P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt grabs property of religious bodies,
says Syed Qadri
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
The Pakistan government was out to finish spiritual leadership. Spiritual leaders managing various ‘dargahs’ in Pakistan were being pushed slowly to oblivion. The wakf board was taking over their properties. Syed Chan Pir Qadri levelled these allegations at a press conference here today.

He alleged spiritual leaders in Pakistan had very strong following. Political leaders of the country feared they (spiritual leaders) could influence public opinion. So, they were trying to reduce their influence by taking control of the places where spiritual leaders are operating from.

The government had also been making efforts to take over the Sai Mian Mirji welfare trust that enjoyed huge following in Lahore and surrounding areas, he alleged.

Syed Qadri also condemned the visiting dignitaries representing the Pakistan government for airing their views against him in India. Justice Mohammad Akram Bittu, a retired judge of the Lahore High Court and Chairman of the Aukaf board that controls the Mian Mir Darbar in Pakistan had alleged that Hazrat Sain Mian Mir who laid the foundation of Sri Harmandar Sahib was not married. He did not have any descendant.

The fact has never been contested by me. I have only said that our ancestor was a sister of Hazrat Sain Mian Mir. The people who hold the seat of Hazrat Sain Mian Mir do not belong to his family but are his followers. I would file a suite against Justice Mohammad Akram Bittu in Pakistan for spreading disinformation against me in India.


Barnala to be district on Nov 19
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 15
The dream of the residents of Barnala to see the town again as a district headquarters will come true on November 19 (the birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) when Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh inaugurates the office of the Deputy Commissioner there.

A notification granting the district status to Barnala was issued some days ago by the state government.

Barnala will have two subdivisions - Barnala and Tapa - and two sub-tehsils - Bhadaur and Dhanaula.

However, the state government has stopped the inclusion of some areas of Raikot and Dhuri in the new district for the time being.

Barnala was created as the 20th district of the state by the Punjab Cabinet on October 27.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, today held a meeting regarding the matter with district officers, including police officers, from Sangrur and Barnala districts.

Mr Ladhar said the office of the Deputy Commissioner was being set up in a building of the Market Committee at Barnala. He said on November 19, Barnala would become a district. After inaugurating the office of the Deputy Commissioner there, Capt Amarinder Singh would also address a public gathering.

Mr Ladhar said three sites had been identified for the construction of the district administrative complex (DAC) at Barnala. The Chief Minister might lay its foundation stone if the site is finalised by then.


Despite reforms, where is the pension?
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Reforms introduced by the office of the Accountant-General (AG) Punjab, to enable speedy disposal of pension cases did not come to the rescue of Mr Bikramjit Singh Chhachii, a retired Deputy Commandant, Home Guard, Punjab.

For the last over nine months, the commandant had been making repeated rounds of the Punjab AG office in Sector 17 here for fixation of his pension.

“The mandatory provision of Provisional Pension Rules, which clearly states that the pension payment order (PPO) has to be released within six months of retirement, even if the final amount of pension has not been fixed, was not followed”, laments Mr Chhachii.

Denying the version of the complainant, officials in the AG office claimed that due to wrong fixation of pay and subsequently the pension amount, the PPO could not be issued.

As per the rules, the retiree was ready to submit another affidavit that in case his pension was fixed as per a lower pay scale, he was ready to return the excess amount or allow its deduction from his pension amount.

“Adding to the insult, I was insulted by a senior official of the AG office”, alleged the commandant, who was yesterday called to the office to examine certain documents in his file under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In representation to various offices, he had lamented that despite ample provision in the pension rules, officials in the AG office preferred to sit over his case.

The dispute arose after the commandant was promoted in December, 2004. As a result, there was an increase in the pay scale and subsequent increase in the pension amount.

On retirement, the office of the DGP, Home Guard, Punjab, released provisional pension for a period of six months.

But when the PPO was to be issued by the AG office, an objection was raised. Mr Tarlocahan Singh, Assistant Accounts Officer (Pension-I), saying a certain clarification had been sought from the Home Guard Department.

He said there was objection from the audit wing regarding overpayment by the pension wing. He claimed that wrong fixation of the pay scale by the office of the DGP, Home Guard, had led to the problem.

He claimed that the employer department had been asked to send the case after again fixing the pay scale of the commandant.

No satisfactory reply was given as to why the pensioner was allowed to suffer due to problem between the AG office and the office of the DGP, Home Guard.


Fishing, tourists pose threat to migratory birds
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 15
A large number of migratory birds that have arrived here from the Central Asia in the wetland area are facing constant threat from fisherman and movements of boats of tourists in the Sutlej here. Interference by the locals and tourists doing fishing for fun, besides fisherman in their natural habitant, has forced these birds to look for safer places.

As a result, the population of these birds is on the decline, rue bird watchers.

The Forest Department also decided to take up this issue with the Irrigation and Fishery Department to prevent fishing and boating from mid-October to March, the period during which these birds stay in the wetland here.

The migratory birds could easily be spotted in front of the government tourist complex Pinckassia, near water headworks, here. Fishermen in the wetland area find this place ideal. Many persons can be especially seen on the banks of the Sutlej on Sunday fishing here since early morning.

The decline in the fish population has been affecting birds. Fishing causes harm to the food chain of some of the migratory birds, complain bird watchers.

Divisional Forest Officer S.S Bhatti said it came to his notice that fishing is continuing in the Sutlej despite the arrival of migratory birds. I would take the matter with senior officials of the Irrigation and Fishery departments to stop fishing and plying of boats in the wetland. If noting happens, matter would be taken up with senior functionaries of the administration and wild life, he added.


Commercial power tariff, taxes hit diversification
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
The Punjab government has been spending crores to motivate farmers of state to change wheat-paddy circle. However, its policies are discouraging the farmers who want to take to fish farming.

The Union Government announced a subsidy of Rs 40,000 per hectare for the farmers interested in farming. The Centre has released the grant to the state government. The state has to add 25 per cent to amount given by the Union Government before releasing subsidy to farmers taking to fish farming.

In Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts about Rs 10 lakh has been provided by the Union Government for subsidy to farmers adopting fish farming. However, the amount has not been released to farmers as the state failed to provide the matching grant.

The fish farmers are alleging the state government was not giving them any support. Besides not releasing the subsidy the government was also biased against them in providing facilities extended to farmers carrying traditional farming practices.

The farmers carrying out traditional farming practices have been given free power for tubewells. However, the farmers who take up fish farming or poultry are made to pay commercial charges for tubewells.

Income of the farmers carrying out conventional farming is not taxable. However, the fish farming and poultry are considered in the industry category. The farmers carrying out the fish farming or poultry are made to pay tax on industry’s pattern.

These bottlenecks discourage farmers from diversifying to fish or other commercial farming. Whenever a farmer tries to diversify to commercial farming the PSEB and other government departments start harassing him to take commercial tubewell connection and pay all kinds of taxes.

The government in order to encourage the farmer diversifying, should also extend to them the facilities being given to other farmers, they demanded.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Animal Husbandry said he would look into the matter. The subsidy would be released to farmers at the earliest. He also said he would also take up with the Punjab Chief Minister that the farmers diversifying to commercial farming should not be categorised as in the industry category.


Stick to direct payments, farmers tell CM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
While the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today made it 
clear that farmers would get their payment 
through commission agents from government procurement agencies, various farmers’ organisations have urged him not to reverse his decision under pressure from 
vested interests.

Speaking to a group of mediapersons, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab State Farmers Commission had recommended that farmers should be given direct payment by the government procurement agencies. He said a decision in this regard had been implemented without approval from the government. “The earlier system of making payments to farmers through commission agents will continue,” he added.

The government authorities concerned are expected to withdraw tomorrow the notification issued with regard to making direct payments to farmers.

However, opposing the reversal of the decision to make payment direct to farmers, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of the Bharti Kisan Union urged the Chief Minister to “ stand by his decision in the face of pressure from the financially strong lobby of a few thousand commission agents as against lakhs of farmers who will benefit”. He said the Chief Minister should implement the decision on direct payment immediately.

Mr Mann said the farmers were required to bring their produce to the market yards for selling. Purchasers could buy their produce there. Commission agents were service providers and not the owners or growers of the produce. They provided services on a commission basis. And the commission was fixed by law from time to time.

Unfortunately, these service providers wanted payments to be made to them instead of the real producers, who were at the mercy of these service providers while claiming payments, said Mr Mann. “As commission agents are not the owners of the produce, they have no right to claim payment for it,” he asserted.

The All-India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha president, Mr Hardev Singh Sandhu, said the state government should not buckle under pressure built up by vested interests on the direct payment issue. It should implement the decision to make direct payments to farmers.


Chandumajra for direct payment to farmers

Chandigarh, November 15
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, has criticised the Punjab Government for going back on its decision to make payments to farmers direct through payee account cheques for foodgrains brought by them to the market for sale.

He said the farm sector was neck deep in crisis and the state government was doing nothing to solve the problems faced by it. He said the recommendation to make direct payment to farmers was made by the Punjab State Farmers Commission and the government should not withdraw the notification. — TNS


Ravinder sworn in as PPSC member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today administered the oath of office, secrecy and allegiance to the Constitution of India to Ms Ravinder Kaur as a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission at Punjab Raj Bhavan.

After being sworn in, Ms Ravinder Kaur signed the oath, which was countersigned by the Governor.

Ms Ravinder Kaur is a daughter-in-law of Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Punjab. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, senior Ministers, MLAs and senior civil and police officers were present.


Heroin worth Rs 2 cr seized
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 15
In less than a week's time, the Ferozepore police today seized a second consignment of heroin, worth Rs 2 crore in the international market, which was being smuggled from across the border. One person has been arrested in this connection. With today's arrest, the police has exposed links between local drug peddlers and those in Pakistan.

Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Arpit Shukla, SSP, said at around 6.30 am today, a special police team, conducting surprise checking near Sherewala village close to the Punjab-Rajasthan border, spotted a scooter. The police team signalled it to stop, but the two scooter-borne persons tried to flee. The police chased the scooter and overpowered the person driving it. However, the person riding pillion managed to escape.

Mr Shukla said the arrested person had been identified as Makhan Singh, alias Kaku, a resident of Gulaba Bhaini village, in Fazilka. On search, 2 kg heroin was seized from him. His accomplice, who escaped, had been identified as Ravi, a resident of Fatehpur village in Hanumangarh.


Woman raped by husband’s friend
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
A local woman, mother of two, was allegedly raped by her husband’s friend, identified as Desa Singh, in her house in Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar here today.

The victim was raped by Desa Singh, a resident of Mansa district.

The victim’s husband is undergoing a 12-year sentence in a narcotic smuggling case in the Patiala central jail.

The accused phoned the victim that he had met her husband in the jail and wanted to convey a message.

After reaching the house of the victim on this pretext, the accused started making advances towards her after he came to know that she was alone in the house.

When the victim offered resistance, he dragged her to a room and raped her.

After getting the information, the police registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station.

The medical examination of the victim was also conducted and report of the same was awaited.


4 pistols seized from Samjhauta Express
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
The Samjhauta Express between India and Pakistan, again has earned a bad name following the seizure of four German-made pistols by a joint team of the Customs, the BSF, the Government Railway Police and the Railway Protection Police .

Acting on a tip-off, the pistols were recovered when officers of the land Customs Station and other sister agencies, stationed at Attari Railway station searched the incoming 4608 Dn Samjhauta Express after passengers from Pakistan disembarked yesterday evening .

Mr D.P. Singh, Commissioner Customs, said rummaging of the train led to the recovery of two packets concealed on the roof of the battery of the last coach of the train. On opening the packets four pistols, two in each packet, along with two guarantee cards and one catalogue were recovered. These were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act 1962 (Arms Act, 1959).


BA/BSc (II, III) results today

Amritsar, November 15
The results of supplementary examinations of BA/BSc (parts II and III), conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University, would be declared tomorrow.

According to a release issued here today, the results would also be available on the university website www.gnduonline.org. — TNS


Rs 150 cr schools project sent to Nabard
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
The state government has submitted Rs 150 crore project to the National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development for improving infrastructure in government schools in the state. The project is likely to be approved early next year.

Minister for Public Works and Education Partap Singh Bajwa said here today quite a number of schools in the rural areas did not have adequate infrastructure. From buildings to furniture and electricity schools’ infrastructure needed to be improved.

About the recruitment of teachers, Mr Bajwa said, this was being done in a transparent manner. To avoid injustice or favouritism, the government did away with interview and written test and adopted merit of the qualifying examination.

This has led to all meritorious candidates making it to the final list.

He said, cut off in the general category had gone up to 72 per cent, while in reserved categories also it was more than 60 per cent. 


Best out of waste workshop
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
The Home Science Department of Government College of Girls organised a 'Best Out Of Waste' workshop from November 7 to 13 in collaboration with a local industry.

A large number of students took keen interest in the workshop which was extended till November 14 on the demand of the students.

The college Principal, Dr G.K.Jaggi, appreciated the efforts of the department. And was impressed by the artefacts, prepared by the students, which were displayed in the Exhibition. She encouraged the students to take up these activities not only as hobbies, but as a vocation as well.

During the workshop, students were taught how to make Egyptian paintings using coffee and decorative candles with paint. Also, Minakari wall hangings, photo frames from old newspapers, paper weights from stones, creating tie and dye effects with fabric paints, and renovating discarded glassware, chinaware and old clothes. 


Fancy dress, rangoli mark celebrations
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
The three-day jubilee celebrations of Blossoms Senior Secondary School, Patiala, concluded with inter-house competitions in fancy dress, rangoli and mehndi, thali decorations, face painting, fresh flower arrangements and gift wrapping.

An exhibition basketball match for senior boys and girls was held on the school premises. Sanvi Goyal got the first prize in thali competition, while in mehndi competition, the first prize went to Pooja Chabra. Rishav Goyal was declared winner in Rangoli competition.

The function was inaugurated by Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab. While appreciating the school's efforts in maintaining environment, he raised concerns about global warming and decreasing water table in Punjab, besides giving stress on computer education. A power point presentation highlighting the school's achievements during the past 25 years was shown to him. The school Principal, Mrs Ravi Singh, in her address to the audience stressed on the need of private- public partnership to optimize latent assets and talents for the public good.


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