P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Vehicles being misused by cops to be withdrawn
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Upset over the misuse of vehicles by senior Punjab police officers, director-general of police N.P.S. Aulakh has ordered that all vehicles that are in excess of the original allocation to an officer should be withdrawn.

The DGP has asked officers that all vehicles that are being used unauthorisedly should be sent back to the provisioning wing of the Punjab police, which is headed by an IG-level officer. This the second major step of the DGP aimed at streamlining the system within the police. Three weeks ago he had asked for a review of all allocation of police personnel in the name of security.

All those police personnel who had been attached with civilians in the name of security by SSPs or the commandants of various battalions have been called back to do normal policing.

A committee that periodically reviews the threat perception will henceforth undertake the allocation of security personnel. The SSPs and the commandants have been asked to refrain from deploying a policeman with any person in the name of providing security.

Sources said all such vehicles being misused are actually meant for purposes like policing duty, including use at police stations in the state.

The DGP has ordered the stocktaking of all vehicles that are owned by the Punjab police. The sources said the exact number of such misused vehicles would be hard to determine as no formal allocation is made of excess vehicles to any officer. In some cases it has been found that police officers in the districts have kept vehicles for personal use, which were actually meant for use at a particular police station.

The Punjab police top brass had found that vehicles were being used for the families of officers and other purposes. Some of them were using more than five vehicles. And even luxury cars like the Chevrolet Tavera had been found to be misused by officers. Aulakh confirmed the move to get back misused vehicles.

In the past such has been reputation of the police in the matter of misuse of vehicles that the union ministry of home affairs had, at one point of time, sent vehicles direct to police stations.


A Tribune Special-II
Special increments or albatross
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Ranjit Sagar Dam, April 10
The orders issued by the Punjab government for the recovery of excess amount paid to the retired, retiring and even deceased employees of Ranjit Sagar Dam project, have started telling on the mental-health of the families concerned.

Paid as special increments to the work-charged employees for their good performance by the management, the remuneration virtually has started proving a big problem for innocent and illiterate people who worked day and night to dig tunnels of this prestigious hydel project of the state.

Atleast 300 people died while digging tunnels many caught pulmonary diseases. Those who survived till the age of retirement now are on the verge of starvation.

Scores of them were forced to run roadside shops while a few lost balance due to distress when they came to know about the amount due from them is in lakhs.

Depressed at getting orders for the recovery of lakhs, Sher Singh, a resident of Kot Matti village, was crushed to death under a tractor-trailer on April 1, 2006. Only bread-winner of joint family of 16 members, Sher Singh had been upset after the government had raised lakhs of rupees by loan of recovery from him.

His wife Bholi Devi, also went into depression after she went to her husband’s office for seeking pension and other benefits but instead the officer concerned told her about the recovery of lakhs of rupees from Sher Singh. Second shock of recovery of money after the death of her husband Bholi Devi became a patient of depression.

Her worries of livelihood for the family including her three sons and that too without, farm land made her lose balance. Her in-laws took her to the civil hospital for treatment when her condition worsened. she even started taking off her clothes.

Kuldeep Singh, an elder brother-in-law of Bholi Devi who is a truck driver, claimed he had been on leave for over a month to arranged treatment of Bholi Devi. The family of 16 members is dependent on Kuldeep Singh who barely gets a salary of Rs 4000.

Owners of a few acres, old parents of deceased Sher Singh are unable to feed the family and are on the mercy of relatives and good samaritans of the area.

Charanjit Singh, another affected employee, died after being going into depression as the family was under heavy debt and left with hardly any money for treatment.

Members of the Joint Action Committee, Ranjit Sagar Dam project, had taken up the matter with the previous Congress government but no to avail.

Gurnam Singh, a member of the committee, said a representation regarding the hardship being faced by the affected employees of the project had also been given to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and a favourable reply was awaited, he hoped.


Vigilance to issue fresh notice to Amarinder

Chandigarh, April 10
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau will send out a fresh notice asking former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to join investigation into the Ludhiana city centre scam case.

Sources in the VB confirmed a fresh notice would be sent asking the former Chief Minister to join invtestigations. Earlier the Ludhiana unit of the VB had sent out the notice to his house in Patiala which was returned saying Amarinder Singh was out of the country. — TNS


Pbi varsity’s grant of affiliation to Delhi college questioned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
Role of Punjabi university in granting affiliation to Guru Ram Dass college of education at Delhi during the previous Congress regime has come in for questioning.

Dr Manjit Singh convener of the joint action committee seeking the removal of vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai at a press conference here today alleged Punjabi university granted affiliation to the Delhi-based college to please Paramjit Singh Sarna president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

He alleged as per the University Act Punjabi university could give affiliation to colleges located in areas allotted to it by the government notification. Guru Ram Das college of Education at New Delhi was out of the legal jurisdiction of Punjabi University, Patiala.

However, still the university granted affiliation to the college at the behest of former Chief Minister who is close to Paramjit Singh Sarna. In addition to that while the affiliation to the college was granted in academic session 2006-07, the required inspection of college was done on November 28, 2006 six months after the start of the session, he alleged.

The vice-chancellor said we have been telling the state government the universities of Punjab should be allowed to go out of legal boundaries. While the foreign universities are opening campuses in India, the state universities are not being allowed to open centres even in whole of the state.

The affiliation was granted to Guru Ram Dass college of education at Delhi in consultation with the then chief secretary Punjab. Moreover, no objection certificate for affiliating the institute was taken from the Delhi government and the NCTE. Guru Nanak Dev University granted affiliation to a college in Delhi, he said. The members of the joint action committee also alleged besides the case highlighted by The Tribune many illegal appointments were made in the university.

They alleged Dr Multani Narinder Kaur was appointed professor of physiotherapy and sports sciences after relaxing the UGC qualification. She did not fulfil even the relaxed basic qualification and misrepresented facts in her resume.

Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal was appointed professor in the department of computer science and engineering while he did not fulfil the basic qualifications for the job. He has been allowed to continue despite objections by the audit department.

On the said appointments the VC said Dr Multani was appointed by relaxing qualification as not sufficient persons were available with requisite qualifications in the field. About appointment of Dr Lehal he said he was an asset to the institution. Members of the joint action committee have submitted to the Governor-cum-chancellor a list of many other appointments in the university that were made ignoring basic qualifications set by the UGC.

These include appointment of Harvinder Kaur in the department of human biology, Raj Kumar Sharma director sports. Depandevita Singh Rai in the department of dance, Naina Sharma in the department of correspondence studies.


Rs 1200 cr bungling under Nirman scheme to be probed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The government will look into bungling in Punjab Nirman fund scheme. The former government in the election year spent Rs 1200 crore through the Punjab Nirman Scheme.

Officers of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats who spent the nirman funds in violation of the rules on political diktats would be asked to explain.

Minister for panchayats and rural development Ranjit Singh Barahampura stated this at a press conference here today. The minister was here for a meeting with the panchayats and rural development officers of the Patiala division.

To check corruption in development works carried in rural areas flying squads would be constituted at the divisional levels. The departmental flying squads would be empowered to check development work being carried out in the rural areas, he said.


Industrial pollution
Survey of housing projects ordered
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Initiating the process of framing new guidelines for housing projects to check pollution, the Punjab government here today set up a high- level committee to carry out physical verification of such projects to find out which of these are located near industries and which are at a considerable distance.

Sources said the department of environment had been asked to act as a coordinator to carry out the survey in this regard. A high-level meeting was held today under the chairmanship of chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh. Senior officers of the industries, housing and urban development, environment and labour and employment departments attended the meeting.

There are reports that the state government authorities concerned have cancelled the no-objection certificates (NoCs) and land use change (LUC) approvals of even those housing projects which had nothing to do with any sort of industrial pollution. However, during the course of the physical checking of the location of housing projects it will also be determined whether the NoCs and LUC approvals of housing projects located at distance from industry were cancelled or not.

The sources said a decision had been taken to frame the new guidelines before May 17. A court, the sources said, had given three months’ time in mid-February to the state government to frame the guidelines. Because of the cancellation of the LUC approvals, investments worth several hundred crores of rupees in housing projects in the state have been threatened.

The sources said a decision was also taken to categorise industries as highly polluting, medium and non-polluting ones.

Officers of the Punjab pollution control board were asked once again to contact their counterparts in the other states to find out whether any state had framed guidelines with regard to the checking of pollution in housing projects.

Another important decision taken at the meeting was to make a provision in the housing project with regard to the creation of a buffer green zone between the industrial area and the housing colony. Under the existing guidelines there is a provision to create a strip of green belt but it is not clear who will do it. The sources said in future the promoters of a housing colony would have to do it. At the Bathinda oil refinery project, HPCL, which is a promoter of the refinery, has been asked to develop a green belt around the project.

At the meeting it was emphasised that the guidelines should be unambiguous. No scope should be left for officers to exploit the promoters of housing projects. “ Checking of the pollution is a task of the authorities concerned but not to impede investment in the state in its garb”, said a senior officer.


Axing heritage
150-year-old trees felled
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
After razing the heritage building of the British era, Saragarhi Memorial School to ground, the administration today axed 47 shady trees, including 150-year-old bohar and peepal, a day after the auction, was held for Rs 96,000 only.

Saragarhi Memorial Government School, was the opened by the British Government in 1851, opposite Town Hall, to a new building on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister had written to the Chief Minister in 2004 stating that the old heritage building be preserved. The missive of The Prime Minister read: “In view of the glorious record of service to the community, this great institution needs to be upgraded rather than being demolished”.

The vandalisation of the heritage continued throughout the day as nobody was allowed to enter the premises which once housed majestic building of the school, built in memory of soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the battle of Saragarhi.

No representative of any non-government organisation which had announced ‘Chipko movement’ to save more than 150-year-old trees made any attempt to enter the premises where the shady trees were being axed. The vandalisation was done despite the fact that the Divisional Forest Officer had also recommended the preservation of the old trees keeping in view of their “heritage value”.

Earlier, heritage lovers, including eminent Sikh scholar and senior advocate of Supreme Court, Mr H.S. Phulka had described the demolition of the Saragarhi Memorial School for a creating multi-storey parking as an attempt to destroy the archaeological design of the ancient walled city. Other heritage lovers had described the project as ill-conceived.

The school was named after the great martyrs of Saragarhi . It is the incredible story of 21 men of 36th Sikh Regiment (currently 4 Sikh Regiment) who gave up their lives in devotion to their duty. This is a battle of heroic action fought by a small detachment of Sikh soldiers against heavy odds which took place on 12 September 1897 in the Tirah region of the North West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan). The Battle at Saragarhi is one of eight stories of collective bravery published by Unesco.

In 1851, a school by name of Zila School was constructed by the British. This was the first school in Punjab and was started with annual grant of Rs 5000. The first head master was a European and the school was opened after the Governor General not only favoured the reports submitted to him by the Chief Commissioner Robert Montgomery and Mr P. Melvell, the then secretary board of administration also added his minutes that Amritsar for its commercial ,religious and literary importance afforded the most favourable site for the purpose.


PSEB XEN held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
An executive engineer (XEN) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) S.P. Goel was today "caught red-handed" by a Vigilance team when he was allegedly accepting illegal gratification of Rs 7,000 from an SDO of the PSEB.

Talking to The Tribune this afternoon, DSP of Sangrur Vigilance Bureau Roop Singh Maur said under his supervision a Vigilance team today laid a trap at the office of the XEN at Dhuri on a complaint by the SDO, Nirbhey Singh, that the XEN had been demanding Rs 10,000 from him for writing his annual confidential report (ACR). He said Nirbhey was nowadays posted at Patran, but before his transfer to Patran he was posted at Dhuri.

The DSP said the deal between the XEN and the SDO had been struck for Rs 7,000. When the SDO today gave Rs 7,000 to the XEN and the XEN put the money in his pocket, the Vigilance team raided the XEN's office and recovered Rs 7,000 from him. He said the Vigilance team had also searched the house of the XEN at Sangrur.


Sarpanch held on charge of embezzlement
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 10
Patti Sekhwan village sarpanch Satnam Singh was arrested on Monday night after a case of embezzlement of panchayat funds was registered against him.

Taking strong note of the arrest of a sarpanch on embezzlement charges, the district panchayat union has threatened to resign en masse.

Terming the case and arrest as political vendetta, panchayat union members led by district president Jaswant Singh Johal met SSP Parmjit Singh Grewal today demanding justice. Municipal committee president Makhan Sharma, Improvement Trust chairman Paramjeet Mann and scores of other Congress leaders also joined the panchayat union at the meeting. They jointly presented a memorandum demanding a thorough probe into the matter.

Satnam Singh was booked under Sections 409, 467 and 468, IPC, by the Barnala police. He was subsequently arrested and produced in the court of Ramesh Kumari. The court sent him to 14-day judicial remand.


Dera head booked for murder
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 10
Diljit Singh, head of Dera Baba Mahankali Mandir, Dhunda, 25 km from here falling under police station Goindwal Sahib, is among three persons booked for poisoning Mangal Singh, driver of the dera. Daljit Singh was allegedly having illicit relations with the wife of the deceased.

The police sources told newsmen here today that the other accused include Jasbir Kaur, wife of the deceased, and Swaran Kaur, resident of this town, who is a leader of the BSP (Ambedkar).

A case under section 302, 120B of the IPC has been registered against the accused. Diljit Singh and Jasbir Kaur have been arrested, while Swaran Kaur is absconding.

The sources informed that the deceased was working as a driver with the dera for the past more than seven years. He was aware of the illicit relations of his wife with the dera head.

Diljit and the other accused served some poisonous substance to Mangal Singh yesterday and sent him at Goindwal Bus adda where he died. 


‘Sangat darshan only for public’

Chandigarh April 10
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today clarified that the sangat darshans were only meant for public, who have been deprived of justice, to redress their grievances and the state employees should meet their heads of the departments or ministers concerned for their grievances.

During a sangat darshan held here today, he ordered department officers to patiently listen to problems of people. — TNS


Mann to continue as SAD(A) chief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 10
Simranjit Singh Mann, who had stepped down from the post of president of SAD(A) after the Assembly elections, has withdrawn his resignation. Mann took this decision after a meeting of the political affairs committee and the working committee of the party held at his native village today.

According to a press release issued by assistant secretary Gurjant Singh Kattu, the party had appreciated the efforts of Mann in supporting the Sikh cause, which he had highlighted at the international level.

Kattu said the members of the two committees unanimously urged Mann to reconsider his decision. He said respecting the sentiments of the members, Mann agreed to withdraw his resignation. In his address, Mann said the party would continue its peaceful struggle for the independence of Sikhs.


Vacancies to be filled in Department of Coops
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The Department of Co-operatives would initiate the move to fill 14,000 vacancies in various Co-operative Departments of the state. The co-operative movement in the state has lost momentum due to political interference and negligence by the government.

A committee has been formed that would submit its report within 30 days for reviving the Co-operative Department.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, The Minister for Cooperation Capt. Kanwaljit Singh said here today.

While responding to query the minister said the move of previous government to privatise the cooperative sugar mills has been postponed temporarily. The case of sugar mills would be reviewed.

Efforts would be made to bring the sugar mills back on track. The project is being made to add subsidiaries to existing cooperative sugar mills. The co-operative sugar mills besides having new technology would also be allowed to start distilleries, ethanol making project and power plants as subsidiary units.

The co-operative sugar mills have also been alleging that they were being forced to sell molasses at the rate of Rs 75 per quintal to the distilleries, while the private sugar mills sell the same product for Rs 500 per quintal. The case of the co-operative sugar mills would be taken with the government to make them more profitable, the minister said.

The acquisition of most of the co-operative sugar mills in the state was being carried by selected industrial groups. This might lead to monopolisation in sugar industry of the state that would neither be in the interest of the farmers nor the other stake holders in the industry. The co-operative sugar mills are must for safe guarding the interests of sugarcane farmers in the state.

The total investment of farmers in the co-operative sugar mills of the state is about Rs 125 crores. The government would make all efforts to safeguard that investment, he said.

He further said the minimum support price (MSP) of sugar is another problem. The MSP of sugarcane is fixed by the Union Government. It is mandatory for sugar mills to pay that price to the farmers. The State Government also fixes a price for sugarcane that is not mandatory as per law. Due to it some private sugar mills deny MSP fixed by state to farmers in glut situation. The state government is considering measures to ensure MSP fixed by state for the farmers.

The previous government had initiated the process to privatise sugar mills which were in losses.


Seven-year-old buses to go off the road
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 10
All buses including, Punjab Roadways and private, which have completed seven years on the roads, will be phased out shortly.

The step will help reduce the mortality rate on roads and highways.

The minister Master Mohal Lal while talking to The Tribune on the issue expressed his sympathy with the families of those killed and injured in the Mahadev Kalan bus accident case.

The minister said a meeting of state transport authorities would be called and notices be issued to private transporters who have been plying buses even after the expiry of their life span. He warned the private bus operators with dire consequences if their outdated vehicles were involved in accidents.

"Responsibility would be of a private bus operator in case his outdated buses meet with an accident and claim lives," he added.

He said Sub Divisional Magistrate, Gurdaspur, had been asked to hold an inquiry into the accident and submit his report within 15 days.

Meanwhile, he visited the injured in the local civil hospital and announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh, each, to next of kin of those who died in the accident yesterday. He claimed that the state government would bear the expenses of treatment of the injured.

Two passengers ( Kulwant Singh and Gurmukh Singh ) were killed and 26 others sustained serious injuries when their bus rammed into a tree on the Gurdaspur-Batala highway at Mahadev Kalan village near here, on Monday morning.


Foundation asks Punjab CM to notify heritage sites
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
At an annual meeting held recently, the Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation urged the Punjab government to expedite the process of heritage conservation in the state. Requesting the government to take steps for identification and protection of heritage sites, members of the foundation sought notification of such sites so that preservation could follow a definite line.

At the meet held at the Chandigarh Press Club, a special reference was made to Maharaja Ranjit Singh National Memorial Heritage Hill Park at Nawanshahr.

Of immense historical significance to the Sikhs, the site is in urgent need of conservation. Consequently, members resolved to press upon chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to protect the site that stands in Arson village.

The members also decided to submit a memorandum in this regard to the CM and cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria. Yet another memorandum to be submitted concerns deteriorating standards of school education in Punjab villages.

An important resolution passed at the meeting has roots in the freedom struggle of the country. The foundation is not only keen on a proper survey of freedom fighters from Punjab, they also resolved to display copper or bronze memorial plaques in the native villages of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, who came from Khatkarkalan in Nawanshahr.

They plan to do this with help from village panchayats. It, meanwhile, urged the Punjab government to name schools or colleges in these villages after freedom fighters.

The last resolution passed at the meeting pertained to conversion of the historic Gobindgarh Fort into a central museum which should depict the history of Punjab spanning the history of Sikh struggle against the Mughals and the achievements of the Khalsa under Ranjit Singh.


Punjab's disabled want scientific survey of disability problem
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Of the six institutes for the visually impaired in Punjab, five are privately run. The sole government institute for the blind is in Ludhiana but it has long been in a shambles for want of effective interventions.

So much so that the Braille press installed here for the production of literature relevant to inmates has not been put to any good use.

Besides, no scientific survey related to disability has been conducted in the state in the past five years.

Gaps in information concerning the numbers of disabled and their problems continue to exist, thus pushing an already-marginalised section further to the fringes.

Add to that an inactive social securities department which has, in the recent past, not convened meetings of the coordination and executive committees constituted under the Persons with Disability (PWD) Act, 1995.

“The indifference has always existed, but of late it has increased. We are now consolidating our vote bank, as in Uttar Pradesh, so that we can make our voice heard,” says Ajit Salani, national secretary, National Handicapped Welfare Council, who, along with his colleagues, plans to make representations in this regard to Punjab chief minister.

Primary among the council’s demands are raising the retirement age of Punjab’s disabled from 58 to 60 years; enhancement of conveyance allowance, currently a dismal Rs 250; establishment of one government institute in each district for the visually impaired; provision of special institutes for the deaf and mute; incentives for able-bodied men who marry disabled girls and marriage schemes for disabled girls of the state, which has an abysmal sex ratio.

Recently passed by the national executive of the council, the demands will be presented before Punjab chief minister on April 12. “The idea is to mount pressure on the authorities to ensure that the PWD Act is properly enforced.

The clause of 3 per cent reservation for the disabled in government jobs is not being honoured nor are there any disabled officers in the office of Disability Commissioner, Punjab. Only a disabled officer can sensitise with our issues and push for interventions to solve our problems,” said Ajay Sharma, an orthopaedically handicapped member of the council.

So far as the visually impaired are concerned, 310 persons are currently registered with the Punjab employment exchange, waiting for jobs. S.S. Shukla, a visually impaired member, said: “The actual backlog would be much more. It will only be known after a scientific survey is conducted.”

Members also rued that the Punjab government is yet to adopt proactive approaches to deal with the disability rights issue. They gave two examples, including those of conveyance allowance and retirement age. “While Haryana gives a conveyance allowance of about Rs 500 to a disabled per month, Punjab just gives Rs 250, which is an apology. Similarly, whereas for Haryana the retirement age from a government job is 60 years, for Punjab it is 58. Retirement age should be relaxed for the disabled,” said Shukla.

Significant to mention is that the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) offers discounted travel to the disabled (as to others who are eligible) only within Chandigarh.

This means a disabled person who boards a CTU bus to Punjab is not entitled to allowance on travel beyond the city's boundaries.

The policy needs review, feels the state's disabled, who might just have a say on April 12 when they meet chief minister Badal.


Centre, state govt ‘befooling farmers’ on MSP
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 10
The Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta-ugrahan has alleged that the faction of the BKU led by Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and the SAD-BJP government in Punjab were indulging in anti-farmer activities by manoeuvring monopolised purchase of wheat through the MNCs.

The union at a meeting held here at Nehru Park today said the Central and state governments were trying to befool farmers on minimum support price.

The government had fixed Rs 750 plus Rs 100 for each quintal of wheat to be purchased by the government agencies, which might not enter the market due to the hidden agenda of the Lakhowal-state government combine.

The debt-ridden farmers will benefit by accepting the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission, which recommended fixing MSP after calculating the cost of agriculture inputs plus 50 per cent profit. Regretfully, the government was not inclined to persuade the companies to bring down logically rates of fertiliser, insecticides, seeds, oil and machinery.

All efforts by the political heavyweights in various parties were aimed at watching financial interests of manufacturers, especially the MNCs, ignoring the spurt in suicides by the farmers, the meeting presided over by the district secretary Gurmail Singh Burja said.

State vice-president Surjit Singh Dhaba and district president Darshan Singh were among those who asked the farmers to get ready for the April 12 rail-roko agitation to force the government purchase wheat at Rs 1275 per quintal through its agencies.

The BKU activists decided to tour villages tomorrow to mobilise the farmers for good response to the statewide call to disrupt rail traffic.


Patna Sahib jathedar threatened
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 10
Jathedar Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh, today received threats to life on telephone from an unidentified person from Hoshiarpur district.

The caller threatened to eliminated Jathedar Patna Sahib for grilling a person during a meeting of the Sikh Clergy at Akal Takht recently. However, the caller did not identify himself. Jathedar Iqbal Singh alleged earlier too he had received similar threatening calls on the telephone from England .

After Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Iqbal Singh is the second Sikh high priest to receive threats to life. Jathedar Vedanti had received threatening calls from the USA and other countries after a clash in the Golden Temple complex during celebrations of the foundation of Akal Takht in July last year.


NTAS festival concludes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) organised a socio-cultural programme at Padma Shri Dr Khushdeva Singh Leprosy Patient Colony on the concluding day of its 10-day theatre programme, "Theatre for Humanity", here today.

Sukhdev Singh Basra, an NRI, was the chief guest who came all the way from his native village, Maili, near Phagwara, along with his family and friends to attend the function and seek blessings of the leprosy patients for the well-being of the universe, especially for his ailing son in the USA. He expressed staunch faith in true prayers coming from pure hearts and noble souls.

Basra honoured Gurbachan Singh Kakkar, president of the NTAS, for their outstanding services towards theatre, arts and humanity with a lifetime achievement award. He also gave Rs 3,100 for the leprosy patients. Expressing gratitude to Basra and other guests, Kakkar, said their half a century-old NTAS had not only been entertaining the cross section of society through value-based plays, but had also been activating people to seek God's blessings.

He said the society, under the guidance of NTAS director Pran Sabharwal and with the blessings of Late Padma Shri Dr Khushdeva Singh had been entertaining the leprosy patients, especially on every New Year since 1964, and had been raising funds for them.



Founder of homoeopathy remembered
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 10
The teachers and students of Homeopathic Medical College paid floral tributes to Dr Samuel Hahnemann, while celebrating his 252nd birthday in the college campus.

Principal Rajinder Girdhar honoured Abhishek Kumar, a student of the BHMS final proficiency who was recently declared the winner in the inter-state essay and declamation contest. He also honoured other members of the team which included, Ritika, Ramandeep and Palak Dhamija, all final year students who had won the overall best team prize in the same contest for the fourth consecutive year.


Doc caught doing pvt practice

Patiala, April 10
Medical officer, Civil Hospital, Nabha, was caught red-handed doing private practice here today.

A team headed by the civil surgeon Dr Rakesh Gupta, caught Dr Amarjeet Singh Sahni attending to his patients at his private nursing home in Nabha.

The nursing home, Sahni Nursing Home, run by Dr Sahni, in the name of his wife, has two wards, eight beds and a full-fledged laboratory.

According to sources in the Health Department, eight patients were admitted to the nursing home at the time the raid was conducted and Dr Sahni was personally attending to them. — TNS


Fearing raid on his ‘clinic’, quack goes underground
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 10
The fear of raid by the department of health forced a local quack, Rachpal Chhama, to abandon his ‘clinic’ and go underground. Reports of the quack operating in the city had appeared in The Tribune earlier this month.

Chhama, popularly known as ‘vaid’, had been duping AIDS patients in the district by claiming to have found a definite cure for the disease and had been selling herbal remedies to them at hefty prices.

When contacted, civil surgeon, Patiala, said, “We have been to Chhama's shop twice to conduct raids and to collect samples of the medicines that he has been distributing to AIDS patients, following reports in The Tribune, but we found his clinic locked. It seems he has fled. Now we will seek police assistance in the matter. There is no certified cure for AIDS and the quack has been duping people.”

When the Tribune team had visited his ‘clinic’ earlier this month, the quack had claimed to have generated a mixture of herbs which resurrected the immune system of AIDS patients and cured them of the disease. He had also claimed treating numerous AIDS patients, some from as far as Gujarat, besides regular patients from neighbouring areas.

Running his shabby shop in the Arya Samaj area of the city, Chhama used to charge Rs 1,500 from AIDS patients, for a week’s medicine, alleging that gold and diamond dust was used in preparing the medicines. He also claimed to have cured cancer patients who were rejected as last stage cases by leading hospitals of the country.

Chhama had started his business in the city around seven years ago.

Reports in various regional papers regarding his claims had attracted many patients from surrounding villages.

The quack used to give medicines for other diseases as well like diabetes, jaundice, tuberculosis. The source of his medicines, Chhama had claimed was, “herbs from the hills which I collect personally.” 


Child burnt alive
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 10
A three-year-old Sanjay son of Narotam of Muradabad (UP) burnt alive when a devastating fire engulfed three jhuggies of migrant labourers at Nangal Khanura village this afternoon.

According to the police, fire broke out in the three jhuggies of Vij Lal son of Birbal, Gopal son of Jagan Nath and Narotam son of Birbal, all migrant labourers of Muradabad at the village. Sanjay who was sleeping in his jhuggi was burnt alive. All household articles and valuables were reduced to ashes.

Gurwaryam Singh, Naib Tehsildar of the area, reached the spot and provided Rs 2000 cash to Narotam for cremation of his son.


Cyclist crushed to death

Abohar, April 10
A cyclist was crushed to death by a car this afternoon, sources said.

According to the information available with the police Sukha, a resident of Chak Radhewala and Resham Singh of Khubban village, were hit by an Indica car having Haryana registration number near Modikhera village as they were going to another village on a bicycle. Sukha died on the spot. — OC


Badal case: prosecution seeks IT report
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 10
The prosecution lawyers in the case of corruption against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal, today demanded the report of the Income Tax Department on the assets of the Badal family be placed on record in the court.

The IT department had virtually given a “clean chit” to the Badal in December last year. The prosecution also demanded the correspondence between the IT department and the Punjab Vigilance Bureau be placed on record of the court. During the pendency of the case it had come to the notice that the Income Tax department had probed the alleged disproportinate assets of the Badal family. The defence lawyers said they would have no objection to it and said the prosecution should have placed the report before the framing of the charges.

Granted exemption from personal appearance

IANS adds: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his MP son Sukhbir Badal were today granted exemption from appearance in court after they failed to make a personal appearance for the second consecutive day.

Special court of judge G.S. Saran granted exemption to both Parkash and Sukhbir till April 18 after they failed to turn up.

Both are facing corruption charges in the special court for disproportionate assets of Rs 780 million. Charges have already been framed against them.

The court had expressed its annoyance yesterday after the father-son duo failed to appear before the court when evidence hearings against them were to begin.

The judge had asked their counsels to ensure their presence in the court today but they did not turn up.

Counsels for the Chief Minister and Sukhbir, who is also the Akali Dal working president, said that both were busy with prior engagements in Delhi and elsewhere.

Taking a lenient view today, the judge granted them exemption and asked them to appear at the next hearing on April 18.


Woman declared dead resurfaces
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 10
In an interesting incident, a woman declared dead by the police last year resurfaced in the district courts here prompting District and Sessions Judge G.K. Rai to order the police to re-investigate the murder case of Paramjit Kaur and submit its report on May 14, 2007. The judge also granted interim bail to her brother, Gurdial Singh, and brother-in-law, Baldev Raj, son of Bant Ram of Sahri village on a surety bond of Rs 50,000 each.

A mother of three children, Paramjit Kaur (30) daughter of Jagiri Ram, a resident of Rangra Mundian, who was married to Ram Lal, son of Sadhu Ram of Shahbadi, Hariana, had disappeared in 2000. The police recovered a skeleton from the fields of Rangra Mundian village on September 26, 2006, and later on a report by the Medical College, Amritsar, registered an FIR (No. 24) dated February 14, 2001 under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC. Later, the police identified it as that of Paramjit Kaur and also arrested her brother, Gurdial Singh, and brother-in-law Baldev Raj, son of Bant Ram of Sahri village in November last year, police sources said.

Jatinder Singh Deriwal, counsel for Paramjit Kaur, said she had already appeared in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 30, 2007 for proving that she was alive and to establish her identity. The court has fixed April 27 as the next date of hearing. She along with her father Jagiri Ram, mother Salbjeet Kaur, sister Resham Kaur, sarpanch and ex-sarpanch of the village, Gurmail Singh and Kuldip Kaur, respectively, had also filed affidavits before the District and Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, on April 7, 2007 in this connection.

Paramjit Kaur, who was married to Ram Lal of Shahbadi village allegedly developed illicit relations with Raju, a migrant labourer of Bihar, who was residing in the village for earning his livelihood. She along with her paramour, Raju, went to Bihar in 2000 and later both settled down in Jalandhar. During that period she did not contact her parents.

On being informed about the arrests of her brother and brother-in-law in the false murder case, she approached the court about 15 days back to save them.

He said that the appearance of Paramjit Kaur reflected poorly on police investigations.

Talking to this correspondent, Paramjit Kaur said she had two daughters from her previous husband and one from Raju. She had been living with Raju as his wife at Jalandhar and was happy with him.

Meanwhile, Anita Punj, SSP, Hoshiarpur, has constituted a special team headed by Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP (H), to re-investigate the case registered in connection with the murder of Paramjit Kaur.


DC suspends Sunam market panel secretary
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 10
Sangrur deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar today suspended secretary of the Sunam Market Committee Jarnail Singh for negligence in the performing duties in grain markets and procurement centres in the Sunam area.

This afternoon the deputy commissioner said, he had suspended the secretary on the spot though official orders in this regard would be issued by the secretary of the Punjab Mandi Board.

Ladhar said the performance of the secretary in the Sunam grain market and other procurement centres was found unsatisfactory, as sanitation work got done by him was not satisfactory in the auction yard of Sunam grain market. Besides this he had not even touched the auction yard of Neelowal village’s procurement centre for sanitation work. The lighting was also found unsatisfactory at some places, he added.

Ladhar told this reporter he had also given three days’ time to the district mandi officer to improve sanitation and lighting in grain markets and procurement centres otherwise action could also be taken against him. He said any negligence on the part of any official in the procurement of wheat would not be tolerated.

He said till today 25,000 metric tonnes (MTs) of wheat had been procured by traders and government agencies in the Sangrur district. He said the administration expected arrival of eight lakh mts of wheat in the grain markets of the district this year. He also said in Sunam a private trader today procured wheat at the rate of Rs 868 per quintal.

The deputy commissioner along with the DFSC, the district mandi officer, and the district managers of Warehouse, the FCI, Punjab Agro, Punsup today toured grain markets and procurement centres of Sangrur, Sunam, Neelowal, Cheema and Longowal, took stock of procurement arrangements there and heard problems of farmers.


4 police dists may go
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The Punjab government is contemplating the abolishing of Khanna, Majitha, Batala and Jagraon police districts. “This proposal is yet at the conceptual level and no concrete decision in this regard has been taken”, said a senior officer of the state government.

By abolishing the four districts, the state government wants to set up four new districts -- Ludhiana (rural), Jalandhar(rural), Amritsar( rural) and Pathankot. Sources said the government wanted to post senior officers of the Punjab Police Service cadre as chiefs of the new districts. At present, Mohali is the only district where an officer of the PPS cadre can be posted as district police chief. All other districts are reserved for the IPS cadre.

The sources said though the government was contemplating the abolishing of the four police districts, the IPS lobby might not allow it to do so. The IPS cadre would not like to lose four posts of district police chief to the PPS cadre, the sources added. The PPS cadre has been pressing the state government to give it due share in the posting of district police chiefs.


Six cops shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The Punjab government today ordered the shifting of six Punjab Police Service officers in the rank of superintendent of police.

Darshan Kumar is the new SP, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, Chandigarh. Sukhminder Singh Mann becomes SP, city II, Amritsar. Rachhpal Singh Ghuman goes as SP, headquarters, Tarn Taran. Manmohan Singh is the new SSP, special narcotics cell, Amritsar.

Chaman Lal has been posted as SP, operations, Tarn Taran, and Malwinder Singh as SP, detective, Tarn Taran.


Punjab Round-up
House prorogued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The first session of the 13th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, which was adjourned sine die on the conclusion of its sitting on March 29, was prorogued by an order of the Governor issued yesterday.

Aujla replaces Virk

G.S. Aujla, who is in the rank of director- general of police, has assumed charge as chairman-cum-managing director, Punjab police housing corporation. He replaces S.S. Virk, who has been suspended.

Homoeopathy council chief removed

Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, chairman of the council of homoeopathic system of medicine, Punjab, has been removed from his post, following an order issued by the department of medical education and research here today.

Security at mandis

In view of the ongoing procurement season, the Punjab police today issued instructions to all SSPs to ensure strict security around grain procurement centres and at banks located in the mandis as a large amount of cash was being moved. 


Murder at Dasuwal village
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 10
Balwinder Singh (35) resident of village Dasuwal, which falls under the Valtoha police station was killed by four persons of the same village last night.

A case under the Sections 302, 34 IPC was registered. The police said the deceased was an employee in the Railways Department. While going to his work he reached near the residence Karaj Singh, who along with his three sons, Bhajan Singh, Jasbir Singh and Jagrop Singh attacked him with blunt weapons. Balwinder died on the spot. The accused are absconding. Old-time enmity is said to be the cause of the murder.


Interview for post of reader postponed

Patiala, April 10
The interview for the post of reader in the department of public administration of Punjabi University today was postponed for an indefinite period.

As reported earlier, four candidates scheduled to appear for the interview today for the post of reader in the department of public administration decided to boycott the interview alleging that it was being conducted to promote a woman candidate. The candidate, they alleged, had already told them the experts who are coming for the interview.

The panel of experts according to them comprised of Dr SL Goyal from Punjab University, Dr SC Arora from MD University and Shiv Raj Singh from HP University Shimla.

The candidates alleged that the panel of experts was a closely guarded secret.

Since the panel of experts turned out to same as declared by the candidates, it came as a shock for many in the university.

The vice chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai when contacted on the issue admitted that the interview had been postponed. Since apprehensions had been cast on the objectivity of interview due to the names of experts being made public, the decision was taken to postpone the interview.

He said that the interview had been sabotaged by vested interests. Three of candidates who initially had circulated press note that they would be boycotting the interview today appeared for it. One of the candidates could not be contacted despite vigorous effort to ascertain the truth. — TNS


Punjab may set up IIM on its own
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
As the union government has not responded positively to Punjab’s demand for setting up an Indian Institute of Management in the state, the state government is contemplating to set up the same on its own. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had approached the union human resources minister Arjun Singh to set up an IIM in the state, it is learnt.

Sources said the state government would adopt the Andhra Pradesh model to set up a management institute of international repute. It would be affiliated to some leading university in the USA. It would be set up with public, private participation.

Meanwhile, a council has been set up of senior officers of the union government for setting up knowledge city at Mohali. The director of the Indian Institute of Science and Research that would be part of the knowledge city, would be appointed by July by the union human resources ministry. Other institutes to be set up in the knowledge city are bio-technology institute and the nano-technology institute.

The council would coordinate for common works proposed for the knowledge city. The sources said there would be a common library, cafeteria and hostels etc., for the students at the knowledge city.


CIIS earmarks Rs 6 cr for scholarships

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 10
The Canadian Institute for International Studies (CIIS) has decided to introduce a programme called "School affiliated programme" in public and certain government model schools of the state to provide quality international education to students of the region.

The institute has earmarked Rs 6 crore for the current academic session for scholarships to brilliant students who cannot afford international education, said Gurdeepak Singh, assistant institute director, CIIS, while addressing a symposium on “Relevance of International Education for Global Careers” at CIIS Institute at Jalbehra village.

Top educationists and principals of various public and government schools from all over the state participated in the symposium.

Students who clear an eligibility test and score over 80 per cent marks in Class XII will be given scholarship worth Rs 1.2 lakh, while students having 70 to 79 per cent marks and having 60 to 69 per cent marks will be given Rs 1 lakh and Rs 80,000, respectively.

Students from rural background having 50 per cent marks will be given scholarship of Rs 30,000. — OC


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