P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


City Centre Scam
Raninder scuttling investigation: SIT
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, June 26
The special investigation team (SIT), formed to look into the Ludhiana City Centre scam and related cases, today held a brainstorming meeting to discuss the future course of action.

The team, headed by DIG S. S. Chauhan and comprising more than 25 police officials, took a serious view of the way in which key accused were skipping the scheduled questioning by the vigilance even though their bail orders clearly mentioned they had to cooperate with the investigation officers.

Talking to The Tribune, Chauhan said the accused, Raninder Singh and Raminder Singh Richi, son and son-in-law of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, respectively, were scuttling the investigation by staying away from the questioning on one pretext or the other.

He said the vigilance bureau would bring all these facts to the notice of the Supreme Court. The meeting discussed legal measures to prevent the accused from staying away from the investigation.

Chauhan expressed satisfaction at the pace of the investigation after over two months of the registration of the FIR. He said the major achievement of the vigilance was the arrest of Chetan Gupta with several incriminating documents and evidence.

He said Chaudhry Jagjit Singh and Raninder Singh both had told mediapersons after their first day of questioning that they were satisfied with the way the vigilance treated them and had no complaints against it. However, now they were airing fears of mistreatment. It was just an excuse to escape the vigilance net tightening around them, added Chouhan.


Deputation of doctors to be cancelled
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Punjab health department is all set to cancel the posting of doctors on deputation. Health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said this in the Punjab Assembly today.

Chawla said some influential doctors were not serving at the place of their posting. They had managed to get postings on deputation at other places. She said such doctors would be posted in civil hospitals and dispensaries where posts were vacant.

As most of these doctors were well connected, she requested all MLAs, ministers and other heavyweights not to put political pressure to revoke orders issued to cancel postings on deputation.

This issue came up in the House following a question raised by Virsa Singh Valtoha, SAD MLA, with regard to the vacant posts of doctors in the community health centre at Khem Karan.

Assuring Virsa Singh that all vacant posts of doctors would be filled soon in main civil hospital in the border belt, Chawla said she would soon visit Khem Karan in this regard.

Responding to a issue raised by Congress MLA Kanwarjit Singh Brar, she said that cancer was spreading in certain areas in Punjab because of the high consumption of tobacco, over-spiced foods, drinking liquor, meat eating and spray of pesticides.

Chawla said the incidence of cancer cases in Punjab was less than that of the national average. There was a proposal to set up cancer treatment units with a cost of Rs 3 crore each at Bathinda and Hoshiarpur besides a regional cancer hospital, she added.

In response to a question by Ishar Singh, Congress MLA from Kum Kalan, revenue minister Ajit Singh Kohar said the government would make efforts to put up permanent pillars in fields for easy measurement of land.

Responding to a question asked by Ajaib Singh Bhatti and supplementary question raised by Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that the Punjab Olympic Association had been asked to submit its proposal to promote various sport events in the state.

Replying to question by Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah said that action had been initiated against those persons who had encroached upon the grain yard at Sardulgarh.


Inside Babudom
Central deputation option unattractive
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
With the change in government in Punjab, only two IAS officers have opted to go on central deputation while in a separate development the government of India has asked for two senior principal secretary- rank officials.

At least 20 posts of the Punjab quota in the government of India are at present vacant, and in officialdom it is expected that some officers who were termed as “close” to the previous regime will prefer a central posting. With the poor response, the entire quota of 42 posts of the IAS may not be filled.

Sources said in response to a circular seeking options for deputation, only A.S. Chatwal and N.S. Kalsi have expressed their willingness to go.

Meanwhile, the union government has sought the services of Mukul Joshi, who was the excise and taxation commissioner in the previous Amarinder Singh regime. However, his name is yet to be cleared by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He has been parked as secretary, freedom fighters, which the bureaucracy terms as an “inconsequential” posting.

Separately, the ruling SAD-BJP combine has cleared the name of Sundaram Krishna for central deputation. Krishna was the chief electoral officer during the assembly elections in February this year. He has spent a good part of his career in Delhi chiefly in the ministry of finance and also the cabinet secretariat.

The union government, subject to the approval of the state government, can directly call officers in the rank of principal secretary who are empanelled as additional secretaries in the government of India. In the case of junior officers, the state seeks options and selections are based on a number of parameters.

Separately, among IPS officers only four officials are on central deputation while 25 posts are vacant. Punjab cadre IPS officers have long been reluctant to go on deputation and prefer to stay put in Chandigarh. The home department has drawn up a list of officers who were perceived to be “close” to the previous regime. However, it is expected that most of them will not opt for deputation. No official can be sent on deputation without first seeking his consent.


Lathicharge on farmers
Cong stages walkout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Led by Opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Congress MLAs today staged a walkout from the Assembly on certain issues including the lathicharge on farmers in the Malwa belt yesterday.

Immediately after the beginning of Zero hour, Congress MLA Avtar Singh Brar got up to raise the issue of the lathicharge. However, he was not allowed.

The speaker told him that the issue could be raised while speaking on the Budget proposals. However, Congress MLAs did not agree with the speaker. Brar said as the issue was of public importance, he wanted to raise the same during the Zero hour.

He said other issues such as the Hansi-Bhutana canal which was being constructed by the Haryana Government to take Bhakra canal water and other issues also needed to be raised. As the speaker maintained that these issues should be raised while taking part in debate on the Budget, Congress MLAs marched to the well of the House raising slogans.

Later, they walked out and returned to the House a little later. Speaking to mediapersons, Brar said it was wrong that the government was not allowing the Opposition to raise issues of public interest.

Responding to the call attention notice given by Surjit Kumar Jiani and Sohan Singh Thandal, PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the railway overbridge at Ferozepur would be reconstructed during the current year.


Dera Head Boycott
2 jathedars against edict withdrawal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 26
The ongoing mediation efforts to resolve Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda impasse may suffer a big jolt even as Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Jotinder Singh , Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib have said previous “gurmatta” passed by the Sikh high priests, calling for boycott of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, won't be withdrawn at any cost.

The strict stand taken by Jathedars of two takhts has put the mediators in a fix. themdiators had promised the Dera Sacha Sauda chief that they would prevail upon the Sikh clergy to withdraw the “gurmatta” in case Dera Sacha Sauda tendered fresh apology to the Sikh Panth.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Jathedar Iqbal Singh made it clear that the “gurmatta” once pronounced from a takht could not be withdrawn. He, however, said the proposed meeting of Sikh high priests to be held at Akal Takht Secretariat, here tomorrow would discuss only the contents of the fresh apology letter submitted by Dera Sacha Sauda . “We won’t go beyond the apology letter”, he said .

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar Akal Takht and Kesgarh Sahib, are coming by Indian Airlines flight late tonight after cutting short their visit to Canada, to participate in the proposed meeting of the Sikh clergy.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has put its Task Force on high alert as a preventive measure. Police in mufti would also be deployed outside Akal Takht complex.

Earlier, on May 20, the Sikh high priests had heard the representatives of various Sikh organisations before passing “gurmatta”, rejecting the apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda.

However, sources maintained that Jathedar Vedanti is under tremendous pressure to accept the fresh apology. On the other hand , the hardliners have taken a tough stand on this issue.

An emergency meeting of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), held at Khanna said if Jathedars would accept the fresh apology letter against the wishes of Sikh masses then they would reject their decision.


Examined and judged poor
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 26
Despite coming through tough competition with “highest standard of examination” conducted by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), quite a number of judges working in Punjab have either failed or barely passed in their departmental exams conducted by the Central Committee of Examination, Punjab, in March this year. This fact came to light after the results were declared earlier this month.

As many as 39 Civil Judges (Junior Division) had appeared in various papers, including criminal law, civil law, revenue law, accounts, Hindi and constitutional law. But except the Hindi paper, very few judges managed to pass the rest of the exams with “high score”.

Of the 38 judges who took the criminal law exam, five failed, while 31 passed with lower standard and only two passed with higher standard.

In civil law out of 32 judges who appeared in the exam, six failed, 17 passed with the lower standard and only nine of them passed with higher standard.

In the revenue law exam five judges failed, while 18 passed with lower standard and only seven clearing it with higher standard.

In accounts exam, 13 of the 33 judges failed, 14 passed with low score while only six passed with distinction.

However, the judges appeared to be better versed in constitutional law. Of the 33 judges who appeared in this paper, only one failed. Twentythree passed with higher standard and nine passed with lower standard.

Against their, by and large, poor performance in their own subjects like criminal, civil or revenue laws, the judges seemed to be quite familiar with the national language as all 31 judges, who appeared in the exam, passed with the higher standard.

Interestingly, most of the judges at the junior level have to judge cases mainly relating to criminal, civil and revenue matters. And in these cases not many of them have managed to score high standards, while some have not even been able to clear the exams.


Lack of vision blinds eye donation drive
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

No centre except PGI is authorised to accept donated eyes in the region

DRME says at present there is no clear cut rule for registering any society or department for cornea-grafting operations in the state.

Pingla Ashram scandal scared docs to perform cornea transplants.

Patiala, June 26
The drive to motivate more and more people to donate eyes has become a virtual farce in the state as the motivated eye donors in Punjab are not finding any takers. There is not even a single government and private eye hospital or any other facility in Punjab that has been authorised by the state to accept donated eyes.

The only available facility for accepting donated eyes in the entire region is at PGI, Chandigarh, that is generally un-accessible for people living in remote areas.

Many people come to apply for donating eyes at the Rajindra Government Hospital and Medical College here but nobody is willing to accept their forms. Their forms pledging their eyes after death keep on gathering dust as none of the doctors is willing to take action on them.

According to sources the government and private hospitals had stopped accepting donated eyes after the controversial Pingla Ashram incident. The Patiala police had, in 2005, arrested two doctors and a person running the Pingla Ashram at Sangrur for allegedly selling eyes of deceased inmates of ashram without the consent of their parents or relatives.

The issue generated a lot of heat and doctors were booked under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994. However, later all doctors and other accused in the illegal eye donation case were acquitted.

But others have become wary of accepting eye donation requests now. Dr K.L Paseja, president of the Punjab State Eye Donation Society, Patiala, had asked Director, Research and Medical Education, Punjab, under the right to information Act about the existing rules for registration of centres for accepting eyes donated by people.

In response to his query the DRME has stated that at present there is no clear cut rule for registering any society or department for cornea-grafting operations in the state. He also told that at present no hospital or centre in the state has been registered for cornea grafting or for creating an eye bank.

Dr D.C Bansal, who carried out many cornea transplant operations before the Pingla Ashram controversy said it is unfortunate that while the government wants to encourage people to donate eyes, but it is not creating any facility the where the donated eyes can be accepted.

The eyes of deceased person have to be taken out within 24 hours of his death to affectively preserve them for transplantation. Many people in remote areas who want to donate eyes cannot take the trouble of travelling to Chandigarh and then jostle with authorities to get their forms submitted.

The government should register and authorise the eye donation centres across the state to enable people to donate their eyes in their respective areas.


Cong seeks separate panel for OBCs

Chandigarh, June 26
The Punjab Congress today demanded that a separate commission be set up for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to look into their plight.

Chairman of the OBC wing of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Gurinder Pal Singh Billa submitted a memorandum in this regard to PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, to be forwarded to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The wing has requested the Chief Minister that the backward classes certificate be issued on the very date somebody applies for it. — TNS


Repeal land preservation Act: BJP

Chandigarh, June 26
A deputation of senior leaders of the BJP from the kandi belt here today met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to seek the repeal of the Punjab Land Preservation Act,1900.

The deputation, led by Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, said the act had lost its relevance and become a source of harassment for people living in the kandi area.Farmers could not cultivate land in the area where the act was in force. — TNS


Dalit loses house in ‘political vendetta’

Abohar, June 26
Balram, his wife and three children have been braving hot weather in a make-shift tent near their demolished house at Killianwali village, 7 km from here, for the past six days. The youngest member of this Dalit family is just one year old.

Bal Ram said he had refused to succumb to pressure from SAD activists to support the alliance nominee in the Vidhan Sabha elections. They came to his house last week and razed it with a tractor. When the family refused to leave the plot, they took away their utensils and other articles, Balram alleged.

Sarpanch Shailender Singh Jakhar confirmed that 211 Dalits and BPL families had been allotted pieces of land for construction of houses during the Congress regime. They had been issued letters of allotment carrying photos of Amarinder Singh and local MLA Sunil Jakhar at a function. — OC


Power board told to re-install towers

Chandigarh, June 26
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today asked the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to make arrangements for the immediate re-installation of two 220 KV towers carrying high-tension power cables in Patti sub-division. The towers had fallen due to a thunderstorm yesterday disrupting power supply to many areas on the border.

Two towers between Virpal and Patti had fallen disrupting power supply to Bhikiwind, Tarn Taran urban, Tarn Taran semi-urban and Patti electricity sub-divisions.

Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, food and civil supply minister who represents the Patti constituency, brought the inconvenience faced by people to the notice of the Chief Minister today.

Y.S. Ratra, chairman, PSEB, today informed the Chief Minister that teams of engineers and workers were camping at the site. The towers are likely to be re-installed by June 30. — TNS


Relief for HIV infected
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Labour Court at Nabha is hearing an important petition these days. Filed by Nek Khan, one of the millions living with HIV and stigma, it seeks the restoration of a worker’s dignity. Recalling the principles of natural justice, it poses a humble question: “Why should a committed workman be shown the door over something that’s beyond his control?”

On the defensive is GlaxoSmithKline’s unit along the Nabha Road, which allegedly stripped Nek Khan of his job on finding out his HIV positive status. Khan, 45, claims it all began when he sought leave from the management, citing as reason his wife’s illness. “My wife’s medical certificates revealed her HIV positive status. When I sought leave on their ground, I was told to produce a medical fitness certificate myself. The management wanted to be sure if I too was infected,” he says.

Nek Khan got tested at Ludhiana, where his wife was already on treatment for the infection. To his surprise, he too tested positive - a fact he never knew would change the course of his future. “I handed over the certificate to my management. They asked me to collect my dues and leave. I did not know what to do. Shortly afterwards, my wife passed away,” he says, wrinkles on his face revealing his deep depression.

For Khan, resorting to the court for justice was the last option, until of course he came in contact with Pooja Thakur, head of Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV (CNP +). She forwarded his complaint to the UT Administrator and Punjab Governor on December 1 last - World AIDS Day. The Governor house forwarded the case to the Labour court at Nabha.

Now yesterday, the court granted some succour to Nek Khan, whose name has incidentally been mentioned as “Harnek Khan” in a particular factory record. The court proceedings naturally centred on who the management actually sacked - Harnek Khan or Nek Khan.

The truth is somewhere in the judge’s mind and the good news is that the court has promised Nek Khan some relief by the next date of hearing. “They have promised either a reinduction or compensation,” Khan said, hoping for support from a unit he served for nine years. The management has reportedly been offering to compensate Nek Khan, who insists to have a job, either as watchman or a labourer, who does not need repeated contact with others.


Campaign against drug abuse
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 26
The Drug De-addiction Centre, Saket, here, and the Chemists Association, Samana, observed International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Aggarwal Dharamshala at Samana, here today.

In this regard, an exhibition was held with the help of the health department. A documentary film on drug abuse was also shown on the occasion. Ram Partap Garg, a spokesperson of the Chemists Association, promised full cooperation in the fight against drug abuse. Baljit Singh Puri, convener of the human rights organisation, impressed on the public their role in this campaign.

Speaking on the occasion, Parminder Kaur Manchanda, project director, DDC, informed the gathering about the role of the de-addiction centre and advised them to avail of services provided by it.

Dr Usha Dhingra, civil surgeon, Patiala, shared the determination of the health department in fighting against drug abuse. She also appealed to the public, chemists and other religious organisations to cooperate with the department in this drive. Dr P.C. Goyal, senior medical officer, Civil Hospital, Samana, thanked the delegates.


5 rescued from illegal custody

Patiala, June 26
A warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court rescued five persons, including a 75-year-old woman Sant Kaur and her grand son-in-law Tajpal Singh, yesterday night from police custody. They were allegedly being kept in illegal custody at Bhadson police station at the behest of a ‘powerful’ police officer of the state.

Sant Kaur, a resident of Khanaura village, alleged that her son Sukhwinder Singh, who had died recently, owned 23 acres out of which he left 6.5 acres were in her name.

When she tried to take control of the land that was her only source of livelihood after her son’s death, her daughter-in-law, who is a close relative of a senior police officer, of the state got her ‘picked up’ by the Bhadson police.

She, along with her grand son-in-law, were kept in illegal police custody for five days. The SHO of Bhadson, however, denied the charges. He alleged Sant Kaur, along with five other persons, came to the police station at midnight to get a case registered. As soon as they sat in the police station the warrant officer arrived and ‘recovered’ them. — TNS


Plays mark World Music Day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 26
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) commemorated World Music Day with the commencement of two musical plays at SDSE Senior Secondary School here yesterday.

Chief guest Shyam Lal Gupta Navyug inaugurated the rehearsals for the plays - “Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh” and I.C.Nanda’s award winning play “Suhag” - and paid tributes to Bhagat Singh, Norah Richards and her disciple dramatist Professor Nanda.

Divisional Commissioner and and MC commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia sent in his good wishes from Chandigarh over the phone.

Presiding over the function, Inderjit Singh Chopra, a retired scholar of Punjabi University and president of the Senior Citizens Welfare Association, appreciated the efforts of the club towards spreading theatre and human values.

Besides the presentation of glimpses of workshop plays, child artistes presented musical and classical dance items. The final programme of the month-long theatre workshop would be held at Baradari Gardens Theatre Complex on July 1.


HC directs MC to auction 50 sites with rider
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 26
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Municipal Corporation to hold auction of 50 sites subject to the final outcome of the earlier petition filed by the sufferers of Blue Star Operation in 2000 which was pending in the high court for next hearing The decision was given on the petition filed by the Blue Star Tenants Merchants Sufferers Association to stay the auction which was to be held by the corporation on June 27. The association appealed in the court during Operation Blue Star in 1984, 135 families were ruined having shops around the Golden Temple. These families were still waiting for rehabilitation but nothing was done by the state government even after 23 years. Some of these shopkeepers had committed suicide and a few of them had died. These families were facing starvation while the corporation decided to auction 50 t sites which would have been allotted to these sufferers, they added. The court directed the corporation was permitted to hold auction but it would be subject to the final outcome of the pending petition the hearing of which was fixed on July 7.


8 booked for switching feeder line on

Moga, June 26
The Kot Ise Khan police today registered cases against eight farmers for obstructing employees of the PSEB in discharging their duty.

According to the FIR, farmers, who were in inebriated condition, forcefully switched on the Dharam Singhwala feeder line at their native village Fateh-Ullah Shah. The line had been switched off for carrying out some repair work. Those who have been booked are Sukha Singh, Jaswant Singh, Sucha Singh, Kirpal Singh and Amrik Singh. — TNS


ETT teachers stage dharnas
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, June 26
Members of the Elementary Teachers’ Union held a protest rally here today in support of their demand to place them under the control of the Education Department instead of the Zila Parishad.

They were of the view that the fate of schools functioning under the Zila Parishads hangs in balance due to lack of funds. They claimed that the present government had promised, at the time of elections, to bring all teachers of these schools under the control of the education department, but was now dithering on this point.

They claimed that the finance minister had, in his budget presented in the state Assembly, also approved the employment of ETT teachers under Zila Parishads, which had been very disappointing for them.

SANGRUR: The district unit of the ETT Teachers’ Union today staged a dharna in front of the office of the deputy commissioner here to compel the state government to transfer all primary schools being run by the Zila Parishads, to the Punjab Education Department and to end the problems of the ETT teachers, including delay in payment of salaries, no promotion channel and no transfer policy.

A deputation of the union, comprising Sukhvir Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Kanwaljit Singh, Jagseer Singh and Lal Singh, today submitted a memorandum of demands to the ADC (Development) Harnek Singh in his office here.

BARNALA: ETT teachers here staged a rally in front of the DC office today to register their protest against delay by the state government in fulfilling their demands.

Paramjeet Bhatia, district president of the ETT Teachers Union, criticised the state government for forgetting the promises made to the teachers unions at the time of election.

He warned the state government that ETT teachers would launch a statewide stir if they were not taken under PSEB. 


34 get Sanskrit scholarships
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 26
The Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university, New Delhi, has awarded post-matric Sanskrit annual scholarships of Rs 1,750 to 34 students of the local Government Mohindra College, sources said, here today.

Principal of the college Dr D.I.S. Brar, appreciating the achievements of the students, said the sansthan provided scholarships for the development of Sanskrit. Dr Brar further said the scholarships had encouraged the students and generated interest in the subject.

Dr Brar said 91 students of this college have got this scholarship during the past four years. Dr S.K. Kaushik, lecturer of Sanskrit at this college, said the students have been awarded the scholarship purely on the basis of their performance in the subject.


M.Tech (IT) entrance test result out

Amritsar, June 26
Guru Nanak Dev university has declared result of entrance test held on June 25 for admission to M.Tech (IT). The result is available on university Website www.gnduonline.org.

A university spokesman said Manjot Agnihotri has stood first in the test while inder Singh and Sunaina Verma were declared second and third respectively. However, the spokesman added the date of counselling for admission to M.Sc (IT) would be made known in a couple of days. — OC


Complete PG admission process: Parents

Chandigarh, June 26
Parents are upset as the Punjab medical education department has not started counselling for admission to PG courses in various government medical colleges in the state.

The parents said the process of admission should be over by June 30 otherwise students would face problems in the completion of the PG courses. — TNS


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