P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Women quota Bill: parties agree to increase
House seats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Manmohan Singh government at the Centre has started consultations with leaders of various political parties to get the Women Reservation Bill passed in the next session of Parliament.

In fact, there is general agreement among political parties to increase the number of constituencies of the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies in direct proportion to the reservation to be made for women through the Bill. For instance, if 30 per cent reservation is to be made for women, the number of seats should be increased by 30 per cent.

Disclosing this, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general and member of the Lok Sabha, told The Tribune today that he was called by the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, for consultation on this issue. “ Mr Patil told me that all parties had agreed to increase the number of seats in direct proportion to the number of seats to be reserved for women in the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies.”

At present, the number of Lok Sabha seats is 543. With 30 per cent reservation, the number will go up to 706. That means 163 new constituencies will have to be created. And if the increase is 20 per cent, 109 more constituencies will have to be created. Likewise, the Assembly constituencies will also have to be increased in all states.

This arrangement suits the present members of the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies. Their constituencies will remain intact as there will be new constituencies for women to contest the elections.

The Women Reservation Bill has been hanging fire for several years. In fact, certain parties wanted that there should be reservation within reservation. In other words, there should be reservation for Dalit women in the constituencies to be reserved for women.

Mr Dhindsa said that what had confused all concerned was that on the one hand the Union Government was talking about increasing the number of seats in the light of the Women Reservation Bill but on the other the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh was busy in the fresh delimitation of Lok Sabha and state Assembly constituencies. “I talked to the Home Minister about this and he told me to convey to the Delimitation Commission to go slow on the issue”, said Mr Dhindsa. But it was only the Home Ministry which could convey this officially to the commission, he added.

“If the number of constituencies is increased, the delimitation of all Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies will have to be ordered afresh after passing the Bill and the exercise being done by Justice Kuldeep Singh at present will become irrelevant”, said Mr Dhindsa.


Amendments to VAT Act approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Punjab Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, 2005.

Giving details, a spokesman of the state government said Section 32 of the VAT Act provided that in case a person failed to pay the amount from him, he was liable to pay simple interest on the amount of tax due at the rate of 1.5 per cent from the due date of the payment till he actually paid the tax.

It was decided that in the interest of justice and equity, there should be uniformity in the rate of interest to be paid by the department, and the dealer, in the case of delayed payments. It had been reduced to 0.5 per cent.

The Cabinet also decided that the upper limit of turnover for registration as a “turnover-tax dealer” be increased from Rs 30 lakh per annum to Rs 50 lakh per annum for the benefit of small traders.

Sub-section 5 of Section 2 of the VAT Act deals with the entertainment of appeals by the appellate authorities against the orders passed under this Act or the rules made thereunder.

It was decided that the provision of the Act should be modified and the provision as existed under the PGST Act allowed to be retained in the VAT Act also.

It was also approved that provision regarding the audit of all dealers with up to Rs 50 lakh gross turnover per annum should be made and only chartered accountants should be allowed to carry out the audit.

The Cabinet also approved inter-state purchases for export to be made against the Hform so that dealers operating in Punjab on a par with their counterparts in other states. This facility was also available under the PGST Act.

It was decided that the provisions relating to the verification of cash and valuables during inspection and survey should be deleted from the VAT Act.

The spokesman also mentioned that the VAT Act provided for quarterly returns for all dealers. In the case of dealers whose gross turnover exceeded Rs 1 crore in a year tax was to be paid on a monthly basis along with a statement in the VAT-16 form. However, they were also bound to file their returns only on a quarterly basis.


Vedanti’s kin under fire on film row
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
Even as the premiere of the controversial Hindi movie “Jo Bole So Nihal” was arranged at the local Rialto theatre under tight security arrangements, the Dal Khalsa and the All-India Sikh Students Federation held a peaceful demonstration against the release of the film.

The Dal Khalsa produced a Sikh youth who was witness to the alleged deal between Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, non-official personal assistant to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Mr Charanjit Singh Chadha, president of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, to ensure issuance of a clean chit to the controversial film.

However, both Mr Sandhu and Mr Chadha denied holding of any meeting and dubbed the allegations as baseless. Mr Chadha claimed that he was out of station when the reported meeting was said to have taken place in Amritsar. However, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa, produced a recording of the Sikh youth who was allegedly witness to the deal. Mr Kanwarpal Singh alleged that Mr Sandhu held an hour-long meeting with Mr Chadha before reaching Mumbai by air.

The Dal Khalsa demanded that Jathedar Vedanti should quit in case he wanted to ‘shield’ Mr Sandhu, who happened to be his (Jathedar Vedanti’s) close relative.

Interestingly, some Youth Akali Dal (Badal) activists saw the premiere. They were reportedly invited by the theatre owner to defend any probable attack by any radical Sikh organisation during the screening of the movie. The anti-riot police force was deployed in strength inside and outside the cinema hall. The SP (City) monitored the arrangements. A big banner which read “This picture is not a religious one” was put up in the cinema in an attempt to pacify agitated Sikh youths.

A former Jathedar Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, questioned the credentials of those who had given a clean chit to the controversial picture. He alleged that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, must clarify who had paid for the air tickets and hospitality of the sub-committee members. He said it was shocking that activists of the Youth Akali Dal had supported the cinema owner and were instrumental in screening the movie. Bhai Ranjit Singh urged the Sikh masses to help ‘liberate’ Akal Takht from ‘corrupt clergy’.


SGPC member for removal of Vedanti

Patiala, May 13
Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, Member, SGPC, today urged its executive body to remove Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Head Granthi of The Golden Temple for his alleged involvement in giving a clean chit to the screening of controversial Hindi film” Jo Bole So Nihal”.

Mr Panjoli, in a press note issued here today, said that Giani Vedanti had given a clean chit to the film, which had made an attack on the Sikh religion, for some considerations. He added that by doing so, Giani Vedanti had compromised on Sikh tenets, values and traditions.

He asked why the SAD (B) leadership, which claimed itself to be the representative of the Sikhs, had been maintaining its silence over the issue and had not made any statement in this regard.

He said the lathi-charge resorted against those who tried to lodge their protest against the screening of the film and the arrest of a section of protesters at different places in Punjab, was condemnable, and added that no force could supress the fight for the protection of Sikhism. TNS


Meeting called on ‘Jo Bole ...’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
In a significant development, Sikh organisations protesting against the screening of controversial Hindi movie “Jo Bole So Nihal” today decided to convene a meeting on May 15 at Akal Takht to take next course of action.

The organisations taking part in the meeting include the Dal Khalsa, the Khalsa Panchayat, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the Khalra Mission Committee.


A tale of fake robbery
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 13
Two victims of yesterday’s highway robbery today retracted from their claim that the robbers struck last night at Batta village in Kharar village. At a press conference organised by Ropar SSP, Surinder Pal Singh, here this evening, one of the ‘victim’, Manjit Singh said they had a dispute over money with Morinda-based man, Billa. So it was a concocted story that he and his friend, Ujjagar Singh, had told to police. He said they had sustained injuries during a fight.

Giving details about the incident, Mr Surinder Pal Singh said the fake story of robbery came to light when the police inquired from Manjit Singh and Ujjagar Singh that from where they get Rs 60,000 which they claimed to have been snatched by the robbers. Later during the interrogation, Manjit Singh confessed that Ujjagar Singh and his brother, Shamsher Singh, told him to spread false information. When Ujjagar Singh was interrogated, he too confessed that he along with his brother told a false story to the police earlier.

Giving reason for giving false information to the police, the SSP said Ujjagar Singh and his brother, Shamsher Singh, were involved in the business of the sale of old tractors Billa was also in the same business. Two days ago, Shamsher Singh had heated arguments with Billa over the business dealing. So Shamsher Singh hatched a conspiracy to implicate Billa and others in a false case of robbery.


UP-based gang behind recent robberies: police
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 13
The police is suspecting involvement of a gang from Uttar Pradesh behind the killing of four persons in the two different incidents of robbery that took place in Teera and Masatgarh villages of Kharar on Tuesday. The members of gang belong to a tribe, which originally belongs to Punjab. But for the past few years, they are settled in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pardesh, said the police.

A team of police officials had been sent to different places in Uttar Pardesh to arrest the accused.

The Ropar SSP, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, said the members of the tribe become active in Punjab every year from May to October. The modus operandi is that the members of the gang roam in the areas where they have to target during daytime for several days.

The gang members when commit crime do not enquire from the owner of the house about belongings. First they kill the family members and then take away everything, he added.

He said the members of the gang were aware of the areas around Kharar through UT villages.


Doctor arrested for foeticide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 13
The police late last night booked Dr Praveen Garg of Kailash Hospital, Sriganganagar, and Sukha Singh, RMP, of Jandwala Hanwanta village of this subdivision for illegal termination of pregnancy of a minor girl. Both had been taken into custody, sources said.

According to information, the police had laid a trap on a tip-off that a girl was being brought from Maujgarh village for illegal termination of pregnancy at the hospital situated at Sriganganagar, 40 km from here.

Surprisingly, the licence of the hospital had reportedly been cancelled last year following an agitation by hundreds of farmers. The agitation was sparked after a complaint from young girl that she had been raped during treatment at the hospital by the doctor. She had later committed suicide.

The sources said policemen were deployed in plain clothes at shops around the hospital to keep a vigil. As soon as the termination was confirmed by a source, a police party led by SHO Sehdev Karwasra stormed the clinic and took foeticide in custody. The minor girl was rushed to the Civil Hospital, along with the foeticide. The police arrested a woman accompanying the girl, Sukha Singh who claimed to be an RMP and Dr Garg after questioning paramedical staff posted at the hospital.

A case under has been registered. The police also booked Bhagwana Ram Gaider of Jandwala Hanwanta village on the basis of statement of the minor girl.

She reportedly told the police that her father was a working partner at a farmhouse near Jandwala Hanwanta. Nearly six months back when she and her sister were picking cotton in the field, the latter had to go to the farmhouse for drinking water.

Meanwhile, their neighbour, farmer Bhagwana Ram Gaider, arrived there and allegedly raped her. She became pregnant. RMP Sukha Singh advised her maternal aunt to take her to Sriganganagar for termination of pregnancy and made all arrangements.


SAD (Amritsar) to file case against Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Accusing Punjab’s Finance Minister Surinder Singla of making an attempt to malign the image of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, the party today announced that it would soon file a criminal defamation case.

Addressing a press conference at the residence of his lawyer here, Mr Mann said the party would also file a suit seeking damages of Rs 2 crore for tarnishing his image without any valid reason.

He said that a legal notice was served on Mr Singla asking him to apologise for making a “wrong and defamatory” statement. However, Mr Singla chose not reply to the notice. As such, the party had decided to move the court against him.

Mr Mann said his party was against Vajra Shakti being carried out by the Army in Punjab. “The exercises are being carried out to overawe the Sikhs. On the one hand, peace talks are being held with Pakistan but on the other extensive military exercises are being carried out,” he said.

Paying tributes to the late Lt-Gen J.S. Aurora, Mr Mann asked the Bangladesh Government to issue a postage stamp and a coin in his memory.

Describing Punjab as a “failed state”, Mr Mann said the present government had failed to provide good roads, besides adequate health and education facilities. “The state administration and government are not even performing their basic duties,” he added.

He opposed the demand of Sikhs in Haryana for a separate body for the management of gurdwaras in that state.


Rusty water pipes to be replaced
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Government has finally decided to replace rusty water supply pipelines. The move is likely to go a long way in preventing the mixing of potable water and sewage.

Sources in the Health Department said that an assurance in this regard was given by the state’s Water Supply and Sewerage Board during a high-level meeting of the task force held this morning. The task force was recently constituted by the state government to take steps for preventing the outbreak of meningitis and other diseases.

The development is significant as every year scores of persons die all over the state due to gastroenteritis and hepatitis following the consumption of contaminated water.

Giving details of the meeting, the sources said the sewerage board authorities were of the opinion that it was not possible to immediately distance water supply pipelines from sewer pipelines. However, they gave an assurance on plugging leakages without delay.

The meeting was attended by, among others, task force Chairman-cum-Secretary (Health) D.S. Guru and Director (Health) G.L. Goyal. The Managing Director of the sewerage board was also present along with Local Government officials.

The sources claimed that so far there had been no confirmed case of meningitis in the state. The two persons admitted to hospital in Patiala had tested negative” while the test results of the third patient admitted today would be available on Saturday.

Mr Guru added that another patient with meningitis-like symptoms was under treatment at the PGI Chandigarh. He, too, had “tested negative”.

He said civil surgeons all over the state had been put on high alert and told not to leave the station till further orders. Isolation wards, too, had been set up in all hospitals. Besides, directions for the establishment of control rooms at the district level had been issued.

Mr Guru said the Director, Medical Education and Research, would also monitor cases for effective treatment in the medical college hospitals. He would also ensure the availability of medicines.


Families of PSEB staff protest against sell-off
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
Family members of Punjab State Electricity Board employees today took to streets to protest against the proposed privatisation of the board. They also staged a dharna in front of the Chief Engineer’s office.

PSEB employees and their families from the local circle, Faridkot and Muktsar circles, besides farmers, farm labourers, and teachers, participated in the rally. Addressing the rally, conveners of the Joint Struggle Co-ordination Committee, Mr Gurdial Bhangal and Mr Devraj, said the state government was dividing the board into corporations on the directives of the Union Government. They said handing over the board to private companies would render thousands of people jobless and also lead to the rise in power tariffs.

They alleged that the government was trying to weaken employee unions by dividing the board into corporations. They said the privatisation move would hit all sections of society equally. They alleged that the Chief Minister was misleading people by saying that the board would not be privatised. They said corporatisation of the board was the first step towards its privatisation.

They said in the name of providing 24-hour power supply to rural areas the work of laying power lines had been given to private contractors. They were in favour of ensuring proper power supply to villages, but against allotting this work to private contractors. They said the experiment of dividing the electricity boards had failed in various states, but still the state government was bent on doing the same.


Implement panchayati Raj system: BJP cell
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 13
The Panchayati Raj Cell of the Punjab unit of the BJP has decided to hold district-level dharnas and protests to remind the Congress government to implement the Panchayati Raj system as was promised by it.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Khushwant Rai Geega, state president of the cell, said panches and sarpanches would be taken along at the time of the protest and the government would be handed over a charter of demands.

The state president said the government should chalk out some plans to help panchayats collect taxes to make them financially independent. The meetings of the district planning board and the district grievances redressal committee should be presided over by the president of the Zila Parishad and not by a minister as was being done at present. The election of the chairman of the zila Parishad should be done directly by voters from rural areas of the district so that people had a chairman of their choice. The chairman of the Zila Parishad should be given the status of a state minister.

He further demanded that the registration of fake cases against sarpanches should be stopped and panchayats should be given police help to remove various problems as was being done in the case of civic bodies. Panchayat training camps should be held immediately after the elections of the panchayats to make them aware of the panchayat Act and development plans. Strict action should be taken against persons making false complaints against sarpanches. Sarpanches should be provided telephone facility out of panchayat funds and also given a monthly travel allowance.


Turban issue: Sikh delegation to visit France
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
A delegation of eminent Sikhs will go to France next week to take up the turban issue with various human rights organisations and religious bodies in that country.

The delegation is going at the invitation of the action committee set up by France-based Sikhs and has nothing to do with the committee set up by the SGPC on the turban issue.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr M.S. Randhawa, president of the Sikh Nation Organisation, and Dr M.S. Rahi, chairman of the Singh Legal Foundation, said that they had been invited to present the case before various organisations in accordance with Sikh religious and cultural traditions and Sikh tenets.

They said efforts would be made to create public opinion in support of the turban by approaching various human rights organisation in that country. Besides, a petition would be filed in the European Court of Justice against the French law on the turban. Dr Rahi said the French law was a violation of the UN Charter on human rights and also of European conventions.


Alert in Patiala as another meningitis case suspected
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
Despite tall claims by the district administration , the scare of the dreaded meningitis has failed to subside, with another case of the disease being reported at Government Rajindra Hospital.

Ms Kulbir Kaur, Medical Superintendent, confirmed that Ritu (12) from Rajpura had been diagnosed as suffering from suspected meningitis and had been admitted to the hospital. She added that blood culture tests of the patient were being done and the report would be made available tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh sounded a red alert in the city yesterday and asked the health authorities to be extra vigilant and maintain adequate supply of medicines in reserve to tackle any outbreak of the disease. He also asked private practitioners to immediately report any case of the disease so that preventive action could be taken at the earliest.

The DC has also directed the Civil Surgeon to conduct a survey in the Bishan Nagar area, from where the case of 14-year-old Tinku, whose condition is now said to be stable, had surfaced yesterday evening.

A rapid response team, under the supervision of Dr V.S Mohi, District Health Officer, has also been constituted. On instructions of the DC, the team members conducted a quick door-to-door fever survey yesterday in the areas surrounding the residence of Tinku in Bishan Nagar.

In another remedial measure, a control room has been established in the Civil Surgeon’s office to provide round-the-clock information. The Civil Surgeon has asked all SMOs to remain at their respective headquarters and establish control rooms in their offices.

Meanwhile, the condition of Kamla, the other patient who was diagnosed to be suffering from the disease, is still serious and the Medical Superintendent confirmed that she was being kept on a ventilator.


16 special trains for Radhasoami mela
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 13
The Northern Railway has introduced 16 Radhasoami-Beas mela special trains from different railway stations across the country for Beas to facilitate the Radhasoami pilgrims.

The railway sources said here today that one mela special train was introduced from Nizamudin to Beas, which started from Nizamudin at 7.20 pm yesterday and would reach at Beas at 4.30 am today. Another special train would also ply on same timings on May 26 from Nizamudin. The sources added that these mela special trains would return from Beas on May 15 and May 29.

Sources further added that one Radhasoami mela special train would depart from Fazilka on May 14 at 2 pm for Beas which will stop at Ferozepore and Jalandhar.

Sources said that mela special trains would depart from Saharanpur on May 13 and May 26 at 8.50 pm for Beas and these trains would ply their return journey from Beas on May 15 and May 29 at 9.20 p.m.

The sources added that one Radhasoami mela special train would depart from Ambala on May 27 at 7.30 pm for Beas and it would return from Beas on May 29 at 4.30 pm.

Sources said that one more pair of mela special trains would depart from Raipur, Madhya Pradesh, on May 17 and May 25 at 11.00 pm and would reach at Beas at 11.40 am on next days respectively, while for the return journey trains would leave Beas railway station on May 31 and June 6 at 3 pm and would reach Raipur at 3.20 am next days respectively.


Dalam cremated with honours
Tribune News Service

Dalam Nangal (Gurdaspur), May 13
The body of veteran Akali leader Natha Singh Dalam was today consigned to flames with the state honours at his native Dalam Nangal village in the district. The body was brought here yesterday evening.

A large number of people from the surrounding areas paid tributes to the late leader. The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, and Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh laid wreath on his body on behalf of the state government.

A contingent of the Punjab Police fired in air as salute to the late leader. However, an awkward situation was created when the 303 guns of some constables failed to go off. The elder son of Mr Dalam, Mr Rajinder Singh, lit the pyre.

Mr Mohan Lal and Mr Jagdish Sahni, former ministers and senior leaders of the BJP, Mr Lakmir Singh Randhawa, former Congress minister, and Mr Raman Behl, president of the Gurdaspur Municipal Council, were among those who attended the ceremony.

Interestingly, despite the fact that Mr Dalam had a staunch Akali leader, almost the entire top leadership of the SAD failed to attend his ceremony. But for the local leaders, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, none of the senior Akali leaders came to pay last respects to the late leader.


Sunam to be renamed
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 13
Following the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, with regard to the change in the name of Sunam, the native place of Shaheed Udham Singh, Sunam will now be renamed as “Sunam Udham Singh Wala”.

The Punjab Government recently received a letter from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, stating that the Government of India had no objection to the change in the name of Sunam city.

In the letter, written to the Punjab Government, Ms Rita Acharaya, Deputy Secretary to Government of India, the Punjab Government has been requested to issue the requisite gazette notification in this regard after getting correct spellings in Devnagri (Hindi), Roman (English) and local language (Punjabi) from the office of the Surveyor General of India.


10 shops gutted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 13
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were damaged as fire gutted 10 fruit, vegetable and cloth shops in the fruit market at Jyoti Chowk here this morning.

Though the exact reason of the fire could not be ascertained, it was suspected that short-circuiting of electricity in one of the shops caused the fire, which also damaged some nearby shops dealing in electronic goods.

Fire was first detected by some people who were out for their morning walk and were passing by the market.


Council of JEs
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 13
Mr Swaran Lal and Mr Davinder Singh have been elected president and general secretary, respectively, of the Council of Junior Engineers of PSEB at a meeting held here yesterday.

Other office-bearers are: senior vice president: Mr J.S Rana, vice-president: Mr S.S Dhaliwal, secretary — Mr Sarbjit Singh Bedi; finance secretary — Mr Rupinder Kumar; chief organiser — Mr R.K Choudhury; auditor — Mr Gursaharn Singh and chairman (advisory committee) — Mr P.S Mundi.


Cultural show for cancer patients
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 13
The Social Cause Welfare Society has decided to organise a cultural show for the welfare of cancer patients at Punjab Bhavan on May 14.

The chairman of the society, Mr Ajay Arora, during a press conference, said the society was formed with the primary aim of providing financial help to poor cancer patients.


Allow Sikh prisoners to wear turbans: SSF
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 13
Sikh prisoners in various jails of Punjab are allowed to wear white turbans. This information was conveyed during a hearing of the petition moved by the Sikh Student Federation (SSF) seeking directions to the Punjab Government and jail officials to allow Sikhs lodged in jails to wear turbans.

However, as the position of Sikhs in police lock-up was not clear, the case was adjourned to July 6.

In its petition, the SSF has alleged that Sikh prisoners in various jails of Punjab are not being allowed to wear turbans, which are mandated as part of the Sikh religion. The petitioner has also stated that many complaints in this regard have been made to the Punjab Government and the jail authorities as also the National Commission of Minorities (NCM). But, no action has been initiated in this regard.

Nursing institutes’ issue

The High Court on Friday was requested by the petitioners in a PIL to direct the Punjab Government to produce the reports of raids conducted by the Vigilance Bureau on nursing institutes in Punjab sometime back.

The petitioner, Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar, is seeking the regulation of private nursing institutes in the state. He has stated that a large number of nursing institutes in Punjab are functioning illegally and irregularly. No rules and norms are being followed, and the institutes also lack adequate infrastructure. He has also stated that in many cases the institutes admitted students belatedly.

Today, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the matter to May 16.


Twin sisters recovered, man held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 13
The district police today succeeded in recovering twin sisters Priya and Priti (16), daughters of Paramjit Singh of Harsi Pind village, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances on May 11 from the house of Rajinder Kumar, a resident of the Balmik colony.

The police said both sisters were studying in Class XI in Government Senior Secondary School, Tanda, and had gone to the school on May 11 from their house. They neither attended school nor returned home.

The police said both sisters used to visit the residence of Rajinder Kumar to meet his daughter Shakunta. They were not happy with the attitude of their mother. Shakuntla promised them that she would send them to Delhi and get them employed there.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, said Rajinder Kumar was arrested under Sections 363, 366 and 368 of the IPC.


Adhere to rules or face action, PTU tells colleges
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 13
Tightening noose around its affiliated colleges, Punjab Technical University (PTU) has issued fresh directive that they must strictly adhere to its guidelines or face disaffiliation.

The university authorities have stated that all affiliated engineering, technology, management and pharmacy colleges of the state must abide by the prescribed standards pertaining to maintenance of adequate infrastructure, appointment of qualified and experienced staff and follow AICTE norms on salaries, holding regular faculty improvement programmes, ensuring regular attendance of the students and producing good results in examination, failing which they could face the music.

The university authorities have even begun academic auditing of the colleges in this regard to further improve the standards. To begin with, each college has been asked to provide them with the required documents supporting their stand on compliance of the norms.

The colleges have been asked to submit copies of attendance registers, returns of income tax filed by their faculty and result sheets of the internal and final examinations. The university has also printed some feedback forms to be given to the students asking their opinion about mode of presentation of lectures delivered to them, amount of syllabus covered and various facilities available in their laboratories and departmental libraries.

Considering the strict stand being taken up by the university, most affiliated colleges have swung into action. All colleges have started making arrangements for acquiring appropriate teaching aids, giving bulk orders for books and literature for libraries and equipping their laboratories with latest instruments for research purposes. The colleges have even started replacing their under-qualified staff by more experienced and qualified teachers as per the university norms and fresh appointments are now being made on AICTE guidelines.

A glance through various newspapers reveals that many PTU colleges have advertised for the same clearly mentioning that the remuneration would be fixed as per the AICTE norms. While most colleges have been appointing graduate and inexperienced faculty members in the past, many colleges, including those in Ludhiana and Mohali, are now trying to bring in senior faculty of the level of professors and Readers, who are PhD, having 10 years of teaching experience. Few colleges, including those in Mandi Gobindgarh, have even advertised for UGC or NET qualified staff for the post of assistant professors and lecturers asking for first divisions in their postgraduation.

The Vice Chancellor, Dr S.K. Salwan, had recently submitted a report on the progress of the academic auditing in the recently convened meeting of the Board of Governors at Chandigarh.


Sunam boy gets 13th position in UPSC exam
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 13
Sunam town, the native place of Shaheed Udham Singh, is nowadays celebrating the major achievement of one of its sons, Mukesh Kumar Bansal (27), a son of Mr Raj Kumar Bansal, who runs a commercial type college at Sunam. Mukesh has brought laurels to this historical town by bagging the 13th position in the IAS examination of the Union Public Service Commission this year.

Mukesh Kumar has been working as assistant administrative officer in United India Insurance Company for the past about three years at Chennai in Madras.

Interestingly, Mukesh has neither studied in any convent school nor in any top educational institution of the country. He passed his matriculation examination from Adarsh High School, an aided school, at Sunam, and passed his B.Com. examination from Government College, Sunam. But he did his MBA degree from Punjabi University, Patiala. However, he always proved himself a scholar and won scholarship every time throughout his study career.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone today, Mr Raj Kumar Bansal said though Mukesh cleared his IAS examination in the second attempt, he became the first son of the Sunam town to enter the IAS cadre by securing the 13th rank. He said before Mukesh, two boys from Sunam had earlier cleared the IAS examinations to join the allied services. He also disclosed that in his first attempt last year, Mukesh had cleared the IAS preliminary examination, but could not clear the main examination.

After the receipt of news about the selection of Mukesh in the IAS cadre, relatives and friends have flooded their house by visiting personally or making phone calls to congratulate the family.


Bathinda girl 103rd in UPSC exam
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
Princee Singla, a local resident, cleared the UPSC (mains) in her first attempt and got the 103rd position in the country.

A daughter of Mr S.K. Singla, an accountant working at the local milk plant, Princee had chosen the combination of commerce and sociology.

Princee has been a brilliant student throughout as she got 84 per cent marks in her Class X examination and passed the B.Com with 82 per cent marks. She did her M.Com from Panjab University, Chandigarh, with 75 per cent marks. She had also cleared her NET examination along with junior research fellowship (JRF). Presently she has been doing her Ph.D from Panjab University.


Patiala boy is 222nd in civil services exam
Tribune News service

Patiala, May 13
Mr Anshuman Sharma, a local boy, who has done his masters in business administration (MBA) from Punjabi University, has scored 222nd rank in the UPSC (main) exam, the result of which was declared recently.

Anshuman, who belongs to a family of teachers, cleared the examination in his second attempt. He has worked with private corporate houses in different capacities after doing his MBA.

His elder brother is a doctor, while his two sisters are lecturers.


Ex-students of GNMC gift open-air theatre
Tribune News Service

Mansa, May 13
They are in different political parties, but cutting across the party lines they joined hands to form Old Students Association (OSA) to work for the development of their college, and today they took a major step to promote cultural activities among its students. An open-air theatre was inaugurated on the Government Nehru Memorial College (GNMC) premises today with the OSA playing a key role in it.

PEDA Chairman Vijay Inder Singla was the chief guest, while Deputy Commissioner Raj Kamal Chaudhuri presided over the ceremony.

The DC laid the foundation stone of a theatre that would come up at a cost of Rs 16 lakh, for which Congress leader Ambika Soni has granted Rs 5 lakh and Bathinda MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan has sanctioned Rs 1 lakh. The OSA would arrange the remaining amount.

Later, Mr Singla laid the foundation stone of an approach road leading from the college to the local bus stand. The Mandi Board would build the road at a cost of Rs 17 lakh.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Singla announced installation of lights at the college park free of cost. He said PEDA would install 550 tubewells that would operate with solar energy.


Mansa to be covered under literacy drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
National Literacy Mission (NLM) will start a literacy drive in 150 districts which have the lowest male and female literacy rates.

Elaborating on the drive, which is expected to be launched in September, the Assistant Education Adviser, NLM, New Delhi, Prof K.R. Chandresekharan, said Mansa district in Punjab, figured in the list of the 150 districts.

“We have included Mansa because of its low literacy rate both among males and females,’’ said Prof Chandresekharan while interacting with The Tribune at Panjab University today. The aim of the drive was to achieve a literacy rate of 75 per cent in each district.

“Most of the districts are from UP, Bihar and Orissa. While there is one district, from Punjab, Haryana, which is performing better on the literacy front, has none of its districts as part of the drive,’’ he added.

Earlier, a programme for orientation and sensitisation for additional deputy commissioners (development) of all districts of Punjab was organised by Regional Resource Centre for Adult and Continuing Education, Panjab University, under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary Education, Punjab, at the ICSSR Complex.

It was inaugurated by the Registrar, Prof Paramjit Singh, and chaired by the Chairperson, State Literacy Mission, Ms Tejinder Kaur, Principal Secretary, Education, Punjab.

The commitment of districts and state to make Punjab totally literate by 2007 was stressed. Concern was shown over low female literacy rate in Bathinda, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Sangrur. Steps for an effective implementation of the drive were highlighted by the Director, RRC, Ms Manjeet Paintal.


PCCTU for rational funding of colleges
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 13
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) has demanded a rational way of funding colleges on the lines of recommendations given by the Johl Committee and supported by the GD Sharma Committee that tabled its report “Higher Education - vision 2020” recently.

Stating this at a press conference, Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary of the union, said the state government should meet the commitment of 95 per cent grant-in-aid for the covered posts as many a times the grant was getting delayed or was too inadequate.

The members expressed confidence that a four-member committee appointed by the Chief Minister and consisting of the Deputy Chief Minister, Finance Minister, Principal Secretary, Finance, and Secretary, Higher Education, would look into their demands, including 50 per cent DA merger.


Teachers protest against privatisation move
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 13
Hundreds of teachers today staged a dharna under the banner of the Democratic Teachers Front in the subdivisional complex and held a demonstration till evening.

Mr Gurmail Singh, district president of the front, said the state government had conspired to deprive the people of fundamental rights by resorting to privatisation of education. The government was backtracking from the constitutional compulsion of providing primary education to each Indian child, irrespective of caste, creed and financial status. It was deplorable that no efforts were made for past three years to fill several thousand vacancies in government as well as government-aided schools.

He said that it would be not wise to expect from commercial and industrial barons that children of poor families would get any fee concession in the schools to be run by them. The state government had been keeping teachers awfully busy in non-educational duties like census, survey, etc.


Chinese team visits schools
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
A six-member Chinese delegation of educationists visited two local schools to understand the education system in Punjab here yesterday.

The delegation under the leadership of Prof Zhou Ji Qiu, Vice Director, Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education, visited DAV Senior Secondary School and Spring Dale Senior Secondary School.

Talking to this correspondent Prof, Qiu said they had visited rural and urban schools of Punjab during their four-day stay here and found that the government stress was on imparting education to girl students.

He said there was a vast difference between the availability of resources in rural and urban schools.


Anchal tops B.Com-I exam
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 13
Anchal Kapoor of S.R. Government College here has bagged the first position in the university in the B.Com-I examination conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University.

Neha Mehra of the same college stood third in the university while Dimple Singh bagged the 19th position. Isha Khanna of the same college figured in the merit list.

Anchal scored 465 marks out of 600, Neha 461, Dimple 444 and Isha 441.


Punjab to have 9 industrial clusters
Tribune News Service

Batala, May 13
Punjab will have nine special clusters for the uniform development of industry in the state. The clusters will be of hosiery and cycle parts at Ludhiana, leather and sports goods at Jalandhar, steel at Gobindgarh, textiles at Amritsar and machine tools at Batala.

The Union Government is willing to give one-time grant of Rs 50 crore for developing each cluster.

Mr G.S. Raju, Industrial Adviser, Punjab, said this at a press conference here today. He along with the Ethiopian Ambassador, Dr Tekeral Forssido and national expert United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Dr Gitanjli Chauturvedi was here to attend the closing ceremony of the training programme for Ethiopian students held at the Institute of Machine Tool Technology.

Ms Gitanjli said UNIDCO had joined hands with the Government of India to establish training programmes in machine tool technology for engineers from African countries.

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