P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Amarinder’s kin questioned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau officials today questioned Raninder Singh and Raminder Singh, son and son-in-law of Amarinder Singh, respectively, along with B.I.S. Chahal in the City Centre scam, Intranet scam and alleged foreign properties, hawala transactions revealed in the pen drive seized from Chetan Gupta.

Raninder was questioned for nearly three hours while Raminder was quizzed for nearly two hours. The vigilance officials took their fingerprints, besides seeking details of their properties and their alleged presence at a meeting where kickbacks with regard to various projects were made.

Raninder and Raminder later told the reporters that the questioning went in a professional manner and they gave satisfactory answers to all queries. However, vigilance officials said the two were evasive in their replies and remained non-cooperative during questioning.

Arrest disrespect to HC: Lawyers

The defence lawyers alleged that Chahal was arrested intentionally from the Vigilance Bureau office. Apparently, it was an attempt to show disrespect to the orders passed by the high court.

Legal experts claimed that during interrogation in the case, there was no bar on recording statements pertaining to the City Centre scam or about his alleged benami assets.


Arrest victory for SAD-BJP government
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 10
The arrest of B.I.S. Chahal by the Ludhiana Police is ironical for him, while for the ruling SAD-BJP combine, it is a victory of sorts as finally the man, who they perceive as a “general” of Capt Amarinder Singh’s “political vendetta force against the SAD”, has been put behind bars.

Chahal, after getting bail in the Ludhiana City Centre case till July 4, was visibly a “free man” and even he could not have imagined that he would be arrested on a complaint, lodged against him and a few others, in October 2006. The bail was specific to the Ludhiana case, presently being probed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. After the bail, Chahal’s “prowess” of being a “survivor” against odds was the hot topic of discussion in political and administrative circles.

Chahal, a former media adviser to Amarinder Singh, was seen as a man within the inner-most circle of the former Chief Minister. At one point of time, about 10 years ago, Chahal was close to Sukhbir Badal and, separately, to former Punjab DGP K.P.S. Gill.

He is facing contempt of court case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He cited health reasons and wanted exemption from personal appearance, which was rejected. He said he was admitted to a hospital, but in view of the critical stance taken by the court, he was forced to come to India and appear in that case. Chahal is facing contempt case as an important file pertaining to the selection of DSPs under the sportspersons category by the previous government was missing.

After having avoided coming to court in the contempt case, Chahal appeared in a dramatic fashion on May 30. He hoodwinked teams of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau that wanted to arrest him in connection with the Ludhiana case. He pleaded and got one-day bail that stalled the Vigilance Bureau from arresting him. The Vigilance Bureau was virtually taken to task by the high court with the judges asking the bureau to file an affidavit, telling in how many cases was Chahal required. Later, he was given bail till July 4.

For Chahal, it was a major reprieve. With the others - Amarinder Singh, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Raninder Singh and Raminder Singh - already on bail, the message of “cleaning up the system of corruption” was lost. Now, with Chahal having been arrested for an alleged case of attempt to murder, the message is loud and clear by the ruling combine as to who runs the state. But will protests of “political vendetta” coming from the Congress camp become shriller in the days to come?


All deras not blasphemous: Vedanti
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 10
Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti said today that his edict against Dera Sacha Sauda should not lead to a notion that all deras in Punjab or other states were blasphemous.

“There are deras where Guru Granth Sahib is duly regarded and recited as per the tenets of Sikhism and these should not be mixed up with those where self-styled godmen indulge in blasphemous activities,” the jathedar said in an exclusive interview with The Tribune here.

He was in Jammu to preside over the Amrit Sanchar Samagam (congregation for baptism) at Dera Nangali Sahib.

He said such an event was a welcome step and many deras were organising such campaigns for the spread of Sikhism.

He pointed out that he was in the process of probing the activities of certain deras like Dera Noormahal of Ashutosh.

He said there were also complaints of self-styled godmen exploiting people in the name of Sikhism from places like Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Himachal Pradesh, besides Punjab and Haryana.

He blamed the mismanagement of gurdwaras at various levels, like appointing local priests as the reason for the people getting deviated to the deras.

Even though the Akal Takht jathedar expressed satisfaction over the functioning of the SGPC’s dharam parchar committee, he said the system of appointing priests in Singh Sabha or historic gurdwaras had to be reformed and regulated.

On Dera Sacha Sauda he said he was watching the role of both Centre and the Punjab government.

“We (the Sikh clergy) have begun with Punjab as there is an emergent need within the state first for taking reformative steps. We will soon summon certain self-styled godmen who are exploiting people through their anti-religious activities after identifying and exposing them before the public,” he added. 


POK Gurdwaras
SGPC mediation sought
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 10
The Jammu and Kashmir Gurdwara Parbandhak Board (JKGPB) has urged SGPC president Avtar Singh to take up the demand of the Sikhs here with the Centre for access to the historic gurdwaras in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

“It is essential to ensure the upkeep and sanctity of the Sikh shrines in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur districts in the POK, which is possible only when the Sikhs have easy access to such places,” the JKGPB president and member of the state’s legislative council Tirlochan Singh Wazir stated in a memorandum submitted to the SGPC chief during the latter's visit to Jammu here.

The SGPC president had assured the gurdwara board members that he would take up the matter with the Central government, Wazir said at a press conference here today.

He said the SGPC president had also been urged for the establishment of a technical college in Jammu for which, he added, the land would be provided by the JKGPB. 


SGPC-run medical college registrar resigns
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
In a surprise development, Rai Sudhir Prasad today resigned as the registrar of the SGPC- run Sri Guru Ram Das Charitable Hospital Trust after levelling serious charges against director-cum-principal U.S. Dhaliwal.

In his resignation letter, addressed to the SGPC chief -cum chairman of the medical college, Prasad alleged that Dhaliwal had played “havoc with the examination branch”. Dhaliwal “systematically created numerous roadblocks in the way of fair conduction of medical entrance test for the all-India Sikh community candidates this year” by ordering transfers of main persons. Deputy registrar examinations Kuljit Singh Khuarana, who had been working for the past six years had abruptly left the job due to Dhaliwal’s “misbehaviour”, he alleged.

However, Dhaliwal described the allegations, levelled by the registrar as “baseless”. He claimed that the registrar tried to pre-empt the action since he was facing “numerous complaints”. “The registrar announced the entrance test date without the knowledge of even SGPC chief”, Dhaliwal alleged. He said the SGPC chief himself had asked the registrar to stop publication of the prospectus which he had sent to the press without discussing about it with anybody since he had taken up the matter of a few discrepancies with regard to the Sikh minority quota with the state government.

Dhaliwal said the registrar had never spoken to him after his reinstatement (Dr Dhaliwal’s) on May 7. When contacted Prasad said he won’t withdraw his resignation since it would be practically difficult for him to continue as registrar under such circumstances. However, Dhaliwal said there was no question of misbehaving with Prasad, who never met him when he took over as the director- cum-principal on May 7. He alleged that the registrar did not cooperate even during inspection by the Medical Council of India.

Atul Jain and Gurjit Singh of the college have also resigned, citing different reasons. However, Dhaliwal said Gurjit Singh had resigned on “health grounds”. 


Turban Issue
Plea to be filed in European court today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
The Sikh community in foreign countries have decided to take the legal battle against the French turban ban to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) by filing a writ petition tomorrow. It will be filed by United Sikhs Lawyers to challenge the French law banning the wearing of the turban on ID document photos.

The applicant, Shingara Mann Singh, is a 52-year-old Sikh from a northern Paris suburb, whose driver’s licence was refused by the French authorities in 2005 and again in 2006. France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil D’Etat, has ruled that public security justifies a law which requires Sikhs to remove their turbans to be photographed for driver's licences. The United Sikhs will also apply to the ECHR for permission to intervene in the case on behalf of the Sikh community.

The turban has not only been banned for ID photographs, the controversial French law also banned it in public educational establishments. The United Sikhs Lawyers are due to appear in the Conseil D’Etat to defend the right of three of the boys to wear the turban in school. If the Conseil D’Etat rules against them, an appeal would be made to the ECHR and the United Nations Human Rights Committee in New York.

Mejindarpal Kaur, United Sikhs’ director for International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy said, “It is necessary to take these cases to the international courts because if left unchecked, the French law, which undermines the freedom for thought conscience and religion, will have a domino effect globally.”


Case filed against Wakf Board
Chander Parkash/Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 10
A criminal case has been registered against the local Wakf Board authorities following an attempt by some local persons a few days ago to grab a piece of land of a local government college after the lease of the same was transferred in their name by the board officials allegedly in an illegal way.

Police sources said a case was registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC against the Wakf board officials after it was found that the lease of that piece of land on the Bathinda-Mansa road, which is worth crores of rupees, had been transferred in the name of certain persons despite the fact that it was under the possession of Government Rajindra College.

About two weeks ago with the timely intervention of the district administration, the attempt to grab that piece of land (measuring about 2,000 sq yd) was foiled. Deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari had also instituted an inquiry into the matter and put SDM K.P.S. Mahi on the job.

The local municipal corporation had given the approval to those persons to erect a shopping complex over the same piece of land.

Harwinder Singh Virk, SHO, city police station, said no arrest had been made in this connection. He added that investigation into this case was being conducted by the Economic Offences Wing.


CM should clarify stand on edict, says Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 10
President of the SAD (1920) Ravi Inder Singh today asked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to clarify whether he (Badal) accepted Akal Takht’s edict regarding social boycott of Dera Sacha Sauda followers and closure of all its deras or not.

Talking to reporters here today, Ravi Inder Singh said the Badal government had failed in taking action against the dera. He said a deputation of representatives of various Sikh organisations, including Sant Samaj, SAD (1920), SAD (A), Dal Khalsa, Khalsa Panchayat, would meet Badal in Chandigarh tomorrow in this regard.

Earlier, at a meeting at the local Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Ravi Inder Singh handed over Rs 1 lakh to the family of Sunam firing victim.


Sekhwan counters Bajawa charges
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, June 10
To counter the allegations levelled against him by former Punjab PWD minister Pratap Singh Bajwa, senior Akali leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan today presented Balkar Singh’s father, Bakhsish Singh, and his brother before the media.

Sekhwan claimed that the family was associated with the SAD for the past two decades. Bajwa on Saturday reached the Balkar’s house to express his condolence despite the fact was aligned to the SAD. Instead of sympathizing, he politicized the case by “falsely” claiming that the family was a Congress supporter, claimed Sekhwan.

Balkar’s father claimed that he had gone to Sekhwan's hospital for seeking his help in nabbing the suspects-Kirpal Sigh, alias Palli, Karam Singh and Wasakha Singh-in the Balkar murder case.

Sekhwan also denied that he had got “false” cases registered against Congress workers and supporters in his constituency as alleged by Bajwa. He also denied having provided shelter to the accused.

Gurdaspur SSP Lok Natha Angra, however, claimed that the murder occurred due to some matrimonial disputes between the two families. He denied being pressurized by any politician in the case.

Bajwa had alleged that the ruling SAD government had been harassing Congress workers in his constituency after the SAD government came to power.


Nurmahal Incident
Govt announces Rs 15 lakh relief; Cong for
booking SHO
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 10
Charanjit Singh Atwal, deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, has announced Rs 15 lakh compensation for the family of Sukhdev Singh of Nurmahal, who, along with his wife and daughter, had committed suicide on Friday. The Punjab Congress has sought the registration of an FIR against suspended Nurmahal SHO Shiv Dev Singh Kahlon.

Atwal who had visited the family and taken up the case of the family with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said the Punjab government had decided to give Rs 15 lakh (Rs 5 lakh for each of the three victims) to the family. Besides, a magisterial probe has already been ordered against the suspended Nurmahal SHO.

“The inquiry report will be there in 15 days and on the basis of this report legal action will be taken against the SHO and other police officials. The Chief Minister is perturbed over the incident and has sympathy with the family of the victims. The Chief Minister has made this announcement though there is no provision for any monetary compensation for anyone committing suicide,” said Atwal who was accompanied by Jalandhar deputy commissioner Ajit Singh Pannu and SAD-BJP leaders, including Sarwan Singh Phillaur, K.D. Bhandari, Bhagat Chuni Lal and Jagbir Singh Brar. Atwal and other leaders went to the local Civil Hospital to meet the victims injured in the police firing at Nurmahal.

On the other hand, Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, has demanded an FIR against the Nurmahal SHO. “FIR is nothing but a right of the aggrieved family. The family should come to know that they are going to get at least some sort of relief. The incident is sheer highhandedness of the police and it shows the barbaric face of the force. Is it not true that victim Sukhdev Singh was being harassed by the SHO who was demanding a bribe of Rs 40,000 from him? And what was the need for the police to resort to firing when other alternative methods such as tear-gassing could be resorted to disperse the crowd?” asked Parminder Singh. He alleged that the SAD-BJP government had failed to maintain law and order in Punjab.


Heat wave claims one life
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10
Heat wave claimed one life in the city today even as the mercury dipped from yesterday’s 47.8° C, highest in the decade, to 46°C, 6° C above normal.

According to relatives of the deceased, Pyare Lal was going to the market when he suddenly collapsed on the road. Two policemen, Jaspreet Singh and Sukhjinder Singh, who were present at the site immediately took him to the civil hospital where he was declared brought dead. Later, the policemen informed relatives of the deceased.

Civil surgeon Lehmber Singh said no such case had been brought to his notice. However, he added that elaborate steps had been taken in the hospital to deal with such cases.

Hari, a resident of Varpal village, also suffered heat stroke and was admitted to the civil hospital. However, after initial treatment he was shifted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital today evening.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu has ordered closer of all educational institutions and private schools from June 12 in view of the unbearable heat wave conditions.

He also advised people to not to venture out in the sun during the peak hours and cover their heads to minimize the effect of heat besides increasing the water intake.

He also directed the local civil surgeon to be ready to deal with cases related to swear heat wave.


PSEB trips on 8-hour supply
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 10
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) management has failed to provide 8-hour power supply to the agriculture sector on the first day today as all six units of two thermal plants in this district tripped due to operational disturbances in the system.

Though the state government had announced to give the 8-hour power supply to the farmers for the paddy cultivation from June 10, the PSEB’s management has been finding it difficult to do the same before June 15.

Due to tripping, a major belt of the Malwa region and the cotton belt were gripped by a severe power crisis. This resulted in resentment among farmers.

PSEB chairman said he was not aware of the situation despite the fact that units got tripped around noon today. However, the PSEB authorities have started a probe in this regard.

The four units of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, and two units of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohobat, producing 815 MW of power, stopped generating electricity after these tripped due low voltage. However, the PSEB management managed to restart four out of the six units.

The PSEB chief engineer, system operation, when contacted, said the authorities would not be able to provide 8-hour regular power supply to the agriculture sector till June 15. He claimed that the power to this sector was given today by drawing the same from the Central grid of the distribution system.


Rising mercury makes cotton crop wilt
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Narinder Pura (Mansa), June 10
The unprecedented rise in mercury seems to have become double curse for residents of the cotton belt. On one hand it has been claiming human lives while on the other cotton plants have started withering.

Lack of canal water supply coupled with unfit underground water for agriculture use in certain pockets of this belt have left the farmers with no other option but leave things to god.

A number of farmers, whose cotton crop have been affected, have suffered losses as they had spent a significant amount on Bt cottonseeds and fertilisers. They would not be able to sow it again as it was too late now, a cross section of farmers told TNS talked today.

Sukhdev Singh Chahal, a farmer of this village, said the Uddat branch canal of Bhikhi area was running dry for the past few days despite the fact that cotton growers needed canal water urgently to irrigate their fields. He added that electric power supply for tubewell was erratic and some time the voltage was very low to run tubewells.

Farmers of Talwandi Sabo area in Bathinda district had also lodged a complaint with the authorities concerned that they had not been getting canal water regularly.

Though the state Agriculture Department is yet to start a survey to find out cotton crop on how many acres had been hit. Initial reports pointed out that cotton plants had been damaged on hundreds of acres in the past four days due to unprecedented rise in mercury.

Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, state agriculture department, said he would take up the matter in connection with the closure of few canals in the cotton belt with chief engineer, canals, Punjab, tomorrow. He added that the department had ensured that cotton belt would get adequate and regular canal water supply from April 18 onwards.


Rs 39.63 cr for medical, dental colleges

Chandigarh, June 10
Under the Punjab professional service scheme, Rs 39.63 crore will be released for upgrade of government medical and dental colleges of the state besides Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences within next three years.

Minister for medical education and research Tikshan Sood, listing achievements of the 100-day SAD-BJP regime in the state, said the retirement age for the teaching faculty in government medical and dental colleges had been raised from 58 years to 60 years.

He said vacancies in the government medical institutions would be filled by July 15. — TNS


Plea to close private institutes for ETT course
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 10
The Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) Union has urged the Punjab government to close down all private institutes offering the ETT course and shift the students of the course to the district institutes of educational training (DIETs) dotting almost all districts of the state.

In a memorandum submitted to the deputy commissioner here on Friday, the ETT Union pointed out that private institutions had been charging exorbitant fees from students and also harassing them on flimsy grounds.

The union said if the authorities failed to meet its demands by June 13, the agitation would be intensified. 


PMET-2007 on July 8
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 10
PMET-2007 for admission to MBBS, BDS, BAMS, BHMS courses in the government and private institutes, affiliated with the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, would be organised on July 8.

This was stated by Punjab medical education minister Tikshan Sood here yesterday. He said the last date for the submission of application forms was June 23.

The minister disclosed that the state government was working on a plan to conduct online PMET. He said instructions had been given to ensure transparency during the test and added that irregularities would not be tolerated at any cost.


Teamwork important, teachers told
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 10
As a part of its faculty development programme, the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management & Computer Sciences (DBIMCS), Mandi Gobindgarh, organised a workshop on "Quality Management Systems in Educational Institutions".

Dr Zora Singh, chairman, Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes, and Shalini Gupta, director, DBIMCS, presided over the workshop while Yugal Nauharia, product champion of TQM System from Intertek Com, was the keynote speaker.

He focused on enhancement of teaching methodologies and importance of teamwork. An interactive learning session was also organised.

Dr Zora said the college management had always given priority to the faculty development.

Director of the institute thanked Yugal Nauharia for his thought-provoking presentation about faculty development. She motivated faculty members to involve themselves in creative, innovative and value-added activities to keep pace with the fast-changing global requirements.


Meritorious students honoured

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 10
Management of the Ashoka Educational Trust, Sirhind, today organised a function to honour students of Ashoka Senior School, Sirhind, who figured in the merit list of the Class XII examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board.

Apart from parents of the meritorious students, prominent citizens of the town attended the function. DIG Punjab Police Paramjit Singh Sarao was the chief guest. Sarao exhorted the students to develop spirit of competition and gave cash prize to the students.

Ravinder Joshi, principal of the school, highlighted the achievements of the school. — OC


Topper honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 10
The management of St Peter’s Academy, Patiala, recently honoured Nitika Kaushal who scored 98 per cent marks, highest in the town, in CBSE Class X examination.

She was followed by Sonali Niranjan with 96 per cent and Harish Satija with 94.4 per cent. School manager Rev Father Henry Lewis and principal Sister Janet Joseph congratulated the students on their success.


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