Cong men booked as they barge into BJP ‘territory’
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
The Dasehra ground turned into a political playfield here today with the Congress staking its claim to the venue even as heavy police deployment had been made to protect the stage set up by the SAD-BJP combine. A case for attempt to murder was later registered against Congress workers, including former senior deputy mayor Surinder Singh Chhinda.

The tempo was set with the senior Congress leaders, led by MLA O.P. Soni, addressing a rally in the area and pledging to hold the Dasehra celebrations in the Grain Market.

The plan of the Narayangarh Panch Rattan Krishna Temple Committee, which claims to be burning the effigy of Ravana at the venue for the past 16 years, was pre-empted this year by the SAD-BJP combine, which got permission from the district administration for the Dasehra celebrations days in advance.

Former deputy speaker of Punjab assembly Darbari Lal said the ruling SAD-BJP alliance was unnecessary creating tension in the area by fighting for the same venue for the Dasehra celebrations. There are other open spaces in the Chheharta area and the SAD-BJP combine could easily find another site.

Accusing the SAD-BJP combine of politicising the religious issue, Soni said if there was a problem with him being the chief guest for the occasion, like previous years he would take part in the celebrations like an ordinary citizen.

Soni challenged the SAD-BJP leadership, particularly MP Navjot Sidhu, to fought election against him from the area to gauge the public sentiment. “I’m willing to resign from the assembly to go through the elections all over again as I’m sure that people are with me,” he claimed.

Former MLA Jugal Kishore said the people of Chheharta had a history of maintaining communal harmony even in times of crisis and the SAD-BJP combine was trying to disturb the peace in the area by raising an unnecessary controversy over the venue for the Dasehra celebrations.

After holding a meeting with SP (city-II) S.S. Mann, Soni asked his supporters to wait for the district administration to take a decision on the issue. But hundreds of the Congress workers who had assembled there still marched to the Dasehra ground, breaking the police cordon. In the melee that ensued, some of them allegedly chased a group of BJP workers, for which a police case has been registered against six Congress workers and seven unidentified persons.

Congress councillor Raman Bakshi said the Congress had protested against the “injustice” by the district administration at the behest of the state government. The registration of the attempt to murder case was like “adding insult to injury.”

District transport officer Vimal Setia also held meetings with Congress leaders and police officials.

Sidhu has sparked off the controversy by performing “bhumi pujan” at the grain market ground which the district Congress leadership dubbed a conspiracy to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the holy city. 



College panel chief accused of corruption
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
A suspended senior professor of Baba Budda College Beer Sahib has levelled serious allegations, including that of corruption and flouting norms, against the chief of college managing committee.

In a missive to governor, Chief Minister, education minister, vigilance department and vice-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Balkar Singh, who was also the secretary of the committee, has alleged that the president, Baba Darshan Singh, transferred the land belonging to the college in his name, besides electing his son to the post of panel’s vice-president.

Balkar also sought a probe into the alleged failure of the committee to convene a general body meeting and hold elections as per the norms for the last three years. He further alleged that Darshan Singh, who is also head of a religious dera, has appointed his near and dear ones as employees of the college without advertising the posts. “Even the chowkidar appointed by the college is doubling as his driver,” claimed the professor.

He said due to mismanagement of the committee the total strength of the college had reduced to half. The post of principal is lying vacant for the last couple of years, 
he added.

However, Baba Darshan Singh rubbished the allegations and said the constitution of the college was amended as per the resolutions passed by the members of the managing committee. Regarding vacant chair of the principal, he said despite repeated advertisements no able candidate was found for the post.

Meanwhile, the local residents have expressed solidarity with Balkar and demanded a high-level probe by an independent agency and added that if the government failed to intervene in the matter immediately they would be forced to launch an agitation.



Transfer Blues
Health dept staff to gherao CMO office

Amritsar, October 19
The Punjab Health Department Subordinate Offices Clerical Association (PHDSOCA) would gherao the office of the chief medical officer, Amritsar, on November 12 if the state government failed to cancel transfer of employees by November 10.

Stating this to the media, association president Sushil Kumar Devgan said the transfers were being ordered by state health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla under political vendetta. He said all the employees, who had been transferred, had no complaint against them and even their annual confidential reports did not include any complaint against them. He said they would also hold a rally from CMO’s office to Government Medical College.

However, Chawla could not be contacted despite repeated attempts by this reporter as she was busy holding meetings. Recently Devgan was transferred to a medical institute in Gurdaspur, flouting the government norms which specified that no transfers could be made in couple cases. He said if the minister had received any complaint against any of the employees she should have ordered an inquiry against him and if found guilty should be punished them as per law.

He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had promised them during the assembly elections to pay the time scale promotion of 4-9-14 with effect from 1996 as was being done in the case of doctors and other paramedical staff. He urged the government to implement the time scale promotion as soon as possible so as to remove the discontentment in the clerical staff of the health services in the state. — TNS



Dragon adds sparkle to Divali celebrations
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
This festival season, city residents have found an easier yet more effective way of illuminating their homes. Adding the extra spark to the Navratra and Divali celebrations is a bit of Chinese technology.

A whole new range of electric aartis, jyots and lamps, which come in multi-coloured lights, are available in the walled city area. These innovative products have already become a hit with the locals and the sales are likely to pick up further as Divali approaches.

Rohit Maggu of Gopal Gift Shop in Bazaar Mai Sewan, near Golden Temple, says though it is for the first time that the electric aartis have been introduced in the market, they have become the most popular product of the day.

“The price range starts from Rs 50 and goes up to Rs 200, depending on the number of lamps in every piece. The Chinese-made aartis are cheaper but have not stood the durability test. That is why we are offering only Indian stuff which makes the perfect Divali gifts,” he says.

Pooja, a lecturer at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), says, “There products are a real delight to watch. I decided to go through the traffic bottlenecks of the Hall Gate market only to buy an electric aarti for my mother-in-law who would find it a lot convenient to do up the house at the touch of a button.”

“The traditional diyas are a big botheration. They blow out every five minutes and even candles flames don’t last long on a windy Divali night. We plan to light up the entrance of our house with a set of four to five aartis, coupled with other electric illuminations on the rooftop,” she adds.

However, for some, these electric products are no substitute for the age-old earthen diyas and regular aartis.

“They take away the traditional element from the celebrations and dilute the festive spirit. While children and male members of the house light crackers, women love to spend part of the evening in pooja and lighting diyas and candles in every corner of the house. Moreover, the gadgets are a futile investment as most of them become non-functional by the time they are dug out from the store the next year,” feels Prahlad Duggal, an ENT surgeon, who is a resident of Majitha Road.



Car-scooter collision leaves woman dead

Tarn Taran, October 19
Kanwaljit Kaur (35), a resident of Dasuwal village was killed while her husband Gursewak Singh received serious injuries when their scooter was hit by an Indica car at Bhura Kona village last evening. The Khemkaran police has registered a case under sections 304-A, 337, 338 and 447, IPC, against the driver of the car who ran away from the scene.

Sources said here today that Gursewak Singh on his scooter (PB-38A-1710), along with his wife, was coming back to his village when his scooter was hit by an Indica car. Both of them received serious injuries and were admitted to a hospital. Kanwaljit Kaur succumbed to her injuries at the hospital while Gursewak Singh is in serious condition. — OC



‘Do away with populist measures’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Welcoming the statement of finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, S.S. Chinna, chairman of the Punjab Police Pensioners Welfare Association, said the time had now come for the political leaders of the state to do away with the freebies provided to the farmers and the downtrodden strata of society. He said providing subsidies to the farmers would not improve their lot as it would not help them to come out of the financial mess.Badal in an interview to an English daily had urged the top leadership of the state for preparing themselves to take harsh measures to do away with the populist agenda. However, the finance minister was not for cutting all subsidies.

Chinna said the people had given a verdict in favour of the SAD-BJP combine for redressing their problems by initiating development projects in the state. He said the government should set up mega projects so that employment could be provided to youth of the border districts so as to wean away them from drug-addiction.



State’s financial health dwindling: Ex-speaker

Amritsar, October 19
Former deputy speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Darbari Lal has asked the SAD-BJP government to issue a white paper on the financial position of the state so that the public could know where they stand.

He claimed that conflicting attitudes within the alliance leadership would result in poor economic governance in Punjab. The whopping subsidies and populist schemes are doing more harm than good to the exchequer, he added.

He pointed out that teachers of several government-aided schools had not been paid salaries for want of funds and there were no schemes for the local bodies to raise finances to become self-reliant. — TNS



Science fair: City school wins laurels

Amritsar, October 19
Holy Heart High School bagged four first prizes in the science fair organised by the Department of Science, Punjab, at Hindu Sabha Senior Secondary School here.

As many as 173 students representing various senior and senior secondary schools of the holy city participated in the fair and 149 science models on the topics of water management, disaster management, agriculture and food, education and technology were presented. District education officer (DEO) Davinder Pal Dhillon presided over the function and gave away the trophies to the winners. Holy Heart High School won four first prizes, one second prize and one third prize in the senior secondary group. While in the secondary group the school won one first prize, two second prizes and two third prizes. The teams of Anuj Jamwal and Anisha, Preet Parneet and Rana Resham, Poonam Soni and Shikha won the first prizes in water management, agriculture and food and disaster management, respectively. — OC



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