P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Defence varsity: High-level committee inspects site
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 20
The high-level committee of the Defence Ministry accompanied by Punjab Government officials today visited the Birla farm, 4 km from here, to inspect the site for India’s first national defence university (NDU) for higher military studies.

The Punjab Government has offered 100 acres to establish the university here. As the land available here is spread over 700 acres is at present in the possession of different government departments it is also understood more land could be provided if required.

India will be the third country in the world to building NDU. The other two countries having the national defence universities are China and the USA, said officials.

Vice-Admiral Vijay Shankar, Air Vice-Marshal M.S. Randhawa and Brig Y.N. Sharma discussed setting up of the university here with Principal Secretary, Punjab, Ms Geetika Kalha, Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar for an hour in the morning.

Though Defence Ministry officials desired to establish the university here in the foothills of the Shivaliks situated near Chandigarh. But officials will also visit two other sites in Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala for the purpose.

It is learnt the Defence Ministry had earlier turned down the proposal of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to set up the university at Moti Bagh palace by shifting Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports. Thereafter the Punjab Government had proposed four sites for the university in three districts.

Explaining the concept of the university to officials, Brigadier Sharma said the university was to be a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence in the country in education and research on national security issues. The president of the NDU will be a serving three-star general of the armed services. We have plans to set up different institutes to provide excellent studies.

Deputy Commissioner Alok Shekhar explaining the benefit of setting up the university here said the Defence officials found this place suitable because of its proximity to Chandigarh as availability of airport. The officials praised the site but the final decision will be taken by the Defence Ministry officials after visiting the different sites in other districts also. We have assured the officials of all possible support, he said.

Others who attended the meeting include Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig (retd) J.S. Jaswal and Additional Deputy Commissioner Bhavna Garg.


Defence varsity: MoD team inspects site
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 20
A high-power team of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) comprising officials from the Air Force, the Navy and the Army today visited Fatehgarh Sahib to inspect the site for setting up a national defence university. An Army helicopter carrying the team landed at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College grounds. Officials of the district administration led by Mrs Jaspreet Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, welcomed the team. Sources said the Ministry of Defence required land around 50 to 100 acres for the university.

The Deputy Commissioner took the defence team to the site earlier selected by PUDA for setting up an Urban Estate behind Aam Khas Bagh. The sources said the Deputy Commissioner pleaded hard the case for the setting up of the university here. He recounted that Fatehgarh Sahib was near to Chandigarh, having a railway station and situated on the GT Road. It was a central place for Patiala, Ambala, Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

The team earlier visited Ropar to inspect the site and after Fatehgarh Sahib it left for Patiala to inspect the site there. The ministry had to select a site at either Patiala, Ropar or Fatehgarh Sahib.

The people of the area had urged the Chief Minister to kindly allot the defence university to Fatehgarh Sahib as it was a historical place. Moreover, a Law University had already been set up at Patiala. They said it would be a tribute to the martyrs if the university was allotted site here and the Chief Minister announced it at the Saheedi Jor Mela in December.


Heritage building set to be demolished
School shifted to ‘dangerous’ building in Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
Heritage lovers on Saturday received a rude shock to see the shifting of the 155-year-old Saragarhi Memorial Government School, the first school opened by the British Government in 1851, opposite Town Hall, to a new building on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road. The new building poses a danger to human life due to the presence of a power grid on its premises.

With this, the heritage building is all set to be demolished for constructing a parking, much to the chagrin of heritage lovers .

Students of the school were directed to help in the shifting process. What is shocking is that the shifting was effected despite the fact that inspection notes ,prepared by officials of various government departments stated that the new building posed a danger to human life since the power grid was installed on the premises of the new building .

Dr Manmohan Singh had written to the Chief Minister in 2004 stating that the old heritage building should be preserved . The missive of Dr Singh read: “In view of the glorious record of service to the community, this great institution needs to be upgraded rather than being demolished”.

Mr Kuldip Singh Mahawa, Principal of the school, said the help of students was sought to shift computers only . Mr Mohan Singh Cheema, District Education Officer (Secondary), said the new building “is safe because an outer wall has been constructed to save students and staff from any harm. Mr Cheema claimed that Rs 7 crore had been spent on the new building.

The new school building on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road houses the 220 lakh high grid pylon tower that poses a threat. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and a high-powered committee, constituted by the Education Department, has already opposed the shifting of students to the new building.

The PSEB had also mentioned that no building could be constructed near the power grid since it could play havoc in case of a calamity.

Dr Krishan Thakur, a resident of Amritsar who has been fighting a battle against the proposed demolition of the 155-year-old building, said the school should not be shifted till the power grid was removed. He emphasised the need for preserving the old heritage building.


Inside Babudom
Punjab gets 4 more DGPs 
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
The bloated bureaucracy of Punjab got a boost today with the state government deciding to add four DGPs to the existing list of four.

The process to clear all IPS officers up to the 1974 batch for elevation as DGPs has been completed now. And from today, eight IPS officers started wearing the uniform of DGP. Until today , only four - Mr S.S. Virk, Mr P. Lal, Dr G.S. Aujla and Mr K.K. Attri - were holding the rank.

Now they have been joined by Mr N.P.S. Aulakh (1972 batch and currently on deputation with the Border Security Force), Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill (1973 batch) and Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam and Mr A.P. Pandey (1974 batch). Though the name of Mr Anil Kaushik (1975 batch) was also under consideration, his promotion may be taken up only after one of the present DGPs, Mr Lal, superannuates at the end of this month.

So, between December 1, 2006, and October 31 next year, the minimum number of DGPs in Punjab will be eight. On October 31 next year, after Dr Aujla retires , the next scheduled superannuation of a Punjab DGP will not come before June 30, 2009.

Punjab has been known for its top-heavy Police Department. On some previous occasions, the state had four or more DGPs besides a big army of Additional DGPs and IGs.

After promotion, while Mr Gill will continue as Director-General-cum-Director of the Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur, Mr Pandey has on promotion become the Director-General of Prisons.

Similarly, Mr Alam has been elevated and will now be Director-General-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Pandey’s place as Additional Director-General, Administration, will be taken by Mr H.R. Chadha, who was earlier Additional Director-General, Prisons.


Dangerous track: more guns seized from Samjhauta
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
In less than a week, the Intelligence Bureau today seized four more German-made revolvers from the Samjhauta Express.

The Samjhauta Express which binds the peoples of India and Pakistan has again earned a bad name.

It is reliably learnt that Uttar Pradesh-based Muslims are behind the smuggling of both the consignments.

Earlier, acting on intelligence, the revolvers were seized when officers of the land Customs station and other sister agencies at Attari Railway Station undertook the search and rummaging operation of the train. They were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act 1962 (Arms Act, 1959).

Introduced between Lahore and Amritsar in September 1975, the Samjhauta Express has frequently hit newspaper headlines due to smuggling of narcotics and counterfeit currency. However, it is after a long time that firearms have been seized from the train coming from Pakistan.

Earlier, direct interference of Pakistan and ISI in the internal affairs of India by stepping up arms’ supplies to Punjab militant groups from across the border in the early eighties, led the Indian Government to go for fencing of its entire 532-km-long border. It was an attempt to seal the shipment of sophisticated weapons and explosives. Due to strict vigilance and fencing of the border, the ISI operators turned their eye on the Samjhauta Express. They used it to send small arms, RDX, gold and narcotics.

The Indian Customs and security agencies have started 100 per cent checking and frisking, following the seizure of the German-made firearms.

Those who carry out the illegal activities thereby endangering the security of the country use code words like ‘sawari’ (courier) etc. The sawaris operate between India and Pakistan on fake passports and smuggle “prohibited items” between both the countries.


Thousands of fish die in Ravi
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Narot, November 20
Thousands of fish perished in the Ravi in Narot Jaimal Singh allegedly due to pesticide poisoning by poachers. Dead fish could be seen floating on the entire stretch of the Ravi near the dhussi bandh.

Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, a former wildlife warden who has a farm near the river, said he noticed the dead fish when he went for a walk along the river.

Department of Fisheries today visited the spot and found pesticide bottles that were allegedly used to kill fish.

The poachers had taken away big pieces of fish for sale in the market. As the news of dead fish spread, many people from the surrounding areas collected the fish for consumption or local sale, unmindful of the fact that it could be detrimental to health.

The river stretch near the Narot area of Gurdaspur district is home to rare varieties of fish, including the golden mahasher that is facing extinction. The poisoning has also disturbed the eco-system of the river. It could spell doom for the rare varieties of fish in the area.

Experts blame the soft attitude of the department towards the poachers. About two years ago, the poachers had allegedly poisoned Sarin, a distributary of the Beas. An inquiry was instituted and samples of fish were sent for testing. However, no action was taken to nab the accused.

Recently, the department found some poachers catching fish in the breeding season.

A large numbers of nets were seized but the officials let the accused go with a fine of just Rs 200.

The population of fish in the Beas and Ravi has decreased to such an extent that for the past three years no contractor has come forward for catching fish. It is only this year that the contract for fish in the rivers of Gurdaspur has been allotted.


BJP names candidate for Mansa seat
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mansa, November 20
While there was already a buzz about differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over seat-sharing for the Assembly elections, Punjab BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna said today his party was keen on contesting from Mansa and it would put forth claim on the seat before its ally the SAD.

Addressing a party rally here today, Mr Khanna said he would take up the matter of Mansa seat with SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal. He also named Mr Jagpal Singh Chahal, who is state president of the BJP’s NRI wing, as prospective candidate. Lashing out at the Congress, he said prices of essential commodities had increased rapidly under the Congress rule, which claimed to be with ‘aam admi’ (common man). He said the country, “where farmers were reeling from huge debt”, could not progress. He alleged the Captain government had failed on all fronts and people would show it the door in the elections.

President of the party’s All India Kisan Morcha, Vinod Pandey, said the biggest challenge before the country today was to “throw the Congress out of power”. He alleged the Congress was creating atmosphere of pre-Independence era and the farmers, who fed the entire nation, were forced to buy foodgrains for their families. He said the Congress had ruled for most of the period after Independence and its successive governments at the Centre adopted “dictatorial attitude and influenced decisions of various state governments” including that of Punjab that led to the “centralisation of powers”. He alleged the Congress’ approach restrained Punjab from protecting its political and economic interests in the past many years. He said with changing times people had understood the Congress’ mindset and they would vote for the BJP and allies in the Assembly elections in various states. Party leaders Harjeet Singh Grewal and Jagpal Singh Chahal were also present.


BJP rally ends up as show of strength
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 20
The district unit of the BJP here today virtually turned its anti-Congress rally into a show of strength for staking claim to the Sangrur Assembly seat for the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections. Some speakers not only demanded the Sangrur seat for the BJP but added that the gathering proved their claim.

The rally was attended among others by Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national secretary of the BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, state president of the BJP, Mr Vinod Pandey, president of the All-India BJP Kisan Morcha, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, state vice-president of the BJP, Mr Vijay Sampla and Mr Rajinder Bhandhari, state general secretaries of the BJP, Mr Satwant Singh Punia, vice-president of the All-India BJP Kisan Morcha, Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, former president of Punjab BJP Yuva Morcha, and Mr Vasudev Arya, president of Sangrur district unit of the BJP.

Mr Grewal asked the high command to allot at least one seat to the BJP in Malwa belt.

Mr Khanna while speaking on the giving of seats to the BJP in Malwa belt said he could not comment as meetings of the SAD-BJP coordination committee were going on. About the absence of Mr Nanak Chand Kalra, veteran BJP leader, from the rally, he said the former was ill. However, Mr Kalra had reportedly not been invited to the rally.


Moga rally will dampen Cong euphoria: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
"The Congress will have to face Parkash Singh Badal in all 117 Assembly constituencies of Punjab and not in Lambi alone." This was stated here today by the SAD secretary, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema.

He said, "What to talk about Amarinder Singh and Jagmeet Singh Brar, even Sonia Gandhi cannot compete Mr Badal in Punjab."

He said the SAD-BJP rally on October 16 in Chandigarh had clearly reflected the mood of voters and if there was some confusion in the minds of Congress leaders, their doubts would be cleared in Moga rally on December 8.

Reacting sharply to the euphoria of the Congress due to Punjab Vikas Yatra, Cheema said, "This yatra had neither been able to control inflation nor did it provide any employment to lakhs of educated unemployed youths. Similarly, it had neither paid Rs 20 per quintal bonus on paddy overdue to farmers since 2001, nor did it give an MSP of Rs 1,000 per quintal on wheat to farmers of the state. So how does it make any difference?" he asked.

He said at this stage, the gimmicks played by the Chief Minister would not be able to change the minds of the public. He should have visited schools without rooftops and locked health centres in villages.


Calcutta for conscious vote in SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 20
The SGPC member and convener of the Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, in a letter to all the Shiromani Committee members has urged them to cast their votes in favour of a “true Panthic persons” at the time of annual elections on November 25, rising above petty political considerations and party affiliations.

He alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD supremo, had curtailed the democratic rights of the SGPC members and had been imposing presidents. The funds of the SGPC were being misused for political purposes.

The missive has also been sent to five Sikh high priests. It is presumed that it was an attempt to drum up support in favour of a common candidate likely to be fielded by rival Akali factions.


BJP hits back at B.I.S. Chahal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 20
Hitting back at the Punjab Chief Minister's Media Adviser, Mr B.I.S. Chahal, the Punjab BJP today said the demand for resignation of BJP leaders made by Mr Chahal was unjustified.

Mr Chahal had sought the resignation of president of the Punjab unit of the BJP Avinash Rai Khanna and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal following the defeat of the BJP candidate in a byelection in a ward of the Municipal Corporation at Patiala yesterday.

The BJP said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should resign because of the defeat of a Congress candidate in the byelection in a ward of the Municipal Committee at Batala.

A BJP spokesman said the defeat of the BJP candidate in Patiala municipal byelection was because of rigging and bogus polling with the help of the official machinery.

However, the Congress' loss in Batala byelection was a real defeat.


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