P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM addresses rally as police beats up teachers
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Nihal Singh Wala (Moga), February 23
An soon as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh started his address at a rally here today, members and activists of the ETT teachers unions, including the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, started raising slogans against the government’s decision to recruit unemployed elementary teachers through the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

The police tried to pacify the agitating unemployed teachers. When all its efforts failed to dissuade them from raising slogans it beat them up with lathis and dragged some of them outside the “pandal”. The turbans of one or two agitators also fell on the ground.

It is learnt that some agitators also sustained minor injuries. Later, the protesters were taken to the local police station. All this happened in front of the eyes of the Chief Minister.

As the policemen were beating up the protesters, the Chief Minister continued his speech. He said the government was recruiting 12,000 teachers through Panchayats, but the ETT unemployed teachers did not like this procedure.

Later, in a reply to a question, Capt Amarinder Singh said he had accepted the demands of the protesters, with regard to regular employment and normal ETT pay scales. At the rally, a senior SAD leader of the Nihal Singh Wala area, Mr Ajit Singh Shant, son of late Akali MLA Gurdev Singh Shant, along with his hundreds of supporters, joined the Congress. Capt Amarinder Singh presented him with a siropa.

Besides Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA from Rampuraphul, Dr Malti Thapar and Mr Darshan Singh Brar, both former Punjab ministers, Mr Ranwinder Singh Pappu Ramuwala, president of the Moga District Congress Committee, and Ms Bimal Kaur, Chairperson of the Zila Parishad, attended the rally.

Addressing the gathering, Capt Amarinder Singh said he wanted to bring a second Green Revolution in the state by way of diversification. Assistance from the private parties, like Reliance, would also be taken in this direction.

He said he wanted to set up industry of Rs1 lakh crore in the state by December 31 to provide employment to 10 lakh youth.

The Chief Minister announced the construction of two big gates at Takhtupua and Dina Sahib, both historical places associated with the Sikh Gurus, in Moga district. He promised to set up a nursing institute at Nihal Singh Wala town. A grant of Rs 25 lakh was announced for the park to be constructed in memory of Gurcharan Singh Nihal Singh Wala, a Congress leader.


Farmers’ widows lament govt apathy
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 23
Rising debt and declining landholdings claimed the lives of their husbands and today they all are fighting against odds to earn bread and butter for their children.

Together, they depict the dark side of “prosperous” Punjab that once fed the entire country and whose farmers were now committing suicides.

Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of a seminar on suicides by farmers here today, Bachan Kaur from Gayana village, who lost her husband and a son, said they had 10-acre land five years back, but increasing debt forced them to sell off 9 acres out of it.

Still they could repay only a part of it and the mounting pressure from moneylenders compelled her husband, Joginder Singh, to commit suicide. She again took loan to marry off her two daughters.

Unable to cope with the vicious cycle of debt, her 18-year-old son, Manjit Singh, also ended his life by consuming pesticide three years back. Today, she has a debt of Rs 4 lakh to repay and only one acre to eke out her living.

Another farmer’s widow from Harkishanpura village, Balbir Kaur, had a mentally ill son and she had a small-time dairy work to earn her livelihood.

“I recently took Rs 5,000 on interest for his treatment,” she said. Jasvinder Kaur, a widow in her 30s, said her husband, Angrej Singh, committed suicide four years back and she was left with only 3.5-acre land out of 12 acres they once possessed.

She leased the land to support her husband’s parents and her two children. She was yet to repay the debt of Rs 5 lakh.

Naseeb Kaur, whose husband, Jeevan Singh, committed suicide seven years back, said her two sons were left with two acres of land each. Many of these widows were also suffering from ailments like blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. Among these widows was an individual who lost his brother and was now working as a daily wager to rear his family.

Kunda Singh said his brother, Chabia Singh, had a small piece of land. A debt of around Rs 5 lakh led him to suicide. “I travel 18 km daily to work as a labourer. I have to support my sister-in-law and her two kids.” He said many politicians visited their village and made big promises, but only to turn a blind eye later.


Showing unity, MLAs flay bureaucrats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Cutting across party lines, several MLAs today blasted Punjab’s administrative machinery, especially the bureaucracy and the police, in the state Assembly. Exhibiting unprecedented unity in attacking the state’s upper and middle-level administrative set-up, the MLAs said the democratic system had collapsed as officers were calling the shots in every sphere of governance.

The bureaucracy had become so powerful in the past two decades that MLAs and other representatives had been reduced to non-entities. The bureaucracy had neither remained accountable to the elected representatives nor was it answerable to the people. Many MLAs narrated their personal experiences with regard to the humiliation faced by them at the hands of bureaucrats. Certain MLAs even named some bureaucrats, questioning their conduct and public dealing.

The bureaucracy came under fire when a discussion on a resolution moved by Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, Congress MLA from Anandpur Sahib, began. The resolution was: “ This House unanimously recommends to the state government to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability of the Executive to the Legislature effectively”. It is the second time that babudom has faced the ire of MLAs in the past one week. Earlier, at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party, MLAs had directed their anger against it on February 19.

Though both ruling and opposition MLAs supported the resolution and sought its passing by the House, this could not be done. The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, adjourned the House immediately after the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, gave an assurance in the House that the government would put its best foot forward to address the concerns expressed by the MLAs with regard to babudom. In fact, many MLAs of the ruling party and almost all from the Opposition were on their feet to seek the passing of the resolution unanimously when the House was adjourned.

When they came out of the House, many of the MLAs were visibly angry over the resolution not being passed. “We are disappointed that we could not pass a resolution on which all MLAs were united. It is a sort of victory for the bureaucracy again”, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said.

Moving the resolution, Mr Romesh Dutt said while Punjab territory remained one-fourth of what it was in 1950s, the size of babudom had increased 10 times. There was virtually no count of officers at the top level in the police and other departments. It had become difficult to count officers in the districts though the size of the districts had come down to one-fourth, he added. Officers did not care two hoots for MLAs. No one dared to take action against erring officers.

Forceful speeches were made by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Mr Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Mr Shavinder Singh, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu and Mr Sawinder Singh Kathunangal.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said officers did not take even phone calls from MLAs even if they might be sitting in their officers nor respond to their letters. “Officers do not appear before committees of the House. And no one dares take action against them.” Citing an example he said one issue had been pending for the past 15 years because officers had not extended cooperation to dispose it of by a committee of the House, he said. He narrated an incident how he had to knock at the door of a toilet to find out whether an officer was really in his office or somewhere else as told by his PA.

Nobody took action against the IAS officers who had played havoc with several profit-earning public sector organisations in Punjab over the past three decades. He said the way the situation was emerging, “we are heading towards anarchy.” Politicians had also formed a nexus with bureaucrats and that had further spoilt the situation. There was need to redefine the system.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal said that Punjab was slipping because of the lack of interest by the bureaucracy in its development.


IAS officers own multiplexes in London: MLA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
While speaking on a resolution, the Congress MLA from Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, virtually threw a bombshell in the Punjab Assembly today by stating that some Punjab officers had multiplexes in London and other cities abroad.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said certain Punjab IAS officers, who had served in the FCI, owned multiplexes in the UK. He said he came across this information during his recent visit to London. “ I was looking for accommodation for my relative in London when an NRI disclosed that some officers of Punjab owned buildings there”, he added. He said this while talking about corruption in bureaucratic circles.

“ Not in London alone. You go to Delhi. Many officers of Punjab owned huge property there also”, he said. On the periphery of Chandigarh, major chunks of land were owned by bureaucrats, he asserted. There were officers who had fleet of official cars for the use of their families.

He said after a lot of hard work, a committee of the House of which he was a member, unearthed a scandal worth Rs 85 lakh in Punjab Bhavan. The issue was referred to the Finance Department which ordered a special audit. The audit team also confirmed the scandal. He said the committee recommended action against the bureaucrat involved in the scandal. However, no action was taken against the officer. He said that earlier when House committees used to summon officers, it was taken with the utmost seriousness. But all this had become a thing of the past.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Akali MLA, said that as head of the Public Accounts Committee, he pointed out irregularities in the recruitment of 400 employees in a department. No permission was taken from the authorities concerned for such recruitment. A large number of vehicles were also purchased which were not used. Though the state had suffered a loss of crores of rupees because of the irregularities committed by officers with regard to the recruitment and the purchase of vehicles, no action was taken against them.

As both MLAs have made the revelations on the floor of the House, the investigating agencies would have to take notice of these statements. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would have to order an inquiry in this regard.


Discussion on cops’ patronage to ex-ultras today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
A special discussion on the issue of police patronage to former militants in Punjab will be held in the Punjab Assembly tomorrow. The discussion will be taken up during the course of business.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, are expected to speak on the issue.

Mr Badal along with 12 of his party colleagues had moved a notice of motion in this regard yesterday. The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, had agreed to a special discussion.

Meanwhile, the SAD today protested and stormed the well of the House raising slogans demanding that the Speaker allow zero hour after question hour. After some minutes of slogan raising the Akalis were pacified only when the Speaker allowed them to raise the issue during zero hour tomorrow.

The protest by the Akalis started when Mr B.S. Bhunder wanted to raise the issue of the exemption granted to four “powerful families” with regard to the repayment of outstanding dues. Mr Bhunder pointed out that Rs 40 crore benefit had been passed on to these families.

During this commotion, Dr Romesh Dutt Sharma, Congress MLA, began reading out his resolution on ensuring accountability of the Executive. As the Akalis continued raising slogans, Mr Sharma, much to the amusement of everyone, asked them: “ What have you decided? Do you want to sit in the House or walk out”. The Akalis preferred to stay back and “contribute to the resolution”.

Earlier, during question hour the Speaker of the Haryana Assembly, Dr Raghubir Singh Kadiyan, also watched the proceedings from the VIP enclosure. Dr Kewal Krishan took note of his arrival and the MLAs welcomed the guest by the thumping of desks.


Budget on March 6
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, will present the Budget in the state Assembly on March 6.

This was announced today by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan.


EPF scam: DGP writes to Secy
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 23
Another controversy has surfaced among higher officials of the Punjab Police. The DGP, PSEB, Vigilance, Mr Lalit Bhatia, has written to the Principal Secretary (Home) against DGP S.S. Virk in the EPF scam case, which has been withdrawn.

Mr Bhatia has been peeved at the decision of Mr Virk to withdraw the case against 21 officials and labour contractor R.S. Sodhi of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) in the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) scam.

In the demi-official letter number 9380, Mr Bhatia stated it was shocking that the Mr Virk had agreed to the proposal for the cancellation of the case against R.S. Sodhi and 21 officials of the plant in the EPF scam. The matter was serious and action should be taken against guilty police officials.

Mr Bhatia said the state government should also inquire into the professional misconduct of police officers in the case and action should be recommended in the interests of the state.

He has stated that FIR No. 232 was registered on behalf of the General Manager, RTP, under Sections 406, 409 and 120 (B) of the IPC against R.S. Sodhi and his accomplices on the charge of siphoning off more than Rs 50 lakh from the EPF accounts of the contractor’s labour working at the plant.

The inquiry into the case was earlier marked by the former DGP, Punjab, to the ADGP, Crime. On the basis of the inquiry conducted by the ADGP, Crime, the former DGP directed the SSP, Ropar, to submit a challan against 14 officials of the engineering wing and seven from the finance wing of the plant who were found to be in connivance with the contractor.

The crime wing of the Punjab Police informed the PSEB Vigilance that the directions in this regard had been sent to the SSP, Ropar.

However, in utter disregard to the orders of the former DGP, the then SHO, Sadar police station, Ropar, Mr Jagdish Singh, submitted a report on the cancellation of the case in judicial court in August, 2004. The cancellation report was devoid of merit. The local police deliberately concealed material facts in the case from the court to seek the cancellation of the challan.

The cancellation was sought just on the basis that the accused contractor later deposited the EPF amount with the authorities concerned. However, the former DGP, in his directions to the SSP, had made it clear that depositing the amount after being caught did not permit exoneration of the accused.

A PSEB officer, Mr S.S. Dhindsa, was produced before the court in the case, whereas the fact was that he had already been transferred from the RTP. The PSEB rules clearly state that only an officer in chair can deal with the case.

Mr Bhatia has further stated that he had taken up the case numerous times with the ADGP, Crime, who later informed him that the case had been withdrawn after Mr Virk accepted the report sent by the present SSP of Ropar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh.


Sunny Deol shoots for “Kafila”
Our Correspondent

Jandiala Guru (Amritsar), February 23
Hundreds of fans turned up to get a glimpse of actor Sunny Deol in this sub- urban township here today.

The actor, known for his performances in “Gadar” and “Betaab”, was here to shoot for “Kafila”. Dressed up in a Pakistani Shalwar Kameez, he was looking every bit the character of a Muslim.

According to the reports, the film to be completed at a cost of Rs25-crore is being directed by Amitoj Mann. It is based on the plight of the youth, especially Punjabis, seeking greener pastures abroad and landing in Pakistani and other jails after being duped by unscrupulous travel agents.

Sana, a Pakistani, is in the lead role of heroine while the central male character is being played by Paramvir.

Sunny Deol is playing a character actor in a special appearance.

The film was shot at a utensils market earlier and later and at a police station. Yesterday, too, a large crowd had gathered to watch Sunny Deol perform leading to a virtual traffic jam.

The film unit, which is scheduled to hold a fortnight-long shooting, shot at Qadian, the headquarters of Ahmeddiyas.

Actor Rana Jang Bahadur is playing the role of Shera Khan, a Pakistani police inspector, while the character of travel agent is being played by Sardar Sohi, who hails from Sangrur.

The art direction of the film is being handled by Kartik.


Taksal held yajna, violated ‘maryada’: Atinder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 23
Has Damdami Taksal violated the Sikh "Maryada" by holding a yajna at its headquarters at Chowk Mehta in Amritsar district?

The answer to the question seems to be in affirmative, if a video clipping, photographs and allegations levelled by Shiromani Akali Dal (International) chief and former MP Atinder Pal Singh are to believed.

Meanwhile, Atinder Pal Singh has urged Sikhs to boycott the “Virsa Sambhal Sammelan”, to be organised by the Sant Samaj, the Damdami Taksal and some other organisations at Sirhind on February 26 as an “ effort to divide Sikhs and to create a new sect of Sikhs”.

He has also urged the SGPC and the Jathedar of the Akal Takht to ban the sammelan. He has also asked leaders, which are participating in the coming sammelan to clarify whether they adhered to philosophy of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale or not.

Atinder Pal Singh, who was accompanied by Gurmail Singh Dargapur, head of the religious wing of SAD (I), also gave a video presentation of a Yajna ceremony. According to Atinder Pal, the yajna was organised for 40 days from May 21, 2005. The yajna was conducted by the Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma to purify the its headquarters.

Baba Dhuma also put "ahuti" in the yajna. By doing this, the taksal leaders have practically bowed down to Brahminical practices and shunned the basic principles of the Sikhism. How such people, who are not adhering to basic Sikh principles can lead Sikhs?” questioned Atinder Pal Singh and Gurmail Singh Dargapur.

Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma is extending recognition to Baba Dhadrianwale, who has been projecting himself as an incarnation of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Why Baba Dhuma is forced to do all this, which is not acceptable to the Sikhs. "We believe that the coming sammelan is nothing, but a deep conspiracy to create a separate sect from within the Sikhs and its objective seems to be to harm the Sikhs,” said Atinder Pal Singh.

He said the video CD of the yajna has been given to the Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti. “The Jathedar has assured us that he will look into the matter. But we urge him to issue a ‘Hukumnama’ to ban the sammelan,” said he.


Barnala’s wife, son pardoned at 
Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 23
Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh today let off the wife of Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala, and his MLA son, Mr Gaganjeet Singh, after they clarified their position on reportedly accepting sermons and norms (naam lena) of Dera Sacha Sauda at its congregation in Barnala on February 12.

Jathedar Nandgarh had issued notices to the mother-son duo last week asking them as to how they “accepted sermons” from the dera despite having Guru Granth Sahib at their home. He had directed them to appear at the Takht for their clarification within 15 days.

Mrs Barnala and Mr Gaganjeet, along with his wife, Harpreet Kaur, arrived at the Takht at 11 am today. They appeared before Panj Pyaras and clarified that they attended the dera’s function due to their political background. They said they didn’t accept sermons at the congregation.

The Barnala family termed reports carried in a section of media in this regard as “false”. They also vowed to follow Sikh tenets in future before the Jathedar who pardoned them.


Capt to urge HP to lift ban on property purchase
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, assured the state Assembly during question hour today that he would talk to the Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan Governments about the ban imposed on the purchase of property by outsiders in those states. “I will take up the matter for lifting the ban”, he added.

The Chief Minister was replying to a question whether Punjab also intended to ban the purchase of property by outsiders on the pattern adopted by Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Chief Minister said the imposing of such a ban by Punjab would be wrong. Earlier, the Revenue Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, explained: “We cannot ban any purchase by outsiders as other states could retaliate and impose a ban on Punjabi farmers and industrialists settled in those states.”

The Minister said Rajasthan had banned the purchase of land by outsiders along the Indira Gandhi Canal and other canal networks while in Himachal Pradesh a farmer could buy 20 bighas and get permission in this connection from the government there. Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma of the Congress and Capt Balbir Singh Batth of the Shiromani Akali Dal had raised the matter.

The Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, agreed to get a fresh survey done to check for pesticides in the blood of people in Punjab. He agreed to a suggestion by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal to have the accredited government laboratories in Lucknow and Ahmedabad to do blood sample testing. The laboratories had the requisite equipment to carry out tests. Meanwhile, Mr Dogra said the Health Department had done a survey on the presence of chemicals, including pesticides, in humans. No poisoning was found in any of the 515 persons who were tested, he added.

The Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, told the House that Rs 5 crore under the Punjab Nirman Programme would be available to the District Planning Boards headed by the area MLAs and not to the MLAs individually. Having a dig at the Akalis, Mr Singla said all genuine projects would be approved. It however, “Sangat Darshan” type of doles would not be allowed.

Replying to a question on investment in the information technology sector, the Chief Minister said Rs 159.32 crore had been invested by Indian companies and Rs 145.75 crore by foreign companies. The Punjab Government could not impose any rule on these companies to have a fixed quota of Punjabi employees, he added. These companies desired to be near cities and they preferred Mohali. About 50 applications were pending.

The Housing Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, said during the period January 18, 2005 to January 31, 2006, a total of 204 private colonies had been approved. These would, collectively cover 1,423 acres.

The Empowered Committee on mega projects had cleared another 21 projects. All these projects were on areas bigger than 100 acres. The biggest was the Dubai-based ENMAAR MGF group that was coming up with a 1,000 acre project.

The first question of the morning related to the bitumen scam unearthed by the Vigilance Bureau. The Minister for Public Works, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, said all suspended officials had been reinstated pending various cases in court.

The Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, informed the Assembly that there was no move to privatise school education in Punjab and added that 300 classrooms had been linked via an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) programme.


Experts rebut charge of Dalit jail inmate
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 23
The case of branding of a demeaning word on the back of an inmate of Nabha high security jail, Narinder Singh allegedly by jail assistant superintendent with hot metal rod took a new turn today when teams of forensic and medical experts which examined the whole issue, ruled out the use of hot iron rod and chemicals for branding of the word.

A seven-member team of medical experts of Rajindra Hospital here, which examined Dalit victim Narinder Singh, observed that injuries on his back were simple and superfacial.

Earlier, experts from the Central Forensic Laboratory (CFL), Chandigarh headed by Deputy Director L. S. Rana, which carried out investigation yesterday, also ruled out the use of any chemical for branding the demeaning word on the back of Narinder Singh, lodged in Nabha jail in a murder case.

Narinder Singh, who was produced in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge at Ropar on February 21 in connection with a case, made the allegations there. The Judge after taking cognizance of the complaint by Narinder Singh, ordered his shifting from Nabha jail to Patiala central jail. Narinder Singh had alleged that choora was branded on his back on the night of February 20 in the jail premises. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered suspension of the assistant superintendent of jail.

Mr R. N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent, Patiala Jail, confirming the reports given by two teams, said that the matter would be investigated further.


Escape of convict: four cops dismissed
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, February 23
The Majitha police today dismissed its four personnel for dereliction of duty following sensational escape of a convict, Dilraj Singh, from the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here. They have been dismissed by evoking Article 311 (2) (B) of the Constitution.

Sources said about 10 friends and relatives came to the hospital to see Dilraj Singh last morning. They provided him with a mobile phone, which he might have used to call his accomplices before fleeing.

Amazingly, he was not handcuffed in the hospital and enjoyed choicest delicacies along with policemen.

Earlier, Dilraj, who was serving sentence following recovery of heroin worth Rs 38 crore in the Central Jail along with another convict, had raped his estranged wife in an abandoned house in connivance with some police personnel.

These police personnel had escorted them to the Civil Hospital, on October 9 last year. The police had arrested three the policemen involved in the incident.

Ms Vibhu Raj, SSP, Majitha police district, said all accused policemen had been absconding after the escape of Dilraj. Mr Kewal Kishan, SP, Headquarters, has been deputed as the inquiry officer.

She said a case under Section 223, and 224 of the IPC had been registered against the accused.

The SSP said these police personnel were guilty of grave negligence, carelessness and dereliction of their duty and it was only with their connivance that the accused could have managed to escape from the hospital.

Keeping in view the misconduct of these police personnel, it was presumed that they could not be relied upon and could not become good officials in future.

Doctors’ role had also come under the scanner following the escape of Dilraj Singh yesterday evening.

According to sources, the local police was contemplating to probe the role of doctors who had reportedly referred Dilraj Singh to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Earlier, Dilraj was refused admission to the Civil Hospital by the medical experts concerned on the ground that he did not have any serious ailment that required hospitalisation. Hence, the accused was referred to the local Guru Nanak Dev Hospital.


Candidates raise slogans at courts complex
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 23
A large number of candidates who came for interview for the post of peon in the district courts complex today raised slogans when they learnt that their interview had been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances. More than 1,000 candidates have applied for the post here.

The candidates blocked the entrance gate of the court and raised slogans against the Punjab Government for “harassing” them by delaying the interview date.

“It is harassment for us as we came here about 7 am. We had no idea that the interview had been postponed. The government should pay the bus fare for us,” said candidates Avtar Singh, who had come from Patiala, and Lalit Kumar of Sangrur.

The court authorities said an advertisement had been issued in newspapers regarding the postponement of the interview. Besides, notice on boards in this regard had been displayed at various places in the court complex.


CPUJ members hold rallies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
On the call given by Confederation of Newspapers and News Agencies Employees Organisations, various district units of the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists (CPUJ) today observed a “wage board demand day” through out the state. Journalist and non-journalist employees held rallies in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s offices at several places in Punjab.

Members of the CPUJ also submitted memorandums to the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ropar, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Ludhiana to be further sent to the Central Govt through the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd).

Journalists’ organisations have been demanding the constitution of new wage boards for the past many years. The last wage board was constituted way back in 1994 under Justice Raj Kumar Manisana Singh, which submitted its recommendations in 1998.


Dwindling water resources worry experts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 23
Eminent experts, on the second day of the sixth SAARC workshop on water saving technologies, expressed their concern over the dwindling water resources in the region. They felt that paddy was a highly water expensive crop, and recommended that its cultivation should be restricted.

The SAARC workshop is being organised by the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) in collaboration with the Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of Guru Nanak Dev University at Guru Nanak Bhavan Auditorium here.

The delegates today visited the watershed area in Pathankot region to study the development of the area. Mr Gurbaz Singh, managing director, Punjab State Forest Development Corporation, explained to the delegates the various development strategies being adopted by the state government in this area.

Dr B.R. Sharma from the International Water Management Institute, New Delhi, said water requirement of the world would increase by 22 per cent by the year 2025.


4 pc DA hike for SGPC staff
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 23
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to release 4 per cent of the basic pay as dearness allowance (DA) with effect from March 1, 2006, to its employees.

The SGPC in a release to the Press here today stated that a resolution to this effect was passed by the executive committee on the demand made by its employees earlier. The committee had allowed an increase in the DA slab and fixed it at Rs 100, Rs 150 and Rs 200 per month for the employees getting a basic pay of up to Rs 3,000, Rs 3001 to Rs 5000 and over Rs 5000, respectively.

The committee had also approved a special allowance of Rs 200 per month for those employees (including daily wagers) who were involved in langar preparations.

It also increased the wages by Rs 10 of the daily wagers who were working for the committee regularly.


Pay taxes on time, says IT chief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 23
The Income Tax Department, Patiala zone, has started an awareness campaign to educate the people about the department. Under the campaign camps would be organised in towns and rural areas, said Ms Promila Bhardwaj, Commissioner, Income Tax, Patiala, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

She said the concept of organising camps in rural areas had yielded good results and the income tax assesses in the Patiala zone had increased from 1.83 lakh to 1.93 lakh.

Addressing the awareness camp at Aam Khas Bagh, she called upon the traders, industrialists and employees to pay the taxes on time. She said they should file their returns honestly to avoid any unnecessary harassment.

On the occasion, Mr Varinder Rattan, president, District Beopar Mandal, highlighted problems being faced by traders and demanded that more branches of the banks in the district should be authorised to collect various types of taxes. At present, there is only one branch authorised in each town.


Khanna demands direct rail link

Chandigarh, February 23
The president of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, has demanded that the two holy cities of Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib should be connected by a direct rail link.

This has been a long-standing demand of the people of Punjab, Mr Khanna said in a letter to the Union Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav. According to an estimate, Amritsar alone draws about 4 million foreign tourists including NRI Sikh devotees. — TNS


Forest scam: ministry told to file reply
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to file a reply to charges leveled in the public interest litigation (PIL) relating to the forest scam.

The counsel for the petitioner in the case, Mr Lakhwinder Singh Sidhu, told The Tribune that the two-judge Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, Mr D.K. Jain, and including Mr Justice Surya Kant, has asked the govt to file a reply on the next hearing of the case on April 27.

In the hearing on the PIL filed by the former wildlife warden, Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, today the counsel for Punjab Government, in the reply filed, alleged that the petition was motivated.


Jakhar for more area under fruit
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 23
Madhya Pradesh Governor Bal Ram Jakhar has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss vital issues relating to farmers.

Disclosing this today at the valedictory session of a seminar on “Cultivation of citrus with special emphasis on quality and export of kinnow” organised by the Punjab Agricultural University at its regional station here today, he said he would remind the Prime Minister of Rs1,000-crore subsidy plan prepared during the P.V. Narasimha Rao government to promote drip and sprinkle irrigation on the Israeli pattern.

Mr Jakhar said Mr Partap Singh Kairon, former Chief Minister, was the real architect of the Green Punjab. Mr Kairon had put before him (Mr Jakhar) a challenge by inspiring to grow grapes in the deserts of this subdivision in 1959. Though little hopeful, he planted grapes in two acres at Maujgarh but the same proved a great success despite dusty storms, he said.

Maharaja Yadvindra Singh of Patiala was another successful grower then, Mr Jakhar added.

He regretted only 1 per cent of the agricultural area in Punjab was under fruit cultivation, 5 per cent short of what had been recommended by the Johal Committee.

Mr Jakhar said more emphasis should be on post-harvest technology.

Expressing concern over the closure of all cooperative cotton spinning mills in Punjab, he said corrupt officials were to be blamed for it.

Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said climatic conditions in Punjab were very typical. At presently, out of 4,7087 hectares under fruit crops kinnow alone had more than 41 per cent share.

Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, Chairman, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperatives (IFFCO), also spoke. The MP Governor released a PAU souvenir on. Dr Aulakh and others honoured the chief guest with a shawl and memento.


Thieves held with stolen car
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 23
The local police yesterday arrested two thieves and recovered a Maruti car and other stolen items from their possession.

Acting on specific information, a police team led by ASI Pawan Kumar intercepted Rahul and Pradeep, who were going on a motor cycle near the Focal Point.

During interrogation, they confessed to have stolen the Maruti car from Sector 17, Chandigarh, and the motor cycle from Ropar over two months back.

The police said two colour TV sets, a camera, two watches and four gas cylinders were among the items recovered from them.

A case has been registered.


Former councillor tries to kill self
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 23
A former municipal councillor threatened to immolate himself at the office of the Municipal Council here today because the civic body had failed to carry out certain works in his area.

It is learnt that Kashmira Singh, who was 80-year-old and a resident of Mundi Kharar, went to the office of the civic body in connection with some work. When he failed to get a satisfactory response from officials concerned in connection with the works he wanted in his area, he took out a match stick from his pocket and lit it in a bid to immolate himself.

Employees of the council soon caught him and handed over to the police.


School holds Heritage Sports Meet
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 23
If the present trend of drug abuse continues among the youth, the society and the nation will have to face the consequences, so it should be a matter of concern for every citizen and they must come forward to curb this menace. Though the government is making all out efforts in this regard by making laws, it is for the society particularly social organisations, which can create awareness among youth and utilise their energy in a positive manner, said Dr Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, while addressing a Heritage Sports meet at Ashoka Senior Secondary School, Sirhind organised by Generations Saviour Association, Punjab yesterday. This meet was organised to create awareness among the youth against drug abuse.

In this heritage meet, various types of traditional Punjabi sport competitions like tug of war, kite flying, Kotla Chapaki, painting etc. were organised. More than hundred students participated in the meet.

Earlier Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the meet by planting a tree in the school ground. In her address, she called upon the teachers, students to wage a war against social evils as it is the responsibility of all of us to make a healthy society and country. She said that it is unfortunate that the youth are being attracted to drugs these days. Social organisations, which are working for this cause, are playing a vital role to curb this trend. She appreciated the efforts of Generations Saviour Association, Punjab in this regard.

Addressing the gathering, Ms Amteshwar Kaur, president of the Association, said that their organisation is a NGO working for a drug free society from the last 12 years in state of Punjab. She said that association motivates the students to adopt sports and create awareness among them about their health. Mr Devinder Verma, manager of the school and Mr Ravinder Joshi, principal of the school also addressed the gathering.


City School affiliated to Cambridge varsity
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 23
Saffron City School, which earlier had a tie-up with University of Cambridge for the School Student's Examination, has now been granted affiliation, which starts from the Young Learner’s Examination (YLE).

The declaration in this regard was made by Mr Deep Adhikari, Head Examination Services, British Council Division, British High Commission New Delhi, while addressing the annual function of the school yesterday.

He was the guest of honour at the annual function and Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, was the chief guest. He was accompanied by Ms Shelly Kwatra, head of Examination Branch, British Library.

He said that this is the first step and soon other examinations like KET, PET and BEC would also be introduced in the school curriculum. He said that these examinations are conducted for proficiency in English language, which includes all the four skills— reading, writing, speaking and listening.

He said that for this purpose the teachers of the school would be granted comprehensive training and they would further train the students. He appreciated the infrastructure as well as achievements made by the school in a short span.

Addressing the prize distribution function, Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, called upon the students to develop the habit of hard work and honesty for success in life. She gave away the prizes to the outstanding students.

Ms Anup Kaur Vilkhu, principal of the school, read the annual report and highlighted the achievements of the school.

Mr S. S. Kahlon, Chairman, Mrs Amrit Kaur Gurm, Director also addressed the gathering.

On the occasion, school children presented an impressive cultural programme.

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