P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Protest mars Teacher’s Day function
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 5
From next year, the government will earmark special funds for upgrading infrastructure in government schools, especially in rural areas.

The dedicated funds will also be used to promote science education, said SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal while presiding over a state-level function organised by the Punjab Education Department Board to celebrate Teacher’s Day here today.

As the SAD president was addressing the function, hundreds of teachers of aided schools protested outside the venue. Criticising the Akali government for allegedly going back on its word, members of the Punjab State-Aided Schools Teachers Union demanded restoration of the pension scheme, withdrawal of cases registered against Moga teachers in December, 2006, and the removal of ban on recruitment.

Unmindful of the protest, Sukhbir said it was a tragedy that education was never a priority. It is the education that takes a nation ahead. “A Central university was being set up at Bathinda at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore and the foundation stone of Guru Granth Sahib University had already been laid. A branch of the prestigious Indian School of Business was being set up at Mohali”, he added.

Education minister Upinderjit Kaur said there was a need to revitalise cultural roots in students. With this in mind, the use of Punjabi language in schools, educational institutions and government offices was being made mandatory. Two Bills to enforce the use of Punjabi language were being introduced during the ongoing session of the Vidhan Sabha. It had also been decided that Punjabi language would be taught from Class I to X in all schools, irrespective of the board to which the respective school was affiliated.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Sukhbir, said every teacher should adopt the “Save girl child, save environment” campaign. “The teachers can be the role model for the younger generation. Educating girl child should be the motto”, she added.

The teachers honoured on the occasion were: Secondary education: Sangita (Faridkot), Dr Satinder Singh (Ferozepur), Gurmeet Singh (Mohali), Joginder Kaur (Amritsar), Harjit Sigh Bagri (Ludhiana), Karnail Singh (Mansa), Ranapreet Kaur (Fategarh Sahib), Dr Kuldeep Singh (Mansa), Bhupinder Kaur (Sangrur), Man Singh (Amritsar); elementary education: Amarjit Singh (Taran Taran), Amarjit Kaur Bhatti (Amritsar), Gurpreet Singh (Amritsar), Sarabjeet Singh (Tarn Taran), Varinderjit Kaur (Mansa) and Balram (Ludhiana).


Vidhan Sabha
Bill on violence against docs, nursing homes passed
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today came to the aid of doctors and other medical personnel in the state by bringing in a Bill to check violence against doctors and their supporting staff after the death of patients.

The Bill called the Punjab Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2008, was passed unanimously after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal put it before the House.

Doctors, owners of nursing homes and private hospitals had been demanding such a legislation for a long time now. The Bill provides for strict punishment to people who threaten, indulge in violence or damage property of medical institutions, including private clinics, nursing homes and hospitals.

Not a single legislator present in the House wanted to debate the Bill and passed it by a voice vote. Most legislators agreed with the Chief Minister who told the House that a growing number of incidents of violence had not only become a cause for concern, but was also hampering proper medical care.

As per the Bill, an offence committed against a doctor or a paramedic or a medical institution would be non-bailable and would be heard by a Judicial Magistrate, first class. The punishment in such offences could be imprisonment of upto one year or more or fine of upto Rs 50,000 or both.

The Vidhan Sabha also passed two other Bills, namely the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2008, and the Criminal Procedure Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2008. These two Bills were also presented by Chief Minister Badal and were passed without any debate.

Earlier, during the question hour on the second day of the monsoon session, various members drew attention towards the pollution caused by industry in Ludhiana that was disposing effluent into the Buddha Nullah, which was in turn contaminating the drinking water in many villages causing serious diseases.

Gurdip Singh Bhaini of the Congress first raised the issue. In reply the minister for water supply and sanitation Bikram Singh Majithia said the government had identified 55 villages that were seriously affected. Deep bore well were being put up here to provide clean drinking water. He said the government proposed to cover more villages under various schemes.

At this point Chief Minister Badal got up and assured the House that he was aware that “aqua life” was been affected by pollution and that his government was committed to provide clean drinking water to all. He disclosed that the World Bank had offered a scheme where unlimited money was available to villages for drinking water, provided the end user contributed 10 per cent towards the cost.

The contribution required was further reduced by five per cent in case of SC/ST population.


Manpreet owns responsibility for delay in clearance of file
Jangveer Singh/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal today owned responsibility for the delay in the financial clearance of a file, which resulted in the cancellation of speaker Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon’s tour to Malaysia to attend the Commonwealth Parliament conference in the first week of August.

The issue was raised during zero hour by Congress legislator Makhan Singh, who demanded that principal secretary, Finance, D.S. Kalha, be summoned and censured for delay in clearing the file.

The speaker while reacting to the issue explained that proceedings in the case were still going on. He said he had summoned the concerned officer since a breach of privilege was involved and directed him to furnish explanation in writing. However, while apparently reacting to a statement by Manpreet claiming that some “technical snag” was responsible for the late clearance, he said, “There was no technical snag”.

Following this the finance minister said, “Whatever has happened is because of me. I will come to your chamber and talk to you. Then you can take a decision”. After hearing this explanation, the speaker said, “If need be, we will take up the matter in the next session”.

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also spoke on the issue, following which the speaker said he would not allow the privilege and honour of any member be reduced in any way. He said any member could bring up such issues before him and that he would discuss them with the Chief Minister and also summon the concerned official for an explanation.

During zero hour, Congress legislator Brahm Mohindra raised the issue of lock out of the Pepsi plant at Channo in the Samana constituency.

Congress legislator Kanwaljit Singh Brar raised the issue of large-scale irregularities in elections to the Muktsar Municipal Committee. He said during nominations yesterday, the returning officer as well as the DC chose not to be present.

Congress legislator Gurpreet Singh Kangar highlighted alleged atrocities committed against Congress workers in his constituency of Rampura Phul. Former education minister Avtar Singh Brar urged the government not to resort to violence against teachers. Sunil Jakhar called for framing rules for allotment of panchayat land.



Dissent brewing against Sidhu
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
Voices of dissent are becoming shriller in the BJP even as senior leader Om Parkash Kalia has met national party president Rajnath Singh to express concern over the alleged interference by elected representatives, especially Navjot Singh Sidhu, party MP from Amritsar, in the formation of district units.

Talking to The Tribune, Kalia said though Sidhu was an honest and dedicated leader, he should not be allowed to “violate” the party’s “code” by promising coveted posts in the party to his favourites.

Kalia, in charge of the party for Hoshiarpur and Mukerian, also met Arun Jaitley and urged him to devote more time to Punjab politics to improve its position in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Kalia said he told Rajnath Singh that Sidhu should not take any decision prematurely that might harm party’s prospects in the elections.

He, however, said Sidhu was the most suitable candidate for the Amritsar parliamentary polls and he would work day and night to ensure that his victory margin got better.

Senior BJP leaders from Amritsar had been against the nomination of Col Amrik Singh (retd) as district BJP chief. However, Sidhu had made it a prestige issue to get Colonel Singh elected to the post. Balramji Dass Tandon too had criticised the appointment of Col Singh.

Senior party leaders from Amritsar have come in support of Kalia.


Batala all decked up for Guru Nanak’s marriage
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Batala, September 5
Three-day celebrations of the 521st marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first master of the Sikhs, kicked off here today with thousands of people leaving for Sultanpur Lodhi to join as members of a marriage party, which will reach here tomorrow.

Devotees have carried out a massive cleanliness drive in the town where Guru Nanak Dev got married to Bibi Sulakhni, daughter of Bhai Mula, a local resident, more than 500 years ago. The entire city has been decorated with flowers and street and chowks have been lighted up.

The occasion, locally known as “Babe Da Viah” (marriage of Guru Nanak Dev), is expected to be attended by lakhs of devotees drawn from all parts of the country.

Manjeet Singh, manager, Gurdwara Dera Sahib Satkartaria, where the marriage party of Guru Nanak had stayed while the marriage took place at Gurdwara Kand Sahib, said langars and akhand paths had been started. The “barat”, which would start from Sultanpur Lodhi, would be welcomed at the Achal Sahib gurdwara, he added.

The members of the marriage party will spend the night at religious places and private residences. In the morning, on September 7, a nagar kirtan will start from Gurdwara Dera Sahib Satkartaria and culminate at the same place.

The persons, who are managing the celebrations, said a number of diwans would be organised. The function would go on till the culmination of the nagar kirtan.

Naresh Arora, SSP, Batala, said around 1,500 policemen put on the round-the-clock duty in the town. Eight police assistance booths had been set up. The city had been divided into five sectors, each manned by a gazetted officer. Patrolling parties had been pressed into service to keep a check on the anti-social elements.

Meanwhile, traders have pitched up their tents on roadsides to sell their items, including toys, sweets, folk delicacies, religious literature, audio cassettes and CDs.


Skin diseases hit flood-ravaged dists
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 5
High incidence of skin diseases and drinking water are two major problems faced by people in the flood-ravaged area of Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts.

A team of doctors visiting the area told The Tribune that a large number of people, who have been walking across floodwaters in different villages, have complained of persisting itching. Many of them have been suffering from scabies caused by floodwater that has started stinking. People of affected villages have complained that the floodwater had a high quantum of chemicals that has led to skin problems. Breaches in the Sutlej, which is one of the most polluted rivers of the state, have caused floods in a vast area of Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts.

Villagers say there is one rivulet known as Chitti Bein. Most of the industrialists release untreated effluents from their units in that rivulet. Water of Chitti Bein flowed in the Sutlej, thus further enhancing the toxicity and chemical content in it and causing problems to people in flood-affected villages.

As swarms of mosquitoes have appeared on the sheet of stagnant floodwater at various places, people say they have apprehension that malaria will be another disease that will hit them in days to come. “Medical authorities should be vigilant in this regard,” said a young collegiate boy, who had raised several questions regarding the medical help provided by the Health Department in flood-affected villages.


Work suspended at PepsiCo plant in Channo
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
Due to the suspension of production by PepsiCo India at its plant at Channo village (near Bhawanigarh) in this district, thousands of potato growers are a worried lot nowadays as in present circumstances they are unable to understand whether Pepsi will purchase their next potato crop or not.

Following the conflict between the PepsiCo management and the workers union of the Channo plant over the issue of reinstatement of some suspended employees and one terminated employee due to the agitation by workers at the plant, the Pepsi management suspended production work.

After the suspension of production work, potato growers from all parts of the state have been feeling financially insecure.


Moga Sex Scam
CAT notice to govt
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
As no challan has been submitted by the CBI in the Moga sex scandal, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has issued a notice to the Punjab government to explain the reason for non-reinstatement of former Moga SSP Davinder Singh Garcha.

Garcha had been suspended following his arrest by the CBI on February 26 this year for his alleged involvement in the sex scandal. With no challan being submitted by the premier investigating agency in the case even after months of investigation, Garcha had appealed the tribunal to revoke his suspension. He further appealed to reinstate him as he had been selected to participate in the All-India Police Golf Tournament to be held in Kolkata on September 17.

Garcha was posted as the AIG, security, at the Punjab Police Headquarters when he was arrested and was granted bail in March. He had been part of the hockey team that participated in the Moscow Olympics.

Garcha and SP (Headquarters), Ropar, Paramjeet Singh were arrested in the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI had recovered Rs 4 lakh from Garcha’s house and Rs 2 lakh from Paramjeet’s residence. They were arrested following disclosures made by former SHO of Moga (city-I).


Engg colleges penalised
Deepkamal Kaur/Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 5
Penalties running into lakhs of rupees have been imposed by Punjab Technical University (PTU) on certain engineering colleges resorting to blatant violation of admission norms.

University officials have decided to charge the colleges with a tuition fee of one year for as many violations they committed in admission of students to various technical courses for the previous session 2007-08. The university has also decided to restrict the admission process to certain colleges directing them to conduct as many less admissions as was their excess intake last year so as to equalise the number of seats in two years.

Even as the orders to this effect are yet to be passed, principal secretary, Technical Education, and officiating vice-chancellor, PTU, Tejinder Kaur said a final decision to impose a fine of one-year tuition fee per student had been taken up. She said in case the colleges failed to pay up, they would have to face the students’ wrath later for their results would be withheld.

The officials have taken a note of nearly 60 cases of violations in admissions to BBA and BCA at Desh Bhagat Engineering College, Mandi Gobindgarh, 21 cases of B.Tech at the KC College of Engineering and Technology, Nawanshahr, and three cases of MCA at Lovely Institutes (in addition to five old cases of B.Tech).

The violations include conducting admissions in excess of the total number of seats sanctioned by the AICTE, not conducting due eligibility checks of admitted students (such as checking their marks sheets of plus II examination) and upgrading of seats of even the failed students.


Man rapes daughters
Kulwinder Sandhu/Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Mamdot (Ferozepur), September 5
A 62-year-old man from Lakhoke Baram village on the Indo-Pak border has been charged with sexually exploiting his daughters for the past 12 years.

The police has registered a criminal case under Sections 376 and 506, IPC, against him on the complaint of his wife, Dinesh Pratap Singh, SSP, Ferozepur district, said.

Gurinderjit Singh Sandhu, SHO, Mamdot police station, said Satya Rani broke her silence on Friday and came out openly against her husband’s barbaric acts to liberate her daughters and daughter-in-law from sexual exploitation at the hands of her husband.

In a statement recorded before the police, she revealed that her husband Karnail Singh used to rape their daughters. Karnail Singh, an ex-serviceman, and took voluntary retirement before joining an SBI bank branch as a guard here.

Their elder daughter had to face divorce on two occasions, finally ending up hope of leading a married life. She was forced to come back and stay in her parental house and was sexually exploited by her father, the mother told the police. 


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