P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Recruitment of 6,000 teachers by Nov 10: Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 8
The Punjab government will advertise another 6000 posts for master cadre next week. Master cadre teachers will be recruited for the senior secondary schools in the state. A memorandum to this effect will be put up to the Cabinet in the next two to three days. The state has hired C-DAC an agency of the Union Human Resource Ministry to carry out recruitment of the teachers.

Recruitment will be merit based. Teachers are likely to be given appointment by November 10.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa Minister for Education and PWD slated this at Quadian today.

After the above recruitment is completed additional 5000 posts of master cadre teachers will also be advertised.

He added the government had decided to hand over another 958 primary schools to the local self governments. These include 882 rural schools and 76 urban schools. These schools would be in addition to 5059 schools already transferred to the control of local bodies.

He told additional 2240 teachers would also be recruited for additional schools which are being handed over to the local self bodies. After this the number of teachers recruited by the present government for primary schools in the state will be 14500.

All candidates recruited for primary schools will now be B.Ed candidates as all available ETT candidates have already been absorbed, he said.

Though English has been introduced in government schools in Punjab from the first standard and courses upgraded there are no specialised teachers for teaching the subject. At present in schools social science teachers teach English in government schools.

To improve communication skill of students of government schools in English from next academic session specially qualified teachers will be recruited to teach English.

The government was also preparing a vision document 2007 to 2012 for improving standard of education in government schools in the state. The document will state the policy of the state towards improving standards of education.


Russia’s offer to industrialists
Multiple entry visas for five years
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Industrialists in Punjab, who are willing to renew trade ties with Russia, will now be granted multiple entry visas to Russia for a period of five years.

This assurance has been given by Mr Vyacheslav I. Trubnikov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation, after interacting with industrialists in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, during his week-long visit to Punjab. He said that an agency would be first put in place to test the bona fides of the businessmen who are first granted visas. This agency, along with Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, headed by Mr Rachpal Malhotra, will act as facilitators for businessmen to begin trade between the two countries.

The development is of great significance for exporters from Punjab, who till the disintegration of the erstwhile USSR, were exporting a major bulk of their produce – woolen blankets, hosiery and auto parts to the Soviet Union. However, with the failure of the banking facilities after the disintegration, local entrepreneurs were skeptical about doing business in Russia. Rough estimates put the total volume of trade to Russia from the state at RS 1100 crore to RS 1500 crore.

Informs Mr Gunbir Singh, Chairman of CII Amritsar zone, “ In the year 2003-04, the Indian exports to Russia were $ 714 million, and in 2004-05 were $ 597 million. On the other hand, the imports from Russia in 2003-04 were $ 960 million and in 2004-05 were $ 1265 million”.

Agreed Mr Satish Dhanda, a bicycle parts manufacturer from Ludhiana, “The trade between the two countries had been rapidly declining over the past 15 years. In fact, a large number of hosiery exporters from Ludhiana had to close shop after the snapping of trade ties between India and Russia. Though China remains the main competitor, but with assurances given by Mr Trubnikov, we hope exports from the region to Russia could go upto one billion USD”.

The Ambassador also assured industrialists that since Russia has moved from a centralized economy to market economy, the Russian government would act as an intermediary between the Russian industrialists and entrepreneurs from Punjab. A list of Russian industrialists and goods they would like to import from – hosiery, pharmaceuticals, hand tools, auto parts, bicycle and its parts, leather goods, blankets, army uniforms and hospital linen etc- would also be prepared and sent to entrepreneurs here, so that a direct link can be established between the two parties.

The industrialists in the region though upbeat about renewal of trade ties, have also expressed reservations about the present trade route through Iran, which could not handle bulk trade and was not remunerative. “The original silk route, through Afghanistan, should be opened for trade,” said Mr Gunbir Singh. He said that 
even the direct air route between Amritsar and Moscow, that has been opened after the launch of Trans Aero flights, would help trade of small items like tea in a big way.

Mr Gautam Kapoor, Chairman of Jalandhar Exporters Forum, said that since Chinese goods had made god inroads into Russia, the Russian government should offer Punjab entrepreneurs more concessions in tariff so as to make exports viable. “Now banks like SBI and Canara Bank have opened branches in Moscow, which will also dispel fears of the Punjabi exporters,” he added. 


Shiv Sena activists block rail traffic
Burning of deities’ effigies in Bathinda district
Tribune News Service & PTI

Chandigarh, October 8
Train traffic was disrupted for about three hours today in the state, as some activists blocked trains at several places to protest the recent alleged burning of effigies of deities of Lord Rama, Sita and Hanuman at Rampura Phul in Bathinda district.

ADRM of Railways Ambala division A.K. Gupta said several trains, including the New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express, Dadar Express, Dainik express and many passenger and goods trains were forced to halt by the protesters at different places in Punjab.

He said the Shatabdi express was stopped at Sirhind, while the Dadar Express was blocked at Patiala and the Dainik Express was stopped at Malerkotla.

“Our activists squatted on tracks at Patiala, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ropar and Sirhind railway stations for about three hours,” chief of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan), an organisation active in around seven northern states, Pawan Gupta said.

Mr Gupta said the protest was peaceful.

The Shiv Sena (Hindustan) chief lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for maintaining silence over the act of some anti-social elements, who burnt effigies of deities on Dasehra.

“Amarinder is maintaining a soft approach towards those who did this act,” he alleged, questioning the “silence” of the Chief Minister on the issue.

The around three-hour blockade inconvenienced many passengers travelling by trains in the state.

PATHANKOT: The Shiv Sena (Hindustan) activists today blocked rail traffic at the new Chaki Bank railway station in protest against the burning of effigies of Hindu deities.

About 100 Shiv Sena activists entered the Chaki bank railway station around noon and sat on the tracks. They did not allow the Jammu Tawi superfast train from Mumbai to leave the railway station for at least 30 minutes.

The activists raised slogans against the Punjab government. Their leaders said that whenever there was an attack on the religious sentiments of minorities, the Congress leaders come forward with condemnation. However, none of the Congress leaders had condemned the incident that has hurt the feelings of the majority community.

This has exposed the Congress party’s pseudo secular status, they alleged.

AMRITSAR: Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) today blocked trains at Amritsar railway station at noon here in protest against the sacrilege incident on Dasehra at Bathinda.

They demanded strict punishment to those responsible for the incident, saying it had hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community.

Mr Amit Seth, district president of the organisation, said the high command of the organisation had given a call for the protest, and as per their directions, they blocked the railway traffic after paying obeisance at Durgiana Temple.

The rail traffic remained suspended for half an hour after the demonstrators gave a memorandum to the district authorities regarding their demands.

PATIALA: About 100 activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan), led by its state general secretary, Mr Harish Singla, today jammed the rail traffic at the local railway station and did not allow the Dadar Express and Ambala-Bathinda passenger trains to move for about three hours.

The activists stopped the rail traffic to lodge their protest against the alleged burning of effigies of Hindu gods and goddesses at Rampura Phul town of Bathinda district a few days ago.

Mr Singla, while addressing the protesters, alleged that Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and state Congress government had been ignoring the Hindu community and the Punjab Government had failed to take any action against those involved in the burning of effigies of Hindu gods and goddesses.


Badal’s speech irks Singla
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, October 8
An unpleasant scene was witnessed during the launching ceremony of the Punjab edition of a vernacular newspaper at Mayfair Resorts, near here, today when Finance Minister Surinder Singla raised a protest against the speech being delivered by former Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and asked a TV channel chairman to ask Mr Badal to avoid any political comments.

As soon as the TV channel chairman conveyed Mr Singla’s message to Mr Badal, who was addressing the audience, the SAD leader denied having delivered any objectionable speech. Mr Badal’s supporters also stood up and raised their voice against Mr Singla. Mr Badal was commenting on the deteriorating condition of the agricultural, industrial and other sectors.

Mr Priyaranjan Das Munshi, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, who was the chief guest, said a newspaper had a vital role in helping the reader form “informed opinion” and creating “critical awareness”.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, said a newspaper shared a symbiotic relation with the people. “The reader’s outlook changes from time to time. A newspaper reinvents itself to keep pace with the changing time.” The programme was also attended by Union minister Lalit Maken.


Indian Oil stops paying octroi to council
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 8
The Indian Oil has stopped paying octroi to Pathankot Municipal Council. The oil company, that has its dumps in the municipal limits of the city used to pay octroi of Rs 17 lakh per month to the council.

Though the Punjab government has abolished octroi since September this year, local tax on oil has not been exempted from October 2.

However, the Indian oil company on its own has stopped paying octroi to the council. Sources in the council are alleging the Indian Oil company, in a communication them, has maintained that they just dump their oil in Pathankot for further supplies. So, they were not liable to pay octroi on it to the Pathankot council.

President of the council Sharwan Kumar when contacted said they had written to the Punjab government regarding the matter. The company earlier used to pay tax has illegally stopped paying on new-found ground. Penal tax would be imposed on the company in case they did not pay their tax in time, he said.

The tax paid by the company added a substantial amount to the council’s income. The council authorities said that amount paid by the company was used for the development rest of collection of the council goes towards in paying salaries and power bills.

Besides the abolition of octroi has also hit the development in the council. The government has paid Rs 60 lakh this month to the council that was its general monthly octroi collection. The amount would go towards paying the salaries and power bills and no money would be left for development.

Sources in the council told The Tribune that government move to wave water and sewerage bills of houses built on less than five marlas has also chipped off about Rs 15 lakh per month from the council income. The government has not compensated the council for the income. This coupled by decision of the Indian Oil against paying the octroi is likely to bring development in the town to a halt.

The condition is similar in other municipal councils of Gurdaspur, Batala, Dhariwal and Hoshiarpur.

In Hoshiarpur total revenue loss to the council was Rs 90 lakh per month that includes Rs 80 lakh octroi collection and Rs 10 on account of water and sewerage bills.

The council has not yet received the compensatory amount from the government and employees have not been paid salary.

In case of other councils the government has decided paying share of the councils in excise collections to pay salaries of employees. The alternative mechanism for compensating the councils for their loss in revenue has not yet been put in place.


Truck driver missing in Iraq returns home
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 8
Gurvinder Singh Sony, the truck driver who had gone missing in Iraq, returned home at his native village Bhagowal, near Batala, yesterday.

While talking to The Tribune, Gurvinder Singh narrated his tale of woe. He blamed the banned company KGL for their misery in Iraq. The company that is operating from Kuwait asked them to deliver chicken in Iraq.

They were told that the chicken was for government supply. However, their trucks were caught by the Iraq authorities. About 20 drivers and their helpers, which included five Indian and 15 Sri Lankans and Nepalese, were arrested.

Later they were told that the chicken was being illegally imported into Iraq by the company.

They were kept in the Basra jail. The KGL company officials disowned them totally. They were forced to drink toilet water in the jail and given rotten food. Lucky, they met someone who posted their letters to their families in India. The Indian Embassy later intervened and got them released from the Iraq jail.

The three months they spent in the jail were horrifying. The KGL company was misguiding the workers going from the region to work for them. They were told to drive trucks with illegal supplies and in the areas that were infested by militants.

When asked if he would like to go back to Kuwait, he said, “I would not even dream of it. I have had enough and would try to make my living in the country.

He also advised other youths going to Middle-East countries through travel agents to be cautious else they waste their hard-earned money to the dubious travel agents.

The family members of Gurvinder Singh Sony thanked the media for highlighting their plight that made the government to act in the matter.

Gurvinder Singh had paid about Rs 1 lakh to a Hoshiarpur-based travel agent to send him abroad.

The fake recruitment or travel agents are continuously duping the youth from the area. The recruitment agents have to get themselves registered with the Ministry for Overseas to recruit on behalf of the companies operating in foreign lands.

As per the rules they can charge just Rs 3,000 as their processing fee. However, the illegal travel agents are charges lakhs from the youths looking for greener pastures abroad.

They government has failed to act against such agents, despite reports of a large number of youths being exploited.


To make one shahtoosh shawl, 3 chirus are killed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Do the ones who make fashion statement and flaunt their status by wearing shahtoosh shawls know that how many innocent and beautiful-looking chirus (Tibetan antelopes) have to be killed to prepare one shawl? Perhaps, not. Had they known the fact that three chirus are sacrificed to prepare one shahtoosh shawl of two-metre length, perhaps, many of the women from rich and famous families would have never purchased such a stuff.

Without killing chiru, wool cannot be removed from its skin, which has a natural double-fur coat. In Punjab, the total declared and counted number of shahtoosh shawls is 694. And these would have obviously been prepared by killing at least 2,100 chirus, if not more. In fact, to prepare a bigger shahtoosh shawl of 3x2 metres, five chirus have to be killed. “Obviously, only rich and famous can buy such a costly stuff the price of which in international market range from $ 2,000 to 8,000”, said a senior Forest and Wildlife officer.

Certain rich industrialists and politicians of Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and in other areas in Punjab are big buyers of shahtoosh shawls. Sources said a former MP from the state owned around 30 shahtoosh shawls. Forest and wildlife officers say a person owning a shahtoosh shawl has to disclose to the authorities concerned the source from whom it was procured.

From each killed chiru about 120gms or 150gms of wool is obtained, say wildlife experts. A little part of it goes waste while processing it in wool. Pelts are taken out from the second fur coat on the skin, which is covered under the top fur coat on the antelope’s skin. Wool cannot be obtained by shearing its fur as in case of sheep, goats, camels and other animals.

Chiru’s fur is considered so warm that the animal can survive even in minus 40 degrees temperature. They are found in upper Himalayas. One strand of hair on chiru’s skin is only one-fifth the thickness of human hair.

“The shahtoosh wool (king of wools) is considered the finest and warmest in the world”, said a Wildlife expert from Delhi.

In China, India and certain other parts of the world, chiru has been declared an endangered species. During winter season, it stays in the Ladakh region. However, mostly, it is found in the hilly region of China from where poachers smuggle its fur to India via Nepal.

Rich and famous people in Punjab are fond of not only shahtoosh shawls, but they also own 456 ivory articles. And then certain influential persons own 25 tiger and 43 leopard skins, besides 106 animal trophies.


Lodhianangal joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal today received a shot in the arm when Mr Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, who had recently resigned as Chairman Improvement Trust, Batala, joined the party along with a large number of his supporters here.

Mr Lodhinangal is considered as a ‘turncoat’ in political circles who changes political party near the Assembly elections. At one time, he was with the Sikh Students Federation and then to the SAD (Amritsar). Later, he joined the SAD, after sometime he joined the Congress. Now, four months before the Assembly elections, Mr Lodhinangal again joined the Badal faction. However, the SAD described his re-joining the party as ‘home coming.’

Addressing a rally in the presence of Mr Badal, Mr Lodhinangal said though he had joined the Congress but his mother, who died recently, had never voted for the Congress party.

Among those who attended the rally included Bibi Manjit Kaur, an SGPC member from Gujjarpur, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Sandhu, a member Zila Parishad, Mr Kanwal Gagandip Singh Dhillon , Chairman, Land Mortgage Bank, Batala, Mr Santokh Singh Damodar , Director, Market Committee and Zila Samiti member , Mr Iqbal Singh Mehmi, Member, Improvement Trust, Batala, Mr Balraj Singh and Kashmir Kaur-both samiti members, Haqim Swarn Singh, former president MC, Qadian, Mr Harminder Singh Aulakh along with 130 present and former sarpanches, 300 panches and 50 nambardars.

Talking to the media, Mr Badal called upon Congress leaders to join the SAD who were fed up with the ‘corrupt government.’


Ex-trust chief’s induction into SAD opposed
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, October 8
Though Mr Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, chairman of the Improvement Trust, Batala, joined the SAD at Amritsar today, the party leaders from the area have opposed his inclusion.

Mr Lodhinangal had recently resigned from the post of Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Batala, alleging that his conscience did not allow him to continue in the Congress after the City Centre scam. Thereafter, he was ousted from the Congress for six years.

The leaders from the Quadian constituency, including Mr Kulbir Singh Randhawa, ex-member SS Board, Mr Rajinder Singh Dalam, son of former MLA from the area, Mr Natha Singh Dalam and member of the working committee of the SAD, Mr Gurvinder Singh Shampura, member SGPC, Yadhvinder Singh, member executive council, SAD, and Mr Amarjeet Singh Bajwa, senior SAD leader from Quadian, met Mr Prakash Singh Badal and pleaded against the inclusion of Mr Lodhinangal in SAD.

The leaders alleged that the inclusion of Mr Lodhinangal in SAD would demoralize the party cadre. He had enjoyed power and worked against the SAD workers almost during the entire stint of the Congress government. Now just a few months before elections, he has resigned from the Congress and wanted to join the SAD.

The inclusion of Mr Lodhinangal in the party would not have a detrimental affect on prospects of the SAD in Quadian, but also in the adjoining constituencies of Kanuwan and Shri Hargobindpur, they alleged.

The sources revealed that the said leaders were also mobilizing the sarpanches of the area to write against the inclusion of Mr Lodhinangal to the party high command. Mr Lodhinangal was aspiring to contest the assembly elections from the Quadian assembly constituency on SAD ticket.

Earlier, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, party general secretary, had declared himself a candidate of SAD from Quadian. However, later the party had announced that they needed his organizational skills during elections and he would be nominated later for the Rajya Sabha.

With Dr Cheema withdrawing from the race, the hope of Mr Lodhinangal to contest the election on SAD ticket increased.

This has peeved other aspirants from the SAD ticket from the area.

They are alleging that they would not allow Mr Lodhinangal to take the party ticket despite the fact that he has worked against the party workers while he was in the Congress.


Rival Akali faction heads attend ‘Save Panth rally’
Varinder Walia and Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Rajasansi, October 8
The ‘Save Panth rally’, organised by rebel SGPC Secretary, Raghbir Singh and attended by leaders of various rival Akali factions, here today set the tone for forthcoming Assembly elections, slated for February next year.

The SGPC secretary also released first instalment of ‘White Paper’, levelling serious charges against Mr Avtar Singh, SGPC chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief and certain former presidents.

Among those who attended the rally, included Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president SAD (New Delhi), Mr Ravi Inder Singh, president, SAD (1920), Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, President, All India Shiromani Akali Dal , Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (Longowal) and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar Akal Takht, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura — both SGPC members. On one hand the leaders levelled serious charges of corruption against the Badal Akali faction, while supporters of Mr Raghbir Singh — main organiser of the rally, tried in vain, to bribe the reporters by distributing cash. On this reporters protested with organisers of the rally.

In another development, Mr Calcutta, who was responsible for suspension of Mr Raghbir Singh as secretary SGPC, twice in the past, was also sitting next to him.

In a show of strength, Mr Raghbir Singh, who is projecting himself as the next candidate from this Assembly constituency, alleged that Mr Badal pressurised him into transferring prime land in Haryana to a private trust of which the SGPC chief and Mr Badal were members. 


Sarpanch of Kahlon’s native village joins Cong
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Churian (Gurdaspur), October 8
In a major setback to the SAD in the Fatehgarh Churian constituency, the sarpanch of the native village of former SAD minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon, SAD nominee from the constituency, today joined the Congress.

Ms Bimla Rani, sarpanch of Dadu Jyot village, the native village of Mr Kahlon, joined the Congress in the presence of Parliamentary Secretary and local Congress MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

The sarpanch said she joined the Congress due to overall development of the area by the Congress nominee.

Mr Randhawa said 12,000 toilets had been provided in the houses of Dalits in the constituency.


Cong to hold Yuva Chetna rallies
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 8
The Punjab Youth Congress, under the leadership of Mr Vijay Inder Singla, president, Punjab Youth Congress, will launch its Yuva Chetna rallies from Sangrur district on October 10.

Mr Singla said the rallies would be held at Jalandhar (October 13), Kapurthala (October 14), Ludhiana (October 15), Hoshiarpur (October 24), Muktsar (October 25), Faridkot (October 26), Bathinda (October 27), Ropar (October 28), Ferozepore (October 30), Moga (October 31), Fatehgarh Sahib (November 1), Amritsar (November 3), Gurdaspur (November 4), and Patiala (November 5).


Parties yet to sense mood of electorate
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 8
With only four months to go for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections, people have started viewing seriously the techniques and methods being adopted by major political parties to woo the electorate. So far both the Congress and Akali Dal have done much to malign their leaders and make the slogan of corruption meaningless in the eyes of people of the state. A section of the people have rather looked contemptuously at the slanderous campaign by the Congress and Akalis against Captain Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, respectively. Some people have even hinted that such tactics may result in turning the election campaign violent this time.

The parties have not sensed so far the mood of the electorate. It is a foregone conclusion that the people of Punjab are conscious and they are yearning for better facilities. Quite a sizeable population of Punjab has had the opportunity to visit developed countries and study closely the living conditions of the people in those countries. The people want peace, harmony and such policies which can provide better facilities and fulfil the aspirations of the youth.

The last two weeks have witnessed rallies and demonstrations. In fact these rallies and demonstrations cannot reflect the mood of the people. Some of these demonstrations were indicative of the usual pressure tactics on the eve of the elections being resorted to by various segments. But it is premature to make any assessment about the future scenario despite the fact that the leaders of both the parties claim to have the upper hand over each other.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal has almost completed his first round of the countryside and Captain Amarinder Singh is preparing to undertake a hectic tour of the state by organising a road show. The Chief Minister has got the bullet proof bus ready for the tour. The intensity of the campaigning can be judged from the methods being adopted by the parties. Peeping into the future trends of the campaign, it can be said that both Congress and the Akalis have castigated each other so much over corruption that this slogan stands diluted and the stress will be on general development and agriculture.

The Congress Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh has started an intensive campaign to project its achievements through the media. The akalis are also not lagging behind and they continue to comment negatively on all achievements of the Congress Government.

It may be premature to guess the alignments among various parties at this stage. There are indications that the Congress and Left parties will not go together this time. The Left in Punjab wants to cash in on the position of the Left at the Centre and all that they have achieved for the working classes and peasants through the policies being pursued by the national leadership.


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