P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Family attacked in Golden Temple serai
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
Activists of a radical Sikh organisation today injured a former woman SGPC member, her husband and two daughters in Baba Jeevan Singh serai, near SGPC complex, here today.

About 50 to 60 activists of a radical Sikh organisation armed with swords and lathis knocked at the room of Darbara Singh Seona at 11 am to seek apology from him for the alleged blasphemous article in a Punjabi daily. However, he refused to apologise for the article stating he was prepared for a debate on the issue.

SP( city-1) Babu Lal Meena said the victims had been admitted to the civil hospital and a case would be registered against the accused after receiving the medical report.

Darbara Singh talking to the media alleged the members of the breakaway group of the Damdami Taksal had also come in the morning and after heated exchanges left the room when he refused to apologise.

He said the accused later accompanied with 50 to 60 persons barged into his room and started beating them after dragging them out. He alleged the accused also thrashed and injured his family members, including two daughters Pavitter Kaur and Amrit Kaur, and wife Jaswinder Kaur Seona.

He alleged they opened the room when activists of the radical Sikh organisation knocked their room on the pretext they were policemen in mufti.

He said he along with a family from Tamil Nadu had come here late last night to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple besides showing them the rich religio-cultural heritage of the Sikhs.

He said as soon as he landed in Amritsar a local jeweller tried to contact him on his mobile phone for seeking a meeting with him to have a discussion on the issue.

He said his daughters had made several requests to the police about the possible threat but they had failed to provide them any security. He said the policemen arrived only after the attackers had left the serai.

He added he would file a case in Punjab and Haryana High Court against the district administration and the police for failing to provide security to them despite requests.


Hall Gate’s colour restored
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
The Municipal Corporation here today restored original colour of Hall Gate following criticism by heritage lovers .

After the publication of a news in these columns about the change of colour from pink to yellow- favourite colour of Akalis on May 20 , a large number of heritage lovers and politicians, including Rajinder Kaur Bhattal , president, PPCC thronged the site to seek action against the officials who had ordered vandalisation of heritage gate .

On this, local BJP member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu and mayor Shavet Malik directed Municipal Corporation officials to restore the original colour . However, onlookers expressed surprise over the wastage of public money by changing the colour of Hall Gate frequently .

Amritsar chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has documented 300 buildings in the walled city, most of which are facing a slow death due to indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned. The inventory of historical buildings, prepared by INTACH, points to the indifferent attitude of all concerned.

Original colour of Hall Gate was red, which was changed to pink during the stint of K.S. Kang as commissioner of the corporation two and half years ago.

The corporation had also started painting other heritage buildings, including the boundary wall of the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but now the work has been stopped.

Secretary of the Panchrang, Mala Chawla, and other artists from the city hailed the decision.


Badal grateful to EC, Amritsar voters
Cong constitutes committee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today thanked the people of the Amritsar (South) constituency for giving the SAD-BJP alliance an overwhelming mandate by voting Inderbir Singh Bularia to victory. Badal further thanked the Election Commission for ensuring a free and fair poll.

He said: “EC’s role thoroughly exposed the vicious and misleading propaganda of our rivals about the fairness of the poll. I am grateful for all foolproof arrangements made by the commission to prevent any electoral malpractice during the entire poll process.”

Badal asked the Congress to accept the basic tenet of democracy in which the voice of the people is the voice of God. “We hope that, at least this time, the Congress and its leadership will show democratic grace and dignity to accept the verdict of the people in true democratic spirit. And this should also convince them of the hollowness of politics of dharnas and empty slogans, bereft of ideology and commitment to the service of the people”.

President of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal described the victory as “a forceful mandate for good governance and a stamp of popular approval on the futuristic vision unfolded by the by the SAD-BJP alliance over the past 16 months”.

He said the twin agendas of uplift of the poor as well as the thrust towards making Punjab a front-runner global state stood ratified by the people of the state to give a strong pat on the back of the SAD-BJP government.

The Chief Minister said last year, the SAD stood ahead of the Congress by 27 per cent whereas this time the ruling party leaped even further, increasing the gap to 33.3 per cent. He said this by itself showed that the popularity graph of the SAD-BJP alliance had gone even further up since the formation of the government in Punjab.

Meanwhile, PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has constituted a committee, comprising Naseeb Singh Gill, Bir Devinder Singh, both former deputy speakers, R.R. Bhardwaj, former deputy chairman of the Planning Board, Lt-Col C.D. Singh Kamboj, member of the AICC, and Rakesh Ahir, former deputy principal secretary to Chief Minister, to study the “large-scale malpractices adopted by the Akali-BJP combine and its impact on the result of the byelection”. It will submit its report within two weeks.

The committee will also study the legal and political aspects of the Panchayat Election results by interacting with the DCC presidents and the MLAs/former MLAs and will recommend to Bhattal the constitution of district-level legal bodies to provide assistance to the aggrieved persons.


Prescribed form not must for RTI applications
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The State Information Commission (SIC), Punjab, has held that public authorities cannot reject RTI applications on the ground that the information request was not in the form prescribed by the State 

The Punjab Government had prescribed ‘Form A’ under the Punjab RTI Rules, 2007, in which RTI applicants were supposed to answer nine queries first before the RTI application could be entertained.

The form was challenged by a local lawyer Capt Navdeep Singh before the full bench of the Commission on the ground that it contravened the provisions of the RTI Act which did not prescribe any such form.

The ambiguity was compounded by the fact that one Bench of the Commission comprising P K Verma had held the application form to be mandatory while another bench of Rupan Deol Bajaj had held that there was no requirement of seeking information in the said format since the Act did not prescribe it.

While holding that a complaint filed under Section 18 of RTI Act was not maintainable, the full Bench, however, made it clear that the rules were only directory in nature and not mandatory and if a sufficiently clear application was made to any public authority then the same could not be rejected for the reason of not being in ‘Form A’.

The Bench also stated that the rules were meant to facilitate information and had to be construed liberally. The commission also held that in case any PIO or appellate authority rejected an application on grounds of it not being in conformity of the state rules, the Commission could direct the supply of the information to the applicant.


Mann backs Gujjars
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has condemned firing on Gujjars in Rajasthan resulting in several deaths. Coming down on government action Mann said the Gujjars were only demanding a “small slice of the cake” being offered to many others in the country. “They only want a Scheduled Tribe status. You cannot shoot them for demanding something like this”. Mann said the government must stop atrocities on the Gujjars and ensure no precious life was wasted.

Mann also condemned arrests of Bangladeshi nationals in Ludhiana by the police saying innocent labourers were being targeted at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He demanded arrests of innocent people, irrespective of their nationality must stop to check the “fascist” political parties like the BJP. The right wing political party, he said, was bent upon destroying secular character of the country. 


Staff despatched sans ballot papers, says Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The Congress today alleged the SAD- BJP government’s insistence to get all ballot papers printed from a single agency in Delhi had resulted in undue delay with ballot boxes not reaching many places in Punjab today.

Polling staff was sent to many places in the state, including Ferozepur and other border districts today without ballot papers, said Pradesh Congress leaders Parminder Singh Pinky and Harchand Singh Barsat. They said the staff had been told that the ballot papers would be dispatched to them tomorrow.

The leaders said this was a procedural irregularity as now the responsibility of the ballot papers would be given to a third party which would make it difficult to pinpoint blame in case of any tampering of the papers.

Meanwhile Pradesh Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal demanded the Election Commission to ensure security of ballot papers which could not be dispatched to various places in the state as these had not been received by the commission till late last night. She also urged the commission to appoint observers to ensure safety of the ballot papers. 


Land Acquisition
Govt yet to frame policy; 3 models being studied 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Punjab is yet to make a decision on land acquisition policy for mega and other projects. Sources said after studying several options on the acquiring of land for private and government projects, the government had shortlisted three policies draft of which would go to the Cabinet for a decision which one of the three was suitable for the state.

Of the three, one is based on Haryana pattern, another on Gujarat pattern and the third one is the improved version of the existing land acquisition policy meant for government projects in the state.

Haryana has fixed the base price of land in various towns and rural areas. Those wanting to acquire land, will have to offer the base price to farmers. Besides it, farmers, whose land is to be acquired, will be given Rs 15,000 per acre rent for 30 years. For instance, the base price of the land has been fixed at Rs 20 lakh in the Gurgaon area. At certain places, Haryana has also adopted the Gujarat pattern where farmers can become stake holders in the project on their land by a company.

The Gujarat land acquisition policy has encouraged farmers to become stake holders in the projects. The government helps them in this regard. A team of senior officers from Punjab had gone there to study the Gujarat model of acquisition. “Some good points of the Gujarat policy can also be adopted,” said chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh.

And the third is Punjab’s existing policy under which farmers are to be given the market price as done in case of the international airport at Chandigarh. The market price is determined by a committee, including the DC, the MLA of the area, the sarpanch of the village and other officials.

In fact, Punjab’s existing policy appears to be best vis-a-vis Haryana and Gujarat’s . By including some good aspects of other policies such as the provision of making farmers stake holders in the project, Punjab’s policy can be improved. In fact, Haryana’s policy has several flaws. Value of Rs 15,000 that is to be paid to farmers per acre as rent will be nothing after 15-20 years in view inflation. Moreover, if farmers get land price at the existing market rate, they will be able to buy property elsewhere.

The land acquisition policy is being re modelled following complaints of exploitation of farmers. Colonisers and mega housing project companies have made huge money by buying land cheap from farmers around Mohali, Kharar and nearby areas. Even PUDA has been exploiting farmers in this regard for many years. 


Nuisance of Pressure Horn
Buses, trucks flout decibel norms, cops unruffled
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
People have to put up with the ear-piercing cacophony of pressure horns daily. Pressure horns in buses and trucks flout with impunity the permissible decibel level. The daily assault-hooters appear to be making a mockery of traffic regulations on roads of towns and cities all over the state.

On the the road from Mohali to Ludhiana one finds cops standing near traffic points at Kharar, Khamano, Samrala and Kohara, unmindful of the noise of trucks and buses honking. They do not seem to be affected by the harsh sounds. Comment of a district transport officer sums up the state of affairs. "A majority of the trucks and buses blowing terrible sounds are owned either by politicians or lobbies close to them. We do challan the offenders, however, the move means nothing without a political will to do so".

The New Patiala Bus (PB 23F 9889) has installed the pressure horns and plays Punjabi hit “Gur naalon ishq mittha...”. Annoyed with honking of the bus horn, Sarbjit Singh, a businessman, stopped his bus by the roadside and signalled the bus driver to go ahead. "The noise is intolerable. It is a torture for the driver ahead as the noise assaults one’s ears," he said. "I have heard the same horn blown on scores of other vehicles all over the state".

A private bus (PB 11AH 9755) could be seen blowing non-stop loud beeping sound to the irritation of travellers and market-goers near Samrala. A traffic cop near Samrala stood unruffled as the bus (PB 11C 9865) passed the traffic crossing near Khamanon honking non-stop, while the traffic was held up due to heavy traffic from the adjoining road. The driver of the bus (PB 12 3157) continued blowing the pressure horn as he was speeding his vehicle on the Kharar-Chandigarh road to overtake every vehicle. Amrik Singh, a driver of a private bus said, "Traffic, particularly on the roads of small towns, is not regulated at all. Even the small vehicles are not willing to clear the roads for us. We are left with no option but to yell our way to have the road cleared. Not just buses and trucks, roads of Ludhiana are full of cars, blaring eerie sounds without being noticed by the Transport authorities".

Narinder 'Nindi', a US citizen, said, "Honking is very rarely used on our roads. A careless honk will lead to a passerby looking at you, as if offended by the sound. Here, horn is as important as fuel to get the cars moving."


Gram Sabha Polls Today
Villagers block road over nominations
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
Demanding cancellation of elections for Chathe-Nakte village panchayat, which falls in the Sunam cluster-1, residents of the village today blocked the Sunam-Sangrur road for more than an hour.

The protesters were reportedly leveling allegations against the returning officer (RO) of the Sunam cluster-1, regarding non-acceptance of nomination papers from some aspirants.

Thet lifted the road blockade after naib-tehsildar Bahadur Singh assured them of the action.

Meanwhile, RO Shavinder Goyal told The Tribune over the phone that the time for the submission of nomination papers was up to 3 pm on the last day of filing of nomination papers. Even at 3 pm, an announcement had been made, requesting the aspirants to enter the complex to file their papers. He had received 10 nomination papers, of which one had been rejected. Six persons withdrew their papers. The three candidates, remained in the fray, were to be elected unopposed, he added.

Special CL for poll staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The Punjab government today decided to allow special casual leave on May 27 to all those employees who are performing election duty tomorrow on account of the panchayat elections.

An official spokesman said the special casual leave would not be counted in their casual leaves and this holiday would be in lieu of the holiday on May 26, which had been declared earlier. 


Tehsildar case shifted
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 25
The state Vigilance Bureau (VB) has shifted the inquiry into the Pathankot Tehsildar Yash Paul Sharma case involving property disproportionate to his known sources of income from the Amritsar to Jalandhar range.

The case has been shifted to the Jalandhar range on a request of Rajeshwar Chaudhary of Dhaki village, Pathankot, the complainant. The Vigilance has also ensured that investigation be done by an officer not lower than the rank of a DSP.

Chaudhary had alleged that Yash Paul was a politically connected person and may mount pressure on the investigating team.

Sources said the local MLA and former ones of the Congress and the BJP had come forward in support of Sharma. They even approached the revenue minister against shifting him out of Pathankot.


Baba Farid varsity autonomous, VC thinks otherwise
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences seems to be controlled by the Punjab State Planning Board if a press note of the university issued "with approval of Prof J. S. Bajaj,vice-chairman of the Planning Board" is to be believed.

Dr Ravinder Singh, BFUHS vice-chancellor, issued a press note on March 3 last highlighting on this day which "is a new milestone in the history of the BFUHS", a memorandum of understanding was being signed between the BFUHS and the Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation (HSCC) India a public sector undertaking approved by the government of India. However, the footnote of the press note said "this was being issued with the approval of Prof J. S. Bajaj, deputy chairman of the State Planning Board." Is the university, which is an autonomous body, subordinate to the State Planning Board?

"The university is an autonomous body and there is no need for the vice-chancellor to seek approval of the state Planning Board vice-chairman while issuing a press release about development works at the university” said Dr S. S. Johl, a noted farm economist who is a member of the Board of Management of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences. Dr G. S. Kalkat, another member of the Board of Management of the BFUHS, said he was not aware about the facts of the matter and the right person to comment on the issue was the VC.

Dr Ravinder Singh, BFUHS VC evaded direct comment on the issue. He said the matter was month -old and he would have to check records before he commenting on the matter. Even though he was in office he did not have the records checked up.

Jagjit Puri, principal secretary , Department of Medical Education and Research, said he there was no need for the vice-chancellor to seek approval for issuing a press note from any functionary of the state government as the university was an autonomous institution. The right person to comment on the issue was the VC ,Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, who had issued the press note .

There have been rumours in Department of Medical Education that Dr Ravinder Singh, who was the choice of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for appointment as BFUHS VC was lobbying for an extension in his term which ends in another few months. Reports are he is using influence of Prof J. S. Bajaj, who besides being deputy chairman of the state Planning Board is also personal physician of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Attempts to contact Dr Bajaj were in vain.


Residents protest admn apathy
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 25
Over nine families of ward number 19 have been on the mercy of their neighbours for many years for potable water.Their hopes to get water supply for the area soon dashed when the officer concerned suspended the work on the pipeline citing administration’s preoccupation with panchayat elections.

The families have to trudge long distances to fetch water. Ex-serviceman Amar Nath, who made a complaint in this regard at a sangat darshan programme, lamented the officers concerned had turned a blind eye towards their problem.

The families alleged the interference of the local MLA had led to the suspension of work on the pipeline a fortnight ago. They alleged that sub-divisional engineer Paramjit Singh suspended the work saying that he was directed by the local MLA to do so. However, the SDE said the work had been suspended temporarily due to panchayat elections.


Lovers commit suicide

Hoshiarpur, May 25
Having failed to marry a young boy and a girl reportedly committed suicide by taking some poisonous substance in Pathralian village, 25 km from here, last night.

Sukhwinder Kaur (22) and Ravi Kumar (24), both residents of Pathralian village, were in love for some years. But their families did not allow them to marry, the police said.

Anguished by their families ‘opposition’, the duo made a suicide pact. They eloped from their houses, went to the nearby field and consumed some poisonous substance.

After taking poison, they also reportedly informed one panch of the village that they were committing suicide.

Bodies were sent to civil hospital here for a postmortem examination. — UNI


When virtual teaching is a real help
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 25
When Manjeet, a Class XII student from Balachaur, entered the Government Senior Secondary School Langroya Nawanshahar to attend a 45-day free pre-medical test crash course, she was in for a shock. For someone who had not even taken a real tuition in her life, to see a teacher giving virtual lectures through the computer was not easy to get used to.

But Manjit and hundreds of other Class XII government school students like her in Punjab not just got used to this unique tuition class but were within days, “interacting” with their virtual teacher, asking questions and airing their doubts.

A first-of-its-kind project in India, the state government ran a 45-day crash course completely free of cost in almost 95 centres across the state, which a student appearing for the PMT and CET from any school could attend. The lectures, delivered by teachers at the Edusat hub studio in Mohali, were simultaneously aired at these centres.

For Punjab, at the receiving end of severe criticism as far as government school education is concerned, this one initiative seems to be the turning point. The course met with astounding success given the fact that it had only been advertised by word of mouth.While the course had a host of government school students attending the otherwise intensive tuition schedule, in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Faridkot it even attracted private school students.

The biggest attraction of the course which ended some days ago were the Delhi-based teachers. Running successful coaching academies there, these teachers had been roped in by the Gyan Sewa Trust that paid for their lectures and arranged for their stay in Mohali. Despite bearing a whopping expenditure on these teachers, the trust had offered their services free to the Punjab government.

“It is a part of our contribution to those students of Punjab who could not have afforded these coaching classes. Our rural students are immensely talented and if given the right guidance they can achieve a lot,” said H.S. Phoolka the chairman of the trust. The trust pioneered a similar effort when it started free coaching classes for PMT and CET at Nawashahar and Khadoor Sahib two years ago.

The schedule of lectures during the course days was fixed. Students had been given assignments before the classes began so that they know what was going to be taught. “Virtual teaching is very different from real teaching. But it is exciting to know that hundreds of students out there are listening to your lecture. Also when they respond with a question and show that they are understanding it is satisfying,” said Deepak Kumar a teacher from Delhi who took the biology class.

By the end of the course students had their favourite teachers too. “I liked the physics teacher the best. He made the lectures very interesting and talked into the computer as if he could see all of us,” said Sahil Makkar a student from Mudki.

The hub studio in Mohali is connected to the 95 centres through Edusat and it was possible for the teacher to talk to any student at any centre. “While the lecture is being delivered, the queries being put by students are received and flashed on the computer in front of the teacher. He responds to it during the lecture session,” explained Jaskamal Singh Brar the in-charge at the Hub here.


Defining PUSA 1121 as Basmati Variety
Exporters back farmers
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 25
The All-India Rice Exporters Association has backed the farmers of northern India for officially defining PUSA 1121 as basmati rice. In a missive to the government, president of the association Vijay Setia said the 1121 variety had been accepted world over as the best cooking rice and have managed to establish its foothold in markets across the globe, especially in Iran, West Asia.

He said India’s main competitor in the cultivation of basmati rice Pakistan had officially admitted that PUSA 1121 had already captured 50 per cent of the latest markets and was fetching premium over other varieties.

Setia said during the past three years the high yielding basmati, invented by Indian scientists after an intense research, had found huge markets and today farmers were keen on sowing this variety on a large chunk of fields across Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Citing example of the acceptability of the PUSA 1121 basmati, Setia said the farmers’ earning had almost trebled to Rs 50,000 per acre and this year as per the estimates it was likely to touch Rs 75,000 per acre.

He said at present the rates range from Rs 42,000 per tonne to Rs 45,000 per tonne and accordingly the export prices have skyrocketed.

The foreign buyer was willing to pay $ 1,600-2,000 per tonne for this variety of rice.

He urged the government to immediately take steps to bring PUSA 1121 into the basmati segment so that farmers could be benefited on a long-term basis.

He said this variety consumed less water and fertilisers.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |