P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


DCC ex vice-chief held on rape charge
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
In a jolt to the Congress, a former vice-president of the District Congress Committee “Dr” Kuldip Rai Arora has been arrested for raping his helper throughout the night in his Shankar Hospital-cum-residence in the busy Putlighar Chowk here today.

The police is also verifying whether the victim was gang-raped. Though the police had rounded up some suspects, along with the “doctor”, they were let off following preliminary investigation. However, district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh said more arrests could be made.

The “doctor” allegedly raped the girl by offering her tea mixed with some intoxicant after duty hours last evening. The police said the so-called ayurvedic doctor repeatedly raped her when she was unconscious.

It is yet to be ascertained whether the victim was a minor, said superintendent of police S.S. Mann. In her complaint, the victim alleged that while all employees had left the “hospital,” she was stopped by the doctor on pretext of some urgent work. The family members of the alleged doctor were also out of station and he took the advantage to exploit the innocent girl.

However, when the girl did not reach home, her family members started searching for her. When they reached Shankar Hospital, the servants of the doctor told them that she had left the hospital in time.

When the victim reached home at Kot Khalsa in the wee hours today in a bad condition, she told her parents that she was in the hospital itself and came home after regaining consciousness. She told the police that when she woke up in the morning she found herself physically abused/raped by the ‘doctor’. It is learnt that the quack has a basement on his premises where he has been sexually exploiting gullible girls.

The agitated parents and a large number of people mobbed the “hospital” and started pelting stones. The police had a tough time controlling the unruly mob who themselves wanted to punish them.

District police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh said the accused had been arrested on charges of rape. He added the IPC should be amended to give stringent punishment to such persons.

The wife of “Dr” Kuldip Rai is visiting their son pursuing MBBS in Maharashtra.

A case under Sections 342 and 376, IPC, has been registered at police station Islamabad, Amritsar.

The senior Congress leaders have expressed dismay over the incident and a report was being sent to the party high command for expelling him from the primary membership of the Congress.


Woman alleges attack by kin
Police fails to register case
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, March 15
Sarabjit Kaur Virk living at Khalwara village under Phagwara police station was allegedly attacked by her aunt Harpreet Kaur and others on Wednesday evening.

She said Harpreet, along with her sons Barjinder Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, daughter Rano and daughter-in-law Sarabjit attacked her with stones. She saved life by fleeing from there.

She informed SHO Amrik Singh Chahal about the attack, who she said sent some policemen to the spot. The cops recorded her statement, but even after four days the police have not registered any FIR.

Chahal said it was not an attack, but minor dispute over property. “We have called the complainant to the police station to know the exact position, but she has not turned up. The opposite party is visiting the police station every day”.

On the other hand, Virk said she had made it clear on the date of recording of her statement that she was alone with her children at her house, so could not visit the police station. Moreover, the police had already recorded her statement, why it was not registering an FIR, she said, adding that the police wanted her to reach a compromise with them.

Virk added that she was attacked on Wednesday when she withdrew the general power of attorney made in her aunt Harpreet Kaur’s name regarding 20 acres worth Rs 1 crore.

Virk said she was living alone with minor children as her husband was addicted to drugs and her mother Surinder Kaur was killed by Bhoria robbers on January 15 last year.

Virk said her relatives might take help of Bhoria robbers to eliminate her to grab her land.

She had witnessed looting and her mother’s murder by the Bhoria gang at their then house at Apra village under Phillaur police station of Jalandhar district and some associates of the assailants escaped from Ludhiana Central Jail a few weeks back. Her fear is not unfounded. The case has been fixed for March 17 to record her statement in a court at Jalandhar.

However, Chahal said these two incidents were not connected. She did not require any security as there was no threat to her life, he claimed.


Cong plans stir for repeal of land Act
Says Kandi belt farmers suffering

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
The Congress will launch an agitation to press the Punjab government to repeal the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) which, it said, has made life miserable for people of 470 villages of the Kandi belt beginning from Dhar block near Gurdaspur to certain parts of Mohali district.

Speaking to mediapersons here today, Harnek Singh Gharuan, former Congress minister, said the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had entrusted him the job of mobilising public opinion against the Act and meeting people of the Kandi belt affected by the Act. He said he would soon visit Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Garhshankar and Ropar in this regard.

He said the PLPA was a state Act and there was no need to seek permission from the union government or any other authority to remove it from the state statute books. “It was a temporary Act enacted in 1900. It was to be in operation for a few years only but after even after 107 years of its existence, it continues to be enforced against people living in the Kandi belt,” he added.

Harnek Singh said the Forest Act was not applicable on private lands but the forest department uses the PLPA to harass farmers owning land in Kandi. He said former financial commissioner J.S. Kesar had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court that the area covered under the PLPA had been wrongly shown as forest area and the government should be allowed to withdraw that area from the forest area. About 70,000 hectares of land had been locked under the PLPA in Punjab, he added.

He said the forest department was creating hurdles in the repeal of this Act because of its vested interest in various World Bank and Japan Bank-funded forest projects. By including the area covered under the PLPA, the forest department had been securing more funds from these bodies. He said almost the entire Himachal Pradesh was a forest state but there was no ban on people there in growing vegetables, fruit crops and other crops in hilly areas but there was no such freedom for farmers of the Kandi belt in Punjab.

He said the forest department should explain how it was the responsibility of the people of Kandi belt only to grow and save forest when people in other parts were taking full advantage of the post-Green Revolution by removing forest “ birs” from their lands. He said there should equi-distribution of forest in the entire state and it should not be confined to a particular pocket.

He said the Congress would launch an agitation to press the SAD-BJP combine that in its manifesto had promised to repeal this Act to honour its commitment.


Bid on Dera Chief’s Life
‘Parveen being framed’ by Haryana cops
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
Sohanjt Kaur, chairperson, Mata Gujri Trust, which runs a school for children of slain terrorists at Kaller Bhaini village, near here, has lashed out at the Haryana Police for taking into custody Parveen Meena for alleged bid on the life of Dera Sacha Sauda chief at Karnal.

At a press conference here today, Sohanjit said the girl was innocent and she was being framed in the case.

Sohanjit was accompanied by Parveen's mother Amarjit Kaur and the girl’s two brothers.Her mother disclosed that Parveen belonged to a Gursikh family and was a simple girl. She used to travel to Mohindra College and came back to Kaller Bahini village daily and beyond this she never travelled anywhere else.

Amarjit Kaur added that the family came to India in 1947 as a Muslim family, but later converted to Sikhism because they were adopted by a Sikh family.

She added that the accused girl's father Sadiq Mohammad had died under mysterious circumstances during terrorism. She claimed that till yet there had been no FIR into the death of Sadiq Mohammad and no trace of his body either.

Parveen's brother Abdul Satar Singh also claimed that his sister had absolutely no link with the prime accused in the case Bakshish Singh. He hastened to add that when Bakshish was in jail for three years, his wife stayed at Kaller Bhaini and it was at that time Parveen developed friendly relations with Bakshish's wife. He added that the cops were unnecessary harassing his family.

Sohanjit said Parveen was a `simple and young' girl and had nurtured hopes of becoming a pilot. She also said an uncle of Parveen, Bashir Mohammad was a terrorist and done away with the police. She said this was no reason for the cops to eliminate their father for no fault of his. Sohanjit claimed that the Haryana cops came into three vehicles and told her they just wanted to question Parveen at the local Sadar police station.

Beyond this they said nothing, but later they took her away to Karnal without even intimating her. She said she went to Karnal and spoke the Karnal SSP who told her Parveen was being questioned by the cops. He added an FIR had to be registered against Parveen otherwise the media would have made it out to be a case of kidnapping by the Haryana police.

Sohanjit claimed at Karnal that Parveen complained to her that the cops were using third-degree methods to torture her. She added that she had also spoken to agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah today who assured her he would do his best to get to the bottom of the case.


Govt targeting officers: BSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has urged the Badal government to concentrate on governance and avoid selective targeting of officers as it will have a bad affect on the state’s official machinery.

Paramjit Singh Kainth, senior leader of the BSP, today said the SAD-BJP government was caught up in controversies with regard to dealing with some officers and vice-chancellors. He said the first to resign was the vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University and then of Punjabi University, who was made to quit.

Besides, there was a case related to a former Punjab police chief and now there was one involving a senior police officer, besides certain other officers.

The BSP leader said government should give fair treatment to all officers.


YC men go anti-Badal over development
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
Activists of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) held a dharna on the Mall here yesterday. They gathered in front of the library and raised slogans against the state government. Later, addressing a press conference, PYC chief Vijay Inder Singla said people of the state were a disgruntled lot. He added that the state government had spent Rs 1,700 crore of the total Budget outlay of Rs 3,702 crore, which was less than 50 per cent of the total Budget outlay. He said under various Central schemes the state government had not been able to provide matching contributions and this had impacted various development programmes.

Speaking about low industrial output in the state, Singla said no steps had been taken to revive industrial activity in the state. He said that industrial focal points were almost defunct. The PYC chief further said VAT refunds were too cumbersome and no interest was being paid on delayed payments as was promised by the BJP government.


CJI inaugurates court complex
Judges decry foeticide, drug abuse
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), March 15
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan today emphasised on bringing a change in the thinking of people through a mass awareness campaign to fight social evils, female foeticide and drug abuse. He urged NGOs, voluntary organisations and the legal authorities to eradicate these social evils.

He said female foeticide was unknown in Kerala as no one thought about it there now. He also said with the efforts of the National Legal Services Authority, legal services authorities of various states and other organisations the female ratio at the national level had increased from 766 girls to 850 girls against 1,000 boys in the country.

Justice Balakrishnan was addressing a seminar on the “Eradication of female foeticide and drug de-addiction” after inaugurating the Judicial Court Complex here today. He also laid the foundation stone for the construction of lawyers’ chambers. The seminar was organised by the Punjab Legal Services Authority.

Justice Balakrishnan said there should be a court of junior civil division judge in a radius of 25 to 30 km in the country to make the judicial system available at people’s doorstep. Justice Ashok Bhan, a judge of the Supreme Court (whose native village is Moonak), said the killing of an unborn girl was a matter of shame. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asked religious gurus, saints, NGOs, voluntary organisations and panchayats to make the people aware of the evils of female foeticide and drug addiction. He said with the efforts of judges of the high court, who were creating awareness by visiting villages, the number of girls had increased in Punjab.

Presiding over the seminar, Justice Vijender Jain, Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, said the killing of a girl in the womb was a big crime. On the one hand, people worshipped Mata Durga and Mata Bhiwani, on the other hand they killed girls before their birth.

The seminar was also addressed by judges of the Supreme Court Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice H.S. Bedi, executive chairman of Punjab Legal Services Authority Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, Administrative Judge of Sessions Division, Sangrur Justice S.D. Anand, and Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Member of Parliament (MP) from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and the area in charge of the SAD for Lehra Assembly constituency Prem Singh Chandumajra were also present on the occasion.

Debt Waiver
Loans from moneylenders not covered: Bansal
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
While rejecting the demand of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for Rs 20,000 crore special economic package on account of depletion of natural resources, union minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal said today that the government would not pay farmers’ debt due to commission agents.

“Badal has erroneous impression that the Centre is not a money-minting agency, which can print and disburse any amount of money to the states. Finance minister Manpreet Singh, who has a sound knowledge of the economics, should make Badal see reason as such demands have no logic,” Bansal told a press conference at the Chandigarh Press Club here today.

Bansal wondered why Badal, an alliance partner of the erstwhile NDA government, did not raise any such demand during the NDA regime.

Terming the Rs 60,000 crore loan waiver scheme as historic, Bansal alleged that the Opposition was raising “non-issues” and it had been caught off guard by the government decision aimed at benefiting over four crore small and marginal farmers.

Answering a question whether the Central government would reimburse money paid by the state governments to moneylenders for the farmers’ debts, Bansal categorically stated that the Central government was in no position to reimburse the farmers’ debt paid to moneylenders by the state governments.

Avoiding a direct reply whether the loan waiver had been announced with an eye on the general elections, Bansal said if the decision brought electoral gains we would derive benefit from it.” “Good economics is good politics,” Bansal quipped, hinting that the decision could better UPA’s electoral prospects.

Bansal said the loan waiver scheme would cover about 2.95 crore small and marginal farmers (30 per cent) in Punjab, while the remaining 70 per cent of the eligible farmers would get the benefit of 25 per cent waiver of loans.

Similarly, in Haryana, about 4.19 lakh small and marginal farmers (73.6 per cent) of the total farmers in the state would benefit by the scheme while the remaining 26.4 per cent would get the 25 per cent benefit.


Expedite works of ex-servicemen
Capt Kanwaljit warns DCs, SSPs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The state minister for defence services has issued a stern warning to all district department heads to duly respect serving and retired defence personnel, failing which the deputy commissioner (DC) and the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of the district concerned would be penalised.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, minister for defence services and cooperation, Punjab, announced here today that after receiving complaints from many defence personnel, he had, in a written communication to the DCs and the SSPs, said that due respect as per the ranks of ex-servicemen should be given to them in government offices at all levels and their genuine problems should be redressed on a priority basis.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh was addressing a gathering of retired officers and other ex-servicemen of 5 Sikh (TA) Regiment, from which he himself began his career.

Captain Singh, while lauding the commitment and sincerity of soldiers for the country, said after service, they faced a lot of problems in adjusting in the civilian setup. He said whenever they felt dishonoured at the hands of civil servants, they raised their voice against injustice.

He said keeping in view the dedication and sincerity of the ex-serviceman, the panchaytas and other elected bodies should involve them in the development and welfare process at local levels.

He promised that in the coming months, more meetings of ex-servicemen would be organised to listen to their views on the efficient implementation of various development projects. There were about 6.5 lakh ex-servicemen in the state.

Lt-Gen Charanjit Singh (retd) and Col D.S.Ghuman (retd), while addressing the function, apprised the minister of the problems of the ex-servicemen. Prominent among others who were present on the occasion included Iqbal Singh Bedi, Ajmer Singh Dhillon and Sub Hakam Singh Kup Kallan.


Rahu to take steps for return of Sikh library books
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
“I will try to bring back rare historical books of the Sikh Reference Library of the Golden Temple taken away by the Army after Operation Bluestar”. Stating this to the media here today, Pallam Rahu, union minister of state for defence, who was in the city to pay obeisance at the holy shrine, said the matter had been brought to his notice for the first time and he would initiate steps for their return if these were in the custody of the Army authorities.

Ranjit Singh Nanda, a retired CBI inspector, had disclosed that rare manuscripts, hukamnamas, books and invaluable material of the library had been taken away after Operation Bluestar.

Rahu said with the installation of a democratically elected government in Pakistan they would renew efforts for the return of prisoners of war. To a query about the problems being faced by farmers in tilling their farms across the fence on the border, the minister said he was not aware of the ground realities. He said that he would take up the matter with the government. He added that in order to meet the shortage of military officers the union government had made a provision of Rs 2 crore for each Sainik School for providing better training to students.

Meanwhile, Avtar Singh, SGPC chief, in a memorandum submitted to the minister urged him for recruitment of Sikh youths in the defence forces as lesser number of Sikh youths were being recruited from the state. He also urged the minister for the deletion of names of Sikhs from the blacklist.

Later, Rahu also visited the Jallianwala Bagh and paid tributes.


Freedom fighter denied pension
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 15
Eightyseven-year-old freedom fighter Jagat Singh has been running from pillar to post for the past many years seeking pension to which he is entitled.

Late Giani Zail Singh during his tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab awarded him the Tamra Patra and the freedom fighter’s certificate at a function at Fatehgarh Sahib. However, Jagat Singh all these years has been waiting for the release of the pension that is paid to a freedom fighter.

He was arrested in 1945 and sentenced to a nine-month rigorous imprisonment for participating in a public meeting that was addressed by Subhas Chandra Bose at Ambala.

A public-spirited resident of Bathinda, Jagdish Singh Ghai, general secretary of the local public library, has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in the early settlement of Jagat Singh’s pension case.

Ghai said Jagat had sent a series of representations to the Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances Department in New Delhi, but these have fallen on deaf ears.

Jagat Singh is presently living at Ramgarh village of Barnala district. He was sarpanch of the village for 19 years.


Wheat-paddy Prices
Govt to press Centre for accepting formula
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The Punjab government will be pressing the Union government for accepting a proposed formula on periodic hike in wheat and paddy prices instead of seeking raise in their minimum support price (MSP) every season.

Stating this to The Tribune in an exclusive interview here today, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, minister for cooperation and defence services, said the state government won’t be seeking a routine hike in the MSP this season. “Instead, we are sending a formula to calculate the MSP every season. Under the formula, the price has to be calculated on the basis of prevailing cost of production and the cost of living with which the reasonable profit of margin for the farmers has to be added.”

He said the Union government always made a small hike in the wheat-paddy prices and boasts about the increase. “However, on the ground level the increase does not translate into any profit for the farmer.” He said the Punjab government won’t be seeking any figure as MSP but would press for the acceptance of the formula, which need to be revised every season.

Referring to the Budgetary announcement of waiving farmers’ loan to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore, he said the announcement was misleading. “In fact, it may help the defaulters only, and that too in a small number. Moreover, there is no immediate waiver and the loan would be waived in three years.”


Docs seek law like in AP
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
Moved by an ordinance passed by Andhra Pradesh Governor, doctors in the state have urged the government to come up with a similar law that prohibits violence against doctors and damage to the property of medicare institutions.

Terming the ordinance as extraordinary and historic, the state branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (PAFMAT), have demanded that a similar ordinance be passed by Parliament.

According to the ordinance, any offender who commits any act in contravention of Section 3 can be punished with imprisonment for a period of three years and fine, which may be extended to Rs 50,000.


Law Panel
HC takes Punjab to task
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
While taking up a petition filed in public interest for providing adequate staff, infrastructure, space and other facilities to the Punjab Law Commission chairman, a division Bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh asked the state's additional Advocate-General Anmol Rattan Singh the reason behind half-hearted effort.

“If you don't have the will, why do you appoint Law Commissions? You cannot be permitted to deal with the retired Judges like this,” the Bench observed in the open court.

The Additional A-G assured the Bench that he would personally look into the matter. After taking a note of his submission, the Bench fixed April 28 as the next date of hearing.

Earlier during the hearing, petitioner H.C. Arora pointed out that two clerks posted at the Law Commission had no place to sit and were forced to wander in the corridors for want of space. To make the matters worse, the Commission had no substitute for peon. As such, the Commission's functioning was affected when he proceeded on leave

Arora had earlier stated facilities should be provided in consonance with the status of a retired HC judge to enable the commission to discharge its functions properly.


High Court
Notice to Punjab AG on Bhullar’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Taking up a petition filed by Punjab's former irrigation minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar and his two sons for the restoration of security cover, Justice R.S. Madan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday issued notice of motion to the state Advocate-General.

In their petition against the director-general of police and two other respondents, Bhullar and his sons Sukhpal Singh and Annop Singh had sought the restoration of security "in view of the threats"

Giving details, the petitioners had contended that the security provided to Bhullar since 1991 was withdrawn without assigning any reason.

It was added that the action had made them vulnerable at the hands of anti-social elements as they had been waging war against militancy since it started. The case will now come up for further hearing on July 3.


IG’s arrest stayed till March 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Taking up a petition filed by Punjab Inspector-General of Police Rajinder Singh for blanket anticipatory bail and seven days’ advance notice if he was required by the police in connection with any complaint or FIR which may be registered against him, the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday stayed his arrest till March 19.

The IGP’s services are currently under suspension. Issuing the directions in an open court, Justice Mahesh Grover of the High Court also directed that if a case was registered, the petitioner would be informed accordingly.

The petitioner has already filed a petition in the Ropar Court. He had moved the High Court earlier also in a promotion matter. The court had ordered a status quo on the promotions following the petition.


Singer, lyricist booked for cheating
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
The Beas police has booked Punjabi singer Sonu Singh and lyricist Kala Nizampuri for allegedly duping Dilbagh Singh, a resident of Rayya, falling under Amritsar (rural) police district, of about Rs 1.40 lakh on the promise of releasing a cassette of his son from a renowned music company. Both were booked after a police inquiry, conducted by DSP Baba Bakala. A case has been registered. Dilbagh Singh, in his complaint lodged with the police, alleged that the accused promised them to launch his son, who is also a Punjabi singer, and release his son’s cassette from T-series music and cassette company. He said they took Rs 1.40 lakh from them in this regard.

However, he alleged that Sonu and Nizampuri released his cassette from Touch Company, while the title of the album was also sold to another Punjabi singer Bhinda Jatt.


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