P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Mumsbai killing: Protesters block rail, road traffic
n SGPC announces Rs 5 lakh for family of Balkar n To seek meeting with PM
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, June 21
A five-member team of the SGPC, headed by its president Avtar Singh, will leave for Mumbai by air tomorrow to take firsthand information of the incident in which a Sikh was killed and three were injured in the firing by a bodyguard of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief yesterday.

The SGPC president has sought time from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the incident. He said the team would seek immediate arrest of Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh apart from imposing a ban on the activities of the Dera. The SGPC would give Rs 5 lakh to the family of Balkar Singh who was killed in the firing and bear expenses on the treatment of the injured.

The SGPC president lashed out at the Congress and the Centre for not containing the anti-Sikh activities of the Dera.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while describing the Mumbai incident “unfortunate”, urged the Sikh community to exercise restraint and help the state in maintaining peace and harmony. He, however, said nobody would be allowed to take law into his hand.

Activists of various Sikh organisations, including the Khalsa Action Committee, Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), staged a protest against the killing of Balkar Singh by a bodyguard of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

The children of the slain militants, led by Sandeep Kaur, also held a protest near the Hall Gate. A few skirmishes were reported in certain areas, but the situation remained under control. Earlier, the agitators blocked traffic on the Bandari bridge for half an hour.

HOSHIARPUR: Hundreds of activists of various Sikh organisations, led by former president of the Dal Khalsa Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, district president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Peer Mohamad) Kirpal Singh Ahluwalia, senior vice-president of the SAD (Amritsar) Lakhwinder Singh, staged a dharna and blocked traffic at the Prabhat chowk here for more than an hour.

The leaders demanded immediate arrest of the culprits responsible for the killing of a Sikh in Mumbai, registration of cases of rape and murder against Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his immediate arrest.

They submitted a memorandum to SDM Karnail Singh.

PHAGWARA: Activists of the SAD (Amritsar Panj Pardhani), led by its leaders Kulbir Singh Barapind and Manjit Singh Khalsa, stopped the Amritsar-bound Paschim Express at the local railway station for at least 10 minutes. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the SDM demanding the immediate arrest of the Dera chief.

SANGRUR: Sikh organisations and saints staged a dharna and blocked traffic at the traffic lights chowk, near main bus stand here. Prominent Sikh saints and leaders, including Baba Sukhchain Singh Dharampura, Baba Buta Singh Gurthli Wale, SGPC member Nirmal Singh Gharachon, president of the Panthic Vichar Manch Parshotam Singh Phaguwala and joint secretary of the SAD (Panch Pardhani) Babu Singh Kahangarh, participated in the agitation. The protesters demanded the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief. They submitted a memorandum to naib tehsildar Nirmal Singh at the dharna site.


Sant Samaj threatens rail roko
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 21
Echoing the demand of Sikh community of Mumbai, the Sant Samaj, a conglomerate of several Sikh organisations, here issued a three-day ultimatum to the Centre and Maharashtra government to arrest Dera Sacha Sauda chief Grumeet Ram Rahim Singh.

President of the Sant Samaj Harnam Singh Khalsa, also chief of the Damdami Taksal, said if the Centre and Maharashtra government failed to arrest the Dera chief within three days, a rail roko would be observed on Wednesday between Amritsar and Delhi from 8 am to 7 pm.

Khalsa said the Dera chief should be arrested for murders of Balkar Singh in Mumbai yesterday and Karamjit Singh in Sunam last year. He appealed to the Sikh community of Mumbai to maintain peace.



Vigilance Case against Amarinder
Congressmen urge Bhattal to launch agitation
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 21
Congress leaders today appealed to PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to announce a statewide protest programme against the SAD-BJP government for registering a false case against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

"It's time for the Congress to put a united face to teach a lesson to the Akalis," they said.

In a joint statement here, senior Congress leaders Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Tripat Rajinder Bajwa, Harminder Singh Gill, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Dharambir Agnihotri and Tarsem Singh termed the case against Amarinder Singh by the Vigilance Bureau as “political vendetta”. They alleged there were “black sheep” in the Congress also who had sided with CM Parkash Singh Badal.

These leaders of the Majha region came out to support Amarinder a day after the Vigilance registered a case against him and others. They termed the case as “desperate move” by Badal to forestall Amarinder’s return to active politics in the state. Already the Nehra Commission, which probed the Punjab Intranet case, had exonerated Amarinder and even the high court had not taken cognizance of a petition field by the Akali Dal, they added.


No vendetta against Capt, says Sukhbir
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
Continuing his tirade against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has made it clear that there was no element of political vendetta in the registration of a case of disproportionate assets by the Vigilance Bureau against the former.

Sukhbir, who had a brief halt at the Rakhra Technologies here today en route from Bathinda to Chandigarh, lashed out at Capt Amarinder Singh. “How ironical is the position of Capt Amarinder Singh. On the one hand, he (Amarinder) boasts of being a maharaja, while on the other he declared his annual income to be just about Rs 4 lakh.

“It is up to the investigating agency to pinpoint the gap of spendings and income or up to the people of the state to imagine the story behind it,” said the SAD chief who was accompanied by senior party leader Surjit Singh Rakhra.


MC Polls
Tarn Taran: 9 elected unopposed
Our Correspondents

Tarn Taran, June 21
Nine candidates have been elected unopposed for the local 19-member Municipal Council while two nominees have been declared victorious unopposed from the Patti Municipal Council.

All 11 winners belong to the ruling SAD-BJP alliance. They are Vijay Pal Chaudhri (ward number 1), Jasbir Singh (ward number 7), Bhupinder Singh (ward number 8), Paramjit Kaur (ward number 10), Baljit Singh Gill (ward number 14) and Sarabjit Singh (ward number 17), all SAD candidates, and Baldev Singh (ward number 2), Prabhjit Singh Rataul (ward number 4) and Seema Bhanot are from the BJP.

The two members elected unopposed from the 15-member Patti Municipal Council are Kewal Krishan (ward number 2) and Jaswinder Kaur (ward number 4), both belong to the SAD.

Meanwhile, the police has tightened security in both towns.

Samana: Candidate of the SAD Kapoor Chand Bansal was declared winner unopposed from ward number 16 of the local nagar council yesterday. All other candidates withdrew their papers. This is Kapoor’s third win in the council elections. For the 17 wards of the council, 123 candidates are in the fray.


Cong wants Central forces in Majitha
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
Terming the death of Rattan Lal, Congress worker, a cold-blooded murder, Sukhjinder Raj Singh (Lalli) Majithia, president, District Congress Committee (Rural), stated they would not contest the Municipal Committee elections till the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) or Central forces were deployed in the region.

He also sought the transfer of Amritsar (Urban) and (Rural) SSPs, who, he alleged, were playing in the hands of a Cabinet minister from the area.

He sought a CBI probe into the death of Rattan Lal, who was detained by the police at Sarai Amanat Khan police station and later freed at a secluded place near Chogawan village, along with other Congress workers.

He died of heart failure during his return as he along with other activists had to walk 5 km, it was alleged. Majithia also demanded action against the SDM present on the spot and a DSP for humiliating the Congress leaders.

He said there was no point contesting elections till Central forces were deployed in the region. He said staff from Central organisations should also be appointed for the elections as they had no confidence in state government’s staff.

Meanwhile, he presented four candidates of the party, including Soni Lal, Gurdeep Singh and Ramesh Puri before the media who, he alleged, were pressured by the Akali leader into withdrawing their papers in favour of Akali candidates in the elections.

He said the Cabinet minister went to house of one of their candidates, Saroj Bhalla and threatened her if she did not withdraw her papers. 


6 to fight polls as independents after Cong ticket row
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Pathankot, June 21
Six Congress candidates from ward number 4,19 and 32 of the local Municipal Council have been declared independent candidates by SDM-cum-returning-officer Ajmer Singh here late last night.

The candidates had produced to the SDM the authority letters issued to them by Congress observer Darbari Lal, former deputy speaker of the Vidhan Sabha. The officer told The Tribune that two candidates each from those wards produced the authority letters claiming to be official candidates of the Congress.

Finding no other way, he allotted symbols to all of them to contest the elections as independent candidates.

Meanwhile, former Congress minister Raman Bhalla alleged foul play in the issue of authority letters to the six candidates.

He said there were 33 wards in the council for which a list of 33 Congress candidates had been approved by the PPCC and was sent to the city Congress committee. However, there arose a dispute over allotment of ticket for the three wards. The Congress observer issued authority letters to six candidates, Gaurav Wadhera, Surjit Kumari, Kanta Devi, Subhash Wadhera, Sunita Rani and Ramesh Kumar even though names of Subhash, Sunita and Ramesh figured in the PPCC list.

Bhalla blamed former Congress MLA Ashok Sharma for the controversy.

Refuted the charges of the former minister, Sharma said nothing controversial had been done on his part.


CM holds meeting with Kang
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 21
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today held a meeting with Akali MLA Manjinder Singh Kang at the latter’s house here and heard his grievances with some senior party leaders and bureaucrats.

Though senior police officers and bureaucrats were present in Kang’s house, yet Badal preferred to hold a closed-door meeting with Kang. Kang had made himself scarce to party leadership on the eve of the Amritsar Assembly by-election last month. Later, he went to Escorts Hospital following a minor heart problem on May 21.

The Chief Minister had to send adviser Dr Daljit Singh Cheema last month when rumours were rife that Kang wanted to resign as Akali MLA in protest.

Jagir Singh, a senior SGPC member and paternal uncle of Kang, had also claimed that his nephew was preparing to resign from the Punjab Assembly.

Later, Kang virtually stopped his political activities since he had a grouse that the administration had worked against his candidates during the previous panchayat elections.

It is learnt that Kang told the Chief Minister that he had been marginalised in Akali politics since he was getting “raw deal” from bureaucrats at the behest of some senior Akali leaders. However, Badal reportedly assured Kang to restore his honour. He reportedly asked bureaucrats that the genuine demands of Kang be accepted and he be given due respect. 


Sarabjit’s family begins to rejoice
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind, June 21
Buoyed up by news telecast by TV channels that the Pakistan government was going to commute death sentence into life imprisonment, family members of Sarabjit said their prayers had been answered and hopefully he would be released soon to rejoin the family.

As the news flashed, residents of this border town descended on the house of Sarabjit to join his family, which includes Sukhpreet Kaur, his wife, and two daughters Poonam and Swapandeep, to show solidarity with the family members and distribute sweets on the occasion.

Sukhpreet said they had talked to Ansar Burney, human rights activist, who had informed them that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would recommend to President Pervez Musharraf for condoning the death sentences awarded in the country and added that the President was likely to approve it.

She said Burney had said the approval of the commutation to life imprisonment was likely to be confirmed by Monday.

He had also told them after the commutation of death sentence into life imprisonment he would plead with the government for an early release of Sarabjit.

She said prayers not only of the family, but of the entire country had been answered by the Almighty and hoped after the commutation of the sentence the authorities across the border would release him as he had spent considerable time in jail there.

She said the family would be waiting for him to join them after release from Kot Lakhpat Rai prison in Lahore. Sarabjit’s elder daughter Poonam, welcoming Pakistan government’s move, said this would help strengthen bonds between people of India and Pakistan. This initiative would enable many persons in jails of both countries to return to their countries, she added.


CM, SAD chief hail Pak decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today hailed the Pakistan government commuting the death sentence of two Indians Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh to life imprisonment. He hoped the process would be taken forward to a logical conclusion resulting in the release of the two Indians.

Badal also called for widening the scope of humanitarian and statesman-like approach to include many others undergoing incarceration in the two countries in the larger interest of peace, harmony and understanding among people of the sub continent. The Chief Minister also lauded human rights activist Ansar Burney of Pakistan in this. He also praised efforts of the government of India, especially Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Ministry of External Affairs, in this regard.

Meanwhile, member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal has conveyed good wishes to the families of Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh. 


EC for strict enforcement of code
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 21
The Election Commission of India has instructed all states to strictly enforce the election code of conduct in all elections under para VII of the code for the guidance of political parties and candidates.

According to official sources here today, a fax from the secretary, Election Commission of India, K. Ajay Kumar to all chief secretaries of states and union territories states that “the party in power whether at the Centre or in the state or states concerned, shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position in its election campaign....”

It has been reported to the commission that the ministers of a particular state, where byelections to the state Assembly/Lok Sabha were going on, had been holding meetings on the premises of educational institutions without obtaining permission.

The commission has clarified that onus will be on the district magistrate, SP and the RO for any of such lapses.


Security beefed up in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
The district police sounded high alert and beefed up security at the deras of the sect.

Sikh radicals blocked the Bathinda-Chandigarh national highway and also the Bathinda-Ambala rail track. Meanwhile, some youngsters, belonging to a Gatka Akhara in the city, after holding a symbolic dharna at bus stand, carried a protest march throughout the markets, brandishing swords and other weapons.

Though the police followed them, it did not make efforts to arrest them. Later, at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, the district police chief ordered the force to snatch the weapons from the marchers. However, within a few minutes the matter was settled and their weapons were returned.

Meanwhile, members of the Khalsa Action Committee blocked the Bathinda-Chandigarh national highway and staged a dhrna on the Bathinda-Ambala rail track at Rampura. Goods trains and a Bathinda-Dhuri passenger train remained halted at Rampura Phul railway station during the protest. The agitators gheroed a Badal-owned Orbit bus on its way from Bathinda to Patiala. Late in the evening, Sikh youths burnt an effigy of the dera chief in the Gol Diggi area.

The protesters demanded for the arrest of the dera chief and his bodyguard under Section 302 of the IPC and a ban on their entry in the state.


PMT test: Baba Farid varsity to take tough steps
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 21
The ugly face of the PMT entrance examination test leakage mafia has once again surfaced as a number of wards of prominent doctors have received calls from one Navdeep Sharma from Ludhiana that he will help their children clear the PMT for a fee.

Alarmed at the alluring phone calls, officials of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, that is conducting the PMT test, said they were fully prepared to arrange a foolproof test and no one would be allowed to hold the university to ransom.

Dr S.S. Walia, registrar of the university, talking to The Tribune said the university would obviate all chances of impersonation and leakage and foist criminal cases against anyone trying to dupe children who were taking the test at various centres in Punjab and Chandigarh.

It is pertinent to mention that a tout was caught at Amritsar in a sting operation wherein the then SP, City, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh had arrested an Akali leader and rice miller of Sirhind, Devinder Singh, alias Bhappu, who was running a racket. The accused would contact doctors and invite them for a deal at a hotel saying their children would get good ranking for admission to a medical college, provided they paid him Rs 8 lakh - Rs 4 lakh in advance and the balance after the test was cleared.

Dr Walia said photographs of the candidates would be matched with slips issued to invigilators and supervisory staff of the centre. Only those students would be allowed whose photographs matched.

Dr Walia said there was also a complete check on advertisements in newspapers offering admission to prospective candidates. He said all centres would be properly videographed to throttle any attempt to indulge in impersonation or leakage.

The registrar said all answer sheets would be properly logged through a scanner with time and date mentioned and no one would be able to tamper with the optical mark reader sheet.


Youth dies in blast at cracker unit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
One person was killed and a woman injured in a blast in a cracker-making unit at Anngarh, also famous as mini Sivakasi of the holy city, here today.

The incident took place when the woman was putting an igniting wire in the firecrackers which accidentally got blasted. The blast was intense enough to kill Raju (18), who had come to the house of his relative Rupa (27). Rupa, a mother of three children, also sustained burn injuries. Raju died on way to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here. Rupa’s children were playing outside the house.

The police has initiated action under Section 174, CrPC.

People of the area immediately broke open the ceiling to douse the fire and saved more lives. 


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