P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Privatisation of ITIs
Students block traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
On the call of Joint Student Front, members and activists of student organisations, including the Punjab Students Union (PSU), the Students Federation of India (SFI), the Punjab Students Federation (PSF), the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU), today blocked traffic in many towns and cities in the state against proposed handing over of ITIs to the private companies under public-private partnership (PPP) scheme in the state.

General secretary of the PSU Dharminder Patran said the students today blocked traffic at various places, including Sunam, Dhuri, Barnala, Malerkotla, Patiala, Nabha, Samrala, Rajpura, Nawanshahr, Budhlada, Mansa, Moga, Ludhiana, Ropar, Dera Bassi, Batala, Nangal, Phagwara, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Patti, to oppose government policy of privatisation of the ITIs.

Dharminder added Punjab government was running away from its responsibility by handing over educational institutions to private companies under the PPP scheme. He said on the one hand the state government was making announcements to provide technical education free of cost to the poor students while on the other it was snatching Right to Education from the students of weaker sections of society by handing over the ITIs to private companies.

PSU state leader Gurmukh Singh Mann, SFI state leader Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, PRSU state leader Sanjiv Mintoo, and PSF leader Gurjinder Singh Randhawa today also criticised the Punjab government for handing over the ITIs to the private companies in the name of raising standard of technical education. They said the students would not tolerate this “conspiracy” of the government. A meeting of the employees and staff of the ITIs would be held on April 6 at Ludhiana to intensify the struggle. 


Use of Punjabi language
Govt to seek legal opinion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
In view of repeated violations of the state language policy, especially by bureaucrats, the Punjab government has decided to seek legal opinion of the advocate-general and other legal luminaries in this regard. The government is keen to make the punitive portion of the proposed ordinance on Punjabi language implementation in the state legally water-tight.

Discussing the proposed draft of ordinance to amend the Punjabi Language Act in the meeting of Punjabi Consultative Committee here today, education and languages minister Upinderjit Kaur, asked secretary, education, to get the draft ready within seven days for its early implementation.

The meeting focused in making Punjabi language user-friendly and flexible and adaptable to changing needs of modern society. The minister suggested that Punjabi language should adopt day-to-day words of English and focus should be to make it IT enabled.

The minister asked the Language Department to convene a meeting with Punjabi University, Patiala, and IT Department to finalise the proposal for Punjabi media and for launching Punjabi browser. The university was asked to indicate a time frame for its implementation. The minister would also constitute a legal committee that would study the implementation of Punjabi language in court work.

The proposed draft of the ordinance is slated to be finalised in the next meeting of the Punjabi Consultative Committee scheduled on April 10. Among others K.B.S. Sidhu, secretary (education), Anjali Bhawra, secretary (higher education), Balbir Kaur, director (Languages Department), Jaswant Singh Kanwal, Jaspal Singh, vice-chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Baljit Balli (Ajit), Satinder Singh, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Sidhu Damdami of Punjabi Tribune were also present in the meeting.


‘84 riot victim fights callous UP babus, cancer
Even his meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in December last year failed to elicit a positive response
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
At 73, Joginder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana and a victim of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, is fighting two battles -- one against the insensitive system to get compensation and another against a potentially fatal cancer. 

With bureaucracy bent upon frustrating his attempts to get the Central government’s “rehabilitation package” for the 1984 riot victims and the life-threatening disease going from bad to worse in the wake of the acute financial crunch, the septuagenarian is moving from pillar to post to get justice.

“The relief package of Rs 1.25 lakh may come too late in the day at the fag end of my life, yet my fight for justice continues so that my stand is vindicated and I die a peaceful death,” the gutsy former employee with the District Magistrate’s office at Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, told The Tribune here today. He was here at the PGI for an MRI.

It was on November 1, 1984, that Joginder was shot in the face at Aligarh during the anti-Sikh riots in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Despite the fact that he had the copies of the FIR, medical discharge certificate and the proof of Rs 1,000 given as relief by the authorities as compensation for the riots, the thick-skinned UP bureaucracy had been frustrating his efforts to be recognised as a “bona fide” victim of the anti-Sikh riots.

Joginder, who settled in Ludhiana after his retirement in 1993, claimed that he had written to the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and the Punjab Governor, but his case seemed to have escaped the attention of the authorities concerned. Even his meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister during “sangat darshan” in December last year failed to elicit a positive response.

Quoting “rehabilitation package” of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for riot victims, Joginder said according to the order “the ex gratia amount in case of injuries will be paid equal to Rs 1.25 lakh minus the amount already paid by the state government”.

“By that yardstick, I should have been paid Rs 1.24 lakh after deducting Rs 1,000 already paid by the state government. However, throwing the MHA norms to winds, the UP government had been rejecting my claims on the contention that I was not permanently disabled during the riots,” he said in a choked voice.

In fact, the financial difficulties have already taken a heavy toll on his health. He lamented that the paucity of funds had once forced him to postpone the MRI.

While issuing guidelines on the “rehabilitation package” the MHA had directed the state governments to “review the procedures for the verification/ scrutiny of claims to make it simple and less cumbersome to avoid any delay and harassment to the riot victims.”

“Is it not harassment when the authorities turn a blind eye to the plight of a 73-year-old cancer patient? he asked angrily. 


New policy to benefit big industrial plot owners
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 3
When the Punjab government issued a notification of the state’s new policy for the setting up of educational institutions, hospitals, multimedia centres and hotels, what went unnoticed was a bumper offer made by the state for industrial plot owners in the state.

The government has allowed the setting up of hospitals, educational institutions, multimedia centres and hotels on existing industrial plots, industrial parks and knowledge parks.

Since the government has categorised all these ventures as “industrial”, in case these are set up on industrial land, the promoter would not have to pay any change of land use charges. However, the promoter would pay the external development charges and the license fee in accordance with the development potential of the zone.

Meanwhile, there is a catch. The owners of only large industrial plots would benefit from the new policy. For all these ventures, the minimum plot size required is 5000 sq m and the maximum where these would be allowed would be 10000 sq m.

Moreover, these have been allowed for industrial plots in those industrial focal points which have predominantly information technology/ knowledge-based industry (for example IT city SAS Nagar comprising Phase VIII A and B) and not in industrial focal points that have predominantly manufacturing industry.

For industrial and knowledge parks, these have been allowed in 10 per cent of the industrial component for such parks which are of 50 acres and above, 15 per cent of industrial component n the industrial/knowledge parks of 100 acres and above 20 per cent of the industrial component on such parks which are spread over 150 acres and 25 per cent of the industrial component for industrial/knowledge parks of 200 acres and above.

The industrial component in the industrial and knowledge parks in Punjab is 60 per cent of the total area. 30 per cent of the area is kept aside for residential and another 10 per cent can be used commercially. However, since the government allows such parks in a minimum of 10 acres, a majority of industrial and knowledge park owners would not be able to benefit from the new policy.

For these projects, the government has stated in the policy that there would be no restrictions of height subject to the air force clearances. The fire safety and structure safety norms would be in accordance with the National Building Code.

For educational institutions, multimedia centres and hospitals the allowed FAR is up to 1 with ground coverage up to 40 per cent. The hotels have been allowed an FAR up to three with ground coverage up to 50 per cent.

Reacting to the policy, R.S.Sachdeva, co-chairman of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Punjab, said the industrial plot owners had demanded an amendment in the notification. “The government has allowed budget hotels to come up in a minimum area of 5000 square yards. This policy allows hotels in 5000 sq m which benefits only a handful of industrial plot owners. This policy should have parity with its budget hotel policy,” he said.

He added that the state should provide for a single window system for the clearances of all such cases to avoid red tape like it had been done in Haryana.


Neither SAD nor Cong seized of it
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 3
Even after a year of the formation of the SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab headed by Parkash Singh Badal, it has been working on negatives only. Two slogans - discrimination against Punjab and coffers left empty by the previous Congress government - are fed to the masses.

Fiscal scenario in the state no doubt is dismal but the government has little to show in one year what it has done to mop up resources... or measures planned to set the state’s finances in order. In fact, measures have slowed down on the development side. Even the schemes launched by the Central government requiring matching funds from the state government are not being implemented.

The Central government has already sanctioned schemes for the development of towns under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Scheme and the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Besides, the state machinery has been slow to assess impact of the loan waiver announced by the Centre in the Budget. On education and health, the state government faces derecognition by the Medical Council of India. Medical institutes need funds and Punjab Agricultural University also faces financial crisis.

On the other hand, the Chief Minister has come out with compensation to farmers whose land will be acquired for the Mohali international airport and funds for the Punjab Police university, first of its kind in the country.

The Punjab government is aware of the grim economic situation of the state and areas requiring attention. Two Central universities are allotted to Punjab and the state has to provide land for these. The state has rightly opposed conversion of Panjab University into a Central university. Panjab University needs money and even if it is given, it is incapable of fresh ideas for economic development of Punjab, say experts.

The situation in Punjab has not spurred either the Akali Dal and the Congress to shed one-upmanship politics. Both parties claim bringing in development schemes and grants from the Central government. In fact, no coordinated effort seems to be in sight to revive the economy stagnant for more than a decade.

The BJP, junior partner in the government, is concerned about the loss of urban support in the wake of urbanites likely to be treated harshly. Demand for subsidy on power tariff by the BJP has not been met and the PSEB has increased control levy from 4 paise per unit to 10 paise causing resentment among urban consumers of power.

Akali legislators are also feeling restive over the pace of development works in their constituencies. They want bold steps to mop up resources.

The Congress has not been able to take advantage of the predicament of the Akali-BJP government. The Congress failed to generate heat on the failure of the state government to present a vision-based budget. Like the Akalis, the Congress leadership remains divided and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Amarinder Singh have come in the open to fight against each other.

Postponement of the panchayat elections in Punjab has not gone well with people. Initially, the Chief Minister was not in favour of postponement and even rejected the opposition demand for it till after the Vidhan Sabha session. Sensing the wind was not his favour, the Chief Minister sent overtures to the leader of the Opposition to postpone the elections. Certainly the image of both parties received a beating on this score.

The government and the Opposition need to be concerned about the development of the Punjab economy. They do not seem to have time for such serious thinking.


Demand for central varsity status opposed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
The Principals’ Association of non-government colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, here today opposed the demand of teachers of the GND varsity campus to convert the university into a central university.

The association said though the decision of the Government of India to set up a central university at Amritsar was welcome, the upgradation of GND varsity would not be in the interest of the existing university.

“The demand for change in status will be detrimental to the interests of the present university as well as to the teachers serving in the affiliated colleges and to the state of Punjab. Besides being ill-conceived, the demand is contrary to the spirit of the Act, under which the present university was created by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha,” said Dr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, general secretary of the Principals’ Association.

“The demand of the faculty working in the university campus is aimed at serving their own vested interests of getting service benefits available in the central universities. The proposed demand tramples upon the larger interests of the state and people of the area. The Act incorporated in Vol-I of Guru Nanak Dev University calendar clearly states that it is meant to establish and incorporate a university at Amritsar to mark the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev,” he added.

The association has pointed out that GND varsity serves as the affiliating body for colleges in its jurisdiction. If the demand of university teachers is accepted, the future of the colleges affiliated to the university will be at stake.

If the university is converted into a central varsity, there will be a serious threat to the affiliation of the colleges concerned. 


I am still alive, Mr Advani: Dang
Referred to as ‘late’ in ‘My Country My Life’
Varinder Walia/ Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
“I am still alive and leading an active political life, Mr Advani,” commented veteran CPI leader Satya Pal Dang, who has been referred to as “late” by Advani in his much talked-about political autobiography “My Country My Life”.

Talking to The Tribune at the CPI office, Ekta Bhawan, at Chhehrta here today, Dang said it was unfortunate that there were glaring discrepancies in the book authored by a person who had been touted as BJP candidate for prime ministership. With a broad smile and raised eyebrows, the CPI leader said, “Tell him (Advani) that I regularly attend the office despite being 88.”

In chapter 7 of the book “The trauma and triumph of Punjab” Advani has written “as the late Satya Pal Dang, an Amritsar-based Communist leader whom I admire for his courageous campaign against Khalistan”. Though Advani said that he admire Dang, the latter said it would be most unfortunate if a person like Advani became Prime Minister.

The facts on high profile Nirankari murder given in the book are also distorted, which earned flak from Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, Akal Takht, who spent a long time in Tihar Jail in connection with the assassination of Baba Gurbachan Singh Nirankari. He said Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala was never among the list of 20 accused persons as mentioned in the book. He claimed that there were only four persons arrested by the CBI who were later released on personal bonds.

The former jathedar said it was shocking that Advani did not know the bare facts pertaining to the Nirankari murder case because Giani Zail Singh was not the union home minister when the four arrested by the CBI were released. The union home minister was P.C. Sethi, he claimed. 


Farmer cremated after police assurance
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
Unmarried farmer Pargat Singh (22) son of late Hakam Singh, of Janal village, 4 km from Dirba, who allegedly committed suicide yesterday by consuming poisonous substance in his field, was cremated today at his village in the presence of villagers and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) leaders.

Earlier the villagers and BKU (Ugrahan) leaders placed the body of Pargat in Janal village chowk and announced not to cremate it till an arhtiya of Dirba Mangat Rai and Harmesh Kumar were arrested in connection with the suicide by Pargat. On this the Dirba SHO came to the site and assured to arrest the alleged accused in two days. On this the people agreed to cremate the body.

Senior vice- president of district unit of the BKU (Ugrahan) Darbara Singh Chhajla said on phone if the police failed to arrest the accused in two days ,they would gherao the Dirba police station on April 6 to compel the police to arrest the accused.

Chhajla also said Pargat Singh had given one acre land, Rs 1.5 lakh and connection of tube well motor to arhtiya Mangat Rai to clear his loan. On this the arhtiya gave him “no dues” in writing but did not return blank pro missory note to Pargat Singh. He alleged instead the arhtiya gave this note to Harmesh Kumar who wrote amount on it and filed a case in a Sunam court against Pargat’s family, claiming money from the family. Pargat Singh wrote letters to the Chief Minister and the human rights commission in this connection, but to no avail, he added.

On the other hand the Dirba SHO told this reporter today no one had been arrested in the suicide case of Pargat Singh but the police raids were on to arrest both persons, whose names figured in the FIR.

Dr Prabhat Kumar, who today conducted post-mortem of the body of Pargat Singh at the local civil hospital, said viscera of the deceased had been sent to chemical examiner, Kharar, for chemical and pathological examinations to assess cause of death.

Karamjit Kaur, mother of Pargat Singh, in a complaint to the police had named Mangat Rai and Harmesh Kumar as accused saying these persons had been harassing her son on account of money matters as they had taken signature on blank note from her family and had filed a case in court at Sunam to take money from the family. Due to this her son had been under tension these days. On the basis of complaint, the police had registered a case against Mangat Rai and Harmesh Kumar.


Recruitment of 2,350 cops on cards
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab police proposes to recruit 2,350 police personnel as well as recommend the intake of 15 deputy superintendents of police to prop up operational efficiency in field areas.

According to sources, the office of the director general of police has sent a proposal to the home department to recruit 2,000 constables and 350 non-gazetted officers (NGOs), including inspectors and ASIs. This is the first such recruitment proposed in the police force during the SAD- BJP government in the state.

Besides, the DGP has also recommended taking in 15 DSPs, for which a separate proposal has been sent to the Punjab Public Service Commission.

The sources said the police department is keen to ensure that the recruitment process of constables and NGOs is conducted in a transparent manner. It has been decided to institute category-wise recruitment boards for the purpose. 


HC amends stay order for six PCS promotions
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has recommended the names of six PCS (Executive) officers for promotion to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

The officers are: Deepender Singh, M.R. Aggarwal, Balwinder Singh, Harbhupinder Singh, P.S. Mand and A.S. Miglani. The names were suggested after the meeting of the Review Selection Committee held on February 25. These names were placed in a sealed cover before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which is hearing a bunch of petitions on seniority of PCS officers.

Taking up the petitions filed by PCS officer Megh Raj and others, the Bench, comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, this morning cleared the obstructions in the way of their promotion by amending a stay order earlier passed by the High Court. The Bench, vide the stay order dated October 15, 2007, had directed that the selection process may go on, but no reversion should be directed till further orders.

As the matter came up for resumed hearing, Punjab’s under secretary, personnel, Narinder Pal Sharma, prayed that the stay order should be vacated so that the Supreme Court directions issued in the matter could be implemented. After going through the reply and the rival contentions, the Bench ruled: “This court in its order dated October 15, 2007, had stated that the selection process should go on; and it was on the direction of the Supreme Court that the UPSC has given a list of the six officers to be promoted to the IAS.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Gill added: “Without going into much more details, we are in consonance with the counsel for the state that in order to implement the directions of the Supreme Court, the stay granted by this court on October 15, 2007, should be amended to this effect that it shall not have any effect on the respondents, who have been recommended for promotion by the UPSC.

Fixing July 9 as the next date of hearing in the matter, Justice Gill added replies by the UPSC and the Union of India, if any, should be filed before that date. In one of the petitions against the state of Punjab and others, Megh Raj had sought the quashing of an order dated April 4, 2007; vide which the impugned seniority of PCS (Executive) officers had been re-determined.

List officers with pending cases

In what could possibly lead to a lot of trouble for bureaucrats in Punjab, Justice H.S. Bhalla of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the state to place on record the list of IAS and IPS officers with court cases pending against them.

Issuing the directions in Bhadaur Gurdwara matter, Justice Bhalla added the list should also contain the names of officers against whom any investigation, departmental or other inquiry is being carried out. The state has also been asked to specify the date and place of their postings.

Referring to the Bhadaur incident, the Judge added: “To my mind, any citizen, whosoever he may be, is not above the law of the land; and every officer is supposed to perform his duties keeping in view the principles of natural justice. It is necessary to peep through the curtain in order to find out as to who is responsible for the entire incident, which took place within the limits of Barnala; or whether the officers against whom the finger of accusation has been raised can be assigned a plum post. Or, in other words, they can be posted on public dealing seats”.

“In case there are any instructions issued by the DGP or by the chief secretary with regard to the posting of a police officer or an IAS officer, these instructions be produced before this court on the next date of hearing.

The directions come over a year after a police-public clash occurred following dispute of land between two gurdwaras. One person was killed and several persons sustained serious injuries.


Sale of land stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
A Division Bench of Justice S.K. Mittal and Justice Rakesh Garg today stayed the sale of land and building of JCT Electronics Limited having a unit at Mohali. The writ petition in this regard was filed initially by the State of Punjab through the secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce. However, a private counsel was engaged.

When it was brought to the notice of Punjab advocate-general H.S. Mattewal, he took a serious note of the same and today, on his asking, additional advocate-general Chetan Mittal argued the matter. 


‘Police avoiding arrest of Poohla’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 3
The Beas police was allegedly not arresting Nihang Ajit Singh Poohla and Joga Singh to give them more time to seek anticipatory bail in a murder case.

Stating this to the media here today, Col G.S. Sandhu (retd), chairman, Majha Ex-servicemen Human Rights Front, alleged that the Beas police was now saying that it would arrest both accused once it obtained the arrest warrant from the court of judicial magistrate, Baba Bakala, where the case was scheduled to come up tomorrow. He said the moot point was that the offence being non-bailable and heinous in nature, arrest warrants were not required before arresting the accused.

Colonel Sandhu further said the accused accompanied with five policemen was on the run and was threatening the witnesses and offering bribes so as to refrain them from giving evidence. He alleged that the former police cat was deliberately being given time under pressure from senior police officers and politicians.

However, Harjit Singh Brar, DSP, Baba Bakala, while refuting the allegations said they had no problem in arresting Poohla and his companion but the two had gone underground and were untraceable. He said as the challans had been presented in court on February 26 the court had not issued any warrants or orders against the accused.


Punjab rethinking red beacons for SGPC members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
Appearing in the case against allowing SGPC members to use red beacons atop their vehicles, Punjab Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal today told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the government was reconsidering the entire issue.

Mattewal made the statement after appearing before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia. He said the government was committed to giving adequate security to all citizens, but the issue of beacons would be looked into.

So far, the government had issued permission for red beacons to 20 SGPC members, while security had been provided to 10 on the basis of threat perception. A petition in the matter has been filed by Veneet Mahajan, a member of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, seeking directions for quashing a notification allowing SGPC members to use red beacons atop their official vehicles.


Madrasa Torture Case
Administrator, teacher held, freed on bail
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 3
The Malerkotla police today arrested Abdul Rashid and Kari Mohd Ahsan, administrator and teacher, respectively, of Madrasa Tamir-e-Seerat, Khanna road, in the student's torture case.

Later, they were released on bail.

The police had booked these persons under Sections 342, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC on the complaint of Shehnaz, mother of student Mohammad Ishfaq, who was allegedly tortured in the madrasa yesterday.

The madrasa management, meanwhile, today refuted all allegations levelled by Shehnaz and her son. The teacher of Madrasa Kari Mohd Ahsan was admitted to the local Civil Hospital, alleging that he was beaten by some persons.

The police today recorded the statement of Kari Mohd Ahsan from the Civil Hospital and started inquiry in this connection.

SDM Jaspal Singh Jassi visited the hospital to take stock of the situation.

He talked to Shehnaz and asked the hospital authorities to take care of the child.

Shehnaz had alleged that the persons used fire and lathis to torture the child and had even put an iron chain round his neck and locked him in a room.


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