P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Ad on shortening of march route
Vedanti-SGPC cross swords
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 31
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and the SGPC today crossed swords over the publication of an advertisement in leading newspapers on behalf of the latter regarding shortening of the protest-march route against the blasphemous acts of the dera chief.

SGPC officials did not bother to seek permission from the Akal Takht secretariat or the Sikh clergy before publishing such advertisement on behalf of the Jathedar.

This is for the first time that such an advertisement was published on behalf of the Jathedar, which has initiated fresh debate in the Panthic circles. The advertisement caused immense embarrassment to the Sikh high priests since they themselves had pronounced that the protest march would be taken out from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh.

Talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Vedanti described advertisement “unprecedented”. The Jathedar said he would take up the matter with SGPC Chief Avtar Singh Makkar. He said the advertisement should have been published on behalf of SGPC’s Dharm Parchar Committee. Earlier advertisement, published in various newspapers regarding Punjab bandh on May 20 was also published on behalf of the Dharm Parchar Committee and not on behalf the Akal Takht Jathedar.

Akal Takht has been receiving a number of complaints following publication of “sandesh” (message) in the name of Sikh masses on behalf of the Akal Takht Jathedar.

SAD general secretary Bhai Ram Singh said the working committee meeting of his party would be convened within a week to discuss the shortening of the route of the protest march. He said it was unfortunate that the Jathedar Vedanti had amended the “Gurmatta”, pronounced from Akal Takht regarding the route of the protest march. He said as per the original announcement, its route was from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh which was later changed under political pressure.


Govt to fund Achin’s education
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, May 31
In a rare gesture the Punjab government has decided to fund the expenditure to be incurred by Achin Bansal (17), a topper of IIT-JEE 2007, on his further studies.

“Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal made a call to my house and stated that the state government will be meeting the expenditure which I will incur on my further studies,” said Achin.

Jagmeet Brar, former MP of Faridkot, said he had also decided to honour Achin.

He said within three or four days he would organise a small function where he would be given a cash award. 


Dera Row
Fatehgarh-city march foiled, Sarna blames govt
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Paramjit Singh Sarna
Paramjit Singh Sarna—Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan  

Chandigarh, May 31
Accusing the Punjab Government of interfering in the religious matters of the Sikhs, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Paramjit Singh Sarna today said the state government had resorted to pressure tactics to prevent the protest march from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh.

Addressing media persons at the Chandigarh Press Club, Sarna alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had changed stand from his earlier statements that the state governments should refrain from meddling with religious matters. The heavy deployment of police at Fatehgarh Sahib was testimony to the fact, he added.

Holding the state government responsible for incidents that have taken place during the past 19 days in the wake of the Dera Sacha Sauda row, Sarna alleged no steps had been taken by the government to resolve the issue or to assuage the hurt sentiments of the Sikhs. Even after the dera chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was booked in a case of hurting religious sentiments by the Punjab police, no serious efforts were made to arrest him. “Taking a moral responsibility the Chief Minister should resign,” he asserted.

He, however, parried media queries on why they had not pursued the matter of hurting religious sentiments in Delhi against the dera chief.

He warned that if no action was taken against the Dera chief, they would gherao the state government in Chandigarh. He also said they had also filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court regarding the CBI inaction in cases seeking the intervention of the apex court to speed up the probe against the dera chief.

Flaying the SGPC, Sarna stated that it had also failed to comply by its earlier decision that an 11-member delegation would hand over memorandums to the Governors of Punjab and Haryana, as they had agreed to handing over the memorandums to a representative of the authorities in Fatehgarh Sahib.

Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode of the Sant Samaj said they would stick to their earlier decisions as per which all Sikh organisations would assemble on June 2 in Ludhiana to chalk out the next course of action. Demanding the arrest the dera chief, he called upon the Sikh organisations to close all deras of the sect in Punjab.

Former secretary of the SGPC Manjit Singh Calcutta said the dera chief should be punished for his act and it was the only way to assuage the sentiments of Sikhs. 


Dera Row
Cops were on their toes all through the day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Chandigarh police remained on its toes today in the wake of the expected march of Sikh organisations toward Chandigarh from Fatehgarh Sahib to hand over memorandums to the Governors of Punjab and Haryana.

A heavy deployment of police was seen on all roads leading to the city from Punjab. Police sources said approximately 1600 personnel were deployed in various parts of the city, including around Punjab and Haryana Raj Bhavans.

Nakas were set up on all roads connecting the city to Punjab, which were manned by deputy superintendents of police. The nakas were set up at around 8 am and lifted around 2 pm. However, the traffic flowed smoothly on the roads.

It was around afternoon that the police heaved a sigh of relief when it got information that the protestors had agreed to hand over their memorandums to a representative of the Governor. A team of CID officials of the Chandigarh police, deployed at Fatehgarh Sahib, was giving minute to minute inputs of development occurring at Fatehgarh Sahib.

A team of police personnel led by the Sector 3 police station inspector Ram Gopal remained stationed near both the Raj Bhavans. 


Kanjla asked to explain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal has issued notice to former minister Gobind Singh Kanjla asking him to explain the statement made by him (Kanjla) against the SAD’s senior leader, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

A letter was sent to Kanjla in this regard today by the party’s head office.


Unable to pay debt, farmer kills himself
Tribune News service

Bathinda, May 31
Another farmer of Beer Talab village of this district today committed suicide due to heavy debt incurred to meet liabilities. He owed money to various agencies and relatives.

The deceased identified as Preetam Singh used his turban to hang himself.This is fifth suicide by a farmer in Bathinda and Muktsar districts of the Malwa region in this month.

Preetam Singh went to his fields where he had grown cotton , early in the morning. After spending some time in the fields, he came back home.

After having meals Preetam Singh again went to fields and committed suicide after some time. Preetam Singh hanged himself from a tree by using his turban. As the news of his suicide spread, almost all residents of Beer Talab village and surrounding areas gathered at the spot.

The family members of the deceased said Preetam Singh had been in depression for many days. He talked less to family members and had been confining him to himself only.

They added Preetam Singh, ( 60) had also been looking after his wife, who was getting treatment for the past many months from the local civil hospital. The deceased had also undergone four surgeries.

With two sons and two daughters in the family and debt of Rs 2 lakh, the deceased had been feeling harassed also due to economic constraints the family faced.

A daughter of the deceased said they apprehended their brothers could also take the extreme step. She added their father never shared his feelings with them.

A case under Section 174 of the Cr. P.C. had been registered in this connection. In May four farmers committed suicide in Bathinda district while one farmer ended his life in the Lambi area, the assembly segment represented by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the Vidhan Sabha. 


National Rural Health Mission
Chawla: Project decentralised to benefit grass roots
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
Various departments of the Punjab government will collaborate for the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in Punjab. Minister for health Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who chaired a sensitisation meeting today, stated that a decentralised participatory planning process for preparation of village health plans has been started in more than 12,000 villages in the state.

The zila parishads will lead the district health mission (DHM). At the village level, the gram panchayat would lead a participatory process, which would result in a village health plan that reflected inter-sectoral convergence.

EPOS Health India has been appointed as the facilitating agency for the decentralised participatory planning work to see that all levels of personnel are made fully aware of the NRHM components.

The NRHM will ensure that health-related data is made available to Panchayati Raj Institutions at all levels for improved planning and monitoring.

Vijay Kain, principal secretary (health), added that the mission also wanted convergence with the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to improve implementation of nutrition and basic health services for mothers and children. The aganwadi centres will serve as the focal point for all health and nutrition services. As part of the NRHM, a ‘health day’ will be fixed every month at the centers to provide antenatal, post-natal, family planning and child health services, including immunisation.

Diseases related to unsafe water, poor sanitation, and lack of hygiene are common causes of ill health and death in the state. The NRHM seeks to achieve close convergence with the National Water and Sanitation Mission at all levels. Since both follow a similar pattern of operation, there is a great scope for achieving synergistic potential.

Promotion of school-health programmes, safe drinking water, sanitation and toilets provision are all areas of convergent action within the purview of the NRHM.


Gujjars’ protest march today

Hoshiarpur, May 31
Holding the Rajasthan government responsible for the Gujjar unrest, members of the community of Bet area in this district last night convened a meeting at the residence of Garib Dass at Binewal village (Garhshankar) and criticised the BJP regime for police repression.

It was also decided that a protest march would be taken out in Garhshankar on June 1 in this connection. — OC


Fire renders 500 homeless
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 31
More than 100 huts were destroyed after fire broke out near the local thermal plant late this evening. Around 500 persons, mostly labourers, have been rendered roofless.

The labourers, along with volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva, tried to douse the fire. Fire tenders could save only a few huts after a struggle of about two hours.

Bathinda SDM K. P. S. Mahi said no loss of life was reported in the fire. He said as per his information, around 70 huts had been destroyed in the fire.

Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Kewal Krishan Aggarwal has demanded compensation for the victims.


Scant Regard for Deadline
Units continue to discharge effluents into nullah
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
Not caring at all for the May 31 deadline of the P. Ram committee to the electroplating and dyeing units to stop polluting Budda Nullah many units continue discharging untreated effluents into the nullah.

The defiant industry, allegedly backed by politicians, has shown scant concern for water and ground pollution caused by its act even though kar sewaks led by Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal are in the process of cleaning the nullah. Their efforts would come to a nought if industrialists keep dicharging effluents past the deadline.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board has also not promised any help. On the contrary the officials made it clear today they would not close down any unit tomorrow as asserted by the P. Ram Committee. With its liberal attitude, the toxic matter flowed into the nullah throughout the day as fumes of chemicals could be seen from the discharge.

A visit of villages like Dhanansu and Khasi Kalan, outside municipal limits and Tajpur Road lining the nullah by a Tribune team revealed the dyeing units in these villages were exercising restrain compared to the past but the industry within the city was releasing effluents as usual.

At many places pipes were discharging effleunts clandestinely. Surprisingly at several places, there was no sign of water being discharged openly but still gallons of chemical mixed water could be seen collected in the water body.

An office- bearer of the Ludhiana Effluent Treatment Society, Chaiber Singh said hope had still not diminished as around 150 electroplating units out of 500 had agreed to get their effluents treated in common effluent treatment plant, that would become operational from tomorrow.

‘‘We are roping in more units. We are organising a function tomorrow. We hope more and more units would join us to keep the city clean, ’’ he said.

Malwinder Singh, a Punjab Pollution Control Board official said he had directed his staff members to be vigilant and take action against the units found polluting the nullah despite having installed a treatment plant.

‘‘We are not taking any strict measure like shutting the units for violation. We have written to the state government for some more time. The government would write to the P.Ram Committee as well as the high court. Then we will follow the directions of the court and the committee. ’’ said Malwinder Singh reiterating the industry could not be closed as many people were dependent on it for their bread and butter. 


High Court
Plea to cancel Bibi Jagir Kaur’s bail dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the plea of petitioner Kamaljit Singh seeking directions to cancel the bail granted to former Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee(SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur in the case of murder of her daughter Harpreet Kaur in April 2000.

It was on the petitioner's plea that Justice Amarbir Singh Gill, now retired from the High Court, had entrusted the investigation into Harpreet Kaur's alleged murder to the CBI on October 3, 2000, which has already filed the charge sheet on the basis of its findings against Bibi Jagir Kaur and other accused in the court of special judge, Patiala.

Kamaljit Singh had alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur was abusing the concession of bail and attempting to influence witnesses besides holding threats to the petitioner.

During the police interrogation, a nephew of Bibi Jagir Kaur had confessed that he had made three attempts to liquidate Kamaljit Singh who had claimed to have married Harpreet Kaur.

Interim bail plea

Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today adjourned till July 11 the plea filed by the Punjab government seeking cancellation of the interim bail granted to former Punjab minister Jagjit Singh Chaudhary in connection with the City Centre scam.



High Court
Notice to Punjab over plea against transport minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice of motion for July 31 to the Punjab government and others over a petition seeking registration of an FIR against Master Mohan Lal Sharma, Punjab transport minister, among others.

The petitioner, Rajesh Prashar, resident of Pathankot, had prayed for the registration of an FIR under sections 409, 420,467,468,471 of the IPC against the minister and submitted that investigation of the case be handed over to the CBI.

Prashar submitted that the minister had shown himself to be a regular student of N.M. Law College, Hanumangarh, Ajmer, from 1989 to 1991 and passed the LL.B. professional examination 1991 vide roll no 15239 from the college. As a regular student, he had to attend at least 70 per cent of the lectures according to the college rules.

The petitioner alleged that such projection by the minister of being a regular student of the college was false and clear case of forgery involving tampering of records. In fact, during the period between 1989 and 1991, the minister, who is also a respondent in the case, had been working as a tutor-cum-teacher in the Arya Senior Secondary School (Boys), Pathankot.

His attendance was marked in the school register and he had been withdrawing salary from the authorities concerned, the petitioner alleged.

Relief for Today Home officials

The high court granted interim stay on arrest to Today Home’s officials G.K. Ghambir, Vinay Subhichi, Sunil Sharma, Sayeed Ashraf Naqvi till July 4. The court had yesterday reserved the order on their bail plea.

The counsels for petitioners had submitted that many of the co-accused in the Ludhiana City Centre Case had secured bail and the relief should be extended to the petitioners also.

It was further submitted that the petitioners were open to join investigations at any stage and would fully cooperate with investigating authorities.

The petition moved under Section 438 CrPC of the IPC had prayed that respondents, including Vigilance Bureau, be directed to release the petitioners forthwith in the event of their arrest.

Meanwhile, the court today adjourned the hearing, till July 11, on Punjab government’s plea of re-look into the matter of relief granted to Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.

Jagjit told to join probe

The high court has directed Chaudhary Jagjit Singh to appear before the investigation officer on June 7 in a case related to the Ludhiana City Centre scam. The court yesterday directed the former local bodies minister to appear before the SSP, Ludhiana, on June 7 for investigations relating to the Ludhiana City Centre case. Chaudhary Jagjit Singh’s interim bail has also been extended till the next date of hearing, which is on July 30.

Notice to Centre, liquor companies

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover today issued notice to Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and some liquor companies over a PIL seeking to restrain these companies from promoting their products, directly or indirectly, in the country.

The companies which had been issued notices were, Jagjit Industries, United Breweries, SABMiller India, Bacardi Martini India, Seagram India and Diageo India.

These companies had been asked to file their reply on October 3.

The petitioner prayed that the respondents be restrained from promoting directly or indirectly, the sale or consumption of wine and other alcoholic products on TV and print media which was being done in total violation of the rules and notification issued by the I and B ministry.


Uncertainty over tariff hike
PSEB trips on annual report
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31
The PSEB has failed to file the annual revenue requirement (ARR) report to seek hike in power tariff even on the date sought by it from the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) in this connection. This has led to uncertainty over the hike in power tariff for the current financial year.

With increasing losses, which have crossed over Rs 2,300 crore, sources here apprehend that the failure to increase tariff in time will further deteriorate the financial condition of the board. Its operations, especially during coming paddy season, might be affected. During that period, the expenditure of the board is maximum as it has to purchase power at higher rates from other states. On the other hand, the income is minimum as maximum power is supplied to the agriculture sector free of cost.

Given the poor financial condition, the board authorities are allegedly delaying the payments to suppliers and contractors, the sources said.

The board has not been allowed tariff revision for the past two years.

Earlier, the PSEB had demanded for extension in the deadline for filing the ARR report till May 31. According to the electricity Act, the board has to file the report till November 30 every year.

The board had failed to file the report even on April 15, the extended date for filing the report earlier.

The sources said the commission could now suo motu consider the matter and deliver the verdict on power tariff revision. A former SE for the board has filed a petition before the commission seeking directions to the government for subsidy to the power board to get over the financial crises.

Meanwhile a delegation of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab, led by chairman of the Punjab Mandi board Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, met PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra and submitted to him a charter of demands.

The union has demanded that the board should supply 10-hour power supply to tubewells in the state from June 10, when the paddy season starts. At least 12-hour power supply should be given to farmers four times a week during the month.


50 new buses for PRTC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
To provide better transport facilities to the people of imethe state, the Punjab government will soon add 50 more new buses to the Punjab Gaurav series 
of the PRTC.

This was stated here today by Master Mohan Lal, transport minister, after releasing a joint timetable of bus services prepared by the PRTC. The minister said that under the scheme 43 buses were added to the fleet recently. 


Canal system: WB seeks proposal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
A World Bank team led by its India country director Isabel Guerrero has asked the Punjab government to send a proposal for the improvement of the 150- year-old canal system in the state.

The team called on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at Kapurthala House last evening. Guerrero said the bank would get this proposal examined by its technical experts. She appreciated the concern of the state government over the fast-depleting ground water. Canal water was the only reliable resource and that, too, was not reachable at tail-ends due to the heavy deposition of silt in the water courses.

Badal urged the bank to fund a programme for the setting up of 140 adarsh schools for the “gifted poor” in every block of the state.

He thanked the bank for approving two mega projects related to the provision of safe drinking water and the road network in the state. 


SMO, surgeon booked
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 31
The Malerkotla police has registered a case against two doctors of Malerkotla Civil Hospital Balwinder Singh (surgeon) and Badri Parshad (SMO), under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC. The case was registered against them last evening on the complaint of Vikrant Jindal, a journalist.

In his complaint to the police, Jindal alleged that Dr Balwinder Singh had demanded Rs 7,000 from one of his employees for conducting an operation of his mother.

Meanwhile, Gurpreet Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, told this reporter over the phone today that he had received an application today from the SMO of the Malerkotla Civil Hospital in which it had been stated that Vikrant had misbehaved with Dr Balwinder Singh. 


Neighbour rapes minor

Sangrur, May 31
A six year old girl was allegedly raped by her neighbour in Malerkotla town of the district today, the police said.

The accused, Rafiq, has been arrested under various sections of the IPC. The victim has been admitted to the local civil hospital. — UNI


AIEEE: Bathinda boy first in state
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 31
Vivek Goyal, a local student, has done this region proud by topping Punjab in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), which was held on April 29. Vivek’s overall rank is 21st.

Son of a doctor, he has achieved this in his first attempt. Vivek, who studied at the local DAV School, also got 56th position in the IIT-JEE 2007, the result of which was declared yesterday.

“The mantra is forget all things except the preparation for the entrance test, which I adopted from day one,” said Vivek. He used to get regular counselling from his father Anil Goyal, a psychiatrist, while getting extra coaching at a place outside Bathinda. He said he used to devote about 12 to 14 hours a day.

He said he never expected that he would be topping Punjab in AIEEE. “I will be joining the IIT, Delhi or Mumbai, in computer engineering stream.” 


Girls shine in BCom II

Amritsar, May 31
Manmeet Arora of BBK DAV College has secured the top position in the BCom (Part-II) examination of Guru Nanak Dev University held in March this year.

The girls have outshone the boys once again in the results, which were declared here today. On the merit list of 21 students, girls have secured top 17 positions. The second and third positions have been secured by Gulpreet Kaur of APJ College of Fine Arts and Swinki Gupta of HMV, Jalandhar, respectively.

In all 2,188 candidates appeared for the examination, of which 1,460 got through. The pass percent is 66.72 against last year’s percentage of 64.38.

Meanwhile, top three positions for B.Com (Part I) examination have been secured by the students of BBK DAV College for Women. Amanpreet Kaur has stood first while Tamanna Mehra and Swati Batra have secured second and third positions, respectively. — OC


2 courses launched at Basti Nau college
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 31
Guru Nanak Dev University has introduced two new courses at its varsity college, Basti Nau, Jalandhar, from the academic session 2007-08.

Prof T.D. Narang, dean, Academic Affairs, said here recently that for the convenience of students of the Doaba region, GND University had introduced MA in public administration and post graduate diploma in computer application (PGDCA) at the Basti Nau college.

The dean said the university had introduced the computer application course keeping in view the great demand of IT professionals at the national and international levels.

He said the university had sanctioned 20 seats for MA public administration and allowed 30 seats in the PGDCA. He said NRI/NRI-sponsored seats were also available in the courses as per university rules.

Professor Narang said this college was equipped with the best infrastructure, well-equipped computer labs, library and qualified staff. The college had an arrangement for scholarships/stipends for deserving students and the lowest fee structure.


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