P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dera-Sikh Row
Call for bandh on July 23
Mandeep Puri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Gurmat Siddhant Parcharak Sant Samaj and the Damdami Taksal has called for a bandh in Punjab and Haryana on July 23 demanding the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Damdami Taksal members are on dharna from July 9 against the failure of the Central government to proceed against the Dera chief.

Protesters are demanding the sealing of Naam Charcha centres of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, besides initiating an inquiry against him. They stated that the Dera chief should be arrested allegedly for killing three Sikhs, two in Punjab and another in Maharashtra.

Harman Singh Khalsa, head, Damdami Taksal, said, “It’s shameful on the part of the Centre and the state government to shield the Dera chief and fail to initiate an action against him”.

The Sant Samaj appealed to people of Punjab and Haryana to observe bandh on July 23. Only the trains will be allowed to run.

The Sant Samaj will organise the bhog ceremony of Harmandir Singh killed by Dera followers in Dabwali yesterday. The samaj will hold a meeting in Ludhiana on July 30 to plan further action.

Protest will be intensified against the Dera chief, if the government does not seal Naam Charcha centres. Taksal members claimed that the Centre, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra governments wereshielding the Dera chief. They said security officers of the Governor House misbehaved with the Sant Samaj.

Bathinda calm
Rajay Deep/Tribune News Service

Doomwali/Bathinda, July 19
On the day after the clash between Dera followers and Sikh activists that took place at Dabwali, an uneasy calm prevailed in Bathinda district. Shops and schools remained partially closed. The police kept vigil on Haryana border and at all centres of the Sacha Sauda sect in the district.

Reinforcements were called in from Faridkot and Kapurthala to beef up security. The five deras of the sect, at Salabatpura, Maur, Lehra Mohabbat, Kaile Bandar and on the Malout road, were cordoned off.

Meanwhile, in Bathinda, as a precautionary measure, a number of schools and shops remained closed. To instil a sense of security among people, the district police carried out a flag march thrice during the day.

Besides deras, security was increased at the Doomwali barrier, the border point between Punjab and Haryana. Police officers deputed on the state border with Haryana were ordered to be focused on the entry and exit radical Sikh leaders.

Vedanti offers to quit, appeals for peace
Varinder Walia/Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
Reacting to the demand of radical Sikhs, especially the Damdami Taksal, who sought his resignation as Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said he was ready to step down, if they (radical Sikh outfits) pledged to make any headway on the Dera Sacha Sauda issue.

Holding the Centre and Haryana government responsible for the violence, triggered by the Dera Sacha Sauda, especially the incident at Mandi Dabwali, Jathedar Vedanti urged the Sikh masses to remain peaceful. He, however, said a peaceful struggle would continue till the rooting out of Dera Sacha Sauda.

Jathedar Vedanti said laxity on the part of the UPA and Haryana government would complicate the situation, he added.


Delhi Test
PM failed Sikhs, says SGPC chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
Pesident of the SGPC Avtar Singh has said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has miserably failed to resolve the vexed issues pertaining to the Sikh community.

Talking to The Tribune here today, the SGPC president said the Sikh community could not forget Operation Bluestar and the Delhi riots. He said the Congress unit of Haryana had made it a point to divide the SGPC by carving out a separate gurdwara committee to manage Sikh shrines in that state.

When reminded that Dr Manmohan Singh had apologised for the Delhi riots in Parliament, the SGPC chief quipped: “Had Sonia Gandhi tendered unconditional apology for the Army operation in Golden Temple or the Delhi riots so far?”

The SGPC chief said Dr Manmohan Singh had failed to take up the turban issue with the French government despite repeated requests of Sikh leaders. The black list of Sikhs and other issues of the community remained untouched by the Central government, headed by Dr Manmohan Singh.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Dal Khalsa Kanwarpal Singh has taken exception to the manner the Sikh leadership has taken diverse stance over the nuclear deal without debating it and understanding its pros and cons. He said the Sikh leadership should oppose the deal as it was against the interests of Punjab as well as Sikhs.

Dr Amarjit Singh, director of Washington-based “Khalistan” Affairs Centre, said: “It is indeed unfortunate that in the current controversial debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal, no Punjabi leader, elected or self-appointed, (with the exception of Simranjit Singh Mann) has had the moral courage to stand up and mention the incontrovertible fact that the safety of Punjab, its shrines and its inhabitants, their generations, lies in a nuclear-free South Asia.

However, Washington-based Rajwant Singh has appealed to political parties to support the stand taken by Manmohan Singh on the deal.


Bajwa shoots off letter to CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
“In my public life I have not encountered a more cynical display of rank political opportunism than displayed by you and your party on the issue of nuclear deal,” states Partap Singh Bajwa, former Congress minister, in a letter to Pubjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

“By issuing a diktat to your party MPs to vote against the nuclear deal and Dr Manmohan Singh's government, you have descended to the depths of political immorality. Recently you successfully lobbied for development projects with Manmohan Singh using the Punjabi card on the grounds that a Punjabi Prime Minister must allot such projects to his home state,” he states in the letter to Badal.

Having secured multiple projects such as international airports at Mohali and Amritsar, Urban Renewal Mission, Rajiv Gandhi Science University, six-laning of national highways running through the state, Science City, extension of the Eastern and Western Freight Corridors to the state, Bathinda Oil Refinery etc allotted to the state, you now propose to repay Manmohan Singh's political magnanimity by bringing down his government,” Bajwa adds in the letter.

“You are fully prepared to oust a Punjabi PM who has worked to make Punjab prosperous. This rank ingratitude is not something which fits well with the traditional character of Punjabis,” he states.

“What then is your game plan in this whole cynical scenario ? The fall of Manmohan government followed by elections and wild dreams of an NDA government perhaps with you as Deputy PM? That would certainly allow you to stage-manage your dream of installing your son as CM of Punjab!” says Bajwa.


Support N-deal: NRIs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
A delegation of NRIs and local citizens led by Dr Randhir Singh Goniana here today submitted a memorandum to SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal urging him to ask his party MPs to support the nuclear deal in Parliament on July 22.

Dr Randhir Singh, who is settled in San Franscisco said as Sukhbir was not available in his party office, the memorandum was handed over to the office staff.

The SAD president had been asked to review his decision to oppose the UPA government in Parliament on the issue of nuclear deal.

Randhir, president, International Drug Control Foundation, said support to the deal by the SAD could enhance the stature of the Sikhs in the US. He said as the Sikhs settled abroad were in support of the deal, the SAD, who represented them as a political outfit, should support it.


Make India power in N-energy: YC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 19
A week-long march of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress (PPYC) to garner support for the Indo-US nuclear deal concluded at Jallianwala Bagh Memorial here today. Activists of the body took oath to create awareness on the positives of the deal.

The march, led by PPYC president Vijay Inder Singla and All-India Youth Congress general secretary Sheikh Mastan Wali, started from Patiala and passed through Faridkot, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and Jalandhar.

Singla gave a clarion call to MPs to rise above party lines and support the deal for making India a world power in energy.

Singla said according to the 2001 Census, the country’s population had grown by 1.93 per cent annually. By 2050, India would become the most populous country in the world. Under these circumstances, the energy needs of India were bound to grow exponentially.

By 2030, we will require 6,00,000 MW of power against 1,31,000 MW produced now, he added.

PPCC secy’s appeal

Secretary of the PPCC Chander Mohan has appealed to all political parties to rise above political lines and support the UPA government over the nuclear deal.

He said the deal was in favour of developing India.


Fresh appeal to SAD MPs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Jaswant Singh Mann, today urged the SAD MPs to support the Manmohan Singh government in Parliament. Mann said Manmohan Singh was an icon for the Sikhs and by voting against him in Parliament, the SAD would be committing historic blunder.

He said Manmohan was a man of vision and whatever decision he had taken it would help the country to become a super power. He said the deal was also in the interest of Punjab where demand for power had been shooting up.



Preneet ready to contest LS polls
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala and wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, announced that she was prepared to contest from the Patiala parliamentary constituency.

Addressing a press conference at her New Moti Bagh palace residence here, she said the prerogative to field party candidates was entirely of the party high command. If Congress president Sonia Gandhi reposed confidence in her again, she would contest the elections and score a hat-trick.

Two-time winner from the Patiala parliamentary constituency, Preneet said she had done good work in her constituency and expected that voters of her constituency would again repose faith in her for the third consecutive time.

Regarding fielding her son Raninder Singh from the Bathinda parliamentary constituency, she said Raninder himself did not yet ask to contest, but people of the area wanted his candidature from that seat.

About incidents of booth-capturing during the recently held panchayat and block samiti elections, she said the Congress would petition the Chief Election Commissioner against the conduct of the Punjab Election Commissioner for his biased role in the elections.

She said if the Election Commission did not do anything in the matter, the Congress would move the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Saving Kali Bein
Sewage treatment plants will be set up soon: Seechewal
Dharmendra Joshi/Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 19
A day after his meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal is hopeful that sewerage treatment plants (STPs) will be set up at the earliest at the four municipalities -Bholath and Begowal in Kapurthala district and Dasuya and Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district-located along the Kali Bein to stop permanently the flow of sewage into it.

Talking to The Tribune, Seechewal, chairman, Ek Onkar Charitable Trust Baba, said the Chief Minister had shown keen interest in the cleansing project of Kali Bein during an hour-long meeting in Chandigarh on Wednesday evening.

Baba Seechewal, who had begun eight years back the Herculean task of reviving the Bein, sacred to the Sikhs for its association with Guru Nanak Dev, did not forget to bring it to the notice of Badal about the lackadaisical response of the administration towards the installation of STPs at the four municipalities during the past one-and-a-half year.

The chairman said the Chief Minister had issued direction to release the first installment of Rs 10 crore for starting the work of installation of the four STPs.

At the same time, he said it would take several more months for installing these STPs as first the administration had to start the process of selecting and acquiring land for setting them up.

Notices would be issued to the owners of land before acquiring it and it was likely to take at least six months for acquiring the land itself, he added.

The STPs were already set up and in working conditions for the past some years at Sultanpur Lodhi and Kapurthala municipalities on Baba Seechewal’s persistence.

Meanwhile, the Trust is busy with the week-long functions from July 20 to 27 to mark the eighth anniversary of the kar sewa of Kali Bein.

Several dignitaries, including former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Chief Minister and Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain will attend the anniversary celebrations, Seechewal added.


Pak MP who was privy to Zia plans on Sikh separatists dead
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
Lone Parsi parliamentarian of Pakistan M.P. Bhandara, who, in an interview with The Tribune, had said the then Pakistan President, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, had never supported “Khalistan”, died in Islamabad on Sunday.

Bhandara had met a number of militant leaders, including Dal Khalsa chief Gajinder Singh (whose name figures on India’s most wanted list) and hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane.

The revelations, made exclusively to The Tribune five years ago, had come as a shock to the radical Sikhs who until then believed that General Zia had extended sincere support to separatist Sikhs in mid-eighties.

This had been for the first time that any Pakistani parliamentarian had spilled the beans regarding support given to the movement of Sikh separatists being launched from the soil of Pakistan after Operation Bluestar.

Talking to The Tribune on May 8, 2003, after crossing over to India from the Wagah joint check post, Bhandara had said General Zia was opposed to the Sikh movement because the map of “Khalistan” included territories of Pakistan as well.

Bhandara had been adviser to General Zia on minority affairs from 1982 to 1985. He had stated it was true that the General would give all moral and other support to Sikh hardliners but it was his standing orders to all concerned to keep them under strict surveillance. Hence, they were kept under virtual house arrest for a long time. The General had also issued directions that they should not be allowed to wage their movement from the soil of Pakistan.

Bhandara had admitted that he on and off met the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane in Kot Lakhpat and other jails as part of his official assignment. Recalling his meeting with one of the hijackers, Pinka (who hails from Jammu), he had stated that he was impressed with the courage of the youth who was preparing for his BA examination from Lahore University while lodged on the death row.


Efforts afoot to defuse Panthic crisis
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
The management committee of Takht Patna Sahib has taken the initiative to bring rapprochement between warring jathedars of Takht Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht.

SGPC president Avtar Singh has convened a meeting of the seven-member committee of Takht Patna Sahib in Amritsar on August 4 to defuse the current Panthic crisis in the wake of the undeclared ban on Jathedar Iqbal Singh for attending meetings of Akal Takht.

The humiliation of Jathedar, Patna Sahib, in full public view in front of Akal Takht by the SGPC’s Task Force had already denigrated the institution of the jathedar.

President of the Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee Mohinder Singh Romana held a detailed meeting with the SGPC chief here today to apprise him of the decision of the meeting held at Patna Sahib on July 13 and 14.

He said there was a provision in the committee that the SGPC president could intervene in resolving the Panthic crisis.

The written press statement, issued by Raja Singh, secretary, Prabandhak Committee, Patna Sahib, said the Patna Takht Committee took the initiative to defuse tension created by different hukamnamas, of late issued by jathedars of some Takhts.

Members of the Prabandhak Committee took cognisance of the situation and examined the circumstances leading to tension and misunderstanding amongst various Sikh societies.

The committee members also discussed at length the whole mater with Jathedar Iqbal Singh. He further said serious issues concerning the maryada and doctrines of the Takht came up. The members were strongly of the view that there should be no confrontation among the Takhts of Sikh Panth.

After discussion, it was decided that a delegation, including Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Tejinderpal Singh Dhillong vice-president, Kulmohan Singh, general secretary, Raja Singh secretary, Kalyan Singh, Mohinderpal Singh Dhillon and Joginder Singh Jogi members should meet SGPC president and Jathedar, Akal Takht, in the near future.


Canadian embassy refuses visas to MLAs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Canadian embassy in India has started refusing visas to MLAs to visit Canada. A few days ago, the Canadian embassy rejected the request for visa of Ajaib Singh Bhatti, a Congress MLA from Nathana.

President of the BKU Balbir Singh Rajewal said he had earlier taken up the matter with the Premier of British Columbia, but it made no difference. Rajewal said only a few people were given visas, while more than 95 applications were rejected.

He urged Punjabi members of various legislative bodies in Canada to take up the issue of rejections of visa in case of Punjabis. The Congress MLA said he would also take part in the demonstration to be held by the BKU. 


IMA seeks arrests in vandalism against hospital
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 19
Several branches of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), including Sangrur, Dhuri, Barnala and Bathinda, have demanded the immediate arrest of those miscreants who were involved in the violence and damage to the property of Singla Surgical Hospital here after the death of a woman at the hospital recently.

The IMA has also decided to constitute a fact-finding committee to probe the aspect of alleged negligence on the part of the doctor couple. The IMA has also demanded the cancellation of the FIR registered against the doctors under Section 304-A, IPC, by saying that it was against the direction of the Supreme Court.

The IMA also plans to observe a medical bandh for at least a day in protest. The date of the bandh shall be declared after the meeting of the state working committee of the IMA on July 20 at Amritsar.


Effort to revive 26-yr-old Dharm Yudh Morcha
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
To coincide with the Dharm Morcha launched by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) 26 years ago on July 19, 1982, that consequently culminated in the infamous Operation Bluestar, the SAD (Panch Pardhani) today resolved to observe a relay fast in front of Parliament from tomorrow.

A decision to this effect was taken by party leader Daljit Singh Bittu after performing an ardas at Akal Takht here today.

The press note issued by the party said the relay fast was being observed in support of the burning demands, including the immediate arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, amendment in Section 25 (2) of the Indian Constitution which clubs Sikhs with the Hindus and returning of the invaluable books of Sikh Reference Library, taken at the time of Army action in June 1984.

Among senior leaders present at the Takht at the time of ardas included Daljit Singh Bittu, Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, Harpal Singh Cheema and Daya Singh Kakkar.


State No. 1 in judicial infrastructure: Jain
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, July 19
Justice Ashok Bhan, Supreme Court judge, inaugurated a newly built judicial courts complex in the presence of Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain, MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and other dignitaries here today. The total cost of the entire court complex is said to be Rs 7 crore.

After inaugurating the complex, Justice Bhan appreciated Chief Justice Jain by saying that people would remember him for the creation of judicial infrastructure in a big way as he was the main force behind the construction of 19 judicial courts complexes in the state within a short span.

Chief Justice Jain said in the creation of judicial infrastructure Punjab was No. 1.

Chairman of the Building Committee, Punjab, Justice Mehtab Singh Gill said all 19 judicial courts complexes in the state would be completed by December 31. He said the Punjab government had already provided an amount of Rs 35 crore for the courts complexes while a matching grant of Rs 35 crore would be issued by the Centre for its construction.

Dhindsa also laid foundation stone for the lawyers’ chambers at the complex here. He handed over a cheque for Rs 50 lakh as a matching grant to the members of the Malerkotla Bar Association for the chambers. Justice H.S. Bhalla, Administrative Judge, Sessions Division, Sangrur, delivered a welcome address, while president of the association K.S. Sohi proposed a vote of thanks.


Man gets justice after 10 years in jail
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Justice came a decade too late for Noor Aga. Booked in Amritsar on the allegations of flying into India with drugs in a grape carton from Afghanistan, Aga was jailed for 10 years and remained behind the bars with no parole or bail. Supreme Court relief came after he had completed his term.

Aga was arrested, and later prosecuted, under Sections 22 and 23 of the NDPS Act allegedly for carrying 1.4 kg of heroin. A member of Ariana Afghan Airlines crew, he had landed himself in trouble at the Raja Sansi Airport on August 1, 1997.

His case has now laid grounds for the Supreme Court to emphasise on the need for expeditious disposal of such matters. The apex court Bench of Justice S. B. Sinha and Justice V.S. Sirpurkar has asserted: “We would like to place emphasis on the necessity of disposal of such cases as quickly as possible.”

The Bench has also called upon the high courts to evolve an effective mechanism to prevent recurrence. “The high courts should be well advised to device ways and means for stopping recurrence of such a case where a person undergoes entire sentence before he gets an opportunity of hearing before this court.”

Aga was convicted by the trial court at Amritsar on June 7, 2000. His appeal against the conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court here on June 9, 2006.

The prosecution had claimed that Aga was carrying 22 packets of brown powder in a carton of grapes with two-layered walls. The appellant is purported to have confessed to his guilt on August 2, 1997, and again two days later.

Appearing on the appellant’s behalf before the apex court, Tanu Bedi had assailed the orders on law points, and lacunae in the prosecution case. She had asserted the prosecution had not produced physical evidence before the court, including the sample of the purported contraband, and even the carton.

Moreover, independent witnesses had not been examined and there were “huge” discrepancies in the statements of official witnesses on search and seizure. She had added the provisions of Sections 35 and 54 of the Act, being draconian in nature, imposed reverse burden on an accused and, thus, were contrary to Article 14 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

After going through the constitutional issues raised by Tanu Bedi and the rival counsel, the Bench held: “The provisions of Sections 35 and 54 are not ultra vires the Constitution of India. However, procedural requirements laid down are required to be strictly complied with.

“There are a large number of discrepancies in the treatment and disposal of the physical evidence. There are contradictions in the statements of official witnesses. The non-examination of independent witnesses and the nature of confession and the circumstances of the recording of such confession do not lead to the conclusion of the appellant’s guilt.

“The fact of recovery has not been proved beyond all reasonable doubt, which is required to be established before the doctrine of reverse burden is applied. Recoveries have not been made as per the procedure established by law.

“The investigation of the case was not fair. We, therefore, are of the opinion that the impugned judgement cannot be sustained and is set aside accordingly. 


Newly wed woman commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Nangal, July 19
A newly-wed woman committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets at Bandlheri village, near here, on Thursday. Kamya (26) was married to Manish Soni of Bandhlehri village on March 2. In his complaint to the Nangal police, her father Girdhari Lal of the Haibowal area in Ludhiana, alleged that Kamya's in-laws had been harassing her for dowry.

On Wednesday, Kamya's father got a call from Manish that she had taken celphos tablets and was being taken to Government Hospital at Nangal. From there, she was referred to the PGIMER, Chandigarh, where she died on Thursday at 7 am.

Acting on her father's complaint, the Nangal police has booked Kamya's husband Manish, mother-in-law Sneh Lata and sister-in-law Hema for abetment to suicide and under the Dowry Act.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |