P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Separate SGPC for Haryana
Cong trying to divide Sikhs, says Sukhbir
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, February 16
The Congress party is trying to divide the Sikhs on regional lines by weakening the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

The Congress was supporting the creation of separate gurdwara committees in other states for political reasons.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), told reporters today that the move on a separate gurdwara committee in Haryana was a step in this direction.

He said the SGPC was keeping people of the community united so that they could fight govenments for their legitimate rights.

Having a dig at the UPA government at the Centre, the SAD chief said increase in the prices of steel and fuel would slow down the development in the country, especially Punjab where industry was already in dire straits.

The SAD-BJP combine would seek one-time special package for the debt-ridden farmers, tax exemption for the industry on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and other states and for revamping the 125- year-old irrigation infrastructure in the state.

He said a one-time package was necessary to waive loans of farmers in debt. Punjab farmers were producing 65 per cent rice and wheat in the country, but were not getting proper remuneration for their produce.

He said though the Centre was importing wheat at Rs 1,700 per quintal from outside, it was not ready to offer a good price to its farmers.

Pressure of the SAD made the Central government raise the price of wheat from Rs 750 per quintal.

He said the Punjab government needed Rs 3,000 crore to 4,000 crore to revamp the 125-year-old irrigation system in the state.

If the union government sanctioned a special package for this purpose, it would raise not only the subsoil water level, but also save on electricity bills of the farmers.

Blames Cong for power shortage

Jalandhar: After enduring power cuts in winter, people should be ready for a tougher time in summer on account of power shortage at the national level.

“The situation is such that even if we want to buy it, it is not available. No new projects have been completed in the country to meet power shortage.

At present, power is available in a small quantity at Rs 12 per unit and it is not feasible for Punjab to purchase it at such exorbitant rates,” said SAD chief Sukhbir Badal who was here to supervise preparations for the SAD-BJP rally in New Delhi on February 26.

Blaming the Congress for power cuts in the state due to which the industry was also facing difficulties, Sukhbir said the previous government had done nothing to generate power. “As promised, we will have new power projects in place in three years,” he reiterated.

“While we do not oppose special packages for other states, we should get our due. The granary of the country is facing a tough time and it is the duty of the Centre to bail us out,” he pointed out.

On the rally, he said they would ask for a special package for farmers and farm labour. “Over the past many years we have been seeking help, but now we will knock at the gates of Delhi to highlight the plight of the farm sector,” he added.

Although Sukhbir kept silent on the long-term industrial policy for the state, he said in the coming Budget “we will seek full support from the Centre for our industry to stop its flight to other states”.

However, the state government was working on creating additional infrastructure to facilitate the industry, he said.


Recruitment by SGPC
Teachers to face test
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 16
Initiating reforms in its educational institutions, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has, for the first time, decided to scan teachers' proficiency and their teaching aptitude through a written test while recruiting them.

Discarding the traditional procedure of just panel interviews, the SGPC's newly established directorate of education will hold a written test on Monday (February 18), to fill 50 posts in nine schools, for which 2,000 applicants were registered today at three different centres.

Guru Nanak Girls College at Muktsar, Mata Gujri College in Fatehgarh Sahib and Guru Ram Dass Senior Secendary School, Amritsar, have been entrusted with the task of conducting the examinations for the nine new schools of the SGPC which will become functional from April 1, SGPC director of education Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia said.

"The recruitment of teachers will purely be on merit basis and in a transparent manner," Dr Walia said, stressing that his office would not succumb to any kind of recommendation or influence in the recruitment procedure.

"Since all nine schools will be CBSE-affiliated and English medium, the teachers' proficiency, understanding of English language and teaching aptitude in their respective subjects are being assessed through this written test," he said.

Irrespective of the new trend of the appointment of teachers on contract in government schools of Punjab, the teachers being recruited in the SGPC-run schools will get salary on par with the CBSE schools elsewhere, Dr Walia pointed out.

The results would be out within a week and 200 of these candidates would be short-listed for interview, he added.

The maximum number of 1,470 applicants today got themselves registered at Guru Nanak Girls College here, as seven out of these nine upcoming primary schools have been established in the Malwa belt, and one each at Natala village in Kapurthala district and Guru ka Bagh border village in Amritsar district.


Old-age home comes to their rescue
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 16
For five elderly persons, the local Shiv Shankar Birdh Ashram, set up by a social worker Dasu Ram more than eight years ago, is their home, as they have no shelter to spend their remaining life having been abandoned by their sons.

Besides, a woman aged 80 has also been living in the ashram for about five years, while a 75-year-old person is residing with his son. Listening to the stories of these persons, one could easily assess their misery from their faces.

One of these elderly persons is Bhagwan Singh (80) from Kal Banjara village (near Lehragaga), who has been living in the ashram for the past three years despite the fact that he has two sons.

In a representation to the deputy commissioner recently, he stated that his one son had taken possession of his house by ousting him from the house, due to which he had been residing in the ashram for the past three years.

He has requested the deputy commissioner to help him in getting the possession of his house. Talking to The Tribune, another person Pritam Singh (85) from Rampuraphul said he had three sons, but none of them was ready to keep him. He said he was here for the past two years.

A local resident Dayal Chand (70) said he had been living in the ashram for the past about four years. Though he had two sons, no one came here even to meet him.

Another elderly person Om Parkash (75) from Tohana town in Haryana is here for the past about three months, as his son also does not want to look after him.

Sarup Chand (75) from Sangherra village (near Barnala) said he had been forced to reside in the ashram for the past one year, as his son had sold his house by getting his signatures on one pretext or the other.

An elderly woman Mohinder Kaur (80) from Namol village (near here) is in the ashram for the past more than five years. She has also no one to look after her. She is seriously ill.

Besides these six persons, Pritam Singh (75) has been residing in the ashram along with his son, as they had no house to spend their life. His son helps other elderly persons by way of cooking food and doing other works.

Talking to this reporter, president of the managing committee of the Shiv Shankar Birdh Ashram Mohan Sharma said the ashram was being run on donations, as the monthly expenditure of the ashram was around Rs 10,000.

He said elderly persons were given food, milk, tea, clothes and free medicines. He also said that the Sangrur deputy commissioner had arranged a doctor for these persons who would visit the ashram every Saturday to examine them.


Docs fight over clicking of pics
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 16
There was a ruckus in the local Civil Hospital today when a gynaecologist, who was about to perform hysterectomy on a woman, accused an anaesthetist of clicking objectionable photographs of a patient in the operation theatre (OT) while the patient was unconscious.

Both doctors levelled serious allegations against each other that included charges of carrying out illegal sex determination tests, pornography, use of abusive language, bribery and other illegal activities in the hospital premises.

The incident took place in the morning when the anaesthetist, Dr Dipreet Kaur, administered an injection to a patient from Mansa Khurd village, as she was about to be operated for hysterectomy.

The patient was undressed and the anesthetist allegedly took the woman’s photographs with her mobile phone camera.

The gynaecologist, Dr Swapan Jeet Kaur, who had to operate upon the patient, asked the anaesthetist to desist from doing so. The verbal duel soon turned into a clash and the doctors were injured in the melee.

Dr Swapan Jeet Kaur said, “I stopped her from carrying out this illegal act, but she asked me to mind my own business and abused me. When I tried to snatch her mobile phone with which she was clicking photographs, she bit my hand and injured me.”

On her part, Dr Dipreet said, “I was not clicking any photograph. I was just trying to call a colleague of mine to inform that the surgery could be a risk to the patient as she was suffering from low blood pressure. Dr Swapan wanted to operate upon her despite my warning.”

“I accept injuring Swapan, but it was an act of self-defence as she had tried to strangle me,” said Dr Dipreet.

Both doctors have reported the matter to the police. However, many other surgeons and orthopaedists at the hospital confirmed that earlier too cases of misbehaviour by the anaesthetist had been reported.


Cong protest against ‘misrule’ on Feb 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Congress has decided to hold dharnas and marches at all district headquarters on February 25 to highlight “misrule and failure to provide proper governance to the people”.

This decision was taken at a meeting chaired by president, Punjab Congress Rajinder Kaur Bhattal here today. She said the protest will coincide the first anniversary of the SAD-BJP alliance in power.

She added the alliance government apprehending defeat in the coming panchayat elections had now planned to murder the spirit of Panchayti Raj Act by holding indirect elections for sarpanches.

Bhattal said the state was in financial mess, domestic agriculture and industrial sector were reeling from unprecedented and recurrent power cuts, atta- dal scheme was total failure wherein poor and needy had been left out, law and order left much to be desired, the real estate prices had plunged while big companies were not forthcoming to invest in Punjab. Bhattal also presided over a meeting of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee.


‘Khanna's statement misinterpreted’
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, February 16
Defending the local Member of Parliament Vinod Khanna, the Punjab BJP general secretary Ashwani Sharma said certain media channels had misinterpreted Khanna's statement on Raj Thackeray.

He said Khanna was a North Indian and could not be in favour of attacks on North Indians by Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai. He said Vinod Khanna was a senior BJP leader and had always followed the ideology of the party.

Sharma claimed that the Punjab unit of the BJP had strongly condemned the attacks on North Indians.

Sharma also criticised the central government for ignoring Punjab while issuing grants to the state.

He said being a Punjabi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had ignored the state, which was a matter of shame. He also flayed the government for hike in the prices of petrol and diesel.

The price hike would put extra burden on the common man, added Rakesh Sharma, a former chairman of the Pathankot Market Committee.


Custodial Death
Family of victim welcomes HC ruling on relief
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Bukanwala (Moga), February 16
The family of the custodial death victim, Kewal Singh, has welcomed the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling awarding Rs 10 lakh compensation to them.

Talking to TNS here today,they said though the loss of Kewal’s life could never be compensated, yet the money would be succour for providing quality education and shaping up the career of his two minor children.

Malkiat Kaur, widow of Kewal Singh, rued that battling for earning a livelihood had become an ordeal for her as she was never prepared for it.

Iqbal Singh, brother of the deceased, said his family was targeted for owing allegiance to a particular political party. He claimed that being leader of the Light Truck Union he had disseminated about threat to him and his family in a Punjabi daily.

He said probably on April 6 a case regarding the theft of fodder was registered at Sadar police station against six persons, including Kewal Singh, besides him.

He added that the next week another case under Section 307, IPC, was registered against him and his two brothers Nirmal Singh, Kewal Singh and his sister's son Resham Singh for inflicting life threatening injuries on Iqbal Singh, alias Deepa, and Balor Singh, alias Pappi.

He recalled that it was on April 21 that they were informed that Kewal had died. He claimed that bogus cases were filed against them and these must be quashed and the guilty punished.


Govt refutes media reports on Sikhs’ minority status
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The state government has refuted media reports stating that the Supreme Court of India had refused to give minority status to Sikhs in Punjab.

The office of advocate-general has clarified while hearing the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Punjab government on the issue, the court issued a notice of motion to the respondents returnable in six weeks.

A spokesman said the Supreme Court had issued a notice on the SLP filed by Punjab along with an application for stay.

He stated it was not correct that the court had rejected the stay application moved by the state and the matter was likely to be heard on the next date of hearing.

The matter was being represented properly and the state would articulate its stand before the court in subsequent hearings, he added.


Farmer bodies demand higher compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samiti has condemned the Punjab government for acquiring nearly 2,300 acres from around 300 families for the setting up of a 2000 MW Talwandi Sabo coal-based thermal power plant at Mansa.

The main objection of the committee to the acquiring of the land is the low remunerations, samiti president Prem Singh Gehlavt has said.

A three-member team from various farmer organisations that visited Banavali, Peeron, Raipur and Akliat Talwandi villages, where the thermal plant will be built, said though the 300 odd families that will be relocated have reconciled to the fact that they have to give up their land, but they feel that the government is not offering adequate compensation.

Gehlavt said the government must raise relief for the two categories of Rs 9 lakh (for non-irrigated land) and Rs 13 lakh (for irrigated) to Rs 25 lakh, irrespective of it being fertile or otherwise.

Besides, the samiti has sought that all uprooted families should be given a rehabilitation allowance for the next 10 years at the rate of Rs 10,000 per month.

Companies in the race to build the thermal power plant at Mansa include Reliance Power, Jindal Steel and Power and L&T, Sterlite Energy Ltd, Torrent Power Ltd (a consortium of Lanco Infratech), Aban Offshore and OPG Energy Pvt Ltd, Devona Thermal Power and Infrastructure Ltd, Essar Power Ltd and Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corp.

Gehlavt and Ruldu Singh Mansa, president of the local unit of the Punjab Kisan Union, said Reliance had purchased 50 acres in the area at Rs 14 lakh per acre to help the government form a benchmark. But this they said was below the prevailing market rates.


Govt to help out panchayats on water plan costs
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, February 16
The government will assist panchayats which are unable to invest even 5 per cent of the total cost of water supply schemes under a World Bank plan in the state.

Sanitation and public health minister Bikram Singh Majithia claimed that under the scheme the government had planned setting up certain water supply schemes worth Rs 1,280 crore to provide potable water to residents of over 3,000 villages.

The minister was talking to mediapersons before holding a meeting of officials of the Public Health and Sanitation Department with regard to schemes at Hardosharan Pattan and Fagota Pattan in Dhar block.

Over 4,000 families of Dhar block will not face water scarcity with the introduction of a water-lifting scheme from the dam.

Earlier, the minister presided over the annual prize distribution function of RRMK Arya Mahavidyalya, Pathankot, and stressed on quality education.

Transport minister Master Mohan Lal and senior Congress leader Sat Mahajan also addressed the gathering.


Moga Double Murder
Gonsgarh residents shocked over naming of youth, sister
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Gonsgarh (Ludhiana), February 16
The shocking double murder of two NRIs in Moga on February 13 allegedly scripted by a Canadian NRI girl and executed by her brother and contract killers has sent shock waves among residents of this village who had seen the accused brother and sister growing up as decent youngsters.

The villagers are in a quandary on whether the two should be treated as heroes for taking revenge from a youth who exploited and ditched the village girl and now Canada-based Amanpal Kaur or the murder be condemned.

A close relative said though he had no information about who carried out the murder, the deceased NRI Jasbir Singh was even offered Rs 50 lakh by the family of the NRI girl Aman for marrying her, "The family had called up Jasbir offering him the money, arguing that he was marrying another girl in Nihalsinghwala, Moga for money only."

The village, where a rural sports meet was on when a Tribune team reached there, is known for its rich residents. Everyone in the village has an NRI connection while most members of nearly 20 of the 40-odd families are NRIs. The outpouring riches can be seen from big houses and villas. An acre of land is pegged at above Rs 30 lakh per acre.

One such huge house is of Punjab Singh, father of the accused. Though he is not named as one of the accused in the FIR, he is missing after the Moga police conducted raids.

The house is locked. His wife was admitted to a private hospital in the city after she complained of heart pain after the series of tense incidents.

His close relative and nambardar Assa Singh said he did not know if Aman and Sewak committed the crime, "We were shocked when a team of the Moga police raided the village in search of Sewak and his father Punjab Singh. It is unbelievable for us that Amanpal could do such a thing."

Assa Singh said though any murder should be condemned and killing was not the solution to any issue, at the same time youths who exploited a girl in the name of marrying her should be taught a lesson.

Darbara Singh, another Canada-based NRI and a resident of the village, said no doubt the incident had put the village in the news headlines for the wrong reasons, such youths who exploit girls would face gory revenge," I don’t know whether Aman and Sewak killed them or not, but we villagers put the honour of the family over other things."


Article on Dasam Granth
Controversy unfortunate, says SAD(A) chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has described the controversy arising out of the publication of an article on Dasam Granth as mischievous and unfortunate.

He said this was the handiwork of some mischievous anti-Sikh elements wanting to create a controversy.

He said there is a no second thought Guru Granth Sahib was the final culmination of all teachings of the Gurus.

He said Guru Gobind Singh had written about Japu Sahib, Saviye, Chopai Sahib, Rehiras Sahib, Akal Ustat, etc but at the same time ordained “Sabh Sikhon ko hukam hai Guru maniyo Granth”.

In a statement Mann said as per past practices any controversial issue facing the Panth was resolved following deliberation by five Takht chiefs with inputs from Sikh intelligentsia.

He appealed to the Sikhs to remain united against any evil designs against
the Sikh community.


Sikh body for global discussion
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
The Sikh Nation Organisation has appealed to the clergy of the five Takhts to hold transparent and wider discussions.

These should be through video conferencing to settle once and for all various long-pending Panthic issues over maryada.

President of the organisation Manjit Singh Randhawa said there could never be any confusion if a proper discussion on various issues was held.


Badal decries hike in petrol, diesel prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal decried the Government of India's decision for raising the price of petrol by Rs 2 per litre and diesel by Rs 1 per litre by immediate effect.

Coming down heavily on the Centre for this unwarranted hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, Badal said it would badly hit the farming and transport sectors in the state.

He said the Centre should have realised the pathetic economic condition of the farming community which was already in distress due to the high cost of agriculture inputs.

“The recent hike in the prices in petrol and diesel will further aggravate the woes of both the farmers as well as the common man,” rued Badal.


National heritage status sought for Amarnath cave
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 16
The Shri Amarnath Yatra Welfare Organisation has sought the status of national heritage for the holy cave of Amarnath.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, national president of the organisation Rajinder Sharma said the holy cave was related to Lord Shiva and one of the well-known centres of spiritual belief for billions of Hindus the world over.

“Every Hindu cherishes the desire of visiting this place at least once in his lifetime. Another big factor in this regard is that not only the Hindus, but the Muslims of Kashmir were also associated with the annual yatra to the holy cave,” said Sharma.

He rued that the Amarnath Shrine Board had not allotted any land to the NGO for providing shelters, cottages, toilets and other public conveniences for the pilgrims. He has urged the PM to expedite the matter.

Demanding a grant of Rs 100 crore for the board, Sharma said no money was allocated to it by the Centre.

It was depending on Rs 25,000 collected from the amenities provided by the NGO on the way to the cave.

The organisation demanded that the date and duration of yatra be determined by a committee of religious heads from various organisations under the leadership of mahant Shri Deepinder Giriji and not by the board.

The latter should only shoulder the responsibility of managing the yatris and not interfere in religious matters.


KAC to rope in Hindus, Dalits against dera chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
The Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) has decided to rope in Hindus and Dalits so that joint action could be launched against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, who had allegedly imitated Guru Gobind Singh.

A meeting of KAC, held under the presidentship of Bhai Mohkam Singh, alleged that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief had not spared other religions also.

In a press release issued after the meeting, KAC convener announced that their peaceful struggle against the activities of Dera Sacha Sauda would continue.

Bhai Mohkam Singh alleged that some Sikh forces which had come to power after getting votes in the name of Sikh Panth had turned their back towards Akal Takht.

He said the manner in which the state government clamped prohibitory orders and stopped the Khalsa March of the Khalsa Action Committee at Bhai Rupa on February 10 was not only a violation of the democratic and civil rights of the Sikh people but also a denigration of the Akal Takht Hukamnama in this regard.

As this is a violation of the directive of Akal Takht Sahib, KAC urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib to summon Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal for creating hurdles in the way of the Khalsa March.

Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, a former chief of the Dal Khalsa, sought explanation from the SGPC president Avtar Singh for his “studied silence” on the issue.


Five held, Rs 40,000 fake notes seized
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
The police here arrested five persons and recovered Rs 40,000 counterfeit Indian currency from them.

Two persons, including one arrested with Pakistan-made counterfeit currency, in 2005 again indulged in the illegal trade though he was on bail.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, district police chief, said Amrik Singh of Rajasansi, along with Gurbej Singh of Sohian Kalan village, had been arrested with Rs 20,000 in fake currency. One of his associates Ranjit Singh Bittu of Ramdas is absconding.

One printer has also been recovered from their possession. Amrik Singh has been in the illegal trade for a long time. Earlier he was arrested in May 2007 with Rs 75,000 fake currency. Two cases have been registered at Sultanwind and Sadar police stations.

In another case, the Sadar police arrested Inderjit Singh and Mangat Singh of Heir village and Baljit Singh, alias Bobby of Kamboj, with Rs 20,000 Pakistan-made fake currency. Sabi was earlier arrested in 2005 with Rs 6 lakh fake currency and sentenced to three years.

Two cases have been registered under Sections 489 A, B and C, IPC, and investigations are on.


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