P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


2 students on trip to USA go missing
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 5
It is another instance of dream of greener pastures going sour with a case of “kabootarbazi” coming to light in different form .

In a well planned effort to settle abroad two students of Dayanand Model School in Dayanand Nagar here are reported missing from their educational trip to America. Students of class XII non-medical are missing since the group reached America.

The school authorities termed this it pre-planned attempt of the students and their parents to help the students reach foreign shores. The parents said the students went missing due to negligent attitude of the teachers.

Both students made dramatic separation from the group. While Paramjeet Singh left the group saying he was going out of the hotel for telephone call ,the second boy Kunal Bhandari left the group in four days after which he never returned.

Before leaving Paramjeet met his teacher and requested her to be permitted to stay with one of his uncles for one night in New York. The teacher refused him but he made a move and did not returned. The school authorities informed the New York police but nothing came out of it .

Principal of the school Raj Kumar Sehgal said this had set wrong precedent for the students and brought a bad name to the school. “ The parents and the students are hand in glove with each other. The school authorities and the managing committee are surprised at the attitude of the parents of both students. The parents used the educational trip as an easy way to reach the foreign shores. The parents have not filed an FIR with the police as well”.

“The second student Kunal Bhandari too created a mischief by asking for permission attending marriage of his relative in New York. However when I refused him, his parents joined him there and he left the group despite my warnings. This is a conspiracy”, he said adding the situation had become all the more serious, as Paramjeet had taken his passport along making it difficult to track him.

Efforts to contact Gurnam Kaur mother of Paramjeet Singh from Sultanpur Lodhi turned futile, as she was not available for comments.

Students of Dayanand Model School had gone for 12 -day educational trip along with four other schools from the city to Orlando and New York from July 22 to August 22. Eleven students had gone for the trip from Dayanand Model School who were accompanied by a science teacher and principal of the school. “We had a plan to take the students to Orlando and New York for a conference at NASA and a pleasure trip to Disneyland but things turned the other way round”, added Sehgal. 


1991 ‘Encounter’ Case
HC awards Rs 3 lakh compensation
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the state version on the death of a murder accused in an attack on a police party way back in 1991, was not inspiring confidence.

Taking a stern view of the matter, Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia of the High Court has ordered the award of Rs 3 lakh compensation to the legal heir of deceased Munder Singh.

His father, Basant Singh, had approached the high court for ordering a CBI probe into Munder Singh’s death in police custody. Adequate compensation for the family was also sought.

Basant Singh had contended his son was arrested and sent to Ferozepore central jail in June 1991 after being implicated in two cases in December 1990 and March 1991 at Jaito police station.

He had, through counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal, added Munder Singh’s whereabouts were not known since he was taken out of the central jail for production in a Bathinda court in July 1991. Basant Singh had added his son was killed in a fake encounter.

In response to the petition, the state of Punjab had filed an affidavit stating that a police party, returning with Munder Singh after the recovery of a weapon, was fired upon by unidentified persons.

Munder Singh was caught in the crossfire and died on the spot. A constable too was injured in the attack, the police had contended.

Taking up the matter, Justice Ahluwalia took note of the fact that the petition was filed six years after the incident. “Six years delay on the part of the petitioner to approach this court and 13 years thereafter to decide the case, is a period during which all documents, from which it could be inferred whether the version set out by the police was true or false, would have been destroyed. All incriminating pieces of evidence from which lead could have been taken as to how the occurrence took place would have withered”.

Justice Ahluwalia observed: “In view of the submissions made by the state counsel, I called upon the counsel for the petitioner as to how after more than 15 years of occurrence any probe by the CBI will be meaningful?”

“In response to it, counsel for the petitioner states that he confines his prayer to grant of monetary compensation as admittedly Munder Singh has died while he was taken by the police in custody.”

In his detailed order, Justice Ahluwalia added: After Munder Singh was taken from Central Jail, Ferozepore and the court at Bathinda had remanded his custody to the police, it was the duty of the police to secure his life. His custody has been granted to the police under the orders of the court. To say that he died in crossfire by some unknown persons, especially when Munder Singh was involved in various cases, which had overtones of terrorist crime, such version is to be accepted with a pinch of salt”.

Before parting with the orders, the Judge added: “It is ordered that Rs 3 lakh be awarded as compensation to the legal heirs of deceased Munder Singh. The amount shall be deposited in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Faridkot, within three months after the receipt of the copy of the order.”


I was forced to quit, says Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 5
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee forced Giani Joginder Singh to resign as Jathedar Akal Takht . The resignation was accepted at a meeting of the SGPC executive committee held at Sri Hargobind Sahib, gurdwara ,Kurkushetra today.

SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta visited the official residence of Jathedar Vedanti, here yesterday evening and sought his resignation. Jathedar Vedanti claimed both SGPC office-bearers threatened him with sack at today’s executive committee meeting if he did not step down. “I never wished to resign till tercentenary celebrations of “Gurta -Gaddi Diwas” of Guru Granth Sahib in October in Nanded Sahib (Maharashtra) but the SGPC forced me to resign”, he said. Almost all Sikh centenaries since 1999, including tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth, the quadri-centenary of the foundation of Akal Takht, and 500th birth centenary of Baba Budha, were marred by controversies. The SGPC committee has made it known the Jathedar resigned on “health grounds”.

After removing Vedanti, the SGPC chief rushed to the residence of the Chief Minister at Chandigarh to apprise him about the development.

Panthic sources claimed Vedanti ,appointed by the SAD , dominated the SGPC as Jathedar on March 28, 2000 after sacking Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar, Akal Takht was the most pliable and controversial. A day after his installation as Jathedar, Akal Takht, Vedanti had revoked all controversial edicts made his predecessor Giani Puran Singh including the “excommunication” of Bibi Jagir Kaur, then SGPC chief , three Jathedars and some SGPC executive members . “He was the most controversial Jathedar ”, said Rajinder Singh Khalsa, convener Khalsa Panchayat the first to launch movement against Jathedar Vedanti in 2003 , following charges of corruption.

Vedanti had lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, days before Trust vote in Parliament. He had termed Manmohan Singh honest and true Sikh. Earlier, the Jathedar had irked the SAD and the SGPC for backing movement for separate state for the Sikhs , in April in Washington DC. Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh had sought his explanation for “irresponsible statement” in the USA. According to another view the SAD wanted to get rid of Vedanti to please the Sant Samaj with Lok Sabha elections in mind.

Jathedar Vedanti had not summoned Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members during his eight years as Jathear Akal Takht.

Though the 13 out of 15 executive members had accepted the resignation of Jathedar Vedanti two members Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh Shampura gave dissenting note alleging Jathedar Vedanti was removed under pressure of the RSS and the BJP and it was decided at a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Akali Dal.

Recently Jathedar Vedanti came under attack from a number of Sikh organisations for having failed to handle the Sikh-Dera row '. The Sant Samaj , headed by Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa had sought his resignation for mishandling the Dera Sacha issue.

SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has asked the SGPC to install Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar Akal Takht if it wanted to win over Sikh masses.


From sewadar to Akal Takht chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 5
Head granthi of the Golden Temple, Giani Gurbachan Singh, who has been appointed officiating Jathedar of Akal Takht, joined the SGPC as “sewadar” on February 29, 1972, at Darbar Sahib, Muktsar. In 36 years, his rise to head the temporal Sikh religious seat is indeed a remarkable achievement.

Born on April 6, 1948, in Chakk Baja village (Muktsar), the home district of the Chief Minister, Giani Gurbachan Singh is a confidant of the Badal family. Like outgoing Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and former high priest Giani Puran Singh, he is under-matriculate. Though Giani Gurbachan Singh, also a relative of Jathedar Vedanti, will be installed Jathedar on August 7, a number of Sikh organisations have criticised the SGPC and the SAD for ignoring the age-old Sikh Maryada connected with the installation.In 1996 Giani Gurbachan Singh was promoted from sewadar to granthi and katha vachak and then in 2004 head granthi of the Golden Temple.

He had been transferred from Muktsar to Dhamdhan gurdwara (Jind), Haryana, following a complaint of presenting siropa (robe of honour) to then home minister Buta Singh, during the period of his excommunication from the Sikh Panth. However, he was transferred back to Darbar Sahib after he clarified the siropa was actually presented to Joginder Singh Mann, a former Congress minister, who then handed it over to his uncle (Buta Singh).



Farmers wake up to take on smugglers of drugs
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, August 5
Farmers and their representatives, who met near here, today pledged to take on drug smugglers and peddlers in Punjab’s countryside. They decided to make lists of smugglers, peddlers and expose them by demonstrations and rallies against them at public places.

Farmers and the representatives from all over the state met near Otalan village, 15 km from here. Many youngsters from villages were also present.

The initiative for organising the gathering was taken by Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU). He announced to set up a 31-member committee of the youth wing of the BKU to take on the smugglers and peddlers of drugs in the countryside.

“To incapacitate us systematically, three big conspiracies have been hatched against us. First is to make our wards invalid by making them drug addicts. Next is to keep them unemployable by denying them quality education. The third is denial of remunerative price to farmers for the produce to keep them under debt and dependent on government ” said Rajewal.

“We will fight our systematic extermination,” he said.

He said nexus among politicians, police officials and smugglers was responsible for the ever- increasing menace of drugs in the countryside.

“Earlier, it was poppy husk, but now smack is playing havoc with the lives of youngsters in rural areas. Smack has reached every corner of Punjab,” he added.

The use of drugs and other intoxicants had torn apart the social fabric in the countryside. Drugs were rendering youth invalid and impotent, resulting in cases of divorce and social discord in the rural areas.

“Almost every political party has its youth wing that is used by politicians to serve their vested interests. Some politicians promote drugs and intoxicants among youths to utilise their services at the time of elections. We will stop this practice. So we today set up youth wing to fight social evils and anti- social elements,” said Rajewal. Besides Rajewal, many youths also addressed the gathering.

Some intellectuals suggested to the state government to tax farmers to generate revenue to run universities. Such proposals and any decision taken in this regard would be opposed, said farmers. A resolution was also passed in this regard. Through another resolution, farmers asked the union government to review the minimum support price of paddy, keeping in view the increase in the cost of pesticides, fertilisers and diesel, besides transplantation cost.

It also urged the Prime Minister to fix a seperate MSP for high-quality paddy such as RH-10, PUSA-1121 and PB-01, otherwise traders would exploit farmers during the procurement season by offering them the MSP fixed for routine varieties of paddy.


Forest land ‘encroached on’
Rajnish Sharma

Nabha, August 5
A businessmen of Sarian Dass village on the Bir Dosanjh Road has encroached on forest land and constructed shops. The matter was highlighted by the media, but Forest officials failed to take notice and action. 

According to revenue record, the road having khasra no 465 is 19 ‘karma’ (96 ft) wide, but most of the land on its right side is encroached on. If measured from the middle of the road, both sides should be 48 ft. All construction is beyond 48 feet on the left side of the road, but on the right side the constructions start from 35/36 feet leaving huge chunk to influential persons. Residents of the left side said Sarain Dass panchayat was colluding with certain persons to encroach on the forest land. A visit to the site revealed construction of five shops was on . The owners claimed it was their land and if the land belonged to the Forest Department, they should get a stay from a court.

Forest guard Amrik Singh said encroachers were warned a number of times, but they did not bother about the department's warning. He said he had informed higher Forest officials of the situation, who asked him to register a complaint with the police. He had given a written complaint to Sadar police station five days ago, but nothing had happened so far. He also approached the tehsildar to take the measurement of the land so that the Forest Department could move court against the encroachers. He said why should the department move court for stay for its own land.

SHO police station Sadar Malhi said he called both parties to the police station and they had reached a compromise. He said the alleged encroachers said if after measurement, their establishments proved to be on Forest land, the department could demolish the constructions. 


Surjeet’s ashes immersed in Sutlej
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Hussainiwala (Ferozepur), August 5
Ashes of veteran Marxist leader Harkrishen Singh Surjeet who died on last on Friday were immersed by his family members , following rituals, in Sutlej on the Indo-Pakistan border at Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district, this afternoon.

The deceased leader’s two sons Paramjit Singh, Gurchetan Singh, younger brother Jhujhar Singh, daughter Charanjit Kaur and grandson Sandeep Singh brought the ashes of the comrade along with a few women members of the family from New Delhi passing through towns of Panipat, Karnal, Ambala, Ludhiana and Moga where party workers paid tributes to their leader.

Hari Singh Kang and Joginder Sharma both members of the central secretariat of the CPM and professor Balwant Singh state secretary of the party also accompanied the family members.

Octogenarian wife of the deceased comrade Pritam Kaur did not come with the ashes since she was indisposed , said her son Gurchetan Singh.

On their arrival at Ferozepur the ashes were first taken to the Saragarhi gurudwara where hundreds of party workers who had gathered here, paid tributes to their departed leader. They raised slogans ‘long live Surjeet’ by carrying his photographs and then went ahead in the form of a procession passing through the streets of the city to carry the ashes to Hussainiwala border.

Here, the family members and party workers first visited the memorial of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev whose ashes were also immersed in Sutlej after their martyrdom. They all paid tributes to the great freedom fighters and remembered the association of comrade Surjeet with them.

Comrade Surjeet got inspiration from Shaheed Bhagat Singh to take part in the freedom struggle before entering politics adopting Communist ideology to which he remained committed throughout his life.

From the memorial, the ashes were taken to the sailing club of the Army where officers of the 17 Engineers’ Corps arranged two motor boats for the family members to immerse the ashes in waters of the mighty river.

Sandeep Singh, grandson of comrade Surjeet, who lived with him in last years of his life along with his father and uncle immersed the ashes of his grandfather.The grandson of comrade Surjeet said his grandfather had wished his ashes to be immersed in Sutlej at Hussainiwala where the ashes of Shaheed Bhagat Singh were immersed after his martyrdom. 


Stampede: 3 kids united with parents
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 5
Three toddlers were united with their parents after 48 hours of the stampede at the Naina Devi temple. One of the children was identified as three-year-old Neha form Fatehabad. Her parents came searching for her.

The other two children were from Patiala and Sangrur. The children were looked after by workers of the Naina Devi Trust till their parents managed to reach them. Meanwhile, the “akhand path” at Sri Kesgarh Sahib Gurdwara started today for peace to the departed souls and for the early recovery of the injured. 

5 pilgrims hurt in accident
Five pilgrims to the Naina Devi temple from Amritsar and Tarn Taran were injured in an accident. The mishap took place on the road from Anandpur Sahib to Naina Devi when a boulder fell from a hill on road. A Sumo vehicle, carrying 12 passengers, including the driver, collided with the boulder and fell 20 to 25 feet into a ravine. The injured were being treated at the Naina Devi hospital.


Scholarship scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The government has introduced a special scholarship scheme for students from minority communities.

Welfare minister Gulzar Singh Ranike said the department concerned had invited applications in the prescribed format from the students belonging to the minority communities for merit-cum-means-based scholarship for 2008-09 to be awarded by the ministry of minority affairs, government of India. 


Swan rivulet overflows; alert sounded
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 5
There was flood-like situation in several villages of Anandpur Sahib as Swan rivulet started overflowing today. Around 11,000 cusecs of water inflow was recorded in the seasonal rivulet at 12 noon and by 3 pm.

Water had entered Lodhipur, Mataur, Nikkuwal, Chandpur, Gajppur, Mehndi Kalan, Shahpur Bela villages and other areas of Nurpur Bedi. Streets of villages also got flooded.

The district administration has alerted villagers about the situation. Deputy commissioner B.Purushartha said a team comprising ADC Arshdeep Singh Thind, SDM A.P.S. Sandhu and XEN Drainage Department had been sent to assess the situation. MLA Sant Ajit Singh also visited the affected villages. 


High Court
Arrears of 11 lecturers to be released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The Bench of Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Jaswant Singh today directed the State of Punjab to release within seven days the arrears, due since March 2007, of 11 lecturers posted at Ludhiana Government College  for Women.

As the petition filed by Surinder Kaur and 10 others came up for hearing, petitioners' counsel Lt- . Col. Naresh Ghai (retd) submitted the authorities had released arrears amounting to over Rs 2 lakh of a similarly placed lecturer Indu Bala Singh, wife of S.P. Singh, IAS, by counting her ad-hoc service of seven years after re-fixing her pay initially in pre-revised scale.

In their petition, the lecturers sought direction to release their arrears with interest from March 6, 2007, as per the state government memo of December 5, 2006 by counting ad hoc placement in senior scale and selection grade as already paid to the wife of IAS officer.

Info on challan  computerisation

On a PIL jointly filed by advocates H.C. Arora and advocate A.P.S. Shergil, challenging Punjab’s decision to take away the work of traffic challans from the courts, a Bench asked the Additional Advocate-General to get instructions from the state government for getting the records of traffic challans computerised.

The directions were issued during the resumed hearing before the Division Bench of acting Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice  Ajay Kumar Mittal. 


Stay on Mansa ZP chief election vacated
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the conversion of reserved posts into general in zila parishads should be followed by a vice-versa arrangement.

Pronouncing the orders on a petition filed by MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary ruled: “It is true that the reservation criterion has to be strictly followed.

“There are 40 chairmen and vice-chairmen of 20 zila parishads in Punjab, out of which one-third have to be reserved for women… If an office reserved for woman is converted to general one, a corresponding exchange or swap must take place to convert an office open for the general category to one reserved for women”.

The ruling came after Mofar contended that the election to Mansa zila parishad was held on May 12. A notification issued two days later had stated that the office of the chairperson was reserved for woman. But on May 29, a corrigendum was issued changing the reservation from woman to general.

Mofar, an ex-officio member of the zila parishad, had contended that directions should be issued by the state of Punjab and other respondents to hold the election on the basis of the notification dated May 14, “which required the chairperson to be a woman”. Directions were also sought for quashing the notification seeking the change of reservation.

After going through the arguments, the Bench held: “In the present case, the post of the chairperson has been converted to general category. Therefore, the office of the vice-chairman could have been reserved for a woman to maintain the balance”.

The Judges added: Faced with the ground reality that no woman is prepared to become the chairman of the zila parishad, we vacate the stay (earlier ordered) and direct that the election to the chairperson of the zila parishad be held on the basis of the corrigendum notification dated May 29.

Before parting with the orders, the Judges, however, added the election to the post of chairperson would be subject to the final decision of this petition. 


Forum orders release of family pension to banker
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 5
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has directed the commissioner, Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Chandigarh, the EPF Office, Bathinda, the Punjab State Cooperative Bank Chandigarh, and the Sangrur Central Cooperative Bank to pay family pension from August 31, 2006, to Satnam Singh, an employee of the Punjab State Cooperative Bank , Chandigarh.

Satnam retired from service on August 31, 2006. He was a member of the EPF account. He became a member of the employees pension scheme in 1995. He became member of the family pension scheme on March 27, 1996. His option was sent to the EPF office, Bathinda, on May 6, 1996. Satnam’s said despite the deduction of share from his salary, family pension was not being paid to him.


Scouts to fight mealy bug menace
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 5
To deal with the mealy bug menace in the Malwa belt this season, the government has deployed scouts in all villages. The Agriculture Department and the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have appointed one scout each in Malwa villages to educate cotton growers on how to protect their plants from the bug.

The bug caused widespread damage to cotton crop last year soon after the Parkash Singh Badal-led alliance took assumed power the state. Badal has this time mobilised the Agriculture Department and the PAU to eradicate the bug.

There were initial reports of the bug resurfacing in certain areas this season, but the rains have helped control its spread. The long spell of frost in December and January played vital role to contain the bug , said Dr Amrit Pal Singh, associate professor (agronomy) at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the PAU here.

The PAU has adopted the Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepur blocks for the deployment of the scouts. These scouts would interact with the farmers and also provide scientists with feedback of their areas. Dr Surinder Kumar Sharma, associate director of the KVK, said 61 scouts had been appointed in the villages of Bathinda block, 90 in Muktsar block and also in villages of Faridkot and Ferozepur.

The scouts, belonging to the respective villages, would be paid Rs 2,500 remuneration per month and appointment initially for four months of the cotton season.

Paramjeet Singh Sandhu, chief agriculture officer, said the department had appointed 200 scouts in Rampura, Nathana and Phul blocks. 


Dy director held for graft charge
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 5
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested Santosh Kumar Gupta, deputy director, Animal Husbandry Department, Sangrur, when he was allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 800 from a clerk of his office here.

Shiv Kumar Sharma, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said the bureau had registered a case against Santosh Kumar Gupta under Sections 7, 13 (2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act on the complaint of Sanjiv Kumar, a clerk in Gupta’s office at Sangrur. The SSP also said Sanjiv Kumar had applied for three years’ leave from November 2007 under a self-employment scheme. The deputy director allegedly demanded Rs 1,000 from Sanjiv for releasing his salary of some months for the leave period.


Four booked in the case
Minor girl gang-raped
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 5
A minor Dalit girl was gang-raped by four youths here on Saturday. An FIR in this regard was registered by the police yesterday.

The girl, a resident of Rattian village, was abducted by four youths in a Maruti Zen car, bearing registration number PB-29H-1418, on Saturday morning from near the petrol station of her village when she was going to Moga.

The victim was doing a beautician’s course in Moga and was coming here to attend her classes.

The victim today recorded a statement under Section 164 of the CrPC before the court of judicial magistrate Kuljit Pal Singh, stating that she was abducted by four youths and then brought to a house in Moga where she was gang-raped by four persons, said additional public prosecutor (APP) of the district.

The medical examination of the girl confirmed that she was gang-raped.

The APP further revealed that the police had registered a criminal case under Sections 363, 366 A, 376 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of the victim’s father against four persons Naginder Singh, Baljit Singh, Deepak Sood.

The police had not arrested the accused till the filing of this report.


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