P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Non-fixing of State Pay Panel’s Terms
Resentment among govt employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
As the national Pay Commission has finalised its recommendations, there is resentment among employees against the Punjab government for not finalising the terms of reference of the state Pay Commission which was constituted a few months ago. “Either the state government should fix the terms of reference of the commission or it should enhance the retirement age to 60,” said Oma Kant Tiwari, general secretary of the Punjab Non-Gazzetted and Gazzetted Employees Organisation.

Tiwari said the state government was dithering on even filling vacant posts.He said while employees were retiring, no fresh recruitment was being made to fill vacant slots.

He said 250 posts of clerk were vacant in the Punjab Civil Secretariat. Every third post of clerk there was vacant, he added. The same was the case with regard to senior assistants.

He said there were several departments where employees had no work to do. Such employees should be shifted to the secretariat. There were several boards and corporations which were in the red and performing no task. Their staff should be posted in departments which were facing shortage, he added.

The government had disbanded the joint consultative machinery (JCM) which was set up to advise it on various issues pertaining to employees.

Tiwari said he had got information that the national Pay Commission had recommended the slashing of the existing 32 pay scales to 16 for various categories. Leave encashment had been enhanced from 10 months to 360 days at the time of retirement. The minimum scale would be of Rs 6,500-150-9,500 and the maximum (fixed salary) would be of Rs 80,000 for the Cabinet secretary. For a secretary, the fixed pay would be Rs 75,000, for an additional secretary Rs 70,000, for a special secretary Rs 65,000 and for a joint secretary Rs 60,000. At the director- level, the scale would be Rs 42,000-1400-55,000. The senior scale would start from Rs 25,000 and the junior scale from Rs 20,000.

There would be no retirement of any employee in a period between January 1 and December 30 and an employee would retire on December 31. Tiwari said he had got the information that the national Pay Commission had recommended 30 per cent of pay as house rent in class-A cities, but its maximum limit would be Rs 12,000. In class B-1 and B-2, the house rent would be given at the rate of 15 per cent with a maximum limit of Rs 8,000.


SAD(A) formally splits
Bittu to head new faction
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Alamgir, November 30
Without naming Simranjit Singh Mann, a group of SAD (A) workers today announced his removal from the post of the president. The party formally split into two when Daljit Singh Bittu, a senior leader, announced dissolution of the existing structure and announced a new presidium here. He was addressing party workers.

The presidium has incorporated Daljit Singh Bittu as chairman of the party. It has indirectly challenged Mann to prove his following in the masses. The presidium includes Harinder Singh Norway, a former MP, Kamikar Singh, a very old associate of Mann, Gurjatinderpal Singh Bikhivind and Harpal Singh Cheema, who is currently in custody.

The faction also appointed Justice Ajit Singh Bains, chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), Giani Harinder Singh, president of the Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha and Karamjit Singh, a senior journalist, as party consultants.

Baba Harnam Singh of the Damdami Taksal presented siropas to the members of the presidium. The mother of Harjinder Singh Jinda, a former militant, was also present on the occasion.

The party demanded a separate Sikh state called for a peaceful agitation. It announced two conferences, one at Fatehgarh Sahib in the last week of December and another one at Muktsar in the second week of January.

A senior party leader said, “We are SAD (A) and Mann will also claim to be from the same party. I think the matter may end in a court battle for a final decision as to who can use the party name.”


Bhindranwale’s Portrait
Will encourage separatists, says Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 30
The installation of the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Sikh Museum of the Golden Temple generated political heat today.

President of the PPCC Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said it was a deliberate move on the part of the SAD. The move is aimed at diverting attention of the public from its poor governance. The installation of Bhindranwale’s portrait would only strengthen the dying moment of separatists and extremists in the state, she added.

She was at the residence of Nangal MLA Rana K.P. Singh before leaving for election campaigning in Himachal Pradesh.

The Congress will soon convene a meeting of the party’s state leadership to draw the strategy in view of the present move of the SGPC. She further alleged that the SAD gave the permission to use red light to SGPC members just to bribe them before the elections of the organisation. It was strange that while the security of Congress leaders was being withdrawn, those who posed threat to them were being honoured, she said.

Bhattal said the party leadership in the state would be reshuffled in January with few changes.

Ramesh Dutt Sharma, district president of the Congress, was also present.


Give it a second thought: Punj
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 30
Expressing concern over the installation of the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Punjab BJP in charge Balbir Punj has asked the SGPC to give it a second thought.

Punj said the BJP was of the view that the portrait of Bhindranwale was not worth installing at the historical museum along with other great Sikh Gurus. He said since people had great faith in the Sikh shrine, the SGPC should take care of their sentiments.

Punj was here to take part in a road show organised by the Pathankot unit of the BJP. He was accompanied by Ashwani Kumar Sharma, general secretary of Punjab unit of the BJP, Satish Mahajan, district BJP president, Satyapal Saini, former BJP minister, Bishambhar Dass, MLA from Narot Mehra, and Dinesh Singh, MLA of Sujanpur. It led to chaos at Pathankot and Sujanpur.

He also addressed a public gathering at his ancestral village Lalowal.

Students and teachers of government Primary School, Lalowal, once again were the victims of a political function organized within the school premises. The Punjab BJP incharge Balbir Punj addressed a gathering at a function organized within the school premises. The school staff and students were forced to cook food and serve it to the 'guests' and other dignitaries of the function.

Objecting to the function scores of villagers were up in arms and took a serious note of it.


Cong highlights police excesses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Taking cognisance of the number of complaints of police excesses pending with the Human Rights Commission and other criminal cases registered with the police going northward as reported in the press, former Punjab Minister and spokesperson of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Jagmohan Singh Kang, today expressing great concern, urged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to gear up the administration and ensure law and order in the state at any cost in larger public interest.

Kang said during the first half of this year up to September, 2007, more than 12,000 complaints of police excesses and highhandedness had been received by the rights commission, whereas during the previous year this number was nearly 9,000. Out of a total of 13,417 cases, 12,143 cases of police atrocities and excesses were pending with the commission. This corroborates the fact that false cases were being registered against Congress workers / leaders by the SAD-BJP Government.


Shiv Sena (H) chief’s security withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The withdrawal of security cover of president of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) Pawan Kumar after he had opposed the installing of the portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Sikh Museum has led to a fresh controversy.

Pawan had issued a statement in the Press, stating that installing of Bhindranwale’s portrait was not in the interest of the state. Hari Singla, general secretary of the Hindu organisation, said the government through a missive sent by the ADGP, securities, to the Patiala SSP had ordered the withdrawal of the security cover with immediate effect.


Cong workers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 30
Congress workers today took out a procession in the town against the harassment of party's activists at the hands of the police. Led by MLA Kaka Randeep Singh, the workers organised a protest rally against the implication of their party colleagues in false cases.

They submitted a memorandum to the SDM in this regard.


Red Beacons SAD (A) questions rationale
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Questioning the rationale that could justify the grant of red beacons and security cover for members of the SGPC, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann stated that the move could provoke religious leaders of different sects to demand the same privileges for themselves.

Condemning Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Mann said it was an uncalled for moved that would create a gap between the preachers and the common masses. He said the preachers would now differentiate themselves from the general masses and this was likely to create hurdles rather then help the process of ‘dharm parchar'.

He, however, hailed the SGPC for installing a portrait of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala in the Sikh museum on the premises of the Golden Temple. 


They had gone on pilgrimage and reached the 
final abode
2 Sikh women died of heart attack, 7 were hurt in 
mishap in Pakistan
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari, November 30
A pall of gloom descended at the Attari railway station here today when the fourth special train from Pakistan brought two bodies of women devotees who had gone on pilgrimage to Sikh shrines there to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

With trembling hands and in faltering voices, the relatives of the deceased consoled each other.

It was the last wish of Gurbax Kaur of Dewan Bagh village, Baramulla, to die with a prayer on her lips in a gurdwara. It was perhaps this desire that led to her undertaking frequent pilgrimages to religious places. She died following a massive heart attack after ardas at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore.

“I never had a tougher day,'' said a dazed Tejinder Singh Sodhi , grandson of Gurbax Kaur and a scribe from Jammu. He said his mother (daughter of the deceased) and another relative had to be taken to a hospital in Baramulla for treatment after hearing the news. Family members of Gurbax Kaur were not in favour of her going to Pakistan alone. But it was her strong desire to visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan because earlier there had been a ban on residents of Jammu and Kashmir to visit Pakistan. This time, more than 150 pilgrims from Baramulla and adjoining areas visited Pakistan.

Similarly, Gursharn Kaur (69) of Patiala also died following cardiac arrest. She was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.

Assistant commissioner, Customs, V.K. Mahajan, provided help to the family of the deceased. The SGPC provided ambulances to carry the bodies to Baramulla and Patiala.

On the other hand seven pilgrims from Pehowa (Haryana), including a woman, had been injured in a road accident near Hassan Abadal (Panja Sahib). Their vehicle collided with another four wheeler when they were on their way to the railway station, Panja Sahib. Amrik Singh Vichhoa and Balwant Singh Patti, leader and deputy leader of SGPC’s jatha said the Government of Pakistan attended the injured free of cost.

More than 3,000 Sikh pilgrims reached here in four special trains and Samjhauta Express while about 170 jatha members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee reached here by road.

Tribune staffer assaulted

Attari (TNS): A journalist from a vernacular paper of Amritsar and his photographer assaulted Tejinder Singh Sodhi, grandson of Gurbax Kaur. The scribe got agitated when Sodhi, who himself is a senior journalist with the Tribune from Jammu, was unable to give details of the circumstances leading to the death of his grandmother. Senior officials of the Customs Department handed over the Amritsar-based journalist and his photographer to the police. However, they were let off after giving a written apology in this regard.


Report on PSEB recruitment sought
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab government has sought a report from the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) with regard to the recruitment of sub-divisional engineers. Sources said that the PSEB authorities had been asked to submit a detailed report on the process followed with regard to the recruitment.

The state government had received several complaints alleging foul play in the recruitment of sub-divisional engineers. It has been alleged that merit was lowered to adjust about 55 candidates whose names were not in the list of successful candidates announced by the PSEB.

Meanwhile, it has also been alleged that the cash starved PSEB also spent Rs 80 lakh on the recruitment. It engaged an organisation for the recruitment which was allegedly paid such a huge amount.

Though the PSEB has a full fledged recruitment cell it handed over the recruitment job of engineers to some other organisation.

There are 23 employees, including two superintendents, eight assistants, three UDCs and four LDCs in the cell.

The recruitment cell has made no recruitment for the past nine years.

Last year, the PSEB had advertised over 200 posts of sub-divisional engineer. And test was held in January this year. The recruitment was completed in August this year.


Centre to discuss Anand Marriage Act on Dec 4
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
The Law and Justice Committee, Government of India, will take up the Anand Marriage Act in its forthcoming meeting to be held in New Delhi on December 4.

This assumes significance in the wake of the decision of the Government of Pakistan to allow Sikhs to register their marriages under the said Act of 1909. This was stated by Tarlochan Singh, former chairman, National Commission for Minorities, here today. He said the ground work had already been done and there were chances that the discussion of the Law and Justice Committee would be fruitful. He said the Sikh bodies, including Akal Takht and SGPC, had already allowed him to take up the matter regarding the Act with the Central government.

The law minister of Pakistan had already announced to issue an ordinance to allow the Sikhs to register their marriages under the Anand Marriage Act.


Takht Damdama Sahib
Demolishing old structures to give facelift
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, November 30
The sprawling complex of the sacred Takht Damdama Sahib here is being given a facelift by demolishing some old structures and constructing a park in the front.

Gurdwara Baba Bir Singh Dhir Singh is being relocated for constructing a wide circular path around the main gurdwara where Guru Gobind Singh compiled the final edition of the Guru Granth Sahib. An underground car parking had been planned above which the diwan hall would be built.

Bharpur Singh, in charge of the Dharam Parchar Committee, said today that the project would be completed within three years. A green space would replace the concrete structures around the Takht. The office of the SGPC, residential flats and the old serai were next to be demolished to open the space around the Takht.

A JCB was engaged this afternoon in demolishing Gurdwara Baba Bir Singh Dhir Singh that would be relocated some distance away within the complex.

Bharpur said the project was being executed under the supervision of Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh. He said the building of Gurdwara Lakhin Sar Sahib would be rebuilt and a modern complex constructed at some suitable place. Outside the complex, the crossing on the main road would also be beautified and a decorative gate built, he added.


Doctor accused of molestation
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 30
A doctor on duty in the Emergency Department allegedly has molested a patient on the pretext of examining her.

According to information, a resident of the local Jattan Wala Bas suffering from pain in the stomach went to the emergency wing of the Civil Hospital, along with her husband, to get treatment. The doctor on duty sent her husband out to bring medicines from the chemist shop and started making advances with her. The woman raised an alarm.

Just then the husband returned and on seeing his wife's plight, he thrashed the doctor. The husband claimed that they were now being threatened by a former sarpanch, close to the doctor.

Members of the staff of the hospital confirmed the incident and said the doctor had brought disrepute to the profession.

The accused doctor, however, termed it to be a conspiracy against him to malign his image and said he was innocent.


State Round-up
CM condoles death of Lajpat Rai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed grief over the demise of BJP leader and former member of Parliament Lajpat Rai, who died this morning at Ludhiana after a prolonged illness.

In a condolence message, Badal said Lajpat Rai was a seasoned politician who stroed hard throughout his life for the cause of the poor.

Honour for Ishmeet

Ishmeet Singh, Amul Star Voice of India, will be honoured by Hira Singh Gabria, tourism and cultural affairs minister, on December 1 at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Chandigarh.


High Court
Punjab principal secy summoned in out-of-turn 
promotion case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Taking up a petition filed by 10 current-duty-charge inspectors with the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation alleging out of turn promotion of another inspector, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday asked the principal secretary, Department of Local Bodies, to remain present in the court.

The Bench comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ajai Lamba also asked the principal secretary to file an affidavit. In their petition, Kailash Seth and nine others, working as inspectors on current charge duty, had sought quashing of an order dated March 19 on the ground that vide it Harvinder Singh, much junior to them, had been “regularly promoted” as inspector without considering them.

The state counsel, on the last date of hearing, had informed the court that the promotion of the petitioners was under consideration.

Harassment case: Notice to Punjab

On a petition for directions to the state of Punjab, the DGP, Patiala, the SSP for taking legal action against cops of the Pattran police post in Patiala district and a news channel for humiliating and harassing village patwari Charan Singh after implicating him in a case, the High Court has issued notice of motion.

In his petition, president of the Bahujan Kranti Party Gurmukh Singh had alleged that on September 15 Charan Singh was abused, beaten up and dragged in public view by the police on the basis of a false complaint that he had sought sexual favours from a woman.

The petitioner said while Charan Singh was publically defamed, the media was specially called so that the news could be flashed and Charan Singh be ‘convicted’ in public even before the trial and his image may be tarnished.


5 more varsity dons resign
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
Five more senior teachers of Punjabi University, Patiala, holding additional charges of various offices, today submitted their resignations following the resignation of vice-chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai a few days ago.

Those who resigned included regional director of neighbourhood campus, Mohali, U.C. Singh; technical adviser M.S. Guram; dean colleges Jagtar Singh; dean research S.K. Verma; and in-charge, placement cell, Ashok Dham.

Meanwhile, a number of teaching and non-teaching employees today gave a farewell to Boparai. The farewell was addressed, among others, by Sucha Singh Gill, a former dean, academic affairs; and officiating registrar S.S. Khaira.


Govt levies VAT on fruit, vegetable products
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab government today proposed to levy 4 per cent VAT on fruits and vegetables products. The decision will come into force immediately. The items on which VAT would be levied include jams, pickles, jelly and fruit drinks, tinned as well as open.

A government official said that further details would be made available shortly.


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