P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Indictment of Amarinder by House Panel
Bhattal, Kaypee leave for Delhi to seek ‘guidance’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appears to be pushed into a corner with the chairman of the Vidhan Sabha Committee having indicted him for exempting 32.10 acres from acquisition in Amritsar, claiming he could be disqualified for six years even as senior Punjab Congress leaders left for Delhi to apprise the party high command of the entire affair.

Committee chairman Harish Rai Dhanda said today the House could take a decision to disqualify Amarinder for six years, simply expel him from the House, get a case registered in the matter or even keep the matter pending.

Dhanda, replying to charges of Amarinder that the exemption given by his government was part of the policy followed by the previous Parkash Singh Badal government, said there was no such policy.

He said the scheme, which was notified for 275 acres, lapsed following which in 1999 Amarjit Enclave, Mohan Vihar and Doctors Cooperative Society were allotted land on the condition that they went ahead in consultation with the Town and Country Planning Department.

He said the Improvement Trust framed a fresh scheme for 188 acres, which was notified in October 2001.

He said following this, the Congress government dissolved the trust and the scheme lapsed before being re-notified for 188 acres in December 2003.

The committee chairman said Amarinder should give his views on the issue in the Vidhan Sabha rather than claiming it was part of an earlier policy.

“If this is so why did he not raise this issue earlier and only talked about technical issues whether the committee could hold the inquiry or not”. On technical issues, Dhanda claimed the present Vidhan Sabha had formed the committee.

He said moreover the committee was not considering “the business of the previous House” like a Bill or a question but was dealing with a question that pertained to the conduct of its member on the issue of corruption and tampering with official records.

Dhanda said the committee had held an inquiry in a straightforward manner with even the Congress nominees nominated by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal took part in the proceedings.

“They, in fact, posed serious questions to the accused during the course of the investigation”, he added.

Urging Congress legislators to read the committee report before coming to the House on September 10, Dhanda said, “The complainant was a senior Congressman (Bir Devinder), the evidence was led by Congressmen and the witnesses were Congressmen or senior officers of the Amarinder regime”.

Meanwhile, CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and party’s acting president Mohinder Singh Kaypee left for Delhi to apprise the party high command of the issue.

Sources said they would put up the report of the committee before the party leadership and take “guidance” on how to take up the issue in the Assembly session on September 10.


Respect govt, Badal tells bureaucrats
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday warned bureaucrats and officers disregarding government directions.

Badal said, “My government will take a very serious view if officials do not respect sentiments of people appointed on boards and corporations”.

Badal was speaking at the installation of Narotam Dev Ratti and Madan Lal Bagga as chairman and vice-chairman of the Punjab State Traders’ Board.

He said the two had been given the status of Cabinet and state minister “not to please them, but because we want officials to know any recommendations made by them are binding on the government and their word has to be taken seriously”.

The Chief Minister’s caution assumes importance in light of the recent controversy involving Vidhan Sabha speaker N.S Kahlon and finance secretary D.S Kalha.

Kalha has been accused of stonewalling the speaker’s foreign tour to Malaysia.

The issue rocked the Vidhan Sabha session where many legislators protested against the behaviour of bureaucrats.

Badal assured that the traders’ genuine demands and problems would be looked into sympathetically and sorted out promptly. He told the traders to reciprocate this gesture and pay taxes honestly.

Ratti and Bagga said they would list the demands of the traders and submit these to the government for redress.

“The recommendations of the board are binding on the government,” Bagga said.

They said the board would assess the damage suffered by the hosiery, sheller and textile industry in the state and approach the government to help the traders.


Govt asks farmers to collect J-form
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Punjab government today appealed to farmers to obtain J-form from commission agents in support of having sold their produce to agents.

A spokesman of the government said keeping in view of the likelihood of bonus being announced by the Union government on the purchase of paddy, the farmers must obtain the J-form and ensure that their names were duly entered in official purchase registers of the Food and Supplies Department and the Punjab Mandi Board.

He said the department had made an appeal to the commission agents to issue J-form to the farmers so as to help the government in disbursement of bonus in the eventuality of its being announced by the Centre.


Ads make ground for Harsimrat’s ‘political debut’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 8
Has the Badal family started preparing ground for Harsimrat Kaur’s contest of the Lok Sabha elections either from Bathinda or Khadoor Sahib?

A debate on this issue has begun among Punjab’s political watchers. It seems the Badal family has inducted its daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur into politics.

In the past 10 days, the name and photos of Harsimrat, wife of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, have figured prominently in print-media advertisements related to state government functions.

Harsimrat’s photo was displayed prominently today in the advertisements inserted by the School Education Department in various newspapers.

She had been invited as a special guest at a state-level Teachers’ Day function.

Earlier she had been given a lot of publicity by the Punjab Pollution Control Board for the Nanhi-Chhaan programme held at Golden Temple in Amritsar last month.

In fact, there was nothing new in distribution of saplings as parsad.

Earlier, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Bhai Manjit Singh had distributed thousands of saplings in 1999 during the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa. Later, many saints followed the initiative started by him.

Harsimrat has been campaigning door to door for her husband in the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency.

It is said she was the brain behind party’s focused and aggressive advertisement campaign during the last Assembly elections.

She had headed a team of experts having an intense understanding of the media.

Political watchers say campaigning in elections and running the advertisement campaign is known to be a background activity in political arena.

To be chief guest at functions having social and political significance is obviously a frontline activity.

It is almost certain that Manpreet Singh Badal will not contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bathinda.

Harsimrat can be fielded as an SAD candidate from there in case Sukhbir decides to keep himself focused on campaigning during the elections all over the state.

Manpreet, who has won the Assembly elections for a fourth time from Gidderbaha, will not like to be first-timer junior-most MP.

He is said to be happy to gain wider experience of dealing with state-level issues as finance minister.

Bathinda is a Lok Sabha seat over which the Badal family would not like to lose

As Faridkot has become a reserve Lok Sabha constituency from where Sukhbir used to contest, he has been nursing Bathinda as an alternative to it.

Even his father’s Lambi Assembly segment is now part of the Bathinda Lok Sabha

Political watchers say Harsimrat can even be fielded from Khadoor Sahib. Her parents and brother Bikram Singh Majithia is well-known political family of the region.

Moreover, as Khadoor Sahib is a rural constituency, it is a safer Lok Sabha seat for any Akali candidate.


PU decision on distance M Phil hits many
Anjali Singh Deswal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 8
Many lecturers await their fate after being suspended in the wake of Panjab University’s decision against granting recognition to M Phil degrees done through distance education programmes of certain universities.

Jaspal Singh, a suspended physical education lecturer from the Guru Gobind Singh College of Education, did his M Phil from Alagappa University.

He could have barely served for a few months when the college authorities suspended him for possessing an “unrecognised” degree.

Recently, the President had passed an ordinance stating that a degree through distance education will be considered on a par with a regular degree. But, it seems that the PU has turned a deaf ear to it.

The vice-chancellor of PU, Prof R.C. Sobti, said: “The M Phil degree given by Alagappa University has no value. If the UGC recognises the degree, then we will also recognise it.”

Jaspal had sought an information under the RTI Act from Alagappa University that whether its distance learning programme was recognised by the UGC.

The university, in its reply, a copy of which is with The Tribune, states: “All programmes, including M Phil offered through distance mode of Alagappa University, are valid for all purposes as they have been duly approved by the standing committee on academic affairs and the Syndicate of the university and obviously, Alagappa University has been recognised by the UGC.”

“If PU was to pass a ruling about not recognising M Phil degree through distance education, then why did the college appoint me? They should have cleared their stand at the time of appointment only. They suspended me without explaining anything and when I contacted the university, they did not take note of it. It has been six months now since I was suspended,” rued Jaspal.


4 injured as sect followers clash
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda/Malout, September 8
At least four persons were injured in a bloody clash between followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan and Sikhs, here this evening.

According to unconfirmed reports, the sect was organizing a religious discourse for five days, from September 8-12 at a dharamshala in the town.

This irritated Sikh followers, who after holding meeting of various Sikh organisations in a local gurudwara, gave an ultimatum that they would not allow it in the town.

Sensing the gravity of the situation, the followers of the sect shifted the venue to their Dera at Tehsil road.

Late this evening, Sikh followers in large numbers moved towards their Dera to prevent the discourse, and there, both groups started pelting stones at each other.

The mob became so violent that they soon began firing in the air and at each other.

For at least half an hour, police remained a mute spectator, but later, the senior officials of the administration, took the initiative to resolve the matter.

To avoid any untoward incident, police did not even allow media persons to
go near the spot.

The power supply in the city tripped even as the firing was going on.

Tehsildar, Malout, Rohit Gupta, talking over phone, said, "We had tried our best to avoid the incident but today, both the parties became violent. They hurled stones at each other and even opened firing."

The Tehsildar, however, said he was not aware of the number of injured.

Till the filing of the report, the clash was continuing and no senior official of the district administration attended the phone call to confirm the facts.



Canadian paper gives hope to kids of drug addicts
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 8
The Parvasi, a Punjabi media group of Canada, has done a yeoman’s service in the eradication of drug addiction among the Punjabi youth there and won accolades from India and abroad.

Editor-in-chief of the Parvasi Radio and Publication Rajinder Saini is basically an electric engineer and had served the Punjab government for a long time before moving to Canada.

Talking to The Tribune today, Saini claimed that his newspaper was known in Punjabi community of Canada for its courageous journalism.

Parvasi was the first Punjabi newspaper in North America to change the face of Punjabi media from journalism of cut-and-paste to journalism of investigation.

Giving list of his other achievements, Saini said the newspaper won the accolade by highlighting the menace of poppy husk’s use among the youth.

He said poppy husk is a commonly used drug by the Punjabi youth there.

He said after highlighting the loopholes in the Canadian law in the columns of his newspaper, the Canadian agencies framed policies to include poppy husk in its anti-drug campaigns.

In 2007, the Parvasi was again awarded Best Ethnic Media Award for a story “Punjabi underworld”, he said.

The media group has visited the local Maqboolpura locality where the breadwinners of many families had died due to drug addiction.

Now, Saini has persuaded Canadians to adopt all 400 inmates of Citizen Forum Vidya Mandir, a school for the children of drug addicts, in Maqboolpura.

The Parvasi has extended financial help to 38 students of the school.

The Parvasi has announced that with the active help of NGOs of Canada, all 400 students of the school would be adopted by NRIs within two years.

Saini said his media group was committed to imparting quality education to the students of the school.

Saini said the Parvasi would arrange a meeting of donors and children once a year. Each NRI would keep record of the ward adopted by him/her.

Apart from sending financial support for their studies, the parents would keep in touch with the adopted child regularly.

He said he was motivated to adopt the children in response to a call given by Kiran Bedi, the first woman IPS officer of India during her recent visit to Canada.


Rights panel office-bearer seeks compensation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 8
Kripal Singh Randhawa, deputy chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, has served a legal notice on the state government and the Police Department for allegedly framing him in a false rape case.

Randhawa has demanded a compensation of Rs 50 lakh besides registration of a case under Section 500 of the IPC against IG Rajinder Singh and then SSP of Patiala Paramraj Singh Umranangal for falsely implicating him in an alleged rape case.

Randhawa had been acquitted by the sessions court of Patiala in an alleged rape case filed against him by Gurmeet Kaur at the behest of the IG and the SSP allegedly for pressurising him not to appear as a witness in the kidnapping and killing of human rights activist Jaswarnt Singh Khalra.

Randhawa said if the government failed to pay the damages and take action against the police officers within two months, he would be forced to move the court.


Helping addicts lead normal life
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 8
Surmukh Singh (name changed), a 13-year-old boy of Tibbar village of this district, who had remained hooked to drugs for a year, ultimately rid himself of the addiction at the local Red Cross De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre here.

Before he could be made strong enough to lead a normal life at the centre, he had left his family poorer by Rs 2 lakh. Now, he is leading a normal life.

Munish (name changed), whose three kin lost their lives to addiction, has been working as a trainer at the centre, training inmates in hardware, software, networking and mobile repair.

Before getting de-addicted at the centre, he had remained eyesore of his family, friends and relatives for his habit to take drugs.

Twentytwo-year-old youth Manik (name changed) became a robber to arrange enough cash to get his daily doses of drug.

He kept himself out of social activities as he was not able to face any one due
to his “misdeeds”.

However, a new chapter was added to their lives late last evening when they were honoured by none else than Cabinet minister Sucha Singh Langah for leading a normal life after shunning the world of addiction.

A big function, in which almost all dignitaries of the city participated, was organised by the centre to honour about 56 youths and others, who have got themselves de-addicted at the centre.

Romesh Mahajan, project director, said all inmates of the centre were given 1 kg of desi ghee apart from fruit and mementos.

He said the centre had treated about 10,000 addicts from Punjab and other states. He said de-addicted persons are imparted vocational training to start their ventures.

Mahajan said Langah had granted Rs 5 lakh for arranging food for the inmates free of cost. The minister also gifted a van to the centre.


SGPC panel accused of maryada violation
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 8
Special hospitality being accorded to members of an interim committee of the SGPC by the management committees of gurdwaras during official meetings has invited criticism from religious and political circles.

The members of the interim committee, including its chief Avtar Singh, have been accused of violating the maryada by not partaking langar along with the sangat.

However, Dalmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, denied the charges. He justified the special treatment to the members, saying that food and snacks were served to all at the meetings.

However, office-bearers of a few religious, social and political organisations of this area alleged that the members had been committing a virtual sacrilege to the institution of langar by eating specially prepared food on tables and chairs.

As per the maryada, food from the community kitchen has to be eaten in the
langar hall itself.

Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurvinder Singh Shampur, SGPC members, admitted that special dishes were prepared for VIPs and served on tables.

But they claimed that they had never enjoyed special hospitality at any gurdwara.

“Rather we have been opposing the malpractice,” said Panjoli, admitting that majority of the interim committee members had partaken langar on tables at gurdwara Degsar at Katani Sahib on Friday evening.

Dishes prepared for members of the committee were not served in common langar on that particular day.

Amarjit Singh Sidhu, a Sikh scholar, maintained that the trend deceived the basic concept of community kitchen.

“It is an undisputed fact that the langar was started to inculcate sense of equality among Sikhs and those visiting the gurdwaras. When we prepare different dishes for VIPs and serve them at a separate place, it tantamount to sacrilege of the sacred institute of community kitchen,” Sidhu held.

Blaming SGPC president and other office-bearers for chaotic functioning of the religious body, Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (A) supremo, demanded that the body should be disbanded.


BSP to go alone in LS polls
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 8
Predicting an early election for the Lok Sabha, the BSP has decided to go all alone and field its candidates for all 13 seats in the state.

This was stated by Narinder Kashyap, national general secretary of the party, while addressing a district-level rally under the Jan Hit Chetna Andolan.

The party has already announced candidates for seven seats. Party leader Babu Kanshi Ram appealed to the youth to become a part of the movement.


Babe da viah concludes
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Batala, September 8
The three-day celebrations of 521st marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev concluded with a nagar kirtan (religious procession) at Dera Sahib Gurdwara here late last night.

Dera Sahib Gurdwara was built at the place where stood the house of Mul Chand, father of Bibi Sulakhni, wife of Guru Nanak Dev.

Another gurdwara was built on the site where the marriage party of Guru Nanak Dev took rest for some time before proceeding towards the house of Mul Chand, a revenue official.

The gurdwara is known as Kandh Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev married Bibi Sulakhni in 1487 and simple ceremonies were observed for the marriage.

A nagar kirtan led by Panj Piaras and palki (palanquin) carrying Guru Granth Sahib, which started from Dera Sahib Gurdwara passed through the city and culminated at the same gurdwara.

Gatka by a team of Nihangs (beloved Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh) marked the occasion. The town, which was decorated with lights and flowers, also witnessed fireworks and exploding of crackers.

A sea of humanity, which converged on this town from India and abroad, scrambled for a glimpse of the palki on the occasion. The devotees showered petals on the nagar kirtan, besides chanting the Gurbani.

The nagar kirtan reflected the age-old culture of secularism of Punjab as people regardless of caste and religion set up welcome arches, stalls of eatables and distributed sweets on the occasion.

Politicians of all hues and representatives of social and voluntary organisations also participated in the celebrations.

The baraat (marriage party) of Guru Nanak Dev, first Guru of the Sikhs, had left Sultanpur Lodhi for this town at 7.30 am from Ber Sahib Gurdwara on Saturday.

The baraat, which was awaited by the devotees reached here late on Saturday night. Thousands of residents of this town left for Sultanpur Lodhi on September 5 to join the baraat.


Departmental recruitment of doctors opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The senior Punjab Civil Medical Service Association (PCMSA) yesterday welcomed the unanimous Assembly resolution to pass the Punjab Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions Bill.

However, it opposed the government move to recruit 147 specialist medical officers through the Departmental Selection Committee, on a meagre pay scale of Rs 7,880-13,500 per month.

According to the press statement issued by the association, the senior PCMSA said similar legislation needed to be implemented at the national level.

However, the association said the recent government decision to recruit doctors through the departmental committees was a devaluation of the postgraduate degrees of MD/MS and virtual de-recognition of MBBS degree.

State general secretary D.C. Sharma said the specialist doctors had already spent more than three extra years after MBBS in attaining the postgraduate degree.

At the same time, the MBBS doctors were being denied their right for recruitment as the specialist medical officers, for whom the basic qualification under the Medical Council of India (MCI) rules was MBBS and not MD/MS, he added.

The association said if the Punjab government was interested in making direct recruitment of the specialist doctors, it should first amend rules of PCMS-I cadre.

The association also demanded that the Health Department should take back the control of 1,310 rural dispensaries transferred to the zila parishads earlier in 2006, where the zila parishads had posted doctors on contract basis.

It said the government should fill over 1,500 posts of medical officers on merit basis.


Award for Tribune journalist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Staff correspondent of The Tribune Kulwinder Sandhu has been selected for the International Achiever’s Award in journalism.

It will be presented to him at the international achievers summit in Bangkok on September 20.

He has been selected for this award for outstanding contribution towards progress and development of the Indian economy by highlighting the socio-economic and environment issues of tribal people of Kinnaur (HP) through the print media.


Punjab to have surplus power by 2011: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 8
The Akali government is committed to make Punjab a power-surplus state. By 2011, the state would have the capacity to provide around 25,000 MW of power.

This was stated today by the SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal while laying the foundation stones of two housing projects here.

As per the blueprint on power generation prepared by the government, mega power plants had been cleared at Rajpura, Goindwal Sahib and Gidderbaha.

Badal junior said apart from increasing the generation capacity, the state had tied up with different power plants across the country to get power for next 25 years.

Cheap power would be available as compared to expensive power being purchased from outside the state.

He said since the state was landlocked, providing best infrastructure was the key to its success. Keeping this in mind, providing air connectivity was the best alternative. Apart from getting the International airport at Mohali cleared by the Centre, upgradation of airports at Sahnewal, Ludhiana and Bathinda were also in the pipeline. Besides, flying schools at Talwandi Sabo, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Anandpur Sahib would also be operational soon, he claimed.

The flying schools would provide connectivity between the main airports and the smaller towns.

Claming that the express highway between Pathankot and Ajmer had been cleared, the SAD chief said it would shorten the distance between Ludhiana and Mumbai by 300 km and save two days of travelling by cargo to reach the seaports.

Encouraging private builders to invest in the state was a part of the infrastructure development, he said.


High Court
Inspection of ayurvedic colleges scanned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The inspection of ayurvedic colleges in Punjab has come under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner.

In petitions filed before the high court, some of the colleges have accused the inspecting teams of seeking bribe from the institutes.

Taking serious note of allegations while taking up a petition filed by Jalandhar-based Dayanand Ayurvedic College and the DAV College Management Committee, the Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia today directed the appointment of a three-member committee for carrying out the inspection of at least 11 such colleges in the state.

The committee, headed by advocate Deepak Sibbal, is expected to report on the available infrastructure in institutes, including faculty, students and patients.

The other two members are Haryana deputy director, Ayurdeva, R.K. Malik and his Chandigarh counterpart Madan Gulati. Haryana and Chandigarh were asked to permit the officials for carrying out the inspections.

Fixing October 20 as the next date of hearing, the Bench asked the committee to submit its report by October 15.

The judges also directed the Union of India and other respondents to include the institutes for the purpose of counselling.

Earlier during the hearing, counsel for the petitioner contended institutes run by organisations of repute in education had been declined permission for admission, while seven other institutes run by private societies had been granted permission. The others, it was added, were not having better infrastructural facilities.


7 IAS, 1 PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Punjab government today transferred and posted 7 IAS officers and one PCS officer, a spokesman of the government said.

Surjit Singh, deputy commissioner of Mansa, had been posted as Fatehgarh Sahib deputy commissioner in place of Ashok Kumar Singla.

Kumar Rahul, additional secretary, Health and Family Welfare, was posted as Mansa deputy commissioner.

Vijay Namdeorao Zade, Bathinda ADC (Development) would be the Patiala additional excise and taxation commissioner against a vacant post.

Roopnagar SDM Kavita Mohan Singh Chouhan posted as Ropar ADC (Development) relieving the departmental officer, while Shruti Singh, Chamkaur Sahib SDM, had been transferred as Bathinda ADC (Development) and Gurtej Singh, PCS, joint secretary-cum-joint director, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, had been posted as Rajpura SDM relieving Gurmit Singh of this additional charge.

He said orders of posting of Ashok Kumar Singla would be issued separately. Ajoy Sharma, IAS, had been posted as special secretary, Irrigation, and in addition special secretary, Power, vice Alok Shekhar, IAS, whose services had been placed at the disposal of the government of India, Department of Civil Aviation, with immediate effect.


Two held with fake currency
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 8
Acting on a tip-off, the district police today seized fake currency of Rs 85,000 from two persons identified as Balkar Singh of Dhianpur and Yadwinder Singh of Khalchian.

Two of their accomplices Surjit Singh and Sabi, both brothers, managed to escape before the arrival of the police at their residence at Chung village where they used to manufacture fake currency.

A computer was recovered from their house. The police has registered a case under Section 489-A, B, C, IPC, at the city police station here.

Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, in a press note said a police party of special staff was holding a naka at Jhabal bypass chowk when they received information that the four above mentioned persons had formed a gang of manufacturing and supplying the fake currency in various areas of the city.

The police raided and detained Balkar and Yadwinder with the fake notes. During interrogation they revealed the names of Surjit and Sabi.


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