P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Brief panic in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
Two abandoned briefcases found in the Nehru shopping complex on the busy Lawrence Road here today created scare among shopkeepers and public with the police calling in the bomb squad.

One briefcase was found on the stairs of newly constructed car parking adjoining the complex while the other, containing some documents and files, was lying in the complex.

Nearby shops were evacuated and entry of people to the area was restricted.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers lamented that there was no permanent security in the complex even as a police post had been established in a corner of the complex.

The police has been on alert in view of the recent serial blasts in Bengalore and Ahmedabad. 


Acquisition of 120 acres for border check post
State govt dithers, Centre releases Rs 12 cr, for speeding up work
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 31
Even as the state government continues to dither over the acquisition of 120 acres for the construction of high tech integrated check post at the Attari-Wagah post, the central government has released first installment of Rs 12 crore to establish a modern cargo complex.

A high- power inter-ministerial team deputed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs led by joint secretary, border management, Sadakant along with senior officers of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Customs, P. S. Pruthi and T.H.K Gauri both commissioners and several other officers from the DRI and Iintelligence Bureau inspected the Customs area in the presence of BSF officers and local administration. The team also, included representatives from the Bhabha Atomic Research Commission to check the possibility of establishing ultra-modern X-ray machines.

The team is likely to speed up the process to prepare the blueprint for the multicrore infrastructure development project to revamp the entire cargo handling. Sadakant said they would submit the report to the Union Ministry for taking up the matter with the state government to hasten acquisition of land so that the project could be undertaken shortly.

According to reliable sources the state government has already done the spade work and have identified feasibility to acquire 120 acres and determined the price to be given to the farmers of the area but due to political reasons the delay in handing over the necessary land to the government for the construction of the integrated check post is creating hindrance.

The officers of the Customs Department preferring anonymity told The Tribune that the government had agreed to hand over the land after the harvesting of the wheat crop in April and the government was ready to compensate the farmers but the deal with the farmers seem to have gone sour and now no time frame has been fixed for the land. The spokesman of the district administration refused to comment on the delay.

The central government is very keen to speed up the construction of the ICP as the trade between India and Pakistan was growing at the annual rate of 25 per cent. The business during the year 2006-07 was around Rs 1100 crore while it was rs 1443 crore in 2007-08 and the business likely to increase further. The present infrastructure at the international land route is been at abysmally low although the government have allowed the movement of cargo laden trucks across the Radcliffe Line in October last year but the trade can multiply provided the infrastructure is in place.

Meanwhile, the central team was looking to strengthen the present Customs-cargo area with recommendation of installing modern truck scanners which would facilitate faster movement of cargo. It is learnt the government would go for global tendering to acquire highly sophisticated surveillance and rummaging equipments to obviate the chance of smuggling of contraband including narcotics and arms across this highly strategic and sensitive border. Earlier, the team inspected the Attari and Amritsar Railway Customs areas to improve the working of the cargo movements as recently Indian traders were importing cement in large quantity to overcome the shortage of construction material in the country. 


Power demand touches highest point of season
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
Unbearable summer heat has made power demand surge and touch highest point of the season even as, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is pinning hopes on showers which, continued to lash in different parts of the state for two days. Meanwhile, the power supply in the state has witnessed some escalation and the PSEB was heaving a sigh of relief with onset of power generation process by the fourth unit of the Lehra Mohabbat-based thermal plant, which, though, has started adding a meagre 30-35 MWs of power in the PSEB’s kitty. The third 250 MW unit of the Lehra Mohabbat had started generating power in the range of 200-210 MWs, in spite of teething problems faced by the PSEB at the unit.

The power demand in the state increased from a maximum 1750-1860 lakh units two days back to a whopping 1900 lakh units today. The PSEB officials maintained the quantum of power demand was highest ever in this season. As against the demand of 1900 lakh units in the state, the supply was just about 1600 lakh units as on Thursday, which, meant the gap of 300 lakh units might give sleepless nights to the PSEB officials in case there was no rain in the coming days. “Though, there was a rise in the demand but, it had never crossed the 1860 MW mark so far. Incessant rains in certain parts of Punjab were likely to place us in a somewhat comfortable zone as the demand was likely to witness a downward trend in next few days as use of ACs might get curtailed in offices, homes and at businesses due to a dip in temperature. Similarly, farmers would need not switch on their tube wells in certain areas to irrigate paddy and other crops,” said a senior PSEB official. The PSEB authorities pointed out that the supply could rise to 1700-1750 lakh units range in case rain lashed entire Punjab in next two-three days.

The rains in the northern region has also led to an increase in the power frequency of the northern grid from 49 hertz to around 50 hertz, which, meant that the board could overdraw power from the grid in wake of an emergency without invoking any penal action in the shape of heavy fines. Any board which, had to resort to overdraw power in case the frequency of the grid was at 49 hertz or less could face severe fines which would cost a single power unit a whopping Rs 7 to 10 in comparison with normal rates of a unit between Rs 2 and 4. At present, the PSEB was drawing 488 lakh units of power from its thermal plants, 197 lakh units from its own hydro power generation units.


A physician’s concern for future of Punjabi
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 31
The book, “Maan Boli: Ik Doctri Drishtikon,” (Mother tongue: A doctor’s perspective), by Dr Harshinder Kaur, a paediatrician-cum-writer, that has been taken note of in the world of Punjabi, is being translated into Pashto, Sindhi, Urdu and English. It has already been transliterated into Shahmukhi (Persian script). The book raises apprehensions about the bleak future of Punjabi on the basis of a Unesco report on languages which read: “Most languages disappear because their speakers voluntarily abandon them”.

Harshinder said here yesterday while work of translation in Sindhi and Urdu had already been completed, a Washington-based Punjabi scholar had sought permission to translate the book into Pashto. The English translation of the book was released recently in New Zealand.

Harshinder has been invited by Manzur Ejaz, president, Wichaar Publishers, Lahore, to mark the release of Wichaar in Pakistan on October 26. Expressing concern over the future of Punjabi, Harshinder asked: “Will the third generation of Punjabi immigrants forget the language of their forefathers in 50 years as predicted by an American linguist? In India too, Punjabi faces the threat of extinction in many parts, because many upper-class people have started abandoning it”. She says many of the third-generation Punjabi immigrants have never visited Punjab , hence, will forget it.

Harshinder’s concern assumes significance as world’s languages are disappearing at the rate of one in a fortnight.

The eight articles in the book are an eye-opener. The first one is on the impact of language on a child’s mind. She is concerned about the pathetic condition of Punjabi which, she claims, is older than English. Harshinder is WHO and Unicef-certified trainer and life member of 11 paediatric societies. Her research papers were published in national and international journals. She has published five books and two are in the press. She has written books on heart diseases, “Saade Bachche, Saade Chirag”, “Bachian Dian Manovigyanik Samasiavan Te Ilaj” and “Bachian Bare Gyan Vigyan Te Manovigyan”.

Her survey on mother tongue, published by Singh Brothers, was released in New Zealand on April 13 to mark Baisakhi. Her sixth book on female foeticide is being published by the SGPC, Amritsar, and another book of stories for children “Dactar Massi Dian Kahaniyan,” is under publication.

A recipient of the Punjab State Award (August 15, 2006) for social work, female foeticide prevention and professional excellence, and the SGPC award Faqr-e-Qaum for work on preventing female foeticide. 



Dal Khalsa writes to MPs for action against Dera chief 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 31
The Dal Khalsa, today, in a letter to all MPs apprised them of the situation in Punjab. It alleged the Union government was patronising Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwarpal Singh, alleged the state was not trying to remove the grievances of the Sikh community on the Dera issue.

Seeking intervention of MPs before Kanwarpal asked them to prevail upon the Union government to initiate action against Dera chief of Sirsa Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. He said the Union government should take steps to defuse the situation and stop giving support to him. He said the government must withdraw the Z-plus security cover given to him. He also urged them to impress upon their respective Chief Ministers for a ban on his entry in their states for the sake of peace and harmony in the country.

Lashing out at the Congress, Kanwarpal alleged the Haryana and Punjab units of the party in order to reap electoral benefits were trying to influence the Dera chief to issue diktats in its favour as was done in the last Assembly elections in Punjab.


Five killed in bus-canter collision
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 31
Five persons, including two children, were killed and several others injured in a head-on collision between a PRTC bus and a canter on the Bathinda-Chandigarh national highway, near Bhucho Mandi, today.

The canter, which was coming to Bathinda from Banur, collided with the bus while overtaking a vehicle. The bus was going to Ludhiana from Bathinda.

All five occupants of the canter, including driver, conductor, woman and two children, died on the spot. The injured passengers and the driver of the bus were taken to the civil hospital, Bhucho, where doctors discharged them after first aid.

Six ambulances belonging to the Sahara Jan Seva and Naujwan Welfare Society, both NGOs, took the bodies to the civil hospital, Bathinda.

ASP (city) Harsh Bansal said: “Prima facie it seems that the canter was overtaking a vehicle when the accident took place.”

Meanwhile, manager of a Subhiksha store in Bathinda, Ashok Kumar, said: “The canter had moved from Banur warehouse of the Subhiksha having consignments of household articles. It had halted at Nabha and Barnala and was coming to deliver the goods at the Bathinda store.”

He said the deceased driver was Sucha Singh of Rampur village in Rajpura. The woman and kids killed in the accident were relatives of the driver.


Tearful adieu to Ishmeet
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 31
It was a near stampede in Model Town Extension crematorium as thousands of people bid a tearful farewell to the Voice of India, Ishmeet, who was cremated with state honours here this evening.

Even the skies cried when his mortal remains were being consigned to the flames as it started raining just a few minutes before the pyre was lit. The rain did not prevent people from waiting to catch a last glimpse of the singer.

Singers Hans Raj Hans, Abhijeet, director of Star TV Voice of India Gajinder attended the funeral procession. Singers Mika, Kuldeep Manak and K. Deep were among those who paid condolences to the family at their house.

The frenzied crowd gave a tough time to the police, which even had to use mild force to control the surging numbers. The cops had to force people to stay away, especially when they started pushing DIG Ishwar Singh, who was in civvies and waiting to pay a tribute to Ishmeet.

People had started gathering outside the cremation ground at 1 pm even though the cremation was scheduled for 4 pm.

A police platoon from PAP, Jalandhar, gave a guard of honour to the departed soul as people wiped their tears amidst chants from scriptures. Ishmeet’s father Gurpinder Singh Sodhi lit the pyre as his mother and sister watched from a distance, crying inconsolably.

People from all walks of life attended the cremation. It seemed all roads led to the cremation ground today. Shopkeepers in the Model Town area downed the shutters as a mark of respect to the singer.

H.S. Bains, adviser to the Chief Minister, represented Parkash Singh Badal at the cremation. SAD leader Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker Satpal Gosain were among the leaders and celebrities present.

Congress leader Amarjit Singh Tikka offered a shawl to the departed on behalf of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi and Gurdev Singh Lapran offered it on behalf of former CM Amarinder Singh. Vice-president, PPCC, Tej Parkash Singh, represented the state unit of the Congress. 


Doomwali village caught between two states
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Doomwali (Bathinda), July 31
Former soldier Gurpal Singh laments that residents of this Punjab village of 800 households were deprived of basic amenities enjoyed by those living in adjoining houses in Haryana.

Villagers reel off grievances regarding amenities to VIPs and media persons every time they visit here.

A visitor to lanes of Narsingh Colony in Doomwali is unable to identify where the boundary of Punjab ends and that of Haryana begins. The front doors of some houses open in Punjab, while the backyards touche the lanes of Haryana.

Gurpal Singh points out to Bararanwali Gali of Dabwali in Haryana that is an extension of the Narsingh Colony ,has sewerage, drinking water supply and a government school that Punjab’s side does not have. Residents of the colony rely on Haryana for these facilities.

He says women of the Punjab village can be seen fetching drinking water in pitchers and plastic cans from the Haryana side in the evening when the lane on this side is dark and streetlights shine on the other end.

Darshan Singh, another resident of the village, says children of this village go to the high school of Haryana as there is only a primary school on the Punjab side. The middle school at Pathrala village of Bathinda district is 7 km away, while that of Haryana is at a stone’s throw away. He says in 40 years he has not seen any development taking place in the village.

Gurmeet describes this as the most neglected area of Punjab. All development is taking place in the neighbouring areas of Muktsar district home of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Another village elder said sick residents of Doomwali have to go to the nearest hospital on the Haryana side for treatment. Those in the village, who subscribe to the BSNL and other cellular phones of Punjab, have to pay roaming charges as they get coverage from the towers in Haryana.

Shopkeeper at Dabwali in Haryana, Hari Parkash, was not satisfied with the state of affairs on his side.

He said the Hooda government was neglecting the area that was considered stronghold of Chautalas. Frequent power cuts have become unbearable in summer, but there was uninterrupted electricity across the road in the Muktsar area, he added.


Govt to maintain Udham’s house
Tribune News Service

Sunam, July 31
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal unveiled a 12.4-foot bronze statue of Shaheed Udham Singh here today. He was in the town to participate in a state-level function to observe the 69th martyrdom day of the freedom fighter at the new grain market here.

Badal said of the four proposed thermal power plants to be set up in the next four years, the foundation stone of the first plant would be laid on August 25 near Mansa. Work on another plant would start in Amristar district in two months. He said after the completion of these four thermal plants, Punjab would generate 7,000 MW more power.

Badal said the government would maintain the house of the martyr. He honoured members of Shaheed Udham Singh’s family by presenting them with shawls. 


CM lays stone for road project
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 31
Chief Ministe Parkash Singh on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Sangrur upgrade road.. Badal said cost of project was \ 226 crore and length 71.92 km of which 39.67 K km would be four-laned. Project will be completed in two years.

On the toll barriers on the Malerkotla - Patiala road, Badal said the two barriers were passed in the agreement by the Congress government and his government could not change the agreement.


Ex-IRS officer cremated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Pushpajeet Sahi, wife of former Punjab IAS officer G.P.S. Sahi, passed away here after a protracted illness. Sixty-year-old Sahi had recently retired from the Indian Revenue Services after having served on important senior positions, including chief commissioner, income tax. She had been deputy director (administration), PGI, Chandigarh.

Her cremation was attended here today by a large number of distinguished personalities. The bhog and antim ardas will be held at the gurdwara in Sector 8, Chandigarh, on August 9 from 12.30 to 1.30 pm.


Punjab reinstates 30 PCS (Judicial) officers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Little over two months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court placed over 30 PCS (Judicial) officers back in the judgement seat after reversing its own committees’ recommendations, the Punjab government has issued appointment letters to them.

The officers were initially appointed during the tenure of Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) chairman Ravinderinder Singh Sidhu. But their services were terminated on the basis of recommendations made by a committee.

The high court had initiated action in the matter and constituted a committee “in light of the disturbing reports appearing in the Press and the electronic media, containing allegations against certain judges of this court and their wards”.

After a three-Judge Bench directed their reinstatement on May 27, the Punjab government, after deliberation, decided to issue appointment letters to the officers, and a communication in this regard was sent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

With this, speculation on the state challenging the high court orders, directing the reinstatement of the petitioners, has come to an end.

Giving details on the administrative side, high court Chief Justice Vijender Jain today said the matter would now be placed before the Administrative Committee of the high court.

The committee after due consideration would issue the posting orders. 
The high court orders on their reinstatement were issued nearly six years after the “first committee” recommended the termination of officers belonging to 1998-2001 batches subsequent to the unearthing of the alleged PPSC scam.

Taking up the petition by over 30 such officers, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain, Justice H.S. Bhalla and Justice Rajesh Bindal, had ruled: “The petitioners in respect of 1998, 1999 and 2000 batches are ordered to be reinstated”.

In an attempt to minimise the damage, the Bench had further directed that the petitioners belonging to the 1998-2000 batches “shall not be entitled to salaries for the period they remained out of job, until the reinstatement. But, the said period shall be counted as period spent on duty for the purpose of determining the qualifying service for pension and other purposes, including the grant of increment etc. Non-performance of duties for the said period shall not be treated as break in service”.


Tribune Impact
PTU comes to the rescue of non-Punjabi students
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, has finally relented on the issue counselling for the non-Punjabi students competing for 15 per cent AIEEE quota for admission to the engineering, architectural and pharmacy colleges.

In a “pro-student” decision, the PTU has decided to prepone the counselling for 15 per cent AIEEE quota students by one month. Now the counselling would conclude on August 30 instead of the earlier September 30 deadline. A decision to this effect had been taken and the new schedule for the counselling for non-Punjab students would be put on the PTU website in a couple of days, sources told The Tribune today.

On July 23,The Tribune had highlighted how the PTU false pas of scheduling the 15 per cent AIEEE quota counselling at the fag end of the counselling (from September 16 to 30) had created a sense of uncertainly and sent thousands of students and parents into a state of tizzy. The first counselling for the 85 per cent category (the Punjab state quota) ended on July 26.

It was alleged that the long gap between the first counselling and the non-Punjabi candidates would leave thousands of aspirants at the mercy of the private institutions and the universities in the region. The students, who were at the bottom and the middle of the AIEEE merits would have hit hard by the original counselling schedule.

Following The Tribune story, these contentions were raised before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a petition filed by Surbhi Mahajan, a Chandigarh student seeking admission through the AIEEE quota on July 24.

“The PTU may be justified in according preference to Punjab residents competing for 85 per cent quota but the counselling for 15 per cent seats for non-Punjabi students should have been scheduled before the second counselling for the Punjab residents,” the petition contended.

While disposing off the petition, a Division Bench of the high court comprising Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Nirmaljit Kaur directed the university to treat the petition as the representation and take a final decision on it expeditiously. The PTU decision seems to has stemmed from the news report and the high court direction, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the parents have welcomed the “pro-student” decision. “Besides putting a check on the admissions through the management quota by the private colleges and the university by charging lakhs of rupees from the students the decision would come as a big relief to the average students seeking admission into professional courses,” Amarjit Singh, a parent, said.


Farmers given letters of loan waiver
Tribune News Service

Sangrur , July 31
Letters of loan worth Rs 1. 35 crore were given to 51 farmers by the local branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) at a farmers’ mela, held on the premises of the bank branch here last evening. Besides this, the bank also issued certificates of waiving loan worth Rs 1.17 crore, to 299 farmers under the Government of India’s loan waiving scheme, introduced for the farmers in the country. The sanction letters were given to the farmers by regional manager of the SBI from Ludhiana Inderjeet Bakhshi.

Chief manager of the local SBI branch H.P.S. Arora said the bank had adopted four poor girls for educating under the bank’s adoption of girl child scheme. 


Deaf and dumb raped by 2 cops
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 31
A deaf and dumb teenaged girl was allegedly raped by two policemen here on Monday night. The policemen, on the motorcycle squad duty, first rescued the girl from two youths and then took her to a house where they sexually assaulted her. They abandoned her the next morning.

The girl met president of the local Ma Saraswati Sewa Sangathan Nanak Chand and narrated the whole incident to him. He brought the matter to the notice of the local administration and the police.

Yesterday, the victim identified both policemen in the presence of local sub-divisional magistrate.

SHO of the police station (city) Ram Singh told The Tribune that a case under Sections 76 (2) and 120 B of the IPC had been registered against four persons, including head constable Paramjit Singh, constable Balbir Singh, a local resident Sonu and one unknown person who had allegedly abused the girl sexually. The medical examination of the girl was conducted in the civil hospital, which had confirmed that the girl was raped.

The SHO said that the antecedents of the girl were not yet known but it was believed that she was a native of Jaipur.

Meanwhile, both suspected policemen were remanded in one-day police custody by a local court late in the evening. On the plea of the police to send the girl to Nari Niketan, the court reserved its decision for tomorrow, said a police officer.


Maldives police’s clean chit to resort
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 31
The Maldives police today gave a clean chit to the Dhonveli Beach and Spa Resort, Chayya island, saying there was no negligence on the part of the resort staff in the drowning of Ishmeet Singh.

"Ishmeet, a six-foot-tall Sikh youth drowned in that part of the pool where the listed depth was seven feet eight inches,” Maldives police assistant commissioner Abdulla Riyaz told this correspondent over the phone.

He said the resort staff had put up a warning board that no lifeguard was available on that day. “Our investigation does not find any reason to take action against the resort, having four-star status, for their negligence in the case.”

But while the resort staff have been given a clean chit, questions are being raised about the negligence of the Big Event Management group.

The timing of the incident and the death stated by the Maldives police reveal Ishmeet had drowned around 4.45pm but the cops were called at 6.30 pm on July 29.

Abdulla Riyaz said they got a call from the ADK hospital staff that a drowning case had been reported.

Assistant manager of the resort Marlon Robert has been quoted in Maldives newspapers as saying there was no lifeguard at that time and a notice was put up in different languages, including English.

He said Ishmeet was taken by a resort launch to ADK hospital in Male following an unsuccessful attempt by the resident doctor to resuscitate him, Robert said.

"The fact is, this gentleman - without realising the gravity of it - went into the deep end (of the pool)," Robert told Minivan News.


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