P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Separate panel for Army men killed in ’84 riots sought
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 4
The government should set up a separate commission to inquire into the killing of Sikh Army personnel during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as the Nanavati Commission had failed to highlight the plight of the families of those killed in its report.

Stating this to the media here today, Col Partap Inder Singh Phulka, secretary general of the ex-servicemen wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal said though the exact number of such killings was not known till date, but all Sikh Army men killed in riots be declared martyrs whose leave had expired and were expected to join their duties and benefits given to their families.

He said they had also written to Ministry of Railways demanding information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) about the Sikh Army personnel killed in the Railway premises during the anti-Sikh riots. He said the ministry had informed that only Subedar Anup Singh of New Delhi was killed.

Colonel Phulka also introduced the families of the two Army men, sepoy Pargat Singh (No 2473256) of 27 Punjab Battalion, a resident of Wrring Mohanpura village and naik Gurmail Singh (2469943) of 22 Punjab Battalion, a resident of Sheron village, who were killed by the frenzied mob at Garba Road Station in Bihar and Pataudi Railway Station, respectively. He said the killed Army men were on their way to joining duties at their respective posts.

He said Mrs Pritam Kaur, mother of Pargat Singh, had been shedding tears and waiting for the past 22 years for relief. Family members of Gurmail Singh had also got no relief except pension.

Accusing of the state government of ignoring the issue for the past over four years, Colonel Phulka said that if these Army men had been killed in the Kargil war or on the border they would have got the status of martyrs and their families would have got all benefits. He said the families had not even received financial grant given to the riot- hit under the red card system.


Traders start chain fast
Octroi collection at Dhuri
Tribune News Service

Dhuri , September 4
Protesting against continuation of collection of octroi by the octroi contractor from September 1 (evening) here, a 21-member group of leaders of various trader organisations under the leadership of Mr Vijay Singla, senior vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Dhuri, began 24-hour fast at 10 am at the Kranti Chowk here today. The second group of 21 members of various trader organisations will start fast from 10 am tomorrow.

Talking to The Tribune here this afternoon, Mr Singla said as per the orders of the Punjab government the octroi had been abolished from September 1 in the state. In the light of this all octroi posts were closed on August 31 in Dhuri also, which remained closed till 6 pm on September 1. But complying with the status quo order, issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 31 on a petition of a Dhuri’s octroi contractor, the local Municipal Authorities after receiving the order of the high court reimposed octroi at Dhuri in the evening on September 1.

Mr Singla said the traders had accepted the status quo order of the high court, but they were of the view that after the abolition of octroi in the state the dispute over the collection of octroi at Dhuri was now between the octroi contractor and the Municipal Council (MC), so the public and traders should not be compelled by the government and the Dhuri MC to suffer by keeping the octroi collection continued at Dhuri.


Students block traffic on Wagah road; VC orders probe
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 4
Students of Guru Nanak Dev University here today, boycotted classes, blocked traffic on the Wagah road and resorted to sloganeering against the Vice-Chancellor and security personnel following the denial of medical aid to a girl living in hostel yesterday late night.

This is second time in nine days that the students resorted to ‘mid-night’ agitation on the varsity premises, which is unprecedented in the 37-year history of the university. While girls started agitation in the hostel itself at around 10 pm yesterday evening that continued till 4 am today, boys came out of hostels and gathered outside the girls hostel in their support.

The trouble started when Charnjit Kaur , a student of Law Department who fell seriously ill was not given medical aid despite repeated requests made to the authorities concerned. Even the hostel warden arrived late to address to the problem of the ailing student. Meanwhile, a classmate of the girl student rushed to the university to take her to hospital was stopped at the main gate by the security staff. He was allowed after long wait when students girls started agitating against the ‘unbecoming behaviour’ of the security staff.

Students demanded that the name of Guru Nanak Dev University be changed to ‘Guru Nanak Dev Public School’ in wake of the ‘arms twisting discipline’.

Earlier, on August 24 students barged into the official residence of the VC and remained there for more than four hours. This is the second agitation in 41 days after Dr Jai Rup Singh took over as the Vice-Chancellor.

Succumbing to the pressure of agitating students, the Vice-Chancellor came out of his office to hear grievances of students. However, he had to leave in a huff after addressing the slogan raising students for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile the students formed an ad hoc committee for airing grievances. Such students body has been formed for the first time after militancy.

A press release , issued on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor said that he had ordered an inquiry into the whole matter. He said the prime concern of the university was to provide congenial and peaceful atmosphere for teaching and research in the university campus. At the same time university was committed to create quality infrastructure to raise the education’s standard, said Dr Jai Rup Singh.

The Vice-Chancellor assured the students to consider and accept their all genuine demands sympathetically. He said a high speed wireless connectivity Internet would be provided in all hostels and departments very shortly, he added.

He said the process of strengthening the existing infrastructure in hostels and of other departments of the university had already been initiated and it would be completed very shortly. He said a medical officer and a nurse would be appointed in the Girls’ Hostels at the earliest possible.

Later, addressing the reporters the Vice-Chancellor said that he was always available to consider genuine demands of the students under the rules.

Talking about the last evening’s incident, Dr Singh said he visited the girl student who was admitted in the hospital and interacted with the doctors. He said the condition of girl was stable. On his request two specialist from the SGRD Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Institute, Amritsar and two specialists deputed by the Civil Surgeon, Amritsar did medical checkup of the girl. Their reports have mentioned that it was atypical muscular skeletal pain of psychosomatic in nature. All investigations undertaken at the hospital where she was admitted, are normal including ultrasound ECG and echocardiography. However, he has ordered an enquiry in last evening’s incident.

Talking about the security arrangements adopted recently, he said it was done only to ensure congenial atmosphere for the study of students and also to check the entry of the unwanted people. 


BEd teachers to be recruited at district level
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
As the Education Department has decided to make drastic changes in the recruitment of school masters, the master cadre will no longer be a state cadre. And soon the Education Department will have a Director, Cultural Affairs (Schools), and a Director, Sports (Schools).

“We are going to change the BEd master cadre from a state cadre to a district cadre”, said Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Education Minister, Punjab, today. There are nearly 50,000 masters in the state cadre at present.

Talking to The Tribune, he said that in future the recruitment of BEd masters would be made at the district level and there would be no transfer of such teachers outside the district concerned. “ We are in the process of changing the recruitment rules and these will be put before the Council of Ministers for approval”, he added.

He said the existing system of state cadre was creating a lot of problems for the Education Department. He said that as masters were recruited at the state level, they could be transferred to any part of the state. Most of these masters wanted to serve in urban areas or in schools located near such areas. Because of this , schools located in the remote areas, especially in the border belt and backward areas, remained under-staffed and the students suffered.

He said that once the recruitment of masters started at the district level, none of them would be entitled to get himself or herself transferred to any other district. “ In fact, I wanted that masters should be recruited at the block level and asked to serve in the same block. “ Once this system started, no master will approach any Minister or other politician to get himself transferred because he or she will not be eligible technically for such a transfer”, he added. However, in the case of marriage of any woman teacher outside the district, relaxation could be given for transfer from one district to another after examining the genuineness of the case.

Mr Bajwa said there was a plan to recruit nearly 15,000 teachers soon. The number could vary, he added. “ I would like to fill all vacant posts in schools to improve the education system in a big way”, he added.

He said the Education Department would soon recruit a Director, Cultural Affairs (Schools), and a Director, Sports (Schools).


Paddy procurement from October 1
No paddy for defaulting rice mills
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 4
The different agencies of the Punjab Government will start procurement of paddy on October 1 and by keeping in view the bumper crop this season, all arrangements for the same have been made by the authorities concerned to make the whole exercise a smooth affair.

Disclosing this at a state-level function organised here this afternoon in connection with the flagging off of mobile vans carrying the subsidised food items to be distributed among the ration card holders, Punjab Food Supply Minister Lal Singh said the farmers would face no inconvenience in the grain markets in connection with the procurement of paddy.

He said about 100 metric tonnes of paddy was expected to arrive in the markets this season. The government had made arrangements to make payments to the farmers without any delay.

The minister said the government had decided that no paddy would be given to those rice mills for milling which had failed to deliver the rice in lieu of paddy given to them for milling during previous years. He added the government had managed to recover rice from a significant number of defaulting rice mills so far and action against the remaining was on.

While disclosing that about 304 distribution centres and 895 mobile vans would be providing pulses and other food items at subsidised rates to the ration card holders, he said this exercise would curb the rising prices of essential commodities.

Not only this, a special campaign had been launched in Punjab to provide ration card facility of each family. He added that whosoever had been residing in Punjab, would get a ration card.

To extend more relief to farmers, the government had taken up the matter of waiving off commercial loans with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambram. He said that the total amount of commercial loan, which the farmers of Punjab were supposed to pay, was Rs 398 crore and the state government was willing to get it waived.

The minister disclosed that the quota of foodgrains, which the Centre had been giving to Punjab under the above poverty line (APL) scheme and which had been elapsed a few months ago, would be revived as he would meet the Union Agriculture Minister in this connection shortly.


Rain damages crops

Amritsar, September 4
The 48-hour-long incessant rain which stopped yesterday morning damaged various crops. The local Agriculture Department in its immediate survey found that besides paddy and maize sugarcane, too, had also been affected. They have categorised damage under three slabs.

Mr Yadwinder Singh Chhina, Chief Agriculture Officer, informed that 95 per cent of the damage had been done to sharbati, a kind of paddy while the loss to maize and sugarcane was normal. — OC


Lighting up their lives with education
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 4
Like other kids of her age Nandini(7) aspires to be a doctor, but what makes her different is the fact that she has started attending school just a couple of months ago. She is one of the 40 destitute children who are attending a “mobile school” started by Goodwill Society, an NGO, near the railway station here.

The Tribune team visited the school where a majority of children come from slums adjoining the railway station.

Nandini said poverty didn’t allow her parents to fulfill her desire to study in a school. She said her parents were scrap pickers.

Initially apprehensive of corporal punishment, she is now comfortable in the school and is one of the brightest of the lot. Subhash, another student, said: “I would love to be among children of my age, study and play with them, but I know my parents will ask me to work instead.” He rues that education is not in his destiny and it is enough for him to read and write.

Kavita(14) is the oldest of the lot. “I don’t feel awkward sitting among children much younger to me, as I’m here to gain knowledge,” she avers.

Their teacher, Angrejpal Singh, said first they had come to the school in shabby clothes. But, today they are a completely different lot. “Dressed up in clean clothes they come to the school after taking bath,” he said.

They have become much more disciplined now, Mr KK Garg, one of the founder members of the society, said adding their NGO was aiming at spreading literacy among children of poorest of the poor so that they don’t tread wrong path in future.

He said the society would also facilitate free education for bright students among them in its school. The mobile school would be in a locality for six months before moving on to make children of other areas literate.


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