P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Capt to expand campaign panel
Sends list of names to high command
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 6
Asserting he was answerable to none except for the AICC chief Sonia Gandhi and the Congress high command, chairman of the PPCC’s Campaign Committee Amarinder Singh has sought to expand the campaign committee, for which, he has forwarded a list of those party leaders, having capacity to enhance winning chances of the party in the coming parliamentary polls.

Reacting to the postponement of his proposed campaign tour by the Congress high command and alleged backtracking of certain party leaders from accompanying him, Amarinder said party acting president Mohinder Singh Kaypee was with him when he had chalked out the programme. “Kaypee is a fine person,” he said.

He made it sure to point his darts at the senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, though indirectly, saying: “Bhattal is the leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) and she should confine her activities to running of the business of the CLP only. Certain people were running a ‘friendly show’ at Chandigarh though it is not a time to run a ‘friendly show’. Rather, it is time to stand by Congress workers, who were being harassed and targeted by the SAD-BJP government.

“You know, nearly 48 Congress workers had lost their lives and another 7,500 had been falsely implicated in police cases by the ruling combine during the panchayat polls.”

Amarinder added he was going ahead with his five-day campaign tour from December 8.

He alleged that public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia and his family were amassing huge wealth. “Their monthly income is over Rs 1,000 crore as they were controlling liquor and sand trade. Similarly, the Badals were looting Punjab with both hands. No project gets approval without Sukhbir Badal’s nod,” alleged Amarinder.


Tussle between govt staff, lawyers
Common man at the receiving end
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
While allegations and counter-allegations between lawyers and government staff over the control of public land in Amritsar are flying thick and fast , it is the aam aadmi, common man, who has been left high and dry.

The functioning of district administration is virtually at a standstill in Amritsar since the beginning of this week as the lawyers and the employees have been holding protests and demonstrations to give credence to their respective versions of an incident that now threatens to flare up and spread all over the state.

Both parties are sticking to their guns leading to disruption of normal services, thus affecting the life of the common man, who is now greeted not only by empty offices but also a series of traffic blockades and dharnas, spread over various parts of the city.

The Punjab PCS Officers Association gave a call to its members to wear black badges yesterday in protest against the “hooliganism resorted to by the lawyers of the holy city.”

It all started on Saturday last, when according to deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu, a group of lawyers allegedly started constructing chambers in the district administrative complex. No foundations were dug as the alleged benefactors wanted to erect temporary roofs of their new chambers before the offices re-opened on Monday.

When asked to produce permission for the construction of chambers, the lawyers admitted they had no permission, but wanted to erect chambers.

Since the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently passed directions that estate officers in whose jurisdiction any new encroachment took place would be hauled up for “contempt of court” proceedings, the subdivisional magistrate of Amritsar reportedly reached the site and ordered removal of encroachments which were coming up on the public land.

The SDM, however, did not foresee that his action would infuriate the lawyers so much that his office would come under physical attack. His office was ransacked. Protesting lawyers then staged a dharna in front of his office as the employees apprehending physical harm fled their offices. Once the employees left, the protesting lawyers reportedly entered the offices again and ransacked these. The SDM and the employees went to the police against the “unruly behaviour of the lawyers, while the police played dumb” by refusing to register a complaint.

To protest against both the lawyers and the police, the district employees have been organising protests and dharnas, besides traffic blockade to focus attention of the public towards their grievances.

Provision of chambers for lawyers is an administrative problem for which no estate officer, duty-bound and conscientious, would permit encroachments. And the police, entrusted with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order, cannot be a mute spectator to developments in which, besides extensive damage to public property, a common man is made to suffer for no fault of his.


Rights panel for Rs 1 lakh relief to kin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has recommended the payment of Rs 1 lakh as relief to the family of custodial death victim Bhikhan Shah, who was lodged in the Central Jail, Jalandhar, when he died while being rushed to the hospital in July 2006.

Issuing the orders here yesterday, the commission observed that on the basis of the postmortem report, the death of the jail inmate took place due to the consumption of oregano phosphorus compound and was not a case of “natural” death as was being insisted by the superintendent, Central Jail, Jalandhar, and the DGP (Jails), Punjab.

On July 17, 2006, a communication was received from the superintendent regarding the custodial death of undertrial prisoner Bhikhan Shah. The commission took cognizance of the matter.

The commission noted in its orders issued yesterday that in this case, there is a contradiction between the views taken by the suprintendent and the DGP on the one hand and the doctors through their postmortem report, supported by inquest report of the DM, on the other.

“While the jails department is declaring that this is a natural death and nobody from the jail side is at fault, there is inconvertible postmortem report, dated July 17, 2006, wherein it is clearly observed that the death was due to consumption of oregano phosphorus compound,” noted the commission members.

“The commission had been asking the jail authorities how the compound reached the jail. Instead of replying to this, the jail authorities and the DGP had quoted the initial report that it was a natural death and nobody in the jail was responsible.”

While recommending the payment of Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the victim’s family, the commission has also ordered that the government would be at liberty to fix responsibility on one or more than one officers in the department to realise this money from them.



Ramoowalia begins poll march
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
President of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) Balwant Singh Ramoowalia wants to contest from Sangrur Lok Sabha (LS) constituency either as a candidate of his own party or in alliance with the Congress party.He has stepped up political activity in this constituency. He has chosen ‘pedal yatra’ (foot march) to identify himself with people of this constituency.

Ramoowalia with his party’s office- bearers and workers today began his four-day ‘foot march’ of 32 villages (eight villages in a day) of the Lehragaga Assembly constituency from Moonak, 60 km from here. As part of his ‘foot march’, after Moonak he today visited Karrail, Churral Kalan, Churral Khurd, Chottian, Bakhoran Kalan, Bakhoran Khurd and Ballran villages. At all places he addressed gatherings to make people aware about his party’s programme and the issues, raised by his party in the larger interest of people.

Ramoowalia visited the villages in a cavalcade, but from the entry point of every village he along with his party men walked through the streets, meeting people on the way before holding a gathering in the village. Thus he reportedly succeeded in taking several persons with him to the venue of his rally.

Ramoowalia said every where people heard his views and many of them also assured him they had made up their mind to give him a chance in the LS elections this time, as he had saved the lives of many sons and daughters, cheated by travel agents.


SAD to contest Delhi parliamentary seat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
After contesting four Assembly seats in Delhi during the recent elections, the SAD will contest a parliamentary seat in New Delhi for the first time.

This was stated by Onkar Singh Thapar, vice-president of the SAD, here today. He said an Akali candidate would be fielded from the Delhi West parliamentary constituency under the banner of the NDA.

Thapar claimed they would broaden base of the party in other states also. “This is for the first time that Akalis have contested with their own election symbol and not that of the BJP. Our party is emerging stronger and is being acknowledged not only in Punjab, but outside also,” he said.


Badals not inclined to contest polls
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has said no member of his family was inclined to contest the Lok Sabha (LS) elections in the state.

Speaking to mediapersons during the wedding of local MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon’s son here on Thursday, Badal said his candidature from Bathinda too would depend on the decision of his party.

“It all depends on the party’s decision. If the high command wants me to contest from the Bathinda parliamentary constituency, I will accept their decision,” he said.

The SAD president also indicated that new faces would be fielded in the state. Many sitting MPs had expressed unwillingness to fight the elections this time. Several seasoned leaders would be given party ticket. The second list of candidates would be released within 10-12 days.

The SAD has already named four candidates from the Tarn Taran, Jalandhar, Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib constituencies. The SAD has to contest on 10 seats out of 13 as three will be contested by the BJP.


Harbans Lal assumes charge as MC chief
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
Harbans Lal was elected president of the Municipal Council (MC) here on July 23. He had to wait for four months and 10 days to take charge of the council because the Department of Local Government, Punjab, had refused to notify his name as president of the council.

However, Harbans on Thursday assumed charge as the president of the MC following the notification to this effect on Wednesday by the principal secretary, Department of Local Government, Punjab, in the light of an order of Punjab and Haryana High Court of November 26.

Harbans had won the council election from ward no. 13 as a candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), but on July 23, he was elected president of the council as a nominee of the Congress as he, on that day, had joined the Congress. The election meeting was attended by 11 members, including Congress MLA Sibia. 


India can meet any aggression, says Air Vice-Marshal Chopra
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, December 6
India is capable of giving befitting reply to any external aggression. Air Vice- Marshal Anil Chopra stated this during a visit to Sainik School Kapurthala on Saturday. An alumnus of Sainik School Kapurthala, he unveiled the phased- out air craft MIG 23 installed at the school to encourage its students to join the Indian Air Force.

Air Marshal Chopra said Air Force was equipped with advanced technology air fighters. Further Air Force recently included several Sukhoi 30 advanced technology aircraft in its fleet.

Refusing to comment on recent tension at the Indo- Pakistan border after Mumbai strikes , he said light combat fighter being developed in our country would be further included in Air Force in next two years.

To a query about increase in the number of air crashes particularly MIG fighters, he said crashes had taken place due to some technical snags. At the same time, he said the performance of MIG fighters was excellent in war.

Meanwhile the Air Vice- Marshal said MIG 23 installed at the school had been acquired in 1980 from Russia. It could fly at a speed of 1,400 km per hour and had swing wings. It could carry ammunition load of three tonnes during strikes. He asked school authorities to wash the aircraft after 15 to 20 days. Air Force authorities would paint it after two years to keep the aircraft in good shape , he added.

Hailing from Kapurthala itself, Chopra recalled his old days in the school and said many boys from this school were serving the Army, Navy and Air Force in high positions. School Principal Colonel A.K. Tyagi thanked the Air Marshal for dedicating the phased- out MIG 23 to the school. DC J.M. Balamurugan was also present.


Muslim saint’s descendant visits ancestral village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Batala, December 6
Mohammad Ali Gilani, an advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan, today condemned violence by terrorists in various parts of India, and urged Indian and Pakistan governments to wipe out terrorism.

Gilani, who is 13th generation descendent of Shri Sayyed Hassan Badrudin Rehmat Ullah alias Shah Badar Diwan, a Muslim saint and Emperor Babar's contemporary, was given warm welcome by residents of Masanian Sharif, village , 4 km from here , when he along with his family members reached here after 61 years. The 'mazaar' of Shah Badar Diwan was constructed by Emperor Shahjahan, who was his disciple, in this village.

He said all terrorists from India and now residing in Pakistan, must be handed over to India by Pakistan government, if they had committed any crime in India and wanted in any criminal case. He, however, claimed Pakistan was also victim of terrorism.

"Gripped with huge economic crises and blasts becoming an order of the day, Pakistan cannot afford to execute terrorist activities in India," he pointed out adding some vested interests had been playing a game under a conspiracy against people of both countries, who wanted cordial relations and open trade.

He said terrorism had claimed more human lives in India and Pakistan that the number of people killed in two Indo-Pakistan , in 1965 and 1971. He asked for how long, both countries would allow the innocent people to be killed by terrorists.

When everyone knew terrorists did not have any religion, nationality, caste and community then why governments of both countries were indulging in blame games. Instead , they should fight terrorism to finish it jointly.

Gilani, who along with his father Sayyed Mohammad Yasheen Gilani, a landlord, migrated to Pakistan during the partition , said apart from terrorism, Pakistan faced nine years of dictatorship and other political difficulties and this had made the country a victim of circumstances. He said as per his knowledge, Pakistan was running no camps for training the terrorists in any part of its territory. Gilani, who was also given warm welcome by Batala Bar Association led by Raghubir Singh Sandhu, said if Visa procedure was made simple and hassle -free then he along with his family members could come to India every month.

He said love and respect given to him and his family members by the residents of his ancestral village and the Batala Bar Association, which also hosted a lunch in his honour, was most beautiful period of his life, which he could not explain in words. 


Police reluctant to nab colleagues declared POs
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
After killing their fellow colleagues in a fake encounter and being declared proclaimed offenders (POs) by a special CBI court in Patiala, since June 10 this year, approximately 21 Punjab policemen have been at large.

Though these policemen were suspended by the Jalandhar police two months ago, no efforts have been made to nab them. The police officials, including those of the rank of a DSP, sub-inspectors (SI), head constables (HCs) and constables, were accused of killing three fellow cops, Baljit Singh, Rajwinder Singh and Mukhtiar Singh, in a fake encounter that took place at Lambra village, near Jalandhar, in 1992.

After the state agencies failed to frame charges against these police officers, the CBI investigated the matter and found 21 officials guilty.

The officials were declared POs after they defied orders of the CBI court for 11 years and did not attend any court proceedings. The Jalandhar police washed their hands off the responsibilities, suspended these officers and surrendered their salaries soon after they received the orders from the court, but it is reluctant to nab them.

The High Court had dismissed their plea to quash the CBI court order three months ago, directing them to surrender. Following the High Court’s latest orders, the police officials have gone underground.

“We have received the court orders and action was taken against these policemen as per law. We sent a police party to their residence to nab these police officials, but all of them are on the run,” P.K. Rai, SSP, Jalandhar, said.

The chargesheet of the CBI court, Patiala, a copy of which is with The Tribune, states that a fake encounter was conducted by the police, on the night of September 5, 1992, where Ram Singh, then SHO of the Lambra police station, who was later promoted as DSP, Police Lines, and 20 others, including inspector Amrik Singh, SI Ajit Singh, Jagjit Sigh, ASI Ashwani Kumar, ASI Shivdev Singh, ASI Balkar Singh, ASI Harbhajan Singh, ASI Ranjit Singh, ASI Harpal Singh, HC Ashok Kumar, HC Ajaib Singh, HC Gurnam Singh, HC Sajjan Singh, Gurjit Singh, Nishan Singh, Harinder Singh, Gurbax Singh, Balwinder Singh, Sarabjit Singh and Gurmeet Singh, allegedly killed three men in a fake encounter at Chitti Mod, near Lambra.


Varsity teams to gather data
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 6
Punjab government has initiated the process to collect data in a scientific manner regarding suicides in the agricultural sector. The state authorities have assigned the task to the Department of Economics and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

In the first phase, two most affected districts, Sangrur and Bathinda, will be covered under the research to collect data and identify reasons behind suicides. “We are on the job of collecting data and relevant information with regard to suicides in the farm sector”, said Prof Rajinder Singh Sidhu, head of the department. All districts may be covered under the study.

Heavy debt is considered major reason behind suicides by farmers though there are other reasons, including use of drugs and other intoxicants, social feuds and prolonged litigation. Average debt against Punjab farmers is in the range of Rs 40,000, highest in the country.

The data is being collected block-wise. “About 40 staff members, including faculty of the department, have been visiting various villages”, said Prof Rajinder Singh. Cases of suicides among farm labour are also likely to be made part of the study. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently indicated the inclusion of farm labour in the study.

The PAU teams will visit around 850 villages in Sangrur and Bathinda districts.

The Movement Against State Repression (MASR), headed by Inderjit Singh Jaijee, politician-turned-social activist, was first to raise the issue of suicides in the farm sector in Punjab about 12 years ago.

Through his own resources, he had collected data in this regard in some parts of Sangrur district. 


Majithia seeks 70% cut in fuel prices
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 6
Youth Akali Dal’s patron and information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia has termed the cut in fuel prices as an eyewash and demanded 70 per cent cut in the prices of petrol/diesel and LPG inline with drop in cost of crude oil in the international market from $ 147 to $ 38 per barrel.

Criticising the UPA government for robbing the ordinary masses to fill the coffers of multinational petroleum companies, Majithia has said economist like Dr Manmohan Singh have no justification to effect mere 10 and 7 per cent cuts in petrol and diesel prices, respectively, as the cost of fuel in the international market has gone down by 70 per cent.

He says the Central government has tried to punish the peasantry and transporters, mostly belonging to Punjab, who has exposed anti-farmer policies of the Congress-led UPA government.

The minister adds by timing the fuel price cut announcement with the elections, the UPA government cannot distract the public from its failure and inability to safeguard the life and property of the people, as exposed in the recent terror attack on Mumbai.


‘A person trimming hair, beard can’t claim to be Sehajdhari’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar , December 6
Glaring difference of opinion on the definition of “Sehajdhari Sikh”, prepared by the SGPC executive committee and panel of experts may put the Shiromani Committee in the spot.

The panel of Sikh experts have clearly concluded , “A person cannot claim to be a Sehajdhari by trimming/cutting his/her beard or eyebrows in any manner”. The meeting of the panel, held here on December 4 was necessitated when objections were raised on the definition of Sehajdhari, passed in the executive committee meeting of the Shiromani Committee, held on December 3 at Chandigarh. However, some members of the panel alleged the SGPC ignored the suggestions made by them at the meeting held under the presidentship of Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, SGPC general secretary and necessary amendments were not made in the resolution passed by the executive committee meeting on December 3..

Bhaur, Kiranjot Kaur , G.S.Lamba , Prof Suba Singh and Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar- all members of the expert panel of the SGPC said they stood by the definition passed by them on December 4.

To a question, Kiranjot Kaur , an SGPC member, said the resolution of the SGPC executive committee about the definition of Sehajdhari was contrary to the one passed by them (Sikh expert panel). Editor of Sikh monthly, Sant Sipahi, G.S.Lamba , one of the six members also expressed shock the executive body had ignored the recommendations , made by the experts.

The SGPC executive committee had reiterated the definition given in the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, according to which the Sehajdhari Sikhs are those who are born in non-Sikh families, but follow the tenets of Sikhism. A Sehajdhari Sikh is thus a non-Sikh who performs ceremonies according to Sikh rites; who does not use tobacco, does not consume halal meat in any form; who is not a “patit” and who recites the mulmantra of Guru Granth Sahib.

In the resolution passed at a meeting held this evening, the SGPC pointed out the definition of Sehajdhari given in the Section 2 (10-A) of the Gurdwara Act states the word “sehajdhari” consists of two words “sehaj” (slowly) and “dhari” (adopt a religious path) and hence these are those novices who slowly move on the path of Sikhism to adopt its doctrine, ethics and tenets.

A Sehajdhari, therefore, is one who has entered the path of Sikhism and he will continue to be a Sehajdhari Sikh till he fully accepts the moral and spiritual vows of Sikhism, to be called a practising Sikh. The SGPC resolution also made it clear that when a Sehajdhari Sikh becomes a keshdhari Sikh, but he chooses to trim his body hair, he will not be a Sehajdhari Sikh. Similarly, if a person born into a Sikh family (and is a Sikh), but chooses to disrespect his keshdhari roop he will not turn into a Sehajdhari Sikh but become a “patit”.

However, Lamba and Kiranjot Kaur alleged such a definition passed by the SGPC executive body would have far-reaching effects .

Sabar, another member of the expert panel said the definition of Sehajdhari, passed by the experts should be accepted in toto.


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