P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Cong workers attack SAD MLA’s supporter
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 10
Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Gurtej Singh Ghuriana had a narrow escape as some Congress workers carrying arms allegedly attacked one of his supporters inside the emergency ward in Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here today. The sadar police has booked 11 persons including an office-bearer of the Congress, under Sections 307, 365, 329, 323, 452, 148, 149 of the IPC, sources said this evening.

According to information Bhanu Partap a member of Amarpura village panchayat on the Abohar-Hanumangarh road was beaten up inside a shop on Thursday by some persons who had supported Congress candidate Parkash Singh Bhatti in Balluana constituency during Vidhan Sabha elections. The same group carrying sharp-edged weapons allegedly ransacked Bhanu Partap’s house on Friday again and assaulted him. His neighbour Chhinderpal sitting with Bhanu escaped but had not returned so far home.

Sources said as Bhanu Partap was admitted to the civil hospital here, his political opponents allegedly reached the hospital and again attacked him inside the emergency ward. SAD MLA Gurtej Singh Ghuriana, who had come to the hospital to know about the condition of his supporter Bhanu escaped by bolting himself inside the adjoining room in the emergency ward. The attackers fled before the police reached there.

The police recorded Bhanu Partap’s statement and registered a case against Vinod Kumar, Ram Partap, Pawan Kumar, Rajinder Kumar, Subhash Chander, Jagdish Chander, Tara Chand, Shrwan Kumar, Bhup Ram, Neetpal etc. There was scare among those under treatment in the hospital. A police post with four persons has been set up opposite the emergency ward but it was withdrawn later claiming the situation had improved. Patients appeared scared when this correspondent visited the hospital. They said four of the 12 persons nominated in the FIR also secured admission in the hospital yesterday but later preferred to leave the ward and joined others in attacking Bhanu Partap.


Hike wheat MSP, states tell Centre
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Punjab and Haryana called for MSP of Rs 850 for wheat during a high-level meeting of senior officers of both states with Union food ministry officials here today. The officials have conveyed to the Union ministry that without raising the MSP adequate wheat stocks cannot be procured for the central pool.

Detailed meeting of senior officers of the Food Supplies Department, various government procurement agencies and Agriculture Departments of both the states was held with T. Nand Kumar, the Union food secretary, here today. Other senior officers of the Union Food Ministry and of the Food Corporation of India were also present at the meeting.

Representatives of Bharti Kisan Union, Punjab Rice Millers Association and Punjab Arhtiya Association also met the officials of the Union Food Ministry today.

Punjab and Haryana officers clearly conveyed to Kumar that there was a need to raise the wheat procurement price to Rs 850 per quintal soon.

At present the MSP of wheat is Rs 750 per quintal. The Union government is considering to grant Rs 25 per quintal as bonus over and above Rs 750.

The prevailing price of wheat in Punjab’s various grain markets is in the range of Rs 860 per quintal. “If the Union government wanted to procure adequate stock of wheat for the central pool, it would have to ensure Rs 850 per quintal as procurement price to the farmers,” said a senior officer of the Punjab government.

On the other hand, Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of Bharti Kisan Union, has told the Union food ministry officials that it strongly opposed the proposal of banning the entry of private agencies to procure wheat from farmers. He said if such a decision was taken by the Union government, the BKU would launch an agitation.

Balbir Singh has sought Rs 1,150 per quintal as procurement price of wheat. “ I told the joint secretary of the Union food ministry that it was the duty of Manmohan Singh government to watch the interest of farmers also,” said Rajewal.

Rajewal said any restriction imposed on farmers with regard to the sale of wheat in the open market would be considered as an anti farmer step and would be opposed strongly. He said that the BKU would launch a campaign in Punjab’s countryside to educate farmers to hold wheat stock for three months and not to sell the same to the government agencies in case the Union Government did not raise the procurement price.

Source said that the agriculture department of Haryana has informed the Food Secretary that it was expecting the wheat production in the range of 90 lakh tonne. Of it, 45 lakh tonne would be available for procurement. However, government agencies will be able to enough stock of wheat only if the procurement price was raised. Maximum stock of wheat in Haryana was procured by the private companies, last year. Punjab is expecting production of 150 lakh tonne and of it about 90 lakh tonne will be available for procurement.


4 VHP activists hurt in attack by Christian missionaries
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 10
Four activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) received multiple injuries when they were allegedly attacked by a group of Christian missionaries led by a pastor near canal bridge on the Bibiwala-Gobind Pura road of the district this evening.

Rajinder Kumar, vice-president, VHP, Ashwani Kumar, Ashutosh Tiwari and Happy Sharma received multiple injuries when they were attacked by the accused with iron rods and swords. Rajinder Kumar received head injuries also. His condition was stated to be serious. All injured were getting treatment in a local civil hospital.

Police sources said Nazar Masih, a Christian of Gobind Pura village today called a few families for some religious ceremonies. Activists of the VHP came to know religion conversion ceremonies were being performed in Gobind Pura.

The activists went to that village and asked Nazar Masih not to do any thing which could hurt religious feelings of any community.

While the activists were coming back, they allegedly were attacked by a group of missionaries and injured.

Mr Jatinder Singh Khiara, DSP, City, said a case would be registered in this connection and arrested accused only after that.

Mr Yogesh Batish, President Shiv Sena (Hindustan), said they would resort to Rail Roko agitation if the authorities failed to take legal action against the accused.


Exam staff suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Initiating drastic action to check copying in the class XII examination being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board in the state, the Department of School Education here today ordered the suspension of 17 employees, including 13 teachers, who allegedly allowed, aided and abetted mass copying in the mathematics paper on March 9 at two examination centres in Jalandhar and Sujanpur (Gurdaspur).

Re-examination will be held later at both centres.

The suspension orders have been issued by Sarvesh Kaushal, principal secretary (school education), with the approval of the education minister. Those who have been suspended included Joginder Singh, controller, Gulzar Singh, superintendent, and Dalbir Ram, deputy superintendent, at the examination centre at Government Model Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Ladowali road, Jalandhar. Others placed under suspension at that centre are Kamlesh Kaur and Kamaljit Kaur, both supervisors, Tejinder Kumar, assistant superintendent, Santosh Kumari, Virender Singh and Sharan Kaur, all attendants. As many as 50 students appeared in the examination at the Ladowali road school.

Shiv Dyal, controller, Parshotam Lal, superintendent, and Savinder Singh, deputy superintendent, at the examination centre at Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Sujanpur (Block 1),Gurdaspur district, also have been suspended. Others who have been suspended at that centre are Lakhwinder, Bodh Raj and Subash Chander, supervisors, Vijay Kumar, assistant superintendent, and Prem Chopra, attendant. Eight students appeared at the Sujanpur school examination centre.

All suspended persons have been asked to report to the district education officer, Bathinda. They will be charge-sheeted under Rule 8 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970.

As far as the involvement of some personnel of the Punjab police is concerned in aiding and abetting copying at the Sujanpur centre, the SSP of Gurdaspur has been asked to change the personnel and take strict disciplinary action against the guilty.


Liquor monopoly should be broken: Licensees
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
The Punjab liquor trade needs to be rationalised further by checking monopoly houses from controlling the business. Besides, the wholesale trade should be left to a state-run corporation so as to check serious malpractices, including the evasion of duty.

These are some of the suggestions being made by liquor licensees of the state to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urging him to consider these for incorporating it in the new excise policy of the state to be declared later this month.

Talking to The Tribune, some of the liquor vendors held that the purpose of allotting vends by lottery or the draw of lots under the existing policy gets defeated as the “monopoly houses” make bids for hundreds of vends in each of the 20 districts of the state.

This clause in the policy minimises chances of newcomers. Instead, they want that a new clause be introduced where an applicant be barred from making more than one application for the allotment of a vend in a revenue district. Only after this clause is introduced, monopoly houses controlling the trade can be checked.

While the big groups are flushed with funds and can easily make large number of applications, freshers or individuals cannot compete with them because of their limited financial resources. As such, the philosophy of the new policy of making liquor a free and fair trade, gets defeated with bigger groups getting the cake.

They said for a district like Jalandhar which has 354 liquor shops, nearly 2,000 applications were made last time of which as many as 1,200 were from a handful of big groups and monopoly houses.

They also want that eligibility criteria should also be fixed, making it mandatory that an applicant should have been a resident of the state for a minimum of three years. Preference should also be given to unemployed youth who can manage reasonable funds for self employment.

The other important suggestion made by the liquor vendors is that monopoly houses should not be given licenses for wholesale trade. Instead, the wholesale trade should be regulated through state-run corporations or boards.

This, they say, would not only generate an additional Rs 100 crore as excise revenue but would also check several malpractices which wholesale distributors, in connivance with distilleries and breweries, normally resort to, to evade taxes.

Further, monopolisation or restriction of brands would also be checked as the corporations would make all popular brands available.


Badal does balancing act
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 10
The Badal government is in the saddle and the Chief Minister has started giving indications of the things to come. He has been very calculative and cautious in his exercise of allotment of portfolios to his ministers. It goes to his credit that he has not succumbed to pressures from any quarter.

The appointment of Manpreet Singh Badal as finance minister is a welcome step. He is highly qualified for the job and it sends a message that Parkash Singh Badal is keen to improve the state of economy of Punjab.

Besides, he has given the portfolio of programme implementation also to Manpreet. This shows that Badal has become very conscious of the principle of accountability of the government towards the people of the state.

The other heavyweights in the SAD as also the BJP partners have been accommodated. The induction of young blood is a good omen for Punjab. If everything goes well, the young people included in the ministry might be able to provide a reflection of the aspirations of the people and their anxiety to get good governance.

The only question is will Badal be able to maintain the tempo and hold the strings of administration in a way that could be conducive to good governance, which is the need of the hour, his populist announcements notwithstanding. Parkash Singh Badal has more than once declared that his government will act on the principle of zero tolerance of corruption. It is an announcement loath with many ramifications.

It is hoped that it will not accompany the tirade against a select few. There has been enough wastage on the inquiries, registration of cases and litigation in the name of eradicating corruption, and Badal will not like to waste his time like his predecessor.

The need of the hour is to reorganise the welfare sectors like education and health and providing more finances for the same. Besides, the state of agriculture needs special attention.

As for the repeated announcements of Badal regarding the attitude of the police and their behaviour with the general public, it can be hoped that he would like to depoliticise the police and bureaucracy.

At present both police and bureaucracy stand polarised between pro-Akali and pro-Congress factions.

The Chief Minister has done well by allotting the portfolio of public relations to a young man, Bikramjit Singh Majitha, who is well versed with the latest technology and the expansion media has made.

The Chief Minister will have to be wise enough to select his media adviser to keep a close rapport with the mediapersons.


Ex-CM smells a rat in MC commissioner’s return
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today expressed apprehensions about the posting of S.K. Ahluwalia as commissioner of the Patiala municipal corporation.

He held a meeting of the 40 Congress councillors from Patiala and alleged that the commissioner had been appointed back by the SAD-BJP government with ulterior motives.

The differences of the commissioner with mayor Vishnu Sharma were well known.

The commissioner had been posted out of Patiala due to his differences with the mayor.

Now he had been posted back to help the SAD-BJP combine in the forthcoming elections of the municipal corporation, he alleged.

He directed the Congress councillors to strongly oppose any move of commissioner that was against the interests of elected members.

Capt Amarinder Singh also met party workers in Patiala for the first time after wining the seat.

The meeting seemed to be a formal preparation for the forthcoming elections for the Patiala municipal corporation.

Keeping up with his defiant tone, he hailed the framing of charges against the Badal family by the Ropar court.

He said the stand of the Congress in framing charges had been vindicated with the framing of charges against Parkash Singh Badal and members of his family in the disproportionate assets case.

He did not expect Badal to resign from the post of Chief Minister.

The way Badal had centralised all powers in his family, the days of the present government seemed numbered, he said.

Senior leaders of the SAD were frustrated and results of dissatisfaction in the party would be evident very soon, he said.


Irrigation minister visits home constituency
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 10
Punjab irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon was given a rousing welcome during first visit to his home constituency after assuming the office of a Cabinet minister. Sekhon is the only minister to have retained his portfolio in this Cabinet as he was irrigation minister during the previous SAD-BJP regime also.

DC Bhagwant Singh, ADC Darshan Singh, ADC(D) Rahul Tiwari, SDM Kamal Kishore Yadav, Harjinder Singh SP Headquarters and other senior civil-police officials received him at Talwandi Chook on Moga-Ferozepore road here this afternoon. Thereafter, Sekhon straightway went to the historic Gurdwara Jamni Sahib to pay obeisance.

While talking to mediapersons, Sekhon said all promises, including setting up of government college, abolition of octroi from cantonment area, waiving of NOC requirement for electricity connection, that had been made to the electorate of this border constituency would be fulfilled.

Sekhon further said the SAD-BJP government would provide people friendly clean and transparent governance in order to take the state to soaring heights of glory and success. He said the SAD-BJP government would not pursue the policy of witch hunting as had been done by the Congress. He also promised that all farmers would get enough water for irrigation.

Sekhon also told that the supply of subsidised flour and pulses would be started from Baisakhi this year. Leaders of SAD-BJP, including Satpal Singh, Ratinder Singh Saiyanwala, Nand Kishore Gugan, Bachittar Singh Mor, Baldev Singh, Dr. Vijay Jain, Sarbjit Singh, accorded a warm welcome to Sekhon on behalf of party workers.


Tension in Kanjhla
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 10
There was tension in Kanjhla village, 12 km from here, for some hours today following an altercation between supporters of former Sherpur MLA Gobind Singh Kanjhla and Congress workers in the village. The incident took place when a Congress worker was making an announcement in a vehicle of a “thanks giving” visit to Kanjhla village by Congress MLA from Sherpur Harchand Kaur Ghanauri.

Ms Harchand Kaur Ghanauri alleged Gobind Singh Kanjhla along with his gunmen took the vehicle, from in which her supporter Darbara Singh was making announcement, to his residence. She further alleged Darbara Singh had also been “manhandled” by Kanjhla’s men after getting him (Darbara) of the vehicle. She claimed she got the vehicle back with the help of the police. She today also took a round of the Kanjhla village and thanked people for her victory in the Assembly elections.

On the other hand Gobind Singh Kanjhla, who lost the Assembly elections from Sherpur on SAD ticket, refuted the allegations, of Ms Harchand Kaur Ghanauri, saying when the alleged incident occurred he was attending a marriage in another village. He said Darbara Singh had been using bad words against them since morning by parking the vehicle in front of his residence at Kanjhla village and when he did not stop, then an altercation took place between both sides. On this Darbara Singh along with others fled by leaving the vehicle behind. He said he had also informed the police in this regard.

Dhuri DSP Satnam Singh said as Harchand Kaur Ghanauri had expressed apprehension that the vehicles of her cavalcade would be stopped by Gobind Singh Kanjhla or his supporters from passing through Kanjhla village during her “thanks giving” visit to Kanjhla village, so he sent some policemen there. With regard to today’s incident in Kanjhla village, the DSP expressed ignorance by saying no such incident had occurred there.


Murder of trader solved
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 10
The district police today solved the murder of Delhi-based trader Ravinder Kumar Singla, which took place under mysterious circumstances in the second week of January while he was making a tour to various towns of Punjab to collect payments from different traders.

SSP Parmod Ban, in a press note issued here today, said the murder was solved by a police team, led by DSP Jatinder Singh Khaira.

A case of murder was registered at cantonment police station in the town on the complaint of Samodh Kumar, son of the deceased, on March 9. He said as per investigations, four persons of Bhucho town of the district had kidnapped the deceased. The four accused were identified as Rajesh Kumar, Ravinder Kumar, Madda Ram and Ajay Kumar.

The accused first made Singla unconscious by administrating intoxicating tea to him and then strangulated him to death.


Keetu’s confidant ‘murdered’
Tribune News Service

Barnala, March 10
Mystery shrouds the death of Lakhwinder Singh, a close confidant of former Barnala MLA Malkiat Singh Keetu. Lakhwinder, aged about 49 years, a resident of Thuliwal village about 20 km from here, was serving as an auction recorder in Market Committee, Mehal Kalan.

According to reports, Lakha was in Barnala yesterday evening. But today his bullet-ridden body was recovered from a rivulet near Bhagatpur Maur village. His body was brought to the local Civil Hospital today for post-mortem.


Student commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 10
Kapil Sharma, a student of local polytechnique college and resident of Nurpur (Himachal Pradesh), committed suicide by hanging himself in his rented room in Railway A-block colony here today.

The body was handed over the relatives of the deceased after a postmortem. According to information, a suicide note was found near the body.


Pulse polio drive plans reviewed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
A meeting was held at the office of the civil surgeon to review arrangements for the pulse polio drive, to be held from March 11 to 13.

A total of 902 booths had been planned in the district on the first day of the drive to cover all urban and rural areas.

A total of 1804 teams had been constituted, which will go from house to house on the second and third days to vaccinate children who were not brought to booths on the first day.

A total of 27 transit teams had been constituted, to be posted at railway stations, bus stands, main highways and prominent road crossings, to vaccinate children who would travel during those days.


Greater autonomy for women sought
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
The local Rotary Club organised a seminar on female foeticide in association with the Art of Living (Patiala chapter) here yesterday.

Kumkum Bajaj, professor and head, department of correspondence courses, viewed women’s problems in the Marxist-feminist perspective and pleaded for greater autonomy for women.

She lamented that the choice of abortion or retention of foetus in the womb was, in a large number of cases, not the woman’s choice.

S.C. Sharma, chairman of the project, expressed concern at the falling sex ratio, caused by female foeticide and the orthodox mindset.

Dr Harshinder Kaur, paediatrics department, Government Medical College, called for stringent action against persons involved in female foeticide.

Ashima Sood said foeticide was the tip of the iceberg as there were more than 30 forms of violence being committed against women in India, including molestation, eve teasing, bride burning, infanticide, polygamy, domestic violence and prostitution.


New pollution board chairman
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
Yogesh Goel has assumed charge as chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board here.

He asked officials to work with missionary zeal to preserve the environment.


Seminar on role of library ends
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
The two-day national seminar organised by the department of correspondence courses on “Role of library in distance education” ended here yesterday.

The valedictory session was presided by Dr S.K. Verma, dean research, Punjabi University, and the valedictory address was delivered by Dr Thiaga Viswanathan, former director, INSDOC.

He said the library was an integral part of the education system.

He discussed the evaluation of documentation beginning from online bibliography to broadband access through Internet.

Through satellite and mobile technology, connectivity and capacity had been built up, but the dilemma was that it connected the connected and not the unconnected, he said.

He spoke on the concept of convergence of technology and networking.

He elaborated on the usage of this technology so as to enable distance learners to have access to knowledge and library services through networking.

He expressed concern over ICT crimes and suggested minimising cyber security.

In his presidential remarks, Dr Verma stressed upon making study material for distance learners interesting, captivating and updated according to changing needs and demands of the environment.

He said the study material should self-explanatory so that students could get maximum benefit from it.

K.K. Gill shared with the audience recommendations and suggestions made by the seminarians, which were to be pondered upon by the IGNOU in the near future to evolve measures for revolutionising the functioning and role of the library in e-environment.


GND varsity convocation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 10
The annual convocation of the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) would be held on March 21 at the Dasmesh Auditorium. Governor of Punjab Gen. S.F. Rodrigues (retd) and vice-chancellor of the university would preside over the convocation.

This was stated by registrar R.S. Bawa.


Industrial motivation drive for women
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 10
The Small Industries Service Institute organised a one-day industrial motivational campaign on food items for educated unemployed women at Gurna Kheri village in Rajpura tehsil, in which at least 100 persons participated.

They displayed “phulkari” products prepared by members of the Cooperative Society, Patiala.

B.K. Chaudhary explained activities being undertaken by the SISI for the benefit of unemployed youth and women, assuring the full cooperation of his department.

Kundan Lal and Sanjay Nigam explained various schemes of the SISI for setting up small industries.

Jaswinder Singh, Sangeeta and Sandeep Kaur spoke on their expectations from the programme and share their experiences.

Kundan Lal proposed the vote of thanks. 


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