P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Employees’ strike hits life
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, December 14
On the call given by the sponsoring committee of the trade unions, a large number of private and government employees today went on a day-long token strike paralysing the entire government functioning.

They were protesting against the anti-employee policies of the Central and state governments. Addressing a large rally at Putlighar Chowk here today, senior union leaders, including Mr Vijay Mishra, lashed out at the government and said that the UPA dispensation at the Centre was deviating from the Common Minimum Programme and was pursuing the policies pursued by the previous NDA government. Mr Mishra alleged that due to anti-labour policies the factories were being shut down and rendering a number of staff jobless.

Coming down heavily on the false promises being made by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for promising to provide essential commodities at lower rates, he said the political parties were trying to mislead the innocent voters through these false announcements.

SANGRUR: A large number of activists, including women of various trade unions on Thursday took out a march through the town and blocked vehicular traffic at Traffic Lights Chowk, near the main bus stand, here in support of their demands. They staged a dharna and held a rally there for about two hours.

Besides, other organisations, district unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Lal Jhanda FCI Workers and the Paledars Union, the Lal Jhanda Bhatha Workers Union, the Anganwari Workers and Helpers Union, the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical Sales Representatives Union, Sangrur, the Sriyans Paper Mill Workers Union, Ahmedgarh, the Pepsi Food Workers Union, Channo, and the Workers Union of Indian Acrylic Limited, near Ghabdan, participated in the strike.

BATHINDA: On a day marked by protests and strikes, activists of employees’ unions of the PRTC, the PSEB, the LIC and banks today blocked traffic in front of the local bus stand for over an hour in support of their demands.

The protest was led by CPI leaders, Jagjeet Singh Joga and Gurbachan Singh Bhullar. Addressing the protesters, they said the Left parties would oppose tooth and nail the implementation of anti-people policies of institutions like the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation in the country. They alleged that like the NDA government the UPA regime too was “imposing these policies on the countrymen” and was thus violating the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the alliance.

Activists of the PRTC Workers Union (AITUC) and other bodies of corporation employees participated in the protest. The protesters blocked the entry of buses into the bus stand, inconveniencing the commuters who stood clueless on its premises.

Meanwhile, post office employees also struck work on the call of the National Federation of Postal Employees. Similarly, the Punjab Bank Employees Federation and the BSNL Employees Union also observed strike here.

Patiala: The one-day strike by various trade unions brought public dealing at various departments to a standstill across the town, putting the public to inconvenience.

Protests were staged at various places. Most of these were held to of criticise the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Rallies were held in front of the head offices of the PSEB and the State Bank of Patiala (SBOP).

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman of the PSEB, has said in a press note that disciplinary and departmental proceedings will be initiated against delinquent employees and the principal of “no work, no pay” will be applied.

The PSEB Employees Federation held rallies in front of various offices of the board .

The PSEB Technical Services Union (TSU) also joined the strike and employees owing allegiance to the union staged a demonstration at the Patiala circle office.

Postal and telecom workers of the city also observed strike on a call given by the National Federation of Telecom Employees and other Central Trade Unions.

The PWD Mulazam Sangharsh Committee (water supply, sanitation, irrigation and sewerage board) also lodged a protest against the state government’s policies by holding a march.

The North Zone Insurance Employees Association, on a call given by the All-India Insurance Employees Association, held a demonstration in front of the LIC office. Employees of the General Insurance Corporation also joined in. Various unions of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) stopped plying of buses for two hours in the afternoon. This caused inconvenience to the public.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Banking operations came to a standstill in the entire district as all branches of nationalised banks remained closed following a countrywide strike today. OC


3 Akali factions join hands to oust Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
Leaders of three Akali factions today gave a joint call to Sikhs to oust Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president Shiromani Akali Dal from the “Panthic scene”, to mark the 86th anniversary of the Akali Dal, here today.

The SAD (1920), headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a former Punjab Speaker, the Majha Akali Dal, headed by Mr Raghbir Singh and the SAD (Longowal) joined hands to challenge the SAD (Badal), the BJP and the Congress in elections to the Punjab Assembly, scheduled to be held in February next year.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, president SAD (Longowal) did not attend the meeting. Mr Inderjit Singh Zira , senior leader of SAD (Longowal) appealed to the Damdami Taksal chief, Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa to come forward and forge unity among various Panthic factions. Mr Ravi Inder Singh quipped the three Akali factions had already been united and remaining might join hands in coming days.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, president All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), who was also at the time of conference, announced 19 candidates for the Assembly elections. He, however, said he would withdraw the candidates where consensus was reached with other like-minded Panthic parties.

They would evolve joint strategy to field common candidates against the SAD (Badal) and the BJP alliance and Congress candidates.

They pledged to take control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and appoint Jathedars of various Takhts as per aspirations of the Sikh masses. They alleged corruption had crept into Sikh institutions since appointments were made to coveted posts to take “political mileage”.

Addressing a conference in Guru Nanak Stadium, here today, Mr Ravi Inder Singh alleged Mr Badal had converted the SAD into ‘Private limited company’ at the cost of senior leaders of the party. He said the SAD came into being in 1920 after supreme sacrifices by the Sikh Panth.

Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar Akal Takht, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal had failed to serve the Sikh community as per Sikh institutions. He alleged that Mr Badal was responsible for the denigration of Akal Takht also.


SAD woos pensioners, farmers
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Kanjhla (Sangrur), December 14
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said today if the SAD-BJP alliance was voted to power monthly pension of all old persons, widows, dependent children and disabled persons in the state would be raised from Rs 250 to Rs 400.

To a question Mr Badal said the SAD-BJP government would also provide 400 units of power free of cost to all poor people, irrespective of caste or religion. Besides “Ashirwad scheme” giving Rs 15,000 “shagun” at the time of marriage of a girl would be extended to all poor people, belonging to all communities, he added.

Mr Badal was in the Sherpur Assembly constituency of Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla to address rallies in support of Mr Kanjhla at Ghanauri Kalan, Kanjhla and Sandaur villages and launch election campaign of Mr Kanjhla. Mr Badal addressed rallies at these places and urged people to vote for the SAD-BJP alliance to end the “anti-people” regime of the Amarinder government.

Mr Badal also announced after coming to power the SAD-BJP would constitute a commission to look into the “fake cases” registered against the Akalis by the bureaucracy and the police. He said the officers, found guilty, would face action in three months. He also announced that the SAD-BJP would give five-year relaxation in upper age limit for submitting applications for various posts, as the Amarinder government had not given jobs to the youth. He promised the SAD-BJP would give jobs to 1.50 lakh youths.

Mr Badal also announced to open “Adarsh schools” in all 120 blocks of the state and Rs 5 crore would be spent on each school for providing quality education. He also said tie-ups would be made between the universities of Punjab and American/ British universities so that degrees, especially technical, of the Punjab youths could also get recognition abroad. Free education up to university level would be provided to girls. On the pattern of NIS, Punjab Institutes of Sports would be opened in Malwa, Majha and Doaba areas to promote sports.

Mr Badal also said manifesto of the SAD would be “people oriented” and would be released in December-end or in the first week of January. He also claimed that the SAD-BJP alliance would get more than 90 seats while the Congress would get only few seats due to its “anti-people” policies.


New faces to get ticket: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the challan in the corruption case registered against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal and his wife Surinder Kaur Badal by the state Vigilance Bureau would be presented in the fast track court shortly. He also said no special lawyers would be engaged for their prosecution.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Advocate General (AG) office would handle the case. He was here to lay the foundation stone of the southern bypass being constructed by the Border Road Organisation at a cost Rs 80 crore and PDA Omaxe City, Patiala.

He said the corruption case against Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, which was also registered by the state Vigilance Bureau, was being withdrawn as it was found not to be genuine and was entirely different from the corruption case against the Badals. He said it was expected that Mr Badal and his family members would be prosecuted in a year or so.

He categorically said neither his brother Malwinder Singh and nor his son Raninder Singh would contest the forthcoming Assembly elections. He said new faces could be given ticket in place of some sitting MLAs.

Refusing to disclose the number of MLAs, who could be denied ticket, the Chief Minister said the process of identifying weak candidates had been started with the consent of the party high command.

The Chief Minister said no economic package from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be expected during his next visit to Punjab as he (Prime Minister) had already given Rs 10,000 crore for the state. The Prime Minister would be laying the foundation stones of various projects during his next visit.

Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, media adviser to the Chief Minister, and Mr Vijay Inder Singla, president, Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), were present in the rally.

Asked why so much money was being spent on his Punjab Vikas Yatra, he said the yatra was purely political. He added that in a democratic set up rallies and yatras were only a medium to make people aware of the policies of any political party.

Asked about several incidents of police lathi charge in the recent past on people protesting against the policies of the state government, the Chief Minister said it was necessary for maintaining law and order.

He claimed that the state had made significant progress in the past five years. The government had managed to bring investments to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh crore to the state thus generating lakhs of jobs.

Mr Rohtas Goyal, Chairman, Omaxe Limited, said his company was committed to providing better and modern living conditions to the people apart from providing employment opportunity.


Identify your skills before heading West: BC MLA
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
Recognise your skills, keep your eyes open to opportunities and have “I-can-do” approach to achieve success in life. This piece of advice came from the second-time MLA of British Columbia, Mr Jagrup Brar, for Punjabi youth many of whom migrate to foreign countries with dollar dreams in their eyes.

Striking an instant rapport with students of Government Rajindra College during an interaction here today, Mr Brar quoted his real life instances to deliver an inspiring address. He exhorted the youth not to get bogged down by ills like poverty and corruption that ail Indian society. “You can neither change the system nor circumstances prevailing around you, but you can always change yourself. Put in hard work, focus on your goal and channelise your energy in doing constructive work," he averred.

Replying to a query on corruption, he said India had failed to develop a system in which dishonest could not flourish. “In British Columbia political parties don't allot ticket to a person having a case registered against him, while here you choose such people as your representatives.” He cited instances of Flying Sikh Milkha Singh who ran barefoot in Olympics and Gurdas Mann who earned a name in the world of music. He said when he was staying at his native village Deon he never thought of even becoming a sarpanch let alone an MLA in a foreign country. He said he was first elected to the Assembly in a bypoll with a huge margin and that too when the government.


Good Samaritan dies saving mishap victims
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
He was a saviour of lives for accident victims, but last night he himself became a victim of a road mishap while trying to rescue a motorcyclist injured in an accident near Kotshamir village. Ram Singh had been working with the Sahara Janseva, an NGO, since he was six years of age. He had grown up to be a tireless volunteer of the NGO over the years. Sahara chief Vijay Goel told this correspondent that they were returning from Mansa after attending a marriage of a volunteer last night. They spotted three injured men lying on the road as their motorcycle had met with an accident. Mr Goel and Ram Singh rushed out of their car to help the victims. When Ram Singh was rescuing the motorcycle rider, who had sustained serious injuries, a speeding car coming from the Bathinda side hit him. The car dragged him to quite a distance and left him seriously hurt. Aged 19, Ram Singh soon succumbed to his injuries. He had a narrow escape a couple of days back only when earth caved in and he was rescuing migrant labourers engaged in sewerage work.

Mr Goel said they were working together for the past 13 years and Ram Singh was instrumental in saving hundreds of lives. “I’m proud of Ram and his death has created a vacuum that would be very difficult to fill,” he added. Though the car driver sped away, the NGO had not lodged any complaint in this regard.

Ram was cremated at 2 pm today. Surprisingly, nobody from the district administration bothered to attend his funeral despite the fact that the NGO had always been on the forefront in helping police and civil administration in rescue works at the time of any tragedy.


No return to active politics: Jakhar
Our Correspondent,

Abohar, December 14
The Madhya Pradesh Governor, Dr Balram Jakhar, has refuted the BJP propaganda that he was working as a nominee of the Congress in the state. “My concern is only the welfare of Madhya Pradesh and of course the farming community”, he added.

Responding to a volley of questions during a meet-the-press programme at the canal rest house here this afternoon, Dr Jakhar said, “I abide by the code of conduct defined in the Constitution for Governors and never discussed politics while occupying the chair”. He ruled out the possibility of returning to active politics after completing the present term in office. He also made it clear that he had not approached the Congress so far for contesting election to the supreme office of President.

Expressing satisfaction over the development works in the town during the past few years, he advised the party workers to rise above petty differences and work in harmony.

Expressing concern over the fate of farmers, Dr Jakhar, one of the founders of the Bharat Krishak Samaj, said 70 per cent of the population depended on farming, but the farmers were denied remunerative price for their crops. Certain elements always raised a hue and cry as and when the MSP was raised. It was certainly not good to pay more on importing grains than giving the Indian farmer his due.

Congress workers, including a large number of women led by the Mahila Congress president, Ms Veerbala Nagpal, gave a rousing reception to Mr Jakhar. Mr Jakhar asked the women to work for social justice and fight against evils. Former minister Sajjan Kumar Jakhar and Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, chairman, IFFCO, were among those present. Mr Dev Mittar Ahuja, president, Cotton Ginners Association, hosted lunch in his honour.


Singla to contest from Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
Putting all speculations at rest the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, today made it clear that he would contest from Bathinda in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Singla said over the past five years he had developed an affinity for the place and could not think of contesting from elsewhere. On the refinery issue, he said talks for collaboration were on with a French and an Iraq-based companies. HPCL and L and T would set up a national-level institutes in the city for training professionals working in the petroleum sector.

Replying to the SAD's allegation on extending subsidy to poor on pulses and wheat flour, he said, "the SAD had stolen the Congress' agenda".


PM to hand over historic fort to admn
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar , December 14
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is likely to hand over the charge of historical Gobindgarh Fort to the administration during his much-hyped visit to his home town here on December 19.

The Union Cabinet on October 27 had given its approval for the transfer of additional 15.168 acres of land near Gobindgarh Fort here ,to the Punjab Government without any cost and encumbrances.

The Cabinet decision enabled the government to declare the fort as protected monument.

During his last visit to Amritsar, Dr Manmohan Singh had decided to hand over the fort to the civil administration.

However, the fort will be formally opened to the public only after all security-related construction work has been completed to the satisfaction of GOC, 15 Infantry Division.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defence had transferred 32.81 acre of defence land near the fort to the state government. With the Cabinet decision, the total land that would be transferred to the Punjab Government would be 47.978 acres of defence land.

The fort occupied a unique place in the Indian military history. Built in 1760, it was called Bhangian da Kila (Bhangis was one of the 12 Sikh misls). 


Pay panel notification today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 14
Mr Surinder Singla, Punjab Finance Minister, disclosed today a notification on the constitution of Fifth Punjab Pay Commission, would be issued today or by tomorrow. He said a former Deputy Commissioner of Sangrur had been made chairperson of the commission, which would have four members, including the chairperson.

To a question, Mr Singla said an economist had also been made a member of the commission, which would finalise its report in a year. He said the Punjab Cabinet would be informed in this regard tomorrow.

Earlier, Mr Singla laid the foundation stone of a hall in the district administrative complex (DAC) here. Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, was also present.

The Finance Minister added the Punjab government had received money from the Central government for improving health services in rural areas and the process to appoint 1300 rural health officers in the state would start. An advertisement might be published in newspapers before the election code of conduct coming into force.

Mr Singla also said the government would release pending subsidy of Rs 425 crore to the industry. It has already released subsidy of Rs 150 crore for the industry. He said the government was thinking whether subsidy be given in cash or through bonds. The Punjab Cabinet will clear the health insurance scheme tomorrow for the urban poor on the pattern of the rural poor.

Regarding the announcement, by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to supply wheat at Rs 4 per kg and pulses at Rs 20 per kg to the poor, Mr Singla said Mr Badal had copied the Amarinder government’s programme in this regard.


IMA: Revoke transfer of ‘expectant’ doc
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, December 14
The transfer of an expectant doctor posted at the Civil Hospital, Mohali, reportedly at the behest of the Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, has drawn flack from the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The association has even appealed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to cancel the transfer of the doctor.

The in-service wing of the state branch of the IMA in a statement here today condemned the anti-doctors attitude of the state Health Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, who reportedly ordered the transfer of Dr Ravleen Kaur at the insistence of Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

The chairman of the wing, Dr D.S. Bhullar, said the reaction of the MLA might be an outcome of some misunderstanding between him and the doctor, for which the Health Department had punished the latter.


Sikh boy’s hair cut, 3 booked
Tribune News Service

Bhagapurana (Moga), December 14
Tension gripped the town today when three motorcycle-borne miscreants allegedly cut hair of a Sikh boy.

Sukhjit Singh, a young boy who works in a cloth shop, alleged that Gurdev Singh along with two unidentified persons, confronted him at the Bhagapurana bus stand this morning and chopped off his hair with a sharp- edged weapon.

The youth, with his hair chopped, was taken to the police station by his father, Mr Karamjit Singh, a resident of Mughal Patti, along with the local gurdwara committee chief , Mr Sadhu Singh. A case was registered against Gurdev Singh and two unidentified youths.

Sukhjit Singh told the police that he had been getting prank calls on his mobile phone for the last many days. He said the callers used to abuse him frequently and called him at odd hours. He said when he called back on the number, the person refused to identify himself and started abusing him again.

As news of the incident spread, some students organised protests at various places in the town.


Gang of thieves busted

Ferozepore, December 14
The police has busted a gang allegedly involved in several crimes, including lifting of vehicles, robberies and thefts, with the arrest of six members of the gang.

The SSP said the police raided a hideout of the gang near Sudhara village on the Mallanwala-Makhu road where the gang members had assembled to plan another major theft. Those who have been identified are Balwinder Singh alias Binda, Kulwant Singh, Sanjeev, alias Sippu, Buta Singh, Balkar Singh, alias Jassi and Sarabjit Singh, alias Sabha.

The police recovered a .315 bore pistol, three cartridges, .12 bore country- made pistol, one sword, iron rods, mobile phone and two stolen motorcycles. During interrogation, the culprits have confessed to their crime. — OC


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