P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Youth Akali leader held with heroin
Varinder Walia & Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur/Amritsar, July 25
The anti-drug campaign launched by the SGPC and the ruling SAD suffered yet another jolt with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seizing 5 kg heroin worth Rs 5 crore in the international market from Rajinder Singh, a senior Youth Akali Dal leader, and his paternal uncle Sukhchain Singh in the border belt of Dera Baba Nanak late last evening.

The seizure comes close on the heels of the arrest of Sadhu Singh, senior vice-president of the SAD, from Faridkot district who was caught while smuggling 4 kg of opium on July 22. The opium was being brought in a car from a village in Haryana.

However, Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon clarified that he had no connection with Rajinder Singh. Asked about Rajinder Singh having being photographed with him, Kahlon said, “During public functions, you can’t stop such people from coming near.” To another question, Kahlon said Rajinder Singh might be a small-time Akali worker and was never appointed national organising secretary of the Youth Akali Dal.

Interestingly, many news items appearing in vernacular papers, mentioned Rajinder as the national organising secretary of the Youth Akali Dal. He and Sukhchain Singh were arrested from Kathunangal village.

Joint director of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Ludhiana, Dhiraj Rastogi said the duo was smuggling the contraband from Sambha sector in Jammu and Kashmir to Kathunangal. They had been selling heroin in retail at various hideouts in the district. 


Workers’ Welfare
State to implement Acts soon
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
After hanging fire for a decade, two central government Acts for the welfare of the construction workers are all set to be implemented by the Punjab government now.

By implementing the Acts, the state government would not only ensure better service conditions for workers, but would also be able to collect around Rs 1,000 crore every year. The money would be spent to provide pension, assistance in case of accidents, sanctioning of loans to build houses and to fund the education of the wards of construction workers, among other welfare measures.

Under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996 and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, contractors and other employers are bound to provide facilities, including safety and health measures, accommodation, overtime, drinking water, latrines and urinals, first aid and canteens, etc, to the construction workers.

By enforcing the Act, 1 per cent cess for workers would be charged on the total construction cost of all projects, including individual houses, worth Rs 10 lakh or above. In the Central Cess Act, there is a provision to charge cess up to 2 per cent.

The cess would be chargeable from all government as well as private projects such as mega housing projects, colonisers, canals, over bridges, thermal plants streets, roads, airfields, hydro-power projects, water courses, dams and any other projects involving elements of construction. A specially set up workers’ welfare board under the Cess Act would collect the money, which it would be entitled to spend.

Labour minister Tikshan Sud, the Finance Department and the chief secretary have cleared the proposal with regard to the implementation of the Acts. The legal remembrancer (LR) has approved the rules farmed for implementing the Acts.

Principal secretary, Labour Department, S.S. Channy said cess collectors and cess assessing authority would be set up soon. The appellate authority to hear and decide the appeals with regard to the cess and violations of workers’ service conditions would also be put in place. The process was on to notify the rules, he said. Interestingly, only construction workers up to the age of 60 years would be covered under the Act.

In fact, the national campaign committee has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court to get these Acts enforced.

Sources said earlier the Finance Department had raised an objection that after the implementation of the VAT, it would not be possible to impose the cess construction projects. However, the LR has cleared the charging of the cess. The Department had also expressed the opinion that money collected as cess should be deposited in government treasury. However, the Labour Department argued that the money would be in the board’s account.


Denial of Visa
SGPC to take up surname issue with Canada
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 25
The SGPC will take up the matter of denial of visa by the Canadian government to those having Singh or Kaur as surnames with the Indian and Canadian governments.

Talking to The Tribune, president of the SGPC Avtar Singh said here today that the Singh and Kaur surnames suggested Sikh identity across the world. By denying visa to those having these surnames, the Canadian government would force Sikhs to change their names for migration.

It was a bias against a minority community that was known for its hard work across the world.

The SGPC chief was here on a visit to Khalsa College.

Regarding the dera controversy, he said he had urged Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to take action against the Dera Sacha Sauda followers who had opened fire at the peaceful Sikh protesters.

The SGPC had also urged the Haryana government to book dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh under Section 120-B for the incident.

He said dharam parchar committees were being formed in each village of the state to create awareness about Sikh tenets.

In view of more and more students opting for professional courses, the SGPC had decided to introduce various professional courses in the colleges run by it.


Govt land sold illegally
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 25
The old building of Sanskrit College, Nabha, has been sold despite the fact that in government revenue records the land, worth lakhs, belongs to the Punjab government.

Sources said the land was sold after the college was shifted to Patiala and merged with the Institute of Oriental and Indian Languages here.

Sanskrit College, Nabha, was earlier being run from the old fort of Nabha. However, in 1983 the college was shifted to Ashiana, a custodian building on Punjab government land.

The school kept running from there till 2001 before it was merged with the Patiala Institute of Oriental and Indian Languages.

The sources said despite the fact that the college was running from Punjab government land (bearing No. 208) some influential people started claiming rent for the building from the government.

The government kept paying them rent of Rs 3,650 per month for its own building as per revenue records. However, as the land prices increased in the past few years, the institute was shifted to Patiala and the land sold off.

Nabha SDM Sekhon admitted that the land that had been sold was custodian land owned by the government in revenue records. “Nobody has the right to sell the land. Custodian land can be sold by a person only if it is allotted to him by the government. However, in our records, there is no indication that the land had been allotted to some private person. Despite the fact that the land has been sold, nobody has submitted any record in this regard.”

Babu, who has bought the land, said the record regarding the land was available with the municipal council. “We have bought the land after verifying the facts,” he said.

The executive officer of the Nabha Municipal Council remained evasive over the issue. The president of the council said information was with the executive officer only.

A former faculty member of Sanskrit College Nigam Swarup termed the sale of the college land as a scam. “It is strange that initially someone claimed rent for the government building and then sold it. I have written to the Punjab government to hold a probe,” he said.

He alleged that the property tax of the building was deposited as lump sum to get a fake certificate from the Nabha council. Council officials were also hand in glove with the buyers.

Manmohan Singh, who sold the land, was not available for comments. Nobody, not even the buyers of land, had his phone number. 


State-wide protest against attack on panchayat officer
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
The brutal attack on district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Gurdaspur Ranbir Singh Mudal while he was on official duty on July 21 today sparked off major agitations across Punjab.

Leading the protesters in the state were 300 employees from the Chandigarh-based headquarters of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department, Punjab. They demanded immediate action against conspirators of the assault in which Mudal was critically injured - his arm and leg fractured and left ear chopped off.

In support of the DDPO, still recuperating at Amandeep Hospital, Amritsar, employees observed a state-wide strike and dharna, saying that they will not resume work unless perpetrators of the act were brought to justice. The strike was observed in all 141 blocks in 20 district headquarters. As yet, only two arrests have been made in the case, which has demoralised the rank and file of the department.

J.S. Ahluwalia, association member, who was part of the protest in Sector 17 today, told TNS: “The incident is an attack on the Punjab government. It is an attempt to prevent well-meaning officers from performing their official duties. If this is how our officers will be treated, who will dare to fix illegal encroachers of land?”

Mudal, it may be mentioned, was returning after auctioning 210 acres of common village land in Khuaja Wardik in the Dera Baba Nanak area. It is alleged that the attack was engineered by supporters of a local block development and panchayat officer Harjinder Singh, with the support of relatives of a local politician. The bone of contention was the auctioned land, which the assailants wanted for themselves.

SSP Batala R.N. Doke when contacted said that prime accused BDPO Harjinder Singh had absconded. “We have registered an FIR for attempt to murder and arrested two persons -- Sukhwinder Singh and Mohan Singh-- who allegedly attacked the DDPO with sharp-edged weapons and baseball sticks. He was attacked when he had reached 8 km towards Amritsar, while returning from Dera Baba Nanak.”

In their memorandum submitted today to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Punjab DGP NPS Aulakh, the employees demanded that the FIR should be properly framed to include Section 120-B which covers criminal conspiracy. “In this case, the conspirators are the actual accused. Those who attacked were hired men. The real perpetrators of violence are still at large,” association members said.

The police has, meanwhile, posted two security personnel for the protection of Mudal.


‘Arrest dera chief for peace’
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Thikriwala (Barnala), July 25
The head of Damdami Taksal, Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, and a former Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, both members of the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) formed to run a campaign against the “anti-Sikh panth” activities of Dera Sacha Sauda, today warned the central, Punjab and Haryana governments that if they failed to arrest dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh immediately, peace in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan might be affected.

Baba Harnam Singh alleged that the dera chief had been making “attacks” on peaceful Sikhs under a well-planned conspiracy.

He demanded that the dera chief should be arrested to check his “anti-Sikh panth” activities and prevent “bloodshed” in these states as Sikhs might lost their patience any time.

Both members of the KAC stopped here along with the Khalsa march, which started from Gurdwara Ghallughara Sahib, Gehlan village (Barnala), to end at Gurdwara Tibbisar Sahib at Kattu village (Barnala). Besides a large number of Sikhs, the convener of the KAC, Bhai Mohkam Singh, president of the Dal Khalsa Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib, former diplomat Harinder Singh Norway, leader of the Dal Khalsa Kanwarpal Singh, Sant Baba Buta Singh Gurthli Wale, SGPC member Karnail Singh Panjoli and Sant Baba Ajit Singh Kattu also participated in the march. 


Fake travel agents active in Hoshiarpur
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 25
Three cases of cheating by travel agents were reported in the district on Monday evening.

According to police sources, Canada-based NRI Tirath Singh of Dhade Baba Mohar Singh village alleged that he had been duped of Rs 8 lakh and $1,500 by his brother’s family on the pretext of sending his nephew Daljit Singh of the same village abroad.

Karnail Singh, his son Harminder Singh and daughter-in-law Rinky and son-in-law Parminder Singh of Inderpuri, Ambala cantt, allegedly took Rs 8 lakh and $ 1,500 and the passport from his NRI brother Tirath Singh for sending Daljit to the USA. But, neither did they send Daljit abroad nor did they return his money, the police added.

The Bullowal police has booked all suspects under Sections 420 and 120-B,IPC.

In another case, Bhagwan Singh of Hardo Patti, Baraich, complained to the police that Satnam Kaur, her son Harjinder Singh and husband Sarwan Singh son of Thinda village duped him of Rs 5 lakh on the pretext of sending his son to Cyprus.

The Mahilpur police booked Kesar Singh of Sunni, Tripta Devi, her husband Amarjit Singh and brother-in-law Surjit Singh Singh of Alachour PS City, Nawanshahr, for allegedly duping Balbir Singh of Kukran (Garhshankar) of Rs 1.25 lakh in the name of sending his brother-in-law Jarnail Singh of Sunni to Kuwait.


RBI may make Shylocks show restraint
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
The recommendation of a panel of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to regulate the business of private moneylenders has provided an opportunity to Punjab to come out with a policy framework in this regard. This comes as a welcome step as the state has seen a large number of farmer suicides in the recent years.

One of the main reasons behind the suicides is the farmers’ inability to return the money borrowed at a high rate of interest from private moneylenders. There are reports that moneylenders charge anything between 24 pc to 48 pc as interest - depending on the compulsion and urgency of the farmers to secure the loan.

The bank’s panel has urged the state governments concerned to fix the maximum limit of the rate of interest to be charged by moneylenders, besides enacting laws in this regard. The panel has also recommended the registration of moneylenders. It many mentioned that Amritsar DC K.S. Pannu, who was earlier secretary of the Punjab Farmers’ Commission, had attended a number of meetings of the RBI panel.

Recently, a committee headed by Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal stated that farmers should be made to pay directly by the government procurement agencies through cheque.

Interestingly, the previous Amarinder Singh government had drafted a bill - The Punjab Relief of Agriculture Indebtedness Act-2005. However, for political reasons, the draft was not presented in the Punjab Assembly for approval.

There was a provision in the proposed draft that no debtor would be made to return more than double the amount taken by him or her as loan from the moneylender. Also, the debtor would not lose his status as an agriculturist in any case, it was mentioned. The rate of interest payable on debt should be calculated at a rate of not more than 10 per cent per annum, it stated. In the proposed draft, there was also a provision to set debt determination and settlement boards. Such boards were to be empowered to settle disputes between moneylenders and debtors concerned.


Fake Encounters
Trouble in store for erring cops
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
The fresh investigations into fake encounters that began soon after three militants resurfaced long after the police claimed to have eliminated them is now threatening to snowball into a major issue of concern for the Punjab Police.

Several police officials, who claimed cash rewards and were awarded police medals for supposedly having “killed” these very militants could be in trouble.

Well-placed sources in the police have stated out that the ongoing probe is expected to reveal startling facts about how some unscrupulous policemen used the system to kill innocents and pass them off as militants, who in those times used to carrying a big cash reward on their heads; also, how these cops went onto claiming promotions on the basis of fake killings, all this while misleading the state.

Sources said the identity of the people who were ‘bumped-off’ to show the elimination of Gurnam Singh Bandala, Gurcharan Singh Giani (a younger brother of Khalistan Commando Force supremo Surjit Singh Painta) and Jaspal Singh Bhatti, had been established.

It was after these three militants resurfaced early this year that a probe was ordered into the fake killings. Now, the reports filtering out indicate that the police records collected by the investigating officers show that the FIRs and the postmortem reports do exist, but these relate to the deaths of other people and not these militants.

Police teams would now be sent to Madhya Pradesh where one such fake encounter took place. 


Contractors accuse Nabha MC of bias
Tribune News Service

Nabha, July 25
Contractors of the local municipal council, including Karan Vir and Vijay Kumar, have alleged irregularities in the allotment of tenders for various development works.

They have alleged that a number of contractors were not issued tender forms, leaving very few contractors to bid for these. The rates at which the tenders are being allotted are lower than the prescribed rates.

The president of the municipal council has declined to comment on the complaint of the contractors. He said the information regarding the tenders could be obtained under the Right to Information Act.


Udham Singh’s ‘Heer’ in for a makeover
Jyotika Sood and Anuradha Shukla
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 25
Love folklore “Heer”, made immortal by Waris Shah, was the most prized possession of martyr Udham Singh. So dear was the book to Udham Singh that he wanted to take it with him to take oath during his trail after murdering Gen Michael O'Dwyer to avenge the Jallianwala 
Bagh massacre.

The original copy of the book has been lying in Bhai Santokh Singh Library of Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall in Jalandhar for the past over 30 years. Now, it is time for it to come out of the library’s shelf and get a makeover as the martyr’s death anniversary approaches on July 31.

The Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall Committee is getting ready to preserve the book for future generations. Soon, the pages of the precious book will be laminated and kept for public viewing, says library in charge Chiranji Lal.

The book was donated to the library by Sohan Singh, son of Udham Singh’s friend Karam Singh Cheema, in the UK. Udham Singh lived with him there and had given him his book. The book also bears two signatures by him on page number 282.

A few pages of Udham Singh’s book are missing. “Some pages of the book have been missing ever since it came to the library and we are now going to preserve the book’s pages by getting them laminated to save it from further degradation. The book will first be scanned on computer to make a soft copy for reference and the original copy will be preserved like a sacred book,” added Lal.

“On Udham Singh’s martyrdom day, the book will be available for special viewing,” he added.

The martyr expressed his desire to take oath of the book during his trial hearings in the UK. He had asked his friends to send him this book from prison.aIn his letter to his friend, whom he addressed as M. Singh, written from the hospital of the Brixton prison on April 6, 1940, he expressed his desire to take oath of the book Heer by Waris Shah. In the letter, Udham Singh, who signed his name as Ram Mohammed Singh Azad and MSA in sort, said his name had apparently been changed to Udham Singh in the House of Commons by Chamberlain (the then Prime Minister), according to the letter. 


Punitive push-ups not okay with top cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
The top brass of the Punjab Police has taken a serious view of the incident in which Bathinda SSP Naunihal Singh publicly punished a constable and asked him the do push-ups as punishment.

The SSP was ticked-off by senior officials who deplored the fact that he was publicly punishing 
his men.

It has reportedly been conveyed that there should be no repeat of such incidents as this could lower the morale of the force.

Photographs showing the SSP punishing the constable were published in various newspapers today.


Health Dept gets the magical wand
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 25
Recognising the futility of speeches made by medical officers, the Health Department has now come up with a unique way to capture the attention of the audience to get the message across. A magician has been hired on a contract to help spread awareness about the menace of female foeticide, drug abuse and AIDS by performing at health centres and schools.

The senior medical officers in charge of all civil hospitals and community health centres have reportedly been asked to organise ‘sex fairs’ where the magician would don the garb of a health official and deliver lectures along with performing tricks to keep the interest alive.

The magician performed at a girls’ school yesterday where his audience was given facts about tobacco consumption and drug addiction, among other issues.

However, some of the parents took exception to the AIDS awareness drive and stated that their minor daughters had never even heard of the disease before the seminar.

They also stated that those who preach against liquor consumption must first give up the vice themselves.

Meanwhile, the Health Department officials are optimistic that such ‘magical’ seminars will bear the results.


Book questions RAW functioning
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 25
Former RAW official Rabinder Singh, suspected of being a CIA mole who disappeared after coming under the scanner, is now living in New York. He belongs to this border district and took part in Operation Bluestar as a commissioned officer in the Army.

Major-Gen V.K. Singh (retd), who also served in RAW as a senior functionary, along with Rabinder, in his recently published book, “India's External Intelligence - Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing,” has given startling facts about the CIA agent. Major-Gen V.K. Singh alleges that Rabinder could not have left the country unless he was provided help by some of his senior colleagues in RAW.

He writes, “Rabinder’s escape left many questions unanswered. If he was indeed a mole why was he allowed to get away. Why did RAW had to seek permission from the government to take action against him once it was found that he was passing information to a foreign agency? Was he allowed to go away by the people RAW who feared that they would be exposed if he was arrested and interrogated? Was Rabinder part of a larger network which facilitated his escape?”

India’s request for an Interpol red-corner notice to be issued against him is set to hit a roadblock after the intelligence agency refused to entertain clarifications sought by the world police organisation. The CBI had sent non-bailable warrant against Rabinder to Interpol headquarters in Lyons, France, in March. 


Kiran Bedi’s merit ignored, says husband
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 25
The non-appointment of India’s first woman IPS officer, Kiran Bedi, to the post of Delhi commissioner has upset her Amritsar-based husband Brij Bedi, who is crying hoarse against the decision of a two-year junior having superseded her.

The family was hoping that Kiran Bedi would take over as the Delhi commissioner and the news of her having been superseded has came as a shock for it.

Talking to The Tribune, he said he felt disappointed over the decision of the government. He said he would write to the Prime Minister and ask him why the merit of his wife, who was awarded the Magsaysay Award in 1994, was “ignored”.

He said it was ironical that while Pratibha Patil today took over as the first woman President of India who promised to work for women empowerment, one of the most honest police officers in the country had been denied her right. He urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter.


Quota sours medicos’ PG dreams
Neeraj Bagga /Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 25
Medical students aspiring to join postgraduate courses are angry over the new 50 per cent institutional quota. They alleged that the 50 per cent institutional quota in open seats would “kill” their dream of pursuing higher education.

They alleged that the new ruling ignored merit and gave liberty to educational institutions to enrol students with lower rank, overlooking meritorious students.

Sources in the DRME said a notification regarding reservation of seats in MD, MS and MDS courses stated that 10 seats would be filled on common merit while 11 seats would be for candidates who had qualified from government colleges of Punjab.

Similarly, 50 per cent seats of private colleges would be filled on common merit and the remaining would be filled on the basis of institutional preference from among candidates who had qualified from colleges of Punjab except the CMC.

Medical institutes offer a limited number of seats in postgraduate courses. There are only 21 postgraduate seats in the general category in government colleges across the state.

Private colleges offer 36 and 16 seats in postgraduate degree and diploma courses, respectively.

Educational institutes under this category have the the power to offer seats to its own students, ignoring candidates of other medical colleges of the state even though they may have scored higher marks.

For this reason, students of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College here have been protesting in front of the Baba Farid University gate.

They alleged that the rule was formed to benefit private medical institutes as these could charge any amount of fee under the garb of this quota.

They feel that the prospect of pursuing a postgraduate course for them is bleak. The local college offers postgraduate seats in four streams - ophthalmology, surgery, psychiatry and skin. Interestingly, these courses have only one or two seats, which would be absorbed by the quota.

Dr J. Dalal, DRME, Punjab, said after taking the opinion of the AG, the seats were divided in the open merit and institutional quota categories (50 per cent each). 


Body seeks action against jatha
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 25
The Shahbaz Khalsa, a Sikh organisation, has demanded that Akal Takht should take action against the general secretary of the Akhand Kirtan Jatha for conducting a marriage ceremony (anand karaj) in a hotel in Alabana City of the USA.

Ratinder Singh Indore of the organisation said here today that the ceremony was in violation of the edict (hukamnama) issued by the Takht in 1998, forbidding performance of anand karaj at a hotel or marriage palace.

He said meat and liquor were served at the marriage ceremony where Guru Granth Sahib was brought for performing the anand karaj.


Man commits suicide

Kharar, July 25
Kulwinder Singh (36), a resident of ward No. 7, was found hanging from the ceiling of his house last night.

He was living with his wife and blind grandfather. His other relatives live abroad. The couple were married seven years ago and did not have a child. On Monday, Kulwinder had gone to his brother-in-law’s house in Chandigarh along with his wife. He left his wife there and returned yesterday.

The incident came to light when his relatives called him on his phone but failed to elicit any response from him. They then called up Kulwinder’s wife and asked her to enquire into the matter. When his wife reached home along with her brother and other relatives she found Kulwinder’s body hanging from the ceiling of the house. The police has registered a case under Section 174, CrPC. — TNS


MC Poll
Disparity in vote distribution
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 25
Disparity in the distribution of votes in various wards of the Patiala municipal corporation for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections has left officials red-faced.

The town has an estimated population of 3.5 lakh. Under the norms, the average number of votes to be included in each of the 50 wards is around 7,000, with a variation of 10 per cent.

However, the division of population and votes in some wards of the town has raised many an eyebrow.

Data puts the number of votes in Patiala at 2.57 lakh. Going by the average, the number of votes in each ward is around 5,100, which can vary by 10 per cent. However, in ward No. 27 the number of votes is 10,000.

Besides, there is a disparity in the number of votes vis-à-vis average votes in 32 other wards.

This has evoked a strong reaction from the Congress, which has alleged irregularity in the demarcation and allocation of votes for the municipal corporation.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune here yesterday, Gurjeet Puri, who has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter, said the court had taken a serious view of the disparity in the distribution of votes in the wards.

The court had summoned the election commission to explain the variation of votes in wards.

Meanwhile, district BSP president Paramjit Singh has also alleged that a large numbers of bogus votes had been included in the voter’s lists.

Substantiating his claim, he alleged that votes from Nos. 2,961 to 3,374 were bogus.

He alleged that some voters were residing in other wards but had been shown to be residents of ward No. 38.


BJP announces 13 names

Patiala, July 25
The BJP committee headed by state party president cleared the names of 13 candidates for the municipal corporation elections scheduled to be held on August 8 here.

At a meeting here, the BJP decided to field Karamjit Kaur (ward No. 4), Sarita Gera (7), Narinder Goel (15), Pritpal Kaur (16), Pyal Modgil (19), Harinder Koli (21), Seema Gupta (22), Seema Sharma (28), Yogesh Sharma (30), Sonia Devi (34), Radhay Sham (36), Anil Bajaj (38), and S.K. Pathi (44). — TNS


Cong dharna against govt
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 25
The district Congress committee today staged a dharna outside the deputy commissioner’s officer to register their protest against the state government.

Leading the dharna, former chief parliamentary secretary Dr Harbans Lal said the much-hyped atta-dal scheme of the BJP-SAD aimed at benefitting the rich, as the poor and the needy had not been included in the list of those who would benefit from the scheme by getting these at subsidy.

He said it was a politically motivated scheme that was being introduced not to provide any relief to the poor but to pave the way for the officialdom to plunder the state exchequer.

Dr Lal said the state government was targeting panchayats of those villages that supported the Congress.

He said contrary to the claims being made by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that the government was not following the policy of vendetta, the Congress leaders were being singled out across the state and false cases were being registered against them.


Installation of electricity pole
PSEB, police accused of coercion
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 25
A farmer from Fatehpur Theri village today accused officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the Gharuan police post of using force against his family while installing an electricity pole in front of his house.

The incident took place around 11 am when PSEB officials from Fatehpur Tehri feeder accompanied by policemen, including two women constables, went to install a pole in front of the house of Sohan Singh.

Women members of the family tried to prevent the officials from installing the pole but were forced into police vehicles.

Sohan accused PSEB officials and the police of using force against them while installing the pole in spite of the fact that another pole already existed a few meters away.

Sohan had been receiving uninterrupted eight-hour power supply at his farms for irrigation, while some other farmers in the same area had been getting 24-hour supply.

The PSEB wanted to divert the power lines of 24-hour to eight-hour supply transformer.

Sohan had approached court and the matter was sub judice.

PSEB officials had sought police protection for the installation of the pole.Gharuan police post in-charge Anil Kumar denied having used force or conniving with PSEB officials. “We have acted on the request of PSEB,” he said.


Residents rue insanitary conditions
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 25
Resentment prevails among residents over contaminated water supply and poor sanitation in the town.

People have complained to the higher authorities in this regard on several occasions but to no avail.

They allege that they have been forced to drink contaminated water being provided by the municipal council.

Citizens welfare council president Bharat Bhushan Verma and social worker Amardeep Singh Dharni have alleged that pipes carrying water leaked at various places and at certain places mixed with sewage, posing a serious health hazard.

Similarly, garbage by the roadside stank in the rainy season, causing inconvenience to residents.

They have urged the administration to take immediate steps to provide the basic amenities in the town.


Rural doctors seek regular jobs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 25
Doctors working under zila parishads in the rural areas of the state have joined hands against the verdict of the state government of June 28.

A meeting was held under the banner of the Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA), Punjab, and the Punjab State Veterinary Doctors Association (PSVDA) here yesterday in which they sought the regularisation of jobs with proper pay structure and other benefits to them and paramedical staff.

RMSA state president Dr Aslam Parvez alleged that qualified doctors were being discriminated against as compared to other government departments.

While the state of healthcare in rural area was in tatters, uncertain future coupled with other problems faced by doctors working there were affecting the quality of medical services in the rural areas and forcing doctors to resort to agitation, he said.

PSVDA state president Dr Abdul Mazid alleged that the verdict had heightened the sense of insecurity among doctors, who were already leaving jobs.

He said around 150 medical doctors and over 50 veterinary doctors had already left their jobs in the state.

He alleged that in-service benefits had been denied to rural doctors.

RMSA general secretary Dr Rishi Bhardwaj said the denial of maternity leave to lady doctors was violative of human rights and the contract system was responsible for the conflict between doctors and other paramedical staff.

Only regularisation of jobs was a viable solution to the problem, they opined.

Leaders further alleged that dispensaries were being handed over to non-technical departments.


Ropar to be eco-tourism centre: FM
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 25
Ropar will soon be developed as an eco-tourism centre. Keeping this in view, the district administration has been directed to prepare a list of all old buildings of heritage importance.

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said this while addressing a gathering at the 58th vanamahotsava organised by the Heritage and Cultural Society, here. He added that the project would be funded by the state government. Manpreet said a drinking water project worth Rs 1,200 crore would be implemented in the next two and half years in both the urban and rural pockets.

Also, after the declaration of the pay commission next year, the state government would revise the salaries of government employees, following which they would get profit worth Rs 1,500 crore.

He said working on the lines of the Delhi model of outsourcing scheme, the state government had put forth a proposal for the same in the state too. He added that the government would no longer buy vehicles and instead would get them outsourced.

He also laid the foundation stone of a Rs 70 lakh-worth de-addiction centre here.

He said the government was committed to developing the centre as a model centre of the state. He added that earlier subsidy liability of the government was Rs 300 crore, which had now risen to Rs 2,002 crore. The subsidy mainly included the waivers given by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to the agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, it has been announced to convert the Kurali-Ropar national highway into a four-lane road. Also, the construction work on Old Bridge at Ropar would start in October at a cost of Rs 5.35 crore.


Clean bed, paper for Chahal

Patiala, July 25
The chief judicial magistrate allowed B.I.S. Chahal B-class facilities in jail today.

Earlier, Chahal was given C-class facilities, meant for ordinary prisoners.

Now, he would have a proper bed to sleep on and a newspaper to read in a separate and comparatively clean barracks. — TNS



Court allows Langah to go abroad
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 25
The court of special judge G.S. Saran has allowed agriculture minister Sucha Singh Langah to visit Canada for attending a function.

Granting the permission on an application filed by Langah’s counsel, special judge Saran observed that Langah should not indulge in any kind of act that may hamper court proceedings. The counsel had applied for permission for Langah’s visit from July 25 to August 27 to attend the fifth annual function of a publication, Daily Canadian Punjabi Post. However, the court has allowed Langah to leave the country only from July 26 to August 15.


Employees observe strike
Development officer assault case: 2 held
Tribune Reporters

Batala, July 25
Three days after district development project officer (DDPO) of Gurdaspur, Ranbir Singh Mudhal, was thrashed mercilessly by about six unidentified persons near Dera Baba Nanak, the police today arrested two persons for their involvement in the case.

Batala SSP R.N. Dhoke said Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Angwan village and Mohan Singh of Chakkanwali village have been arrested for assaulting the DDPO. Cases under Sections 307, 382, 353, 332, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Arms Act have been registered against them.

The DDPO had gone to Dera Baba Nanak on Saturday to conduct an auction there. On his way back, the assailants stopped his official vehicle, dragged him out and thrashed him. Ranbir Singh was admitted to a hospital in Amritsar with multiple fractures.

PATIALA: Meanwhile, various employee organisations of the Panchayat Department struck work and held a dharna to protest the attack on Wednesday. Deputy director, Panchayat Department, J.P. Singla said action should be taken against the politicians supporting the accused. Block development and planning officer Mohinder Singh Sohota asked for magisterial powers and police protection for officers when they go on field duties. General secretary of the BDPO Union, Punjab, Amrik Singh said all employees of the department would go indefinite strike in case the government failed to act.

SANGRUR: Additional deputy commissioner (Development) Harnek Singh, DDPO J.P.S. Cheema, secretary of Zila Parishad Hardayal Singh Chatha, BDPOs from Sangrur, Bhawanigarh and Dhuri and staff of their offices observed a pen down strike on Wednesday. They also participated in a dharna at the Zila Parishad complex here. 


Spurious fertiliser factory raided
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 25
DSP Special Branch Gurdeep Singh and Sunam’s CIA incharge Ashok Mohan today unearthed a factory manufacturing spurious fertiliser at Mangwal village, near here. The police team arrested the factory owner and seized bags of the spurious material from there.

Talking to The Tribune, the CIA incharge said Amit Jain, son of Om Parkash Jain, and resident of Khalifa Gali, Sangrur, had been running the factory from a rented accommodation at Mangwal village. After collecting raw material from different markets, Amit used to pack the fertiliser in bags of famous companies and sell the same, he added.

A case has been registered under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.


Molestation Charge
Case against dera chief Shankaranand
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Khurd, July 25
The Mullanpur police has booked Swami Shankaranand, head of a dera by the same name in this village, for allegedly molesting a woman, besides beating her up along with her brother in the dera complex this morning.

The police registered the case against him and some of his followers late in the evening after a day-long tense drama. About 500 persons, including a large number of women, belonging to Mor Karima village laid siege to the Shankaranand dera for nearly seven hours today in protest against the incident.

The accused was booked under sections 323, 341, 354, 427 and 506 of the IPC on a complaint of the woman.

The dera head was granted bail in the evening.

According to Gurmail Singh, sarpanch of Mor Karima village, the woman and her brother had gone to pay obeisance at the dera. Some dera sewaks objected to the manner in which they parked their car. An argument took place at which the sewaks and the dera head allegedly beat them up.

The two were left with swollen eyes and torn clothes. They later called up their relatives in Mor Karima village. The entire village came to their help and staged a dharna.

The situation remained volatile and tense throughout the day. The police was present in large numbers along with the anti-riot squad and a CRPF battalion to control the mob.

The victims claimed their brother had died under mysterious circumstances in the dera three years ago. They had been demanding action against some sewaks.


Education dept official held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
A superintendent in the District Education Office (DEO) here was allegedly manipulating transfers and postings in the name of Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

A team of the Patiala police nabbed Anil Sandheer in the DEO office.The police made the raid on the information of alleged fake personal assistants arrested in Patiala yesterday.

Police sources said the accused superintendent was allegedly prevailing upon senior officials in the Education Department claiming that Surinder Kaur had directed him on the phone for the work.

Sources said the accused was said to be close to some officers in the CM’s office and influential in the Congress regime also.


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