P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rahul disappoints Cong leaders
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

‘Have no time for marriage’

When students of Dev Samaj College for Girls, Ferozepur city, asked him about his unmarried status,Rahul said he was involved in serving the country 24x7 and had no time for marriage

Gurdaspur, September 23
The much-hyped visit of Rahul Gandhi, general secretary, All-India Congress Committee (AICC), to this district of the Majha region left its leaders, including former ministers, disappointed as they failed to get enough time to interact with him to convey their problems.

Rahul landed in the town in a chopper and went straightaway to the hall of White Resort where a women’s convention was organised. Though Rahul interacted with girls, drawn from various parts of this district, for a considerable time, neither mediapersons nor Congress leaders were allowed entry into the hall. The youth leader met them after the convention was over. However, Rahul could not spare them enough time as he was to fly back to Delhi and it was getting dark.

A cross-section of Congress leaders and workers, who did not want to be named, said though they were excited about Rahul’s visit, they got disappointed when they couldn’t even say hello to him. Around 200 workers of each Assembly segment of this district were promised that they would be allowed to interact with Rahul.

They said Rahul should have spared enough time for them so that they could have apprised him of the problems within the party setup and atrocities being committed on them by the ruling SAD-BJP combine.

Partap Singh Bajwa, senior Congress leader and former minister, said he had presented copies of about 100 FIRs out of a total of 1,500 FIRs, which had been registered against Congressmen in 11 Assembly segments of this district allegedly on the diktats of the ruling alliance in the past few months.

He said he had urged Rahul that it was high time that the Central leadership of the party should step into scene and make arrangements to stop harassment of Congress men. The central leadership should get all FIRs probed.

Meanwhile, during an interaction with rural and urban girls at the convention, Rahul urged them to join the politics so that system could be changed to make it a better democracy. When a section of girls asked him why girls were afraid of joining politics, Rahul said it was the need of the hour that this kind of mindset be changed.


Idolises Mahatma Gandhi
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, September 23
Congress’ first family scion Rahul Gandhi idolises Mahatma Gandhi. He said he was not a politician but would like to work as a politician despite the cruel manner in which his grand-mother and father met their end because he wanted to serve the country.

In Ferozepur district, Rahul, however, chose to first visit the spot where Bhagat Singh, the freedom fighter who did not agree with the Mahatma’s ideals, had been cremated along the Sutlej after being hanged by the British.

The visit was a disappointment for a few thousand party workers who had trudged to Hussainiwala after they were made to get off the vehicles 5 km ahead of the venue due to security reasons. The Congress supporters, who had mainly been transported by Guruharsahai legislator Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi were a dejected lot as Rahul just waved to them from a platform and then continued his journey to attend a seminar on female foeticide at the Dev Samaj College for Girls, Ferozepur city.

There too, it was the same story. A very limited entry for only senior Congress leaders, accompanying Rahul, saw a virtual tug-of-war among local Congressmen to get entry into the college. It was the same for the Press, which first had been denied entry at the memorial and then again at the college premises.


Visits jail cell where Nehru was kept
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jaito (Bathinda), September 23
General secretary of the AICC Rahul Gandhi today visited the cell of a dilapidated jail here where his great-grandfather Jawahar Lal Nehru had been imprisoned during the historical Jaito Morcha in 1923. Rahul, who is on a three-day visit to the state, walked into the cell near the main gate of the erstwhile fort that had been converted into a prison. He remained there for about 10 minutes.

He was told about the morcha organised against the British regime, which had dethroned the then ruler of Nabha and also desecrated a gurdwara. Nehru had been taken into custody when he came here to look into the atrocities committed by the British on the local people.

Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, had also visited the jail in 1988.

The place has been declared protected monument under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Archaeological Sites Act, 1964. Rahul also paid obeisance at Gurdwara Gangsar in the town before proceeding to Ferozepur.

In the morning, he met at Bathinda relatives of those 10 Congress activists who had allegedly been killed by supporters of the ruling SAD during the recent Panchayat polls. They alleged that under the pressure of SAD leaders, the police was neither pursuing these cases nor the culprits had been arrested.


‘He should’ve visited flood-hit’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
Enraged over Rahul Gandhi’s “enjoyment trip” of the state, the SAD has advised Rahul to visit flood-affected people of Patiala and Sangrur areas than to savour makki di roti and sarson da saag.

Meanwhile, the government has cleared a Rs 140-crore project for cleaning and strengthening of the Ghaggar.


Ghaggar damages crop on 1,000 acres
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 23
As the 70-foot breach in the Ghaggar river that occurred on Sunday night near Andana village in the Khanauri area was yet to be plugged completely, floodwater inundated standing crops further in five villages of Baopur, Andana, Shahpur Therri, Banarasi and Chandu.

Ghaggar flood has submerged standing crops on about 1,000 acres in the Khanauri-Moonak belt of this district so far, causing huge losses to farmers. Otherwise water has entered fields on more than 6,000 acres.

Meanwhile, the Army, whose help had been sought by the district administration yesterday to plug the 70-ft breach near Andana, did not turn up at the site today. Around 125 personnel from the Irrigation Department, district administration and villagers continued to work on the plugging of the breach.

Moonak SDM R.P.S. Walia told The Tribune that the Army personnel were expected to arrive at the site at about 7 am, but at about 6.45 am he received an SMS from the Army authorities that they could not come as they had received orders to go somewhere else.

Meanwhile, the river was flowing above the danger mark (752 ft) at 753.2 ft in Khanauri this afternoon.

Meanwhile, in charge of the SAD for the Lehragagga Assembly constituency Prem Singh Chandumajra visited the flood-affected areas near Andana village. He said standing crops in about 1,000 acres was under floodwater in Khanauri and Moonak areas, causing heavy losses to farmers. He said after an inquiry, the state government would give Rs 5,000 per acre as compensation to the farmers for their damaged crops.


No delivery charges in govt hospitals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The government today decided in principle to waive all medical charges on delivery cases in government hospitals.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the council of ministers here this evening. It was chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Chief Minister’s media adviser Harcharan Bains said the government also decided to set up Punjab municipal infrastructure development fund under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, to mobilise financial resources and fund urban infrastructure projects. The chief secretary will be the chairman of the board of the fund. The board will also act as a special-purpose vehicle to leverage funds through utilisation of the properties of the urban local bodies/improvement trusts, etc.

The Cabinet also approved an amendment to the Punjab Lokpal Act, 1996, and other connected regulations to bring chief parliamentary secretary and parliamentary secretary within the purview of Lokpal.

The Cabinet also approved to allow the chief parliamentary secretaries a sum of Rs 75,000 per annum as petty/discretionary grants. At present there are 14 chief parliamentary secretaries and this decision would entail an expenditure of Rs 10.50 lakh annually.

In a major relief to the cinema owners of the state, the Cabinet approved the promulgation of an ordinance to extend the facility of exemption in entertainment tax to them on the pattern of the exemption to the multiplexes.



Dullo is in charge of Cong Dalit youth convention
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
Former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Shamsher Singh Dullo is back in the reckoning.

The party high command has entrusted him with organising a Dalit youth convention at Jalandhar to be addressed by AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi tomorrow morning.

Acknowledged as the Dalit face of the party, Dullo had been lying low ever since he resigned as party chief owning responsibility for the defeat. He had stayed away from major functions of the party and senior leaders had also chosen to ignore him on various occasions. They had even blamed him for the defeat. He had lost from Khanna to a greenhorn of the SAD, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa.

He had been in the good books of party president Sonia Gandhi for his candid and matter-of-fact observations on ills in the party.

Political observers feel a seasoned leader needs to be projected in view of Dalit voters and increase in the reserved constituencies to four from three. This is in addition to present acting PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee, who also is a Dalit.

For the first time a leader from Malwa is being promoted in the Doaba region in a tactical move to consolidate all Dalit voters that had voted mostly for the Akalis this time. Dullo was in the city to oversee arrangements for the Dalit meet tomorrow.


Dal Khalsa gen secy’s removal hailed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Office secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Harbir Singh Sandhu today hailed the removal of Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa.

In a press statement issued here today, Sandhu held Kanwarpal responsible for creating a division in the SAD (A) by forming the Khalsa Action Committee. He said the removal of Kanwarpal would pave the way for coming of like-minded Sikh organisations on a single platform. He expressed hope that new general secretary Manjinder Pal Singh would be instrumental in forging unity among Sikh outfits.

However, Kanwarpal claimed that he still occupied an important post of secretary, political affairs in the party, besides retaining the post of spokesman of the Dal Khalsa. Kanwarpal said he himself was instrumental in getting Manjinder the post of general secretary.


To them atta-dal scheme is a false promise
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
Contrary the SAD-BJP government’s claims of progress on every front the atta-dal scheme, much touted by the Akalis during the Assembly elections, has failed miserably in this part of the state.

An example of utter failure of the scheme is Ghugshore village of Kartarpur constituency where the villagers have got nothing in the name of subsidised atta-daal but only false promises. The situation is similar in the adjoining villages too, which include Dheerpur, Fazilpur, Brahmpur, Khusropur and many others.

Ever since the scheme was started last year, villagers have been making futile efforts to get low-priced atta and dal as was promised by the SAD-BJP government. The village has hardly a few residents who have got blue cards. Residents of Ghugshore gathered to tell their tale of woes to this correspondent.

Major Singh, a farmer of the village, said, “It has been more than five months and I have been running here and there to procure atta-dal scheme beneficiary card. Even my attempts to meet Kartarpur MLA Avinash Chander in this regard proved futile, as he was never available. Moreover, I was told to deposit Rs 400 with the authorities concerned, which I did, but to no avail”.

Another resident Dalvir Kaur said, “With hand-to-mouth existence and a large family to feed, it is virtually difficult for us to survive on a daily wage of Rs 150. The government used atta-dal scheme as a poll plank to woo voters”.

The village has a population of 1,200 people, which includes 340 votes. The villagers said the government was working against its own policy. Nearly every second villager maintained that the scheme kicked off very well here, but ended abruptly .

Sarpanch Dashminder Kaur said, “Problems with this scheme are endless. Initially all villagers were covered under the scheme, but later officials said only those families would be given subsidised atta-dal annual income of which is less than Rs 20,000”.

Depot holder at Brahmpur village Aman expressed helplessness and said, “There are certain families which have been denied the benefits of atta-dal scheme, but that has been done as per the orders passed by the government. Nothing lies in our hands. We are bound.”

The District Food and Civil Supply Department recently did a random survey in some villages with the help of the SDMs to check the implementation of the scheme.

On the failure of the scheme at Ghugshore village, district food supply controller Pawan Oberoi said, “We have been supplying atta-dal regularly to all depots, but this is a very contradictory report and probably result of some groupism in that area. We will very soon conduct a random survey in this part of Kartarpur as well”.


7 names cleared for posts of trust chief
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, at a late night meeting, cleared the names of seven party loyalists for appointment as chairmen of improvement trusts of different cities, with the aim of boosting the political activity ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

According to sources, the Chief Minister has approved the names of Amrit Pal Singh for Abohar, Sabar Ali Dhillon, Malerkotla, Baljit Singh Neela Mehal, Jalandhar, Harish Saini, Nawanshahr, Dr Parmar, Ropar, Yogesh Goyal, Moga, and Inderpal Singh Chahhal for the Batala improvement trust.

They are all SAD leaders. The BJP had recommended three persons for the appointments. Since there was no consensus on the names of candidates for Kartarpur and Samana, the decision has been kept pending for the time being.


Run agriculture as business, Langah tells farmers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 23
Agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah, while urging the farmers to run the agriculture as business venture, said today that efforts should be made by all agencies to increase farm profitability.

Langah was addressing the farmers after inaugurating a kisan mela at the regional research station here. He said the time had come when the farming would have to run like a profitable business. He added that farming profitability could be increased by developing allied agriculture activities and other related jobs.

He said to enhance profits, the technologies suggested by PAU experts needed to be followed. Not only this, the youth from rural areas should get trainings from the PAU and avail the subsidies provided by the government to expand their agricultural ventures for obtaining higher profits.

He suggested farmers to maintain a link with PAU farm experts and make necessary innovations in tune with the emerging needs. The government measures to discourage paddy transplantation before June 15 and the campaigns for the management of mealy bug have produced results, he added.

A large number of farmers from various parts of the region, including Kandi areas, came to the mela to fetch hybrid seeds and to get latest know-how of agricultural operations.

Vice-chancellor, PAU, Manjit Singh Kang said such kisan melas provided opportunities to showcase technologies for the benefit of farmers. He said the farmers should follow the technologies recommended by the PAU.

“Natural resources are not unlimited”, said Dr Kang, adding that the farmers should use them rationally. The PAU had developed several resource conservation technologies such as tensiometer for regulating irrigation in paddy, leaf colour chart for nitrogen application, bed planting for different crops, zero tillage in wheat, etc. that helped to save precious resources.

He said that since the inception of the research station in 1910, many recommendations had been given for the farmers. The local station of the PAU played an important role in crop improvement as the place being a “hot spot” for fungal diseases helped to evaluate germ plasm for devising resistance to major diseases.

Director of extension education, PAU, N.S.Malhi, Paramjit Singh Minhas, director of research, PAU, and Paramjit Singh Bagga, director of the regional station, also spoke.


DAP shortage due to panic buying
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Panic buying of di ammonium phosphate (DAP) by farmers in Punjab has led to an artificial scarcity of the fertiliser in the market. Though the fertiliser will be required by farmers only in the last week of October, when the sowing for rabi crops begins, they have been on a buying spree.

Sources told The Tribune that the state already had 1.44 lakh metric tonnes of DAP at its disposal. While Markfed, which is a nodal agency to supply DAP through cooperative societies to the farmers, has 1.15 lakh metric tonnes of DAP at its disposal and over 29,000 metric tonnes of DAP stocks are also available with private dealers in the state.

“Other than potato growers in the Jalandhar and Kapurthala belt, no other farmers have an immediate need for DAP. This fertiliser will be required only when the sowing of wheat begins in the end of October,” director, Agriculture, B.S. Sidhu said. He added that the state government was in constant touch with the Centre and had made arrangements for the supply of 1.79 lakh metric tonnes of DAP in Punjab next month.

It may be noted that Punjab requires 5.50 lakh metric tonnes of DAP for the entire rabi season (from October to March). The total requirement for the cooperative sector during the rabi season is 3.10 lakh metric tonnes and 1.17 lakh metric tonnes of DAP is available with the societies.

“Regular supplies are being received from various ports by Markfed, and we alone will alone be supplying 2.60 lakh metric tonnes of DAP,” G.S. Grewal, managing director, Markfed, said.

He said the farmers who had indented their requirements through the societies would get DAP in time for the sowing of wheat as the entire supplies were expected by October-end. The stocks were being delivered directly at the doorsteps of the farmers, he added.


Women in state unsafe: Panel
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
At least one rape and kidnapping of two women are reported daily in Punjab. A woman is murdered every third day and at least one case of molestation is registered every day. At least 12 women commit suicide every month and the same number are killed for dowry.

If the Punjab State Women’s Commission figures on crime against women are to be believed, women continue to be unsafe in Punjab with rapes and kidnappings showing a rise in the past one and a half years. Crime figures with the police show a sorry picture of safety of women in Punjab.

Kidnapping cases of women registered in 2007 was over 600. Kidnappings in the state are on the rise. From 30 to 35 kidnappings a month in the first quarter of 2007 the number rose to 50 to 65 a month till the last months of the year when the number fell to about 45.

In June 2007, kidnapping cases touched 70 figure. Jalandhar and Ludhiana reported the highest kidnappings. These two districts account for over 70 per cent of kidnappings in the state.

The kidnappings reflect efficiency of the police. Till July 31, women kidnapped were 320, an average of over 40 a month.

In 2007, 140 women were murdered in the state, while till July 31 this year the number was 85. Last year in May 2007, five women were murdered in Bathinda alone and four in Patiala in September 2007. This year in June, five women were murdered in Nawanshahr.

Dowry deaths also show an upward trend. In 2007 more than 130 women were killed for dowry and this year till July end the figure crossed 75. Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Bathinda and Jalandhar were in the news for dowry deaths.

More than 430 women were raped in 2007. This year till July 31 the number crossed 225. In May this year 42 women were raped, in June the number went up to 44 and in July to 53. Ludhiana district alone accounted for almost 60 rape cases last year. The number of rape cases has been high in Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur too.

As many as 158 women committed suicide in 2007 and this year till July 31, the number has touched 90. In May this year, 23 suicides were reported in Punjab of which four women committed suicide in Patiala and three women killed themselves in Sangrur.


Alignment of Hansi-Butana Canal
Punjab’s stand vindicated: Drainage expert
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
The Punjab government’s submission claiming that the Hansi-Butana canal, constructed adjacent to the boundary of Patiala district by the Haryana government, will impede the natural flow of rainwater from the Punjab region has been proved correct, said a senior official of the state Drainage Department.

Raising serious objections with regard to the construction of the canal, the state government had submitted to the Central Water Commission (CWC) that “there is a major technical fault in the alignment of the Hansi-Butana canal, as it had been constructed across the natural flow of water from the Patiala region”.

Due to heavy rain in the region on September 19 and 20, the Ghaggar is in full flow. Besides, rainwater has been flowing to the Patiala region from the Shivalik foothills. As the Patiala region is a low-lying area, it is a natural passage for rainwater that flows from the Shivalik foothills to the Punjab and Haryana region along the Ghaggar.

In case of less water in the Ghaggar, rainwater flows into it from both Patiala and Haryana sides.

In a report submitted to the Punjab government, superintending engineer, Drainage Department, Harvinder Singh has stated that water had accumulated near Dharheri and Khambera villages on the left side of the Hansi-Butana canal due to the impeding of its natural flow. Earlier, that water used to pass through the cross drainage of the Ram Nagar-Cheeka road. The accumulated water would only enter Ghaggar when the water would recede in it. Till then water would remain in the fields.

A similar situation has been reported from the Patiala Nadi crossing near Bibipur and Bheora village. “Earlier, water used to flow downstream without any hindrance, but now it had accumulated near Bibipur village,” said Harvinder.

People of the area are upset over this development, he added. “We have now documentary proof to prove our point before the CWC and at other levels,” said a senior official of the Punjab government.


CM’s call to maintain peace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today appealed to members of the Christian community to exercise restraint in such testing circumstances to give a befitting reply to anti-social elements. Addressing representatives of different Christian organisations across the state at the Punjab Bhawan, Badal assured them that the state government was committed to ensure religious freedom to every section of society. He urged them to maintain peace, amity and communal harmony.


Attack on Minorities
Mann for Prez rule in affected states
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
Following reports of attacks on minorities in the country, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann today announced to send teams to Dehra Dun, Orissa and Karnataka etc to assess the damage.

Mann said here he was shocked at the fourth incident of violence against Christians in Uttarakhand, where a Catholic preacher and his woman disciple were found strangled in Samarpanalaya, an ashram run by them in Chotta Rampur, yesterday.

He sought President’s rule in the states where minorities, including Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, were being targeted. Mann said he would lead a march from the Muslim shrine in Hall Bazaar to the Golden Temple to highlight the high-handedness of certain radical Hindu bodies involved in the attacks.


‘Put Bajrang Dal on watch list’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 23
In respect of attacks on Christians, the Dal Khalsa has urged the Union Home Ministry to put the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on the watch list.

Dal Khalsa president H.S. Dhami at a press conference here said recent events in Orissa highlighted violence by these two organisations against Christians.

In a letter to union home minister Shivraj Patil, he said scores of churches had been either burnt or razed, several pastors, including father Eddy (62), injured, besides 12 persons killed by mobs led by activists of these two organisations.


Amarinder gets last chance to file reply
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Granting Punjab’s former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh a last opportunity to file his reply to the petition challenging his election, Justice Rajive Bhalla has imposed a cost of Rs 2,000.

The court had earlier granted him two opportunities to file his reply in the matter but the former chief minister had failed to submit his reply. The court has now granted him the third and final opportunity to submit the same by October 16.

Challenging Amarinder Singh’s victory in the General Election held in February 2007, for the 117-member House, voter Sukhbir Singh had earlier alleged corrupt practices.

The petitioner had alleged that Amarinder Singh had incurred expenditure beyond the permissible limit on his poll campaign. Moreover, he was responsible for the incorrect filing of election expenses and had, thus, indulged in corrupt practice, thereby attracting the provisions of The Representation of the People Act.

The counsel for the petitioner, Dheeraj Jain, submitted that the respondent was intentionally postponing the filing of the reply for delaying the matter.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |