Police can handle militancy: CM
Amritsar, August 1
“The Punjab police is capable of meeting such challenges because it has already fought terrorism in the state,” said Badal when his attention was drawn to the declaration made by the Prime Minister a day after serial blasts in Ahmedabad.
The Central government decided that a meeting of chief ministers of all states would be convened to build a consensus on a legislation to empower a specialised central agency to look into such incidents of terror. So far, the states had stone-walled the idea as law and order was a state subject and they feared losing that vital control over the police.
The Chief Minister, however, said by strengthening the available police force, the task to counter the probability of terrorism could be accomplished. He was in the city to address a series of Sangat Darshan programmes, organised in the Amritsar (South) constituency.
In yet another statement, Badal said there was no move to shift the proposed Central University from Amritsar to any part of the state.
The Chief Minister, however, evaded a direct question regarding the activities of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda. Instead, Badal said the ball was in the court of Akal Takht and, hence, he could not answer any question on the subject.
In the wake of a number of complaints about the “biased role” of district administrations in different parts of the state, Badal directed the DCs to ensure the election of sarpanches on merit.
Badal thanked voters for exercising franchise in favour of the Akali-BJP candidate in the recent byelection for Amritsar South constituency and assured that he would fulfil the pre-poll promises. He handed over cheques worth nearly Rs 4 crore to the Municipal Corporation for completing the ongoing works related to strengthening of roads, installation of tubewells, streetlights, sewerage and supply of clean drinking water in ward nos 33, 35, 43, 44 and 58.
Badal announced that the long-pending demand of people for covering the drain carrying sullage from the Khazana Gate area (the Ganda Nullah) would soon be met and a project worth Rs 495 lakh initiated for the same.
Besides, a project for purified the water supply system in major cities of Punjab, including Amritsar, would be initiated whereby consumers would get pure water at 10 paise per litre.
Seeking cooperation and support from the public for the success of various government projects, the Chief Minister asked the people not to throw garbage in streets and suggested use of CFL lights in their houses to save power.
Arbitrary transfer of lecturers creates chaos
Chandigarh, August 1
Many such lecturers turned up here today to get their posting orders amended and seek a posting at a place suitable to them.
There are reports that the department had issued fresh orders making adjustment of about 300 lecturers two days ago and the list of such lecturers was put on the board outside the office. However, all of a sudden all these transfer orders were cancelled today. Orders were cancelled following a meeting of a senior BJP minister with the Chief Minister.
Blaming the government for creating a mess in this regard in the department, a senior leader of the Democratic Teachers Front (DLF) said either the authorities should have ordered the transfers on the basis of merit, or should have asked the lecturers concerned to name three stations of their choice where they would like to be posted.
Immediately after ordering the promotions, the department should have declared the list of vacant posts available in various districts. That would have made the entire system transparent. And on the basis of merit, promoted lecturers should have been posted against the vacant posts available. “If transfer is ordered by following some criteria, it does not cause any sort of heart burning among any one concerned,” said Joginder Azad, a senior leader of the DTF.
Giving instances of the arbitrariness adopted in ordering transfers of promoted lecturers, he said a lecturer from Tarn Taran district was first transferred to Kapurthala district though a good number of vacant posts were available in Tarn Taran district. However, when he pointed out the availability of vacant posts in his district, he was shifted from Kapurthala to Moga instead of ordering his posting back to his district.
Likewise, one woman lecturer was transferred from Samrala to Malerkotla though a number of vacant posts were available near Samrala, but those were given to male lecturers. In fact, one post is still available in Samrala town, but the department authorities say that has been kept reserved for some political VIP because his relative is to be posted there.
Azad said lecturers were feeling harassed in the absence of any proper policy adopted by the department authorities concerned.
Sutlej areas under flood threat
Anandpur Sahib, August 1
Villagers of Mataur, Lodhipur, Hariwal, Nikkuwal, Chandpur, Gajpur, Shahpur Bela, Mehndli Kalan, Kotla Lower, Budha Lower and Nakkian Lower were taken by surprise late last night when water entered their fields.
A few villages connectivity with the city was snapped as roads got flooded with water. In some villages, people had to spend the night on rooftops. Children could not attend school and many daily wagers were confined to the flooded surroundings. Many villagers reported loss of standing crops of maize and paddy due to inundated fields.
Sarpanch of Mataur village Surinder Singh said the villages faced the problem of flood every year during monsoon. He and other villagers demanded that the government should find out a permanent to this perennial problem.
The level of water in the Sultej rose due to an increase in the water level of the Swan seasonal rivulet coming downstream from the BBMB, Nangal. As per official records, on Thursday, 74,200 cusecs of water was flowing in this seasonal rivulet, which came down by 24,219 by today evening. The excess of water had overflowed and inundated nearby villages before emptying into other seasonal rivulets.
Last year, on August 13, a breach was reported in the Charan Ganga rivulet in Anandpur Sahib leaving Lodhipur, Mehendli Kalan, Hariwal, Chakhiyan Bal, Bali, Bajroor, Mianpur and other villages flooded.
Farmers had lost standing crops as well as property. At Lodhipur village, people had to spend two nights on rooftops. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had held a sangat darshan on August 19 last year and announced that the state government would soon prepare a comprehensive masterplan to tackle floods. However, the plan is yet to be seen.
Chakki flows above danger mark
Heavy downpour in the town and its adjoining areas on Thursday not only threw life out of gear but also put the areas alongside the Chakki river near Sailli Kulian under threat. The river was flowing above the danger level. SDM Ajmer Singh said he had directed the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to prevent flooding of areas alongside the river.
Pathankot (OC): Heavy downpour in the town and its adjoining areas on Thursday not only threw life out of gear but also put the areas alongside the Chakki river near Sailli Kulian under threat. The river was flowing above the danger level. SDM Ajmer Singh said he had directed the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to prevent flooding of areas alongside the river.
Suicides by Farmers
Chural Kalan (Moonak , August 1
Convener of the MASR Inderjit Singh Jaijee said here that by doing so the government wanted to show the world that Punjab was prosperous and debt-related suicides there were not many. He claimed that officials were verifying debt-related suicides in the villages of Moonak subdivision of Sangrur district on the instructions of the state government in response to an inquiry sent by the Lok Sabha (LS) speaker to the government.
Jaijee said a letter regarding debt-related suicides, along with affidavits issued by village panchayats in this regard, was sent by him to the LS Speaker on November 7, 2007, to do something by mentioning that only in Moonak subdivision (including Legragaga area) 1,508 farmers and farm labourers had committed suicide from 1988 to 2007, for being unable to repay their debt.
As per information, in 91 villages of Moonak-belt (Moonak and Lehragaga subdivisions) till July 24, 2008, 1,626 farmers and farm labourers had committed suicide, of which 1,500 suicides had been verified by respective panchayats in the form of affidavits. Ballran village has the highest number of debt-related suicides in which 85 farmers and farm labourers had committed suicide, followed by Bhoolan village 58, Lehal Kalan 50, Andana 36, Bakhora Kalan and Banga 34 each, Moonak 33, Phuled and Sangatpura 31 each and Hamirgarh 30.
Jaijee said the patwaris so far had completed verification of debt-related suicide cases in 26 villages (out of total 50) of Moonak subdivision and in their reports they had confirmed 85 to 100 per cent debt-related suicides to the MASR data provided by him to the LS speaker. He also claimed that the patwaris had been asked by the authorities to report debt-related suicides on the basis of the entry of death into the chowkidar’s register, police report and medical report of the deceased. He said if this criterion was adopted, then most of the debt-related suicides would remain uncovered.
Jaijee asked the Punjab government in the case of a debt-related suicide, an affidavit by the panchayat in this regard should be considered valid proof in place of a police report.
Tribune News Service
Dadwan (Gurdaspur), August 1
“We thought we had struck it rich when we entered this profession,” says Daniel. The present-day rickshaw driver says he approached a “spy recruiter” Inderjit Singh (name changed) to “ask for the job”. Daniel says he had no avenue for getting a job and, like others of the Christian community of the village, did not possess any land. “At that time four to five persons from our village used to work for RAW and the fact that they always had money attracted me to the profession”. Daniel says Inderjit took him to the RAW office, which was then located on the Sangalpura road in Gurdaspur for recruitment as an agent.
Inderjit, who recruited a number of agents from the area, in an exclusive, but hesitant interview with TNS, said the fact that his father was an ex-serviceman gave him access to officers of the Military Intelligence and others. He said he used to come to Dhariwal frequently and the poor Christian community, members of which also reside in Shakargarh and its neighbouring districts in Pakistan, became natural targets for recruitment due to their common cultural bonds.
Inderjit says his network slowly spread and the recruits also earned money during each crossing. Explaining the mode of payment, he says each team, whether of one person or two, was paid Rs 2,500 per crossing. He claimed the recruits were also provided liquor by security agencies that they handed over to contact men across the border. In return they got cigarettes, dry fruits and clothes, which they deposited, back to the security agencies. Inderjit claimed the agencies gave the recruits a profit from this smuggling operation, which usually amounted to a further profit of Rs 2,000 per trip besides the crossing amount. However, repeated arrests and long detentions have killed the attraction for the job, says Inderjit. He said while security agencies were mostly to blame for the plight of former spies, in some cases the conduct of the spies themselves was responsible for their present fate. “Spies working for only one security agency have been looked after even when caught in Pakistan but those who work for multiple agencies, lose the trust of their original handlers”.
According to the former spy runner, who now runs a small business, presently agencies have to rely on inputs from agents recruited in Pakistan. “This is because people are no more ready to cross the border from this belt”, he says adding, “officers from the agencies repeatedly ask for men for cross border spying but there are none available”.
Inderjit says besides other reasons, the manner in which secret funds have been used in the past in the region is also responsible for the collapse of the entire spying network. “Intelligence officers squander secret funds for their own ends rather than being generous with the operatives and their families”.
A former spy Sunil Bhola, who says intelligence officers dare not step into Dadwan for fear of being manhandled, claims that when he demanded an advance for crossing over to Pak to bring a collaborator back, he was put in jail to show him his place. Ashok Masih, another former spy, says during interactions with intelligence officials he gathered they were busy in creating concocting fake bills on entertainment and travel and were usually stingy about handing over money to agents like him.
Surjeet’s death mourned
Chandigarh, August 1
Badal described Surjeet as a leader who remained committed to his beliefs till his death.
He described the death of Surjeet as “a personal loss”. He said Surjeet always maintained close association with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Punjab industries minister Manoranjan Kalia and several other Cabinet ministers also conveyed their sympathies to the bereaved family members.
Meanwhile, president of the state unit of the Congress Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has said the country has lost a nationalist and a secular leader who worked for the cause of the common man and fought against communal forces.
Patiala: Describing Surjeet as an architect of the UPA, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has said the country had lost a stalwart of progressive Left movement in the country.
“Comrade Surjeet dedicated his entire life for the downtrodden and the underprivileged of the country. All through his life he fought against the exploitation of imperialist forces. He was an architect of the UPA and a key player in bringing close all secular and progressive forces to fight the menace of communalism in the country,” said PPCC chief spokesperson Bir Devinder Singh in a statement here today.
“The nation has become poor by the loss of a statesman like Surjeet. The Punjab Pradesh Congress deeply mourns his death and expresses heartfelt condolences on his demise,” said the statement.
Ludhiana: Communist leader Jagjeet Singh Lyallpuri, while condoling the death of veteran CPM leader, said he and Surjeet had been good friends and they had joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) after the division of the communist party and worked together for the party.
Lyallpuri said he parted company with Surjeet when he joined hands with the Congress. Lyallpuri has formed a new party known as Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) along with those who left the CPM and is now politburo member of the MCPI.
Badal’s canals coming apart
Bathinda, August 1
Making a mockery of the “dream project”, one of the major canals of the state, Sirhind Canal, is under threat due to continuous soil erosion on its banks. The irrigation department has been paying no heed to the looming danger for the Malwa region.
The authorities seems to have forgotten the 30-ft broad breached embankment of the canal on the outskirts of Bathinda city, which damaged more than 50 houses and about 25 jhuggis, besides destroying crop in hundreds of acre in November last year.
Given good rain this monsoon, the situation is again at a cautioning stage. During a visit to Nathana from Bathinda over the canal side road, it had been witnessed that throughout the way banks had been damaged. At some points, water flow has risen to the road level.
In a document, received under the RTI Act (memo number 2939), it had been revealed that the fund bag of the government was still empty. It had been clearly mentioned that for some canals like Bist Doab, Bathinda branch, Sidhwa branch and Abohar branch, there was a proposal to take grant from the union government under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Project (AIBP) scheme.
XEN, canal department, Harlabh Singh said: “Despite apprising the senior authorities of the facts that all populated sites along with the canal have been under grave danger, we have received not even a single penny in this regard.”
“It can also be mentioned that the department does not have funds to plug even the breaches in small distributaries,” he added.
State minister of irrigation department Janmeja Singh Sekhon said: “As per the information, out of the total Rs 3,250 crore, only Rs 87 crore has been released till now”.
Building Fee Dues
Patiala, August 1
Virtually in its overdrive mode, the civic body has not only detected more than 1,000 illegal water connections, but has also witnessed a whopping increase in its income in the past one month. This could be attributed to a number of tough measures taken by S.K. Ahluwalia, divisional commissioner-cum-commissioner of the civic body.
Besides Thapar Deemed University and the Modi College, the MC authorities has also shortlisted 41 building fee defaulters, each of whom owed building fee dues in the range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh to the MC.
“The Thapar University authorities had constructed many buildings without due approval of the site plans. Similarly, the Modi College had also gone in for construction of buildings without proper approval. Managements of both the institutes have been handed over notices and have been asked to pay building fee dues at the earliest,” said Ahluwalia when contacted.
Talking about the MC’s drive against building fee and other defaulters, Ahluwalia said tough measures had started showing dividends. “The collective House Tax income in the months of April, May and June was pegged at around Rs 1.16 crore. More than 1,000 illegally run water connections have also been detected,” said Ahluwalia.
Ishmeet’s viscera to be examined
Patiala, August 1
The exhaustive examination of the viscera will be conducted by the team on Monday. The examination of the viscera is likely to clear doubts about the cause of his death.
Meanwhile, the ‘naked-eye’ examination has ruled out possibility of any head injury to Ishmeet.
Nine patients hit in the eye
Moga, August 1
District magistrate Satwant Singh Johal has sought a report from the chief medical officer for necessary action. However, no patient has so far made a written complaint before the medical authorities or any officer of the district administration, said the DM.
The Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust had conducted a free eye check-up camp in the village on July 15. The surgeries were conducted by Dr Mohammad Amzad Khan in a private hospital here run by the trust the next day.
Deputy medical commissioner Tejinder Gupta, who has been asked to enquire into the matter, told The Tribune that nine patients had suffered infection and post-operative complications.
Dr Gupta said he visited the village this morning and brought three patients for a medical check-up in the Civil Hospital. “The rest of the patients refused to come along with me, saying they had full faith in the doctor who conducted the surgeries”, he said. One patient was not available at his home.
One of the three patients, Dalip Singh (46), reported that he was not being able to see colours and things were looking darker after the surgery. Another patient, Balwant Singh, reported of similar problems.
Dr Gupta said the patients might have caught infection in the operation theatre.
However, the charitable trust denied the allegations, stating that the post-operative problems reported by the patients were due to negligence on their part.
A member of the trust, Harvinder Singh, told The Tribune on the phone that one of the patients used to drink heavily and he did not take medicines properly post surgery. A woman patient hurt eyes with her finger inadvertently while another patient opened the medicine bottle with an infected sewing needle that led to infection in her eyes.
Only three patients contracted infection and they were being given the best treatment in trust-run hospital at Ganganagar, Harvinder added. He and Dr Khan were with the patients and they (patients) were fully satisfied with the treatment being given to them.
Bus service I-Day gift for Jalandhar
Chandigarh, August 1
Manoranjan Kalia, local government minister, Punjab, said once the project was implemented, Jalandhar would have a fleet of 16 buses, which would cover four routes. The buses to be inducted would be pre-fabricated and have a low floor with wide doors and a seating capacity of 40 commuters and an equal number of those standing.
Kalia said for the convenience of passengers, about 120 good quality stainless steel bus-queue shelters had been planned in Jalandhar and were in an advanced stage of completion. These shelters would be fitted with modern features like online Global Positioning System (GPS), which would provide information to waiting passengers regarding the exact time of arrival of the bus.
Each of these shelters would cost about Rs 10 lakh, which would generate revenue to the tune of Rs 10,000 per month from advertisements. Besides this, modern hand-held electronic ticketing machines would also be linked to data-centre to monitor the rush and inflow of cash.
After Jalandhar city, the bus service scheme would be launched in Ludhiana and Amritsar districts also.
Bar protests shifting of dist courts
Jalandhar, August 1
At present, the courts function from a four-storey building that was occupied in 2004. Given the haste shown by the authorities in shifting the courts, crores of taxpayers’ money would go down the drain after just four years.
The courts were shifted since the old courts complex, located near the Friends cinema, had become congested. The building was selected for its proximity to the offices of the DC, SSP and other government offices, besides the local bus stand.
What the planners overlooked while shifting the courts to the new building was the space constraint. No provision was made for lawyers’ chambers, stamp vendors, typists and other allied services. The planners did not even leave much space for parking.
Sources said the move to shift the courts again started after judicial officers informed the HC building committee that the complex was located in a congested location. After inspecting several places, a piece of over 29 acres at Chokha and Nangal Shama villages was selected. A notification for acquiring the same has been sent to the government.
President of the District Bar Association Manjit Inder Singh Sooch said it was sheer waste of public funds and the authorities should have taken steps to rectify the shortcomings in the existing building rather than shifting to a new place that was more than 7 km from the existing complex and from the secretariat.
“It is for the first time that the association has not been consulted regarding the move,” he pointed out.
Consensus over chairmen of boards, trusts: Punj
Jalandhar, August 1 Claiming that the issue of sharing the posts of chairmen of various boards and trusts has been resolved by the alliance partners, Punj disclosed the names would be declared well before August 15. He said the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab was not on the priority of the BJP, rather a solution to power crisis was on its main agenda. On Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s recent statement that the SAD was open to an alliance with the BSP, Punj claimed Badal was misquoted. He said: “The Chief Minister had himself said that the SAD would sink ‘if swam’ with the BJP”. Punj alleged that recent corruption during the vote of confidence was guided, sponsored, inspired and conducted by the Congress high command.
Jalandhar, August 1
Claiming that the issue of sharing the posts of chairmen of various boards and trusts has been resolved by the alliance partners, Punj disclosed the names would be declared well before August 15.
He said the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab was not on the priority of the BJP, rather a solution to power crisis was on its main agenda.
On Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s recent statement that the SAD was open to an alliance with the BSP, Punj claimed Badal was misquoted. He said: “The Chief Minister had himself said that the SAD would sink ‘if swam’ with the BJP”.
Punj alleged that recent corruption during the vote of confidence was guided, sponsored, inspired and conducted by the Congress high command.
Chandigarh, August 1
Taking a serious view of the authority’s failure to pay for the land acquired, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today literally passed strictures against NHAI before asking its Delhi-based chairman N. Gokul Ram to appear in person before the court.
Acting on a petition filed by Ujjar Singh and three other landowners, the Bench, comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, also asked him to “explain as to why the order of the court have not been compiled with because we find that a clarification-application filed before the Supreme Court is confined in its scope, seeking guidance as to whether the amount is to be paid even to the petitioner or all the landowners”.
Before parting with the orders, the Bench made candid observation: “The case highlights the obstinate attitude of the National Highway Authority of India. On one hand, the NHAI has acquired land of the landlords, and on the other, they are not being paid the compensation as determined by the competent authority”.
The Bench further observed: “There are a number of orders passed by this court, directing the respondents to disburse the compensation amount to the petitioners and other landowners….”
The Judges also took note of the fact that DGM (Technical), present in the court, “was not having financial powers to issue orders for the release of compensation, in lieu of the acquired land, to the landowners”.
“According to him, the power vests in N. Gokul Ram, chairman, NHAI. Accordingly, we direct him to appear in person….” The case will now come up on August 4 for further hearing in the matter.
In their petition against the Union of India, the NHAI project director and others, Ujjal Singh and co-petitioners had contended that their land was situated within the municipal limits of the Urmar Tanda area.
Two acquitted in Hawara shelter case
Patiala, August 1
Mohan Singh and Gurcharan Singh, both prominent Akali Dal activists and considered to have been close to late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, were booked by the Punjab Police vide FIR no.394 on July 15 in year 2005. A case against them was registered at Patiala Sadar Police Station under Sections 212 and 216 of the IPC for allegedly harbouring Hawara and the two other accused of the Delhi Blast case.
Mohan Singh and Gurcharan Singh, according to the police and the prosecution, were instrumental in facilitating a meeting between Hawara and the two Delhi Bomb Blast accused. Both Mohan Singh and Gurcharan Singh, according to prosecution, had also allegedly used Gurcharan Singh’s white Maruti car no. PB-10-S-9064 for the purpose and to provide Hawara, Jaspal Raja and Vikas food and shelter.
This version of the police was contested by senior advocate Barjinder Singh Sodhi, who represented Mohan Singh and Gurcharan Singh as their counsel. Certain police officials were also cross-examined in the case by Sodhi, who, asserted that the accused had no criminal background and had been implicated by the previous Congress regime. After hearing the arguments of the two sides, ACJM K.S. Cheema acquitted Mohan Singh and Gurcharan Singh.
Varsity may start ‘functional Punjabi’course
Mohali, August 1
The Dean, College Development Council, of the university is considering a proposal to this effect sent by the Principal Government College, Mohali.
The principal of the college has written to the Dean proposing that a course in functional Punjabi be started in affiliated colleges on the pattern of functional English.
The course is already being run in the colleges affiliated to the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar. “Punjabi University, Patiala, is the second university that was created to promote a language and this is another step in that direction.” Said Mrs Roop Aulakh, the college principal.
Aulakh pointed out that the university should consider introducing job oriented courses not just as mere add-on courses but as full-fledged degree courses so that the students have the option of earning a livelihood based on the skill he or she had learnt in the three years of graduation after he or she becomes a graduate.
The proposal states that the Vice-Chancellor of the university had laid stress on the introduction of more job-oriented courses and the introduction of functional Punjabi would help students get jobs in newspapers, magazines, television and the radio.
When contacted the Punjab University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jaspal Singh, said he was in favour of any move that encouraged the teaching and learning of Punjabi. “We would consider the proposal whenever it is put up to me,” he said.
The college has attached the syllabus of functional Punjabi being taught in GND University colleges for ready reference. The college has also styled a syllabus for functional Punjabi on the pattern of the syllabus of functional English as was being followed in Panjab university affiliated colleges in Chandigarh.