P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Misusing govt scheme to settle abroad
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 13
A large number of government officials, including some senior police officials, have either immigrated to foreign countries or are in the process of doing so taking undue advantage of the Punjab Government’s self-employment scheme and in the stark violation of stipulated norms.

The norms followed by the Department of Personnel on the pattern of the Central Government clearly specify that under no circumstances a government employee can migrate to any other country as long as he or she remains an employee of state or Central governments.

However, a large number of government employees have been misusing the five-year self-employment scheme to fulfil their wish to migrate to foreign countries.

The state government introduced the scheme about 7-8 years ago to enable all government employees to establish their own businesses or generate some self-employment of their choice. For the purpose of establishing their own business or generating self-employment, they could avail leave for a maximum period of five years with full pay and without losing seniority.

The scheme was seen as a good vehicle for those enterprising officials, who wanted to settle in their choicest way after retirement from the government service. Though, a handful of officials availed of the benefit in a genuine manner, the scheme became a potent tool for those unscrupulous elements who intended to misuse it in their own ingenious ways.

The misuse of the scheme, it was learnt, for settling abroad was maximum in the Police Department where a large number of senior officers were said to have availed of the scheme and settled abroad.

The list of such officials included persons of the ranks of Inspector, DSP, SP and other senior positions. Several other police officials and from other departments were trying this route as their applications were awaiting approval of the top authorities. The fact that the Department of Personnel had recently issued a memo to the heads of departments specifying that, “It has been decided that no government officer/official should apply or seek emigration to any other country so long as he is government service”, did not make any difference or hindrance to such employees.

The Department of Personnel had made it clear that the question of issuance of a ‘no objection certificate’ to a government employee who wished to migrate to a foreign country, therefore, did not arise.

Interestingly, there was no follow up or the scrutiny of those persons, who had availed of the scheme. The government officials are reportedly settling in the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia. Not only police officials, but also government doctors, engineers were also using the same “scheme route”, it was learnt. 


Rape case: SAD to form panel, says Dhindsa

Dhuri (Sangrur), August 13
There was nothing unusual today in this town, which is represented by Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, son of Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, as SAD MLA in the Punjab Assembly since February 2002.

Even after the registration of a rape case in Chandigarh yesterday against Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala and his subsequent arrest not many people were seen talking about the incident in groups here. On being asked about the crime a number of people believed that Gaganjit was a courteous person and he could not indulge in such a shameful act. Some of them also saw a “conspiracy” behind the registration of a rape case against him to ruin his political career in the light of the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of the SAD, told this correspondent that the SAD would form a fact-finding committee to find the truth behind the rape charge against Gaganjit. He further said in the light of the registration of a rape case against Gaganjit he could not make any statement over the issue.

Mr Vasudev Arya, district president of the BJP, said he knew Gaganjit for the past several years but had never heard anything adverse about him. — TNS


Quack couple remanded in judicial custody
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The Judicial Magistrate, Samana, today remanded the quack couple, Pritam Singh and Amarjit Kaur, for allegedly performing illegal abortions in Sahib Hospital, Patran. They were sent to judicial custody till August 26.

The couple was arrested on August 9 following the registration of a case under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. They were allegedly burying foetuses into pits after abortions. Meanwhile, Dr V.S. Mohi, Civil Surgeon, Patiala, said he had sought explanation from six Senior Medical Officers, who remained posted in the Patran area in the past one year, for their failure to detect the illegal abortions.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the district health authorities had started collecting information about the quacks.

Dr Mohi said a number of quacks disappeared after the Patran case. However, Dr Mohi could not explain the fact that how the quacks had been operating when the Punjab and Haryana High Court had given directions to the Punjab Government that no quack should be allowed to run the clinic in the state.

Dr O.P.S. Kande, a former president, Indian Medical Association, Punjab, said the business of illegal abortion was rampant in the state.

He said in most of the cases the authorities failed to take action against the quacks despite the fact that the association lodged complaints against them.

Meanwhile, a three-member team of the SGPC today visited Patran in this regard and demanded action against the accused.


Cong, BJP two sides of same coin, says Devegowda
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 13
The Congress-led UPA government and the previous NDA government headed by the BJP are two sides of the same coin as far as agriculture policies are concerned, said a former Prime Minister and president, Janta Dal (Secular), Mr H.D. Devegowda, here today.

Talking to mediapersons before leaving to address a rally of farmers at Ferozepore, he said both governments were towing lines of the US government.

He said its impact was apparent from the recently released World Bank report that stated that poverty in rural areas of India witnessed a rise from 26 per cent to 39 per cent in the past few years.

He said the report exposed claims of the UPA government about unprecedented development being witnessed in the country. Despite impressive GDP growth rate, the progress was limited to metropolitan and a few cities, while villages remained untouched. The former Prime Minister said though Dr Manmohan Singh, had announced a financial package for farmers of Maharashtra, it failed to stop suicides. He claimed that at present the country had a stock of five million tonnes of grain whereas it required 28 million tonnes annually for the Public Distribution System.

In order to cover up the shortage of foodgrain the government had deliberately reduced the import duty from 50 per cent to 5 per cent and the Food Corporation of India abolished the import duty at all. Therefore, he said, the government was offering leverages to private companies and corporate houses.


CPM apprehends greater US interference
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) apprehends greater interference from the United States in India’s foreign policy. The party wants Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to assure the nation that his government would not deviate from the original Indo-US Nuclear deal (of July 16, 2005). He said even the exit of Mr Natwar Singh from the External Affairs Ministry had a US link.

CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury, who was here today to address a party rally, told The Tribune, “We apprehend that certain more clauses are being added to the deal that would bind the country to some extra, undue and disastrous commitments.” He disclosed he would raise the issue in Parliament tomorrow to seek the Prime Minister’s assurance on the issue.

He disclosed that the CPM had raised nine points on which it wanted an assurance from the Prime Minister. He said, there was no clause in the original treaty that India would need to sign the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to follow its protocol before the final treaty is approved. He pointed out suppose the treaty with the USA did not materialise, India would be unduly and unnecessarily bound by certain undesirable commitments to the IAEA.

Alleging that the USA wanted India to remain dependent on it and other nuclear supplier group countries for the nuclear fuel, he said, it (the US) wants India to be prohibited from recycling the nuclear fuel. Elaborating he said, once uranium is processed it turns into plutonium and its further processing produces thorium, which is an important nuclear fuel. He said, India, if it is allowed to recycle the nuclear fuel would have huge reserves of thorium which will make it independent of the USA and other NSG countries. He observed since the US did not want India to remain independent as it needs its support on international issues, it had included the other clauses prohibiting the recycling of the nuclear fuel.

He questioned the motive of the clause included in the treaty that the US president would have to certify every year that India was strictly following the nuclear non proliferation norms so that it could be supplied the nuclear fuel. “We will need a character certificate every year from the US President”, Mr Yechury remarked, adding it amounted to national humiliation.


Pak to join candlelight vigil
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
After a gap of more than a decade, the scene of candlelight vigil would be shifted to Pakistan next year even as the Pakistan chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) has agreed in principle to organise the event next year on the intervening night of August 14 and 15.

This time, the biggest-ever delegation of 31 Pakistanis, led by Mr Imtiaz Alam, Secretary-General, SAFMA, would reach here on the eve of Independence to participate in the candlelight vigil. This would include 10 parliamentarians of different parties of Pakistan.

Talking to the mediapersons here yesterday, Mr Satnam Manak, state convener of SAFMA, said the delegation of Pakistanis would start their march from Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, by carrying placards seeking a permanent thaw in the region. Another delegation of 14 Pakistanis would also cross over to India on the invitation of veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar.

The delegation would visit Jallianwala Bagh to pay their homage to the martyrs of 1919. A seminar would also be organised on the subject of Indo-Pak peace.

It is learnt that Yash Chopra, a producer of Hindi films, would also organise a cultural programme.

Earlier, nobody could have imagined that a small gesture of the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, founded by noted journalist Kuldip Nayar, and Satnam Manak in 1996 would ultimately dispel darkness on both sides of the hostile terrains of Wagah.


Mixed reaction to Lalpura joining Cong
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
Even as veteran Akali leader Prem Singh Lalpura is the first former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief to join the Congress party, the development has evoked a mixed reaction in the Panthic circles, especially in the Majha region .

At one time, Mr Lalpura was considered the most revered Akali leader from Tarn Taran.

Earlier, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had expelled Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, former minister and member of its Political Affairs Committee.

Mr Major Singh Uboke and Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, both former Akali Members of Parliament, belonging to Tarn Taran district, are no more with the SAD (Badal). The family of Parkash Singh Majitha, late Akali minister, who was the seniormost leader from the Majha region, is feeling alienated since Mr Bikramjit Singh Majitha, brother-in-law of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, is being projected as an Akali candidate from the Majitha constituency for the next Assembly elections.

While a former SGPC Secretary, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, said it was a matter of relief that Mr Lalpura who had been helping the Congress for a long time had openly announced to join the party . He called upon the other “pseudo Akalis” to leave the SAD who were indirectly helping Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, who wanted to hijack the Panthic agenda.

However, Mr Calcutta said Mr Lalpura had to leave SAD due to the “monopolistic attitude” of Mr Badal who had been promoting his own family at the cost of senior Akali leaders. He said deserting of SAD by a senior leader like Mr Lalpura and his supporters should be considered as a ‘no-confidence motion’ against the style of Mr Badal’s functioning. He alleged that Mr Badal had converted the party into a “private ltd company”.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh, a member of the SGPC from New Delhi (Badal faction), has called upon the Akali leadership to undergo introspection after the deserting of SAD by Mr Lalpura who had been the SGPC chief for two terms — 1958-59 and 1959-60.


Rajinder Singh re-elected SKP convener
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
A meeting of all units of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) was held here today. Representatives from Punjab and Haryana participated in the meeting the main agenda of which was the election of the SKP.

The convener of the SKP, Mr Rajinder Singh, gave a brief account of the activities of the organisation during the past four years. He said when the SKP came into being, it had to face many challenges from certain anti-Sikh organisations. It became active to save the dignity and honour of Akal Takht and to get one notorious Baba punished for his misdeeds and counter anti-Panthic activities of certain other persons.

Meanwhile, the election of the SKP was held today. A committee of five panches was constituted. The committee consists of Mr Gurdev Singh from Batala, Mr Jarnail Singh from Nawanshahr, Mr Rajinder Singh from Chandigarh, Mr Sukhwinder Singh from Sabhran and Mr Ajaib Singh from Sunam.

Mr Rajinder Singh has been re-elected as convener for the next two years. All elected panches addressed the House and assured that they would pursue the policies and activities of the SKP.

The SKP convener said the Gurdwara Reform Movement was the need of the hour because of the corruption in the SGPC and misuse of religious funds for personal and political gains. He expressed concern over the report by the UNO in which it was stated that Punjab was on top amongst the states under the influence of intoxicants and drugs.

The SKP would organise camps to make youth aware about the bad effects of drugs. A documentary would also be shown across Punjab to such effect.

Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) , Mr Gurtej Singh, I.A.S. (retd), Mr Amar Singh Chahal, advocate, and Mr Navkiran Singh, advocate, were present as observers.


Chandumajra to launch ‘third front’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Former Akali MP and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, today made his intentions clear to launch a ‘‘third front’’ on the political firmament of Punjab.

On August 20, the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, the party has planned a gathering at Longowal, where leaders of all parties opposed to the Congress, the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), will share a common platform. When asked if this gathering was to formally announce the third front, Professor Chandumajra said: ‘‘We will reveal everything in totality on August 20’’. The congregation had the potential to decide the future course of politics ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab, he claimed.

The Akali leader said he had invited the Lok Bhalai Party, the CPI and the CPM, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Ravinder Singh-led SAD ( 1920), the Simranjit Singh Mann-led SAD (Amritsar) and also the Raj Babbar-led Jan Morcha. The Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav would confirm his participation on August 17, he added.

The party would seek an end to indebtness of farmers and Dalits and also announce a ‘‘Panth Bachao Punjab Bachao’’ plan (Save the Sikh Panth , Save Punjab).


Suvidha centre to benefit 45 villages
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 13
Nawanshahr has added a new feather in its cap by becoming the first district in the country, which has set up an ultra-modern ‘Suvidha Centre’ in the rural area for providing transparent and hassle-free delivery of services relating to various departments under one roof to the residents of the far-flung villages.

Mr Parkash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, inaugurated the ‘Suvidha Centre’ Kathgarh at village, about 30 km from here on Saturday.

The centre would cater to the needs of the residents of about 45 adjoining villages falling under the Kandi area by providing them hassle free accessibility to the delivery mechanism of services.

Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said in the first phase, services like the issuance of SC/BC, domicile, Kandi area, birth and death certificates, ration cards,driving licences, depositing of electricity bills etc. would be started.

The people of remote villages would not have to waste time and money by visiting the sub-division or district headquarters for such works.

Such Rural Suvidha Centres would also be set up in other remote villages in the district soon.

Besides streamlining the administration, these rural suvidha centres, would provide employment opportunities to the computer-literate youth of the remote areas.

The licences for stamp-paper vendors, typists etc. would also be issued to the unemployed educated youth belonging to these areas, said the DC.

Nawanshahr has emerged as role model in realising the dream of providing hassle-free and corruption-free administration to the common man by setting up the unique Suvidha Centre at District Administrative Complex here. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had inaugurated it last month. 


Asian Brown haze causing uneven monsoon
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 13
The monsoon has ravaged the costal areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra while many areas of North-West India, including Punjab and Haryana, have been going without any rains. The phenomenon has been more obvious in the last few years.

Environment scientists have attributed the phenomenon of uneven monsoon that caused floods in costal areas and drought in Punjab and Haryana to Asian Brown cloud or haze. The Asian Brown haze is a cloud of gasses concentrated 3 km above the surface and extending over South, South East and East Asia. The cloud comprises black carbon, nitrates, sulfates and mineral dust. As much as 75 per cent composition of the Brown haze is manmade.

The Brown haze was first reported by a team of 200 environment scientists from United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Centre for Clouds Chemistry and Climate. The scientists are of the view that the haze can travel half way around the globe within a week.

The most detrimental effect of the haze on monsoons is that it leads to large surface cooling due to lesser sunlight reaching ground that perturbs the hydrological circle. It can reduce the solar radiation reaching the surface by about 15 per cent. The reduced radiation leads to lesser evaporation and further lesser rains.

The haze has reduced rain in areas of Punjab, Haryana, Pakistan and Afghanistan by about 40 per cent. It is also having an adverse affect on the productivity of crops. The lesser radiation reaching the surface means lesser photosynthesis by plants and lesser productivity.

It also leads to acid deposition on plants and respiratory ailments among humans, according to the UNEP report.

The report states that the major cause of the Brown haze is forest fires, inefficient cooking fuels, excessive use of motor vehicles and industrial pollution.

However, environmentalists of the state also put the blame on wheat and paddy straw burning in the fields. The wheat and paddy straw burning in the state releases tonnes of carbon in the environment every year. Though the government has made a law to punish those who burn straw in the fields it has never been seriously implemented.

The scientists also apprehend that the haze might be causing half a million deaths of human beings every year. They said the adverse climatic brown haze ailment was, however, curable. The scientists are of the view that if the Asians convert to less-polluting fuels, the adverse Brown haze over the environment can vanish.


Criminal incidents in Punjab cause for concern: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today said criminal incidents taking place in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the past few days have shocked the conscience of people.

The first was the reported molestation case of St Bedi’s College, Shimla, students by a son of the Punjab Congress chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. Mr Mann said his party had demanded the intervention of the Himachal High Court and let the law follow its course. Then came the news of the Tamil Nadu Governor, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala’s son Gaganjit Singh “an MLA” allegedly raping his maid servant, he said.

Hundreds of female foetuses in Patran, Patiala, and the discovery of their graves was a crime against humanity. He said if the Supreme Court and the High Court had sternly dealt with Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, it would have been a lesson for others. The Chief Minister owed an explanation as this abominable crime had taken place in his home district of Patiala.

Mr Mann said Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, had paid an important visit to China but he did not settle the issue of the Parechu tributary of the Sutlej. Now during monsoon it was causing worry to both Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Mr Mukherjee did not disclose what was India’s position on the 70,000 sq miles of territory seized by China in Ladakh in the 1962 war. “Our party wants answers to these questions from the Union Government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann agreed with Mr Natwar Singh’s reported statement in which he had called Premier Manmohan Singh as a weak Prime Minister. Had the Prime Minister been strong, Mr Natwar Singh, his son and nephew would have been in jail two years ago and their case would have been handed over to the CBI not to a commission, he said.

Mr Mann demanded a CBI probe into the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s secret visit to Dubai and free access to Reliance in Punjab.


Ropar plant breaks record
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 13
The thermal plant, Ropar, of 1260-MW capacity made a new record by generating 309.1 lakh units in a single day here.

The plant comprising six units of 210-MW capacity each set this record on Friday. The last record of 307.9 lakh units was registered in September 2003.

But this record generation in thermal plants no way going to help on going power cuts of more than six hours in the cities and eight hours in the rural areas in the state. The power requirement in the state has been increased by more than 1500 lakh units per day while power supply from all sources is about 1320 lakh units.

The power situation in the state has become further grim with closure of the Mukerrian hydel project and Naptha Jhakri hydel project supplying power to the state.


Dasam Granth: Jathedar cancels engagements
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 13
The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, for the first time has cancelled his weeklong engagements to humble Dubai-based Sikh scholar Jaswinder Singh. The scholar had offered to give Rs 1 crore to a person who could prove that Guru Gobind Singh had authored Dasam Granth.

The Damdami Taksal chief, Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, and chiefs of various panthic organisations held a meeting at Baba Bakala and asked him to come at Akal Takht on August 20 for discussion in the presence of Sikh clergy and mediapersons. Jathedar Vedanti termed the publication of the “controversial” book as violation of the directive issued by Akal Takht that put a blanket ban on any discussion and going to the Press on the subject of Guru Granth Sahib in 2000 till the consensus was reached.

Akal Takht had to ban the discussion on Dasam Granth when Sikh scholars were divided into two groups. One faction believed that Dasam Granth was authored by Guru Gobind Singh, while the other challenged it. The recitation of Dasam Granth takes place at Takht Patna Sahib, Takht Hazoor Sahib and Damdami Taksal, etc, every day.

Jathedar Vedanti said he would ensure the security of the scholar within the Harmander Sahib complex on August 20. He, however, said he would not be responsible for threat to his life outside the gurdwara.


Bhartiya Janshakti Party concerned over terrorism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
Leaders of the Bhartiya Janshakti Party, floated by former BJP leader, Uma Bharti, today expressed grave concern over rising terrorist activities in the country. They said, these activities were carried out around Hindu festivals to create scare among the members of the majority community.

Addressing a press conference here today, state BJSP convener, Pawan Valecha and co-convener, Vijay Sharma said effective measures were not being taken against terrorism in the country. They observed, it appeared as if Islamic terrorism was targeting the Hindus to provoke them.

They said, the party would start a nationwide movement against terrorism and mobilise public opinion. They demanded that terrorism must be curbed with an iron hand.

They pointed out that the prices of the essential commodities were rising and the government was not doing anything. They also criticised the state government’s decision to hand over prime land to Reliance Industries on a platter.


Sacrilege reported in village
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
A case of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib surfaced late last night at Ajnodha Khurd village, 14 km from here, falling under Bhadson police station when its few pages were allegedly torn by unidentified persons.

Tension gripped Ajnodha Khurd village and its surrounding areas after the incident came to light.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the police was deployed in the village to prevent any untoward incident.

Guru Granth Sahib, which was sacrileged, was taken to Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib.

The villagers had constituted a 10-member committee to trace the culprits. The police has registered a case in this connection.


Two friends commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 13
Two friends, Amarjit Singh (28), a son of Dilbagh Singh, and Bahadur Singh (25), a son of Harbhajan Singh, both residents of Bodal village in this district, committed suicide together by jumping before the Pathankot-bound Jhelum Express on the Jalandhar-Jammu rail section near Garna Sahib railway station, about 45 km from here, today.

According to police sources, Amarjit Singh had a minor dispute at his home.

He went to his friend, Bahadur Singh, and told him that he had no desire live and wanted to commit suicide.

Bahadur Singh endorsed his decision and also expressed his willingness to commit suicide.

The two made a suicide pact and went to the nearest rail track with a bottle of liquor this morning. They consumed liquor before committing suicide.


Man sets self afire

Jalandhar, August 13
Jasbir Kumar (24) of Mehmdpur village, near Adampur Doaba, today set himself afire in his house.

He was admitted to the Jalandhar Civil Hospital with more than 90 per cent injuries. Jasbir stated that he took this extreme step due to repeated humiliation allegedly by Madan Lal.

A case has been registered. — TNS


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