P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


PRTC Posting Scam
GM booked for taking bribe
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
The Vigilance Bureau here today claimed taking the lid off a "cash-for-choice postings" scam in the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Ludhiana. The Bureau has booked Surinder Singh, general manager (PRTC-Ludhiana), and his alleged front man Inspector Balvir Singh, who took money ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per month for favourable posting or cancelling an unfavourable transfer.

Vigilance officials arrested Balvir Singh on the charge of demanding a bribe of Rs 2,500 from conductor Fakir Chand for favourable posting and a route of his choice.

The officials said Balvir’s questioning led to the exposure of corruption in the department where money allegedly went up to the general manager every month for transfers.

Fakir Chand alleged that he had been paying a bribe every month for long, but for the past three months he had not paid his seniors,"I got threats of posting to faraway places like Shimla or Bathinda. When I approached the general manager with a request not to post me outside, he told me to talk to Inspector Balvir Singh."

He added that Balvir told him to pay Rs 4,000 for stalling the transfer,"The deal was struck for Rs 2,500". A Vigilance team on information by Fakir Chand nabbed Balvir. The officials said general manager Surinder Singh has been nominated in the FIR, but would be arrested only after investigation.


Drive against drunken driving soon
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The government has decided to come down heavily on drunken driving in the state, which is a major cause for accidents. The government has procured breath analysers worth Rs 1.25 crore and sent them to districts headquarters to be used at special nakas across the state to check drivers under the influence of alcohol.

Breath analysing equipment has been procured by the transport department and passed on for use to the police at the district level. The analysers monitor the alcohol levels in the exhaled breath of someone who has consumed liquor and is driving a vehicle. The government has decided to use some of these breath analysers to monitor the driver of the state’s own vehicles as well as private vehicles.

The state has taken a decision to purchase the equipment to check driving under the influence of liquor following availability of statistics that a large number of accidents caused on the roads are because the person on the wheels is drunk.

As part of the campaign to check drunken driving, besides special nakas targeted to catch offenders, the police under the supervision of the SSP will also hold educational camps, where the public will be encouraged to inform the police if they find someone driving under the influence of liquor. Besides, the campaign that is being planned also aims to expose myths about drinking and driving.

There are several myths related to drinking and driving like alcohol increases your ability to drive, if you eat a lot first, you will not get drunk, stick with beer - it is not as strong as whisky, etc. But the fact is that all these are myths and drinking not only is a risk to person under influence, but he exposes the person on the road to risk as well.

Drunken driving is an offence, but it does not invite a serious enough penalty to deter people from drinking and driving in India. After being involved in an accident, a drunk driver invites a penalty of in terms of a fine or imprisonment up to 6 months, and the driving licence is suspended for six months or above.

Any quantity of alcohol consumption affects the brain and thereby sense of judgment. Higher levels of intoxication cause problems such as loss of muscle control problems, blurring of vision, etc.

Congress legislator from Nabha Randeep Singh had raised the issues of road accidents in the last session of the Vidhan Sabha, but barring a few sympathetic words, other legislators did not have much to offer.

Once the move of the government gets underway over the next few weeks, it is likely to cause a deterring effect that could check the biggest life-takers on roads.


Moga Sex Scam
Probe indicates nexus between cops, girls
Innocent persons trapped to extract money
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Less than three months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that the Moga sex scam was apparently "nothing less than the Jammu sex scandal", investigations in the matter indicate a nexus between the police top brass and the girls for framing innocent persons in rape cases to extract money.

The modus operandi that has emerged from the investigations is that senior police functionaries after booking innocent persons accepted money, part of which was paid to the girls.

Later, one of the girls would not identify the accused. Or, the police after completion of legal formalities would give the accused a clean chit.

A senior police officer, whose name had surfaced during the hearing of the matter before the High Court, also finds mention in the statements of witnesses.

The "witnesses", including two advocates, have categorically stated that money was demanded and passed on directly or indirectly to the girls and the senior police functionary for letting the accused off the hook.

An advocate-cum-witness has asserted that he was engaged as a counsel by an accused. A friend of the accused said he was innocent and should be helped out; adding that another accused got his name dropped by giving Rs 3 lakh to the senior police officer.

The advocate also claimed that he requested another advocate to approach the police officer for getting the name of the accused struck off.

The other advocate met the police officer and found that the cop was demanding Rs 4.5 lakhs. The money was arranged through the friend of the accused.

As per the directions of the senior police officer, a subordinate cop submitted an application on May 12, 2007, to the chief judicial magistrate, Moga, for the identification of the accused and the same was allowed the same day.

The advocate has concluded the sequence of events by saying the identification parade was conducted on May 19, 2007, where one of the girls did not identify the accused. He was declared innocent and shown in Column number two.

In another statement, the other advocate has claimed that the first lawyer approached him with a request to help the accused.

The advocate added he had friendly relations with the police officer and was sure he could help the accused. He talked to the senior police officer who had demanded Rs 4.5 lakhs for removing the name of the accused from the case.

He has added that the first lawyer gave him the amount in two instalments on May 7, 2007 and May 9, 2007 and got an application moved from the wife of the accused to the top cop.

After that on May 9, 2007, he went to the officer’s house at Moga and handed over the money personally to him by putting the same in an envelope. The top cop returned Rs 1.5 lakhs and asked him to give the amount to one of the girls. He kept the remaining amount of Rs 3 lakh. The money was handed over the next day. After some days, the police discharged the accused from this case.

He has also given details of another matter in which the officer called him to his house, where another senior police functionary was also present. In that matter, the top cop, subsequently, gave Rs 3 lakh to him for handing it over to one of the girls. Three persons were, later on, discharged after obtaining legal opinion in the matter.


Next hearing on March 12
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Turning down State of Punjab’s plea to adjourn the Moga sex scam case sine die to wait for the Supreme Court’s orders in the matter, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed March 12 as the next date of hearing.

As the case came up for hearing this morning, the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Pritam Pal, observed, “Counsel for the state has put on record a photostat copy of the order dated February 7 of the Supreme Court, where the filing of the status report by the CBI has been stayed till February 18. The case is adjourned to March 12”.


High-powered panel on change of land use instituted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
The Punjab Local Bodies Department has constituted a high-powered committee for change of land use (CLU). Local bodies, industries and commerce minister Manoranjan Kalia said this soon after holding a monthly monitoring meeting regarding the ongoing development projects in the city here today evening.

Kalia said the committee would be headed by principal secretary of the Local Bodies Department D.S. Bains. He would dispose of the applications pending with the department about the change of land use in different parts of the state, he added.

Chairman of the committee D.S. Bains told The Tribune that chief town planner, director, local bodies, and senior town planner of the Municipal Corporation concerned or executive officer of municipal councils and committees concerned would be members of the committee.

The committee was constituted to bring more efficiency in disposing of CLU applications, Bains said, adding that the committee would meet every alternate Thursday to deal with the applications.

Earlier, it took about two months for disposing of the application of the CLU, he said, adding that now the same would be disposed of within 45 days.

The minor discrepancies in the map would be rectified by calling the architect on the spot to avoid unnecessary delay in disposing of the CLU applications, he added.

Meanwhile, Kalia said Burlton Park of Jalandhar would be developed as a sports hub of the state.

While the already existed cricket stadium at Burton Park would be upgraded to international standards with a sitting capacity of 40,000 for spectators, he said, adding that a swimming pool and a health club would also be built there. A state-of-the-art hockey stadium already existed in the park, he added.

The services of Punjab Cricket Association would be taken for the upgradation of the cricket stadium, Kalia said. The association president I.S. Bindra would be consulted for the same, he added.


Anandpur Sahib
New projects mooted, old still incomplete
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 11
The new Central investment plan submitted by the Punjab government to the Union Ministry of Tourism for the development of Anandpur Sahib will hardly help improve the economy of residents of the area. It primarily aims at raising new structures at Anandpur Sahib. 

Even though the structures developed in the town during the tercentenary celebrations in 1999 are incomplete and the government is facing difficulties in maintaining these, yet new projects have been planned.

As per the Rs 102.13-crore plan, a copy of which is with The Tribune, the Punjab government proposes to complete the construction of the polytechnic college at a cost of Rs 17 crore and an ITI for girls at a cost of Rs 4 crore. The buildings of both have been incomplete since the tercentenary celebrations. Recently, the Punjab government transferred the polytechnic building to a private educational society for running courses.

A sports stadium has been proposed to be built at a cost of Rs 1.80 crore near the Charan Ganga rivulet. However, the existing martial arts academy developed during the tercentenary celebrations has not been made operational.

A new bus stand is also proposed to be built along the Charan Ganga at a cost of Rs 18 crore. The place where the existing bus stand is situated is proposed to be converted into a multi-level parking at a cost of Rs 6 crore.

As per the 2001 census, Anandpur Sahib has a population of just 13,889. As per the project report, the population of the city is expected to grow up to just 20,590 by 2021. The city receives a floating population of about 5 lakh only five days in a year during the Hola Mohalla celebrations. The justification of a multi-level parking when, according to the report, 88.88 per cent area (5,190 acres) of the town comprises rural vacant land, seems to be defy logic.

The plan to construct a new building for the Government Senior Secondary School, a fire brigade station, augmenting water supply, construction of three new community centres, a solid waste management plan and widening and improving of roads are the only proposals in the new plan that can be beneficial to residents of Anandpur Sahib.

As per the new plan, the quantum of economic activity at Anandpur Sahib is pegged at just Rs 2.61 crore. Most of the residents of the area are dependent on forest produce collection, animal husbandry, manufacturing or construction and service sector.

Religious tourism in a small period of the year boosts economy of the area. A senior Congress leader from the area and Nangal MLA K.P.S. Rana, who was part of the Punjab delegation that submitted the plan to the Union Ministry of Tourism, said some good institutions can help develop the economy of Anandpur Sahib.

During the tercentenary celebrations, a Junior Leaders Academy (JLA) for Army personnel was announced here by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, it has failed to materialise.

Tourism should also be made a regular activity here to help improve the income of residents and develop the city founded by Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru.

The Khalsa Heritage Complex, that is the most prestigious project being developed here, may also take years to complete.


100 dairies to be set up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 11
The cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said here today that the government was all set to promote dairy farming in the state in a big way. It would open 100 commercial dairies to increase milk production, thus paving the way for White Revolution.

The minister said more than 250 applications for setting up such dairies had been received. Patiala Milk Plant received 45 applications against which 29 commercial dairies had been set up.

He said general managers of milk plants, district registrars and joint registrars of cooperative department had been asked to visit villages to promote the dairy project.

Milkfed is holding a workshop in collaboration with representative of the National Dairy Development Board, progressive dairy farmers and milk societies of Milkfed on February 25. An action plan would be chalked out at the workshop and would be implemented immediately.

On unbundling of the PSEB, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said Centre’s policy on how the electricity boards would be benefited in an unbundled form was not convincing.

Meanwhile, at a meeting, board of directors of the Hasanpur milk plant elected SAD leader Kuldeep Singh Mundhrian as chairman, Jang Singh Channo vice-chairman and nominated Sukhjinder Singh Mavi to the state unit of Milkfed.


Abortion Case
Products of conception sent for test
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
In the case of suspected abortion, the police today sent products of conception taken from the womb of the woman, to the chemical examiner, Kharar, and the Government Medical College, Patiala, for examination.

DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said as the three-member medical board of the Civil Hospital had stated in the medico-legal report that there was a possibility of abortion. But only the possibility of abortion was not enough for the police to move court for filing a complaint against anyone in this case. 


Pre-paid taxi service to start at Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 11
The district administration has finalised a proposal to provide pre-paid taxi facility at the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh.

Besides, the Galiara project, aimed at beautifying the vicinity of the Golden Temple, is likely to be completely handed over to a private company, which, so far, was working on about one-fourth area of the project.

These decisions were taken at a joint meeting of deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu, municipal commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda and SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh here today. Two SGPC members, Jaswinder Singh Advocate and Rajinder Singh Mehta, participated in it.

Kharbanda told The Tribune that it was also decided that a joint crackdown would be carry out on encroachments in the vicinity of the Golden Temple to easy traffic congestion.

“An anti-encroachment drive would be launched to remove makeshift shops and illegal kiosks in the walled city area. A proposal was put forth at the meeting to allow only one-way traffic on the Katra Ahliwalia market road,” he said.

Launched in 1988, the Galiara project is still in its fifth phase. It was launched with a grant of Rs 88 crore from the Centre. A road built as part of the project would be re-carpeted and encroachments would be removed immediately.


Facilitation charges scrapped
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 11
The Punjab Police has stopped collecting facilitation charges for rendering services like verification of passports, arms licence and issue of character certificates and no-objection certificates with immediate effect.

According to sources in the police department, in a teleprinter message to all SSPs in Punjab, the DGP has said the memo authorising the police to charge the public in return for those services, had been withdrawn with immediate effect.

The Tribune had carried a news item in this regard in its February 4, 2008, edition following which a petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Man commits suicide
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Nakodar (Jalandhar), February 11
Debt-ridden man Jaswinder Singh Kala committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at Karshaidpur village falling under Nakodar police station here today.

Jaswinder’s father-in-law Sucha Singh told The Tribune that he had committed suicide as he was feeling humiliated as his Shahkot-based debtor, along with some policemen, had visited his place about four days back and threatened him with dire consequences if he did not repay the remaining amount.

Though Nakodar station house officer (SHO) Inspector Satinder Chadda confirmed that Jaswinder had committed suicide, but it was not due to humiliation. But it was due to poverty, he added.

Chadda further admitted that Jaswinder had borrowed about Rs 4,000 from a Shahkot-based man but claimed that it had nothing to do with his suicide.

The SHO said his family did not say in the statement given to the police that some policemen from Shahkot had visited their house.

Sucha Singh said Jaswinder, a permanent resident of Shahkot, had been living at his in-laws’ house at Karshaidpur village since his marriage to Sucha’s daughter Harjinder Kaur about 15 years ago.

Jaswinder hanged himself when he was alone at the house. While Sucha, Harjinder and her mother Giano had gone out, Jaswinder’s three minor children were playing in the village.

Sucha said he did not know the name of the debtor, but he knew that his son-in-law Jaswinder had already repaid him Rs 2,000.


Punjabi balle balle in Canada
Gurmukh Singh

Vancouver, February 11
With the latest census showing a 35 per cent increase in its speakers since 2001, Punjabi is set to become the fourth largest spoken language in Canada.

Today, it is the sixth largest spoken language after English, French, Chinese, Italian and German, though it is already at the fourth position in the province of British Columbia.

But as India overtakes China as the largest source of immigration for Canada this year, Punjabi is projected to surpass Italian and German by 2011 to become the fourth largest spoken language in the country.

Balwant Sanghera, president of the Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) that is celebrating the sixth International Mother Language Day on February 24, said: “Punjabi is growing by leaps and bounds in Canada and within the next three to four years it will become Canada’s fourth largest spoken language.”

Citing the latest census figures, he said 3,67,505 persons said Punjabi was their mother tongue, showing a growth of 35 per cent since 2001.

“This places Punjabi as the sixth most spoken language (after English, French, Chinese, Italian and German). The difference between the number of Punjabi speakers and those of German and Italian is very small. By the next census of 2011, Punjabi will overtake both to occupy the fourth place,” he added.

Sanghera, who retired as a school psychologist in British Columbia, said Punjabi was one among 10 most spoken languages out of a total of 6,000 in the world.

“More than 150 million persons in 150 countries speak this language. Mini Punjabs in Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia and Singapore are testaments to it. Here in Surrey and Abbotsford cities, Punjabi is the second most spoken language after English,” he said.

In British Columbia province, Punjabi is taught in the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University College of the Fraser Valley, Kwantlen University College and many schools.

Hospitals, city halls, airports and markets carry Punjabi signs. And it is common see the Punjabi sign of “Aseen Punjabi Bolde Haan” at banks.

Guidelines on provincial issues - elections, health, old age and education - come out in Punjabi, as do government bills and notices.

Interestingly, Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan is a Punjabi speaker who surprised everyone last year by delivering his speech in Punjabi at a Sikh function. — IANS


High Court
Punjab told to check construction on MC land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Taking up a petition alleging unauthorised construction on municipal land, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Punjab to ensure against any construction on the disputed piece of land at Khanna, near the municipal complex.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit, asked Punjab’s additional advocate-general Amol Rattan Singh to see no construction was carried out as orders restraining the respondent had been issued previously also.

The directions were issued during the resumed hearing on a writ petition filed by Yashwant Singh Sood of Khanna. He was seeking directions for registration of a criminal case against a respondent, who was a close relation of Khanna municipal council’s former member. The case is to come up for further hearing on February 13.

Notice to Punjab

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today issued notices for March 14 to Punjab, the police chief and others on an application filed by Patiala-based national president of Shiv Sena (Hindustan) Pawan Gupta.

He was seeking interim directions to the respondents to restore his security in view of “adverse change” resulting from the recent terrorist attack on Dera Sacha Sauda chief. 


Amarinder allowed overstay in Dubai
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Feburary 11
Sessions judge G. K. Rai today allowed the application moved by Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister of Punjab, seeking extension in his stay in Dubai. He also exempted his personal presence for Feburary 13 hearing in the City Centre scam case.

Earlier, the court had allowed Amarinder Singh to visit Dubai for two weeks. At that time, it was averred that he wanted to go abroad for exploring investment in real estate. The permission was to expire on Feburary 12.

It was submitted the earliest ticket available on Emirates Airways was for Feburary 14. So he was unable to attend court proceedings on Feburary 13. He had sought extension of time till Feburary 15, which was granted.


Plea in molestation case dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has disposed of a petition filed by a voluntary organisation in Ludhiana alleging molestation of a girl by policemen.

The World Human Rights Protection Council filed the petition after a photograph appeared in a newspaper daily allegedly showing policemen molesting a girl during a protest by veterinary doctors and students on September 21, 2006.

Taking up the matter this morning, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, observed in the open court that they did not wish to comment on the uncivilised incident.

Referring to the photograph, the Judges added that a girl could be seen removing a policeman’s turban. The action in any event was totally unwarranted. Otherwise also, the girl had denied being molested.

Before parting with the orders, the judges granted the respondents the liberty to move against the newspaper for appropriate damages.

In the petition, the human rights organisation had earlier sought directions for handing over the matter to the CBI. 


Rayat & Bahra to open 2 engg colleges for girls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The Rayat and Bahra Group of Institutes is set to expand educational operations and instructional activities in the region with the launch of two engineering colleges for girls in Punjab.

Announcing this at a press conference here today, Gurvinder Singh Bahra, vice-chairman, of the group said this was part of the soon-to-come-up education city at Hoshiarpur. “The education city in Hoshiarpur will be ready by 2010 and have a school and 25 colleges, including research institutes, under one roof and the students would have a choice of disciplines ranging from arts, commerce, engineering, medicine as well”.

Bahra said one girls’ engineering college would be set up in the education city in Hoshiarpur, while the second engineering institute for girls would come up in Rayat Centre for Excellence on Sahauran campus.

He said the group would be starting with M.Ed and M.Pharmacy courses along with M.Tech in electronics and communication that would be added to the existing M.Tech in CSE and mechanical engineering.

Bahra added that a 100-bed medical college-cum-hospital would start functioning on the campus soon, besides MBBS, dental, nursing and para- medical courses that would commence from next session.


Two arrested for couple’s murder
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, February 11
The district police today arrested two persons, including the domestic help of the family, thus solving the sensational killing of a middle-aged couple, Bhupinder Singh and Gurmeet Kaur, who were brutally murdered in the posh New Garden Colony here on January 23 evening.

The domestic help, Arjun Kumar, a migrant who had identified himself as Anil Kumar to the family, was hired by the victims’ family a few days before. Investigations revealed that he had committed the crime with the help of four of his friends.

SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh said the arrested persons were Arjun Kumar, a resident of Surari village, Faizabad (UP), and his accomplice Sunil Kumar of the same area.

The accused had decamped with valuables they had found in the bedroom of the couple, leaving behind their bodies in a pool of blood. Since there was no police verification of the servant, little was known about him and even his native village in Uttar Pradesh had not been established. While the husband’s neck was slit with a kitchen knife, the wife was strangulated to death.

During interrogation, Arjun revealed that he had committed the crime along with three friends Satish Kumar, Mulakh Raj and Sarju, all from Faizabad, said the district police chief. He said police parties were conducting raids to nab the remaining accused. The main motive of the murder was looting the property, he added.

On the basis of the photograph of the accused, one person identified him as Arjun and gave the police his home address. The SSP said after this the police parties were camping in their village till they caught them.


Tractor sales up in Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Tractor sales in Punjab continue to rise even as the Punjab government and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) have been asking banks to discourage individual ownership of tractors.

Figures available with The Tribune reveal that tractor sales across the country have gone down and there has been a negative growth of over five per cent in the tractor industry.

However, in Punjab, the number of units sold this fiscal is 12.51 per cent more than the units sold last year. As compared to 9,625 units sold till November 2006, 10,830 units have been sold in the state this year.

This is even as the state government has acknowledged that tractors in the state are not working to the optimum level of usage.

Over mechanisation is not restricted to tractors, even the combine harvester population in Punjab is three times more than required.

With the diversion of tractor and combine harvester loans for unproductive purposes like social functions, these have become bad debts and thus led to a widespread rural indebtedness in the state.

NABARD has suggested that banks should finance tractors only to farmer’s group/cooperatives and farmers may be educated to avail group loans.

In order to ensure that the bad debts do not arise out of financing of second-hand tractors, the banks have been asked to take into account useful economic life left for the tractor, before working out the repayment schedule.

NABARD has also asked the state government to educate farmers and create awareness on matching the capacity of tractors with their operational holdings and capacity utilisation of farm machines. 


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