P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cong boycotts poll in Faridkot
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Owing to what it described as blatant misuse of official machinery and muscle men by the ruling SAD, the Congress today decided to boycott the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in entire Faridkot district.

Ripjit Singh Brar, Congress MLA from Kot Kapura, told The Tribune that decision to boycott the elections was taken after holding a detailed meeting with PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Ripjit Singh said all three Congress MLAs, Avtar Singh Brar, Joginder Singh Panjgrian and he himself from Faridkot district, had apprised Bhattal of the foul and violent tactics being used by the ruling party to win the elections.

He said three Congress nominees had filed the nomination papers to contest the Zila Parishad elections in the Kot Kapura Assembly segment. Nomination papers of the two of them were rejected. As the post of the chairperson of the Zila Parishad was reserved for an SC woman, the nomination paper of the Congress SC woman candidate from the Baza Khana seat were rejected, said Ripjit Singh.

There were 10 Zila Parishad seats in Faridkot and of these nomination papers of six Congress candidates had been rejected, said Brar, who is brother of Jagmeet Singh Brar, a senior Congress leader. And as far as Kotkapura Block Samiti was concerned, the nomination papers of 14 Congress candidates (out of total 16) had been rejected in the Kotkapura Block Samiti segment. He said whereas rejection rate of nomination papers on other parts of the state is 3 or 4 per cent, in Faridkot district it was in the range of 60 per cent in case of Zila Parishad elections. In he case of Kotkapura Block Samiti, it was about 85 per cent. In such circumstances, how the Congress could contest the elections, said Ripjit Singh.

He said on May 2, most of the Congress activists, who had gone to file nomination papers were either roughed up or beaten up by musclemen in the presence of senior officers given the task to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. The musclemen were wearing a peculiar type of ribbons around their necks and policemen were not preventing them from roughing up and heckling the Congress leaders.

“We (the three Congress MLAs) were insulted, humiliated and officials, who were on duty to maintain law and order, watched all this silently.

“I have complained against one of the SHOs in writing,” he said.

He alleged that the SAD had brought these musclemen to prevent Congress leaders from filing their nomination papers. However, when somehow, Congress leaders succeeded in filing their nomination papers, most of these were rejected under one pretext or the other.

Ripjit Singh said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was one of the senior most politicians of the country and was respected because of his age. But the way democracy at the grass-roots level was being mauled in his rule, it was a matter of shame. He said obviously the ruling SAD was sure of its defeat in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in Faridkot district and because of this reason it had been using violence and other means to win the elections.

Dharna at Naushehra
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 5
A large number of Congress workers today staged a dharna at Naushehra Pannuan, near here, in protest against the rejection of nomination papers of some of the party nominees for the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections to be held on May 12. They alleged that the papers were rejected on flimsy grounds.

Dahramvir Sheron, a senior party leader, led the protest. Addressing the gathering, he said the aspirants filed the papers after completing all formalities but poll officials, on the alleged directives of the ruling party, rejected their papers.

He said the party would move the court in this regard. During the protest, the traffic was disrupted for more than one hour on the Amritsar-Ferozepur highway.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the CPI met deputy commissioner Ajoy Sharma and submitted a memorandum to him. The party also raised the voice against the rejection of papers of 16 party aspirants for these elections.


9 file papers for bypoll
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Nine candidates have filed their nomination papers for the byelection to the Amritsar (South) constituency to be held on May 22. Today was the last day of the filing of nomination papers. The ruling SAD has fielded Inderbeer Singh Bularia, the son of late MLA Raminder Singh Bularia who demise necessitated the bypoll, while the main opposition Congress has fielded a new face in Navdeep Singh Goldy.

Returning officer Vimal Setia said Hardeep Kaur (Congress) had filed the papers as the covering candidate of Goldy while Harinder Kaur Bularia (SAD) had filed papers as a covering candidate for Inderbeer.

The other candidates who have filed their nominations include Satnam Singh Kanda, All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, Ram Singh, SAD (Amritsar), and Rajeev Sharma, Sharanjeet Singh and Tejinder Kaur have filed their papers as Independent candidates.

Setia said more than 140 polling booths had been set up in the constituency. He said there were 1,32,172 voters, including 69,704 men, 62,417 women and 37 services voters, who would exercise their franchise on May 22.

Chohan back in Cong fold
Varinder Walia /Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Harjinder Chohan, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress, who was honoured with a siropa by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on his joining the SAD yesterday, today rejoined the Congress. 

Meanwhile, PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said delayed announcement of SAD candidate for the byelection was proof enough that all was not well in the ruling Akali Dal. She claimed that initially Badal wanted to field his son Sukhbir Singh Badal but after knowing the “ground realities”, he decided to give ticket to other person at the eleventh hour. The PPCC president spent the entire day holding meetings with rebel workers.

Harjinder Singh Thekedar, former Congress MLA, condemned the threat issued by Bir Devinder Singh, chief spokesman for the PPCC. 


Agencies call for survey on B’desh labourers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Perturbed at the increasing influx of Bangladeshis into Punjab, the state Intelligence agencies have called for conducting a survey to detect the presence of Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJi) militants among such migrants in Ludhiana. Ludhiana has been recommended for this survey because it has been revealed that contractors are in league with Bangladeshi nationals and help them in procuring jobs after taking commission. 

It is a win-win solution for the contractor as well as the employers who get labour at a cost-effective price. Such migrants are also difficult to detect as most speak Bengali or Hindi and have also adopted Hindu names to hide their real identity.

Intelligence agencies say HuJi, which has a sizable presence in Bangladesh, could be building its network in the state by pushing its cadre in the guise of migrant workers. The problem is felt to be most acute in Ludhiana where Bangladeshis are said to be concentrated in large numbers in slums and have good covers, with many even procuring ration cards.

Though the state police has not arrested any Harkat militant so far, it has caught several Bangaladeshi citizens who have come to Punjab with the aim of sneaking into Pakistan. Some of these could be militant sympathisers though most claim that agents had bought them to the state with the promise of a safe passage to Pakistan. Bangladeshi citizens so caught maintain they wanted to cross over to be with relatives or organise marriages of their children.

In the past three years, 224 Bangladeshi nationals have been caught while in the process of trying to cross over to Pakistan. The country has also been consistently deporting such people to Bangladesh regularly with 273 persons being deported in the past three years. Some of these were in prisons in Punjab for more than three years with four such persons being convicted. Even now there are 39 Bangladeshi undertrials in jail, mostly in Amritsar district, and three internees who are likely to be deported soon.

Punjab Police chief N. P. S. Aulakh said as of now there was no report of any militant groups forming any terror network in the state in the guise of migrant labourers. He said unless there was any specific information it was difficult to ascertain who was a Bangladeshi and who was not. 


Curbs on Basmati Rice
Farmers, politicians join hands to take on Centre
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Farmers, exporters of rice and pro-farmer politicians today joined hands to take on the Union government for getting removed the restrictions imposed on the export of basmati rice. The government had imposed Rs 800 per quintal as duty on the export of the basmati rice. There is a complete ban on the export of non-basmati rice.

Speaking on the issue here today, Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, said the Union government had betrayed the farmers, especially those belonging to Punjab and Haryana, by imposing duty on the export of basmati rice. He said farmers in Punjab and Haryana transplanted various varieties of basmati, which were exported to various countries, especially in the Middle-East.

In 2007, farmers had made good money of Rs 50,000 per acre by growing basmati, as there was no additional duty on its export. However, as now the government had imposed duty on it, no sheller owner would buy it from the farmers because it would be unviable for him to export the same, he said.

In 2007, farmers sold basmati to sheller owners at a price ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per quintal. However, this year there would be a steep fall in its market price.

Sidhu said the government had put the noose around the necks of 70 per cent of the farmers to protect the interest of 20 per cent people, who belonged to the elite class. He said he would raise this issue in Parliament soon.

Satnam Singh Behru, president of the Punjab unit of Consortium of Farmers’ Associations, said the consortium was working to create a lobby of MPs who speak for farmers in the House. He said a few weeks ago, 78 MPs belonging to different political parties had attended the meeting, which was convened by the consortium in Delhi.

“Various big companies had approached us to buy wheat at a higher price than that of the MSP, but they wanted that unofficial restriction imposed on the movement of wheat should be removed”, said Behru.

He said, “All anti-farmer forces have joined hands at the national level to deny remunerative price to farmers of their produce.”

Vijay Setia, president of the All-India Rice Exporters Association, said by imposing duty on the export of quality rice, the Union government had hit lakhs of farmers in basmati growing states like Punjab, Haryana. He said Pakistan had fixed the minimum export price of Basmati at $ 1,500 per tonne so that farmers could gain maximum from it.

Setia said the government altered its rice export policy 15 times in the past five months and it had totally destabilised the rice export trade in the country.


Statement on Takht
Majithia wants Bhattal to apologise
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Bikram Singh Majithia, information and public relations minister, today sought an apology from president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for making “irresponsible” statements against Akal Takht.

He said Bhattal should think twice before making remarks that hurt sentiments of the Sikhs. “This shows her political desperation,” he said.

The minister said the Congress was a divided house under her leadership as it had no political agenda. It seemed the Congress’ only agenda was to comment on Sikh issues.

Commenting on Bhattal’s special package for the poor and the working class, he asked why the Congress had failed to think of the poor earlier as it had been at the helm for more than five decades. Unanimous election of SAD candidates in the panchayat and Zila Parishad elections indicated the Congress had no leader at grassroots level to contest the elections, 
he added.

Meanwhile, Bhattal asked the SAD and the BJP to clarify stands on the demand of separate “Sikh homeland” as demanded by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht at a congregation in New York.

After addressing Congress workers at the Congress Bhawan, Bhattal said militancy had caused colossal damage to Punjab and demands like “Khalistan” would push the state backwards. She said the PPCC always opposed the demand of “Khalistan” and worked for communal harmony in the country. She alleged that the SAD had been supporting militants.


BJP nominee withdraws at Mangwal
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 5
The BJP suffered setback with the withdrawal of nomination papers by a BJP candidate Amandeep Singh from the Mangwal Zila Parishad (ZP) zone of this district today. However, Joginder Singh is now the lone ZP candidate of the BJP in this district, who is in the poll fray from Andana ZP zone.

Amandeep, who is son of a member of the state executive of the BJP Satwant Singh Punia, told The Tribune over the phone that he had withdrawn his nomination papers on the orders of the high command.

On the other hand district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra said the withdrawal of nomination papers was a personal decision of Amandeep as party had not issued any directive to any one in this regard. He said the party was now contesting one seat of ZP and nine seats of Block Samitis in the district on its party election symbol “Lotus”. He said besides Andana ZP seat, the BJP was contesting following nine Block Samiti seats: Badrukhan, Mangwal, Sakrodi, Kapyal, Bharro, Hathoa, Sherpur, Sheron and Manakmajra.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that due to the presence of the BJP candidates in one ZP zone and nine Block Samitis there would be triangular or multi-cornered contests, Kalra said it would help the BJP in showing its strength in the rural areas of Sangrur district as the SAD was not ready to give it even single seat in these elections.

On the other hand, district president of the Congress Surinder Pal Singh Sibia said due to the presence of the BJP candidates, the Congress candidates would get an upper hand over their rival SAD candidates.


Bala is secy of Sikh Educational Society
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
President of the Sikh Educational Society (SES) Gurdev Singh Brar has appointed Col Jasmer Singh Bala (retd) as the secretary of the SES today.

Brar made the appointment during the annual general body meeting on the campus of the local Guru Gobind Singh College on May 3.

The post had become vacant due of the death of principal Bharpur Singh a few months ago. The society manages many prominent educational institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh, including SGGS College for Boys and SGGS College for Women, Sector 26, here.

Disclosing this in a press note, a spokesman of the SES said Colonel Bala, a noted Sikh scholar and a Punjabi poet, had been associated with the SES for the past 12 years. During his 28 years of meritorious military service, he had served prestigious defence training and educational institutions like the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, the Officer Training Academy, Madras, and the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Mizoram. 


Forest fire spreads to villages
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, May 5
The fire, which had been simmering in forests of scores of villages in the Talwara area for five days, last night spread to Vankaranpur, Bazarpattu, Dhaarpur, Sandpur, Dohar, Bhera, Ram Nangal, Fatehpur, Dohar, Behra and Vehmawa villages.

No loss of life was reported till date. Eyewitnesses, however, said birds, animals and creepers were seen perished. Wild animals were seen shifting to the plains.

Fire also damaged an 11-KV overhead electricity cable in the area disrupting power to villages. Power failure affected water supply to the villages putting the villagers to a great hardship.

Villagers tried to extinguish the fire with water, sand and other means. Fire engines were called from Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, BBMB Talwara, Unchi Bassi and Jalandhar to control the flames.

Residents from nearby areas rushed to the site to put the blaze out. The firemen had a tough time in controlling the flames throughout the night.

Hoshiarpur divisional forest officer Gursharan Singh claimed that the fire was the outcome of human error.

Besides Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner, local MLA Amarjit Singh Sai and former health minister, Punjab, R.C. Dogra also visited the affected villages.


Darshan Singh not to appear before Takht Patna Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
Former Jathedar, Akal Takht , Prof Darshan Singh, has refused to appear before the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib by the May 10 deadline to explain his position for opposing Dasam Granth.

In a message faxed to Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar Patna Sahib, Prof Darshan Singh has challenged the authority of the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib to summon him. He said Takht Patna Sahib could deal with regional matters pertaining to the Sikh religion, while Akal Takht being the supreme temporal authority of the Sikhs had the power to touch matters of the entire Sikh community.

The stand of Prof Darshan Singh has given the impression that the former Jathedar won’t appear before Patna Sahib despite warning. The Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib may decide unilaterally to excommunicate him from the Sikh Panth.

Prof Darshan Singh alleged that he (Giani Iqbal Singh) did not know the parameters and language of the Hukamnama (edict). Quoting from the Gurbani, he said persons like Giani Iqbal Singh need not be excommunicated from the Sikh Panth. “They stand excommunicated from the Panth,” he claimed .

Prof Darshan Singh said Giani Iqbal Singh himself had admitted that he had favoured Daljit Singh Bedi, who was dismissed as assistant secretary, SGPC, on charges of moral turpitude at the behest of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh. He said now Giani Iqbal Singh should explain his position who was behind the move to summon him (Prof Darshan Singh) at Patna Sahib?

The former Jathedar, Akal Takht, said he had already offered to hold debate on the issue of Dasam Granth which he believed was not Bani of the 10th Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh. However, he said he could not hold any talk with a person who equated other ‘Granths’ with Holy Guru Granth Sahib. He said it was unfortunate the controversy over Dasam Granth had sparked when the community was celebrating tercentenary of the Gurta Gaddi bestowed on Guru Granth Sahib.


‘6th pay panel unacceptable’
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), May 5
Rejecting the report of the Sixth Pay Commission, the Military Veterans of India, an organisation of ex-servicemen, said today that the commission had done “injustice” to serving and ex-servicemen in its report on several grounds. It asked the Central government to either reconstitute the pay commission or set up a review pay board with members from serving and veteran armed forces personnel to provide justice.

Major-Gen Satbir Singh (retd), a representative of the organisation from Gurgaon, today termed the commission as damaging and humiliating for the serving and ex-servicemen. Satbir, who was accompanied by national secretary-general, ex-servicemen wing of the SAD, Col P.I.S. Phulka (retd), added that the panel should not be implemented.


Road rage: SAD leaders’ wards brandish pistol
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Khanna, May 5
Two boys from influential families of Khanna and related to SAD and SGPC members today had a brawl over giving passage on roads of the city.

The incident took place near the city’s grain market today morning when two had arguments for not giving way to each other.

According to senior police officials, two parties, including Ravi Dhindsa, nephew of Lakvir Singh Kalakmajra, a working committee member of the SAD and a relation of the local MLA and another Inderjeet Khattra, son of a local SGPC member quarrelled with each other. They were travelling in two vehicles in the city and one of them was not giving passage to another.

Khanna SSP Gautam Cheema said both boys were in vehicles with red beacon atop and hooters. Both parties made allegations against each other over the petty issue.

Onlookers said one of the boys brandished a pistol during the fight. However, no shot was fired during the incident, said the SSP.

There was jam on the road for half an hour when supporters of both parties reached there for help. They hit each other with fists.

Sources revealed that both parties were not at good terms in the past time and tension increased after the road rage of both boys. Police officials reached the spot and tried to diffuse the tension. Both parties were pacified and told to clear the way.

Meanwhile, Khanna SSP formed a three-member committee, including SP (H), DSP (city) and SHO (city), to look into the matter. 


Team abandons raid on Cong leader’s unit
Rajnish Sharma

Nabha, May 5
Tempers ran high among Congress workers when a team of Health Department officials raided Bittu Milk Centre in Dhingi village, about 10 km from here. The centre belongs to Balvinder Singh Bittu, who is a Congress candidate for the Zila Parishad elections from Dulladi village, opposite grandson of SAD veteran Raja Narinder Singh.

District health officer Tajinder Pal Kaur said they were instructed by the civil surgeon to take samples from the milk centre on a complaint of SHO (Sadar) Bindu Bala. A police party, led by Bindu Bala, escorted them to the centre, which allegedly indulged in production of synthetic milk. She said since the SHO refused to give the complaint in writing or put her signatures on the papers, she had to abandon the raid.

Meanwhile, as the news of the raid on the milk centre spread, Congress workers started gathering at Sewa Bhawan, the residence of MLA Randeep Singh. Former Congress MLA Romesh Singla reached the spot along with a large number of supporters to gherao the raiding team. Sensing the trouble, the security men vanished in no time, leaving behind only three Home Guards jawans. Mediapersons saved them from the ire of the Congress workers.

Randeep, who reached there along with hundreds of his supporters, staged a dharna and got in writing from Tajinder that the complaint was made to them by none else than Bindu Bala.

Meanwhile, Bindu Bala admitted that she had forwarded the complaint against the centre filed by Bhim of Dulladi village. She said the team was prevented from carrying out their job by Congress workers led by Randep Singh and the doctors left the centre in fear.

Later, demanding the immediate transfer of the SHO (Sadar) for falsely booking the Congress workers, Congress leaders staged a dharna in front of the Sadar police station and presented a memorandum to the  naib tehsildar.


Dalbir seeks release of jailed Pak nationals
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,May 5
Dalbir Kaur, the indefatigable sister of Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner on a death row in Pakistan whose execution was stayed indefinitely by the Pakistani authorities recently, is on a new mission of getting Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails released.

Buoyed by the reports of Sarbjit’s death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment Dalbir Kaur today resolved to take up the cases of 45 Pakistani prisoners languishing in the Indian jails. “I have asked AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and the central government to let me meet the prisoners with a view to seek their release,” Dalbir Kaur said here today.

Dalbir Kaur said the list was provided by Pakistani human right activists during her visit to Pakistan along with Sarbjit’s wife and daughters recently. 


HC warns ‘obstinate, arrogant’ Punjab babus
Imposes Rs 10,000 cost on panchayat dept
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Virtually passing strictures against Punjab’s Department of Rural Development and Panchayat for not responding to court notices, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled it was conscious of its powers to deal with “obstinate and arrogant officers”.

The strictures by a high court Division Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain follow the department’s failure to file a written statement despite repeated adjournments and last opportunities in a case filed by an ETT teacher Meena, whose appointment letter was “illegally and arbitrarily” withdrawn.

Condemning the “administrative apathy”, the Bench observed it was just one of the many cases where the department had failed to respond. Department director Gurdev Singh Sidhu was present in the court when the case was taken up.

Justice Kant granted the department another opportunity to file a statement “in the interest of justice”, but only after making it clear the same was subject to furnishing of Rs 10,000 cost, half of which would be recoverable from the director.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench ruled: “This case, of course with no exception, is among those series of cases where senior law officers of the state government are compelled to express their grievances against senior executive functionaries, who neither respond to the notices of the court, nor to repeated DO letters sent by them.

“This court had to intervene and summon Gurdev Singh Sidhu, director, who is present in the court. The only explanation rendered by the director is that as per the prevalent practice, the court cases are to be dealt with by additional deputy commissioners, and not by him as he deals with policy matters only.”

Taking on record the statement, the Bench categorically observed: “We are afraid this court has nothing to do with the internal functioning of the department. Neither the director, nor the additional deputy commissioners, or for that matter, any other higher executive authority of the state is obliging the court by responding to its notices.

“It is their duty and in case of any failure on their part, this court is fully conscious of its ample powers to deal with obstinate and arrogant officers”.

Referring to the case in hand filed by ETT teacher Meena, whose appointment letter was “illegally and arbitrarily” withdrawn, the Bench added: “We find from the record that despite opportunities, no written statement has been filed. In fact, the last opportunity was granted on September 18, 2007, followed by repeated adjournments and yet another last opportunity on February 29. “Any further indulgence shown by the court might create some misgivings as if the executive authorities can take the courts for a ride.

We strongly condemn this type of administrative apathy. However, in the interest of justice, the matter is adjourned to July 11 with liberty to file a written statement subject to payment of Rs 10,000 costs…”. 


High Court
Punjab told to reconsider security cover to Chhotepur 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, today asked the State of Punjab to reconsider at its own level the orders on withdrawal of security to former minister Sucha Singh Chhotepur.

Taking up his petition against the state Home Secretary, police chief and others for the restoration of security cover, the Bench also fixed May 15 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

In his petition filed through counsel B.S. Bath, the ex-minister contended the security was available to him for over two decades because of a threat to his life.

Chhotepur was an independent member of the previous Punjab Vidhan Sabha and a Cabinet minister in Barnala ministry. He was targeted by terrorists twice.

Notice to PSEB

Taking up a petition filed by Patiala-based Pepsi Foods Private Limited challenging the move to levy voltage surcharge, High Court Division Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina today issued notice of motion to the Punjab State Electricity Board and two others.

The Bench also issued notice regarding stay. The petition will now come up on May 20 for further hearing.

In its petition, the company had stated it was aggrieved by the sudden act of the board, whereby it had sought to levy voltage surcharge with retrospective effect. Seeking directions to the respondents to receive payment without insisting on voltage surcharge, counsel for the petitioner had added in a similar petition the High Court had already stayed the recovery of the surcharge.

NRI’s woes

The Punjab Police is in trouble for allegedly forcing a non-resident Indian to “compromise” in a land dispute, after sitting on an inquiry report suggesting the cancellation of a first information report against him.

In his petition placed before Justice M.M.S. Bedi of the High Court, NRI Ninder Singh Chohan alleged Jalandhar’s DSP (Rural-II) Raj Jeet Singh and SHO of Lambra police station in Jalandhar Harpreet Singh “sat over the matter and did not present the cancellation report in the court”.

Instead, the two were pressurising him to compromise and give up his claim in property worth crores.

Going into the background of the matter in the petition filed through his counsel R.S. Bajaj, Chohan claimed his wife had purchased land in Khambra village in Jalandhar district on November 28, 2007.

In order to pressurise him and his wife to leave the property, the co-sharer got a false case registered against the petitioner and others on November 30, 2007, alleging that the NRI and others had tried to take possession of the land forcibly.

After thorough investigation on an application moved by the NRI, and after taking into consideration the civil court orders, SP (Detective), Jalandhar, recommended the cancellation of the FIR. The District Attorney’s office agreed with the report and it was approved by the SSP. But following the filing of the petition, the DSP and SHO became vindictive. They used filthy language and threatened him with elimination or implication in false criminal cases.

The petitioner alleged the cops were openly claiming that their share in land was 20 marlas each. Justice Bedi issued notice of motion to Punjab DGP, Jalandhar SSP. In case of imminent threat, the petitioner could approach the SSP, the Judge added.

Notice of motion

Issuing notice of motion for May 12 on a petition by Avtar Singh and five others challenging the rejection of their nomination papers by the Returning Officer, a High Court Division Bench of Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary today permitted them to participate in the elections of the Panchayat Samiti, Talwara.

Counsel for the petitioners contended the nomination papers of six writ petitioners had been rejected, as they belonged to the Congress, on completely baseless grounds.

The nomination papers of five were rejected on the ground that the proposer and seconder had also put their signatures as witnesses, while the nomination papers of the sixth person was rejected as the seconder did not sign the nomination papers


Shortage of men, machines worries state farmers
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
Punjab farmers have never been so hassled by the lack of both manpower and machine during wheat harvesting, as they were this rabi season. In what appears to be a bumper harvest, most harvesting has been done by hand by farming families who feared for their crop on account of the unprecedented fires alternating with unwanted rain. A visit to various mandis in the region has for the first time disclosed that many farm labourers now prefer to stay back in their home state of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh finding enough work there.

Farmers in the Moga region disclosed that many combine operators from Punjab have travelled all the way to Bihar to harvest wheat after the area of cultivation there increased considerably over the years due to irrigation. In Bihar, the yield of wheat in irrigated area has touched 30-35 quintal per hectare, creating enough work for farm labour.

According to the latest figures released by the Punjab government, wheat procurement in Punjab has touched 94 lakh tonnes. But even as the farmers are being paid for their produce, most of the wheat is accumulating in the mandis due to slow lifting on account of manpower shortage. This year the mandis have recorded roughly 20 to 25 per cent more wheat as compared to last year. While the government is happy at the flow of arrival, agencies are apprehensive over the slow lifting, exposing the grain to the vagaries of weather.

Harpal Singh of Khungrulari village in Ludhiana district told The Tribune, “I have had a bumper crop and I don’t think anyone in my village has had a produce of less than 20 quintals per acre. Due to the bumper crop most people are willing to pay more, but there are not enough people available for harvesting as at least 25 per cent of regular workforce from other states has preferred to stay back in Bihar etc”.

A member of the Khanna Commission Agent Association, Charanjit Singh disclosed that farmers had felt an acute shortage of labour leading many of them to improvise machines attached to tractors to separate grain from the chaff. Some smaller farmers even formed groups to take turns to help eachother cut wheat by hand.

Farmers like Sukhchain Singh of Uccha Jat village in Samrala tehsil think that the bumper wheat crop is due to the extended winter this year. “Most farmers are getting their money quickly, but many are apprehensive about huge stocks of wheat bags being stored out in the open as the recent weather has been unpredictable and there is no provision to save the wheat from bad weather”.

At Samrala Mandi, Ram Murty disclosed that many people from his village back in Godda district of Jharkhand did not come to Punjab or Haryana this year because they had found work there under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Truck drivers too are feeling the shortage of manpower as it takes them much longer to load and unload the truck, resulting in one trip a day compared to three in previous years. So far Punjab has procured, 89.04 lakh tonne for the Central pool and 2,22,823 tonnes for itself.


Laser-leveller boon for farmers
Chitleen K.Sethi
Tribune News Service

Noorpur Bet (Ludhiana), May 5
In a state that leads the world in the per acre use of farm machinery, the ‘laser-leveller’ is the Punjab farmers’ latest rage. A high-precision equipment, the leveller is attached to a tractor and is guided by laser beams to level the land after wheat has been harvested. This renders the land plain for better sowing of the rice crop and saves water usage in rice sowing and also reduces electricity consumption.

The better news is that unlike blind buying of tractors by small and marginal farmers they are using the laser-levellers through the village cooperative societies.

Over 100 rural cooperative societies in the state have bought the machine and ‘laser leveling’ services, which are being provided for post-harvest fields across 800 villages with the demand shooting up each day.

At Noorpur Bet, a cluster of villages on the banks of Sutlej, the cooperative society that owns the leveller has already rendered services to 80 farmers and the advance booking list is running into hundreds. “The leveller is a big hit. It cost the society about Rs 3.25 lakh and by the end of this season, it would recover its cost.” said Balbir Singh, secretary of society.

The leveller was bought by the society along with a high powered tractor that cost another Rs 4.7 lakh. The Punjab State Farmers Commission gave a 25 per cent subsidy to the cooperative society to buy the equipment. The rest of the money for the equipment was raised through loans. The society employs its own drivers and pays for the diesel that is used.

The society is charging Rs 500 an hour for levelling land and as the word is spreading the society’s office is fast flooding with orders. “We are getting calls from farmers from as far as Jamalpur, Khanna etc. We have to refuse these but if we buy another laser leveller we would be able to meet the demand,” said Balbir.

The farmers of the area are happy with the results. Mahinder Singh got over 30 acres of land levelled last year when the laser was just introduced. “It saved me a lot of labour cost and also increased the yield,” he said.

Jugraj Singh, who has four acres of land, said the water required to fill the fields is less. “It stands at the same level everywhere. If there is difference in levels across the field, water slides down to the lower end causing the paddy to rot and on the other side the crop dries up. Also the fertiliser spreads evenly through the fields,” he explained.

“It is a win-win situation for both the farmer and the cooperative society. The society earns from the equipment and the farmer avails its services without having to buy it,” said Dr S.S. Bains consultant with the commission.

The logic is to discourage the small farmer to buy expensive equipment and get into a debt trap added Dr G.S. Kalkat chairman of the commission. “The commission would be financially assisting agro centres across Punjab to procure machinery that can be used as a common facility for a cluster of villages. The agro centre would charge for providing the services and the farmer would get the services of the latest equipment without having to buy these,” said Kalkat.


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