P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Firing in Moga district courts
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 2
A person was injured when three youths opened fire in the district courts complex in an attempt to kill two undertrials here this afternoon. One of the assailants has been arrested.

The police said the assailants had come to kill undertrials Charanjit Singh and Harjinder Singh facing charges of attempt to murder in a sessions court. They were brought from the Ludhiana Central Jail.

Both had a narrow escape as the bullet fired by the assailants missed the target and hit Jasveer Singh of Godhewala village on his thigh. He had come to the complex to meet the undertrials. Before they could fire another shot, the policemen deputed on security duty nabbed one of them, identified as Happy of Gajeana village. The other two escaped.

An FIR under Section 307, IPC, and relevant Sections of the Arms Act has been registered. Happy told the police that he had personal enmity with Charanjit.

Meanwhile, District Bar Association president Naseeb Singh Bawa demanded adequate security in the complex.

Two months ago, miscreants had entered into a chamber of an advocate and thrashed one of his clients.


Eye Camp ‘Botch-up’
Seal operation theatre: DM
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 2
Reacting to “botched” eye surgeries at a free medical camp, district magistrate of Moga Satwant Singh Johal has asked the health department to seal the operation theatre of the eye hospital run by Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust and write to the police for appropriate action in the case.

Nine patients from nearby Bhinder village, who underwent surgeries during the free medical camp organised by the trust, had complained of post-operative complications from blurred vision to possible loss of vision.

Magisterial probe ordered

Not being satisfied with the action of deputy medical commissioner Tejinder Gupta, district magistrate (DM) of Moga Satwant Singh Johal has ordered a magisterial probe into the case.

Talking to The Tribune late in the evening, the DM said he has asked assistant commissioner (Grievances) M.S. Jaggi, a senior PCS officer, to conduct the probe and submit the report within 48 hours. He said the letter written to the SHO by Dr Gupta was not enough for the police to proceed with the inquiry.

Talking to The Tribune, deputy medical commissioner of the district Tejinder Gupta said he pasted a notice on the hospital premises this morning intimating its authorities that for the time being the health department had suspended the permission granted to them for conducting surgeries.

Since the hospital remained locked on the second consecutive day, the health authorities could not seal the operation theatre.

Meanwhile, Dr Gupta, in a letter written to the SHO of the police station (city-I), has requested him to inquire into the incident. He said the police action had become necessary because the hospital authorities and the doctor who performed eye surgeries did not join the investigation being conducted by the health department even after repeated requests. Moreover, the hospital had been locked for the past two days, raising doubts about their credentials. 


Ambulance service in 15 minutes
Govt to launch Public-private scheme 
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 2
The Health Department will provide 74 ambulances at major towns under public-private partnership this year and by 2009-10, the entire state would be covered under the scheme.

This was stated by health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla after inaugurating a trauma centre at the local Civil Hospital here today. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore

She said each ambulance would have the driver and an emergency medical technician.

The minister said the government had decided to provide emergency response services under public private partnership. As many as 224 ambulances would be purchased by the department and managed by the private partner. Out of these, 56 vehicles would be advanced life saving ambulances and the remaining basic life saving ambulances.

She said the ambulances would be so located that those could reach the place of emergency within 15 minutes. People could seek the service on the toll-free number 108. The tenders had been invited and the shortlisted parties would be allotted the work by September 15.

Transport minister Master Mohan Lal, MD, Health System Corporation T.R. Sarangal, director of health services S.P. Sohal, civil surgeon, Gurdaspur, R.S. Rana and SMO Ravi Dogra were also present.


There was never any move to privatise PSEB: Jairam 
Tribune News Service

Nangal, August 2
Governments of Punjab and Haryana have shown keenness in having nuclear power plants in their states. Minister of state for power and commerce, government of India, Jairam Ramesh stated this to mediapersons at Satluj Sadan here today.

On a visit to the Bhakra Nangal project, Jairam said the nuclear deal would pass the final and third stage in October after the US Congress passed it. "It will take at least six years to start nuclear plants in the country. Many states, including Punjab and Haryana, are keen on having a plant each," Jairam said.

To meet demands of nuclear plants, nuclear fuel will be bought from Canada and Australia. The government also expects countries like France and Russia to invest in India, once country becomes nuclear power sufficient.

Criticising Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy for leading protests against large dams on Narmada in central India, Jairam said, "We have 35,000 MW of hydel power available in India and this needs to be enhanced to 50,000 MW to meet need of all sectors. But due to people like Roy and Patkar, the government had to go for nuclear deal to meet power demand."

The government is planning a project on lines of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN), formerly known as Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation Limited, wherein the BBMB will remain operating agency and states of Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and Rajasthan will be four equal partners. This nodal agency will look after power generation work of four states and take up projects in other countries as well.

“The SJVN recently signed a pact with the Nepal government to set up a 402 MW power project there. We want an agency with the BBMB and the four states to work on similar lines," he added.

On the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), he said it was never decided to privatise the board. "In 2003, the Vajpayee government had decided to strengthen the production, transmission and distribution of the PSEB. It was never decided to privatise it," he said.

Later, Jairam visited Bhakra dam, left power house, Nehru Centre having pictorial views of the BBMB construction and models etc with BBMB chairman Umesh Chand Misra, chief engineers N.K. Arora, T.C. Parmar, B.B. Bassi, secretary R.C. Mahajan and others.

On August 1, he visited board’s office, the BBMB and System Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) complex at Chandigarh and discussed water and power position with senior officers of the board. He laid a wreath at martyrs' memorial at Bhakra Dam to pay homage to martyrs of the project.

He reviewed position of reservoirs and power availability from BBMB hydro plants and expressed satisfaction on the availability of water and power from the BBMB as status of water inflow is comfortable in reservoirs. 



Bhattal’s new bet — a youth brigade
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
After an abortive bid to launch a new youth outfit, the Naujawan Sangharsh Samiti (NSS), led by her son Rahul Sidhu, Pradesh Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on Thursday blessed another outfit called the National Students Organisation (NSO) aimed at countering the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) sponsored the Students Organisation of India (SOI).

The outfit, Bhattal says, will be Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s brigade in the state. Bhattal said the NSO wanted to be affiliated with the Congress and the PPCC had decided to send a proposal in this regard to Rahul Gandhi as well as the All-India Congress Committee (AICC).

Earlier, Bhattal had praised the initiative of her son Rahul Sidhu for creating the NSS, which she claimed, had performed admirably in countering Akali excesses in elections to the municipal committee in Sangrur district.

However, later Bhattal and her son stated the latter was not interested in the Youth Congress president’s post and had only worked to strengthen the party. Amarinder Singh on his part had objected to the creation of any new outfit and asserted the present front organisation should be strengthened.

This time around, the NSO, which has been chosen by the PPCC to counter the Akali SOI, is an established organisation already active in Nabha. Congress legislator from Nabha, Randeep Singh, who has been patronising the organisation was instrumental in getting the PPCC to back it officially. Randeep was present at a simple function organised at the Punjab Congress here today in which NSO leaders Bunny Khora and Gurparshad Thapar and their supporters took Bhattal’s “blessings”.

When asked for the need for NSO when the National Students Union of India (NSUI) already exists, Bhattal said it could be merged with the NSUI at a later stage. Meanwhile, party spokesman Bir Devinder Singh indicated , “Bhattal had gone to Delhi and discussed with the party high command the need to create an organisation which could stand up to the Akali SOI”. 


Special kendra that makes a difference
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 2
Four-and-a-half-year-old Aayushi and her father Satish Arya are having the time of their lives. For Satish Arya, who is working with DCM Engineering, Aayushi is a bundle of joy. Her ‘namaste’, with a broad smile, is heart-warming.

Aayushi and Satish are sitting in the early intervention group, the pedestal class of this Ambuja Manovikas Kendra, a school for special children in Salora village of Ropar.

An initiative of the Ambuja Cement Foundation, the school has 65 special children of various age groups, including 50 boys and 15 girls. The institution not only cements ties between these children and their parents, but also has succeeded in scripting success stories of rehabilitation of these special children.

Most of the students here are from surrounding villages and from agricultural and working class families. Educators and motivators here have a tough time convincing parents that their children are differently abled.

“The foremost task is to identify these children and convince their parents to come to terms with the mental condition of their child,” says principal Suresh Kumar Thakur. In a few cases, it has taken three years to convince the parents.

Then the children are classified into groups as per their mental abilities, gender and age groups. There are at present six special educators teaching students. The aim is not to make students learn lessons, but to make them self sufficient in daily chores.

“Many students have gone ahead in becoming independent. Two of our girls are now well trained in stitching and embroidery and can easily work at boutiques. They are even an expert with the kitchen chores,” says proud Vishal Bhardwaj, regional programme coordinator for north India.

A batch of around eight students is currently undergoing vocational training in candle making. Their produce is sold during Diwali season sales and profit earned is distributed among them as stipend. Children are also provided with therapeutic services to help them subdue their disabilities.

Having moved from a rented accommodation to plush green surroundings, the kendra has come a long way and will soon complete its 10 years of inception.


Arrest miscreants: IMA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 2
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today issued an ultimatum to the Punjab Police that if it failed to arrest the miscreants (who had recently attacked two private hospitals in Sangrur and Samana) and initiate action against a Samana police officer for allegedly making a change in the FIR registered against the miscreants, by August 5, it would observe a medical bandh in the state on August 7.

Addressing a press conference here today, chairman of the legal cell of the state unit of the IMA, Dr O.P.S. Kande said the IMA might also move court or the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to get justice for the affected doctors of Sangrur and Samana private hospitals. The Sangrur unit of the IMA would also start a chain fast from August 4 to get the demands accepted, he added.

Kande, along with other leaders of the state IMA, was here today in connection with a protest march and rally, organised by the local unit to protest against the non-arrest of miscreants who had on July 12 damaged the property of local Singla Surgical Hospital after the death of a young woman in the hospital.

Kande said even three weeks after the registration of a case against the miscreants, no one had been arrested.

Later, the doctors took out a protest march through the town, demanding the withdrawal of the case registered against Dr Singla of Singla Hospital under Section 304-A, IPC, and arrest of the miscreants.


Police station gheraoed 
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 2
Residents of the Guru Nanakpura locality here today gheraod the Islamabad police station demanding the withdrawal of cases registered against some residents a few days ago. Addressing the protesters, Amarjit Singh Asal, general secretary, CPI, said the dharna would continue till cases were withdrawn.

However, the dharna was lifted after the intervention of the SHO, who assured them that the cases would be withdrawn after an inquiry.

BJP councillor Bhavna refuted these allegations as baseless and politically motivated. She said this was being done at the behest of a local leader who had contested as an independent and was later expelled by the SAD for contesting against her. She alleged that some of anti-social elements had also attacked her house.

Asal said on July 29 some residents had gone to meet BJP councillor Bhavna regarding the poor water supply in the area. However, her father misbehaved with them and even slapped a woman. Infuriated over this, residents blocked the Amritsar-Attari road for two hours. The residents lifted the dharna after the intervention of the police assuring action against the accused.

The CPI general secretary said when the residents were returning home the BJP councillor, her father and some anti- social elements attacked them in which five to six women were injured. Over this, the residents went to the police station for registering a case against the accused. However, the police booked innocent persons under political pressure.


‘Declare Ram Setu national monument’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 2
The district president and a senior leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad Manu Sharma and Bhanu Sharma, respectively, today demanded that the Centre should declare Ram Setu a national monument.

The ABVP leaders said today that the committee constituted into the matter on the directions of the Supreme Court should give its recommendations considering all aspects, including economic viability of the proposed project and environmental threats due to it. The maritime treaty of 1970 between India and Sri Lanka should be upheld in letter and in spirit. 


Threat to Patna Jathedar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 2
Jathedar, Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh has complained of getting threatening calls.

In a press note faxed from Patna Sahib here yesterday, Giani Iqbal Singh alleged that the unidentified caller had claimed he (Jathedar) might be removed at the meeting of the Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee, to be held with SGPC president Avtar Singh on August 4 here. The caller had also informed that some “doctored CD”, containing objectionable information had also been prepared to defame him.

The SGPC president, however, said the meeting with Takht Patna Sahib members had been put off, hence, there was no move to remove Giani Iqbal Singh as Jathedar. He said Kulmohan Singh, Delhi-based general secretary of Takht Patna Sahib had told him (SGPC president) the meeting had been put off.

However, Giani Iqbal Singh claimed that nobody had the authority to remove him as Jathedar Patna Sahib. He said Giani Maan Singh had remained Jathedar for 55 years till his death.

Jathedar Iqbal Singh alleged that the SGPC had written to the Central government that he was not holding the post of Jathedar, Patna Sahib, anymore. He said some officials of the Central government had visited his residence in Patna Sahib in this regard. Jathedar Iqbal Singh has been in the news since pronouncing controversial edicts.


Threat to blow up Patiala temple
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 2
Security has been beefed up around the local Kali Mata temple and railway station in the wake of a threat letter by “SIMI” saying that the two places would be blown up on the lines of Gujarat bomb blasts.

The letter, bearing stamp of SIMI, was sent to station master P.K. Sinkoo by “deputy commander Aziz-ur-Rehman”. The police authorities were trying to ascertain the veracity of the letter.

The letter, written in Urdu, was sent from Rohtak via Speed Post, police sources said. The station master received it this morning. The letter particularly mentions the name of a local Shiv Sena leader, saying that the two places would be blown up if he was not shifted out of the city.

“Security has already been beefed up at the temple and the station. The letter is being investigated thoroughly,” said SSP S.K. Asthana.

The sources said it was not for the first time that such a threat had been issued. Letters, purportedly written by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and some other militant outfits, have been received in Patiala of and on, they added.


SGPC for CBI probe into Ishmeet’s death
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 2
President of the SCPC Avtar Singh has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a CBI probe into the death of singer Ishmeet Singh.

The SGPC chief, in a letter sent to Dr Singh here today, has said that the parents of Ishmeet suspect foul play in his death. As such an investigation by the premiere investigating agency of the country and Interpol will help bring out the truth in the case.


Writer thanks CM for aid
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 2
Shiromani Sahitkar award recipient Kulbir Kang (73) today thanked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for providing Rs 1 lakh for his treatment of joint pain.

The Punjabi Cooperative Writers Society and other literary organisations of the city had urged the government to help an ailing writer.

Kang has authored 80 books besides 40 research papers in the Punjabi 


Adjustment of 2 Punjab officers stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
The Punjab government is in the dock for adjusting two director-level officers on a regular basis in violation of the court orders.

Taking exception, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the adjustment orders. The Bench comprising Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina issued notice for August 14.

The orders were passed on a petition filed by district programme officer Ashok Kumar Sharma and four others against the state of Punjab and other respondents, including additional director in the Department of Social Security and Women and Child Rupinderjit Singh, and deputy director Rajnish Kumar.

The petitioners had contended that both respondent officer were retrenched employees of the Punjab Women and Child Development and Welfare Corporation. They had been paid the retrenchment benefits.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench ruled: “We find that the orders dated July 21 passed in favour of the respondents have been issued in flagrant violation of the order dated July 3, 2008, by this court.”

Elaborating, the Bench ruled: “According to the direction issued by the Division Bench on July 3, the respondents (initially appointed on a contract basis) were to continue in service and their status was not to be changed.

“However, by the order dated July 21, a decision by the government has been taken to adjust a respondent on the post of additional-director and adjust the other respondent on the post of deputy-director on a regular basis. Both orders shall remain stayed”. The Bench also fixed August 14 as the next date of hearing in the matter. 


A slap for a slap
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 2
Mithan, a Class X student of the local Government Secondary School, slapped his class in-charge Kiran in retaliation when the teacher denied him leave and slapped him.

Inderjit Kaur, principal of the school, told this correspondent that the matter had been resolved.

While giving details of the incident, she said Kiran instructed the student to bring his guardian as he had been demanding seven days’ leave. The student brought his elder brother, but the teacher denied him so many days’ leave.

The principal added that on being denied leave, the student allegedly started using abusive language against the teacher who in turn slapped him. In retaliation, Mithan too slapped the teacher on the face.

The student also misbehaved another teacher who came to the rescue of the teacher. The principal said the matter had been resolved after the intervention of teachers and elders of the Gokalpur locality where the student lives. 


Process to shift teachers set in motion
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
The Punjab government has set in motion the rationalisation of teaching staff in government schools. The teachers from the schools where they were surplus will be shifted to the ones where they are required.

Official sources said district education officers had today called teachers concerned to their offices at district headquarters to know from them whether they liked to be shifted. They were given a form to fill in this regard. At Ludhiana, a large number of teachers refused to be shifted from the schools they were posted at present. Those refusing to be transferred were asked to give reasons. At certain places teachers were asked to opt for the stations they would like to be shifted to.

The Education Department hadprepared the list of vacant posts in schools, it is learnt. They had also lists of surplus teachers in schools.

There are many government schools in urban areas where the number of teachers is more than required as per norms of the Education Department. For instance, there are certain schools in Mohali which have more teachers than required.

However, there are many schools in remote areas where posts of teacher are vacant for several years. As many teachers have “right connections” in official circles, they have been resisting posting in the countryside.

However, teachers say the government has chosen a wrong time to transfer surplus staff. “It is middle of the academic session and no time to send surplus staff to deficit schools. If the government was keen on rationalisation, it should have done it in March. “It is no time to shift teachers from the schools where they are posted,” said Behari Lal Saddi, vice-president, Government Secondary School Teachers Union.

Surplus teachers transferred at this stage will join by the end of August and report for duty in September. By that time most of the session will be through. Students, who are to appear in board examinations, are mostly freed in the last week of January to prepare for the annual examination.


One held, 6 kg heroin seized
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, August 2
The riverine area in the Ferozepur sector recently witnessed more activity to smuggle narcotics and arms compared to the Amritsar border area.

The consignments seized recently by agencies, including the police and the special narcotics cell (SNC), seem to point to it. A majority of these consignments were smuggled from this sector due to the absence of fencing and presence of huge riverine tract created by the Sutluj and the Beas which meet at Harike.

Jagdish Mittal, DIG, SNC, said smuggling of narcotics had decreased considerably on the Indo-Pakistan border fencing as the agency (SNC) had nabbed a large number of narcotics smugglers having ‘a good say’ amongst Pakistan-based smugglers. All of them were put in various jails of the state.

The SNC has nabbed 124 ‘top’ smugglers since its inception in December 2005, including Dilbagh Bagha, Amardeep Cheema, Ravi Rana, Resham Singh, Harchand Narli, Davider Narli, Kulwant Kanta, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Karam Singh Karma, Sarvan Samma, Niranjan Nanja and Balwinder Singh, alias Doctor, who later escaped from police custody.

Mittal, however, added that it did not mean smuggling had ended from the Indo-Pakistan border alongside Amritsar and Tarn Taran, but it had definitely reduced considerably. He said there were some parts in Ferozepur sector alongside the riverine belt (16 km) that was vulnerable to smuggling and the department was in touch with other agencies to check the illegal activity.

Meanwhile, SNC authorities arrested Indo-Pakistan smuggler Swaran Singh, alias Thanedar, a resident of Daoke under Sarai Amanat Khan police station, and recovered 6 kg of heroin. Tulsi Ram, SSP, SNC, said the accused was nabbed after a tip-off. He was arrested from Jandiala Guru where he was waiting to deliver a consignment smuggled from Ferozepur side and which had stamps of Pak-Afghan-Guzargah and was to be delivered to Delhi. 


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