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On the boil, Punjab seeks divine intervention

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Chandigarh: With just over a week to go for the second Progressive Punjab Investors Summit-2015, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is making appeals and even seeking divine intervention for the return of peace and normalcy in the frontier state.

Violent protests, multiple roadblocks across Punjab, youths out on the streets brandishing swords, sticks and other traditional weaponry, shops and establishments being forced to shut down, railway tracks being blocked for days by agitating farmers, rumours being spread through social media to create differences on religious lines and radical elements having a free run – this is certainly not the image that the Punjab government would want the country’s top industrialists and investors to see about the state.

The investors’ summit, which is the brainchild of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who himself is a billionaire businessman with interests in hotels, agriculture, infrastructure, media and some other fields, could take a hit with Punjab being on the boil in the past one month.

First, it was the farmers – the backbone of Punjab’s economy – who blocked railway tracks for several days, affecting nearly 900 trains, demanding higher compensation for their crop loss. The agitation was the outcome of a scam in purchase of spurious pesticide – which led to the loss of the cotton crop.

This was followed by protests and violence after the alleged sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. Radical elements, who had been sidelined over the years after militancy ended in the state in 1995, found a new opening to re-launch themselves. The Badal government, which promised to maintain peace in the state at all costs, was seen faltering and even the elder Badal had to land up at Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, to seek divine intervention for peace and normalcy.

Then, radical elements in the state got pumped by the flip-flop of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, which first announced its “pardon” for controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was accused of hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs in 2007 when he dressed up like Guru Gobind Singh. The Akal Takht has now, in a complete U-turn, reversed its decision.

The investors’ summit on Oct 28-29, to be held on the campus of the Indian School of Business in Mohali near here, will focus on agro- and food processing, life-sciences, information technology and its enabled services, skill development, health, manufacturing, education, renewable energy, aerospace and defence and tourism sectors.

Big names from the industry are expected to participate this time too. The last summit, in December 2013, saw the likes of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani, steel tycoon L.N. Mittal, ITC’s Y.C. Deveshwar, Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, L&T’s A. M. Naik, Hero Group’s Sunil Kant Munjal, DLF’s Rajiv Singh, Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Bharti Mittal and many others attending.

Despite claims by Sukhbir Badal, the first summit has hardly made any impact on the ground in terms of big investments in Punjab. This time too it is not going to be any different.

All the happenings in Punjab in the past month are hardly going down well with any prospective investor. The state’s “progressive” image would surely take a hit.

Perhaps because of this, on Tuesday, the chief minister, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee asked the people to orgnaise “akhand paths” (prayers) in towns and villages across Punjab to restore peace in the state.

The question is: Will divine intervention succeed where everything else has failed?

(Jaideep Sarin, IANS)

 

 

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Heroin worth Rs. 100 crore seized by BSF in Punjab

22kg heroine was recovered during a combat between Pakistani smugglers and BSF troopers

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22kg heroin seized in Punjab
BSF recovers heroine worth Rs. 100 crores from Pakistani smugglers. Wikimedia Commons.

In a joint operation, Border Security Forces (BSF) troopers and the Punjab Police have recovered 22kg of heroin in Punjab’s Ferozepur sector following exchange of fire with Pakistani smugglers near the international border, a BSF officer said on Saturday.

The encounter took place late on Friday following a tip-off that smugglers were trying to send heroin consignment into India.

At least one Pakistani smuggler was injured in the exchange of fire as blood stains were found during search of the area on Saturday, BSF officer D.S. Rajpurohit said.

The BSF recovered a pistol and one Pakistani Sim card.

The BSF also arrested three Indian smugglers who were waiting close to the border fence to collect the heroin consignment.

The smugglers were trying to smuggle the heroin consignment using a plastic pipe across the border fence.

The heroin is worth nearly Rs 110 crore in the international market.

The Ferozepur border is around 275 km from here.

Punjab shares a 553-km-long barbed-wire fenced international border with Pakistan. (IANS)

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Indian Farmers reason behind Smog in Pakistan

Smog in Pakistan has affected the health of people but also caused road accidents.

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Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons
  • Pakistani officials have said that stubble burning by Indian farmers has caused a thick blanket of smog in Punjab province which led to smog in Pakistan as well.

The officials with Environment Protection Department of Punjab province told Xinhua news agency on Saturday night that the smog is causing various diseases and the provincial government is taking measures to control the situation.

The department’s minister Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan said that the smog engulfed the province for the last two weeks, and is feared to continue for the coming week.

She added that the smoke from the Indian farms moved at a velocity of 7 to 8 km per hour towards Punjab province.

Also Read: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression: Pakistani Journalists Struggle with Growing Threats from Government and Militants alike

Local experts said that the total Air Quality Index in the provincial capital of Lahore is 357 whereas the maximum limit should be around 100, adding that if the situation was not controlled, the level is feared to exceed 500 soon.

Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official of the environment department said that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and violators were being arrested.

A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning.

Some 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped. About 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of 43 lakh Pakistani rupees (about $43,000) fine has been imposed, Hussain told Xinhua.

Apart from this, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, he added.

Smog in Pakistan has not only affected the health of people but also caused road accidents. According to local media reports, at least 18 people have been killed and 45 others injured in separate fog-related accidents across the province.

Air traffic was also affected due to smog-caused low visibility. Six domestic flights from various airports have been suspended due to smog in Pakistan, spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement.

The Met office said that smog will disappear after rains or heavy winds, but there was no possibility of any of it in the next 48 hours.( IANS)

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Haryana Police Summons 45 Dera Sacha Sauda Committee Members Accused of Plotting Violence Following Conviction of Dera Chief

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape

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DERA SACHA SAUDA
Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape. IANS

Chandigarh, October 6, 2017 : Haryana police have issued summons to 45 members of a committee of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to appear before it regarding the violence that erupted following the rape conviction of the Dera chief on August 25, police sources said on Friday.

Police sources said a hard disk, which reportedly contains details of transactions worth Rs 700 crore, including property and hawala deals, of the Dera has been recovered and sent for detailed examination.

The 45-member committee, which included the Dera’s headquarters campus (near Sirsa) chairman Vipassana and vice chairman P.R. Nain, is being accused of planning the violence in Panchkula and other places that left at least 38 people dead and 264 injured.

Dera Sacha Sauda followers had indulged in large-scale violence in Panchkula and Sirsa after the CBI court on August 25 convicted the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape.

The Haryana Police had last month issued a list of 43 ‘Most Wanted’ people of the sect, including top functionaries Honeypreet Insan and Aditya Insan, who are the closest aides of Ram Rahim, for their role in the violence.

Honeypreet was arrested from neighbouring Punjab on Tuesday after being fugitive for 38 days. She was booked for sedition and inciting violence.

The disgraced sect chief, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, is now lodged in the District Jail in Sunaria near Rohtak. (IANS)