P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Hurriyat leader Geelani under house arrest
Move to keep him away from Sikh conclave
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Hurriyat chairman Geelani outside his house in Srinagar on Monday.
Hurriyat chairman Geelani outside his house in Srinagar on Monday. —A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, June 2
Even as chairman of the breakaway faction of the Hurriyat Conference (HC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani, known for his hawkish stance, has been placed under house arrest by the police to prevent him from attending the 24th anniversary of Operation Bluestar here, the Dal Khalsa, organisers of the Sikh conclave, has said “come what may, the proposed joint conclave of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians would be held here on June 4” .

However, Prof S.A.R. Geelani, who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case said he would attend the proposed conclave of the Dal Khalsa at all costs.

Talking to The Tribune from Hyderpora (J&K), Syed Ali Shah Geelani said he was asked by the SHO, Humhama, not to leave his house (in the Valley) till further orders. He informed more than 30 security personnel had been deployed outside his house.

He alleged the step had been taken at the Central government’s behest which did not want leaders of minority communities to come together on a single platform. He said it was an attempt to curb the freedom of speech, granted by the Constitution.

This is for the first time Geelani has not been allowed to visit another state. He was invited as chief guest by the Dal Khalsa. Earlier, he was asked not to visit Pakistan. Geelani was scheduled to leave for Delhi today, and he was going to travel by train to Amritsar.

Intelligence officials were at work following reports Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Professor Geelani would attend the conference of the Dal Khalsa. Leaders of minorities are likely to speak on the alleged attacks on their religious places, including demolition of Babri Masjid, Army attack on the Golden Temple and Akal Takht in June 1984.

However, after holding an in-camera meeting with Syed Ali Shah Geelani at Hyderpora (J&K), Professor Geelani told The Tribune on the phone he would read the message of the chairman at the proposed Sikh conclave. Professor Geelani said he would highlight the alleged excesses being committed by the security agencies against members of the minority communities in India at the proposed Sikh conclave.

The message of Gajinder Singh, who figures among the 20 most wanted Indian militants living in Pakistan, would also be read at the conclave.


Badal seeks central package for border areas
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
Recent results of elections to Panchayati Raj institutions in favour of the SAD-BJP combine has demoralised the Congress party and now its frustration was showing.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal stated this at a rally at Ramdas village . He claimed the state government had fulfilled all promises made to the farmers .

Criticising the central government for ignoring border areas during its rule for Badal urged the union government to announce special package for uplift of people of the area. Badal said the central government had also failed to provide compensation of Rs 3,000 to the farmers whose land was across the fence. He said they had also urged the Centre to restart the scheme for their uplift.

Senior Congress leader from Ramdas Ravirajnir Singh Randhawa with his supporter joined the SAD in the presence of the CM. Earlier Badal paid obeisance at the Golden Temple, Durgiana temple and Shri Ram Tirath and laid wreaths at the martyrs’ memorial at Jallianwala Bagh

The CM also participated in the thanksgiving function organised by SAD MLA Inderbeer Singh Bolaria from Amritsar South constituency. 


Bitta for edict against terrorism, ban on Dera Sacha Sauda
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti should issue an edict (hukumnama) to the Sikhs, on the lines of fatwa issued by Shahi Imam to the Muslims across the country for raising voice against terrorism.

Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All-India Anti- Terrorist Front (AIATF), said such a step was necessary as the community had suffered a lot during two decades of turmoil in the state. He said this step was also necessary to save the community as the population of the community was declining in the country.

Bitta said there was need to strengthen the security arrangements at the borders with Pakistan in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir as the areas were being used by subversive elements to foment trouble in the country. He said in spite of change of guard in the neighbouring Pakistan there was no let- up in insurgency from across the border. The AIATF president demanded t the Dera Sacha Sauda should be banned in Punjab as it could revive terrorism in the state. He said people should reject the political parties which sought support of the dera during the elections. He said an all- party meeting should be convened in this regard and cases registered against those seeking support from the dera followers.

He said there was also need for investigation of the persons making huge investments in the mega projects in the country. He said there was also need for probing the new channels being introduced in the country as they could be land mafia or persons with criminal background, which could threaten integrity of the country.

On the allegations made by Sandeep Kaur, wife of former militant Kashtiwal that PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had links with militants, Bitta said these were baseless allegations as Sandeep herself was a tout of the intelligence agencies and had been getting huge amount for passing on information. He said the state government should order a thorough probe into the incident to bring out the truth.


Oil cos fix 4,000-litre supply ceiling for dealers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Even as the Punjab government today claimed there was no shortage of petrol and diesel in the state, two of the state-run oil marketing companies refused to supply more than 4,000 litres of fuel to a dealer today.

Petrol dealers in the state also accused the oil marketing companies of hot-filling of fuel in order to ensure less volume of fuel was being supplied to them. Petrol station owners in Sangrur, Patiala, Bathinda and Ludhiana alleged the terminals of two state-run oil marketing companies started accepting indents and filling the tankers only around 11 a.m. today. They alleged the practice of hot filling had been initiated since Saturday.

“By filling the tankers around noon, when the temperature is highest, the petrol and diesel expand. Every one degree rise in temperature leads to shortfall of 0.8 lts of fuel. When they fill the petrol at noon, the tanker of 12000 litres carries the requisite mass, but the volume changes. When the tanker reaches the petrol stations in the evenings, the temperature has cooled and we are cheated of 80 litres of fuel for every 1,000 litres that is supplied to us,” alleged a dealer in Patiala.

It is learnt that two of the oil marketing companies were distributing one tanker of fuel (with a capacity of 12,000 litres) among three dealers. Officials at the Sangrur terminal of these companies alleged they were not being supplied the requisite fuel by the third oil marketing company, leading to supply constraints. This rationing of fuel by the oil marketing companies to the dealers had a cascading effect, with the consumers not being supplied diesel beyond Rs 400 per vehicle in most parts of Punjab. This even as the officials of the oil marketing companies announced at a meeting with chief secretary, Punjab, Ramesh Inder Singh, there was no shortage of fuel.

Officials from Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum claimed that they were supplying more than what they were supplying in the corresponding period last year.

The chief secretary said that he had already sent a communication to the union petroleum secretary, requesting him to augment diesel supply during paddy sowing season, as it was imperative for food security of the country. He also instructed R.P.S. Pawar, principal secretary, food and supplies, to constitute district-level teams with representatives of oil companies and weight and measures department to raid petrol stations to check hoarding by petrol dealers. The team would also check the dispensers of petrol stations.

Accused of hot-filling

By filling the tankers around noon, when the temperature is highest, the petrol and diesel expand. Every one degree rise in temperature leads to a shortfall of 0.8 lts of fuel. When they fill the petrol at noon, the tanker of 12000 litres carries the requisite mass, but the volume changes. When the tanker reaches the petrol stations in the evenings, the temperature has cooled down and we are cheated of 80 litres of fuel for every 1000 litres that is supplied to us, alleged a dealer in Patiala.


CM targets Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has used the opportunity to explain his viewpoint on the agitation launched by the state Congress against “high-handedness” in Panchayat elections to target former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Reacting to a question, the Chief Minister made an oblique reference to Amarinder’s friendship with Pakistan journalist Aroosa Alam, saying “he can sacrifice his party, province and even family for the biggest cause of his life”.

“That is his first priority at present,” said Badal, adding that such friendships had proved very costly for people in history. “A British monarch even lost his crown,” he remarked.

The Chief Minister claimed that the entire protest issue had become an internal fight between Bhattal and Amarinder. He said Bhattal was, however, choosing to fight it outside his residence. Badal said according to him there had only been instances of spontaneous fights in the Block Samiti and Zila Parishad elections. In the Amritsar (South) bypoll, there was not even a single instance of violence.

Badal said he would try to contact party legislator Manjinder Singh Kang, who is annoyed with the party leadership. He said he was scheduled to visit Amritsar on June 2 and would try to meet Kang during the visit.


VAT Tribunal member resigns
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Following a show-cause notice after alleged “misconduct” to vice-chairman of the VAT Tribunal and sitting member of the tribunal Kuldip Kumar today submitted resignation to the Excise and Taxation Commission.

Vice-chairman P.S. Bajaj is yet to respond to the notice that gave him a five-day period to do so.

The inquiry by chairman, VAT Tribunal, Punjab Justice M.M. Aggarwal (retired) into the conduct of these two fellow members last month found both officials guilty of reversing their orders with presumption that the same had been done for “extraneous considerations”.

Excise and taxation commissioner S.S. Brar confirmed receiving the resignation of Kuldip Kumar, but said he had not heard from Bajaj so far. As per the show-cause notice, which was signed on May 29, Bajaj has just another day or two to reply, failing which the government may remove him.

Bajaj, it is learnt, was an appointee of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who facilitated the appointment of Bajaj as vice-chairman of the VAT tribunal after amending the VAT Act.

Justice Aggarwal had directed the director, Vigilance Bureau to take appropriate action against the two officials found guilty by him for causing a loss of about Rs 1 crore to the state exchequer by favouring Shreyans Industries, Ahmedgarh, district Sangrur.

The action against these officials of the VAT Tribunal is being viewed as a tirade against corrupt officials and others misusing public positions.

Last month, the government had removed Kashmir Singh Patti, president, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, Amritsar, after fellow members at the commission had made allegations of partisan behaviour against him.

There are reports the government is slow with regard to a particular officer whose personal assistant was nabbed by the Vigilance Bureau, leading to the recovery of slips that clearly showed that the money being sought by the assistant was meant for his boss. The obvious reason is that he is considered close to the officials who have to give the vigilance green light . 


AISSF seeks justice for riot victims
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 2
Demanding justice for victims of anti-Sikh riots, the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) in association with the Riot Victims’ Society has announced a Khalsa Insaaf March on June 6 at Amritsar. A decision in this regard was taken at a joint meeting of the AISSF and the society held here on Friday. More than 1,000 family members of the victims of the anti-Sikh riots participated.

The date of the march coincides with the date of Operation Bluestar when in 1984 the Indian armed forces entered the Golden Temple.

Talking to The Tribune, president, AISSF, Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad alleged that the Congress leadership was solely responsible for both the attack on the Golden Temple and the massacre of the Sikhs living outside Punjab.

He stated that even after 24 years, successive governments had failed to give justice to the victims. He said his organisation and families of the victims were forced to adopt the path of agitation.

He said even the state government had not fulfilled its promise of providing red cards to the family members of the victims. These cards were meant to provide certain facilities to the victims for their rehabilitation.

Karnail Singh said after the march, a deputation of the AISSF and the society would meet the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and president,the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee. They would hand over a memorandum to them for exerting pressure on the Centre to provide justice.

The AISSF leader revealed that 197 persons, including 16 top leaders of the Congress and 14 senior police officials, had already been identified and pointed out in various reports as guilty of instigating the riots, but they all were moving freely and had not been punished so far.

Karnail Singh appealed to Sikh masses to participate in the march.


MC elections: Cong assured of EVMs’ use
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
The Punjab Congress today claimed the state Election Commission had accepted the party’s demand to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections to municipal committees.

A party release said today a delegation, led by senior leaders Mohinder Singh Gill and Nasib Singh Gill, had met chief election commissioner A.K. Dubey here and urged him to recommend the deployment of para-military forces to ensure free and fair elections.

The release said the commissioner had assured them to recommend deployment of para-military forces, besides taking other steps to ensure the elections were violence-free.


Quacks selling aphrodisiacs to face law
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 2
Quacks selling aphrodisiacs in Punjab are likely to face the law with the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani Medicine Systems of Punjab slapping notices on 150 quacks in major cities and townships of the state.

Besides, issuance of notices, the four- member board has also initiated raids on premises of such quacks. A team of top board functionaries, including, chairman Dr Ashwani Sharma, vice-chairman Vaid Jagjit Singh, registrar Dr Sanjiv Goyal and member Dr V.K. Sharma made raids on five of major ‘quacks’ of Patiala yesterday. These quacks were making claims in advertisements ranging from treatment of kidney disease and offering of ‘sex power’ to their male clients with the help of so-called aphrodisiacs in violation of the Punjab Magical Remedies Act 1954. The Act specifies no person could make public claims to have treatment of chronic diseases.

Degrees of four of five such quacks of Patiala were found to be fake while, one of five ‘quacks’ offering ‘sure shot’ treatment of kidney problems was merely had plus-two certificate and was doing brisk business for lack of awareness among people. All five quacks have been directed by the board to appear at its Chandigarh headquarters on Wednesday with documents in support of advertised claims or file affadavits assuring the board they would not indulge in such ‘unethical practices’ in future.

‘We are not going to spare quacks looting people in the name of offering magic remedies to gullible patients. The board has issued notices to quacks in Patiala, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Moga and Ludhiana. While a number of such quacks have tendered apologies with assurances not to make such claims in future and desist from resorting to the practice, others would be dealt with sternly. We have initiated raids to dissuade people from resorting to unethical practice. If still they do not stop their cases would be referred to the police for criminal action against them’, said Vaid Jagjit Singh. He said the board had already banned the advertisements in newspapers promoting sale of aphrodisiacs or claims of treatment of chronic diseases with the help of ayurvedic or unani medicines.

One of quacks offering kidney treatment and having a plus two certificate tried to confront the raiding board team claiming he was just doing ‘research’ on kidney disease with a plea anybody was authorised to undertake research in any subject. On the other hand, a self-styled doctor on the city outskirts vanished from his on seeing the team leaving his two ‘lady doctors’ and two NRI patients.


Khalra Mission sues Advani, publisher
Book ‘hurts Sikh sentiments’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
The Khalra Mission Organisation (KMO) has filed a case against L.K. Advani, member of Parliament in a court here, for hurting sentiments of the Sikh community through by his book “My Country, My Life” and publisher of the book Rupa and Company.

Harmandeep Singh, president, KMO, in his complaint has demanded registraton of a case against L.K. Advani, and Rupa and Company, respondent no 1 and 2, respectively, under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code for hurting sentiments of the community.

Harmandeep here today alleged Advani had tried to reverse the root of Sikh principles laid down by the Sikh Gurus who fought for the humble, shelterless and suppressed humanity and against repression irrespective of caste and creed. The next date of hearing has been fixed for July 4, he said.

The complaint said former deputy Prime Minister Advani had also hurt the sentiments of the community by commenting on the Hukamnama issued from Akal Takht (page no 429) by trying to belittle reputation of edict in the eyes of the Sikhs. It said the author had termed the edict as a war between Sikhs and Nirankaris and not mentioned the incident in which 13 Sikhs were killed by the Nirankaris.

The KMO chief said Advani was also responsible for comparing Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala with Bhasmasur (an evil character in Hindu mythology) and thus hurting the sentiments of the Sikhs besides putting pressure on the then union government headed by Indira Gandhi for attacking the Golden Temple. He said Advani was also responsible for defaming the supreme places of the community in the eyes of whole of India.


Insurance co told to pay Rs 1.09 lakh
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 2
In a case related to a damaged vehicle in an accident, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here today directed New India Assurance Company to pay Rs 1.09 lakh with interest to Harsh Bhatia, a local resident.

In the order, president of the forum M.D. Sharma and member Harvinder Sharma also directed the company to pay Rs 2,000 as litigation expenses.

Bhatia had got his vehicle insured from New India Assurance Company on November 3, 2005, up to November 2, 2006. On August 7, 2006, the vehicle met with an accident near Bartara Chowk, Madhuban. The driver died on the spot.

The complainant got estimate of expenses for repairing the vehicle from Kissan Motors, Barnala, which estimated the loss to be of Rs 4,00,000.


Time ripe for better Indo-Pak ties: Nayar
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 2
Veteran journalist and votary of Indo-Pak friendship Kuldeep Nayar said he would hold talks with Pakistan’s top political leadership during his visit to the neighbouring nation. Nayar told journalists time was ripe to forge new bond with the democratically elected government, and start a structured dialogue for resolving issues to create a region of peace.

Nayar said he would meet former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, senior PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and urge them to restart a dialogue to solve the issues which have been plaguing the subcontinent since the Partition.

The veteran journalist said the candle-light ceremony on the night of August 14 would be held in memory of Nirmala Deshpande, a Gandhian who had led many peace missions to Pakistan. He said his mission would be to invite a large number of people from across the border to participate in the Independence Day festivities, organised by the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch at Attari.


Jawan cremated with military honours
Our Correspondent

Nabha, June 2
Havildar Jaspal Singh of 14 Sikh Light Infantry, who was allegedly killed in an accidental fire from his service rifle at Army camp in the Paragwal area in Jammu on Saturday night, was cremated at his native village Rajgarh, 8 km from here, with military honours.

The jawan’s death, however, remains shrouded in mystery. Was it denial of leave that provoked him to take the extreme step? Army officials accompanying the body had claimed an accidental shot proved fatal.

Family members, however, say Jaspal in last conversation with them expressed his inability to attend the birthday celebrations of son Gurvinder, who turned eight on the fateful day. Gurdev Singh, father of the deceased, said they received Jaspal’s call at 8 pm on Saturday, and at 11 pm

Army officials informed the family about the gunshot. The message given was: “Jaspal has been hospitalised after a bullet injury.” The family waited through the night to know about the well-being of Jaspal till they received the information of his death in the morning. The family was told the body would be sent after a post-mortem examination and other formalities. Jaspal is survived by wife, son and daughter. 


Plea for restraining Punjab from notifying MC polls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Taking up a petition filed by a Pathankot resident for restraining the state of Punjab from notifying municipal council elections till the issuance of a “legal notification”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and others.

The high court has also fixed June 10 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

In his petition, Baldev Raj said the state government vide notification dated May 23, specified the constituencies in each municipality.

In Pathankot, total number of seats were shown to be 33 and various wards were shown as reserved for schedule caste, along with schedule caste and backward class women.

The state, subsequently on May 27, issued another notification vide which the reserved constituencies were changed.

Claiming to be aggrieved by both notifications, the petitioner stated that while an earlier notification dated February 4 had created 35 wards for as many number of elected representatives, the other two notifications had created 33 wards.

As the subsequent two notifications ran counter to the earlier notification, these could not be sustained.

Counsel added that the earlier notification was based on the census figure of 2001 as required by Schedule-I of the 1994 rules. But, the other two notifications did not even refer to the 2001 census figure or any other provision for the determination of the number of elected members of the municipal council of Pathankot.


Pak national challenges Wakf Tribunal’s orders
Board had directed opening of Sheesh Mahal at Malerkotla
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Transcending legal hassles, a Pakistani national has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for safeguarding valuables lying in Sheesh Mahal at Malerkotla.

The petitioner, Fayyaz Ali Khan, has challenged Sangrur Wakf Tribunal’s orders directing opening of Sheesh Mahal to Zahida Begum.

While Zahida Begum claims she is the legal heir of Sajida Begum, wife of Malerkotla’s former nawab, the petitioner is her brother.

In his petition before Justice Ranjit Singh, Khan said Zahida Begum had been allowed access to the articles in the palace’s deewan khana but she was not the lawful heir.

Assailing the order, he said the palace should not have been opened till the actual title of the property was decided and the civil court at Chandigarh determined inheritor of the property.

The petitioner asserted that the Wakf Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to decide private disputes regarding the property of Sajida Begum. The tribunal, he claimed, had the jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes relating to wakf properties only.

After preliminary hearing, Justice Ranjit Singh issued notice of motion for September 19. He also directed against the removal of articles.

Sajida Begum, ex-MLA and wife of Nawab of Malerkotla Iftekhar Ali Khan, had passed away on July 30, 2006. Since then, tussle between the Wakf Board and family of the late Begum over the ownership of Sheesh Mahal is going on.

On August 2, 2006, the administration had sealed the palace in order to prevent any damage to the valuable articles and the palace.

At that time, the authorities concerned had justified the decision by asserting that the relatives - many of whom had not even visited the begum when she was ill - had started claiming ownership rights over the palace.


Mushroom farming is a passion with him
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Dehriwala (Amritsar), June 2
Keeping his passion for mushroom farming, which began more than 25 years ago, ignited Subedar Sewa Singh (retd) has trained many farmers from his village and adjoining areas to popularise mushroom farming, which he advocates "covers less area, gets handsome commercial returns and is a very nutritious diet".

Subedar Sewa Singh’s name was recommended by the Department of Agriculture, Punjab, for Padma Shri award. He received the Punjab state award for contribution to mushroom research in 1998. In 2007, he received a national award at Solan. In 2005, the Subedar’s name was sent for the Rashtrapati medal.

Subedar Sewa Singh did a course in mushroom farming from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, in 1976 while he was serving in the intelligence wing of the Indian Army. He began farming when he shifted to his village after retirement in 1980.

He also started workshops on the subject which, till date, witnesses heavy participation, particularly from the youths of his village.

He said the hot season followed by cold season every year was best suited for mushroom cultivation, and Punjab had the ideal conditions. The cultivation begins in September and the mushroom starts growing in October. In simple terms, a farmer saves 40 per cent of income as profit after sale of yield in market.

“The mushroom market has grown tremendously over a few years, as people are getting more educated about benefits of the crop. Earlier, majority thought mushrooms to be poisonous. The cultivated mushrooms are absolutely normal meals and very healthy,” he informed.

Sewa Singh said it is important to know mushroom farming is a highly technical affair, unlike normal farming which was one of the biggest reasons for farmers remaining aloof. If educated about correct process, the cultivation can yield very results, he said.

“It is also important to remember the place of mushroom farming should be changed every couple of years. The cultivated area develops a fungus, which is best eradicated when the area is left dry and treated for a long time.”

Baljit Singh, a farmer from from the village of Sewa Singh, has outdone his ‘teacher’ in produce. He is a bigger farmer. He produces approximately 1000 quintals of mushroom annually. I am very happy for those who are working on popularising a very healthy crop, said Sewa Singh.

The leading mushroom producers in his village include Karamjit Singh, Swaran Singh and Mohan Singh.


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