P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Vedanti rejects honour by SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 14
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti has stated he had not resigned as Jathedar of Akal Takht on health grounds as claimed by SGPC president Avtar Singh. The statement of the former Jathedar came a day after his meeting with Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Parmjit Singh Sarna and veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta.

Vedanti asked if he had resigned on health grounds, then why the SGPC was keen to give him fresh appointment to head the study centre on Guru Granth Sahib. He said he wanted to serve the Sikh Panth till August 5, but the SGPC compelled him to resign.

He rubbished all allegations that he had ever succumbed to the pressure of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while pronouncing edicts during his stint as Jathedar for more than eight years. He refuted the charges that Harcharn Bains, adviser to the Chief Minister, ever visited him before the meetings of the Sikh Clergy. He said it was also baseless he had accepted bribe from any organisation or the RSS.

“The stint of Jathedar for more than eight years itself is a great honour for me and I don’t want more than that”, he quipped when asked him whether he would like to be honoured at Akal Takht by the SGPC president.

Private secretary to the former Jathedar, Prithipal Singh Sandhu, said the humiliation meted out to Vedanti had evoked condemnation world over, hence no point of accepting any honour from the Shiromani Committee. US-based Sikh leader Gurcharn Singh Rakkar said the Sikh diaspora had taken a serious note of the unceremonious removal of Vedanti.

Meanwhile, Vedanti questioned lifting of ban on the entry of Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, in the meetings of the Sikh clergy. He said he was astonished to learn that Giani Gurbachan Singh, who was a signatory to the Gurmatta rejecting all controversial edicts issued from Takht Patna Sahib, had lifted the ban on the entry of Giani Iqbal Singh in Sikh clergy meetings. It is shocking that the Jathedar of Akal Takht had accepted a dastar from Giani Iqbal Singh, who had challenged the supremacy of Akal Takht.

“It is shocking that Giani Iqbal Singh has been given clean chit without holding a meeting of the Sikh clergy”, he said.

The former Jathedar said he had initiated action against Giani Iqbal Singh with a view to safeguarding the age-old Sikh maryada and the institution of Akal Takht. It was not his personal fight, he added.


LS Polls
Cong to project Manmohan as prime ministerial candidate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
The Congress will contest the next parliamentary elections by projecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as its prime ministerial candidate and touting the Indo-US nuclear deal as one of the biggest achievements of the UPA-led government.

This was indicated by the state Congress leadership that came together here for the first time after change in command in the state leadership.

The move becomes more important for Punjab as the state Congress leadership is proposing to pass a resolution, requesting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to contest the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

The Prime Minister has family in Amritsar and grew up in the city.

Terming it as the “election of the Prime Minister and the party president”, former Chief Minister and chairman of the State Election Committee, Amarinder Singh, said the party had a lot to boast in terms of its achievements and given the “repression let loose by the SAD-BJP government on the people of Punjab, there was nothing stopping the Congress from winning all 13 seats”.

Now that the party high command has made the much-awaited changes in the party leadership, most leaders were seen pledging support to one another and promising to work together for the victory of the party. These leaders included Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, member of the campaign committee Ashwani Sikri, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, member AICC Jagmeet Brar and many others.

Later in the day, they went to the house of former Chief Minister Beant Singh 
and sought the blessing of his widow Jaswant Kaur. Manish Tewari, Congress general secretary and spokesperson, said the BJP and its allies were making Jammu burn solely with the objective of gaining advantage in the next polls. “But the people are intelligent enough to see that those indulging in violence in Jammu were directly playing into the hand of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence by destabilising the region”.

AICC member Jagmeet Singh Brar said that all Congress leaders in the state had agreed to abide by every decision of the party high command.

Two former PPCC chiefs, Varinder Kataria and H.S.Hanspal, also spoke of a united Pradesh Congress and the need to bring unity in the rank and file of the party.


Tax notification on ‘imported’ sugar quashed
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Coming Diwali will not be taxing for the sugar merchants in Punjab. Acting on their petitions, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed a notification levying tax on sugar “imported” from outside the state of Punjab.

The import of the development can be gauged from the fact that as many as 37 petitions were filed in the matter by entrepreneurs engaged in the sale and purchase of sugar.

The imposition of the tax had left them bitter. Their grievance was that they were taken by surprise. Quoting the public notice issued in this regard over a fortnight after the tax was imposed, the petitioners said Punjab government had levied value added tax at the rate of four per cent on sugar imported from outside the state of Punjab. The only exception was levy sugar.

The notification came into effect from November 5, 2007 and “all persons importing sugar, except levy sugar, on or after that date from outside the state, were “liable to be registered and pay the due tax”, it was added.

The petitioners added just before Diwali, which fell after November 5 last year, they “made substantial sales”. But as they were not aware of the state government’s action, “no tax whatsoever was charged by them from the customers”.

In one of the petitions placed before the High Court Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Rajesh Bindal, Khanna-based Nand Kishore and company had contended: “Without providing for any draft notification or public notice, the tax was levied upon sugar imported from outside the state, except levy sugar…. Had the notification dated November 5, 2007, been made public, the petitioners would have charged tax from the purchaser.”

Seeking directions for declaring the notification as ultra-vires of the Constitution of India, the petitioners had added it was against Article 301, read with Article 304 (a).

Quoting Article 301, the petitioner had contended, under it, restriction could not be imposed on freedom of trade and commerce throughout the country.

Arguing before the court counsel for the petitioners had elaborated the levy of tax on certain goods, merely on account that these had been imported from outside the state, was totally illegal and unconstitutional. It was bereft of any reasoning and was liable to be struck down.


Prez medal for 15 cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Fifteen Punjab Police officers and officials have been awarded the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service on the occasion of Independence Day.

According to a press release issued here today, inspector Mangat Ram (no.1), PPA Phillaur, has been awarded the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service. Besides, 14 other officers and officials, namely Barjinder Kumar Uppal, DIG, Crime, Rajinder Prashad Mittal, DIG, FR, Ferozepur, Gurdeep Singh, SP, CID, Ludhiana, Dilbag Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, Bureau, Jalandhar, Balbir Singh Khaira, Superintendent of Police, Gurdaspur, Shiv Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police, VB. FS-II Patiala, Sardari Lal, Dy.SP., PPA, Phillaur, Sohan Singh, Inspector, CID UNIT, Chandigarh Punjab, Harpal Singh, Inspector, PPA, Phillaur, Bhupinder Singh, Sub-Inspector, PPA, Phillaur, Des Raj, SI, Head Clerk, DPO, Ropar, Harvinder Singh, Sub-Inspector, CID, Hqrs Chandigarh, Punjab, Jaswinder Singh, ASI, PS Samrala, Madan Mohan Singh, ASI, DPO, Ludhiana.

Ishmeet’s family to be honoured

Ludhiana, August 14
The state government will honour the family of Ishmeet Singh, the upcoming singer who lost his life in Maldives recently, at the Independence Day function here tomorrow. — TNS


Vaid Jagjit nominated for state award
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
A ‘khandani’ vaid, who is also a qualified ayurvedic physician and has made a name by actively exposing quacks in his profession, has been nominated for the State award in the “Learned Profession” category which will be awarded at the State Republic day function at Ludhiana tomorrow.

Vaid Jagjit Singh, who is a member of the Central Council of India Medicine (CCIM) as well as vice-chairman of the Punjab Board of Ayurveda and Unani System, said he had worked towards ensuring ayurvedic practitioners followed professional ethics. He said checks on some practitioners in the recent past had revealed that a number of them did not even have the requisite degrees.

Jagjit Singh, who has also worked as an assistant professor at Shri Dhanwantry Ayurvedic College here, said as part of the drive it was now being ensured that ayurvedic practitioners did not advertise their achievements and did not claim sure remedies for various ailments.

The Ayurveda practitioner said he did not believe in any self-concoctions. “I try to identify the basic ‘doshas’ through traditional methods and only then recommend medicines as per the shastra yog.”

Jagjit Singh claimed his patients were mostly those who had tried out allopathy without getting the desired results. 



Bitterness remains at Cong joint show
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
The attempt of the Punjab Congress to present a united front by displaying its warring leaders together on a single platform today only highlighted the deep-rooted differences between newly nominated party Campaign Committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The leaders made it clear that they were not on speaking terms with each other and even though they were seated on both sides of newly appointed Pradesh Congress acting president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, they did not exchange pleasantries.

In fact, Bhattal seemed to have come to the function held at the Punjab Congress bhavan here to mark the formal taking over of his office by Kaypee with the sole purpose of showing her bete noire Amarinder his place in the party.

She started her speech at the joint press conference by referring to Amarinder after Kaypee as well as the convener of the Campaign Committee, Ashwani Sekhri. She went on to claim responsibility for Kaypee’s appointment by saying that she had recommended his name to the Congress high command after handing over her resignation as PPCC president.

The CLP leader rubbed in the differentiation in the appointment of Kaypee vis a vis Amarinder, saying that she was happy that a “Congress man” had come ahead. Not resting at this, she went on to claim that everyone, including Amarinder and Sekhri, would support Kaypee and said more important committees would be constituted to adjust the party leadership in the state.

The last reference indicated that other committees would be as important as the Campaign Committee.

When asked his reaction about his oft repeated stand that Bhattal was in league with the Badal family, Amarinder said there had been instances of leaders sniping at each other in the past but that there was a need now to put everything on the back burner in the interest of the party.

Bhattal, when asked the same question, said there were personal differences in the past but said now everybody would work under Kaypee who would be supreme.

Bhattal again turned pro active on a question about the fate of Amarinder critic and party spokesperson Bir Devinder Singh who chose not to attend the press conference. Even as Amarinder was giving a diplomatic answer saying that it would be left to the Pradesh Congress, Bhattal repeated forcefully that the PPCC would decide on the issue. 


Sutlej flows above danger mark
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 14
Villages alongside the Sutlej remained on high alert throughout the day today as water in it flowed much above the danger mark.

Villagers spent the day shifting their household goods to upper storeys of their houses.

The Sutlej level, which was at 18,000 cusecs till yesterday, rose up to 1.50 lakhs cusec today, well beyond the danger mark of 70,000 cusecs.

According to Inderpreet Singh Kahlon, district revenue officer-cum-flood control room in charge, flood relief camps have been set up at different places.

The floods had damaged crops sown on the bed of river in many villages. Farmers blaming the government for the losses suffered by them. They said if more water was released into the river, their houses would be flooded.

Kahlon said there was nothing to panic about the flow into Dhussi bundh. He said most of the water had passed through Macchiwara side without causing any damage. Meanwhile, the administration had asked two officers to keep a vigil on the bundh.


Flood situation in Ferozepur grim
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, August 14
Residents of hundreds of villages along the India-Pakistan border in this district are once again facing vagaries of nature with their fields already submerged. If rain persists, the Sutlej might flood their dwellings as well.

In many villages link roads have been washed away. Around 5,000 acres of area has been inundated in the Ferozepur city Assembly segment alone.

Manjit Singh, sarpanch, said 250 acres had been flooded in Maste Ke, Jiva Bhadian and Lakha Bhadian villages. Another villager, Sukha Singh said the government school in Mahalam village had been inundated forcing closure of the school since last week.

Deputy commissioner Megh Raj, along with Sukhpal Singh Nannu, chief parliamentary secretary (revenue) and Avtar Singh Minna, managing director, Ferozepur Cooperative Bank, today visited the affected villages and ordered special girdawri.

Desa Singh said 500 acres had been inundated in Bandala village. Villagers demanded two boats and fodder for cattle arranged. The other affected villages include Kamalewala, Jamal Megha, Dhira Gaira, Baghuwala, Dhalli, Badali, Kalike, Muthianwali.

Situation is no better in Basti Ramlal and adjoining villages. Major Singh said his crop on 200 acres had been flooded by 20-foot water. Another farmer, Bhola Singh said allocation of funds for the reinforcement and maintenance of the dhussi bundh notwithstanding, there was no change in situation since so many years. He said the villagers repaired the bundh themselves, but it couldn’t withstand rising water level.

In the Gol Bagh area, adjoining city, dozens of houses constructed on the Sukkar riverbed have gone under water.

The deputy commissioner said he had visited all affected areas and instructed tehsildars to monitor the situation round the clock. The dhussi bundh had been repaired with the help of villagers. A request has been sent to the government for the allocation of funds for its repair, he added.


Flood threat looms in Moga
Villagers asked to move to safer places 
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 14
Thousands of acres on the 30-km stretch along the Sutlej in Moga district has been inundated. It has been raining heavily in catchment areas of the river for two days.

The river water level is likely to rise further with the Irrigation Department today discharging more than one lakh cusecs of water from the Ropar headworks. The district administration has sounded an alert and asking people living in the low-lying areas to move to safer places.

Assistant executive engineer of the Irrigation Department Inderjit Singh said the water level in the Sutlej was likely to rise by at least four feet till tomorrow morning keeping in view the release from the Ropar headworks.

Seasonal rivulets Siswan, Budhki, Sagrao, Budda Nallah and Jassowal drain downstream of Ropar also merge into the river, he added.

The major reason for imminent flood in Sherewala, Sherpur Taiban, Sanghera, Rerhwan, Adraman, Shah Jalalpur, Bagge and few other villages was three feet silt accumulated in couple of years. The existing embankment has the capacity to handle only two-lakh cusecs of water, said Rashpal Singh and Jagroop Singh, both assistant engineers of the department.

SDM Lakhmir Singh, who visited the affected villages today, confirmed that people in the low-lying areas had been asked to immediately shift to safer places.

Meanwhile, when this correspondent visited these villages today, thousands of acres of standing paddy crop along the river was already submerged.

According to an official estimate more than 50,000 acres of the agricultural land on a stretch of about 30 km in the district would be flooded.

It was witnessed at many places that underground seepage of the river water was also going on beyond the embankment of the river, flooding the adjoining villages.

Santokh Singh of Rerhwan village, whose house had been damaged in the heavy rain, alleged that the administration had not extended any help to villagers. “No vehicle to transport household items and tents for shelter have been provided by the administration”, he added.


Swan water receding
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 14
The flood situation in villages of Nurpur Bedi, Anandpur Sahib and Nangal is under control. The level of water started receding considerably at around 1:30 am. While Chamkaur Sahib villages registered loss of crops, those in Nurpur Bedi and Anandpur Sahib reported loss of belongings as well as standing crops.

The level of water in Sultej was registered at 1,12,000 cusecs at 10 am while that of Siswan had crossed 43,000 cusecs mark. The water level in the Swan rivulet had decreased to a considerable level. Flood water had entered into villages of Swahra and Sainsowal on Wednesday night.


Flood-like situation in Mand area
Roof cave-in kills one
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 14
Life in this border belt and Mand area along the Beas River was affected due to the flood- like situation due to rain in two days.

About 5000 acres of the Mand area was destroyed and inundated due to rain.. The families settled in this area had to shift to safer places along with their livestock. According to information the affected areas include Jalalabad, Varowal, Pindian, Goindwal, Dhunda, Bhail, Johal, Munda, Gujarpura, Kadka, Karmuwala, Kambo, Chamba Kalan etc.

Meanwhile, Balwinder Singh (40), a resident of village Ubboke, 20 km from here died late last evening when the roof of his house collapsed. His family however, escaped unhurt who was sleeping outside the house.

The distributaries and canals passing through the district were overflowing endangering lives of people. Deputy commissioner, Khushi Ram had already visited the affected areas and has ordered special girdawari.

Satnam Singh Pannu of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee alleged flood-like situation was due to negligence of the administration which failed to clean the drains and other distributaries which resulted in overflowing of water in certain villages. He said the administration also failed to provide dry and green fodder for the livestock. 


Vendalism at Hospital
Docs end chain fast
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 14
The local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today ended its 11-day-old chain fast outside the district administrative complex.

Doctors were observing chain fast in protest against the non-arrest of all main accused involved in the attack on Dr K.G. Singla, his doctor wife Renu Singla and their hospital here following the death of a young woman Neeru Bala in their hospital on July 12.

Meanwhile, additional sessions judge Asha Condal today dismissed five applications, filed by the accused Kulwant Rai, Anis Garg, Jenky Garg, Mahavir Kumar and Ramesh Kumar for regular bail in a case registered against about 150 persons under Sections 307, 353, 186, 427, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC on July 12 in connection with alleged attack on the doctor couple and their hospital here.

She also dismissed five anticipatory bail applications, submitted by Naval Kumar, Triloki Nath, Sanjiv Kumar, Ramesh Kumar and Mahesh Kumar in this case.

Nursing home raided

A team of health officials today raided an unregistered nursing home at Cheema Mandi (near Sunam) and recovered a pregnant woman from there. The woman was admitted to this nursing home for delivery, which was due for today.

Talking to The Tribune over phone, civil surgeon Dalip Kumar said this evening that the unregistered nursing home was being run by Kirandeep Kaur and her husband Gurmit Singh. He said after recovering the pregnant woman from there, the team sent her to Sangrur civil hospital for delivery.


BKU condemns Noida killings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) has condemned the killing of farmers in greater Noida by Uttar Pradesh police. Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president and Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the union said cases should be registered against civil and police officials who had ordered firing to kill farmers. Dependents of deceased farmers should be given adequate compensation.

The BKU said the government had tried to quell the farmers seeking genuine compensation for their acquired land by killing them . BKU leaders said the Uttar Pradesh government had proved to be enemy of farmers. They said that it had become practice to acquire land of farmers at cheap rate and then to sell it further at a much higher rate. 


High Court
Cheema offers ‘unconditional apology’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Punjab’s senior IAS officer G.S. Cheema has “thrown himself at the mercy” of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He has tendered an “unconditional apology” after being, prima facie, held responsible for leaving “no stone unturned to malign the institution of High Court” by making contemptuous remarks in an inquiry report.

The report pertains to the appointment of a professor at the Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala. The apology, in the form of an affidavit, follows Justice Surya Kant’s orders, directing the issuance of a show cause contempt notice.

Cheema, in response, has stated: “Without mincing any words and without making any effort to minimise the error, the deponent throws himself at the mercy of this Court and tenders an unconditional apology for all such references or observations in the report, which are unwarranted, uncalled for and apparently highly objectionable.”

Going a step further, Cheema has acknowledged: “On reading the report, it must be admitted that the same certainly contains observations about the High Court and the judicial process, which could be described as derogatory and contemptuous”.

Cheema has added though he “never intended to state anything, which would tantamount to contempt of court, it is admitted that some remarks or observations in the report are unwarranted, wholly uncalled for”.

Currently posted as the chairman of Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Cheema has stated he "is in fact pained on realisation that he has by oversight and sheer lack of caution and restraint recorded some remarks and observations which may have the effect of tarnishing the image of this vital keystone of democracy.”

Expressing “deep sense of remorse”, Cheema has added the institution of judiciary occupies a unique position of honour in his own vision and perspective”.

The High Court had earlier taken suo motu cognisance of a communique bringing to the fore alleged contemptuous remarks made by Cheema in an inquiry report. 


5 hurt in clash of Sikh, Dera men

Barnala, August 14
Five persons were injured when Sikh activists and Dera Sacha Sauda followers clashed at Divana village of this district here today.

According to SSP Shiv Kumar, the police arrrested 10 Dera followers, known as ‘Premis’, and seized two of their vehicles which were full of ‘sharp-edged’ weapons.

The villagers have blocked the traffic on Barnala-Divana main road demanding arrest of all the Dera followers, who were present at the time of clash.

Activists of the “Ek Noor Khalsa” today marched to the venue where a Dera follower Jagdev Singh had organised the ‘bhog’ ceremony in memory of his mother. When the Sikh activists reached the venue, the Dera followers who were apparently prepared to face them, threw stones at them. Four Sikh activists and one Dera follower were injured.

The “Ek Noor Khalsa” activists then allegedly set ablaze two vehicles and damaged four vehicles belonging to the Dera followers. — UNI


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