P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Remarks on Gurus
Advani should seek forgiveness: Bhattal
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
All -India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi will visit the state in last week of May to bolster the Congress party for Lok Sabha elections to be held next year.

Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly announced this at ‘Jan Chetna Lalkar Rally’ here today.

Bhattal said Rahul would visit the state after the Assembly elections in Karnataka were over. She said during four-day visit Rahul was expected to the meet people of Majha, Doaba and Malwa regions for first hand information on economic scenario in the state.

Lashing out at the SAD_BJP government in the state Bhattal said the government ,instead of owning up to failure on all fronts, was accusing the central government of not providing sufficient funds to the state. She said the union government had waived Rs 60,000 crore loan of the farmers in the country. She asked why the state government could not waive the loan of the farmers which they owe to the arhtiyas as was being done in the states of Maharashtra and Haryana.

The PPCC president said the government was claiming the state coffers were empty whereas it was getting crores as grants from the central government for various development projects in the state. She said the state government had failed on all fronts and was now resorting to cane -charging on anganwari workers and other employees raising just demands.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, should apologise to the people for alleged shearing of hair of old baptised woman by an Akali worker at Sirhind yesterday.

On the remarks of former deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani the BJP had pressurised the then ruling Congress at the Centre for Operation Bluestar to get the extremists out of the holy shrine, Bhattal said ‘Now the cat was out of the bag and it was before public who was responsible for troubled conditions in the state’. She said the BJP leader should seek forgiveness at the Golden Temple for describing Sikh Gurus as saints in his autobiography ‘My Country, My Life’.

She said the SAD instead of sticking to power should have questioned its alliance partner as such remarks were very disturbing and could create law and order problem in the state. She said even the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) should have raised its voice as it was direct interference in the Sikh religion.


References to Operation Bluestar in Advani’s book
Badal defends Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today defended former deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani for the remarks in his book “My Country, My Life” and said Advani had never demanded action on the Golden temple in 1984. Badal termed the move on separate SGPC in Haryana “direct interference in Sikhs’ affairs by the Congress”.

Badal at a press conference in the national capital here today evaded direct reply on the BJP leader’s book and the references made to the cleansing of the Golden Temple complex preceding Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Badal said “mediapersons are in the habit of posing questions without going through the matter”. Badal went on to ask a journalist “have you read the book”.

Advani’s references in the book on page 430 have raised the hackles of a section of the Sikh community that has demanded an apology. Advani’s claims on the role of the BJP in the days preceding Operation Bluestar, have been interpreted by the Sikh leaders as ''justifying the Army action at the religious place in Amritsar''. Badal avoided direct comment on the matter appearing on page 430 of Advani’s book.

Badal accused the Congress-led UPA government of conspiring to create separate SGPC for Haryana. Whatever, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was doing to divide the Amritsar-based Sikh religious body is condemnable, said Badal.

Manjit Singh dissolved his Delhi- based Panthic Akali Dal and merged it with the SAD in the presence of Badal and his son Sukhbir Badal.


Senior Cong leaders boycott rally
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
The animosity between Congress factions today reached a flashpoint here when senior Congress leaders, including sitting MLAs and former legislators loyal to Capt Amarinder Singh stayed away from the “Jan Chetna Lalkar rally”, addressed by PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Most of the senior Congress leaders said they had “boycotted” the rally due to the alleged derogatory remarks used by Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, senior vice-president, PPCC, against Capt Amarinder Singh, who was not invited to the rally.

However, while taking to The Tribune, Bhattal said most of the Congress leaders who were conspicuous by their absence had personally contacted her on telephone to give their explanation for not attending the rally. She, however, said she might bring the matter to the notice of the party high command if anybody had deliberately boycotted the rally.

Appealing to the party workers and leaders to rise above any sort of factionalism, she said the sole aim of all of them should be to work for the victory of the party in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Defending Randhawa for his remarks against Capt Amarinder, Bhattal said he had already clarified to her that his statement was distorted by media. She said instead of staying away from the rally, they should have brought the matter to her notice . The differences, if any, should be discussed on party fora only.

Among those who were conspicuous by their absence included Harjinder Singh Thekedar, Jugal Kishor Sharma, Jasbir Singh Dimpa , Harpartap Singh Ajnala, S.S. Kathungal, Prof Darbari Lal, all former MLAs, and Om Parkash Soni and Sukh Sarkaria, both sitting MLAs. However, Sukhjinder Singh Lali, president, district Congress (rural), who was the main organiser, said that some of the senior leaders, including Sarkaria and Ajnala, were down with fever, while others, including Soni, Kathunangal, Thekedar and Sharma, had given big donations for organising the rally. He claimed that the rally was impressive due to their support.

Harjinder Singh Thekedar and Jugal Sharma said they were shocked to read the remarks of Lakhmir Singh Randhawa against Capt Amarinder Singh. They said a large number of workers assembled at their homes, but they (workers) forced them not to attend the rally because of Randhawa’s remarks against the “most towering leader” of the state Congress. Sharma said his workers asked him not to go to the rally because many Congress leaders who were responsible for his defeat in the last assembly election were sitting in the front row of the stage.

The supporters of Bhattal said that by boycotting the rally, the senior Congress leaders from Majha had “insulted” Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had appointed her as PPCC chief.

The vice-president of the District Congress (Urban) Gurpal Singh Lohka said he and his supporters, including some municipal councillors, had boycotted the rally because they did not want the repeat of the Bathinda incident when Congress workers, loyal to Capt Amrinder Singh and Bhattal, clashed yesterday.


AICC monitoring Amarinder?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
Has the Congress high-command started monitoring the posture of Captain Amarinder Singh following his recent utterances about PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and his “non-adherence” to the Congress’ high command’s “instructions” on airing differences with Bhattal publicly?

The answer seems to be in the affirmative if sources in the Congress are to be believed.

The central leadership of the Congress, party sources revealed, was upset over the way Captain Amarinder Singh had allegedly started “cornering” Bhattal repeatedly despite its reported directions to him to keep harmony within the party intact and particularly to make amends with the PPCC chief.

The party high command was said to have been observing the developments within the PPCC keenly.

Indicating he was in a no mood to compromise, Captain Amarinder Singh has already asserted in a candid manner he had not entered into any “patch-up” with Bhattal and he “could not believe Bhattal anymore”. What has left the central Congress high command “red-faced” was the frequent public appearances of the former Chief Minister with his Pakistani journalist friend Aroosa Alam, said sources.

The AICC leadership’s “annoyance” with Captain Amarinder Singh came as a clear signal, as Captain’s wife Preneet Kaur, who, is two-time MP, was “bypassed”, while a first-time Rajya Sabha member Dr M.S. Gill was elevated as Union minister of state in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

Captain Amarinder Singh, however, has been asserting that he was “loyal” and would work for the party and its workers at the grassroots level.

The Punjab Congress has only two elected MPs. Before the reshuffle, only Rajya Sabha MPs from Punjab were in the Union Cabinet. Just before the recent reshuffle, hopes within the PPCC circles were that Preneet Kaur would be included into the Union ministry, being a two-timer MP and a woman. Owing to Amarinder's alleged differences within the party in Punjab, she was said to have been denied her maiden entry into the Union Cabinet, whereas it could be the golden chance for Amarinder's family to get adjusted into the UPA government.

What seems to have come in the way of Preneet was the absence of her name in the recently formed Congress’ 11-member coordination committee, but Rana Gurjit Singh, the other elected MP from Punjab Congress, was included.


25,000 hectares of early sown wheat damaged by frost
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
More than 25,000 hectares of early sown wheat crop was damaged in Punjab by the decade’s worst and longest spell of frost.

Sixty to 80 per cent of early sown wheat was affected this year. The quantum of damage was estimated to be around 25,000 acres of crop which was less than 1 per cent of the 34.8 lakh hectares of area under wheat crop in the state. In comparison, just 10 per cent of early sown wheat had suffered damage last year.

Though the damage to the crop has been statewide, farmers of Patiala district and surrounding areas of the Malwa region like Sangrur, Nabha and Malerkotla are the worst hit. In these areas of Punjab, farmers have been sowing wheat earlier than the first fortnight of November, the date recommended by the Punjab Agriculture Department for starting wheat sowing in Punjab.

In a bid to reap rich dividends attached with early harvesting, farmers of the area have been resorting to early sowing for past six-seven years. In a large number of cases, farmers had started wheat-sowing operations from October 14-15 due to several reasons and apprehensions that they might not get adequate power supply at the onset of normal wheat-sowing time.

The worst part of the scenario is that the yield of wheat has registered a considerable decline due to the prolonged frost spell in the state. “As compared to average of just four days earlier, this time the frost lasted 21 days in December and January. Such a long frost spell hindered the pollination process in respect of wheat,” said Patiala chief agriculture officer Balwinder Singh Sohal. He claimed that nearly 24,000 quintals of wheat had been damaged in Patiala district alone.

On the other hand, director, Punjab Agriculture Department, Balwinder Singh Sandhu admitted that damage was there, but it was less than 1 per cent of the total area under wheat in Punjab. “Most of the crop damaged is either in or around Patiala district. Actually, people have been defying the department guidelines and resorting to early sowing which has become their bane. I have taken a round of Patiala and other affected areas. The real quantum of damage can only be assessed after girdawri of affected areas,” said the director.

“In place of normal yield of 22-25 quintals per acre, we have got just between 5 to 10 quintals of crop yield this time. We detected damage only when we harvested the crop. The damage was surprising. In some cases, grain was absent in wheat plants,” said Jaswinder Singh and Harjinder Panjola, farmers in Ajror and Panjola villages of Patiala district, respectively.


Case of DGP’s son: NRI claims to own land
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The case involving the general power of attorney (GPA) taken by the son of Punjab Police chief N.P.S. Aulakh has got more curious with a non-resident Indian today claiming she was the real owner of the land which has changed hands repeatedly.

The lady -- Ranjit Kaur, who has also submitted an application to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a sangat darshan programme at his residence on April 8, -- has demanded that her claim to the property be looked into.

Ranjit Kaur has claimed that her husband’s uncle Madho Singh who did not have any issue had bequeathed around eight acres of land in and around Paintpura village in Kharar district in 1989 to her six sons as well as two sons of her brother-in-law and that the GPA for the same had been given to her.

The NRI claimed that her other brother-in-law Mehma Singh who had been given his share in the property earlier visited her in Malaysia in 1994 and took the will from her, saying he would get the land transferred to her heirs nominated by Madho Singh. Ranjit Kaur said instead of doing this, Mehma got the GPA for the property transferred to his name by getting a driver Jai Singh to impersonate as Madho Singh in the office of the tehsildar, Kharar.

The lady claimed Mehma sold the property to Prem Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Gurdwara Ratwara Sahib. She said at this point another brother of Madho Singh impleaded himself in the case, saying he was the genuine owner of the land and even won the case. She said though Naseeb Singh was no more, his children who had now acquired the property had given a GPA for the same to SPS Aulakh, son of the DGP.

Ranjit Kaur says she had filed a case in this regard in 1998 but claims she was not able to get her witnesses to depose in the court. She said she had subsequently gone to the Malaysia and could not follow the case, adding that it was only three months back when she came back to India that she learnt from the revenue official of the area concerned that the land had been transferred in the name of Naseeb Singh’s children. She has now also approached the National Human Rights Commission besides the ADGP, Law and Order.


Cops who fought militancy await promotions
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 10
Punjab cops, who fought militancy and were promoted assistant sub inspectors (ASI) 20 years ago, have virtually been begging for promotions from the department while officials junior to them have attained higher ranks.

Though recasting of seniority lists has been done, on directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the process for rectifying anomalies had not been started. Some of the cops, who should have been promoted DSPs years ago, have since retired or died.

The affected personnel (all inspectors) respecting decorum of the force declined to air their grievances outside the department, though they had been made to work under bosses junior to them in service.

Investigations revealed that hundreds of policemen, who were promoted ASIs in 1987 and had confronted the rant and rave of terrorists, have been running from pillar to post to get promoted as DSPs for years.

The department has failed to implement provisions of state government instructions issued on April 8, 1991, in letter and spirit. Every time the Punjab and Haryana High Court directs to do the needful, the authorities seek “more time” for processing.

A mockery of provisions of the Punjab Police Rules also comes to notice after perusal of the recast list of seniority in the Police Department for Patiala range, retrospectively in view of PPR of the Punjab Police Rules. The recasting was done in compliance of the high court judgment in connection with cases titled, Surinder Singh and others vs state of Punjab and others and Amarjit Singh Khaira vs state of Punjab.

While Gurdas Ram (seniority No. 16), Kaka Singh (No. 22), Karnail Singh (No. 57) and Surjit Singh (No. 90) have died awaiting promotion, cops appearing at seniority Nos. 248, 247, 244, 242, 239, 237, 236, 235, 234, 228, 227, 224, 223, 222, 219, 218, 212 and 207 were reported to have been promoted circle officers long ago. Sadhu Singh (No. 88), Baldev Singh (No. 108), Nirmal Singh (No. 101), Surjit Singh (No.102) and Dharam Pal (No. 107) are among those who have retired and are running from pillar to post to get the promotions from retrospective effect. Nahar Singh of Jagraon police and Major Singh of Ludhiana police have also retrired.

Subegh Singh (No. 111), scheduled to retire on April 30, and many others who have been looking to the establishment branch of the department at Chandigarh to get promotion and are nearing retirement, have urged the authorities to promote them DSP before retirement.

Affected cops alleged some members of the ministerial department at Chandigarh had been misguiding higher officials for decades. One official who has since retired has been “deputed” to decide the fate of cops in future also.


Suspension of Bathinda DSP
PPS members upset

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 10
The Punjab Chief Minister's decision to suspend Parminder Singh deputy superintendent of police Talwandi Sabo for alleged misbehaviour with journalists covering protest by anganwari workers at Talwandi Sabo on March 27, has upset members of the Punjab Police Services Association.

Inderjit Singh Randhawa, state president of the association, said mode of protest with the government would be decided at a meeting to be held soon.

Referring to feedback from office- bearers of the association Randhawa said there was widespread resentment among members of the association, including DSPs and SPs. Feeling offended at the CM's decision to suspend Parminder Singh without verifying charges against him by reporters, a few members had urged the office- bearers of the association to launch an agitation. The Chief Minister should have heard grievances of the reporters and advised the state police chief to initiate action after getting the allegations verified, feels the association. Maintaining decorum of the force is mandatory for us, we can not afford spread of sense of resentment and demoralisation among GOs," said Randhawa adding morale of the cops was impaired by the decision.

N. P. S. Aulakh, DGP had maintained that a DSP could not be suspended without holding an inquiry, Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister persisted in suspending him (Parminder Singh) on Wednesday.


Law soon on implementing Punjabi in offices, schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The Punjab government has decided to enact a new legislation to implement the use of Punjabi language as compulsory subject up to class X in all schools in the state. Separately, the Punjab Languages Act (PLA) would be amended to make Punjabi as official language at all administrative levels, including subordinate courts in Punjab.

This was decided at a meeting of the Punjab Advisory Committee held here today under the chairpersonship of Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education and languages minister.

She said the amendment in the PLA would enforce the use of Punjabi as an official language in all the offices of the state government, boards, corporations courts, schools, colleges and universities.

The amended PLA would empower the Punjab Languages Department to take inspections of all offices, institutions and recommend punitive action against erring employees and officers to the state government. The deterrent punishment for not using Punjabi would be severe for repeated offences, she said.

In pursuance to a unanimous resolution adopted by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha recently, a conscious policy decision has been taken by the Punjab Government to ensure that Punjabi language must be made as one of the compulsory subjects from the academic session 2008-09. In this regard a new act "The Punjab Learning of Punjabi and other Languages Act" has been drafted to ensure it in all the schools.


Budha Dal
Santa Singh’s nephew seeks security
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 10
Surinder Singh Babbar , a nephew of Baba Santa Singh Jathedar of the Shiromani Panth Budha Dal (Panjwan Takht) who was declared legal heir of the Baba by a five-member panel of the dal today demanded security from the district administration.

A delegation of the dal led by Babbar met district magistrate Satwant Singh Johal and requested him to provide security. The DM ,accepting the request, has asked the senior superintendent of police to look into the matter. The SSP has sought report of new development in the leadership in the dal before taking action on providing security.

On September 21, last year, row over the leadership of the dal led to bloody clash between two groups of Nihangs at Patiala in which four persons were killed.

Mahants of gurdwaras loyal to the dal and in favour of Babbar wanted government security for Babbar. Some intelligence agencies’ officials met Babbar this morning and discussed new development in the leadership of the dal. Babbar said some officials of the intelligence agencies met him today. It was learnt Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal had sought a report on the new development.


Seniority List of DSPs
Finalise it in 3 months, HC to govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Laying to rest the controversy over the seniority of directly recruited and promoted DSPs, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab government to finalise the seniority list within three months; and to eventually assign seniority between promotees and direct recruits in the ratio of 4:1.

In a significant ruling on a bunch of petitions, a Division Bench, comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal, directed the state government to begin the process by determining the vacancies available at the commencement of the Punjab Police Service Rules, 1959. The state has also been asked to take into consideration the number of the DSPs available at the time of commencement of the Rules.

Bench ruling

The Bench ruled: “The officers, who have been appointed to the IPS otherwise than the seniority determined, keeping in view the judgment of the Supreme Court cannot claim any legitimacy to continue as members of the IPS, though with a view to avoid hardship and to settle equities, we deem it appropriate not to order their reversion, but direct the respondents to consider the case of seniors ignored for appointment to the IPS with reference to the date of the empanelment of the juniors for appointment to the IPS.” 

“Thereafter, the state government would assign seniority keeping in view the vacancies, and not the posts, at the time of recruitment, and confirmation, as and when such vacancies arise from amongst the promotees and direct recruits in the ratio of 4:1.

“While assigning seniority to the promotees and direct recruits, the state government shall also assign seniority to the candidates belonging to reserved categories in terms of the Rules and instructions applicable to such categories.

“If on re-determination of seniority, it is found that juniors have been appointed as members of Indian Police Service (IPS) without considering the claim of seniors, the case of such seniors shall be considered for appointment with reference to the date on which juniors were appointed as IPS.

“However, this direction will be applicable only in respect of the candidates, who are in service today. The cases of the candidates, who have retired and are not members of the service as on today, shall not be reopened and reconsidered.

“All future vacancies falling to the quota for promotees in the IPS shall be filled in the stated manner till such time the claim of all seniors for empanelment to the IPS is considered by the review departmental promotion committee.

“The state government shall not recommend any other member of the service junior to Lok Nath Angra for empanelment for appointment to the IPS till such time, claim for appointment to IPS of all seniors is considered as mentioned.”

The Judges held: “The government has acted in breach of the directions and the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the Paramjit Singh case and, in fact, not given effect to the statement made by state counsel at the time of the decision of the application for the clarification of the earlier order. In these circumstances to hold that the rotational rule has broken down and, therefore, seniority should not be determined on the basis of rotational principles, would be against the law and directions.”


LIC told to pay Rs 1.50 lakh to widow
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has directed the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India to pay Rs 1.50 lakh insurance claim with interest of nine per cent from July 31, 2007 to Kamaljit Kaur, widow of Jagtar Singh of Nabha.

President of the forum M.D. Sharma has also directed the LIC to pay Rs 5,000 compensation for harassment and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses to Kamaljit Kaur. The LIC has also been directed to comply with the order in 60 days.

Late Jagtar Singh husband of Kamaljit Kaur, had got himself insured for Rs 1.50 lakh, from May 17, 2006. Premium instalments were deposited by Jagtar Singh in time, but he died of heart attack on June 3, 2006. At the time of getting policy he was hale and hearty and his death was natural. Kamaljit Kaur’s grievance was though she had submitted claim papers but her claim was repudiated vide letter of July 31,2007. Alleging deficiency in service she filed complaint with the forum for relief.


Amritsar SSP summoned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Justice Mahesh Grover of the high court today directed Amritsar SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh to appear on May 8 in connection with the case pertaining to Ajit Singh Poohla, who is facing charges of killing seven of a family of Khanpur village in 1991.


Guru Nanak varsity puts off exams
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
Guru Nanak Dev university here today postponed annual theory examinations scheduled for April 14 (Monday).

Harbhajan Singh, controller of the exams of the university, in a press note, said the new date and time for the examinations would be notified later.


20 kg heroin seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 10
The Border Security force (BSF) seized 20 kg of heroin from two youths, Kamal Raj Singh (19) and Jaspal Singh (24), from border village of Bhangala. They were caught during a night operation at the border post Jhugian Nur Mohammad, situated in the Khemkaran sector. They were to take a consignment being smuggled into the Indian territory by two Pakistan-based smugglers.

Himmat Singh, IG, BSF, said the Pakistani smugglers pushed the contraband, concealed in two plastic bags, through a plastic pipe inserted in the fencing by the accused to save themselves from electric current.

When the accused were challenged by the BSF, they tried to flee. The BSF jawans fired at them. However, the Pakistan smugglers escaped.


Body of boy killed by aunt exhumed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
The body of a three-year-old boy, Arshad Khan, was today exhumed by the police in the presence of duty magistrate naib tehsildar Jaswinder Singh from the graveyard of Khokhar Kalan village, about 8 km from Lehragaga.

Arshad was killed allegedly by his aunt Saroja Begum by strangling his throat with a cotton strap in Khokhar Kalan village yesterday. However, the family buried the boy without informing the police.

Lehragaga SHO Indervir Sharma told this reporter today that after getting the body exhumed, a post-mortem examination of the body was conducted at the Sunam civil hospital and the body handed over to the family later for burial. He said the police had registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC and arrested Saroja Begum, the aunt.


5.50 kg opium seized
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
The district police today seized 5.5 kg of opium and arrested two persons in this regard.

The accused, Rajesh, alias Pardhan of Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, and Kishori Paswan of Bihar had smuggled the consignment from Nepal border and reached Punjab through Bihar about a fortnight ago. During investigations, it was found that some quantity of opium was to be delivered in the jail.

The police intercepted two suspicious persons near Panjpeer on the GT road and recovered the contraband. The drugs were to be delivered to a person here. A case has been registered.


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