P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Sukhbir: SAD exploring pro-federalism group
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Wiser after the July 22 verdict on the trust vote, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has decided to explore possibilities of initiating and supporting a pro-federalism alliance in an endeavour to deny a Congress-led coalition power at the Centre.

“We have already initiated a dialogue with some regional parties, including the AIDMK, the TDP, the Trinamool Congress and others,” says SAD president Sukhbir Badal revealing that his party is not averse to a “new alliance at the Centre that gives regional parties their due, besides strengthening state-federal relations.”

“The August 2 rally of the SAD in the Capital is just a step in that direction,” he adds, maintaining that the “new initiative in no way affects our time-tested partnership with the Bharatiya Janata Party, both in Punjab and at the Centre.”

Sukhbir clarified that the SAD was supportive of measures that would help to solve the energy demands of the country. “We hold Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in high esteem as a Sikh, a Punjabi and a man of integrity. But it is his association with the Sikh Congress party that we oppose,” says Sukhbir.

“It is now time for pro-federalism forces and parties to come together. I have been holding meetings with leaders of various parties who are supportive of this new idea. A pro-federalism group can provide an alternative at the Centre as the regional parties have been gaining in popularity and political strength in the present political scenario dominated by alliances,” adds Sukhbir.

The agenda of the SAD is to redress the grievances of farmers. The UPA government has done nothing to ameliorate the suffering of the farming community. Besides denying them the Minimum Support Price for their produce, the Centre has done nothing to bail out debt-ridden farmers of Punjab.

The UPA government may have won the vote of confidence, but the major issues facing the country today are inflation and rising prices. Essential commodities, including wheat, rice, edible oils, pulses and even fruit and vegetables are out of a common man’s reach and inflation had touched an all-time high of 12 per cent, says Sukhbir.

He said the loan waiver for farmers was a drama. Punjab farmers got only 1 per cent of the total benefit of the Rs 72,000-crore waiver. Since Punjab had been the food bowl of the country, its land was getting depleted of its nutrients and the water table was receding.

Punjab’s request for a Central grant of Rs 6,000 crore for an irrigation revamp project elicited no response from the UPA government and it reluctantly introduced the wheat-enhancement programme in 13 districts of the state.


Two Pak spies jailed for 14 years
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 30
In a significant decision here today, a city court sentenced two Pakistanis for 14 years for spying. Additional Sessions Judge Buaji Sansi sentenced Khuram Sehjad Ali, alias Junaid Aalam, of Riazul Musalmeen in Okara city and Mohammad Iqbal, alias Abdul Qasim, of Mohalla Dakki, Nurpur village, Islamabad, for 14 years after convicting them for spying.

They were convicted after a trial in the case for about two years and eight months. The sentence was pronounced after hearing the arguments of both prosecution and defence counsels.

Talking to The Tribune soon after the judgment, defence counsel K.S. Hundal said he would certainly file an appeal against the decision in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Hundal claimed they were convicted only because they were Pakistani nationals. According to information, Khuram and Iqbal were arrested from the Jalandhar cantonment area by the district police after getting confidential information from the Army about the movement of two persons in suspicious circumstances.

They were caught with some secret documents and a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against them under various sections of several Acts on November 9, 2005.

Sections 124 A, 471, 120, IPC, 3/4, Officials Secrets Act, 24, Immigration Act, and 14, Foreigners Act, were included in FIR No.107 lodged against them. Both Khuram and Iqbal have been lodged in Central Jail, Jalandhar, since November, 2005.

Meanwhile, according to jail sources, another Pakistani Attah Ullah Munim, alias Samir, alias Ashok Kumar, of Mustafabad, Sargodha, is lodged in the same jail since April, 2006. He also faces charges of spying and his counsel is also Hundal.

An FIR No. 18 was registered against him under Sections 124-A, 120-B, IPC, 3/5, Officials Secrets Act, and 14, Foreigners Act, at the cantonment police station on April 17, 2006. His case has been fixed for arguments for Friday, August 1, in the court of Additional Sessions Judge B.K. Mehta.


Ishmeet wanted to learn swimming: Club coach
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 30
Ishmeet Singh wanted to learn swimming and had expressed a desire to a swimming instructor here a few days before he died in a pool in Maldives yesterday.

Ishmeet used to visit Club Nirvana to play billiards and have a good time in the pool. He used to meet club’s swimming instructor Mohinder Singh and wished to know how to swim.

Mohinder said Ishmeet loved water. “He would often get into the shallow pool in the club in his presence. But he could never spare time to learn it religiously,” said Mohinder.

“I told him at times he needed to be a regular for at least three months to learn the skill. He was always short on time as he was busy recording. He could never make it to the pool consistently,” said the coach. “We often saw him in the pool trying to balance himself,” said Amritpal Singh, a member of the club. 


CM extends help to family
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the government had made arrangements to airlift the body of Ishmeet Singh from Delhi to Ludhiana.

Industries minister Manoranjan Kalia, education minister Upinderjit Kaur and finance minister Manpreet Badal also sympathised with the family of Ishmeet. 


Cong mourns singer’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
“Ishmeet Singh, Voice of India, will be silenced by death so soon, one could never think of. We all had great expectations from him. His voice had enrichment with rare musical resilience and depth,” said Bir Devinder Singh, Congress spokesman.

“He never went out of tune even when his voice reached a crescendo. Such a vibrant soul has become motionless, that too forever, is a catastrophe for all lovers of melody. Besides loss of the family, it is a national loss. Ishmeet was certainly the Voice of India and a national asset,” he said.

“Punjab Pradesh Congress deeply mourns the great loss and expresses sympathies and condolence to the aggrieved family,” he added.


Sikh diaspora asks for probe
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
Members of the Coalition of Gurdwaras of California and the watchdog group Sikhs for Preservation of Sikhism and Sikh Heritage, including Baljeet Sahi, today sought a high-level probe into the death of Ishmeet Singh Sodhi.

They said mystery shrouded the death of the upcoming singer following reports that there was a wound on his head. A spokesperson for the Coalition, Raminderjit Singh said the circumstances leading to his death were sketchy. From initial reports from Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of India, it seems he had drowned in what is being called as a swimming accident. However, sources in Maldives have informed that Ishmeet received a visible wound on his head due to an apparent trauma. 


Minister for institute in his memory
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
The Punjab government should establish an institute of performing arts in the memory of Ishmeet Singh.

Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for information and public relations, said today that Ishmeet had won the hearts of people across the country with his melodious and unique voice.

Expressing grief over the demise of the singer, Majithia said it was his opinion adding the government should also institute an award in the memory of the late singer.

Majithia was here to inaugurate the private air-conditioned bus service from Amritsar to Bathinda.

The minister said the government to improve the transport system in the state would introduce 100 AC buses in the current year, besides 150 AC buses in the private sector. He said the government was considering this facility with nominal hike in fares.


38 police officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
In a major administrative shake-up, the government today transferred 38 police officers. The government posted V.K. Bhawra as IGP, Intelligence, against a vacant post. Mohammad Mustafa was relieved of the charge of IGP, Operations, Punjab (Chandigarh), which was given to Narinder Sharma.

It also shifted out two SSPs. Praveen Kumar, SSP, Ropar, was transferred as SP, CID, Amritsar, with additional charge of SSP, Special Narcotic Cell, Amritsar. Mansa SSP M.F. Farooqui has been posted as Deputy Director (Indoor) MRS, PAP, Phillaur, R.N. Dhoke has been appointed SSP, Ropar, and Arunpal Singh is SSP, Khanna.

Parag Jain has been posted as IGP, Computer and Telecommunication Punjab, Chandigarh, with additional charge as IGP, Security, Punjab, Chandigarh. Mustafa goes as IGP, Human Rights, Punjab, Chandigarh.

Paramjit Singh Gill has been posted as DIG, Trg. CPO, Punjab, Chandigarh, with additional charge of DIG, Patiala Range, Patiala. Arpit Shukla has been shifted as SP, Special Staff Crime, Punjab Chandigarh.

Paramjit Singh Grewal has been shifted as Commandant 2nd IRB, Ladda Kothi, Sangrur; L.K.Yadav will be commandant Ist IRB, Patiala; Kartar Singh becomes staff officer to ADGP, Armed Battalions, Jalandhar, and Anita Punj has been posted as AIG, Personnel, CPO, Punjab, Chandigarh.

Kapil Dev is AIG, Administrator, CPO, Punjab, Chandigarh; Amit Prasad will be AIG, Computer, Punjab, Chandigarh; Davinder Singh becomes SP, V&S, PSEB, Patiala, and Amarjit Singh has been posted as Assistant Commandant, 4th CDO, Battalion, Mohali.

Manminder Singh has been shifted as SP, Headquarters, Mansa; Harbhajan Singh goes as SP, Headquarters, Bathinda; Baljit Singh is Assistant Commandant, 36 Battalion, PAP, Bahadurgarh; Harinderjit Singh becomes SP, Operations, Mohali; Kanwaldeep Singh will be SP, Headquarters, Mohali, and Gurmail Singh has been posted as SP, Headquarters, Ludhiana (Rural).

S.K. Singh is commandant, CDO Trg Centre, Bahadurgarh, Khubi Ram will hold AIG, PPCR, Chandigarh; Harpreet Kaur becomes commandant 13th Battalion, PAP, Chandigarh, and also holds additional charge as AIG/ Welfare, Punjab; Gautam Cheema goes as SP, SB Intelligence, Punjab, Chandigarh, and Rajinder Singh Darbhanaga is commandant 5th IRB, Amritsar.

Mohinder Singh Teji has been shifted as SP, Investigation, Lokpal, Punjab, Chandigarh; Jagjit Singh Gill is SP, Headquarters, Nawanshahr; Rajpal Singh Sandhu will be the new SP, Security Traffic, Jalandhar, and Rakesh Kaushal becomes Assistant Commandant 75th Battalion, PAP Jalandhar.

While Narinderpal Kaushal will be continue as SP, City Bathinda.

Harjit Singh Pannu goes as SP, Detective, Ferozepur, Tulsi Ram is commandant 7th IRB, Kapurthala; Malwinder Singh Sidhu is available for SP, Security and Traffic, Tarn Taran, and Pushpinderpal Singh Gill has been posted as Assistant Commandant 1st CDO Battalion, Bahadurgarh.



Trust Vote
SAD proposed walk-out, Advani overruled it
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Had the BJP leadership acted on the advice of senior SAD leaders and walked out of the House shortly before voting on the confidence motion in Parliament on July 22, it would have saved itself and NDA partners from humiliation after the UPA victory.

Sources said SAD MP and leader of the Parliamentary group of the party in the Lok Sabha Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and SAD president and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal had approached BJP leader L.K. Advani after the issue of currency notes rocked the House. Both SAD leaders, the sources said, had told Advani that the NDA MPs should walk out from the House on the issue of bribing MPs and not take part in the voting on confidence motion.

The sources said Dhindsa and Sukhbir had told Advani it appeared to be difficult to defeat the UPA on the floor of the House as almost all Muslim leaders, who were expected to oppose the Manmohan Singh government, had come to his support. Senior Muslim leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including Omar Abdullah, whose speech made a significant impact in the House, had supported the UPA government. And same was done by some other Muslim MPs. The NDA and the Left-led front was banking on Muslim MPs because they had a feeling that Muslim MPs could vote against the UPA government owing to the factoring in of America in the nuclear deal. However, it did not happen.

“If Advani had acted on the advice of SAD leaders, the NDA would have saved itself from the demoralisation it faced after failing to remove the UPA government,” said a senior Akali leader. Advani rejected the suggestion given by SAD MPs and told them that all NDA constituents should stay in the House to vote against the Manmohan government. Seven SAD MPs voted against the UPA as Advani and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had asked them to so. 


Mohali International Airport
Govt tells Haryana to pay immediately
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab government today claimed there was no ambiguity in its demand to Haryana to pay up its share of Rs 230 crore out of the Rs 460 crore spent on acquiring land in Mohali for the upcoming international airport and charged Haryana of obfuscating the issue of equity to suit its purpose. Punjab officials claimed Haryana’s contention that it would only pay Rs 2.5 crore as its share of the Rs 10 crore equity of the joint venture company did not make sense. They made it clear that this equity was only notional and that Haryana government representatives who attended the meeting presided over by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) knew this fact.

State civil aviation secretary Visvajit Khanna disclosed that the minutes of the meeting, a copy of which had been sent to the Haryana government while asking for Rs 230 croret, clearly stated that the total expenditure would be capitalised and that the equity would be issued on this basis.

Giving an example, Khanna said if one went by the Haryana government’s logic, in case the notional equity of the international airport project had been Rs 100, the state would have got away by paying Rs 25 as its share. He said in a situation where it was clear to all partners that the final equity for the project was still to be worked out, Haryana was dutybound to pay Punjab for the money spent by the state till now.

“We have spent money upfront and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as well as the minutes of the meeting held with the AAI clearly say that the cost of facilities listed under the responsibilities of both Punjab and Haryana have to be shared equally,” the civil aviation secretary said. He said it was because of this that Punjab had written to Haryana to pay half of the cost incurred on acquiring land for the project “immediately”. He said this demand had not been made earlier as the Haryana government had submitted a fresh MoU for consideration to the AAI. “Only when the AAI dealt with the case and held that the original MoU would be the basis of understanding between all partners that we raised the demand for money”, Khanna added.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal when questioned on the issue of naming of the new international airport whose terminal is to come up in Mohali, said his request to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to name the airport after Shaheed Bhagat Singh had not evoked any response till now. He said the naming of the new airport would be a test case for the UPA government as Punjab felt there was no one more deserving of such an honour.


UK minister lauds Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
Indian community, especially Sikhs, have made quality contribution to the development and economic prosperity of the UK. The British government was considering strengthening this bond further by providing opportunities to the talented youth from India.

This was stated by British minister for communities and local government Hazel Blears after she paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here today.

Blears, accompanied with by a delegation comprising deputy director of preventing extremism division Neil O’ Connor, senior communities adviser Azhar Ali, manager of preventing extremism division Mark Tethick and private secretary Iona Thomas, arrived in India through the Attari/Wagah joint check post.

Blears said this was her first visit to India and she looked forward to meeting, listening and responding to people. She said their ties with India were immensely strong and interaction with Indian counterparts would further cement the bonds between the UK and India. She said like India, the UK had a very diverse society and we have a long history of benefiting from the talents and contributions of people from different backgrounds.

The delegation also visited Jallianwala Bagh and left for New Delhi where they would have a meeting with Central ministers and community representatives. They would study various welfare projects for Indian communities, especially those related to women empowerment and education.


Govt inherited power crisis from Cong: Sukhbir
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), July 30
President of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal said today that work on the 2,000-MW thermal power station at Talwandi Sabo would begin next month. The project would cost Rs 10,000 crore and would be commissioned within three years.

Sukhbir said about 10,000 MW would be added to power generation in Punjab within the next four years to make the state surplus in power. Besides, steps have been taken to tap renewable energy sources to generate additional 250 MW.

The SAD chief said the present SAD-BJP coalition government had inherited power crisis from the previous Congress regime. However, the coalition government, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, would fulfil its election promise of making the state power surplus within four years, he said.

International bidding for a 1,500-MW thermal power station at Rajpura was progressing well and the work on the project was expected to begin around November 15.

Steps were being taken to award the 2,000-MW thermal power project at Gidderbaha to be built at a cost of Rs10,000 crore. The capacity of the thermal power stations at Bathinda and Lehra-Mohabatt would be increased by 500 MW each.

The nuclear deal proposed by the UPA government would not solve the energy crisis in the country, as it would add only 20,000 MW of power 12 years later in 2020 when the demand would have tremendously increased. Instead of making it an individual agenda, the UPA should have discussed the deal with all opposition parties before signing it.

The SAD chief said international planners would be hired to spruce up Amritsar, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Jalandhar and Patiala.


Power cuts add to woes of industry
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 30
The industry and trade are facing high cost of energy due to power cuts in this border district.

The high price of diesel to run power generators was eating into the profits of the industry. A leading agro-food processing unit said generators for the parboiled rice unit were being run due to requirement of continuous processing procedure. He said besides weekly cut of 36 hours, the PSEB was enforcing peak load hour daily.

A spokesman of the agro-food processing industry said due to regular cuts and irregular tripping, the diesel power bill had also doubled and was cutting into profit. He said the government must direct the board to exempt the continuous processing industry of parboiled rice as a majority of the units were export-oriented with commitments and export schedule to adhere.

The worst-hit are hotels, restaurants and malls which have been running ACs on the Genset to keep clientele happy.A hotel owner rued his energy bill had shot up from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh per month, besides wear and tear of the generator. 


CM to unveil statue of martyr
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), July 30
After a long wait, a 12.4-ft bronze statue of Shaheed Udham Singh was installed here today at a chowk near the railway over-bridge. The statue will be unveiled by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the occasion of 69th martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh tomorrow. The CM will visit this town to pay a tribute to the martyr at a state-level function to be held in the martyr’s memory.

The bronze statue that weighs 12 quintals, has been built at a cost of about Rs 18 lakh by Surya Enterprises, a Delhi-based firm. It has been placed on a high platform built of Dhaulpur Kota stone and brown granite. The total height of the statue, including the platform, from the ground is 20 ft.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Dinesh Verma, an artist and owner of Surya Enterprises, said the bronze statue of the martyr had been built in a record period of one month by a contingent of 40 persons working round the clock. He said in the normal course such a big bronze statue would have been completed from eight to 10 months. Verma said after designing the martyr’s statue a model was handed over to the state government and only after the approval he and his team started work on the statue. The statue had been chemically treated to save it from the adverse effects of atmospheric changes.


Medical camp plan for 30 lakh students on Aug 13,14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Health Department, Punjab, will hold camps in all 128 community health centres (CHCs) on August 13 and 14, before the Independence Day, for school students to prepare their health profile and medical examination.

Every community health centre has been told to examine at least 1,000 students of schools in its jurisdiction.

“We have an elaborate plan for school students,” said Satish Chandra, administrative secretary, holding charge of Health and Family Welfare Department. Holding of the camps was conceived by health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

Satish added that there was a programme to hold medical examination of all students - 30 lakh of government and aided schools in due course after the Independence Day. “The plan is to prepare a health card of every student. The focus will be on checking eye-sight, de-worming, especially rural area students and dental check-up. As number of anaemic students, especially girls, is very high in the state, doctors will also identify it. Medicine will also be provided free of cost. Satish Chandra said the government had Rs 5 crore for health care of students. 


Dera should talk to Sikh bodies: Govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab government feels it is not its responsibility to initiate talks with the Dera Sacha Sauda and that the dera should initiate talks with Sikh organisations in the interest of peace in Punjab. Interacting with newsmen at the state secretariat here, the Chief Minister gave this reply as an answer to a question whether the government would initiate talks with the dera. Badal said the dera did not have to talk with the government, indicating the dera would have to resolve the issue by talking to the Sant Samaj and other organisations like the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

The CM said the matter could be resolved if there was peace for some time, saying the “wounds” were still to heal. He also said dera followers had committed a Himalayan mistake by firing on a Sikh protester in Mumbai. He had already asked the state DGP to enquire into the incident, saying it was unfortunate that some people had been subletting their security while referring to Congress legislator Harminder Singh Jassi whose gunman had been arrested in the firing case in Mumbai.

Badal also claimed that militancy could return to Punjab, saying cases of farmer’s suicides and debts were issues, which led to militancy. He said this was due to the wrong policies of the Central government. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) of foodgrains had not been fixed keeping in view the input costs of farmers.

The CM said he had brought it to the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that poverty was responsible for the rise of militancy. He said the Union Budget should be used for removing poverty and issues like metros could wait.

Badal also announced that the SAD was organising a rally in Delhi on August 2 in which issues relating to the economy as well as terrorism would be taken up. 


Rs 5 lakh for kin of dera firing victim
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Mehatpur (Jalandhar), July 30
The Jalandhar deputy commissioner today ordered a judicial inquiry into yesterday’s firing incident at the Budha Dass dera in Balloki village in which student Manpreet Singh was killed.

DC Ajeet Singh Pannu has marked the inquiry to Nakodar SDM Ajay Sood and sought the report within 15 days.

Talking to The Tribune, Pannu said Rs 5,00,000 had been sanctioned as ex gratia to the family of the deceased while Rs 50,000 to the injured. The body of Manpreet was cremated after a post-mortem examination at the hospital. The chief medical officer, Nakodar, Dr R.S. Bassan, said Usha was recovering.

Meanwhile, there was tension in the village though no untoward incident happened amid deployment of additional police forces in the area. 


Assault charges against Sukhbir
Hand over case to CBI, demands scribe
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
A Kotkapura-based journalist has appealed to the Supreme Court to transfer investigation in the case involving murderous assault against him in which charges have been framed against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal to the CBI besides transferring court proceedings in the case outside Punjab.

Journalist Naresh Kumar Sehgal, in his plea to the Supreme Court Chief Justice as well as its registrar, claims that investigation of the case should be handed over to the CBI and the trial, which is being heard in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Faridkot, be transferred outside Punjab.

Sehgal claims that a fair and impartial inquiry could not be expected from the Punjab police as it had presented a cancellation report with regard to the FIR registered against Sukhbir even though the petitioner and other prosecution witnesses had yet to appear before the court. He also claimed that the police could destroy material documents, including investigation report, videography, photography and statements of eyewitnesses, as they went against the accused. He urged that these documents should be taken out of the custody of the Punjab police.

The journalist has also appealed to the SC to provide him security immediately, claiming there is an imminent threat to his life and property from the police, whom he accuses of being hand in glove with the accused.

A case under Sections 307 and 120-B, IPC, had been registered in June, 2006, on the basis of an order passed by the high court following a petition by Sehgal that the police was not taking any action in the case of assault on him while he was taking photos of “vote buying” at Jaito during the elections in 1999.

Sehgal has claimed that subsequently he was attacked a number of times and that an attempt was also made to kidnap him. He said despite registering an FIR in one such case, no arrest had been made. He said when police personnel in uniform kidnapped him from his house, he had a providential escape as their gypsy met with an accident. He said no case had been registered in this regard also despite the fact that a medico legal report had been made. 


Govt doubles allowance for blind kids
Other steps also taken to upgrade institute at Jamalpur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab government has decided to enhance the allowance for visually challenged children of Blind School at Jamalpur in Ludhiana district from Rs 600 to Rs 1,200 per child per month with immediate effect.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The decision is a follow-up of the Chief Minister’s recent visit to the Blind School at Jamalpur on July 17.

Badal has also taken a number of other measures to upgrade the infrastructure at the school. The secretary, Water and Sanitation, was asked to immediately undertake work to provide safe drinking water at a cost of Rs 12.85 lakh to the institute by the end of October. The Chief Minister also asked the chief secretary to send a team of senior officers to visit the institute of visually impaired in Dehra Dun to seek expert advice for the upgradation of the school. The Finance Department was also told to release Rs 40 lakh for the installation of a Braille press and a digital studio in the institute. The Chief Minister also agreed in principle to upgrade the existing high school to 10 plus II level.

The Chief Minister deputed director, Sports, to visit the institute and prepare a detailed plan for the development and expansion of the existing playgrounds. He asked the mayor, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, to construct a foot overbridge at a cost of Rs 75 lakh across the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway to facilitate the access of visually impaired children to their institute.

Ludhiana DC assured the CM that the works related to the construction of the boundary wall and reception centre would be completed at the earliest. 


Randhawa seeks CBI probe against top cops
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
Deputy chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation Kripal Singh Randhawa, in a missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has urged him to order a CBI inquiry against two senior officers of the Punjab police for abuse of official position.

Besides the Prime Minister, Randhawa has sent the letter to union home minister Shivraj Patil, the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, DGP, Punjab, N.P.S. Aulakh.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Randhawa said he had urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take action against the IG and SSP of Patiala at “whose behest a rape case had been filed against him”. They had pressurised him not to give any statement in the Khalra murder case in which the two had been sentenced to life imprisonment, he added. Randhawa has been acquitted by the Patiala Sessions Court in the rape case.


Cops stealing power warned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 30
SSP Ludhiana R.K. Jaiswal today issued a stern warning to cops stealing power directing them to pay penalty to the board or face action. Jaiswal visited the colony and gave a dressing down to the cops. The CM reportedly has talked to the DGP and the chief engineer, PSEB, over the issue after a news appeared in The Tribune today.


High Court
Amritsar residents demand shifting of ammo dump
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Amritsar residents, including two legislators, have sought the shifting of strategically important Valla ammunition dump. They believe it is posing danger to people, property and ancient monuments in the holy city. The petitioners have asserted the ammunition dump is located near Valla village and is within the Municipal limits.

The petitioners have submitted that the ammunition dump is surrounded by heavily populated villages. "Large number of industries have also come up around the dump apart from new housing colonies. A large number of historic monuments are also within a short distance of this dump," they said. The Division bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notices to the respondents for November 11.

Plea not maintainable

Ajnala deputy superintendent of police (DSP) today claimed that the petition filed on behalf of 25-year-old Canadian widow of an Amritsar resident for the custody of her 10-month-old son was not maintainable. In the affidavit submitted to the High Court and placed before Justice A.K. Mittal, the DSP said the petition was not maintainable as the appropriate forum, for seeking the custody of the child, was the Guardian Court under the Guardian and Wards Act.

He stated that an application was received from Depinder Kaur Hundal, mother of the child. During the initial investigations, the allegation against her in-laws of subjecting her to psychological pressures were prima facie found to be without substance. Justice Mittal has now fixed the case for August 4.

Action sought against school head

Acting on a petition accusing officiating principal of a government senior secondary school of collecting "development funds" from the students without the government’s directions, the Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab. The school is located in Nag Khurad in Amritsar. Notice for September 8 was also issued to other respondents, including Director Public Instructions (Secondary education) and District Education Officer, Amritsar. The petitioners also asked for action against her, apart from a vigilance probe to ascertain where the funds were spent.

Four acquitted in murder case

The Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D. Anand today set aside the conviction and sentence of four persons convicted by the trial court for murdering a Sangrur-based transporter in 1996.

The Judges gave the benefit of doubt to Lakhbir Singh, Gurtej Singh, Zora Singh and Inderjit Singh, while accepting the appeal. The Bench, however, dismissed the appeal against conviction of co-accused Nihal Singh, Dhanna Singh and Gurjinder Singh. Bikramjit Singh was murdered on February 1, 1996.


7 years on, cop’s appeal to be expedited
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab government has undertaken to do in a month what it has not done in seven years - decide a cop’s appeal against his premature retirement. Acting on “retired” head constable Kuldip Singh’s plea, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, had on the previous date of hearing directed the state DGP to appear in person before the court. The orders were passed as the respondents were then not duly represented.

The state Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal told the court on his behalf that the appeal was pending a decision since December 2001, but would be decided within a month from today.

He added that they would go ahead with the matter, if necessary, by reconstructing the file. After taking on record the undertaking made by Mattewal on the police chief’s behalf, the Bench disposed of the matter.

In his petition the state’s lack of concern while dealing with cases involving the livelihood of its citizens, Kuldip had earlier claimed that seven years had elapsed since the orders directing his premature retirement were passed. Despite all his attempts to make his voice heard, no action had been taken on his appeal. He had added that directions should, as such, be issued to the State of Punjab and other respondents to decide his appeal expeditiously.


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