P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Testimonies against Daler inconsistent, says police
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 29
The Patiala police is finding “gaps in the testimonies” of complainants in the human trafficking case registered against pop star Daler Mehndi even as it has been forced to reissue notices under Section 160, CrPC, to complainants who have still not appeared before it to corroborate their allegations against the pop star.

According to sources, the police had issued notices the complainants some days ago. The sources said only about a dozen complainants had come forward to give their statements to the police and for questioning.

However, most of the complainants, numbering 31, had not come forward to give their statements in the case again.

The SSP, Mr A. S. Rai, said a number of complainants had been questioned to verify their allegations with the statements given by Daler Mehndi.

He said nothing much had come out of it and there were large gaps in the testimonies of the complainants.

The police was investigating the case on the basis of documents and the picture would become more clear once Daler was brought back from Delhi, he said. Daler had been taken to Delhi in the morning so that more documents which were needed in the case could be collected.

Even as the police is finding that the allegations against Daler are not backed up by any documents, it is getting evidence of the involvement of his brother Shamsher Mehndi.

The SSP said as far as Shamsher was concerned “things had become very clear”.

The police has, meanwhile, started examining what prompted a large number of people to come together to complain against the pop star.

No complainant would be allowed to withdraw his complaint and anyone found filing a false complaint would be prosecuted under Section 182, IPC, he said.

The Range DIG I.S.P. Sahota, a said he would record the statement of Daler regarding the allegations of bribery against police officers only when he was out of police custody.


Singer files for bail in corruption case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 29
Punjabi pop star Daler Mehndi today filed an application in the court of the Duty Magistrate for bail in a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act against him by the Patiala police. The case was registered against him during investigations in the human trafficking case.

An officer in the computer cell had complained that the secretary of Daler Mehndi had threatened him with dire consequences.

The bail application will come up for hearing tomorrow and claimed that there was no allegation in the FIR that the accused had given any threat. It said moreover no computer was seized from either the office or the residence of the accused.

His lawyer said neither offences under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act nor Sections 506,186 and 189, IPC, were made out against the accused.

The application also said there was no chance of the applicant absconding in the case and there was no reason to believe that the investigation would be hampered. It also said the applicant was cooperating with the investigating agencies and would appear in court as and when directed to do so.


26 hurt as 2 buses collide head on near Morinda
Tribune News Service

No phone in Morinda Civil Hospital

Speaking volumes of the sorry state Government hospitals in Punjab, the Civil hospital at Morinda has no telephone facility. ‘‘Forget the telephone when the patients arrived we had only five injections in the emergency medicines cabinet. We are most unprepared for any emergency here. We have had no telephone for the last six years in the hospital and despite being on an accident-prone national highway we have no facility to save the life of even a single serious accident victim,’’ said a hospital staff member.

Mohali, December 29
At least 26 persons were injured, 10 of them seriously, in a head-on collision between two buses on the Kharar-Ludhiana road early this morning.

The accident occurred when the driver of one bus, in an attempt to overtake a vehicle, hit another bus coming from the opposite side which he apparently failed to see due to excessive fog.

While most of the passengers in the bus that was overtaking escaped unhurt, majority of the passengers in the bus coming from the opposite side including the driver, were severely injured.

After being taken to the nearest civil hospitals all those seriously injured were shifted to PGIMER Chandigarh. The condition of both the bus drivers was said to be most serious among the 10 who are now admitted at the PGI.

The accident occurred at 7.30 am when a Sutlej Transport company bus plying from Mohali to Jalandhar via Ludhiana (PB 08 AG 877) hit a Punjab Roadways bus (PB 29 9340) coming from Moga on its way to Mohali.

Eyewitnesses said that the driver of the private bus was trying to overtake a tractor on his side and could not see the bus coming from the opposite side due to the fog.

‘‘The Sutlej bus driver was driving very fast and banged into the Punjab Roadways bus,’’ said an eyewitness. The Punjab Roadways bus fell into a roadside ditch due to the impact.

Immediately, following the accident two cars and a cyclist too were caught in the confusion, hitting each other. However, the occupants of the car and the cyclist escaped with minor injuries.

The accident occurred between Morinda and Gharuan village on National Highway 95. Residents of a nearby village Mankheri rushed to help on hearing cries of the victims.

‘‘The driver of the Punjab Roadways bus was lying on the road, his skull fractured,’’ said Varinder, an employee of Baba Farid Factory, on the main road near the spot where the accident occurred.

While some of the injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital, Morinda, others were taken to the Civil Hospital, Kharar, and some were taken straight to the PGI by some commuters. Later, the ones who were serious were rushed from these hospitals to the PGI. Many of those with minor injuries were discharged after first aid.

The list of injured in the PGI include Kailash Rani (50), Kamaljit Singh (54), Parminder Singh (53), Harjinder Singh (35), Ashwani Kumar (35), Rakesh (30), Gubagh Singh (35), Varinder Kumar (35), Harbhajan Singh and Sarabjit Singh.

According to scanty information available about those injured, Kailash Rani belongs to Attawa Chandigarh, Harbhajan Singh, the driver of the Punjab Roadways bus who is very serious, belongs to Ludhiana. Driver of the Sutlej bus Gurbag Singh is also in a serious condition. Varinder Kumar belongs to Attawa village, Chandigarh. While Kamaljit Singh is the conductor of the Sutlej bus. Harjinder Singh is working with the CID Chandigarh unit.


Missing — the girl child in the North
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
‘Lapata..’ meaning missing....is a stunning one-word title of a small booklet, published in Punjabi under the aegis of the Directorate of Census, that speaks volumes about the concern over the declining sex ratio depicted through maps in colour.

It has very little text and the maps draw a comparison between the male: female sex ratio in census-1991 and census-2001. The innocent face in the cover photograph of a girl child itself is heart-wrenching.

To bring home the point of concern on declining sex ratio, ‘Lapata...’ quoted two instances from Rajasthan, where birth of a girl child was not a natural act but was considered a ‘problem’, a ‘curse’. These instances depicted in detail to what length the parents could go for a baby boy.

In one instance, it said, a public school teacher, married to a senior executive in a multinational company, went in for sex determination test nine times and opted for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) four times, before she gave birth to a son, after two daughters.

The doctor had warned her at the time of her last MTP not to have yet another child, as it could prove fatal to her. She died two days after giving birth to a baby boy.

In the second incident, an uneducated girl was married to a jawan at 18. She gave birth to her first child at 20. She became pregnant seven times.

She strangulated her two daughters when they were just a day old. Her two sons died of illness. She underwent abortion twice because each time it was a girl child.

Now her only one son was alive. She had no regrets, her husband ha. Yet, she wanted one more son and said she would still go for an MTP, if it was a girl child. The family has no means to give dowry, she added.

And ‘Lapata..’ goes on to depict that while the population increased by 21.34 per cent between 1991 and 2001, what, however, did not increase and rather decreased was the sex ratio.

In 1991 the sex ratio was 945 females, per 1,000 live male births, whereas, it declined to 927 in 2001.

There had been a declining trend in sex ratio since 1961, when it was 976. In the following census years it was recorded as 964 and 962, respectively.

In census-2001 the sex ratio declined significantly in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, where it was below 900. In 70 districts in 16 states and union territories, the decline from 1991 to 2001 was by at least 50 per cent.

Even in the prosperous districts like Kurukshetra in Haryana sex ratio was 770, in Ahmedabad 814 and in south-west Delhi 845.

There was an alarming trend in getting pre-natal sex tests done. If it happened to be a female, the foetus was aborted.

Sensing the seriousness of the situation, Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulations and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 was amended in 2002. It came into operation on February 14, 2003.

Now, the name of the original 1994 Act , had been changed to Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act. It seemed, the presence of this law was not a deterrent. The pre-birth elimination of females continued.

In ‘Lapata...’ Punjab was shown in deep red and so were some districts of Haryana and Gujarat. In census-2001, four states had recorded sex ratio below 800. These were Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The all-India census-2001 map showed far less number of states with sex ratio of more than 950 than in census-1991 map.

Punjab, whose green fields had turned red during militancy, was now in the red for different reasons in as many as 10 districts, out of 17, where sex ratio was woefully low. In no district of Punjab the sex ratio was more than 850.

In Fatehgarh sex ratio was only 754; the lowest in the state. The declining trend in sex ratio, noticed in 1991, became a reality in 2001.The seven districts which were not in the red yet, were, Ferozepore, Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur.

In Punjab, sex ratio declined from 832 in 1901 to 780 in 1911. Ever since then, it had shown consistent improvement till 1991, when it reached 882, the best ever recorded and was now 874.

In Haryana, in all 19 districts sex ratio was below 850. It was lower than 800 in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Sonepat and Rohtak, where the situation was grim.

‘Lapata..’ revealed that the average sex ratio in 2001 was 793 in Punjab and 820 in Haryana, against all-India average of 927.

Whose responsibility is it that no more girl child will go ‘lapata..’ in future?


Vocalists captivate music lovers
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 29
Vocalists, Rajan-Sajan Mishra and Manjiri Asnare Kelkar captivated lovers of classical music on the concluding day of the Shri Baba Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan here last night. Mathura of the times of Lord Krishna was brought alive as Kelkar started rendering a ‘bandish’, “Rang na daaro shyam ji, nai pehni hai saari, degi gari mori sakhian” in raga “sohni”.

She was accompanied by ace harmonium player Mohan Malsiyani, who himself is a vocalist and has been working with All India Radio at Jalandhar for the past over 20 years, besides being the ‘ustaad’ of a number of top Punjabi vocalists.

Kelkar ,who was accompanied on the tabla by Vishwanath Shirodkar, later switched on to raga ‘nandi kalyan, in which she presented two ‘bandishes’, which were embellished with the use of different ‘Khatkas’ and ‘alaaps’. Kelkar earned a rich applause when she came out with a soulful ‘bandish,’ Jaagi saari raina, nahi o piya,’ in raga ‘rageshwari’. What attracted the audience were crisp ‘alaaps’ and taans’ like ‘choot ki taan’, phirat ki taan” and “gamak ki taan’.

The presentation by the Rajan-Sajan Mishra duo took off with raga ‘bihagra. The best part of their rendition was a perfect blend of ‘alaap’, ‘tarana’, and ‘drut’,

The rendition of ‘bahar’ by the duo around 4.15 am, evoked people to respond by throwing flower petals upon them.

Harmonium player Ustad Bhure Khan presented raga ‘puria dhanashri”, which was laced with small ‘gamak taans”in ‘bilambit teen tala’.

Though Ustad Bhure Khan’s ‘layakari’ earned a rich applause, it also kicked up a controversy when he went on to render parts of ‘ghazal’, ‘quafi’ and some “shairs’”, to which some people objected. Subsequently his performance was cutshort by organisers. Sant Satnam Singh Kishangarh, head of the ‘Anhad Raga Tutorial International’ left the ‘pandal’ along with his disciples, saying that the presentation of ‘ghazal’ was a dishonour to Baba Harballabh.

Vocalist Pradeep Chatterjee started his performance with a ‘bilambit’ ‘bandish’, “Tere naina raseele, mero man bhaae,” in raga ‘kalawati. “Sajaan mohe ghar aaye,” was his another ‘bandish’ in raga “jog”.

The Punjab Police Director-General Mr. A.A. Siddiqui, and the Jalandhar Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, announced a grant of Rs 21,000 each to the Harballabh Sangeet Mahasabha. Others who were present included Mr D.R. Bhatti, ADGP, PAP, Jalandhar and Mr H.M. Jain, Chief Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board.


Congress vows to oust NDA govt
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 29
The District Congress Committee here held a function here yesterday to celebrate the 118th foundation day of the Congress party and vowed to strengthen secularism in the country. Praising the party’s role in development in different, fields the speakers hailed AICC president Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s proposal to leave 140 seats for alliance with secular parties to oust the BJP-led NDA government.

District Congress leaders appealed to all workers and leaders to join hands to make the country free in the Lok Sabha elections. The forces making efforts to grab power for personal gains.

They also appealed to Mrs Sonia Gandhi to initiate Mrs Priayanka Vhadera into public life to mobilise youth. Speakers included, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar president DCC, Mr S.K. Gupta, Chairman local Improvement Trust and Mr Pritam Singh Pritam president District Scheduled Castes cell.


CM releases Punjab Markfed calendar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, today released Markfed calendar and diaries for the year 2004.

The four-sheet calendar depicts the historic events falling next year. The 500th year of prakash utsav of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji at Khadoor Sahib, 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple, Amritsar and 300th year of the martyrdom of four sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh in Chamkaur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib. The single-sheet calendar depicts 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib in Golden Temple, Amritsar.

The Chief Minister said Markfed calendar has captured all auspicious events of the coming year in the most appealing way. It shows Markfed’s sincere interest and faith in the rich cultural heritage of Punjab and efforts to promote it.

Congratulating Markfed on its 50th anniversary, he said Markfed being the backbone of the Indian farming trends, is the only organisation that has given the Punjab farmers a reason to stand up in pride and cherish the past with a hope for a prosperous future.

He further said we feel truly blessed and look forward to a year full of celebrations and accomplishments. Other development programmes have also been chalked out by the government to commemorate these historic events.

Among those present on the occasion were Mr Lal Singh, Finance and Cooperation Minister, Punjab, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Chairman, Markfed, Mr A.R. Talwar, RCS, Punjab, and Mr S.S. Channy, Managing Director, Markfed.


Five lakh await welfare scheme pension
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 29
Mr Parkash Chand senior Congress leader and member of the Improvement Trust here yesterday expressed concern over the non-payment of old-age, widow, handicapped and other pensions to more than 5 lakh persons for over six months. He said that Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Minister for Social Security, Punjab, on November 15 had assured him in this connection. He added that the minister also promised to get fresh application forms released in seven days for those living below the poverty line but in vain.

He demanded a fresh survey and added that 60 per cent still did not get the benefit of this scheme. Mr Parkash Chand also sought all benefits of welfare schemes like Ashirwad, a grant of Rs 20,000 for the construction of houses and 10 marla plots for member of weaker sections in urban areas on a par with rural areas.


Cold claims two more lives
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 29
A young man and a beggar woman died in the city today due to cold, prevalent gripped in the region for the past two weeks.

Death toll in the city due to cold in the past 15 days, has gone up to eight. Most of the victims were beggars and passengers.

President, Sahara Jan Sewa, Vijay Goyal in a press note today, said that a youth belonging to Bihar, was found dead in a Railway station hall by Sahara Jan Sewa volunteers today morning. The youth was taken to civil hospital, but declared brought dead by doctors.

A deaf and dumb beggar woman living in the city for the past many years with her three-year-old son, was also found dead due to cold today by Sewa volunteers. He added the son of the woman was handed over to an employee of a shop located near by the place where she had been putting up. Sewa volunteers cremated both bodies.


12 vehicles collide due to fog, traffic hit
for five hours
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 29
Traffic near Naushehra Pannuan village remained suspended for more than five hours yesterday morning when more than 12 four-wheelers, including two buses, collided on the GT Road due to fog. Though no loss of life was reported, vehicles were damaged badly.

Sources said canter (PB-13-F6062) collided with a vehicle going in the same direction near Naushehra Pannuan. Another canter collided with a truck near the same spot. A bus of Punjab Roadways, Sirsa, collided with a private bus of Rohtak district, damaging both buses.

More than six cars and one truck following the Sirsa bus collided and the truck overturned. Mr Lachhkar Singh, SHO, Sarhali, reached the spot and the traffic resumed with people’s help.


Vaccination drive for cattle
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 29
The Punjab Government has planned a month-long campaign to eradicate the foot-and-mouth disease in eight districts, including Bathinda.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, stated in a press note here today. 70 teams of veterinary doctors and para-medical staff would carry out door-to-door campaign in the district from January 27 to February 25 for vaccinating animals.

He said special check posts had been set up in cattle markets. Mr Sinha said all officials of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat, Revenue, Child Development, SDMs and elected representatives of panchayats had been urged to cooperate in this campaign.

Dr S.K. Singh, Deputy Director, Department of Animal Husbandry, said 44 veterinary doctors, 160 pharmacists and 70 Class IV employees would be put on job.


A clarification
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 29
The televised address on the concluding day of the Ahmadiyyas’ convention was by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, V. Khalif and international Ahmadiyya supreme head, from the UK and not by Moulana Kauser on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya as mentioned in our report ‘Mullahs interpreting ‘jihad’, say Ahmadiyyas, published in these columns on December 29.


BKU dharna against stray animal menace
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 29
Hundreds of activists of the BKU (Ekta) today sat in dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here today to press the Punjab Government to make arrangements for checking the menace of stray animals. They also sought to withdraw cases registered against a section of farmers for their involvement in the transportation of stray animals from their villages to abandoned areas.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the BKU (Ekta), alleged though the stray animals had been causing great damage to the growing crops throughout the year,the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh had become a mute spectator to the same. He added that farmers had been spending sleepless nights in the adverse weather conditions to save their crops from the stray animals.

He said that BKU activists had staged dharna in eight districts and it would continue till tomorrow. A large number of women had also joined the dharna all over the state. He added if the state government failed to take necessary steps the BKU would intensify its agitation.

Mr Kokri Kalan pointed out that on the one hand, the income from agriculture operations had been declining every year, on the other the farmers were being forced to spend money to raise fencing around their fields. He added that instead of helping the farmers in checking the menace of stray animals, the police authorities in this district registered false cases against some farmers while they were transporting the stray animals to abandoned places.


Five-member panel to probe ‘road-cutting scam’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 29
Taking a serious view of the issue pertaining to Municipal Corporation, officials, who allegedly connived with two private telecom companies to cause loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 6 crore, the Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, today constituted a five-member committee to probe the allegations.

The panel will submit its report in the next meeting of the House.

Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, a Congress MLA, today alleged that the MC officials had intentionally allowed the telecom companies to lay the cables by cutting roads throughout the city without paying mandatory Rs 80 per square feet charges.

“These companies were allowed to pay Rs 25 per running metre as charges to cause a huge loss to the tune of Rs 6 crore to the civic body.

Besides, nothing concrete was done during the past three months when I first raised the issue in the October 8 meeting”, he said at the meeting of the House.

He demanded a through probe in this regard.

In his reply, Mr Mahey said though he had asked the officials concerned to place the records pertaining to “road-cutting scam” before him, nothing had moved further.

Assuring the members that the erring officials would not be spared, he ordered the setting up of the committee of councillors comprising of Mr Kuljeet Singh Babbi (Chairman), Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Tarsem Bhardwaj, Ms Sushma Gautam and Mr Kishan Dev Bhandari.

“The committee will submit its report at the next meeting,” he said.

The Leader of the Opposition in the House, Mr Bhandari, demanded that the details about the ongoing probe into “octroi scam” should be placed before the House.

The Commissioner, Ms Sarojini Gautam Sharda, said an employee of the Octroi Department had already been suspended.

Meanwhile, a proposal to construct the administrative block on self-funding basis was passed and referred to the state government for approval. Besides, proposals and estimates of development projects worth Rs 10 crore were passed by voice vote.

Mr Mahey announced that the work on the Domoria railway over-bridge project would start by February, while the process to finalise the tenders would be completed by January.


Admn to set up 535 polio camps
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 29
The district administration would launch pulse polio campaign in the district by setting up 535 special polio camps on January 4 and February 22. Pulse polio drops would be administered to children between the age group of 0 to 5 years.

Besides, five mobile teams would cover rural and slum areas of the district to administer pulse polio drops, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman, District Co-ordination Committee, while presiding over a meeting of district officials and representatives of various social organisations here today.

He called upon social organisations to come forward and work together for the eradication of the disease. He said without the active co-operation of social organisations, no goal could be achieved, as the government had limited resources. He said all head of government departments had been directed to ensure the involvement of their respective departments in the campaign.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, said the Health Department had constituted five observation committees to ensure proper co-ordination and monitoring of polio booths. She said 107 villages had been identified where special teams would set up polio camps to ensure that no child went without pulse polio drops.

She added that on the first day of the camp pulse polio drops would be administered in the camps itself, while on the other two days teams would go from door to door to administer the drops to children. She said the Health Department had taken it as a challenge.

Dr Kamaljit Singh from the World Health Organisation gave detailed information through slides. He said in spite of best efforts 2 per cent children went without polio drops due to one or the other reason every year.

Dr N.S. Bawa, a social worker, was among others who addressed the meeting.


Councillors hold protest
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 29
Municipal councillors belonging to the Opposition today raised slogans against the president of the Nagar Council, Mr Narinderjit Singh Bhatia, for cancellation of the monthly meeting of the council.

The Executive Officer of the council, however, denied that the slogans were raised but he confirmed that the meeting was cancelled on the instructions of Mr Bhatia.

Mr Bhatia said the meeting was cancelled because of the death of a close relative of the local MLA.

Mr Surinder Bawa, Leader of the Opposition, said Mr Bhatia did not care for the importance of the meetings and the development projects had come to a standstill.


Inspector caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 29
An employee of the Food and Civil Supplies Department was today caught red-handed by Vigilance Bureau officials here while he was accepting Rs 1800 as bribe.

According to the VB sources, Balwant Rai of Gatti Raipur village in Lohian, in his complaint had alleged that Bhagwant Singh, posted as inspector at Lohian, was demanding the bribe for not filing a complaint against him even though he was pleading not guilty.

Subsequently, a trap was laid and Bhagwant Singh was caught in the presence of shadow witnesses.

A case under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.


Man arrested for selling drugs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 29
Harish Mahajan, area sales manager of a company, alleged that he was robbed of Rs 5,000 and a watch by three blanket-wrapped persons at knifepoint early this morning while he was going to the railway station to board Shatabdi Express. He said the general railway police directed him to get a case registered with the police. He alleged that despite repeated attempts, the police control room, a 24-hour service, no case had been registered.

In another incident, Dalbir Singh of Sarai Ammant Khan village was arrested today under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940, for selling drugs.

In an accident, Naresh Kumar, a autorikshaw driver of Chheharta, died here today falling an accident on the Attari road a few days ago.

In another case, a white Maruti car was stolen from a marriage palace-cum-restaurant late last night. A case has been registered.


Punjabi University
A year of tumult
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 29
Strife and controversy returned to Punjabi University after a lull of one year seeing a month-long student agitation, bitter animosity between its Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor, with the former even recommending the removal of the latter, and suspension of senior teachers.

The only development was the establishment of an engineering college on the campus but even this surprised everyone as it was felt that the Vice-Chancellor could have easily gone in for specialised courses in new emerging fields like biotechnology instead of opening an engineering college of which there was already a surfeit in the state.

Another decision — to do away with Punjabi as a compulsory subject in the final two years of graduation — invited objections but the move was appreciated by students. They also appreciated the university stand to recruit quality teachers without making knowledge of Punjabi a prerequisite.

In September, in spite of some resentment student factions agreed to the university decision to scale down the earlier 30 per cent increase in fee to 15 per cent. They however, went into an agitating mode after they were ruffled by a speech made by the Vice-Chancellor on the premises of the university gurdwara. The VC was forced to walk barefooted from the venue resulting in tightening of postures. Even though Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh broke the impasse by agreeing to scale down the fee hike and promising that the government would pay the balance money to the university, things did not return back to normal. The VC maintained that the issue of discipline needed to be addressed and the students who had resorted to misbehaviour on the campus could not be allowed to go scot-free. However, the government thought otherwise and the fee hike was taken back completely as was the action against the striking students.

Though the student agitation simmered in September, the duel between the VC and Pro-VC Dr R.N. Pal was simmering since the beginning of the year. Within a few months of taking over, the VC and Pro-VC started drifting apart. First the VC delegated all his powers to a committee in his absence and then took away all powers delegated to Dr Pal. The Pro-VC complained against this to Punjab Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar and also the Chancellor but remained without any power till the end of the year.

Earlier, the VC had also referred a case to the government for removal of the Pro-VC, which was forwarded to the Chancellor. The case listed various “omissions and commissions” of Dr Pal and was also appended with the views of the State Advocate General. The Pro-VC was also accused of financial misconduct in the complaint. The Pro-VC hit out at the VC at the fag end of the year claiming a non-academician should not head the university. Dr Pal also alleged that the VC should give account of his own property before pointing fingers at others.

The year also saw the removal of senior teacher Dr Karamjit Singh Sidhu from one post after another. He was first divested of the post of Registrar. Later, he complained that the VC had written derogatory comments against him in office files and demanded they be taken back or he would resign. His resignation was accepted by the university. In the end of the year, Dr Sidhu was suspended for “overstepping” his authority while confirming an employee who was on probation.

The year also saw the suspension of senior teachers — Dr Saroj Rani and Prof Gurpal Singh — for months together. While Dr Saroj Rani was suspended for “hiding” the fact that she had been challaned by a local court in a criminal case, Prof Gurpal Singh was suspended following his arrest in the Ravi Sidhu case. The services of another teacher — Dr M.L. Garg were — terminated on the basis of an old inquiry report.

On the bright side though the university saw better management with the introduction of semester system in the Arts stream and cutting down of official holidays. The Kala Auditorium building work was restarted, research in Punjabi was accelerated and topnotch academicians were invited to select candidates applying for posts of teacher on the campus.


Book of Hindi poems
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 29
A compilation of nearly 38 Hindi poems written by the Deputy General Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Mr N. S. Deshpande, was released today at the Punjab Bhasha Bhavan here. The book titled `Aahat` was released by Dr Madan Lal Hasija, Director, State Languages Department, amidst a `Kaavya Goshthi` held on the occasion.

The 'goshthi' was organised by the Triveni Sahitya Parishad and was presided over by Dr Hukum Chand Rajpal. Two critical papers based on the book were read out by Dr Rajinder Kaur Aneja, former head of the Hindi Department, Punjabi University and a Hindi poet Dr Krishan Bhavuk.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Hasija lauded the poetic skills of Mr Deshpande.’

A number of poets presented their poems at the 'goshthi' . These included Balvinder Sandhu. Kavinder Channd, Makhan Lal Sharma, Jasmer Mann, Rajinder Vayahit, Sudesh Verma, Nand Kishore Rajneesh, Kulbushan Kalra, Alka Arora and Poonam Gupta.


Dr I.S. Tiwana honoured
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 29
Dr I.S. Tiwana, Principal, Patel Memorial National College, Rajpura, was bestowed the ‘Individual Achievement Award’ by the International Institute of Education and Management, Delhi. The award was presented to Dr Tiwana by former Election Commissioner G.V.G. Krishnamurthy.


PSEB to work on Lehra thermal plant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
The Punjab empowered committee on power sector reforms today approved a strategy of unbundling of the state electricity board (PSEB) as mandated by the Electricity Act, 2003, and also gave green signal to the board to begin construction of stage-II of the Lehra Mohabat, Bathinda, thermal plant.

The meeting, presided over by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, also entrusted the task of arranging funds for the Shahpur Kandi project to make full use of the Thein Dam to a core committee of bureaucrats headed by the Chief Secretary.

A government press note said that the PSEB would be reorganised into separate generation and transmission companies and three distribution companies. There will also be a holding company in the transition period to co-ordinate the business of generation and distribution companies.

Later, a holding company of the PSEB would be set up to assess all assets, liabilities and functions, except transmission. The generation and distribution companies would be subsidiaries of the proposed holding companies.

The complete scheme on the configuration of the proposed companies would be shortly placed before the Cabinet for approval.

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