P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Ensuring Free Fair Polls
EC puts off more polls, suspends officials
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The Election Commission has acted tough against returning and assistant returning officers found wanting. Their negligent behaviour affecting the poll process has resulted in the postponement of two more Gram Panchayat polls besides disciplinary action against the officials.

Chief election commissioner A.K. Dubey told The Tribune today that no act of compliance or deviation would be tolerated. “The election commission means business and will go all out to conduct a free and fair poll,” he said, adding that he had ordered the shifting of SHO Valtoha against whom there were allegations of exceeding his brief and attempt to subvert the poll process.

Dubey said the poll in Gram Panchayat Thhe Gujjar in Mamdot (Ferozepur) had been postponed after two nomination papers were found missing. “The returning officer (RO) failed to put the papers after receiving nominations in safe custody.” The EC has got an FIR registered and placed the RO under suspension for negligence, besides recommending disciplinary action against him.

Similarly, in Gram Panchayat Ratipur in Macchiwara (Ludhiana), after receiving nominations, the RO and the ARO found four nominations short. Both officers have been put under suspension and the EC has asked for initiating penal action against them. Meanwhile, the poll here too stands postponed.

Meanwhile, the EC is yet to decide the new date for the panchayat polls to hundreds of gram panchayats that were postponed on Friday.

Earlier, on complaints and reports from the officers concerned, the state Election Commission has postponed the Panchayat elections at various palces.

Following reports of tearing of files related to a Gram Panchayat of Mothanwala near Guru Har Sahai, the election of that panchayat has been postponed. Election of Billi Mar and Chak Kathgarh villages’ panchayats in Ferozepur districts have also been postponed.

On the report that nomination papers of certain persons were not accepted by the authorities concerned, the commission has postponed the elections of 10 villages, namely Nangal, Thulewal, Gumti, Manal, Thuliwal, Mangewal, Hamidi, Gurm, Karamgarh and Thikriwal, of Barnala block. Fresh dates for holding elections in these villages will be notified separately. The Panchayat election of Bir Kalan and Ghassiwala villages in Sangrur district has also been postponed.

Officers told to accept papers of anganwari workers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The Punjab Election Commission has directed all electoral officers to accept nomination papers of anganwari workers provisionally as they were entitled provisionally to file nominations for Gram Panchayats.

A spokesman of the state Election Commission said yesterday that pursuant to the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in all district electoral officers-cum-deputy commissioners and the additional district electoral officers-cum-additional deputy commissioners (Development) in the state had been directed that the petitioners (anganwari workers) would be entitled to file nomination papers provisionally and their nomination papers would not be rejected on the basis of the circular dated April 30 issued by the commission.

He said in compliance with the directions of the high court in these civil writ petitions, the nomination papers of the petitioners be accepted  provisionally. 


PM urged to restore Punjab share in UT Admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take effective measures to restore the norms of the deputation policy. Under this policy, all posts in the Chandigarh Administration are to be filled by those on deputation from Punjab and Haryana in the ratio of 60:40.

In letter to the Prime Ministeron Friday, Badal lamented that erosion had taken place and diluted the role of Punjab in the Chandigarh Administration. He said even the distribution of departments was to reflect this ratio of 60:40, out of which 60 per cent of the departments were to be handled by officers of the Punjab cadre and 40 per cent by those from the Haryana cadre.

Badal mentioned that the first chief commissioner of UT, Chandigarh, was a Punjab cadre officer. Subsequently, the chief commissioners and now the advisers to the administrator are UT cadre officers. Earlier, the post of adviser was an ex-cadre post which had now been converted into a cadre post of IAS of Assam, Goa, Meghalya and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre. At present, at least four IAS of the AGMUT cadre were working in the Chandigarh Administration.

Similary, only the post of IGP was occupied by an IPS officer of the AGMUT cadre. Apart from the post of IGP, two posts of DIGs were being manned by IPS officers of the AGMUT cadre.

The CM also pointed out that departments as vigilance, education, health, transport, housing, local government, social welfare etc., had always been held by the finance secretary who was a Punjab cadre officer. Over a period of time, these departments have been transferred to the home secretary, a Haryana cadre officer. At present, the finance secretary, a Punjab cadre officer, was only handling 11 departments whereas the home secretary was handling more than 25 departments. 


PM’s schoolmate from Pak coming tomorrow to meet him
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Finally, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s schoolmate Raja Mohammed Ali from Gah village in Chakwal district of Pakistan has been granted visa to visit India. He will enter India from Attari border on May 20. Earlier, he was denied visa several times.

Raja talking to The Tribune from Pakistan today said Allah had been kind to him and he was thrilled on coming to India with relative Mahmood Ahmed.

Raja said he would bring the 'mitti' (soil), water and "tilleywali Chakwali jutti" for the Prime Minster.

Raja earlier in March this year wrote a letter in Urdu to the Prime Minister and handed it over to a Hindu jatha member visiting Katasraj shrines in Pakistan.

He wrote that he fervently desired to meet him and have a few moments to relive the memories of him and their other classmates when they studied in the ancestral village. He further wrote that because of him (PM) a lot of development work had been undertaken in their village and every person there remembered him and sent his good wishes. He reminded the PM that he had earlier sent a “tilleywali jutti” for him and hoped he must have taken out some time to give the shoes a try.

He acknowledged getting a reply from the PM who mourned the demise of their only girl schoolmate Baqt Bano and added that he was pleased that the PM had done higher studies."God willing, I will get a ticket to India in the near future, " he had wrtten.

Recalling his sending the jutti to the PM with a 29-member delegation of Pakistan’s local council that visited India in August 2004, Raja said, "I had guessed his (PM’s) foot size from his television appearances".

The schoolmate said he studied from class I to IV with Manmohan Singh lovingly called “Mohna” by all, after which he (Raja) became a school drop-out and took to agriculture with his father. He said while “Mohna” was studious, they were all up to tricks. He recalled when “Mohna” used to be engrossed in studies, they used to steal dry fruit from his pockets. Mohna’s family was dry fruit agents in Gallah Mandi.

Recalling celebrations in the ancestral village when Dr Manmohan Singh became the 17th PM of India, Raja said:" The whole village was agog with cries of ‘sada Mohna Hindustan da Wazir-e-Azam ban gaya ....’ The same year the blessings continued as the village was declared a model village by the Pakistan government.

The village was doubly overjoyed when they received the first-ever letter from the Indian Wazir-e-Azam, said Raja and added: "The village had received the PM's condolences through its Nazir (deputy commissioner). The letter in Urdu was written in poetic style. The whole village had felt proud that a man from their village had risen so high in life, but had not forgotten his roots and expressed sympathies for one of them. The PM had written that he was moved by the present of tilleywalli jutti sent to him by people of his ancestral village."

The school where the PM studied was being renamed "Manmohan Singh High School". He added that the Kohli family’s mud house was washed away. 


Kotkapura Nihangs elect Surjit Singh chief; Baba’s bhog peaceful
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura (Faridkot), May 18
Jathedar Surjit Singh was elected the 14th Jathedar of the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal (Panjwan Takht) with a voice vote in his absence during the antim ardas and bhog of late Baba Santa Singh held at Gurdwara Dasmi Patshahi here today.

However, in his absence, Jathedar Joginder Singh “Rakba” will continue as the acting Jathedar of the body. His dastarbandi ceremony was held on the occasion.

Jathedar Surjit Singh, who is facing cases of murder, has gone underground. He was allegedly involved in the massacre of four members of Baba Balbir Singh’s family. Balbir heads the rival group of Nihangs.

Since a heavy police force was deployed here, Jathedar Surjit Singh could not enter the town fearing arrest. No vehicle was allowed to pass through the road leading to the gurdwara. Nihangs were frisked to prevent entry of firearms into the gurdwara.

Talking to The Tribune soon after the “dastarbandi” ceremony, Jathedar Joginder Singh appealed to all groups of Nihangs to unite together and protect the religion that, according to him, was in danger due to the entry of certain “bad elements” in the Panth. He lashed out at the state government alleging that it was trying to divide their community for vested interests.

A resolution was passed by various groups of the Sant Samaj, demanding from the state government withdrawal of all cases registered against Jathedar Surjit Singh. They claimed that the police had registered false cases against him.

The religious heads of Nirmal Akhara Hardwar, Nanaksar Kaleran, Mastuana, Rarha Sahib, Guru Nanak Dal, Tarna Dal, Baba Bidhi Chand Dal, Damdami Taksal and at least 30 other deras were present on the occasion. Few members of the SGPC, local leaders of the SAD and members of Baba Santa Singh’s family, including nephew Surinder Singh Babbar also attended the bhog.

Meanwhile, most of the Nihangs here were of the view that the Nihangs in the days to come may come out aggressively to free their deras that were under the control of the group led by Baba Balbir Singh.

In Patiala, thousands pay homage to Santa Singh
Tribune News Service

SGPC president Avtar Singh (left) talks to late Baba Santa Singh’s successor Baba Balbir Singh at his bhog in Patiala on Sunday.
SGPC president Avtar Singh (left) talks to late Baba Santa Singh’s successor Baba Balbir Singh at his bhog in Patiala on Sunday. —Tribune photo by Rajesh Sachar

Patiala, May 18
Thousands of people, a majority of them being Nihangs, attended the bhog of Baba Santa Singh, the 13th chief of the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal sect (Panjwa Takht).

Prominent among those who attended the bhog held in the sports complex of Budha Dal School, near the Moti Bagh gurdwara, were SGPC president Avtar Singh, chief of the Takht Damdama Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Rajya Sabha member Tarlochan Singh and Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh.

Avtar Singh presented a siropa to Baba Balbir Singh, the successor of Baba Santa Singh and the 14th chief of the Dal. Capt Kanwaljit Singh appealed to people that due recognition must be accorded to the Balbir Singh-led Dal.


SAD activists come to blows
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 18
The possibility of violence between two groups of the SAD at war over taking control of Gurdwara Singh Sabha here, kept the police on its toes today.

Activists of both groups, including women, entered into scuffles every now and then. While supporters of Ajit Singh Walia, re-elected president on Friday, claimed control over the shrine, the faction led by Jagwant Jaggie and Kuldip Singh Karwal maintained that Jagdev Singh Boparai, elected president unanimously today, had taken over charge.

It was all quiet till the election meeting that concluded with the election of Boparai to the office of president unanimously. Various speakers termed the election process of the other group as undemocratic. The situation turned sensitive when Boparai and his supporters tried to take control of the office of the president and were opposed by supporters of the Bhullar group.

Blows were exchanged and turbans went flying off for more than two hours. for the first time three locks were put on the president's office.The Jaggie Karwal group chained the 'golak' too.

The administration had tightened security in the town last night. A team in plainclothes led by SHO Sukhdev Singh was deputed inside the gurdwara while three teams led by SHOs Maghar Singh, Swaran Singh and Parminder Singh were deployed outside.

The situation in the town remains tense.


Resignations by Cong MLAs a stunt: Badal
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), May 18
Describing resignations by 43 Congress MLAs of the state as nothing but a “publicity stunt” to “misguide people as well as the Congress high command”, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today dared the state Congress leadership to prove the sincerity of its decision by forwarding the resignations to the Speaker.

The MLAs had submitted their resignations to the PPCC in protest against the alleged rigging of the recent Panchayat polls. The Chief Minister said it was a matter of fact that the Congress had suffered the most humiliating defeats in the history of Punjab Panchayat polls and was completely at a loss of face in coming out with a credible and honourable response to its poll debacle.

He said all independent observers, including the media and the election commission, had found the entire poll process to be free and fair.

In a reply to a question about the absence of Capt Amarinder Singh during the poll campaign, Badal said the former was busy raising a toast to his Pakistani journalist friend at the latter’s birthday bash. “Anyway, Amarinder’s absence did not impact the outcome of these polls,” he said, adding that there were no fissures in the alliance.

Later, the CM paid tributes to Jaswant Kaur, mother of the president of the NRI wing of the SAD Surjit Singh Rakhra and prominent NRI brothers Darshan Singh Dhaliwal and Charanjit Singh Dhaliwal.

Other senior SAD-BJP combine leaders, who paid tributes to Jaswant Kaur included cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh, local government, industries and commerce minister Manoranjan Kalia, general secretaries of the SAD Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, SGPC chief Avtar Singh, former union ministers Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, and Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh.


Bhattal’s resignation move, Amarinder complains to Sonia
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said he was not in agreement with Punjab Pradesh Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s move to collect resignations of all party legislators in protest against Akali high-handedness in the elections to Panchayati Raj bodies and complained against this to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Amarinder has sent not only a complaint by fax to Sonia Gandhi but also told The Tribune he would not hand over his resignation to Bhattal under any circumstances. He said if, at all, his resignation was needed by Sonia Gandhi she would have it immediately.

The former Chief Minister apparently disapproves of the tactics being followed by the Bhattal camp to counter the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which is being accused by it of virtually bulldozing its way to victory in the Zila Parishad as well as Panchayat Samiti elections.

In the message sent to Sonia, the former Chief Minister clearly stated he was not in favour of en masse resignation of legislators to deal with the current situation. The message advocates the party should scuttle the resignation move. It says resigning from the Assembly would be tantamount to showing one’s back to the Akalis and was not a sign of good leadership. The message also outlines the move would leave the party workers to their own fate and eventually weaken the party in the state.

Meanwhile Amarinder Singh on how he had dealt with the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections during the SAD rule, said the party was led in an aggressive manner, which gave confidence to party workers to take on the Akalis. He said this strategy had ensured a Congress victory in the Parishad and Samiti elections.

The former Chief Minister said similarly the party had won five of the six byelections it faced when he led the opposition in the state. “Bhattal should work hard and get us a lead in the Amritsar (South) bypoll”, he added.

Meanwhile legislators supporting Amarinder today claimed entire exercise held yesterday to collect resignations from party legislators was a complete sham. They said many of the legislators had not even given a written resignation.

The meeting also revealed the inner contradictions in the party with Bhattal reportedly asking legislators if action should be taken against Amritsar legislator O. P. Soni. Party legislators, including Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, requested a party delegation first talk to Soni. It was then decided that Kewal Dhillon, Sukh Sarkaria and Rana Sodhi would talk to him to persuade him to support the party candidate in the Amritsar (South) bypoll. There were also reported murmurs against senior leader Jagmeet Brar who is taking out march to protest against the victimisation of Congress workers in the panchayat polls with a Faridkot-based legislator saying this was being done for self-projection. 


Thekedar to meet Sonia
Triune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Former MLA Harjinder Singh Thekedar, who has been expelled by the PPCC for his anti-party activities, will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi besides holding a “Bhattal bhajao te Congress bachao” rally on May 25.

Thekedar said here today that he and his supporters, would meet Gandhi to apprise her of the alleged autocratic conduct of PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Thekedar alleged that Bhattal was taking decisions which were not in the interest of the party.

The former MLA said he had refused to campaign for Congress candidate Navdeep Singh Goldy for he was involved in cases of land grab and murder. He alleged that Vikram Singh Jassi had taken Rs 30 lakh from Goldy to give him ticket. However, Jassi said Thekedar was making such statements out of frustration.


Move to sack SGJC president draws flak
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
The state government move to remove Kashmir Singh Patti as president, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), on the basis of a high-level probe conducted by an IAS officer, has received flak from Panthic circles here.

Manjit Singh Calcutta, veteran SGPC member, Bhai Mohkam Singh, convener, Joint Action Committee, and Kanwarpal Singh, secretary-general, Dal Khalsa, on Friday threatened to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court if the state government sacked SGJC president. They alleged that the inquiry by an IAS officer was conducted on the basis of SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh’s complaint against whom a petition was pending in the SGJC. Harbeant was earlier sacked during SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s tenure on charges of getting a job on the basis of “fake matriculation certificate”. However, he was later reinstated after the death of Tohra.

They alleged that action was initiated against Patti at the behest of Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh against whom a number of petitions were pending in the SGJC. They said the Shiromani Akali Dal, that had been blaming the Congress for interfering in the internal matters of the Sikhs, now wanted to completely control Sikh institutions by sacking Patti as president, SGJC.

Dal Khalsa secretary Manjinder Singh, in a strong-worded missive to chief secretary of Punjab Ramesh Inder Singh, has cited mala fide intention on the part of Harbeant to manoeuvre the dismissal of Patti.

Under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, the SGJC was meant to be an independent body to review the working of the SGPC, particularly cases relating to misappropriation of funds etc. However, for the past many years, the ruling SAD has been using this forum as a tool to perpetuate its own misdeeds. 


6 rescued from drowning after closing dam gates
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Shahpur Kandi, May 18
Six pilgrims, including four of an Udhampur-based family, swung between life and death for over five hours after they had gone to the Ravi river bed for bath near here early this morning.

While bathing in the river, all six, Sigar Singh, his wife Neelam Devi, their sons Surinder Singh (7) and Sunil (11), Vijay Kumar and his son Rajesh Sharma (13), were taken by surprise when the water level in the river suddenly started rising.

Residents of Ram Nagar in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, the pilgrims had come to Shahpur Kandi to attend a convention at an ashram. Members of two other families also went to the river bed for a bath .

Noticing the rising water level, all six assembled on a small stretch of land in the river and made phone calls to the ashram, seeking help. The ashram management subsequently informed chief security officer of Ranjit Sagar Dam B.S. Riar.

Police parties from Pathankot and Sujanpur reached the site and swung into the rescue operations.

Divers from the Pathankot fire station were also called to rescue the trapped pilgrims.

However, the rescue operations bore no fruit for more three hours, and finally the chief engineer of the dam was requested to close the gates of the dam.

According to dam officials, the dam authorities had been producing more power on demand, following which comparatively more water was released into the Ravi.

Locals also join hands in the operations, and after a struggle of over five hours, the stranded pilgrims were rescued at around 12 noon.


Cops search labour colonies for illegal B’deshi migrants
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 18
The police made house-to-house search in Muslim and migrant labour colonies late this evening looking for illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The police operation was carried in industrial colonies Chaura Bazaar, Islam Gunj and Field Gunj in the wake of intelligence reports that illegal migrants could be the activists of the HuJi, a banned militant outfit said to be involved in Jaipur blasts.

More than 30 migrants with doubtful credentials were detained, police sources said. Similar raids had been made after Shingar Cinema blasts also and a number of labourers were reported missing. It was suspected that the missing persons were Bangladeshi migrants, whose kin could not pursue the police for their search due to their illegal status.

Those unable to prove their identity were detained. The search irritated residents and Muslim leaders. 


Resident earns minister’s wrath
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 18
A local resident has to pay for filing a case against transport minister Master Mohan Lal Sharma alleging that the latter had obtained the “fake” degree of Law from Hanumangarh, Rajasthan. A case under various provisions of the SC and ST Act was registered against the resident late last night, allegedly at the behest of the minister.

On Thursday, Gurdev Singh, a local resident, along with a few persons, reached a piece of land adjacent to the Pathankot Improvement Trust to take its possession. They were stopped by a group of the Balmiki community.

The group claimed there was a garden, an “akhara”, a temple and a burial ground at the site and they won’t let Gurdev take the possession of the site. When the members of the community, including Sikander Janak, Jyoti, Deepak, Vijay Bakshi Pehlwan, put a stiff resistance, Gurdev and his men left the site.

The community members filed a complaint with the police alleging that Gurdev and seven or eight persons tried to take the possession of the “garden” illegally. They felled trees on the site besides damaging a hut, temple and burial ground, thus hurting their sentiments, they alleged

Yesterday, the minister joined the community members and staged a dharna against Gurdev. He even directed the area DSP to register a criminal case against Gurdev and others.

Gurdev had filed a case in the local court claiming that the minister obtained a “fake” degree of LLB from Hanumangarh in Rajasthan. The case was later dismissed by judicial magistrate (first class) H.S. Gill.

Sources in the trust revealed that the piece of land, measuring 11 marlas, was given to Gurdev on lease in 2001.

Meanwhile, the minister denied to having pressurised the police for registering a case against Gurdev in revenge. He, however, admitted to have gone to hear the grievances of the protesters but denied taking part in the dharna. 


Posts of Lecturer
PPSC corrects conditions
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 18
The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) has realised its mistake after more than a month by correcting the eligibility conditions for 265 posts of lecturer (college cadre).

The Tribune had highlighted the mistake on April 8. The essential qualifications fixed by the PPSC in its original advertisement were contrary to the latest guidelines of the UGC.

According to that advertisement, the M.Phil passed candidates were declared ineligible by the PPSC for the post of college lecturers. However, the UGC, in its notification, has said the candidates having M.Phil degree in the subject concerned are exempt from NET for undergraduate-level teaching. Now, M.Phil passed students can avail the opportunity which comes after a gap of 15 years.

Now the PPSC has also increased the date of receiving applications up to May 29.


Sacha Sauda Conflict
Death anniversary of 1st victim observed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 18
The first death anniversary of Kanwaljit Singh, a local resident who died in firing on May 17 last year near Naam Charcha Ghar of the Dera Sacha Sauda at Sunam, was observed at his residence here today.

The bhog of akhand path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was performed on the occasion.

Paying tributes to him, Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh expressed displeasure against the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) by saying that though the SGPC had announced to observe the first death anniversary of Bhai Kanwaljit Singh on May 18 at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib here, it did not observe the same today. 


Rejection of nomination papers
CPI for deferment of elections in villages
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 18
CPI leaders led by Kartar Singh Buani, district general secretary, Ludhiana, have sought the deferment of panchayat elections in various villages, including Buani village, near here, where the returning officer had allegedly rejected nomination papers of at least nine aspirants on “flimsy” grounds.

Accusing government officials of acting at the behest of SAD leaders, the leaders demanded registration of criminal cases against those who had allegedly gagged the voice of activists of social and political organisations.

In a communique, addressed to higher authorities, including chairman of the National Election Commission, CPI leaders led by Buani have alleged that the returning officer at Doraha had allegedly rejected nomination papers of a large number of aspirants owing allegiance to parties other than the SAD on flimsy grounds.

Surinder Singh, Baldev Singh, Amarjit Singh, Jang Singh, Sarabjit Kaur, Balvir Kaur, Baljit Kaur, Amrik Singh and Basant Singh (all residents of Buani village) were among those whose nomination papers for election to panchayat members were either nor accepted or rejected.

Accusing district authorities of showing unconcern towards complaints received from leaders of various parties barring the SAD, Buani rued that the democratic system was on the verge of collapse there.

“Senior officers, instead of taking cognizance of reports of violation of rules, have tried to justify their role by saying that officials have to work according to the wishes of SAD leaders of respective areas. Though the situation in other villages is no better, it is ridiculous that nomination papers of all our candidates have been rejected without assigning any reason,” said Buani.

Buani threatened to launch an agitation in case no action was taken in the case.


World Hepatitis Day today
Awareness key to combating disease, say experts
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 18
Terming hepatitis “silent killer group of ailments”, physicians of the area have called upon office- bearers of various social, educational and other bodies to educate people about the causes and consequences of the dreaded disease.

The call came on the occasion of an awareness drive launched by the local branch of Rotary Club to observe the World Hepatitis Day that falls tomorrow.

Apprehending that residents of the Doaba and Malwa regions of the state were more susceptible to hepatitis C and B, Dr Harmeet Saluja, a gastroenterologist from SPS Apollo Hospital, cautioned that the disease would transform into an epidemic soon.

Claiming that around 40.9 million Indians were suffering from hepatitis B and C, Dr Saluja said the annual death toll due to the dreaded disease was over one lakh.

The virus was also responsible for around 68 per cent of liver cirrhosis and 80 per cent of hepatocellular carcinoma in the country.

Terming lack of public awareness a major factor for steep rise in incidence of dreaded disease, Dr K.C. Goyal, district health officer, and Dr K.S. Khurana, SMO, civil hospital, called upon office-bearers of social organisations to coordinate with authorities in the heath department and help educate masses about prevention of the disease.

Admitting that the spread of fatal viruses was a worldwide problem, Goyal and Khurana stated that the menace could be checked, if not controlled, with coordinated effort of all sections of society.

“Let alone common people, even members of the medical fraternity were not fully aware of the causes and consequences of easily communicable disease,” warned Dr Goyal, adding that the physicians and members of paramedical staff were among susceptible groups.

Dr Sunit Hind, Dr Jyoti Kapoor and Dr Gurtej Singh gave tips about the prevention of the disease.

Kedar Nath Kapila and Pardeep Sharda, president and secretary of local unit of Rotary Club, said organised steps would be taken to spread awareness on the disease during the week.

Tips on Hepatitis

  • Viruses for Hepatitis A and E acquired through contaminated food or water
  • Hepatitis B, C and D acquired through blood, sexual contact and contaminated needles and not through food or water
  • Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis A and B and not C and E. Hepatitis D cannot occur independently without B
  • During jaundice nutritious diet is recommended
  • Drinking boiled water is more effective prevention for all water-borne infections
  • Human body has ability to fight with Hepatitis A and E viruses
  • It takes over 3-6 months to clear Hepatitis B and C viruses
  • Infection by Hepatitis E virus during last quarter of pregnancy can be fatal for mother and fetus in 20-30 pc cases.


No degrees, no jobs for nursing students
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 18
Nursing students passing out from the College of Nursing here are a harried lot. They have not been awarded a degree in nursing even though the college of nursing is affiliated to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.Students of the nursing college who passed out in the first batch in 2007 are yet to get their degrees. 

Before being upgraded in 2002, it was a school of nursing and students who passed out from here used to get a GNMs diploma. After upgradation, students were now getting four-year training for a degree course in nursing. The students alleged that even after being upgraded, it continued to have the infrastructure of a school of nursing.

Navdeep Singh, a student of nursing, claimed that students who passed out in the 2007 batch were yet to receive degrees. Because of this they could not find jobs. A student who went abroad after marriage was facing a lot of hardship there because the authorities were not giving her a degree.

Students also alleged that a degree was mandatory to get a proper placements abroad.

The students also claimed that they were made to work for at least 48 hours a week without any stipend. On the other hand, they claimed, that members of the paramedical staff received Rs 4,500 as stipend per month. The students added that teachers were not being paid properly due to which they had to work overtime.

Navdeep added that last year they had met the health secretary with grievances. However, nothing came out of it. Even on March 1 this year, the students held a meeting with the health secretary and the director, Research and Medical Education, (DRME) at Patiala where the students claimed that they were assured a stipend and also that the government would issue a notification to upgrade the facilities at the college.

When contacted by The Tribune, principal secretary, Medical Education, Jagjit Puri admitted that the nursing students were facing a problem. He said the matter was being looked into and would be sorted out shortly.

Principal of the College of Nursing Harbans Kaur admitted that there was shortage of staff and the matter had been taken up with the Medical Education Department. 


Campaigning for PU Senate poll starts
100 SCD Govt College teachers back Mukesh Arora, Jagpal Singh
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 18
Intense campaigning for the Senate elections of Panjab University, Chandigarh, has already started in the city, which has strong lobby of contenders. The contestants in fray, for the elections scheduled to be held in September, have started targeting the voters from their respective constituencies. The competition is tough in two main constituencies- the teacher and the graduate constituencies. All four contestants from Ludhiana represent these two constituencies.

The contestants from city are Mukesh Arora, Jagpal Singh, Harpreet Dua and Kuldeep Singh. Jagpal Singh represents the graduates’ constituency while remaining three represents the teachers’ constituency. All of them claim of getting “whole-hearted support” from their voters.

Out of total 90 Senators, including both nominated and elected, 15 are reserved for the graduate constituency while eight senators are elected from the lecturers constituency, eight from the principals’ constituency, three from professional technical college lecturers, three from professional technical college principals, one major faculty constituency and two from readers/professors’ constituency and people from political background. At least 25 to 30 senators are nominated by the Vice-President of India on the basis of merit and previous records.

The 15 members from the graduate constituency are elected by the graduates (who passed five years ago or before) or postgraduate (anytime) students the university or its affiliated college or the institution.

“The competition always remains tough in the graduate constituency as a large number of fresh voters attract the contestants. For getting support in the elections, the lobby contenders have started targeting the graduate and postgraduate students of the university by filling their forms for enrollment as the registered graduates”, informed Tarsem Bahia, former Senate member, PU, Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, at least 100 teachers of SCD Government College claim to have extended their support to Mukesh Arora and Jagpal Singh. On the behalf of the Government College Teachers’ Association (GCTA) unit of SCD Government College, president S.S.Bamb informed that a resolution was moved in this regard on the college premises.

“It is a unanimous decision. The teachers feel that both members had performed exceptionally well in providing service to not only government teachers but to private ones as well, hence they deserve the support”, claimed Bamb.


Conserving Subsoil Water
Farmers advised not to water paddy before June 10
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 18
In an attempt to conserve subsoil water, farmers have been advised by district administrations not to water paddy before June 10.

Experts favouring bio-diversification are against sowing paddy crop at this juncture, yet at present 2.35 lakh acres are under paddy. Experts say one acre yields at least 25 quintals of paddy and 3,000 litres to 5,000 litres of water is used for growing 1 kg of paddy. They also point out that in hot weather it is wastage of water, hence, paddy should be sown when the air has enough moisture and monsoon is round the corner.

Officials say over the years, the watertable in the state has been falling sharply imperilling livelihood of farmers.

Statistics say in 1997 water could be found at 16 metres in agricultural tracts and 10 years down the line in 2007, water can be found at 32 metres. In fact, sources point out water table is falling by at least 1.80 metres every year.

Maximum decline is seen in areas near the Ghaggar.

Sources in the chief agricultural office say it is a fact the water table has witnessed a sharp fall in recent years in Patiala district. He adds it is due to this reason that the district administration has to tell farmers not to sow paddy.

A couple of weeks ago, deputy commissioner D.S. Grewal visited some places in the district where farmers were sowing paddy early.The administration was making efforts to make farmers conserve water in the state.


Power Cuts
Mann, Rajewal voice concerns of farmers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
While Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann has opposed peakload-hour restrictions by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) with the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) nod on the industry, restricted power supply to consumers and power cuts in other sectors, the BKU (Rajewal) has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to pull up PSEB authorites for not supplying power to farm sector for eight hours daily.

Mann said the commission, headed by a former chief secretary, had authorised the PSEB to impose peakload-hour restrictions on industry, restrict power supply to consumers and impose power cuts or regulate energy consumption of other categories of consumers.

“Our party feels this is due to the negligence of the administration that has resulted in the current situation where the supply of electricity has not matched the demand at the current price levels.

We fear that the burgeoning demand and inadequate supply will aggravate misery of the common man,” said Mann.

“Farmers are already late in sowing paddy and the power scenario looks like further denying them opportunity to sow paddy in time,” he added.

The small and marginal farmers will have to bear the burden of burning diesel to cultivate the crop. “A great hue and cry is being made by the Badal government about industry in Punjab; the new order is going to drive industry out of Punjab,” said Mann.

“We believe the administration is ignoring the needs of the common man. We expect rulers get uninterrupted power to their own homes, while the common man, whether he is a farmer, businessman or ordinary consumer, goes without electricity,” Mann asserted.

Meanwhile, Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, BKU, in an SOS sent to the Chief Minister, has urged him that farmers were facing problems in growing vegetables, green fodder, maize, pulses etc in the absence of adequate power supply.

Drawing the attention of the Chief Minster towards the PSEB statement that power supply would be provided for one hour only to farm sector before June 15 to grow nurseries, Rajewal said the decision had shocked farmers.

He has urged Badal to direct the PSEB to supply power for eight hours daily to farm sector to grow fodder, pulses, maize etc. Rajewal said recently he met the PSEB chairman to inform him that rural areas were getting power supply only for two hours. The chairman had promised to enhance the power supply to six hours. “But rural sector continues to get power supply for an hour only and nothing had changed in the field,” said Rajewal.


Woman, daughter kidnap boy
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Dreaming of getting rich within days, a woman along with her minor daughter, in Bollywood style, first made advances towards a boy through cell phone and later kidnapped him for a ransom of Rs 1 crore. However, their dream could not turn into reality, as the Amritsar rural police, with the help of the mother of the boy, were able to arrest the duo from Rajpura village in Shahpurkandi late last night.

SSP Iqbal Singh said today that during the investigation, it was revealed that the accused, Kulwant Kaur, and her minor daughter, Rajwinder Kaur, had planned the kidnapping after they came to know that victim Narinder Singh and his mother, Dalbir Kaur, residents of Verka, had sold their 1-acre agricultural land for Rs 1.40 crore.

The district police chief said the duo planned the kidnapping at the shop of Hardev Singh, alias Sonu, Kulwant’s nephew, who knew the victim’s family and their telephone numbers, as he had installed grills in their house some time ago.

Singh said Rajwinder had been telephoning Narinder for the past 20 to 25 days and telling him that she “loved him”. Later on May 12, she asked him to meet her at the Majitha bus stand. Narinder, along with a relative, reached the bus stand and asked his relative to wait for him till he returned after meeting her girlfriend, where he was kidnapped by Sonu and his two accomplices.

The SSP said that initially the victim’s mother had lodged a complaint against her daughter Baljit Kaur and son-in-law Gurdial Singh of Batala with whom they had dispute over some issue in the Verka police station. However, after primary investigation, it was found that the duo was not involved in the case.

He said the accused, after kidnapping the boy, had been constantly threatening Dalbir that they would kill her son if the amount was not delivered immediately. However, the mother showed restraint and assured the kidnappers that she needs time for arranging the huge amount.

He further said that a case had been registered against the five accused in the Verka police station under Sections 364-A, 342, 120-B of the IPC.

He said Sonu and his two accomplices were at large.


Panchayat Poll Violence
Three held for assaulting BDPO
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh May 18
The Sudhar police has arrested three persons for allegedly assaulting a block development project officer (BDPO) after forcibly entering into his house at his native village Waraich, near here and threatening to kill him yesterday. Four other suspects are absconding.

The accused have been identified as Balwinder Singh, Atma Singh and Amarjit Singh, alias Shingara Singh of the same village. Political rivalry was reported to be reason behind the attack.

The accused, during investigations denied the charges levelled against them and maintained that they were canvassing for their candidates when the incident took place. Though the complainant and the accused had entered into verbal dual, no manhandling took place, they claimed.

While the arrested accused had been remanded in judicial custody, supporters of both warring group were learnt to have reached a compromise. A few Congress leaders had been demanding his transfer, at least till panchayat elections. The BDPO was posted at his home subdivision Raikot.

FIR registered by Raghbir Singh Waraich states that at least seven armed persons had allegedly assaulted him and his brother Jaswant Singh Waraich, BDPO, Raikot, by forcibly entering into his house yesterday. The suspects even threatened to kill the complainant in case he did not withdraw his nomination for a panch of the civic body.

“The suspects were annoyed over villagers’ inclination to elect me as a sarpanch of the civic body,” Raghbir Singh Waraich said before investigating team led by Sukhbir Singh.

Being cornered by the suspects, Waraich had sought help from Raikot DSP who directed the Sudhar police to nab the suspects.

While Balwinder Singh, Atma Singh and Amarjit Singh, alias Shingara Singh, were arrested from the spot, Paramjit Singh, Bittu and two of their accomplices succeeded in fleeing from the village. The accused were presented in a court after being booked under Sections 452, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC and 25, 54, 59 of the Arms Act. The police is yet to recover weapons used in the attack.


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