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Takht Hazoor Sahib rejects Akal Takht Gurmatta
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 8
In a jolt to Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Takht Hazoor Sahib today decided, in principle, to reject the Gurmatta passed by the Sikh clergy at Akal Takht on June 6.

Jathedar, Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh had already rejected the religious resolutions passed at a meeting of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht secretariat. Talking to The Tribune from Abchal Nagar (Maharashtra), Giani Kulwant Singh, Jathedar, Takht Hazoor Sahib, said any decision without the presence of the representatives of all five Takhts had no value.

He said it was a matter of concern that Takht Hazoor Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib were not invited to the meeting of Akal Takht to take arbitrary decisions without opposition.

Takht Hazoor Sahib has deputed senior functionaries to collect facts, including the copy of the controversial Gurmatta. The meeting of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht on June 6 had put undeclared ban on the entry of Giani Iqbal Singh on the pretext that he had been misusing his authority as Jathedar. Takht Hazoor Sahib believes the controversial decisions taken at Akal Takht secretariat, including appeal made to Sikh masses to ignore the decisions of Giani Iqbal Singh, are “most unfortunate” which aim at dividing the Sikh clerics.

Takht Hazoor Sahib has also supported the stand of Giani Iqbal Singh and other Sikh high priests of Takht Patna Sahib on Dasam Granth. Both Takhts believe Dasam Granth was penned by Guru Gobind Singh.

Jathedar Kulwant Singh has also taken a serious view of allowing breakaway group of dera Wadbhag Singh to join Sikhism. He said a formal decision regarding Dera Wadbhag Singh would be taken by Takht Hazoor Sahib shortly.

Coming heavily on Jathedar Vedanti, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, has said the Sikhs had snapped ties with Baba Wadbhag Singh and his followers during Guru’s period. He said time had come to remove Vedanti as Jathedar, Akal Takht, for his alleged violation of the Maryada.

Bhai Ranjit Singh called upon Sikh masses to reject Giani Vedanti as Jathedar. He alleged it was for the first time Akal Takht has put its official stamp on a religious dera working in violation of the established Sikh Maryada since the period of the Sikh Gurus. 


Shingaar Blast Case
Accused woman went to Pak twice
Gurdeep S. Mann and Gurminder S. Grewal
Tribune News Service

Batha Kalan (Khamano), June 8
Ranjeet Kaur, accused in the Ludhiana's Shingaar blast case, has been to Pakistan twice. She was also among those leading the rally in favour of the Beant Singh assassination case accused Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh in Chandigarh a few months back.

A few persons from her village said Ranjeet had been reading “Khalistani” literature for a long time and was a frequent visitor to gurdwaras all over India.

Ranjeet married Jasbir Singh, who left for Dubai two years after marriage in 2002. Ranjeet had been living separate from her in-laws for some time. The couple has a three-year-old son. Jasbir returned two months ago. He was operated upon recently for hernia and stitches are still to be removed.

The Jagraon police arrested Ranjeet after she was named by one of the accused already arrested in connection with the blasts. Police sources said Ranjeet was suspected to have been used as a messenger by militant groups supporting the cause of “Khalistan”. She went to Pakistan with a religious jatha a few months ago.

Her relatives said she did not pay heed to her husband, relatives or other villagers. "She just used to pick up her bicycle and kept roaming around religious places meeting people there. She kept on taking the money sent by her husband from Dubai and spent it on tours," said Jasbir.

"All I know is that the police raided my house on Friday following the arrest of Ranjeet by two cops in plain clothes. They confiscated all literature, ransacked the house and later assured us that she would be released soon," said Jasbir.

Refuting all allegations against his wife, he said though his wife visited Pakistan twice, she could not take part in any anti-social activity. "We don't have a bank account in any of the banks and all cash we were having was spent my treatment, house repair and at a tubewell in 2 acres,” he said. “We will contact some lawyer in Fatehgarh Sahib on Monday to get my wife released," he said.

Meanwhile, Ranjeet was sent in police remand till June 10 and investigations are being done by the Jagraon police and Fatehgarh Sahib police was helping investigating agencies. 


Govt refuses to bail out cash-strapped PSEB
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 8
The refusal of the Punjab government to pay cash subsidy to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and increased power purchases have resulted in the board getting into a severe financial crisis.

The board has resorted to short-term borrowings from banks and financial institutions to repay earlier loans. These loans totalled to Rs 844 in March, 2006, and touched Rs 4,350 crore by March this year, recording an increase of over five times.

According to information obtained through the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the problem has become unmanageable mainly due to refusal of the Punjab government to pay cash subsidy of Rs 1,362 crore to the board for the year 2007-08. The government has made a paper adjustment by recalling the government loan.

The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) had in its order in September 2007 decided that the subsidy of Rs 2,548 crore should be paid by the government to the PSEB in quarterly advance instalments and there should be no adjustment of subsidy against loan. The state government instead of doing this issued a fax to the board on February 29 this year, recalling Rs 1,362 crore loan and adjusting it against subsidy. In making this adjustment, the government included Rs 284 crore for roll back of tariff hike allowed by the commission for 2007-08 thus increasing the subsidy amount of Rs 2,548.73 crore to Rs 2,832.73 crore.

The PSEB chairman reacted to this communication by writing a letter on March 31 this year to the secretary, Power, stating that government funds of Rs 6,021.02 crore had already been wiped out against an accumulated loss of Rs 5,980.53 crore ending March, 2007. It was further mentioned that the credit rating of the board had seen a downslide with the assigning agency giving ratings indicating inadequate safety for the timely servicing of debt obligations. The note also indicated that the government order was in violation of the PSERC order of September 2007.

The note also pleaded that the government should review its decision because such a move would shatter the confidence of developers of upcoming power projects. However, the government dismissed the pleas of the board in its letter dated April 25 this year and reiterated its decision to recall the loan and adjust it against pending subsidy.

Besides, the refusal of the government to pay cash subsidy increased power purchases during the past two years have had a telling effect. Political compulsions during the planting of paddy are responsible for this. The unit cost of power in such circumstances has risen to around Rs 10 per unit. The cost of power purchase has thus increased from Rs 2,404 crore during 2005-06 to approximately Rs 6,000 crore during 2007-08. 


Operation Bluestar-III
Fire in Sikh library was unintended: Gen
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, June 8
Narrating the sequence of events regarding fire in the Sikh Reference Library and Museum in the precincts of the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar in June 1984, the then GOC of Amritsar, Major-Gen J. S. Jamwal said since the initial attack had not brought any success and the Army suffered heavy casualties, the Army decided to use heavy artillery to break the walls (of the library).

In this firing, the artillery shell pierced the walls near the library to create a hole which led to fire in the library and some of the precious manuscripts were burnt. He said it was totally unintentional as the Army was not aware of the library at the entrance of the complex. He, however, said the Army had clear instructions not fire any bullet on the Golden Temple.

He said the Army under his charge retrieved some of the books and manuscripts which were given to the SGPC authorities after the Temple complex was handed over to the management.

On the Army’s failure to save its troops during the initial attack on the Temple he said this was due to the lack of planning by the then Army commander, Western Command, Gen K. Sundarji who was known for his flamboyance, but lacked military mind to execute a properly planned operation. He said General Sundarji had botched up a number of operations under his charge and had brought disastrous results. He also cited the example of an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka which resulted in a bloody nose to the Indian Army.

He said General Sundarji had literally brought India to the brink of war with Pakistan during Brasstrack exercises on the western front. Another example, General Jamwal said, was General Sundarji’s planning to overawe the Chinese on the northern frontier when he decided to take over certain Chinese posts. Later, he realised his folly and decided to pull back much to the embarrassment of the government.

General Jamwal said Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister, used to get direct feedback from General Sundarji who was unable to provide her ground realities that left a permanent scar on the psyche of a particular community. He said General Sundarji had a good command of English, but lacked professional skills. It was unfortunate that General Sundarji died a miserable death.

In another revelation, General Jamwal said Major-Gen K.S.Brar, who was called ‘Bulbul Brar’ by his colleagues, got puzzled following the heavy casualties of Army commandos on the first day of Operation Bluestar.



Congress appoints observers for MC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 8
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, president, PPCC, has appointed observers for the Municipal Committee (MC) elections scheduled for June 30.

The following senior Congress leaders have been appointed district in charge/observers of the selection committees in their respective districts: Amritsar - Gurchet Singh and Bhullar, Sardul Singh; Jalandhar - Mohinder Singh K.P and Tej Parkash Singh; Kapurthala - Amarjit Singh Samra; Ludhiana - Lal Singh; Patiala - Rakesh Pandey; Sangrur - R.P. Attri; Moga - Vijay Khullar; Nawanshahr - Gurbinder Singh Atwal and Parminder Mehta; Muktsar - K.K. Sharma; Faridkot - Sajjan Kumar Jakhar; Bathinda - Kewal Singh Dhillon; Ferozepur - S.S. Shahbajpuri; Barnala - Harminder Singh Jassi; Mansa - Brij Lal Goel; Hoshiarpur - Avtar Henry; Ropar, Mohali and Fatehgarh Sahib - Harnam Dass Johar; Gurdaspur - Prof Darbari Lal, Dr Raj Kumar Verka and Yoginder Pal Dhingra.

According to general secretary Raj Pal Singh, Mohinder Singh K.P., working president, PPCC, will be overall in charge of the entire election while the presidents of DCCs will be conveners of these election committees.

SAD-BJP co-ordinators

The SAD-BJP has announced a list of co-ordinators and observers for the forthcoming Local Bodies elections. The main co-ordinator for the SAD will be Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary, and the spokesman will represent the SAD, while Kamal Sharma, state general secretary, will co-ordinate for the BJP.

In addition, 20 leaders from each party have been declared observers for the 20 different districts of Punjab. They are : Amritsar - Dr Rattan Singh and Laxmi Kanta Chawla; Bathinda - Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Manjit Singh Rai; Barnala- Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mohan Lal Sethi; Fatehgarh Sahib - Surjit Singh Rakhra and Dr B.C.Kaplia; Faridkot - Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar and Bibi Gurcharan Kaur; Ferozepur - Gulzar Singh Ranike and Kamal Sharma; Gurdaspur - Dr Upinderjit Kaur and Ashwani Sharma; Hoshiarpur - Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Tikshan Sood; Jalandhar - Gurdev Singh Badal and Manoranjan Kalia.

Similarly, Kapruthala will have Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Vinod Sharma; Ludhiana - Santa Singh Umaidpur and Satpal Gosain; Mansa - Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Kamal Sharma; Moga - Jathedar Tota Singh and Manjit Singh Rai; Mohali -Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Balramji Dass Tandon; Muktsar - Harpreet Singh Kotbhai and Subhash Bhateja; Nawanshahr - Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and Vijay Sampla; Patiala - Bibi Jagir Kaur and Raj Khurana; Ropar - Prem Singh Chandumajra and Avinash Rai Khanna; Sangrur - Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and D.P. Chandan; and Tarn Taran Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Anil Joshi.


Congress MP flays CM on subsidy issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 8
Rana Gurjeet Singh, Punjab Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP from Jalandhar, today criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for failing to disburse the Rs 100-crore subsidy admissible to the industry in the state.

In a statement today, Rana Gurjeet said the government had been advancing excuses for not paying the subsidy promised to industrial units. The Chief Minister has no time to preside over an official function to disburse cheques and drafts, with the result amount lies with the Industry Department. In the meantime, he said, hundreds of industrialists awaiting subsidy are suffering. Nearly one year and three months after assuming office, the Badal government has been unable to frame an industrial policy.

Rana Gurjeet said the Chief Minister should instruct the Industry Department to dispatch the subsidy cheques and drafts to the industrial units instead of waiting for a big “tamasha” of a function for distribution of the cheques.


Mann flays Ahluwalia’s appointment
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 8
Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today flayed the appointment of Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, former vice-chancellor (VC) of Punjabi University, as the VC of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Mann said Saru Rana, a student of Punjabi University, had levelled a charge of attempt to outrage her modesty against Ahluwalia during his stint as the VC there. Mann asked what message the SGPC now wanted to send to the students by Ahluwalia’s appointment as the VC.


8,000 teachers await salaries
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Khanna, June 8
More than 8,000 teachers of government-aided schools of the state have not received salaries for the past four months, despite these schools posting good results. Teachers allege that repeated requests to officials concerned fell on deaf ears. Leaders of teachers union will meet the authorities of the Directorate of Public Instructions (Schools).

“If the meeting fails to yield any positive result, we will be forced to take to the roads and give a tough fight to the government for our rights,” state president of the Punjab State Government-Aided Teachers Union Gurcharan Singh Chahal said.

He said there were 480 schools, having 8,000 teachers, which had fallen victim to government apathy. Principals of government-aided schools in Khanna, Fatehgarh Sahib and Jalandhar confirmed they had not received salaries since February.

Principal of government-aided school in Fatehgarh Sahib Ravinder Kumar Joshi said: “The government has not recognised the efforts of the teachers of aided schools in producing good results.”

“As per the rules, we handed over documents pertaining to release of salaries to the department concerned during the last quarter and the grant is issued after its audit has been done. But, every year the government keeps on delaying salaries during last quarter over one pretext or the other,” he said. He said some part of the leftover grant was distributed among 50 schools of Ludhiana and two schools of Muktsar. DPI (Secondary) Jagtar Singh Khatra said the authorities of the affected schools had not approached him. “Only those schools which have not submitted their papers are not released salaries,” he said.


3 yrs on, martyr’s kin await promised job
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 8
The elderly parents of Lt Triveni Singh of 5 JAK, Light Infantry, who was posthumously given the Ashok Chakra, have been running from pillar to post for a job promised by the state government to the martyr’s sister.

Capt Janmej Singh (retd) and his wife Pushap Lata feel cheated by the government. Four years have passed since the death of their son and they are still waiting for the appointment of their daughter Jyotsna Singh in the Punjab Civil Services. The “false” promises by top politicians as well as senior Army officials have added to the agony of the elderly couple residing at Abrol Nagar here.

Lt Triveni Singh and three other security personnel were killed in an attack when terrorists attacked the railway station in Jammu on January 2, 2004. Lt Triveni Singh, who was leading a quick reaction team of the Army to track down terrorists, was killed in the encounter.

Talking to The Tribune, the father said the state government in June 2005 had recommended that next of kin of 46 war heroes from Punjab would be granted employment in Class I, II and III categories of the civil services. The recommendations were made in a high-powered committee chaired by the chief secretary.

The father claimed to have received a copy of the recommendation from the director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, for the appointment of his daughter in the civil services. The recommendation was even approved by the committee and later interviews were conducted in this regard on June 13, 2005.

"The government has been making promises, but nothing has been done till date. Repeated visits to the Punjab Secretariat and other offices have failed to move the officers," rues Pushap Lata.

The visually-impaired father lamented that his daughter’s file had been gathering dust even after he submitted a certificate showing that Jyotsna was dependent on her father and brother.

The retired Captain said he had even submitted a representation to the government which mentioned cases where benefits were given to sisters, brothers and other close relatives of martyrs, but that too brought no response.

Pushap Lata, who suffers from heart disease, pointed out that harassment to kin of martyrs by the government was the main reason that youngsters were not coming forward to join the defence forces. 


Eviction notice to 81 persons
Residents protest trust scheme
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 8
The Land Acquisition Collector (LAC) has issued notices to 81 persons, including the owners of 20 houses, to vacate the land/houses by June 10. The Improvement Trust has acquired 17 acres, 5 kanals, 5 marlas for its Mansahia Nagar Scheme near the Truck Union complex on the Sangrur-Sunam road here.

The LAC has asked the owners of these land/houses to collect the compensation on June 10.

Meanwhile, the affected residents, under the banner of the Zamin Bachao Sangharsh Committee, started a dharna near their houses.

President of the committee Amarjit Singh said the trust wanted to purchase the land from them at a rate of just Rs 500 per sq yd though the rate of the land was now around Rs 5,000 per sq yd.

Only 15 or 16 houses had been acquired while 10 A Class houses had not been included in the acquisition. The price of the land had been fixed by the Price Fixation Committee three years ago at Rs 25 lakh per acre.


Sikh jatha leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 8
A jatha of 489 devotees left for Pakistan by a special train here today to participate in the martyrdom day function of Guru Arjun Dev.

The jatha, led by SGPC member Raghubir Singh Saharan Majra, will participate in the function at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore.

The pilgrims will also visit Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, besides visiting Panja Sahib. They will return on June 17.


Border farmers told to go in for cash crops
P. K. Jaiswar

Chak Bala (Ajnala), June 8
To benefit border area farmers, who have land across the barbed wire fencing, the district administration, in association with the Agriculture Department, has been encouraging them to diversify to cash crops and pulses.

This will benefit farmers and increase the fertility of land. A major portion of the land across the fencing is not utilised due to hurdles, including time restriction by the BSF, unavailability of electricity connections, shortage of water for irrigation and damage by stray animals from the Pakistan side.

A seminar-cum-awareness camp on this topic was held by the district administration here yesterday. It was presided over by deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu. The authorities from the BSF, the PSEB and the Agricultural Department were also present.

Farmers had reservations over the success of diversification plans due to lack of enough time for the upkeep of crops.

Jasbir Singh Bajwa, former sarpanch, Lakhowal villagem, said earlier too they had been asked to diversify. However, they had to face losses in the absence of any marketing policy.

The DC said 3,000 acres across the fence was fertile and could be utilised to benefit the farmers. He said the Agricultural Department would provide the latest diversification techniques and knowledge to farmers. The department would provide quality seed to them at 50 per cent price, besides establishing two new service centres in the region for giving the latest machinery on rent for high returns.

Surinder Singh, sarpanch, Dhalla Rajputa village, said they were facing problems as G-branch of the BSF delayed issuing identity cards to farmers who cultivated land across the fence. He alleged that the BSF authorities provided cards only to their favourite persons. “What’s the fun of verifications by the Revenue Department and the police, if the G-branch has to conduct separate verification for credentials of farmers,” he said.

Inderaj Singh, Commandant, BSF, refuting the allegations said they were also facing problems as the persons cultivating the land across the fence and owners in the Revenue records were different in several cases due to which issuing of identity cards got delayed.


Own Your Tubewell Scheme
Farmers get respite from PSEB
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 8
Thousands of farmers who had wanted tubewell connections under the Own Your Tubewell (OYT) Scheme, but had found themselves left in the lurch following the sudden suspension of the scheme by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), have got some respite. The board has allowed farmers who have purchased tubewell equipment up to June 6 to apply for the installation.

The PSEB had suspended its much-publicised OYT Scheme till August 31 following allegations of widespread corruption in the otherwise farmer-friendly programme which allowed farmers to get tubewell connections for their farms if they purchased equipment like motors, wiring and transformers on their own.

A committee constituting three chief engineers, set up by PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra, had found that the scheme had lost its purpose as a few corrupt officials were releasing tubewell connections after taking hefty bribes from farmers.

If a farmer should ideally get a tubewell connection installed within Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 under the scheme, he was getting the same installed between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1 lakh by paying bribe to board officials at various levels.

This had not only resulted in Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal directing the PSEB to suspend the scheme, but it also led to a probe into the bungling allegations by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. “The scheme had become a major source of ill-gotten income for a number of unscrupulous elements at the grassroots,” admitted a senior PSEB official.

The PSEB authorities said, “Such farmers can get their respective test reports submitted to the SDOs concerned in the respective subdivisions till June 17.

This has been done to bail out farmers who have spent lakhs of rupees on the purchase of equipment.” The farmers could also get their inspection fees deposited with the SDOs concerned instead of the office of the chief electrical officer.

After getting the inspection fees and test reports, the SDO concerned will have to issue clearance certificates to farmers within seven days in case the equipment and documents are found in order. “Farmers can also seek immediate refund of the Rs 25,000 security from the subdivision concerned.

If they face any problem in his regard, they can contact offices of chief engineers at Jalandhar, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar or the office of the PSEB chairman any time,” said a senior PSEB official.


NRIs get father killed by hired men
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Shahkot, June 8
Two Germany-based NRIs reportedly hired two killers to eliminate father Karnail Singh at Shalapur village in Jalandhar district. NRIs Amandeep and Sumandeep and their Shalapur-based brother Rajwinder Singh conspired to eliminate father for his plan of remarrying after the death of his first wife a year and a half ago.

Shahkot DSP Diljinder Singh Dhillon said the NRIs had sent Rs 4 lakh through hawala to Tejinder Singh of Aidalpur village to hire killers to eliminate their father Karnail Singh (57), a teacher at a primary school at Saidpur Jhiri village.

Tejinder hired supari killers Harbhajan Singh of Ferozepur Bada village in Moga district and Hira Singh of Baghana village in Phagwara subdivision. The contact killers first tried to kill Karnail Singh in an accident by hitting the latter’s motor cycle with their vehicle on May 8, the DSP said, adding that Karnail Singh received injuries in the accident, but survived.

After this contract killers planned to shoot Karnail Singh dead. Executing the plan, they shot Karnail Singh dead when he was returning to his Shalapur from his school at Saipur Jhiri on May 16, he added.

The DSP said Parveen Kumar of Shahkot had informed the police that Harbhajan and Hira had shot his brother Dinesh Kumar on the Kotakpura road in Faridkot.

Dhillon said Dinesh somehow came to know that Hira and Harbhajan had eliminated Karnail Singh. Following this, they tried to get rid of Dinesh. During further investigation, the murder of Karnail Singh was solved.

The police nabbed Karnail Singh’s son Rajwinder and conspirator Tejinder after registering a case under Section 302, IPC and the two NRIs, along with the two contract killers. 


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