P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


No move to privatise govt hospitals: Badal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal accused the Union government of withholding grant for the super-specialty hospital planned at Jalandhar. The said hospital was to be first hospital of the state having infrastructure facilities on a par with AIIMS. However, the entire project has been scuttled as the Centre has withheld grant for it. It is a setback for the state in terms of development of health services.

‘I will take up the matter with the union minister for health and try to get the grant for the hospital restored’.

The Chief Minister along with health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla was here this evening for addressing a rally of party workers. He also released water in the Kali Mata temple tank, inaugurated a community hall developed by the Saronwala Charitable trust and an upgraded government dispensary in Tripuri.

Badal said improving public health service in the state was a priority of the government which intended to open at least one dispensary in every village. There was no move to privatise the government hospitals.

The state is utilising services of deputy chairman of state planning commission Dr Bajaj to prepare a master plan for improving the health services in the state. The government would provide every facility, including staff to government hospitals.

Ms Chawala said steps were being taken to improve the working of the state chemical laboratory.


Rs 4.86 cr released for Pul Kanjri,  Wagah post 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
The state government has released Rs 4.86 crore for the restoration of Pul Kanjri (associated with Maharaja Ranjit Singh), Serai Amanat Khan and Wagah joint checkpost with a view to promoting tourism. However, the administration is yet to receive a grant of Rs 10 crore for the restoration work of Ram Bagh and Gobindgarh Fort.

Pul Kanjri, a town on the Amritsar-Lahore road, which was a big trade centre at that time, has been reduced to a tiny village now. Most of the villagers who had survived the bloodbath, a few days after Partition, migrated to safer places, especially Amritsar.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh had built a baradari where he used to stay on way from Amritsar to Lahore. A 12-foot-wide canal, now a small water channel, used to run along this town. According to residents, the canal used to carry water from Kahnuwan Chhamb to the Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, and was constructed by Emperor Shah Jehan.

Once, while one of her Moran (nautch girl) was coming to this place, one of her shoes fell into the canal. She refused to dance until her demand to construct a bridge was accepted, which the Maharaja did. Since then, this place is known as Pul Kanjri.

Similarly, the state government would also spend huge amounts on relics of a bygone era in the border belt.

Serai Amanat Khan is famous for its ornamental gateway and glazed tile decorations. However, a beautiful “baoli” attached with a well has been ruined. It is situated in a small village, south-west of Amritsar. The serai had a beautiful gate constructed in the Mughal style of architecture. The tomb of Amanat Khan was surrounded by four minarets. The mosque near the tomb is decorated with Persian verses.

During the Mughal period, the Badshai Road passed from Attari to Goindwal, via Serais Amanat Khan, Nurdin, Naurangabad and Fatehabad, all of which are situated in Tarn Taran. The serais are almost of the same design and dimensions and have water tanks. 


Badal Case
3 more witnesses turn hostile 
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 19
Three more witnesses turned hostile today against the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in a case filed against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others for possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Retired superintending engineer, Building & Roads (B & R), Jagmohan Singh Nanda, then SDO, Vigilance Bureau, Vinod Kumar Garg, and then SDO, B&R, Subhash Chand turned hostile in the court of special judge G.R. Saran today.

All three of them deposed before the judge saying that they had prepared records of the assessment of Badal’s property at Balasar Farm, Orbit resort, Gurgaon, and his Sector 9 residence in Chandigarh. But they were not aware whether their report found place in the official records of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau or not. They alleged that the then DIG, B.K. Uppal, and investigating officer, SP, Vigilance, and SSP, Ropar, Surinderpal Singh Virk, “pressurised” them to sign the reports without reading the same.

Yesterday four witnesses had turned hostile against the Vigilance Bureau accusing Uppal and Virk of pressurising them into signing reports. These included retired superintending engineer (SE), PWD, B&R department, Punjab, at Chandigarh, Kanwaljeet Singh Brar, SE, PWD, B&R, Punjab, at Chandigarh, K.S. Bhinder, executive engineer, Kandi Canal, R.K. Garg and Gurdeep Singh, retired senior executive engineer, Punjab, at Chandigarh.

The procedure of evidence in court will continue tomorrow too. 


Prez Poll
116 MLAs cast vote 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Polling to elect the President of India was conducted at the Vidhan Sabha here with 116 of the 117 MLAs casting their votes.

Congress MP and union minister Ambika Soni also cast her vote here. Joginder Pal Jain, Congress MLA from Moga, who has been detained for violation of the COFEPOSA Act, 1974, voted in Delhi.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was the first to vote and SAD MLA Bikramjit Singh Khalsa the last. Speaker N.S. Kahlon and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were second and fifth, respectively, in casting their vote. Health Minister Luxmi Kanta Chawla turned up wearing a white sari that had a border to match the colours of the Tricolour.

In the electoral college for the presidential poll, Punjab has a vote value of 114 per legislator. After the polling concluded in the evening, the ballots were sealed to be taken to Parliament tomorrow amid tight security.


Poll Win
Dullo gives credit to Cong men, not Chahal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
President of the Punjab pradesh Congress committee Shamsher Singh Dullo today alleged that Parkash Singh Badal was acting as the Chief Minister of the Shiromani Akali Dal and not of Punjab.

Dullo went on to allege that the control of police stations had been virtually handed over to SAD office-bearers while separately several officials in the police and civil administration were behaving as if they were working for the SAD. Badal should have ordered a review of the police cases registered by the Punjab police against Congress workers in the past four months. “We had given him a list of cases of political vendetta and Badal went on to order a review of cases that were registered against SAD workers during the previous Congress regime.”

Commenting on a reported statement that B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was responsible for the victory of the Congress in the 2002 assembly elections, Dullo wondered how that was possible. Chahal was then a government employee. “ How could he have done anything?” When pointed out that Amarinder Singh had given credit to Chahal in this regard, Dullo said: “It is the personal opinion of Amarinder Singh. In my opinion it was the workers of the party who ensured victory.”

The PPCC chief claimed that the Congress was in a winning position in the coming civic body elections.

The popularity graph of the SAD-BJP combine had been falling, said Dullo, when asked how he claimed that the Congress was in a winning position. He went on to claim that the delimitation of wards of the municipalities was a big fraud on people.

Meanwhile, the matter relating to statements given by Bir Devinder Singh and G.S. Galib has been referred to the disciplinary committee.


Politicians ‘protecting’ dera chief
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
Partap Singh, former MLA, Haryana, today alleged that a large section of politicians of various states had been protecting and promoting Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda.

Addressing a press conference here, he said as the politicians had been protecting and promoting the dera chief, so no law implementing agency of any state could take any action against him.

While urging the Punjab government to take appropriate legal action against the dera chief, Partap Singh, son of late Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, accused state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of obliquely helping Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for promoting his own political interests.


Raninder Singh’s presence not being marked: Lawyers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Alleging that the Vigilance Bureau, Ludhiana, was not making any attempt to even record the presence of Raninder, son of Captain Amarinder Singh, and his cousin Raminder at its office, the duo’s lawyers today shot off a letter to the SSP, Vigilance.

Himmat Singh Shergill, Bar-at-law and advocate for Raninder, has stated in his letter to the SSP Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu that despite a prior notice, dated July 14, being sent to the Vigilance office in Ludhiana, his client Raninder was neither accepted for investigation nor questioned on July 17. Also, no officer, let alone the investigation officer, made any attempt to even record his presence at the office.

Shergill further alleged that the SSP’s office had “orally directed” Raninder to appear on July 26 and also that they (Raninder and Shergill) were made to sign a set of documents purporting to be notices.

“Despite our repeated requests, we were not given any copy of the said notices and the officers directed us to come on July 18 to receive the copy,” Shergill stated.

But even on July 18, the copies of the said notices were not handed over to them, the letter stated. The SSP was urged to take necessary action.Importantly, Raminder’s lawyer, Ramandeep Singh Sandhu, too, had shot off the letter to the SSP with same contents, informed Shergill.

The SSP, Vigilance, Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, when contacted, outrightly denied any such attempt by the Vigilance in not marking Raninder or Raminder’s presence at his office.

“We have called them on July 7 but they didn’t come. I was in the high court on July 17 in connection with Amarinder’s bail plea,” Sandhu said.

He also alleged that the Vigilance had sent them many notices earlier also, but they never visited them, taking the plea that they would be tortured. He also denied that his office had given any oral directions to Raninder or Raminder to visit the bureau office on July 26.


Diarrhoea resurfaces in Bagha Purana
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 19
After a fortnight-long lull, diarrhoea again broke out in this sub-division this time at Mohalla Purana Patti.

Earlier, it had hit Budh Singh Wala village, about 3 km from here. About 50 families were affected and two persons reportedly died. Several persons were hospitalised.

A resident of the locality, Manish Sharma, in whose family all six members are in the grip of the disease, said the little amount of water that they received was contaminated. Scarce water supply coupled with contamination had compounded the problems here.

Residents of Purana Patti mohalla alleged that they had complained to the nearby office of the Water Supply Department, but to no avail.

Kulwant Kaur, district health officer, said she had visited the area and a camp that had been running there for the past three days. She said 20 patients were discharged after treatment and six patients were admitted to the Civil Hospital here. Claiming that the situation was under control, she added that 11 water samples had been sent to Chandigarh for ascertaining the quality of water.


MLA’s son beats up SDO
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 19
A sub-divisional officer (SDO) of the Zila Parishad here today alleged beating up by a son of Akali MLA Didar Singh Bhatti of Sirhind for not submitting a ‘report against’ the sarpanch of a village.

SDO Jaswant Singh, in a complaint to the SSP, alleged that the MLA's son Gurvinder Singh along with Satnaam Singh, a former sarpanch of Baras Village and some of the his associates, today came to his office and sought an explanation why he had not prepared a report against the present sarpanch of Baras village. The SDO had been conducting an inquiry into an alleged case of embezzlement against sarpanch of Baras village Swaran Kaur.

The SDO alleged that the men called him outside his office where they used abusive language against him. When he objected, the men started beating him up,he alleged.

He added the MLA's son was forcing him to prepare and submit a biased report against the present sarpanch of Baras village for quite some time.

However, Gurvinder Singh denied having attacked the SDO. He said the SDO was not submitting a report regarding the inquiry marked by the deputy commissioner into the alleged embezzlement of funds by the sarpanch of the village that ran into crores . He said when he asked him why he was delaying the submission of the report, the SDO misbehaved with him. He stated he only held SDO's hand when he tried to leave the room without giving a satisfactory reply to their queries. 


Notice to Transport director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The division bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued notice to Punjab and director, state transport department, on a plea raising questions at the appointment of a law officer in the department.

The petitioner, Bant Ram, ex-president of the Punjab Transport Staff Association, sought directions to Balwinder Singh, law officer in the transport department, in what capacity was he holding the law officer-cum government pleader’s post.

The petitioner alleged that the appointment was illegal and void, and procured on the basis of a fake degree of LL.B. It was also prayed that directions be issued to principal secretary, Punjab, and the director, transport department, to dismiss Balwinder Singh from service and register an FIR against him for committing a fraud upon the government.

Re-checking of answer-sheets

A division bench, comprising Justice A.K. Goel and Justice Ajai Lamba, today issued notice to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, on a petition by Saakshi Rana.

The petitioner has sought re-checking of her answer-sheets stressing that she had been awarded 619 marks in the PMT test which was not possible.

She pointed out that since there were 200 questions in the exam with each question carrying 4 marks, she could have scored marks only in the multiples of four. That is either she could have scored 620 or 618 but not 619.


Markfed to help farmers counter mealy bug
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
Markfed has initiated efforts to help farmers, whose cotton crop has been hit by mealy bug, by providing them free pesticides and guidance in connection with other agriculture applications round the clock to help improve their production.

Official sources said Markfed had selected a few farms in about eight villages falling in Talwandi Sabo subdivision, where its field staff would be guiding the cotton growers in saving their crop from mealy bug and other pests.

M.S. Brar, OSD, cotton, Markfed, said under the new project Markfed had tied up with a private company, which would be supplying a part of the pesticides.


‘Water licensing to hit farmers’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 19
The licensing system on water being proposed by the state government will increase corruption and prove fatal for the debt-ridden farming community. The warning came from Rajinder Singh, a water conservationist and recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership for pioneering work on water management. He was here on a visit to the homoeopathic medical college complex late last evening.

Rajinder Singh said the underground water control Bill to be placed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha by the present government would be detrimental to agricultural development. It would be an uphill task for the farmers to get a licence. 


Durgiana temple panel ex-chief booked 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
The police here has booked Surinder Arjun, a former president of the Durgiana Temple Committee and another office- bearer, on charge of embezzling more than Rs 6 crore, when he was president of the committee here today.

However, Surinder Arjun, who is also district president, Bahujan Samaj Party, claimed he was framed in the case at behest of the present Durgiana Committee which had no locus standi. He claimed he was still president of the committee. He claimed t earlier, S.P. (City) Kaustab Sharma had given him "clean chit" following an inquiry. However, senior police officials are silent on the registration of the case against Surinder Arjun .

Bhagwan Dass Arora, president, Durgiana Committee, alleged Surinder Arjun had taken away FDRs of the temple of the value of Rs 6 crore which he failed to return despite reminders . The former president was also accused of breaking open the "Toshakhanna" of the temple without taking other members into confidence and taking away precious ornaments , donated by devotees.

Earlier, in a complaint Ramesh Sharma, an office- bearer had alleged Surinder Arjun had sold the land of the Durgiana Committee at low price, causing huge loss to the temple management. He had also alleged the former president had embezzled funds of Sanskrit College and Bhojan Bhandar. 


Murder case

AMRITSAR: The police on Thursday arrested Ranjit Singh, Ranjodh Singh, Baljinder Singh, Jaswant Singh and Baljinder Singh, all residents of Ghumrai village, on the charge of murdering Sohan Singh of the same village on Wednesday. Sohan, along with his friends, was returning to his home when the suspects attacked them with sharp-edged weapons . — OC


AMRITSAR: The district police has arrested Money Dhawan of Nathuana village and Sanjiv Kumar of Balmiki Chowk of Jandiala Guru for allegedly snatching a gold chain from Satwinder Kaur here on Thursday. The gold chain and a motorcycle (PB-02-AR-3681) were seized from them. — OC 


DSP booked on sarpanch’s complaint

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 19
The district police has booked DSP Anil Kumar, posted in the district unit of the CID, under the Prevention of Corruption Act on a complaint by the sarpanch of Pandrali village, Ranjit Kaur.

The sarpanch has alleged that the officer played an intermediary in giving bribe to a senior police official to help some villagers booked for embezzlement of the village youth club funds go scot free.

The DSP allegedly did so for Rs 70,000.

DSP Anil Kumar collected the amount from the villagers and told them that he had paid the same to a senior officer. The sarpanch reported the matter to the police.The SSP ordered an inquiry, following which incriminating evidence was found against the DSP. The matter was referred to the DGP. — TNS


Woman ‘raped’ by ex-sarpanch, friend

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 19
The district police has booked DSP Anil Kumar, posted in the district unit of the CID, under the Prevention of Corruption Act on a complaint by the sarpanch of Pandrali village, Ranjit Kaur.

The sarpanch has alleged that the officer played an intermediary in giving bribe to a senior police official to help some villagers booked for embezzlement of the village youth club funds go scot free.

The DSP allegedly did so for Rs 70,000.

DSP Anil Kumar collected the amount from the villagers and told them that he had paid the same to a senior officer. The sarpanch reported the matter to the police.The SSP ordered an inquiry, following which incriminating evidence was found against the DSP. The matter was referred to the DGP. — TNS


PO gives cops the slip
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 19
A team of the Chandigarh Police that had gone to arrest a proclaimed offender  ended up messing up with Balongi police  post cops.

The incident took place at around 2.30 pm today when inspector Jagdeep Singh and a constable from Chandigarh went to arrest proclaimed offender J.S. Riyadh, a resident of Balongi. As per Balongi police post in charge Gunwant Singh, Riyadh raised a hue and cry, alleging that he was being kidnapped. At this, people present there informed the police about the incident. Gunwant Singh reached the spot with his team.

"On seeing the commotion there, we requested the Chandigarh police team to accompany us to the police post. On reaching the post, they showed us orders to arrest Riyadh. But in the entire episode, Riyadh managed to flee the place. As per the rules, the Chandigarh police should have taken us into confidence before arresting the PO," he said.


Pbi University Law Courses
Vacant seats, still govt spends Rs 15 lakh on holding test
Just 1,200 apply for 2,800 seats
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
The government is spending Rs 15 lakh for conducting the entrance test for law courses in the state. The test for filling 2,800 seats in colleges and universities of the state is being conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala. The last date for applying for the entrance test lapsed on Monday. However, the university has received just 1,200 applications.

With applications coming for just about 40 per cent available seats, the entrance test being conducted by the university has lost the validity as the number of aspirants applying is not even half of the number of seats available.

For the three proposed centres at Abohar, Sangrur and Muktsar, the university has received less than 10 applications. All three centres are now being scrapped.

Each student applying for law course first has to spend Rs 600 on buying the prospectus, Rs 1,000 for applying for the entrance test and then Rs 2,500 as counselling fee. Those who are applying for the test will have to pay Rs 4,100 as fee while others will be able to take admission directly as the government will allow the colleges to fill the seats directly.

The university authorities conducting the test said last year also the number of applicants for law courses was less than the number of seats. The government was informed about the irrelevancy of conducting the test. However, still the test was conducted.

About the reason for such a low number of students applying for law courses, the university authorities alleged that private colleges have already admitted the students directly. Moreover, according to the past experience they know that very few seats would be filled through entrance tests. So they carried out admissions that had reduced the number of students opting for the entrance tests, they said.

Public Cause (NGO) has decided to challenge the government decision to hold the entrance test. Its general secretary A.K. Bhandari stated that taking the CET for admission to engineering colleges of the state had also lost relevance. During 2006-07 just 3,841 of the 7,800 seats in various engineering colleges got filled.

Students and their parents are being burdened financially and physically for taking the entrance test when a large number of seats are lying vacant. Taking entrance tests for courses where the number of applicants is less than the seats available is a violation of the orders passed in this regard by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development.


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