P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


5 cops held for undertrials’ escape
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
Five police personnel have been arrested and suspended for the last night’s escape of eight undertrials from police custody at the Central Jail here.

Meanwhile, a massive manhunt has been launched to nab the fugitives. All of them belong to the nomad tribe of Bangalas. Each of them is facing trial in over 20 cases of robbery and murders in various police districts of the state.

Senior superintendent of police R.K. Jaiswal said the police was conducting raids to nab fugitives Birju, Saana, Bijnuu, Sayasi, Sethani Nath, Makhni, Bhagnu and Balkar.

It was analysing the record of persons who had visited them in the jail during the past one year. The police has also beefed up the security of an SP and an inspector who were instrumental in catching the criminals.

Head constables Dhunda Ram, Jagroop Singh, Suhsil Kumar, constable Ashok Kumar and SPO Darbara Singh have been arrested for negligence in duty.

Central Jail officials and the local police were locked in blame game over the incident. But, no one was able to answer the baffling question that why neither the suspended cops nor the jail guards shot at the undertrials.

Deputy superintendent (Jail) S.P. Khanna said negligence was on the part of the police. “Our guards had no chance to open fire as the incident took place outside the jail.”

Inquiries revealed that three of the 11 undertrials (the number of undertrials was 12, one already escaped near Phagwara) three had entered the jail’s main door while the others had got off the bus. They were entering the jail in a queue and undergoing the routine frisking at the gate.

The last one in the queue was the first to make a move. As he ran, all policemen and jail guards ran after him, thus losing focus on the remaining undertrials. Of them eight managed to cross the barbed wires and ran away in different directions. However, Fakira was caught after a brief chase.

A similar escape was pulled off by a gang of 20 alleged drug-addict youths. They had attempted to free an undertrial from a PRTC bus near the Amaltas hotel on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway a few months ago.

One of the undertrials, Surjit Singh, an alleged notorious drug smuggler, is at large.


For better medication, this 97-year-old is willing to go to jail
Bipin Bardwaj
Tribune News Service

Marhi-Buchian (Gurdaspur), February 17
The Punjab and Haryana Court verdict sentencing life imprisonment to Kartar Singh (97) has not saddened him.

Accused in a murder case, Kartar Singh has expressed willingness to go to jail so that he could get proper care and medication. He, however, claims to be innocent and wrongly implicated in the case.

The High Court has sentenced Kartar Singh to life imprisonment for murdering his neighbour, Surjit Kaur, about 14 years ago.

Talking to The Tribune, Kartar Singh, who claimed to be 108-year-old said, he had cordial relations with his neighbour. Recalling the day of the incident, Kartar Singh said Jassa, son of Surjit Kaur, had a scuffle with him.

He and Jassa were pulling a stick towards their sides from either end when Surjeet Kaur intervened.

Since she was on one end of the stick, she sustained grave injuries when Jassa released the stick. Surjit Kaur collapsed on the spot and died, he recalled.

After the death of his wife in 1993, Kartar Singh came across Kamaljit Kaur at Sri Hargobindpur and she has been looking after him since then.

Kartar Singh said since he needed more care and medication, jail would obviously be an appropriate place for him to live in.

Unable to stand on his own feet, Kartar Singh is helped by Kamaljit Kaur (45).

Kartar Singh claimed that he was born at Toba Tek Singh village in Pakistan and was nearly 108 years old.

Expressing soldiarity with him, Kamaljit Kaur claimed that she too would accompany Kartar Singh to jail to look after him.

Kartar Singh's son, Karnail Singh, claimed that he would move the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission to waive life imprisonment to his father.

Meanwhile, Chanan Singh, son of the deceased, who is principal of Senior Secondary School at Marhi-Buchian, expressed happiness on the High Court verdict. 


Passing in maths must for class X students
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 17
The Punjab government has made it compulsory for class X students to pass mathematics in matriculation examination.

Students appearing in class X through the Punjab School Education Board can fail in mathematics and still pass matriculation.

However students preparing for class X examination this year need not panic. The decision will be implemented “gradually”.

Secretary education K.B.S. Sidhu said students appearing in class X examination in 2009 would have to score at least 25 per cent marks in the subject while by 2010 matric examination students would have to pass mathemtics like any other subject by securing 33 per cent marks.

“Students in class VIII now are being given two years before the actual implementation of the decision. Also this would give time to mathematics teachers to gear up,” he said.

Students appearing in the matriculation examination through the Punjab School Education Board can fail in any two subjects (except Punjabi) and still pass the examination. Generally both mathematics and English are ignored having been dubbed “difficult” subjects.

Board chairman Dalbir Singh Dhillon said though no discussion had been held by the government with the board in this regard but they were ready to promote mathematics.

“Making sure that students pass mathematics would raise standard of education in the state and we are in favour of this decision,” he said.

The fact Punjab students do not have to pass mathematics to be matriculate had been raised as an issue in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha by former Kharar MLA Bir Devinder Singh some years ago.

Then director general, school education Anurag Aggarwal had also taken up the matter with the Education Board.

However the board was reluctant to implement the move fearing the pass percentage of the students would fall drastically.

Sidhu said the government would put special emphasis on the teaching of science and mathematics.

“There is a move to divide the teaching at the primary level into two parts. Science and mathematics would be taught by one set of teachers and the languages and social studies would be taken up by another set of teachers,” said Sidhu.

He added at the high school level from classes VI to X, all posts of science and mathematics teacher would be filled.

Sidhu said to improve the teaching of English in high schools teachers graduates in English would be employed.

“Initially only a thousand teachers would be employed for the purpose,” he said.


Chandumajra’s appeal to political parties
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra has made a reverent appeal to all political parties in Punjab to rise above petty political considerations.

He asked them to join the SAD-BJP alliance to support its February 26 “insaf rally” in Delhi.

The former MP said the rally would force the Central government to come out with a package for debt-ridden farmers, withdraw the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices. 


‘No Punjabi novelist equals Premchand’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 17
Recipient of Sahitya Akademy award, Ram Sarup Ankhi claimed Punjabi had not produced even a single national-level novelist like Munshi Premchand so far. “Most of the Punjabi novelists don’t have name across Ambala,” he quipped.

Hailed as exponent of Indian peasantry in Punjabi literature, Ankhi said some of the Punjabi novelists were semi-literate while well-educated novelists write rarely. “The tragedy is that semi-literate novelists hardly read literature of other language”, he said.

Lauding “Godan,” the best-seller novel of Munshi Premchand, Ankhi said it was the most realistic portrayal of the Indian village society: “It is a story of changing people, hungry and semi-starved, yet hopeful and optimistic, in the truest spirit of the age it represents”. Ankhi said when he wrote “Salphas,” Punjabi critics were of the view that had Premchand lived in Barnala, he would have written this novel.

Ankhi said despite old age, he had been writing at least one book in a year. The latest novel of Ankhi is “Kankan Da Katlaam” (massacre of wheat). He has depicted a very realistic portrayal of the life of Punjabi farmers in it. The novel brings into sharp focus, the forced acquiring of fertile and cultivable land from the farmers for industrial giants and the sympathetic role of the kisan unions. Initially, farmers welcomed coming of industrial houses that hiked the price of farm rural land. Later, they realised that MNCs brought great miseries to the farming community.

On the novel, Ankhi said a marginal farmer being unskilled had been left high and dry following the purchase of his land by the industrial tycoons. While the persons of other castes, displaced by MNCs excelled in cities due to their being skilled workers, but the Jat (farmer) had to do labour. In the given circumstances, farmers started committing suicides. The novel is 14th in the series.

Unlike his earlier novels like “Kothe Kharak Singh,” an epic spanning a period of three generations, the latest novel of Ankhi touchs upon a single subject regarding the pitiable condition of the farming community.

Ankhi, who retired as English teacher from a government school, opted to write in his mothertongue. Coming from a humble farming family, Ankhi did farming in his village after his education at Mohindra College, Patiala, like many of the farmers’ progeny.

Punjabi critics hailed Ankhi for taking up the cause of the farming community in a realistic way and portrayed tribulations and tensions of the poor farmers in his literary works.

He was honoured with numerous awards, including Shiromani Sahitkar, Bhartiya Bhasha Award Kolkata and International Sahit Akademy, London.

However, Ankhi rued that the number of literature readers in Punjabi was fast decreasing. He said though more and more people understood Punjabi language, serious literature readers a were on the downswing. Ankhi has authored14 novels and 12 collections of short stories over a span of 40 years.


Maths not dry, difficult subject, says expert
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 17
“Mathematics is unique and computer science can at best just glimpse into a small portion of it,” said B.P Bapat. president of the Indian Mathematical Society.

Bapat was speaking at a two-day seminar on ‘Mathematics Education and Research in Punjab’ yesterday.

The seminar was organised by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali, at its transit campus in Sector 26, Chandigarh.

Bapat stressed, “Our subject, known as the queen of sciences and one with a long history is losing its image in the eyes of the young student, policy maker and the general public. Riding the wave of computer science does not solve the problem, since the nature of mathematics is unique and computer science can at best glimpse into a small portion of it,” he said.

He added that the bifurcation of undergraduate teaching and research in the subject had not served well.

“Our best researchers are concentrated in research institutes and do not teach undergraduate courses in mathematics. This is one of the reasons for the steady decline in the quality of undergraduate mathematics education in the country.”


Preaching equality in Sikhism
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 17
To spread the message of equality in Sikhism, Bhagat Ravidas Khalsa Jagriti march which started from Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday culminated at the Golden Temple here today. The march was organised by the SAD Amritsar (Presidium) and supported by the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC).

Addressing reporters, Daljit Singh Bittu, chairman, SAD (Presidium), said the march was first of its kind initiative to remove inequality in society. He said the Sikh tenets were against discrimination on the basis of birth and there was need to take Dalits into the mainstream

Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh said after the Dera Sacha Sauda issue, it had come to light that Dalits were feeling left out and turning to different deras in the region. Teachings of Sikh Gurus call for equality among all sections of society and the march was for spreading this message by coming all the way to Amritsar from Fatehgarh Sahib.


Rs 1.34 cr for training youth
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 17
The union government has sanctioned Rs 1.34 crore for the training of unemployed youths of this border district under the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) to make them eligible for gainful self employment.

Ajoy Sharma, deputy commissioner (DC), said here today that 1200 youths were to be trained in six trades - electrician, plumber, mason, general works supervision/mate, surveyor and carpenter. Under the proposal, the youths would be provided training and after testing they would be given certificates for getting jobs at proper places.

The DC added 300 youths in all six trades having a batch of 50 trainees per trade would be trained in 12 weeks. This way 1200 youths would be trained in four batches in a year.

The DC said the proposal was to be implemented by the District Rural Development Agency(DRDA) in collaboration with the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC).

A sum of Rs 10,190 per trainee will be spent by the DRDA to the CIDC. For this a Rs 134.28 lakh had been sanctioned by the union government, the DC said.


Cops get fitness tips
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 17
Professor and chief cardiologist, Hero DMC Heart Institute, Ludhiana, G.S. Wander today educated police personnel and others about the factors responsible for various heart diseases. He suggested to the personnel to control mental stress to remain healthy.

Dr Wander and other experts participated in a seminar on “Health management”, organised by the district police at the district administrative complex here. Under the leadership of SSP Arun Pal Singh, a large number of police personnel, including officers, attended the seminar. Dr Indu Malhotra, ADC, also participated in it.

Dr Wander enlisted nine risk factors for causing various heart diseases, including cardiac arrest. He said those risk factors included hypertension, smoking, hyper cholesterol, genetic risk, sugar, obesity, unhealthy diet, and lifestyle. In India, more people were dying due to overeating compared to those dying due to hunger. One-third people died due to sudden death (cardiac arrest) while as many suffered from angina.

Stress in routine life has increased to the extent that in 1960 only 2 per cent people in the country had been suffering from heart diseases, but the number now had risen to 10 or 15 per cent. To live a healthy life, a person should be mentally, physically, socially and spiritually healthy, Dr Wander said.

Dr Naved Aslam, DM, cardiologist, said heart diseases could be prevented by controlling diet, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, besides adopting a simple lifestyle. He said low-fat diet and low-cholesterol diet played a major role in the prevention of heart diseases. 


Power, water shortage bane of Malwa region
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Malwa region, that witnessed a good turnaround in its economy in spite of mealy bug attack on the cotton crop this season, is sliding back into depressing situation owing to various reasons.

The main reason is the virtual absence of power in the countryside. “Sometimes we have to charge our mobile phones on the batteries of our cars or jeeps,” says Ajaib Singh, sarpanch, Buraj Bhalai, near Mansa, explaining power crisis being faced by people in his area.

“During day time, we hardly get power. In the evening, we get electricity for an hour or two. In a nutshell, we remain without power for most of the time,” he adds.

He is not alone in saying so. Ask Gurvinder Singh, sarpanch of Raipur village, Mehta Singh of Ulak village and Pradeep Kumar, member, Block Samiti, about power situation in the Mansa-Bathinda belt and they will corroborate what Ajaib Singh says.

The other reason is elusive canal water. “We are without canal water for the past two months. And that has affected our wheat crop most. As subsoil water is unfit for irrigation in the region, we depend on canal water to irrigate our fields. However, such a long closure of minors is giving us sleepless nights,” said Gurvinder.

Mehta narrated the same story. “Our village gets water straight from Bhakra canal. But we rarely get water supply for irrigation purpose,” he adds. In the absence of water in the canal systems, people also have to face an acute shortage of drinking water because most of the waterworks, from where water is supplied for drinking, are fed by canal water. “Subsoil water is highly brackish and carries fluoride in a high quantity. Outsiders cannot drink even a glass of that water,”says Pradeep Kumar.

As there is no adequate power and water for irrigation or drinking in the core Malwa’s countryside, there is a steep fall in the rent of land. “At certain places farmers gave their land, which had an energised tube well with subsoil water fit for irrigation, on rent for the next season well in advance at a rate varying between Rs 22,000 and Rs 27,000 per acre. However, as power scenario remains dismal, farmers have lowered the rent rate”, said Ajaib Singh. “In the beginning of the season, there was an increase of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 per acre in the land rent but it has now come down to the last year level,” he adds. The land where subsoil water is unfit for irrigation is now available on a rent varying between Rs 11,000 andRs 15,000 per acre depending on the quality of land.

There is a so much shortage of water at minor tails that it often leads to clashes among farmers. “In our area, the principle of might is right is prevailing as far as the use of canal water is concerned. There is no law. Water outlets have been tempered with at various places and there is no one to stop the practice,” says Jagwant Singh, a local leader.


Operate locker once a year or bank will open it
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
If you have not operated your locker account for a year or more, your bank may have either already opened it or is about to open it and confiscate 
your valuables.

The Reserve Bank of India has issued directions to all banks to ensure that all lockers under their control are operated at least once a year to keep them out of “high-risk category”.

Earlier, the banks had the discretion to wait for three years or even more to open dormant locker accounts.

Sources in the banking industry reveal that the RBI instructions have been issued in the wake of recovery of “firearms” and other “contraband items” from some of the dormant bank lockers.

This has presumably been done under pressure from the security and intelligence agencies.

Bank officials admit that keeping firearms in lockers has been a common practice.

According to an estimate of a senior banking official, more than 30 per cent of total lockers of all nationalised banks can now be opened by the respective bank authorities for they have not been operated for a year or more. The number of lockers in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh runs in thousands.

Some of the clients of a nationalised bank were surprised at a notice served upon them last week warning them that the bank could open their locker in case they were not regular in operating it.

“It is not a good decision as many of those who have lockers in banks and are working or settled abroad can operate them once or more a year,” rues an NRI who received a notice from the SBI last week.

Investigations reveal that in April last year, the RBI had issued fresh guidelines categorising bank locker account holders into low, mid and high-risk categories. Low risk category comprises clients who operate their lockers regularly. The mid-risk category has the clients who operate their lockers at least once a year while high-risk category consists of the clients who either not operate or operate their lockers only once in three years.

Under the old guidelines, the bank had the discretion to open lockers identified under high-risk category and that too on suspicion.

In many cases, holders of locker accounts have not paid locker rent for years together.


Widening of road:12,000 trees face axe
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 17
The widening of the Chandigarh-Kiratpur Sahib road has started and with it 12,000 trees are facing the axe. These trees used to provide panoramic view to commuters on the road.

Sources in the Department of Forests said the road, besides leading to the axing of trees, would also reduce around 75-hectare area under the strip forest. To add to it no space would be left for replanting trees along the road.

DFO, Ropar, Mishra said the department had received money for planting trees on 150 hectares of land from the National Highways authorities. When asked if no area was left, where the plantation would be carried out, he said this would have to be carried in the protected forest areas.

However, this makes clear that Punjab, which has the lowest forest cover in the country in terms of percentage (at just 3.14 per cent), would lose another 75 hectares of forest cover.

In the past three years due to the widening of roads, primarily under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis the state has lost more than two lakh trees. In an affidavit submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the forest department authorities had maintained that 45,000 cubic metre trees had been felled along the road in the state. After the filing of the affidavit, thousands of trees have been felled.

The depletion of strip forest at such a massive scale in the state clearly illustrates the apathy of the successive governments towards green cover.

The state should plan the widening and strengthening of roads in advance. In that planning, third and fourth row of trees should be planted in advance before felling the existing trees.

The sources said the onus of planting trees along the newly widened roads was on the companies operating them. However, the companies had not carried out any plantation along these roads.


Mann welcomes move on trigger-happy troublemakers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Comedian Bhagwant Mann has welcomed the move of the Punjab police to crack down on trigger-happy troublemakers at marriage parties.

A few days ago he had raised the issue as to how people use firearms at weddings in show-off bravado.

Mann, in a press statement issued, has welcomed the instructions issued by the Punjab DGP that apparently instructed all SSPs to deal with such criminally inclined troublemakers strictly by way of renewed steps.

Bhagwant Mann is first celebrity of this region to have espoused the cause against hooliganism by trigger-happy revellers after the tragic incident involving death of an assistant cameraman by accidental fire at a Mohali marriage palace last month.

Mann hailed the instructions by the DGP that imply strict adherence to the existing norms and proper vigilance by cops in their area.

The no tolerance regime purported through such instructions will go a long way in dissuading people to become unduly and excessively violent just to show off, he added.

The instructions issued recently also include that warning be put outside marriage palaces telling revellers that use of firearms by way of firing in the air to celebrate was not allowed. 


Attackers kill woman with lathis
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 17
A 45-year-old woman Amarjit Kaur, wife of Sher Singh, resident of Ealwal village, near here, was killed last night when some persons allegedly attacked her house.

Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh said today that as per the complaint, lodged by the deceased’s son, some persons attacked their house and hit his mother on the head with lathis due to which she died. He further said their family and the alleged assailants were interested in the purchase of a plot of land. The land was, however, bought by the deceased’s family. This annoyed the other party and they allegedly attacked the house of the deceased, he added.

The SSP said the police had registered a case against Jagdev Singh, Amrik Singh, Ajmer Singh and Gurmail Singh under Sections 302 and 452, IPC.


J&K cop among 4 held with heroin
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 17
The Special Narcotics Cell (SNC) today arrested four smugglers of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), including a constable of the J&K police, and seized from them 1 kg heroin worth Rs 1 crore in the international market.

Those arrested include J&K police constable Sajid Mahmood, resident of Hazan Dandkote, Rajouri, Amit Kumar and Nawal Sharma, both residents of Poonch, and Pankaj Sharma, resident of Roop Nagar, Jammu.

A case has been registered against the four smugglers under Section 21/29/61, NDPS Act, in the Kathunangal police station.

SSP, SNC, Amritsar, Tulsi Ram giving details said acting on a tip-off a team of the SNC, headed by Inspector Jasbir Singh, apprehended the smugglers near the Kathunangal bus stand, 27 km from here, and seized the contraband from them. 


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