P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SGPC asstt secy quits
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
Controversial assistant secretary of the SGPC Diljit Singh Bedi today resigned amid allegations of “moral turpitude”. President of the SGPC Avtar Singh said the controversial official was asked to either resign or face dismissal. 

However, he alleged that Bedi was victim of a “deep-rooted” conspiracy. However, leaders of many Sikh institutions, including certain pro-Badal SGPC members, sought resignation of the SGPC chief and other executive members on moral grounds who had given clean chit to Bedi.

Meanwhile, Bedi has served a legal notice on senior leaders of the SAD (A) and editor and publisher of a newspaper for publishing objectionable pictures featuring him and his wife in the newspaper.

Former general secretary of the committee Kiranjot Singh Panjoli, in a missive to the committee chief, asked him to make the fact-finding report on Bedi public.

Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh Bittu and Karnail Singh Pirmohammad, President of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Pirmohammad), said Akal Takht should summon Bedi, the SGPC chief and executive members. However, the SGPC chief claimed that neither Panjoli nor Gurwinder Singh Shampur gave any dissent note.

Sources in the SGPC said a Sikh high priest personally took up the matter with Sukhbir Sikh Badal during their recent visit to Takht Hazoor Sahib, Nanded.  


ISI active again: Police
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
The name of the Pakistan’s ISI has cropped up in context of providing training grounds for Sikh militants who have been aiming at reviving terrorist activities in the state. 

Confirming the development, a senior police official said there were definite indicators to the ISI’s involvement during investigation into the recent Shingaar cinema blast. There were indications that Gurpreet Singh, held in connection with the blast, and Harminder Singh, who have absconded, got training under the ISI.

Enough facts establishing the ISI backing to training grounds for terrorists in Pakistan have emerged during the questioning of the four suspects of the blast.

Police sources said the duo had visited Pakistan on at least a couple of occasions for attending trainning sessions at the ISI centres. They went there as part of religious “jathas” and separated from the main group in Lahore. This was followed by a trip to Gurdwara Tambu Sahib “from where the duo was transported to an undisclosed destination for a week-long training”.

“It may be not totally off the mark to say that Harminder Singh may, at the moment, have crossed over to the other side of the border in Nepal or elsewhere”, a senior officer said. He said: “We are working out various possibilities towards tracing Harminder. In fact, this might not be his actual name at all”. Another name, which has cropped up during the investigations, is that of US-based Dalbir Singh, who funded terrorist activities. The police officer said, “Again, we are not sure if this name is real. However, there is enough proof to show his financial support to the unlawful activities”.

It has been found that “the new face of emerging terrorism trends had interesting and dangerous dimensions. Higher education capabilities, technical knowhow about the IT and use of scientific gadgets by militants have enhanced success chances of terrorist strikes. A number of them are second generation and definitely more dedicated”.

It has been pointed out that Indian intelligence personnel accompanying the religious groups to Pakistan should have been the first ones to report suspected movements of members of the group. The police official said, “It was practically impossible to keep a tab on movement of all members of the jatha because of their big size”. 


VB files challan against Chahal, 11 others
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Capt Amarinder Singh’s former media adviser B.I.S. Chahal, his wife Jaswinder Kaur, son Vikramjit Singh and nine of their accomplices, who allegedly spent more than about Rs 8.4 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income during Chahal’s tenure as media adviser to the former Chief Minister.

Since most of the co-accused had hardly any good or known sources of income, almost the entire earnings and expenditure have been attributed to Chahal by a bureau team, led by SSP Shiv Kumar, who presented the challan in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Kuldip Singh here today. A case of disproportionate assets had been registered against Chahal last year vide FIR No. 30.

Besides Chahal, others who have been named in the challan included his wife Jaswinder Kaur, son Vikramjit Singh, Dr Parveen Puri, Surjit Singh, Bhupinder Barsat, Gursharan Singh, Jasbir Singh, Gurmit Singh from the USA, and Aman Gupta, a resident of Chennai.

According to the bureau, during the verification of sources of income of Chahal and others, it came to light that the total earnings of Chahal and his family during Chahal’s tenure as a government servant totalled about Rs 1.9 crore whereas the total expenditure done by Chahal, his family and associates was about Rs 10.3 crore. It meant that there was a wide gap of about Rs 8.4 crore.

The bureau, in the challan, has mentioned that Gursharan Singh and Jasbir Singh of Kamalpur invested in property on behalf of Chahal in the names of co-accused, who had hardly any known sources of income.

Though the challan has been presented in the court, the bureau is still looking further into the role of the co-accused, bureau sources revealed.

Earnings 1.9 cr, spending 10.3 cr

The total earnings of Chahal and his family during Chahal’s tenure as a government servant totalled about Rs 1.9 crore whereas the total expenditure done by Chahal, his family and associates was to about Rs 10.3 crore 


Ferozepore Central Jail
Medical facilities in a shambles
Saurabh Malik
Tribiune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
A surprise visit to the Ferozepore Central Jail by Punjab Sate Human Rights Commission member Justice R.L. Anand has revealed that medical facilities in the prison require urgent attention. 

Not only are the posts of doctors lying vacant for over two years, but also the process of medicine distribution is a “hoax” as same medicine is prescribed to all the patients.

To make the matters worse, there is no woman doctor for the women inmates. The barracks too are unclean and the inmates are forced to lie on the ground even in extreme winters.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Justice Anand has recommended a thorough probe into the working of the jail hospital by the Civil Surgeon’s office. Terming it as a violation of human rights, Justice Anand has added that the living conditions in the jail cannot be described as “up to the mark”, especially from the medical point of view.

The inspection was carried out on December 22 last year and a detailed report in this regard had been forwarded to the home secretary, the DGP, the District and Sessions Judge and others.

Giving details, Justice Anand has stated though there are over 1,000 inmates and two posts of doctors are sanctioned, not a single medical practitioner has been posted. In case a patient requires medical attention, he or she is taken in an ambulance to the hospital.

Expressing shock over the state of affairs, Justice Anand has asserted in the report prepared after the visit: “Everything is at the mercy of two pharmacists, who too are not maintaining the dispensary in a proper order”.

Justice Anand has further asserted that even the OPD register is not maintained properly. “The process of distribution of medicines was hardly satisfactory. I was shocked to see that no prescription slip is given to any patient,” he has added.

Elaborating on the procedure adopted by the staff, Justice Anand has stated: “Only one type of medicine is prescribed to all the patients… This itself suggests that the process of distribution of medicines is a hoax.

“I saw sufficient medicines, including life saving drugs, those were stored in the room of the Senior Medical Officer. On my query, I was informed that a doctor visited the Central Jail as and when a requisition was sent to the Senior Medical Officer.” In the report running into six pages, Justice Anand has also stated that the oxygen cylinder was empty. Syringes were there, but were not used.

The barracks too were in a sorry sate of affairs. The emergency toilets constructed inside were not dry. In a full-of-smoke kitchen the chapattis were being prepared in “most unhygienic conditions”.

Before partying with the report, Justice Anand has asserted that he wanted to interact with the deputy commissioner and the SSP. While the DC was away, the SSP visited him in the circuit house for a minute. Thereafter, he could not meet him to share his findings. 


CPI asks CM to lead all-party deputation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 4
The Communist Party of India (CPI) today asked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to lead an all-party deputation to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for seeking a special package from the Central government for Punjab farmers on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh and Vidharbha in Maharashtra, vide which the Centre had waived the loans outstanding towards farmers.

A member of the national executive of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said today that the proposed deputation should demand an industrial package for the Punjab industry on the pattern of industrial package given by the Centre to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. 


Inside Babudom
Maini elevated as secy to Central scale
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Of the eight officers of the 1974 batch given the rank and pay of the secretary to the Government of India (GOI) by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet a few days ago, Dr Jivtesh Singh Maini is from the Punjab cadre.

The committee approved the in-situ upgradation of Dinesh Rai (Uttar Pradesh), K. Mohandas (Kerala), M. Madhavan Nambiar (Tamil Nadu) Dr Jivtesh Singh Maini (Punjab), Surendra Pal Gaur (Uttar Pradesh), Pradeep Singh (UT), V.P. Raja (Maharashtra) and S. Maria Desalphine, all of the 1974 batch, in their present posts effective from the date from which another officer of the same batch, Dr Rita Sharma, takes over as secretary, Rural Development.

Since these eight officers are senior to Dr Rita Sharma, they have been given the rank and pay of the secretary to the Government of India. The remaining 22 officers belonging to the same batch and on deputation with the union government have been designated special secretaries to the Government of India.They include Vivek Mehrotra of Haryana.

Dr Maini is currently secretary, Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises, in the Department of Public Enterprises in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

Dr Maini, who had worked as principal secretary to former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, had a brief stint as chairman of the National Highway Authority of India late last year.

Dr Maini is an economist.

In fact, the number of Punjab officers holding senior positions in the union government has come down significantly during the past few years.

Meanwhile, Pradeep Kumar, a 1972 batch officer of the Haryana cadre, has been named as the new secretary of Defence Production.

He is a graduate in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and masters in economics and social sciences from the University of Wales. 


‘Sammelan should focus on ideological problems’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Punjabi NRIs Sammelan to be held on January 5 and 6 in Chandigarh and Jalandhar, respectively, apart from social, economic and legal problems, should also address the ideological problems being faced by the diaspora, all the more in the post-9/11, USA. 

This was stated by Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, former vice-chancellor, Punjabi University. The Sikhs, with long hair and beard, are easily mistaken for Muslims and so become vulnerable to racist attacks in the US, he added.

The grim problem has become most urgent in view of the recent violence against ethnic Indians in South-East Asian countries and now in Kenya. 


Protesters force halt of Amritsar-Jaipur Express
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 4
A large number of local traders and residents held a protest at the railway station here yesterday against the non-halting of the Amritsar-Jaipur Express even for one or two minutes. This train passes through Sangrur on every Tuesday and Thursday.

Amarjit Singh Titoo and Harinder Pal Singh Khalsa, district president of and vice-president of the Beopar Mandal, respectively, led the protesters.

District president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra, vice-president of the local unit of the Vishava Hindu Parishad Rasik Verma and general secretary of local Beopar Mandal Sarjeewan Jindal were also among the protesters.

The protesters were adamant to stop the train at any cost at 10 pm (scheduled time of the train) here, due to which, besides the Railway Police personnel, a large number of local policemen, led by local DSP Pritpal Singh Thind, were present at the station.

Sensing the mood of the protesters, the station authorities sought permission from the higher authorities to stop the train at Sangrur for 2 minutes. The permission was granted.

Consequently,at about 11pm on Thursday, the train stopped at Sangrur railway station for some minutes.

The protesters submitted a memorandum, regarding the stoppage of the Amritsar-Jaipur Express train at Sangrur, to duty magistrate-cum-naib tehsildar Nirmal Singh. After that the train was allowed to depart.

The naib tehsildar said the deputy commissioner would forward the memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister for taking up the matter with the Railway authorities. 


City Centre Scam
VB spent Rs 2 lakh on paper
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
The quantum of documentation in the Rs 1,150-crore City Centre scam is so enormous that the Vigilance Bureau had to use “tonnes” of paper in preparing cases against the accused.

Meanwhile, the bureau has managed to serve summons on 19 of 36 accused in the case, including Capt Amarinder Singh and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. The 17 accused, who have not been served summons, include the main accused and head of Today Homes G.K. Ghambhir and members of his family.

“We have been trying to serve summons on the rest of the accused, but every time bureau officials visit their home they are greeted by lawyers of Gambhir and his family,” said a bureau official.

One of the 36 accused, a former chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, has been declared a proclaimed offender (PO). The scam is being dubbed by the bureau as the “biggest-ever fraud” in the history of India. A high-powered committee formed by the Punjab chief secretary to look into the enormity of the scam has estimated that the “wrongful gain” in the scam was to the tune of Rs 1,150 crore.

Documentation in the case is so huge that the bureau had to spend Rs 2 lakh on the purchase of blank papers and cartridges of printers. Bureau had ‘overused’ newly purchased four copier machines day and night for printing copies of documents to be given to the accused.

“I have never seen such a big operation and elaborate documentation of this kind earlier. In fact, bureau officials in Ludhiana had sleepless nights to piece together information and it was certainly a mammoth task. You can imagine that we had to use ‘tonnes’ of white paper in the one-and-a-half-month to prepare documents for the case. Actually, a copy of each relevant document had to be supplied to the accused,” confided another official in a lighter vein.

The bureau had presented a challan in the case in the court of Ludhiana district and sessions judge G.K. Rai on December 12. The accused have been asked to appear before the court on January 10. 


Rs 398 lakh for developing tourism in Hoshiarpur
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The tourism ministry has sanctioned almost Rs 398 lakh for integrated development of Hoshiarpur as a tourist destination under the Integrated Development of the Tourist Circuit Scheme.

While the proposal for this project was received from the Punjab government, tourism minister Ambika Soni has released almost 80 per cent of the Central assistance amounting to Rs 318.31 lakh. This will be the first instalment as an advance for starting the work.

As per the scheme, not only tourist information centres will be developed, but the highways to Hoshiarpur will also be developed at a cost of Rs 22.50 lakh.

Besides, there will be environmental upgrade of Bajawra Fort at Rs 37.22 lakh and special tourism destination will be developed at Sadhu Ashram at a cost of Rs 61.15 lakh.

There will also be environmental upgrade of Sheesh Mahal, CNI Church, Dera Baba Charan Shah and the samadhi of the Maharani of Kapurthala. Special tourism destination will be developed at Sham Churasi (Khankah of Shami Sahib) and Dholbaba will be developed as heritage tourism destination, besides the Kali Temple, Mansa Devi Heritage trail, Dholbaha Dam and Guru Dwara Garna Sahib. 


Aroosa treads narrow lanes of Patiala bazar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Capt Amarinder Singh’s journalist friend Aroosa Alam and her six Pakistani companions appreciated artefacts like chandeliers in the historic Quila Mubarak and seemingly enjoyed her brief stint of shopping in Bhaandianwala Bazar.

A visibly overwhelmed Aroosa was wearing a pinkish suit, yellow dupatta and a ‘khaki’ coat as they descended at the fort gate at around 1.30 pm along with a few gunmen.

The Pakistani journalist and others, seemingly members of her family, also visited the Punjab government museum inside the fort. What charmed Aroosa the most was a large number of paintings and colourful chandeliers of the erstwhile royal regime.

Though residents of Patiala came out of their houses in the narrow streets adjoining to the fort, there was hardly any rush as Aroosa and others had descended there quietly. Initial reports suggested that Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur also accompanied the guests in the first phase of their closely guarded city trip.

After spending nearly an hour in the fort, the guests turned to nearby the bazar where Aroosa purchased suits while others bought utensils, toiletries and traditional dupattas. The royal guests did their shopping and roamed about in the bazar for half an hour before leaving for Moti Bagh Palace. Journalists had a gala time as after a couple of days’ chase of Aroosa, they finally managed to click her. Aroosa, it was learnt, also visited the Sheesh Mahal museum in the evening. 


Govt asked to frame policy to modernise industry
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 4
Concerned about the bleak future being faced by production houses in the state, some leading manufacturers have called upon the state government to come out with a policy to modernise the industry in Punjab.

Industrialists stated that growth rate of industry in the state was as low as 4 per cent a year, whereas the national economy was growing 10 per cent a year. Sher Singh, a manufacturer from Patiala, said it was a wake-up call for the government and if remedial measures were not initiated on priority, more units in the state could face closure.

Hari Singh, a former president of the Chamber of Industry, Patiala, said after the union government announced an upward limit of Rs 10 crore for the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector, 90 per cent of the industry in the state increased production capacity for respectable place in the SME sector. He said this led to an unhealthy competition amongst industrial houses, which now were finding it hard to run their units.

Dinesh Gupta, Mandi Gobindgarh industrialist, said there was no power to run machinery and despite requests by manufacturers, the PSEB had till date failed to provide regular supply to the units. He said despite assurances, the manufacturers were apprehensive the board would charge two months' deposits in advance.

He said the VAT system too had also created new problems for the manufactures. He said they were unable to get refund of VAT for months which affected their profits. He said in case the government ensured 90 per cent of the refund was made available immediately, it could help the units regain their financial health.

Nakesh Jindal, another businessman, said the proposed system of self-assessment of house tax of industrial units should be dropped as there was no relevance of house tax on industry. He said call for reviving octroi was also misconceived and would hit the industry in the state.

The industrialists stated in case the government did not respond to the problems of the industry by formulating a fresh policy, the state might lose all manufacturing houses, which prefer to set-up units in neighbouring states which they find more industry-friendly.  


Guv stresses on value-based education
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
Punjab Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) today impressed upon the educationists and intellectuals to combine academic excellence with a sense of social responsibility to produce good citizens.

Inaugurating a seminar, “Good Citizenship and Role of Education,” at Guru Nanak Dev University here today, he said universities and other higher education institutions had an important role to play in this.

Vice-Chancellor of PTU S.K. Salwan, VC Jai Rup Singh, K.S. Rai from Jalandhar, Parminder Singh from Guru Nanak Dev University, also spoke on the occasion. 


PM House Row
Tehsildar suspended
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
The state government today suspended the services of tehsildar Rajesh Sharma in the fake registration of power of attorney of Prime Minister’s property in New Delhi.

Stating this to The Tribune, Kahan Singh Pannu said the decision to charge sheet Rajesh would also be taken within a few days as the probe into the case was on. He said after the probe a case would also be registered against the accused. The DC said cases would also be registered against the date writer and witnesses involved.


Promotion to Post of Principal
SC ‘allows’ 15 pc quota for vocational teachers
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 4
In a relief to the vocational teachers of Punjab fighting for implementation of 15 per cent quota for them in promotion to the post of principal in government senior secondary schools, the Supreme Court today allowed the state government to go ahead with the implementation of its scheme to this effect.

Admitting the appeal of Government School Lecturer Union (GSLU), questioning the entitlement of the vocational teachers to the post of principal on the ground that they did not possess the necessary qualification, a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran, however, said any promotion made would be subject to the final outcome of the appeal.

The court, in an interim order, further clarified that if the government went ahead with the filling of the vacant posts of principal, it would strictly adhere to the laid-down promotional rules.

Besides, the apex court vacated interim stay on the contempt petition filed by the vocational teachers before the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the officials concerned for not implementing its order of March 2, 2005, pertaining to the implementation of the 15 per cent quota for them in the promotion to the post of principal.

The union had moved an appeal in the apex court against the High Court order allowing the state to fill the vacant posts of principal by including 15 per cent quota for vocational teachers.

When the High Court passed the order, government had informed it that 1,100 posts of principal were lying vacant and vocational teachers were “entitled to be considered for promotion against 165 of them”.

Senior advocate P.S. Patwalia, appearing for the vocational teachers along with their counsel in High Court, Vivek Sharma, submitted that the government, in its amended rules of 1978, had placed such teachers on the Class-III list.

Patwalia further said the High Court, in its order of April 10, 1991, had directed the state to fix a quota for vocational teachers for promotion and the government, on July 8, 1995, had issued a notification to this effect.

But, this was challenged by the union in the High Court.

The vocational teachers, on the other hand, had took the stand that they had long experience of teaching subjects in which they had expertise and could not be denied promotional opportunities only because they did not have a B.Ed degree. 


2 turn hostile in Badals’ case
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 4
Two key witnesses turned hostile in the corruption case against Badals today. Besides, the prosecution gave up four other key witnesses, including diamond dealer from Mumbai Bharat Shah at the request of the police.

Gurinderpal Singh, inspector-general, railways, now posted in Patiala, was a key witness of the prosecution in the case. However, in the court today he retracted from his statement given earlier before judicial magistrate, Kharar.

In his statement before the judicial magistrate Gurinderpal had stated that after getting the promotion as DIG he was not given the posting. He met N.P.S. Aulakh, then IG, headquarters, in this regard, who told him that he would have to see Prakash Singh Badal, then Chief Minister. He wrote to Badal for appointment.

Gurinderpal met Jit Singh of Parhi Mansa village, who claimed to be close to Sukhbir Badal. Jit said Sukhbir had said that it would cost Rs 15 lakh for posting in a range and Rs 5 lakh for elsewhere. Gurinderpal paid the amount at Badal village.

In the court today the IG said he did not meet any person in connection with his posting nor paid any amount in this regard. He stated that in November 2003 he was called to the office of the then DGP and given a copy of the statement and was asked to give a similar statement before the magistrate. He maintained that he gave the statement under pressure.

Jit also stated that he did not know the Badals but knew Gurinderpal. He also stated that the police took statement from him under pressure.

The public prosecutor stated that he wanted to give up prosecution witnesses Sher Singh, Bharat Shah, Amolak Singh and Surinder Pal Mina. He added that he wanted to examine only Jatinder Singh, Paramjit Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Amarjit Singh, SP, J.S. Kahlon, B.K. Uppal and S. Chatopadhya.

After today 27 key witnesses of the 52 witnesses have turned hostile. 


Tribune Impact: Baradari Gardens
CM’s order stirs admn into action
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Famous, but almost abandoned Baradari Gardens here is likely to regain a bit of its old glory with the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal directing the district administration to ensure proper upkeep of the historical site.

Taking note of the news on the plight of the gardens published in the columns of The Tribune and Punjabi Tribune recently, Badal instructed the Patiala division commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia and the commissioner of the municipal corporation over the phone to look into the problem and take remedial measures to ensure cleanliness at the historical site. Soon, officials of the district administration, led by S.K. Ahluwalia and deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal, visited the gardens this morning along with DPRO Ishwinder S. Grewal. More than 12 officials of Irrigation, Horticulture and PWD Departments were accompanying them. He found that lack of sanitation facilities, unkempt thick grass and choked water channel meant for supplying water to the gardens were the biggest problems to be dealt with immediately.

“I have instructed the deputy director, horticulture, to ensure proper upkeep of the place and plant seasonal and ornamental plants there,” said Grewal.

“Moreover, the officials have told me that the channel had been cleared of the silt and water supply in it would be resumed by tomorrow morning. Proper irrigation of the gardens would start tomorrow,” he said.

Ahluwalia said to find out a permanent solution to maintaining upkeep of the gardens, a committee would be formed that would monitor development of the place.

Corporation commissioner M.P. Arora said though the area did not fall under the jurisdiction of the civic body, it would clear the place of the garbage. 


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