P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rajpura boy found murdered in UK
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, May 26
Mystery shrouds the death of Mohan Singh, a youth from Madan Pur Chalheri village, near here, who died in the UK recently.

As the news of Mohan’s death reached his village last night, a pall of gloom descended on the village with the bereaved family at its wits’ end about the turn of events. An acquaintance telephoned the family last night that Mohan’s body had been found in an abandoned house in Elford town, Parvan Singh, deceased’s maternal uncle, said here today.

Mohan went to the UK in search of greener pastures through a travel agent Sukhwinder Singh, alias Rinku, on August 29 last year after paying a commission of Rs 6.85 lakh, said Parvan Singh. At the time of sending him abroad, Mohan was promised a job in the UK by the agent, but the promise was never fulfilled, he alleged.

Instead of finding a job for Mohan, the agent had been demanding an extra amount of £2,000 from him, Mohan’s father Amrik Singh alleged. However, he had not been keeping in touch with the family for several months now, family sources said.

Parvan Singh asserted that he had contacted the travel agent who had washed his hands off the matter claiming that his job was only to send him abroad.

Demanding the immediate arrest of Rinku for his alleged role in the death of his son, Amrik Singh said the family would lodge a formal complaint with the police soon. However, right now the family’s priority was to bring back the body from the UK, he added.


Dera Standoff
Police takes weapons into possession
1,000 personnel deployed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Salabatpura (Bathinda), May 26
Even as followers of the Sacha Sauda sect have started reaching the local dera branch in the wake of the Akal Takht deadline for tomorrow, the district police authorities have left nothing to chance.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that about 400 dera followers have so far reached the dera branch.

The district police authorities led by SSP Nau Nihal Singh carried out a security deployment and anti-riot drill at the village this evening. It also took into possession licensed weapons held by residents in this district. Police sources say so far about 300 licensed weapons have been taken into possession.

Official sources said of the total 3,000 policemen, including paramilitary personnel, which had been deployed in the district, 1,000 had been deployed in this village alone.

Every vehicle entering this village was being searched. All roads leading to this village had been barricaded.

The followers of the dera have also set up morchas inside the dera despite the fact that BSF personnel have set up a security wall in and around the dera, which is spread over about 90 acres.

A senior official of the police said a team of the police would carry out a search of the dera premises tonight.

Meanwhile, the village wore a deserted look as the residents preferred to remain indoors.


Vedanti okays panel to meet Governors
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 26
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti has finalised the 51-member committee of religious leaders, led by the SGPC chief, who will submit a memorandum to the Governors of Punjab and Haryana on May 31 in Chandigarh against the activities of Dera Sacha Sauda, even as Congress MLA from Bathinda Harminder Singh Jassi, a close relative of dera chief, has been making last-ditch efforts to resolve the stand-off .

The protest march by the committee will be flagged off from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib on May 31 by the jathedars of the five Takhts as per the directive pronounced by Jathedar, Akal Takht, on May 20. The delegation would be comprising chiefs of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Khalsa Diwan, Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj and Nihang factions. This has been confirmed by SGPC chief Avtar Singh while talking to The Tribune.

The ultimatum served by the Sikh clergy on the dera to close down its branches in Punjab will end tomorrow. The state government has put the police on high alert to meet any eventuality.

Akal Takht has also decided to send a delegation of the all-party Sikh MPs, led by SGPC chief, to meet Prime Minister and President of India in the first week of June.


Sunam victim’s bhog
Tight security at gurdwara, deras
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 26
In the light of the bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh (who died on May 17 in firing near a dera of Sacha Sauda sect at Sunam) on May 27 at Gurdwara Nankiana Sahib near here and the ultimatum given by Akal Takht to vacate all deras of Sacha Sauda by May 27, the district administration has made elaborate and tight security arrangements in Sangrur and at all deras falling in the district. It is expected that about 15,000 persons will participate in the bhog ceremony.

In view of the sensitivity of the situation Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh today visited Sangrur to take stock of the situation. He also held a meeting with deputy commissioner S.R. Ladhar and SSP Arunpal Singh to review security and other arrangements.

A large number of security personnel have been camping at the local General Gurnam Singh Public School. Policemen were today seen putting up barricades on a road leading towards the gurdwara and local branch of the dera. Ladhar today also imposed a ban on carrying of arms on the gurdwara premises.

Talking to The Tribune today, the SSP said around 2,500 security personnel had been deployed in the town. He also said all 10 deras in the district had been provided with security.

The DC and the SSP today also held a meeting with SGPC members at Guru Nanak Niwas in the gurdwara.


Plea against use of word ‘Sacha Sauda’
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 26
The International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society has raised objection against the use of the title Sacha Sauda by Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the organisation, said their society had filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to prevent the dera from using the title Sacha Sauda.

He added that a five-member committee comprising himself, Santokh Singh, Baldev Singh Moga, G.S. Sandhu and Sham Singh (co-chairman of the PSGPC, Pakistan) has been constituted to follow the petition in the high court.


Pak okays cotton import through Wagah
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 26
The Pakistan government has given its nod for importing cotton from India through land routes, including the Wagah border. A high-powered delegation of Pakistan, including its commerce and textile ministers, businessmen and other cotton traders, is expected to meet India’s union minister of textiles and other functionaries of various ministries in June or July this year on this issue.

The Pakistan government has allowed the import of India cotton through land route after traders from the neighbouring country, who visited cotton-producing areas of Punjab in March, 2007, pressurized their government.

The decision will be prove to be a boon for the cotton industry in Pakistan as its import from India is cheaper as compared to any other country.

Bhagwan Bansal, president, Punjab Cotton Factories and Ginners Association, said this information had been given to the association by Shahid Farooq Puri, chairman, Indo-Pak Cotton Ginner Association, Okara (Pakistan), and chairman, Jhang Chamber of Commerce, Pakistan, on the telephone.

Bansal said the Pakistan government had allowed the import of long staple cotton through land route to meet the raw material demand being raised by its domestic industry.

Pakistan-based cotton traders, ginners and other industrialists had been facing shortage of about 35 lakh bales this year. If they were allowed to import cotton from Punjab and other cotton producing states of northern India, it would be beneficial for both the countries.


Rs 4,800-cr state plan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
The Punjab government, which has pegged its annual plan for the current financial year at Rs 4,800 crore, will ask the union government to provide a special package of funds from the money earmarked for centrally sponsored schemes.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will lead a team of officers for discussions on the plan components with planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on May 31 in Delhi. Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal will accompany the Chief Minister.

The thrust of the plan is on social sector schemes, education, health, power, the atta-dal scheme, etc.

The size of the plan can go up to Rs 5,000 crore if the planning commission agrees to provide funds for certain schemes.

A major problem faced by the state government relates to funds to finance the plan. The government will be required to mobilise additional resources to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore. Will the government impose a new tax or take other measures to raise that amount for full implementation of the plan? So far, the state government has not taken a decision in this regard though a discussion was held to raise stamp duty by 3 per cent on the sale and purchase of urban property. The BJP ministers have opposed this.

The sector from which the state government can generate additional revenue of Rs 1,000 crore or more is sand and gravel mines. This is the sector where the political and contractor mafia operates to make huge money.

Sources said Chief Minister Badal would ask the planning commission to give the state a special package for contributing huge stocks of foodgrains to the national pool. For producing paddy and wheat, the state government is providing about Rs 1,500 crore as power subsidy to farmers from its own treasury.

The contribution to be made by the union government in the state plan will be worth Rs 1,200 crore. That will be in the form of release of funds for the centrally sponsored schemes and special allocations. About Rs 1,400 crore will be contributed in the plan from the revenue collected under the rural development fund, by the Punjab state electricity board and the Punjab infrastructure development board. From the state’s revenue the contribution will be Rs 1,000 crore.

A provision has also been made of Rs 250 crore for the atta-dal scheme. The sources said 18 per cent of the total plan size was for the power sector.


Food Policy
Kanwaljit for reformulation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
The Punjab cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today underlined the need for reformulating the food policy to make the country self-sufficient in foodgrains by providing remunerative prices to farmers, the required concessions to millers and processors and proper marketing.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said this while speaking at a technical seminar here during RICETECH-2007.

While emphasising the need for correctional steps in policy making, he advocated the drawing up of a broad, flexible and dynamic food policy after due consultation with representatives of farmers and food-processing industries and by ensuring direct subsidy to farmers. He further said that there should be more efforts for ensuring the minimum support price to all farmers in the country on the pattern of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh advised rice millers to attain self-sufficiency instead of depending on governments as in the developing scenario only the fittest would survive.

While reiterating the Punjab government's firm commitment to meet the food shortage in the country, the cooperation minister hoped that farmers, with the support of the state government, would strive hard to bridge the gap between production and the consumption of wheat and rice in the country. He assured the rice millers of help from the state government to redress the problems faced by them besides putting forth their genuine demands before the union government.

Earlier, Tarsem Saini, president, federation of all-India rice millers association, and Vijay Setia, president, all-India rice exporters association, highlighted the problems faced by the rice millers.


Rise of diabetes among Khatri Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 26
The medical fraternity, in collaboration with the Department of Genetics, Guru Nanak Dev University, will soon identify genes to control the alarming rise of diabetes in the country, particularly in North India.

Vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh revealed today that a road map for conducting the phase II of the human genetic studies for controlling the type II diabetes in the country had been prepared. He said the National Institute of Health, USA, the University of Oklahoma, along with Fortis Hospital here, had pooled in their resources for doing a pioneering work on this subject. The university had offered its infrastructure along with genetic experts to actively collaborate with doctors specialised in this field.

The US Institute of Health has decided to contribute $ 5 to $ 10 million for funding the research work that will take two to three years for identifying the reason behind diabetes among Indians.

He said countries like the USA, Japan and Europe had already identified 26 diabetes-induced genes among their population but Indians had not figured in this analysis. He added that the country requires to do its own research for controlling diabetes which was resulting in a large number deaths in the country.

Diabetologist Rohit Kapoor, who had been associated with research, particularly among Punjabis, said according to WHO more than 180 million people across the globe were afflicted with diabetes and the number was likely to double by 2030. About 55 per cent of obese Punjabi women were more prone to diabetes, he added.

Rohit said the phase II research on diabetes would focus on Khatri Sikhs of the area and they would take samples of 5,000 people in this regard.


Date for abolishing night soil lifting extended
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 26
The Union government has extended the date for abolishing the lifting of the night soil by safai karamcharis throughout the country from December 31, 2007, to March 31, 2009.

This was announced by National Safai Karamchari Commission’s chairperson Santosh Chaudhry here today. She said despite several reminders a few state governments were not cooperating to put an end this social evil.

She instructed all state governments to fill the backlogs in the jobs for safai karamcharis and provide necessary facilities, including hike in their salaries, as per the minimum wages attached with increase in price index.

She told the Local Bodies Department that no safai karamchari should be called on duty before 8 am as they had to look after their families also.


12 cows die
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 26
Twelve cows died and about 15 fell ill after consuming polythene bags while they were grazing in the fields located on the outskirts the city.

The cows were owned by members of the Gujjar community. The owners said they had suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 2 lakh.

They said, “We were shocked when we saw that one of the cows fell on the ground and died instantly minutes after grazing in the fields. And within an hour, 12 cows died.”


Sathasivam is legal services chief

Chandigarh, May 26
Justice P. Sathasivam, the senior-most judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court next to the Chief Justice, has been appointed chairman of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority. A government notification to the effect has been issued. Justice Sathasivam had joined the High Court here in April following his transfer from the Madras High Court. — TNS


Hospital Fire Case
Insurer told to pay Rs 90 lakh
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
After suffering huge losses in a devastating fire which destroyed their hospital and after battling unscrupulous insurance officials for two years, a Ludhiana-based doctor couple has finally got justice, courtesy the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

The commission has awarded Rs 90 lakh, one of the highest-ever awards at the state-level, as compensation to Sigma Diagnostic Ltd, a Ludhiana-based entity whose director Dr Sumita Singh had moved the commission to get an enhanced claim.

In the process, a trend has been set for the harried consumers of insurance companies in not succumbing to unprofessional tactics employed by these companies and but to claim their legitimate due.

Dr Sumita Singh and her ailing husband Dr Amandeep Singh had gone through a harrowing time for two years seeking appropriate claim from insurance company Bajaj Allianz from whom they had purchased various policies to cover any future risk to their assets.

Now, after the order, they would get nearly Rs 65 lakh (Rs 90 lakh minus Rs 25 lakh which they were earlier forced to accept).

The case dates back to January 2005 when fire broke out in Sigma Newlife hospital, a unit of Sigma Diagostic Ltd, in Ludhiana. The event was then widely reported in the print and electronic media.

Following a claim of Rs 1.6 crore by Sigma, their insurers Bajaj Allianz then appointed a surveyor to assess the damages. The surveyor said that the damages were beyond his jurisdiction and a higher-category insurer needed to be appointed.

At this, Select Surveyors Ltd, a Delhi-based group, was appointed by Bajaj Allianz which carried out an extensive probe and pegged the Sigma Newlife’s losses at nearly Rs 89 lakh. The insurance company found this difficult to digest and appointed a yet another surveyor in gross violation of the Insurance Act.

The Act states that a third surveyor could only be appointed after due permission from the authority concerned and not suo motu by a insurance company.

The third surveyor tried to pressurise the doctor couple allegedly threatening a long legal battle and offered them a meagre sum of Rs 25 lakh. Though amazed at the offer, the couple had no choice but to accept given the dire straits they were in. In fact, they did not even have money to pay their electricity bills.

They signed on the discharge voucher and accepted the amount as their bank with whom their assets were mortgaged was also pressurising them to clear their dues fast.

Seeing no way out of the mess, they moved the state consumer commission last year. The commission made it clear that Bajaj Allianz’s assertion that the Sigma was a commercial enterprise and not a consumer was ill-founded. It referred to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s order stating that an insurance dispute was essentially a consumer dispute.


A district without officers
Prem Kumar Sharma

Barnala, May 26
The 20th district of the state, created during Capt Amarinder Singh’s rule, remains neglected even after six months of its creation. People living in the district face difficulty in their day-to-day activities as most of offices are yet to come into existence. Even the posting of a large number of officers against the sanctioned posts are still awaited. A few officers of Sangrur district have been entrusted the additional charge of officers in this district. To add to woes of the people, a stopgap staff is not well-versed in handling and coping with the district-level workload.

Though Barnala was given the status of a full-fledged district, the status of Sherpur remains confused because it still falls in two districts. From the revenue angle, Sherpur is a part of Sangrur district, but from the police point of view it still is a part and parcel of this district.

Though 37 district-level posts were created and sanctioned for making the newly-created district fully functional from November 19,2006, only nine officers- deputy commissioner, additional deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner general, district revenue officer, district civil surgeon, district food and civil supplies controller, district small savings officer, district education officer (secondary), district public relation officer and district education officer (elementary) offices-have started functioning so far. More than 20 out of the 37 newly created and sanctioned posts are awaiting postings till date.

With the launching of the deputy commissioner’s office on November 19, 2006, only six district-level officers have taken charge so far.

The Department of Revenue and Rehabilitation (RE-II-branch) had in a letter stated that the Governor of Punjab was pleased to create 37 posts for making the district functional. It further stated that continuation of the above posts should be carried out by administrative departments concerned from time to time from the competent authority. 


Breach in seniority list irks lecturers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 26
The alleged breach in the seniority list made by the state education department while giving promotions to school lecturers in the recent past is likely to snowball into a major controversy as the entire cadre of lecturers have started contemplating to go on mass leave.

“A deputation of the Gazetted Educational School Services Association (GESSA) will meet the education minister Upinderjit Kaur and ask her to set the things right. If she failed do the needful, the members of the association will start an agitation immediately,” said Joginder Singh Aulakh, president of the association.

Resentment gripped the lecturers in the government-run schools after the education department appointed the last person on the seniority list as the district education officer while the person on the top of seniority list was kept as principal only.

Not only this, the department had appointed junior lecturers as deputy directors and made the seniors to work under them. About 17 lecturers/masters had been appointed as district education officers in different districts despite the fact that as per the revised seniority list of March 31, 2006, their rank came after number 300.


Seminar on emerging trends in IT at CIIS
Our Correspondent

Bellmore, director, Global Placement Services, speaks at an international conference on IT at the Canadian Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Jaleverha, district Fatehgarh Sahib, on Saturday.
Bellmore, director, Global Placement Services, speaks at an international conference on IT at the Canadian Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Jaleverha, district Fatehgarh Sahib, on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 26
An international conference on “Emerging trends in design 2007” and on latest trends in information technology was organised at the Canadian Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Jalvehra campus, here, today.

Experts from various institutes all over the country participated. The conference was aimed at discussing latest trends in design-related technology information technology. The purpose was to explore new possibilities and avenues in various fields and exposing the budding engineers in the latest developments in mechanical design sector and equip them for an all-out competition in this techno-economic challenging scenario, said Lieut-Col B.S. Sandhu (retd), president of the CIIS Educational Society.

Dr R.S. Khandpur, director-general, Pushpa Gujral Science City, Jalandhar, delivered the keynote address. Individual sessions with discussion rounds were chaired by eminent personalities like Dr R.S. Salaria and Dr Tara Singh Kamal. Sessions dwelled particularly upon the comparative and contrasting positions of Indian manufacturing sector with the rest of the world with penetrating references by the experts.

Paul Stevens, program coordinator, Georgian College, Canada, John Magill, automotive studies, Georgian College, Canada, said the conference turned out to be an eye opener as regards to the developments in mechanical engineering manufacturing.

The conference provided a national forum for the presentation of research papers and application of emerging technologies in computer science and IT. Dr M.S. Grewal, institute director, CIIS, said the institute had always been at the front with regard to the assimilation of innovative ideas for evolving a better understanding of concepts.


CBSE Sahodaya meet at Budha Dal school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 26
The Patiala CBSE Sahodaya School Complex Meet was organised at Budha Dal Public School, here, today. The meet was attended by various educational institutions as part of the CBSE Sahodaya Movement Cluster.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Amrit Aujla, principal of the school, disclosed that this prestigious movement was launched by the CBSE in 1986 and was a congregation of educational heads and teachers. It aimed at sharing expertise, experience, educational resources and innovative practices in the field of education to synergise the entire educational process in the respective regions and ultimately at the national level.

He said there were around 130 Sahodaya School Complexes active across the country with a network involving 2,500 schools. It aimed to make the educational process more dynamic and responsive.

The meeting was attended by 13 schools, who gave its willingness to be a part of the Patiala Sahodaya School Complex.

On this occasion, the election of the office-bearers was also held in which Dr Aujla was elected as the president and Harmeet Kaur Oberoi, principal of Blossoms School, Patiala, as secretary and Tejinder Kaur, principal of the Guru Nanak Foundation, was elected as the treasurer.


BIPS holds cross-country race
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 26
Bhupindra International Public School (BIPS) organised an inter-house cross-country race here today.

The race was organised among the four houses, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Udham Singh.

Principal of the school Indu Sharma flagged off the event at 5 am in which around 250 children took part.

Teachers of the school were deputed at various places to ensure the safety of the students and to boost up their confidence. Later, the winners were felicitated by the principal.

Speaking on the occasion, she said it was at this tender age that moral values could be inculcated among the students and the school was the right place to start with.

She further added that it was the right time when the creative energy of the students could be channelised in a fruitful way and they could be prepared to play a positive role in the society. 


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