P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


State to ward off de-recognition of 3 medical colleges
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab government has decided to take a number of steps to ward off de-recognition of its three medical colleges at Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot, including approving two projects worth Rs 187 crore for Amritsar and Faridkot, besides going in for the appointment of new teachers and re-employing old ones.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) had issued notices to all three medical colleges on April 24, asking why recognition for the award of MBBS degrees should not be withdrawn and further admissions be barred.

The colleges had been given one month to submit a compliance report.

The team of MCI inspectors had detected shortage of key equipment like MRI and CT scan at the medical college in Patiala. It had also reported large-scale manipulation of manpower resources, with 23 faculty members from Amritsar and Faridkot being posted to Patiala on the date of inspection and being reverted to their parent institutions when they faced a similar inspection one month later.

Research and medical education secretary Jagjit Puri, in a letter to the MCI on May 22, disclosed that a Rs 120-crore project had been approved for Amritsar and a Rs 67-crore project for Faridkot. Puri said that the Hospitality System Consultancy Corporation, a Government of India undertaking, had prepared both projects and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) would undertake their construction.

The infrastructure works at Amritsar include a mother-child centre, a new imaging and diagnostic centre, a drug dependence treatment unit, a service block and a nursing college.

At Faridkot, work would be undertaken on building upon the campus. The government expects the work to be completed in 24 months and is hopeful of funds from the Centre also, with the department quoting a letter from the Union health and family welfare secretary that the Centre was considering incurring a one-time capital expenditure for the upgradation of medical colleges of up to Rs 120 crore.

The secretary, research and medical education, has also assured the MCI that the state government was also contemplating a regeneration plan for the medical college at Patiala, which would be shortly submitted to the Union government.

The college has, meanwhile, been provided with a CT scan machine and the department is likely to purchase an MRI machine for the hospital soon, Puri told TNS.

Meanwhile, regarding the other objections listed by the MCI, he said the recruitment of 60 lecturers was in the pipeline and would be completed within one month. Besides, he also assured the MCI that all pending promotion cases would be dealt with within the next three months, and that the cases for the promotion of 38 teachers were being processed.


Medical college principal quits
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 30
The principal of medical college in Jalandhar, Dr Kiranjit Kaur, today sent in her resignation from the post citing personal reasons.

Dr Kiranjit Kaur, wife of Dr Ravinder Singh, vice-chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, is facing a number of departmental inquiries, besides Vigilance probe with regard to the admission and migration of her son Gaurav Partap Singh in the MBBS course.


3 more Cong men murdered in Bathinda
MLA Kangar seeks CBI probe
Puneet Pal Singh Gill and Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Hargobind Singh
Hargobind Singh

Swaran Singh
Swaran Singh

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), May 30
The political scene in Bathinda district is getting murkier with Congress leaders accusing SAD workers of masterminding the killings of its activists.

Barely days after the alleged killing of Congress MLA from Rampura Phul Gurpreet Singh Kangar's partner, the alleged killings of his another supporter, Veerpal Veeru (26), and two Congress activists, Swaran Singh (27) and Hargobind Singh (35) of Ghaso Khana village, find the SAD again under a cloud.

Jamna Rani, sister (centre) of slain Congress worker Veerpal Veeru, grieves at Rampura Phul Civil Hospital on Friday.
Jamna Rani, sister (centre) of slain Congress worker Veerpal Veeru, grieves at Rampura Phul Civil Hospital on Friday. — Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Lachhman Singh, brother of Hargobind, said he and Baljeet Singh, cousin of Swaran, were riding pillion on two motor cycles being driven by Hargobind and Swaran as they were returning home at around 7 pm last evening. Balwinder Singh, husband of Gurpreet Kaur, who was elected panch with the SAD backing, and his accomplices attacked them with sharp-edged weapons.

He and Baljeet escaped. They spent the night at Bhunder village. The suspects, Balwinder Singh, Boota Singh, Gulab Singh, Gurmail Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Gurjeet Singh and Charanjeet Singh, along with other unidentified persons, attacked Swaran and Hargobind. As they hit them, the suspects reportedly said: "It would be a lesson for the people who dare to oppose us in the elections."

Volunteers of an NGO took Hargobind's body to the Civil Hospital, Bathinda, and got Swaran admitted to a private hospital. He succumbed to his injuries.

Swaran was earlier in the SAD and had recently joined the Congress.

In the evening, the kin of the deceased staged a dharna at the civil hospital. They alleged that despite their repeated requests, the police had not registered a case even 22 hours after the incident.

DSP (D) Surinder Pal Singh, who was investigating the case, said investigations were on into the case.

Meanwhile, another Congress worker of the Rampura Phul constituency was allegedly murdered by a Block Samiti member of the SAD and his accomplices. Veerpal Veeru (26), whose body was found in the Bathinda-Sirhind branch canal near Sadhana village last night, was a resident of Rayaa village and was a supporter of Congress MLA from Rampura Phul Gurpreet Singh Kangar. He was the youngest member of his family.

The main suspect, SAD Block Samiti member from Rayya Gurcharan Singh, reportedly had an altercation with Veeru during the Gram Panchayat elections. The latter had gone missing On May 28.

Meanwhile, Kangar demanded a CBI inquiry into the murder.

Talking to The Tribune, Veeru's mother, Satya Devi, said: "Gurcharan Singh, along with his accomplices, has been harassing and threatening our family with dire consequences since the Gram Panchayat polling."

Both Sham Lal and Veeru's families have pointed finger at former minister and district in charge of the SAD Sikandar Singh Malooka.

However, Malooka refuted all charges. He said: "The Congress MLA from Rampura Phul has himself got Veeru murdered so that he can settle scores with me".


Police varsity awaits Cabinet nod
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, May 30
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police University, which Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced during the passing-out parade of the local police academy on March 21, awaits approval of the state Cabinet. The administrative structure and academic framework have been cleared by the office of the DGP and the Home Department, said R.S. Gill, DGP-cum-director of the academy, while talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of an Indo-British interaction programme on “Higher Police Education and Research - Need for Global Partnership Initiatives” here today. The Chief Minister had fixed a time frame of two months for the formal announcement of the university during the passing-out parade.

Gill said the clearance of a draft of the university was preceded by a round of discussions among officers of the academy, including Dr D.J. Singh, senior deputy director and dean of the academy, and different wings of the state government. Gill said the Centre was also working on setting up a university on police administration and the project was in an advanced stage. “Let us see and watch which university first sees the light of the day,” he said.

The DGP said: “The police academy will have faculty from the normal academia. Senior police officials will come as guest lecturers. Admissions will be open to all students and details of all courses will be given once the university proposal was cleared. University will have special distance learning programmes. Initially, it will start functions from the academy at Phillaur, subsequently the campus will be shifted to an alternative site”.

A senior officer remarked: “Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced while addressing the passing-out parade on March 21 that a university would be cleared by the state government within two months. The time period has just elapsed. However, we are very hopeful of an early clearance to the university, going by the pace of work done at the preparatory stage”.

Earlier, during the interaction programme, special presentations were made by Dr D.J. Singh, senior deputy director and dean of the academy, Dr Narinder Bhargav, deputy director of the academy. Jasbir Singh, regional coordinator of the University of Wolverhampton, and Dr Martin Wright, police liaison officer, Wolverhampton, also made special presentations.


Dal Khalsa Conclave
Hurriyat chief to address for first time
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
Intelligence sleuths are on their toes here as leader of the breakaway faction of the Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Professor Geelani, who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, would participate in the Sikh conclave, scheduled to be held here by radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa on June 4 to mark the 24th anniversary of Operation Bluestar.

Another participant would be John Dayal, president, All-India Catholic Union, New Delhi.

Leaders of all three major minority communities would be speaking on the occasion. The topic of speeches would be "Sacrilege of places of worship of minorities".

Earlier, Dal Khalsa secretary general Kanwarpal Singh held a meeting with Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his residence in New Delhi last month to extend him invitation. The confirmation of both Geelanis and John Dayal has been received by the Dal Khalsa secretariat, claimed Kanwarpal Singh through an e-mail.

While chief of the breakaway faction of the Hurriyat would be the chief guest, Professor Geelani would deliver speech on attack on Muslim religious places in the country.

The conference assumes significance as various radical groups representing ethnic and religious minorities of the country are coming on a single platform to highlight their “plight” and speak in one voice against the alleged "acts of sacrilege".

It will be the first visit of Geelanis to Punjab who are known for their hawkish stance on the Kashmir issue. The message of Gajinder Singh, an exiled leader of the Dal Khalsa, would also be read.


SGPC shelves plan on Operation Bluestar memorial
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
The SGPC seems to have dropped the idea to raise a memorial to those killed in Operation Bluestar.

Talking to The Tribune, SGPC president Avtar Singh said there was no plan at the moment to raise such a memorial on the SGPC complex, adding that there were many more works on the priority list of the committee.

Earlier, SGPC’s general house had passed a resolution to raise a Operation Bluestar memorial at its meeting in 2002. Later, a special executive meeting held at Anandpur Sahib on May 27, 2005, had decided to organise Ardas Divas at Harmandar Sahib in connection with the memorial.

Meanwhile, the Dal Khalsa expressed deep concern over the SGPC indifference to erecting such a memorial.

In a letter faxed to the committee chief, Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwar Pal Singh has reminded it of its resolution passed at its general house on February 20, 2002, pertaining to the proposed memorial.

Meanwhile, when confronted with the statement of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, supporting the demand of a separate Sikh homeland, the SGPC president quipped, “There is no need to discuss such an issue because the statement of Jathedar Vedanti was distorted and being blown out of proportion”. He had met Jathedar Vedanti after his return from abroad.

On the installation of air-conditioners in the Golden Temple, he said they were not causing any damage to the ancient building. Hence, those would not be removed.


Marriot matter sub-judice, claims counsel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Reacting to the news-item, "No action against hotel built on public land", published in these columns on May 23, a Ludhiana-based advocate has, on behalf of "M/s B.V.M. Builders and Promoters Pvt. Ltd (Hotel Marriot), Ludhiana", contended that the matter was sub-judice before the Supreme Court.

In a communication to The Tribune, the advocate has claimed that the Model Town Extension Club had already filed a Special Leave Petition in the matter and the Supreme Court had stayed the operation of the order dated August 8, 2006, referred to in the news report. "The fact regarding the pendency of SLP and regarding stay of the impugned order have been cleverly concealed". Moreover, the news-item is in the shape of provoking the authorities to take action against the hotel," he has added. The advocate has further stated: “My client understands that wrong and incomplete information has been furnished”.

The Tribune correspondent adds: The news-item was based on a judicial order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Justice Ranjit Singh had in exercise of suo motu jurisdiction, directed investigation by the vigilance department of the state "so that the person and the people involved in making the petitioner grab this property are brought to justice".

The court had also directed the state to initiate appropriate proceedings to recover the property from the petitioner, and restore it to the public. "It would not matter if in the process the building which has been constructed on the site is required to be interfered with or demolished," it added.


Amritsar boy gets 25th rank in IIT entrance
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
Following the footsteps of his brother Amik Singh who was among the IIT toppers last year, Japnik Singh of Amritsar has secured the 25th rank in the IIT entrance test this year.

Son of a Punjab State Electricity Board SDO Harjit Singh, Japnik said he would prefer to join IIT Kanpur or Mumbai.

Giving credit to his parents and teachers, he said he got excellent training and upbringing, which helped him in achieving this rank.

Japnik did his schooling from Sri Harkrishan Public School.


Avtar’s plea to PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up with the Pakistan government the safety of life and property of the Sikh community in that country.

Makkar, in a missive to Dr Singh, said yesterday that the construction of a mosque near Shaheed Singh Singhniyan Gurdwara in Lahore was creating tension between people of the two communities.

He said its construction by a particular person near the gurdwara was hurting the sentiments of the community.


High Court
Indians with LTG Bank accounts: Mann seeks details
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann today asked the government to seek details of accounts Indians are holding in LTG Bank in Litchenstein.

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mann has stated that the Centre and secretary, ministry of external affairs, should be directed to seek the details from the German government.

He has also asked for appropriate action against Indians having illegal accounts in the bank. Referring to a news report, he added Germany had offered the data but India had dithered as many big wigs might have been exposed.

Elaborating, he stated that the bank had accounts of over 800 non-Germans. It had given the details to the German government and offered to forward it to the governments asking for it.

Though countries like the US, UK, Italy and Norway have used the opportunity to zero in on tax evaders, India was maintaining a stoic silence over the issue. Taking up the matter, a high court Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh issued notice of motion for July 25.

Plea for transport tribunal

Taking up a petition filed by advocate Arvinder Arora for directions to the state of Punjab to provide necessary facilities to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for August 18.

In the petition placed before division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Jaswant Singh, Arora said the tribunal should be provided space in a government building near the high court. He asserted that in the absence of facilities, no presiding officer was willing to join and work was suffering.

He stated that district and sessions Judge Birender Singh had joined and on seeing the condition of the building, he had written a letter to the state government. He had categorically stated that the tribunal was functioning from a private building and did not give the impression of a court.


Punjab Panchayat Poll
Ruling party went berserk: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
If verbal observations made in the courtroom are an indicator, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is not pleased with the way panchayat elections were held in Punjab.

Reserving the orders on a petition filed by senior Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar for quashing the recently held panchayat elections, a Division Bench of Justice K.S. Garewal and Justice Daya Chaudhary verbally observed: The ruling party went berserk. Referring to the allegations such as booth capturing, the Bench further observed it was ridiculous; and added the government had “missed the entire point of having panchayat elections”.

In his petition, Brar had earlier contended that elections were now being held in two parts, which had affected the poll schedule. Brar added it was failure of the election commission and the election machinery.

It was also contended that liquor continued to be sold till 24 hours before the poll process, though it was to be prohibited at least 48 hours prior to the elections.

State counsel, on the other hand, had contended the elections could be adjourned in case of an emergency, which included not only calamity, but “any other sufficient reason reported in writing”. Describing the defects in the ballot paper as human error, he added in all there were 12, 831 panchayats in Punjab; the elections of just over 400 had been postponed. For these, the elections of over 11,000 panchayats could not be countermanded, he added

Replying to demand for imposing a stay on the declaration of results, the counsel added the High Court in a recent judgment had held that the same would not influence the voters’ mind as these were not parliamentary polls.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the High Court asked the Election Commissioner to pass an order after calling for the report from the deputy commissioner or the district electoral officer, on a petition filed by Balbir Kaur of Bhathlan village in Barnala.

She had challenged Election Commissioner’s order, whereby he had delegated authority under Section 210 of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act; and 243-K of Constitution of India to the subordinate staff of deputy commissioner/district electoral officers.

The petitioner had contended that she belonged to native village of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the leader of opposition.

As such, her application form for panchayat elections was not accepted by the Returning Officer at Barnala. The state Election Commissioner, instead of deciding the petitioner’s claim, had delegated the power to the subordinate. 


Student’s Murder
HC upholds death penalty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
One-and-a-half years after a sessions court awarded death penalty to the killers of Hoshiarpur-based student Abhi Verma, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the sentence.Pronouncing the orders in an open court, a high court Division Bench, headed by Justice Uma Nath and Justice A.N. Jindal, held Vikram Singh, Jasvir Singh and his wife Sonia guilty of kidnapping and killing Abhi, alias Harry, a class IX student.

In his order, Hoshiarpur District and Sessions Judge held that Abhi Verma, son of jeweller Ravi Verma, was brutally murdered by the three after kidnapping him.

The prosecution had earlier stated that the information about the kidnapping of a schoolboy by some unidentified persons from the Shimla-Pahari Chowk near DAV public school, Hoshiarpur, was received on February 14, 2005, at 8.45 am. Subsequently, an FIR under Section 364 of the IPC was registered. Later, Ravi Verma of Mohalla Premgarh informed the police that he had received a ransom call for Rs 50 lakh for his son’s release. The police then installed gadgets on telephone to record conversation of the accused with the family.

The victim’s body was later found in fields at the Daulatpur village near Adampur in Jalandhar district.

Arguing before the high court, it was pointed out that though Sonia was Jasvir Singh’s wife, she had shared a bank account with Vikram Singh; an evidence that linked them.

Moreover, the mobiles used for the commission of the offence were also used as evidence. The state was represented by additional advocate-general A.S. Jattana, while senior advocate H.S. Gill appeared on behalf of Ravi Verma. 


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