P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Rural Poll
BJP challenges SAD supremacy in Sangrur
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 30
With the filing of nomination papers by BJP candidates for a Zila Parishad (ZP) seat and three block Panchayat Samiti seats in Sangrur district today, the supremacy of its alliance partner SAD has been virtually challenged in the rural areas by it for the first time since the launch of “aao gaon chalen” campaign several years ago in the state.

A section of the BJP cadre in this district is of the view that if the SAD can contest municipal council and municipal corporation elections independently then why it is creating hurdles in the way of the BJP with regard to rural elections.

A BJP leader on the condition of anonymity said if the BJP gave up the idea of contesting the elections to the PRIs whether the SAD would promise the BJP that it would not contest civic elections. He said if the SAD could not make a promise to the BJP in this regard then it should immediately allot BJP’s share in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections as per the existing formula of seat-sharing between both alliance partners.

In the presence of Sangrur district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra, three candidates of the BJP filed their nomination papers today. For Hathoa (Malerkotla) block Panchayat Samiti Sadiqan Begum, for Kherri Kalan block Ram Singh and for Sherpur block Gurjit Singh filed nomination papers though authority letters for the allotment of the BJP symbol are yet to be issued to them.

In the presence of district general secretary of the BJP Shankar Bansal, Joginder Singh filed nomination papers at Moonak for Andana seat of the Zila Parishad though party’s authority letter is yet to be issued to him also.

Talking to The Tribune here, district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra said there had been a great enthusiasm among the party workers at the time of filing of nomination papers as the BJP had fielded candidates for the rural elections for the first time in a big way in this district. He said 15 more candidates of the BJP would file nomination papers for Zila Parishad and Block Panchayat Samiti seats in the next two days.

Kalra had sent a list of four candidates for Zila Parishad seats (out of total 21 seats) and 15 candidates for Block Panchayat Samiti seats (out of 170 seats) yesterday to the state party high command. The names of the BJP candidates were recommended for Andana, Rogla, Mangwal and Badrukhan Zila Parishad seats, besides 15 Block Panchayat Samiti seats, namely Mangwal, Badrukhan, Ballian, Akoi Sahib, Sheron, Baupur (Banarsi), Mandvi, Bharron, Kakra, Kapial, Kherri Kalan, Sherpur, Hathoa, Chatha Nanherra, and Amargarh.


CM for promotion of Punjabiat in big way
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called upon the Punjabi diaspora settled in India and abroad to promote Punjabi language and culture in a big way.

Badal was addressing a galaxy of Punjabi lovers and intellectuals from all over the country and Pakistan, who gathered here for the first All-India Punjabi Conference at Guru Teg Bahadur Hall, Punjabi University, to celebrate the university’s 47th foundation day.

He said the fairly large concentration of Punjabi diaspora over the globe today proved that their families could not survive by detaching themselves from their roots. “It is our moral and social obligation to work together to glorify our rich cultural and heritage,” he added.

He emphasised the need to strengthen the bonds of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat through organising such seminars and conferences outside Punjab also. Badal said it was pertinent to hold such conferences in other states as it was “our pious duty to sensitise Punjabi brethren with our rich cultural legacy.”

The Chief Minister pointed out that undoubtedly English was universally accepted as a link language and Hindi was the national language and “we should give due recognition to both these languages, but not at the cost and status of our mother tongue”.

He further said the government would amend law under which it would be mandatory to make Punjabi compulsory in all schools up to class X.

Badal honoured five prominent personalities, including Punjabi writer Prof Pritam Singh, dramatist Gursharan Singh, author Dalip Kaur Tiwana, academician Dr T.R. Sharma and actor Raj Babbar for their contribution in the promotion of Punjabi.

The Chief Minister also launched world’s first Punjabi search engine (Punjabi Khoj) along with university’s website in Punjabi developed by the computer department of the university.

Vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh said by organising the conference for the first time in the history of university was a salutation to all those who made tireless efforts to set up this institute, the first of its kind in India set up on the basis of a language.

He said world Punjabi conferences were held all over, but holding such conferences was the need of the hour for the promotion of Punjabi language and culture.

MP Tarlochan Singh called for initiating a movement to declare Punjabi as a second language in the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Veteran Journalist and former Member Parliament Kuldip Nayar feared that “Punjabi culture too would die or get distorted if Gurmukhi script was not taught in the schools”. He urged the parents to encourage their children to speak and learn Punjabi because it was the most important to keep the ethos of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat alive.

Renowned Urdu poet and writer Sardar Anjum and Raj Babbar also shared their experiences. The conference was attended by eminent academicians, educationists and literary figures besides media adviser to CM Harcharan Bains and additional principal secretary to CM Gagandeep Singh Brar.


Flays Vedanti on ‘Khalistan’

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has condemned the recent statement made by Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar of Akal Takht, on “separate homeland for Sikhs”.

He added that Vedanti should have realised that he was heading an important institution and should have not made such remarks.

Badal was reacting to Vedanti’s remarks in New York that “he was in favour of a separate Sikh homeland”.

Speaking on the issue of tainted police officers, Badal said the case was still in the jurisdiction of the courts and added that since the matter was sub judice in nature, he was not in a position to comment.

Badal announced a committee, comprising veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, editor-in-chief of Ajit Barjinder Singh Hamdard, MP Tarlochan Singh, and V-C of Punjabi University Jaspal Singh, to go through the details of the proposed ordinance of making Punjabi compulsory in schools.


Sex Scandal
SP-rank officer to hold probe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
After a sex scandal exposed through a petition to the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the alleged victim and her woes were aired by India TV this evening, SSP R.K. Jaiswal has asked an SP to find out facts.

Jaiswal said the alleged victim had never brought the matter to his notice and he had no idea what the petition was all about. "I learnt about the petition through a news report in The Tribune and later in the evening through a news channel. SP Ashish Chowdhry will report to me on the details."

The woman had allleged that a number of cops, including two inspectors and an SP, along with several of other ranks, in connivance with city’s industrialists were sexually exploiting her for varied ends. One of the accused police officials was suddenly shifted from an important posting last week. 


Amritsar Bypoll
Ticket: Cong placates angry aspirants
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab Pradesh Congress (PPCC) has brought about reconciliation among the candidates who were discontented at the allotment of party ticket for the Amritsar (South) byelection to Navdeep Singh Goldy.

All candidates, except former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh loyalist Harjinder Singh Thekedar, first gathered at the residence of PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and later at the PPCC office here.

Party sources said though Thekadar was in Chandigarh today, he remained at the MLA hostel. According to sources, Thekedar also had been placated by the PPCC and it had been decided that Bhattal would visit his residence in Amritsar following which he too would join the party campaign .

According to party sources, former legislator Raj Kumar Verka was responsible for bringing the disgruntled party candidates to Bhattal’s residence today. These included Maninder Singh Heera, Narinder Singh Walia and Ashwani Pappu. Other leaders from Amritsar, including Prof Darbari Lal, O.P. Soni and Jugal Kishore, also collected at Bhattal’s residence to put up a show of strength.

Congress spokesman Bir Devinder Singh said all candidates promised to sink differences and work unitedly for the party’s victory in the byelection. Bir Devinder also disclosed that party working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee had been given overall charge of the constituency which had been divided into 13 wards, to be supervised by 13 former ministers. Bir Devinder has been given the responsibility of handling the media and interacting with the Election Commission in case of violation of the model code of conduct.

The party wil inaugurate the election campaign on May 4. 


SAD to abide by seat-sharing pact: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 30
Sukhbir Singh Badal has said the SAD would abide by the recommendations about seat sharing between the party and the BJP in the coming elections for Zila Parishads and other local bodies in the state.

Sukhbir said today the dispute on seat sharing would be settled amicably as a committee consisting of leaders of the two parties had been set up for this purpose. He said a seat-sharing formula would be evolved and both parties would stick to it.

Earlier, the coalition in the state was heading towards confrontation on the issue as the SAD announced its candidates for 15 of the 16 seats of the local Zila Parishad. While releasing the list of candidates here yesterday, SAD leader Sikendar Singh Maluka told mediapersons that there was no question of leaving a single seat for the BJP as the party did not contest the last elections. On the other hand, the BJP had announced that it would field its candidates on seven seats here.


Amarinder overreaching himself: Bhattal
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The war of supremacy in the PPCC is set to rip the party apart in the state with on the one hand former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh pressing for a change in the leadership and on the other committee chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal claiming that the former is overreaching himself by commenting on leadership change.

Talking to The Tribune today, Bhattal said Capt Amarinder Singh was also interpreting the meeting the two had with party president Sonia Gandhi to suit his vested interests. She was reacting to his claim that the high command had agreed to reconstitute the party’s coordination committee for the state and there would be a new dispensation in the PPCC post May 31. He had made this claim in an interview which appeared in a section of the Press today.

The PPCC president said talk of a new dispensation in the PPCC, as claimed by Amarinder, would only serve to weaken the party when it was facing the panchayat elections as well as the bypoll in the Amritsar (South) Assembly constituency. “He is not authorised to make any such claim”, she said, adding that all the high command had told the two was to stop making any statements against each other besides it stressing the need to work unitedly in the interest of the party. Bhattal said when she was sticking to the commitment made by her to the party president, Capt Amarinder Singh should do likewise.

Meanwhile, recent development indicates Capt Amarinder Singh is determined to make a comeback in the state. His statement making a private conversation between him and the party president public indicates he is keen on keeping his loyalists with him. The statement that he hoped there would be a new dispensation in the PPCC is aimed at giving hope to his loyalists and ensuring there is no further erosion amongst in his support in the legislature party.


EC comes to rescue of Oppn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The state Election Commission (EC) today swung into action to facilitate nomination of Opposition candidates for the panchayat elections by instituting a provision, allowing candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer in case they are unable to get an NOC in time from the competent authorities.

The commission has taken the decision following complaints that some Opposition candidates were unable to procure the NOC from the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) concerned due to political pressure on the officers.

State election commissioner A.K. Dubey today issued a circular allowing candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer with the declaration they were not defaulters on account of non-payment of dues to the Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti or Zila Parishad concerned nor were they fit to be disqualified under any of the sections of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act.

According to the circular, the returning officer, on the receipt of the affidavit, will accept the nomination papers of the candidate concerned. He would forward the affidavit and other particulars of the candidate to the BDPO concerned or any other competent authority. This authority is to intimate the EC within 24 hours if the candidate concerned is a defaulter or can be disqualified under any of the provisions of the Act. On the basis on the report of the competent authority, the returning officer shall decide on the acceptance of papers of the candidate at the time of scrutiny.

The issue had also been represented in the Punjab and Haryana high court where it had been claimed that in cases where NOCs were not being issued expeditiously, candidates were being prevented from filing their nomination papers for the panchayat poll. Earlier, the EC had taken a similar measure during elections to the municipal corporations.


Barapind for Sikh state through democratic means
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, April 30
Former militant of Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar) Kulbir Singh Barapind has stressed the launch of a national movement to attain independence for the Sikh community through democratic means.

Stating this to the media here today, Barapind said he, along with various panthic organisations, would launch the movement for securing the basic fundamental rights of the Sikh community. He was in the city to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple after his release from the Nabha jail yesterday.

Barapind said various Hindu organisations and political parties had misinterpreted the Khalistan movement, saying it was only for the Sikh community. He said they were for establishing an independent state where everyone including Hindus, Christians and Muslims could lively without any fear besides enjoying their basic fundamental rights.

NABHA: Barapind, who was extradited from the US in 2006, was released from the local jail late evening hours on Tuesday.

Yesterday, additional sessions judge B.K. Mehta acquitted him of the murder of four members of a family of Tarkhan Majra village of Jalandhar for the lack of concrete evidence.

Chairman of the Panch Pardhani Akali Dal Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, Bhai Harpal Singh Cheema, Surinder Pal Singh Thrua and Paramjit Singh Gazzi of Sikh Students Federation received Barapind as he came out of the jail.


Mid-day Meal Scheme Scam
Absentee children ‘marked’ present
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 30
Failing to persuade students to attend school despite luring them with sweet dishes, cooked rice and dal-roti under the mid-day meal scheme, many teachers marked the presence of absentees. The practice, though unfair, enabled them feed smaller number of students with otherwise insufficient funds available for the purpose.

Taking cognizance of the malpractice, the director-general, school education and state project director, Sarav Sikhya Abhiyan Authority (SSAA), Punjab, has ordered all DEOs (Elementary Education) of the state to direct heads of schools in their areas to stop the malpractice.

Sikander Singh Jartoli, Surjit Singh, Baldev Singh (office-bearers of the Government Teachers Union), Nirmal Singh and Ram Singh Dehliz (SCBC Teachers Union), terming the absenteeism of students uncontrollable have urged the authorities to de-link serving meals to students from the duty of the teaching staff. The problem will become complex with the extension of the scheme to students up to class VIII, apprehend union leaders.

Inquiries revealed that a large number of students of state-run elementary schools had been absenting themselves from school for varied reasons. But records showed that teachers had been showing bogus presence, mainly to evade explanation by seniors.

Absenteeism was more prevalent among rural area students than urban counterparts. While wards of farmers missed classes for helping parents harvest wheat, those of labourers remained absent to earn money. A large number of students were seen gathering grains from the vicinity of heaps of wheat stocked by farmers in grain markets. There were still others who gathered fallen ears (balis) of wheat from fields where harvesting was done manually.

The authorities also know this fact. Perusal of the circular received by the DEOs(E) in the area recently, showed they had been ordered to direct school heads under their jurisdiction to desist from marking bogus presence.

“In other words, students do not come to school and they are being marked present to show consumption of more eatables under the mid-day meal scheme,” reads the letter written by the director-general, school education and state project director, SSAA, Punjab.

The state had launched the scheme in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court a few years ago. To monitor and evaluate the scheme, the Ministry of Human Resource Development had asked schools to display information regarding the quantity, quality and utilisation of food served to students. The meals, prepared with an estimated fund of Rs 2 per student per day, failed to lure children to the school and the teachers were left with no option but to mark bogus attendance.


New policy aims at minimum transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Punjab today issued posting and transfer guidelines of government officers and officials during 2008-09.

A government spokesman said the transfers would be made from June 1 to 30. However, transfers in the Departments of Cooperation, Food and Civil Supplies and Technical Education and Industrial Training will be made from July 1 to 31.

The spokesman said per policy of the government transfers would be kept to the barest minimum and made against vacant posts except where the transfers were justified on administrative or compassionate grounds. He also said the employees whether gazetted or non-gazetted due to retire in two years, would be allowed to continue in the same district or at the same station of postings till retirement .

For a couple cases, he said when husband and wife, both were serving the government it was desirable to keep them at one station for not more than five years, thereafter they would be transferred as per the policy. Even in the cases where the wife was in government service and the husband in private undertaking, the same yardstick would be adopted. However, efforts would be made to post unmarried women and widows at stations suitable to them.

The spokesman explained that unmarried women and widows would be given preference over couple cases in the matter of posting and transfers at stations convenient to them

The spokesman added in case of handicapped and blind employees, the government would be considerate in posting and transferring them. Sympathetic attitude would be adopted while posting or transferring a government employee or officer whose child was mentally challenged and efforts would be made to post them at the place of their choice.

He said stay of three years and five years would be treated ,respectively, as the minimum and maximum period at a particular place. Similarly, for employees transferable in the state particularly group 'A' and group 'B' officers, no employee would be allowed to serve in one district for more than seven years in his service, within particular office, seats having sensitive nature of work such as extensive public dealings, establishment, monetary sanctions etc. would be clearly defined and maximum stay would be kept at two years. Premature transfers i.e. transfer of any employee before he has completed minimum three years would not be ordered except under rare circumstances of punishment or clearly spelt out administrative reasons, the spokesman clarified.

The employees or officers posted in the border areas, bet areas and Kandi areas would remain there for a minimum period of two years, he added.


Kuka Movement
Apology sought from PM, Sonia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Senior BJP leader and medical education minister Tikshan Sud has said by not recognising the Kuka movement as freedom movement of India, the government has shown disregard to thousands of freedom fighters who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country.

Sood said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must apologise for showing disrespect to 70 Kuka martyrs. The government had mastered the art of distorting history for political gains, he said, adding that the BJP would not allow this.

The minister said the Punjab government gave due reverence to Kuka martyrs and had already drawn out a comprehensive programme to observe 150th years of the Kuka movement. A high-level committee under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had been constituted to finalise the progamme.


’84 Riots Relief Scam
Officials did not follow rules: Probe
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
The inquiry report by S.K. Ahluwalia, commissioner, Patiala Division, on the 1984 Sikh riots victim compensation scandal discloses how a number of cases based on fake ration cards had been approved.

Not only this, some of the approved cases were of victims who had been living in the district for the past 10-15 years, whereas the rules clearly said the victim should have come here during or immediately after the riots.

There were shocking cases where compensation was approved to persons using other victims’ red cards. At the same time, some genuine victims were denied the compensation when they could not produce the red cards, issued by the government as identification of a riot-hit person.

The officials did not try to check their records whether the man was issued red card or not. If they had done so, the genuine claimants would not have been rejected, the report says.

The inquiry officer in a report submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal through chief secretary yesterday laid threadbare the controversial method of the approval and rejection of cases.

He revealed to The Tribune that there were six cases among the 40-odd approved ones in which the victims had presented fake ration cards, “The division food and supply controller officials had stated on record that they had not issued the ration cards. On its report some approved cases were stamped rejected. There were some which were still accepted”.

The report also mentions that the inquiry officer noted how government officials were pointing fingers at one another for arbitrary approval or disapproval of the cases, "A senior official told me to save his skin on the plea that he had given directions to the lower staff to follow the rules. Still he did not note that the rules were followed in some cases and ignored in others."

The report does not spare leaders of the Danga Peerat Welfare Association. It says they supported many fake claimants verbally as well as in writing. One of the case file said the case was approved on the direction of Surjit Singh, president of the association. There is no such rule to approve the case on the basis of undertaking by the association head. The government officials should have kept this in mind.

The controversy surrounds 1,200-odd cases of riot victims, which if approved would get Rs 2 lakh compensation from the Central government. The Danga Peerat Welfare Association had cried hoarse with the committee headed by SDM Devinder Singh approving only 138 claimants.

Later, Surjit Singh claimed deputy commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar on his own cancelled 102 of the approved cases and misbehaved with him also. Gurjar told The Tribune that nearly 400 of the approved cases were found fake.

To find out the truth, the Chief Minister told Patiala commissioner Ahluwalia to enquire the matter.

Honest landlord to be rewarded

In the muddle of alleged fake victims and errant officials featuring in the 1984 Sikh riots compensation controversy over 1,200 cases, there is also a silver lining in an honest landlord, who reported against his own relative's claim of being a victim.

While the ball for taking action against the district administration officials and fake claimants is in the court of CM Parkash Singh Badal, commissioner Patiala Div S.K. Ahluwalia has announced an honesty award for Ragbhir Singh, resident of BRS Nagar, for revealing the truth to him when he was enquiring into the claims of a victim.

He said Raghbir would be awarded for his honesty on August 15 this year. 


Jyani is chief of Privileges Committee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha yesterday appointed Surjit Singh Jyani chairman of the Privileges Committee. Avtar Singh Brar has been appointed chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, Capt Balbir Singh Bath chairman of the Committee on Estimates, Gurdeep Singh Bhullar chairman of the Committee on Public Undertakings, Sohan Singh Thandal chairman of the Committee on Welfare of SCs, STs and BCs, Satpal Gosain chairman of the House panel, Jagbir Singh Brar chairman of the Library panel, Mohan Lal chairman of the panel on Questions and References, Harmeet Singh Sandhu chairman of the panel on Govt Assurances, Dr Dalbir Singh Verka chairman of the panel on Petitions, Amarjit Singh Samra chairman of the panel on Subordinate Legislation and Chun Lal Bhagat chairman of the panel on Local Bodies and Panchayats.


Punjab postal dept ties up with Centurion Bank
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Expanding the bouquet of financial services being offered by post offices, they will now be retailing foreign exchange services in Chandigarh and Punjab. The service is being launched in collaboration with the Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP). 

The service, which was launched today, will initially be available at four general post offices (GPO) of Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar. While the front-end office operations will be handed over by India Post, the CBoP will handle back-end operations. 

The service was inaugurated by postmaster general Jaswinder Singh at the GPO in Sector 17, Chandigarh today. Speaking on the occasion, he said the Department of Posts has started retailing foreign exchange services at 31 postal locations and expand these services to other locations across the country. 

Among the services to be provided are sale and purchase of foreign currencies, sale and purchase of travellers cheques, sale of store value cards, cash against international credit cards, sale of foreign currency denomination demand drafts and telegraphic and wire  transfers. 

“Other than resident Indians, non resident Indians and foreign nationals will benefit from this service. There is a huge market potential for foreign exchange services here, and Punjab postal circle will strengthen its relationship with the Centurion Bank of Punjab to provide services,” he added. 


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