P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt not keeping its word, say Bathinda peasants
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 3
Accusing the district administration of backtracking on its promises, the landless peasants, who had been lathicharged by the police when they tried to hold a protest march to Lambi, have written a letter to MLAs.

The peasants have appealed to the MLAs that the matter should be raised in the monsoon session of the Assembly starting tomorrow. They have accused the district administration and the state government of not keeping their word. Deputy commissioner, Muktsar, Vikas Garg had promised to fulfil their demands on August 22 in an attempt to resolve the issue.

In the letter, they have listed their demands, including compensation for the protesters who were injured in the firing of rubber bullets within 15 days of submission of their medical report, cancellation of FIR lodged against the protesters, proper action against DSP, Muktsar, Baljeet Singh Sidhu and SHO, Sadar police station, Muktsar, Rajan Parminder Singh, who allegedly used derogatory language against people belonging to the reserved categories.

Proper arrangements for lavatories at Khunde Halal and Khunnan Khurd villages were also promised. The administration has taken no step to fulfil any of these demands, they allege.

Speaking on the phone, Lachman Singh Sevewala, general secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said: “We have talked to Gulzar Singh Ranike, minister for animal husbandry, Dharam Singh Seetal, chief parliamentary secretary, Harpreet Singh, Makhan Singh, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, all MLAs, and Ajit Inder Singh Moffer. They have assured that they would raise our demand on the floor of the Assembly.”

He threatened that they would hold an indefinite dharna at Lambi during the Assembly session.

Want their voice raised in House

The peasants have appealed to the MLAs that the matter should be raised in the monsoon session of the Assembly starting tomorrow. 


Bridge opens to traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 3
The bridge built on the railway level crossing on the Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal railway track, near Punia Colony here, was today inaugurated by Sangrur MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. The 913-meter-long bridge has been constructed at a cost of Rs 16.64 crore.

Inaugurating the bridge, Dhindsa said the government had sent a proposal to the Centre for building four more bridges on level crossings at Sangrur, Ahmedgarh, Malerkotla and Lehragagga in this district. A bridge had been proposed for a level crossing at Barnala besides an under bridge in Barnala city.

All the speakers, addressing the inauguration function, turned the ceremony into an election rally of Dhindsa for the coming Lok Sabha elections. Dhindsa has been selected SAD candidate from Sangrur.

The leaders who spoke included Dhuri MLA Iqbal Singh Jhundan, Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Gobind Singh Longowal, Chaudhary Abdul Gaffar, Parkash Chand Garg, Rajinder Singh Kanjhla and Jatinder Kalra.



CPI for one-month Assembly session
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 3
Terming the three-day session of the Assembly as a “mockery” of the democracy, the Communist Party of India (CPI) today demanded at least one-month-long session of the Assembly so that all problems of the state could be discussed and their solution found.

Talking to The Tribune here today, a member of the national executive of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said if Assembly sessions were held for a few days, then people would lose confidence in the democracy and democratic institutions. He said the SAD-BJP combine was convening the three-day Assembly session just to fulfil constitutional obligation.

He said the institutions, like the Assembly, were set up so that laws could be passed and discussions on various economic, political and social problems of the people could be held. Convening of a long session of the Assembly was necessary for the government so that people could feel that their representatives were serious to solve their problems, he added.


Govt must come clean on flood  destruction figures, says Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
The state Congress said today that a huge difference between the figures quoted by the government and the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) on the flood destruction needed to be addressed immediately or it would spoil the state’s chances of getting additional flood relief from the Centre.

Party spokesman Bir Devinder Singh said while the state government had stated that over 1.70 lakh acres had been affected by the floods, an NRSA study based on a satellite imagery pegged the flood-affected area at 30,000 acres.

The Congress leader said the issue needed to be addressed on a priority basis to get funds released immediately out of Rs 1,646 crore, already available with the state government in Calamity Relief Fund.

Huge tracts of flooded land have been left out in the statistics forwarded by the NRSA. Ironically, the NRSA statistics limit the damage to only five districts of Ferozepur, Moga, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Tarn Taran whereas the state government has included Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Mohali and Muktsar in the areas hit by the floods, he added. 


Dal Khalsa admits it failed to become mass movement in 30 years
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
“Despite sincere efforts, we have failed to transform the Dal Khalsa into a mass movement”. This statement of the Sikh outfit after 30 years of existence has raised many questions on the relevence of radical ideology in Punjab.

Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa, admitted in the brochure “ 30 years of struggle,” that the outfit could not moblise Sikh masses due to radical views and tendency of people to be with the powers that-be. Though the Dal Khalsa had tried to contest the SGPC and Assembly elections, yet it failed to open account. However, political pundits viewed the step of the Dal Khalsa a “positive step” when it decided to contest the elections by expressing faith in the Indian democratic system.

The Dal Khalsa’s general secretary also admitted that though the party came into limelight after hijacking an Indian Airlines plane on September 29, 1981, three years after the formation of the party, yet it had to pay a “heavy price” for it. Following it, the Dal Khalsa was banned by the Central government on May 1, 1982, which later was lifted after return of normalcy in Punjab in 1992.

Intelligence agencies have been studying the brochure of the Dal Khalsa titled “30 years of struggle” minutely. By publishing pictures of radical Muslim outfits of Jammu & Kashmir, the Dal Khalsa has established that it has started working in tandem, which maybe an alarm signal.

Founder of the outfit Gajinder Singh, who is in the “20 most wanted Indian terrorists” list, is still in Pakistan. Since the government of Pakistan can’t give him political asylum, he continues staying there for the past 27 years.

The Dal Khalsa takes credit of getting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale declared dead after 19 years by Jathedar, Akal Takht, at a function in the Golden Temple complex on June 6, 2003. The brochure described the event “Justice after 19 years”. Earlier, the Damdami Taksal, once headed by Bhindranwale and certain other Sikh organisations, had been claiming that he (Bhindranwale) was “alive”. 


Sukhbir gets baptised at low-key ceremony
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, September 3
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal got baptised with four other devotees at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Gurdwara today morning.

Yielding to political compulsions, Sukhbir got baptised at a low-key ceremony. Sukhbir reached the gurdwara with SAD leaders Babbi Badal and SAD youth wing president Kirandeep Kang at 7 am. Local leaders joined them later.

Takht Jathedar Tarlochan Singh baptised Sukhbir, three members of a family from Jammu and Hardev Singh, a lawyer. Devotees are baptised every Sunday and Wednesday at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. Sukhbir left the gurdwara at 9.30 am after partaking of langar.

Radical Sikhs, the Congress and even people within the party had been targeting Sukhbir ever since he took over as SAD president on January 31 this year. Earlier, Sukhbir, MP from Faridkot, was working president of the SAD. He was appointed to the post after the SAD-BJP came to power in Punjab in March last year.

Till now Sukhbir had been first non-baptised SAD president. As per party’s rules and regulations, it is mandatory for office-bearers of the SAD to be “amritdhari” (baptised).

In July, after Ropar MP Sukhdev Singh Libra defied party whip over N-deal in Parliament, Sukhbir had shown him the door from the party. Libra later retorted saying a non-baptised party president had no right to take such decision.

After being elected president, Sukhbir had announced that the SAD was not a party of Sikhs, but an organisation of the entire Punjabi community all over world. SGPC members had said after electing a non-baptised president, the SAD should stop interfering in religious affairs.

Meanwhile, SAD (A) president Simranjeet Singh Mann said now that Sukhbir had been baptised, he should abide by the tenets of baptism.


SAD chief looks for bearings in party
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
One who a few months back refused to answer why he had not got baptised and was touted a modern face of the party in a globalised world, SAD president and newly baptised Sikh Sukhbir Singh Badal has gone back in time to find bearings in the party.

By choosing the conservative line he wants to silence whispers of opposition in the party as well as those of hardliners piqued with him for not partaking of “amrit”. The move, according to Akali sources, brings him closer to his goal of chief ministership of the state.

Though party secretary Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said there was no directive from the party in this regard, Akali sources said Sukhbir was under pressure from Sikh leaders outside Punjab and Sikhs abroad in this regard. Cheema said there was no mandatory condition for the SAD chief to be a baptised Sikh, but the fact that all Sikh scholars felt otherwise and Sukhbir was the the first non-baptised Sikh to hold the post also went against him.

The move is also being seen in political terms and comes one day after Sukhbir managed one of the biggest rallies in the state near Talwandi Sabo yesterday. Party sources said after proving himself a good manager, Sukhbir by becoming a baptised Sikh would also appeal to Sikh psyche and the jathedar at the grass root level who was demoralised at the changing style of politics in the party.

The move also debunks the statement that “Sukhbir represents the modern face of the party and has taken over the reins at a time when the world is changing under globalisation and priorities are shifting”.

Sukhbir is also set to succeed where his cousin and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal failed. Manpreet had become a baptised Sikh before the Gidderbaha election during the chief ministership of late Beant Singh, but had become “patit” a few months afterwards when he trimmed beard.

The party has made his ‘baptism’ a great event with workers coming to Chandigarh today to congratulate him.

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was quick to give his views on the baptism of Sukhbir . Amarinder said according to Sikh ‘maryada’, Sukhbir did not qualify as baptised Sikh till his wife also got herself baptised. Indicating the move was a stunt, he said, “What about all his ‘nashas’?” He also advised the SAD chief to get de-addicted before trying to live the life of a baptised Sikh. 


Special committee illegal: Amarinder 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
Former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh today challenged the constitution of Punjab Vidhan Sabha’s special committee on the ground that it was illegal.

The committee is looking into a land deal of Amritsar Improvement Trust during the Congress rule. A similar petition has also been filed by former minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and others. In both the petitions filed against the state of Punjab and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the quashing of the committee has been sought.

The matter will now come up for discussion on September 12.

In his petition, taken up by High Court Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, the former CM added any report submitted or intended to be handed over by the special committee should be considered without the authority of law.

Amarinder Singh said he feared any report submitted by the committee would lead to the automatic filing of a first information report. He also expressed apprehension that “the vehicle of the special committee, appointed by the House, is being used as a ruse to get over the clear findings of political motives and political agendas, which the court has on more than one occasion found against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.”

He added that the committee would also be used to get over the findings recorded by the court regarding “FIRs registered at the Chief Minister’s behest by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau against the members of the previous government, especially the petitioner and his family.”


Delhi Assembly Elections
SAD to seek 15 seats of Sikh-dominated areas
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), to test its strength in the Delhi Assembly elections, which are two months away, will ask the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to allot it 15 seats in the Sikh-dominated areas there.

If seat-sharing between the SAD and the BJP is settled, then both will contest the elections jointly.

For some years Delhi’s Akali leader Paramjit Singh Sarna, at one stage protégé of late Gurcharan Singh Tohra and now associate of Capt Amarinder Singh, has been posing a serious challenge to the SAD led by Sukhbir Badal not only in Delhi, but also in urban areas of Punjab. Due to this and to keep political pressure on the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections due next year, the SAD has decided to contest the Delhi Assembly elections in a big way.

“We have identified the seats and the names of candidates to be fielded will be decided in 10 days,” said Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, president of the SAD’s Delhi unit. The Delhi Assembly has 70 seats.

“I have talked to Sukhbir on contesting 15 seats and he has given a go-ahead to me,” said Manjit. “A meeting to prepare a final list of candidates will be held with Sukhbir next week,” he said.

He said the BJP leadership in Delhi handling the Assembly elections had been told clearly that the SAD would accept only the seats where Sikhs have a sizeable population and had chances to win. “Earlier, the BJP used to allot us the seats where our candidates used to lose because of sparse Sikh population in the areas,” he said. Among the seats short-listed by the SAD in Delhi are Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar, Janak Puri etc.

In case the BJP did not allot the desired number of seats, then the SAD would think of other options like political tie-up with other party, except the Congress, to contest the elections, said Manjit.

In the recently held Delhi Municipal Corporation elections, the SAD’s 17 candidates were given ticket by the BJP. Five of them, including Avtar Singh Hit, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, Mohinder Kaur Narula and Mandeep Kaur Bkashi, had won the elections.

The SAD’s think-tank is of the view that the BJP will not be in a position to annoy it in Delhi as the other powerful group of Sikhs led by Sarna is expected to support the Congress in the Assembly elections. The support to the Congress by the Sarna group can harm the BJP in the Assembly elections. The BJP would like to take the SAD along in the Assembly elections. After the 1984 riots, Sikhs by and large, have been voting against the Congress, but they made amends after Sonia Gandhi made Dr Manmohan Singh Prime Minister. Recently, the Sarna group had gone to congratulate Sonia on her party winning the trust vote in Parliament.


Who will feed Pritam’s old parents, sister?
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Shah Abu Bakkar (Moga), September 3
The policemen who allegedly bludgeoned a youth to death near here last week were still roaming freely. They had neither been arrested nor had a departmental action initiated against them. The way the police was conducting the investigation, it seems an effort was being made to protect the erring cops.

Pritam Singh (25), son of Balbir Singh of this village, was allegedly hit on his head with a bamboo stick by one of the policemen deployed at a naka on August 28. His cousin Gurpal Singh, son of Resham Singh of Ferozewala village, who was accompanying him, was also beaten up by the policemen.

Pritam had invited policemen’s anger for he had failed to halt his scooter immediately when signalled to stop.

The police registered a criminal case on charges of ‘causing death by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide’ under Section 304 (A) and causing injuries under Section 323 of the IPC on a complaint of Gurpal the very next day.

SHO of Kot-ise-Khan police station Jaswinder Singh, when contacted on his phone, said he had received the post-mortem examination of the body in which it had been confirmed that Pritam died of head injury.

Adding that Pritam fell off the scooter and got another injury on his head, he said it could have also led to his death. “We will seek second opinion from the medical authorities to ascertain what exactly led to the death”, he said.

The police would conduct an identification parade of the erring policemen. “Senior officers are being informed about the progress in the investigation and no one will be spared at any cost”, he added.

Meanwhile, when this correspondent visited the victim’s house this morning, his parents and relatives were mourning his death. He was the only breadwinner to feed his old parents and an unmarried sister. His brother, Sukhwinder Singh, a labourer, live separately with his family.

Pritam’s 70-year-old mother, Surjit Kaur, alleged that no politician or officer of the district administration had come to their house to mourn her son’s death or provide any financial relief.

Depressed over the insensitive attitude of the state government, the poor old woman from a backward class family feared that the aged couple and their young daughter might have to face a tough battle for survival.


Three-member team to probe Orissa violence
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
Various religious organisations today came on a common platform to demand a CBI inquiry into the killing of innocent people in Kandhamal district and other parts of Orissa.

Members of a peace council, including its chairman Satnam Singh Kanda, who had made efforts for peace during militancy period, were also present at the meeting.

They said the killing of innocent people was the handiwork of anti-social elements as no religion preached violence. Lashing out at the Orissa police for its failure to control the violence, they demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state.

Chanan Singh Sidhu, president of the Sikh Forum, Punjab, said he would send a three-member fact-finding team to Orissa to find out the main reason behind the violence. He will be the member of the team besides Kanda and Father Rodriguez.

Sidhu said they would submit their report to the Central government.

Earlier, addressing the delegates, Bishop Samanta Rao, from the Church of North India, said innocent Christians and Hindus were being killed by some vested interests and some religious fanatic groups. He said they would hold a silent march in the city tomorrow to protest the violence.


620 TB cases in Malerkotla zone
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 3
In the first eight months of 2008 as many as 620 patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) have been put on anti-TB treatment (DOTS) in Malerkotla zone under the revised national TB control programme (RNTCP).

However, in the light of targets allotted as per annual risk of TB infection (ARTI) survey, about 1,400 TB patients should be detected in Malerkotla zone in a year. This was informed by district TB officer (DTO) Dr Surinder Singla at a meeting of the District TB Control Society, which was presided over by civil surgeon Dalip Kumar here last evening. The meeting was organised to review the progress of the RNTCP of Malerkotla zone during the first eight months of this year.

The DTO further said, in view of the detection of 620 TB patients in the first eight months of this year in Malerkotla zone, about 800 TB patients were yet to be detected in the remaining four months in the light of the ARTI survey targets. He said to achieve this target, besides the active support of NGOs, social, educational and religious bodies, the whole-hearted support of the entire health staff was a must.

Addressing the meeting, Dalip asked all senior medical officers (SMOs) of the district to detect and treat maximum number of TB cases free of cost as per the RNTCP guidelines. 


Bank guarantee for admission decried
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 3
Parents of the wards admitted to various private and dental colleges of the state are a harassed lot because they have been asked to give bank guarantee in lieu of the fee, which is supposed to be paid by them for five years.

In a complaint submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the parents have stated that for securing bank guarantee, they have to mortgage their property. “The new fee norm has become a big hassle for parents as well as students. For securing bank guarantee, one has to spend about Rs 50,000, that is needless expenditure,” said a parent.

Admission in all medical and dental colleges on government and management seats is made through a common entrance test. There are no instructions in the prospectus issued by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences with regard to bank guarantee in lieu of fee for admissions in private medical and dental colleges, say parents.


Business cells planned
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
Business cells will be established in main towns of the state where entrepreneurs can express their problems to the state government.

Stating this to The Tribune here today, Madan Lal Kapoor, chairman, Small Traders Board, who has also been accorded the status of a cabinet minister of the Punjab government, said he would be available in these cells from Thursday to Sunday. He said the business community, which had always been accused of tax evasion, would now be able to express problems directly to the government through him.

Lauding Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for according him the status of cabinet minister, Kapoor said this was for the first time in the history of the state government that a person from the business community had been chosen to the coveted post to redress grievances of entrepreneurs.

Kapoor also assured the government that he would be able to raise the tax revenue in the state by inspiring the entrepreneurs to pay taxes on time. He said he would also coordinate between businessmen and representatives of the state government to decide the tax structure so as to improve the sagging industrial scenario in the state.


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