P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Centre approves rail projects for state
18 new bridges to reduce traffic congestion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Centre today gave its nod for upgrading railway infrastructure in Punjab through a chain of new tracks and construction of rail bridges.

An assurance to this effect was given to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal when he called on the minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi this afternoon. The Centre gave its nod in principle to a number of projects which Badal termed as "new rail transport sub-arteries in Punjab".

Disclosing this here today, the Chief Minister’s media adviser Harcharan Bains said Badal specially sought Lalu’s personal intervention for an early clearance of the proposal for the construction of 18 new railway bridges in different districts of the state to reduce traffic congestion, specially at the crossings.

The Chief Minister also requested the union minister to exempt the state from haulage charges on the proposed luxury-cum-heritage train for five years. He also urged Lalu for the upgradation of railway stations in Jalandhar and Ludhiana.

The Chief Minister also focused on the raising and re-modelling of 17 railway bridges in the districts of Muktsar, Ferozepur, Bathinda and Faridkot. He said the cattle-crossing gate at Biring Khera village in Muktsar district needed to be converted into a manned crossing. The state would deposit the requisite funds for this purpose.

The Chief Minister sought Central clearance for the railway overbridge on Bathinda-Hanumangarh line, and the laying of a new rail line from Rama Mandi to Mour Mandi in Bathinda district. The survey for this project had already been conducted by the Ministry of Railways. 


BSP says no to coalition
Releases names for LS poll
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has ruled out the possibility of an alliance in Punjab or any other state with any other party during the next parliamentary elections.

Disclosing the party’s strategy for the next general elections, party’s general secretary and in charge of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir Narinder Kashyap, said: “The party will only enter into an alliance with the people to make society free of fear, crime and injustice and to promote development.”

Kashyap announced names of four candidates from Punjab for the next parliamentary elections and gave out names of two others, subject to the clearance of the party high command. “There is considerable frustration among the people due to the SAD-BJP alliance failing to live up to their aspirations. The Congress, too, has let the people down with its bad governance in the past, so we have decided to involve all communities before contesting the elections.”

All candidates announced by Kashyap belonged to different castes and communities. He said the party would field Kewal Krishan Chauhan, a Gujjar, from the newly created Anandpur Sahib constituency; Surjit Singh, a retired BFO, from Jalandhar reserve; Madanjit Singh, a retired superintendent of police from Sangrur; and Harbhajan Singh Amla from Ferozepur. The two names that are yet to be cleared by party president Mayawati are of Amarjit Singh Naglu, a former BJP member who joined the BSP from Hoshiarpur, and Gurnam Singh Sewak, a retired judge from the newly created constituency of Fatehgarh Sahib.

Kashyap said the party would repeat its Uttar Pradesh experiment in different parts of the country and was hopeful that it would make a big dent in the existing vote bank of traditional parties.

Reacting to the just-concluded panchayat polls in Punjab, the BSP leader said the party was appalled at the “murder of democracy” in the municipal corporation, panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections. Kashyap alleged that the election of sarpanches would be held in July, a month after the panchayat polls with the sole objective of horse-trading and forcing SAD sarpanches in every panchayat.

Punjab BSP president Avtar Singh Karimpuri, who accompanied Kashyap, said the Punjab government was bent upon upsetting the the democratic system. He pointed out that the government had issued a notification saying that the panchayats that did not have any candidates for seats reserved for women and backward classes should be declared open. He said this amounted to violation of the Constitution and sought immediate revocation of the notification.


Panchayat Poll Issue
Cong to stage dharna in Moga on June 5
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
The state unit of the Congress party will organise a dharna in Moga on June 5 in protest against the “total failure” of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in ensuring free and fair polls to the panchayats in the state recently.

This was announced by Bir Devinder Singh, chief spokesman for the party, while addressing a press conference here today. He said, "In the immediate context of the forthcoming municipal elections in late June, we ask the state Election Commission to evaluate its role in the just-concluded panchayat elections. The commission did not even use its existing powers to ensure fair play”.

“We demand Central forces to be deputed during the municipal elections at specified places in the state. All candidates also need to be provided fool-proof security right from the time of filing their nominations. The entire election process needs to be video graphed,” he added.

The unprecedented violence in the recent polls and the subsequent killing of Congress workers in Rampura Phull has led the party to go on a path of staging protests. He said the party workers had been asked to come for the funeral at Rampura Phull tomorrow , where the party might decide the future course of action.

When asked about Capt Amarinder Singh not participating in party activities against the ruling party, he said, “His continuous absence is proving to be an embarrassment to the party. I am hopeful that we shall be together at the next press conference and settle all controversies”.

Accompanied by Jassi Khangura, party MLA from Kila Raipur, Bir Devinder said, “The public is shocked at the rigging in the recently concluded elections. I strongly feel that Parkash Singh Badal should resign as Chief Minister”. He said, “Isn't the situation really grave when even the High Court has observed that ‘ruling party went berserk’ and ‘missed the entire point of panchayat elections’.” 


EC urged to annul Kala Bula poll
SC candidate included in general category list
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 31
Calling for justice, Mewa Singh (60) has urged the state Election Commission (SC) to cancel the election of Kala Bula village panchayat alleging that the returning officer (RO) has declared two SC candidates elected as unopposed by putting his name in the list of general category candidates though he had applied in the SC category.

Mewa Singh had filed his nomination papers on May 16 for member panchayat (SC category) for Kala Bula village panchayat (Sherpur block) in this district and had deposited Rs 50 as nomination fee.

Talking to The Tribune, Mewa Singh said perhaps this had been done by the RO under pressure at a later stage as the RO had found his nomination papers in order for the SC category during scrutiny. He was even allotted the election symbol “Nagara” on May 19, but on May 22 he came to know that his name had been included in the list of general category candidates.

Due to this, two SC male candidates, left in the fray for two posts of SC (male) panch, were declared elected unopposed, he alleged.

Mewa Singh said he brought this matter to the notice of the deputy commissioner-cum-district election officer on May 23 and also faxed a message to the EC for information. He said the district election officer assured him that justice would be done. But when no step was taken till May 25, he decided not to participate in the election on May 26, he added.

When contacted, the ADC (D)-cum-additional district electoral officer, Harnek Singh said on the basis of complaint the district administration had written to the EC to countermand the election, but the EC did not agree and the election was held for Kala Bula village panchayat on May 26.


Now, Mann hits out at Amarinder
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31
After a number of senior Congress leaders, it is the turn of SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann to train his guns on his close relative-turned-detractor and former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for the latter’s “friendship” with Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam.

Mann has not only urged the Sikh and Muslim clergies in Punjab and Pakistan to take note of Captain’s alleged involvement with Aroosa, but has also advised the former Chief Minister to renounce his scionship in the favour of his son on the lines of Britain’s King Edward VIII, in case Captain wished to be in the company of Aroosa. King Edward had to renounce his royal position, as he had preferred to stay with Lady Simpson, an American widow.

Capt Amarinder Singh is already under fire from different quarters from within the Congress for his “prolonged absence” from the scene of rural elections and for the “preference” given by him to Aroosa.

“The Akal Takht and Muslim clergies should take note of the developments. Both Sikh and Muslim tenets specify it in clear terms that no Sikh or Muslim is allowed to live together outside the institution of marriage. Aroosa is ruining the life of Preneet Kaur by continuously being at the Moti Bagh palace as a guest,” said Mann while talking to The Tribune.

“It is true that in modern times you can have partnerships, but Amarinder should take care of his religion and Punjabi culture and its long-standing values,” he said.



Tribune Impact 
4 SGPC men booked for bogus cement purchase
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 31
The Kotwali police today registered a case against four SGPC employees in connection with the purchase of bogus cement bags. The inquiry was conducted by high officials of the Shiromani Committee at the behest of its president, Avtar Singh.

Earlier, the SGPC had dismissed two employees, while two officials were placed under suspension in connection with the bogus purchase of more than 10,000 cement bags worth lakhs after the publication of a report in these columns.

The district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh has confirmed the registration of case against the SGPC officials.

The SGPC president had directed the officials concerned to lodge an FIR against the erring officials, who had tampered with the official records. Those who have been dismissed are Gurjeewan Singh and Gurmej Singh. The employees who have been placed under suspension are Balbir Singh and Gurnam Singh, both store-keepers of the construction wing of the Shiromani Committee.

Before the unearthing of the cement scam, a high-level probe had also found difference bags of wheat during the physical verification of the stock.

The cement racket has been going on for a long time with the connivance of the firms concerned, approved by the SGPC, for supplying the construction material for gurdwaras and SGPC-run educational and other institutions.

The three-page inquiry report, submitted by two-member inquiry committee comprising Manjit Singh, in charge, SGPC Trust, and Sukhdev Singh, Chief Gurdwara Inspector, has already detected entries of a large number of cement bags, shown as received by the Shiromani Committee in its record. After the scrutiny of the official record, the inquiry officials found the figures tampered from 300 cement bags to 2300 cement bags by prefixing two with the material received in the “Imarti Store” (building store). Similar bogus entries were also made by tampering with more records. They said that the tampering could be cross-checked with the record of firms, including sales tax returns, which supplied material to SGPC in the past. Similarly, the three bills of 150 bags each were tampered, as 1500 cement bags each by the employees concerned on July 18 last year.

However, the sources said that the detection is just the tip of the iceberg and the volume of purchase scam could be much higher if a thorough probe is ordered.

The employees, who were found guilty during the inquiry, also made an attempt to burn the record to destroy evidence of tampering. The inquiry officials alleged that the accused employees did not cooperate with them whenever they tried to seek information about the alleged scam. They suggested that the SGPC should do correspondence with the sales and taxation department to tally the bogus entries.

The inquiry officials also found some pages of the blank ledgers of 2006- 2007 torn. The inquiry also found difference of entries and balances between two ledgers, which is considered a serious and deliberate effort on part of officials concerned.

On the other hand, the signatures of some vouchers of the contractors, who are carrying construction of some SGPC buildings, were also found to be factitious. The bogus entries of construction expenditure also caused colossal financial loss to the SGPC.


Supply of Impure Water
PSHRC notice to Mansa DC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has taken suo motu notice of a news article that appeared in a national daily regarding the supply of impure water to Mansa residents.

The commission has asked the Mansa deputy commissioner to give a report on the same. The case has been adjourned to August 8.

It has appeared from Mansa that due to the supply of impure drinking water, residents are becoming victims of diseases relating to hair, stomach and joints. They are also being infected by cholera, typhoid, polio and hepatitis.

In most parts of the city, potable water from the only waterworks does not even reach the residents. Furthermore, the residents are forced to look at alternative sources, which are not safe.


OYT Scheme
PSEB for probe into graft charges
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31
Y.S Ratra, chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), has asked the state Vigilance Department to initiate an inquiry into the controversial own your tubewell (OYT) scheme following allegations of large-scale corruption by the PSEB and Punjab government officials.

Ratra said he had received numerous complaints from across the state, following which he had sent the case to the Punjab Vigilance Bureau for a thorough probe into the activities being indulged in by suppliers and officials of the PSEB and the Punjab government.

He added that severe action would be taken against all delinquent officials of the Board and the government on the receipt of the inquiry report. The Excise and Taxation authorities have also requested the Board to supply them the division-wise lists of connections released by the PSEB under OYT Scheme to ensure that the purchases and sales have been made by the dealers after issuing proper invoices and VAT due at the rate of 12.5 per cent had actually been charged and paid in the government treasury.

He added that accordingly, lists were being supplied separately to the Excise and Taxation authorities for proper evaluation of VAT paid by the dealers and to investigate the issue of under valuation of bills by the dealers and contractors.

The Board had introduced the OYT scheme in August last year. The applicants were allowed to arrange quality material duly inspected by the PSEB on their own. However, the condition of purchasing material from approved manufacturers and suppliers of the PSEB was withdrawn.

Later, the PSEB received complaints from the applicants that apart from supplying poor quality material, the contractors and suppliers were also charging much higher rates compared to the rates at which the PSEB was procuring the material and the contractors and suppliers were looting the OYT applicants in connivance with some PSEB and Punjab government officials.


Rape ‘victim’ gives MLA’s address as own
Jupinderjit Singh and Rajneesh Lakhanpal
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, May 31
In a major embarrassment to deputy speaker, Punjab, and senior BJP leader Satpal Gosain, the woman who accused a city judge of raping her had listed the house of the MLA as her residential address.

The woman stated her address as 167, Kidwai Nagar, Ludhiana, in the affidavit furnished to the media in Chandigarh yesterday.

A team of the city police investigating the allegations was taken aback when they reached the house of the MLA searching for the woman. She had claimed she was a domestic help who worked for the judge.

The judge has refuted the claim, saying he never had a woman servant. Moreover, he said, he was not even in the city on the day she was allegedly raped.

A visibly upset Gosain said he had sent an application to the SSP demanding registration of a case against the woman. “I am shocked that she gave my house as her residence. I have never seen this woman. No one in our colony could recognise her pictures carried in some newspapers today.”

SSP R.K. Jaiswal said the woman was untraceable. “We are trying to find her since yesterday after she levelled the allegations in Chandigarh yesterday. We can only investigate the case on the basis of the statement she makes to the police. But the address mentioned by her was found wrong.”

The SSP said he was yet to receive a complaint from the MLA. “We will investigate the matter after receiving the complaint.”

Gosain said he was embarrassed when a police team reached his house. “Why will a domestic help give my address as her residence. It is a conspiracy against me.”


Forensic experts rue court delays
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
State president, Punjab Academy of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Dr D.S. Bhullar has called upon forensic medicine experts, appearing as witnesses in various law courts, to boycott defence lawyers who do not act in accordance with Supreme Court of India directions that members of medical profession should not be called for evidence unnecessarily.

The academy rued the fact that the SC directions of freeing the experts as early as possible so that their patients do not suffer are also being violated. In a press note here yesterday, it has been stated that although the judicial officer and public prosecutor immediately attend the doctor called for evidence, the defence lawyers often delay the proceedings.

Dr Bhullar has urged the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to issue directions to judicial officers to declare the cross-examination as nil after giving an opportunity to the defence lawyer in case of inadvertent delay. In addition, the defence lawyers should be directed to attend the court in which there is a medical witness on priority.

The academy also demanded that the Bar Associations should direct its members to avoid irrelevant cross-examination and ensure timely presence in the court when a medical expert is called for evidence in public interest.


More flak for ACs in Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 31
The installation of ACs in the sanctum sanctorum of Golden Temple continues to receive flak from various quarters even as the SGPC president has rejected the demand to remove these.

SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has said the Sikh Panth will oppose the installation of the ACs.

He alleged that the SGPC had installed the ACs at the behest of Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister.

PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh has also expressed resentment over the installation of the ACs. 


People told not to use tobacco
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 31
World No Tobacco Day was observed by the health authorities at the Civil Hospital here today to make people aware about the harmful effects of tobacco and the products prepared from it.

On the occasion a seminar was organised which was addressed, among others, by district health officer Dr K.C. Goyal and senior medical officer of the local Civil Hospital Dr H.S. Bali. 


Dowry Case
Death sentence for husband
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 31
In a dowry death case Additional Session Judge, Gurdaspur, Harpreet Kaur Jeevan today awarded death sentence to main accused Raju Masih, son of Sadiq Masih, resident of Gurdaspur, and convicted his co-accused Beena and Rinku Masih, mother and elder brother, respectively, of Raju to life imprisonment. She also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 each on them. They were booked under Sections 302, 498-A, 316 and 34, IPC, on January 1, 2006, by the Sadar police, Gurdaspur. Sadiq, father of Raju, was acquitted giving him benefit of doubt.

According to prosecution, Mindo Devi, mother of Rama, lodged a complaint with the police that her daughter’s in-laws, including husband Raju, mother-in-law Beena, brother-in-law Rinku and father-in-law Sadiq, had killed her daughter by torturing her for bringing less dowry on January 27, 2006. She said her daughter was married to Raju Masih in 2005.


Subhiksa permitted to sell agri products 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has permitted Subhiksa Trading Services Ltd to continue with the sale of ‘agriculture produce’, including fruits and vegetables, from its outlets till licences were handed over to it.

As the company had not obtained a licence, an order was passed by the State Agricultural Marketing Board on May 21, 2007, directing it to obtain the same for each of its outlets.

This, it was added, was in accordance with provisions of Section 10 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1961, as applicable to the union territory of Chandigarh.

In its petition against the administration and others placed before high court Division Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Sabina, the company had sought directions for quashing the order dated May 21, 2007.

The petitioner-company contended that it was involved in the sale, purchase and storage of agricultural produce, including fruits and vegetables etc. But, it was saddled with the penalty of Rs 500 for each outlet.

Taking up the matter, the Bench observed: “It is the admitted position that the petitioner-company has paid the penalty for each of its outlet; and has also applied for the licences under Section 10 of the 1961 Act, read with Rule 17 (7) of the 1962 Rules. In that regard averments have been made in the writ petition, which have not been in disputed in the written statement.”

The Bench added: “Counsel for the respondents has stated that once the petitioner-company has submitted the application for issuance of licences pursuant to order dated May 21, 2007, the administration is prepared to issue licenses for each of its outlets.”

“He has further clarified that the company has applied for licences in respect of individual outlet; and the needful shall be done within a period of 60 days.”

Disposing of the petition, the Bench added: In view of the statement made by counsel for the respondents, the writ petition has been rendered infructuous; and is disposed of as such.

“However, the petitioner-company shall be permitted to continue with their sale activities from its outlets till the licences are given to it; and after the licences are given, it would be entitled to continue its business as per the rules.”


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