P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Delhi Test
Call for hukamnama to MPs

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
For the first time, the intervention of Akal Takht has been sought by leaders of certain Sikh bodies with a view to save the Central government on the nuclear deal. The Akal Takht Secretariat has been receiving letters from Sikh leaders of various parties requesting Jathedar Vedanti to issue a directive to Sikh Parliamentarians to support the nuclear deal so that the Central government, led by the first Sikh Prime Minister, can be saved.

Meanwhile, veteran SGPC member and former Akali minister Manjit Singh Calcutta, in an open letter to SAD supremo Sukhbir Singh Badal, has said he should direct the Akali MPs to support the nuclear deal, a gesture which would go a long way towards improving the image of the Sikhs all over the world.

However, sources said Jathedar Vedanti was unlikely to issue any directive though such a step would help in giving fresh lease of life to the Central government, headed by the first Sikh Prime Minister. It may be mentioned here that Jathedar Vedanti and a number of Sikh leaders, including some SGPC members, had praised Manmohan Singh when he became a Prime Minister.

Interestingly, the statement of the then SGPC secretary, Manjit Singh Calcutta, given on May 19, 2004, eulogising the Congress president Sonia Gandhi read, “Sonia’s image has grown larger than life” by nominating a Sikh as PM. This had earned the wrath of Parkash Singh Badal and was the root-cause of the differences between Badal and Calcutta. Subsequently, Calcutta was expelled from the SAD for six years, even though he was the architect of the Badal-Tohra rapprochement.

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 12
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), has upped the “religious pressure” on the Sikh MPs. The DSGMC shot off a letter to Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti of Akal Takht, requesting him to issue a hukamnama — a religious edict — to all Sikh MPs to vote for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Just two days ago, DSGMC chief Paramjit Singh Sarna, had written to all MPs of the Akali Dal, advising them to think as “national-secular” Sikhs and extend support to Manmohan Singh, the country’s first-ever Sikh Prime Minister.

Now, the letter to the Akal Takht chief says that though it is not a religious matter, it requires an immediate reaction from the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat for the Sikhs.

“All of us, as a minority community, should support the PM to enhance the image of the Sikh community in India and abroad,” said Sarna.

Meanwhile, chief of the PPCC Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has asked the SAD and the BJP to support the nuclear deal as this will bring in more power for Punjab. “The SAD has always projected itself as the saviour of the Panth. The party should come forward and prove its love for the Sikh community and not vote against Manmohan Singh,” Bhattal added.


‘State was never consulted’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
President of the SAD (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann today said the nuclear deal between India and the US was a flawed document and it was not in the interest of Punjab, a border state. Opposing the deal, he said a nuclear conflagration in the region would lead to destruction of Punjab.

Mann said Punjab was never consulted on the issue of nuclear deal, hence it could not be supported. He said the Sikhs were for a nuclear weapon-free South Asia and supported peace.

However, Mann said the UPA government should continue. He said it was wrong that Manmohan Singh’s government should be supported because he was a Sikh Prime Minister. The PM did not take the Sikhs into confidence on the deal.


PU CET, Punjab PMT
Students panic as dates clash
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Medical aspirants seeking admission to MBBS courses in colleges across Punjab and in Chandigarh are a panicky lot due to the common counselling date, July 15, for Panjab University’s Common Entrance Test (CET) and Punjab Pre-medical Test (PMT).

According to official sources, CET for admission to MBBS, BDS, BSc (honours) and other medical sciences courses was held in early May this year. The results of the candidates were declared within a few days and the university announced the counselling schedule to begin from July 15, almost a month in advance.

On the other hand, the Punjab PMT conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, was held on June 22 and results were also declared the same day. But the counselling dates have only been announced on July 10.

On the first day of counselling, July 15, candidates who obtained more than 594 marks have been called. On July 16, candidates who obtained marks between 548-593 have been called in.

Interestingly, the number of students taking both entrance examinations is on a higher side; consequently, they will have to forgo their claim on either of the seats.

While the counselling for BDS courses in both cases began later, it’s the MBBS dates that are clashing and giving students sleepless nights.

Talking to The Tribune, Prof R.C. Sobti, vice-chancellor, Panjab University, said, “We announced our counselling dates more than a month ago and it was even published in the prospectus. There is nothing that we can do now”.

While most of the parents agree that Panjab University is not at fault this time, but are demanding that the Baba Farid university should have taken care of the dates.

While most students feel it is an attempt to stop those from Punjab from taking admission in medical colleges in Chandigarh, many are still hoping against hope that the matter is sorted out before counselling begins.


Handling Media
Cops brace up for lessons
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab police is yearning to be media friendly. For metamorphosing its image from taciturn to more forthcoming, revealing and transparent, it has decided to teach its men the knack of disseminating information to the media.

That’s right! The training wing of the Punjab Police is bracing itself up to hold special sessions for the men-in-khaki so that they do not shy away, or put their foot down, at the sight of a cameraman and a reporter.

The Punjab police, especially lower-rank officials, are tough nuts when it comes to media interaction. It’s more out of habit they developed in the dark days of militancy when information leak often lead to the escape of terrorists, or even the killing of their brethren.

As such, the policemen in the districts even after solving cases, almost always wait for the senior authorities, including district police chiefs and even the DGP, to hold press conferences. The only time they take assistance of the media is while releasing sketches of the suspects, or photographs of unidentified bodies.

The sources in the police headquarters say for changing the mindsets, senior police functionaries have already worked out the modalities for conducting classes for the lower staff, and the interactive sessions are expected to start sometimes next month.

Giving details of the programme, IG in charge of training S.K. Sharma says the course will essentially be of a short duration. In fact, it will be spread over a day or so, and all the police officials will be encouraged to go for it.

Sharma says the intention behind organising the sessions is to break with the hammer of familiarity the wall of general apprehension that’s standing between the police and the media. “We want to tell 70,000-strong police force that the media can be helpful in combating crime by not only forewarning the people, but also by helping in crime detection,” he adds.

As such, the policemen are being asked to adopt an open mind. They are being trained in the art of interacting with the media and to supply information that is essentially useful to society at large.

Another officer in the training wing says the sessions will be conducted in the training schools located in all the 24 police districts of Punjab.

The media, he adds, because of its reach can be of great assistance to the police, evident from cases like that of Hanna Foster, where the release of the prime suspect’s photographs led to his apprehension.

Similarly, in the doctor-accused in the kidney racket was apprehended from Nepal after the media flashed his snaps.

Otherwise also, the officer says, there is a wave in the favour of greater transparency these days.


Food, supplies dept blames Railways for losses
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 12
The District Food and Supplies Department is sore over the indifferent attitude of Railway authorities which failed to provide sheds to store bales of gunny-bags that were damaged due to incessant rain. This caused a huge financial loss to the department and the state exchequer. Anjuman Bhaskar, District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC), who visited the Amritsar rail head where goods are loaded and unloaded from bogies, took up the matter with Railway authorities.

Bhaskar alleged they usually had to unload goods outside the railway stockyard directly from bogies to tractor-trolleys or trucks due to unavailability of space and racks. As per standing directions of the ministry of Railways, racks and sheds for unloading goods should be provided.

She said the department had to lift the gunny bags from the site within five hours, after which they had to pay demurrage and penalties causing a huge loss to the state exchequer. She said last year too the department had to shell out lakhs for these penalties. She said, according to estimates, a bale of gunny bags costs at least Rs 12,000 and many bales were damaged due to open unloading in the rains. She said she had taken up this matter last year, but nothing had been done so far. She said at least they should provide an alternate station for unloading.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commercial Manager (DCM) Railways M.S. Bhullar said since Amritsar had been declared a dry port, the traffic had increased manifold due to more trade between India and Pakistan. He said the Railways had to provide racks and sheds for cement imported from the neighbouring country.

Bhullar said the department would seek the transfer of destination station from Amritsar to Bhagtanwala rail head where they could get enough space for unloading of goods. Earlier, the Bhagtanwala rail head was closed. Bhaskar said she would write to the Chandigarh headquarters of the department for changing the destination station.


Woman’s death in hospital sparks protest
Sushil Goyal

Tribune News Service

Damaged car of the doctor.
The Damaged car of the doctor. Photos by writer

Sangrur, July 12
Following the death Neeru Bala (24), wife of Gauri Shankar from Sherpur village, at Singla Surgical Hospital here last night, protesters, including relatives and sympathisers of the deceased, from Lehragaga, Sherpur and Barnala, today demonstrated against the hospital. Some protesters reportedly broke the glass of the doctor’s car and the ambulance van of the hospital, besides glass of two doors of the hospital building.

The police used lathis to disperse the mob, injuring a few. The protesters also raised slogans against the police alleging it had helped the owner of the hospital Dr K.G. Singla and his doctor wife Renu Singla flee from the hospital.

Triloki Nath, maternal uncle of the deceased from Barnala, said Neeru had delivered a baby boy on June 29 at the Singla hospital here.

She had been admitted to this hospital again five days ago for treatment, but due to the administration of some “wrong” injection Neeru had died, he alleged. He demanded the arrest of the doctors.

Sangrur deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri visited the hospital and pacified the protesters. He said the post-mortem examination of the body would be done by a board of doctors at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. He also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the lathicharge by the police, and appointed Dhuri SDM Diprava Lakra as inquiry officer. He said a team of doctors would also enquire about the treatment given to the deceased.

Local DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said the police had registered a case against Dr K.G. Singla and Dr Renu Singla under Sections 302 and 120-B, IPC, but both were absconding.

He also said the police had registered a case against a crowd of 150 persons under Sections 307, 427, 353, 323 and 186, IPC, for an attack on policemen. He said in the attack four head constables, Teja Singh, Gurjeet Singh, Darbara Singh and Bhim Sain, had been injured.

The normalcy returned to the hospital after the departure of the ambulance van carrying the body of Neeru to Patiala for a post-mortem examination.

Doctors go on strike

Mourning the death of Neeru Bala at a private hospital here last night, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) at a meeting today condemned the “attack” by a mob on the hospital.

Dr Makhan Singh, IMA chief, said doctors today observed strike in the local Civil Hospital and did not attend OPDs. Owners of the local private nursing homes kept the institutions closed in protest, he added.

District secretary of the Indian Dental Association Dr Vivek Bhatnagar also condemned the “attack” on the hospital. He termed the death of the married girl as unfortunate and expressed grief over the death.

Meanwhile, the local IMA today also held a meeting with chairman of the legal cell of IMA, Punjab, Dr O.P.S Kande.

The meeting demanded the cancellation of the FIR registered against the doctor couple under Section 302, IPC.

The Curse of Budha Nullah
Dyeing, electroplating units face closure
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 12
A number of dyeing, electroplating and other units along the Budha Nullah face closure for discharging waste into the water body, despite warnings by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). The board is preparing details of surprise raids on the factories and units along the nullah for four days.

As many as 83 units were raided in different parts of the city which included 18 large and 20 medium-scale units.

Confirming the development, Yogesh Goyal, chairman, PPCB, said, "I cannot give you the exact figures of defaulters because we are still in the process of finalising the report. The units not following the norms and releasing the waste into the nullah face closure if found guilty under the Act."

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had convened a special meeting on the Budha Nullah last week and wanted an action taken report at the earliest. The chairman of the PPCB camped in the city and oversaw raids by five teams. Only the team leader was in touch with the control room which gave directions for the places to be checked at random.

Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for information and public relations, water supply and sanitation, said, "The task of clearing nullah of pollution accumulated over several decades will require at least 10-15 years. The state has increased the budget for clearing the nullah to Rs 10 crore this year, compared to Rs 1 crore only earlier.

Majithia said, "Factories are not the only source of pollution for the nullah. The sewage of the city and other upstream villages and towns also contribute to the pollution. It is time for strict action now. We will shut the polluting units, found guilty under the Act, to set an example for others".

Vikas Pratap, municipal commissioner, said, "Three sewage treatment plants had become functional to handle the city’s sewage. The plants at Bhattian, Balloke and Jamalpur handling 311 mega litre sewage per day have got additional capacity installed for 155 mega litres. Besides short-term measures, the corporation is putting into place a long-term action plan, particularly with regard to the solid waste for permanent solution of the problem."

An official said, "The MC is taking care of the sewage and the PPCB looking after the industries. The nullah also flows along the villages. A permanent solution regarding the polythene and other waste removed from the nullah and dumped along the banks at several places also needs to be found."

He said, "Besides the meeting under the CM, we need a special cell to monitor action by different wings associated with cleaning the nullah”.



Night-landing facility for Patiala club
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The Patiala Aviation Club is all set to get the much-needed night-landing facility as the Punjab government has sanctioned an amount of Rs 2 crore for the purpose.

Once it is in place, the facility could also be utilised for landing and taking off of routine normal domestic flights if Patiala city gets to figure on the civil aviation map like Chandigarh, Amritsar, Mohali and Ludhiana.

The state government has already given the money to the Civil Aviation Department which, it was learnt, was in the process of transferring the amount to the PWD authorities to facilitiate the early initiation of work at the Patiala club airstrip.

The night-landing facility, mainly the setting up of lights on the airstrip, was likely to be provided at the club before March 31, 2009, civil aviation sources said.

In the first phase, the proposed night-landing facility would however, be used for facilitating of flights offered by the club for its own students. “The facility is being provided for our students. We expect to get the facility within a short time,” said chief flying instructor of the club G.S. Mangat.

The proposal was mooted by Mangat with the objective to familiarise trainee pilots with the night-landing process. “The basic objective of the programme is to offer world class training to student pilots. The night-landing process is a very important part of the curriculum,” said an official.

The club has already acquired two advanced Cessna 172 aircrafts that would mainly be used for night training once lights are set up at the airstrip.


Aayesha to continue fight for justice
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
Piqued over the indifferent attitude of officials in the Indian Embassy in Pakistan, Aayesha Khalid (earlier Asha Patil), said she would continue to fight her own battle to seek justice.

Aayesha, a resident of Mumbai, had married Mohammad Khalid of Lahore after coming in contact with him through the Internet about one and a half years ago.

Talking to the media after her arrival by Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus here today, Aayesha said though she had made many representations to the Indian Embassy in Islamabad against the harassment by her in-laws after her husband’s death on June 12 no one had bothered to listen to her grievances. She said soon after marriage, her in-laws started harassing her and Khalid over petty issues. About two months ago, she came to India to visit her ailing father in Mumbai and had returned to Lahore after a two-week stay. She said her husband died under mysterious circumstances after 10 days on June 12. Since then, her brother-in-law and other members of the family started harassing her.

Aayesha said due to the continuous tension, she could not take care of the baby boy who died a few weeks after birth. She said the media and the police had been cooperative and had helped her fight against the injustice of her in-laws.

A police case has been registered against her brother-in-law for harassing her. Aayesha said she came to India to see her ailing father and would return to Lahore after 10 days and continue her fight until she got justice.


Now, anti-power theft police stations
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is in the process of setting up 18 “anti-power theft police stations” to check power theft in all circles. The board has already set up six such police stations in all major cities like Patiala, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana in the first phase.

Domestic consumers indulging in power theft could be booked by these police stations. It was not clear whether the “anti-power theft police station” officials could lay their hands on units stealing electricity. The highest percentage of power theft was generally attributed to the industrial sector in the state.

Officials of the PSEB-controlled police stations could raid premises on the basis of power theft complaints and would also accompany the raiding PSEB flying squads in areas of their jurisdiction. Since the maximum punishment for power theft was fine on defaulters, there would be no lock-ups in the PSEB police stations. “The six of such police stations have started functioning while the rest of 12 would do so in one year. Since, it is a big task to set up police stations at all district headquarters, the PSEB has decided to come out with its own police stations at all of its 18 circles,” said a senior PSEB official.

The PSEB authorities have deputed staff in six of its police stations after drawing it from the existing PSEB Vigilance cell, headed by ADGP A.P. Pandey.


Punjab to set up cotton council
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab government will soon set up state cotton council to promote textile industry in the northern region.

After inaugurating the annual conference of the Textile Association (India) Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh (PHC) unit on “Technological Process Innovation” here, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the emerging textile scenario in the country as well as in Punjab was favourable for the growth of textile industry.

However, to sustain its growth, infrastructure for the industry to function efficiently to compete in the global market needed to be improved and he hoped the council would prove to be a milestone to boost prospects of the textile industry in the region.

He said the state cotton council would have members on its board from amongst cotton growers, textile manufacturers, cotton farm experts and officers of the government.

The Chief Minister added objective of the council would be to enhance productivity of cotton and encourage downstream industries in the state. “As of now, only 43 per cent of cotton grown in Punjab is converted for value addition in the state,” said Badal.


100-yr-old temple demolished
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 12
A 100-year-old temple of Sheetla Mata was demolished by the local administration here today and the land taken in possession by it.

A large number of police personnel were deployed by the administration to avoid any untoward incident under the supervision of local DSP Gurpreet Singh Sikand.

According to information, the temple was constructed on about 4 kanal and 19 marla land near the Raikot road.

A case regarding the land was pending in the high court. And today on the directions of the court, the local administration, led by tehsildar Amandeep Singh Bhatti, demolished the temple. Hundreds of people of the area silently protested against the process. They alleged that they were not informed by the administration before demolishing the temple.


Water-related issues worry students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Sikh Students Federation (SSF), that released a booklet titled, “Jal Bin Sakh Kumlavati,” (without water, offshoots wither), said Punjab faced serious water crisis. Water-related problems are multifold ranging from scarcity of drinking water to declining watertable and water pollution.

Parmjit Singh Gazi, president, SSF, who released the book, said of the 140 blocks in Punjab, 112 were over-exploited. Unavailability of drinking water is another major problem. The government encouraged farmers to use fertilisers and pesticides to grow more food that led to poisoning of subsoil water, mostly used for drinking in the countryside, said Harinderpreet Singh, propaganda secretary, SSF.

The leaders said they would take up the issue related to water at the appropriate level.


Schools asked to meet industrialists
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
While the process to rationalise the teaching staff in various government schools across the state has been deferred, the school education authorities have been asked to approach industrialists who, in the presence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, had given commitment to set up Adrash schools in public private partnership (PPP) mode in the state.

To the surprise of Badal and other government authorities concerned, only two industrialist groups - Bharti Group and Ranbaxy - have come forward set up Adrash schools. Others have not shown any interest so far.

The state government authorities had held a meeting yesterday to review the progress with regard to the setting up of Adarsh schools.

At the meeting, almost all sites offered by panchayats concerned were cleared.

Sources said industrialists were not ready to set up such schools in the countryside because of operational difficulties. Some of them were keen to set up schools near main cities. Moreover, as they would have to spend money from their pockets and there would be no return to them from that investment, they were reluctant to take initiative in this regard.

As Badal continued to press them again and again, many of them agreed to set up one or two schools. But later they did not show any interest. The state government had extended the date till July 17 to seek applications from the parties interested to set up such schools.

The government will also entertain applications in case these are submitted by established social organisations having experience in running schools such as Khalsa, SD, DAV schools, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the process to rationalise teaching staff in government schools has been deferred. The sources said there were instructions from the top to stop the process that was initiated a few weeks ago. There is surplus staff in many government schools in urban areas, especiallye schools located in big cities. Meanwhile, the rationalisation process in government colleges has been completed.


Jalandhar boy 9th in CA test
Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 12
A plus II passout from Apeejay School, Aarish Sareen, has stood ninth in the CA Common Proficiency Test conducted by the Council of Chartered Accountants of India, Delhi. The result of the test was declared on the Internet today.

Son of V.K. Sareen, commerce teacher of DAV College, Aarish has scored 178 marks out of 200 in the test. Considering the huge number of one lakh candidates appearing for the test being undergraduates, getting ninth position in the test was even a bigger feat for Aarish, who has attained the top rank in the very first attempt.

Now, he stands a good chance of getting 18-month training with a top international CA firm having its base in India.

A confident guy, he said his result was very much on the expected lines.

Aarish said he had not taken any coaching. “I had done most of the preparation myself. If at all I had any doubts in any subject, I would get it cleared from my dad. He has been a great guide and a support to me.”

He has cleared National Talent Search Examination conducted by the CBSE entitling him to a scholarship worth Rs 6,000 per annum. He has scored 89.8 per cent marks in plus II.

Aarish plans to pursue B.Com simultaneously and has taken admission in SD College in Chandigarh.


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 |