is by far lowered by 12 to 15 per cent against the other metro airports of the country.

All these major factors enumerated by the survey point out that it would be much more economical to ferry the export cargo goods through the Amritsar airport and take advantage of low cost of transportation and handling cost. Some of the leading exporters have already started making a beeline to the Rajasansi air cargo terminal and the capacity of the cargo handling has been on the increase after it became operational last year. 


Postpone panchayat elections, says Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to postpone the panchayat elections and ask the finance minister to present the Budget on the due date. Panchayat elections could be held even in June, she said.

As the Badal government did not want to give concessions to various sections of society, it got declared the panchayat elections that led to the enforcing of the model code of conduct, she said. She said there was nothing worthwhile in Governor’s speech made in the House.


YC to hold dharnas from March 14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
The Youth Congress has announced the holding of district-level dharnas and demonstrations throughout the state from March 14. Vijay Inder Singla, president, Punjab Youth Congress, said here yesterday that the protest was to highlight “the failure of the Badal government to fulfil any of the grandiose promises made by it at the time of the last state Assembly elections”.

He said one year was enough for any government to initiate action for translating its promises into solid achievements, but the ruling SAD-BJP alliance had only made announcements so far.

Singla said the situation on the power front was most alarming. Although summer was still away, cuts had already been imposed on all categories of consumers. The first dharna, he said, would be held in Patiala on March 14.


Paper work for securing loan
Arhtiyas ‘fleece farmers’
Sanjeev Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 10
Thousands of farmers in the country continue to be fleeced by commission agents (arhtiyas) in the name of paper work involved for securing loan for them.They lose a part of the actual loan amount. Loan disbursement to farmers should be made through agents who are farm university graduates.They are better qualified and equipped to guide farmers regarding loan disbursement, payment schedule and interest rate calculated in terms of actual cash burden and time for better understanding of a farmer.

Dr R.P. Singh, executive secretary, Indian Agricultural Universities Association, stated this to The Tribune on the concluding day of the third session on “Agricultural Education Policy'" at Punjab Agricultural University here yesterday.

Dr Singh said loan disbursement to farmers in rural areas was mostly done through arhtiyas who foxed them with mathematical complications in amount and interest calculation. "It has also been found out that farmers don't even get exact amounts for which they qualify," he said.

Dr S.A.Patil, director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, and president of the IAUA, said there was general perception in the academia that agricultural technology was fatigued and no innovations were being attempted. "Except for certain areas, I feel agriculture has very big scope for innovations. The university in Dharvad launched the seed institute which has given exemplary results. University scientists go to farmers and help them in seed production,” he said.

Dr Patil said the area under seed production was extended to basmati and poultry management. The university also made additional money through the seed production and scientists got experience of real work grounds in addition to salary out of the share earned by farmers.

He said alphonso mango was sold at Rs 3 per piece to farmers in the Dharvad area. Following university intervention and smart marketing strategy, now it was now priced at Rs 12 per kg.

It has been pointed out that students from rural background seeking admission to state agricultural universities was decreasing.

Dr Patil said, "What good is it doing to farmers who have never been to the fields ? Work in books doesn't produce food. Karnataka has taken a laudable step by reserving at least 25 per cent seats for rural students which needs to be done elsewhere".


Rs 20-cr grant for PAU pensioners
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 10
The Punjab government has sanctioned a special grant of Rs 20 crore to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) for pension to retiring employees of the university.

Dr Manjit Singh Kang, vice-chancellor, PAU, said here today that chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh had informed him about the special grant. The state government had sent a proposal for grant for PAU pensioners to the Finance Department and it was likely to be approved this week.

Dr Kang called upon the agitating PAU pensioners to call off the agitation as the state government had accepted the demand for a special grant.

The government has also sanctioned Rs 10 crore for Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) for pensioners of GADVASU.

The pensioners of the PAU had agitating for 15 days demanding the release of special grant for disbursement of pensioners of the university.

The pensioners’ confederation had been observing relay fast on the campus since February 25.

The vice-chancellor had also written several letters to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urging him to sanction special grant for the pensioners .

The Chief Minister had convened a high-level meeting last week to discuss issue of pensioners who have not received pension for four months. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and principal secretary, Finance, D.S. Kalha were also present at the meeting and it was decided to issue special grant to PAU and GADVASU. 


Man commits suicide
‘Was duped, humiliated by travel agent’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10
Fed up with the slow police probe into a case relating to duping and beating up by a travel agent for sending his nephew to New Zealand, a man committed suicide here last night.

Victim Harmandeep Singh (30) of Devi Kamla Nagar had taken celphos tablets at his house. When his condition worsened, family members took him to Mata Kartar Kaur Memorial Hospital on the Fatehgarh Churian road where he died. The victim in his suicide notes in Punjabi and English has alleged that travel agent Jaskaran Singh was responsible for his death.

Raghbir Singh (78), father of the victim, who has virtually lost sight due to old age, said they had also reported the matter to district police chief Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh who had ordered an inquiry into the case to the SHO, Jandiala police station.

The SSP said there was no delay in the inquiry and if there was any delay the victim should have contacted him. He said they were investigating the case. Raghbir said here today that his son had paid Rs 2 lakh to Jaskaran for sending his sister’s son Ranjit Singh to New Zealand in 2002. He said his son on January 31 went to the office of travel agent in Ranjit Avenue for demanding the money back but the agent with the help of his employees and friends beat him up.He alleged when the victim reported the matter to the police in Ranjit Avenue the accused with his friends thrashed him again in the presence of the police officials after reaching an agreement.


Nayyar not allowed to board flight
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
A senior veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayyar was not allowed to board the Amritsar-Delhi Jet Airways flight last night. Kuldeep Nayyar had arrived from Lahore to take the flight to Delhi.

Nayyar said he had a confirmed ticket but his name did not figure in the passenger's list.

He said on his protest he was ushered into the departure launch and was given the boarding ticket. Later, manager of the Jet Airways said Nayyar's ticket had been confirmed.

Nayyar said he was escorted to the security area of the airport and half-an-hour later the manager bluntly told him that flight had already taken off and as such he could not be accommodated. The veteran journalist said he would take up the matter with civil aviation minister Praful Patel.


No, it’s not bird flu
Punnet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 10
The high-security animal disease laboratory, Bhopal, has ruled out bird flu as the cause of death of about 3,000 birds in a village near here. In its final report regarding the death of birds due to an unidentified disease at Gehri Bhagi village, the laboratory opined that the samples had failed the avian influenza virus (bird flu) test. Dr Baljit Singh Sidhu, director, Animal Husbandry, Punjab, confirmed this while talking to TNS today.

“I have spoken to commissioner, Animal Husbandry, Dr S. K. Bandhopadhaya in New Delhi this morning and he has given me full details about the report. The department has confirmed that there was no such virus present in the dead birds. Now we are waiting for the next report from the regional diagnostic lab, Jalandhar, so that the exact reason of the bird deaths could be known,” Dr Sidhu said.

“The Jalandhar lab has put the bird samples on test and will give its full report in the next 48 hours. Because there is a scare of humans being affected and also that no other poultry farmer should suffer loss due to this virus, our department will remain on high alert till then,” he added.

He informed that in Punjab, there were 3,000 odd poultry farms and lives of lakhs of people were dependent on them.


Sidhu hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu was admitted to Apollo Superspecialty Hospital, Delhi, last night for acute infection of blood and liver. He has been undergoing tests to diagnose the ailment.

His secretary and friend Major R. S. Gill said he collapsed last night after returning from Chandigarh and was admitted to the hospital for investigation. Major Gill said Sidhu had recovered this morning, but he continued to feel uneasy and was readmitted to the hospital for complete investigation.

Doctors attending on him have suggested that he should remain in the hospital for five to six days to recover from the infection. Gill said the MP was suffering from mild fever for a few days and had been ignoring his illness and maintaining a very hectic schedule for one month.

Meanwhile, Sidhu has cancelled appointments for this week and would not be able to address the House tomorrow.


95 & still kadam kadam badaye ja …
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Sham Singh
Sham Singh. — Photo by Vishal Kumar

Amritsar, March 10
Sham Singh (95), a close associate of Subhas Chandra Bose, still sings “Kadam kadam badaye ja …” while trying to do quick regimental march of the Indian National Army (INA) with the help of a walking stick ! He is probably the oldest surviving member of the INA.

Though the use of a walking stick does not help him move in a straight line, yet he looks every inch an Army man while talking about the days spent with Netaji and Gen Mohan Singh.

A chance meeting with Sham Singh through Dr P.S.Bhatti, an ex-serviceman, revealed that the old man is a walking encylopaedia on the INA and historians could benefit from his evergreen memory to remove distortions in the pre-Independence Indian history. He was one of the 14 senior officers of the INA who bid adieu to Bose from Rangoon to Singapore. Sham Singh was one of the few privileged INA officers who would take meals with Bose in a Rangoon mess. He recalls Bose’s patriotic and emotional speeches in Hindi starting with “Bhaiyo aur baheno -- Jai Hind”. His was a call to arms to drive out the British from India. The programme, beamed over the Azad Hind Radio from Japan and later Burma, would always end with the INA’s marching song “Chalo chalo Dilli chalo, aghey kadam barahe ja, khushi ka geet gaye ja”.

Describing Bose (Netaji) as a national hero, Sham Singh questioned the revelations made by a Pak national, Brig Habib-ur-Rehman, that he was accompanying Netaji on his last journey in a Japanese military aircraft from Taipei in Formosa (now Taiwan) to Tokyo. Rehman had also claimed that Bose was going to Tokyo to make a final appeal to Tojo, Japanese Prime Minister, for more resources for the INA to continue to fight effectively to free India. However, Sham Singh claimed that the Japanese were responsible for the killing of Netaji as they were afraid that they might be asked to hand over Bose by the British. Netaji was recently in the news when Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharayar Khan in his new book, “Cricket: A Bridge of Peace,” quoting the retired Brigadier saying that Netaji was killed in the aircrash.

The old man is well versed with the Japanese military language, apart from having a good command over English, Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi. He also served the Hyderabad police as a sub inspector which he got on the basis of the exemplary courage shown by him as an INA officer.

Piecing together memories of Bose’s great escape to Kabul, Sham Singh claimed that he has first- hand information on the “great escape of Netaji to Afghanistan” in 1941 and his hosts in Peshawar.

Recalling the good old days, Sham Singh said a number of patriotic Indian youths would jump into the waiting vehicles, when Bose would ask them that only those should join the INA who were not after money since he could give them only “hunger and death” while fighting against British imperialists. Sham Singh is called “Jai Hind sahib” by residents of his native village Mansoorpur (Mukerian).

After serving the INA and the Hyderabad police, this old man has not yet retired from active social life. He was instrumental in launching a number of projects worth Rs 1.35 crore. The villagers refuse to accept his repeated requests for the audit of the money spent by him.

He belongs to a family of soldiers. His father, Capt Karam Singh, served the British army and was honoured with the Order of the British Empire and IDSM. Kulwant Singh, his grandson, is a Brigadier in the Army.


High Court
Remission to Rape Convicts
Notice to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Taking up a petition filed in public interest for quashing instructions for the grant of remission to rape convicts, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today issued a notice of motion to the state of Punjab for May 19.

In his petition filed on the basis of information received under the RTI Act from the superintendent of the Hoshiarpur District Jail, advocate H.C. Arora had contended as many as 10 rape convicts had been prematurely released from that jail following the grant of remissions by the state from time to time.

Certain convicts did not even undergo half the sentence awarded to them as they were granted remission. Besides, 11 more rape convicts had been granted remission from time to time, but were still in jails since their remaining period of sentence was yet to expire.

The petitioner claimed a rape convict, Surinder Singh, sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, was released the next day after availing of all sorts of remissions. Another rape convict, Jasvir Kumar, sentenced to five years of imprisonment, was released within a month in a similar manner.

The petitioner submitted that Punjab had announced remissions during the last five years on seven occasions.

Another notice to Punjab

Acting on a petition for quashing the ordinance issued on February 16 for the indirect election of sarpanches, a Division Bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today issued a notice of motion for May 19 to Punjab and others.

The notice was issued on the petition jointly filed by All-India Congress Committee member Col C.D. Kamboj and Balwinder Singh of Gelheran village in Shahkot tehsil.

Col Kamboj is a former president of the Punjab unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and had contested the Lok Sabha polls from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency and the Punjab Vidhan Sabha constituency of Lohian on a BSP ticket. A similar petition is already pending for further hearing on the date now fixed for the present writ.

The ordinance, it was argued by the counsel for the petitioners, violated the provisions of Article 243 (2) of the Constitution, besides the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act,1995.


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