P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Recruitment of medical staff on the cards
48 nurses to be sacked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
While the Punjab Cabinet subcommittee today gave approval for the recruitment of 94 medical and dental teachers, besides 474 other employees such as nurses, operation theatre assistants, ward attendants etc in the Government Medical and Dental Colleges, the authorities concerned have set in motion the process to dismiss 48 nurses, who have been absent from duty for long.

The subcommittee met this afternoon to clear the posts. Now the approval of these posts by the Council of Ministers will be a formality. “We have crossed three major hurdles to get these posts approved and crossing the fourth hurdle will be an easy task”, said a senior officer. First these posts were got approved from the Finance Department and then by a committee of officers headed by the Chief Secretary. Approval from the Cabinet subcommittee was a third step.

The recruitment of teachers in these colleges will be made through the Punjab Public Service Commission. However, it has not been finalised yet whether 474 employees should be recruited on contract basis through some private agency or on the regular basis. “It has been left to the Council of Ministers to decide about this technical aspect”, said the officer.

Because of shortage of staff in Government Medical and Dental colleges, teaching work in courses such as MBBS, MS, MD and BDS etc has been affected badly for the past two years when these posts remained redundant because of the ban on new recruitment imposed by the state government. More over, medical services were also hit in these institutions. In fact, owing to inadequate staff, these institutions have been facing a threat of disaffiliation from the Medical Council of India.

A team of the Medical Council of India is scheduled to visit Government Medical colleges on October 26 and 27. The team would verify whether all state-run medical colleges have teaching strength as per the laid down norms. Sources said that while the number of medical teachers was almost okay in the Government Medical College at Patiala, there was a shortage of teaching staff at the Government Medical College, Faridkot.

However, as the Cabinet subcommittee has okayed the new recruitment, the team could be told that the process has been set in motion to recruit more teaching staff where it is required.

Meanwhile, as 48 nurses have failed to join duty even after repeated reminders and notices, chargesheets will be served upon them soon for a major penalty... that is dismissal from service. Most of these nurses have settled abroad and earning dollars by working in hospitals in UK, USA, Canada etc. They have been absent from duty for the past several years and there is no scope of their joining duty here.


Proposal to raise Punjab bus fares
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
Travelling in the state-owned Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation ( PRTC) buses is all set to become costlier if the Council of Ministers gives its nod to a proposal to a hike in the bus fares in the state.

Sources in the Transport Department said that a proposal had been sent to the state government to affect a 10 paisa per kilometre hike in the bus fares keeping in view the increase in the price of diesel and spare parts. The bus fares in the state are at present being charged at 42 paisa per kilometre and the proposed hike would take the cost up to 52 paisa per kilometre.

The officials of the department had sent a similar proposal to hike bus fares in November, 2003, but the same had been turned down. They have in the proposal sent this time indicated that the price of diesel in November, 2003, was Rs 19.36 per litre but now it has gone up to Rs 23.72 per litre. Besides this, the prices of spare parts have also gone up.

A senior official of the department when contacted confirmed that the proposal recommending a hike of 10 paisa per km had already been forwarded to the government. While this hike will mean an additional burden of Rs 230 crore on the common man, the government will start getting an annual profit of Rs 72 crore.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurmel Singh, coordinator of the joint action committee of the Roadways Employees Organisation and vice-president of the Punjab Government Transport Workers Union ( AITUC), Mr Kuldip Singh, have criticised the proposal to hike the fares as it will pinch the pocket of the common man only. They also stressed the need to put a check on the operation of private buses in the state to offset the losses being incurred by the government.


SAD (A) team identifies assailants in Patiala incident
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 21
The fact-finding team of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today identified the SGPC employees, including a gurdwara manager, who had allegedly thrashed its activists when they tried to stage a protest against Bibi Jagir Kaur , SGPC president at court complex in Patiala on October 19 .

The identification of the SGPC employees was done on the basis of a picture published on the first page of The Tribune.

The two-page report, released by Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary of the SAD (A) mentioned the name of Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Karm Singh , manager and additional manager, Gurdwara Dukhniwaran, respectively. Mr Sampuran Singh, Mr Inderpal Singh, Mr Hardip Singh, Mr Raja Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh, Ms Manjit Kaur, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Kehar Singh and some others were also among those identified. However, a spokesman of the SGPC denied that any employee of the SGPC was involved in the clash.

The SAD(A) said instead of performing duty in the historic gurdwara , the SGPC employees had gone to the court complex.

The report said legal experts were being consulted to move Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission apart from lodging an FIR against the SGPC employees . Bhai Ram Singh said his party would intensify its campaign against the appointment of Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was already facing a CBI inquiry in connection with the alleged killing of her daughter, Harpreet Kaur.

The fact-finding report alleged that baptised Sikhs were pulled by hair after their turbans were removed in front of everyone.


Punjab under attack for not removing 2 DCs
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Punjab Government has come under severe criticism for not transferring the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur before the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls.

Though the two officers were divested of the charge to conduct the elections in three constituencies, political parties in the state are accusing the government of “shielding the officers” and “misleading the people”.

“The mere presence of the two officers can influence the process. That is why the government is not interested in sending them out,” the members of different political parties claim.

Even the Gurdwara Election Commission — in charge of conducting the SGPC polls — is not entirely satisfied with the government’s action and the alternate arrangement made by it for the conduct of the elections.

In fact, the commission has decided to ask the state government to ensure the absence of two officers on the polling day from the constituencies where the elections are going to be held. A letter asking the authorities concerned to send the two DCs on leave during the elections is expected to be written soon.

“The idea is to rule out the possibility of any direct or indirect interference by the two officers in the polling process,” says the Chief Commissioner of Gurdwara Elections, Justice Jai Singh Sekhon.

The government, sources in his office admit, managed to protect the two DCs by finding a via media. Instead of taking action against the officers, they simply designated two Additional Deputy Commissioners (ADCs) as DCs for the purpose of conducting the elections.

The elections to the Tarn Taran constituency in Amritsar district, besides Dhariwal and Gurdaspur constituencies, are scheduled to be held on November 7. The Gurdwara Election Commission had earlier countermanded the elections to these constituencies following the government’s failure to act against the two DCs. The officers had failed to produce record before the commission despite clear cut instructions.

Accusing the Punjab Government of “not acting in a fair and just manner”, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members, meanwhile, say that “the failure to send the two officers on leave would only strengthen their hands”.

Giving details, SAD’s secretary D.S. Cheema says that the two officers will manage to get away with anything and everything during the elections as they will not be held responsible for any lapse. The reason is that the two, divested of the powers to conduct the polls, are not actually in charge of the process.

He adds that free elections cannot be expected as the DCs are virtually the heads of the districts and the ADCs function under them.


Tribune Impact
Legal aid for jawan’s family
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 21
The family of BSF constable Surjit Singh has been offered legal aid by two Supreme Court advocates who read the news report ‘Declared martyr, constable languishes in Pak jail’ in The Tribune on October 5.

The advocates, Gaurav Jain and Abha Jain, are willing to move the Supreme Court for appropriate directions to the Union Government and other authorities concerned to ensure the expeditious release of the constable. When this correspondent visited Surjit Singh’s home today, his wife, Angrej Kaur, and son, Amrik Singh, were ecstatic to know about the legal assistance offered which may bear fruit in the near future.

Surjit’s family members were eager to kick off the legal process and his son would establish contact with these advocates in the coming week.

An Indian prisoner, Khushi Mohammad of Malerkotla, released a few weeks back from Kot Lakhpat jail of Pakistan had named Surjit as one of the prisoners in the same jail during an interview with a daily, but didn’t mention their addresses. Surjit’s son then contacted him in Malerkotla where after looking at a photograph he confirmed that it was his father.

On July 27, 1972, Surjit’s wife had received a missing certificate from Commandant H.S. Sidhu informing her that Surjit went missing on the intervening night of December 3 and 4 from Jaisalmer. Later, she received a certificate from Commandant Ram Singh, which declared Surjit Singh a martyr on September 24, 1974.


Pak artistes arrive for Saanjh fest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar October 21
“Let’s not allow the next generation to bear the hatered generated by 55 years of mutual acrimony”. This emotional statement was made by the head of Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, Lahore, Usmaan Peerzada today. He arrived here along with his 46-member troupe to participate in the Amritsar-Lahore Saanjh Festival being jointly organised with the Punarjot of Amritsar.

Talking to mediapersons Mr Peerzada, who is a famous Pakistani actor, director, producer and writer, said it was the duty of artists of both countries to generate harmony and goodwill.

Mr Peerzada said the artistes believed in the commitment made by the Pakistani President, Mr Pervez Musharraf to maintain cordial relations with India. He added that the offer of peace coming from a soldier carried tremendous weight and now people could look forward to a bright and prosperous future. Mr Peerzada hoped that the differences would be resolved through dialogue.

Expressing unhappiness over huge expenditure on building up military might, he said both countries should spend their valuable wealth to offer better education and health care to the people. “We owe this present moment to our future generations which should not be fed on hatred but on love and affection”, he added.

Mr Peerzada, who had produced some of the famous TV serials including ‘Teesra Kinara, ‘Hissar’, ‘Sahil’, ‘Darya Jangal’ and ‘Korohi’, said at present he was part of a comedy serial “Ups and Down” that had been produced by Saba Parvez for ARY TV network, Dubai.

Pakistani theatre and film star said he had been organising Asia’s biggest festival of performing arts for the past 12 years and added that more than 200 Indian artists would be participating in the art show in November.

The festival will commence with folk musical drama “Patay Khan”, Directed by Usmaan Peerzada followed by “Laatoo”, a 90-minute-long video documentary.


Saanj festival hit by controversy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 21
The “Saanjh Amritsar-Lahore Festival”, which is scheduled to start tomorrow, was today mired in a controversy when the front page of the brochure, brought out by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, Lahore, and Punarjot, Amritsar, depicted the entire Jammu and Kashmir state as part of Pakistan.

In view of the recent thaw in relations between the two countries, this incident has generated bitterness. Though the artistes from both the countries have expressed their keen desire to work for peace and goodwill among the people.

A keen observer of Indo-Pak relations said such a blunder on part of the Lahore artistes would not help in creating a cordial atmosphere during the festival but would remind people about the Kashmir problem.

The people connected with Saanjh hoped that this brochure controversy would not affect the festival but instead generate goodwill and affection among the people of the two countries.

Ms Manveen Sandhu of Punarjot said the ‘map’ came to her notice after the brochure was published. However, it would not dampen the spirit of the festival, she added.


Mediapersons face customs authorities’ ire

Amritsar, October 21
Upset over media reports published on alleged humiliation meted out to former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, the immigration and customs authorities today let out their ire against the media by closing the outer gate at the Wagah joint check post.

The mediapersons had to wait for 30 minutes outside the gate before agreeing to let them in for covering the arrival of 46-member Pakistan artistes team. The immigration authorities have been stung by the protest lodged by Mr Gujral and Mr Kuldip Nayyar on their return from Pakistan this week.

Meanwhile the administration has sent a report to the Chief Secretary about the alleged rude behavior of immigration officers. — OC


Unravelling mysteries of Haveli Sangeet
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Pt Jasraj presents vocal recital on the concluding day of Kapurthala Heritage Festival on Wednesday.
Pt Jasraj presents vocal recital on the concluding day of Kapurthala Heritage Festival on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

Kapurthala, October 21
Humility remains the essence of Pt Jasraj’s character. Even though his profile gets better with every passing day, the custodian of Mewati gharana ensures that he never loses sight of the land. For if he does, his pursuits of musical excellence might seem distant and futile. After all, the higher a person stands the easier he is to uproot.

“But humility secures my place in the world,” says the maestro who has been decorated with every award ever instituted in the name of music. In Kapurthala to conclude the Heritage Festival yesterday, the vocalist seemed spiritually more enlightened than ever before. Even his recital, that followed Budhaditya Mukerjee’s sitar recital, was laced with devotional compositions — one dedicated Goddess Durga and another by Adi Shankaracharya. He also talked with passion about his composition “Alla Meherbaan” which he recently rendered at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Aulia in Delhi.

“Division of hearts in the name of religions troubles me the most. You may not believe what I am about to tell you, but a worshipper of Goddess Saraswati that I am, I won’t lie. I was invited for a recital to a temple in Delhi few days ago. While heading for the venue, I passed through the Dargah of Nizam-ud-Din Aulia. I received a divine diktat to pay obeisance at the Dargah where I offered “Alla Rakha”, extolling Allah and Om alike. When I concluded the spiritual offering and bowed in reverence, I heard someone say, “Ab tak Hindu Musalman kyon sochte ho…Is jaal se bahar niklo.”

Of late, Pt Jasraj has been witnessing “spiritual encounters.” “It might have something to do with the maturity of my soul, but now I see God in everything. My music also seems to be coming of age, thanks to divine blessings,” says the maestro, who is researching musical aspects of Haveli Sangeet in India. Less popular, this is a form of classical music in which all compositions are dedicated to Radha and Krishna. Also, contrary to classical music in which structure of the composition is supreme, in Haveli Sangeet, the emphasis is on literature.

Pt Jasraj has created 100 compositions of Haveli Sangeet, which originated in the medieval period from the temples of Mathura and Vrindavan. After many temples were demolished, people had no place to worship in the open. So they took Radha and Krishna home. Such houses came to be known as “havelis”. Rich in forms, Haveli Sangeet blends dhrupad, khyal, thumri and folk. The main singer plays the manjira while singing.

Used to the surmandal while performing, Pt Jasraj would not mind playing the manjira as long as it furthers the cause of Haveli Sangeet. As he speaks about the project, zeal spills over from his talk - the kind of zeal that made him a vocalist in the first place. Few would recall that Pt Jasraj began his journey as a tabla player. Born to Pt Motiram, the court singer of Kashmir’ darbar, Pt Jasraj first mastered the tabla. Discontented with the knowledge of tabla alone, he emerged from his own shadow, practicing vocal nuances of Mewati gharana. With Pt Maniram as his guru, he achieved more targets than he had set for himself. In fact, he gave his first concert in the presence of Nepal king Tribhuvan Bikram.

What followed is history, including the fact that the University of Toronto has instituted a scholarship in the name of Pt Jasraj who also runs eight schools of Indian classical music abroad.


11 fall unconscious after consuming ‘parsaad’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
Eleven migrant halwais fell unconscious after consuming “parsaad” of “burfi”, given to them by a fellow migrant, a rickshaw-puller putting along with them in a rented house in Upkaar Nagar locality on the outskirts of the city last night.

The rickshaw-puller, also decamped with Rs 1.5 lakh. All victims were rushed to the local Civil Hospital after their landlord found them to be in serious condition.

None of the victims had regained consciousness till late in the afternoon. Om Parkash, another migrant labourer who was attending them, said the victims had been offered “parsaad” by a migrant rickshaw-puller who was putting up in the same premises.

According to Dr Prem Dutta, the condition of victims was stable.” We are monitoring them regularly. But at the moment nothing can be said surely,” added Dr Dutta.

The victims have been identified as Sanjiv Kumar (32), Heera Lal (18), Avdesh (14), Ram Nath (22), Umesh (15), Bhutali (22), Chandrika (26), Panna Lal (32), Hari Ram (14), Ashok (24), Kalpana (12), and Surinder (14).

All of them were in the business of making “khoya-pinnis” for a number of sweet-shop owners in the city.


Panel to examine vacant seats issue
Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), October 21
The Punjab Government has constituted a committee to look into the causes of thousands of seats remaining vacant in the technical institutions of the state this year.

This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, here today. She was talking to mediapersons after attending the installation ceremony of idols at Mata Durga temple here.

Ms Bhattal said about 2900 seats had remained vacant in various technical institutions this year. Likewise, in Haryana the number of vacant seats in technical institutions was 6,000. She said the government was reviewing all aspects in this regard.

The government was also planning to review the existing trades in technical institutions. The trades that had failed to attract students would be discontinued, she added.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the government would initiate strong steps to prevent employees and officers from getting themselves transferred from villages to cities. Due to this tendency, a large number of posts remained vacant in villages. Those who did not want to serve in the villages would be told to sit at home, she added.

With regard to the suspension of Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Longowal, she said the government had already started an inquiry against him. The institute was now under the full control of the Punjab Government, though earlier Dr Chauhan had made it an institution controlled by the Central Government.


Youth tortured for not paying bribe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 21
Charanjit Singh, a youth belonging to a Congress family of Bahini Baga village of this district, has two fractured fingers following alleged torture by a police official in Joga police station. He had allegedly refused to pay the official bribe to get a gun of his uncle’s released from that police station.

Not only this, Charanjit Singh, who was badly injured at the police station, was also not allowed to get treatment at the local Civil Hospital, where he was admitted by his relatives, who had managed to get him released after he was sent to the CIA police station by the same police official on October 11.

Charanjit Singh, who suffered multiple injuries, was then shifted to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. Though he has now started walking, he still has pains.

Though Mr Harchand Singh Bursat, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, Punjab, has directed the SSP, Mansa, to hold an inquiry into this incident, which took place on October 10. Charanjit Singh and his uncle, Mr Simarjit Singh, allege they have been living under a constant threat to their lives from that police official and have requested the Chief Minister to provide protection.

Mr G. S. Pannu, SP (H), Mansa, when contacted, said that after he received a complaint, he had ordered an inquiry into the incident immediately. He said that the DSP (H) had been asked to conduct the inquiry within three days.

As per the complaints lodged by the victim to various authorities, he was beaten up as the police official was agitated over the fact that he had refused to pay a bribe of Rs 5,000 when he and his uncle went to the police station a few days ago to get a gun released.

Charanjit Singh has alleged that the policemen who picked him up on October 10 also took cash, a jeep and a cell phone from his house. The jeep and the phone were returned only today on the intervention of certain police officials.

At the police station he was tortured to make him confess that he possessed poppy husk, the complaints say.

When his uncle and another person went to the police station, they saw Charanjit Singh being beaten with sticks, they claim.

The police official concerned could not be contacted.


Labourers block traffic against ‘lathi charge’
Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), October 21
A large number of labourers today staged dharna and blocked traffic on the main road here for about two hours in protest against the alleged lathi charge by the police on women labourers at the local grain market yesterday. They raised slogans against the police and demanded strict action against the erring police officials.

In this alleged lathi charge, about six women labourers were reportedly injured. However, the local police has refuted the allegation.

The dharna was lifted when Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, assured them that she would take up the matter with the Chief Minister to get justice for them.

According to information, a contractor, approved by the Market Committee to lift paddy waste from the grain market, came to the grain market to get a truck loaded yesterday, but women labourers objected to it on the plea that they had purchased the commodity from the farmers. On this, a Market Committee official brought the matter to the notice of the police. The police reportedly interferred in the matter and allegedly resorted to a lathi charge on the women labourers.


Pharmacists, nurses vie for emergency duties
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur October 21
Staff nurses and pharmacists are fighting with each other for comparatively difficult duty of emergency in the Civil Hospital, Gurdaspur.

The fight has its genesis in this district. The local Civil Hospital is the only hospital in the state where the pharmacists are being deployed on the emergency duty despite the availability of staff nurses for the purpose. In other hospitals the emergency duty is carried out by the staff nurses.

In August the staff nurses association of the state met the Director Health Services, in protest against the deployment of pharmacists on the emergency duty in the Civil Hospital Gurdaspur. On the request of the staff nurses the Director directed the Civil Surgeon Gurdaspur, to deploy staff nurses on the emergency duty. The orders in this regard were passed by the Civil Surgeon on August 11.

However, just after one and half months the Director has reversed his order. In an order issued to the Civil Surgeon, Gurdaspur on October 13 the Director stated that now the pharmacists should be put on emergency duties. The orders were issued on the request of the Pharmacists Association of the state. After a heated exchange with the staff nurses, the pharmacists resumed their duty in the emergency wing of the Civil Hospital here.

Sources said that staff nurses were trained specifically for the nursing job whereas the pharmacists were trained for dispersing medicines. According to norms, the staff nurses should be put on the emergency duty.

However, the pharmacists here prefer the emergency duty. The motivation behind it allegedly are the medico-legal cases. The medico-legal cases reporting in the emergency of the Civil Hospital especially during night are a major source of corruption.

Interestingly, two of the five pharmacists put on the emergency duty here are on deputation from other primary health centres, which were already facing shortage of staff. Doctors in the Civil Hospital also prefer staff nurses on emergency duties. The Director, Health Services, was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him on phone.


Plea to private doctors on TB control
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 21
Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, called upon private doctors to actively participate in the revised national tuberculosis (TB) control programme (RNTCP) as more than 50 per cent patients of TB initially contact private doctors for treatment.

Inaugurating a seminar on the RNTCP, organised by the Sunam branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) at Sunam on Tuesday, the Civil Surgeon said participation of private doctors in the RNTCP was must for successful implementation of this programme.

Dr Surinder Singla, in charge, District TB Centre, Sangrur, stressed on the importance of proper dosage of anti-TB drugs.


Doctors go on strike over ADC’s behaviour
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, October 21
A quarrel between the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Tiwari, and the District Health Officer, Dr R. L. Taneja, snowballed into a larger controversy as the doctors and paramedical staff resorted to strike and staged a dharna in the Civil Hospital complex here today, paralysing the functioning of the hospital and causing harassment to the patients.

The controversy came about when an advocate, Mr S. K. Talwar, went to the office of the Civil Surgeon for a correction in a birth certificate of his granddaughter. In the absence of the Civil Surgeon, Mr Talwar approached the DHO regarding the job, who asked him to wait in his office or meet the clerk concerned as he was to meet the ADC, who at same time had come to the Civil Surgeon’s office.

As Dr Taneja went to the Civil Surgeon’s office, where the ADC, Mr Tiwari, and the Assistant Commissioner, Dr Rishipal Singh, were sitting, Mr Talwar also followed in. He allegedly complained to the ADC about the “indifferent approach” of Dr Taneja regarding his work. At this, the ADC and the DHO entered an argument and exchanged heated words.

When contacted, Dr Taneja alleged the ADC had behaved with him in a rude manner and threatened him with “dire consequences”. Dr Taneja claimed he had just asked him not to sit in the Civil Surgeon’s chair in his absence, which he did not listen to and started shouting at him in the presence of hospital staff.

Mr Tiwari, denying the allegations, said that despite the “discourteous behaviour” of the DHO, he maintained his poise and just told him to help Mr Talwar and get his work done. He said in the capacity as the Additional District Magistrate he was authorised to use the Civil Surgeon’s chair in his absence. Talking to The Tribune, Mr Tiwari said despite the incident, he had not initiated any proceedings against the DHO and simply written a letter to the Secretary, Health.

When contacted, Mr Ranjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said he would try to work out a solution to the controversy. He said the doctors had been advised not to go on strike.

The Indian Medical Association, PCMS Association and the Paramedical and Ministerial Staff Union came out in support of the DHO, while the District Bar Association issued a press note endorsing the ADC’s version of the episode.


Construction work hit by stir
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
People building houses in Punjab have been dealt a blow with the brick-kiln owners’ strike showing no sign of ending and an unprecedented hike in coal prices at the same time sending brick prices spiralling.

Though the cost factor of bricks in building a house is about 8 per cent, the steep hike in their prices, in a period of 15 days, has started upsetting the budgets of thousands of people in the middle of building houses.

The prices are expected to rise further in case the striking brick-kiln owners of the state do not relent soon. They are protesting against the implementation of an order making it mandatory for all brick-kilns in a radius of 100 km of any thermal plant to use 25 per cent fly ash in making bricks.

A study conducted by The Tribune revealed that the prices of bricks have gone up by 20 or 30 per cent in different regions of Punjab during the past 15 days.

No respite is in sight in near future. Almost none of the 2500 kilns started functioning from September 17, the normal date of reopening of kilns in the state after monsoon.

In Doaba, where the prices are usually high even in normal times, the price of 1000 bricks has jumped from Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,900 (exclusive of transport cost). In most of parts of Malwa, the price has shot up from Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,800.

In Majha, the hike is relatively less as brick-kilns of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts have been functioning normally, for these units are not within 100 km of any thermal plant. A thousand bricks were available in Amritsar and Gurdaspur for Rs 1,500 a fortnight ago, these are now for Rs 1600-1700.


Police martyrs remembered
Tribune Reporters & PTI

Bathinda, October 21
A commemoration parade was today organised in the local police line to pay tributes to all those jawans and officers of Punjab Police, who sacrificed their lives to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.

Floral tributes were paid and wreaths were laid on the Shaheedi Laat in the police lines by all police and civil officers. Mr Sukhpal Singh, DSP, led the commemoration parade.

Saluting the parade, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Bathinda, said that Punjab Police had always stood against all odds firmly and with exemplary courage.

All these martyrs played a vital role in successfully tackling the challenge of naxalism and terrorism, he added.

Mr Shiv Verma, SP, (City), read out the names of all 892 martyrs.

Mr Dev, SSP, Mr K.C. Puri, District and Sessions Judge, Brig Bant Singh, (retd) and Mr Ajay Maluja, SP (D), honoured 37 widows and next of kin of martyrs of police force of Bathinda. They were given blankets.

In Muktsar district, Mr R.S. Khatra, SSP, honoured the families and next of kin of 14 policemen of the district who sacrificed their lives fighting terrorists.

FEROZEPORE: The police personnel should always be ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of internal security of the nation.

This was stated by Mr Hardish Randhawa, DIG, Ferozepore Range, while addressing police officers on the occasion of the commemoration day parade held here in the Police lines here.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Mr Rajinder Singh, SP, Headquarters, Mr Munish Chawla, SP, Detective, along with all DSPs, retired police officers and jawans participated in the parade.

The DIG and the SSP along with other officials honoured 33 families of the police personnel belonging to this district.

Jalandhar: The Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr A.A Siddiqui, today paid tributes to martyr cops on the occasion on the police commemoration day here.

While paying tributes, the DGP said that only those nations could survive in remembered their martyrs and observed that Punjab Police jawans were always ready to make supreme sacrifice whenever the unity and integrity of the country was in peril, as was evident from the act of 2,221 officers and jawans, who laid down their lives while fighting terrorism during a decade-long turmoil in the state.

He revealed that 892 police officers and jawans sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country from September 2003 to August 2004, out of which four belonged to Punjab Police.

Later on he laid a wreath at the Police Martyrs’ memorial at the PAP Complex here.

SANGRUR: The commemoration day was observed at the Police Lines here on Thursday. As a mark of respect to the police martyrs, Mr Jagroop Singh, District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur; Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, and other police officers laid wreaths at the Police Martyrs’ Memorial here. Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, also honoured members of 60 families of the martyrs of the district police.

HOSHIARPUR: To pay homage to the police martyrs a commemoration parade was organised at the local police ground here on Thursday morning.

Mr Harbans Lal, District and Sessions Judge, Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, and many other police officers placed wreaths at the Police Martyrs Memorial.


Quality paddy bad news for labourers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Baghapurana (Moga), October 21
Punjab farmers might be on cloud nine after harvesting a good quality paddy crop, but it has left a sizable number of people from Bihar starving. They arrive in the state every year hoping to make some money through the residue of paddy after harvesting is over.

A number of migrant labourers from Bihar have erected tents next to the grain market here. Their children, collect paddy residue from the grain market with a broom. A woman was observed roasting corn for their meal, as they could not afford to have proper food.

Speaking to The Tribune, Manoj Kumar, hailing from Munger district of Bihar, said last year he had earned Rs 2,000 by selling the residue of paddy that he had collected from fields and grain markets, but this time owing to the better quality of crop the combines had hardly left anything for them. His companion, Raman Kumar also from Munger, said in the grain market too, the market committee contractors were forcing them to get a card made by paying Rs 100 if they wanted to collect the residue after the paddy stocks were lifted from the market. “Those who can spare some money are getting these cards made, but people like us are now heading towards fields hoping to extract some foodgrains from paddy straw,” he added. Raman said a contractor also snatched paddy from three of their associates while they were returning from the grain market. Another Bihari labourer, Sanjeet Kumar, said: “The rail fare from our native place to Punjab is Rs 275 per individual and I have come here along with my brother. With 40 per cent earning as compared to the previous year I wonder what I will be left with after paying over Rs 1,000 as rail fare.”

An elderly person from Talao village, Bishan Lal, said he was here for the first time on being persuaded by his friends, but now it seemed that he had made a mistake. Lukri Devi, a resident of Sutarganj in Bhagalpur district of Bihar, said she came to Punjab looking forward to earning a good amount of money, as she had to marry her younger daughter. She said her husband did not work and he was sitting idle in Bihar. Lukri said she married her elder daughter by taking a loan of Rs 25,000 and now she had to pay back the same, besides accumulating money for her second daughter’s marriage. Usha Kumari from Bhagalpur said they worked as farm labourers in Bihar, but floods had taken a toll on the crop there and they were rendered jobless.

Sources said in previous years these labourers used to take up this work first in Kotkapura followed by Baghapurana and Rampura Phul, as the harvesting took place at these places one after another, but this time their earning was further hit due to parallel harvesting in these areas.

A woman roasts corn while men and children look on near the grain market in Baghapurana on Wednesday.


Shopkeepers hold dharna against demolition
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 21
In a piquant situation, 24 shopkeepers who encroached on municipal corporation (MC) land by covering the area in front of their shops and enclosing it with shutters, today sat on dharna in the Rose Garden market to thwart the attempts by the corporation to demolish the encroachments.

An attempt by the MC to demolish the enclosure yesterday did not succeed with the shopkeepers preventing the corporation staff from doing so.

The local Beopar Mandal has supported the shop- keepers. The mandal had earlier met Municipal Commissioner and the Mayor to resolve the crisis but nothing cameout of it. An MC team under Assistant Commissioner was deputed to carry out the demolition yesterday after repeated extensions of the demolition date did not have any effect on the shopkeepers.

The shopkeepers are demanding that the MC should not adopt a pick and choose policy on demolition. They feel encroachments, particularly those done at the behest of councillors, should be demolished first.

Residents living near the market, however, are not buying this argument. “The shopkeepers have completely blocked off the veranda and no one can use it, causing inconvenience to people, says Amardeep Singh. He said the shop- keepers could not commit a wrong and then blackmail the authorities that other wrongs should be corrected first.


CM should apologise to media: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The president of SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said yesterday that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s outburst against a section of the media had very grave implications as “it reveals that anyone daring to report the truth about him would be treated as a personal enemy and should be ready for a fight with the CM”.

Urging the CM to apologise for his “assault on a section of the media”, Mr Badal said that instead of issuing threats of a “ fight” to certain journalists, the Chief Minister should have used his right to issue a rejoinder and put his side of the story before the people. This was the normal and civilised way followed by responsible citizens in a free democracy.


CM mourns photo journalist’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has expressed grief over the demise of Ravi Brat Bedi, a veteran photo journalist, who passed away yesterday in New Delhi following cardiac failure. In a condolence message, Capt Amarinder Singh said today that in the death of Mr Bedi, a void had been created in the field of photo journalism.


Engineers oppose unbundling of PSEB
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
Opposing the Punjab Government move to unbundle the Punjab State Electricity Board into a generation, transmission and three distribution companies for implementing of the Electricity Act, 2003, the PSEB Engineers Association today said that though unbundling was being propagated as a panacea for the ailing power sector, in contrast the latest management practices across the world advocated the need to amalgamate and bundle business.

The engineers questioned the track record of the state government on the issue of power reforms. 


Bank accounts for challenged kids
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 21
As part of welfare schemes for physically and mentally challenged kids of the jawans, accounts for 21 minors were opened in their names with Syndicate Bank, Jalandhar cantonment, here today.

All the earnings made by the kids from the sale of items made by them during their vocational training would go into the accounts of the children. The training for the kids had begun last month with an effort to promote greater fluency and talent of the kids in the identified field under the guidance of Ms Ranjana Chaturvedi, coordinator of Asha School, an institute run by the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) in the cantonment.


Valmiki function at Amritsar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 21
The Parkash Utsav of Maharishi Valmiki will be celebrated at a state-level function in Amritsar on October 28. A decision in this connection was taken today at a meeting presided over by Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab.


Life term for 3 in dowry death case
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 21
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Sukhdev Singh, has sentenced three persons to life imprisonment and two others to seven-year jail in a case of dowry death.

Sources said the victim, Pinky Rani, was married to Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Nihal Singh Wala. Pinky’s father spent a lot in her marriage, but her in-laws used to harass her for more dowry.

Once they had thrown her out of their house and she was allowed back following the panchayat’s intervention. On October 7, 2000, the five accused set her ablaze and she succumbed to her injuries the next day.

On the basis of the statement of Pinky’s father, Mr Shiv Kumar, a case was registered against her husband, Rakesh, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Her brother-in-law Naresh Kumar and sister-in-law Gita Rani got seven-year term, while the others were sentenced to life imprisonment.


MC recommends suspension of ex-town planner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 21
Mayor, Vishnu Sharma today recommended the suspension of former Municipal Town Planner (MTP) S.S. Bhatia, at present posted at Ludhiana, to the state government saying the MTP was indicted in a case involving demand and acceptance of a bribe of Rs 20,000 from a shopkeeper of the city.

The corporation today also suspended a clerk, Ms Vijay Sharma, who was accused of brokering the ‘deal’ between the MTP and the shopkeeper. Earlier, following a meeting of the General House on September 10, when allegations were levelled against the MTP, the Mayor had constituted a two-member committee to probe the issue.

According to the report of the two-member committee comprising Senior Deputy Mayor Kabir Das and Health Officer Karamjit Singh, MTP S.S. Bhatia had threatened a trader Vikas Modgil, who had constructed a shop on the Lower Mall, that his shop would be demolished if he did not pay him a bribe of Rs 20,000.

Mr Vishnu Sharma, said the committee had also indicted a corporation employee, Ms Vijay Sharma, who was employed as a clerk. According to the committee, Ms Sharma had acted as a go-between in the case and had facilitated the paying of the bribe to the MTP. The committee claimed that one Subhash Sharma, an associate of the shopkeeper, was also present when the bribe money was paid to the MTP in the presence of Ms Sharma.

Earlier, the shopkeeper Vikas Modgil had alleged that he had submitted an application for building a shop in April, 2003. He claimed that the permission for the same was given to him by an MC sub-committee. The shopkeeper, in his complaint said after the shop had been constructed, the MTP got demolished the same following which he (Modgil) was approached by Ms Sharma who said if he wanted to rebuild the shop he would have to pay a bribe amount of Rs 20,000.

Vikas, in his complaint, said after he paid the bribe money, the MTP demanded Rs 10,000 more from him. He said when he displayed his inability to pay the additional bribe, the MTP came to his shop again with a team of staff members and demolished a part of his shop again. He said it was after this that he submitted a complaint against the officer to the corporation authorities.


7-year-old girl raped
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 21
A seven-year-old girl was raped by a youth at Suara village, 14 km from Nurpur Bedi in Ropar district, today.

The incident took place when the girl’s parents had gone to attend the wedding in a village and she was alone at home.

She was picked-up by two youths of the same village from her house. They took her to nearby forest area. A 22-year-old youth raped her, the other 24-year-old youth had helped his friend commit the crime.

The incident came to light when the girl’s aunt, Ram Dulari, spotted the youth raping the minor. She raised the alarm and then villagers came for help. The villagers chased the youths, but they failed to catch them.

Later the girl was admitted to hospital in Nangal.

The police had registered a case against the two youths on the complaint of Ram Dulari .

When contacted, the DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Varinder Singh, said that a case of rape had been registered against Khushal Singh and Gurmeet. He said that the police had got evidence against the accused. He added that a team of police personnel had been sent to arrest the accused.


Kidnapped farmer released
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 21
A farmer, who was kidnapped over a land dispute from Nihal Singh Wala, has been admitted to a hospital after some persons threw him at the house of the village sarpanch last evening.

Sources said that the victim, Lal Singh, had a land dispute with another farmer who had his plot just next to his. His rival, along with his associates, allegedly kidnapped him on the night of October 18 and held him hostage for about 24 hours, during which he was also assaulted. An injured Lal Singh is now recuperating in a local hospital.

On the basis of his statement, the police has registered a case against Mohan Singh Garewal, Tara Singh, Gurpreet Singh and some unidentified persons under Sections 365, 506, 342, 323 and 34 of the IPC.


1 killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, October 21
Deepak Sharma, a resident of Garota village, was killed when his car met with an accident with a train at an unmanned level crossing near Sujanpur.

Sources said that Deepak, who was travelling in a Maruti car, tried to cross the level crossing, ignoring the train coming from opposite direction. Due to the impact of the collision, the car was damaged. The victim died on the spot.


Two arrested

Nawanshahr, October 21
Mr M.F.Farooqui, SSP, here on Wednesday said the Balachaur police arrested two miscreants, Bajit Singh, alias Bittu, son of Mr Sukh Ram and Jarnail Ram son of Mr Ramesh Lal, both residents of Bairsian village and a motorcycle, a .12 bore pistol, and two live cartridges, two packets of Rs 10,000 each were recovered from them. They had allegedly looted the amount at pistol point from an arhtiya and Mr Manjit Singh, at Mazari village on October 15. — OC


Acid thrown on couple

Batala October 21
A couple sustained burn injuries when some persons allegedly threw acid on them in Bahadur Hussian village in the Ranger Nangal area today.

Satinder Kaur and her husband, Gurnam Singh, were on their way to the fields when Atma Singh, Balkar Singh and Jiwan Singh threw acid on them, the police said, adding the duo suffered burn injuries.

The police has registered a case, but no arrest had been made so far.

Earlier, two sisters had sustained burn injuries when a youth threw acid on them in Batala town last week. — PTI


S.R. College lifts youth fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 21
Hosts S. R. Government College for Women, Amritsar, clinched the overall zonal youth festival trophy of government colleges of Guru Nanak Dev University on the concluding day here today.

Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (NJSA) Government College, Kapurthala, stood runners up and Government College, Gurdaspur, remained third.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary (Agriculture and Cooperation), presided over the function and gave away prizes to the winners. More than 750 students from government colleges participated in it.

Earlier, Ms Harpreet Daljiet Singh, Principal of the host college, welcomed the chief guest and the participants.

Results: bhangra — Government College, Gurdaspur, 1, Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (NJSA) Government College, Kapurthala, 2, and Government College, Bholath, 3; classical dance — S.R. Government College for Women, Amritsar, 1, and Government College, Gurdaspur, 2.

Fancy Dress — Government College, Sathiala, 1, Government College, Kapurthala, 2, Government College, Jalandhar, 3.

Mimicry — Government College, Amritsar, 1, Government College, Jalandhar, 2, and Government College, Kapurthala, 3.

Skit — Government College, Amritsar, 1, Government College, Kapurthala, 2, and Government College, Gurdaspur, 3.

Histrionics — Government College, Amritsar, 1, Government Guru Nanak College, Kala Afghana, 2, and Government College, Gurdaspur, 3.

Mime — Government College, Amritsar, 1, and Government College, Kapurthala, 2.

One act play — Government College, Amritsar, 1, Government College, Kapurthala, 2, and Government College, Gurdaspur, 3.


NCC contingent gets award
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 21
The NCC Directorate of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh was awarded a special prize for “josh” (zeal) due to the enthusiastic participation of its 40 cadets in various activities in the 12-day Special National Integration Camp held in Chakabama in Nagaland recently.

This was disclosed here today by Lieut Swinder Singh who had headed the 40-member Punjab contingent in the joint camp attended by 860 cadets, both boys and girls, from different states of the country.

Lieut Swinder Singh is commandant of 4/8 Company of NCC in the local Guru Nanak College falling under 8 Punjab NCC Batallion based at Phagwara.

While talking to this correspondent Lieut Swinder Singh said Punjabi folk dance and music, especially bhangra, found an instant favour with cadets of Nagaland. The Naga cadets and cadets from other North-Eastern states showed keen interest in bhangra and learnt it from our cadets”, he claimed.

He was all praise for the pollution-free atmosphere in the hill state and its mesmerising scenic beauty.

He said dog’s meat was considered a delicacy by Nagas and was used as a special dish on festive occasions. It was sold for a whopping Rs 150 per kg and was available everywhere in the state. Birds were scarce, virtually missing in the state as Nagas ate meat of all types of animals, birds, he said.


DAV College students hold rally
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 21
Students of DAV College today held a rally in front of its gate to lodge their protest against the heavy and illegal fines being imposed on them by the college management.

In a press note issued here, the students alleged that the college authorities had been looting them under the garb of fine which was being imposed on them despite the fact that there was no rule of Punjabi University, Patiala, which allowed the same.

They pointed out that they had also met the principal of the college in this connection and he had assured them that he would look into the matter. They said that if the college authorities did not check this trend, they would be forced to intensify the agitation.

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