P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


BJP bandh hits urban life
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, July 3
Barring some violent incidents here, the nationwide bandh call given by the BJP and other Hindu organisation in protest against the withdrawal of the order for allotment of forestland to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board by the Jammu and Kashmir government, was almost peaceful. It was partial in the suburban and rural areas.

Protesters forced the shopkeepers at the Hussainpura chowk near bus stand, Shakti Nagar, Putlighar, Ranjit Avenue Market and the main chowk near the Civil Hospital to close their shops. They also beat up the shopkeepers who refused to close their business establishments and ransacked their shops.

Wielding swords and trishuls, activists of the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal burnt tyres at almost all busy chowks of the city obstructing the traffic.

However, there was no affect of the bandh call in the suburban or the rural areas like Majitha, Ajnala, Attari, Fatehgarh Churian, Chhabal as the shops and other establishments remained open as usual.

Bathinda: Normal life was almost paralysed as the Bathinda city and its adjoining areas remained inaccessible due to the bandh. Traffic was blocked in the morning on all state highways, including the Bathinda-Chandigarh, Bathinda-Mansa and the Bathinda-Muktsar roads and protesters blocked exit points to the city.

All business establishments and shops, including vegetable and fruit shops, tea stalls and restaurants, remained closed. However, all educational institutions remained open.

The protesters ransacked a bakery and the office of a vernacular daily who didn’t respond to the bandh call. The police rounded up four persons for hooliganism and forcing the shopkeepers to close their shops.

Gurdaspur: The bandh threw normal life out of gear in this town and its adjoining area as almost all commercial establishments and a section of government offices remained closed and vehicular movement came to a standstill. Activists of the BJP and its sister organisations blocked road and rail traffic for hours together.

Hoshiarpur: The bandh disrupted normal life in large parts of the district. All business establishments, vegetable and fruit sellers, tea stalls and vendors observed a complete bandh.

Rail traffic on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar section had been suspended since 7 am as protesters led by BJP leader Raman Ghai squatted on the level crossing on the Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road.

All entry points in the city and link roads in the district had been blocked by the protesters.

Activists of the BJP, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Vikas Party in different groups, led by their leaders, including minister for parliamentary affairs, medical education and research, forest and wild life and labour Tikshan Sud, took out a procession.
Pathankot: A complete bandh was observed here and at Dinanagar as all business establishments remained closed. The protesters staged the dharna at the main chowk and burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sangrur: Local shopkeepers and businessmen observed a complete bandh as shops and business establishments remained closed in the town. However, it was reported that at some places shopkeepers, who tried to keep their shops open, had to face the wrath of the protesters.

Rs 20 lakh looted from bank
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
Three masked robbers looted over Rs 20 lakh from the Parasram Nagar branch of the State Bank of Patiala here this afternoon.

The trio, armed with two revolvers and a knife, entered the bank premises during the lunch break around 2.45 pm and locked the staff members and customers in the strong room. They snatched the keys from the cashier and decamped with the entire cash from the chest.

The robbers, described by eyewitnesses as two Sikhs and a non-Sikh, were casually dressed in pants and shirts and were speaking in Punjabi, bank staff said.

There was no security guard in the bank. Manager Jagdish Chand justified the bank’s decision not to have a guard, saying that the total retention limit of the bank was Rs 5 lakh and as such, services of security guards were not needed. A sum of Rs 20,7000 was looted, he added.


Medical colleges on MCI notice
Rush for quota seats in private institutes
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
In absence of an assurance from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Medical Education Department on the fate of three government medical colleges facing de-recognition, students have started rushing to private medical colleges to apply against management quota seats.

In past three days, the state government have held meetings with the Medical Council of India to remove objections raised by on shortcomings found in the government medical colleges in Punjab. It is not clear whether the MCI has agreed to efforts made by the state government to remove the shortcomings.

There are 350 seats in government medical colleges in Punjab. There are a few private medical colleges having more than 400 seats.These including Gian Sagar Medical College, DMC, Adesh Medical College and Guru Ram Dass Medical College etc. Sources said students, who have cleared the PMET and are within the consideration zone for admission to the MBBS course, were feeling insecure because there was no word from the government on recognition of government medical colleges in the state.

“ That is why they have been buying prospects from the private medical colleges to apply against management quota seats”, said the parent of a student.

Separate counselling for admission against management quota seats in each of the private colleges has been bothering parents. Parents want joint counselling for management quota seats for all private medical colleges to avoid harassment to students and the parents who have to make heavy financial investment to secure seats for wards.

Major objection of the MCI is shortage of faculty and inadequate patients in the hospitals attached to these colleges.The MCI has been raising objections to the functioning of the government colleges in the state for some years. The authorites concerned had been making ad hoc arrangements to deal with objections of the MCI instead of going for permanent solution.

“ See the fate of education institutions in Punjab where state government is unable to run three government medical colleges efficienty”, said a parent, upset over the developments regarding these colleges. Two of the government colleges are under direct control of the state government and third is under the control of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences but salary for some its staff is provided by the state government.

Admission to the MBBS course is very costly affair . First students had to buy the prospect for Rs 800 for applying to sit for PMET. Then they had to pay Rs 2,000 entrance test fee. About 8,000 students have appeared in the examination. Revenue collected from conducting the examination was Rs 2.25 crore. Even the state government had started doing business in education, said a parent.

And for applying against management quota seats, students have to pay about Rs 4,000 in Gian Sagar Medical College and Rs 5,000 in Guru Ram Dass College, Amritsar that is being run by the SGPC. Can a poor brilliant students think of doing MBBS in such a situation.


Airport at Mohali
Haryana’s conditional offer to fund
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Construction of international airport at Mohali has hit a roadblock with Haryana insisting inclusion of its urban development authority - HUDA as partner in the development of the project.

The issue is likely to discussed between both states at a meeting of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Delhi tomorrow. Officers from both states are expected to attend the meeting.

The Punjab government has notified the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GAMADA) as the main developer. The authority has been promised exclusive rights to market areas leading to the airport in return for investing money in the project. In view of this agreement, GAMADA has to foot the bill for the acquisition of land for the main terminal of the airport, which has come to Rs 450 crore.

Following this development, the Punjab government has been insisting Haryana also make its due contribution for the development of the airport since it is a 50 per cent partner in its development.

Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh disclosed Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was clear the project would be implemented whether Haryana deposited its 50 per cent contribution in developing the airport or not. He said future liabilities for both states were uncertain as land for access roads leading from both states to the airport was still to be acquired. He said it was planned to link the new airport with Haryana through the Ambala road and create another link on the Phagwara- Mohali road for Punjab. The airport is already linked to Punjab through the Patiala road.

Haryana on its part feels it should also be given due share in the commercial development of the airport on the lines of the concession given to GAMADA. Chief secretary Dharam Vir said there was no question of backing out from developing the airport jointly with Punjab. “We are a willing partner and have made that clear already”, he said adding the state only wanted HUDA be associated with the development of the airport. He said the government had already written to the Union government asking HUDA’s name also be included in the memorandum of understanding (mou). The State has also sent a revised MoU in this regard to the Centre.

Dharam Vir said the issue would be discussed in all aspects at the meeting tomorrow, adding the government would put forward funds due from it once the pending issue was resolved. 


Sidhu writes to Speaker over ‘maltreatment’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
BJP member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu , in a letter to the speaker, Lok Sabha, today sought contempt and breach of privilege proceedings against officials of the Ministry of External Affairs for protocol fiasco at the inauguration of passport office, here on June 28.

The BJP MP also sought a probe into the breach of protocol since the Ministry of External Affairs had failed to provide proper seating during the inauguration of the regional passport office by Pranab Mukherjee,external affairs minister.

The letter reads , “ I am writing to you to convey collective resentment and sense of anguish of 15 lakh constituents of my constituency over the treatment meted out to me at a function where the union external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest”. Sidhu is also a member of the Standing Committee of the MEA.

Sidhu said he was denied a seat on the dais despite being the local MP and the voice of 15 lakh constituents. I was also not called to address the union external affairs minister as also the gathering to put forth the viewpoints of my electorate. This happened in the presence of Pranab Mukherjee and other officials of the MEA . This smacks of a deliberate attempt at denigrating my image in the eyes of my electorate, he alleged. The BJP MP urged the Lok Sabha Speaker to prevail upon the Union External Affairs Ministry to furnish apology to the constituents over this protocol debacle by the MEA.

“As the speaker of the Lok Sabha, I am witness to your championing the cause of democratic values and protocol both inside and outside the House. These are the very values which you cherish that have been assaulted with impunity on June 28, at Amritsar. I was looking forward to address the union external affairs minister to thank him for the passport office as also to reiterate the demand for opening visa centres of various countries in Amritsar to facilitate the travel of Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan as also international travellers who travel from Amritsar International Airport”.

Earlier,district BJP president Bakshi Ram Arora had said even Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had failed to acknowledge the presence of the local MP who had made efforts for the opening of a passport office in his constituency. 



Col Amrik Singh as dist BJP chief opposed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
Many senior BJP leaders have raised banner of revolt against the appointment of Col Amrik Singh (retd) as the district party president. Col Amrik Singh will assume office at Khanna Samark, here, tomorrow.

Former state BJP president Balramji Dass Tandon, who belongs to Amritsar, alleged appointing Col Amarik Singh as district BJP president would be suicidal for the party at the time when the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner. Tandon said he would take up the matter with the national party leadership to change its decision .

The new district president is a confidant of Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is seeking election to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar for the third time. Sidhu said it was during the stint of Col Amrik Singh when he (Sidhu) had won the first Lok Sabha election with big margin.

However, Tandon claimed the state leadership was not in favour of Col Amrik Singh because he had “deserted” the party when he was replaced as district president four years ago.

He alleged Col Amrik Singh would “humiliate” the party workers during his stint as a district party chief. He further alleged Col Amrik Singh had no RSS background, but he was nominated as district president under “pressure”.

Describing the nomination of Col Amrik Singh as “most unfortunate development”, Tandon alleged he had not participated in any important function of the party for four years. He said Sidhu, who is said to be behind the nomination of Col Amrik Singh “against the wishes of state party leadership”, was like his son and held him (Sidhu) in high esteem. However, Tandon said the party must read what is written on the wall because appointment of Col Amrik Singh could be counter-productive in the Lok Sabha poll.

Col Amrik Singh said he would carry all factions within the party with him. He claimed he had full backing of the RSS and the state BJP leadership.

Former district BJP (rural) president, J.S. Kanwar and former general secretary of the district BJP Naresh Sharma on the appointment of Col Amrik Singh said: “ No comments.” Some other senior leaders of the party on condition of anonymity said the nomination would create division in the district BJP.

However, former minister Baldev Raj Chawla and former district BJP president Om Parkash Kalia said opposing the appointment of Col Amrik Singh would amount to breach of party discipline.


Key Civic Body Posts
SAD to appoint observers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
President of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced that the decision regarding posts of chairman/vice-chairman of zila parishads and president of municipal committees and nagar panchayats will be taken by the party and no one will be allowed to take decision on his own.

“Commitment, devotion, service, sacrifice and ability to deliver will be the main criterion for the selection to these posts,” he adds. Senior party leaders are being appointed observers who will visit the districts concerned to interact with the local senior leaders of the SAD-BJP alliance.

They have been directed to submit their reports by July 12.


Jaspreet murder: Father seeks CBI probe
Mandeep Puri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Grief for the family of Jaspreet Singh, a BBA final year student of Khalsa College, Jalandhar, who was killed near Kala Bakra, on the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway on May 10, this year, does not seem to end. For two months aggrieved father, Jarnail Singh, has been making efforts for justice to his son by getting his alleged “killers” arrested, but the Punjab Police has done little to nab the real accused.

This afternoon, Jarnail Singh, who was accompanied by his wife, alleged two months had passed but the police was trying to mislead the entire case and had arrested Ravinder Singh in place of Inderjit Singh. “ The motive behind of the murder is still a mystery. Though, the police claims my son was involved with a girl and was killed by her brother Ravinder Singh, but all these allegations are baseless”

Jarnail Singh, who, seems to have lost faith in the state police said, “ They are not interested in arresting Inderjit, who is the real culprit. Only a CBI inquiry can unravel the mystery and get my son’s killers to the noose”. He said the suspects were from influential background so the police was hesitating to take action.

“ Inderjit was in regular touch with my son and had intentionally forced Jaspreet to meet, three hours before the examination was scheduled. The police is shielding Inderjit”, added Jarnail Singh. The victim, a resident of Aalamgeer village, was on his way to his college for an examination when some unidentified assailant attacked him with some sharp-edged weapons.

Jaspreet was on his scooter when some car-borne persons forced him to stop on the Jalandhar-Pathankot highway and attacked him. 


Health insurance scheme for members of coop societies
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab government has approved health insurance scheme- Bhai Ghanhiya Sehat Sewa scheme ,for all members and employees of more than 20,000 cooperative societies in the state.

The scheme, approved yesterday, aims at providing quality health care at very affordable premiums to more than 25 lakh members of cooperative societies in the state who mainly reside in rural areas.

On details of the scheme cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said enrolment of the scheme would start and would continue for two months. He said the scheme would become operational in October this year.

The scheme is an improvement on the earlier ‘Sanjeevani’ started by the state government, which did not meet with much success. This time the Cooperation Department has made the scheme more consumer- friendly by ensuring patients get paid for expenses incurred during hospitalisation.

Capt Kanwaljit said all major ailments had been covered as part of a package. For instance in the case of heart surgeries, empanelled hospitals will be paid Rs 1.50 lakh as part of a complete package. Similarly in case of joint replacements, they will be paid Rs 1 lakh. The minister said under the scheme, the patient would not have to make any payment, adding in case immediate payment was required the insurance company would be contacted telephonically so that it could do the needful.

The government has selected the National Insurance Company which will charge Rs 1,246 for insuring the head of the family and another Rs 189 for an additional dependent member between 55 to 70 years and Rs 249 for an additional dependent member over 70 years of age. Member will be covered for medical expenditure up to Rs two lakh.


Flying Cats refunds fee: sacks Ludhiana centre in charge
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 3
Flying Cats, the aviation institute embroiled into a controversy over the closure of the local branch, today refunded security fees to the students who had recently enrolled themselves with it. It sacked the in charge of the branch and an instructor, blaming them for making false claims to the students.

The institute refunded Rs 2,000 each to the students who were not interested in continuing with the course.

Aditi Shrivastav, CEO of the institute, who visited the city today to listen to the grievances of the students, assured them that the institute would be functional for another two months.

Talking to The Tribune, she said they were in the process of shifting their local office and looking for suitable accommodation. That was the reason why they had not enrolled any students for the new session.

Shrivastav said: “The centre head must have made false commitments with the students in order to meet the target”. She said their course officially started from August and ended in May.

Sonia and other girls, who were enrolled in the 2007 batch of air hostess training, alleged: “No practicals were taken by the instructors and only one instructor used to teach the global retail school students and air hostess training students simultaneously. We have even complained in writing, but nothing was done by the head office”.


Farm research scholars’ plea
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 3
Research scholars of agricultural universities of the northern region in a communication to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have demanded uniform policy for the recruitment of assistant professors (lecturers) in all farm universities of India. They want that the policy should be in accordance with the University Grants Commission (UGC) notification (f.1-1/2002 PS of June 14, 2006) which says all PhD candidates are eligible for teaching undergraduate and post-graduate classes and MPhil candidates for teaching undergraduate classes.

The letter states all agricultural universities are under the ICAR and follow UGC guidelines on matters of recruitment and grades, but the ICAR is not giving due weight to PhD candidates in agriculture as it insists that to be eligible for the post of assistant professor (lecturer), the candidate must qualify the National Eligibility Test (NET) held by the Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board, New Delhi. It treats PhD degree on a par with MSc degree. 


Relief to kin of deceased staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The government today amended the Compassionate Appointment Policy, giving major relief to the families of deceased government employees.

According to a spokesman, it has been decided that in the case where the deceased government employee leaves behind his/her minor children, who are studying at the time of his death and are not qualified for a employment in the government and the spouse is not in a position to join the government job, a dependant child would be allowed to apply for compassionate appointment through the competent authority within a period of one year from the date of attaining the age and qualification by the child for Group “C” and “D” appointments.

The spokesman said earlier Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered a review of the policy.

It has also been decided to extend the benefit to all old deserving cases as special one-time measure. In such cases, the application for employment should be made within six months from the date of issue of these instructions, if not already made.

The spokesman said all departments had been instructed to complete the process of giving compassionate employment within a period of nine months. No further relaxation would be provided under any circumstances. 


Demolition of Patiala’s Sunami Gate rejected
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala July 3
In what could be perceived as a big jolt to Patiala Mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli, the Punjab government has rejected the proposed demolition of historic Sunami Gate and conversion of municipal commissioner’s official residence into camp office of the mayor. The two resolutions passed by the Patiala municipal corporation’s general house on June 11 were said to be backed by the Patiala mayor. 

Though Kohli has been denying that he had any differences with municipal commissioner M. P. Arora but the widening fissures in their relationship has become an open secret as the two even had exhibited verbal spats on more than one occasion.

Kohli had openly supported the demolition of the historic Sunami Gate dubbing the building as “unsafe”. The general house had proposed that the Sunami Gate should be demolished for its not being “safe anymore”. The Tribune had highlighted the issue in its columns on June 20. It was learnt that Arora along with some councilors had opposed the proposed demolition. Following stiff opposition to the controversial gate demolition proposal from different quarters, a clause was added stating that permission to this effect would be sought from the government before the demolition. The case was subsequently sent to the Punjab Local Bodies Department for approving the demolition.

Another proposal was sent regarding conversion of the official Model Town residence of the commissioner into the camp office of the mayor. Interestingly, it was perhaps for the first time in the state that a civic body had proposed conversion of residence of its top functionary into camp office of a mayor. For this the controversial proposal was linked to ever-widening differences between the mayor and the commissioner.


Power tariff hike today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission will announce new power tariff order for the state tomorrow. Sources said there would about 2.5 per cent increase in the tariff across the board. For domestic sector, the increase in tariff per unit will be in the range of 8 paise and for farm sector paise 11 per unit. However, burden of this increase will have to be borne by the state government.

As the new tariff order will be implemented from April 1 this year, the enhanced tariff dues for the past three months would be recovered in the remaining period of the current year. Sources said as the 12- month tariff would now be charged in the remaining nine months, the increase for the remaining period will be about 4 per cent.However, the PSEB, which is in the red, is not happy over the proposed increase in the tariff.

Farmers and poor people will continue to get free power as the government bill pay subsidy to the PSEB in lieu of free power.


DA instalment for govt staff soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Government employees will get DA instalment (6 per cent) soon. Sources said the proposal to give the DA instalment to the employees had been sent to the Finance Department. There will be an additional burden of Rs 240 crore on the state exchequer. The Centre had released the DA instalment early this year.


High Court
Chahal seeks anticipatory bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, the media adviser to Punjab’s former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, today knocked the doors of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging implication in recently registered corruption case at Patiala.

In his petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, Chahal alleged that the vigilance bureau, due to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal enmity with Amarinder Singh, had registered the case.

The intention was to implicate him and his son in a case of disproportionate assets. Chahal added he, too, was roped in by the bureau.

Claiming that the FIR was registered with the sole objective of harassing the former Chief Minister and arresting him, Chahal added the allegations against him in the current FIR and two other previous cases were virtually the same.

In fact, the accusation against him was part of the allegations contained in FIR number 30, dated July 11, 2007. He added that vigilance bureau was acting in complete violation of the law settled by the Supreme Court regarding the registration of a second FIR on similar set of allegations. The petition is expected to come up for hearing on Friday


Insurance company told to pay woman
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 3
In a case of non payment of repair charges of a car damaged in accident, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has directed the United India Insurance Company to pay Rs 50,129 in 45 days to Seema Parbhat wife of doctor Parbhat Kumar.

President of the forum M.D. Sharma and member Harvinder Sharma directed the company to pay Rs 3,000 for harassment and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses to Seema.

Seema Parbhat had got her Maruti Zen car insured from United India Insurance Company on March 15, 2007 for March 16, 2007 to March 15, 2008. The car met with an accident on January 24, 2008 at Sangrur. After getting information about the accident, the company appointed a surveyor who after inspecting the car gave his report.

The surveyor also allowed the complainant to get the car repaired, which was got repaired by the complainant from an authorised service centre at Sangrur by spending Rs 50,129. The complainant submitted the bills to the company, but her claim was repudiated on March 13, 2008 on the ground during the survey it was found the LPG kit was installed for fuel purpose, about which there was no endorsement in the policy, which was violation of the policy conditions.


At PU, train to fly high
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Panjab University is all set to impart lessons to girls from Punjab villages for the training of air hostesses. The university will start a air hostess-training course for students at its regional centre in Koni (district Muktsar).

Initially, the university plans to have around 60 seats and, later, the number would be increased.

The university officials hit upon the idea of starting this course at a recent guidance camp for rural students. The university at the behest of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had organised the camp in four districts of Punjab, including Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, from June 23-28. These camps evoked great interest in the students for a wide variety of careers, including hospitality, armed forces, and police services.

The girls were particularly interested in joining air hostess training. It was then that the vice-chancellor came up with the idea of starting a course itself.

“Not all girls could come to cities like Chandigarh, Jalandhar and other big places to take up the training. Many of them did not even have the means to pay fees of private academies. Moreover, the parents were also hesitant to send girls out. So we thought of providing them with this course at a place of their convenience”, said Panjab University vice-chancellor R.C. Sobti.

The Punjab government recently transferred the land of the Koni campus to the Panjab University. The university had proposed to start courses in para-medical sciences there, but a controversy had erupted over starting of this course as the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences had objected to this. Now the VC of Panjab University has requested the Chief Minister to look into the technical hiccups.


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