P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Loan: Singla ‘pressurising’ banks on one-time settlement
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Fearing a backlash from the farming community, the Punjab Government has reportedly “pressurised” commercial banks in the state to introduce a one-time settlement scheme for debt-ridden farmers. This last-minute decision of the Congress government seems to have been taken to woo farmers, considered a traditional vote bank of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Interestingly, the upper loan limit for eligibility under the scheme for the debt-ridden farmers has been waived. While the scheme offered has now no upper loan limit, Haryana and a number of other states have an upper loan limit of Rs 25,000 under similar schemes.

Top officials in public sector banks in the state informed TNS that they were being pressurised by Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla to introduce the scheme.

During the last state-level bankers committee (SLBC) meeting held on December 17, Mr Singla, who presided over it, allegedly pressurised the banks to introduce this scheme.

Meanwhile, Mr Singla denied that he had pressurised banks to introduce the scheme to better the Congress prospects in the forthcoming elections. “This is a special package for farmers and is the biggest relief offered to them,” he said. Though the Finance Minister insisted that a cap of Rs 3 lakh as being the upper loan limit had been introduced in the scheme, bankers in the state said otherwise.

This means that a farmer who has taken a loan from any commercial bank and has defaulted on loan re-payment can now approach the bank for a one-time settlement on easy conditions. In some cases the interest would be waived and in others only the differential rate of interest would be charged.

While the bankers may not be upbeat about the arrangement, the fact remains that the Congress is going to take credit for the scheme. Almost 89,900 farmers in the state have availed loans worth Rs 4,200 crore from various commercial banks, who now stand to benefit from the scheme.

In Haryana, where the scheme is in operation, farmers having availed of a loan up to Rs 25,000 are eligible and can settle their loans in case the loan amount was taken before March 31, 2005. In Punjab, though there is no upper loan limit, the condition that the loan should have been taken before March 31, 2005, has been retained.

The Chief General Manager of State Bank of India, Mr Hemant Contractor, said the scheme had already been introduced by it and would remain in effect till March 31.

Mr Singla, however, said, “The decision to introduce the scheme was taken at the SLBC meeting with the consent of the bankers. Later, the managements of these banks had also accepted the scheme.”


No let-up in SAD’s fight against Virk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Unruffled by the Chief Election Commission’s rejection of its demand for shifting the Punjab Police chief, Mr S.S. Virk, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fired yet another salvo at him, accusing him of seeking a “plethora of favours from the ruling party in return for services to be rendered during the Assembly elections.”

“We are taking the fight back to the court of the Chief Election Commissioner as well as the President and the Prime Minister,” says Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD, maintaining that “the Chandigarh International Convention Centre at Zirakpur has been approved by the Punjab Government only because DGP Virk is a partner.”

He maintains that the government went out of its way while giving not only approval to the project but also extending the limits of the Zirakpur Notified Area Committee so that it does not violate the provisions of the Periphery Control Order.

The DGP, however, has denied all charges against him, saying he has committed no “irregularity or any breach of civil service rules”, maintaining that his family has every right to develop its legally acquired agricultural land.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said it was shocking that a DGP of a state had asked for and got concessions for Rs 250 crore from the Chief Minister. “There is clearly give and take between the two most controversial persons in the state. Such largesse has clearly been given by the Chief Minister as a reward for the DGP’s commitment to misuse the entire police force under him to rig the elections in the state in order to ensure Amarinder Singh’s victory,” said Mr Sukhbir Badal.

“Let the DGP say anything. The facts of the case are in the court of the public. Let the public judge it for itself whether financial benefits and favours have been passed on to Mr Virk and his family or not,” says Mr Sukhbir Badal, hoping that the Election Commission and the President will see reason, initiating action on the SAD petition so as to ensure a “level playfield to all political parties in the coming Assembly elections.”

In their application for the approval of their project as a mega project, the Virks declared their experience in owning and running one of “the biggest night clubs in India”, known as Chimney Heights, about 10 km from Chandigarh, making Mr Virk the only DGP and the only serving officer to be actively running a night club, or for that matter, any multi-billion private business, the SAD general secretary alleged.

He maintained that at present the land in question was being used for agricultural purposes and, keeping in view its close proximity to Chandigarh, his elder brother, Col R.D.S. Virk (retd), had submitted a proposal to the state government for setting up a project comprising a convention centre, a hotel and other commercial activities as all areas in the vicinity were witnessing the development of residential and commercial colonies. Colonel Virk retired from the Army about 15 years ago and has every right to develop the agricultural land owned by the family.


11 children missing from Tarn Taran
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 12
The Nithari and Muktsar incidents involving brutal killings of children are giving sleepless nights to the parents of 11 children who have been missing from the district for the past almost two years.

According to official sources, while Satinder Paul Singh (14) has been missing from border village Akbarpur (Bhikhiwind) since May 26, 2005, the most recent case is that of Ghanya (13), from Tarn Taran town itself. Both the boys were reportedly mentally challenged.

Information in this regard was sought by the Police Head quarters after the Nithari incident came to light. The police wanted to piece together information to re-confirm whether there was any link of missing children with the Nithari incident? The five other children who have been missing since July 2006 are Manjit Singh (14), a resident of Kajikot near Tarn Taran, Dilpreet Singh (15) from village Vaan near Jhabal, Bagga (12), from Valtoha, Gurmail Singh (14) from Chola Sahib and a 15-year-old girl from Dhollan village.


Three in Sangrur

Sangrur, January 12
Close on the heels of various incidents of missing children in different parts of North India in the recent past, a new incident of three missing children from Sangrur has come to light. These children, aged about 6 to 7 years, who originally belong to Purlia district of West Bengal, have been missing since January 9 from an ashram situated at Har Gobind Nagar, Haripura Basti, Sangrur.

Anant Murmahu (6), Siymal Marmahu (7) and Sukant Hemram (6) have been missing since January 9 from the ashram. Anant Murmahu, a slim boy with black complexion, speaks Bengali language and was wearing a black sweater. Siymal Marmahu, son of late Hardan Marmahu, resident of Kharbo village, Purlia district, also speaks Bengali language and was wearing a red sweater. Sukant Hemram, son of Satish Hemram, resident of Salweria village, Purlia district, has short height.

These children were living with Acharya Om Swera Nand Abdoot in the ashram, whose headquarter is situated at Anand Marg Ashram Hehal-5 Ranchi (Jharkhand). These children reportedly went from the ashram in the morning on January 9 without telling anything to the Acharya and had not returned to the ashram so far.

When The Tribune contacted the local police today in this regard, the police said as per the preliminary investigations the Acharya was not behind the disappearance of these children as residents of the locality had seen the children going alone and at that time the Acharya was in his room. It further said it seemed that as the children had no interest in staying with the Acharya, so they fled away.

The police also said that the Acharya had brought these children on January 7 from West Bengal as the parents of these children had given the custody of their children to him, as per the documents available with the Acharya.

The police is busy tracing the children with the help of the Acharya. Police parties have also been sent to different areas. Besides this the police has also distributed handbills and pasted them on walls appealing to the public to give information to it if anybody has seen these children. — TNS


Mann to contest from Dhanaula
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today released the second list of 16 candidates here today.

Party President Simranjit Singh Mann will contest from Dhanaula and party general secretary and spokesman Prof Jagmohan Singh will be the party nominee from the Ludhiana (West) Assembly constituency.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, while releasing the list of candidates, said the party had announced 50 candidates so far.

The third and final list would be announced on January 17, he said.

In reply to a question, he said: "To ensure the defeat of the Congress and the BJP-Akali Dal alliance, the party is committed to a three-cornered contest in all 117 Assembly seats."

He further said: “ our deliberations with all parties, including the Dal Khalsa, Shiromani Khalsa panchayats, the Lok Bhalai party, the Akali Dal (Longowal), the Akali Dal (1920) and the left parties has been finalised and its formal announcement will be made shortly."


Poll kiosks get rolling
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
As Punjab Assembly elections draw near, members of different political parties are casting ballot in favour of Chandigarh - for equipping them with election material, unanimously converting the city into the state’s supply capital.

And the “supply” includes not just daily-wage workers from colonies in and around Chandigarh for drumming up support during the election rallies across the state. The party workers are taking along with them impressive tents and even high-tech sound systems from event managers and other organisers.

A city-based BJP Youth leader, Mr Vineet Joshi, says most political parties get the publicity material, including flags and handbills, from the national Capital just before the elections. The BJP itself is receiving the supplies from Delhi. The material will soon be available in the party’s Jalandhar office from where it can be purchased by the supporters. But for tents and other paraphernalia, the parties within a radius of 150 km vote for Chandigarh.

“The reason is not hard to see,” he says . “Compared to the material available in other cities of Punjab, the stuff is not only good and impressive, but is also readily available at competitive rates.”

No wonder, most tent-houses in the city have already received orders for pitching tents at grand meetings. “It’s only for large-scale political functions that the tents are taken from here,” says Mr Raghuvir of Sector 30-based Subhash Tent and Light Decorators.

Meanwhile, a visit to Burail village in Chandigarh and other markets in the city reveals that kiosks for supplying election material are gradually popping up all over the place. “Most of these shops cater to the needs of local political parties,” says a young Congress party supporter, Mr Raman Sharma.

“Right from flags to bunting and streamers, they supply almost everything that’s required to build up the poll ambience. Besides this, the local politicians have tied up with the tailors in Burail village for stitching party flags in bulk”.


BJP list: It’s blend of old & new
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The BJP tonight released its first list of 15 candidates for the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. The BJP will contest 23 seats and so far relied on its old hands, including five former ministers and a Deputy Speaker.

The Parliamentary board of the BJP cleared the name of five former ministers. Master Mohan Lal from Pathankot, Mr Jagdish Sawhney from Batala, Mr Manoranjan Kalia from Jalandhar- Central, Mr Swarna Ram from the Phagwara Assembly segment and Mr Surjit Jyani’s from the Fazilka constituency. Mr Satpal Gosain, a former Deputy Speaker, has nominated for Ludhiana-East. Mr Raj Khurana, who recently joined the BJP after quitting the Congress has been nominated from the Rajpura constituency while Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, a sitting MLA, has been retained from Ferozepore.

Mr Bishamber Dass, who had lost last time, has been re-nominated from Narot Mehra likewise Mr Sita Ram will contest from Dina Nagar. Mr Mohinder Pal Mann will be the BJP candidate from Garh Shankar. He had also contested the by-election but lost to Mr Luv Kumar Goldy of the Congress. Mr Dinesh Thakuar, a new face, has been fielded from Sujanpur. Mr Amarjit Shahi, another new face, has been fielded from Dasuya while Mr K.D. Bhandari, another new face, has been asked to contest from Jalandhar-North.

For Ludhiana -North, Mr Harish Bedi has been asked to contest in place of Mr Pran Nath Bhatia. All four candidates, who have been replaced, were runners-up in the last Assembly elections in 2002.


More power is what traders want
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
A rehashed tax structure, abolition of the inspector raj and a greater role in policy-making is what traders in Punjab expect from the government that comes to power after the Assembly elections. Cutting across political affiliations, they look forward to a new more systematic tax regime and less paperwork. They want facilities and concessions on a par with those in the neighbouring hill-states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal.

They lament the infrastructure in the state is poor. The power scenario is particularly grim.

Mr G.S. Bedi, a trader from Patiala, said: “If the power woes in Punjab are removed, it will add to the prosperity of the farmers, the traders as well as the industry.”

Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, a prominent trader from Ludhiana, said: “Subsequent governments in Punjab had introduced several anti-trade policies, adversely affecting economy. The need of the hour is to have a simplified tax structure.

“Value-added tax (VAT) has been implemented in Punjab despite the central sales tax that is already there. Even while filing the VAT a lot of paperwork is needed as traders have to file returns quarterly as well as annually. Inspector raj has not been done away with.

“The new government should take us as partners in policy-making by setting up a recognised board or sales tax advisory committee. It will allow us to be partners in decision-making. This will also help in better implementation of trade-related policies”.

Mr Aggarwal’s views were supported by Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, a prominent trader from Bathinda: “Successive governments have failed to establish a dialogue with the trading community, which is a major contributor to the state GDP. If the new government, whatever political party it belongs to, wants to improve the growth rate, it cannot ignore the traders in the state.

“If new taxes are imposed, it should be done to replace existing taxes. For example, though the present government has implemented VAT, the octroi was removed only in October ”.

Mr Amrit Pal Jain, president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal and trader from Amritsar, said: “The new government should plead for incentives for trade and industry coming up in the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore. On the lines of tax sops in the hill-states, the border areas of Punjab, too, should be given concessions”.

Mr Taranjit Singh, a trader from Mohali, said: “The new government should rationalise tax structure and simplify the tax regime. There should be a single-window system for pollution clearance, sales tax clearance and power-related problems faced by traders.”


Amarinder, Centre want to kill me: Badal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has alleged that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Congress-led Central Government, the Akali Dal (1920) chief, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, and former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, want to eliminate him and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Mr Badal has also accused the state government of letting the CID wing of the Punjab Police loose on him. "CID waale saara din eho note karde rahnde ne ki main ki khaanda haan, ke peenda haan," Mr Badal said in a lighter vein while inaugurating his party office here today.

He spared the bureaucracy and said, "We are not against officers, except for five to seven of them who, are guiding and instigating Capt Amarinder Singh.

He was accompanied by his senior party colleagues, including, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema.


Talking heads
Debt trap on big minds
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Agrarian crisis is the darkest chapter ever written on the heart of Punjab. Defined by a massive rural debt of Rs 23,000 crore and a shrinking rural economy, it is the top concern for the intelligentsia which has been drawing the attention of the authorities towards the plight of farmers and their crumbling support system.

Yet, nothing has been achieved. For the first time in the state's history, farmers are going without fuel for cooking. They have to sneak out of houses at night to fell trees and bring home wood so that their children don't sleep hungry.

"The mess will take ages to be cleared unless there's sincerity at the political level," says Prof Gurdial Singh, eminent educationist and Jnanpith Award winner, “In Jaito, where I live, the situation is beyond remedy. Farmers have lost their holdings and the sword of diversification is dangling over their heads. This despite a reputed economist like G.S. Bajwa saying 10 crore Indians will have no food if Punjab’s farmers were to break out of the cycle of wheat-paddy rotation. At home, our farmers are committing suicide out of fear of debt and no party is offering any solution," says Professor Singh, who had raised these issues in his novel "Marhi da diva".

Decades later, nothing has changed. Agrarian crisis has deepened and has caused problems like mounting dropout rate, unemployment and drug addiction. Annually, 23 lakh students enrol for primary education in Punjab. But only three lakh reach matriculation. A whopping 20 lakh drop out. Of the three lakhs who reach atriculation, only one and a half lakhs pass. The rest vanish from the canvas. And no government has found out where they go.

“The present government also did nothing to improve education. Now that elections are here, we must demand answers to these questions," he says.

In this context, a valid point is raised by Dalip Kaur Tiwana, the celebrated writer whose work "Katha Kaho Urvashi" won her the Saraswati award, "Unemployment is a major worry. Lakhs of BEd teachers are unemployed and there is no solution in sight. The reason is lack of sincerity of purpose. We should oust corrupt political parties and elect honest individuals,” says Tiwana who is involved in reviewing the syllabi of higher education.

Her views find resonance in Ajmer Singh Aulakh’s. An illustrious writer, who won both Sangeet Natak Akademi and Sahitya Akademi awards, Aulakh says the system has been corrupted beyond repair. “There’s no hope for farmers. Yet, we must participate in elections and vote for sincere people,” says Aulakh whose play “Begane Bod di Chaan” profiled the misery of poor.


Time for Wadala to regain Doaba base
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 12
The ensuing Assembly elections have provided an opportunity to member of political affairs committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Kuldeep Singh Wadala to restore his lost base.

A veteran leader, Mr Wadala, who has been fielded as a SAD candidate from the Nakodar seat, had been considered as a right hand of SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal, especially in the Doaba region.

However, his relations with Mr Badal took a U-turn when he decided to float a party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), about a decade ago. But, he could not retain his base after the launch of his own party.

Mr Wadala rejoined the SAD during the last parliamentary elections in 2004 with the intervention of former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral as latter's son Naresh Gujral was contesting as a SAD candidate at that time.

Now, ignoring the claim of a local SAD leader, Mr Gurmeet Singh Daduwal, Mr Badal has given Mr Wadala a chance to revive his lost base.

This is sure it will not be that easy for Mr Wadala to do so because Nakodar is considered a citadel of the Congress as its candidates have won five of the last six Assembly elections held since 1977.

Congress candidate Umrao Singh defeated SAD candidate Pritam Singh Sarinh by getting 41.50 per cent votes in 1977.

Mr Wadala contested as a SAD candidate twice in 1980 and 1985 from this seat. While Mr Wadala (28,869 votes) lost to Congress candidate Darbara Singh (29,592) in 1980, he romped home with a thin margin of 728 votes by defeating his cousin and Congress candidate Umrao Singh (26,397) in 1985.

Congress contestant Umrao Singh (13,200) won by defeating BSP candidate Hari Dass (9,175 votes) in 1992 with the SAD boycotting the elections.

Similarly, Congress candidate Amarjit Singh Samra (33,729) defeated BSP candidate Gurbachan Singh Dhiman (22,881) in 1997. Again, Samra (39,216) defeated SAD candidate Gurmeet Singh Daduwal (29,749) in 2002.

Punjab minister Samra is likely to get the Congress ticket from Nakodar for the ensuing elections also and a tough contest is expected between him and Mr Wadala.


For them, a bridge too far
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Kaniya Hussaini (Jagraon), January 12
Residents of 25 villages on either sides of the Jassowal drain and falling in three Assembly segments - Jagraon, Dakha and Dharamkot (Moga) - are eagerly awaiting visits of candidates for seeking votes from them.

For then they would take them to a site where a bridge was promised by successive governments.

Thousands of voters of these villages, including Kanya Hussaini, Sherewal, Baghian, Bahadar Ke, Mand Tihara, Subhajpur, Patti Multani, Kaker, Parjian Biharipur, Khurshedpura, Hujra and Bhaini Gujran are waiting for Congress party candidates. The Congress government turned a deaf ear to their requests for funds, taking little notice of media reports highlighting their plight.

During the last Akali government, the then member of Parliament, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, had laid the foundation stone at the site a few years ago, announcing the work would be started soon. The stone is missing now.

The bridge would cut distance by 20 km and provide easy access to farmers to their fields separated by the drain when it was dug in 1954 and above all, enable a bus link to this remote and only part of Punjab where no bus has reached till date.

It would also keep the area connected to the mainland, when the Sutluj that flows nearby, is in spate. Already, 15 persons have died while trying to cross over the overflowing drain.

The residents tried to construct the bridge on their own. But without enough funds and skills, the ‘bridge of hope’ collapsed time and again, giving in to pressure from water released into the drain or when the Sutluj is flooded and water travels backwards into the drain.

Ex-sarpanch of Sherewal village Prem Singh said the villagers felt disgusted at the false promises made by politicians. Akali leader Bhag Singh Mallah raised the issue in the Assembly many a time but in vain.

Gurdev Singh, a resident of the village, said politicians had taken them for a ride. “ The bridge has been our main demand for over 50 years. Development has eluded this part of the state because of lack of proper road and transportation facilities. Politicians come every five years for votes and later forget us.’’


Hindu Suraksha Samiti keen to contest poll
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 12
The Punjab unit of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti has sought permission from the national president of the unit , Mr Sanjeev Bhardwaj, to allow the party to contest the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections.

Mr Rajiv Tandon, president of the Punjab unit, said at a press conference here today that if the party was allowed to contest the elections more than 30 candidates would be fielded for the polls. These candidates would be selected from districts like Ludhiana, Patiala, Mohali, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar , Jalandhar and Ropar. He said the party candidate from the Kharar constituency would be Mr Ramesh Dutt, president of the Mohali district unit.

He said there was a need to contest the elections in the state as the interests of Hindus had not been protected by the SAD-BJP combine or the Congress. The party wanted that it should also have a representation in the Assembly so that it could raise its voice on certain issues .

He said if the party was allowed to contest the elections, it would not have any poll alliance with any other party. Instead , if others wanted to provide support , they were welcome.

Mr Tandon said most political parties divided people in the name of religion and caste for personal gains but his party opposed this kind of attitude and worked only for the welfare of the people.

Meanwhile, the Punjab School Education Board Non-Teaching Employees Association today said it would be providing support to Mr Jasjit Singh, SAD-BJP candidate from the Kharar constituency , in the Punjab elections. The announcement in this regard was made by its president, Mr Amar Singh Dhaliwal, and general secretary, Mr Gurmail Singh Mojowal, at a rally of employees in front of the board’s office here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dhaliwal said the Congress had withdrawn autonomy from the board resulting in huge losses. Now the board had to depend on the government for minor decisions also. The government had also enhanced the criteria for regularisation of employees from three to 10 years. 


Apathy all the way
The sports fraternity wants a concrete policy from the government that takes over, finds Akash Ghai

Sportspersons always get a step motherly treatment at the hands of various governments. They have no job security and no financial help from anywhere. I am in favour of a special policy that can ensure these. Besides, more awards should be instituted to motivate sportspersons.

Teja Singh
Teja Singh, 
secretary, Punjab Basketball Association

Rajender Rahelu
Rajender Rahelu, 
Arjuna Award winner and Paralympian

I want Paralympics to be recognised by the state government. The Central Government has recognised the sports, but till date we are struggling to get it recognised in our state. Besides, I suggest more money be spent on players to improve their performance.
The biggest problem is the government’s lack of interest in promoting sports, besides poor infrastructure. Parents are reluctant to send their children into full-time sports beyond a level because they believe there is no future in it. The government should provide jobs to sportspersons so that more opt for sports as a career

Sukhmanpreet Sippy
Sukhmanpreet Sippy,
gen secy, Paralympic Committee, Punjab

Sabeeha Dhillon
Sabeeha Dhillon, national shooter

Shooting is emerging as a top sport in India Punjab shooters are world class and have been winning medals at the international level. Unfortunately, the state has only one shooting range, the one at Mohali. The government should construct some state-of-the-art shooting ranges in various districts to get better results.


EC orders fresh probe against officers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Election Commission of India has taken the Punjab Government to task for not taking appropriate action against five officials, including two PCS officers, for violation of the code of conduct during the last elections to the Lok Sabha in 2004.

The EC has now ordered a fresh inquiry against the two PCS officers and sought the immediate implementation of disciplinary proceedings against three other officials.

The EC, in a communication two days ago, asked the Chief Secretary of Punjab, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, to explain the reasons for a two-year delay in giving information regarding the action taken against Mr Gurinder Pal Singh Sahota (PCS), the then SDM of Tarn Taran. Although the EC had asked for the information in December, 2004, the state government replied only in December, 2006, after two years.

The EC has also said that it is not satisfied with the inquiry conducted by the state government against Mr Sahota as “the quantum of punishment given is not consonant with the seriousness of the omissions and commissions by Sahota”, said sources in the Punjab Government. The EC has, now directed Punjab to conduct a fresh inquiry against Mr Sahota.

The EC has also expressed dissatisfaction over how an inquiry report recommended the exoneration of Mr Ravinder Singh, the then DTO, Muktsar. A fresh inquiry has been ordered.

Also, the EC has asked the Chief Secretary for the latest status of disciplinary cases against three other officers. They are Mr Praveen Chhibber (then a Naib Tehsildar), Mr Gursewak Singh and Mr Rajiv Pal (then Tehsildars). The information is to be sent immediately followed by a fortnightly report on the progress of the cases thereafter.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has been given the go-ahead by the EC to shift several IAS and PCS officers before the poll.


Farmer leader Prof Qadian dead

Ludhiana, January 12
Prof Manjit Singh Qadian, secretary-general of the Bharti Kisan Union, died in a hospital here this noon. He was 64 and leaves a wife, two sons and a daughter. Born in 1943 at Chak 48 village in Montgomery district of Pakistan. He was a son of late Partap Singh Qadian, a former MLA.

Prof Qadian got a degree in Civil Engineering from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in 1967 and later taught there for some years. According to family members, he went for a walk in fields at 11 a.m. and was seen collapse by some women who informed the family.

He was taken to the Hero Heart Care Centre where he breathed his last. Cremation will be held at his Qadian village, on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway at 1 p.m. — TNS


Rajinder Singh is IG (Commandos)

Chandigarh, January 12
The Punjab Government today appointed Mr Rajinder Singh as IG, Commandos, Patiala, while Mr Surinder Pal Singh has been shifted as Commandant, 82nd Battalion, PAP, Chandigarh. — TNS


1 IAS, 16 PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Punjab Government transferred one IAS officer and 16 PCS officers with the prior permission of the Election Commission of India here tonight. The Deputy Commissioners have been asked to ensure that all transferred officers join their new place of posting by January 15.

Some of the shifted officials had completed more than three years of service at one place or were in their home districts. In case of one official the EC had specifically asked for action.

Ms Shruti Singh has been posted as Joint Secretary, Welfare of SCs and BCs. Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti has been sent as Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, while Mr Kirpal Singh has been posted as Additional Commissioner, Amritsar, and Mr Nirbhai Singh as SDM, Patti.

Mr G.S. Ghuman goes as SDM to Amloh while Mr Ravinder Singh has been posted as Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, in Patiala. Mr T.P.S. Phoolka, has been posted as Manager, Personnel, Punsup. Mr Sunil Bhatia has been posted as Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Amritsar. Mr Tarlochan Singh Bhatti goes to Ferozepur as AC, Grievances, while Ms Parneet Shergill will be the new Executive Magistrate, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Mr Jasdeep Singh Aulkah has been posted as AC, Grievances, Barnala, and Mr Neeraj Kumar as SDM, Faridkot. Dr Dalwinderjit Singh has been posted as SDM, Mansa, and Ms Vimmi Sohal will be the new Executive Magistrate in Amritsar.

Mr Ravinder Pal Singh has been posted as AC, Grievances, Patiala, while Mr Lakhmir Singh has been sent to Faridkot on the same post. Dr Paramjit Singh Padda goes to Tarn Taran as AC, Grievances.


PSEB puts 10+2 medical students in a fix
Prem Kumar Sharma

Barnala, January 12
Medical group students of 10+2 in Punjab are sore at the delay and lengthy examination, 2007 schedule which will deprive them of time for preparation and an opportunity of appearing in preliminary medical test (main entrance test) of CBSE scheduled to be held on April 1.

Parents of affected students made a representation regarding students concern to the Punjab Education Minister (a copy of which was made available to this reporter today). They made it clear 10+2 (Medical Group) Punjab School Education Board examination 2007 schedule (starting from March 13 and concluding on April 3 was unsuitable to their children.

Copies of this representation were forwarded to the Chief Minister Punjab, Punjab Chief Secretary, the Secretary Education, Chairman Punjab School Education Board and the Secretary (Academics) PSEB Mohali for action. Parents revealed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) too has declared its schedule starting the 10+2 (Medical Group) examination from March 1 and finishing the same on March 14 completing practical examination in February ahead of theory examinations.

Parents regretted their children were upset because they would not be able to appear in April 1. CBSE PMT (main Entrance Test) because as per the examination schedule announced by the PSEB only the theory papers would conclude by April 13 and one did not know about the fate of practical examination. Thus the students will not be able to avail themselves of the opportunity of sitting for April 1, CBSE PMT (Main Entrance Test) will not get adequate time to prepare for national-level other PMT (Entrance Tests).

Parents have demanded the interests of the career of these students. the Punjab School Education Board should finish theory and practicals test by March 15.


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