P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt urged to take up turban ban issue with France
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 7
Dubbing the clamping of ban on headgear of Sikhs in France by the French Government as a grave and unjustified attack on the religious freedom of Sikhs, the Shiromani Akali Dal today urged the UPA-led Central Government to take up the case of Sikhs with the French government and ensure that the law banning the wearing of headgear in France should be revoked at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD has authorised the party chief Mr Parkash Singh Badal to take decision on holding talks with party’s alliance partner BJP on the issue of forthcoming byelection for Kapurthala and Garhshankar Assembly seats, selection of candidates and for the these elections and for selection of candidates for election of SGPC president and office-bearers.

A resolution of the PAC, the meeting of which was held under the chairmanship of Mr Badal here today, said Sikhs all over the world had been hurt by the ban on wearing of turban in France.

“Entire Sikh panth is standing by their brethren in France. It is shameful for the French government to impose such a ban, particularly, when Sikhs have sacrificed their lives for the protection of France during the world wars,” stated the resolution which also condemned the alleged humiliation of a US-based Sikh Gurpal Singh Gill at the hands of policemen in Rossburg city, USA.

“We expect the Government of India to take up such issues with respective governments and should express its displeasure over these shameful developments and excesses against Sikhs and those indulging in racial discrimination should be brought to the book,” said the resolution.

Another resolution passed at the meeting alleged that corruption was rampant in the state and the state government had failed to give any major relief or concession to any section of the society. “Power tariff has seen an unprecedented hike and the government has failed to give bonus to farmers on paddy and the Rs 10 hike in the price of paddy was to little to mitigate sufferings of farmers. The diversification move has failed. Pensions have not been given to the aged widows and handicapped persons. Nothing has been done to revoke octroi and in spite of a promise to give job to one member of each Dalit family, no job has been given to anybody. Auction of liquor vends, sale of a tractor unit, online lottery scandal, Internet scandal, PWD scandal have dragged the government into controversy,” said the resolution.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal said the PAC had given all rights to him to decide about the selection of candidates and to hold talks with the BJP on the issue of fielding candidates for the Kapurthala and Garhshankar seats. He, however, said it was yet to settle which seat would go to which alliance partner.

“They have also authorised me to take a decision about the selection of candidate for the post of SGPC chief and its office-bearers,” said Mr Badal.

Referring to the controversy about not honouring the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh with “siropa” on the occasion of quadricentennial celebrations at Amritsar, Mr Badal quipped,” Has anybody given me a siropa? We were hosts and we had to take care of guests,” said Mr Badal, who was accompanied by Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder.


SGPC member accused of molestation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
The wife of a blind assistant raagi of a local gurdwara lodged a complaint of molestation against an SGPC member, Mr Baldev Singh, at Chhehrta police station here today.

She also wrote to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, demanding action against the SGPC member as per the Sikh maryada.

She alleged Mr Baldev Singh had come to her house on September 5 while her husband was away on duty. When she opposed his advances, he threatened to get her husband sacked from service, she added.

However, when this correspondent met Mr Baldev Singh at the police station, he alleged that a false complaint had been sent against him to malign him ahead of the election of the office-bearers of the SGPC, due this month. He has been an executive member of the SGPC and a member of a sub-committee that recently recommended certain controversial promotions.

Mr Baldev Singh, who left the police station after a long wait for the complainant, claimed he was innocent and did not know her personally.

Mr Harjinder Singh, SHO, said the police had called both the complainant and the SGPC member to the police station to verify the facts.


Five SGPC employees promoted
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
Close on the heels of the promotion of Mr Raghbir Singh as Secretary which already raised eyebrows, the SGPC has promoted five more employees, including Mr Harjit Singh, a former Personal Assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, the then SGPC chief.

While Mr Harjit Singh and Mr Baldev Singh Patti, both Assistant Secretaries, have been promoted as Additional Secretaries, Mr Angrez Singh, Superintendent (general), Mr Gurbachan Singh Mahia, in charge, Establishment, and Mr Dilbagh Singh, in charge, Gurmat Parkash, a monthly magazine of the SGPC, have been promoted as Assistant Secretaries. Interestingly, after becoming the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had promoted Mr Harjit Singh as Additional Secretary, However, he was reverted when Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi succeeded her in 2000. Mr Harjit Singh had challenged his reversion in a representation to the SGPC.

These promotions have been made on the basis of five member scrutiny committee comprising Mr Suba Singh, Mr Baldev Singh M.A., Mr Shingara Singh Lohian, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Jhabal and Mr Santokh Singh Samra. The committee was formed following the decision of the SGPC Executive. The committee was authorised to recommend promotions in the SGPC on the basis of their seniority.

Though Mr Raghbir Singh had joined on Friday, the orders of other five employees were kept ‘secret’ as the SGPC wanted to test the waters. It is learnt that the employees would be given the formal orders shortly.


Institute seeks extension to justify fee structure
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
A virtual showdown between government and SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass (SGRD) Institute of Medical Sciences has been averted, as the institute sought an extension from state committee to justify ‘exorbitant’ fees charged by it for admissions.

A five-member Punjab Government committee headed by Mr G.R Majithia had asked the institute to justify its exorbitant fee structure by August 25. However, the institute failed to file its reply even as its sister institute, the Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences, filed its reply to the committee.

Dr U.S Dhaliwal, Director and Principal, SGRD, admitted that the institute had asked the Majithia committee for an extension period of a month as their accounts were spread over many years.

Interestingly, fresh reports state that 30 students who sought admission to this institute after clearing the PMT test held by the university have been left high and dry. The institute refused admission to them and reportedly admitted about seven students under its sub quota of ‘SGPC Employees’ and ‘Dharam Yudh Morcha’.

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the SGRD trust held yesterday in Chandigarh and headed by Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, SGPC working president, Mr Dilmegh Singh, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, Dr Balwant Singh, ex-DRME, Mr H.S Mattewal, former advocate general, Dr G.S Grewal, and other members also atended the meeting that deliberated on the fee structure and seat adjustment especially in view of fresh admissions to in sub-quotas.

The Supreme Court had stressed on a uniform fee structure for all. It had banned charging of any capitation or even advance fees. In case of charging advance fees the interest accrued on the amount paid for subsequent years was to be deposited in the student’s account. The state committee had disallowed any sub quotas in the minority quota of any institute.

It is learnt that none of the above mentioned rules are being followed and this was the major cause for confrontation with the government.

The trust meeting debated that the institute should be allowed to continue to charge the fee as per its own terms. it decried the government interference in fixing provisional fees. Interestingly, the meeting passed a resolution to meet Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Minister for Medical Education and Research, to impress upon her to allow them to continue as per the earlier terms and conditions. In the meantime, the Majithia committee will meet the SGRD authorities on September 15 in Chandigarh.


IG’s statement leaves BSF officials fuming
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 7
The changed statement of the Jalandhar Zone IG, Mr S.K. Sharma, regarding the infiltration from the Punjab border has left the BSF officials here fuming. The IG in a press conference held here on Sunday had stated that suspected Pakistani national infiltrated into India through the Jammu and Kashmir border along with a huge cache of arms.

However, Mr Sharma retracted from his earlier statement and stated that the Pakistani national infiltrated by wearing masks from the Dera Baba Nanak area of Punjab. He had also indicated the possible involvement of BSF officials in helping the militants to smuggle arms and explosives.

The BSF officials, who reacted to the IG’s statement on the condition of anonymity alleged that the entire Punjab border was fenced and there was no possibility of infiltration or of smuggling of arms. In the Dera Baba Nanak area about 100 to 150 metre area from where the Ravi flows into Pakistan had not been fenced. The BSF had made special arrangements to guard these areas. The chances of smuggling arms from Punjab border was virtually impossible, they maintained.

The BSF officials also expressed surprise that how the police authorities who initially maintained that arms came from Jammu and Kashmir just one day later came to the conclusion that they were smuggled from Punjab border. The higher authorities of the BSF would take up the matter with the Punjab DGP over the ambiguous statements issued by their official, they added.

Meanwhile, the statement of the IG that the arms might have been smuggled from the Punjab border once again brought the issue to the fore. Lt-Gen Hari Prashad after his visit to the Gurdaspur area had written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, regarding the falling of border fencing due to the soil erosion in the Tash Pattan enclave.

The Ravi was changing its course in the Tash Pattan enclave area due to the construction of about 15 feet high bundh by the Pakistani authorities. Due to this the border fencing was getting eroded thus making it difficult to guard the area.

After the letter of Lt-General Hari Prashad the Punjab government ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur to get an estimate prepared for preventing the erosion of border fencing. An estimate of about Rs 4 crore was prepared for construction of embankments in the Tash Pattan area to save the border fencing.

However, the Budget for the purpose has not been sanctioned by the Punjab Government as yet leaving the area prone to infiltration or smuggling.


SYL not an answer to farmers’ woes: Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 7
Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary (Irrigation and Horticulture), Punjab, today defended the Termination of Water Agreements Act and said mere construction of the SYL canal would not solve the problems of the farmers of northern region.

Punjab might have to reel under water and power crises till the next monsoon season. All senior leaders and experts would have to sit together and consider ways and means for the best utilisation of water resources as these were in scarcity. There should be no politics on water as it was the lifeline of agriculture-oriented Punjab, he said.

Mr Jakhar said the funds made available by the Union Government for diversification of crops should be utilised for the conservation of water. The procedure for subsidy on drip and sprinkle irrigation system was simplified so that each farmer could adopt it conveniently.

The country was spending too much of foreign exchange on oilseed imports. If facilities, including updated technical know-how, were provided, the farmers could grow oilseed crops, besides other crops which needed lesser quantity of water, he added.

He regretted that urban population, which cried the most over the scarcity of water, was still wasting water unabashedly by sprinkling it on streets and roads. Taps could be seen flowing in each locality, he rued.

Defending the termination of water agreement, Mr Jakhar said only Capt Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister had dared to take such a bold step. He had been nominated by the INC high command to safeguard the interests of the state and termination of the agreements was a right step in this direction.

We were not at all interested in harming the rights of the neighbouring states, but the farmers in Punjab could not be forced to die due to thirst or hunger to save the neighbours, he added.

Even today, the water level in Gobind Sagar was 70 ft less than the preceding year, how we would survive till next summer, he asked.

All political parties should forget for a moment as to who was to be blamed for the SYL imbroglio. Our concern should be how to safeguard in interests of Punjab, he said. He ridiculed those who feared floods in the state or alleged that water was allowed to pass on to Pakistan.

Taking up other issues, Mr Jakhar said Abohar would be developed as a green and clean city. He had discussed the plan with the heads of various educational institutions. They were advised to celebrate the birthday of each student by planting a sapling under the plan.

Next fortnight a meeting with various NGOs would be held to get their cooperation. Strict action would be taken against those who damaged the tree guards, he added.

On poor sanitation plaguing the city, he said the contractors might be sacked if the situation was not improved by next week. The authorities were considering some viable proposals for shifting the municipal bus stand to a spacious place keeping in view the numerous complaints from the citizens regarding traffic problems.

The Punjab State Water Supply and Sewerage Board had been asked to issue water and sewerage bills on scheduled dates. The heads of the schools and colleges would be requested to generate awareness among the students for the prompt payment of the bills so that development plans are not withheld due to paucity of funds, he added.

Mr Jakhar said he had also taken up the menace of drug trafficking with the police officers and asked them to check it firmly. The SHOs were asked to take action against anti-social elements and improve the law and order situation.


Mela in martyr's memory to continue
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Preparations are on for the annual "shaheedi mela" in his native village in Amritsar district in memory of the "Hero of Nathula", Major Harbhajan Singh who laid down his life fighting the Chinese at Nathula on September 11, 1967.

The mela has been held every year without a break for the past 35 years, largely because of the efforts of his elder brother Brig Arbail Singh, PVSM (retd). Following Brig Singh's death in a road accident last year, the responsibility for organising the mela has now been taken over by his niece, Ritu Sandhu, who is working as a Transmission Executive in the Chandigarh station of All India Radio.

"I loved my (chacha) uncle", recalled Ritu in an interview with TNS here today. "He was hardly 26 when he died at Nathula. He was a bachelor. I was too young then but I cherish a lot of fond memories. I still have with me a white sports sweater which my uncle used to wear. I like to wear this sweater whenever I miss him".

Ritu says that she is determined to make sure that there is no break in the annual shaheedi mela because of the death of her father. "He was the moving force behind the mela but now that he is no longer here, I will take care of everything. My uncle is a national hero… He must live on for ever in public memory."

She is happy that her uncle's sacrifice for the control of Nathula has not gone in vain. Nathula is the gateway to Sikkim. She is satisfied that finally China has conceded that Sikkim was a part of India.

Major Harbhajan Singh was born on August 3, 1941, at Batthe Bhaini village, popularly called Bhaini Harbhajan Singh, Tehsil Patti, District Amritsar. It was then a part of Lahore district. His father S. Assa Singh was a patriot and a freedom fighter who was deported from Shanghai, then a British enclave, for active participation in the Gadar movement in late 20s.

After preliminary schooling at village school, Major Harbhajan Singh did his matriculation from DAV High School, Patti, in March, 1965. In June, 1956, he got himself enrolled as a boy soldier at recruiting office, Amritsar, and joined Corps of Signals. On June 30, 1963, he was granted regular commission and was posted to 14 Rajput. He took part in the 1965 war as Adjutant of his unit.

Later, he was posted to 18 Rajput. It was with this unit that Major Harbhajan Singh became a martyr on September 11, 1967, in a fierce clash with the Chinese at Nathula (14, 500 feet) in Sikkim and was awarded Maha Vir Chakra (posthumously).

The first shaheedi mela on September 11, in 1968, at the village was inaugurated by the then Governor of Punjab, Dr D. C. Pavate, and since then, it is regularly being held every year.

Major Harbhajan Singh MVC Memorial Hall was constructed in the village. A metalled link road "Major Harbhajan Singh, MVC Road" links his village with Patti-Sarhali highway. Government High School has also been upgraded and named after him in his village. The foundation stone for a sports stadium has also been laid and the construction is underway.

All this and so much more has been done with the effort of his elder brother, Brig Arbail Singh, AVSM (retd) with the help of the Sainik Welfare, Punjab, and the Punjab Government.


Bhattal denies fissures in state Congress
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 7
The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today sought to set aside the suggestions of fissures in the state Congress and said she had no knowledge of any move to change leadership.

Reacting to a query as to whether the Congress high command was planning to change the leadership of the state Congress, she said that all the Congress leaders in the state were united and she had no knowledge about any move to change leadership.

Addressing newspersons here, Ms Bhattal, said during the Shiromani Akali Dal’s tenure, the state had suffered huge losses which had resulted in the difficulties for the Congress government in charting out schemes for the benefit of the people.

Commenting on the issue of the vacant post of teachers, she said the government would soon fill the vacant posts for teachers in various medical and other colleges of the state .

She further revealed that the government was also planning to introduce new courses in the polytechnics and ITIs as per the industrial requirements of the state.

Ms Bhattal said it was unfortunate that about 2000 seats were lying vacant in the technical colleges in the state this year. She had constituted an enquiry committee, headed by the Vice Chancellor of the PTU, Jalandhar, to deliberate on the issue and sought its report within a month, she added.


Markfed refuses to disinvest sugar mill
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Markfed’s Board of Directors has turned down a proposal to disinvest a sugar mill at Malout. The resolution was taken during a meeting. The decision is significant as the mill — set up at a total cost of Rs 300 million — provides employment to over 300 persons. It was established when the Akali government was in power in the state.

The sources in the organisation say that the proposal to disinvest the mill was mooted as it was suffering “heavy losses” and was not being considered economically viable.

Though senior Markfed officers refuse to comment on the issue of disinvestment and losses, the sources in the organisation say that the mill, established in 2001, had suffered a loss of Rs 3.65 crore in the first year.

The downward trend continued. In fact, the losses were even greater in the second year. The sources say that the mill suffered a whopping loss of Rs 9.87 crore in 2002-03.

Concerned, the authorities took steps to streamline the mill’s functioning and to reduce the losses the next year. But despite their best efforts, the mill continued to run into losses in 2003-04. This time the loss was to the tune of Rs 7.17 crore, the sources maintain.

Giving details of the proposal to disinvest the mill, the sources say that as many as four options were given. One of the options was to sell the mill to some private organisation. The other proposal was to hand over the mill to a private contractor for running the same.

All the options were reportedly considered by the organisation’s Board of Directors during its meeting. But they were all rejected. The mill will now continue to function under Markfed’s direct supervision, say the sources. Regarding the mill, the sources disclose that the same is spread over an area of 50.4 acres. It has a production capacity of “1,750 TCD” and has “state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities”.

Otherwise, Markfed has tied up with Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana for the development of “better varieties of sugarcane” in the state, the sources say.


Protesters demand case against doctor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
Pankaj Kumar Sharma (30), a migrant labourer from Begusarai district in Bihar, died in the operation theatre of the Civil Hospital here yesterday due to the negligence of the doctor, according to the allegation levelled by relatives. The postmortem was conducted by a board of three doctors at the hospital today.

A large number of labourers today held a protest rally in the hospital complex, demanding the registration of a murder case against Dr Karamjit Singh, an orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, holding him responsible for the death.

Mr Tilo Sharma, a maternal uncle of the deceased, said both the legs of Pankaj had been fractured in an accident on September 3 and he was admitted to the Civil Hospital. A doctor advised a CT scan done from Patiala, which was done and Pankaj was brought back from Patiala on September 4 morning, he said. Later X-rays of the legs were done.

Mr Bhushan Kumar, a rice-sheller and a sympathiser of the deceased, claims that he met Dr Karamjit Singh on September 4 night and gave him Rs 1,000 on his demand, after which the doctor started the treatment. On September 5, the doctor allegedly took Rs 3,000 from him and told them that he would operate on Pankaj the next day, Mr Bhushan Kumar added.

Pankaj was taken to the operation theatre at 10.30 a.m. on Monday, and relatives came to know about 1 p.m. that Pankaj had died during the operation, according to Mr Bhushan Kumar and Mr Tilo Sharma.

When contacted, Dr Karamjit Singh refuted all allegations regarding the payment of Rs 1,000 and then Rs 3,000. He asked how could he demand money from such a poor patient. He claimed that Pankaj had died due to pulmonary ambolism, and not negligence on the part of doctors.

Protesters last night as well as today raised slogans against the doctor and demanded action against him. They also took the body of the deceased to the residence of the Deputy Commissioner here, who asked them to submit their allegations in writing. He also assured them that he would get the matter inquired.


NGO offers free surgery for cleft lip
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
The US based smile train promoted by former US President George Bush, Mr Bill Gates, Hollywood stars Candice Bergen, Paul Newman and others has tied up with a local Amandeep Hospital for providing free treatment for cleft lip and palate congenital deformities.

Lauding the efforts of the smile train and Amandeep hospital the DGP, Mr A. A. Siddiqui, said they had taken up the most important facial deformities and corrective surgery which would help the family get over the social trauma faced by them. Addressing the gathering, he said the smile centre had offered to reimburse the entire cost of treatment to the poor and needy patient.

The Regional Director, South Asia, Mr Satish Kalra, said the smile train had already tied up with 37 renowned plastic surgery hospitals and had so far treated more than 1 lakh patients and spent Rs 8 crore to correct deformities.

Mr Kalra said at present one million patients were born with cleft lip and palate defect in the country and only 30 per cent of them were able to afford the expensive treatment. He said the smile train had taken the issue of saving such children who otherwise would have led the life with stigma.

Giving details of the US- based NGO Mr Kalra said it was established by Mr Charles Wang the founder chairman of the fourth largest software company in the USA who retired to start this social welfare project and had already pledged a large chunk of money to fund the world wide project.

A Senior plastic surgeon at the burns and plastic surgery center of the hospital Dr Ravi Mahajan, said these were more than 10 lakh cases of such deformities in the country but only 30 percent go for specialized treatment. He added that one out of every 700 children were born with this abnormal appearances which create psychological problems, including speech and hearing imparities.

Dr Mahajan said this treatment was beneficial for those between three months to 22 years.


Protest against ‘negligence’ in NRI boy’s treatment
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 7
Certain persons today stormed into a local nursing home in protest against the alleged negligence by its staff in operating a 14-year-old boy who had come from England. The situation became tense following an altercation between the two parties.

Sources said that the boy, Chand Verma, had come to his relative’s place and had pain in the stomach after which he was rushed to Singla Nursing Home where he was operated for appendix. The boy’s mother Mamta Verma and uncle Rajinder Kumar said the boy’s condition deteriorated after the operation. Later, he was rushed to Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, where the doctors told them that Chand had developed infection owing to “negligence” of the doctor who had operated upon him earlier. They said they paid a bill of Rs 25,000 at the nursing home in Moga and again they had to pay Rs 85,000 in Ludhiana for getting the boy treated for the infection he developed.

On returning to Moga, the parents of the boy along with some residents of their area reached the nursing home and tried to discuss the matter with the doctors there, but certain persons present there started “misbehaving” with them. This led to tension among the two groups that engaged in heated argument and manhandling each other.

When contacted, the owner of the nursing home, Dr Ashok Singla, said he had operated the boy for appendix and the boy had developed an infection, but before he could treat him the boy’s parents took him away. He alleged that they didn’t even pay the bill of his nursing home and today they came along with 20-25 persons and “misbehaved” with the nursing home’s staff.


IMA backs Bathinda doctor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
The local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today condemned the act of the medical representative of a pharmaceutical company for allegedly implicating Dr Ramesh Maheshwary, Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Bathinda, in an alleged “false” and “fabricated” corruption case a few days ago.

In a statement issued here today, Dr L.C. Bansal, president of the local unit of the IMA, said the act of the medical representative was an example of a breach of the trust between the medical fraternity and pharmaceutical houses. The said medical representative, by getting the doctor arrested in a fabricated case, had, in fact, stabbed the whole medical profession in the back, he added.

Dr Bansal also said other pharmaceutical houses should also condemn this act to restore the shattered trust between the medical fraternity and them. He said at this juncture, the local IMA stood behind the aggrieved doctor who had been found innocent by the Bathinda IMA.


Judicial probe demanded into corruption case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
A meeting of the medical officers (MOs) of the local Civil Hospital yesterday demanded a judicial inquiry into the case of arrest of Dr Ramesh Maheshwary of Bathinda Civil Hospital by the Vigilance Bureau to bring the truth on record.

Dr Maheshwary was caught by the Vigilance Bureau while allegedly “receiving” a bribe of Rs 4,000 from a representative of a pharmaceutical company a couple of days ago.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Dr Surjit Singh, a representative for the local PCMSA said the doctors felt that Dr Maheshwary had been implicated in a corruption case under a “deeprooted” conspiracy and to defame the doctor community.

He said the doctors of local Civil Hospital also appealed to the government and private doctors of the state to boycott the pharmaceutical company whose representative had levelled serious allegations like writing of prescription of medicines by the doctor after taking money, on Dr Maheshwary.


PSHRC asks Principal Secy to hold probe
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 7
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission had taken cognisance of a complaint filed by the Punjab unit of the IMA against the state government for its failure to keep a check on quacks. These medical practitioners have not got themselves registered with the Punjab unit of the Medical Council or the Medical Council of India.

They don’t even possess qualification included in the schedules of the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956. The commission had ordered the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, to conduct an inquiry and submit a report to it on or before December 23.

This was disclosed here on Sunday by Dr Raman K. Aggarwal, Chairman, Action Committee-cum-Legal Cell of Punjab unit of the IMA.


Ministry asks residents to stop construction near Mamun depot
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 7
Resentment prevails among those residing in prohibited zones adjoining the Ammunition Sub Depot, Mamun, and the Air Force Station, as the Ministry of Defence has chalked out a comprehensive plan to deal with those occupying the land.

According to sources, quoting provisions of the Works of Defence Act, 1903, (incorporated in the Government of India Gazette Notification No. A/ 6149/LW, North/ 1539/ 1319-US(C) Lands of November 14, 2003) the Ministry of Defence in a letter has asked the authorities concerned to urge the residents to vacate the buildings and stop the construction work with immediate effect. A copy of the letter was also sent to all heads of commands across the country.

On the directions of the ministry, revenue officials assessed the value of the property to the tune of Rs 108,595 crore. About 75 per cent of the population resides in the prohibited zones.

According to officials, no construction should be carried out without the written approval of the General Officer Commanding of the district. About a year ago the Army authorities had removed encroachments from the Chakki-Dalhousie chowk.

Mr Surjit Singh Rana, former President of the local Bar Association, said we purchased the land and mutations were also sanctioned in our favour by the competent revenue officials. The site plan was sanctioned by the Municipal Council. Now the Ministry of Defence had no right to get us evicted.

Residents of these colonies had also taken electricity, telephone and water connections and were paying taxes to the departments concerned.

Mr Harish Pathania, a social worker and former sarpanch of Karoli village, said if the government failed to withdraw the notice people of the area would be forced to launch agitation in this regard. The residents said despite the assurances given by the four MPs of the area none had so far solved the problem.


Police inaction triggers arhtiyas’ protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
The commission agents of this district will observe a complete bandh on September 10 by holding no auction of foodgrains in the markets of the district to lodge their protest against the failure of Talwandi Sabo police to arrest the accused farmers against whom two criminal cases were registered in June and July.

Apart from this, members of the District Arhtiya Association have also decided to block traffic in the city apart from staging a dharna in front of the office of district police chief on September 10.

Mr Bhagwant Rai Jain, president, District Arhtiya Association, Bathinda, while talking to TNS said a decision to launch an agitation was taken in a meeting of commission agents of this district. He added that if the police authorities did not take action by September 10 then the commission agents would oppose the candidates of the ruling party in the forthcoming byelections to two Assembly segments to be held shortly.

The police had failed to arrest any member of a kisan union in spite of the fact that a case was registered against them in Kot Fateh police station on June 24, 2004, for their alleged involvement in the beating up of bidders (mostly commission agents) at the auction of a plot held at Chathhewala village on June 16.

The police failed to arrest any of the accused, 17 of whom have been identified and have been named in the FIR registered in the Kot Fateh police station under Sections 379, 341, 323, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC. The auction was to be held on the order of Mr N.K. Gaur, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Talwandi Sabo. Mr Gaur had also ordered the auction to be videographed.

Though the police officials failed to arrest the accused as they created obstruction in the auction and prevented the government officials from performing their duty, Mr Gaur himself lodged a complaint in the Talwandi Sabo police station and got a case registered against those who created obstruction in the execution of warrants issued by his courts in connection with the auction of a piece of land.

On the complaint lodged by Mr Gaur, a case under Sections 184, 186, 189 and 353 of the IPC was registered against a number of members of the BKU on July 29, 2004. 


Yoga can cure all diseases, says Ramdev
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Celebrated yoga teacher, Swami Ramdev, today. While talking to media persons on the eve of his week-long ‘Yoga Chikitsa Camp’ said here today, that while the followers of western medicine (allopathy) system had named the Indian system of medicine as ‘alternative’, the same was not true. He said allopathic system of treatment was actually a short-term alternative for controlling a disease. No disease could permanently be cured by the allopathic system. “Complete cure was only possible with Ayurvedic and yoga, while in case of allopathic treatment the damage was permanent”, he asserted.

Lamenting that Indians had neglected yoga and Ayurveda, he said no government or private body had come to the rescue of these ancient sciences. He said that the Divya Yoga Mandir Trust, Haridwar had been set up to conduct research in these areas.

Giving details about how Yoga helped in curing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, varicose vein, depression, Parkinson’s, asthma and sinusitis, Swami Ramdev said the body was composed of cells which needed three things-oxygen, food and adequate blood supply to remain healthy. The District Magistrate, wide his orders dated August 27 No 10684, has also ordered that the timings of all schools in the district had been changed from 9.30 am to 2.00 pm keeping in view the camp of Swami Ramdev. The orders would remain in force till September 14.


PSEB staff to gherao DC’s office tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 7
Various bodies of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees would gherao the Deputy Commissioner’s office on September 9. This was announced at a press conference here today.

For the past few months, the electricity board employees have been protesting against the FIR lodged against a junior engineer in the incident in which two persons were killed when a transformer was burnt in May.

Interacting with media persons, a member of the Joint Action Committee, Mr Amrik Singh, alleged that the junior engineer, Mr Jarnail Singh, had been booked under a conspiracy hatched by the police and some persons with political influence as they wanted to ensure compensation for the kin of the victims from the electricity board. One of the mishap victims was a son of a head constable. He alleged that holding no one responsible for the incident a case was registered on the day of the incident, but some shopkeepers, along with a former municipal councillor, sought a magisterial probe into the matter after a couple of days of the incident on May 19. The DC ordered the SDM to hold an inquiry into the incident. The SDM submitted the probe report on June 1 in which no electricity board employee was held responsible for the incident, he said.

The PSEB Joint Action Committee members alleged that to give its staff member undue advantage the police got a “fake” report prepared through Inspector Ratan Singh. They alleged that no one from the electricity board was interrogated by the police Inspector whose report was later forwarded to the SSP.

The police sent this report to the Deputy Commissioner who forwarded both the reports to the District Attorney seeking his opinion on the action to be taken in this regard. They alleged that the police pressurised the District Attorney and ensured that action was recommended on the basis of Inspector Ratan Singh’s report. They raised questions over holding a parallel inquiry and that too by a police Inspector when the Subdivisional Magistrate was probing into the matter.

They said that by lodging an FIR against the JE, the district administration had ignored SDM Gurnam Singh’s report as per which no board employee was responsible for the incident. They said that the police had registered a case on May 17 under Section 174 of the CPC, but the same police Inspector registered a case under Section 304 of the IPC on May 22 and sent the report to the higher police officials.

They alleged that attempts were also made to get the transformer shifted, but they came out strongly against it saying that it would serve as evidence in the case as one of the victims had opened a shop very close to the transformer flouting the electricity Act. They said that two board officials had also investigated the matter and found no board employee responsible for the incident. They said that last month they had postponed their plan to block traffic following the assurance from the administration to resolve the issue, but nothing concrete came out of it.


Soldier cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 7
Body of Sepoy Lakhwinder Singh (26) of the Guwahati-based 236 IWT Engineering Regiment was consigned to the flames with full military honours at his native village Kheri Gujran, near here, today afternoon.

Lakhwinder Singh, who married on October 31, met with an accident at Boltolla, near Guwahati, on August 24 when the motorcycle he was driving went out of control and rammed into a truck. He was hospitalised at Guwahati’s Military Hospital but died in September after struggling for life for 10 days. Lakhwinder is survived by his aged parents, a brother and a sister. His body was transported to New Delhi by plane while it was brought to Patiala yesterday evening by Army officials.

Lakhwinder’s father Chet Singh, a retired havildar, lighted the pyre. His cremation was attended by residents of his village while the District Administration was represented by Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh and the Senior Superintendent of Police A.S Rai who placed wreaths on the body. Army officials including Lt Col A.K Mehta, Major S.K. Patil District Sainik Welfare Officer Sanmukh Singh also attended the cremation.

Gun were fired into the air and arms reversed by an Army unit.


Truckers’ union accuses office-bearers of usurping freight charges
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 7
A few office-bearers of the Truck Union, Faridkot, have been accused of usurping lakhs of rupees of truck operators which they received as freight charges from the government. This has also led to resignation of a member the seven-member committee of the union.

Members of the union, including Raj Kumar, Amarjeet Lal, Ashok Kumar, Gagandeep Singh, Harbans Singh and Balwant Singh, had sent an affidavit to the Punjab Chief Minister and officials concerned.

In their affidavit, they alleged that this year the office-bearers of the union received Rs 73 lakh from the government for transporting wheat stock, but instead of distributing the amount among truck operators they usurped the same.

They alleged that when they demanded the money these office-bearers adopted dilly-dallying tactics, but paid the dues of truck operators close to them.

Members of the union also met Mr Baljinder Singh, DSP, in this connection, after which office-bearers assured them to return the money, but to no avail. They alleged that office-bearers of the union had also burnt some records related to the matter.

Harbans Singh said they had written to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) following which the Deputy Commissioner asked the Assistant Deputy Commissioner (Complaints) to probe into the matter. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner then met both parties. Meanwhile, following the truck operators’ complaint to the Deputy Commissioner and the SDM, a seven member panel comprising the same people was formed. Office bearers objected to its formation.

Raj Kumar alleged that earlier one had to pay Rs 25,000 per truck for becoming a member of the truck union, but after the new panel took over they started charging Rs 35,000 per truck for the same. He said there were 600 trucks in the union and out of these 150 had been included in the past three years only. These union members have urged the administration to take strict action against those who usurped the money.

On the other hand, a member of the panel, Davinder Singh Tintu denied all allegations. He said some members were trying to encourage factionalism in the union. He also denied burning any of the union’s record. Another member, Dwarka Das said payment had been made to all truck operators except 70.

When contacted, the SDM, Mr Mohan Lal said he had received a complaint in this regard. He said he would try to resolve the issue through talks.


Route permits over Beas bridge sought
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 7
The anti-reservation front has demanded the government should issue route permits for plying buses through the newly constructed bridge over Beas near Mukerian.

In a press note issued here yesterday, the president of the front, Mr Davinder Singh Saini, said it had been a year since the inauguration of the bridge over the Beas was thrown open. The government had not yet allowed the route permits over the Gurdaspur-Mukerian road due to which very few buses were plying on the route. 


Awareness camp on organic farming held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 7
The Progressive Youth Forum, Ghagga organised an awareness camp on organic farming in three villages including Chupki, Kakrala Bhaika and Deogarh here today.

President of the forum Major Singh Sekhon informed the farmers about the project being undertaken by the forum in association with the government agency CAPART under the Department of Rural Development of Central Government. He listed the benefits of organic farming by establishing vermi compost units, Nadep units and Bio-gas plants.

He added that by utilisation of animal and human waste cost of agriculture could be reduced side-effects of pesticides on agriculture products minimised. The organisation would also help farmers find out consumers of their products for fair prices.

Dr Dharmpal Singh, an agriculture scientist informed farmers were killing friendly worms by burning waste of paddy and wheat crops and polluting the environment. He also explained reason behind suicide by farmers of Punjab was increasing cost of cultivation and stagnation in agriculture production. He informed the farmers about the use of waste cow dung to reduce the cost of cultivation.

General secretary of the forum Rawel Singh Bhinder, treasurer Harmail Singh Sidhu and member Sukhdeep Singh Mann. were also present.


Farmers seek bonus
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 7
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has demanded a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal on paddy and Rs 150 per quintal on sugarcane during the current procurement season. In a delegate meet of the BKU held here today a resolution was adopted seeking a bonus on the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the government.

Later, talking to newsmen the president of the BKU, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, said due to draught-like situation in the state the input of farmers in the paddy had increased. The farmers had to rely on tubewells for irrigating their crops due to the lack of rain.

In another resolution the farmers also maintained that the cost of various farm inputs like diesel, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides had been increasing.

However, the MSP of paddy had seen only a marginal increase. The government should link the MSP on crops with the price index and inflation to protect the interests of farmers the government should also lift restrictions on the sale of crops. The farmers of Punjab should also be allowed to export their produce to Pakistan.


Kala killers elude arrest
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 7
The police has not been able to arrest those accused in the Kala murder case. The incident involving the kidnapping and subsequent killing of Kala Ram allegedly by his rivals on Monday night has showcased undercurrents of a virtual gang war, going on in Bhargo Camp and other localities of the city.

Mr Gurpreet Bhullar, SSP, said all airports of the country had been alerted to prevent the accused from fleeing the country.

What shocked residents on Tuesday was the recovery of the charred body of Kala Ram, alias Saudagar Ram, a resident of Bhargo Camp, from a vacant plot at Khambra Nangal village. Irked over the revelation made by Kala’s associate Pradip Kumar that both of them were kidnapped in the wee hours of Tuesday by Surjit Bitti, Akshay Babblu and their accomplices, who not only beat them up, but, had also kidnapped Kala Ram in his car, residents came out on streets and resorted to violence in protest against the murder of Kala Ram, who according to police records had a criminal record. About a dozen cases had been registered against him. Bitti had also been booked in almost same number of cases. Both had been let off in certain cases.

After battering him to death, Kala Ram’s rivals poured petrol over his body and set it afire.

What had caused the alleged simmering rivalry between Kala and Bitti into a full-fledged war was Kala’s brief absence from Bhargo camp on account of his arrest in the Ramesh Foreman murder case and Bitti’s alleged ability to overshadow him in the area.

“We have alerted the airports and efforts are being made to trace the accused,” said Mr Bhullar.

Surjit Bitti, Akshay, Manjit, Satish Kumar and Gogna have been booked by the police in the murder case.


Man, sister waylaid, robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 7
Kulwinder Singh and his sister, Kanwaljit Kaur, were waylaid and robbed of valuables and cash worth over Rs 1 lakh by two armed scooterists between Bhanoki and Jagatpur Jattan villages yesterday.

Kulwinder Singh alleged that the robbers also fired in the air when he resisted them, but the police denied any firing.

He said his sister was married at Jagatpur Jattan village. Her husband was settled in Italy. He along with his sister had gone to Jalandhar for submitting papers for family immigration.

They were returning on scooter when they were waylaid by two scooter-borne youths, one of whom had covered his face.

Besides the cash, the youths robbed them of jewellery and other valuables.


Woman killed for money
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Lakhwinder Kaur, a resident of Bagga village, under Majitha police district was allegedly killed by her in-laws for not bringing money demanded by them here today.

The police has booked six persons, including her husband, the parents-in-law and others for killing her.

Mr Santokh Singh, father of the deceased, in a complaint lodged with the Mattewal police alleged that he got a call from her daughter’s village that Lakhwinder, who was married about seven months back, had been killed by her in-laws, including her husband, Iqbal Singh.

He said when he, along with other members of the family, reached the spot, he found the house locked and his daughter's body lying in the verandah. He said there were signs of strangulation and giving currents on her body. He said her in-laws had absconded.

Those booked included Iqbal Singh, his two brothers, Jaspal Singh and Kuldip Singh, the parents-in-law, Kashmir Singh and Amrik Kaur, and a sister-in-law.


Car, 11 tolas of gold stolen
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
A Maruti Zen car, 11 tolas of gold ornaments and a mobile phone were reportedly stolen from the house of Mr Suresh Kumar, an employee of the BDPO’s office, in Khalifa Bagh Mohalla here last night. The thieves committed the theft when the members of the family were in sleep.

Sources said the thieves also stole a mobile phone from a house, situated near the house of Mr Suresh Kumar, in the same mohalla.


SI, 2 constables suspended for corruption
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Three policemen, including a Sub-Inspector and two constables, posted under Sultanwind police station were suspended on corruption charges here today.

They are SI Amarjeet Singh, and constables Balwinder Singh and Amrik Singh. The SSP confirmed suspension of the policemen.

According to information available, the accused were showing negligence in their duty and allegedly demanding bribe for passing heavy vehicles. 


JE caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Mr Malkit Singh, junior engineer (JE), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), was caught by a team of Vigilance Bureau, Mansa, while he was accepting bribe from Mr Amrik Singh, a resident of Jhanduke village, today for removing the electrical poles from the vacant plot of the complainant.

In a press not issued here, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said that a team led by DSP Jaspal Singh laid a trap on the complaint of Mr Amrik Singh. The Vigilance Bureau team recovered the bribe money from one of the pockets of the shirt of the accused in the presence of government and private witnesses.

A case in this connection was registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Bathinda.


3500 seats vacant in polytechnic colleges
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Most of the government polytechnics in the state are facing a bleak future as a large number of seats in the three year diploma courses in different trades are lying vacant despite the fact that the admission process ended a few weeks ago.

Official sources said there were about 3500 seats laying vacant in different trades in private and government polytechnic colleges. Though the private college authorities had filled vacant seats under the management quota, the government college authorities were facing difficulty to deal with the situation.

The sources added that in the government-run polytechnic colleges, more than 1000 seats were lying vacant and if the situation was not handled properly by the authorities concerned, such colleges would face closure in the coming years.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that only 153 students got admission in the Government Polytechnic College, Patiala, against the capacity of 480 students. Similarly, only 142 students were admitted to different trades in the local Government Polytechnic College against 210 seats. Almost all government-run polytechnic colleges are facing a similar situation. In certain colleges, only a few students have got admission in a particular trade and more than 80 per cent seats in that particulars trade are lying vacant.

In the government run polytechnic colleges at Ropar, Rode Lande and Batala, only one, one and eight students, respectively, have got admission in the chemical engineering trade against 40 seats each. In Rode Lande college, only eight students have taken admission in the civil engineering trade against 60 seats in the trade.

Not only this, in the diploma course in commercial arts at Government Polytechnic College, Patiala, not ever a single student has taken admission this year.

A cross section of teachers of the government polytechnic colleges, whom TNS talked to today, said the first major reason was that last year, the Punjab Government hiked the tuition fee. The second factor which led to the acute shortage of students was that in the past five years, the state government had increased number of seats in the college run by it without creating the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the additional rush.

The third factor, which also contributed significantly to the decline in the number of students was that the Punjab Technical Education authorities had failed to deploy its teaching faculty properly.

A senior official of Punjab Technical Education Department, when contacted, said the government and private college authorities would be allowed to start admitting students directly till September 24 to fill the vacant seats.


Suspension of lecturer revoked
Our Correspondent

Batala, September 7
A meeting of the B.U.C. College unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) was held here today to discuss the suspension of a lecturer, Mr Rajiv McMullen.

Mr Ashwani Kansra, general secretary of the unit, said the Baring Union Christian College management had revoked the suspension of Mr Rajiv McMullen with effect from August 31.

Mr Kansra said Mr McMullen was suspended for “creating an unpleasant and disturbing situation on the college premises on July 20.” On the intervention of the union leadership of the local unit as well as state leaders of PCCTU, the college authorities agreed to consider Mr McMullen’s case for the revocation of the suspension on the latter’s assurance to abide by the code of conduct.


PCCTU strike today
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 7
College teachers working in about 175 private colleges of Punjab will go on a two-period strike on September 8 by organising protest rallies and dharnas on the college campuses.

Stating this here yesterday, Prof S.S. Hundal and Prof R.S. Brar, president and co- president respectively, of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), said the PCCTU had been constrained to resort to the strike because the teachers serving in private colleges had not been paid salaries for a period ranging from 1 to 10 months.

They stated the failure of the Punjab Government to release quarterly grant-in-aid to private colleges in time as the reason for the non-payment of the salaries.


Pbi varsity served notice 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
A local court yesterday served a notice on Punjabi University in a writ petition filed by Nagma Virk, a former topper of the university, who has alleged that she was “unfairly” left out by the institution while selecting three candidates for the post of technical assistants recently.

The girl claimed that she had topped the university in the diploma course in counselling psychology this year, but the university had not found her fit for the job. She said of the five eligible candidates she was not even kept on the waiting list.


Unique show for students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Students of Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir, a school for the children of drug victims, celebrated Janmashtami in a unique way. As many as 150 children were shown CMELT planetarium education show in which they will made aware about different galaxies, stars, comets, meteorites etc. 

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