P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt hires Delhi lawyer, earns HC, AG’s ire
Sarbjit Dhaliwal & Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The Advocate-General, Punjab, Mr R.S. Cheema, is learnt to have protested strongly to the state government against the culture of importing senior lawyers from Delhi to represent Punjab in the Punjab and Haryana High Court without asking or even informing him.

In a letter sent to the government, Mr Cheema, himself a very highly regarded lawyer, has expressed anguish over the recent incident of the government fielding a Senior Advocate, Mr Nageswar Rao, from New Delhi to argue the state government’s case in a PIL pertaining to the police reforms. It was on this PIL, filed by Resurgence India, that a Division Bench of the High Court had directed the state to post only cadre officers on cadre posts. Following this, the government was forced to remove all Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers from the crucial posts of Senior Superintendent of Police of various districts.

Sometimes back, the Supreme Court had remanded the matter back to the High Court for fresh hearing.

While Mr Rao appeared for the state on November 9, he did not come for the next hearing on November 15. Peeved at the attitude of the government, the Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Saron summoned the AG and asked him why Mr Rao and not he was representing the state.

The angry Judges said in the court that they had high regard for Mr Cheema and wondered why the government had to bring a counsel from Delhi.

Expressing ignorance over why Mr Rao had been drafted by the government to fight the case, Mr Cheema told the court he had no inkling of the same. He, however, assured the court that he would himself assist the court on the next hearing, which is fixed for November 29.

Following his letter, the Chief Minister is learnt to have intervened to placate his top law officer. The Chief Minister, sources said, denied any role in hiring Mr Rao for the case.

As already reported by the Tribune on November 19, faced with a difficult election, the Congress government in the state is desperate to post PPS officers as SSPs of districts. The government is also considering making a request to the court to allow it to post PPS officers as district police chiefs.

Highly-placed sources told The Tribune that the decision to get Mr Rao to appear for the state in the matter was taken in the interests of a PPS officer whose family is very close to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and at the behest of an Adviser to the Chief Minister, who wants to get some PPS officers, close to him, posted as district SSPs.

When contacted, the Principal Secretary (Home), Punjab Dr B.C. Gupta, while acknowledging that the AG had written to the government on the issue, termed it as a “minor issue”.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr Cheema could not be contacted for his take on the issue as he was out of station.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that the government has done such a thing. When Mr Harbhagwan Singh was the AG, the government had engaged the services of lawyers from Delhi on a regular basis. Despite being paid astronomical amounts as legal fees, these lawyers were unable to do much as the Amarinder government lost a number of high-profile cases one after the other.

However, under Mr Cheema, to who high- profile people of the state turn to, including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, when they are in trouble or face a difficult case, the AG’s office has starting regaining its prestige. In all high-profile cases he makes it a point to argue for the state personally. This is one reason legal experts wonder what forced the government to ignore its best lawyer and look for a lawyer from Delhi.


Amarinder to meet Sonia over feud
with Jagmeet Brar

Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The ongoing political feud between the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the senior Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, has reached the ‘court’ of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Sources said today that Capt Amarinder Singh would meet Mrs Sonia Gandhi tomorrow in Delhi in this regard. He would talk to her about the recent developments on the Congress front in the state and statements made by Mr Brar in the recent days.

“Capt Amarinder Singh has sought an appointment with Mrs Sonia Gandhi for tomorrow.

If and when the meeting takes place then she would be briefed by the Captain with regard to the statements made by Mr Brar urging the Chief Minister to contest from Lambi Assembly constituency against the SAD leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal,” said a senior Congress leader. “The purpose behind such statements by Mr Brar is to involve the party in unnecessary political controversies,” said the Congress leader.

“We have photocopies of all statements made by Mr Brar since November 14, the day he first time issued a statement with regard to Lambi constituency at a rally in Ludhiana,” said the Congress leader. All statements of Mr Brar would be shown to Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

“Capt Amarinder Singh would also tell Mrs Gandhi that Mr Brar had tried to derail the Vikas Yatra launched by the party by raising an unwarranted controversy regarding Lambi constituency when it is the party high command who will decide that who should contest from which constituency,” added the Congress leader.

“Mr Brar has been raising such controversies which could be harmful for the party in the coming Assembly elections,” he added. Obviously, Mrs Sonia Gandhi would be requested to intervene decisively to save the party from slipping into unwanted turmoils.

Capt Amarinder Singh would also present visuals with regard to the response his yatra got in the Malwa and Majha region so far. Other political issues such as shortlisting of the candidates for the Assembly elections at the earliest possible would also be discussed. Capt Amarinder Singh had met the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, yesterday for about half an hour. At the meeting political inputs required to boost the Congress campaign in the coming days were also discussed, said sources. They added that the Prime Minister should immediately announce the package for the state.

“Delay in the package on part of the Union Government has hurt the ruling Congress politically in the state and it has provided the opponents a chance to have a go on the ruling party,” said the Congress leader. However, as Dr Manmohan Singh is to go abroad, he would not be able to visit the state before December 7, it is learnt.

But it is certain that the Prime Minister has prepared an impressive package for the state. He has told Capt Amarinder Singh not to make its content public in any case. If contents of the package are leaked to media before its actual announcement by the Prime Minister, its entire political impact will be diluted. That is what being felt by the top brass in the state government. “The package will have an impact on minds of people only if it kept secret till the last moment,” Congress leader added.


Raise in retirement age of dental teachers
Tribune News Service

Batala, November 26
The state government has decided in principle to raise retirement age of medical and dental teachers from 58 to 62 years, thereby bringing them on a par with their counterparts in AIIMS, PGI and Medical College Rohtak. It will help in saving the medical and dental colleges from being derecognised by the Medical Council of India (MCI). It will help in filling 39 percent posts in the three Medical and two Dental Colleges in Punjab.

The Medical/Dental Colleges were facing de-recognition following MCI inspections due to a large number of vacancies. About 30 medical teachers are on the verge of retirement while 32 are likely to retire next year. The Punjab Medical and Dental College Teachers Association, headed by Dr B.S.Dhillon met the Chief Minister during his vikas yatra of the border belt to brief him on the plight of medical colleges and requested him to raise the retirement age.

However, the Chief Minister rejecting the demand of the increase in the retirement age of government employees from 58 to 60 years said any such decision would demoralise unemployed youth in the state who were looking for jobs.

He however justified the increase in the retirement age of faculty of medical college from 58 to 62 years, on the plea that such decision had become mandatory for the state to enhance the retirement age to save our colleges from de-reorganisation due to shortage of teaching staff.

On the question of the ban imposed by the court on the practice of registered medical practitioners, the CM said the Punjab government had decided to introduce a capsule course of the prescribed curriculum to enable these medical practitioners to do the medical practice again. He said it would help more than 75000 RMPs in the state.

To a question on the revision of parameters for below Poverty Line (BPL) families, the CM said he had time and again taken up this issue with the central government to revise these norms. “As far as Punjab is concerned it could not be compared with the backward state like Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand and if they want to equate Punjab than at least they should compare it with Haryana or Maharastra”, said Mr Amarinder Singh. The Chief Minister said there should be two sets of the norms for advanced as well as backward states to implement the schemes meant for the eligible beneficaires under BPL. He said economic level should be the predominant factor to determine the eligibility of these beneficiaries.

On the high rate of inflation in the state he said it was a national phenomena and the Centre was aware to address this problem on priority because it affected a sizeble chunk of the population of our country living in penury. He said the Centre allowed the NAFED to export pulses to provide at the minimum prices under public distribution system. Likewise the state government had already directed the PUNSUP to buy pulses from NAFED to ensure its distribution through the public distribution system.


Corporate houses channelling profit via agriculture to evade tax: Samra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 25
Progressive decline in farm produce growth in the country was a cause of concern. While overall (GDP) gross domestic producer growth rate has been 8 per cent, farm growth rate has been just 1.5 per cent for the past five years. This has come down from 4.7 per cent in the eighties. This has been causing rural urban divide in the country in terms of economic prosperity, which can have alarming socio-political repercussions.

Spelling out concern on the sidelines of an ‘International Symposium on Balanced Fertilisation for Sustaining Crop Productivity’ at the Punjab Agricultural University here today, Deputy Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Dr J.S. Samra said “the situation is quite alarming as 70 per cent rural population of which 58 per cent is directly employed in agriculture, is sharing only 22 per cent of the total GDP”.

Dr Samra pointed out “progressive states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab, known for venturing into diversification and introduction of genetically modified crops are suffering as maximum number of farmers’ suicides have taken places in these states only”. This, he said, should serve as a warning to Punjab also for unplanned diversification.

He expressed serious apprehensions about land to big corporate houses for farming. He said, safeguards needed to be taken that the corporate houses at later stage do not go for change in land use. Because, he felt, there was reports the corporate houses were trying to channelise profits through agriculture earning to evade tax on earnings through other business since agriculture income in India so far was not taxable.

He said, economy of these regions in the country was surviving not because these have progressed in terms of agricultural growth, but due to the inflow of “foreign income by the exported manpower to the Gulf, US, Canada and UK”.

The ICAR DDG was concerned at stagnation in the consumption of fertilisers in the country. He said, there was no fresh domestic investment in fertiliser sector, what to speak of foreign investment. Pleading for foreign direct investment in fertiliser sector, he regretted, this was being sabotaged by the “fertiliser lobby” which is pocketing Rs 30,000 crore of subsidy every year.

He said, there was no upgradation in the fertiliser manufacturing as the urea still was being produced by the “medieval methods” using naphtha instead of gas. He said the government of India should enter into joint ventures with gas-rich countries. He cited the example of joint venture with Oman, where some state-owned Indian companies were producing fertiliser which are 80 pound cheaper per tonne than what is produced in India.


Cabinet’s U-turn on land acquisition
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
It seems the Punjab Council of Ministers has negated its own policy on land acquisition announced last week.

During the last meeting held on November 17 the new policy was okayed and it promised market rate for lands acquired from farmers. Surprisingly, at the same meeting the rate for land acquisition in several cities (which is no where near the prevailing market rate) was also okayed.

For instance, in Mohali a rate of Rs 69.20 lakh per acre was okayed whereas the market rate is nearly Rs 2 crore.

This land is a vast tract of the 417 acres spread across five villages that is being acquired for the knowledge city. The rate fixed was Rs 16 lakh per acre.

But the new formula says Rs 40 lakh will be the land price and by adding a solatium, interest and a non-litigation premium the total compensation to a farmer works out to be Rs 69.20 lakh per acre.

Mr B.S. Baidwan, general secretary of the Kisan Hit Bachao Committee, said the new price was a joke on farmers.

He claimed: “We can show the government a land registration deed for Rs 1.25 crore per acre that was purchased by a builder from farmers.”

Rate for acquisition in Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Bathinda and some other cities were also cleared.

The old rate in Kapurthala was Rs 17 lakh per acre for land away from the main road and Rs 22 lakh per acre for that near the main road. The new rate would be between Rs 42 lakh and Rs 47 lakh per acre.

In Bathinda, the old rate was Rs 15 lakh per acre while the new rate would be about Rs 47 lakh. In Nawanshahr the old rate was fixed at Rs 33.50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh and Rs 20 lakh for various categories of land. There would be no enhancement. However, a formula of solatium, interest and non-litigation premium would be applied. All these lands are located in areas meant for complexes of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The Council of Ministers had cleared the rates as these had been suggested by a sub-committee of the Cabinet, headed by Mr Lal Singh.

There were certain aspects on which the Council of Ministers went against its policy. It said the market value of the land would be determined within three months from the date a notification was issued under Section 4 of the Act.

In all cases for which rates were fixed by the council, the notifications were issued about two years ago.

The policy said there should be a gap of maximum six months between notifications issued under Section 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. An intention to acquire land was done through notification under Section 4 while normally a notification was done under Section 6 to say that the land was required for public cause. But in this case the time period between the two notification was more than six months.


100 jobless youths held
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 26
Nearly 100 youths, including 36 girls, who are trained passed the DP.Ed, BP. Ed and MP.Ed from institutes of Punjab were arrested by the police this morning.

Of the arrested five were admitted to Rajindra Hospital here as their health deteriorated as they were on fast.

These youths have been on dharna near new Moti Bagh Palace, private residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for the past five days to protest against non-filling of posts of physical training teacher vacant by the government.

Youths were arrested following the failure of their talks with Chief Parliamentary Secretary Rana Gurmit Sodhi on behalf of the Chief Minister late last night. Mr Sodhi with local Congress leaders remained at the dharna site for two hours, made several offers to protesting youths to make to lift the dharna, Youths rejected all offers and decided to continue the dharna.

The district administration had involved prohibitory order under banned any agitation.

However, arrest of 100 youths triggered resentment among the students doing different courses in physical education and among those, had passed different degrees in physical education and were without jobs, they marched in the city and later staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office to protest against the arrest of 100 youths. They demanding release of all arrested.

The dharna was lifted after a five-member committee of the protesters was asked to discuss arrest of the youths.

Braving inclement weather, the youths, decided not to lift the dharna till given government jobs by the government.

They said all those who had passed D.P.Ed, B.P.Ed and M. P. Ed courses from 1996 to 2006, be given government jobs. They said posts of physical training teacher were vacant and the government had not been making efforts to fill those.

The youths, held several rounds of talks with Mr Sodhi, and insisted the government fill 10000 posts of physical education teacher and lecturer. They said that while students, who had done degrees from Punjab-based institutes were denied jobs, the students, who had done same degrees from less important institutes outside Punjab, had been given jobs.

Mr Rana warned them that if they did not lift the agitation, the law would take its course.


Chipko Movement to save 155-year-old building, trees
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Heritage lovers have decided to launch a movement against the demolition of 155 year old ‘Saragarhi Memorial Government Senior Secondary School’, and environmentalists to continue first ever ‘Chipko Movement’ , to save more than two century old trees in the school premises .

The ‘heritage building’ is set to be demolished to make way for multi-storey parking. The school has been shifted to a building which poses danger to human lives since the administration could not shift the 220 voltage high pylon electricity grid installed in the new building. Officials of government departments, including the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Education Committee, formed by the government had reported shifting of students to the new building was not safe.

President, Indian Society for Health and Environment, Dr Krishan Thakur said NGOs were being contacted for a movement against the demolition of the building because the administration decided to demolish the building, ignoring suggestions of Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister who wanted the building preserved.

The then Deputy Commissioner, Raminder Singh in a letter to the government on June 25, 2003 had stated that,’ the building is in excellent condition. It is historical and heritage. So it should not be demolished. If it is demolished it will be a violation of the Archeological Act 1964, Punjab. Parking should not be constructed on the land of the building. A proposal be submitted to save this historical and heritage building and avoid litigation.

The Archeological Survey of India after inspecting the heritage site directed the government on February 26, 2004 that,’ As this complex is 150-year old and among the earliest government schools in Punjab, opened by British, representing model of colonial architecture , its proper care ought to be taken. Building is heritage of national importance and the Punjab Archaeology Department should protect, conserve, preserve and maintain ethics of the heritage”.

The school was named after 21 men of the 36th Sikh Regiment (currently 4th Sikh Regiment) who sacrificed their lives in devotion to duty. This is a battle fought by a small detachment of Sikh soldiers against heavy odds on September 12, 1897 in the Tirah region of North West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan). They fought to the death rather than surrendering. Battle at Saragarhi is one of eight stories of collective bravery published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). Even Gurdwara Sara Garhi was built opposite the Government Higher Secondary School, Town Hall . The memorial at Amritsar was unveiled on February 14, 1902.

Dr Thakur also has the support of Bibi Inderjit Kaur, chief Bhagat Puran Singh Pingalwara Charitable Trust and eminent citizens of the city to launch first ever ‘Chipko Movement’ to save centuries old heritage trees in the school premises.

It was in 1851, a school by the name of Zila School was constructed by the British. Later it was named after the 21 martyrs of Saragarhi battle. First Headmaster was European. In 1895 Sardar Bahadur Hari Singh was the Headmaster who later became first Indian Inspector of Schools. Report of Dr Nahar Singh, a former principal of the school, published in ‘Historical Survey of Amritsar’, says the school has been harbinger of colonial past, with architectural grandeur and beauty of the British era and is mute witness to the beginning of Western education in Punjab by the British government. The grandeur of building is unique. Indian masons, men and women built the magnificent monument with heart, sweat and labour’.

Mr H. S. Phulka, a Supreme Court advocate said demolition of the heritage building and having parking there was ill-conceived and it should be given up. He said citizens of Amritsar should not allow a scheme involving elevated roads, sky buses and mindless demolitions of heritage buildings to destroy the historicity of Amritsar.


Vikas Yatra has ‘united’ Cong
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 26
The Vikas Yatra of Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, has united the Congress leaders and mobilised party workers for the Assembly elections. Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Tourism, Punjab, stated this to media persons here yesterday.

Mr Kang said to improve milch animals, special task had been assigned to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary University. Its technocrats would impart technical training to officials of the Animal Husbandry Department improving animals.

The Central government-sponsored Live Stock Insurance Scheme had been introduced for making insurance of milch animals. Fifty per cent subsidy was being provided to the owners for the insurance of animals and 50 per cent of the premium had to be incurred by the party.

As many as 10000 milch animals had been insured in the state and 45000 more would be covered before the end of current year for which the Centre had provided Rs 3.5 crore.

To increase production of milk and encourage the animal owners in this regard, a milking competition was recently organised by the department in which cash prizes to owners of 2146 buffaloes were given.

Cash prize of Rs 1000/- each was being given to the owners of those buffaloes which were producing milk from 12 litres to 15 litres, Rs 4,000/- to 15 litres to 18 litres, Rs 6000/- to 18 litres to 20 litres and Rs 10000/- to above 20 litres.

Later Mr Kang presided over a function, organised in connection with the upgradation of a civil veterinary dispensary to a hospital at Bajwara village.


Defeat Cong, Akali-BJP combine: CPM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Secretary of the Punjab CPM, Mangat Ram Pasla today said in the coming elections, they would not join hands with the Harkishen Singh Surjeet group as they were supporting the Congress. He said if the Surjeet group stopped support to the Congress, an alliance could be expected. He was addressing a rally here.

Mr Pasla said the Congress had been involved in the Ludhiana Improvement Trust scam in which hundreds of crores were swindled. The Communist Party Marxist (CPM) today organised a rally here which was attended by a big number of women. Mr Pasla asked people to defeat Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine in the elections.

He claimed it was necessary to oust Akali and Congress parties if the development was needed. He said they would spread awareness among people about misdeeds of both parties who were misleading people.

The Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance has imperialistic policies and all sections of society were fed up with their policies.

He said prices of essential commodities had gone beyond reaches and the government had no idea to deal with it. He said unemployment had forced the youth to come on the roads.

Accusing Mr Amarinder Singh of spending crores of public money on political rallies and misusing government machinery, Mr Pasla said the CPM would also awaken people of anti-people policies of the government.

Mr Pasla said the CPM was drifting from basic principles for which it was established in 1964. He said aim of the rally was to unite five Left parties in the state the CPI, the CPM, the Forward Block and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) on principles of 1964.


BJP, SAD to hold joint rally in Moga
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Long-standing alliance partners, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will put up a united face and will be holding a joint rally at Moga on December 8. In the past two weeks the BJP had had held independent rallies in the Malwa region which was not appreciated within the SAD.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was accompanied by BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, and Mr R.P. Singh, told reporters that the slogan at the rally would be: “Punjab bachao Congress bhajhao” (do away with the Congress to save Punjab).

The rally will be held on the Jagraon-Moga road and it will be attended by two former Prime Ministers, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mr Inder Kumar Gujral. The Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr Nitish Kumar, and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ms Vasundhara Raje, along with senior BJP leaders, Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Arun Jaitley are slated to attend the rally.

The Tribune had highlighted in the past two days as to how 43 profit- making companies were allowed concessions in repayment of loans due to which the state exchequer had to face a loss of Rs 203 crore.


Expelled SAD leader spills beans
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Leader of the SAD Gurwinder Singh Shampura, who was expelled from the party for the next six years for anti-party activities soon after the elections to the SGPC, has alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal used the “Guru Ki Goluk”, (committee funds) to promote his personal and political interests.

Showing a copy of the Office Note of the SGPC dated April 5 to mediapersons, he said it indicated that the Principal of Guru Nanak Dev Academy, Othiyan, misappropriated about Rs 1 lakh. Though the report of the inquiry into the misappropriation of the funds had been lying with Mr Avatar Singh Makkar, President of the SGPC, for the past several months, no action was taken against the Principal.

Mr Shampura said instead of punishing the Principal she was transferred to a school close to her residence. She was a relative of a senior Akali leader, he alleged.

According to sources, Mr Shampura was likely to join the SAD (Longowal) as he was seen along with SAD Longowal leaders at various functions here. Meanwhile, Mr Inderjit Singh Zeera, who was accompanying Mr Shampura, claimed that six members who stayed away from the SGPC election had extended support to them.

Later, speaking at a separate press conference, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (Amritsar), echoed the same views.


Badal promises sops for poor
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 26
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, said here today that a fund of Rs 500 crore would be set up for providing better health services to the poor. Mr Badal was here to attend a rally organised by the state Bajigar Sewa Dal near the ITI on the Nabha road.

He said primary school would be open in the every block of Punjab to provide education free of cost to the poor students. If came to power, the SAD government would provide education up to the university level to the poor students free of cost.

He said his party would release its manifesto after the Moga rally, scheduled for December 8, and come out with the list of candidates following the announcement of the election dates.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal also attended the housewarming of the residence of Mr Nadeem Anwar Khan, local Akali leader, near Railway station.


Mann for resolution on Arunachal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
The BJP’s demand for a resolution in Parliament declaring Arunachal Pradesh an integral part of the country has got support from unexpected quarters.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said here today that such a resolution must be passed. He said Pt Jawaharlal Nehru had committed a blunder by accepting Tibet as a part of China.

The Central Government had rejected the BJP’s demand for a resolution on Arunachal Pradesh, but given a clear signal to China that there was no scope of debate on the status of the border state.


PSHRC seeks report on Muslim youth’s killing
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 26
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has asked the ADGP (Intelligence), Punjab, to submit his report on the killing of a Muslim youth, Nameem Khan, by the members of the Special Task Force near Giana village on the intervening night of September 20-21 before January 30 next year.

This was disclosed by the Bathinda-based Punjab Human Rights Committee, which had raised the matter with the commission, here today.

In a press note issued here, the committee’s general secretary, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, said after a thorough investigation, interaction with villagers, eyewitness account of Jagsir Singh and circumstantial evidences they concluded that STF men were responsible for the murder of Nameem Khan.

He said they had also demanded a probe into the formation, control and activities of the STF and the arrest of its other members who were present at the time of firing that resulted in the youth’s death.

As per the findings of the committee, the STF had set up a check post at Kanakwal village on the fateful night and it signalled a truck ferrying four persons and cattle from Haryana to stop.

When the truck driver didn’t stop, the STF members gave it a chase and “opened indiscriminate firing on the vehicle.”

The truck stopped only when one of its tyre got punctured. Following this, the Rama police took the truck as well as the youth’s body in its custody.


Project becomes bone of contention
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, November 26
The local Akali and Congress leaders have locked horns over the laying of foundation stone for the project to widen a 16.32-km road stretch from Mudki to Mishriwala.

Mr Harpreet Brar, Executive Engineer, Punjab Mandi Board, said an estimated Rs 6.22 crore would be spent on widening the road, for which funds had been provided under the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna.

Akali MP Zora Singh Mann was supposed to lay the foundation stone tomorrow. Mr Manpreet Badal, Gidderbaha MLA, and Mr Gurdas Badal, former MP, were also invited for the stone laying ceremony but Congress MLA Ravinder Singh Sandhu laid the stone on Thursday.

Former Akali minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon who had organised a function said since the funds had been sanctioned after the recommendation of Mr Mann, the stone should have been laid by him only.

He said as per the guidelines issued by the Union Government, only a local MP was entitled to inaugurate projects executed under Centrally-sponsored schemes.

Mr Sandhu, refuting the allegations, said the project had been sanctioned due to his efforts. He said since the Congress was in power in the state as well as the Centre, the credit for the approval of the project went to his party.

Mr Mann, however, said he had gone to Mr Shanta Kumar, Minister of State for Rural Development, to get it sanctioned. He also showed a letter written by Mr Shanta Kumar to the Punjab CM, mentioning that the foundation stone of all projects under the scheme should be laid by the local MP in the presence of other invitees such as state ministers and MLAs.

Mr Rahul Tiwari ADC (Development) admitted that as per norms, all Centrally-sponsored projects had to be inaugurated by the local MP. He said all MLAs had been told about these guidelines.


‘Nightingale of Punjab’ remembered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 25
The larger-than-life image of peerless Punjabi singer Surinder Kaur was all pervasive at the Punjab Kala Bhavan here today, as an assemblage of her admirers paid rich tributes to the legend to commemorate her 77th birth anniversary.

During “Yadaan Surinder Kaur Dian”, speakers, including Prof Rajpal Singh, G.S. Boparai, Dr Kuldip Tiwana, former city mayor Harjinder Kaur and Dolly Guleria, the disciple daughter of the nightingale, lauded the pioneering contribution of the legend and her sister Parkash Kaur in the proliferation of Punjabi folk music.

The family, especially Parkash Kaur and Surinder Kaur, deserves the credit for empowering woman by becoming first-ever women performers of music on the stage in public and on Lahore Radio.

In order to take the rich Punjabi folk culture from household periphery to the world at large, they had to face many odds, even the social ostracism.

Sharing emotional moments with Surinder Kaur, Dolly Guleria, also president, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademy, reiterated her pledge to propagate the purity of Punjabi folk music.

She also instituted a trophy to be awarded annually in the memory of Surinder Kaur for the winner of folk music competition.

Students of the Dev Samaj College of Education — Puja Rishi, Puja Saroch and Sukhminder — presented a medley of songs immortalised by Surinder Kaur.

The melodic moments were enlivened as Pallavi, Harkirat, Sabeena, Harkirat and Priyanka from MCM DAV College rendered more songs.

A documentary directed on the life of the legendary singer by Mukesh Guatam and anchored by Hans Raj Hans was also screened.

Secretary general of the Punjab Arts Council Rajpal Singh assured to maintain the spirit of soulful Punjabi “gayaki” pioneered by the “Nightingale of Punjab”, who had no rival in the realm of folk singing.


Sikh bodies to boycott French goods
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, November 26
Various Sikh religious bodies today decided to boycott French goods. A resolution to this effect was passed during the Virsa Sambhal Miri Piri Sikh Sammelan here. The resolution came in retaliation to the French Governments’ ban on wearing turban in that country.

The Central Government and the SGPC were criticised for allegedly not making enough efforts to protect the rights of Sikhs. The bodies that participated in the sammelan included the Sant Samaj, Damdami Taksal, the Akali Dal (1920), the Gurmat Parchar Front and some Nihang bodies.

Eight resolutions were passed in the sammelan. The organisations also released a separate calendar for Sikhs.

The president of the Akali Dal (1920), Mr Ravi Inder Singh, criticised the Central Government for allegedly not taking up the issue seriously with France. The SGPC had also become a personal property of the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he alleged.

Although it was a religious function, the presence of leaders like former Prime Minister V.P. Singh, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Jan Morcha president Raj Babbar turned it into a political stage that provided them an opportunity to express views against their political rivals.


Rice millers to go on strike
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
The Punjab State Rice Millers Association, at its executive meeting held here today under the president-ship of Mr Tarsem Saini, national president of the association, decided to go on an indefinite strike in protest against the non-fulfilling of their demands.

The association has urged the Central Government to direct the Food Corporation of India to relax the conditions while accepting the levy and custom on milled rice from the millers.

Mr Nakesh Jindal, press secretary, in a press release issued here today, said the association had been demanding to extend the tolerance limit of damaged and discoloured rice to 4 and 6 per cent from the existing 3 and 4 per cent.

He said the association also appealed to enhance the milling charges from Rs 15 per quintal to Rs 27, keeping in view the hike in electricity and labour charges, but unfortunately nobody bothered for the demands of the rice industry. He urged the state government to press the centre for early solution to the problem.


Scooter rally against drugs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 26
Chemists here on Friday held a rally on scooters against drug abuse. The rally was organised to make people aware, especially youth, against ill-effects of drugs.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the rally at the Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre, near Mahavir Chowk, here.

Mohan Lal, SDM, Sangrur, Dr S.K. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Uppal, SP, and Mr Mohan Sharma, Project Director, Red Cross Drug De-addiction Centre also attended the rally.

The rally after passing through bazars of the town culminated at the office of the Deputy Commissioner.


Cache of arms dug up is scrap: experts
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
A high-powered team of bomb experts from the PAP Jalandhar today visited Fatehgarh Sahib to inspect the huge arms cache dug up from the Bhakra canal bed yesterday.

According to a press note, the bomb experts in their report mentioned that the arms cache, comprising rocket launchers, bomb shells, cartridges and ammunition, was nothing more than metal scrap nd nothing explosive was found in the cache.


3 get 10-yr jail

Moga, November 26
A court here has sentenced three persons from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh to 10 years’ imprisonment each for trade in poppy.

Additional Sessions Judge B S Sandhu convicted the three — Nishad Ahmed, Salim and Hamid Ahmed arrested under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act on January 18, 2002 and 25 bags of poppy husk recovered from them. — PTI


Lok adalat
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 26
Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate cum Chairman Sub Divisional Legal Services Authority Hardeep Singh Grewal on Saturday organised lok adalat in Nabha and settled 40 out of 50 cases presented before it. Apart from refund of Rs 73,816 as court fee, more than Rs 66 lakh were awarded in these cases to aggrieved. Judicial Magistrate Pushvinder Singh also cleared 55 cases of the 75 presented before him.


Dalit raped
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 26
Rape of a dalit woman of Sampat colony of Sriganganagar area was confirmed officially today morning. Two of them have been identified. A case has been registered, circle officer Nazam Ali Charan said.

The victim said she had gone to Suratgarh to borrow Rs 5,000 from her relative.

As she was waiting for a bus in the bypass crossing at a restaurant an employee requested two other customers to give her lift in their car to Sriganganagar. They served cold drink to the 27-year-old married woman on the way.

This made her drowsy. The car owners on the way also gave lift to another friend. Feeling insecure she asked them to drop her at a bus stop but they allegedly took her to a house in the housing board colony where she was raped.

Two culprits had been identified as Tribhuwan and Hazari Lal Panwar.


Case registered after two years
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 26
The police here took two years to register a case of theft in a warehouse in Ajitwal village, where wheat bags worth Rs 1 lakh had been stolen in November 2004.

The police was reluctant to register a case. The warehouse authorities recently ordered the money be recovered from the manager concerned. The police busted a gang of thieves, who during interrogation confessed that they had stolen wheat bags from the warehouse at Ajitwal two years back. The police registered a case at the Mehan police station.


House robbed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 26
At least six persons armed with swords and rods entered the house of a cop Gobind Singh at Neel Kanth Mohalla Nai Abadi, near Nalioan on Friday morning and attacked him, his wife Suman Kumari, father Pritam Singh, mother Satiya Devi and son Hardip Singh (11). The family was injured seriously and later shifted to Civil Hospital here.

The miscreants removed gold earrings and nose pin of Suman Kumari and Satya Devi and took away Rs 1700/- cash, a mobile phone and other valuable articles.


Spurned lover sets himself afire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 26
Spurned by a girl, a 22-year-old youth set himself on fire in front of that girl’s house opposite PAU gate number 3, around 9.30 pm here today. The youth belongs to Shahbad, Ambala. He suffered 65 per cent burns.

Vikas (22) was allegedly in love with a BEd student studying at Chandigarh. She belonged to Ludhiana and had come to her parents’ house for the weekend. She had allegedly spurned advances of the youth. The parents of Vikas also made an attempt for their marriage, but the girl refused. Vikas was rushed to the DMC Hospital, where doctors stated his condition to be serious.


Anomaly in lists irks job-seekers
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Recruitment of teachers in Punjab has come after a long gap of five years. The tentative lists of the results of near-successful candidates was put up outside the office of the Subordinate Services Selection Board, Punjab, but there was hardly any cheer among the candidates.

Outside the Board’s office, candidates who came to check their merit in science and Punjabi subjects from all over the state had a harrowing task as lists pasted on the walls remained incomplete for the better part of the day.

They also alleged that they had been running around urging officials to complete the displayed lists and also to rectify mistakes which had found their way into the list.

Seventy-year-old Balbir Singh from Kapurthala came looking for the result of his daughter. “We came here on November 15 to get our documents verified. It is not easy to come here again and again. Today, we came with high spirits only to discover that the Board had found no domicile certificate in my daughter’s documents. Hence, her name is nowhere in the list.”

“Though we have provided them with the required documents, these recruitment letters will never be issued. This is only a poll gimmick and I am sure that the election code will be implemented well before the letters see the light of day,” he rued.

“There was a huge rush in the morning and it was virtually a free-for-all as people tore down lists to have a look at the results unmindful of the others standing behind them. We approached the Board and after a long wait, we were able to get them to put up new lists,” said Satwinder Singh from Gurdaspur.

Abohar resident Dilbagh Singh maintained that there were a number of candidates whose names appeared in as many as three lists. “The Board must ask them their option and then display the final list so that we know exactly where we stand on merit,” he said.

Candidates who had applied in the “poor vision (female) category” complained that their lists had not been displayed by the Board.

When contacted, the Board Chairman, Brig Charanjeev Singh Harike, said that they were aware that candidates were constantly tearing away their results on display outside the Board’s office.

“We displayed the list four to five times to ensure that the public was not put to any inconvenience. Also, we are aware that there are certain discrepancies in the lists that were put up today. We have invited objections and told the candidates that the final lists will now be put up on Wednesday in the light of the changed merit. We have 110 such applications which have come in for corrections. Besides, we have displayed separate lists for all the categories under which applications were sought,” he said.


Put education of rural youth in manifesto: VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 26
The PU Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, has urged heads of political parties to make rural education a part of their election manifesto.

Mr Boparai, who has started the concept of neighbourhood campus to increase the percentage of rural students in the field of technical and professional education, wrote separate letters to presidents and state representatives of different parties, saying that they should include a special budget provision for the university education of rural youth in their manifestos.

Information reveals that he was perturbed over the findings of a recent survey which he had got conducted on rural youth in university education. The survey revealed that the share of rural students in Punjab was only 4 per cent while the rest came from the urban areas.

He highlighted in the letter that the Punjab Government spent Rs 165 crore on university education and if the amount was to be split in terms of the urban-rural share of students, only Rs 7.3 crore was being spent on rural students.


Waive loan of sick units: Traders
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 26
The Association of Sick Unit Industry Punjab has urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to arrange waiving of loans to such units by different government agencies.

Mr Ved Parkash, President of the association, in a letter urged the Chief Minister to fulfil the assurance made at Jalandhar on April 6, 2006 that on interest loans the industries took from the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) and the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), would be waived.

He said the PSIDC had started doing as per the announcement made by the Chief Minister, but the PFC was not considering it. The association requested that the Chief Minister to issue directions to the PFC to implement the announcement. He said Rs 203 crore, advanced to big industries had been waived by the PSIDC. Scale units financed the PFC, were suffering for Rs 17 crore, which was yet to be waived, he added.

The association requested the Chief Minister to waive 100 per cent interest of small sick units.


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