P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Dera chief’s arrest
Sant Samaj goes soft, SAD(A) sticks to hard line
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
The Gurmat Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj today served an ultimatum on the Central, Punjab and Haryana governments for arresting Dera Sacha Sauda head baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by June 18, failing which it will launch a peaceful protest by courting arrest.

On the other hand, the SAD(A) stuck to its hardline stance, saying that in case the baba was not arrested it would ensure that the Akal Takht hukamnama was implemented in letter and spirit.

The two organisations held simultaneous meetings less than a kilometer apart along the Ferozepur road. While the Sant Samaj held its meeting on the premises of Gurdwara Nanaksar, Ferozepur road, the SAD (A) held its meeting at the party office near Circuit House. Interestingly, both organisations had called a press conference 3 pm. The timing was later rescheduled.

Sant Samaj headed by Bhai Harnam Singh, who is also the chief of the Damdami Taksal, said only sants would participate in the protest. Accompanied by Baba Harbhajan Singh of Nanaksar Karelanwalay and Bhai Hari Singh Randhawaywale, Bhai Harnam Singh had called the meeting today to chalk out the strategy to be adopted to enforce the hukamnama.

He said the meeting took exception to the delaying tactics of the Punjab and Haryana governments in taking action against the dera head.

On the other hand, the SAD(A) at its political affairs committee meeting decided to hold a conclave of leaders and representatives of various panthic organisations on June 4 at Gurdwara Model Town here to chalk out the future course of action.

He blamed the Central government for delaying the completion of the CBI investigation against the baba on the charges of rape and murder.


Follower faces action for concealing identity
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 2
A section of 25-member committee of Dera Sacha Sauda in Punjab today tendered an apology to the district police authorities after one of its members tried to mislead DIG, Faridkot range, Jatinder Jain by giving his wrong identity.

The apology has been signed by six members of the committee. They have expressed regrets over the action of Balkar Singh, one of the members of the committee, for giving wrong identity to the DIG. Balkar, who is a patwari, told the DIG that he was a shopkeeper when he met the official as part of a delegation today.

Meanwhile, a section of the dera followers allegedly invited other followers to a satsang to be held at its Naam Charcha Ghar here tomorrow despite permission for it being denied by the police authorities. Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in the district.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner, Ferozepore, Bhagwant Singh has said he would take action against Balkar as per law.


40 booked for bid to burn baba’s effigy

Bathinda, June 2
A case under Section 188 of the IPC was registered against 40 unidentified persons at Nahianwala police station for attempting to burn an effigy of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda in Mehma Serja village violating the Section 144 of the Cr. P C in force in the district recently.

Sources said 40 persons who tried to burn the effigy fled from the scene on seeing a police party approaching . — TNS


Bitta attacks Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Maninderjit Singh BittaAmritsar, June 2
Attacking former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and persons having militant background, Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF), has held them responsible for creating instability in the state.

Demanding a high-level enquiry into the Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s blasphemous acts, Bitta urged the state government to expose those operating behind the scene for creating instability in the state.


Govt nod to bullet train project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
The Punjab government has agreed in principle to set up a high-speed passenger rail corridor, also called the bullet train corridor, in collaboration with the union ministry of railways. The state government has already approved Rs 10 crore as part of its share to carry out the feasible study for the project.

This was stated here today by R. I. Singh, chief secretary, while meeting a high-level delegation of the railway board headed by J.P. Batra, chairman. The chairman was accompanied by R. Sivadasan, financial commissioner, railways, Satish Kumar, executive director, corporate coordination, and other officers of the board.

R.I. Singh said the route of the proposed rail corridor would be Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar (about 500 km). The Punjab government had suggested the setting up of an expert committee with nominees to interact and prepare the feasibility report.

The setting up of the rail corridor would give a boost to the state economy as it would provide high-speed movement to the public in general and the business community in particular. It would also boost trade and commerce and reduce the ever-increasing road traffic, said R. I. Singh.


City Centre Scam
Govt to challenge HC relief to accused
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
The Punjab government has decided to challenge all interim reliefs and anticipatory bails granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court or any other court to various accused in the Ludhiana City Centre case in the Supreme Court.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has decided that all relief, whether interim, anticipatory or otherwise, would be challenged in the apex court as the government was keen to unearth the scam which had resulted in losses worth crores to the state exchequer and the Ludhiana Improvement Trust.

The Chief Minister was of the opinion that keeping in view the state’s interest, it was the paramount duty of the government to bring to book all alleged person involved, including bigwigs like former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and B.I.S Chahal, who allegedly in connivance with Today Home officials and others duped the state.

Badal told The Tribune, "I have full faith in the judiciary and I am keen to take the investigation to its logical conclusion. I have directed the IG, Vigilance, that there should be no witch hunt but those guilty should not go scot free.

"I am committed to the rule of law and feel that aforesaid reliefs granted to the accused shall be tested in the apex court," he said.

Talking to The Tribune in the evening today, the advocate-general of Punjab, H.S. Mattewal confirmed that the Chief Minister had instructed him to move the apex court in view of public interest as the High Court reliefs had seriously hampered the pace of investigations into the scam.

Importantly, Mattewal has been consistently taking the plea in various hearings related to the alleged scam that the High Court should not allow relief as it would seriously scuttle the probe into the scam and weaken the government's case considerably.

He asserted that relief granted to Amarinder, his son Raninder, B.I.S. Chahal and others, whose custodial interrogation was necessary in the view of ongoing investigations, had seriously jolted the Vigilance probe.

Their custodial interrogation was more necessary in view of Chetan Gupta's statement and information collected from his pen drive, Mattewal asserted.


Law to check early sowing of paddy next year
Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 2
Early sowing of paddy, which is depleting underground water reservoirs, continues in the state despite appeals by the government against it. The fact has been of common knowledge for long but for many farmers in the state availability of electricity, labour and preference for paddy variety like Pusa 44 are reasons making them to go in for early sowing of paddy. Campaigning by NGOs, farmer organisations and the Department of Agriculture, Punjab notwithstanding, the advance sowing continues.. To check farmers not ready to see beyond their ease the government is contemplating an enactmenten against early sowing of paddy. The Act is likely to come into effect from next year, according to sources.

Confirming this director agriculture, Punjab, Balwinder Sidhu says, “the consensus is shaping up over bringing in an Act to stop farmers from early sowing of paddy. The Act is likely to come into force from next year and will comprise punishment of fine up to Rs 10,000”. The date for sowing paddy will be notified by the government every year as per the provisions of the Act. The cost of destruction will be recovered from the erring farmer only and even their fields can be ploughed,” he adds.

Admitting that early sowing of paddy is going on in the state Sidhu says the aggressive campaigning over the years had brought area under paddy down from 10 lakh hectares to 2.15 lakh hectares last year. “I am hopeful that this year it will further go down 2 lakh hectares,” says Sidhu.

On steps to stop farmers Sidhu says, “The focus of the government so far is on persuasion and promoting varieties like PAU 201 and dispelling farmers’ fears about new varieties”. “More steps will be decided upon in forthcoming meeting likely to be held on June 10,” adds Sidhu.

Dr Buta Singh Romana, extension specialist with PAU says “If paddy is sown say by May 10 the underground water table goes down by 60 cm whereas if the same is sown by June 15 the water table can go up by one and half centimetres, instead says Dr Romana. Elaborating he says, “In the months of May and June the summer season is at its peak and thus evaporation of water is maximum. As we approach June evaporation decreases as humidity begins to increase at the onset of rainy season,” he adds.


Sujanpur College
A failed dream
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur, June 2
Setting up a government college in this area seems a distant dream. Though the college has been affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University in October 2006 along with four other new colleges in the state, there is no sign of construction of the building.

A foundation stone was laid by former transport minister Raghunath Sahay Puri in December 2006 along the Amritsar-Pathankot-Jammu highway but instead of starting the construction of the college complex the proposal seems to have gone down the drain after the formation of the SAD-BJP government.

Sources in the department disclosed that the college was proposed to be built at a cost of Rs 4 crore on PUDA acquired 5 acres in Sujanpur. The tenders floated for the construction of the building had now been cancelled. The state government even constructed 14 rooms within the premises of Government Senior Secondary School (Girls), Sujanpur, at a cost of Rs 25 lakh where the college classes were supposed to start till the completion of the building.

The university authorities had even issued a letter saying that admissions to degree classes in the college would be made for the session 2007-08. Assigning him additional charge of the Sujanpur college principal, the Governor had even delegated DD powers to the principal of Government Degree College, Gurdaspur.

Correspondence among the DPI (Schools), DPI (Colleges) and secretary, education, has failed to yield results regarding transferring of the room of the school to the college.

Educationists, however, claim that the selection of the proposed site was wrong due to presence of overhead high-tension electricity cables. Moreover, the site is also located along the railway lines.

Promising a college was just an eyewash, residents claimed. They said Puri had opted for a wrong site and laid the foundation stone of the college complex just two months before the Assembly elections in the state.

Meanwhile, Puri claimed that the SAD-BJP led government had cancelled the tenders just out of vendetta.


Criteria for setting up BEd colleges changed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
With the objective of checking the mushroom growth of BEd colleges and ETT institutions in Punjab, the state government has changed the criteria for permission to set up of such institutions.

There are about 150 BEd colleges in the state at present. A few years ago, there used to be five or six such colleges. Already, about one lakh persons holding the BEd degree are unemployed in the state. Questions had been raised earlier regarding the circumstances under which the previous government allowed the setting up of so many BEd colleges in the state.There are many BEd colleges without adequate staff and also principals.

Education minister Upinderjit Kaur told The Tribune that any organisation keen to set up a BEd college or ETT institution would have to apply first to the state government. On receiving the application, the state would set up a committee to verify whether there was proper infrastructure such as a building available with the organisation.

She said that earlier interested parties used to apply to the national centre for higher education in Jaipur. After getting approval from Jaipur, the parties used to inform the state government to seek approval and affiliation from the university concerned.

“We have decided to stop the earlier practice,”she said. Many such colleges were facing problems in recruiting teaching staff and principals.

Upinderjit Kaur said the criteria for BEd colleges would also be applicable in the case of ETT institutions. She said there was need to maintain certain standards as far as the training of teachers was concerned.

The question is whether the government will ask the officials concerned and the universities, which had granted affiliation to BEd colleges in the past, to recheck the infrastructure available in such colleges. Sources said that in certain universities the committees set up for inspecting BEd colleges for the grant of affiliation had refused to recommend affiliation. However, under political pressure, those panels were asked to recommend the grant of affiliation.


Kanjhla awaits CM’s notice
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 2
“I am eagerly awaiting the notice issued to me by SAD president Parkash Singh Badal as without studying it no comment could be made on the same”.

In reply to a question over the phone last evening former Sherpur MLA Gobind Singh Kanjhla further said he desires to receive the notice at the earliest so that he could know about its contents.

Badal in the capacity of party president has reportedly issued a notice to Kanjhla for his statement, related to levelling of allegations against party secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa by him.

In the notice Badal has reportedly asked Kanjhla to explain his position.

Kanjhla also stated that a meeting of the Akali workers and leaders had been held today at Kanjhla village where all workers and leaders had decided that if he received any notice from party president, then a reply should be given in the light of its spirit.


Lawrence Road Property Dispute
Neighbour alleges harassment
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
A dispute over the possession of a house situated on the Lawrence Road, involving senior police officials, has taken a new turn with one of the neighbours alleging police harassment.

The dispute over house No. 85 had hit headlines when a group of 21 police personnel reached there in November, 2004, to allegedly help certain influential persons take possession of the house.

Talking to The Tribune, Brij Mohan Aneja, president of the Lawrence Road Welfare Association, said he was called to the police station on May 24 following an 82-page complaint filed against him by a bank employee. An FIR had been registered against the banker on directions from the DGP on May 28, 2005, he claimed.

“The police is harassing me just because I, along with other neighbours, prevented the police party from taking possession of the house in 2004. They could have easily thrown out widow Prakash Samra staying there,” Aneja alleged. However, Amritsar SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh assured him that there would be no harassment by the police.

Daughter of Prakash Samra, Sonia said: “Our neighbours were being targeted by those who are trying to grab our property in connivance with the police”. The accused named in her application has, however, refuted all charges. He has claimed that he had purchased two portions of the house from a relative of Prakash Samra.


Minister for more benefits to pensioners
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 2
The social security department is preparing a draft proposal for the grant of pension benefits to all men above 65 years of age and women above 60 years, irrespective of their annual income.

Further, the pension under the scheme would be increased from the prevailing Rs 250 to Rs 400. The proposal would be soon presented before the government, said Swarna Ram, minister for social security child and women development, here today.

He was presiding over the 6th annual state-level delegate session of the Physically Handicapped Association of Punjab at Bachat Bhawan.

The minister said the department would adopt the best convenient method to send pension to the beneficiaries from among the four proposals, speed post, banks, sarpanches or the department.

He said at present beneficiaries were being harassed by banks for maintaining minimum balance in their accounts.

The banks would be directed to exempt the pensioners from this clause, he added.

Ram said the deputy commissioners had been directed to start pensions of all those eligible beneficiaries whose pensions were stopped by the previous government.

Later, presiding over the delegate session, he announced that the state government would ensure 3 per cent reservation for handicapped in the allotment of all type of plots or flats by PUDA and the improvement trusts.

He announced that visually handicapped would be provided free education.

They would also be provided a stipend of Rs 200 per month up to class VIII and Rs 300 up to class X.

Ram said visually handicapped would also be given the facility of free travel in private and government buses where as physically handicapped had to pay half fare. He also announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the association.

Lilly Chaudhry, deputy director, said as per the census department report there were 4.24 lakh handicapped in the state and out of these 92,600 were getting various types of pensions.

She highlighted various schemes and programs initiated by the government for their welfare.

Balwant Singh Dardi, president of the association, highlighted various demands of the association and urged the minister to consider the same.

Sukhwionder Singh, patron of the association, Gurwinder Singh Bhatti, Dharmpal, district president BJP, Ran Singh Kalsi, BJP leader, Anil Suraj, social worker and Amrit Bala, DSSO, also addressed the gathering.


Apply old norms to old mega projects, say developers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
Punjab chief secretary R.I. Singh held a meeting with the developers of projects here today on the issue of mega projects.

The chief secretary assured them that the state government would soon announce its new policy in this regard. R.I. Singh told the developers that the government was preparing the draft of the new policy and it would be announced in a week or so.

The dominant view at the meeting was that the projects already approved by the previous government should be dealt with under the old policy norms.

The state government had set up a committee of senior officers of the Punjab pollution control board, PUDA and other departments in this regard. It has submitted its report. Sources said the new policy guidelines would be also be submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court.


Trolley, wood destroyed in fire

Abohar, June 2
Wood , hay, straw and a trolley were destroyed in a fire that broke out this afternoon in the straw stacked outside the house of Fauja Singh ,a farmer, in Muradwala

Dal Singh village near here. Fire brigade on the phone call of Manjit Singh Sran reached the village with water tanker but the villagers had controlled the fire before its arrival. Two cattle received burns while 12 others were rescued by neighbours. A trolley parked in the street was half burnt besides the wood loaded onto it, straw and a godown. Ranjit Singh received burns.


Health plan to cover more

Chandigarh, June 2
The Punjab government will add more beneficiaries under the Bhai Ghanaiya Sehat Seva Scheme that is to be launched from September 1 to provide quality medical treatment to members of cooperative societies in the state.

The minister for cooperation, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said the new comprehensive scheme would benefit more than 10 lakh members of cooperative societies. It had also been decided to revise the definition of “family”. — TNS


Sale of pesticides
Dishonest dealers served ultimatum
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Lalru, June 2
The Punjab agriculture department has decided to crack the whip against unscrupulous pesticide and fertiliser dealers.

Sukhdev Singh Saini served chief agriculture officer, Mohali, an ultimatum to this effect to the dealers, during an interaction with dealers and shopkeepers, here today. The department has decided to implement the Pesticide Control Act in letter and spirit. Police cases will be registered against the erring dealers, Saini warned.

Stressing for the need of a fair deal to the farming community, Saini claimed that the department had instructed the dealers to display a copy of their licence, stock register and price list of the pesticides, fertilizers and seeds. Besides, it was mandatory for the dealers to issue receipts for the purchase of any of the above items, Saini asserted.

It has been alleged that certain unscrupulous dealers were indulging in malpractices in the sale of pesticides, fertilisers and seeds to the farmers. In fact, the farming community was up in arms against these malpractices, including over-charging.

Commenting on the alleged shortage of fertilisers during the last rabi season, Saini claimed that the cooperative societies in Dera Bassi block had 750 tons of stock of the DAP. In addition, Markfed has been asked to provide 250 tons of fertiliser to tackle shortage, if any, during the coming kharif season.

Meanwhile, extensive damage to the crops on account of alleged discharge of polluted water was also deliberated at the meeting and it was decided to find a lasting solution to this problem.


Two held with heroin
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 2
The Amritsar (rural) police here today busted an international gang of smugglers and seized 12 kg of heroin worth Rs 12 crore from them.

Acting on a tip-off, a police party intercepted an Indica car in which three smugglers were carrying the heroin. While two smugglers were nabbed, one of them managed to flee.

The consignment had come from Pakistan through the Punjab border and was headed for Delhi. The smugglers were caught in Kathu Nangal on their way to Batala. The two nabbed smugglers have been identified as Sansar Chand of Purkho and Sanjeev Kumar of Shanti Nagar, Jammu. Investigations revealed that the third accomplice was Sham Lal, also of Palora.

A case has been registered under the NDPS Act at Kathu Nangal.


One more held for student’s murder

Bathinda, June 2
The police has arrested Sanjeev Kumar, alias Rajiv, who runs a beauty parlour in the Dohbiana locality here, for his involvement in the murder of Amandeep Singh, a student of local engineering college, which took place on May 28.

Sanjeev is the third suspect arrested in the murder case.

The police said Amandeep was murdered by contract killers, who were hired by Charanjit Singh, an employee of the PSEB. Charanjit wanted to avenge the murder of his son. He had blamed Amandeep for his son’s murder in the FIR. — TNS


Revised JET result
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
In a clarification regarding result of Joint Entrance Test (JET) declared on the website, the secretary, Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training, said here today that some candidates, who had appeared in the test, contacted the Board stating that the marks they had been awarded were not commensurate with their performance.

The JET-2007 for admission to various polytechnics affiliated to the Board was held on May 27 and the result was declared on the websites on May 31.

The statement said after reviewing the computerised evaluation, it came to light that an inadvertent clerical error had crept in a specific set of answer keys, which resulted in incorrect evaluation of a part of the question papers. The error had been rectified and the revised result has been put on the website: www.punjabteched.net  and www.punjabteched.com . The revised result cards were being dispatched simultaneously.

Meanwhile, an inquiry has also been marked to fix the responsibility for the mistake and appropriate action would be taken against the erring officials, the statement said. The Board deeply regretted the inconvenience caused to the candidates and their parents. The revision of the result will not change the counselling schedule, commencing from the 2nd week of July as planned earlier.


School education: Group A officers up in arms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 2
While ordering the postings of district education officers (group A officers), the Punjab government has virtually ignored the list of senior officers of the group.

Junior officers have been posted as district education officers, leaving the senior ones fuming. Upset over the way officers have been treated by the government, the gazetted school education services association has warned that if the postings of the junior officers are not cancelled, the government should be prepared to face a peaceful agitation.

“Before launching an agitation, we want to meet education minister Upinderjit Kaur to bring to her notice the injustice done to the senior officers, who have been ignored while posting DEOs”, said Joginder Singh Aulakh, president of the association. “We had come yesterday to meet the minister but the meeting did not materialise”, he said. In the next few days, another attempt would be made to hold a meeting with the minister, he said.

In fact, the seniority list had been virtually turned upside down while ordering the postings of DEOs.

Aulakh said nothing could be more humiliating than to post a senior officer under his junior. However, this had happened in the school education department. Of the 27 posts meant for the posting of deputy directors, principals of inservice training centres and circle education officers, only 13 had been filled from among the seniormost officers. As many as 14 officers, who were eligible for such postings, had been posted at the junior level as either DEOs or principals.

Of the 37 posts of district education officer, 27 had been filled with junior officers, ignoring officers senior to them. Aulakh said that one officer, whose name figured almost at the bottom of the seniority list, had been posted as district education officer, ignoring almost 200 persons senior to him.

He said such postings were in violation of the rules and regulations and also against natural justice.


Teachers blame dept for poor results
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 2
Teachers of government schools today blamed the education department and the previous Congress regime for worst ever results in middle standard annual examination.

Lambasting the education department, the teachers said the previous Congress regime had not filled thousands of vacancies for the past five years. Despite short strength, teachers were forced to perform duties at Sarv Siksha Abhiyan camps and other non-educational duties.

Ninetyfour, out of 104 students in Government senior Secondary Model School for boys failed in the annual examination for middle standard. Only 23 students appeared for the examination at the Government High School branch, of whom 18 failed.

A teacher from Balluana village said bogus results in terminal examinations should be done away with. Pass marks in maths should be made compulsory for each student. Another teacher said the department must release sample question papers in the beginning of the session. However, secretary, Teachers Club, Chetan Bulandi said 60 per cent responsibility for poor results should be owned by the teachers.


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