P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt plans 1,200-acre seed farm on border
Naveen S. Garewal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
The government has decided to purchase about 1,200 acres from farmers on India-Pakistan border in Rania sector and turn it into a seed farm. The land has remained uncultivated for the past many years, causing a great financial setback to border farmers.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal disclosed this here today saying: “The government will buy out the land from the farmers and pool in its 300 odd acres for developing the seed farm”.

Badal disclosed that the negotiations with the farmers had reached a final stage. The seed farm will be managed by the Directorate of Agriculture and will bring out new varieties of seeds.

With a view to boosting the agriculture production in the state, Punjab has decided to replace 40 per cent of the wheat seed for the next rabi season. This, Badal said, would be the biggest initiative of its kind to boost production. The government has already procured 35 lakh quintals of seed for the purpose.

The Chief Minister said the Department of Food and Supplies had sent samples to Delhi highlighting the extent of damage to paddy on account of high moisture. He said nearly 8 to 10 per cent of paddy had become black due to moisture.

With regard to the shortage of DAP fertiliser, he said he had spoken to the railway minister to increase the rakes for transporting the fertiliser and at the same time got an assurance from the appropriate level in Delhi.

“I am hopeful of the Central help as the wheat sowing season is about to commence”, he added.

Refuting allegations by some Congress leaders about the SAD-BJP government showing preferential treatment to the Malwa region, Badal released figures of the amount his government had advanced to various cities for development, which was as follows: Bathinda (Rs 54 crore), Patiala (Rs 40 crore), Amritsar (Rs 165 crore), Jalandhar (Rs 101 crore) and Ludhiana (Rs 40 crore).

He added a sum of Rs 2 crore was being extended to each constituency for development.


Grain Drain
Rain shatters farmers’ hopes of good returns
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 16
The high-velocity hailstorm and rain that lashed this cotton belt this morning, caused extensive damage to the paddy and cotton produce lying in various mandis.

The early morning rain offered no time to farmers to cover their produce. Reports of hailstorm and strong winds were also received from Muktsar and Mansa.

Surjit Singh, a farmer of Kotshamir village, said his hope of good returns was shattered by the rain.

Migrated labour has also raised the daily wage from Rs 200 to about Rs 240. Contract labour, for which charges are fixed, has also become expensive.

Experts from the Agriculture Department confirmed that this would cause damage to both quality and quantity of paddy yield.

The loss would be more to the harvested paddy lying in the fields as it would lead to discolouring of grains, they said.

Meanwhile, the arrival of paddy at purchasing centres had slowed down due to rain, farmers said. Traders had refused to buy the drenched paddy in the absence of government agencies.

General secretary of the BKU (Ekta) Harjinder Singh demanded special girdawari and adequate compensation to the affected farmers.

In certain mandis where the produce was properly covered, waterlogging caused the damage.

Preliminary reports said the worst-affected villages included Goniana, Abloo, Aklia, Mehta Sirja, Jandawala, Diwana Mehman and Khialiwala villages.

However, Ram Gopal Singla, district mandi officer, said this morning’s hailstorm was unexpected. The compensation for the loss would be given to the farmers as per the rules after consulting the authorities concerned, he added.


Basmati flattened
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 16
The Basmati belt of Ajnala and majitha in this border district was hit by the hailstorm accompanied by rain.

The chief agriculture officer has instructed the field staff to immediately assess the damage caused by the hailstorm, which reportedly flattened 25 per cent of the basmati 386 paddy in this area.

The spokesman of the agriculture department said since basmati was in the final stages of ripening and harvested after Diwali, it had suffered the maximum damage.

The areas which have suffered the maximum damage are Chogwan, Harsha Chhina, Ajnala and Majitha blocks where standing crops of Pusa 1121 were damaged.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu said special girdwari had been ordered to give exact estimates of the damage to basmati and Pusa 1121 crop in the area.


Bonus a cruel joke: Badals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has described the bonus of Rs 50 on paddy as a cruel joke on Punjab farmers in the midst of an agrarian crisis. In a joint statement, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “Further proof, if proof was indeed needed, that the Centre is in no mood to bail out the peasantry from the crisis.”

The Badals further said that while the Centre was distributing billions of rupees to help big businesses, it had shown heartlessness in saving the farmers. Sukhbir Badal said he would go to Delhi and meet the union leadership.


CPM removes state secy
Accused of moral turpitude

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
The CPM today removed its state secretary Prof Balwant Singh from all party positions after he was accused of moral turpitude. He has also been suspended from the primary membership of the party.

The punishment, which was read out by party secretary Prakash Karat at its headquarters here, could have been harsher, with Karat saying he was only suspending Prof Balwant Singh from the primary membership, as he wanted to give him a hearing before taking any further action. Prof Balwant is presently abroad.

Prof Balwant is accused of sexually harassing a widow of a party leader of Sangrur in the first week of September. The victim had complained directly to Prakash Karat on phone immediately after the incident and had subsequently followed it up with a written submission.

Following the announcement today, the leader was removed from all posts he was holding, including member of the party central committee, vice-president of CITU and managing director of the party’s newspaper Desh Sewak, which is published from here.

The decision was announced in the presence of central leaders Nilotpal Basu and S.R.Pillai as well as members of the state committee and district secretariat members.

The complaint seems to have been the last straw for the veteran state leader, who was already being probed by a three-member committee, including Brinda Karat, Nilotpal Basu and S.R. Pillai, following levelling of corruption charges against him.

Prof Balwant has also been accused by party members of misusing his office as well as being responsible for the mismanagement of the Desh Sewak newspaper. Fifteen persons gave statements against him in these cases when the committee visited Chandigarh a few months ago. This report is still pending.

Prof Balwant Singh owes his rise to late Harkrishan Singh Surjit, who had removed Mangat Ram Pasla by appointing him the party’s state secretary.

Meanwhile, senior party leader and state committee member Charan Singh Virdi has been made acting secretary of the state unit.


When whites campaigned in Punjabi
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

A sample of the appeals made in Punjabi by white candidates in Canada.

Jalandhar, October 16
In the recently concluded elections for Canadian Parliament, many white candidates campaigned in Punjabi, obviously to seek votes from members of the Punjabi community who have settled in sizable numbers in various parts of Canada.

Nine candidates of Indian origin have made to it to the House of Commons (Canadian Parliament) in the elections that witnessed Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, improving its tally, though the party is still short of majority.

In fact, many white candidates such as Brinda Locke, a Liberal party candidate, who fought the elections against Neena Grewal (Conservatives), got published advertisements and appeals in Punjabi to seek votes from the Punjabis. Likewise, Wai Young of the Conservative party, who contested from South Vancouver, also make appeals in Punjabi to NRIs of her constituency. Originally, Wai is from Hong Kong and belonged to the Chinese community.

Jack Layton and Mike Bocking of the New Democrat party also made similar appeals. Mike had contested from the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission constituency.

“For Punjabis, it amounts to scripting another success story in alien lands”, said Harbhajan Singh Athwal, who represents the Punjabi Sath Surrey, an organisation engaged in the promotion of Punjabi in Canada. “Whereas the Chandigarh administration has made Punjabi an alien language in its own home (Chandigarh), in Canada it has become a part and parcel of administrative setup, especially in British Columbia”, said Harinder Singh Chahal, who works along with Athwal.

In fact, the Punjabi community, has an important place in Canadian political setup. Many of the issues raised during the elections were related to NRIs, especially the Punjabi community.

While seeking votes for herself, Brinda had promised that she would make all efforts to enhance the number of immigrants in Canada and speed up programmes to secure permanent status for temporary workers, nannies and students.

In the past years, a large number nannies have immigrated to Canada from Punjab.

Brinda had also promised the provision of multi-purpose visa for those visiting Canada.

More Punjabis in Canadian House than Lok Sabha

With nine Punjabis making it to Canadian parliament, members of the community settled there have been claiming that percentage-wise they have now more representations in the Canadian House compared to Punjab’s representation in the Lok Sabha. There are total 308 elected members of the House of Commons in Canada. Of these, nine are Punjabis. In the Lok Sabha, the total number of elected members is 542, of which Punjab’s representation is 13.



Dullo keen on Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat
Dharmendra Joshi

Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 16
Former PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo is interested to contest the coming parliamentary elections from the Hoshiarpur reserved constituency.

This was evident when several of his supporters, including former minister Joginder Singh Mann and PPCC member Harjit Singh Parmar, requested Congress observer Yusuf Abrani to recommend Dullo’s name as candidate from the Hoshiarpur seat. Mann and Parmar met Abrani on Wednesday during his visit to Phagwara.

Dullo told The Tribune that being a solider of the party, he would act according to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s directions.

At the same time, he said Congressmen not only from Hoshiarpur but also from Faridkot wanted him to contest the Lok Sabha polls from their respective areas.

Meanwhile Mann said he preferred Dullo to chairperson of the Safai Karamcharis Commission Santosh Chaudhury, who allegedly did nothing for party workers. Actually Chaudhury contested last three polls from the Phillaur LS seat, which has now been dissolved and its several areas, including Phagwara, have been included in the Hoshiarpur seat.

Mann alleged she had not campaigned in favour of Congress candidates in Phagwara during previous Assembly and panchayat elections.

Former Phagwara Improvement Trust chairman Balbir Raja Sodhi refuted Mann’s allegations and said Santosh campaigned in favour of those candidates who had invited her to do so. He, along with several Congressmen, recommended to the observer Santosh’s name.

These observers reached Punjab on October 13 and started meeting party workers. They are supposed to submit their final report to AICC by October 22, the 
sources confirmed.


Cong to launch stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Punjab Congress president Mohinder Singh Kaypee today announced that the party would start an agitation from October 20 to pressurise the SAD-BJP government to step up the procure process.

Kaypee said the party would target the mandis where procurement was tardy and gherao ministers. The Congress leader demanded that the SAD-BJP government should announce bonus of Rs 100 per quintal rather than giving advertisements demanding a bonus of Rs 300 from the Centre.

He said the party had identified 700 fake cases registered against Congress workers during the panchayat elections.


Inside Babudom
Jalandhar boy is special director, CBI
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
While Jagmohan Singh, an IAS officer of the 1983 batch, is here in connection with the holding of Poompuhar, a cultural extravaganza of Tamil Nadu, another civil service officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre and belonging to Punjab is in news.

He is Paramvir Singh, an IPS officer of the 1974 batch, who currently holds the rank of DGP. Today, he was promoted as special director of the CBI.

A product of Lyallpur Khalsa College and DAV College, Jalandhar, Paramvir also had a stint in Chandigarh as he headed the Sector 30 office of the CBI for four years from 1990 to 1994. He had his schooling in Hoshiarpur. Paramvir also studied at Wadia College, Pune, for a while before his selection to the Indian Police Service in 1974.

While Jagmohan belongs to Chandigarh, Paramvir comes from Jalandhar. Jagmohan is currently resident commissioner of the Tamil Nadu government in Delhi. Incidentally, the Governor of Tamil Nadu is Surjit Singh Barnala, former Chief Minister of Punjab.

In fact, Paramvir had spent 15 years of his police career serving country’s premier agency in various capacities. Only in January this year, he was elevated to the rank of DGP by his parent cadre of Tamil Nadu.

Paramvir was awarded Presidents’ police medal in 1991 and in 1998 he got the Presidents’ medal for distinguished service.

The only Punjab officer to head the CBI has been J.S. Bawa. At present, a Himachal Pradesh officer, Ashwani Sharma, heads it.


Land row: Mutations to be reviewed
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Financial commissioner (revenue) Romila Dubey has decided to review the mutations in land record of over 500 acres of land of Mullanpur Garibdass village, situated near here. Recalling all records relating to the case from the SDM, Kharar, Dubey today issued notices to the parties concerned. The case would now be heard by the commissioner on October 24.

The deputy commissioner, SAS Nagar, had written to Dubey yesterday recommending that the mutations carried out by the naib tehsildar of Majri village be reviewed as those were done without the approval of the government.

Meanwhile, the inquiry officer, who has been investigating how execution of mutations was done in the back date, has held the district revenue officer, tehsildar of Kharar, naib tehsildar of Majri, the kanungo and the patwari responsible for the irregularity. The inquiry officer has stated that the mutations were executed and approved by these officers on September 5 while the clarification over the issue was sought from the government on September 12 and September 18.

The land costs over Rs 1000 crore and its shares are said to be owned by a Haryana politician along with some influential persons of Punjab.

Rural and panchayat minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura has written to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asking him to cancel the mutations. He pointed out to the Chief Minister that Dubey was empowered to set aside any mutations which are found to have been wrongfully executed.


Gurta Gaddi Diwas
CM releases gold, silver medallions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today released a pictorial album “Beksan-Ra-Yaar - Guru Gobind Singh” on the life and philosophy of tenth master of Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh and gold and silver medallions of 10 gram and 50 gram each dedicated to the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas of the Guru Granth Sahib here.

The pictorial album depicts the legacy of Guru Gobind Singh from his childhood to his last days in Nanded. It also contains two historic documents Fatehnama and Zafarnama in original Persian script and its transliteration in Gurmukhi. The album has been brought out by the languages department in consultation with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The medallions released today are of 24 carat gold, especially imported from Switzerland. Similarly silver medallions are also of 999.0 fineness. One side of the medallion displays the opening words of Guru Granth Sahib in the handwriting of Guru Arjan Dev and the other side shows the Palki Sahib.

The medallions will be made available through select Phulkari outlets and branches of Punjab and Sind Bank in the state. Subsequently, they will be made available in other states too. The booking will start from October 16.


Rs 137.43 cr to tame Ghaggar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
To protect land and crops from floods, the Punjab government will spend Rs 137.43 crore to strengthen and widen the Ghaggar from Khanouri to Karail and Khanouri to Makrour Sahib in Sangrur district.

Stating this yesterday, Punjab irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon said the scheme was first of its kind after Independence.

Sekhon said on completion, the project would save 60,000 acres of 44 villages of Sangrur and Patiala from flood waters. Under the scheme, 40 km of the Ghaggar will be widened and banks constructed on both sides of the river. This will increase capacity to carry 25,000 cusecs of water. In the first phase, 22.45 km length will be widened and strengthened up to Makrour Sahib village.

Sekhon added 668 acres falling under widening and construction of banks had been acquired and compensation of Rs 45 crore given to the farmers. The project would be completed in three months. On completion, 18 villages of Patiala and 26 villages of Sangrur district would be benefited, he added.


BSF delegation returns from Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 16
An 18-member delegation of the Border Security Force (BSF), led by U.K. Bansal, additional-director general (west), today returned after days of marathon meetings on various Indo-Pak border issues, including smuggling of narcotics, fake Indian currency notes, arms and upsurge in Jammu and Kashmir, from the Attari-Wagah joint check-post, 26 km from here, today.

In a significant development, the BSF and Pakistan Rangers agreed in principle to exchange notes to check all sorts of smuggling and infiltration. Talking to media at the Attari border, Bansal said BSF and Pakistani Rangers had agreed in principle to help families of prisoners lodged in India and Pakistan to get information about their well being. He said though the BSF could not be instrumental in releasing the prisoners, it could exchange lists with Pakistani Rangers. He said the meeting also decided to demarcate the boundaries of Gujrat Ocean to avoid inadvertent crossing into one another’s territory.

In case of inadvertent crossing over to the territory of other country, both BSF and Pakistani Rangers would ensure the return of innocent persons, fishermen and other residents.


Vision plan for Milkfed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
The Punjab government has embarked upon a new vision plan to transform Milkfed into a fully modern and professional organisation of national level. The vision plan is being finalised with the assistance of Rabo Bank and NABARD and would be implemented in the coming two months.

Presiding over a meeting to review the performance of Milkfed, state cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said it was high time to market Verka brand throughout the world, as this brand had already carved a niche with its quality in fresh milk as well as in various milk products.

Capt Singh directed the MD Milkfed to explore the possibilities of setting up of milk estates on the pattern of industrial estates at common. places throughout the state with quality infrastructure as well as animal health care facilities.


Agencies told to lift paddy in 24 hrs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 16
Financial commissioner (rural development and panchayats) G.S. Sandhu today directed officials of the procurement agencies to ensure the lifting of paddy from the grain markets in 24 hours instead of 72 hours, as paddy arrival in Sangrur district had been picking up daily.

Sandhu, who was on a tour of the district to take stock of the procurement of paddy in the grain markets, visited the grain market of Bhawanigarh and talked to farmers to know their problems. He also interacted with arhtiyas.

Sandhu emphasised speedy payment for the paddy crop to farmers. He also asked officers to ensure that the arhtiyas should have sufficient tarpaulins for the safety of paddy crop.

District mandi officer Ramesh Gupta said in the grain markets of the district, 1, 58, 724 metric tonnes (MTs) of paddy had arrived till yesterday, of which 1,41, 570 MTs had been procured. 


Punjab ready to help in Kanishka probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 16
The Punjab government today said that the state was ready to provide all assistance to the Canadian authorities regarding the Air India Kanishka crash in which 329 persons, mostly of Indian origin, were killed. The CM said the Punjab police would give all assistance to its Canadian counterpart into the reinvestigation of the bombing of the Air India flight on June 23, 1985.


Acid attack: 3 accused arrested
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 16
The police today arrested all three youths who were allegedly involved in the acid attack on a Dalit woman of nearby Ghal Kalan village.

She was also sexually harassed by one of the accused early this year, who was recently granted bail by court in the rape case.

This was confirmed in a press note released to a section of the media by the police in the evening.

The police admitted in the press note that the victim got burn injuries due to the acid attack, which was also confirmed by a medical board of the health authorities of the district.

The medical board was constituted by the health authorities on the demand of the police so as to authenticate the medico-legal report submitted by Dr Navraj Singh, a senior government doctor, who examined her soon after the incident.

In his report, the said doctor had written that she had suffered “corrosive” injuries that might have been caused by an acid.

The police was in an awkward position after many people of the village came out in favour of the accused youths, saying they were falsely fabricated in the case. They claimed that the incident was concocted by the woman to settle personal scores with one of the two accused in the rape case.

In this incident, local activists of the National Dalit Movement for Justice also intervened and demanded from the district administration constitution of a medical board for the examination of the victim. Meanwhile, the police also added Sections 3 and 4 of the SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 in the already registered criminal case under Sections 326 and 34, IPC, against the alleged rapists.


Remand for Patiala shooting case accused

PATIALA: One of the accused in yesterday’s firing incident that occurred near the venue of the Punjabi University zonal youth festival was remanded in police custody today. Vikramjit Singh Vicky, who was allegedly involved in the shooting incident in which Gurpal Singh Pehlwan was killed, was produced in a local court. The court ordered for police remand of Vikramjit Singh Vicky till October 22. The police had registered a case under Section 302 against certain persons, including Pushpinder Singh Tau. — TNS


1 dies as SHO’s gunman rams car into tempo

KHANNA: The gunman of the Payal area’s SHO who was allegedly drunk rammed his jeep into a tempo, killing one person and seriously injuring seven this evening. The gunman, identified as Jasvir Singh, also sustained serious injuries and was rushed to Khanna Civil Hospital. He is a resident of Nihal Singh Wala, Moga. The incident took place at around 7 p.m. near Ikolaha village, 5 km from Khanna. Jasvir, who was reportedly in an inebriated state, hit the tempo carrying passengers. Kartar Singh, a resident of Dhiru Majra, died on the spot. — TNS


Diamond robbery: 4 more held

LUDHIANA: The CIA staff, Jalandhar, today nabbed four more persons for the robbery of diamonds worth Rs 3.52 crore involving son of SSP (Vigilance), Patiala, Mohit Sharma. Ashok Kumar Sharma, alias Billu, and Sukhdev Singh, alias Baz, Abdul Meharban, alias Miyan and Gurdhyan were taken on production remand by the Jalandhar police. While both Ashok Kumar Sharma and Sukhdev Singh are residents of Patiala, the whereabouts of the other two were still to be ascertained. The other prime suspect, Amardeep Singh, alias Bittu, and two more are still absconding. — TNS


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