P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vajpayee, Chautala fail to turn up for shaheedi conference
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, December 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal’s tall promises to get special guests like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to address the “shaheedi” conference, fell flat as none of them turned up for the occasion.

Only the special guest, BJP leader Madal Lal Khurana, reached the venue to address the conference on the second day, which is being organised to commemorate the 300 years of martyrdom of the Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

After the defeat in the Assembly elections in Kapurthala and Garhshankar, the SAD was all set to prove its strength at the shaheedi samagam here. Though the SGPC had sent invitations to many important leaders, a majority of them did not attend the conference.

Sources said Mr Vajpayee gave some personal problems as reason for not attending the function. Mr Chautala and his two sons were busy in the wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections and were unable to attend the conference.

Addressing the devotees, Mr Badal said the contribution of the Sikh community was not given due importance.

“In every freedom struggle, the Sikhs were always ahead of others. Despite the 2.5 per cent population, the Sikhs have made 80 per cent of sacrifices during the freedom struggle,” he said.

He said there was an urgent need to spread awareness about the sacrifices of the Gurus among the younger generation. He said it was the joint responsibility of the parents and religious organisations to inculcate the religious beliefs among the children.

Talking about the use of liquor and drugs among the youth, he said it was unfortunate that the youths were not given due attention and hence more and more youths were moving away from their roots. He said the SAD had set up the Youth Akali Dal so that the young generation would get an opportunity to participate in political affairs.

The SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said with a view to spreading awareness among the children and youths about the sacrifices of the Gurus for humanity, the SGPC had decided to set up a school and a college and a museum at Chamkaur Sahib.

Mr Khurana narrated incidents of sacrifices of the Sikh Gurus and the sacrifice of the Sahibzadas at Chamkaur Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib.

The others who attended the conference included Mr Ray Ajij Ula Khan, an MP from Pakistan, and a senior Akali leader, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.


Website on martyrdom event launched
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 20
In view of the tercentenary commemoration of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri, a website was launched by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, here today.

The website has been launched for all those devotees who would not be able to come to pay obeisance on this historic event. They can get first-hand information about various events being carried out by the SGPC and the state government.

The website has the history of the Saka Sirhind, the details of events to be organised, programme schedule, route maps for vehicles, train timings, parking sites, medical facilities, photo galleries, important telephone numbers, security arrangements, and transport facilities. It would be helpful to the devotees coming from all over the world.

The link would be provided from the existing website of the district and can be accessed from http://fatehgarhsahib.nic.i.

The Deputy Commissioner said that website had been developed by the District Cultural Society in collaboration with the district administration and the National Informatics Centre(NIC). He said a special issue of “Yuva Chetan,’’ a quarterly magazine dedicated to the tercentenary commemoration published by the District Hospital Welfare Society had also been put on the website. The issue contains articles of Sikh scholars.

The Deputy Commissioner said free parking sites had been developed on all entry points. Similarly, 12 buses would be put on route which would take the senior citizens and women free of cost to the Gurdwara Sahib from all entry points. Such facilities were being provided for the first time. No shop would be allowed on both sides of the roads from Gurdwara Jyoti Sarup to Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.


Tent for CM’s conference damaged, venue changed
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, December 20
The district administration today managed to save their skin here on the second day of the Shaheedi Samagam as the tents erected for the Chief Minister’s conference were badly damaged by rain and high-speed winds.

Incidentally, Capt Amarinder Singh, who reached the conference about five hours late than schedule time, gave the administration enough time to shift the venue and make fresh arrangements. He did not come on helicopter due to bad weather conditions and this led to his coming late to the conference.

Senior officials got the shock in the morning when they saw that the tents eracted and decorated at a costs of 8 lakh had been damaged by the last night rain. Interestingly, the administration had claimed that the tents were water-proof with a capacity to accommodate 50,000 persons.

Since early morning a number of officials could be seen running here and there for making alternative arrangements. Finally, they decided to shift the venue to the adjacent tent, which was meant for the stay of devotees.

The worries of the administration did not end here. It had the responsibility of showing strength of locals during the conference. A senior functionary of the administration had instructed the senior official of the Education Department to send schoolchildren to attend the conference. Senior police officials also lend hand in gathering schoolchildren.

The administration had failed to arrange buses for taking devotees from parking slots to the historical gurdawars and back. The administration had earlier claimed that it would arrange the buses for the devotees.

The SGPC tents also suffered damage due to rain but still managed to hold the conference. All this with help from devotees who helped in pumping out water and in carpeting of the tents.


He won battle for turban
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Herbakshish Singh
Herbakshish Singh

Ludhiana, December 15
A Sikh student, Herbakshish Singh, who was debarred from wearing a turban at the graduation ceremony at his school in the USA, is proud that he not only succeeded in getting Los Angeles school officials to back down on an arbitrarily imposed dress code but also helped create awareness about his community by resisting to wear a hat.

His Gursikh parents, Harmohan Singh and Charanjit Kaur from Model Town in Ludhiana, just back after visiting their son were overjoyed at the principled stand taken by their son. “Herbakshish initially attended Venice High School as a junior where some students targeted him because of the turban. They thought he was a Muslim and called him Osama and things like that,” they told The Tribune here.

Things got worse as a couple of students came up to him and said they would kill him. “We appealed to the school Principal who arranged to have him transferred to Alexander Hamilton High School, given the number of Sikhs in the school population,” his parents said.

“But when he got to the school, he found he was the only student wearing a turban. “He realised all Sikh students there were westernised and were not following the religion anymore when it came to observing the five K’s of the Amritdharis,” the parents pointed out.

Though he felt isolated, Herbakshish nevertheless engrossed himself into his studies. In his first year, he won the Outstanding Student Award and was asked to join the school’s scholastic society. Months later, he became Vice-President of the student body. In his senior year, he won the Principal’s Honours Award.

With a grade average of 3.91, having completed all necessary credits, he graduated from the school in December last year. Though he had finished early, there was no graduating ceremony and for the next six months he began taking courses at Santa Monica Junior College.

Three weeks before his graduation, Herbakshish had his sister call the high school’s vice-principal in charge of ceremonies to have a gown reserved for him. Herbakshish Singh was keen to go because he had never been to any ceremonies earlier, his parents revealed.

The Vice-Principal reserved the gown, but two weeks before the ceremony, Herbakshish Singh was informed that he could not wear his turban at the ceremony since it violated the school policy mandating that students wear a cap and gown.

“The Vice-Principal said Herbakshish could wear the turban but he would have to wear a cap on the turban,” Harmohan Singh recounted.

Herbakshish decided to fight the order and called up his cousin, Jagdeep Singh, who, in turn, rang up Nitasha Sawhney, an attorney at Burke, Williams and Sorenson, which specialises in labour, education and employment laws.

She coordinated with Amardeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition in New York who drafted a letter to the Principal of Alexander High School, explaining not only the tenets of Sikhism but also citing a similar incident a little more than a month ago in Ohio where a school district was ordered to allow a Muslim student to wear her hijab. This made the school allow Herbakshish to wear a turban at the graduation ceremony.


Verbal duel in Burail Jail
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The lawyers of Navjot Singh, one of the accused in the assassination case of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, today had a verbal duel with the judge of the case, Additional Sessions Judge Balbir Singh, here in the Burail Jail complex. Navjot was present in the court.

They were protesting against the attitude of the jail staff. The jail staff cited security reasons in restraining Navjot from handing over a piece of paper to his father and this was protested by the lawyers of Navjot.

This afternoon during the sitting of the Special Court — held inside the jail complex for security reason — Navjot reportedly tried to pass a piece of paper to his father, Mr Trilok Singh Chabhra. This was taken away by one of the jail staff members. The jail staff said the paper on which Navjot wrote should have been routed through his lawyers and not his father.

On behalf of Navjot, his lawyers said since today was the statement of the officer who had arrested Navjot, he had wanted to ask a few questions. The pen and paper had been given to him within the court room and he wanted to ask a few questions from the deposing officer, who is with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The entire ruckus between the lawyers and the jail staff lasted more than 45 minutes.

Later in the evening the lawyers of Navjot held a meeting and decided that they will not accept the presence of the Jail staff inside the court room, Mr Arvind Thakur, one of the lawyers, said. No decision has been taken on this so far. The jail staff says since the escape of the three undertrials it is their duty to be with the undertrial all the times and keep an eye on any exchange of information.

It may be re-collected that three of the accused in the Beant Singh assassination case - Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Bheora - had escaped from the Burail Jail complex early this year in January. The three escapees along with a few others have been charged with killing Beant Singh outside the Secretariat on August 31, 1994.

In the past few days the hearing of the high profile cases is on a daily basis. A few days back also there had been tension when slogans against the Indian Government were raised by another accused in the case, Balwant Singh.


Mandi board to set up two hi-tech markets
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Two new hi-tech fruit and vegetable markets, offering packing, ripening and cold storage facilities among other things, are coming up in Ludhiana and Patiala by March next.

The Ludhiana mandi will be made operational by the Punjab Mandi Board by the end of January on 50 acres of land on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana highway, while the Patiala mandi will become functional by March.

Once set up, the infrastructure in these mandis will make buying and selling convenient for the farmers and consumers.

Talking to TNS, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Secretary of the board, said “farmers would have an easy access to all modern facilities under one roof — from grading and packing houses to ripening and cold chain stores.”

A farmer no longer has to go in for distressed sales for he can stock his produce in the cold stores or leave them for ripening and sell it only when he fetches a better price for the same, he explained.

Since most of these mandis were at present functioning from congested areas in the interiors of the towns, the modernisation of infrastructure was the need of the hour as it will lead to expansion of auctioning platforms and provision of more cover sheds, said Mr Venu Prasad.

The board has already spent Rs 20 crore on the Ludhiana mandi, and is now looking for public-private partnership for the Patiala one. The process of finalising the site and inviting applications from private partners is already underway and will be completed in the next 2-3 months.

With grading, storing and waxing facilities in place at the mandi, perishable citrus fruits like kinoo can be stocked for much longer periods before they are transported to the markets in Delhi and down south. “They will serve as terminal markets and attract traders from the neighbouring states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh etc. and collection of market fee will add to the revenues of the board, he added.

A market information centre in these mandis will also help the farmer know the latest prices of his produce in the markets across the country on a particular day. He can go through some of the sites right there and plan his sales accordingly. This facility will also prove to be a check on the arhtias who will find it hard to cheat the well informed farmer. For he knows that farmers can even sell their produce in other markets for better prices. Steps will also be taken to ensure proper standardisation of the produce by providing better weight and measurement facilities.

For the benefit of consumers and farmers, the current prices of the produce will also be displayed on an electronic board in these mandis. The same will be visible from all corners. Emphasis is also being laid on provision of better drinking water, toilet and sewerage facilities to make shopping in these markets a delight for the consumers, said Mr Prasad.

Meanwhile, the board also plans to give most of the other mandis in the states on contract for better functioning and management.


Farmers threaten indefinite strike
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
The agitating farmers today threatened to lay a siege to the headquarters of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in case the board did not withdraw the charge of Rs 3,200, being taken per horse power for increasing the capacity of the agricultural tubewell connections in the state.

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) activists under the leadership of Mr Pashora Singh Siddhupur threatened to start an indefinite dharna outside the PSEB headquarters in February in case the charge was not withdrawn by then.

Mr Siddhupur said the farmers were approaching the PSEB to increase the capacity of their tubewell motors due to the decreasing water level and should not be penalised for the same.

The Kisan leader said no other state was following such a policy. He also called for easing the overload of various grid stations, saying this was the reason behind repeated break downs, which were affecting the agricultural economy of the state.

Meanwhile, the BKU (Ekta) activists also criticised the government for deciding to dismantle the PSEB. Its general secretary Ruldu Singh Mansa said the Punjab Congress had clearly stated in its election manifesto that it would continue to provide free power to the farmers.

He said even Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had promised that the government would honour this commitment once the financial position of the state improved.

The leaders also criticised the government for failing to ensure the remunerative prices to cotton growers in the state. They said the state had experienced a bumper cotton crop after years but the failure of the government to ensure remunerative prices had ensured that this benefit did not trickle down to the grower.

Meanwhile, the dependents of the deceased employees of the board also held a dharna outside its headquarters, claiming the board was treating them inhumanly by doing away with the policy of providing compassionate employment to the next-of -kin of the deceased employees.

Board Spokesman R. P. Pandove, however, claimed that though a decision to do away with the policy had been taken, the board would be adequately compensating the next-of- kin of the deceased employees.

Mr Pandove said, besides ensuring full salary till the date of superannuation to the next-of-kin of the deceased employees, they would be given a lump sum compensation ranging from Rs 3 to 5 lakh. He said they would also be eligible for pension.


Splinter BKU groups keep farmers divided
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 20
The farming community of Punjab which was once the most prosperous in the country is faced with the serious threat of survival in the face of debt of more than Rs 10,000 crore. The farming community in Punjab does not have a united organisation which can claim to fight for the cause of the community.

The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) which claims to represent the farmers of the state is also divided into more than half a dozen groups and there are half a dozen kisan organisations attached with political 

It was in 1984 and 1990 when Bharti Kisan Union gheraoed the Punjab Raj Bhavan during the tenure of Mr B.D. Pandey and Mr Virender Verma as Governors of Punjab for seven days and 14 days respectively in Chandigarh. The farmers then made the movement of the Governors out of Raj Bhavan difficult. The Bharti Kisan Union which was originally formed in 1970 under the banner of the Khetibari Zamindara Union under the leadership of Mr Pratap Singh Kadian and Mr Mohinder Singh Jawanda because of part of the All-India Kisan Organisation in 1980.

The BKU now has different groups and the major group which claims its origin with the Kadian group is led by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian. This group claims to represent farmers of Punjab and is the only registered body of the farmers.

The BKU groups are known as BKU (Ekta-led by Mr Pishora Singh Sidhpur), BKU (Agraha led by Mr Joginder Singh Agraha), BKU-Ekta Karanti (led by Mr Surjit Singh Phul) and BKU-Ekta led by Mr Ruldu Singh.

One group of the BKU is led by Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann who was nominated as member of Rajya Sabha during the regime of Mr V.P. Singh. He has Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal as its general secretary. Besides, the Shiromani Akali Dal and Akali Dal (Amritsar) also have their kisan wings and the CPI and CPM have kisan sabhas. The CPM (Pasla) has also its kisan sabha and one group of the left is known as Kirti Kisan Union led by Mr Hardev Singh

All these groups claim to fight for the cause of the farmers of the state.

The left wing kisan sabhas claim to fight for the cause of the peasantry which represents the small and marginal farmers.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian told The Tribune that efforts were made to unite different groups of kisan organisations but the unity could not be achieved because of the ideological differences.

However, they had been able to put up a united stand on issues like the river waters.

The BKU (Lakhowal) has now given a call to farmers of Punjab ‘Zamin Bachao-Kisan Bachao-Zamin Bachao-Pagri Bachao’. They have given the call to save the dignity of the farmers as at present the farmers are being forced to commit suicide and their land is being snatched by the private arhtias and government agencies.

According to Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian, they have presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking waiving of loans of the farmers in the country which amount to Rs 40,000 crores, including Rs 12,000 crore of Punjab farmers.


Villagers rue trusting minister’s announcement
Our Correspondent

Phagwara December 20
Residents of Rampur Sunra village and about a dozen other villages are paying dearly for trusting a ministerial announcement. Residents of Rampur Sunra told this correspondent here yesterday that they had spent Rs 2.25 lakh on the earth work for raising and widening over 3-km long “katcha road” from Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road to Babeli village where four Babbars were martyred on August 31,1923. These martyrs of freedom struggle included Baba Karam Singh Daulatpur, Baba Bishen Singh Mangat, Baba Uday Singh Rampur Jhuggian and Baba Mohinder Singh Pandori Ganga Singh. The then Punjab Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, had named this road as Shaheed Baba Karam Singh Babbar Marg in 1995-96 in memory of the four martyrs.

An annual martyrs mela is held at Babeli village in their memory. It was at this mela on August 31, 2003 that the then Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had announced Rs 30 lakh grant for metalling of the 4.5 km stretch from Hoshiarpur road to Babeli village via Rampur Sunra and other development projects. She had also promised to widen the road.

She had asked the villagers to raise the level of the road with the earth work. The villagers had completed the earth work on a 22-feet wide road and raised its level by two feet in October.

The road has not been metalled yet. Tractor trailers loaded with sugarcane get stuck in it. It is difficult to ply even light vehicles, including cars and scooters and villagers are virtually cut off from Phagwara, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.


Police registers case against ‘victim’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
The Kotwali Police has achieved the dubious distinction of registering a case against a ‘’waiter” who has suffered nearly 20 knife injuries which subsequently need a hundred stitches. The waiter is accused of injuring a person known as Commando who has received a single injury.

Incidentally Commando, who had reached the Kotwali police station with alacrity after the incident and had got a case registered against the waiter, Harjot, is nowhere to be seen. Harjot is presently lying in Ward No. 2 of Government Rajindra Hospital.

Even with the facts quite plain for all to see, the Kotwali police is waiting for a report from the doctors. Assistant Sub-Inspector Gurbaz Singh says the police has asked for a medical opinion as to the nature of the injuries.

However Harjot’s friends and relatives are baffled as to how the police reacted so quickly and registered a case under Section 324 (causing injury) against Harjot as well as Commando. They claim that if the matter had been investigated properly in the first instance a case would not have been registered against Harjot.

Harjot’s friends say he had been called for New Mohindra Colony two days back by one Ajay who owed him Rs 8,000. They said once Harjot reached there he was attacked by Ajay, Commando, Rambo and others. They alleged that Commando also lived nearby. They said subsequently they learnt that Commando had got a case registered against Harjot and 20 other persons, claiming that he had been attacked at his house by them.


Work on Shahpur Kandi dam to start
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 20
The work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam project will start finally. Sources in the Department of Irrigation said the government had decided to release Rs 16 crore received from the Union Government under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program (AIBP), for the Shahpur Kandi project. A matching grant of 20 per cent of the amount would also be provided for the project by the state government.

The Punjab Government had earlier allegedly diverted the funds received under the AIBP for the project. However, now that the state is facing an acute power crisis, the government has decided to start work on the project. Though the work on the left hand head regulator will be carried out by the government departmentally, the construction of the rest of the dam may be entrusted to the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC).

The Minister for Irrigation, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, is likely to formally start the work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam by the end of this month.

The sources said that initially the work on the left hand side head regulator of the Shahpur Kandi dam was started by the Department of Irrigation a few years ago. However, for want of funds, the work was stopped midway. Now, once again, the work will be started by the same contractor who was allotted the work earlier.

The left hand side regulator will be used to control the flow of water in the canal to be dug from the Shahpur dam on the Punjab side. The 7.5 km canal will start from the Shahpur Kandi dam and end at Madhopur head from where its water will be released in the UBDC canal system. Two power projects have also planned on the canal.

The other portions of the Shahpur Kandi project include a right hand head regulator that will control the flow of water to the canal going to Jammu and Kashmir from the dam, 22 bays and spillways. The Jammu and Kashmir Government has already started arbitration due to the delay in the completion of the Shahpur Kandi dam by the Punjab Government.

The Shahpur Kandi dam project was initially planned as part of the Ranjit Sagar Dam. According to the original design, the Ranjit Sagar Dam was meant to help in peak load generation in the state. In the peak hours, the water released as a result of 600 MW power generation at the Ranjit Sagar Dam during peak hours was to be stopped at Shahpur Kandi dam. Here again an additional 168 MW was to be generated from the same water. Further stage III of the UBDC was to be implemented to generate an additional 133 MW.

However, due to the non-construction of Shahpur Kandi dam, the full potential of the Ranjit Sagar Dam has also not been realised. At present, just 200 to 300 MW power was being generated at Ranjit Sagar Dam against the installed potential of 600 MW because there was no dam to absorb the water released once all its four units start generating power.


Rs 10-lakh cheque given to Mansar sarpanch
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 20
In a special function, Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, along with Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, handed over a cheque for Rs 10 lakh to Mr Tara Singh, sarpanch of the gram panchayat of Mansar village in this district today for doing excellent service by the villagers in rescue operations for the injured passengers and protecting the belongings of injured and deceased after the train accident on December 14.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, who visited the accidental spot on December 14 after the accident was impressed by the Mansar villagers for doing commendable service and had announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the development of the village.

Dr Kewal Krishan appreciated the villagers for providing all types of help to the victims of the accident. He said that they had done true service of humanity in the rescue operations.

Mr Tara Singh, sarpanch, said that out of Rs 10 lakh, Rs 5 lakh would be spent on the improvement of Government Senior Secondary School and the remaining on the development of the village.


Punjab may buy power from national grid
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday admitted that there would a major power problem in Punjab, if the state continued to receive scanty rainfall.

Addressing a press conference after playing an exhibition polo match, the Chief Minister said the position of thermal plants in the state was satisfactory, but he maintained that due to scanty rainfall in the catchment area, the water level in the Bhakra reservoir was very low.

He added that this low level of water in the Bhakra was responsible for power crisis in the state.

He said if the power crisis persisted, the state would be forced to purchase power from a national grid.

Capt Amarinder Singh added that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi, would not be able to come to Punjab for the 300 the anniversary celebrations of the Sahibzadas as they were scheduled to be on foreign tours during that period.

He said during the celebrations, the Congress would be represented by the AICC general secretary, Ms Ambika Soni, while the Central Government would be represented by the Home Minister, Mr Shiv Raj Patil.


Dalit girl’s marriage row ends
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 20
The controversy surrounding the prevention of a Dalit girl's marriage in Gurdwara Chardi Kala in Bahona village has come to end with gurdwara committee chief, Rajinder Pal Singh and others named in the issue apologising to the girl's parents at their home.

Sources said that the committee members also gave in writing that members of any community could hold “anand karaj” in the gurdwara, for which they would have to inform the committee a week in advance.

Earlier, the mother of the Dalit girl, Ms Jagtar Kaur, who is also the village sarpanch, and her husband, Mr Preetam Singh, were insisting on public apology by the gurdwara committee chief and others involved in the issue.


Book depot gutted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 20
A two-storeyed book depot and a mobile shop of Chopra Book Depot and Chopra Brothers were gutted after midnight last night, causing a loss of lakhs of rupees.

The depot and shop were located on the Banga road. Books, stationery, mobile phones and other material were gutted.

The cause of the fire was being ascertained.


Bar members lock horns on voting rights issue
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 20
Following a violent confrontation last week, a group of the District Bar Association (DBA) today claimed to have gained recognition from the district administration. However, the other group termed their claim as false and said they were befooling everyone.

The elections to the District Bar Association were supposed to be held on December 26, but a group opposed the voting rights to non-practising lawyers and went ahead to elect Mr Rajvinder Singh Gill as the DBA president on December 15.

The other group, headed by Mr Sunil Garg, had termed the whole process as unconstitutional and said that elections would be held as per schedule on December 26.

A couple of days later tension prevailed in the court complex as members of both groups had an altercation followed by manhandling of a few of them. A police team led by the DSP (City) had to force the bar members out of the Bar Office and lock its doors.

Talking to The Tribune here today, the executive members of the group, headed by Mr Gill, said their fight was not for the post of presidentship, but for the voting rights to only practising members.

Executive members, Mr Narinder Pal Singh Chahal and Mr Janak Singh, said they had identified about 110 practising DBA members a few months ago, whereas the DBA had about 200 names in its list of members.

They alleged that non-practising members of the association were being exploited by those who wanted to grab the top seat for enhancing their “political clout”.

They said as per the norms of the Bar Council, the licences of the DBA members who had stopped practising and started some other business should be cancelled, but their rival group was even asking for voting rights for them.

They alleged that many of these non-practising members trade their vote for undue favours. The Gill camp was also against giving voting rights to the advocates of Zira court who entered the DBA after 138 villages of Dharamkot were merged in Moga district.

They alleged that these members always used to vote en bloc and preferred the candidate who would work against the interests of advocates belonging to Moga. They alleged that these “outsiders” had opposed their campaign for the formation of Moga district. They further alleged that after the Moga district came into being, the “outsiders” ensured that no Sessions Judge was appointed here for a number of years. They said even after the appointment of a Session Judge, they only got 33 per cent of judicial work, while the rest went to Faridkot and Ferozepore districts.

On the other hand, Mr Sunil Garg, who is heading the other group, termed his rival group’s claim of recognition from the district administration as false and said they were befooling everyone.

He said the Gill camp was not in a position to contest the elections, as they were in a minority.

He said that there were only three DBA members who were not coming to Moga courts regularly owing to their engagement at other places. Mr Garg denied that there were any non-practising members in the association.

“Those making a hue and cry on non-practising members know that they cannot win the elections and that is why they are raising this issue,” he added. Mr Garg said the DBA elections would be held on December 26 as per schedule.


Consumer court asks college to refund fee
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 20
In a significant order, that might give relief to students in future, a consumer court had directed a college to refund the admission fee.

Mr Sunil Garg, son of Mr Dal Chand, had lodged a complaint with the District Disputes Redressal Forum, Patiala, through Mr Sat Pal Khariwal, Chairman, Consumers Movement here. Sunil had appeared in the B.Ed entrance test conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University for session 2003-04. He deposited Rs 5,500 as the first counselling fee. After being selected he deposited Rs 25,000 with Punjab College of Education at Raipur village. However, after second counselling and Mr Garg was allotted DAV College of Education, Abohar. In the second counselling he had paid Rs 5,500 again.

He approached Raipur College for getting Rs 25,000 refunded but the college refused to acknowledge the request. He filed the complaint with the forum after fruitlessly knocking at the door of authorities concerned. They opposed the plea stating that the student was not a consumer and the forum had no jurisdiction to take up such matters. It was also stated that the fee once deposited cannot be refunded since the complainant had not been asked to leave the college.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Punjabi University, however, in his reply to the forum said Raipur College had already been advised to refund the fee to the complainant as he had been admitted to another college. The co-ordinator for the entrance test of Guru Nanak Dev University had not appeared before the forum, hence proceeded ex-parte.

The Raipur College authorities said “they were not bound by the conditions laid down for admission in the advertisement released by the university. There was no rule to refund fee to candidates. The government too had not framed such rules. And Guru Nanak Dev University was not authorised to conduct meeting of principals regarding the refund of the fee”.

Mr M.L. Malhotra, president, and Ms Paramjit Kaur, member, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Patiala, had held in their order, copy of which was officially received here today, that the complainant having deposited the fee was squarely covered under the definition of a consumer. In view of the clear condition of the advertisement while holding second counselling that full amount of the fee would be transferred to the concerned college on shifting, the Raipur College authorities can hardly take the plea of the condition of their prospectus. The principals of the colleges had in their meeting with the coordinator agreed to deduct only Rs 2,500, the balance fee was to be refunded within a month.

Accordingly the forum directed the Raipur College authorities to refund the fee, after deducting Rs 2,500, along with 12 per cent interest, from the day the fee was deposited till the day of payment, as compensation and also to pay Rs 500 as the cost of the complaint.


Govt to ‘release development grant by Jan end’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 20
Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary, Irrigation and Horticulture, Punjab has said that the state government will release a grant of Rs 25 lakh for each Assembly segment by the end of January and members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha have been asked to submit plan for development projects immediately.

Conceding that there had been delay in taking up the promised projects in the current financial year due to resource crunch, Mr Jakhar said the second instalment of Rs 25 lakh would be released by April 2005. Efforts to bring backward villages on the priority list in development plan would be made earnestly. Total amount involved in the state government’s development package would be around Rs 17 crore.

Claiming that the government headed by Capt. Amarinder Singh was determined to fulfil all promises made in the election manifesto by the Congress, Mr Jakhar said after five to six years farmers not only had good crops but there was better management in the purchase of crops by the government agencies. During the tenure of SAD-BJP government there had been corruption-oriented delay in making payment to the farmers against produce purchased by the government agencies. But the present government had provided a transparent system in procurement and payment, giving no chance for complaint.

Regretting that some vested interests had tried to vitiate the atmosphere by raising hoax over “shortage of DAP fertiliser”, he claimed that the area office of IFFCO here had supplied 2,21,107 bags of DAP during October - December this year against last year’s supply of 1,92,057 bags in the same period. The fertilizers had been made available to the farmers at the doorstep through village-based cooperative agriculture service societies. Neither there was any shortage of DAP nor urea was in short supply. Some outsiders had conspired to create an unpleasant situation here, he added.


48 injured as vehicles collide
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 20
About 48 persons, including women, were injured, 18 of them seriously, in accident involving two buses, a car, a tempo traveller and a truck on the GT road over the Bein rivulet bridge, 10 km from here, this morning. The accident took place due to the poor visibility caused by a thick blanket of fog that engulfed this area today preceded by a heavy downpour last night. Drivers of the two buses are among the injured.

Eighteen seriously injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Phagwara. Out of these, two critically injured were rushed to Ludhiana.

A truck was being repaired in the middle of road. Since the visibility was reduced due to fog, first a Pepsu bus rammed into the stationary truck, followed by a private bus, a Maruti car and a tempo traveller. These vehicles were going to Jalandhar.

The Kapurthala SSP, Mr Arunpal Singh, rushed to the spot. The Sadar police has registered a case against the driver of the stationary truck.


Two booked for dowry death
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 20
A woman was allegedly killed by her in-laws for dowry at Gholia Kalan village, near here. The husband and the mother-in-law of the deceased were absconding.

According to the complainant, Ms Naseeb Kaur, who is the mother of the deceased, her daughter, Kulwinder Kaur, alias Ravneet, was married to an RMP doctor, Simarjeet Singh, about six years back.

She stated that initially Kulwinder's in-laws treated her well, but after three years of marriage they started harassing her for more dowry.

They were demanding money and a motor cycle. Naseeb Kaur managed to give them Rs 20,000, but they continued to torture Kulwinder.

Naseeb Kaur said that she received a call yesterday morning saying that Kulwinder was seriously ill. She rushed to the village along with her relatives only to find the body of her daughter lying outside her in-laws' home. She said that her in-laws could not give a satisfactory reply to any of her queries regarding Kulwinder's death.

A police team rushed to the spot, but the victim's husband, Simarjeet, and her mother-in-law, Jatinder Kaur, escaped.

A case has been registered against them under Sections 304B and 34 of the IPC. 


Two killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 20
Scooterists Som Nath (47), son of Karam Singh and Rajinder Singh (35), son of Swarn Singh, of Salempur village died on the spot when a vehicle hit the scooter (PB-8Z-7367) they were riding near Badesron on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road last night.

After the accident, the driver of vehicle fled. The Garhshanker police has registered a case in this connection.


Suspended ITI Principal reinstated
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, December 20
The Government of Punjab, which has been repeatedly claiming its commitment to eradicate corruption, has posted back the Principal of the local Industrial Training Institute (ITI), who was caught while accepting bribe from his subordinate in November 2004. Mr Madan Lal Jindal, who was the complainant in that case, has put under suspension without giving any reason.

Mr Naginder Singh Bhatia, Principal, who was caught while accepting a bribe of Rs 1000 from Mr Jindal for releasing his salary by the Vigilance Bureau in November 2004, was placed under suspension by the State Technical Education Authorities. However, he was reinstated and posted back at same place on December 9 by the State Technical Education Authorities.

On the other hand, the State Technical Education Authorities has placed Mr Jindal, who facilitated the arrest of Mr Bhatia under suspension on November 19, 2004.

Information revealed that no reason for placing Mr Jindal under suspension was mentioned in the suspension order issued against him. He has not been issued any charge sheet till date and no inquiry has been ordered against him.

In the reinstatement order, the State Technical Education Authorities had mentioned that the reinstatement of Mr Bhatia was without prejudice to the outcome of the vigilance inquiries pending against him.

Mr Narinder Jit Singh, Director, Technical Education, Punjab, when contacted, declined to make a comment. However, he said he would make an inquiry that why Mr Jindal had been placed under suspension and why the charge sheet had not been issued to him so far.

Mr Bhatia could not be contacted for his comments.


Teachers to gherao ministers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 20
The Punjab Government Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union has decided to hold divisional-level rallies and gherao ministers in their respective assembly segments from January 7 to lodge their protest against the apathetic attitude of the state government towards their genuine demands.

The union has also decided to fight the state government’s move to introduce a new pension scheme for teachers posted in the government-aided schools.

The union has decided to launch an agitation and make every sort of sacrifice to prevent the state government from introducing the new pension scheme.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president of the union, in a press note issued here today said that the teachers and other employees had been fighting to get a section of those facilities pertaining to the merger of 50 per cent DA in their basic pay. He said that they had also been demanding that all the vacancies in the government-aided schools should be fulfilled.

He pointed out that the union held a dharna and a rally in front of the office of the DPI, Punjab, at Chandigarh on December 8 to lodge their protest against the non-acceptance of their demands. He added that after holding the divisional-level rallies, the union would intensify its agitation if the state government did not respond positively. He said that one of the rallies would be held in front of the house of the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla at Bathinda.


Teachers of aided schools call for strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 20
Teachers and employees’ union of government-aided schools gave a call for strike against the anti-employee policies of the state government.

In a press note here today, the general secretary of the union, Mr Pardeep Sareen, stated that the government was adopting a stubborn stand on their demands. They gave a call for strike on January 7 to be held in Jalandhar Division that would later follow as a protest rally, they added.

The union would undertake a three-phase protest. In the first phase only teachers and employees of Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Amritsar would hold a demonstration. The next protest would be held in Ludhiana to be followed by another rally in Samana. Their demands include inclusion of DA in the basic pay, ban to be lifted on new recruitments, etc.


Suba Singh heads Gurmat College
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 20
Dr Suba Singh, former Head of the Department of Divinity and Dean, Student Welfare of Khalsa College, Amritsar, has been selected for the post of Principal, Gurmat College, Institute of Comparative Religion, Patiala.

He is associated with Chief Khalsa Diwan here and has worked in all-India Sikh educational conferences, besides being associated with the SGPC.


GND University syllabus changed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 20
Guru Nanak Dev University today made certain changes in the geography syllabus for BA/BSc (parts-I, II and III) from the current academic session. The university in a press release issued here today said that all the colleges had been informed about the change.

According to a spokesman, the paper C of geography of BA/BSc (parts I and II) and the syllabus of paper A and paper C of (part III) had been switched to the revised syllabus of 2003-04. It further said that the paper D of BA/BSc (parts I, II and III) has been deleted from the syllabus and the rest of the syllabus will remain the same.

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