P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Budget on schedule
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The Budget will be presented in the Vidhan Sabha as scheduled on March 17. The government has given an assurance to the state Election Commission that it will not announce any sops or incentives in the Budget that may influence the voters in the zila parishad, block samiti and gram panchayat elections, sources said.

The commission had written to the government intimating it that with the notification for these elections, the model code of conduct had come into being which requires the government to get any announcement vetted by the commission.

Chief secretary R.I. Singh confirmed that the Budget would be presented as scheduled and the state government had clarified the matter with the commission to its satisfaction.

The Congress had demanded that the elections be postponed, keeping in view the Budget and the need to follow the model code of conduct. Even in the ongoing Punjab Vidhan Sabha session, Congress legislators have raised the issue of announcements being made on the floor of the House as being against the code.

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal has given a commitment to the commission that the government would not indulge in any activity that may look suspect and is aimed at influencing voters.

He had said the state’s annual Plan had been made and approved by the planning commission over two months ago. “And as everyone knows, there is a sanctity attached to the Plan, which is ordinarily not tampered with. All state and centrally sponsored schemes are already listed therein”, he had said, adding that he saw no change in plans to present the Budget as scheduled.


Assembly Session
Cong walkout over ‘Centre bashing’
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
“Confrontation and criticism will not take Punjab anywhere. I appeal to you to join hands with us and let us together work for taking Punjab ahead” is how Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal initially tried to win over the Opposition during his summing up of the debate on Governor’s address. But finding no takers, he hardened his stand to direct his ire on the Congress, leading to walkout by the Opposition.

Once Badal realised that other than the treasury benches, no one really paid much heed to his appeal for a “politics of consensus and conciliation” to conserve what he called “political and economic synergy” in petty personal vendetta, he got into form with his agenda of “Centre bashing”. He accused the Congress of eroding the federal set-up of Indian polity to control the functioning of the states.

Badal consistently made pointed attacks on the Opposition, including sharp criticism of Cap Amarinder Singh, whom he called a “Fasli Batera” (seasonal partridge) and Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who he said was absent because she could not hear the truth. “Call me a saint or a badmash (crook), I don’t mind it either way”, he told his detractors, who took offence to his being called a saint by the Governor.

But, when he lashed out at the Congress legislators calling them selfish for sticking to a party that was responsible for “Operation Blue Star” and killing of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Sukhpal Singh Kehra of the Congress sprung up on his feet. He raised a point of order saying, “how can the governor call Badal a “saint statesman”? Can you accord this status to some one who has been chargesheeted by a special court of Ropar under the Prevention of Corruption Act? He also stands indicted by the then ‘Shinghani Commission’”.

Not taking it lying down, information and public relations minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia raised an objection. Unwilling to be cowed down, Kehra accused Badal of polluting our electoral system. While all this happened, SAD president Sukhbir Badal was present in the Speaker’s gallery.

Having resumed his reply, Badal took up issues of political vendetta, financial status of Punjab, etc, while at the same time accusing the Congress of making Punjab fall from the number one slot in the country after the SAD-BJP stepped down in 2002. When Badal spoke about political vendetta let lose by the Congress during its regime and made a statement that the cases highlighted by Amarinder Singh by showing pictures of people being beaten were false, Congress legislators challenged Badal on his facts and threatened to resign if what Badal said was true. Similarly, Ajit Singh Mofar of the Congress threatened to resign if the case registered against his son proved to be true. Both said there were simply cases of vendetta against Congress workers and leaders.

Nearly half way through Badal’s address, Avtar Singh Brar of the Congress got up and requested Badal to remain confined to the Governor’s address as he had tested enough of their patience, by calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a “rubber stamp” prime minister and insulting Congress leaders and their policies. But, even before Badal could react, the Congress benches decided to walk out, leaving Badal and the SAD-BJP legislators to conclude the debate without the presence of the Opposition.


Punjab Assembly
Doctors’ salaries delayed
Tribune News Service

‘Vigilance drove Saini to suicide’

Congress MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar urged the Chief Minister to order an inquiry into the death of Punsup district manager Amarjit Singh Saini. He had reportedly committed suicide on Monday at Kapurthala. Mofar blamed a vigilance officer for the death of DM. He said Saini was being harassed by the vigilance officer. Raising the issue in zero hour, Mofar said he had gone to Mofar’s house at Mohali and his family had blamed vigilance officials for the death of Saini. Mofar said there was panic among officials of Markfed, Punsup and other agencies because the vigilance was terrorising them on the pretext of checking their stock of paddy, etc.

Chandigarh, March 11
Responding a call-attention notice given by Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra, rural development and panchayat minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura said the government had released the funds to pay salaries of the doctors recruited by Zila Parishads in the state.

Mohindra had brought to the minister’s notice that more than 1,000 doctors recruited by Zila Parishads had not been paid salary for the past few months. No department is taking responsibility for the payment of their salaries.

Brahmpura said their salaries had been paid till December 31, 2007. Funds could not be released to pay their salaries for January and February because the authorities concerned did not submit the utilisation certifications of funds. However, on the basis of average utilisation of funds in the past months, more funds have been released to pay the salaries of the doctors. He said in certain blocks, salary had already been paid while in other departments bills had been sent to treasuries concerned.

Responding a motion moved by Darshan Singh Brar, Congress MLA, food and supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh said the misappropriation of paddy by a rice-miller based at Baghapurana had come to light. A criminal case had been got registered in that regard. He said on a special inspection by a Markfed flying squad on February 29 and March 1, about 1,585 tonne of paddy worth Rs 1.42 crore, belonging to Markfed and Punsup, was found missing.

Action had been initiated to get his moveable and unmoveable properties attached through court.

Responding to a request made by Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khair, Chief Minister Paraksh Singh Badal announced Rs 50,000 each for the kin of the four persons who died in a road accident. They were from the Bholath constituency. Badal also assured the MLA to help those injured in the accident.


CM seeks another agri package
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today sought a package of Rs 20,000 crore from the Centre to revamp Punjab’s agriculture infrastructure. He said Punjab had suffered because it selflessly worked for the nation resulting in depletion of its water levels and overuse of land. Highlighting the role of Punjab in various fields, he said it was not a dole, but a rightful claim of the state.

Making this demand on the floor of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during his summing up of the Governor’s address, Badal said the agriculture package announced by the Centre for the farmers did not include landless farmers and farm labourers, who were also under huge debts due to Centres policies towards the states. “The loan outstanding towards the arhtiyas must also be waived by the Centre”, he said.

Of an outstanding loan taken by the farmers amounting to about Rs 31,000 crore, of which Rs 19,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore was on account of institutional loan and informal sector loan, Badal wants the entire loan waived. The Punjab government has constituted a committee under chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh to ascertain the exact amount of loan taken by farmers from banks and private moneylenders and the extent of relief Punjab farmers would get from the Central package.


1,930 wheat bags missing from Punjab Agro stocks
Plinth in charge booked

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
A scam in Punjab Agro Corporation Ltd has come to fore in the district as officials concerned have found 1,930 wheat bags missing from the stocks at Chamkaur Sahib.

Sources here said the department was now contemplating getting a case registered against plinth in charge of Chamkaur Sahib Gurdev Singh. The way case had been handled indicates that higher officials of the organisation had knowledge of the missing bags. However, they failed to take action against the accused officials and instead just completed the paper work to save their skin.

The sources said the stock was stored here by Punjab Agro in 2005-06 at a private plinth area. Plinth in charge Gurdev Singh had 36,248 wheat bags under his official custody. Since FCI, on whose behalf Punjab Agro had purchased stock, did not lift it, wheat kept lying at the plinth taken on rent by the organisation. It is being suspected that the wheat bags were slowly removed and sold in the open market allegedly in connivance with the officials of Punjab Agro.The matter came to the fore when during an inspection 1,930 bags were found missing.

Interestingly, instead of reporting the matter directly to the police Punjab Agro officials here wrote letters to their seniors. The seniors in turn wrote back to them for appropriate action. Due to prolonged communications despite having knowledge of the missing stocks the officials of the organisation were giving time to accused officials to replace the missing stocks.

District manager, Punjab Agro, Jaswant Rai said he had written to the police and to taken action against accused plinth in charge. Till the filing of this report no case had been registered.


15 killed as bus rams into tree

Dhariwal (Gurdaspur), March 11
Fifteen persons, including five women, were killed and 40 others injured when a private bus rammed into a tree, near here, today, the police said.

The bus was coming to Batala from Gurdaspur when the accident occurred near the Bidhipur village railway crossing at around 5 pm. The bus overturned after ramming into the tree, the police said. At least nine persons were killed on the spot.

The injured were taken to the Gurdaspur Civil Hospital where six persons succumbed to injuries. However, a three-year-old child escaped unhurt in the mishap.

Some of the injured were also admitted to the Naushehra Majha Singh village community health centre. The condition of the six injured was reported to be serious. — PTI

CM expresses grief

CHANDIGARH (TNS): Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday expressed grief over the bus accident on the Amritsar-Pathankot highway in Gurdaspur district in the afternoon.

He expressed sympathy with members of the bereaved families and prayed to the Almighty to give them strength to bear the loss and grant peace to the departed souls. He asked the DC, Gurdaspur, to ensure free treatment to the injured persons.

Meanwhile, the DC had directed the ADC (general) to hold an inquiry into the cause of the accident.


1984 Riots
Sajjan incited mob to eliminate Sikhs: Witness
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 11
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today recorded the statement of 1984 riots victim, Gurcharan Singh, who has been bed-ridden after a mob burnt him alive on the fateful morning of November 1, 1984. Gurcharan told the CBI that Sajjan Kumar, a senior Congress leader, incited the mob to eliminate Sikhs and was leading them.

Gurcharan Singh, who was 17 then, along with his brother, Tejinder Singh were left incapacitated for life in the attack, his father and maternal uncle were brutally done to death by the mob at their Nawada village residence. The mob burnt their houses, shops and killed Sikhs before throwing him into a burning truck. His brother was assaulted with bricks resulting which his spine was fractured and he was left handicapped.

A CBI official from Delhi came to Gurcharan Singh’s Balongi village residence this morning and recorded his statement, which lasted for four hours. The official, however, refused to comment on what Gurcharan Singh said in his statement. A contingent of Punjab police had been deployed outside the residence of Gurcharan Singh on Monday by the state government to provide a security cover to the 1984 riot victim.

Narrating the horrifying sequence of events, Gurcharan Singh told media persons that it was 8:30 am on that day, when Sajjan Kumar came to the village and met the sarpanch, Kirpa Ram. He was leading a mob, which was carrying rods, and other weapons along with kerosene oil. Pala, a depot holder provided the kerosene. Sajjan told the mob to attack Sikhs following which the rioters burn the Gulab Bagh Gurdwara in their locality of which his father Naad Singh was the head priest. He tried to shoo away the mob, which assaulted him with bricks and rods killing him there.

The assailants then barged into his house and dragged his family out. His maternal uncle, Santokh Singh, was bludgeoned with bricks before iron rods were thrust into his eyes. He died on the spot.

Talking to The Tribune Gurcharan Singh rued that for over 23 years no one either from the government or from Sikh community bothered to spare a thought for his plight. “When I gained consciousness, I found myself at my acquaintance’s residence. I was hospitalised and was discharged after 10 days. We shifted to Mohali after the incident and were forced to live a miserable life and that too under threat” said Gurcharan Singh in a feeble voice.

Gurcharan Singh said the SGPC had started giving him Rs 10,000 per month. Besides this a local businessman Tarlochan Singh gave him Rs 20,000 and promised to help him further in his cause.

Expressing satisfaction over the CBI’s behaviour, he stated that the officer read out the statement word by word to him and it was correct. Gurcharan said this was the first time his statement was recorded. He had lodged a complaint with the Delhi police after the riots, but the police did not do anything and even did not mention Sajjan Kumar’s name in the FIR.

Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, president of All India Sikh Students Federation, stated that they would stage a protest in Kadkadduma Court demanding justice and speedy proceedings.

Advocate Navkiran Singh told media persons that the state government had failed to provide relief given to riots victim as per the 2005 policy following Nanawati Commission’s recommendations besides Rs 2 lakh which was to be given to affected families.


1984 Riots Case
Statement of key witness recorded
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
The CBI today recorded the statement of Gurcharan Singh, key witness in the 1984 riots case. Joginder Prashad, a CBI official, today came to the residence of Gurcharan Singh in Ekta Colony, Kharar, with a questionnaire of 100 questions sources here said.

The CBI official grilled Gurcharan for 3 hours. He, however, refused to divulge details of questioning to mediapersons present there.

Gurcharan will depose in the case before court in Delhi tomorrow. Talking to newsmen later, he said the CBI had questioned him about the alleged role of Sajjan Kumar, MP, in the 1984 riots.

Gurcharan used to live at Nabatha village in the Janakpuri area of Delhi in 1984. He used to operate his truck there. In the 1984 riots, he alleged, a mob, led by Sajjan Kumar, attacked their house. Gurcharan’s truck was set on fire and he was thrown into it.

Though his life was saved, the incident left Gurcharan crippled for life. Even now Gurcharan is bed-ridden. He could not even arrange a wheelchair for himself due to his circumstances.

Gurcharan alleged that he filed a complaint against Sajjan Kumar, however, the police removed his name from the FIR. After that he got intimidated and did not dare to pursue the case.

The family of Gurcharan moved to Kharar in 1985 where it has been staying till date.


Rally by PSEB staff, farmer bodies
Scrapping of Electricity Act
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) here today held a joint rally with farmers’ organisations demanding the scrapping of the Electricity Act of 2003, its non-implementation in the Board.

The rally, which commenced today and was held by Muktsar, Bathinda and Faridkot circles, will also be held for the next three days. The leaders said if the employees’ demands were not met, they would intensify the struggle.

Today, thousands of employees started arriving in Patiala since morning and by noon the entire stretch of The Mall outside the head office of the PSEB was packed with thousands of farmers and employees. They then proceeded to hold a rally outside the board’s head office where leaders of the Technical Services Union of the board and farmers’ representatives addressed the gathering. Gurdial Singh Bhangal, president, and Rameshwar Pasiana, senior vice-president, of the union, demanded that the Punjab government should scrap its decision on the privatisation of the Board. They said the decision had been taken under pressure from outside agencies and if the power Board was disbanded, it would jeopardise the future of thousands of employees. They said the privatisation of the Board would mean handing over the management of the key power sector to private players and employees and different sections of society would be left at the mercy of the multinational corporations.

The two leaders alleged that a large number of employees had been victimised. While 19 union leaders from Patiala, Faridkot and Muktsar circles had been dismissed and chargesheets were issued to several others. This was being done to browbeat them and they demanded that all these actions be revoked.

They demanded that the Board should create congenial conditions for holding talks with the protesting employees to settle the issue of proposed privatisation of the Board.

Leaders of the farmers organisations, who addressed the rally, announced that they would continue their stir in coordination with the PSEB employees to ensure that the Board was not disbanded. The employee unions also passed various resolutions.


Wife goes gaga over Badal
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 11
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has never believed in vendetta politics with regard to his opponents. Cases of corruption against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his associates were detected by the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab and according to its investigation these are being pursued.

Bibi Surinder Kaur, wife of Parkash Singh Badal, stated this to mediapersons at the residence of Bibi Mohinder Kaur Josh, chief parliamentary secretary, Punjab, here this evening.

She claimed that her husband was installed five times Chief Minister of the state due to his hard work and patience.

On the demand of Capt Amarinder Singh regarding the transfer of cases against Badal and other family members to some other state and CBI probe into all corruption charges against his family, Surinder replied that the government was free for transferring the case or getting CBI probe.

Surinder said her son Sukhbir Singh Badal was following in the footsteps of his father. Party workers and people had installed him president of the SAD for his dedication to people.They would certainly make him Chief Minister of the state if he continued work with devotion and honesty. The future of Punjab was quite bright under his leadership, claimed Surinder.


Takht Patna Sahib confers Panth Ratan on US Sikh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 11
Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh yesterday bestowed the Panth Rattan Award on Didar Singh Bains, affluent Sikh of the USA.

While conferring the award Jathedar Iqbal Singh also returned Rs 97 lakh, including interest earned, donated to Takht Patna Sahib by Bains two years ago. He had to face criticism for not entering the amount donated in the records.

However, Bains got prepared a fixed deposit of Rs 1 crore.


Encroachments on berms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah today assured the Assembly that he was prepared to launch a campaign against encroachments on berms on the either side of roads in rural areas, and the MLAs of the areas concerned should extend their cooperation. Responding to a supplementary question asked by Congress MLA Darshan Singh Brar, Langah said if the MLA wished he would launch the campaign from his constituency. Earlier, Congress MLA Issar Singh asked a question in this regard from Langah.

Responding to question asked by Anil Joshi, education minister Upinderjit Kaur said 12 government colleges would be set up under a Central government scheme and one of these would be set up for girls at Amritsar. Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said there was no proposal to set up a civil hospital at Nangal. Meanwhile, the government admitted that the package to hill states, that led to flight of industry from Punjab, was given by the Vajpayee government. However, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said later it was extended by the Manmohan Singh government.


Health dept a mess
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Health services in Punjab are a complete mess with most of medical institutions are running short on doctors, staff nurses, medical laboratory technicians grade I and grade-II, radiographers, public health nurses, etc. There are 2,225 medical institutions in the state. At these institutions, 3,161 posts are vacant.

Information in this connection was today tabled in the Vidhan Sabha by health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, responding to a question asked by Makhan Singh, a Congress MLA from Pakka Kalan in Bathinda district.

To be precise, 433 posts of medical officer, 121 of medical officer (dental), 30 of nursing sister, five of nursing superintendent, 12 of district public health nurse, 32 of public health nurse and 400 posts of staff nurse are vacant in the Health Department.

Besides, 807 posts of multipurpose health worker (men) and 477 (women), 170 of medical laboratory technician grade II, 54 of medical laboratory technician grade I, 157 of operation theatre staff and 122 posts of trained dais are vacant. Several posts of clerk, junior assistant, driver and steno typists are yet to be filled.


IET Bhaddal Case
Suspended IG moves court for pre-arrest bail
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 11
Suspended IG, counter-intelligence, Pathankot, Rajinder Singh has moved special court here for pre-arrest bail.

The IG fears registration of a case and arrest following a complaint against him by trustees of the Kandi Area Friends Trust running the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Bhaddal.

In the application to the court he has alleged that his brother Surinder Singh had served in the IET, Bhaddal. During the term of the previous government certain trustees of the college had filed a complaint accusing him of using his position as police officer to interfere in the matters of the institute.

A high-level inquiry was ordered by the previous government on the complaint against him. However, the inquiry found him innocent. However, the present government is getting the complaint against him reinvestigated out of vendetta.

He alleged during previous parliamentary elections he was posted IG Ferozpur. On the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court he ordered the registration of a case against some politically strong persons now at the helm in the present government.

As soon as the present government took over he was punished for carrying out his professional duty. He was posted IG counter-intelligence at Pathankot without any office or residence. His request for retaining residence at Mohalli or Chandigarh was also turned down by the government.

Rajinder Singh has also alleged he was denied due promotion despite unblemished service record and the fact he was recommended for President’s police medal.

He filed a petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court against denial of promotion to him as ADGP. After he filed writ petition, the government suspended him. It was a clear case of political victimisation.

Rajinder Singh has pleaded that he had come to know that the government was contemplating the registration of a case against him in the IET Bhaddal College case. He wants that he be given prior information in case the police wants to book him in the case. He has also sought an anticipatory bail in the case.

The judge fixed the anticipatory bail application of the IG for hearing on March 12.


High Court
Z-Plus security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Nihang leader Baba Balbir Singh of Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal, Panjwa Takht, today sought Z-Plus security in view of persistent threats to his life and liberty.

The petitioner claimed that he had been nominated by Baba Santa Singh, chief of Budha Dal, as his successor. Due to this, another group keen on having its nominee as the successor had allegedly conspired to eliminate him by attacking with deadly weapons, on the premises of Gurdwara Ber Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda district on April 15, 2007. After hearing counsel for the petitioner, Justice Rajesh Bindal issued notice of motion for March 24 to the home secretaries of union and Punjab government.

Gurbani telecast

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today again directed the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to place on record the copies of contract with ETC channel of the Zee group. The Bench has also asked for ETC channel’s contract vide, which it had transferred the rights to another channel for telecasting Gurbani directly from Golden Temple complex, Amritsar. The Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia also fixed April 3 as the next date of hearing in the mater.

Bathinda MC polls

In a petition filed in public interest, the delimitation of wards for first-ever elections to Bathinda Municipal Corporation has been challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. It has been filed by Mathura Dass Setia, a former member of the dissolved council, Bathinda. The petitioner that submitted the distribution of population in different wards was highly uneven. As such, the notification of January 22 notifying the delimitation of wards should be quashed. Taking up the matter, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia fixed the case for further hearing for March 17.


No pardon on irrelevant grounds: HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Setting aside the orders of pardon granted by the Punjab Governor to three murder convicts, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today significantly ruled the power to grant pardon could not be exercised on irrelevant grounds. The ruling, by a High Court Division Bench, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D. Anand, came on a bunch of petitions, including the one challenging the grant of pardon to the three - Manjit Singh, Narain Dutt and Prem Kumar.

All three were arrested in March 2001 on the allegations of committing a murder near the Barnala court complex. A local court had held them guilty of murder and had sentenced them to life imprisonment in March 2005. The Governor had pardoned them following representations from an organisation against their conviction. Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench observed there was no dispute about the legal position and power to grant pardon was constitutional, but it did not mean the same could be exercised on irrelevant grounds.


‘Withdraw work from IAS officer’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association has passed a resolution for immediate withdrawal of work from senior IAS officer R.N.Gupta. He is posted as financial commissioner, appeals. A letter in this respect was sent by association secretary Onkar Singh Batalvi to the Punjab chief secretary on Tuesday.

The association has sought direction against allowing him to hold the court for deciding appeals preferred against the government decision in revenue and other matters.

It was pointed out that Gupta’s personal assistant has been arrested by the state vigilance bureau on the allegations of accepting money from litigants for deciding the court cases pending before Gupta.


Tantrik, grandmother held for infant’s murder
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 11
The gruesome killing of one-and-a-half-month-old Harsimran Singh by throwing him into a gutter by his own maternal aunt at the border village of Dauke took a new turn with the arrest of a tantrik baba and maternal grandmother of the child here today.

The boy was sacrificed by his aunt Satinder Kaur, who had been arrested earlier, on the advice of baba Harbhajan Singh of Bachiwind village. These startling revelations came to light during police investigations after which the police nabbed the baba, his pupil Satnam Singh and maternal grandmother Sukhdev Kaur.

Gurwiinder Singh of Lopoke, father of the deceased, had found Harsimran missing from his in-laws’ house, where he had gone along with his wife for spending holidays, on March 3. He lodged a complaint with the police who arrested Satinder on the suspicion that she had no issue. The body of the infant was found in the gutter adjoining the toilet of the house.

Police investigations disclosed that Satinder was upset because of her two miscarriages after marriage. Her mother-in-law Sukhdev Kaur approached the baba in this regard. The baba allegedly told them to sacrifice a child in order to get blessed. Both accused in connivance with the baba sacrificed the child. A case had been registered.


Students lathi-charged, go on rampage
Cases registered against 15

Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 11
After a reported mild lathi-charge by the police on protesting students of Baba Hira Singh Bhattal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Lehragaga, today, students went on the rampage and damaged windowpanes of the institute’s building, besides furniture and two ACs. However, Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh denied the lathi charge.

According to information, after holding a rally in support of their demands at the institute the students tried to block the main road at Lehragaga. The police then came into action to stop the students and allegedly resorted to a mild lathi charge, injuring a student. This reportedly provoked the students to go on the rampage.

The students were demanding availability of adequate number of teachers in the institute, supply of pure drinking water, proper power supply and proper sanitation in the hostels.

Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh said he had verified from the Lehragaga DSP and independent witnesses whether the police had lathi-charged the students.

He said someone from among the protesting students on seeing the police threw a stone towards it. They then ran towards the institute’s building and damaged the same.

Lehragaga DSP Tarun Rattan said on the complaint of the principal and staff of the institute a case had been registered against 15 students. However, no one has been arrested so far. He said the institute had been closed for three days. Besides this, the students had been asked to vacate the hostels, he added.


Rice export comes to standstill
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
The recent notification issued by the Director-General Foreign Trade (DGFT) has created a piquant situation whereby the entire rice export business has come to a standstill in this region.

Spokesman of the Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association K.R.S. Sobti said the export of basmati and non-basmati rice had been restricted through the ports of Kandla, Kakinada, Kolkata and JNPT, Mumbai, through this notification which had brought the entire trade to a virtual halt. He said the notification issued on March 5 by the DGFT had failed to clarify the use of inland container depots (ICD) while majority of the grain trade was being routed through these depots from Ludhiana, Delhi and other places.

Sobti said a large number of containers stuffed with rice had been stranded as the Customs authorities had stated that due to the notification certain qualifications were required and as such they were unable to bail out the exporters under these conditions.

Commissioner of Customs Talkeshwar Singh, however, assured the exporters and said they were seeking a clarification from their headquarters and the DGFT about the notification. He said the notification has not yet given any clarification with regard to the ICDs set up in various parts of the country to facilitate exports.


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