P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SAD — Violence all the way
Booth-capturing, clashes mar polls across state
Attar Singh and Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

SAD activists chase away Congress supporters at a polling booth at Lambi village, the constituency of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in Muktsar district on Monday
SAD activists chase away Congress supporters at a polling booth at Lambi village, the constituency of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in Muktsar district on Monday. — Tribune photo  by Malkiat Singh

Tohra (Patiala), May 12
One person was killed as booth-capturing by followers of the ruling SAD and scuffles among its workers with Congress men marred the elections to the Block Samitis and Zila Parishads in this district here today. Akali supporters openly resorted to booth-capturing in Tohra village, once a stonghold of former Akali stalwart and SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Bahadur Singh was killed when a Akali supporter and polling agent Dhanwant Singh opened fired at him at Bhagnawpura, under the Jhulkan police station. Patiala SSP S.K. Asthana said the police had recovered the weapon and a case had been registered. The polls at several places had to be countermanded.

Deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal confirmed that polling in four booths had been countermanded due to violence. He claimed that 60 per cent polling took place.

Unruly scenes were witnessed in Tohra village where hundreds of violent SAD supporters unabshedly indulged in booth-capturing. Akali candidate for the Samiti elections Sukhjinder Singh clashed with former Akali minister Harmail Singh Tohra. It was virtually a free for all as Sukhjinder alleged that Tohra was trying to muster support for the Congress candidate. The poll was countermanded following the violent incidents.

In Sahiwal village, that falls under the Tohra zone, the Block Samiti elections were countermanded following violence between Akali and Congress supporters. Harinder Pal Tohra, son of Harmail Tohra, was fighting the elections on Akali ticket.

In Bhaura Khurd in the Duladhi zone, in Nabha subdivision, the elections were annulled following large-scale rigging by Akali workers. The same was the case in Chajju Bhatt village where following violence elections were countermanded.

Our Correspondent adds from Nabha: Booth-capturing and rigging continued throughout the day here in the Nabha sub-division. Hundreds of musclemen, armed with firearms, swords and batons, snatched ballot papers from poll officials and voted in favour of the ruling party.

Voting was cancelled in ChhajuBhat and Bauran Khurad villages. Later, polling was also cancelled in Malko village.

In Matorara, Congress polling agents were thrashed by Bhadson police SHO Hardeep Singh Badungar and were picked up at the behest of the ruling party, alleged Randeep Singh, MLA Nabha.

Polling remained suspended for hours in many booths due to the forcible entry of SOI workers. There was utter chaos and total lawlessness in the constituency. In Kalsana village, there was a clash between Congress and Akali candidates. In Dandrala village, nearly 2,000 ballot papers were looted by miscreants. However, the polling continued despite this.

Meanwhile, officials in the sub-division confessed that pressure was being exerted on them to ensure the victory of the SAD-BJP candidates.

However, DSP Arshdeep Singh Gill said that barring a couple of instances of reported rigging and booth capturing, polling remained peaceful.

Alliance Under Threat
BJP hints at breakup
Core panel meeting today
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 12
Tarn Taran violence on the eve of the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections will have serious effect on the existence of the coalition between the SAD and the BJP.

Talking to The Tribune today, a senior BJP leader and local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia said he had already brought the matter to the notice of former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and BJP national president Rajnath Singh.

“The in charge of Punjab BJP Affairs Balbir Punj is coming to Punjab to take stock of the situation. A meeting of the core committee of the BJP will be held at 9 am, followed by that of BJP MLAs at noon tomorrow in Chandigarh to decide the future course of action,” he added.

To a query about the possibility of withdrawing support from the Badal government, Kalia said the future course of action would be decided in the proposed meetings. One thing was sure, the Tarn Taran violence would have a serious consequences on the existence of the coalition, he added.

Kalia said he had also talked about the Tarn Taran happenings with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal this morning and with SAD chief Sukhbir Badal late last night itself.

Lashing out at DGP N.P.S. Aulakh, Kalia said the inaction of the DGP had deteriorated the situation in Tarn Taran. “I talked to the DGP when the police cane-charged BJP workers, who were staging a dharna outside the Daburjee police post against the challan of a vehicle belonging to BJP mandal chief Prabhjit Rataul, whose wife Maninder Kaur is contesting the Zila Parishad elections.”

Following which Tarn Taran SAD MLA Harmit Singh Sandhu, along with supporters, reached there and started attacking BJP MLA from Amritsar (North) Anil Joshi and party workers, he added.

Levelling serious allegations against the Tarn Taran DC and the SSP, he said they acted like SAD workers. 


SAD workers thrash key BJP men
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 12
Workers of the SAD critically injured three senior BJP leaders, including the one having the status of a minister of state, in full public view during the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections at Burj Gill village in the Rampura Phul constituency of Bathinda district here today.

The injured BJP workers included D.P. Chandan, recently appointed vice-chairman of the Small Traders Board and having the status of a minister of state, Naveen Singla, district general secretary and Amanpreet Singh Robin. According to doctors, their situation is critical.

Minister for local government, industries and commerce Manoranjan Kalia said: “The SAD has acted in a very undemocratic manner and has murdered democracy. I have apprised BJP president Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani about the incident.”

When asked that whether the BJP would take back its support to the SAD, he said: “Yes, it is one of the options we are thinking of.”

Mohit Gupta, state executive member, who was also injured in the clash, said: “More than 300 SAD workers, led by Bhura Singh, president, Truck Union, Rampura, gheraoed the BJP workers and attacked them with swords and sticks.” 


SAD-BJP clashes shake Amritsar, Tarn Taran too
Akali MLA, 200 workers booked; Cong man killed in Khadoor Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar/ Tarn Taran, May 12
Widespread violence today marked the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections, leaving one dead, several injured in the border belt of Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts.

The police has booked Harmit Singh Sandhu, an Akali MLA from Tarn Taran and his 200 supporters under Sections 307, 427, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code and 25, 27 , 54 and 59 of Arms Act following a clash with BJP MLA Anil Joshi and his supporters at village Daburji. The SAD MLA alleged that the trouble was started by Anil Joshi who was in the habit of staging protest dharnas against ruling party. The Akali MLA said he was shocked to learn that a case had been registered against him though the trouble was allegedly initiated by BJP MLA and his supporters on the eve of polling. 

The agitated Akali workers had burnt the car of BJP MLA. However, Harmit Singh Sandhu said he would meet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He has also sought registration of similar cases against BJP MLA and his supporters who had allegedly resorted to violence that left at least five Akali workers injured. The violence left at least 13 workers of the SAD and the BJP injured and nine vehicles badly damaged. Sources in the administration pointed out that the impounding of the vehicle of Parabhjit Singh Rataul, president of local BJP Mandal president with read beacon atop it in violation of the code led to the clash.

At many places, workers of ruling coalition clashed with each other even as repolling has been ordered in three polling stations of the Beas constituency, including Dhulka and two booths of Kaleke following reports of rigging and violence.

In Waning Suba Singh village (Khadoor Sahib), Congress worker Gurjant Singh (40) was killed while three injured when Akali workers, including SAD Block Samiti candidate Ranjit Singh, allegedly attacked them with sharp-edged weapons. The chief spokesman for the PPCC, Bir Devinder Singh alleged that the attack was made at the behest of Akali MLA when they were standing in queue for polling. Violence was reported from villages, including Bhalojla, Thathian Mahanta, Dhotian, Alawalpur and Kot Dasondhi Mal. More than 62 per cent polling was reported from Tarn Taran district. District Congress Committee (Rural) president Sukhraj Singh Lali alleged that their workers were intimidated by the SAD-BJP leaders.

In Ajnala, 12 workers of both the SAD and the BJP were injured at the time of polling. Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla alleged that the violence was engineered at the behest of Akali MLA, Amarpal Singh Bonny.

At Tera Rajputan village (Ajnala), workers of the SAD and the BJP pelted one another with stones. 


CM, Sukhbir skip voting
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Badal/Lambi (Muktsar), May 12
The ruling SAD allegedly left no stone unturned to bend the polling day in its favour. Booth-capturing, firing, assaulting opponents and even mediapersons, remained the summary of the PRI polls here today.

The percentage of polling was 67 in Muktsar district, the home turf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his nephew and finance minister Manpreet Badal. But, ironically, neither the Chief Minister nor SAD chief Sukhbir Badal chose to cast their ballot. Manpreet also did not turn up to cast vote.

Irregularities were reported from a number of villages, including Midhu Khera, Ghagga, Lambi, Badal, Panjawa, Jhorarh, Mehna, Kotli Devan, Ghumiara and Madir.

Sources in Kotli Devan and Lambi villages in Muktsar district said SAD activists fired shots in the air to create terror among the opponents. Various incidents of booth-capturing and assault were also reported from the area.

An injured Baljinder Singh Mann of Ghagga village, lying in the Gidderbaha Civil Hospital, alleged that SAD activists put red chilli in his eyes and assaulted him with a sharp-edged weapon. He had 10 stitches on his arm. Also at the same hospital was a 16-year-old Jagdeep Singh of Madir village who had suffered a head injury. Jagdeep alleged that a local SAD leader had assaulted him with brick because he had overheard of his “gameplan.”

A Congress candidate for the Block Samiti from Ghumiara, Dharam Singh alleged that the SAD activists, in connivance with the policemen deputed at the booth, cast bogus votes and no one paid heed to his repeated requests to stop it.

According to sources, at village Ghumiara, Kotli Devan, Madir and Jhorarh in the district, polling was interrupted for an hour allegedly due to a clash between the SAD and Congress workers. Reports of the polling staff being thrashed by SAD workers also filtered in.

At Lambi village, the home turf of the Chief Minister, reports of gunshots being fired poured in. Here, two journalists of national dailies were made captive for an hour and it was only after repeated requests that they were allowed to leave. A Punjabi daily photographer was assaulted. He suffered fractures in the arm and leg. Congress leader Mahesh Inder Singh Badal was also allegedly roughed up.

In Badal village, reports of people casting their votes without any identity proof and vehicles with stickers of SAD pasted on them were reported to be moving freely. The presence of a large number of musclemen was observed at all booths in the district.

Deputy commissioner, Muktsar, Vikas Garg, said: “All these incidents took place outside the polling booths. For this, the police would be held responsible. We are also investigating the irregularities.” 


MPs take credit for Canada’s Kamagata Maru apology
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The decision of the Conservative government of Canada to offer an apology in Canadian Parliament for the Kamagata Maru episode is a victory for sitting Canadian MP Narinder (Nina) Grewal and her husband Gurmant Singh Grewal, a former MP.

It was Gurmant, then the deputy house leader of the Opposition, who brought up the issue on the floor of the Canadian Parliament for the first time in October, 1997. He followed it up eight times during subsequent discussions on the issue.

Gurmant is a product of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and remained member of the House of Commons for three terms. He had tabled a petition in the House signed by thousands at the initiative of Sahib Thind, president of Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada. The then Liberal government, however, had refused to offer an apology.

Canadian multicultural minister Jason Kenny, who announced the apology decision yesterday, also allocated $2.5 million for the Indian community from the historical recognition programme funds. In the early 20th century, the Canadian government adopted a policy by order-in-council that all immigrants to Canada should come by “continuous journey”. Since there was no direct passage from India to Canada, the regulation was used, almost exclusively, against immigrants from India, who could not comply with it because steamship agents, at the insistence of the Canadian government, would not sell them through tickets.

Further, South Asians were not entitled to the same rights as white British subjects.

Kamagata Maru was a symbol of racist Canadian policies. On May 23, 1914, the ship “Kamagata Maru” chartered by a Sikh businessman, Baba Gurdit Singh, arrived in Vancouver with 376 passengers on board. The passengers were not allowed to land and denied basic necessities and access to justice. On July 21, 1914, the ship was escorted off the Canadian waters under the threat of a navy vessel. Upon return, the British police in Kolkata gunned down 19 passengers and the properties of many were confiscated.

Until 1947, Indo-Canadians were denied the right to vote in British Columbia. As a consequence, they were excluded from law, pharmacy and medicine. Even after 1947, the same faculties at the University of British Columbia appeared reluctant to accept Sikhs. Over the next 20 years the situation changed progressively. A second regulation required immigrants from India to possess at least $200 on arrival, in contrast to the $50 that Europeans had to show.

As late as 1995, the then Liberal government had imposed a discriminatory head tax of $950 on new immigrants. The Liberal government had also frozen the funding for settlement of new immigrants.

In 2006, the new Conservative government not only cut the right of landing fee to half, but also allocated $108 million for the settlement of new immigrants and opened the referral office for the recognition of foreign credentials. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also offered an apology to the Canadian-Chinese community for the discriminatory head tax imposed on South Asians from 1893 to 1923.

During the Baisakhi celebration in the Canadian Parliament last month, Stephen Harper announced: “As Canadians we believe we learn from history, but we are not enslaved by it. We put old arguments behind us, in order to focus on the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. I especially know that Canadians of Sikh faith will always be leaders in the effort to move Canada forward, unified, strong and free”.

“An apology and meaningful redress from government would mean that our community and families’ common experience with racism is recognised and our dignity restored. We will be able to raise our head in pride, salute our forefathers and move forward as equal citizens of Canada. Together, we want to strive with every fibre in our body to make Canada a united, stronger and a better,” says Gurmant Grewal.

Gurmant and Nina Grewal, is the first couple to be consecutively elected to parliament, not only in Canada but in the Commonwealth.


Akalis, Dera premis clash
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 12
Followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and Congressmen had to face the wrath of the Akalis after the polling process was completed at Pakho Kalan village (Tapa) here today. The clash took place after polling was completed and both parties were removing their poll posts. A heated exchange took place between them. The Congressmen alleged that the Akalis gheraoed their workers first at the grain market at Pakho Kalan and started pelting stones at them. Afterwards they attacked the homes of Dera premis and beat them up badly. After the alleged beating, Congressmen staged a dharna at the Barnala-Mansa road and blocked traffic. They demanded action against those responsible.

The Dhanaula MLA (Congress), Kuldeep Bhatthal, former MLA Bachan Singh Pakho, along with his son Mahinder Pal Singh and District Congress Committee president Jagjeet Singh Dhaula, rushed to the site to take stock of the situation.

Police officers had a talk with Congress MLAs and assured them that a case would be registered against the accused who had attacked Dera followers and the Congressmen.

Meanwhile, no major incident was reported from 125 sensitive booths.

Meanwhile, 59 per cent voters exercised their franchise for today’s Zila Parishad election here.


‘Nihangs’ take to rigging in Gurdaspur
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jogi Cheema (Gurdaspur), May 12
Violence, booth-capturing, rigging and group clashes marred the elections in Gurdaspur district with SAD and BJP workers targeting Congress candidates and supporters.

A Congress candidate for the Block Samiti elections was allegedly shot at by Akali supporters at Jogi Cheema village of Kahnuwan block while certain miscreants captured a polling station in Kiri-Afgana village in Kahnuwan and Mahdopur in the Sujanpur constituency.

There was a group clash in Sandalpur and Khanowal villages in Batala. Supporters of the SAD and the Congress clashed in Feru-Chechi village.

Taking a serious note of booth-capturing, the Gurdaspur deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer Gurkirat Kirpal Singh rushed to Kiti Afgana village and cancelled the polling.

For their alleged involvement in a firing incident, the policed has also registered a case against Malook Singh, Kabal Singh, Amarjit Singh, Gurdial Singh and Sukhjinder Singh.

Armed Nihangs barged into a poling station in Fajjupur village in Dhariwal and induldged in rigging. The police said they were attired as Nihangs and were armed with swords, axes and airguns. They were intimidating the voters to cast vote in favour of Congress candidate Simarjit Kaur from Sohal zone.

At the Kiri-Afgana village, over 50 armed miscreants, brandishing swords and daggers thrashed the staff on poll duty.

Villagers pelted them with stones. The polling process was also disrupted for hours at the station. The deputy commissioner ordered the cancellation of the polling. Polling process was also stopped for hours at Khanowal village, near Batala, after a clash between the supporters of the Congress and the SAD occurred. There were reports of group clashes in villages including Sandalpur Longowal, Dhupseri, Kalian Wahmanian, Shahbad and Kotla Sarif.

Meanwhile, residents of Jaswan village in the Narot Jaimal Singh area boycotted the elections after they came to know that their poling station has been shifted from Jaswan village to Mallpur, about 3 km away. Out of 603 votes, only 33 votes were polled at the poling station.


7 polling booths captured
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 12
During the polling of votes for the 20 Zila Parishad seats and 170 Block Panchayat Samiti seats in Sangrur district, incidents of snatching and tearing of ballot papers, capturing of polling booths and fighting between supporters of candidates today reportedly occurred in the district.

At Dirba, the police registered two cases against unknown persons for creating trouble at Janal and Samuran villages’ polling booths, while a case was registered in Andana Zone for creating trouble at Bhullan village, according to SSP Sangrur, Gurdip Singh Pannu.

About 60 per cent voters today exercised their right to franchise, while in at least five villages seven polling booths were captured, allegedly by the supporters of the SAD or unknown persons. Minor clashes between the supporters of SAD and the Congress candidates also reportedly took place at Shadihari, Bahmaniwala and Lehal Khurd villages. At Kapial village an attempt was reportedly made to capture the polling booth.

The presiding officers of seven polling booths recommended cancelling of the polling in these booths, besides recommending re-election. These are: Two polling booths each in Janal and Samuran villages of the Sunam Block Panchayat Samiti, one polling booth each in Bhullan village, Mahasinghwala village and Bahmaniwala village of Anadana Block Panchayat Samiti. 


Zila Parishad, Block Samiti Polls
Booth capturing in Moga
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, May 12
Workers of both the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the main Opposition Congress resorted to violence during polling in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections with also some reports of forcibly capturing polling booths at a couple of places in Moga district on Monday.

Local Congress leader Jaswinder Singh Kuku, a former Sarpanch, entered the polling station at Fatehgarh Kortana village, along with supporters, and tried to capture the booth setup there. He also allegedly threatened the presiding officer and the polling staff on duty.

When a SAD worker Gursewak Singh and his friends tried to resist, Kuku took him out of the polling room forcibly and fired a shot at him from his revolver that he was illegally carrying along with him inside the polling station. Gursewak, hit at the left side of his chest by the bullet, was immediately rushed to the Civil Hospital, Moga, from where he was referred to the DMC, Ludhiana, where his condition was reportedly said to be serious.

The police immediately empowered Kuku and arrested him on the spot. The weapon was also taken into custody from his possession. There were reports that Kuku had a minor scuffle with the police authorities present there, but no one confirmed about it. The Tribune correspondent found a 'name tag' of the local DSP Jagjit S. Saroya lying on the spot, which indicated that Kuku and his supporters had had a scuffle there.

Election observer Kulbir Singh, district magistrate Satwant Singh Johal and SSP Ashok Bath rushed to the spot to take stalk of the situation.

Presiding officer Baljinder Singh told The Tribune that Kuku asked the entire polling staff to sit against the wall of the polling booth and threatened them with dire consequences if they tried to oppose him.

In another incident, a group of SAD workers who allegedly came in a convoy of 10 to 12 vehicles equipped with firearms, sharp-edged weapons and lathis attacked Congress workers with lathis outside a polling station at Kot-ise-Khan and injured a few persons. Hari Singh, father of the Congress candidate Bohar Singh of the Block Samiti election, got injuries on the neck and shoulders. A correspondent of the Jain News TV Deepak Singla, who got shots of the incident, was picked up by SAD workers and beaten up mercilessly. His camera was taken away by them.

The situation at Kot-ise-Khan remained quite tense throughout the day. In the evening a group of people attacked the vehicle of a local SAD leader with stones following which the SAD leader opened fire in the air. However, no one was reported injured in the incident, confirmed sources in the police.

There were also reports of an attempt to capture a polling booth by SAD workers at Kaila village near Kot-ise-Khan. However, the DM denied any such reports coming to his knowledge.

The police arrested Harjinder Singh, son of Baldev Singh of Rode village, a Congress candidate of the Zila Parishad, on charges of cheating in the voters’ list. He had got made his two votes- one at Rode village and the other one at Baghapurana on the same name, said the police sources.

Another Congress candidate of the Block Samiti, Sukhdev Singh, son of Pakhar Singh, and his associate Babbu Singh, son of Gurmakh Singh, residents of Lande village, were arrested by the police while distributing cash to the people in a bid to purchase votes. A sum of Rs 11,000 was also recovered from their possession.

Three more persons were injured in poll-related violence in Moga district today. As per reports, SAD workers, Jugraj Singh, Surinder Pal Singh and his son Gurpreet Singh were attacked with sharp-edged weapons by a few persons due to a dispute over bogus voting in Gholia Khurd village in Moga district, this afternoon. They were rushed to the civil hospital here.

66 pc polling

Overall 66 per cent of polling was reported from across Moga district in the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections, the voting for which was held today.


Order to stop online sale of gender-test kits
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 12
On the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court (CWP No. 17964 of 2007-Court on its own motion vs state of Punjab and others) regarding steps to stop the circulation, sale or utilisation of sex-determination kits, the additional director general of police (ADGP), Crime, Punjab, recently constituted a two-member joint committee to decide on steps to tackle female foeticide.

According to official sources here today, Internet searching by the joint committee revealed three outlets of international courier agency, Fedex, said to be the courier for the gender-test kits’ supplying agency ACN-GEN Biolab. These outlets are at Hind Market, Amritsar; Ferozepur Road, Bhaiwala Chowk, Ludhiana; and Namdev Chowk, G.T. Road, Jalandhar.

The ADGP also informed the SSPs of Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar and the SSPs of other districts about this.

He asked for instructions to be issued to these outlets that the supply of gender-test kits, directly or indirectly, amounts to violation of Sections 2 (i) (K) (0) and Section 4 of the Pre-conception (PC) and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1994.

The outlets will immediately intimate the local police station concerned regarding details of the individual or any agency to whomsoever it had supplied the kits.

After ascertaining the antecedents of the individual or agency that had placed the order for import of gender-test kits, the local police will intimate the civil surgeon of the respective district, the district appropriate authority under the PC and PNDT Act.

Gender-test kits are being imported from America and Canada through online trading and are being sold beween Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 in Punjab.


Fake Encounters
HC to find out if cases were fixed in Registry
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants to find out if cases were fixed in the Registry. Taking strong exception to a delay of three years in placing before the court a case seeking a CBI probe into fake encounters, Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court has asked the Registry “to explain as to why this case was not listed for hearing after the year 2005”.

In fact, the court considered an explanation offered by the Registry on March 25. But, the court “did not prima-facie feel satisfied with the reasons disclosed by the Registry for not putting up the case for hearing for almost three years”.

As such, Justice Ranjit Singh has directed the registrar (general) to hold an inquiry in the matter and submit a report. High court sources said the report was yet to be handed over.

Justice Ranjit Singh has already ordered a CBI probe in the matter on Punjab Police constable Satwant Singh Manak’s petition. Claiming to an eyewitness to fake encounters, he had claimed the victims included Nirmal Singh, Baljit Singh, Kulwant Singh Kanta, Baljinder Singh Bijliwala, Kartar Singh Bahal Singh, Satwant Singh Sodhi, Gurmukh Singh, Gurcharan Singh and Nachhattar Singh.

As the matter came up for hearing, the judge took note of efforts made at managing things; and Manak’s struggle for justice. Justice Ranjit Singh observed: “The petitioner appeared in person to state about the pressure on him to withdraw this writ petition. “This court then took a significant step to have the assistance of 

Apparently, having failed in attempt to stall any order in the writ petition, the things appear to have been managed in the office; and the case was not put up for hearing for over three years. The explanation being offered by the Registry in this regard is being dealt with”.

Going into the details of the attempts, the judge observed: “The writ petition is pending since 1994. When initially filed, it faced a hurdle at the very thresh-hold. The court required the counsel to satisfy it that the petitioner was competent to file the present petition in public interest, seeking registration of criminal cases against police officers.”

“Throughout its journey, the petition faced a number of other hurdles at different stages. Initially, the petition was filed through M. S. Rana, advocate of this court.” “Subsequently, D. S. Rajput, advocate, appeared to make submissions. The writ petition was ultimately ordered to be admitted on September 15, 1995.” “In view of the reply filed, which revealed some of the person named by the petitioner indeed had been shown as killed in encounters, the court obviously would have felt the need for some proper investigation to really go into the allegations made in the petition that these were the fake encounters and, thus, cold blooded murders. No directions, however, were given for fixing the case for hearing.”

The judge noted that an application was then filed for fixing an actual date in this case, which was dismissed for non-prosecution. The writ petition was, subsequently, adjourned as no one appeared on behalf of the petitioner on the dates.

Counsel representing the petitioner for withdrawing the writ petition filed another application. On January 15, 2004, petitioner, however, stated he did not wish to withdraw the petition, though advocate D.S.Rajput had moved the application on his behalf. The case was adjourned to February 7, 2005.

Hereafter, it was never put up for hearing before the court till another application was filed on behalf of the petitioner through R. S. Bains.

Not to hand over case to Punjab Vigilance

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has refused to hand over the investigations in “fake encounter” case to Punjab Vigilance.

Justice Ranjit Singh ruled: “Generally, the courts in such cases are requested to entrust investigation to the Vigilance set up of the state on the ground that it can be expected to be free from influences. It is recently been in news, as is disclosed to this court, that head of the Vigilance is himself facing prosecution for almost similar allegations. He is reportedly being investigated for a case of fake encounter…Even otherwise, it is not desirable for the court to constitute special investigation team or to name a particular officer in this regard”.


IAS officer’s reversion stayed till July 9
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
Taking up a petition filed by Punjab IAS officer Manjit Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed his reversion till July 9. The high court also issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab and other respondents for the same date.

The orders by high court Division Bench of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain came as a major relief to the IAS officer. Born on May 22, 1950, he would have retired on May 31, had the high court not stayed his reversion, as the superannuating age of the PCS is 58, against 60 of the IAS.

In his petition, Manjit Singh, special secretary to the Punjab government, Department of Defence Services Welfare, had earlier sought directions for quashing order dated April 4, 2007, vide which the seniority of the PCS (executive branch) was re-determined.

Going into the background of the matter, the petitioner claimed the dispute regarding seniority of the PCS officers, after series of protracted litigation, culminated in the passing of the Supreme Court judgement on May 21, 2006.

In purported compliance of the judgement, the state government revised the seniority of the PCS officers. As a result, the seniority of the petitioner came down considerably; and he, along with others, was apprehending reversion.

The petitioner said he was selected and appointed to the PCS in 1984. In 1995 a heart attack left him disabled and afflicted with 75 per cent locomotion disability.

On January 30, 2006, he was appointed to the IAS on the basis of merit-cum-seniority. The petitioner said he was, however, aggrieved by the inaction of the authorities concerned in not granting the benefit of retrospective appointment/ adjustment in the IAS on the basis of three per cent statutory reservation provided under Section33 of the 1995 Disabilities Act.

Resident seeks protection

A Kapurthala, a resident, who had along with the police reportedly foiled the bid to abduct Lata Mangeshkar, has moved the high court seeking protection.

In his petition placed before Justice Nawab Singh, the petitioner claimed he had dedicated valuable part of his life for the country and for the state, without any consideration.

But now, due to change in political scenario, he was being made a victim of political vengeance, the petitioner claimed.

Going into the background of the matter, the petitioner further claimed he picked up arms against the militants after his younger sister sustained bullet injuries in an attack on a marriage party.

He formed an anti-terrorist organisation, the Indian Lions, with the assistance of police officers, including Punjab’s former DGP S.S. Virk. In 1992, his mother and sister were killed. But the case of their killing was slapped on him. He was, however, acquitted by the Sessions Judge.

The petitioner added in 1990, he along with Virk, foiled an attempt to abduct Lata Mangeshkar. The militants, he added, had planned to take her hostage for securing the release of Jinda and Sukha, the assassins of General Arun Shridhar Vaidya. The case has now been fixed for May 22 for the state counsel to file reply.

Lower court had taken a ‘perverse view’

The high court today held that a lower court had taken a “perverse view” in acquitting a murder accused, booked for setting his wife ablaze.

The Division Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice L.N. Mittal also sentenced him to rigorous life imprisonment. “We are of the opinion that the view taken by the trial court for acquitting Gurdip Singh is perverse and cannot be sustained.” 


Secy gets notice on PIL over consumer panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a notice to the secretary, food and supplies, following public interest litigation (PIL) filed on the shortage of judicial members in the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

A Division Bench comprising chief justice and Justice Jaswant Singh today issued a notice to the secretary, food and supplies, Punjab.

Advocate H.C. Arora filed the PIL. The petitioner mentioned in the PIL that the working of the Punjab Commission could come to a standstill as the tenure of a member was expiring on May 16. Furthermore, another member, Budhi Chander Parkash, had already retired on February 1.

It was mentioned in the PIL that the statutory committee, formed, had interviewed the candidates on March 10, and sent its recommendations to the secretary, food and supplies, on March 13.

However, the Punjab government has so far failed to clear the appointments. He also submitted that from May 16 onwards only the president of the state commission, Justice (retired) S.N. Aggarwal would be the only judicial member left in the commission.

Whereas, according to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, the president alone cannot pass any orders. Thus the functioning of the commission would come to a stand still.

There are 5,000 cases pending in the commission. It will be further burdened under fresh cases, as no decisions have been rendered in old cases.

The petitioner therefore prayed the HC to issue directions to the secretary to immediately clear the appointments of the two members, so that the commission would function properly without any interruption after May 16.


Indo-Pak Trade
Traders suffer due to poor infrastructure
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 12
Local traders involved in trade with Pakistan are suffering a lot due to inadequate infrastructure and impediments created by the Railways.

The Amritsar Exporters Chamber of Commerce and the Indo-Foreign Chamber of Commerce representative bodies of traders with Pakistan are up in arms against the Railways authorities who were compelling them to bear the additional cost, as the latter have failed to provide faster clearance facilities for their commodities being exported to Pakistan.

A spokesman of the chamber said they had made numerous representations to the Indian Railway Board, wherein they had highlighted insufficient capacity to handle 1000-crore annual trade, but the failure of the Railways to build a modern cargo complex had made the traders to cut down their international trade operations.

The chambers had sent a letter to the Railway ministry last month in which it had enumerated a number of shortcomings at the railway cargo complex, which include the renovation of D-shed, which was burnt down four years ago and continues to be in a miserable state. He added that the Railways authorities had even failed to remove its debris till date, compounding the shortage of space in view of the growing business with Pakistan.

The chambers also revealed that due to limited goods platform, which had been declared as customs notified area, it was not possible to handle the increased business.

In view of these shortcomings, the trade was facing serious challenges, which include paying additional charges for truck halting, threat of losing business, besides many financial problems which may one day bring down the volume of business, they feared.

However, the balance of trade with Pakistan was today on an equal footing, with large consignments of cement entering India since September last year to meet the shortfall of construction material which had led to inflationary trends.

Cement importers also flayed the Railway authorities for the lack of proper platforms and godowns to handle the bulk of material.

A renowned Pakistani company Bestway Holdings Ltd, based in England which runs the second largest cement manufacturing unit in Pakistan with annual capacity of six million, has sent a representation to minister of commerce Kamal Nath, seeking his intervention. The company regretted that in view of logistic problems in India, the cement company in India was unable to deliver the cement to meet the growing demand .

Meanwhile, a senior officer of the railways from the Ferozepure divisional office called on customs officials to improve their coordination. It has been reliably learnt that the meeting thrashed out certain glitches to improve the functioning of the railways to handle more import of cement.

At present, the annual trade between the two nations stands at about 1000 crore and can double provided all stakeholders work efficiently and provide international-standard infrastructure. Currently, Pakistan is importing duty-free perishable items, including potatoes, onion, tomatoes, garlic and livestock, through the Attari land route, while some items like dyes and chemicals, light engineering goods and other miscellaneous items were being exported through railway wagons.

The much-talked SAFTA agreement among SAARC nations has yet to be implemented and India has already provided the most-favoured status to Pakistan, but the latter has yet to reciprocate India’s gesture.


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