P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SGPC chief to appear before Takht Patna Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 11
SGPC president Avtar Singh said he would definitely appear before the Sikh clergy at Takht Patna Sahib next month as directed by Jathedar Iqbal Singh. Talking to The Tribune here today, the SGPC president said he would appear at Takht Patna Sahib as a humble Sikh, though he had not violated Sikh traditions.

The SGPC president has been summoned on the pretext that while awarding Panth Rattan award posthumously to Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale, Avtar Singh had reportedly said only Akal Takht had the authority to present such awards. On the other hand Jathedar Iqbal Singh claimed that all five Takhts enjoyed equal rights. However, Jathedar Avtar Singh said that he always held all five Takhts in high esteem and there was no question of denigrating the age old Sikh institutions. He said all other Sikh high priests were present at the time of presenting the award to the family of Bhai Khannewale and they did not find anything objectionable in his speech.

Moreover, Jathedar Iqbal Singh himself is signatory to the Gurmatta passed at the Akal Takht secretariat in which the Sikh clergy had pronounced that all major decisions would be taken by Akal Takht though other Takhts were authorised to issue edicts or hukamnamas.

Meanwhile, the SGPC chief said he had formed a five-member committee to trace out the route of the Guru Gobind Singh Marg from Talwandi Sabo to Takht Hazoor Sahib. It would comprise Jasbir Singh Sabar, Waryama Singh (both from the SGPC) , Niranjan Singh Sathi and Pyara Singh Sabar. The SGPC chief said he would also chalk out programmes to celebrate the tercentenary celebrations of “Gurgaddi Diwas”proposed to be held at Takht Hazoor Sahib.


Italian visa office likely in Chandigarh 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Italy may shortly open its visa office in Chandigarh to cater to the growing demand of Punjabis migrating to that country for employment.

An indication to this effect was given by Antonio Armellini, Ambassador of Italy, during his hour-long meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today. Antonio was responding to a request made in this regard from Badal.

The office may initially have the level of an honorary consulate and may be opened as soon as the union government gave its clearance. Antonio was accompanied by Italian Consulatei Gabriele Annis in Delhi.

Talking to the Chief Minister, Antonio also said the doors of his country were open for skilled Punjabi manpower, especially in the field of agriculture, agro-processing, machine tools and horticulture. Badal also sought Italian cooperation from Antonio in the field of education, especially at the school level.

Antonio said many Italian universities and institutions had Indian affiliates but unfortunately there were none so far from Punjab. He said his country was willing to cooperate with the Government of India and the state government to facilitate tie-ups between educational institutions in Punjab and Italy. He said this would also open up avenues for Punjabi students in other parts of the Europe.

Badal informed that the state government was in the process of bringing a legislation to regulate the functioning of travel agents in Punjab.

The visiting ambassador said his country had a special bond with Punjab as more than 80 per cent of the Indians migrating to Italy came from this state. He said most of them were prospering and were well integrated in to the host society. Some of them were willing to contribute actively to promote economic, cultural and social inter relations between the Government of Italy and the government and people of Punjab.

The meeting was attended by media adviser to Chief Minister Harcharan Bains, chief secretary, R.I. Singh and principal secretary to Chief Minister D.S. Guru.


‘Need to educate Punjabis on legal immigration’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Echoing concern over the bizarre mindset of Punjabis, an array of distinguished speakers, at a seminar titled ‘Destination Italy - The Right Way’, today asserted that the only mantra of successful life abroad was legal immigration.

Italian Ambassador Antonio Armellini, in his welcome address, hit the nail on the head when he emphasised that Italy was open to those coming through legal channels but had nothing to offer to illegal immigrants.

“Illegal immigrants get no rights and are subjected to exploitation. There are no free health or education services for them. They can be incarcerated and the prison term may increase for repeated violation of immigration norms,” Ambassador made a stern point, cautioning prospective illegal immigrants.

On a positive note, he highlighted the fact that Italy was keen on strengthening business ties with India and it expected the trade volumes to reach $10 billion mark within a few years.

Since agro-business would be one of the thrust areas, Italian focus on Punjab would increase, the Ambassador said. He stressed the need for initiating an awareness campaign among Punjabis to migrate legally.

Sharing the Ambassador’s sense of urgency, the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, said he was shocked at the magnitude and ramifications of the problem.

“An effective strategy should be evolved to bust the gangs of touts and travel agents fleecing the gullible people who are desperate to go abroad. Italy and India should fight the menace unitedly and not in isolation,” Rodrigues emphasised.

He also drove home the point that EU countries were witnessing low birth rates and there was a dire need of Asian immigrants to fill the vacuum.

Anil Malhotra, a lawyer who played an instrumental role in organising the seminar, brought forth some harsh facts. He revealed that illegal immigration was a multi-million dollar racket with a chain of thugs waiting to entrap gullible Punjabis.

MLA Jasbir Singh Khangura minced no words and asked the Italians to formulate a method for point-based objective assessment of visa application.

Other notable speaker was Vipin Pubby, resident editor of an English daily, who said Italy and Spain were the new countries on Punjabis’ radar. These countries being the Schengen countries offered way to other lucrative markets for Punjabi desperadoes. He advised governments to interact on a much wider level to check the menace.

DIG, Punjab Police, Gaurav Yadav, lamented that the weak penal provisions of the law restricted the police from going full steam against unscrupulous touts and travel agents.


Tax Collection
Badal told to take tough measures 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Officers have told Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that there was no possibility of raising the revenue from various taxes without taking hard measures. For correcting the skewed financial situation in the state, officers wanted a free hand to raise the revenue collection from VAT. For the past two days, sources said, Badal had been calling officers concerned for interaction to raise the revenue collection.

The sources said officers had told Badal that the state government would have to take tough measures to raise the tax revenue. During the first quarter (April-June), there was only little over 5 per cent increase in the collection from VAT compared to corresponding period last year. The taxation department had promised to raise the revenue to the tune of 25 per cent from VAT during the current financial year. And there was significant fall, 30 per cent, in the collection of revenue from stamp duty.

The sources said one of the senior officers told Badal that extensive inspections would have to be carried out of the business houses, traders and leading shopkeepers by taxation officers to check the tax evasion and to raise the revenue.

Officer informed Badal that one company had supplied shoes worth Rs 22 crore to its various stores in Punjab. Moreover, polish worth several crores had come to the state. However, there was no collection of VAT from that brand of shoes in the state. Likewise, a popular dhaba on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road has annual turnover of Rs 5 crore. But the tax collection from that dhaba is negligible. Several such instances were given to Badal, it is learnt.

In fact, there were certain sweet shops which were virtually functioning as big industries in the state. However, many of them were not paying tax at all.


Indo-US Nuclear Deal
‘Left cannot withdraw support’ 
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 11
Though the Left parties have taken tough stand on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal and warned the UPA government of serious consequences if it was made operational,yet they will not dare withdraw their support to it.Deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal stated this to media persons at the PWD Rest House here today.

"The deal is final and there will be no change in it now. The Left parties have only blustered to show their importance in this regard and they can not withdraw support to the UPA government for toppling it," Atwal said.

Atwal supported the perks being given to the MPs and MLAs in the country. He said keeping in view the price rise and prevailing conditions, these should be enhanced accordingly.

"An MP or an MLA has to offer a cup of tea to the every visitor in his office or house. The number of such daily visitors is more than 100. A cup of tea sells for Rs 3 in the market. He has to spend thousands for tea daily. Their minimum monthly wages should be fixed along with the merger of DA (dearness allowance) in it." he pleaded.

He quoted examples of the families of former MLAs and MPs who had been facing starvation since being out of politics.

On the move of giving luxury cars to government officers in Punjab despite financial crisis, Atwal said new luxury cars, would improve efficiency of government officers .

On the apprehension of the breaking of alliance between the SAD (B) and the BJP following the induction of some independent successful candidates, who had defeated official BJP candidates in recent Jalandhar Municipal Corporation elections, in the SAD (B), he said the alliance between the two parties could not be broken on petty issues. Induction of successful independent candidates in the SAD was a family dispute which would be solved soon.

Atwal rejected the lifting of four toll plazas installed on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) Balachaur-Dasuya and Hoshiarpur-Tanda roads. However, he assured to take up this issue with the Chief Minister, Punjab, to reduce toll to some extent to provide relief to commuters on these roads.

Later, Atwal inaugurated two tube wells of water supply scheme at Piplanwala and Sunder Nagar localities here.


Repolling in some booths today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
The state election commission, Punjab, today said in view of the directions given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a repoll would be held in booth number 6 of ward 29 of the municipal corporation, Amritsar, on August 12.

Besides, repolling on the same day would be held in booth numbers 8 and 15 of ward 40 of the Amritsar municipal corporation. However, there was no change in the repoll schedule for booth numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 of ward 5 of that corporation.

The commission said that repolling would be held in booth number 9 of ward 46 of the municipal corporation, Ludhiana, and booth number 98 of ward 27 of the municipal corporation, Patiala, on August 12.

The counting of votes and the declaration of the results in these wards would be done only after the decision of the high court.


Independent supports SAD

Amritsar, August 11
Avinash Jolly, an Independent candidate who won the Municipal Corporation elections from ward No. 53, today gave unconditional support to the Shiromani Akali Dal. Jolly, a rebel BJP leader, said it was people’s decision and he would give his full support to the SAD in all developmental works.

Bikramjit Singh Majithia, information and public relations minister, said Jolly was an honest man and every party need such workers. 


BJP to complain to Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Upset over the aggressive attitude adopted by certain Akali leaders and ministers during the corporation elections at various places, the BJP leadership today decided to take up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The BJP leadership will lodge a protest with Badal against the activities of these Akali leaders.

Sources said the thinktank of the BJP held an informal interaction here today to take stock of the just-concluded elections to the municipal corporations.

The sources said the issue had also been taken up with senior leaders like L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh.

What has peeved the BJP leadership are reports by party candidates that at certain places SAD leaders worked to undermine the poll prospects of the BJP nominees. And even during the post-election period, the SAD leaders had been trying to woo the BJP rebels who had won the elections in Amritsar and Jalandhar, said a senior leader of the BJP. If the SAD wanted to include in the party or take the support of any rebel of the BJP, its leadership should first talk to the BJP leadership in this regard. As both were coalition partners in the state, there should be no scope for suspicion on political issues, said a BJP leader.

The BJP has decided to stake its claim to the post of mayor of the Amritsar municipal corporation, it is learnt.

The BJP leadership will also complain to Badal with regard to the actions of a son of an Akali minister in Amritsar. The sources said the BJP leaders would convey to Badal that he should check the activities of the SAD leaders concerned.

Although senior leaders of the BJP confirmed the interaction, no one was prepared to be quoted in this regard. 


New SAD(A) head 
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 11
Former MP Dhian Singh has been appointed senior vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in the absence of party president Simranjit Singh Mann and senior vice-president Daljit Singh Bittu, who are facing sedition charges and are in jail. 

Also, Bhai Ram Singh, who was considered to be a close confidant of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, has been appointed spokesperson for the party. 


A Symbol of Male Chauvinism
Punjab Police doesn’t even have 10 pc women officials
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 11
President Pratibha Patil may have been championing the cause of women but the Punjab Police still seems to be an epitome of male chauvinism as it has not inducted women in its ranks for the past about 21 years despite increasing crime against them.

Though the recommendations of the National Women Commission have stipulated that a police force should ideally have at least 10 per cent women officials, the meager presence of women in the Punjab Police and the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) ranged between 2.5 to 3 per cent. Since the Punjab Police was devoid of proper strength of women police officials, it was encountering difficulties in tackling cases pertaining to women.

The sparse induction of women on compassionate grounds notwithstanding, there has been no regular recruitment of women in the Punjab Police since 1986. Though Punjab Police had constituted a special recruitment board headed by the then Ferozepur Division DIG Hardip Dhillon for recruitment of 500 women constables about six years back, the recruitment process could not be finalised as a large number of special police officers (SPOs) had moved the court against inducting women in the force. No effort was made thereafter for induction of women despite the fact that crime against women, particularly rape and domestic violence, had increased manifold.

On the other hand nearly 7,500 SPOs have been absorbed in the Punjab Police as constables since 1997. What has prevented the top police authorities from absorbing women despite a large number of vacancies could not be known, but the prospective women candidates were elated over the recent statement of the Punjab DGP N.S. Aulakh that the Punjab Police was gearing up for recruitment of women police officials.

Sources in the police said though the existing sanctioned strength was much below and did not match the recommendations of the commission yet there were more than 100 posts of inspector, sub-inspector, assistant sub-inspector and head constable in different ranges of Punjab. If the commission crieteria was to be implemented then there should be more than 7,000 women police officials in the 70,000-plus Punjab Police force. But presently only about 1,400 women police officials were on duty in the state.

Inspector-general (headquarters) Suresh Arora said the Punjab Police had decided to recruit more women officials shortly. He said recruitment of women had been put on the back-burner for a long time as the Punjab Police had to absorb a large number of SPOs for legal compulsions. “The recruitment of women officials would be need-based,” said Arora.


Tribune Impact
DC orders help to rabies-hit villages
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 11
Following a news report in these columns yesterday, highlighting the spread of rabies among stray dogs and cattle in certain villages under Ajnala subdivision, deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu here today gave directions to provide immediate help to the affected villagers.

Taking a serious view of the problem, Pannu issued instructions to the civil surgeon and deputy director, Department of Animal Husbandry, Amritsar, to rush medical teams to twin villages of Inayatpura and Dayalbhatti.

The DC has also sought a detailed report on the spread of deadly disease, which had forced the villagers to electrocute 24 cattle, which had become carriers of rabies after getting bitten by infected stray dogs.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Inderjit Singh, sarpanch of Inayatpura, said the infection had become so widespread that most stray dogs and cattle were already infected, forcing the villagers to stay not to come outdoors without being equipped with sticks. “Some of us have already killed our cattle and now fear that the disease may spread to humans as well’ he said. 


500 Sikhs to visit Kartarpur in Pak 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 11
A 500-member jatha of Sikhs will visit Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan to observe Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev on September 16. This is the first time a jatha will visit Kartarpur Sahib for the occasion, informed Harbeant Singh, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), here today.

The SGPC secretary in a press note here said the jatha would go to Pakistan by a special train on September 16. He said the devotees willing to visit the shrine should deposit their papers with the committee by August 15.The jatha will also visit Nankana Sahib,Gurdwara Sacha Sauda, Gurdwara Panja Sahib and Gurdwara Rohri Sahib and return on September 25.


Lack of funds make it difficult for Bhadaur MC
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 11
It is difficult for the Bhadaur Municipal Committee to even run its routine affairs for want of funds. The income of the committee is far less than its daily expenditure. In the absence of any financial help from the state government development works have been stopped.

Its president Hari Singh Bawa told The Tribune that the monthly expenditure of the municipal committee on routine affairs was Rs 89 lakh whereas the income was Rs 56 lakh.

Bawa said the committee collects Rs 2 lakh as bus stand fee, Rs 2 lakh as map fee and Rs 13 lakh from water bills. The major income is from sale of petrol/diesel (Rs 15 lakh) and VAT (Rs 24 lakh). On the other hand, the MC has to make payments of Rs 60 lakh for salaries and Rs 27 lakh for paying electricity bills of streetlights.

The MC president stated that earlier the committee used to earn Rs 42 lakh from octroi. But the Congress government had already waived water bills to poor families. The total water connections are 3,300 but the bill amounts were collected against 2,300 only.

The MC president has appealed to the state government that it should at least waive the electricity bills for tube wells and streetlights of the committee.


3 youths break bond of slavery
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 11
Three youths of Padrana village of this district, who were allegedly kept as bonded labourers by a brick-kiln owner at Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, freed themselves from the clutches of the owner and reached their village on Thursday.

At least eight youths of the village were allegedly taken by Harmesh Lal, alias Bhola, of Satnaur to Jammu and Kashmir in July promising to get them employment in apple orchards at a daily wage from Rs 300 to Rs 500.

He allegedly left them at a brick-kiln in Anantnag and disappeared. Some of them contacted their families on the phone.

Harjinder Kumar, Des Raj and Ram Krishan, who reached the village on Thursday, said they were treated like slaves at the brick-kiln. The owner would threaten them that if they tried to escape, he would eliminate them.

When relatives of certain youths urged the brick-kiln owner to release them, he said he could release them if the advance money paid by him to the labour contractor was returned to him.

The youths lamented that the contractor distributed about Rs 10,000 among all youths of Padrana.

Narrating the tale of their escape, the youths said they travelled 15 km on foot through dense forest to reached Jammu town. From there they boarded a bus to Hoshiarpur.


In high spirits
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, August 11
DAV institutions, known for producing a galaxy of educationists and top officials of the administration, have a reason to celebrate. This time one of their students has featured in the latest Bollywood flick, “Chak De India”, along with Shah Rukh Khan.

Tanya Abrol, sole entry from Punjab as a member of the hockey team in the movie, was a student of LRS DAV Senior Secondary Model School here. Principal of the school Kusum Khungar said Taniya had all qualities of a multi-faceted personality as she excelled in all fields. She is named Balbir Kaur in the movie and wears a shirt with “Punjab da puttar” written on it.

Daughter of Ram Krishan Abrol, a progressive farmer of Panjawa village in this subdivision, Tanya aims to do big in Bollywood. Shah Rukh had recently said in an interview that for him all 12 members of the hockey team were of equal importance as none lacked talent and ability to go forward.

Her father said she had received offers from advertising agencies but her priority would be to complete graduation as she had to defer studies last year due to the busy shooting schedule.


Dhariwal clash
Three more held 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 11
Three more accused have been arrested in connection with a clash between Akali and Congress supporters in Dhariwal village, falling under the Rajasansi area, on July 10. The incident had led to the killing of two persons, Sarup Singh and Kewal Singh, while a number of persons were seriously injured in the attack.

The accused who were arrested are Lakha Singh, Lal Singh and Avtar Singh, all residents of Dhariwal village. 


Patiala ward 27 re-poll today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 11
The State Election Commission, Punjab, has ordered the re-poll in Booth No. 98 of Ward No. 27, here tomorrow.

However, the counting of votes of the entire Ward No. 27, where a re-poll was ordered on August 8, will be held once the judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court is delivered. The re-poll was ordered by the district election officer cum deputy commissioner as the electronic voting machine at the booth had malfunctioned on the day of the elections on August 8.

After that SAD candidate Kanika Sharma was declared elected but later, after a recount, independent candidate Harish Nagpal was declared elected from this ward forcing the DC to order a re-poll. 


HC notice to DC
Election of MC vice-chief cancelled
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla , August 11
Sabran Bhappa, who was elected vice-president of the Municipal Council here by councillors of the Congress party has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the suspension of her election Sangrur deputy commissioner S. R. Ladhar.

Ladhar refused to comment on the issue.

Earlier, the DC after an inquiry conducted by ADC Dr Indu Malhotra had ordered the re-election for the post of vice-president of the council and had appointed ADC Malhotra the election supervisor.

The high court reportedly has issued a notice of motion to DC Sangrur S R Ladhar and ADC Sangrur Dr Indu Malhotra in this connection ordering them to produce record of the municipal council Malerkotla on August 17, in the court.

The resolution passed by Congress municipal councillors electing Sabran Bhappa as vice- president of the Malerkotla Municipal Council on July 12, was suspended by deputy commissioner who termed the resolution as a case of scuttling of democratic process by denying the majority group of its rightful voting right on the pretext of coming late to the venue of election.

The deputy commissioner in a letter written to the secretary, government of Punjab , department of local government, had said that it seemed SDM Jaspal Singh Jassi and executive officer Ved Parkash Singla worked under some pressure and declared the result of the post of vice-president in a hasty manner.

He also forwarded the latter to the government for confirmation and taking further action. Taking action on the letter the secretary, local bodies,cancelled the election and ordered the DC for the re-election.

Akali councillors had alleged that Sabran Bhappa had the support of only 11 councillors along with sitting MLA Razia Sultana in the house of total 27 councillors.


Dera followers-Sikhs clash
High Court notice to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Justice L.N. Mittal yesterday issued notice for August 21 to Punjab over a plea by Albel Singh, who alleged that he had been falsely implicated by the Bathinda police in a case of Dera followers-Sikhs clash.

Albel Singh, at present in Central Jail, Bathinda, submitted that he be granted bail in case bearing FIR no 254, dated May 15,2007, under 
various sections of the IPC read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act,1984, at P.S. Kotwali, Bathinda.

He averred that he had been falsely implicated and had never participated in a dharna by dera followers and the FIR against him was a bunch of lies.

The case against him was politically motivated and the police had added more severe sections even though no case was made out against him at all.

He prayed his judicial custody was not required for further interrogation and thus he be granted bail.


Teachers’ front flays DEO for sacking BEO
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 11
The Democratic Teachers Front ata meeting here criticised the DEO(Elementary) for sacking block education officer (BEO) Shyam Sunder Sharma in a fake cheque case. District president Sushil Dhawan, block presidents Radha Krishan, Shinderpal Singh and Niranjan Singh and Dalip Ram, member of the district executive committee, attended the meeting.

They later, in a signed statement, said some elements in the office of the block education office(1) here felt upset as Sharma tried to enforce discipline in office.

They removed two blank cheques from the cheque book, forged signatures of the BEO and withdrew Rs 65,000 from a local bank account under fake identification. Sharma was divested of drawing and disbursing (DD) powers after an inquiry by the principal of a school.

The front demanded that the fake cheques should be got examined from forensic experts and real culprits who had masterminded the fraud must be brought to book by getting the case investigated at higher level. The organisation threatened an agitation if an action was initiated against.

Gurmail Singh, district secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Union(Ekta),demanded investigation by an independent agency like the CIA.


‘Websites must for education colleges’ 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 11
Vice-chairman of the National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE), S K Thakur, who was here to preside over the annual convocation of the State College of Education, here today, said that it was mandatory for all education colleges to have their own website wherein they have to list the infrastructure available in the college.

Interacting with mediapersons, S K Thakur said that it was a cognisable offence if a college of education did not have its own website and a case could be got registered against the defaulting college.

He said that the National Council of Teachers Education kept tabs on the facilities available in the colleges of education and it was a regulatory body for this purpose. Thakur said that he was not in favour of a ban on opening of new colleges of education and said that the mushrooming of such colleges was no cause of concern.
Referring to a query from newspersons, Thakur said that the sole purpose of the education colleges was not to produce B.Ed qualified teachers but also to produce good parents. He contended that the B.Ed graduates could become better parents because they got good training for the purpose.

He further added that he was not against the affiliating universities levying penalties against defaulting colleges of education and said that on the contrary the National Council of Teachers’ Education (NCTE) was in favour of such punitive measures.

Later, Thakur gave away degrees to the graduates of the college. 


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