P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Seminar was being addressed by CM
Police beats up anganwari workers
Anil Jerath and Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

A Blow On Freedom Of Speech?

Police personnel in civil clothes gags a woman Cops drag the slogan raising woman anganwari workers out of the Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal’s seminar in Bathinda on Thursday.
(Left) Police personnel in civil clothes gags a woman; (Right) Cops drag the slogan raising woman anganwari workers out of the Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal’s seminar in Bathinda on Thursday. — Tribune photos by Malkiat Singh

Bathinda, March 27
The police mercilessly beat up women anganwari workers who tried to disrupt a seminar on AIDS that was being addressed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today. They were raising anti-government slogans for its failure to fulfil their demands as the policemen prevented them from proceeding towards the dais.

The civil hospital had organised the seminar where Badal and health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla were present. The anganwari workers started raising anti-government slogans as soon as Badal got up to deliver his speech.

The situation took an ugly turn when the women police, along with their men colleagues, dragged anganwari workers out of the pandal.

Just after the Chief Minister had left the place, policemen, including some senior officials, tried to tie the hands of protesting workers with a rope and drag them towards a police vehicle. A woman worker was even thrown on the floor and kicked and abused by a SAD woman activist. When mediapersons intervened, she threatened them with dire consequences. In charge, CIA, Ranjit Singh and a security officer, Sanjeev Mittal, roughed up the mediapersons and used abusive language against them. The police even prevented photojournalists from clicking shots of the police brutality.

Senior police personnel claimed that the anganwari workers roughed up the women cops who tried to prevent them from disrupting the seminar.

Later, at a press conference, Badal rejected the demand for immediate suspension of the police officers responsible for the ill-treatment of the workers. The mediapersons turned down the offer of Badal to hold an inquiry into the episode.

Meanwhile, SAD (A) chief Simranjeet Singh Mann reached the spot and condemned the brutal act of the police. Local Congress MLA Harminder Singh Jassi also condemned the police action.

Meanwhile, anganwari workers laid siege to the Civil Lines police station, where Hargobind Kaur, state president of the Anganwari Workers Association, along with 10 others, was arrested. They said they had come there to peacefully apprise Badal of their grievances.

Bathinda SSP Naunihal Singh said a case under Sections 186 and 353 of the IPC had been registered against more than 10 anganwari workers and an inquiry into the incident would be conducted.


Officers in a fix over govt move on asset lists
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Punjab government officers are in a dilemma on how to respond to a letter issued today by the undersecretary, coordination, to all heads of departments and managing directors of all boards and corporations for officers “police and non-police” to disclose assets in their name or in the names of their spouses and dependents.

The letter (12/50/08-GC(5)/5078) dated 27-3-2008, which initially was directed at bureaucrats, is now seeking a declaration on assets by all officer cadres employees of the Punjab government. The letter has been sent to the officers by department heads, who have been asked to do so by the chief secretary citing a Punjab and Haryana High Court directive.

A senior government officer said though this might be a “well meaning exercise” to eradicate corruption, but it had only caused resentment among the officers because the information sought was already available with the government. “It is mandatory for each officer to disclose assets he or his kin hold and this is part of government record. None is going to reveal the benami properties they hold nor have they been asked to volunteer this information”.

Having affected functioning of the government, this exercise is likely to lead to piling up of reams with information that may serve little purpose in exposing corruption - objective behind the directive. Officers says there is no clarity on the subject and to avoid violating the court orders the notice has been sent to every gazetted officer in the state through departments.

Initially only the bureaucrats were asked to furnish details of assets in seven days, but now all “officer clan” of the state has been included in the exercise. “We have received a form prescribed by the additional director general of police (law and order) for furnishing of all immovable property in and around Chandigarh”, an officer said.

Every official has to disclose the nature of the property, date of purchase or acquisition, if it has been transferred or is held on a power of attorney. The directive comes based on a court order in a case Kuldip Singh versus state of Punjab, which apparently is a dispute between to senior state police officers. The court’s intention was to find out which higher- ups in the state including civil and police bureaucrats own lands in areas like Naya Gaon, Zirakpur, Mohali, Kansal and Chandigarh.

Yet another secretary- level officer confirming having received this letter added, “there is no panic among the officers as there is nothing new they have to reveal, but there is certainly lot of resentment because the entire exercise appears to be futile. Unless these declarations are in the form of affidavits these mean nothing legally and if affidavits are submitted, where is the government going to preserve thousands of sheets of paper”.


No promotion for staff with ‘fake’ degrees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Punjab government has instructed all heads of departments, commissioners of divisions, deputy commissioners and others concerned that they should not promote any employee holding degree from any unauthorised institution.

An order in this regard has been sent to all departments by the personnel department of the state government.

A major implication of the order is that each employee due for promotion will have to show his or her degree for verification to officer deputed for this purpose by the department concerned. In case of any doubt with regard to the genuineness, the degree can be sent to the university or the institution concerned for authentication.

There are several unauthorised educational institutes in the country. From time to time, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been publishing the lists of the universities recognised by it to tell people to avoid bogus universities operating in the country. However, other organisations that recognise medical colleges, nursing colleges, B.Ed colleges and other technical institutions in the country have never published such a list.

Recently, the Punjab irrigation department had ordered the verification of degrees of certain officials who were to be promoted to a higher level. Sources said doubts were raised by certain quarters with regard to the AIME degrees by some of the employees in the department.

Earlier, the education department had got verified the degrees of certain teachers. Following verification, the degrees of a number of teachers were found to be bogus and they were removed from the service, it is learnt. Allegations have been levelled in other departments regarding the holding of bogus degrees by some employees.


Bhattal leaves it to high command
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Chief of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and the leader of the opposition in Vidhan Sabha Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today that it was bad of Capt Amarinder Singh to have made statements against her, however, it was for the high command to take action against him.

Bhattal, who was here to attend a meeting for the tercentenary celebrations of the Gur-ta-gaddi divas, said she had sought time from Sonia Gandhi to brief her on the issue and the matter of Amarinder’s outburst was already in the notice of the party top brass. There was no cause for a fight between us, she added. Meanwhile, it was learnt that newspaper clippings of reports on Bhattal-Amarinder tirade had been provided to the party high command.

She said the party would hold district rallies from March 29 and organise a conference at Damdama Sahib on Baisakhi.


Vedanti completes 8 yrs as Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today completed eight years as the Jathedar of Akal Takht, the longest term of a Jathedar since Blue Star Operation in June 1984, mainly due to his “pliability”, the quality that goes well with the ruling Akali Dal and the SGPC.

Giani Vedanti was installed as Jathedar following unceremonious removal of Giani Puran Singh on March 28, 2000. He also holds charge of Granthi of Golden Temple.

Despite a number of Sikh organisations openly criticising Jathedar Vedanti for his alleged favouratism and biases, he has survived as Jathedar due to the majority enjoyed by the ruling SAD in the the SGPC, “the appointing authority of the Sikh clergy”. Ever since his installation, many directives/edicts, pronounced by him stand unimplemented.

He is being accused by rival Akali factions of having failed to take “independent decisions” pertaining to the Sikh Panth. Committee member Manjit Singh Calcutta described the eight years’ performance of Jathedar Vedanti as “lacklustre”. After Prof Manjit Singh, Giani Vedanti is the widely travelled Jathedar of the Takht.

The first directive issued by Jathedar Vedanti on March 29, 2000, a day after his installation as Jathedar, was first of its kind in the history of the Takht. He had revoked all controversial Hukmnamas issued by his predecessor Giani Puran Singh from January 25, 1999, to March 28, 2000. Jathedar Vedanti had also directed the SGPC to appoint a committee of Sikh intellectuals for fixing the duties and responsibilities and qualifications for the appointment of high priests “at the earliest”. Eight years having elapsed since the directive was issued, the SGPC is unmoved on the matter.

Despite his best efforts, he has failed to get the controversial issues relating to Nanakshahi Calendar and Dasam Granth resolved. The only achievement of the Jathedar is that he had taken a strong exception to the “anti-Sikh” propaganda unleashed by the RSS.


Inter-caste Marriage
Couple under threat, moves PSHRC for security
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Rajiv Sharma (28) and Suman Sharma (22) even after one year of marriage are still under threat to life due to their inter-caste marriage.

The couple has moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for protection of life and liberty. Rajiv Sharma and Suman Sharma wh married in September 2007 stated they had been threatened by the girl’s parents.

The commission has asked the SSP, Gurdaspur to submit a report if the police ever raided the house of the couple.

Discussing the issue of security sought by the couple S.S. Srivastava, SSP UT said, “Usually in one month the high court refers four to five cases wherein young couples seek security. The court gives directions to examine and take preventive steps in cases where newly married couples demand security. In most of the cases after an inquiry the parents of the couple reconcile and accept them.”

Rajiv stated in the complaint his was an inter-caste marriage and Suman’s parents were unhappy about it. The couple alleged Ajit Sharma and Urmila Rani, parents of the girl have been threatening them of dire consequences. Suman has accepted marriage with Rajiv and was happy with him.

The commission stated: “When we are advancing towards 21st century why still we want to remain in medieval ages. The concern of the commission is against honour killings. When inter-caste marriages come to the notice of the law enforcing agencies, it becomes its duty to give directions to administration to see that such couples are not harassed. Criminal proceedings should be launched against such persons as provided under the law.”


Takht comes to students’ rescue
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 27
Coming to the rescue of students and patients of the state, Akal Takht has urged district police chiefs to inform managers of gurdwaras in their jurisdiction about a hukamnama restricting use of public address system during religious celebrations.

This was done after Akal Takht received complaints from public about disturbance caused to students and patients in general and psychiatry patients in particular.

Barring special occasions, including gurpurbs, it should be ensured high pitch sound waves do not go beyond gurdwara premises, it added.


Hindu jatha arrives from Pak
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 27
It is the for the first time when Pakistan has got a democratically elected government in real sense and the Hindus of Sindh province were happy with the election of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister.

These views were expressed to the media by Nand Lal Setia, leader of the 213-member Hindu jatha, including 29 women, which arrived today at the Attari railway station from Pakistan. They were welcomed by Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, and V.K. Mahajan, assistant commissioner, Customs.


Pak farmers for more exchange programmes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 27
An eight-member delegation of farmers of Pakistan today visited Chhauni farm, Horticulture Department, juice plant of Punjab Agro Juices Corporation and tractor-manufacturing company Sonalika International here. The delegation also met a number of farmers of the area.

It comprised director, Punjab Institute of Agriculture Marketing, Munir Ahmed, deputy managing director, Punjab Seed Corporation, Abdul Shakoor Shaad, chief executive officer, Solex Chemicals, Abdul Wahid Sandhre, Reporter of Daily Dawn, Ahmed Fraz Khan, agriculturist, eye specialist Muhammad Yaqin, agriculturists Iftikar Hussain and Shaukat Mehmood led by vice-chairman of Farmers Associates, Pakistan, Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi.

In an interaction with the mediapersons at the residence of agriculturist Bhagwant Singh, Gardezi said this was their third visit to India for exchange of technical knowledge among the farmers of both countries. Stressing on the adoption of tissue culture technology for the promotion of farming, he emphasised the need for creating more opportunities for such programmes.

The delegation had also met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh yesterday. 


Sterilisation of Stray Dogs
Amritsar selected for Rs 1.2-cr pilot project
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Taking a lead in the state, Amritsar will soon get rid of the menace of stray dogs as the Animal Welfare Board of India has picked the city for a pilot project worth Rs 1.20 crore for sterilisation of stray dogs.

As per the latest head count conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry, there are more than 25,000 stray dogs within the municipal limits. The situation is worse in the congested walled city area.

Talking to The Tribune, D.P.S. Kharbanda, municipal commissioner, said though the government of India normally funded only 10 per cent of the project, in case of Amritsar, half the total cost would be borne by the board.

“It has been conveyed to us that the project has been approved. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the board and the corporation will be signed shortly,” he said.

“The corporation has submitted a detailed project to the board, highlighting the fact that the dog menace has increased manifold in recent years. The board is also requested to relax its 10:90 model for funding and share a larger portion of the liability,” added Kharbanda.

“The approved project is based on the Shimla model and has been taken as a pilot project, which will be the first in the state. It will put an end to the problem of stray dogs in the city,” he said.

Dr Charanjit Singh, MC’s health officer, added that though the corporation had begun a sterilisation campaign some months back, it fizzled out in no time due to paucity of funds. “The cost of sterilisation of a female dog is Rs 800 and male dog Rs 500. But the sterilisation so far has been scattered and there was a need for a mass drive to tackle the problem effectively,” he said.

“Contrary to the general perception that sterilisation cannot wipe out stray dogs from the streets, the population of the stray breed can be brought down to negligible figures in a matter of maximum five years. The average life span of a dog is 4-5 years and it reproduces twice a year. But with mass sterilisation, the population of stray dogs can be tackled,” he said.

“Once the MoU is signed, it will be taken to the general house of the corporation for approval as half of the total cost of the project will be borne by the corporation,” he said.


Badals’ case adjourned
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 27
The corruption case against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur, Sukhbir Badal and seven others was adjourned for April 9 by a special court here today. Sukhbir, along with five other accused, appeared before Mohali’s Additional District and Sessions Judge S.K. Garg this afternoon.

District attorney-cum-public prosecutor Pradeep Mehta began briefing the judge about the charges being faced by the accused. The attorney handed over a tabulated brief of the case to the judge. The judge said he had been given the special powers only yesterday and the files had come to him in the afternoon. He said he needed time to go through the record and adjourned the case.

He also marked the presence of the accused. Harbans Singh, Jagnanadan Singh, Paviter Singh, Nirabhjit Singh and Gurpinder Singh Grewal were the other accused present in the court. Till date, Special Judge G.S. Saran was hearing the case at Ropar.

Sukhbir refused to comment on the court proceedings. His counsel Vikram Chaudhri said the court wanted to inspect and peruse the entire record of the case. 


HC stays arrest of Amarinder’s ex-OSD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Issuing notice of motion for August 12, Justice R.S. Madan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed till that date the arrest of Major Harminder Singh Bhullar, a former officer on special duty to former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh.

Ferozepur additional sessions judge Jagjit Singh Chohan had earlier turned down Bhullar’s anticipatory bail plea in a house deal case. As the matter came up for hearing before Justice Madan, complainant’s counsel Sant Pal Singh Sidhu contended that the bail application was not maintainable. He said it was the second bail application filed by the accused.

The Ferozepur additional sessions judge, rejecting the bail plea, had earlier observed: “Relief under Section 438 of the CrPC is an extraordinary relief and its protective umbrella should be given to the persons who act responsibly and fearing the law.

“The entire set of facts do give a reflection that all accused appeared to be connected with each other in the matter of committing wrong. Therefore, this extraordinary relief of grant of bail should not be extended to them. The prayer for bail in both applications stands declined.”

A case of cheating, forgery and other offences was registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC at the Sadar police station in Ferozepur on January 30.

PIL hearing

A Punjab and Haryana High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh today issued notice of motion for May on a PIL for action against employee Inderjit Singh Tandi, allegedly convicted by the Patiala Special CBI Court on March 15, 2004.

The petitioner, advocate H.C. Arora, pointed out that the High Court, in an appeal filed by senior industrial promotion officer Tandi, had extended his bail and further directed that his sentence shall remain suspended till the decision on his appeal.


Allotment of Liquor Vends
2 Punjab MLAs move HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Two Punjab MLAs have moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for setting aside the allotment of liquor vends in favour of the “Chadha group”. The group is reportedly managed by liquor baron Ponty Chadha and Inderpreet Chadha.

In the petition placed before a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh, MLAs Harmohinder Singh and Avtar Singh, have also sought directions for ordering an inquiry into the irregularities committed in the allotment of vends in the state for 2008-09.

The summoning of entire liquor vend allotment record has also been asked for. Describing the allotment process as “illegal”, the petitioners have contended that it was also in violation of the excise policy for 2008-09, Punjab Excise Act 1914, and the Punjab Liquor Licences Rules, 1956.

Giving details, the petitioners had added the rules made it mandatory that applications were be supported by requisite documents, application fee and 5 per cent amount of licence fee of a particular vend in form of demand draft.

But the Chadha group got maximum number of liquor vends allotted in their name or in that of their associates by manipulating the applications without submitting the requisite number of bank drafts.

The manipulation was done in connivance with the officials of the department concerned as they entertained deficient applications without proper demand drafts. Taking up the petition, the Bench fixed March 31 as the next date of hearing.


Addl SHO’s conviction upheld
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The conviction and life term of a cop, accused of shooting a Gypsy’s driver following his hesitation to take him to a police station, was today upheld by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Sat Pal, posted as additional station house officer at Khalchian police station in Amritsar district, had initially threatened driver Satnam Singh with dire consequences after he said the vehicle did not contain enough fuel, the prosecution had alleged.

It was added Satnam was shot after the vehicle, heading towards Beas police station, had hardly covered half a mile from a petrol station.

Sat Pal was subsequently booked by the Punjab police for murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, and also under the provisions of the Arms Act, after a first information report in the matter was registered at Beas police station on January 23, 1998.

The accused, when confronted with the incriminating evidence against him, had claimed innocence. In his statement before the trial court, the accused further claimed the revolver went off in a grapple. Elaborating, counsel for the petitioner had claimed the revolver was by his side on the vehicle’s seat as they were patrolling a sensitive area.

The driver became “rash and aggressive” and took the revolver in his hands. In an attempt to save himself, the cop tried to take the revolver back. In the struggle that ensued, the weapon went off, eventually resulting in the death of Satnam Singh.

After hearing the rival contentions and perusing the record, the Bench, comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice S.D. Goel, ruled: “There is no earthy reason why a police official heading a patrolling party would not like to allow the fire arm to stay in the holster and why he would like to put it loosely by his side.”

The Judges added: “The plea that the shot got accidentally fired in course of grappling is not acceptable in view of the medical evidence to the effect that the deceased was shot from near his ear and exit wound is on the other side of the face.”


Medical college dept head shifted
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
In a case of sexual harassment in educational institute, head of the Department of Anaesthesia of Government Medical College Dr T.S. Punia has been shifted out following allegations of “sexual harassment” against him by four women final year M.D.(anaesthesia) students of the same institute.

Dr Punia, was transferred to Chandigarh today by the secretary, Punjab Medical Education and Research Jagjit Puri after affected three girl students met Punjab medical education minister Tikshan Sud and Jagjit Puri at Chandigarh and submitted a written complaint against Dr Punia on Wednesday evening. The minister immediately ordered a probe and entrusted it to Jagjit Puri.

Meanwhile, Dr Punia was shifted to Chandigarh, highly placed sources in the department disclosed. Dr Punia was however, not available for his comments.

Besides four women complainants a male student has also alleged repeatedly being subjected to “mental harassment” by Dr Punia.

Tikshan Sud confirmed he had received the complaint and has asked Puri for a probe into the allegations.

Dr Punia, however, stands transferred with immediate effect,” said the minister. On the other hand, Jagjit Puri was silent on the issue and said,” Dr Punia has been transferred on administrative grounds and there is some inquiry pending against him.”

A top police officer of the Punjab Police, it was learnt, allegedly tried to stall the transfer of Dr Punia but, his influence failed to work

One of five women students requested anonymity and alleged Dr Punia used to “coerce” all four students, including, her. “ He pressurised one of my female unmarried colleague to go to Vishakhapatnam to attend a national conference on anaesthesia in last week of December. She was subjected to mental torture when she refused to go alone and without other students. If anybody resisted his advances he would turn inimical towards that student and send them to operating theatre without giving any work there.

Another method was to depute students to intensive care unit (ICU) with extended workload or duty periods,” said the student.

She added” Dr Punia used to send us SMSs, some of which were of vulgar nature. We have saved 10-11 of such SMSs even as so many had been deleted . If this was not enough, passing of comments like ,” You Look very nice,’ was a regular feature with Dr Punia’s behaviour.

Dr Punia did not respond on his mobile . Answering a phone call at his residence Dr Punia’s wife said her husband was not at home.


Eve-teasing: 2 shot dead
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 27
Two persons were shot dead while one was injured when seven armed persons attacked on them at Kullah village, 2 km from border township of Patti here today.

Eve- teasing is learnt to be the cause of the clash. The police has booked seven persons under Sections 302, 148, 149 of the IPC, 25, 27, 54 59 of the Arms Act against them. The deceased have been identified as Harpreet Singh (20) and his uncle Gurdeep Singh (46), both residents of Kullah. Kashmir Singh another uncle of Harpreet received bullet injuries.

The accused most of them belonged to same village are Jaskaran Singh (24), Sacatar Singh (23), Jaideep Singh (28), Kalu (22), Nikku (23), Sawinder Singh (45) and his son Malkiat Singh (18).

According to information there was some altercation between the two groups at nearby village Ghariala yesterday on annual fair in which accused party took serious note of the alleged eve teasing of their girl relatives there. They approached the village elders Sampuran Singh to punish them for this act. Sampuran Singh fixed the time for today afternoon and called both parties at his residence.

However, the accused party armed with pistols and sticks went to the residence of Harpreet where they opened fire at them killing Harpreet and Gurdeep on the spot. Kashmir Singh was rushed to Patti civil hospital with serious injuries.

Tejinder Singh Maur, SP (operations) confirming the incident said accused were absconding after the crime.


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