P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cops accused of extra judicial killings to be protected: Singla
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, March 21
The Punjab government is preparing a proposal to save from prosecution the police officers and police cats who used “out of the box” means to fight terrorism.

Disclosing this to The Tribune on the sidelines of the “Passing-out parade at the Punjab Police Academy here today, Finance Minister, Surinder Singla said Chief Minister Punjab, Amarinder Singh would announce shortly the procedure and method to save the officers who had to take extra-judicial measures to combat terrorism.

The proposal has been mooted by DGP Punjab, S.S. Virk in the backdrop of the Sukhjinder Sukhi police cat’s case. Besides, the DGP and the Chief Minister were alive to the legal problems faced by the police officials who worked in the state during militancy.

The FM and the DGP said extra-ordinary circumstances required extra-ordinary steps to combat it, “The law did not provide the measures and now the police would be armed with some kind of protection against the law.”

The details of the proposals that could bring changes in the Punjab Police Rules, prosecution of officers or some legal change would be disclosed shortly by the Chief Minister, they said. The DGP also revealed that the Punjab Police was in the process of segregating the cops facing prosecution for combating terrorism from others. In another sops for the cops, Mr Singla also announced that one bumper prize out of the lotteries next year would be given to the Punjab Police for welfare purposes. The DGP informed that the money would be utilised to give insurance cover to the cops.

Addressing the passing-out parade of 563 police officers including a foreign contingent from Maldives and Bhutan besides from Indian states , Uttaranchal and Punjab Police officers present on the occasion, the FM announced grant of Rs one crore for the academy for maintenance, renovation, new construction, training methods and tools.

The Finance Minister also agreed in principle to accept other demands made by Mr R.S. Gill, ADGP-cum-Director of the Academy. Mr Gill read out a list of demands for the modernisation of the training in academy and better facilities for the trainees as well as of the officials. He specially mentioned crumbling buildings and the 30 posts of law Instructor vacant in the Academy.

Mr Gill in annual report on achievements specially mentioned the feats of Dr S.S. Chauhan, Dy Director (Indoor) and Dr D.J. Singh, Dean and Dy Director (Social Sciences) for international recognition of their respective excellence.

Mr Singla also awarded medals to 19 cops for bravery or meritorious services. These were President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service to DGP Punjab S.S. Virk; SP city-II Jalandhar Bachan Singh Randhawa; JIC Amritsar SI Jasbir Singh. The Police Medal for Gallantry went to head constable Kewal Singh while DIG Administrator Sanjeev Kalra was awarded Police Medal for Meritorious Service.

Other recipients of Police Medal were, DIG R.L. Bhagat, DIG Sham Lal Gakhar, SP Arpit Shukla, SP Mukhtiar Singh, SP Vijay Kumar, DSP Rajinder Singh, DSP Devinder Singh, DSP Daljit Singh, Insp. Haridal Singh, SI Karnail Singh, SI Ram Singh, SI Sukhchain Singh, ASI Daya Singh and H.C. Santokh Raj.


“Medical societies” to end PPSC role in docs’ recruitment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
The Director-Principals of medical colleges would virtually act like Vice-Chancellors of deemed universities after the formation of “medical societies” that would provide enough autonomy to the medical fraternity in the state.

This was stated by Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Health and Medical Education and Research, while addressing the faculty of Government Medical College, including the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA), here today.

He said the service conditions of the staff wouldn't be altered at any cost to the disadvantage of the employees and they would continue to avail all prevailing benefits, including pension, when “medical societies” come into being. This would be a big step towards the decentralisation of powers at the college-level, for which medical fraternity had been struggling for long. Such societies would end the role of the Punjab Public Service Commission so far as appointments in medical colleges were concerned.

The Director-Principal would be the chief purchaser, main appointing authority with all financial power and administrative autonomy. Mr Kaushal, during the informal chat, listened patiently to the PSMDTA and allayed their fears regarding “ security of job ” after the formation of societies. Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon , general secretary, PSMDTA, and his colleagues seemed satisfied with the point-wise reply given by Mr Kaushal.

Under the “medical societies”, the doctors and staff working in such institutes would be given an option to continue as government employee or they would be free to opt deputation with the proposed societies. The employees would be given the benefit of “permanent postings” (non-transferable) in their parent institutes.

Under the “medical societies”, a governing body would formed to run the affairs of the institutes. The chairman of the proposed society would be Minister-in-charge of Medical Education and Research, while Chief Secretary, Secretary of the department concerned , Finance Secretary , Secretary Planning , Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Director, PGI, Chandigarh , two eminent alumni of the college, Director Research and Medical Education, Mayor/President of Municipal Committee of the city, Deputy Commissioner, one elected representative of the students, nominee of the UGC would be members, while Director-Principal of the college would be the Member Secretary.

In case the state government is satisfied that the society or college is not working properly hence, in public interest the state government shall have the power to take over the administration and assets of the societies.

Earlier, Mr Kaushal had an interaction with the medical students and gave an hour-long lecture on personality development. 


Unemployed doctors rue govt apathy
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 21
Hundreds of young qualified doctors of Punjab have not got jobs for years altogether as no vacancy of doctor has been filled by the Punjab Government through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) after 1998-1999.

At present, nearly 1,400 posts of doctors are lying vacant in the state, even as the state government is in the process of handing over nearly 1,300 rural dispensaries to zila parishads.

Enquiries by The Tribune have revealed that since there has been no recruitment of doctors since 1998-1999 and as nearly 500 doctors pass out from state’s five medical colleges every year, there are about 6,500 doctors looking for a job or a better job. If dental doctors and those Punjab-based doctors, who have completed their MBBS from other states, are included in the list of unemployed or underemployed doctors, their number can easily be between 10,000 and 12,000.

Most of these young doctors, who had completed their degrees after 1998-1999, are either working in private hospitals and are usually getting poor remuneration or they are preferring to undertake some other jobs. In the private sector, the normal starting salary for a fresher is between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000 per month. This instills a sense of frustration among them.

“The state government’s policies have virtually taken the element of dignity out of the once most sought after and revered service. If this was not enough, the government’s plan to hand over rural dispensaries in private hands on contract basis would further result in another blow to the profession as doctors working in dispensaries on contract would be deprived of the Class I status that is being enjoyed by government doctors earlier,” said Dr M. S. Randhawa, patron of the PCMS Association, Punjab. He alleged that prevalent circumstances had virtually ruined the future of students of medical profession.

“Because of this dismal situation, engineering has become the most sought after profession nowadays. Who will join even government medical service if there is no job security?” questioned Dr M. B. Bali, the senior vice-president of the PCMS Association, Punjab. He added that the fear of exploitation in the private sector was making a large number of young doctors to prefer to remain unemployed. 


Boys falsely linked to Bheora, allege families
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Hulka (Rajpura), March 21
Till yesterday, this native village of Jasbir and Bhupinder, two alleged associates of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) chief of operations Paramjit Singh Bheora,who were arrested by the Delhi Police, was another sleepy Punjab village. However, the arrest and its linking with the BKI has put the village in limelight for wrong reasons much to the chagrin of the villagers.

Even as the village fails to believes that three of its residents, including the duo arrested with Bheora, were in any way linked to the BKI, their families alleged that they had been “falsely implicated” by the security agencies. Meanwhile, Lally, the alleged harbourer of Bheora, who was earlier interrogated by the police in this connection, had absconded in the wake of trio’s arrest by the Delhi Police.

An eerie silence prevails in the dusty village as this correspondent found this afternoon. In fact, a pall of gloom has descended on the village with residents, rubbishing the police’s claims of linking with the militant activities.While the villagers prefer to be silent, the affected families are vehement in their sons’ support.

Ms Balwinder Kaur, mother of Jasbir,claimed that his son traded in milch cattle besides farming and had gone to Yamunanagar on a business trip on March 15. It was only yesterday that we came to know about his arrest from Delhi and his alleged terrorist links, the mother said pleading his son’s innocence.

Echoing similar sentiments, Mr Shiv Dev Singh, his father, claimed that Bhupinder, who made a living by doing odd jobs, usually accompanied Jasbir on business trips. However, on March 15 they left the village separately, he added.

Sources said a police party, accompanied by intelligence sleuths, had raided the residences of Jasbir and Bhupinder last week but nothing incriminating was found. If they had any links with the BKI, then there must be some documents to show the links, Ms Shalinder Kaur, Bhupinder’s mother, added.

A village elder said on the condition of anonymity that both the boys had an unblemished record and never indulged in any suspicious activity. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Lally was summoned to Banur police station last week in connection with alleged harbouring of Bheora at Hulka.Efforts were on the trace Lally, who has absconded, the sources added.


Punjab begins negotiations on Bt seed price
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Agriculture Department has opened negotiations with various Bt cotton seed companies to make them slash prices.

A preliminary meeting was held here today. However, a crucial meeting will be held tomorrow. The state government is pressing the companies to cut the price of the seed to Rs 1,250 per packet of 450 gm. However, the companies are not ready to reduce the price below Rs 1,350 per packet.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had assured the state Assembly recently that he would urge the Union Government to press the seed companies to cut the price, which ranged between Rs 1,600 to 1,650 per packet in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country. He had announced the waiving of 4 per cent VAT on Bt seed to reduce the price by Rs 63 per packet.

Recently, the companies had agreed to reduce the price of the seed by Rs 300 per packet in Andhra Pradesh. Obviously, once the price is cut in Punjab, the same will have to be done in Haryana and the Ganganagar belt of Rajasthan. Haryana and the Ganganagar belt are major cotton-producing areas.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said that a crucial meeting would be held tomorrow with regard to the price of the seed. He wanted that the maximum retail price ( MRP) of the seed should not exceed Rs 1,300 per packet in any case. Last year, the MRP printed on packets was Rs 1,750. However, dealers actually sold the seed to farmers in the range of Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,650. Dealers had passed on a part of their profit to farmers.

If the seed price comes down to Rs 1,200 , most farmers will opt to buy genuine seed and the sale of spurious seed, which is priced between Rs 700 and Rs 900, is expected to stop.

The sale of 14 lakh packets of Bt seed is expected in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.The Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan Governments have the power only to give licences to companies to sell their seed in their respective states. As there is no ban on the inter-state movement of the seed, companies can sell the seed from Delhi without opening shops in the Punjab-Haryana cotton belt.

The real power to negotiate with the companies lies with the Union Government which approves Bt cotton varieties for sowing in various parts of the country. The Centre can tell the companies that it will recommend only those varieties of seed which are provided to farmers at affordable prices. 


Wheat procurement to begin on April 1
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 21
Though area under wheat cultivation has decreased from 34.82 lakh hectares to 34.30 lakh hectares wheat production in Punjab is expected to be 145 lakh tonnes this year, stated Mr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, at a meeting with officials of the Agriculture Department and procurement agencies here today.

Mr Gupta said the procurement of wheat in markets across the state would begin from April 1. He said the Reserve Bank of India had approved a limit of Rs 6,432 crore for wheat procurement in the state.

He said 90 lakh tonnes wheat was procured last year and the figure could increase this year. Farmers’ payment would be made within 48 hours of the purchase of their produce.

Wheat procurement would be carried out in 1,569 markets in the state. Procurement agencies like Punsup, Pungrain, Markfed, FCI, Punjab Agro and Punjab Warehouse were giving finishing touches to preparations in this regard. There would be no shortage of power, water, power cleaner and gunny bags during procurement and instructions were issued to Mandi Board officials. He said all arrangements for wheat procurement had been made and the farmers would not face any difficulty in it. Complaints of embezzlement of wheat or funds would not be tolerated and action would be taken against those responsible for it.


Amritsar: PM reminded of promises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Politicians have reminded the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, of the promises he had made with regard to the development of Amritsar, where he will be arriving in the next 48 hours to flag off the inaugural trip of the bus that will ply between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib on a regular basis.

During his last visit to Amritsar in 2004, Dr Manmohan Singh, who belongs to Amritsar, had made certain announcements for the development of that region. Besides the beautification of the areas around the Golden Temple complex, the Prime Minister had given an assurance on the setting up of an international institute of Biotechnology in Amritsar. He had also promised to set up a special economic zone there besides four-laning the Jalandhar-Amritsar-Wagah road. There was also a promise to upgrade Raja Sansi airport to international standards.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar-Wagah road has not been four-laned yet. The economic zone has also not been set up. Even the previous BJP-led government at the Centre had failed to do anything worthwhile as far as the widening of this busy road is concerned. The then Surface Transport Minister had performed the “bhumi-pujan” ceremony shortly before the Lok Sabha elections. The present government at the Centre has also done nothing in this regard during the past 22 months.

The MP from Amritsar, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, today wrote a detailed open letter to the Prime Minister reminding him the promises made by him with regard to the development of the Amritsar region. Mr Sidhu said that the road project was allotted to a Hyderabad-based company a year ago and it was asked to complete it in 30 months. But practically no work had started on the widening of the road.

Mr Sidhu said the economic zone project had also not gone beyond the proposal stage. “ Precious little had been accomplished on the ground with regard to the zone”, said Mr Sidhu. The Prime Minister had also agreed to set up an international institute of biotechnology in Amritsar. However, nothing in this regard was happening Amritsar. The Punjab Government, which was setting up a biotechnology park at Dera Bassi in collaboration with a private party, is now saying that the biotechnology institute would also be set up at Dera Bassi.

Mr Sidhu said the starting of the bus service from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib would be brought to naught unless a visa office was established in Amritsar. The Pakistan authorities should have been asked to set up such an office there, he added. “ Amritsar has weathered the storm of terrorism and the need of the hour is to support the city to restore it to its pristine glory”, he stated in the letter to the Prime Minister. “ Good intentions die unless they are executed”, he added.

Raja Sansi airport in Amritsar was no more than a poor cousin of other international airports in the country. While big proposals had been made to upgrade the airports in Delhi,Mumbai and Bangalore, there was no such proposal for Amritsar airport. Only a few crores of rupees had been given by the Union Government to add certain facilities at the airport. “ It has not got enough infrastructure to take even the load of the existing air traffic to Amritsar from various parts of the world”, said Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr Cheema said the Prime Minister should ask the authorities concerned why the promises made by him had not been fulfilled.


Cops feel betrayed by change in promotion rules
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, March 21
Nearly 160 Punjab Police personnel have been left in the lurch following a midcourse amendment in the popular promotion against qualification scheme announced by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at the police academy here in November 2002.

The chief minister had announced that in order to encourage policemen for pursuing higher education, one rank promotion would be given to those who pass MA (Police Administration) from the academy.

However, in sharp contrast to this, the authorities last year issued a notification that only those who attain top three places in the examination would be given the promotions. The decision dismayed around 160 police personnel who had already passed the first year of the course.

They said, “Several others who completed the degree that year got the promotion while we are not being considered. This made several policemen junior to their batch mates who had enrolled a year before”.

The sources said there was a strong discontentment among the personnel over the change in the rules.

The disheartened policemen gave example of a batch of police officials from Uttranchal who successfully passed one year training from the academy today. Most members of the contingent are either PhD degree holders or pursing the doctorate degree. In comparison the education standard of Punjab Police personnel is far below.

The sources stressed that the promotions do not put any financial burden on the state exchequer, as the promoted policemen would be given salary of their previous rank only.

DGP S.S. Virk told The Tribune that the matter was under consideration and the personnel could be given local ranks. But a final decision in this regard was pending. He explained that the policy had to be revised as a number of staff members attaining the degree had increased manifold that had caused a lot of administrative problems.


Handing control of dispensaries to ZPs upsets pharmacists
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 21
Mr Ravinder Luthra and Mr Gurinder Singh Sodhi, president and secretary, respectively, of the Punjab State Pharmacists’ Association and Mr Shashi Kant (Fazilka), President of the Ferozepore district unit, in a joint release here yesterday alleged there was resentment among the pharmacists of Punjab Health Department due to non-acceptance of their demands.

They said the government decision to hand over 1310 dispensaries of the department to Zila Parishads and panchayats had upset 2500 pharmacists of the state.

They expressed concern over the future of pharmacists in the proposed set-up. It was a conspiracy of the government to abolish posts of pharmacist in the department, they alleged. To oppose this decision the association would launch a statewide stir in the first phase commencing March 21 to April 5. The association would organise rallies before the offices of Civil Surgeons in all districts.

The first rally will be held before the office of the Civil Surgeon, Nawanshahr, on March 21 followed by rallies on March 23 and March 24 in Amritsar and Faridkot districts, respectively.

On March 28 the rally will be held in Jalandhar and Muktsar districts while it will be in Moga on March 29.

Main demands of the association are change of designation to pharmacy officer, removal of pay anomalies, time-bound scale after four/nine/14 years of the service, gazetted status to chief pharmacists grade-I, prescription rights in the absence of medical officers and framing of service rules for pharmacists.


Functions marks Bhagat Singh’s anniversary
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 21
Massive preparations are currently underway both by the state government as well as local NGO’s to commemorate the 75th martyrdom day of three heroes of the freedom struggle Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who lit the eternal flame of liberty and embraced gallows on March 23, 1931, at Central Jail, Lahore.

Though the momentum seems to have toned down a bit due to the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s visit who was expected to lead the nation to pay homage to the martyrs, the district administration and the NGO’s are working overnight to observe the occasion in a befitting manner.

Deputy Commissioner B.C. Thakur said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh along with Cabinet colleagues would be arriving here on Thursday to pay tributes to the martyrs. He will also unveil the martyr’s memorial constructed by 15th Punjab Regiment, popularly known as “First Patiala”, in the memory of those soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the India-Pakistan conflict of 1971.

The district administration has planned to ply special buses besides a train service up to the town for the convenience of people who are expected to come to pay obeisance to the martyrs.

Several NGO’s like Sewa Bharti, Bharat Vikas Parishad and the ABVP have also planned series of functions, debates and seminars to mark the occasion. As a part of the celebrations, a flame rally would start from the Town Hall and will pass through major parts of the town.

Hundreds of youths who are coming from even far off places like Pune and Mumbai would participate in an oath taking ceremony on the banks of the Sutlej 


Josh’s volte face on definition of Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
The newly-appointed member of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Harcharan Singh Josh, today made volte face on his controversial statement regarding distinct identity of Sikhs. Mr Josh said he would write to the Jathedar of Akal Takht to clarify his position .

In a written statement, Mr Josh claimed that his statement was misunderstood and misinterpreted. "We all know that the Sikh community which I mentioned has its own separate religion with a distinct identity."

"I believe that the basis of Sikhism is Rehat. A Sikh is of Akal Purakh, the creator. The creator of all human beings is Akal Purakh. Sikhism is a mission started by Guru Nanak Dev.


Forcing bride to dance ends marriage
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 21
Marriage celebrations of a boy hailing from Jeonda village turned sour when the bride’s family forced him to leave without taking along his newlywed wife after he ‘forced’ her to dance with him.

The bride’s family reportedly spent a lot of money to please the baraatis. An orchestra party was also called to entertain the guests.

The sources said all rituals were performed smoothly, but when at the time of lunch the groom requested the bride to dance with him amid orchestra troupe, the bride’s father objected. Despite resistance from the bride’s family, the boy and his father forced her to dance, which irked the girl’s father who started thrashing the groom. The brawl led to utter chaos at the venue. Efforts were made to strike a compromise between the two groups, but to no avail. Finally, the groom had to return without taking his bride.


Nagar kirtan to mark Guru's martyrdom
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 21
The SGPC would take out a massive nagar kirtan from Amritsar to Lahore to mark the quadracentennial martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev on June 16. This was stated by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar while addressing a press conference after kicking off preparations for "Sampooranta Diwas" at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo today.

Talking about the educational institutions being run by the SGPC, he said it was extending various amenities to the poor and needy students at these institutions and more steps would be taken to benefit them. 


PSEB told to revise bills
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 21
The District Consumer Forum, Hoshiarpur, headed by Mr B. C. Gupta, president, Mr Amarjit Singh Jauhar and Ms Manjeet Valia, both members, has accepted the complaint of the Municipal Council, Hoshiarpur and has ordered the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to revise the bills of street lights from March 21, 2005 to December 22, 2005 and issue fresh bills to the complainant on the basis of the actual meter reading as recorded in the 42 meters installed at various poles of street lights in the city because no contrary agreement executed between the parties could be produced by the PSEB before the forum.

The forum has also directed the PSEB to refund the excess amount including octroi and excise duty, charged by it in the bills of the aforesaid period within two months from the date of the order and to pay Rs 5,000 as damages to the municipal council.

The municipal council had filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act against the Chairman and other officers of the PSEB on January 2 to the effect that the board can claim charges only on the basis of the reading recorded in the various meters installed on poles in different localities of the city.


World Forest Day observed
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, March 21
The World Forest Day observed at the Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutes(SVGOI) at Ramnagar,near here, today.

Delivering a lecture on "Forest conservation and sustainable development" Dr ALJ Rao, a noted environmentalist, called for focussing our attention on our collective failure to protect the environment which had endangered sustainable development.

Mr Manmohan Garg, CEO of SVGOI, cautioned that if the rich nations continued to put unrelenting pressure on our planet's limited and non-renewable resources, the present glaring imbalances in global economic growth would continue.

The Director-Principal of the Swami Vivekanand Institute of Engineering and Technology (SVIET), Dr C.S.Rao complimented the students for taking up the plantation programme.


IMA seeks action against attackers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 21
The action committee against assault on doctors of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab, today strongly condemned the “attack” by a mob on Nitin Nursing Home at Patiala yesterday following the death of a woman patient at Fortis Hospital, Mohali. The mob was blaming the doctor for the death of the woman patient.

Dr Amandeep Aggarwal, state secretary of the action committee, alleged that about 200 persons attacked Nitin Nursing Home and broke the gate and glasspanes of the nursing home, besides making an assault on the staff of the nursing home and a threat to the life of Dr Neena Gupta. He said in the light of this incident, the action committee wanted strict action against the attackers to ensure the safety of the doctor, her family and the staff of the nursing home.

Dr Aggarwal said after successful initial management of the woman patient, the doctor referred the patient to Fortis Hospital when the patient had been suffering from some reaction. The patient remained in Fortis Hospital for about 10 days before her death there the previous day.

Dr Aggarwal said if the government failed in taking strict action against the culprits, the action committee would chalkout an agitation programme to seek justice for the doctor.


2 injured in road accident
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
Two schoolchildren were injured when the pilot Gypsy escorting the Delhi-Lahore bus “Sada-e-Sarhad” hit their motor cycle near the Vallah bypass here today. The bus was going to Delhi from Lahore.

According to sources, the two students of Class X, Raman Kumar and Harpreet Singh of Faizpura, were injured in the incident. They were immediately rushed to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital where their condition was stated to be out of danger. The escort vehicle and bus moved onward after the incident.


Hepatitis lands Patiala villagers in city for protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Hundreds of people from Babarpur village in Nabha subdivision of Patiala district today held a demonstration here in front of the office of the Director, Health Services, Punjab, urging him to send medical teams for the treatment of people suffering from hepatitis and certain other diseases such as cancer and arthritis.

Even children accompanied their parents from the village. In a memorandum submitted to the Director, members of the village panchayat stated that many persons had died in the village because of hepatitis and cancer. And there were a good number of people suffering from such diseases.

They said local teams of government doctors had conducted a survey in the village. However, the teams did not admit that any person died in the village because of hepatitis. They said the district health authorities were not extending adequate help to them in their hour of crisis.

“Certain patients of our village have got themselves examined at eminent hospitals in Ludhiana and elsewhere. Doctors of those hospitals have confirmed that they were suffering from hepatitis,” said a villager. Ten samples of water were collected from the village and five of those had failed the test.

Villagers have demanded that the entire population of the village should be examined and treatment be provided to those suffering from hepatitis and other diseases free of cost.

They also want doctors appointed in the 25-bed Civil Hospital at the village and action against district health officials who failed to provide relief to the affected people.


Old man attacked, hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 21
Mr Satpal Thathai (62) a former Intelligence Officer, was assaulted today during the auction of commercial plots at the Improvement Trust here. He was taken to the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital by friends. His lips were bleeding. He complained of pain in abdomen. As he had difficulty in respiration doctors called a cardiologist for help. His blood pressure was under control, the physicians said.

Witnesses avoided identifying the culprits. Mr Thathai was not able to speak till 4 p.m.

Family sources said he had deposited earnest money to bid for a commercial plot.

Mr Thathai could not compete for the first plot today and requested that he should be allowed to give bid for the second plot on the basis of earnest money deposited for the first plot. This was opposed by those interested in buying the second plot. As he dared to quote law, some persons reportedly dragged him inside and thrashed, sources added.


Exam centre head ‘beaten up’ by cop, teachers’ union protests
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
The Government Teachers Union has decided to take up the alleged beating up of a woman superintendent at the examination centre at government senior secondary school when she opposed copying.

The union alleged the Education Department or the police department had not taken any action against the accused cop.

Mr Daljit Singh, state president of the union told The Tribune the teachers brought the matter to the notice of the DEO, the DPI and police officials. But no action has been taken against the accused cop. He said the administration withdrew the security from these centres on pretext of the visit of the Prime Minister. He said the government was not serious about stopping copying in examination centres.

Mr Mohan Singh Cheema, district education officer said that he had not received a written complaint in this regard. Action would be taken only after getting a written complaint.

The union today protested in front of the officer of the DEO in protest against the privatisation of education, handing over control of schools to panchayats and merger of elementary schools in the primary schools etc. 


Four booked for NFL mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 21
Four persons have been booked for the incident in which two labourers died when a mechanised winch failed while in operation at the local NFL plant yesterday.

While Veerpal Singh, a labourer, died soon after the incident, another labourer, Jagtar Singh, succumbed to his injuries last evening. Both the bodies were handed over to their family members after a post-mortem examination.

On the basis of the statement of Veerpal’s brother, Inder Singh, a case has been registered against contractor, Anil Janmeja, supervisors Harish Rathi and Baljeet Singh, and winch operator, Romi Singh, under Section 304-A of the IPC.


3 booked for raping nurse
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
The C-division police has booked three persons, including two sons of the Principal of a DAV School, for allegedly raping a nurse working in the hospital owned by the Principal’s sons. Dr Suraj Shoor and Mr Deepak Shoor are sons of Mr J.P. Shoor, Principal of DAV School, in the walled city.

According to a case registered under Section 376, IPC, the Principal’s two sons along with another doctor Dr Chetan allegedly raped the nurse several times. It is also alleged that the three indulged in making blue films. Later they allegedly started blackmailing the nurse into having physical relations with them for nearly four months before she approached the police.

As per the police report the nurse had alleged that she was employed in the private hospital owned by Dr Suraj Shoor in July 2005. Soon after Dr Suraj Shoor along with Dr Chetan on the pretext of giving a salary raise to her raped her sometime in December. Thereafter, they continued to have physical relations with her against her will.

During this time they also made a blue film on her by taking her to a place in the Maqboolpura area, she alleged in the report. Thereafter, Mr Deepak Shoor, brother of Dr Shoor, and his friend also raped her. She alleged that they used to beat her and threaten her that they would distribute the blue film in the market to force her into having physical relation with her. 


Cancel case against doctor: IMA
Tribune News service

Patiala, March 21
Even as the local police registered a criminal case against about six persons for their alleged involvement in trespassing and damaging Nitin Nursing Home yesterday, the Patiala unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged the police to cancel the criminal case registered against Dr Neena Gupta, owner of the centre, following the death of patient Devinder Kaur.

Dr Jagbir Singh and Dr D. S. Bhullar, president and honorary secretary, IMA, Patiala, in a joint press note issued here, said a deputation of about 50 doctors of Patiala, including representatives of the IMA, private practitioners and the district PCMS Association met SSP A. S. Rai and demanded that the case registered against Dr Neena Gupta should be cancelled immediately.

A criminal case was registered against Dr Neena Gupta under Section 304-A of the IPC for causing death of Devinder Kaur due to negligence. Devinder Kaur, who was admitted to the nursing home about 10 days ago for surgery, was shifted to a multi-speciality hospital at Mohali after about three days when her condition got worsened. Devinder Kaur died yesterday.

Kin of the deceased staged a dharna in front of the nursing home and later damaged it. Thepolice immediately registered a case against Dr Neena Gupta.

The doctors demanded that a strict action should be taken against those hooligans who instigated a mob to enter into the nursing centre and then damaged.

They said Mr Rai had assured the deputation that strict action against the hooligans would be taken and nobody would be allowed to take law into his hands. Mr Rai had also promised that doctors and other staff members of the nursing home would be given security.

The IMA also held an emergency meeting to work out the strategy to prevent the happenings in future.


Patwari flees after Vigilance raid
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 21
Ashok Kumar, a revenue patwari of the Dharmeri circle of this district, today escaped from the net of the Vigilance Bureau.

A team of the bureau led by the DSP, Mr Banarasi Dass, raided his official premises to catch him while accepting a bribe from Mr Kuldip Singh, a resident of Bibipur village, in lieu of supplying him a copy of revenue record connected with the land holding owned by the complainant.

Mr Dass said Ashok Kumar ran away when he came to know that a team of the bureau was approaching.

The accused scaled up the boundary wall of the official premises. He added that a team was also sent to the house of the accused but it was found locked. 


Man found murdered
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 21
Rajinder Singh, a son of Mr Ajit Singh of Kothy village was murdered under mysterious circumstances.

The body was recovered by the police from a closed “gharat” situated on the Aliwal-Talwandi road.

The body has been sent for a post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital, Batala.


Poultry farmers’ memo regarding ban by J&K
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Lifting of ban on the import of chickens and broilers by the Jammu and Kashmir government has failed to redress grievances of Punjab’s poultry farmers who daily are said to be incurring loss of Rs 2 crore due to ban. The industry has sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to resolve the matter. The farmers are unhappy because ban on hens and broiler parent from Punjab still continues and they feel lifting of ban on the import of chickens and broilers aims at securing profit is the industry based in that state. Jammu and Kashmir stopped import of poultry products from Punjab last month following news of bird flu.

Peeved at the negative attitude of the J and K on the issue, poultry farmers threatened to stop sending supplies of feed, chickens and medicines that go via Punjab to J and K if no measures were taken on the issue in 10 days. “The matter should be handled by a central agency as decisions so far taken by Jammu and Kashmir in this regard have been biased,” said Mr P.P.S. Gill, secretary, Punjab Poultry Farmers Association.

Members of this industry include farmers, breeders, seed and medicine suppliers etc. under the banner of a joint action committee, have also sought the Prime Minister’s intervention on the issue.

In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, the association termed the ban by J and K politically motivated to benefit only a few officials and business houses having vested interest in poultry.

The association said that while on one hand farmers were reeling from the burden of losses due to forced selling of their flock at price below production costs those in Jammu and Kashmir were trying to make a fast buck by selling the products in their stock at exorbitant price.

“Lifting of the ban on chickens and broilers would bring some relief, but we cannot be sure that it would continue. We want the government to form a central agency. The very move to allow chickens and broilers, which can be as risky as hens, and not allowing hens and broiler parent, makes their intentions clear enough.”

The poultry industry also wanted the Punjab government to ban other products like fruits and vegetables that come from Jammu and Kashmir if that state did not take appropriate steps in the matter.

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