P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Now, sops for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 21
With an eye on elections the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today announced sops for the ex-servicemen of the state. While addressing the ex-servicemen rally at government college ground here today he launched a special recruitment drive for those belonging to the state.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has been directed to recruit 500 ex-servicemen against the posts of meter readers or any posts equivalent to it. Besides this, other government departments have been directed to fill their allotted quota of ex-servicemen against the vacant posts, he added.

The Chief Minister said the government was also planning to launch a social security scheme for the parents of martyrs. Many cases have been reported in which the martyrs’ parents were left in lurch while their immediate dependents mainly wives remarried taking all benefits. The government has already directed the authorities concerned to pay a portion of the family pension to the destitute parents of martyrs.

When the ex-servicemen asked the Chief Minister to start one-rank-one pension scheme for them he (the Chief Minister) said this issue would be discussed with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister. This issue had already been referred to the pay commission constituted by the Central government, he added.

However, the Chief Minister had a hard time listening to the grievances of disgruntled ex-servicemen and their family members. The security personnel of the Chief Minister faced difficulty in controlling the crowd. Within minutes the Chief Minister's hands were full of applications given by ex-servicemen.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD and Education Minister, said he had received numerous complaints from the ex-servicemen that they were not being treated well by the civil authorities.

The Chief Minister distributed cheques worth Rs 1.5 crore among families of the martyrs. He also announced an additional grant of Rs 5 crore for giving immediate financial relief to the families of about 100 martyrs from the state.

Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Transport Minister, Mr Sadhu Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Khushal Behl and Mr Ashok Sharma, both MLAs, were among others present on the occasion.


Badal misleading people on package: CM
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib (Ropar), December 21
Reacting to SAD Chief Parkash Singh Badal’s criticism of the financial package announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his recent Amritsar visit, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today Mr Badal was misleading people.

The Chief Minister said the Akalis could manage only Rs 50 crore from former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of which they spent only Rs 43 crore. While during his term, financial grant of Rs 22,637.80 crore was received from the Prime Minister so far. Our government will issue advertisements in the press to highlight the truth, he added.

On the proposed defence university in the state, he said it would be set up at Patiala as the Ministry of Defence had approved and selected the site. He said a formal announcement would be made soon by the Ministry of Defence in this regard.

He was interacting with reporters after inaugurating the first phase of the Theme Park at a cost of Rs 27 crore in the memory of two Sahibzadas Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh and 40 Sikh martyrs on the concluding day of the Jor Mela here.

On the ongoing statewide agitation of teachers of the aided schools for pension, he ruled out the possibility of grant of pension to the teachers. He said out of three demands, the government had conceded two, including the merger of 50 per cent DA and recruitment of teachers.

On the case of corruption involving Badals hearing for which is on December 23 in a Ropar court, he refused comment as the matter in a court. The High Court has passed an order in the case for speedy trial of the case in six months.

He said the Theme park was not merely a monument but a vital link to apprise the Punjabi Diaspora settled abroad with their rich heritage and legacy.

Later addressing people in the Punjab livestock fair, he said the fair would be made permanent annual feature on the pattern of Pushkar mela during Jor mela. He said Punjab had tradition of horses and horse riding was ancient sport among Punjabis since time memorial.

Animal Husbandry and Tourism Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, Parliamentary Secretaries Sadhu Singh Dharmshot and Rana K.P. Singh, MLA, Anandpur Sahib, Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Jagjit Puri, Principal Secretary and Director Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Deputy Commissioner, Alok Shekhar were also present.


Govt plans legal tangle for Badal and son
Hearing restarts on Dec 23
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The Amarinder government is planning to tie up former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Badal, and others in court proceedings in connection with a corruption case registered against them by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Hearing in the case is scheduled to restart from December 23 before a Special Court at Ropar following a recent judgment of the Supreme Court that held that prior sanction was not necessary in corruption cases involving government servants.

On December 23, the special court will start hearing the state’s plea for framing of charges.

According to sources, the government has asked Advocate-General R.S. Cheema to conduct the case. He has also been asked to constitute a team of law officers from his office and the Director, Prosecution and Litigation, Punjab, to deal with the high-profile case.

Not only this, the government has also told the AG to hire the best lawyers from anywhere in the country for the case, at whatever price, if need be.

This move, the sources say, is part of the plan of the Congress government, which is facing a difficult elections where it is pitted mainly against the SAD-BJP combine, to not allow the Badals and the main Akali leaders to canvass too much.

Badals are the main campaigners for the SAD-BJP combine.

The Special Court Judge, Ropar, Mr G.S. Saran, has also issued a notice to them to appear before the court on December 23.

However, sources in the legal team of the Badals say that they have already decided to move an application before the Special Judge, Ropar, seeking to be exempted from court appearance. Mr Badal’s wife has already been exempted by the court.

The sources also say that the Badals and others will also oppose the application filed by the district attorney seeking framing of charges. They will request that the court first deal with the pending applications.

“It is a political case. There is no complaint against Badal and his son. The court can’t overlook this fact while deciding on the issue of their personal presence during hearings,” said a lawyer, who is part of the Badals’ defence team.

He also disclosed that they would oppose any move to frame charges against those named in the case.

A senior officer of the Home Department, Punjab, acknowledged that the government had asked the AG to conduct the case.

“This is a very important case. That is why we have asked the AG to deal with it personally. After all, he is among the best criminal lawyers in the country,” said the officer.


Troubles continue to loom large over Badal
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Troubles continue for Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Less than a fortnight after the apex court turned down a petition against the grant of sanction to prosecute him in a corruption case, the Punjab Vigilance Commission has initiated a move to attach the properties of politicians, bureaucrats and others accused of possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Along with Mr Badal, former Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chief Ravi Inder Singh is likely to be affected by the move aimed at preventing the use of “ill-gotten” money for defending corruption cases registered by the state vigilance team. The former PPSC Chief is also facing the allegations of amassing wealth through wrongful means.

The sources in the Punjab Government assert that the Vigilance Commission, headed by retired Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Justice Amar Dutt, has already asked the state Vigilance Bureau to furnish a detailed list of “disproportionate asset” cases pending before the courts.

Though Justice Dutt refuses to divulge the details, the sources in his office say he is expected to move an application to the state government seeking the attachment of such properties soon after receiving the comprehensive list.

The application will be forwarded under the provisions of the Criminal Law Amendment Audience on the basis of a judgement recently pronounced by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In the judgement, a Division Bench of the high court headed by Justice Dutt, had paved way for the attachment of “disproportionate assets” under Section 3 and 4 of the amendment to prevent an accused from using the same in defending his case.

For the commission formed about four months ago with the appointment of Justice Dutt as the Vigilance Commissioner, this is the third major step in “its crusade against corruption”.

Besides directing all government departments to speed up cases where permission to prosecute is pending, Justice Dutt has also asked the government to supply a comprehensive list of employees continuing in service even after being convicted in one case or the other. Included in the category are not only government employees, but even the ones working with the Punjab Government undertakings.


Healthy vision his mission
Jubbal’s hospital for poor under construction in Amritsar
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
For 71-year-old Anup Singh Jubbal, a Canadian of Indian origin, giving the poor and needy a “healthy vision” is his mission. Based in Vancouver, Mr Jubbal, a Rotarian, travels to India every year not only to support and supervise free eye operation camps but also monitor the setting up of a multi-speciality eye surgery hospital at Chabba in Amritsar.

Recipient of Queen’s Meritorious Service Medal in 1997, Mr Anup Singh Jubbal was also felicitated by the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Stephen Harper, this year for his yeoman's service of providing vision to those who cannot otherwise afford it.

Though born in Lucknow, Jubbals come from Amritsar where his family is still maintaining its ancestral home.

Mr Jubbal, who is the brain behind Canadian Eyesight International, a charitable organisation, hopes to raise $ 5,00,000 for the state-of-the-art facility at Chabba which will be for performing cataract surgery, holding eye clinics and host education and training programmes. The society has taken on a 99-year lease a two-acre piece of land for the ambitious project where the work has been in progress.

Mr Jubbal, who was once chairman of the Rotary’s International Service Committee, has managed to get the support of the Rotary Clubs in Canada as well as India, besides a number of temples and the Indo-Canadian community for his project. So far, his organisation has performed more than 43,000 surgeries in India, besides treating thousands others for avoidable blindness.

A successful real estate agent, Mr Jubbal has during his current visit organised three eye camps at Gidderbaha, Chabba and Fatehabad. While the first camp was sponsored by two Canadians - Mr Gurmel Dhaliwal and Mr Pal Dhaliwal - the second had sponsors in the Rotary Clubs of Amritsar and Mr Jubbal’s own Rotary Club of Surrey-Guildford. The third was sponsored by Mr Dilbagh Chawla, who runs a radio programme in Canada.

Mr Jubbal says that his proposed hospital is being named after Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib and Mata Sulakhni. He was in Chandigarh today and met Mr R.K. Saboo, a former president of the Rotary International.

Mr Jubbal, who moved to Canada in 1968 after his senior secondary education, had to struggle hard in his initial years. At one stage, he had planned to start a private airline in India but delayed clearances and red- tapism forced him to withdraw himself from the project. “My only mission is to serve people who have lost their eysight because of lack of resources,” he adds. His wife, Mrs Sarup Kaur Jubbal, is the main motivating force.


Aulakh selected for Sahitya Akademi Award
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Ajmer Aulakh
Ajmer Aulakh

Amritsar, December 21
Noted Punjabi playwright and theatre personality Prof Ajmer Aulakh (64) has been selected for Sahitya Akademi Award for his book of short plays — ‘Ishq Bajh Namaz Da Hajj Nahi’, published in 2003 by Chetna Publications.

Dr Karnjit Singh, a member of the Executive Board of the Akademi, who represents Punjabi language confirmed it to The Tribune on telephone today.

The three-member jury which decided to give the award to Prof Aulakh include Prof Deepak Manmohan, Dean Languages, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Mr Ram Sarup Anakhi, noted Punjabi fiction writer and Prof Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, Punjabi critic.

The akademi gives awards every year to the most outstanding books, published in 24 languages recognized by it . In Punjabi, 45 writers had already been given this honour so far. Bhai Vir Singh was the first to receive the award while Gurbachan Singh Bhullar received this honour last year.

Out of 45 only four persons, who were selected for this award were playwrights including Balwant Gargi Sant Singh Sekhon, Kapur Singh Ghuman and Charan Dass Sidhu .

Prof Aulakh told The Tribune he had never hankered after any award. However, he thanked the jury for selecting him for the award this year. Prof Aulakh ailing for more than six months said his name had been short-listed for the award for the past four years . However, ‘I had no grouse that I skipped the award in the previous years because all who were awarded by the Akademi’s were more deserving’. Prof Aulakh said he was sure to receive the award one day because of his contribution to Punjabi drama and theatre hence the news did not come as a surprise to him”.

Ajmer Aulakh, ideologically committed playwright, has firm belief a drama must have social purpose and must present something from society’s point of view. Personal experiences, grim realism and keen observation have given his dramas solid base. He has written long and short plays. His three collections of short plays — ‘Arbad Narbad Dhundukara’, ‘Begane Bohar Di Chhan’ and Ik Ramayan Hor’ were very popular and thought provoking plays. He has emerged, a successful dramatist both in form and content during the past three decades. Vision of life of most important in his plays and he gets this light from Marxist philosophy.

The book which has been selected for Award includes a play which presents agony of Scheduled Caste agricultural labour but also exposes prevailing caste system. He portrays emotional and economic inadequacies and dreams of poor peasantry as well. He is dramatist in Punjabi literature who speaks the language of the soil and talks about the tillers of the land. He advocates religion of love, equality and humanity. The Malwai dialect is the defining characteristic of his plays.

The award winning play consists of five short plays including ‘Ishq Bajh Namaz Da Hajj Nahi’, ‘Hario Boot’, Haneri Kothri, ‘Kalkh Hanere’ and ‘Lohe Da Putt’. These plays have been staged in different parts of the country. Themes of these plays reject feudal set up and caste system and give message of universal brotherhood.


Medallist par excellence
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 21
Proudly wearing as many as 40 medals on his chest that were awarded to him by the Army, 69-year-old Hardyal Singh, an ex-servicemen from Tarn Taran, caught everyone’s attention at the ex-servicemen’s rally here.

Even the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, noticed the veteran soldier of 4th Horse regiment and greeted him.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Hardyal Singh said though he could barely walk due to a 20-year-old wound, he was once the international champion in the walking sports. His record of walking 5 km in 23 minutes in veteran walking world championships was still unsurpassed.

Revealing the record of the medals hung around his chest, he said thirty of these medals had been won in national sports events. Out of these, 20 were in state walking championships and 10 in the national championships.

He has also won four medals in the Asian games, one in the veteran mini Olympics and others in the veteran Olympics and world walking championship.

Mr Hardyal Singh said he had also carried out a peace march walking from his home district to Delhi during the terrorism days. He had on his chest, 4 Defence medals and 2 war medals for participating in the 1965 and 1971 wars.

He proudly said he had retired as Dafedar in armoured regiment.

Though many other ex-servicemen were jostling with each other to air their grievances, Hardyal stood alone as a disciplined soldier with no demand. He was satisfied with just the medals on his chest that distinguished him from the crowd.


Inter-varsity festival concludes
Guru Nanak varsity is overall champion

P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 21
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) maintained supremacy by retaining the Overall North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival Championship Trophy-2006 for the seventh year in succession. The university also lifted music, theatre and literary trophies. The university got top positions in 15 cultural events and remained runners-up in four items. Punjabi University, Patiala stood runners-up. It also won the fine arts and dance trophies.

The five-day youth festival organised here was sponsored by the Association of Indian Universities, Ministry of Youth Affairs, Government of India. It concluded here today.

Folk singer Hans Raj Hans presided over the valedictory function and gave away trophies and certificates to the winners. More than 1100 student-artistes from 26 universities of India participated in 26 items.

LITERARY EVENTS: Quiz: 1. Panjab University, Chandigarh, Elocution: 1. GNU, Amritsar, Debate: 1. GNU, Amritsar, Poetry Recitation: 1. M.D. University, Rohtak

THEATRE: Skit: 1. GNU, One-Act Play: 1. GNU, Amritsar, Mime: 1. Punjabi University, Patiala, Mimicry: 1. Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.

FINE ARTS: On the Spot Painting: 1. GNU, Collage: 1. Panjab University, Chandigarh, Poster Making: 1. GNU, Amritsar, Clay Modeling 1. Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Cartooning 1. Panjab University, Chandigarh, Rangoli: 1. Punjabi University, Patiala, Installation: 1. Punjabi University, Patiala.


No decision yet on Gurdaspur seat: Badal
Woos Dalit Christians, decries cops’ transfers

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 21
Rejecting news reports in a section of media, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, SAD president, today said no decision had been taken to give Gurdaspur Assembly Constituency seat to the BJP.

The news reports in a section of media had claimed that the SAD had decided to give Gurdaspur seat to the BJP in lieu of the Rajpura seat. The Gurdaspur seat was earlier represented by the SAD. This had created rumbles among the aspirant SAD leaders from Gurdaspur.

Mr Badal, however, reassured the SAD leaders that the seat had not been given to the BJP. He also did not confirm that the SAD would leave 23 Assembly seats for the BJP.

While responding to a query in this regard, he said that ability to win would be the sole criteria for allotting the tickets. Both the SAD and the BJP had clear understanding over the matter and the issue would be resolved amicably.

Mr Badal was here at a rally organised by Mr Manauver Messih, Dalit Christian leader of the party, in the grain market. Though the aim of the rally was stated to be greeting the Christians on Christmas, it seemed to be a move to woo the community voters who had significant presence in the district.

The SAD president chose the occasion to make promises to the Christian community, if voted to power. He said the Congress had not done anything for the Christian community.

The SAD/BJP government had extended the ‘Shagun’ scheme for the families of Dalit Christians also. If voted to power, the SAD would extend all benefits being given to the Dalits of other religions to Dalit Christians also.

When asked if he was promising reservation in government jobs to the Dalit Christians, Mr Badal said the matter would have to be examined legally.

He also flayed the Congress government for transferring the district police heads just days before the election code. The congress was trying to use the entire government machinery to woo the electorate.

The Election Commission should take note of the misuse of official machinery by the present congress government he said.

The supporters of Mr Manauver Messih demanded that he should be given the SAD ticket from Gurdaspur. They demanded that the Christians of the district should be given representation in the party. They should be given at least one party ticket. Mr Badal, however, did not commit anything in the rally.

Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, former SAD ministers from the district, were among other party leaders present at the rally.


SAD (L) to ensure triangular contest
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 21
The Shiromani Akali Dal (L) will ensure a triangular contest on all seats in the coming Assembly elections by forming a third front, consisting of panthic and other organisations, who want to defeat the Congress and SAD-BJP alliance.

The SAD (L) and SAD (A), headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, will organise a joint political conference at Shaheedi Jor Mela here. It will be the first step towards forming a third front, said Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, president SAD (L), while addressing a joint press conference, attended by Bhai Daljit Singh Bittoo and Bhai Ram Singh of SAD (A), at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib today.

He urged the leaders of other panthic forces, including SAD (1920), to attend the joint political conference at Shaheedi Jor Mela, instead of organising their own.

Prof Chandumajra rejected his joining hands with the SAD and said that it was only a media speculation and news items floated by vested interests just to create chaos in the formation of the third front.

He clarified that he had differences in principles with Mr Badal, so he could not join hands with him. He said his son would not contest any election.

He predicted a hung Assembly after the elections and said the third front would play a major role in forming the government.

He said if the third front got absolute power on the very first day, the loans of Dalits and farmers would be waived off and the unemployed youths would be given employment or unemployment allowance of Rs 5,000 per month.

He said the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Punjab had disappointed the people of the state, particularly the farming community as well as industrialists, as he did not announced any package for them or the state.

He said the third front would submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister regarding the demands of the people of the state.


20 veterinary pharmacists hurt in lathi charge
Unseemly conclusion of Jor Mela

Tribune News Service

A view of the police using force to disperse protesting veterinary pharmacists at Shaheedi Jor Mela at Chamkaur Sahib.
A view of the police using force to disperse protesting veterinary pharmacists at Shaheedi Jor Mela at Chamkaur Sahib on Thursday.
Photo by Author

Chamkaur Sahib (Ropar), December 21
On the concluding day of Shaheedi Jor Mela here today 20 veterinary pharmacists were injured when the police resorted to lathi charge soon after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh left the livestock fair held in the stadium this afternoon. The veterinary pharmacists were protesting against the non-acceptance of their demands like change of designation to livestock inspector and promotion.

The veterinary pharmacists who had gathered here since morning were carrying black banners marched through streets of the town. The situation changed at 1 p.m. when they started raising slogans against the government. Over 200 protesters managed to enter the jam-packed stadium while remaining protested outside.

Surprised at the entry of the protesters, the police busy maintaining the security in the stadium resorted to lathi charge inside and outside the stadium, and also on protesters on the side road. The CM and Minister of Animal Husbandry and tourism Jagmohan Kang, had just left the venue when the incident occurred.

Even unarmed police persons were seen taking a baton from Nihan Singh present here to control the mob. After half an hour the police threw the veterinary pharmacists out from the stadium. They continued their protest outside for one hour.

President of the state Veterinary Association, Gurbax Singh Sidhu, said the government for years had exploited us. We got no promotion throughout our service and we remained veterinary pharmacist. We came here to express our resentment to the CM, but he had left when we reached the stadium. We have been demanding that our designation be changed as livestock inspector as in other states, he added. He said 20 persons, including four injured seriously by the police lathi charge at different places here.

Chairman of the Punjab Livestock Development Board, Brij Lal Goel, who was also present here expressed sympathy with the protesters adding that the Chief Minister was ready to meet their demands but the bureaucrats were putting hurdles. More the concerned minister should solve problems of veterinary pharmacists.

Animal Husbandry and Tourism Department, Jagmohan Singh Kang, said I have supported the demands of veterinary pharmacists in the Cabinet. Besides it I have already forwarded their demands to the Finance and Personnel Department. Now a decision would be taken by these two departments soon, he added.

SSP Kapil Dev, said we used mild force to disperse the protesters from the stadium as cattle events were going on and the stadium was jam packed. 


Kaypee orders probe into fund bungling
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 21
Taking cognizance of reports regarding alleged unfair utilisation of funds, amounting to Rs 3,81,15,000, distributed under the Ashirwad Scheme in this district, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Minister of Social Welfare and Child Development, today directed all SDMs to personally verify the legitimacy of all 2,541 beneficiaries under the scheme.

He further asked them to ascertain whether funds had been released directly by the Department of Welfare or through respective legislators. The issue was raised by Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, MLA and Chairman, Punjab Warehousing Corporation.

Mr Kaypee was here today to preside over the meeting of district planning board and grievances committee.

On a complaint regarding black marketing of kerosene oil by depot holders, Mr Kaypee instructed the DFSC and SDMs to check the process of distribution of essential commodities and take stringent action against erring persons.

The minister ordered Mr Kamal Kishore Yadav, SDM, Ferozepore, to enquire into allegations regarding misutilisation of grant of Rs 50 lakh distributed under "Sangat Darshan" programme during previous Akali-BJP regime.

On a complaint regarding maltreatment of patients by doctors in Civil Hospital, Fazilka, Mr Kaypee instructed Mr C. Sibin, SDM, Abohar, to look into the matter.

The Minister approved an amount of Rs 12.94 crore under the Punjab Nirman Programme for various development works in the district. He also recommended the release of an additional amount of Rs 14.65 crore under the Border Area Development Programme from the Union Government. Mr Bhagwant Singh, DC, Mr Arpit Shukla, SSP, were present on the occasion.


Mystery shrouds girl’s murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 21
The body of an unidentified girl aged around 16 years was recovered under mysterious circumstances from a vacant plot in the Shakti Nagar locality this morning here yesterday.

According to sources, a rickshaw-puller spotted the body when he went to ease himself in the plot. He immediately peddled his way to Dhobi Bazar where he intimated Sahara chief Vijay Goyal about it. He accompanied Sahara volunteers to the spot. The SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, also visited the crime scene.

Sources said the girl's face was badly crushed with a brick to conceal her identity and there was not even a shred of cloth on her body. A blood-stained brick and her clothes were recovered near her body, which was sent to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

On the basis of the statement of Sahara volunteer Jagga Singh, the police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against unidentified persons. The Kotwali SHO, Mr Malkit Singh, said that as the girl appeared to be a migrant, they had called migrant labourers residing in nearby slums for identification. However, it didn't serve any purpose. Regarding any probability of rape before murder, he said it would only become clear in the post-mortem report.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a 12-year-old boy was crushed to death by an Army school vehicle while he was on his way to Bibiwala village on his bicycle in the evening. Sources said the residents from the nearby areas converged on the road and thrashed the vehicle driver who had reportedly been arrested. 


5-month-old baby girl deserted in train
Tribune News Service

A five-month-old baby girl, who was recovered from a train on Wednesday night, being looked after by the family of a Sahara worker in Bathinda.
A five-month-old baby girl, who was recovered from a train on Wednesday night, being looked after by the family of a Sahara worker in Bathinda. — Photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, December 21
A baby girl was found abandoned in the Rewari-Ganganagar train at the railway station here last night. With this incident the figure of deserted girls in the city has reached four in a year.

According to sources, at about 10.30 p.m. yesterday commuters were taken aback on spotting the baby girl draped in a shawl crying on a berth. Her feeding bottle was lying near her.

They tried to trace her parents, but to no avail. One of them rang up Sahara when the train started chugging out of the station and intimated its volunteers about the baby girl aged around five months. Sahara chief Vijay Goyal said that one of their volunteers made it in time and brought out the girl from the running train. He said the girl was now being looked after by Neelam Mittal, wife of their volunteer Sham Murari.

The baby girl, who has been named Kanan, was medically examined by doctors at the Civil Hospital today. She was suffering from cold and some liver ailment. Mr Goyal said they were yet to decide about her future as their first priority was to make her healthy.

Ironically, the recovery of Kanan coincided with the district administration's seminar to curb female foeticide and save the girl child held here today.


Farmers block traffic near Chabba village
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 21
About 111 farmers protesting against anti-farmer policies of the state government near Chabba village were arrested today. They blocked the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road which resulted in the suspension of traffic for three hours.

The convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, said the government had failed to fulfil its promise for waiving off the electricity bills of the tube wells besides the irrigation charges. The government must stop acquiring the prime agriculture land for mega projects, he added.


BKU blocks rail traffic

Bathinda, December 21
A large number of BKU activists led by Mr Joginder Singh Ugraha blocked the rail traffic on the Bathinda-Patiala section at Jethuke village for hours yesterday. This led to the stoppage of five trains, which included two passenger trains.

These activists were protesting against the failure of the Prime Minister in providing a relief package for the debt-ridden farmers of the state.

He claimed that the farmers had forwarded a request to meet the Prime Minister in Amritsar, but it was turned down. Despite AICC President Sonia Gandhi's announcement of not acquiring any fertile land for industry, the state government had continued to do so. — TNS


Non-govt college teachers on indefinite strike
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 21
Over 5,000 teachers, working in the 160 non-government colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, went on an indefinite strike today paralysing the higher-education system throughout the region.

Prof H.S. Walia, president, Punjab and College Teachers' Union, said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had called a meeting with the high-powered committee, headed by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in Chandigarh to discuss the issue of pension and gratuity for teachers.

It is pertinent to mention here that a delegation of teachers had met high-powered committee, headed by its chairperson and Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla and the Local Government Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, on December 18 in this regard.

The teachers were protesting against the non-implementation of pension and gratuity scheme of December 18, 1996, as promised by the Congress party in its election manifesto of 2002.

Prof Walia said the committee had sought two days' time but no progress had been made despite assurances from the committee.


College staff go on strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Teaching and non-teaching employees working in non-government colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh started an indefinite strike from today demanding implementation of the pension scheme of 1996, which was promised by the Congress party in its manifesto during the Assembly elections in 2002.

Their other demands include lifting of the ban on recruitment, house rent allowance for rural colleges, relaxation of condition of refresher courses up to 31.12.2005 and removal of anomalies in the pay scales of DPEs and librarians by accepting the recommendations of the Centre.

The strike call disrupted the academic activities in the colleges and most colleges postponed house examinations.


Teachers stage dharna against DEO(s)
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 21
Members and activists of the district unit of the Adhyapak Dal Punjab today staged a dharna outside the district administrative complex against the District Education Officer (Secondary) for his alleged “anti-teacher” attitude and alleged “harassment” of the teachers by him.

Later, the protesters also held a protest march from the dharna site to the office of the Deputy Commissioner where they submitted a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner. They also raised slogans against the DEO.

The protesters were led by Mr Nachhattar Singh Jahangir and Mr Hardev Singh Jawandha, pattron and president, respectively, of the Adhyapak Dal Punjab.

Mr Jawandha alleged that the teachers were being harassed and insulted by the DEO though he was facing inquiries with regard to financial irregularities. He urged the state government to transfer the DEO from Sangrur district to hold an independent probe into the “irregularities” committed by him.

Among others, who also addressed the dharna were Mr Jahangir, Mr Tejinder Singh Sanghrerri, Mr Baldev Singh Mander, Mr Gurjant Singh Walia, Mr Bahadur Singh Chehal, Mr Jagtar Singh Hassanpur, Mr Rafiq Mohhammad and Mr Harbans Singh Sherpur.


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