P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal seeks special package, status
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called for reorientation of national economic policies in favour of the agriculture sector, especially for small and marginal farmers, to save the country from what he described as “an imminent economic disaster of unimaginable magnitude.”

Departing from the prepared text in a highly emotive extempore speech at the special session on agriculture at the 53rd Meeting of the National Development Council here, Badal said farmers had been forced to live in almost sub-human conditions, with 70 per cent of them unable to have any access to even basic amenities.

“Relief packages have gone to far-off Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Vidharba, but Punjab looks so remote from Delhi. I am here to tell the nation that you give our farmers what they need and they will give you every thing that you need. From a foodgrains-importing country we will turn India into a surplus one,” he said. The Chief Minster sought a special package for farmer in debt.

He also demanded that the criteria for fixing MSP for agriculture produce be drastically recast, linking it with the overall price index or ensuring 50 per cent profits above the farmers’ investments. Badal also pleaded for the introduction of a comprehensive agriculture insurance scheme.

“However, till a proper insurance scheme is introduced, farmers should be paid full compensation for the damaged crops,” he remarked.

The Chief Minister urged the Centre to slash the interest on crop loan from 7 per cent to 5 per cent.

Pointing out the depletion of the state’s water and soil resources, he demanded that the state should be redesignated as a special category state and given a liberal fiscal grant.

“The state government, however, does not agree with the suggestion of the sub-committee to reduce fiscal support to agriculture by way of subsidies,” he said. Badal suggested that the required quantity of various fertilisers be made available to the states by the Centre at the proper time.

The Chief Minister called for abolition of the income tax on the agriculture-allied sector like dairy, fishery and poultry. He opposed the concept of corporate farming and favoured contract farming.

Articulating Punjab’s viewpoint soon after the Prime Minister’s concluding remarks at the meeting, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal said, “ The present system of subsidy delivery (of fertiliser) should be continued and there should not be any lowering of subsidy support.”

Manpreet also drew the attention of the Prime Minister towards the inordinate delay in the supply of fertilisers to the state. Reacting to Manpreet’s assertion, union fertiliser minister Ram Vilas Pawan assured that his ministry had streamlined the fertiliser delivery system.

Asked about the implementation of the atta-dal scheme, he said the scheme would be kicked off by middle of July.


Let’s fight it out in court, Amarinder tells Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
A day after the Punjab vigilance bureau(VB) had questioned him, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today challenged Parkash Singh Badal saying “file a challan against me in court. Let’s fight it out”.

He claimed total support of his party and trashed the theory of the VB that he did not cooperate during yesterday’s questioning.

Amarinder Singh, while addressing a press conference here, said Badal should ask his team to file a challan against him and advised the Chief Minister to “investigate and not fabricate”. The supposed recovery of a pen drive from Chetan Gupta and its contents were fabricated. Chetan’s name figures in the VB investigation as he was also named by the Nehra commission ( the one that probed the alleged intranet scam). “ I had refused to answer questions on Chetan Gupta and told the VB team that it was out of its purview. Hence, the records, if any, should be sent to the enforcement directorate or the CBI”, the former Chief Minister added.

Probably taking a cue from the oft- repeated line of the Badal family, which is also facing VB cases, Amarinder Singh said: “ I told the VB to give me the bank account numbers which you claim are mine and the location of the lockers which you claim are mine”. Almost similar used to be plea of the Badal family when Amarinder Sngh was the Chief Minister and its members were questioned by the VB in alleged cases of corruption.

Amarinder Singh claimed that the cases against him or the naming of his mother, daughter and sister in connection with financial transactions with Chetan were purely “vendetta”. When told that the VB had clarified that his mother, daughter and sister or his wife were not linked to the Ludhiana case, Amarinder Singh said “ the VB named them in supposed records recovered from the pen drive while Chetan was being subjected to torture”. He reminded Badal that no one had questioned his wife, Surinder Kaur Badal, when a case was registered against him or his son Sukhbir Badal.

Amarinder Singh, who was accompanied by a few loyalists, refrained from commenting on the statement of Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo in which he had distanced the Congress from the questioning. The former Chief minister said the entire party was with him. A total of 31 sitting MLAs and 38 former MLAs, all former state cabinet ministers and three MPs were present at Moti Bagh, he said. He went on to allege that the VB had no right to question him on why he wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi informing her about the inquiry into the Ludhiana city centre case. “She is the president of my party. I have every right to inform her about the developments and the VB should not be bothered about it”.

Clarifying his stance on why he did not take action on C.S.R. Reddy’s inquiry into the Ludhiana city centre case, Amarinder Singh said, “By the time the file reached me, the elections were announced and I decided that the the new government could take action”.


Dullo clarifies

Chandigarh, May 29
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Shamsher Singh Dullo today reiterated that the Congress had always fought against the corruption.

“The Congress has not accepted a penny from anyone,” he said while refuting allegations that any money was paid to the party in the infamous Ludhiana City Centre scam.

“No directions have been issued on behalf of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee to any leader or worker of the party to collect or hold a protest in case of ongoing investigations in the City Centre scam or other cases,” he said, maintaining that those who assembled at Patiala yesterday did at their own sweet will and their own choice. — TNS


Akal Takht stance reasonable, says Punjab govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Feeling relieved over Akal Takht’s “reasonable stance” on the apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda, the Punjab government said today that the directive takes the issue from the level of physical opposition of the deras to an ideological plane of a campaign against “deraism”.

Reacting to the decision taken by the Sikh high priests today, Harcharan Bains, media adviser to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said here that the directive endorses a peaceful approach to the issue which was most significant. He said as far as cases against dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh were concerned, the directive was a call for the implementation of the Constitution provisions relating to CrPC.

“All in all, it is a highly reasonable stance which cannot be faulted on any ground,” Bains said.

Punjab government sources said it would be wrong to interpret the directive as rejection of apology given by the dera. Differing with interpretation that said that Akal Takht had rejected the apology given by the dera, they said the high priests had not taken a position to either reject or accept the apology as it had been sought from the Guru.

They said opposition to “deraism” would be carried on at an ideological level.


Arrest dera chief: SAD(A)
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 29
Rejecting the apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda, the SAD(A) has demanded the arrest of dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Party vice-president and former MP Dhyan Singh Mand and general secretary Ram Singh while talking to reporters here today said the SAD was towing the line of the previous Congress regime of suppressing the Sikh community.

Later, they held a meeting of party workers at Gurdwara Singh Sabha and handed over a memorandum to administration officials, demanding release of party chief Simranjit Singh Maan.


Faculty Shortage
Ayurvedic college faces disaffiliation
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
After medical colleges, the only Government Ayurvedic College of the state based at Patiala faces disaffiliation due to shortage of staff. The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) has threatened to stop admissions in the college for the current academic year.

In a communication to the government issued on May 23, the CCIM has stated that the department of AYUSH has observed that a large number of colleges do not have requisite number of teaching staff and other infrastructure as prescribed under the norms.

The department had originally decided that those colleges that did not fulfil the eligibility criteria would not be allowed to carry out admissions for the current session. The matter was reconsidered due to the requests of the state government, but with the condition that at least 80 per cent of fully competent staff that came to 28 teachers required under regulation 5 (e) of the IMCC Regulations, 2006, would be in a position before the commencement of admissions. Against the said directive, the Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, has strength of just 22 teachers.

With the current strength, the college will not be allowed to carry out admissions for the next academic session.

A delegation of teachers and staff of the college met the minister for higher education Tikshan Sud and requested to him pull them out of the quagmire. They requested the government that at par with the other government medical colleges of the state, the government should also seek two-month time from the CCIM to complete the required strength of the teachers in the college.

The teachers while talking to The Tribune said they had demanded that the ayurvedic teachers should also be recruited on ad hoc basis as a stop-gap arrangement to prevent disaffiliation of the college.

The ayurvedic college here has a sanctioned strength of 59 teachers. However, presently there are just 22 teachers in the college. There is no teacher to teach in surgery, E&T and gynaecology departments. But for four teachers, all other teachers are on the verge of retirement in next five to six years. Not even one promotion has been given to teachers since their recruitment.

The master’s programme in the college was stopped way back in 1994 by Punjabi University, Patiala, under which the college was functioning at that time. The sources available here said the masters’s programme was closed as there was not enough faculty or infrastructure available with the college.

The teachers of college said the minister had assured them that the college would get due attention and grant from the present government.


Amritsar boy tops in region with 98.6 per cent
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 29
Paras Mohindroo of Springdale Senior Secondary School has bagged the first position in Punjab region by securing 98.6 per cent marks in the matriculation exams conducted by the CBSE, the results of which were declared today.

He set a record of sorts by securing 100 each in maths and social studies, 99 each in science and industrial IT computers and 95 in English.

A member of the under-16 cricket team, Paras gave credit to his parents and teachers for his brilliant performance. He, while talking to The Tribune, said he would pursue the non-medical stream in plus I. Elated over the success of his son, Sanjay Mohindroo said he hoped that his son would again top in the plus II examinations and join an elite professional institute in the country.

Principal Manveen Sandhu said another boy Tushar Sharma, a theatre activist, had secured 98 per cent marks.

Another lad of DAV Public School Ravi Sharma has also secured 98 per cent marks. He has also secured 100 marks each in maths and social studies, 97 in science, 99 in Sanskrit and 94 in English.

This time the boys have outscored the girls while the overall results of the schools in the city have been better this time.


Tension over digging up of graveyard
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 29
Tension prevailed today at Manwal village of Sujanpur over the digging of a graveyard allegedly by certain perons of the Rajput community.

The incident occurred at about 11.30 am when certain persons along with the police reached the village and demolished a boundary wall of the graveyard belonging to Muslims of the village.

The Muslim families of the village stated that certain members of the Rajput community had dug up their graveyard. The administration, however, claimed that the Muslim families had been encroaching upon the village common land (shamlat land) by constructing graveyards.

Talking to The Tribune, Allahadeen, a member of the panchayat, alleged that certain influential persons accompanying the block developmment project officer (BDPO)reached the village along with police cover and dug up the 25-year-old graveyard.

The village has 25 Muslim families and the land had been allocated to them for burial purposes about two decades ago.

The Muslim families alleged that the influential persons of the village had been grabbing the land as the land prices had increased many-fold in the past. The BDPO, Ram Lubhaya, who was present on the spot when the incident occurred, said the village panchayat had passed a resolution and allocated about 5 kanals of village land for the burial of Muslims. But the community had been encroaching upon the village land adjacent to the graveyard, which otherwise was being used as a playground by the children, he added.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate S.M. Sharma, however, said the Muslim families had been given prior notices, asking them not to encroach upon the land, but no to avail.

Superintendent of the Pathankot police Bhupinderjit Singh Virk claimed that the police force was sent to the spot after receiving complaints from the local administration.


Green Campaign
Sidhu pledges own savings
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 29
Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, today pledged his personal resources to launch a “go-clean green” campaign in the holy city. Wresting the initiative from government organisations, Sidhu planted a sapling at the Circuit House complex to set the ball rolling for the launch of the campaign.

Addressing mediapersons here today in the presence of the top brass of the district administration, Sidhu said he was concerned at the rising level of pollution, particularly around the Golden Temple complex. He said he had decided to put his own savings to set up a corpus for funding the Rs 2-crore campaign to provide green spaces throughout the city. The campaign would start from July 11 and end by September.

Sidhu said he had drawn out a comprehensive plan with the help of municipal corporation officials, improvement trust and the Department of Forests, besides various NGOs, who have pledged support. He said the municipal authorities had pledged to provide 50,000 plants across the city while the Forest Department and NGOs would plant 30,000 saplings. The trust would plant another 20,000. He announced that the trust would set up a 30-acre rose garden-cum-environmental park in Ranjit Avenue area.


Police highhandedness
Bazigars block highway in protest
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, May 29
Thousands of commuters and motorists had a harrowing time following the blockade of the Rajpura-Sirhind stretch of the GT Road by members of the Bazigar community protesting against the alleged police highhandedness late last night.

The protest was reportedly sparked off by the alleged assault on members of the community, including women, by certain shopkeepers and police personnel of the Basantpura police post. Lamber, alias Sonu, was injured in the clash and had to be admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The clash took place when the bazigars objected to the blockage of the way to their homes by shopkeepers, who placed chairs in front of their houses. Heated words gave way to fisticuffs with the result the police had to intervene.

However, Jaimal Singh, a bazigar leader, alleged that the police personnel sided with the shopkeepers and began assaulting the villagers. The police highhandedness was resented by villagers and hundreds of the residents began converging near the Basantpura bus stand.

Shouting slogans against the police, the protesters blocked traffic on the strategic road and staged a dharna, demanding strict action against the police personnel and the shopkeepers. Hundreds of the vehicles were caught in the traffic jam and thousands of commuters had an agonising time waiting for the restoration of traffic in the inclement weather. The problem of the commuters was compounded as the dual carriageway of the GT Road was blocked by the protesters.

Police officials, including Rajpura DSP Bhupinder Singh Khatra, had a tough time convincing the protesters to end dharna, which was lifted only when Khatra assured the agitated residents that the guilty police personnel and the shopkeepers would be punished.


Do not touch ‘beris’ at Golden Temple

Amritsar, May 29
Devotees visiting the Golden Temple should refrain from touching the three ‘beris’ (jubube trees), particularly Beri Baba Budhha Sahib and Dukh Bhanjani Beri inside the shrine with their ‘ghee’-smudged hands, as these 415-year-old trees are begining threatened by insect and fungal attacks.

This appeal has been made by a panel of horticulture experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), who have made this appeal after examining Beri Baba Buddha Sahib, Dukh Bhanjani Beri and Elachi Beri, all in the ‘parikarma’ of the shrine. The panel consisting of PAU Horticulture Department head Dr J S Randhawa and Dr J S Bal had visited the shrine last week to examine the threat these trees, which are worshipped by devotees, are facing from insect attacks.

Beri Baba Buddha Sahib is the place where Baba Buddhaji used to sit while supervising the construction work of the Harmandir Sahib and the ‘sarowar’. — UNI


Sikh leaders detained, let off
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 29
Hardline Sikh leaders Kanwarpal Singh and Jasbir Singh Ghumman of the Dal Khalsa were stopped at a police naka near the Golden Temple when they were going to their office after meeting Sikh clergy today.

According to Kanwarpal Singh, the police was looking for Narain Singh Jaura, convener, Akal Federation ,who also met the Sikh high priests with him. Narain Singh, who was arrested in connection with the jailbreak case , has been on bail. However, they were allowed to go on the intervention of Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman of the Damdami Taksal who took up the case with SSP Iqbal Singh.


Budget session from June 19

Chandigarh, May 29
The Budget session of the Punjab Assembly will begin from June 19, it is learnt.

It will last for 10 days and be extended if the Opposition asks for it.

The regular Budget will be passed in the session. In the earlier session, the Budget could not be passed because the newly elected SAD-BJP government had not got the opportunity to prepare it. — TNS


High Court
Notice to state over market panel ordinance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice of motion for July 4 to the Punjab Government over a petition seeking quashing of Punjab Ordinance no. 2 of 2007, which was notified on May 18.

The petition, titled Rajinder Singh and others vs Parkash Singh Badal, Sucha Singh Langah, state of Punjab and others, sought the quashing of above ordinance vide which all market committees nominated under Section 12 of the Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets Act, 1961, had been superceded.

The petitioner, who is a chairman, Market Committee, Malaudh, alleged that after February Assembly poll when the Akali-BJP combine came into power, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah wanted to wreck vengeance on political opponents.

The petitioner alleged that the respondents, including Parkash Singh Badal and Sucha Singh Langah, wanted to immediately remove all chairmen, vice-chairmen and members of market committees nominated by the previous Congress government although no fault could be found with their functioning.

It was submitted that on being unable to find any flaws in the market committees’ functioning, the respondents decided to bypass the provision of Section 35 of the 1961 Act and issued the ordinance to achieve their purpose.

Mohali SSP told to hold probe

The high court today directed the SSP, Mohali, to personally conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by petitioner Mohinder Kaur and submit a report within two months. The SSP was asked to take help of senior police officers given the fact that petitioner had pointed fingers at a former DGP of Punjab.

The petitioner had sought directions to the Punjab Government, Punjab DGP, Mohali DIG, Kharar SHO and ADGP (Human rights-cum-IVC), among others, to handover the investigation to the Internal Vigilance Cell, crime branch or any other independent agency in the case of FIR no. 98 dated March 13, 2007.

The petitioner is a poor and illiterate lady and her husband, an army man, had died while serving the nation.

The petitioner submitted that Jagjit Singh, Harvinder Singh and Vijay Pal Singh, in connivance with the former Punjab DGP, S.S. Virk, had misappropriated her land measuring 30 kanal. It was also submitted that an investment of Rs 50 lakh by DGP Virk had also been admitted by Vijay Pal Singh.

CBI handed over abduction probe

The high court, while hearing a petition related to alleged abduction of a minor girl, today directed the CBI to conduct an inquiry and furnish a status report within six months.

Petitioner Balbir Kaur submitted that the investigation into a case registered under Sections 363, 366 of the IPC, at Tanda police station in Hoshiarpur district, be handed over to the CBI as the police had failed to recover her abducted minor daughter and nab the culprits.

B.S. Sra, Deputy Advocate-General, Punjab, stated under instructions from ASI Ravi Dutt of Tanda police station that it had not been possible to trace the missing girl and he had no objection if the case was handed over to the CBI.


Two murders in 15 hours
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 29
Two persons, including a student of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) and a driver of Ludhiana were found murdered in this town. Both murders, which took place at different places, occurred within 15 hours.

The first murder took place late last evening when a student of the GZSCET, Amandeep Singh, was done to death in a brutal way. His body was found lying on a cot in a farm near the Bathinda-Patiala rail section. There were sharp cuts on his head and stomach.

The second murder took place around noon today when Tarsem Lal, working as driver of a Ludhiana-based businessman, was done to death by unidentified persons. There were sharp cuts on the body. The assailants also took Rs 1.70 lakh from him along with the car.

His body was found from an uninhabited area of Dohbiana locality of this town. The identity of the deceased was established from his mobile phone. The deceased had come to Bathinda to collect payments on behalf of his owner.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the police authorities had rounded up a few youths in connection with the murder of Amandeep, who was a student of fourth year of a course. Two cases have been registered in this connection.

Meanwhile, the body of Amandeep was cremated after it was handed over to his family after a post mortem.


Fee revision by Pbi varsity opposed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
The association of principals of the colleges affiliated with Punjabi university here have opposed the fee structure proposed by the university for BSc, MA and MSc courses. The association held a meeting with the dean, academic affairs of the university, in this regard.

General secretary of the association Sanjeev Kalia stated that the said courses were already being taught in the colleges under the grant-in-aid program of the Punjab government. The fee structure of these courses could only be decided by the state government. So, the university should allow the existing fee structure to continue for the said courses.

The principals have also alleged that the university fixed the fee for self-financing courses on its own. The committee that decided the fee structure did not have a representative of the college principals. They have sought that the fee for self-financing courses be reviewed in consultation with the college principals.


JET results on May 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
The Punjab State Board for Technical Education will declare the result of the Joint Entrance Test (JET) on May 31. Over 20, 000 students across the state had appeared for the test on May 27 for admission to various polytechnics in Punjab.

Talking to TNS, board secretary Yashvir Mahajan said results will be put on the board website punjabteched.com and punjabteched.net by tomorrow night. He said the test was conducted for admission to over 15, 000 seats in various streams being offered by 58 polytechnics.

The largest number of seats, as many as 3,330, are available in the electronics and computer engineering followed by another 3,000 seats in the mechanical engineering stream. Over 2,500 seats are available in computer engineering. Another 2,000 seats are available in electrical engineering stream and 840 seats are available in information technology stream.

Mahajan added that the first counseling would commence in the second week of July and the specific dates would be notified later. He pointed out that the entire curriculum for the important and popular courses being offered by the Board was being revised to suit the requirements of the job industry.


MBA, MCA entrance test
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 29
Guru Nanak Dev University will conduct the Management Entrance Test (MET-2007) for admission to two-year course of MBA and the MCA Common Aptitude Test-2007 (PAM-CAT-2007) for admission to three-year course of Master in Computer Application (MCA) on June 17.

In a press statement here today, Dr Gurnam Singh, coordinator, said prospectus-cum-application forms could be collected on the payment of Rs 500 on or after May 31 from the designated city centres created by the university.


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