P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal to meet PM over package for industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that the situation for Punjab with regard to industry was no better than it was during the days of terrorism. He said while earlier the industry shifted from here due to militancy, now they were doing the same as heavy concessions were being granted by the Centre to the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Minister will lead a delegation of trade and industry to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and stress the need for announcing an industrial package for the state. A decision to this effect was taken during the course of an interaction between the government and the representatives of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) here today.

The delegation would also ask the Government of India to take up with its counterpart in Pakistan the issue of opening the Wagah and Hussainiwala borders.

Earlier, addressing the representatives of the trade and industry at a function organised by the PHDCCI here today, Badal announced the starting of an interactive mechanism between the government and the trade and industry through bi-monthly structured meetings.

Representatives of the trade and industry have been asked to send their demands, proposals and recommendations at least 15 days ahead of each meeting. These proposals and demands will be processed within a period not exceeding 10 days.

Industries and Commerce Minister Manoranjan Kalia said revival of the sick industry was the top-most priority of the SAD-BJP government. He said all district industries centres would be computerised. To begin with Ludhiana would be taken up as a pilot project.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh assured the trade and industry that the state government was committed to development and prosperity. Responding to the demands of the local industrialists, he said the Government of India had already cleared the proposal for laying a gas pipeline in the state from Dadri to Nangal via Doraha, Ludhiana and Sangrur.

President, PHDCCI, Sanjay Bhatia appreciated the concern of the state government for resolving the pending issues of the state’s industry. He assured the Chief Minister of support and cooperation on behalf of the PHDCCI in this regard. He pleaded that the state government should start the single-window service on the Gujarat model for entrepreneurs.


Deras a cause of worry for Badal
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, May 13
The SAD-BJP government has been in office for the past two months and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been assuring people that they will honour the pledges made during the election campaign.

The proceedings of sangat darshan programmes being organised by the Chief Minister give the impression that he is keen to attend to such matters in areas where the Akali Dal lost ground in some Malwa areas. There has been talk about the influence of the deras in the Vidhan Sabha elections, particularly the Sacha Sauda Dera of Sirsa.

On the other hand, Sikh thinkers have been compelled to ponder over the situation prevailing among the Sikhs with the spread of deras. There was a time when there were few traditional deras which commanded respect and influence among the Sikh masses.

According to Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president, Gurmat Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj, there were only a few traditional Sikh seats like Udasis, Nirmalas, Sewa Panthis and the Damdami Taksal.

Increase in the number of deras has been because of the kar sewa tradition, which became popular after the SGPC decided to execute construction of buildings in gurdwaras through voluntary donations and service of the sants. Most of these kar sewa babas remained under the influence of the SGPC and the Akali leadership till the time of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Jathedar Tohra had excellent rapport with these sants and he enjoyed their confidence.

In fact, this was his greatest forte. Petty sants used to woo Tohra and fear him also because of his strict adherence to Sikh traditions and the Singh Sabha code of conduct for the Sikh ceremonies in the gurdwaras. After Jathedar Tohra, with degeneration of the SGPC set-up, these sants are gaining ground on their own. The steep degeneration in the SGPC came under Bibi Jagir Kaur who herself was a head of a dera. At present, the SGPC is serving as a springboard for those who wish to enter Akali ranks.

Parkash Singh Badal has been conscious of the power of the deras in the political playing fields. This time he was able to woo the Namdharis during the Vidhan Sabha elections. The mention of Dera Sacha Sauda is giving Badal worrying moments. Many Akalis feel that the stalwarts in Malwa fell because of the influence of Dera Sacha Sauda.

Sikh thinkers are of the view that rather than placating each one of them and trying to keep a balance in the patronage extended to them, the need of the hour is to strengthen the position of the SGPC vis-a-vis the deras.

To retrieve the damage, Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president of the Akali Dal, are visiting the deras and establishing their contacts. Parkash Singh Badal has visited Bhaini Sahib four times during the past two months and handed over a cheque of Rs 50 lakh to the Namdhari guru.


Coop Dept to enter retail market: Kanwaljit
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Cooperative Department of the state is planning to enter retail marketing sector to give competition to corporate giants. The department would soon establish a marketing wing hiring marketing experts that would coordinate the marketing operations of various cooperatives of the state. The consultants for implementing the project have already been identified.

The minister of cooperation Kanwaljit Singh gave this information in an exclusive interview with The Tribune.

He said at present all corporates entering the retail market were eying the unreasonable profits being made by middlemen. The Cooperative Department had plans to flow the same model. Under the proposed plan the department would open stores in various parts of the state, which would sell the products of all cooperatives of the state under one roof. These would soon open purchase centres in various mandis of the state for buying vegetables and fruits from farmers.

The idea behind the initiative is to benefit both farmers and consumer while making a minimum possible profit. The department would provide better price for the produce to the farmer, while offer the same at lesser price to consumer than the existing market rates.

“I have visited the Safal facilities that have created an extensive network of farmers and cooperatives for selling vegetables through it retail market. Safal has outsourced its retail outlets to the ex-servicemen. Punjab was also planning to flow the same model. This would not only provide self-employment opportunity to the ex-servicemen but would also strengthen the cooperative sector in the state.

The cooperative banks have also been directed to boost commercial diary farming. The present per capita milk production in the state is 750 gm. This is much less as compared to other states like Gujarat, where cooperatives are a success. Farmers who go in for commercial dairy farming with hybrid cows would be given credit on a priority basis by cooperative banks.

Presently, the role of primary cooperative societies in villages is limited to distributing fertilisers and pesticides. Their scope is being widened to lending micro credit to farmers, he added.


Extra-judicial killings by police
Majha Human Rights Front for probe by HC judge, CBI
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
Extra-judicial killings of innocent youths in Punjab during militancy by security agencies required a probe by the CBI or a sitting Judge of the High Court to unearth the truth.

Stating this to reporters hereon Thursday, Col G.S. Sandhu (retd), chairman of the Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front (MEHRF), said though the state government had ordered a probe into the fake encounters by the police itself, an inquiry by an all-police commission would not have any transparency and would be eyewash.

He said such a commission would spare no expense to shield guilty police personnel as many Punjab Police officers had reaped a rich harvest of prize money and promotions for extra-judicial killings.

He said over 2,000 victims of these fake encounters were cremated as unidentified in two cremation grounds of Tarn Taran and Amritsar besides other fake encounter victims in other parts of the state.

Colonel Sandhu said these killings had the tacit approval by the state government which had resulted in the politician-mafia-police nexus leading to the criminalisation and communalisation of the police force.

He said they would soon ask for the photographs and inquest reports from the district police chiefs concerned under the RTI Act.

He said the police in stage-managed encounters had, in police files, declared Ajit Singh Sandhu and former militants Gurnam Singh Bandala, Gurcharan Singh, Jaspal Singh Bhatti and Sukhminder Singh dead and killed innocent people to claim the prize money on their heads by the police bigwigs themselves.

He said once the identity of the innocent persons was established, the front would pursue their cases and get a suitable compensation for their families.

Introducing the family members of victim Sukhpal Singh of Kala Afgana, who was killed by police cat Avtar Singh Tari in a fake encounter on August 13, 1994, the MEHRF chairman said even after the mother of the deceased had made the payment to the accused for purchasing a car besides Rs 1 lakh in cash, the victim was not spared.

He said the father of the victim was holding just two kanals of agricultural land as he had to sell off most of his land to arrange money to save his son.

He demanded the doing away with the Armed forces Special Powers Act as most of the extra-judicial killings were being carried out under its garb.


18 inquiries against varsity officials
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
Many heads are likely to roll in wake of the spate of inquiries ordered against senior officials of Guru Nanak Dev University by the vice-chancellor and the Syndicate. Some of the inquiries pertain to alleged financial irregularities.

A perusal of the list of 18 inquiries revealed that the inquiry officers, including retired senior IAS officers and judges, would question the varsity officials regarding alleged irregularities committed by them from time to time.

The two inquiries conducted by N.S. Rattan were related to the security officer who allegedly misbehaved with senior teachers of the varsity and the inquiry regarding holding of B.Sc classes and rural development courses at Guru Nanak College, Batala, have reportedly been completed. Rattan said he had already sent his reports to the registrar.

However, a fresh inquiry has been ordered by the university Syndicate against the huge financial loss to the university employees by way of investment at low bank rates.

The VC had taken a serious view of the investment of huge hostel and other funds of the students such as students’ securities deposited in the saving account, earning only 3 per cent. However, this amount was later reinvested at the rate of 9.50 to 10.25 per cent.

On this, the syndicate has decided to order a probe regarding financial losses to the university. The Syndicate has also ordered to fix the responsibility in this regard. However, when contacted, finance and development officer (FDO), Varinder Pal Sharma, claimed that he had no role in investment of provident/pension funds. He claimed that as per university status, it is the PF Committee, chaired by the vice-chancellor, which was authorised to take decisions of investment in various banks. The committee comprises a registrar and three presidents of Non-Teaching, Teaching and Officers Associations. At least four inquiries were being conducted by M.S.Chawla, a retired District and Sessions Judge.


Punjab to develop freedom fighters’ sites
Centre sanctions Rs 8 crores for the project
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Punjab is all set to immortalise the sites connected with the memories of freedom fighters. With the Government of India offering support to the state government’s ambitious project that seeks to develop freedom fighters’ trail from Delhi across to Punjab, all locations of historic importance will stand preserved in the coming times. The Centre has sanctioned Rs 8 crore for the project, conceived to mark the 150th year of the First War of Independence in which Punjab’s role was unique.

Proposed in 2005, the project will tell Punjab’s story of sacrifices to the present generation. The state government has identified 18 sites as part of the freedom fighters’ trail, which will put the visitors in touch with the patriots, their exploits and their rare letters and documents.

The trail will start from Delhi and move on to Shambhu that marks the entry to Punjab. In Punjab, it will feature the following historic locations -- Patiala, Nabha, Sunam, Malerkotla, Sarabha, Ludhiana, Khatkarkalan, Jagraon, Ahliwal, Jaito, Faridkot, Ferozeshah, Mudki, Sabraon, Ferozepur and Ajnala.

Restoration work at some places like Khatkar Kalan - the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh - has already started. Secretary, Architecture, Archaeology and Museums, Jagjit Puri, informed The Tribune today that the locations will have signages, information boards and panels, food counters and other resting facilities for tourists. "For Khatkar Kalan, we have sanctioned an additional Rs 60 lakh," he said.

As regards other sites, each one has a significant place in history. Patiala was the capital city in the times of freedom struggle. It was here that Sardar Sewa Singh Thikriwala, the great patriot, was tortured to death by the then rulers.

Sunam is the birthplace of Shaheed Udham Singh, who avenged the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by killing Michael O’ Dwyer. Malerkotla’s reference is indispensable to Kuka movement. It was here in 1872 that scores of Namdharis were blown off with cannons.

Next in line is Sarabha, the town associated with Ghadarite Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha, who was also Bhagat Singh’s ideal. Jagraon, apart from other links, is famous for its association with Lala Lajpat Rai. The trail continues with Ahliwal, Ferozeshah, Mudki and Sabraon -connected with Anglo-Sikh wars.

Other locations are Missriwala, where Ghadarites had a fierce encounter with the police in 1914; Ferozepur, where Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated after their sacrifice; Ajnala, over 150 Indian sepoys were killed by the British to suppress the uprising. Their bodies were thrown into a well — “Kaliyaan da Khuh”-- which Punjab government has already notified as a protected heritage monument.


International money transfer
Post offices earning huge profits
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
International money transfer has become the biggest revenue grosser for the post offices in Punjab circle. In the past one year, the Punjab postal circle has more than doubled the number of remittances with an increase of Rs 96 crore in the remitted amount.

Officials in the Punjab postal circle informed TNS that post offices across Punjab have become the leading agents for international money transfer by successfully catering to the monetary needs of lakhs of NRIs and their families here.

The service offered by post offices, acting as agents of Western Union Money Transfer, has helped them earn a profit of Rs 3.36 crore as commission in 2006-07 as compared to a year on year profit of Rs 2.26 crore in 2005-06.

From a mere 151 transactions in 2001 when this service was launched, to 1,17, 353 transactions in the last fiscal through the head post offices and sub post offices in Punjab, the scheme has proved to be a big success.

The scheme was started across the country in April 2001 after the department of posts entered into a formal agreement with Western Union Money Transfer to act as their agents.

Since then, post offices across the country have the maximum market share as money transfer agents. Though 29 per cent of the NRI population hails from Punjab, which is the largest segment of NRIs, post offices in Punjab have almost 20 per cent of the market share among all Western Union agents.

Officials in the department of posts said that though the customers were still using private money transfer agents, or taking the hawala route, people, especially in the rural areas, had now been using post offices for getting foreign remittances, mainly because of the reliability factor with the post offices.

“This is the reason that within five years we have been able to capture a sizeable segment of the market share. For the publicity of the scheme, we had organized road shows, launched a mass media campaign and imparted special training to our staff members,” said a senior department officer.

Officials in the Punjab postal circle said that the maximum transactions through post offices take place in Doaba and Majha region, which has the highest concentration of Punjabis living abroad.

Officials say that the maximum transactions take place in Jalandhar, followed by Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Kapurthala.

This money transfer facility is available in 663 postal locations across Punjab and the department proposes to extend this to another 108 locations during this year.

“This year, we will increase the transaction target to three lakh and revenue disbursement to Rs 431 crore,” said a top official.


Haryana vexed over SGPC rallies, says Avtar

Amritsar, May 13
SGPC president Avtar Singh today said the Haryana government was irritated with the peaceful meetings being organised by the SGPC in the state.

In a statement issued from Gurdwara Hazoor Sahib in Maharashtra where Avtar Singh has gone to hold meetings regarding the installation anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, said he had got information that the Congress government, led by CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was planning to put hurdles in the way of forthcoming rallies of the SGPC. The SGPC is opposing the move to set up a separate management committee for the Sikh shrines in Haryana. — TNS


Govt considering increase in retirement age
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 13
The Punjab Government has been seriously considering increasing retirement age of its employees from 58 to 60 years.

Stating this here today, finance minister Manpreet Badal said the alliance government was willing to fulfil this promise made to the employees.

He said that it would take about four to five months to arrive on a decision on this issue. Manpreet was on tour of six villages of this district.

The finance minister pointed out that due to shortage of employees was telling upon the functioning of different departments.

He said the process of filling of all vacant posts in various department would be started after the annual Budget was passed in June.

He declared that officers and officials of the state government who would ignore the workers of the SAD and BJP would not be spared.

The finance minister distributed cheques worth lakhs of rupees to panchayats of those villages which he visited today.


‘Implement’ reservation policy
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 13
The General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, at its executive meeting held here at JSFH Khalsa Senior Secondary School today, has decided to serve an ultimatum to the state government for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the reservation policy given in October last year.

Otherwise, a contempt of court petition will be filed in the Supreme Court. The federation has already submitted a memorandum to the chief secretary, Punjab, on April 30, in this regard.

Harbans Singh Sidhu, Balbir Singh Bains and Prabhjit Singh, state president, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the federation, while talking to The Tribune lamented that though the Supreme Court in its verdict on the policy had not only clearly stated that the ‘creamy layer’ should be kept out of the purview of the policy and had also defined the parameters for identifying the layer, still the decision was not being implemented. Due to it the process of promotions in various departments had virtually been lying paralysed for long, they added.

The federation leaders, while criticising the adamant attitude of union minister Arjun Singh on the caste-based reservation, said Arjun, in particular, political parties and leaders, in general, should learn a lesson from the recent UP Assembly poll results.

In UP, the BSP emerged victorious by giving a new face to the party. Instead of playing ‘Dalit politics’, it fought elections on the slogan of social harmony and fielded candidates belonging to all sections of the society, they said.


Cops feel the heat
Policemen asked to vacate houses at earliest
Chander Prakash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
In a significant step, deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari has cancelled the allotment of government houses, which were in possession of about 35 policemen in town.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the deputy commissioner took this step after it was brought to his notice that some policemen had been staying in the government accommodation illegally while a section of state government employees, who were in a need of government houses, were denied the possession.

Bhandari, while confirming the fact that the allotment had been cancelled, said those who had been occupying the same had been asked to vacate these at the earliest.

He added that district police chief Naresh Arora had given him in writing that a residential colony exclusively for policemen was located in this city and, hence, any action could be taken in connection with the houses, which had been allotted to the policemen.

Some policemen, in whose name a section of the houses were allotted, had handed over the possession to their colleagues after they got transferred from this district. The handing over was illegal.

Information stated that some of the policemen had not been paying rent to the Public Works Department authorities and some had still been occupying the government houses despite the fact that they had been transferred to another district for many years. Interestingly, a section of police officials had been occupying those houses for which they were not entitled as per their basic pay.

Meanwhile, the policemen, who had been asked to vacate their respective houses, left no stone unturned to retain the possession.


SHO suspended for conniving theft
Tribune News Service

Batala, May 13
The district police has suspended Dera Baba Nanak SHO Harpreet Singh for his connivance with the two suspects who stole about 150 bags of cement from a cement agency at Dera Baba Nanak a few days ago.

The SHO had been suspended on the investigation report submitted by DSP Mohan Lal on a complaint of Rajinder Singh Bedi, cement agency owner, the police said.

In his complaint to SSP R.N. Dhoke, Bedi had alleged that Jabar Jang Singh and Balwinder Singh, alias Billu, stole 150 cement bags from his store. He also alleged that the SHO, instead of registering an FIR against the suspects, was shielding them.

Taking a serious view of the complaint, the SSP marked an inquiry to the DSP. The DSP’s report said the SHO was in connivance with the suspects.


Patiala to have parade ground soon
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The city is all set to have a parade ground which would be used exclusively for staging protests with a view to saving the local population from inconvenience that it suffers on account of traffic blockades by agitators.

The proposed ground would be on the lines of parade grounds in Delhi and Chandigarh.

According to sources, the district administration is toying with the idea of setting up a parade ground to segregate the protests area from the busy Mall Road and other main roads of the town which crisscross the city.

The sources said after deliberating over the matter it had been decided to follow the same pattern for this problem as was followed in New Delhi and Chandigarh. Initial work was in progress and it had been decided to set up a panel for this work which would submit a list about the possible places where the protestors could assemble.

Senior functionaries of the Municipal Corporation admit that there is an urgent need to have an earmarked place for the agitators to stage protests even as they said that they had not yet got any proposal from the district administration so far.

They said the corporation would get down to finding suitable sites for the purpose once they got a missive from the district administration.

Bhagwan Dass, a old resident of the town, said even as the city had witnessed all-round development during the past few years it was strange that the idea of setting up a parade ground had not dawned upon the authorities earlier.

He said the Mall Road bore the brunt of the agitations where there was one protest or the other almost every week. This created traffic blockades and commuters and office goers were forced to take alternative routes to get to their places of work.

Tarsem Singh, an employee, said the move to have a parade ground was a welcome step as it would take pressure off the busy Mall Road where traffic blockades on account of agitations were very common.

Similar views were echoed by Swati Sharma, a housewife, who said earlier there were protests very often because of the city being the hometown of the former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. But it was very important to have a parade ground as it would come as a big solace to the schoolchildren who got stuck up on their way to or way back from the school, she added.


N-deal casts shadow
Army goes soft on ‘Shatrunash’
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Dakha (Ludhiana), May 13
Four tanks crossing an Army-made bridge across Sidhwan Canal and three helicopters making a few rounds above the same site. This sums up the war exercise ‘Shatrunash’ conducted by the Vajra Corps that was presented before the media along the canal at Dakha in Ludhiana here today.

The exercise disappointed the mediapersons who had come from Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh, expecting some swift military operations, new tactics for offensive combat manoeuvres, latest weapon systems and advanced surveillance and communication devices as had been demonstrated by the Indian Army during previous exercises held in the western theatre in the past few years. In fact, there was nothing which served as first-time experience for the reporters or photo-journalists.

Though the press note mentioned that the exercise was witnessed by Lieut-Gen Daljeet Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, the GOC of Vajra Corps was no where to be seen. The note mentioned that as many as 15,000 troops were involved in the exercise, which seemed an exaggerated figure.

Neither was there any stall for an exhibition at the site nor was there any plan of the exercise put up for understanding of the passage that had been followed. A ride on a tank through the dusty fields was perhaps the only moment which the reporters enjoyed.

A few objectives of the exercise that was said to have started on May 11 were explained by Brig D. Vashishta. The officer said the exercise was aimed at testing the level of training of the troops, validating the operational concepts, improving the attacking speed, judging the confidence of the soldiers and developing good rapport with the civilians. He said the target was to ratify the new Army doctrine of short offensive operations and shake the battlefield for strike operations. He mentioned that all the moves were being made only in the night to dodge the enemy.

Brigadier Vashishta pointed out that the Sutlej had served as the international border and the attacking troops had reached the enemy area where it was trying to degenerate its resources. He said the exercise would continue on till tomorrow when the offenders would further consolidate its gains.

When asked to why no new doctrine or strategy for war preparedness was demonstrated during the exercise, Brig A.S. Langeh, Administration, replied that the Army did not want to rake up any issue at the time when the nuclear deal was on the verge of being finalised. He denied any exaggeration of number of troops for the exercise.


Thousands pay tribute to Libra
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
Political leaders cutting across party barriers and thousands others today gathered at Diwan Todar Mal Hall, Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara, to pay tributes to former MLA Kirpal Singh Libra on a bhogh ceremony.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who was supposed to attend the ceremony failed to turn up instead he sent MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on his behalf.

Several prominent leaders, including union minister for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and many SGPC leaders, were present on the occasion.

Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, principal of Mata Gujri College, addressed the gathering on behalf of the family. He declared that the family had decided to set up Kirpal Singh Libra Memorial Trust and donated Rs 5 lakh. The trust would be headed by Parkash Singh Badal and would give scholarships to meritorious and needy students. The family would donate Rs 5 lakh every year to the trust.

Walia highlighted the life of Libra and termed him a true politician, social worker and a perfect human being. Libra was of the view that it was only through education that we could redress all our grievances and illiteracy was the root cause of all problems.

Libra started professional courses at Mata Gujri College and turned this lone degree college of the area into a top professional institution. He was the brain behind the starting of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College. He also served the Sikh Educational Society, Chandigarh, as a member.

Dhindsa said with the demise of Libra, not only the area but the SAD had suffered a great loss. He assured support of the government and the party to family.

Bibi Joginder Kaur, Hira Singh Gabria, jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Kirpal Singh Badungar, Jagmohan Kang, Dr Harbans Lal, Tej Parkash, Rana Gurjit Singh, Amarjit Singh Samra, Jasjit Singh Randhawa all former Ministers, MP Sukhdev Singh Libra, MLA Didar Singh Bhatti and former MP Gurcharn Singh Galib were also present.


Revival of sick drug companies sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 13
The immediate revival of sick public sector drug companies, mainly Indian Drugs Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL) and Hindustan Antibiotics Limited (HAL), was demanded at the state conference of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives’ Union (PCMSRU) here yesterday.

General secretary of the Punjab unit of CITU Raghunath Singh inaugurated the conference, which was attended by hundreds of delegates of the PCMSRU from 11 districts of the state.

At the inaugural function, the CITU leaders gave a call to medical representatives and the entire working class to intensify the struggle in an united manner against price hike, disinvestments, privatisation, ban on recruitment and anti-worker labour laws.

They also asked the participants to press for employment generation and enactment of comprehensive laws for unorganised and agriculture sector workers.

They also criticised the UPA government for not carrying out various pro-people commitments, mentioned in its national Common Minimum Programme (CMP).


Work on AIR Amritsar starts
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
People of Amritsar will soon be able to listen to their favourite Punjabi programmes relayed through a local radio station, as the work on the setting up of a 300-metre-high transmission tower has been started. It is likely to start functioning by 2008.

The project was delayed as the Central government had failed to find a suitable place to install the tower, as the existing ground for setting up the tower was insufficient.

Earlier, there was a proposal of the Central government to install a 100-metre tower with 10-KW transmission power, but later as the government failed to find a new place it decided to upgrade the power to 20 KW.

Recently, information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dass Munshi had announced in Parliament that the work on the tower had already been started and the radio station was likely to function from the next year.


Hindu Shiv Sena stages protest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
Activists of various organisations, including the Hindu Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal, burnt the effigy of civil aviation minister Praful Patel to protest against the non-installation of a model of the Durgiana Temple at the Rajasansi International airport here today.

Surinder Kumar Billa, president of the Sena, said despite repeated reminders to the airport authorities, the model, which was removed during the renovation of the terminal building, had not been installed.

He demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident and action against the airport authorities. The model, he said, was lying in the godown of the airport, but the authorities had been denying this. On the other hand, the airport authorities have maintained that the model was removed during renovation and negotiations were on with the Durgiana Temple Trust to install a new model to resolve the issue.


AISSF for ban on Dera Sacha Sauda
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
The All -India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) has urged the state government to immediately ban the activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda for hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community all over the world. Taking a serious note of the advertisement which appeared in a section of the press today in which chief of the dera Sant Ram Rahim Singh has appeared in the dress of the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, Manjit Singh Bhoma, president, AISSF, in a missive to Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has urged him to immediately ban the activities of the dera for denigrating the Sikh Guru.

Bhoma said if the state government failed to ban the activities of the dera chief, the incident of 1978 would be repeated as the dera chief was interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs in connivance with the Congress.


Using treated water for organic farming
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala May 13
Several farmers of Sultanpur Lodhi using treated water for organic farming shared their experiences with their counterparts of Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts.

Farmers Santokh Singh Bhagorian and Jaswant Singh Kaura of Sultanpur Lodhi told a large gathering of other farmers gathered at a seminar organised by the Agriculture Department that the produce of wheat and paddy crops had increased many times by using the treated water for farming. They had been using the treated water for farming in their fields for the past one year.

Thanks to the efforts of chairman of the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust, Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, for encouraging them to use treated water for organic farming. Baba Seechewal, doing the Herculean task of cleansing Kali Bein, is against throwing even treated water after installing STPs into the Kali Bein and encouraged Sultanpur Lodhi farmers around it to use the treated water for farming. Now these farmers encouraged other farmers located around the 160 km-long Kali Bein to use the same for increasing their produce.

Bhagorian and Kaura further told the farmers that they had saved urea and electricity by using the treated water as earlier they had to use pumped-out water for irrigation from the ground by using motors.

On the occasion, agriculture experts Dr Kuldip Singh and Dr Thakur Singh explained to the farmers about the benefits of using treated water for farming as there was no need for urea and insecticides.

Holy Bein project coordinator P. Ram, also the principal secretary (technical education) reiterated that there would be no acquisition of agriculture land in the name of the green belt around the Bein.


Farmers’ suicides
Govt to strengthen cooperatives: Minister
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
Farmers in the state are facing financial crisis as the agricultural sector has failed to sustain growth due to increased cost of production. At the same time, the price of their produce has not increased proportionately.

In the present scenario, the only alternative could be to strengthen the cooperative movement in the state to bring the farming community out of the debt trap, said Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, minister for cooperatives while talking to The Tribune here today.

He said the state government would organise two-day cooperative samelan in July with this purpose and he had invited union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to preside over. Cooperative ministers from all states would also be invited.

He said at one time Punjab was the leading state in this movement and due to lack of proper leadership it slipped to 7th or 8th position. He said he had studied the cooperative system of Maharastra, Gujarat, Andhra Pardesh and Tamil Nadu for this purpose. To strengthen the economic condition of the farmers, services of Milkfed would be utilised and his aim was to make dairy farming industry as the major industry of the state.

Milkfed would purchase milk from the farmers at suitable rates and would provide technical knowledge to increase milk production. He said at present milk production of state is 750 ml per person and it would be made 1 l.

About the condition of sugar mills, he said that the cooperative sugar mills had old technology and by producing only sugar the mills could not earn profits. He said the government of India had given sanction to mix 10 per cent ethanol in petrol, so he had sought technical advice to produce ethanol in these mills to turn it into profitable units.

He also warned the farmers that certain vested interests were floating rumors that there was the shortage of urea and DAP fertiliser for Kharif crops, but he assured that the government had enough stock.


Man beaten to death
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 13
Residents of Shastri Nagar beat an unidentified man to death, when he was allegedly found in the house of a hotelier in the same locality, late last night.

The body of the man was found in a lawn of the Civil Hospital today morning.

According to eyewitnesses, the person was brutally beaten up by employees of Mohinder Puri, owner of Hotel Parag.

Certain unidentified employees of the hotel, after abandoning him in the hospital, escaped from there late last night. The man succumbed to his injuries, following which he was thrown out in the lawn.

A complaint to the police stated that the person was found hiding in the house by Puri’s men in the absence of the owner.

The role of the police and the hotelier came under a scanner, when former municipal councillor Satpal, in his statement to the police, claimed that he reached the spot after receiving the news and saw Puri and his employees beating the man mercilessly.

Satpal claimed that he took the man to the hospital for treatment, but his body was found in the lawn in the morning.

Interestingly, as per police records, Puri was on his way back to Pathankot when the incident occurred. The hotelier had stated that he had asked his men to clean the house before he returned.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case under Sections 302, 457, 380, 511, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC against unidentified persons.


Wife stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Goniana (Bathinda), May 13
Gurdeep Singh, a resident of Dyalpura village, killed his wife Balwinder Kaur by attacking her repeatedly with a knife in the wee hours of today, when she, along with her daughter, was going for work. The accused, who was already undergoing imprisonment for a murder, which he had committed at fled from the scene, the police said.

Balwinder, who was living in her parental house after her husband had left her, had filed a suit in a civil court for getting alimony. The accused, who had come on a parole from the jail, was not willing to give any monetary support to his wife. When the accused came to know that his wife was going to win the suit, he murdered her, the police said.

She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

A case had been registered under Section 302 of the IPC.


Govt asked to set up career guidance dept
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 13
Career counsellor and director of Gurdev Singh Kang Memorial Rural Institute for Career Courses Swarn Singh Bhangu yesterday asked the Punjab government to set up a career guidance department for the convenience of students of Classes X and XII in selecting courses for a bright future.

He also asked the state government to chalk out a career guidance-cum-counselling policy for every youth.

Bhangu also asked the chairman of the Punjab School Education Board and vice-chancellors of all universities of Punjab to introduce an optional subject on career guidance from Class X onwards, to enable the students to keep themselves in touch with the current job opportunities and various job-oriented courses.

He made these demands while addressing the two free-of-cost career guidance camps, organised by the Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum, at the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys and Government Girls Senior Secondary School here.

Bhangu exhorted the students to fix their goals for achieving success in life.

President of the forum Dr A.S. Mann inspired the students to adopt a positive and corruption-free approach. He said every student could rise in life if he had a clear vision about his/her future plans.


207 get diploma at NIS
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The graduation ceremony of the 44th diploma course in sports coaching 2006-07 was held at the Netaji Subhash Chander Institute of Sports (NIS) here today. Mool Chand Sharma, UGC vice-chairman, was the chief guest on this occasion.

In all, 246 trainees in 17 disciplines were awarded the diploma in sports coaching. Ajaypal Singh got best student award in gymnastics while best student woman award went to Poonam Beniwal in boxing. Patiala DC Dharamjit Singh gave away the prizes. Sharma said a high-power committee was constituted by the union ministry of youth affairs and sports in January for the review and reform of the academic programmes, human resource requirement and institutional arrangements of the NIS and its academic sub-centres.

He said the three working groups of the committee held separate meetings at different venues. The first working group met at New Delhi, under the chairmanship of Dr Dayanand Dongaonkar, for reviewing institutional arrangements, second working group met at SAI Head Office, New Delhi, to study the human resource requirements and the third group met at Thiruvananthapuram, under the leadership of M. Robsnn, to review the academic programmes. Further meetings of these groups were being chalked out to finalise the proposal, he added.

L.S. Ranawat, executive director, NIS, disclosed that to combat the menace of drugs, the institute had organised courses for training of dope control officers and dope sampling officers on its campus. He advised the officials to keep themselves update with the latest requirements for the prevention of drugs.


Career counselling workshop held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Desh Bhagat Institute of Management organised a career guidance workshop at Hotel Flyover here today. Dr Zora Singh, chairman, Desh Bhagat Group, inaugurated the programme while Shalini Gupta, director, presided over the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, Manwinder Singh said there were so many career avenues for budding professionals but they failed to find right place and recognition for the want of proper guidance.

The students should be guided at the time of seeking admission when they happened to be at the threshold of their career after passing Class XII, and hence the need to hold such workshops, he added.

There were many examples of doctors and engineers, joining the IAS cadre, becoming film stars and musicians in the prime of their life. Many students seek admissions to such courses in which they do not have their aptitude for, Manwinder Singh said.

During the workshop, aptitude test, screen test, group discussions were held to judge the IQ level of the students.

Dr Zora Singh briefed the students about the history and vision of the institute and announced that more such workshops and seminars would be conducted in the state, especially in the rural areas, to provide guidance to the students.


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