P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Non-lifting of wheat from grain markets
Cong to resort to ‘chakka jam’ on April 22
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
While the slow lifting of the wheat procured by government agencies in various grain markets is turning into a serious problem for commission agents and farmers, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has decided to resort to “chakka jam” agitation on April 22 to protest against the non-lifting of wheat from markets in the state.

Bir Devinder Singh, Congress spokesman, said today that all party MLAs, former MLAs, MPs, former MPs, state and district-level office-bearers would sat in dharna to block various roads between 10 am to 11am on April 22.

He said all District Congress Committees and other office-bearers at the state level had been told to express solidarity with farmers who were facing problems because of the non-lifting of their wheat stock and also non-payment to farmers in lieu of their procured wheat.

Meanwhile, Parminder Singh, general secretary, and Gurkirat Singh Kotly, secretary of the PPCC, said they had visited Khanna and Payal grain markets. “We found virtually both grain markets choked with wheat bags,” they said. In Khanna, one of the largest grain markets in Asia, about 4 lakh bags of wheat have piled up. And in Payal mandi about 35,000 bags of wheat have accumulated.

Both Congress leaders said farmers were facing problems because of the non-clearing of wheat stock from grain markets.They said the state government had failed to make arrangements with regard to the smooth procurement of wheat.

When contacted, Major Singh Palla, president of the Commission Agents Association, Khanna, said it was true that a large stock of wheat had accumulated in Khanna and Payal mandi. He said wheat stock should be immediately lifted from the grain markets. 


Indo-Pak Trade
Probe into Railways’ functioning sought
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 18
Exporters dealing with Pakistan are up in arms against the Railway authorities allegedly trying to scuttle the growth of Indo-Pakistan trade by setting up ‘draconian’ laws. A leader of businessmen B.K. Bajaj, along with president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal Amrit Lal Jain, urged the Union government to set up probe into the working of the Railway authorities, which were hampering trade between the two neighbours, which was growing much to the discomfiture of the Railway top brass based here and Ferozepur.

Bajaj said they had made a presentation to senior divisional commercial manager Dharmani at Ferozepur to make arrangements for the smooth operation of the Indo-Pak trade, but instead of giving them a hearing they allegedly rebuked the delegation .

He said due to discriminatory rules prevalent at the Amritsar Railway dry port, the business community had been asked to shell out demurrage and detention charges within five hours of the landing of the consignment, while in other stations similar charges are asked for after 72 hours, stipulated time for documents and other formalities.

He said a trader here had to shell out Rs 1.50 crore to Rs 2 crore annually as detention charges. He said there was lack of coordination between the Railways and the Customs that resulted in a huge loss to the trade. They expect the present turnover of Rs 1,000 crore to grow 10 times in the coming years, but the Railway authorities were acting as a damper to achieve the growth rate, he added.

The non-cooperative attitude of the Railways has completely wiped out the rock salt trade from Pakistan because of the huge detention charges levied by them. Bajaj said a wagonload of rock salt would attract a demurrage of Rs 45,000 that actually turns out to be the cost of the material. 


Jallianwala Bagh will be accessible to all
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Jallianwala Bagh, a historical landmark in the Indian freedom struggle, is set be accessible to all with Svayam, an initiative of the Sminu Jindal Charitable Trust committed towards making public infrastructure accessible to persons with reduced mobility, and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) today announced a unique initiative ahead of the occasion of “World Heritage Day” and commemoration of its 89th anniversary.

“Svayam has undertaken an access audit and come out with a set of recommendations for providing and ensuring accessibility to the Jallianwala Bagh complex. The audit has been forwarded to the ITDC, Abha Negi, director, Svayam, said here today.

Recently, the Svayam team accompanied by ITDC officials conducted an access audit to make the site accessible as per international standards of accessibility and inclusive environment under ITDC’s revitalisation initiative for the Jallianwala Bagh. Ramps for the physically challenged are among the steps recommended, it is learnt.

A brainchild of Sminu Jindal, managing director of Jindal SAW Limited, who has been afflicted with reduced mobility since the age of 11, the trust has been working towards providing independence and dignity to people with reduced mobility. After Qutab Minar in New Delhi, Jallianwala Bagh is the second project undertaken by the trust.

“The Jallianwala Bagh has great significance for our freedom struggle and this initiative is a humble endeavour to make this world heritage site accessible to all.With the ITDC inviting Svayam as access consultants for making this heritage site accessible and inclusive as per international set of guidelines and standards further drives our mission,” Negi said.

R.K. Safaya, senior vice-president (engineering), ITDC, said making Jallianwala Bagh accessible to all was an effort to welcome visitors with diverse needs and will promote an inclusive environment for all.

Svayam has been closely working with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to make the heritage sites accessible to people with reduced mobility. The recommendations made by Svayam are under various stages of implementation by the ASI. Taking into cognisance Svayam’s work, ASI has invited Svayam to help them understand and make some of the world heritage sites in Delhi, Agra and Goa barrier-free.


Burning Fields of State
Sparking from overloaded power cables destroys acres of wheat crop
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
Sparking from overloaded electricity cables continues to incinerate acres of wheat crop all over the state. Many such incidents were reported during the past week.

Hapless farmers are forced to watch their months of tireless toil and financial expenditure turned to ashes. The tragedy is heightened at a time when hard work is to bear the fruit for food  and money.

A series of freak fires in the fields, gutting acres of standing crop, have been reported from different parts of the state, including Patiala, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda and Ludhiana. Ripe wheat crop was gutted at Shergarh Bara, Kheri Bir Singh, Ghel and Mehmadpur villages near Bassi Pathana on Tuesday. At least 6 acres of standing crop too was destroyed at Bhateri village on the outskirts of Patiala on Tuesday. Farmers mourned the loss of crop in more than 16 acres of land in Rolumajra village, near Ropar, on Wednesday.

Confirming the problem, B.S.Baath, chief engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (Ludhiana), said, "Overloaded feeders were the major reason for the sparking, which led to fires. Load on the motor caused sparks which were lesser felt during the preceding winter season when the crop was green. The texture of the crop these days was very sensitive to even minor sparks".

In Ludhiana district, at least two major fire incidents were reported in the past couple of days. On Tuesday, crop was reduced to ashes in more than an acre at Chhabewal village. On Thursday, wheat crop in at least 8 acres perished in the flames caused by electricity sparks near Mandi Ahmedgarh. The affected fields were located in Landa, Papraudi and Ghullal villages. Beant Singh of Manakwal village on the Landran road lost his crop in 2.5 acres on Friday.

Deepa from Burj Rai Ke village said, “We can do nothing except seek government compensation for our loss. The real trouble lies with the wiring and transformers, which need to be rectified at the earliest.”

Kamikar Singh from Kohara said, “Every year we witness incidents of sparking leading to fire in our fields. Simply speaking, the load on the electricity wires, some of which were laid more than 30 years back, has multiplied several times. There are more motors and even those with higher capacities. Till the time the state does not make additions or change the entire network, farmers will remain at the mercy of the Electricity Department”.

The chief engineer said, “We have launched a major drive worth Rs 481 crore in solving the problem of overloading wires, the first in the city. By May 31, we anticipate to overhaul the entire system in the city which will be followed by immediate repair and upgradation work in towns and then in rural areas. The new system will ease a lot of burden on the wires."

Baath said, “The problem exists largely due to overloading. In the immediate context, we resort to cutting the power supply in areas under harvesting during daytime. We are replacing the gang-operated switches, which are heavily loaded. Sparks are a natural phenomenon in electricity when load is sectionalised. It is only that the ripe crop is more prone to fires”.

Happy, also from Burj Rai Ke, said, “The entire effort to revamp the system is pointless till the time the distribution system is overhauled”.

Have a look at the fields and you can see wires hanging and also joints covered carelessly. More than 24 acres of standing sugarcane crop was gutted at Bhatian Jattan village in Hoshiarpur district in February earlier this year.


17,500 cattle smuggled out of state daily
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 18
Thousands of innocent animals - bulls, cows and buffaloes - are being smuggled out of Punjab and being herded to slaughterhouses of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and across the Indo-Bangladesh border daily, thanks to well-oiled local and international gangs of conduits and middlemen, animal smugglers, slaughter house managements and police officials.

The animals were being subjected to smuggling from almost entire Punjab, but most of the smuggled animals were from particular belts like Sangrur, Bhucho Mandi, Dhanaula, Malerkotla, Tarn Taran and clusters of border villages for largely dwindling socio-economic conditions of people of these regions, particularly of farmers.

According to an estimate, a whopping number of about 500 cows and bulls and over 17,000 buffaloes were illegally being taken out of Punjab daily to slaughterhouses, mainly based in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Fulbari near Aurangabad, Karnataka and West Bengal by groups of conduits and middlemen, who operate not only in Punjab, but also in Haryana.

These middlemen keep a tab on movements of animals during animal mandis and purchase these from willing farmers, who want to get rid of their lesser productive animals.

Thereafter, they supply these to inter-state animal smugglers, who push them to different slaughterhouses in the country as well as to the ones across the border in Bangladesh. The meat prices in Bangladesh are comparatively high and rearing of cows and bulls is negligible in contrast to a high number of slaughterhouses and bulk of meat export houses.

“More than 250 trucks of buffaloes and 50 trucks of cows and bulls are taken out of Punjab to these slaughterhouses daily. We have observed that the animal smuggling from Punjab is being done on a very large scale and by influential middlemen and transporters. Policemen turn a blind eye to trucks and trailers carrying these animals as they are bribed on the way,” revealed Sanjiv Kumar Lovely and Gurpreet, functionaries of an NGO, Gau Raksha Dal.

The NGO and its office-bearers rescued a truck-full of 13 cows from Bhasiana today even as the truck driver and his aide managed to flee from the spot. Sanjiv and Gurpreet claimed that they had managed to rescue more than 100 animals from the clutches of middlemen from Moga, Dhanaula and Buchho Kalan areas during the past one month and tracked animal smuggler gangs working in India and Bangladesh.

“If an unproductive full-grown, healthy bull fetches anywhere between Rs 3,000-5,000 in Punjab, butchers and middlemen sell it to slaughterhouses in other states for over Rs 10,000, while the same is sold across Bangladesh for Rs 1.5 lakh through Kolkata middlemen. For smuggling of the animals from Punjab and Haryana, they are first taken to Malda and Santia in West Bengal via Orissa and then pushed into Bangladesh with the help of trained dogs. Slaughterhouse agents, who stand across the border, puch these innocent creatures to their animal yards and further take them for slaughtering.

Bangladesh is one of a major cow meat exporters, despite the fact that people over there hardly rear cows,” said Gurpreet, who revealed that he had to work as a truck driver to break the nexus.


Eye on Bypoll
Majithia, Kang pay obeisance at Durgiana Temple
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
In a bid to give secular look to the Youth Akali Dal, its newly appointed patron and president, Bikramjit Singh Majithia and Kirandip Singh Kang, respectively, paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Temple here today.

They are perhaps the first youth Akali Dal leaders who have visited a Hindu temple to offer thanksgiving to the Almighty over 
their elevation.

They were accompanied by a large number of Youth Akali leaders, including Gurpartap Singh Tikka and Inderbir Singh Bolaria, both aspirants for the party ticket for Amritsar South and Dalbir Singh, a former Akali MLA.

The development assumes significance in the wake of the byelection, slated for May 22, even as their visit to the Durgiana Temple, some feel, may help in wooing Hindu votes.

Earlier, Sukhbir Singh Badal while reconstituting the working committee, Political Affairs Committee and other wings of the party had given sufficient representation to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Immediately after becoming president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Sukhbir Singh Badal had made his intentions clear that he wanted to make the party of all Punjabis, irrespective of their caste and creed. He had announced on January 31 that the SAD was not a party of the Sikhs of Punjab, but an organisation of the entire Punjabi community all over the world. This is perhaps the reason that he has not decided to get baptised like traditional presidents of SAD despite the ultimatum served on him by Jathedar Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh.

However, on reaching the Durgiana Temple, the Youth Akali leaders got a lukewarm response from the management of the Durgania Temple. No office-bearer of the temple was present at the time of honouring them, though they had inserted big advertisements in the leading newspapers about their visit.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh and Badal are also reaching here tomorrow. 

On reaching the Durgiana Temple, Youth Akali leaders, however, got a lukewarm response from the management of the temple. No office-bearer of the temple was present at the time of honouring them. The development assumes significance in the wake of the byelection here, slated for May 22, even as their visit to the temple, some feel, may help in wooing Hindu votes.


Firing on Leader
Cong, Akalis blame each other
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 18
The Congress and SAD today blamed each other for the firing, allegedly by Akali workers, on a Congress leader from Buttar village at Kapurthala chowk last evening.

Leaders from both parties today met mediapersons to clarify their positions. While the Akalis demanded the withdrawal of the false case against them, the Congress pressed for the arrest of all accused named in the FIR.

Bhogpur circle Jathedar Banta Singh, an accused in the case, even threatened that he and the entire circle workers would resign en masse from the party if the FIR was not cancelled.

However, the Akalis were on the back foot and could not convince anyone present as to why they were being targeted when their party was in power.

On the other hand, PPCC working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee and party MLA Kanwaljeet Singh Lally warned that they would hold state-level dharnas if the accused were not arrested. Lally said the workers had fired on Pritam at the behest of Akali MLA Sarabjit Singh Makkar to settle political scores.

Denying the charges, Makkar said the workers had only fired in self-defence.


Bir Devinder bats for Bhattal
Rakes up Amarinder’s past, Aroosa issue
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Immediately after being appointed chief spokesman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), former Assembly deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh promptly launched a full frontal attack on former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh questioning the latter’s antecedents during the period of militancy in the state, besides claiming his relationship with Pakistan journalist Aroosa Alam was an embarrassment to the party.

Bir Devinder Singh launched this twin-pronged attack, besides demanding that Capt Amarinder Singh “show remorse” for his recent utterances against Bhattal immediately after being appointed spokesman of the party. Giving him company was party disciplinary committee head G.K.Chathrath, who made it clear that any function or meeting organised without the permission of the PPCC would be treated as a parallel meeting and invite disciplinary action.

The PPCC also fielded Nabha legislator Randeep Singh and former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission R.R.Bhardwaj, besides releasing a list of various committees which have been reconstituted and packed with Bhattal followers, indicating that the battle with Capt Amarinder Singh has been truly joined.

Bir Devinder replaces former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang as the party spokesman in Punjab in a well-thought-out strategy to marginalise Capt Amarinder Singh in the Pradesh Congress.

Bhattal has also appointed recently turned Amarinder baiter and former minister Surinder Singla as the party spokesman in Delhi.

The former Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker, while interacting with newsmen, refused to be drawn into acknowledging that both Amarinder and Bhattal were issuing statements against each other. “Who threw the first stone?” he asked and explained that Amarinder was at fault for refusing to acknowledge Bhattal as the PPCC president and also for openly stating that he could not work with her.

Bir Devinder also claimed that Amarinder had left the party and joined a segment of people who were engaged in spoiling the peace and security in the state while referring to the former Chief Minister’s resignation from the ministry after Operation Bluestar.

In a personal attack while referring to Aroosa Alam as Amarinder’s “girlfriend”, Bir Devinder said his “flirting around” with a lady who had a “questionable past” had become an embarrassment for the party.

The former deputy speaker also rubbished all allegations levelled by Capt Amarinder against Bhattal. “There is no question of any collusion of Bhattal with the SAD-BJP government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Amarinder camp has fielded Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu to take on Bir Devinder. The legislator claimed that Bir Devinder’s appointment as party spokesman was “null and void”, as it had not been sanctioned by Congress general secretary in charge of the state Margaret Alva. He said raking up the issue of Aroosa was uncalled for, as both Amarinder and the lady had explained the issue at various forums.

Sidhu also clarified that Amarinder had resigned his ministership and joined a democratic party, the SAD, and later also floated his own party, which had fought elections when everyone boycotted them. He also claimed that disciplinary action should be taken against Bir Devinder for questioning the Congress high command’s faith in Capt Amarinder Singh who had been made both PPCC president and Chief Minister by the party. 


Reference Library of Golden Temple
Rare Sikh scriptures to be digitised
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
For the first time, rare scriptures of Sikh Reference Library in the Golden Temple will be preserved and then digitised with the help of experts.

The library suffered heavy damage in June 1984 when the Army/CBI took rare manuscripts, while many scriptures were damaged in fire.

The SGPC came forward to accept the suggestion of deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu to get the rare holy scriptures digitalised through experts of Guru Nanak Dev University and other institutions.

For this purpose, GND varsity has allocated Rs 55 lakh to do lamination and scanning of the rare documents.

The local administration also played a role in persuading the SGPC and Shiromani Akali Dal to carry out the conservation of Ramgarhia Bungas and frescoes of Baba Atal in the vicinity of the Golden Temple. While the kar sewa of the Ramgarhia Bungas started today, the conservation of Baba Atal will be carried out shortly.

It may be mentioned here that the repository of over 1,500 invaluable rare manuscripts, including copies of Adi Granth, Damdami Bir (dated Bikrami 1739) and portraits, was destroyed during Operation Bluestar.

Even after a lapse of over two decades what exactly happened to the library is not clear.

Besides rare historical books, documents, manuscripts on Sikh religion, history and culture, the Sikh reference library also had a number of handwritten manuscripts of Guru Granth Sahib, hukamnamas, some bearing signatures of revered Sikh Gurus, and a few rare documents pertaining to India's struggle for Independence.

The SGPC alleged that after picking up the material from the library in gunny bags and transporting it to the Youth Hostel in Amritsar, a make-shift camp office of the CBI, in military trucks, the empty library was set on fire and it was made out that everything preserved there had been reduced to ashes.

The library was established in 1946 vide resolution number 822, dated October 27, 1946, of the SGPC.

A significant role was played by the Sikh Historical Society, established in 1930 at Lahore under the leadership of Bawa Budh Singh.

The Sikh Historical Society was formed at this meeting and its formal meet was held at Teja Singh Sammundri Hall on April 29, 1945. At this time, bylaws of the society were passed and a working committee constituted. It comprised Teja Singh, Bawa Prem Singh, Bawa Harikrishan Singh, Gurmukh Nihal Singh, and Ganda Singh.

This society became instrumental in establishing the Central Sikh Library. Later, the name was changed to Sikh Reference Library. 


Complaint against Spokesman editor
Terming Guru Granth Sahib as ‘book’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar (SAD-A) lodged a complaint with the Galliara police under Kotwali police station here today against the editor of vernacular daily Spokesman and the writer of the editorial, “Matha tekan warge puja de Brahmani dhang Sikhan wich kadon te kithon aa gaye”.

Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD(A), while giving an ultimatum to the state government said it should take immediate steps for the arrest of editor Joginder Singh and writer Hari Ram Gupta.

It should register a case against them under Sections 295-A, 501-B, 502-B, 505 and 120-B, IPC, for terming Guru Granth Sahib as a religious book. He said if the government failed to take any action by April 28, they would be forced to launch a statewide agitation.

Mann said a meeting of all Panthic parties would be held at Akal Takht to chalk out the programme in view of the anti-Sikh propaganda unleashed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindu forces.

He also urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Press Council of India to perform its moral duty by cancelling the registration of the daily as it had violated the Supreme Court ruling which had maintained the sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib by terming it as a “Living Guru”.


Ramoowalia to observe hunger strike on May 15
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 18
Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia will observe a day-long hunger strike here on May 15 to highlight the callous attitude of the Punjab government in providing employment to lakhs of educated youth of the state.

He said besides the hunger strike, they would also organise district-level dharnas on April 30 to focus on the failure of the regime in creating any new employment avenues for the youth who were left with no option but to migrate illegally.

"Such youth are at the mercy of merchants of death since a majority of them are sent to peripheral countries and then pushed into the country of their choice illegally. Most youths are living in miserable conditions in such countries due to the lack of employment opportunity in Punjab,” he alleged.

Parading a group of 12 youths rescued from Dubai before the media, he said they had been promised the moon by an unscrupulous travel agent after pocketing lakhs from them.

Once they reached Dubai, they were shocked to the see the living conditions and inhuman treatment by their employers. Defiant workers were regularly caned for protesting against the appalling conditions, he revealed. It is a matter of concern that despite highlighting hundreds of such cases, the government was yet to react and enact a legislation as suggested by his party for the past many years. Simple changes in the existing laws could act as a deterrent, he pointed out. 


PF, interest of retired staff not taxable
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
In a significant judgement benefiting retired employees in general, and the Punjab State Electricity Board staff in particular, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held any payment, including interest, received by assessees from provident fund, to which the 1925 Provident Fund Act applies, will qualify for exemption from income tax.

A Division Bench of the high court comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal has also ruled interest on the provident fund does not constitute part of the total income and is exempted from income tax.

The Bench further made it clear that interest income accruing on credit balance maintained by the PSEB employees in the provident fund under the Provident Fund Act would continue to qualify for exemption from income tax, even after their retirement.

The Bench has also directed the income tax authorities to extend the benefit of exemption from the income tax to the interest income that has accrued to the Board employees. The order comes on a bunch of petitions against the income tax authorities.

In their detailed order, the Judges held: “A perusal of Section 2 (e) of the 1925 Act makes it evident that the provident fund means the fund in which subscription or deposit of any class or classes of employees are received, and held in their individual accounts.

It further shows that the provident fund will include any contribution and any interest or increment accruing on such subscription, deposits or contributions under the rules of the fund. It is, thus, crystal clear that the element of interest in the provident fund will not constitute part of the total income, and as such will assume exemption from income tax.”

Going into the background of the matter, the Judges observed that “the petitioners, income tax assessees, were filing returns during service and even after retirement.

They were issued notices under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, pursuant to reassessment proceedings. In their detailed objections, the petitioners had asserted interest income could not be brought within the scope and ambit of tax in contravention of the Provident Fund Act, the Electricity Supply Act and other provisions of law”.

After hearing at length the counsel for the income tax authorities and petitioners Pankaj Jain, Deepak Aggarwal, Prakul Khurana and others, the Judges held: “We are of the considered view that all these petitions merit acceptance… A perusal of the provisions of the 1961 Act would show that any payment received by assessees from the provident fund to which the 1925 Act applies would not constitute a part of the total income. In other words, it would qualify for exemption from income tax.”

These petitions succeed. Accordingly, notices issued under Section 148 of the 1961 Act, pursuant to reassessment proceedings are quashed. 


6 of family, driver killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 18
Seven persons, including six members of a family, were killed while four others were seriously injured in a road mishap, when a speeding mini bus collided head-on with a Tata Sumo near Thathia Mohanta village, 20 km from here, today.

Two members of the family and the driver of the Sumo died on the spot, while four succumbed to injuries later on in the Civil Hospital here.

The deceased have been identified as Rajinder Kumar (37), his wife Ravinder (35), their son Sajan (11), their relatives Pushpa, Manjit Kaur, Jas and driver Rajan of the Sumo, all residents of Ajnala township falling in Amritsar (Rural) police district. The injured include Sandeep, Anita, Jaswinder Kaur and Narinder Kaur.

The victims were returning home after attending a bhog ceremony at their relative’s house in Sarhali.

People near the accident spot immediately gathered there and rushed the victims to nearby hospital, where the condition of the remaining injured persons was said to be serious.

Tejinder Singh Maur, SP, Operations, said the police had initiated the action after registering a case under Sections 279, 304A and 427, IPC, against the driver of the mini bus, who fled from the spot.


Infrastructure development council set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
Eminent persons of high-profile companies, especially those engaged in the housing sector, figure in the newly set up Punjab Infrastructure Development Council under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. 

BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia will be the vice-chairman and chief secretary its convener. Among those who have been taken as members of the council are Rajiv Singh of DLF, H.S. Narula of DS Constructions, Harpal Singh of Fortis, G.V.K Reddy of GVK Group, Shravan Gupta of EMAAR-MGF Group, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Airtel, Gautam Adani of Adani Group, Naresh Goel of Jet Airways and S.S. Kohli of the Infrastructure and Finance Corporation.


Awardee teacher awaits pension
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 18
The efficiency of state government departments can be gauged from the fact that a state-awardee teacher is still awaiting orders for his re-employment and pension benefits even when he has already completed his tenure of re-employment.

Paramjit Singh said here today this had become a bane for him as he could not even claim pensionary benefits as his service book had been attached with the case for re-employment sent to the DPI, Chandigarh, almost one-and-a-half year back.

However, Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI (Schools), expressed helplessness to comment on the matter.

Giving details, Paramjit said a case for his re-employment had been sent to the department in December 2006 after he got the state award for services rendered in the field of education.

Paramjit Singh, a lecturer of Punjabi in Government Senior Secondary School, Chaba, was honoured by Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Governor, Punjab, during a function held at Kahnuwan.


Centre cheating state farmers: BKU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 18
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) yesterday said the Union government had cheated Punjab farmers twice in the past few months.

First, it had announced a loan waiver scheme that did not favour the state farmers.

Then, it again played with the sentiments of the farmers by fixing the minimum support price (MSP) far below the prevailing international market price of wheat.

By refusing the bonus on wheat, the Union government had exposed itself.

President of the BKU Balbir Singh Rajewal said the farmers were in a debt trap only because of the policy of squeeze adopted by the Union government with regard to the fixing of the MSP of foodgrains being produced by the farmers. He said the government was responsible for the suicides being committed by farmers.

Rajewal said the MSP of wheat, if calculated scientifically, should be pegged at Rs 1,720 per quintal.

Both the Union Commission on Agriculture Cost and Prices and Union minister Prithvi Raj Chavan had agreed with the cost of production worked out with the help of experts from various universities by the BKU.

In the international market, the price of wheat had touched Rs 2,000 per quintal, he added.

He said under a conspiracy, the government had instigated Communists to raise a sort of warcry against rising prices just to grab wheat from farmers at a cheaper price. Only the price of steel and cement had increased, but the farmers were not responsible for the same, he added.

He said the government had admitted that the cartel of cement industry was jacking up the price of cement.

However, no action had been taken against those who had formed the cartel to loot consumers during the past two years.


Kidnapping of 2 leaders
Union activists gherao  police station
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 18
Activists and members of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union (LJPBMU) and other organisations, led by state general secretary of the LJPBMU Tarsem Jodhan, today gheraoed Sadar police station at Dhuri, near here, for four hours.

The protesters were demanding the addition of kidnapping related Sections of the IPC and provisions of the SC and ST Act to the FIR registered against brick-kiln owners at  Dhuri yesterday.

They were also demanding the arrest of the brick-kiln owners for allegedly kidnapping district general secretary of the CPI (ML) Liberation Harbhagwan Bhikhi and vice-president of the LJPBMU Gurpreet Singh Rooreke and withdrawal of case against Bhikhi and Rooreke on the complaint of the kiln owners.

Jodhan had alleged that Bhikhi and Rooreke had been “beaten” and “kidnapped” by the three brick-kiln owners and two other persons at Natt village near Dhuri yesterday.

They were on their way back after informing brick-kiln workers at various kilns to reach the office of Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC) on April 21 at Sangrur. The ALC had invited the kiln owners and workers for negotiations.

Jodhan said both leaders had been rescued by the Dhuri police from a brick-kiln yesterday when he had informed the Sangrur  SSP about it.

Jodhan claimed that they lifted the gherao when the police after recording supplementary statements of Bhikhi and others gave them an assurance that Section 365 (related to kidnapping) of the IPC and provisions of the SC and ST Act would be added to the FIR registered against the kiln owners.

Later, they took out a protest march from the police station to the Dhuri bus stand. Besides Jodhan, other leaders including Bhikhi, Rooreke, Bhagwant Singh Samao, Pargat Singh Beer and Sher Singh Dhandholi Kalan addressed the protesters.

Dhuri DSP Swaran Singh said the police had recorded the supplementary statement of Bhikhi and others which would now be verified by the police and after that, proceedings would be initiated.

The DSP said the kiln owners had stated that they had taken Bhikhi and Rooreke to a brick kiln and had informed the police about it from there.

They maintained that these persons had been intervening in the functioning of their kilns by provoking  the workers.

He added that on the statement of Bhikhi and Rooreke, a case had been registered against kiln owners Sanjay Bansal, Subhash Chand and Surinder and two other persons Balbir Singh and Makhan Singh under Sections 342, 149 and 506, IPC.

On the statement of the kiln owners, a case under Sections 323, 506, 427 and 451, IPC, had been registered against Bhikhi and Rooreke, he added.


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