P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Teachers on warpath
‘Jail bharo andolan’ from tomorrow
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Teachers and other employees of the Punjab Government-aided schools will launch a “jail bharo andolan” from December 4 and will go on indefinite strike on December 5.

Mr Hardeep Singh Dhindsa, press secretary of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union, said today that teachers would court arrest in front of the Punjab Civil Secretariat from December 4. Teachers and other employees from Moga would court arrest on December 4, staff from Ludhiana would court arrest on December 5 and teachers and employees of Sangrur, Barnala and Tarn Taran would court arrest on December 6, he added.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president, and Mr Manohar Lal Chopra, adviser of the union, said the government had backed out from the promise with regard to the restoration of pension benefits to the employees.

Since June 1, 2003, the employees were not getting pension. Earlier, the government had approved pension for teachers and other employees in 1992.

While stopping the pension of employees the government had announced a new pension scheme, which the employees had rejected as it was ‘not beneficial’. Mr Chopra said as the staff would go on indefinite strike from December 5, all aided schools would remain closed.

There were about 5 lakh students in these schools whose studies would be affected as annual examinations were approaching.

Other demands of the teachers include increased medical allowance and interim relief with effect from November 2006, pension on par with government employees, lifting of ban on new appointments, selection grade for clerical staff, rural area allowance and regular release of grants to pay salary.


BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur) split wide open
Sidhupur settles score by expelling Dakonda
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 2
Giving a befitting reply to his opponents, who had expelled him on November 30 from the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Sidhupur), Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, state president of the BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur), has expelled Mr Balkar Singh Dakonda, Mr Buta Singh Buraj Gill, Mr Manjit Singh Dhaner, Mr Gurmeet Singh Bhattiwal and Mr Malook Singh Heerke, all leaders of the union, for their alleged "anti-union" and "anti-farmer" activities.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Sidhupur said these leaders had been expelled from the primary membership of the union as they had been "hatching a conspiracy" for the past some months to create factionalism in the union. He said these "so called leaders" had also initiated evil actions, like his so called expulsion from the union and had caused harm to the union in a big way.

Mr Sidhupur said these leaders had also left farmers’ agitations midway and that too at a time when strong unity was needed among farmers’ organisations.

Earlier, the BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur) had received a jolt on November 30 due to a "split" in the union. A group of the union had, at a meeting held at Mastuana Sahib on that day, "expelled" Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur and some other leaders of the union on account of their alleged "anti-union" and "anti-farmer" activities. This group elected Mr Balkar Singh Dakonda as acting state president of the union, Mr Buta Singh Burj Gill as acting state general secretary of the union, Mr Manjit Singh Dhaner as senior state vice-president and Mr Malook Singh Heerke as vice-president of the union in the meeting.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur said he had already got elections of the union completed unanimously in Faridkot, Muktsar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts while he had already dissolved the executive bodies of the unions of five districts- Bathinda, Mansa, Ludhiana, Barnala and Ferozepore on November 3 last.

He said elections to these district units of the union would be held soon and after that a general delegate conference of the union would be convened.


Congress, SAD gear up for show of strength
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 2
With the election scenes already hotting up in the state, both the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have stepped up their efforts to cause a dent in the rival’s support base by holding major rallies in the Malwa belt of the state.

Even as the SAD is gearing up for the Moga rally, the Congress has amplified its preparations for the Lambi rally.

The Congress and SAD have both asked their senior party functionaries not only to tour their respective areas extensively to mobilise party rank and file for December 8 rallies, but are also motivating general masses to participate in the rallies. The mood among party workers also appears to be upbeat and the leadership of both the parties is expecting a massive turnout at their rallies.

The Congress and SAD have secured 100 acres of land each for holding the rallies in Moga and Lambi, respectively, and according to some these rallies would ascertain who enjoys maximum support among the masses.

Though the Minister for Industries, Commerce and Environment, Mr Avtar Henry, claimed that the massive turnout at the Congress rally would rip apart belief of the SAD that Lambi was their unswerving electorate, Akali legislator from Moga Jathedar Tota Singh maintained that the Akali rally would be a show of strength by the SAD that would put to shame the state Congress leadership and their claims that they had mass support among the electorate.

The Congress men are aiming to hold a bigger rally as compared to the recent Ludhiana rally, while the Akalis claim that their rally would be five times bigger than that of the Congress at Lambi.

The SAD is even putting in efforts to make a number of prominent national leaders attend and address the rally. These include two former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and I. K. Gujral, besides, L. K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and some other senior leaders.

Allowing no letups in preparations for the rally, both Congress and SAD leadership are holding meetings at village level across the state to ascertain a gigantic audience at the rally grounds.


No rift with CM: Dullo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 2
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Shamsher Singh Dullo appears to have mellowed down with his reconcilliatory tone towards the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He categorically denied having any difference of opinion with the Chief Minister on any issue, including free power to farmers.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Dullo, accompanied by the Panchayat and Rural Development Minister, Mr Lal Singh, a close confidant of the Chief Minister, said rumours about his “difference of opinion on certain issues with the Chief Minister” were being deliberately spread by enemies of the party. He was categoric in stating that he had “no difference of opinion with the Chief Minister”.


6 revolt against trust Chairman
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
As many as six out of nine trustees of the local Improvement Trust have virtually raised a banner of 'revolt' against its Chairman Jugal Kishore Sharma who is also a ruling party MLA. All six trustees are senior local Congress leaders.

In a joint complaint to the Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, they alleged that the proceedings of the meetings were being tampered with for ulterior motives. “We the trustees are not even given the minutes of the meeting of the Trust”, they alleged.

While refuting the charges Mr Sharma claimed that the functioning of the Improvement Trust was fair. He claimed that the agenda was being circulated to all trustees and all the items were being cleared as per the rules and bylaws of the Trust.

Except for Mr Ram Lal Sharma, who is a close confidant of the Chairman, all six non-official trustees, including Mr Rajeev Bhagat, Mr Mahesh Khanna, Mr Parminder Singh Tung , Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Rajinder Sharma and Mr Baljit Singh, signed the joint representation levelling serious charges regarding the functioning of the Improvement Trust.

The trustees alleged that many a time agenda presented in the Trust meetings was not circulated to them for various reasons. “The agenda is concealed, pre-planned and not discussed”, they alleged.

The trustees specifically mentioned the case wherein a chunk of prime land was allotted to private builders without being mentioned in the agenda. However, Chairman of the Improvement Trust claimed that the case of allotment of 32 acres to 'Veer Enclave' had been cleared only after receiving permission from the state government.

“We were astonished to see that this agenda item had been passed, two to three months after the date of the meeting, and when we inquired about the same we were blankly told that it had already been decided in that particular meeting and the permission had already been taken”, the complaint added.

The trustees claimed that this item was cleared in the last meeting, held on October 4, and the trustees and members were not informed about it.


Third degree: Yehi hai cop’s choice
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Batala, December 2
Despite big talks about human rights, the methods of the Punjab Police to treat suspects or criminals have not changed even 59 years after Independence.

The police here is still using pre-colonial third-degree methods of torturing and extracting information from suspected criminals, no matter how inhuman these are.

An illustration of the methods being used by the Punjab Police to torture suspects came to the fore in Batala here a few days ago. A group of protesters, led by a member of the Subordinate Services Selection Board, Mr Kamal Bakshi, and the Parliamentary Secretary from Batala, Mr Ashwani Sekri, laid a siege to the CIA staff complex at Batala to rescue two suspected criminals allegedly being kept in illegal custody.

As soon as the protesters forcibly entered the CIA staff building, two suspects of a robbery case, Peter Messih and Emanuel Messih, were found with their legs locked in a wooden block. The inmates were totally immobile and forced to stay in the torturing posture.

The protesters also found in the police torture room a number of other instruments used to give third-degree treatment to suspects. These included instruments to give electric shocks, wooden locks to make the suspects immobile and then torture them, instruments to put pressure on the epidermal layers of the skin that give a lot of pain to the victims, besides belts attached with wooden handles.

Some protesters clicked a few photographs, depicting third-degree methods being used by the police in the CIA centre that were later provided to The Tribune.

The accused were later released by the police under pressure from the protesters.

Sources said they were picked up by the police on the suspicion of being involved in a robbery at a petrol station in the Harpura area of the district. The police was trying to extract information from them using third-degree methods.

The CIA staff centres of the Punjab Police gained notoriety as torture centres during terrorism days to extract information from terrorists or their supporters.

Though the days of terrorism are over, the police still uses third-degree methods.

Police officers on condition of anonymity admitted to the use of third-degree methods in the state.

The SSP, Batala, Mr L.K. Yadav, said prompt action was taken in the case as soon as the matter was reported to them. Police officials, who had detained the suspects illegally, had been put under suspension.


Distorted portrayal of Guru Ravidas in school book
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 2
Activists of Shri Guru Ravidas Sabhas of Singriwala, Dagana Kalan, Piplanwala, led by Mr Bhagwan Singh Chohan, a BSP candidate from Shamchauras, and Mr Onkar Singh Jhamat, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the BSP, staged a dharna and blocked the traffic at Singriwala on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar state highway for about an hour here today. They were protesting against the wrong portrayal of Guru Ravi Dass in chapter No. 4 of a Class VII book published by the Punjab School Education Board. The Guru’s biography gave a distorted picture of his life.

They also burnt an effigy of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD minister, and raised slogans against him. Later, Mr Pritam Singh, SDM, along with the police reached the spot and assured them that their feelings would be conveyed to the authorities concerned. On getting the assurance the agitators lifted the dharna.

They also presented a memorandum to the SDM. It stated that in chapter No. 4, it was shown that Guru Ravi Dass had been worshipping Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. They stated that Guru Ravi Dass was totally against the worship of idols. The picture had injured the religious sentiments of Guru’s followers. Besides, other objectionable things the names of mother and father of Guru Ravi Dass, his date of birth and guru's name were wrongly published.

The lines printed on page No. 10 "Oh Kise Pashu Noo Mar Ke Uas Di Jutti Nahi Bnaunde Sagoon Meare Hoi Pashu Da Chamra Mul Lande Si" - rather than killing animals, he purchased leather of dead animals for making shoes- was objectionable, the memorandum stated. They urged the government to rectify the mistake as soon as possible.


‘Make politicians accountable’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Punjab can set an example for the rest of the country in introducing transparency and decency in the election process by introducing public debates, featuring candidates of major political parties. These views are expressed by Mr Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, an NRI and a senior leader of the overseas wing of the Indian National Congress.

“There is no harm in incorporating good points from electoral processes of other nations,” he says.

“Let Chandigarh Press Club be the nodal agency for organising debates in all 117 constituencies of Punjab for the coming Assembly elections,” suggests Mr Bajwa. The participating candidates will have at least a moral commitment to honour the promises they make in a public debate which is telecast live and anchored by independent people, including senior newsmen.

Other useful purpose of the debates will be that it will minimise mudslinging and introduce a sense of decency in the battle for electoral supremacy. “At times, we are embarrassed when we are confronted in the western democracies with videos and TV programmes where Indian politicians in general and Punjabis in particular not only use rough and non-Parliamentary language but also start abusing each other,” says Mr Bajwa.

“Now is the time for Punjab politics to introduce an element of transparency. I have met important leaders of all major political parties of the state and all have welcomed the idea.”

“Media has a role to play in cleansing the politics,” he adds. The debate would start with candidates of chief ministership featuring in the first open forum to be conducted by senior credible newsmen. Subsequently, candidates in each of the 117 constituencies should be called to appear in a TV talk show to answer questions from not only those conducting the debate but also from electors of their respective constituencies.

Overseas Indians, he says, will be willing to sponsor such an initiative. The electoral process needs some reforms.


Untreated pollutants in Tung Dhab damage DNA of villagers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
Untreated pollutants being released openly in the Tung Dhab, a natural drain passing through Amritsar city, are having an adverse effect on the health of residents. The pollutants, including heavy metals and chemicals, were being released into the drain by local industry, Municipal Corporation, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Army and the central jail area.

The studies carried out by the scientists from GNDU have suggested that the untreated pollutants in the drain were harming the health of residents. The scientists have reported damage to DNA of residents of Mahal village, located at a distance of half kilometer from the polluting drain.

Dr Gursatej Gandhi from the Department of Human Genetics of GNDU carried out a study to analyse the effect of pollution on the peripheral lymphocytes of residents of Mahal village. The study has revealed DNA damage in the blood lymphocytes of the residents of Mahal village.

Dr Gandhi said as per her study the consumption of contaminated water was the main reason for DNA damage in the residents of Mahal village. The DNA damage can cause premature ageing and cancer.

Another study carried out by Dr Vasudha Sambya, Dr Rupinder Kaur, Dr Sonia Chaudhary and Shuchi Amar has found high frequency of micronuclei in Buccal Mucosa (mouth) of women in Mahal village. The frequency of micronuclei was also directly related to the period of their stay in the village that clearly indicated that contaminated water was the main cause of DNA damage in these women.

A water analysis of the drain carried out by the Department of Botany, GNDU, had indicated high presence of heavy metals. The scientists are of the opinion that heavy metals are stable and can cause long term adverse effects on human health.

However, despite such a plethora of scientific evidence the authorities concerned have not taken any action to stop the flow of untreated pollutants in the Tung Dhab drain. Besides Mahal village many posh colonies have developed around the drain. The contamination of underground water in the area due to continuous flow of untreated waste in kucha drain might be having an adverse effect on the residents of new colonies also. The foul smell emanating from the drains is also a constant irritant for the residents of these colonies.

The departments of irrigation and Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) have repeatedly issued notices to the GNDU, Municipal Corporation and other bodies releasing untreated waste in the drain but without any effect.


Probe into assault on photo-journalist begins
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
DIG (Patiala Range) H.S Randhawa, on the direction of the DIG, Punjab, today began the probe into the alleged beating up and implication in a false case of the senior staff photographer of The Hindustan Times, Samuel N. Dass, while he was on duty in Kharar on Thursday.

Mr Randhawa heard the version of Mr Samuel in a rest house in Kharar in the evening. “I have narrated how I was beaten up by the police on Thursday and detained in the police station,” said Samuel.

He added that his wife was with him when the incident occurred. Even she was also not allowed to leave the police station on that day.
It is learnt that Mr Randhawa also visited the site of the incident and recorded the versions of the other officials in the case.

Earlier in the day, the Kharar police had called Mr Samuel to the police station with the evidence and witnesses to support his claim.

“Despite the fact that the CM had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the case, the police seems to be above the law and called me to the police station. But after discussing the matter with senior functionaries, I conveyed to them that it would not be appropriate for him to visit the police station again in this matter,” he added


Punjabi writer ‘Arif’ dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Acclaimed Punjabi writer Prof G.S. Bhatia “Arif” breathed his last at PGI this afternoon. He had a cardiac arrest and had been on treatment since November 27. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

An award winning author of several Punjabi books and poetry anthologies, Professor Arif was best known for his translations from Punjabi to both Urdu and English. He was a master of eight languages.

His anthology “Matla Arz Hai” was awarded the Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir award by the Language Department, Punjab, for 1988. Later on, his Urdu poetry collection “Shayad Kisi Kaabil Ho” won the coveted Sahir Ludhianavi Award for 1997. He was also declared the Poet of the Year by Punjabi journal “Kalakaar” in 1993.

Sool Surahi, a noted institution promoting Punjabi language and culture, also honoured Professor Arif for his contribution to the field of Urdu ghazals in 2005. Also a renowned translator, he was one of the translators on the panel of the Sahitya Akademi’s translation section, set up to translate the works of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

His last literary work was “Afsaane Parle Paar Ki”. The cremation will take place at 1 pm at Sector 25 grounds.


Three get jail for murder
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 2
Mr S.K. Goel, Additional Sessions Judge, today awarded life imprisonment to Khushi Ram (27) in a murder case registered at Sunam police station on July 5,2002.

The case was registered under Sections 302, 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC against Khushi Ram, Ramandip, alias Rimmi, and Gurdeep Dass, alias Gola, all residents of Gandhuan village (near Sunam).

Khushi Ram was awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 20,000 under Section 302 of the IPC. In default of fine, he will further undergo rigorous imprisonment for four months.

Gurdeep Dass was awarded rigorous imprisonment for two years and a fine of Rs 2000 under Section 324 of the IPC and rigorous imprisonment for one year along with a fine of Rs 1,000 under Section 323 of the IPC.

Ramandip was awarded rigorous imprisonment for two years along with a fine of Rs 2,000 under Section 324/34 of the IPC and rigorous imprisonment for one year along with a fine of Rs 1,000 under Section 323 of the IPC. Both sentences of Gurdeep Dass and Ramandeep will run concurrently.


Raid to nab teacher
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 2
The police today raided some localities to arrest a government schoolteacher and his accomplices who have been booked on a complaint lodged by an Executive Officer (EO) of the Municipal Council. However, no arrest has been made so far.

The EO in his complaint registered on November 22 had alleged that the schoolteacher and his friends had forced entry into the municipal office and tried to disturb official work, besides taking away some documents with them. The complainant identified three persons, one of who had been arrested. The court released him on bail yesterday.


Shivalik Principal sacked
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
The Principal of Shivalik Public School, Ropar, Ms Gurpreet Mathur, was today dismissed due to administrative reasons by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, who is also the chairman of the management of the committee running the school. The school having a strength of about 2000 students and 105 teaching and non-teaching staff is one of the oldest schools here.

When contacted, Ms Mathur said she was on medical leave for the past three days and had not been served the termination letter yet. Moreover, she had not been served any showcause notice in this regard.

Mr Shekhar said the decision was purely on administrative grounds and no show-cause notice was required. Meanwhile, the Assistant Commissioner (General), Rajesh Tripathi, was given the charge of the Principal of the school.


International conference on mechanical engineering
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 2
The mechanical engineering department of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, yesterday organised a three-day international conference on ‘Advances in Mechanical Engineering-06 (AME-06)’.

This conference was inaugurated by Vice Chancellor of Punjab Technical University Dr S.K. Salwan, while Director of Sant Longowal Institute of Engg & Technology (SLIET) Longowal Dr S.K. Pandey presided over the function. Member secretary of the college trust Kirpal Singh Libra was the guest of honour.

In his address, Dr D.S. Hira, Principal of the college, said 300 papers had been received for this conference from all over the world, out of which 148 were selected by the advisory committee. Chairman of AME-06, Dr Harpreet Singh said conference papers from USA, Rusia, Sweden France, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Bangladesh, Japan were shortlisted. Dr Harpreet said the conference presentation would be done simultaneously in three different venues in the college. On the first day, Dr Mishra, IIT, Gurwhati would deliver the key note address.


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