P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


VB to quiz Amarinder today
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 27
Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh will join investigation into the Ludhiana City Centre scam at Patiala Circuit House tomorrow. Vigilance officials have booked three rooms in the circuit house for questioning the former Chief Minister.

Sources said once again Capt Amarinder Singh would turn this into the show of political strength. Message had been delivered to former and present MLAs and other Congress leaders to reach Patiala tomorrow to express solidarity with him.

A few Congress MLAs while talking to The Tribune said they would be reaching Patiala tomorrow morning. Earlier, also a large number of MLAs had welcomed the former Chief Minister at the state barrier after he returned from abroad.

However, close aides of the former Chief Minister, including former minister Lal Singh and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, have been maintaining distance from him. Local Congress men have also been directed to reach the Moti Bagh palace tomorrow morning. His wife and Patiala MP, Parneet Kaur, also went to Patiala today.

However, the move of the Congress to present the show of strength might get scuttled. The administration has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the district due to the on-going tussle between the Sikh clergy and Dera Sacha Sauda.

The sources in the vigilance also said the former Chief Minister might be quizzed on the latest information gathered from another accused in the case, Chetan Gupta.

Former Chief Minister in a recently issued press note had alleged that Chetan Gupta was being subjected to third degree for forcing him to give statements against him (Capt Amarinder Singh) and his family members.

Chetan Gupta is a grandson of Patiala-based businessman Charan Dass.

Besides Congress leaders a battery of lawyers is also likely to accompany Capt Amarinder Singh tomorrow to the Patiala circuit house. The former Chief Minister returned to Patiala yesterday from Nepal where he was penning a book on Punjab history.


Dera Standoff
Security review after May 31
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Sikhs protest against the Punjab government and Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti after the bhog ceremony on Sunday.
Sikhs protest against the Punjab government and Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti after the bhog ceremony on Sunday. — Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Salabatpura (Bathinda), May 27
To rule out the possibility of any untoward incident in this village following a call given by Akal Takht that all deras being run by the Sacha Sauda sect be vacated by May 27, the police was put on maximum alert, apart from declaring this village sensitive.

Senior civil and police officials, including deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari, DIG, Faridkot range, Jatinder Jain and SSP Nau Nihal Singh camped in the village for the whole day to ensure that no unpleasant happening took place. Media persons were allowed to enter the village only after establishing their identities.

The district police authorities had also asked the followers of the Sacha Sauda sect camping at the local branch of the dera to deposit firearms, if any, at the police stations concerned. The SSP said 300 licensed weapons had already been taken into possession.

He further said the matter in connection with the carrying of firearms by the followers of the sect into the dera was also discussed at the meeting of senior officials of the BSF and Punjab Police held recently.

Nau Nihal Singh pointed out that the security cover to the local branch of the dera would be reviewed on May 31 as per the threat perception.

He added that the district police authorities would then make its recommendations to the state government in connection with the security aspect.


Deadline expires
Punjab on high alert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Even as the deadline set by Akal Takht for the closure of all Dera Sacha Sauda centres expired peacefully today in Punjab and Haryana, the state will continue to be on high alert for a few more days. Parallel congregations, one of the dera at Sirsa and the other, bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh at Sangrur passed off peacefully.

Calls for peace were made as Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti advised “restraint” today. Later in the evening, dera tendered an apology that could end the crisis. Today even the hardline Damdami Taksal advised peace. The police said it would wait for the stand taken by Akal Takht and not withdraw the entire force immediately, rather taper-off the withdrawal over a few days.

The SAD thanked the people for maintaining peace in the state. The party said Punjabis had set an example before the whole world by maintaining peace and communal harmony in the face of grave provocation. It said this had also defeated the nefarious designs of anti-Panthic, anti-Punjabi, anti-people and anti-peace forces that were out to alienate Punjabis from the rest of the country.

A police spokesman said here that state police and paramilitary personnel were on high alert in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt which had a sizeable number of Sacha Sauda followers.

Paramilitary forces conducted flag marches in Amritsar, Sangrur, Bathinda, Moga, Manda, Muktsar and a few other places in the state.

The spokesman said the dera at Salabatapura, which was Sacha Sauda sect’s main centre in Punjab, had virtually been cordoned off with paramilitary personnel setting up barricades all around it. There were believed to be 2000-odd Sacha Sauda followers inside the dera.

Likewise, adequate security arrangements had also been made at all other deras in the state and its important functionaries had been provided security at their homes.

The security at important gurdwaras in the state, including Golden Temple, had been further strengthened.


Upkeep of Ram Bagh
MC has no funds, manpower
Sanjay Bumbroo/Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 27
Uncertainty prevails regarding the maintenance of Ram Bagh in the 84 acres green area with the eviction order recently handed over to the three social clubs by the SDM here .

The municipal authorities have expressed inability to provide funds and manpower to preserve the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The question has arisen if the clubs were evicted from the garden, will the corporation be able to maintain the green belt in the heart of the city.

The clubs, however, have contested the eviction order arguing that the Municipal Corporation at its general house meeting on November 16 last year had unanimously recommended to the government to extend the lease of these clubs for 30 years.

The corporation recommended their case, but the previous government, headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, had failed to give approval due to election code being in force. The clubs have more than 4,000 members for two to three generations as these were established during the British rule in the early 20th century with the aim of preserving the green surroundings and social evening among family members of the officers and elite Indian class.

The managements of the three clubs at a press conference here today pointed out that they would pursue the case with the SAD-BJP government for giving its approval for the continuation of the clubs in the Ram Bagh garden complex. They said the clubs were regularly paying conservancy charges to the municipal authorities for past many years for keeping the area and surroundings clean. To fortify their claim to occupy the club premises the managements pointed out they had been regularly paying lease money till 2002 at the rate of Rs 6,000 per month to the civic authorities with a rider to enhance the annual fee by 20 per cent as per the instructions of the then SDM but the authorities refused to accept the lease money from thereon.

They said the clubs were part of heritage by themselves as these clubs were running in the Ram Bagh for the past more than 90 years founded by eminent personalities of that era. They said besides maintaining the major portion of the Company Bagh, these clubs were providing employment for maintaining and upkeep of these premises. If the clubs were evicted from the garden these employees would be jobless, they added.


Punjab seeks 2 months for filling docs’ posts
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 27
Punjab has sought a grace period of two months from the Medical Council of India (MCI) for filling 237 vacant posts of doctor in three government-run hospitals. This was stated here by Jagjit Puri, secretary, Medical Education and Research, Information and Public Relations, who took a round of the Government Medical College here yesterday.

To fulfil the conditions laid out by the MCI regarding the strength of doctors in medical colleges walk-in interviews will soon be conducted by the Medical Education and Research Department.

“The Chief Minister was so concerned about the shortage of doctors that he called up the chairman of the MCI to seek two months to immediately fill the vacant posts,” said Puri in an interaction with mediapersons.

He stated that the state government had also written a letter to the Government of India, seeking development of the Punjab Institute of Medical Education in Jalandhar on the lines of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“It has been pointed out that since the PGI has now come under the Centre, Punjab needs a premier institute of its own and an investment of Rs 600 crore has already been made by the state government in providing land for the medical college in Jalandhar. An amount of over Rs 160 crore has also been spent on the project and there is a need for another Rs 354 crore for its completion. The Centre has been asked to take up the project,” Puri said.

A proposal to set up an ayurvedic university in Amritsar has also been finalised and will be given the status of a deemed university. A committee headed by Dr S.K.Mishra, former adviser, Ayurveda, Government of India, has been constituted to chalk out a detailed proposal for the project. A 200-bed family ward will be added to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar.

To promote ayurveda, it has also been decided in principle to set up a separate directorate of research and education of ayurveda.

A Rs 170-crore master plan for the development of the Government Medical College in Amritsar has been finalised.

He added that Patiala Ayurvedic College would soon be brought under the control of Baba Farid Medical University.

Puri expressed concern at the practice of hospital staff, including doctors and para-medics, turning up late for duty and said this should be taken as a first warning. “Directions have also been given to the director to visit medical colleges once a month to hear grievances of doctors,” he added.


Ludhiana-born Canadian girl is Entrepreneur
of the Year

Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, May 27
Twenty-six-year-old Meharajpal Khangura, alumni of Guru Nanak Public School, Ludhiana, has done her village Latala and Punjab proud by winning the prestigious Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 Award of the Indo-Canadian Business Forum in Vancouver. She is perhaps one of the youngest members of the Punjabi Diaspora in Canada to win this honour.

Daughter of a businessman of Ludhiana, Meharajpal moved to Canada in 2000 and joined University of British Columbia from where she graduated in Immigration Consultations. After graduation she worked as an intern with a Vancouver law firm before she started her own consultation.

Though Indian Diaspora of 26 million has prospered abroad but its success is not without struggle. Amongst the most successful, many rich and famous have become established business tycoons and a majority of them are males. The smaller and medium sized entrepreneurs have also succeeded but remain little known, including women who are in double minority.

Meharajpal thinks that there is a lot of room and need of skilled people in Canada, which, she says, is not only a multicultural country but is also the second largest country in the world with a sparse population of only 32 million. “It is a country made of immigrants and inflow of immigrants will not only continue but increase in the years to come,” she says holding that her motto has been to offer efficient, effective and economical immigration services.

The basis of her success has been hard work as she believes in providing proper guidance to her clients. “I evaluate their chances in accordance with the prevalent laws controlling immigration,” she adds.

She has handled a variety of cases, but a majority of them are from skilled worker class, spousal and family cases. She is also keen in doing more of the entrepreneur and investment category cases. She has also helped some compassionate individuals cases for free, out of generosity.

She says that many immigration firms run after the money and fail to provide effective services. Complaints of exploitation keep on coming. Her approach, however, is to offer effective professional services and money takes care of itself. She believes in honesty, good work ethics and caring about customer as well as her rapport. With this success mantra, she is keen in building Mehar Empire and has plans to expand her business by opening branches in India, China and Hong Kong.


‘CM misled on anti-power theft police stations’
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 27
Is the PSEB dithering over setting up anti-power theft police stations in the state? Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while expressing concern over power theft in the state, directed the PSEB chairman to prepare a proposal for setting up special police stations on the Gujarat pattern to curb the theft of electricity.

However, former DGP (PSEB, Vigilance) Lalit Bhatia, in a letter written to the Chief Minister, had stated there was no need to prepare a new proposal for setting up anti-power theft police stations.

The Punjab government has already given approval for setting up five anti-power theft police stations in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda and Mandi Gobindgarh.

The former DGP has also attached, along with his letter, a memo dated April 6,2002, from the deputy secretary, Department of Power, to the PSEB secretary in which it was stated that the Finance Department had approved the setting up of such police stations. However, it was subject to the condition that no additional staff would be provided and the state government would not bear any financial burden for the purpose.

He has stated that during his posting as the DGP (PSEB, Vigilance), the PSEB chairman was requested to expedite the matter for setting up such police stations.

The Electricity Act, 2003, also stipulates the constitution of special courts for providing speedy trails under the various Acts of power thefts, he has stated in the letter written to the Chief Minister.

According to the former DGP, against what has been fed to the Chief Minister, the formalities of setting up anti-power theft police stations have already been completed and the government just needs to notify the decision in this regard rather than starting from the square one.


Man, son-in-law tortured in illegal detention
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Batala, May 27
High-handedness of the Punjab Police once again came to light when personnel of the Udhanwal police post allegedly tortured a man and his son-in-law, belonging to the Scheduled Caste community. After detaining the two in the police post illegally, the cops allegedly also used third-degree methods on them.

The incident occurred on Wednesday night when Darshan Singh, sarpanch of Aulakh Berian village, near Kahnuwan, lodged a DDR with the Udhanwal police post against Manjit Singh of his own village. The sarpanch alleged that Manjit Singh did not turn up for work even after taking Rs 10,000 from him.

Since Manjit Singh was at his in-laws’ house at Udhanwal, so the cops picked him up and gave him a sound beating. His father-in-law, Sulakhan Singh, also fell prey to the cops’ brutality when he reached the police post for his rescue.

The victims later gave a representation to RN Dhoke, SSP, Batala, seeking action against the Udhanwal police post in charge Kulwant Singh and his subordinates. They also sought action against Aulakh Berian sarpanch Darshan Singh.

Talking to The Tribune, Sulakhan Singh alleged that Kulwant Singh and his staff tortured them and gave third-degree treatment while keeping them in illegal confinement.

SSP Dhoke, however, claimed that an inquiry had been marked in the case and stringent action would be taken against those found guilty in the case.

Cops of the Udhanwal police post had earlier also assaulted an elderly women, a resident of Dahiya village, to death on April 17. A heart patient, Surjit Kaur, could not bear the police beating and died on the spot.

The incident had occurred when Ravinder Singh, Udhanwal police post in charge, along with six cops, reached the house of Bir Singh on the complaint of a former village sarpanch Mohinder Singh for settling a dispute with the former. The police post in charge and six others were placed under suspension.


Admn makes a mockery of HC order
Benefits encroachers close to politicians
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 27
The local administration has made a mockery of the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order for removing encroachments from city markets to benefit a few politically connected and financially sound persons.

Accusing the administration and employees of the local Improvement Trust, the affected parties alleged that the authorities concerned were adopting a pick-and-chose policy while razing the structures.

Though the trust has released a list of 154 illegal structures, including those of hotels, banks, petrol station, liquor shops, dhabas and other roadside vends on the Amritsar-Pathankot-Kullu road, only 50 illegal structures have been pulled down so far. However, a liquor shop constructed almost 15 foot from the road has not been touched by the enforcement wing.

Politicians, including transport minister Master Mohan Lal Sharma and former MLA Ashok Sharma, have also condemned the authorities for the functioning of the trust.

SDM S.M. Sharma denied having adopted a pick-and-choose policy during the drive. He made it clear that a few shopkeepers had approached the High Court for seeking stay, but the court asked the executive officer of the trust to consider their complaints.

Executive officer Parwinder Singh claimed that only 10 per cent of the encroachments had so far been removed. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the trust to hear the grievances of over 45 traders who had approached the court for seeking stay. Thus, the demolition drive could not be carried out as officials were busy on May 17, 18 and 19.

The drive again could not be carried out following the Punjab bandh called by the SGPC over the Dera Sacha Sauda row. The remaining encroachments would be pulled down shortly, the executive officer added.


War memorial unveiled
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 27
A war memorial built to honour the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives while performing duties for their motherland was unveiled by Lt-Gen N. S. Brar, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Chetak Corps, at the military station here today.

In a press note issued here, the Army authorities said the war memorial had been constructed over an area of about 1,000 square yards with natural landscaping. The war memorial was in the form of a ‘chhatri’ (umbrella) with a dome above which was about 6 feet high.

A helmet with two swords has been placed in the middle of the structure under the ‘chhatri’ as a mark of remembrance of all those who had sacrificed their lives for their motherland since the World War I. All senior military officers of the local military station and representatives of various field formations attended the unveiling ceremony.

The function included wreath-laying, sounding the Last Post and maintaining one-minute silence. The buglers and pipers added colour to the function.


Theatre arts society honours Jindal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 27
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, has honoured R.T. Jindal, director of the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC), in recognition of his contribution towards the promotion of theatre and arts in the Northern region.

Socialite Shyam Lala Gupta Navyug, NTAS director Pran Sabharwal and activist K.C. Khanna presented an award of honour and a memento to Jindal.

They said the credit of bringing Patiala on the cultural map of India as well as of the world and steering the NZCC to the top of all seven zonal cultural centres in the country, went to Jindal. They added that the NZCC never lagged behind in responding to the call of the centre for organising national festivals and events of international importance and making these a success.

Jindal expressed gratitude for the gesture of valuing his work. He assured support for self-help theatre groups to improve their quality, quantum and speed in the service of the nation and arts. 


Tributes paid to Nehru
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The Punjab Congress organised a function to commemorate the 43rd death anniversary of the first Prime Minister, late Jawaharlal Nehru, here today. President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Shamsher Singh Dullo offered floral tributes to the great visionary and builder of modern India.


Sangat darshan cancelled

Chandigarh, May 27
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will not hold his scheduled sangat darshan programme in Chandigarh on May 29 and 30.

The CM will be in Delhi to attend the meeting of the National Development Council on Agriculture followed by a meeting on the annual plan on May 31. — TNS


LIC directed to pay Rs 50,000
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 27
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India to release a compensation of Rs 50,000 along with an interest at the rate of 9 per cent to its client.

Besides this, the LIC has also been told to pay Rs 2,500 to the complainant as the cost of litigation.

Swinder Singh, a local resident, had sought compensation from the LIC for the death of his wife Sanjogta Devi, who had opted for a policy from the LIC, Gurdaspur branch, in July 2003. Policyholder Sanjogta Devi died due to heart attack within a month after giving birth to a child in January 2004.

Swinder’s repeated attempts of seeking compensation for the death of his wife to the LIC offices in New Delhi, Amritsar and Gurdaspur proved futile. Seeking justice Swinder filed a complaint against the LIC under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act before the consumer forum.

The LIC, however, denied compensation to the complaint saying that Sanjogta did not give the right information while insuring herself with the corporation. She hid the fact of being pregnant at the time of getting the LIC policy. Observing the gravity of the case, Veena Mohindru and S.S. Sandhu, members of the forum, said Sanjogta was examined by a medical examiner of the LIC before insuring her. 


Nurse dies in strange circumstances
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, May 27
A nurse working with Gian Sagar Medical College at Ramnagar on the Banur-Rajpura road died under mysterious circumstances in her hostel room last night.

Working in the hospital since January 2007, 30-year-old Jaspal Kaur was found dead in her room at 5.15 a.m. today when another nurse, Chhinderpal Kaur, went to her room to fetch the room keys. She saw blood oozing out of her mouth, Some pakoras were found lying on the table. Hospital doctors, who were summoned immediately, later declared her dead.

Hospital CEO Kanwaljit Singh Sekhon claimed that she was well till around 11 p.m. last night. She was on duty from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and last talked to another nurse in the hostel, Mandeep Kaur, at 11 p.m. last night, the police said. Her roommate was on leave and she was alone in the room.

Married in a village near Amritsar, Jaspal had reportedly had strained relations with her husband, who was working in Singapore. While her son lived with her in-laws, her daughter was staying with her parents in Amritsar. She was depressed for some time, her aunt said.

Her father DS Gill told reporters at AP Jain Civil Hospital here that she had visited the family two days back and looked cheerful.

The body was handed over to the family after postmortem. The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr.PC.


Mother, son die after being hit by train
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 27
Paramjit Kaur, a young woman, and her one-and-half-year-old son Rohit died after they were hit by a speeding train coming from Patiala at the railway crossing located near the TV tower here late last night.

Sources revealed that though both were rushed to hospital by volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, an NGO, immediately after they got the news, Paramjit died on the way to the hospital, while Rohit succumbed to his injuries after battling for life for about two hours.

The Railway police has registered a case in this connection. The house of the victims was located near the railway crossing.


Varsity plans off-shore centres
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 27
Director of Thapar University Abhijit Mukerjee has said here that the university is planning to open off-shore centres that can be used for expanding the expertise in technical education. However, the centres associated with the university will have to be different from what have been going on in many parts of the country.

The university has got an approval from UGC’s distance education cell to start the programme. This year the university plans to offer B-Tech degree in civil, mechanical, computer science and electrical engineering streams. Fifty seats each have been offered for these courses.

The engineering courses through correspondence or distance education programmes are being offered to working diploma holders.

Earlier, the university was offering bachelors’ degree in eight disciplines and masters in 15. From July this year this will expand it to nine in bachelors degree and 21 in masters.

This includes new courses as MBA in techno-management areas as IT networking and manufacturing. Though the MBA programmes are for engineers, science graduates can also join it after a bridge course.


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