P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rahul set to see ‘real Punjab’
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Congress high command in consultation with the Punjab Congress leadership has given a final shape to the three-day visit of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to the state from September 22.

During his first-ever visit to Punjab, Rahul has an ambitious programme that will not only take him across the length and breadth of the state, but also give him a feel of the “real Punjab”.

Though the basic purpose of the visit is to oversee and encourage recruitment in the Youth Congress, party sources said the upcoming leader wanted to have a first-hand feel of the state. The All-India Youth Congress leaders are looking for a “safe house” in a village, somewhere between Mansa and Bathinda, where he will stay the first night of the tour.

He proposes to extensively travel in all three - Malwa, Majah and Doaba regions of the state.

The party sources said a meeting of senior Congress leaders from Punjab was held with the party high command in Delhi, in which details of Rahul’s visit were finalised. Mohinder Singh Kay Pee, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Preneet Kaur, Jagmeet Brar, Manish Tewari, Iqbal Singh, Margaret Alva, Ambika Soni, Partap Bajwa and Sunny Brar attended the meeting.

Rahul will start his Punjab visit from Mohali and will travel to Kharar, where he will witness a sports tournament. Then travelling through Morinda and Fatehgarh Sahib, he will go to Patiala, where he will interact with Youth Congress workers.

From Patiala he will proceed to Samana, where he will see a rural mela before going to Bhiwanigarh and Sunam, stopping at the samadhi of Shaheed Udham Singh. In Mansa, he will meet some cancer patients, before retiring for the day.

The next day he will meet workers and address a Youth Congress rally at Bathinda, travel to Rampura Phul, Giddarbaha - the home turf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He will also go to Muktsar and Jaitoo. He will then travel to Ferozepur via Faridkot and then on to Zira. From Zira he will fly to Gurdaspur, before coming to Jalandhar, where he will address a press conference.

In Gurdaspur, he plans to address a meeting of girl students. He will spend the second night at Hoshiarpur. For most of the tour, he will be travelling by road.

For security reasons, his itinerary of going to Amritsar is not being revealed, but a visit to the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir is also on the agenda.

Rahul is also scheduled to address a Dalit rally at Khatkar Kalan. On September 24, he will spend most of the time in Ludhiana, where he proposes to address a Youth Congress rally and meet the Congress leaders of Punjab. He will finally leave for Delhi by the Shatabdi from Ludhiana.


Rahul to honour kin of slain Cong workers
Boosting morale of workers
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 19
As a strategy to boost the morale of the Congress activists, widows and children of the 48 party men allegedly killed in clashes with ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supporters, would be honoured by Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of the Congress, in his only public meeting at Rampura Phul on September 23 during his three-day tour of Punjab.

Ashok Tanwar, president of the all India Youth Congress, and Raninder Singh, state general secretary, said these Congress activists were killed during the past eight months when elections to various local bodies were held. Eleven of these casualties were in the Bathinda district.

Tanwar said it was ironical that because of political pressure exerted by the SAD, the police was reluctant to register FIRs in these cases. He said that in case the district police chiefs did not relent, the state unit of the party would ask Rahul Gandhi to take up the matter with the union home ministry.

He alleged that the increasing number of political murders indicates the high degree of lawlessness and vendetta unleashed in Punjab by the ruling SAD. Instead of gaining anything, the ruling coalition would be a loser because of such victimisation. He warned that the IPS officers should keep in mind that they were answerable to the Home ministry if they continued to be a tool in political vendetta.

Tanwar said that the state unit of the Youth Congress would present to Rahul Gandhi a bunch of "fake" FIRs registered against Congress activists in Punjab. The matter has already been brought to the notice of the Congress high command and Rahul Gandhi would have a first hand account of the reign of terror unleashed by the Badals in the state. He alleged that Ranjit Sharma, Youth Congress leader of Bhagta block, was mercilessly stabbed by supporters of SAD two days ago and he has been admitted to the hospital in a critical condition. Such political victimisation should end immediately, he said.

The Youth Congress leaders demanded that the Centre should take firm steps to hold free and fair elections for the Lok Sabha as the electorate in Punjab had a bitter experience of rigging and booth capturing by SAD activists during the recent elections for local bodies. Tanwar said that the Congress has taken a serious view of the expulsion of Captain.

Referring to incidents of attacks on members of Christian community in Karnataka and Orissa, he described it as an attempt by the BJP to polarise votes before the Lok Sabha elections.


Pay structure finalised
Retired Teachers of Medical Colleges
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab government has finalised the pay structure for retired teachers of medical colleges who want to be re-employed in government medical colleges of the state till the age of 65.

Principal secretary, Medical Education and Research, Jagjit Puri said the retired teachers who were not drawing any pension would be paid a lumpsum of Rs 51,000 a month and the others would be paid Rs 41,000 per month.

“We have allowed them to continue with private practice. They will also retain all benefits they are getting after their retirement,” said Puri.

Puri said earlier the government’s decision to re-employ retired teachers was not very effective, as the salary offered by the state included the pension amount. “However, a decision to exclude the pension from the salary has been taken and this has the nod of the Finance Department.”

Puri added that the government was also seriously considering increasing the age of retirement in Punjab medical colleges from the current 60 to 65 on the government of India (GoI) pattern. “We are waiting for the GoI to implement it.”

To meet the severe shortage of teachers in the medical colleges, the Punjab government has also written to the Armed Forces Medical Services offering re-employment to retired Army doctors. “We have already received a list of 25 Army doctors who have retired and are willing to join the medical colleges. We would be posting them as medical superintendents, administrators and at the directorate level,” said Puri.

Another 68 persons were issued appointment letters today to join as lecturers and senior residents.

Meanwhile, Government Medical College and Hospital Amritsar is being considered for a grant of Rs 125 crore from the Centre for its revival and development.

“The grant will be given as part of the Prime Minister Swasthya Suraksha Yojana and is expected to meet most of the pressing infrastructure needs of the college,” said J.S. Dalal, director, Medical Education and Research, Punjab.

A team from the government of India visited the college and hospital today to assess the requirements of the college and recommend the amount to the GoI. The team was shown various facilities in the college and its attached hospitals. “The team included doctors from Delhi and the PGI and were here the whole day,” said Dalal, adding that the team had given a nod to the various demands put forth by the department heads.


CM criticises wrong policies of UPA government
Our Correspondent

Khadoor Sahib, September 19
Virtually pushing the party into the election mode, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, yesterday criticised the UPA government and its wrong policies, which had pushed the state into economic backwardness, besides rising inflation and poverty.

The Chief Minister was addressing a political conference organised by the SAD here on the occasion of Gurgaddi Diwas of Sri Guru Angad Dev. He made a strong plea for a change of guard at the Centre by throwing out the UPA government in the coming parliamentary elections to ensure speedy development and prosperity in the state.

Taking on the former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, he said he was absolutely insensitive to the problems of people and frittered away his entire term in leisure and pleasure.

Making an announcement, he said the Ministry of Railways had accorded approval for a railway line from Tarn Taran to Ferozepur and the work would soon begin. He said the foundation stone of Rs 2,800-crore thermal plant at Sri Goindwal Sahib with an installed capacity of 600 MW would be laid on October 18. He also announced to construct a tehsil complex and 50-bed hospital at Khadoor Sahib.

On the occasion, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stones for the upgrading of various roads in the area, which would be completed within the next 10 months. Apart from these projects, he also laid the foundation stone of a sewerage project of Rs 3 crore for Khadoor Sahib.

In his address Sukhbir briefly outlined the achievements of the state government within just one-and-a-half year of its tenure.

Meanwhile, Avtar Singh Brar, former minister, lashed out at the ruling SAD-BJP combine for its undemocratic actions and atrocities on Congress workers and the common man during the recently concluded panchayat elections and pointed out that the people of the state would give a befitting reply to them by defeating them from all 13 seats of the state.


Toxic highway: Industrial ash dumped
along Wagah road

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
Mills along the Wagah road are dumping highly toxic industrial ash during the construction of four laning of the road.

What is worse, the trucks can still be seen unloading petroleum coke (pet coke), a byproduct of petroleum obtained from oil refineries, where foodgrains are stacked by government procurement agencies.

Moreover, the toxic drain, which flows along the proposed four laning has already made life difficult for those who live in nearby colonies or villages.

These people have been drinking toxic milk and its effect is already showing on residents of Mahal village, situated near the Tung drain. The Tung Dhab drain is laden with industrial effluents and sewage waste. Milch animals, particularly buffaloes, are exposed to health hazards as they wallow in the contaminated water of the drain, near Guru Nanak Dev University.

The petroleum coke, dumped on both sides of the major part of the proposed four laning, is high in sulphur and a cheap source of heat as compared to coal from mines. The dumping of the huge quantity of ash has already put a question mark on the quality, density of the four laning.

In Amritsar, pet coke is being extensively used by industries situated along the Verka Ajnala bypass, a road widely used by defence and tourists. Pet coke on burning results in production of sulpher dioxide, which on reaching the atmosphere gets converted in to sulphuric acid rain.

As the wind blows, the ash gets into the eyes of drivers resulting in intense irritation of the eye and subsequent ulceration and loss of vision.

When spread on the ground, during rains, the sulphur content of the ash percolates deeper into the ground and mixes with the drinking water making the same highly unfit for human consumption.

More serious are the effects of the ash on the lungs of residents and schoolchildren. This ash on entering the lungs does not get absorbed. It stays in the lungs leading to allergies, asthma and chronic lung diseases.

There is a ban on construction within 100 m of land along the Verka Ajnala bypass and the Improvement Trust has planned to make it a green belt. There is intense activity going on of depositing ash on the trust land on the sides of the bypass in the Ranjit Avenue area. A green belt and rose garden is a distant dream. Not even a blade of grass can grow on this land.

For developing this land along the bypass, the trust will have to spend crores of rupees to remove this ash.

On the other hand, the untreated effluent from these factories is being discharged in Tung Dhab drain on the other side of the road resulting in water toxicity of the adjoining areas.

Incidentally, Amritsar is the hometown of Bikramjit Singh Majithia, minister of environment and pollution control.



Congress preparing ‘report card’ on govt
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Congress is preparing a “report card” of the SAD-BJP government, evaluating its performance on various fronts. Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has formed seven committees of Congress legislators. They have been asked to submit their report by the end of September. Bhattal said the preliminary reports indicated that the government had failed on all fronts.

“Once the reports are submitted by the various committees looking into the performance of the government on the economic front, corruption, providing relief to flood victims, etc, the party will prepare a chargesheet against the government and submit the same to the Central government,” Bhattal said.

Bhattal while talking to The Tribune said after the visit of Rahul Gandhi to Punjab, she, along with other senior Punjab Congress leaders, would compile these reports and prepare a chargesheet against the failure of the SAD-BJP government on various fronts. “We will then submit this report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking the sacking of the SAD-BJP government that had failed on all fronts”.

The various MLA forming the committees have been given a time of three weeks to compile detailed reports. They will also look at the enforcement of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, distribution of flood-relief material and corruption charges against the government. MLAs have also been asked to compare the performance of the UPA and the NDA governments.

Bhattal further said the details reports would also be used to form the party manifesto for the next Lok Sabha polls.

On the question of re-organising the party, Bhattal said the Congress high Command had given the state leadership a “go ahead” on the issue and the same would be done in the near future. This would essentially mean appointments to districts Congress committees.


Patiala LS Seat
Akalis project Chandumajra
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 19
As the entire focus has shifted to Patiala owing to a renewed sharp political battle between Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has started projecting former member of Parliament Prem Singh Chandumajra as its candidate for the Patiala seat for the Lok Sabha elections due early next year.

Party sources here today revealed that Chief Minster Badal and his son, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, had given a go-ahead to Chandumajra to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Patiala as SAD candidate against Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur, who is an MP.

As Chandumajra has remained a vocal critic of Amarinder for the past several years, Badals have the feeling he (Chandumajra) could give a fight to Preneet Kaur.

Though Kuldip Kaur, wife of former Akali minister Harmel Singh Tohra and adopted daughter of late SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, is also candidate for the Patiala seat, sources said Badals had zeroed in on Chandumajra.

The senior Badal had been to Chanduajra’s residence twice in the past week at Patiala. On September 16, he had dinner at Chandumajra’s residence. Another day, he had breakfast at his residence.

The senior Badal had breakfast at Harmel Singh’s residence also, it is learnt.

The sources said both senior and junior Badals had conveyed to various Akali leaders of the Patiala region that they should start working for Chandumajra. There are some senior Akali leaders who are strongly opposed to Chandumajra’s candidature.

Badal is trying to convince them that Chandumajra will be the best bet for the party for the Patiala seat.

Party sources said Chandumajra had been deputed to mobilise people from the Patiala region for a political convention of backward classes scheduled to be held in Patiala on September 29. For the past two weeks, Chandumajra had held several meetings in the Patiala region to mobilise people for the convention.

A senior party leader said Chandumajra had helped Badals by roping in Karnail Singh Panjoli, a member of the executive of the SGPC. Panjoli has been the most vocal critic of the functioning of the SGPC over which Badals have political control. At the behest of Chandumajra, Panjoli, who is his close friend, has agreed to return to the fold of the SAD on September 24.


SAD offers to launch NDA’s poll drive
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has offered to launch the national poll campaign of the NDA for the next Lok Sabha polls from Punjab. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has told BJP leader L.K Advani that his party was in a position to easily gather five lakh people, if the central NDA leadership agreed to come to Punjab. Sukhbir made this offer to the NDA leadership at a recent meeting of NDA leaders in Delhi.

While the NDA leadership is hesitant to launch a campaign before the announcement of the poll dates by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the SAD president told this correspondent during a recent visit to the city that he had issued directions to all district presidents of the party to gear up for the next Lok Sabha polls.

Sukhbir said though it was premature to give out details about the party candidates for the Parliamentary polls, “delimitation had necessitated a change of some faces. The sole criterion will be the winnability and image factor of the candidate”. He added that he had not made up his mind about his contesting the Bathinda seat.

The election committees to be formed under district presidents will include representation from the Students Organisation of India (SOI), Istri Akali Dal, Youth Akali Dal and other affiliated organisations. “It is Akali workers who want to hold rallies due to their upbeat mood after the expulsion of Capt Amarinder Singh from the Vidhan Sabha. The Congress worker has become further demoralised by the ‘escape’ of Amarinder to London”, Sukhbir told The Tribune.

“We will contest the poll on a positive agenda and highlight the development undertaken by the SAD-BJP government. It will be an issue-based poll. At the same time the SAD leadership will not spare Amarinder for his misdeeds.”

Sukhbir has, meanwhile, issued instructions to the commissioners of Amritsar and Ludhiana Municipal Corporations to remove all banners and hoardings of the SOI from the city as “these are causing hardship to people by covering important signposts and causing hurdles to traffic etc”.

Sukhbir had reportedly asked for an explanation from a minister for his “irresponsible statement on the issue of corruption” at a recent press conference at Muktsar. “Our party has been fighting the Congress on this issue and if any minister makes an irresponsible statement, I will fail in my duty if I don’t pull him up,” Sukhbir said.

About allegations of rigging and violence in the recent local body elections, he said, “A few incidents got blown out of proportion due to media reports”.


LBP keen on alliance with Cong
Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 19
With an intention to defeat the SAD-BJP coalition candidates in the Lok Sabha elections, the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) has shown keenness to make alliance with other secular parties, including the Congress. The decision was taken at a meeting of executive committee of the party held here on Wednesday.

Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president, LBP, said the executive committee of his party, with an intention to defeat alleged communal forces, had decided to humbly suggest the Congress not to divide secular forces in Punjab in the elections. The division would harm both, the Congress and the LBP, apprehended Ramoowalia.

“Both of us should learn a lesson from results of the previous Lok Sabha elections where we lost Ludhiana seat to the SAD-BJP candidate. The same story can repeat at Khadoor Sahib and Anandpur Sahib constituencies in case the secular forces did not join hands,” said Ramoowalia, adding that the Congress should not underestimate acceptability and strength of his party.

Claiming that policies of his party were result-oriented and addressed directly to issues of the common man, Ramoowalia said political adamancy of the Congress, if continued, would facilitate victory of communal forces in Punjab, which would deepen economic and social crisis here.


Village bordering Pakistan sans basic amenities
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Simbal Skol (Gurdaspur), September 19
For a few hundred residents of a village bordering Pakistan, it seems independence is yet to come as denial of basic amenities coupled with locational disadvantage has made them “aliens” in their own country.

Surrounded by fencing on one side and rivers on three sides, the outer world would become an “out-of-bound” area for them for at least four months of rains. Getting fed up with indifferent and apathetic attitude of successive state governments, residents now say that to shift their village to Pakistan would be a better option for them.

The residents, who were forced to settle here in 1961 by the state government, have been languishing in the darkness of the so-called freedom, the government has granted them. With no bus service, school and nearly negligible medical care facilities, the inhabitants claim that only death can liberate them from the hell they are living in.

Apart from braving the lackadaisical attitude of authorities concerned, the residents fight against damages caused to them by the Ravi, the Ujh and the Tarnah, whenever these are in spate during monsoons.

The residents have started taking every challenge head on with the help of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, who have become their “first and last hope” in adverse circumstances.

“We can not leave this village. One can leave his or her house only after death,” said Harbans Kaur, an 85-year-old woman of the village, who has seen 1965 and 1971 wars apart from adverse atmosphere on the border during the Kargil conflict and the post-Parliament attack in Delhi.

Salwinder Singh, a labourer, said, “Firstly, we are not given basic amenities being enjoyed by residents of other rural areas. Secondly, we are the first to get uprooted whenever floods come, and thirdly, we are always in trouble whenever tension grips the Indo-Pak border.”

“Our children are forced to walk down or cycle about 6 km to reach the school located in Khojki Chak, a neighbouring village across the Tarnah. The local primary school is lying closed for the past two years, for the reason best known to authorities concerned,” Darshan Kumar, a resident said adding that students of the village had to cross the Tarnah every day to meet their education requirement.

The villagers, who have been bearing the brunt of vagaries of weather, are agitated over the fact that the successive governments seldom come to their rescue.


Rs 500-crore loan floated for development schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab government, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), today floated a Rs 500-crore loan to finance part of Capital Expenditure of Plan Schemes and other development schemes under execution.

According to an official spokesman, the state government notified the sale of the Punjab government Stock (Securities) of 10-year tenure for an aggregate amount of Rs 500 crore (nominal).

The spokesman said the consent of the Central government had been obtained for the floatation of the loan.

The spokesman said the government stock would be sold through the RBI Mumbai by auction that would be conducted by them in his Mumbai office on September 25. The application form duly filled in with the bids should be submitted to the RBI, Mumbai, on September 25.

The result of the auction would be displayed on September 25 and the successful bidders would make payment on September 26.

The spokesman added that this 10-year tenure loan would be repaid at par on September 26. He said interest would be paid half yearly on March 26 and September 26 and the cut-off yield determined at the auction would be the coupon rate per cent per annum of the stock sold at the auction.


Cops told to strengthen intelligence network
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
DGP N.P.S. Aulakh today asked the Punjab police to be prepared for future challenges from international forces and take effective measures accordingly.

Presiding over a high-level meeting of the top brass of the state police to review the security scenario after the recent Delhi blasts, the DGP impressed upon the officers to strengthen the intelligence network and maintain proper liaison with Intelligence wings of other states.

The DGP emphasised on the need of pre-empting the nefarious designs of miscreants before they could succeed in their ulterior motives.

He further emphasised that the police should seek cooperation from the general public so that they should readily provide vital information to the police.

He asked the field officers to keep an eye on various persons with suspicious background, even if they are in jails and their sympathisers. It was also decided to check the inter-state movement of such elements.

The DGP also urged the officers to step up drive against narcotics trade in collaboration with central agencies. He also instructed to make use of technology like installation of CCTV cameras on all important sensitive places and also in crowded markets.

He also pointed out the ever-increasing list of POs/absconders and ordered a special one-month campaign to nab them, besides initiating the process for getting their properties attached.


Part of historical Sunami gate caves in
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
In what could prove to be a big jolt for heritage lovers, a part of historic and ill-preserved Sunami gate caved in this afternoon in the wake of incessant showers lashing Patiala and surrounding areas for the past two days.

Interestingly, a section of top municipal corporation functionaries had vehemently been pushing for demolition of this historic monument and had even managed to get a resolution passed by the MC general house on June 11 for demolition of the gate. The move was said to have been backed by the Patiala Mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, who had been supporting the proposed demolition of the gate openly despite opposition by certain quarters, particularly the heritage lovers.

The ‘gate demolition’ move had fallen flat following its outright rejection by the Punjab government in the first week of July.

Interestingly, the state government and the Patiala district administration had widely been publicising their intention to “conserve Patiala heritage buildings” in the month of June. But, nothing was allegedly done to repair or conserve the Sunami Gate, which was one of the 10 famous Patiala gates. As a result, a sizeable part of the roof of the Sunami gate caved in this afternoon, apparently due to heavy rains. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incident as there was almost no traffic on the road. A team of MC officials reached the spot and removed the debris from the site.

“The MC should have done something within time to preserve the gate so that it could be saved. Nothing is lost even now and they can still contribute to preservation of the gates, which are signposts of the rich Patiala culture and heritage,” said Sumrinder Singh, a resident.


Vets irked by dept’s casual attitude
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab State Veterinary Officer’s Association (PSVOA) has taken serious note of rampant ad hocism, casualness, arbitrariness and nepotism in the Animal Husbandry Department.

This was the main agenda discussed at length in the PSVOA’s state executive meeting held here yesterday under the chairmanship of Ashok Sharma, state president of the association. Releasing details of the meeting, association’s general secretary Sukhdev Singh said more than half the posts of deputy director at the district level and veteran officers at the tehsil level had been lying vacant for long. Despite repeated requests from the doctors’ association these placements had not been done.

Sukhdev said senior doctors were being given officiating charges of higher offices, which caused a lot of embarrassment to them. This rampant ad hocism not only hinders the proper working but also leads to poor delivery mechanism.


Punjab denies tapping phones
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Punjab says it has not been tapping the phones of Punjab and Haryana High Court Judges.

In a reply submitted in the phone-tapping case, the state asserted “neither it, nor its agencies, have intercepted, tapped or placed under surveillance the incoming or outgoing phone calls of the judges”. The state or its agencies have also not authorised anyone else to do it.

It was added that the state government was fully conscious of the “unique constitutional position of the judges of superior judiciary and accord the highest respect to the institution and there can be no question of permitting any violation of the constitutional or legal rights of the judges in any manner.

The reply, running into three pages, also gives details of the rules, regulations, procedure and the circumstances under which the phones of people, other than judges, can be placed under survellience.

The reply was placed before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Surya Kant. Detailed arguments in the matter could, however, not take place today due to paucity of time.

So far, only Punjab has submitted its reply, though the notices were issued to the state of Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh as well. The UT is expected to submit its reply within a week.

The case, based on a news-item carried in these columns, will now come up for further hearing on September 22.

Justice Ranjit Singh had earlier taken suo-motu cognizance of the news-report and had directed the issuance of notices to the states through the home secretaries.

Justice Ranjit Singh had asked the states to specify if there was any procedure regulating the bugging of the phones at their or the Central government's level. Justice Ranjit Singh has also clarified that notice can be issued to the Union of India, if need be. The Judge was of the view that the matter was of concern and it was hard to comprehend how a state agency could resort to such an illegal practice aimed at invading the privacy of constitutional post holders.


High Court
Accused can’t enjoy benefits of remission
during acquittal
1983 killings at Bhadaur village
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab government’s orders granting remission to persons involved in 1983 killings at Bhadaur village of Sangrur district have not found favour with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

While setting aside the orders issued in this regard by principal secretary, department of home affairs and justice, a Division Bench today set a precedent by ruling that the benefit of remission cannot be given to accused for the period they remained free due to acquittal between two orders of conviction.

It means that an accused, whose conviction orders are set aside by the higher court only to be restored by a court superior to it, cannot enjoy the benefits of remission announced during the period of acquittal.

Taking up the matter, the Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Jora Singh directed the state and the principal secretary to recalculate the remaining period of sentence of the accused within a month of receiving the order’s copy. Within a week after, the convicts have been directed to surrender before the district jail superintendent.

The ruling came on a petition filed by Harjinder Singh of Sangrur district against the state, the principal secretary and four others allegedly involved in the killing.

In his petition, he had challenged the order dated March 20, 2003 vide which the accused were granted remission without requiring them to serve the sentence of 10 years. Going into the background of the matter, the petitioner had stated that a number of persons were killed on the evening of April 24, 1983. An FIR was registered the next day at Bhadaur police station and the petitioner and his companions were arrested.

The trial court, on January 29, 1986, convicted and sentenced to life Karnail Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Mohinder Singh and Ghala Singh, along with two others who have since died.

However, their appeal against conviction was allowed on October 12, 1987. The petitioner went against the orders and his appeal was allowed by the SC vide order dated March 6, 1998. The accused were convicted under Section 304 part I, read with Section 34 of the IPC, and were sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

But they were released without serving the full sentence. It was alleged that the accused were influential. Ghala Singh wielded significant political influence in the area. and had bargained with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that they would ensure complete vote-support in lieu of their release.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Kumar on behalf of the Bench observed if a person on bail cannot be granted the benefits of government circular for the purpose of remission, it is not possible to grant the same for period when they were free on account of their acquittal.


Assault Case
Summons to college principal
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 19
The District Court has issued summons to Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, principal, B.Ed Khalsa College, and others for December 8 for allegedly assaulting students of Khalsa College through college securitymen in August 2004.

Dhillon was the principal of Khalsa College at that time.

Complainant Balraj Singh, who was a student of the PGDCA in Khalsa College, in his petition had alleged that he was mercilessly beaten up by Lakha Singh and Amar Singh, securitymen of the college, on August 8, 2004, on the directions of Dhillon for participating in the strike against the college management.

He had further alleged that as he was going to the college, along with his classmate Jaspal Singh, security personnel started beating them up, thinking that Jaspal was an outsider and trying to vitiate the college atmosphere. However, when he disclosed his identity, the security men let them off with the warning not to report the matter to the police.

Despite repeated attempts by this reporter to get his views, Dhillon refused to come on line. However, Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna, honorary secretary, Khalsa College Managing Committee, said he was not aware of the case and could only make a comment after going through the contents of the case file.

Balraj had alleged that Dhillon despite the orders from the college management, had failed to remove Amar Singh from service, besides deploying Lakha Singh on night duty. He alleged that Dhillon continued to use abusive language against the students, besides threatening them on the phone. He further alleged that when one evening he was going to the college on his scooter, the accused hit his vehicle with their car. Fearing for their lives, they left the scooter there and ran for safety. He alleged that the accused even fired shots from a pistol. A case has been registered.


Tehsildar nabbed taking bribe of Rs 10,000
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana/Jalandhar, September 19
Vigilance sleuths nabbed tehsildar-cum-sub registrar Arvind Parkash Verma and two others from the sub registrar (west) office while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 for registering a power of attorney from a Canada-based NRI here this morning.

The joint operation was launched by Vigilance DSPs Ravcharan Singh Brar, Gurcharan Singh and Banarasi Dass, who reached the spot as soon as NRI Baljinder Singh's representative Baljeet Singh Baddowal handed him over the demanded cash.

As soon as the sub-registrar saw Vigilance officials coming, he handed over the cash to receipt clerk Parminder Singh, who further passed it on to the Punjab police constable, Harjinder Singh.

All three were arrested on the spot.

Another accused, registry clerk Gopal Krishan, is absconding. The four have been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to SSP, Vigilance, Kanwarjit Singh, a trap was laid on the complaint of Baljeet Singh Baddowal, who is related to the NRI belonging to Lalton village. He wanted to register a power of attorney in favour of his relative. He approached Parminder Singh for the purpose, who took him to Verma's house in Officers Colony in the Rakh Bagh area.

Verma allegedly demanded Rs 15,000 for the work. The final deal was struck for Rs 10,000. He reached the office with the money this morning, where the VB raided the office. The team confiscated cash and documents pertaining to the registration of sale deeds in the office.

Later, the Vigilance conducted raids at Verma's residence in Ludhiana and another house in Jalandhar. A jewellery shop owned by his family members in Jalandhar was also raided.

The SSP said an amount of Rs 1.59 lakh and 645 gm of gold was also recovered from his house in Jalandhar. Two unlicensed arms, including .12-bore and .315-bore pistols and 47 bottles of imported liquor, were also recovered. He said Verma was in illegal possession of “Intakaal” registers of revenue departments that should be with the area patwaris.


Theft in temple second time
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 19
Thieves stole gold and silver ornaments from Maha Kali Devi Mandir here last night. The total cost of the stolen articles is said to be about Rs 1.25 lakh.

President of the managing committee of the temple Chand Parkash Maghan said, the theft in the temple for the second time in about 16 months was a serious matter, as earlier, a theft had been committed on May 21, 2007, in the temple, which the police could not trace till today.

A case has been registered against unknown persons.


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