Wednesday, October 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India



SPOs without salary, commit suicide

This refers to the news report "6000 SPOs without salary for 3 months".

Though designated "Special Police Officer", their plight is worse than an unskilled daily labourer. They have no paid leave facility at all, not even paid medical leave. They do not get any weekly day off. They are not supplied any uniforms. They are paid at the rate of only Rs 90 per day. They are thrown out if they are not on duty for more than four days for howsoever compelling and justified reasons that may be.

It is not for the first time that they have not been paid wages for three months. This, in fact, has become a routine. This has resulted in their children having to quit schools; even children and pregnant women in their families not getting milk. Sometimes they had no money for purchasing medicines for those sick in their families.

All this has been brought to the notice of the Chief Minister again and again by many public men as well as the media, but with no effect. Letters written to him are not even acknowledged by his office.

What type of morality our government can boast of when the SPOs, who played an important role in the fight against terrorism in Punjab, do not get even wages for months though the government has enough funds to increase two-fold and even more the amounts that are paid as salaries and allowances to ministers and MLAs.


Now we have reports about SPOs committing suicide. I would like to request the Chief Secretary to the Government of Punjab to deal with this whole matter on a top priority basis. 

I suggest as under:

1. Withheld wages in full must be paid immediately to all the SPOs. In future, they must be paid on the first of every month.

2. All such SPOs as have been found fit to become constables must be made so by lifting the ban on any new recruitment.

3. As regards those not found fit for the post of constable, they must be given class IV jobs in various departments. This is not a "suggestion" but this commitment was made by late S. Beant Singh as well as Mr Parkash Singh Badal. During the five-year rule of Mr Badal only one SPO was given a class IV job.

The present Chief Minister should honour the commitment of his two predecessors or immediately create a new cadre in the Police Department for adjusting these SPOs.

In the meanwhile, a suitable increase in their wages and leave facilities on a par with those given to class IV employees should be allowed.

Satya Pal Dang, Chheharta (Amritsar)

Keep them away from crackers

The Deepavali festival is approaching. An environmental magazine has warned about the ill effects of the crackers like "phuljhari" and "anar". They contain highly toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, copper, manganese and zinc. The crackers have also arsenic, mercury, chromium and iron oxides which lead to severe pollution after they are brunt.

It has been informed that pollutants have nitrous oxides, SO2, suspended particulate matter, etc. These cause a number of diseases.

According to a report, air pollution hits children harder because they spend more time outside during the day when pollution levels are the highest. They breathe more through the mouth. Their lungs are still developing.

The Central Pollution Control Board has informed that 95 per cent of the crackers available in the market violate noise and air pollution norms. The pollution level in Delhi was 10 times higher than the permissible limits on Diwali last year.

Deepavali basically stands for a row of lights which drives away darkness and starts the light of knowledge. The children of Delhi schools have decided to be away from crackers.

The heads of all the schools in Chandigarh should educate the students about the ill-effects of the crackers to keep them away from these health-impairing toys.

M.L. Garg, Chandigarh 

Poor enquiry facility

There are five telephone numbers for railway enquiry at Amritsar: 131, 2225028, 2225029, 2225035 and 2225036. Mostly these are either busy or keep ringing for a long time. If they pick up the receiver they treat you like anything. Hardly had you enquired about anything and they put the receiver down.

It seems they are too busy with their work. But when you actually visit the window you will find that they are relaxed and least bothered about the telephone. Sometimes they put the receiver down to cheat the customers.

Who is accountable for such poor customer care?

Does the railway people consider us as potential customers? The railway customer care facility should be on a par with that available with private companies.

M.S. Bhatti & Rajbir Bhatti, Amritsar

Harmonious life

In the middle article "Celebrating in harmony" (September 18), Veena Singh has remarked that we enjoy the religious festivals like Diwali, Id and Christmas irrespective of our own faiths. She also mentioned a family where the husband was a Sikh and his wife from a Gupta family and they did not face any problem.

Some years ago, a Sindhi Hindu youth told me in Rawalpindi (Pakistan) that his wife was a highly educated Christian who regularly read the Bible and they lived peacefully. Likewise, some decades ago one of my colleagues was an initiated Sikh and his wife a votary of the Radhasoami creed and yet they enjoyed perfect conjugal bliss. Such couples are really blessed.

"Maanas kee zaat sabhai ek hee paihchaan bo" (Know you all that the caste of mankind is one), said Guru Gobind Singh.

Religion is the spiritual attitude of pious people, who believe in God, practice philanthropy and love human beings. One religion is as good as another.

Bhagwan Singh, Qadian

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