P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Jor Mela
CM makes development a poll plank
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
Seeking votes from the people in the forthcoming elections on the basis of development of the state during his tenure, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today with their initiative the World Bank had sanctioned Rs 5,000 crore loan for the construction of rural roads and to provide potable drinking water in the villages. He was rushing to Delhi to sign an MoU with the team of the World Bank in this regard, the Chief Minister said while addressing a huge gathering at the “shradhanjali samaroh” organised here by the Congress on the second day of the Shaheedi Jor Mela here.

Although it was supposed to be a religious function, in view of the forthcoming elections the Chief Minister, PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo and most of the speakers criticised SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal on various counts.

He said the state government had been pursuing the case for the past four and half years with the World Bank for a loan for the construction of rural roads and for schemes to provide potable water in villages.

Commenting on the long-pending demand of the protesting aided school teachers, he announced that the government had decided to allow the benefit of pension to the 1,300 teachers of the aided schools who were not getting pension with effect from 2003. As many as 3,700 those teachers were getting pension who retired before 2003 and from now onwards as many as 9,300 serving teachers in these schools would also be eligible for pension. The state will face a financial liability of Rs 30 crore annually.

On the rural indebtedness package to Punjab, the Chief Minister said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his recent visit to Amritsar announced that a commission had been set up to provide relief to such states and hoped whenever the report of the commission would come Punjab would also be covered under this package.

Later addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said Mr Badal was making irresponsible statements that he was apprehending a threat to his life in the wake of the huge cache of arms and RDX from the militants nabbed by the Punjab police. He ruled out CBI probe into the seizure. Mr Badal and his family members were fully secured. He advised Mr Badal not to issue such irresponsible statements that created panic in the mind of the people. Ruling out the possibility of deployment of the additional force during the elections, the Chief Minister said the elections would be held in a peaceful and transparent way and the Punjab police was capable enough to maintain law and order.

Speaking on corruption, he said that Mr Badal would be finally punished for his misdeeds as the Supreme Court had recently allowed prosecution against him. On the possibility of not giving the party ticket to sitting MLAs in the forthcoming elections, he said strong hold in their areas would be the sole criterion for grant of the party ticket.

While Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo said the Congress was a secular party that brought peace and prosperity during the period of militancy in the state under the leadership of late Beant Singh, whereas the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal misled youths to follow the path of militancy for his vested interests.


Rs 2000 crore for sanitation, water in rural areas: Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister addressing a conference of the Congress party at Saheedi Jor mela here today appealed to people to give another chance to the Congress in the state to make it West Germany in next five years. He said party’s manifesto was being drafted with welfare of every section in mind and particularly the economically poor, also be given concessions are given to SC and BC section of society. He said the World Bank had sanctioned Rs 5000 crore for various development projects in Punjab of which Rs 3000 crore would be spent of roads and Rs 2000 crore on sanitation and drinking water in rural areas. He said response to the Vikas Yatra and love of people, a verdict in favour of the Congress, for its policies and development.

He clarified the Prime Minister had formed a special committee to look into rural indebtedness and included Punjab in it. After getting the report of the committee loans waiving benefit would he given to farmers. He said state government had given a benefit of loans and interest to the extent of Rs 1040 crore.

He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief was a very weak man now he is alleging that Mr Amarinder wanted to get him eliminated from terrorists, he said Mr Badal was levelling vague allegations out of frustration. There is no threat to his life and no one can harm him.

He said the Supreme Court had decided the matter to start legal proceedings and the law would take its own course against Badals. He reiterated money looted by Mr Badal his tenure as CM in name of giving jobs and transfers would be recovered and handed over to poor people.

The SGPC had miserably failed in its mission and it had become a slave of Mr Badal and his family.


Badal for CBI probe into RDX seizure
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a CBI inquiry into the case of recovery of RDX by the Jalandhar police from a car.

He was addressing a political conference of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at the Shaheedi Jor Mela here.

He said the government had enacted a drama and concocted a false story whereas the RDX was recovered from the car of Mr Jasbir Singh Rode. He alleged that Mr Rode had been declared innocent and his associate indicted.

He said the CBI should probe the source and the target of the RDX.

he said Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to terrorise opposition leaders and the people of the state to win the elections.

He said the SAD would conduct an inquiry and reveal the truth.

He said the Prime Minister had given no relief to farmers and industry in the state.

BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu termed Capt Amarinder Singh as the biggest liar in politics and a dictator king.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh alleged that the chief minister had made money by acquiring land of farmers at low rates and handing the same over to big companies at high prices.


Plot to destabilise peace: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, in a press statement issued here today said there was a deep conspiracy to destabilise the hard-earned peace in Punjab. This, he alleged, had been conceived, launched and rolled into motion by the triumvirate of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, and militant leader Jasbir Singh Rode.

Mr Badal further alleged that disgruntled former Akali leader Ravi Inder Singh had also made dangerous inputs into the conspiracy which was thrashed at a meeting held in Chandigarh, the details of the meeting had been doing the rounds of the Punjab Civil Secretariat for sometime now.

On the revelations of the capture of some militants, along with arms, RDX etc, Mr Badal said while the police claimed that these elements had entered the state to carry out political assassinations, including those of SAD leaders Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir, they were actually accomplices of Jasbir Singh Rode, who was known to enjoy the patronage of the Chief Minister.

Mr Badal said the conspiracy was a part of the old Congress game of dividing the people of the state along communal lines. He said the first indications of the way the Chief Minister wanted to carry out this conspiracy came a few weeks ago when the police remained a mute witness to an armed attack on peaceful Hindu demonstrators in Tarn Taran.

He further said both the Chief Minster and the DGP had been openly hinting at the possibility of widespread violence during the election time due in about six weeks from now. He said the DGP had defied the law of the land and kept even the courts in the dark about the fate of their verdicts against killers and criminals.


Mann urges poll panel to ensure fair elections
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 25
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD (A), while addressing a massive joint political conference of the SAD (A), SAD (L) and other Panthic forces here today said that now the two-party rule in the states was going to end a new era of coalition governments on the pattern of the Union governments and this was going to happen in Punjab during the coming Assembly elections. The politics of promoting family interests, individualism and corruption was at its last breath.

Mr Mann said that during the elections there would be triangular contests on all the seats and the people would vote for the third alternative candidates of the joint Panthic organisations as they were fed up with both the ruling Congress as well as the SAD which ruled state thrice. He said that change was the unchangeable law of nature.

He urged the Election Commission of India to act strictly and ensure smooth, free and fair poll. He demanded to depute paramilitary forces for the purpose. He alleged that both the Congress and the SAD would use money, muscle power and distribute intoxicants to lure the voter to win the elections.

He said the economic condition of the farmers in the state was very poor and they were under great debt due to the wrong policies of the respective governments. He declared that if they came to power the loans of the farmers and weaker sections would be waived on the very first day. He alleged the SGPC had failed on all front and had become a puppet in the hands of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He favoured the need to strengthen the Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar-2 initiated by various Panthic organisations. He urged the Sikh voters of Delhi to support the candidates of the Delhi Akali Dal in the DSGPC elections to defeat the Badal candidates.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, President, SAD (L), predicted a hung Assembly during the coming elections and said the third front would play a major role in forming the government and the balance of power would be in their hand.

He said if they got absolute power the loans of Dalits and farmers would be waived on the very first day and the unemployed youths would be given employment or unemployment allowance of Rs 5,000 per month. He termed the unity among various anti-Badal forces as a good sign and urged the other leaders also to join the third front.

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

Mr Kanwarpal Singh of Dal Khalsa, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, SGPC member, and leaders of SAD 1920 and the SAD (A) also addressed the conference.


Dharna by farmers to stall rail link to Fazilka
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 25
Farmers led by Mr Gurmail Singh district secretary Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) today stalled construction of Rail link between Abohar and Fazilka at Burjmuhar village near here. Contractors withdrew labour engaged for earthwork.

Farmers including women and children from neighbouring area assembled in the panchayat ghar to join protest march. They later sat on a dharna near the earthwork for which started yesterday after completing the job in Dangarkhera village. Mr Gurmail Singh, Puran Singh Doda member state executive committee Gurdit Singh, district president Muktsar, Pohla Singh president Abohar block, Kulwant Singh, district secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Mr Gurbax Singh subdivisional president, Mr Dalip Singh senior vice president, Mr Avtar Singh Tinna district treasurer and Mr Krishan Lal Ghayal from the Technical Services Union addressed the gathering.

They regretted the authorities had ignored their dharna inside the sub divisional complex on December 6 and subsequent traffic roko agitation on the national highway on December 13. Such callous attitude forced them to squat on the earth work today. The tenants in possession of at the government seed farm for past 40 years had been denied compensation, as they were not owners of the land acquired through the state government for the construction of rail line to link Abohar with Fazilka.

There was discrimination in assessing value of land in other villages, which otherwise would not be benefited by the 42 km Rail link as the road link was just 32 km in distance. There was no logic in uprooting agricultural farms and orchards at preliminary stage as bridges on canals were to be constructed for the Rail line, they added. The BKU demanded government jobs for the kin of the tenants families who would be affected by construction of the rail link.


Pathankot man to ski on South Pole
Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Pathankot December 25
Ajeet Bajaj, a Pathankot resident who made the country proud by becoming the first Indian to ski on the North Pole in April this year, has now left for the South Pole.

According to Mr Jai Dev Bajaj, Ajeet’s father, their son left for the South Pole from Delhi today. He would ski on the South Pole along with the other expedition members. His entire family at Pathankot wished him luck for the expedition. About a month ago, Ajeet stayed in the city making preparations for the expedition. He went to Dharamsala for a trekking practice and regained his stamina jogging daily from Pathankot to Madhopur. “He has assured us that he would ring us up on reaching the South Pole. We would now wait for his call from the extreme end of the earth”, said Mr Bajaj.

Ajeet did what no Indian had ever done before by skiing on the North Pole in April this year. For his family here Ajeet’s encounter with adventure was not new.

Ajeet is the youngest son in his family. He did his schooling from Lawrence School, Sanawar. In the school, he came under the influence of Mr Gray, who introduced him to adventure sports. At the age of 12, he climbed 17,600-foot high friendship peak.

At 16, he climbed Hanuman Tibba at a height of 20,000 feet. After schooling, he joined St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, for higher studies. He came in contact with Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb the Mount Everest. He went with him on a rafting expedition. Sir Edmund Hillary said, “I enjoyed a float in the Ganga. You have a strong spirit of adventure”. After college in 1986, Ajeet went rafting in the upper reaches of the Sutlej with a British team. As a reward of completing the difficult expedition on December 15, 1986, at the age of 21 he became the second youngest person in the world to become a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of England.

In 1988, Ajeet became the first Asian and the third person in the world to solo raft in the Zambezi river of Africa, which is infested with crocodiles.

He also rafted in Siberia as a member of a British team and captained the world team that rafted in Turkey.

He started a company, Snow Leopard Adventure Private Limited, in January 1990. By now, the company has grown into a successful venture with a staff of 80 persons. Initially, the company trained armed forces personnel in trekking and rafting.

Ajeet Bajaj himself acted as the chief instructor for 50 such courses. Now, since he himself is interested in undertaking more adventure journeys, his wife, Sherley, manages the business.

Ajeet also wants to introduce his two young daughters, Deeya and Meghna, to adventure sports, his father disclosed.


Dhillon kicks off campaign from Banur
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, December 25
Virtually kicking off the election campaign of the Congress from the Banur Assembly segment, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), today blasted the SAD leaders' statement on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 's recent visit to the state.

Addressing a rally after distributing cheques for the development of villages amounting to over Rs 1 crore at Saidpura, near here, the senior Congress leader claimed that during the past over two-and-a-half years, the Congress-led UPA Government had sanctioned over Rs 22,000 crore for Punjab's development. This was far more than Rs 50 crore sanctioned during the BJP-led NDA Government, of which the SAD was an alliance partner, Mr Dhillon asserted.

Claiming that the Amarinder Singh government was set to retain power in the wake of the overwhelming response to the Vikas Yatra, Mr Dhillon alleged that the Akalis were "misleading" the people of Punjab on development issues ahead of the February, 2007, elections for their petty electoral gains.

Mr Dhillon said large-scale development activity had been initiated in the state during the past about five years in the state, including the Banur segment, where about Rs 100 crore had been spent. With hardly any issues for the ensuing poll, the Akalis were diverting people's attention from the development activity, he alleged.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhillon distributed Rs 64 lakh for the construction of toilets in the villages. Besides, Rs 11,000 each was given to 101 mahila mandals and 91 youth welfare clubs. Mr Dhillon also inaugurated a tubewell and laid the foundation stone of a park in Saidpura village.

The Dera Bassi SDM, Mr Narinder Sangha, urged the people to maintain cleanliness in the subdivision. Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were Mr Jaspal Singh, Mr Prem Singh, Mr Ranjit Raddi, Mr Surinder Jassi, Mr Harbhajan Singh and Mr Guriqbal Singh Punia, Mr Shamshar Singh and Mr Jaswant Rai Bawa.


CPI, CPM to field Asal from Amritsar West
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 25
The Punjab units of the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party which had forged a ‘united front’ to contest jointly forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab today announced to contend for 60 seats.

This was stated by Dr Joginder Dyal, national executive member of the CPI, here today to mark launching of the election campaign here. Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, a former district secretary of the CPI would be common candidate of the ‘united front’ from Amritsar West. Dr Dyal described the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Congress as ‘anti-people’ parties.

Earlier, a decision to contest jointly the elections was taken at a meeting of the three parties held in Chandigarh on October 12.

Though at one time Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, had indicated that his party might have truck with the Left for the election today’s decision sets at rest all speculations regarding such poll alliances.

Asked if the decision to contest polls by opposing the Congress in Punjab, would divide the ‘secular votes’, Dr Dyal said “the policies pursued by Mr Amarinder Singh-led Congress regime had only strengthened the hands of communal forces”. He alleged Mr Amarinder Singh had ‘Akalised’ the Congress party which was dangerous.

Dr Dyal said the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party would contest 30, 14 and 16 Assembly seats, respectively.


CPI to prevent Cong’s return to power
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 25
“We will try to prevent the Congress from returning to power in the ensuing Assembly elections as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was of the view that the Congress had made a blunder by leaving a few seats for the CPI in the February 2002 Assembly elections. So the party will give a befitting reply to the Chief Minister this time”.

Dr Joginder Dayal, a national executive member of the CPI, said today that no party would be able to form the government in the state without the CPI, CPM, the Lok Bhalai Party’s support. He added that it looks that the Chief Minister was not aware of the culture of coalition governments nowadays.


Celebrating Christmas with poor children
Tribune News Service

Banur, December 25
Students and staff of Swami Vivekanand Institutes of Engineering and Technology (SVIET) celebrated Christmas in the company of the underprivileged children of their adopted Ramnagar village, near Banur, at the school here today. Mr Manmohan Garg, CEO, SVGOI, was the chief guest.

Delivering the Christmas message, Mr Garg narrated the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Lord Christ showed us the path of brotherhood and His message “as you sow so shall you reap” is still relevant, he said.

Mr Ashwani Garg and other members of the trust distributed woollen school dresses and sweets among the schoolchildren of the village and a monetary contribution was also made for the construction of a building for the school. Sarpanch of the village Amarjeet Singh highlighted the facilities provided by the Raghu Nath Rai Memorial Educational and Charitable Trust, the promoters of Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutes, in the school, which has a strength of around 50 students. Dr C.S. Rao, Director Principal, SVIET, Prof. I.K. Kataria, Dean, were among those present.


Fire breaks out at illegal paint factory
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 25
A major tragedy was averted when fire broke out in a paint factory located on the street No.4 of Baba Farid Nagar here today afternoon. Army as well as municipal corporation’s fire tenders reached the spot and doused the fire. Sources said, had fire tenders not reached the spot on time it could have led to a major loss as the cantonment area and MES quarters were in its vicinity.

Two employees, who were working inside the factory fled away when the fire broke out. The exact cause of fire was yet to be ascertained. Irate residents of the locality said they had opposed the setting up of the factory in the residential area, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The SDM, Mr Anil Garg, who inspected the site, said the factory owner had not taken any permission for setting it up in the residential area. He said the police would initiate legal action against the factory owner as per the law. The municipal authority had been asked to seal the premises and ensure that no factory was allowed to set up in the residential areas.


Suicide bid by jail inmate

Gurdaspur, December 25
Shanker, a resident of Pathankot, who is facing trial in a murder case today tried to end his life by consuming phenyl in the Gurdaspur Central Jail.

Sources available here said that Shanker was lodged in a cell along with two other prisoners who used to torment him. Peeved at the behaviour of his cell mates Shanker tried to end his life by consuming phenyl lying there.

His cell mates raised the alarm after he consumed the poison. There was no doctor available in the jail due to which he was shifted to the Civil Hospital. His condition was stated to be stable. The jail authorities were not available for comments. — TNS


Pandey promoted as ADGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Top-strong Punjab Police got heavier today with the promotion of four IPS officers.

While 1981-batch officer G.D. Pandey has been promoted as Additional Director-General of Police (Crime) (ADGP), DIGs Sanjeev Kumar Kalra, Parag Jain and Hardish Singh Randhawa have been promoted as IGPs. The state now has eight ADGPs and as many number of DGPs, besides 28 IGPs and 26 DIGs. The orders will come into force from January 1.

According to a notification issued by the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, Community Policing DIG Kalra is now IGP Traffic against a vacant post.

Ludhiana Range DIG Jain goes as IGP Security. Mr Ishwar Singh, who was awaiting posting, goes in his place. DIG Patiala Range Randhawa has been promoted as IGP Intelligence (II). Awaiting posting, Varinder Kumar goes as DIG Intelligence (I) in place of K.J.S. Pannu. He, in turn, goes as DIG Patiala Range.

Commandant of 75th Battalion of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) at Jalandhar J.K Jain is now DIG Indian Reserve Battalion and training against a vacant post. He, in turn, goes as DIG Patiala range.

Commandant of 75th Battalion of the PAP at Jalandhar J.K Jain is now DIG Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and training against a vacant post.


Man booked for fraud

Bathinda, December 25
The police has registered a case of fraud against one Amritpal Singh Brar for allegedly duping a Faridkot resident of Rs 50,000 on the pretext of getting him a job in the Police Department.

Gurpartap Singh said his younger brother Amanpreet Singh had applied for the post of Assistant Sub-Inspector in the Punjab Police and his physical test was to take place on October 10. He said he met Amritpal Brar, whom he knew for long, and urged him to help him get his brother recruited in the police. He alleged that Brar demanded Rs 4 lakh from him for the job. The complainant claimed that he paid him Rs 50,000 in advance and promised him to pay the rest later. However, his brother got disqualified in the physical test. Gurpartap alleged that when he approached Brar for getting his money back, the latter dilly-dallied the issue. — TNS


Caste, not merit, will get you job
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 25
Baljit Singh, a resident of Dasuya, had applied for a post of a teacher with C-DAC, an agency hired by the Punjab Government under the Scheduled Castes, ex-servicemen dependents category. His number was on top of the merit list with 57.88 per cent marks. Yet, he was not given an appointment letter while a candidate with lesser percentage has been given the job.

Baljit Singh alleged that he had been making rounds of the offices of Education Department and C-DAC in this regard. About a month ago, C-DAC officials had told him that his name was inadvertently entered in the general category. They had promised to rectify the mistake within a week.

However, a fortnight has passed but no action has been taken so far, he alleged.

Like Baljit Singh, many other candidates belonging to the reserved categories are a harassed lot. They despite being on the merit list have been denied job because the caste certificates produced by them were two to three years old.

The candidates alleged that the C-DAC’s decision to consider only fresh scheduled caste or backward class certificates was unjustified. They should have declared in the advertisement that persons having fresh certificates would only be entertained.

It is strange that the candidates who were declared as belonging to reserve categories two or three year ago by magistrates are not been considered as belonging to the same categories now. People are aware of their castes immediately after birth. So, how can a person belonging to the reserve category two years ago can change his caste after it for which the government requires a fresh certificate, Sandeep Singh, another affected candidate asked.

He along with Harjinder Singh of Hoshiarpur were earlier selected as PTI teachers and their names figured in the merit list displayed in newspaper. However, they were not issued appointment letters just because their caste certificates were two to three years old.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Education, when asked to comment on this said he would ask C-DAC to give more time to candidates belonging to reserve categories to produce fresh certificates.


Teachers of aided schools call off strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union today decided to call off its indefinite strike as the state government had accepted its demand for pensionary benefits.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president of the union, stated all the 484 aided schools across the state would reopen from Tuesday. The decision was taken after the talks held by a deputation of the union with Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during his road show in Mansa, where the Chief Minister had reportedly agreed to sympathetically consider the demand for pension and other retirement benefits on a par with government pensioners with effect from June 1, 2006, by restoring the 1992 pension scheme. Today the Chief Minister announced his decision to accept the main demands of the union, claimed the leaders.

The union leaders further announced that despite the winter break in Punjab schools, the teachers would put in work on holidays, including Sundays, to compensate the loss of studies suffered by the students.


NSS camp at Govt College
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 25
A 10-day NSS camp began at Government Rajindra College here. About 200 volunteers were taking part in the camp that would conclude on January 2. The Principal, Ms Gyan Kaur, inaugurated the camp. The volunteers have been divided into eight groups and assigned different projects.

Experts would deliver lectures on topics like female foeticide, moral values and drug addiction during the camp.

Meanwhile, another NSS Camp began at Mastermind College of Education under the supervision of Prof Vinod Kumar.


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