Law and Order Situation
Chandigarh, September 10
Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal led the walkout, saying her party was not ready to listen to “useless” assurances given by the Chief Minister. Earlier, Bhattal was the first to rise up during zero hour to raise a number of issues.
These included “the murder of democracy” in Muktsar during the municipal committee election nominations. She claimed the nomination papers of Congress workers were not entertained under a deliberate conspiracy. She also claimed that more than 500 poor families were evicted without making any alternative arrangement for them in Bathinda. Besides she highlighted the murder of Tallanwala village sarpanch in Barnala district, who was a Congress candidate for the post of sarpanch of the village, thrashing of a pregnant woman of Gill village in Faridkot district, which led to the abortion of her child and inability of the government to construct a bridge over the Ghaggar on the Moonak - Tohana road despite the fact that a scheme in this regard had been cleared by Nabard more than a year ago.
CM Parkash Singh Badal, while replying on these issues, said some issues like the eviction of poor families at Bathinda and thrashing of a pregnant woman were not in his knowledge, but he would seek a report on both of them. He said the government would take action against those responsible for this.
Bhattal, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the reply, saying the Chief Minister was treating all issues casually and had not disclosed whether any action would be taken against the negligent officials in these cases. She led the Congress legislators out of the house, shouting slogans against the government.
Congress leaders to fight it out
Chandigarh, September 10
“A united Congress will take to both political and legal recourse to undo what has been done in violation of rules of business of the legislature,” said union minister of state for industries Ashwani Kumar.
Umrao Singh, who was declared one of best parliamentarians of Punjab at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, described the expulsion of Amarinder Singh as a “bad precedent”.
Talking to The Tribune over the phone, he said the procedure adopted in expelling Amarinder Singh was in violation of the Rules of Business.
The expulsion of a member could not be taken up unless the issue was on the agenda of the House. “Though the Assembly, in its amended agenda, mentioned the motion by Harish Rai Dhanda on the House Committee report, it did not mention substantive motion moved by parliamentary affairs minister (Rule 180) in taking action on the report.
Besides, said Umrao Singh, this had set a “bad precedent making all politicians vulnerable to being expelled any time for any action taken during their political career”.
“This expulsion will not stand the test of legal scrutiny,” he added.
I didn’t nail Capt: Ex-Trust chief
Amritsar, September 10
On the issue of the paid advertisement in a section of print media, Ratna said she had never made any reference to corruption against the former Chief Minister. She also stated that the statement purported to her was devoid of facts and misleading. The former chairperson said her statement was distorted to present a false picture. She also stated that Amarinder had never talked to her on the subject during her tenure as the chairman of the trust from June 13, 2003, to September 9, 2004.
Ratna pointed out that during her chairmanship, she got the 188-acre scheme notified and got its plans approved. She said she would not be able to comment on the subject and what happened afterwards, as she had quit the post on September 9. Describing the advertisement as defamatory, the former chairperson said whoever had released the advertisement should also issue a clarification to clear her name in this matter.
Rural candidates face uphill task
Jalandhar, September 10
The department has invited applications from candidates to recruit 168 excise and taxation inspectors. The last date to apply for these posts is September 15. The selection for these posts will be based on a written examination to be conducted in English.
“The question paper will be provided in English and will have 150 questions, each carrying one mark,” say the conditions laid down by the department for making the selection. The question paper will be divided into four parts and will have no section related to Punjabi.
The first section of the question paper will be of general English of 25 marks and the second of general knowledge of equal marks. The third section will be related to mental ability, carrying 50 marks and the fourth will be related to mathematical skills, again of 50 marks. The mathematics paper will be of the matric level. Everything will be in English and nothing in Punjabi.
Candidates from rural areas will, obviously, be at a great disadvantage to deal with the paper in English. In rural schools and in almost all government schools, students are taught mathematics in the Punjabi medium. That means students from rural areas and government schools will not be able to even understand the question paper of mathematics given to them in English.
The selection process is highly loaded against the rural candidates.
Another example is working experience in computers as part of the qualification. It is mandatory for candidates “to possess at least 120 hours working experience in the use of personal computer or information technology in office productivity applications or desk top publishing applications from a government-recognised institution or a reputed institution which is ISO 9001 certified”.
How many institutions are ISO 9001 certified in Punjab no one knows.
And whether these are located all over Punjab or at a few select places is a question difficult to answer. There are several private institutions running courses in computer applications, but these are not recognised by the government. That means only limited candidates who have passed diploma course or engineering degree etc will be eligible to apply.
Aspirants for the posts say that as inspectors are supposed to deal with common traders and business, they should be more proficient in Punjabi than English. Secondly, as law has been passed to work in Punjabi, the selected inspectors will have little to do with English and more to do with Punjabi. They say there was no application of mind while framing qualifications to recruit inspectors. The selected candidates can be trained in three or four weeks in the application of computers the way the authorities of the department wanted.
They say that qualifications have been determined in such a way that candidates from rural areas get no opportunity to get selected as inspectors.
Medical Mess in Punjab
Faridkot, September 10
The location of the college remains the same and the same sheds connected to each other with cemented corridors house the various departments of the college. One shed houses the library. The false roofs of these sheds are sagging and leaking at many places. The sorry state of the college infrastructure leaves a visitor wondering how the Medical Council of India allowed such a thing to go on for three decades.
Even during the last inspection, the MCI team pointed out that there were not enough research laboratories or books and these deficiencies had been highlighted again and again but there has been no compliance.
“We have already given Rs 70 crore to the college to establish new building which is our first priority,” said secretary, Medical Education and Research, Jagjit Puri.
The shocking state of infrastructure is just the beginning of the story. The college had, till very recently, only 50 teachers against requirement of 187. The shortage of teaching staff was as high as 35 per cent and shortage of residents was over 27 per cent.
In November 2006, the Punjab government handed over the college to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences as the University Grants Commission makes its essential for a university to have a campus college.
But despite the shift, the university authorities have had to fight the government for even small changes. “First we freed ourselves from the limiting recruitment rules being followed by the government. The government binds its colleges that teaching staff can be taken only from among those who in the Punjab Civil Medical Service (PCMS). This limits their choice a lot. We asked for eligible teaching staff from among the PCMS which filled some posts but have been employed directly,” said P.L. Garg, coordinator of the university. Most of the medium and entry-level vacant posts have thus been filled but the vacuum at the level of the professors remains.
The hospital though housed in a proper building across the road was found deficient in many services by the MCI team. They highlighted the grave lack of facilities for laboratory investigations and faltering bed occupancy. The bed occupancy was as low as 48 per cent. The hospital did not have its own kitchen. A large part of what was designed as the OPD area of the hospital is being used to house Baba Farid University. “Till the university gets its own building there is no way the OPD area can be vacated,” said an official.
“But we have tried to improve hospital services. The hospital is not located on the main road nor is Faridkot a very populated district. Still efforts are on to attract patients. We started the CT scan facility recently, a physiotherapy centre, a radiotherapy unit and also increased the numbers of beds in the emergency. The bed occupancy has gone up from 250 patients daily to about 750,” claimed the college principal Dr P.S. Sandhu.
(To be concluded)
Sukhbir: SAD has nothing to do with Capt’s indictment
Goniana (Bathinda), September 10
Denying his party’s involvement in the indictment of Amarinder Singh, he said: “The scandal was exposed by the Congress itself. The committee was then formed with the consent of their party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. The committee further examined around 25 persons and then declared Amarinder and his associates guilty.”
Sukhbir was here on a foundation stone-laying spree. Publicly elected representatives have apparently been ignored during the foundations stone-laying ceremonies in Bathinda. When questioned on the issue, Sukhbir parried the query saying these projects were worth crores and necessitated the presence of some senior person.
Denying that the democracy was being stifled in the Muktsar Municipal Council elections where the nomination papers of Congress and Independent candidates were reportedly torn off by SAD workers, he said: “We have video footage of the time when Congress leader Karan Kaur Brar, wife of MLA Sunny Brar, was sitting with officials and despite given extra time none of her party men came to file the documents.” He added: “I have come to know that in the Moga MC elections, Congress workers have refused to contest on their party symbol.”
Coming down heavily on anti-SAD organisations, he named Simranjeet Singh Mann, president, SAD (A), and Ravi Inder Singh, president, Akali Dal 1920, of being hand-in-glove with the Congress and adopting a Congress agenda for duping the Sikhs.”
SAD rubbishes Amarinder’s claim
Chandigarh, September 10 He said the House judgement was also a proof of the fact that the former Chief Minister’s anti-corruption drive was nothing more than an attempt to divert people’s attention from the massive corruption that he had himself been indulging in as the Chief Minister. “The wheel has come a full circle for the man who resorted to cheap theatricals as the Chief Minister on the issue of corruption. From false bravado and sloganeering as the Chief Minister then to petty breast-beating as a befallen leader now, it is quite a fall for Capt Amarinder Singh,” he said. Majithia said all witnesses against Capt Amarinder Singh in this corruption case were also Congressmen.
Chandigarh, September 10
He said the House judgement was also a proof of the fact that the former Chief Minister’s anti-corruption drive was nothing more than an attempt to divert people’s attention from the massive corruption that he had himself been indulging in as the Chief Minister.
“The wheel has come a full circle for the man who resorted to cheap theatricals as the Chief Minister on the issue of corruption. From false bravado and sloganeering as the Chief Minister then to petty breast-beating as a befallen leader now, it is quite a fall for Capt Amarinder Singh,” he said.
Majithia said all witnesses against Capt Amarinder Singh in this corruption case were also Congressmen.
‘Ishmeet got threatening SMS a few days before death’
Ludhiana, September 10
Claiming that Ishmeet was murdered, the family said they saw the message only after scanning his phone a few days ago. It was received a week before his death.
Seeking a CBI probe into his death, his father Gurpinder Singh and uncle Dr C.K. Singh named three persons for the crime claiming they had narrowed down on the three on the basis of a fact-finding tour to the Maldives. They also claimed that the Maldives police had agreed to re-investigate the case. The police earlier had declared the death as an accident.
Ishmeet's father and uncle said they suspected a girl, Richa (unknown to the family), Sanjit Shah of Star Plus and Hassan Ishaan of Next Group of a hanky- panky leading to the alleged murder.
“We don't know the girl. The inbox of Ishmeet's mobile had an SMS dated July 22 by one Richa,” said Gurpinder. The SMS read, “Gud mng. Ek baat batao tmhe sharam nahi aati hai. No. dekh ke kaat dete ho. Aisa kyo krte ho tum. VOI bn ne ka itna ghamand mat kro ye jyada din tak nhi rhega”. Ishmeet had saved the number as Richa H cousin.
They alleged their probe into sequence of events revealed that Hassan booked a secluded resort for the musical show while specially paying extra expenses for Ishmeet for his early arrival at the island.
They said the statement of the witnesses recorded by the Maldives police and the Indian High Commission were contradictory. While Vyom told the commission he, Ishmeet and Arunima went inside the pool, he told Maldives police that he and Arunima only went to the pool side with Ishmeet.
“He was killed. We want a thorough probe. We are writing to the Prime Minister with all details today,” said his father.
Language Bills passed
Chandigarh, September 10
The Assembly also passed the Punjab Learning of Punjabi and other Languages’ Bill that makes study of Punjabi compulsory till class X in all schools of the state. The Punjab Value Added Tax (Second Amendment) Bill and the Punjab Value Added Tax (Third Amendment) Bill also got the nod.
The Punjab Official Language (Amendment) Bill drew praise from the House even though there were attempts by Congress legislator Ajitinder Singh Mofar to revive discussion on the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab as well as transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas while speaking on a point of order.
Congress legislator Sukhpal Singh Khair took out the 1981 enumeration status report to claim that the BJP was behind the move under which many people had registered their language as Hindi and not Punjabi.
The SAD-BJP, however, snubbed discussion on both issues. Two important interventions on the Bill were that of finance minister Manpreet Badal and Congress legislator Makhan Singh. The finance minister said there had been a deliberate attempt by invaders to foist Urdu in the region. Makhan Singh said there was a time when languages were clubbed with religion, but the Bill made it clear this was not so. He urged education minister Upinderjit Kaur to include representatives from the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha in the committee being formed to monitor implementation of the Bill.
Upinderjit, on the suggestions of the members, moved a proposal that the state Advocate-General as well as two Punjabi writers, two representatives of recognised Sahit Sabhas and three from the press be included in the committee. These suggestions were approved by the House.
During discussions, Upinderjit admitted that 90 per cent of schoolchildren were promoted only till class V. She also admitted that under the present policy if a student cleared four out of the five subjects in class X Board examinations, he was declared as having passed the examination. She said she would suggest to the school education board to review this policy.
BAMS Docs Recruitment
Ludhiana, September 10
As many as 800 applicants had appeared for the examination conducted by the Directorate of Ayurveda, Government of Punjab, at Nehru Sidhant Kender in Ludhiana today for the 121 posts of contractual doctor in rural dispensaries of Punjab.
The examination was scheduled in two batches, but there was a delay in the conduct of both groups. The candidates alleged that the scheduled time for the first batch was 9 am, but it started at 11.30 am followed by further delay of five hours in the conduct of the exam for the second batch.
The candidates termed ‘paper leakage’ as the reason behind the delay in the examination, adding that the department bought time to get a new set of papers.
However, the director, Ayurveda, denied the allegations stating that there was no paper leakage. In what could be termed as a complete paradox, the department had fixed '60' as the age limit for the applicants, which happens to be the age for retirement from services.
University professors in dock
Amritsar, September 10
Earlier, too GND varsity had indicted a former Dean (Colleges) for claiming excessive TA/DA bills from various educational institutes of Delhi. According to sources, both teachers were deputed by the vice-chancellor as subject experts for selecting candidates at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management and Technology and Guru Arjun Dev Institute of Information and Technology on August 12-13. The vice-chancellor’s nominees were also deputed for this purpose.
However, following a tip-off that the senior professors had taken excessive TA/DA from the respective institutes by providing wrong information, the vice-chancellor constituted a high-level inquiry committee comprising Dr M.S Dhillon, Dean (Colleges); Dr B.R. Batra and Dr Gurnam Singh, professor and head of School of Social Sciences.
The inquiry committee has submitted a detailed preliminary report to the vice-chancellor for further action. However, when contacted, the vice-chancellor said it was premature to comment on the preliminary report.
According to sources, during the inquiry proceedings one of the professors refused to give written reply to the sub-committee saying he should be supplied the copy of the complaint first. He, however, verbally told the committee that his signatures were “forged” by the Delhi-based institute and he had not taken airfare. It is alleged that the professor had claimed “double TA/DA” from both Delhi-based educational institutes. However, he reportedly told the inquiry committee that he had to come back to Amritsar the same day after conducting interview of candidates in Delhi as his father was hospitalised. He further claimed that on August 13 he again went to Delhi by car to conduct interviews in another educational institute.
The other professor also claimed innocence and reportedly told senior officials of the university that a “false complaint” had been lodged against him.
Two GND varsity directors resign
Amritsar, September 10 They seem to have resigned following the joining of Dr Parminder Singh and Dr Satish Kumar
Verma, professors of English and economics, respectively, as professor in charge of PR and Press and Publication departments. Dr Gurnam Singh, professor and head of social sciences, took over the charge of professor in charge (Examinations).
Amritsar, September 10
They seem to have resigned following the joining of Dr Parminder Singh and Dr Satish Kumar Verma, professors of English and economics, respectively, as professor in charge of PR and Press and Publication departments.
Dr Gurnam Singh, professor and head of social sciences, took over the charge of professor in charge (Examinations).
9/11 Hate Crime
Passiewal (Bholath), September 10
One of the victims of hate crime was Balbir Singh Sodhi (49), resident of Passiewal village near Bholath. He was gunned down in Mesa, Arizona, at a gas station by a man who later confessed killing Balbir because he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban”.
Recalling those disturbing days, Jagjit Singh Sodhi, brother of Balbir and president of NRI Sabha, Kapurthala, said: “Before killing Balbir, the killer followed him for four days and asked him whether he was a Sikh or a Muslim. Balbir was brutally murdered by the Americans. It was then that the Sikhs came on streets and felt the need to tell the Whites about the origin of their community.”
“Our days began on streets and ended in gurdwaras discussing how well we can convince the Whites that the Sikhs are a separate community. We wanted to tell people that the Sikh community has nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and in the end we were not alone as many American advocacy groups also joined hands with us,” Jagjit said. He added that, however, now the conditions were changing for the better.
Before the Sodhi family could overcome the loss of Balbir, they were made to face yet another tragedy. This time it was Sukhpal Singh Sodhi (47), younger brother of Balbir, who was shot dead on August 4, 2002.
Parwinder Kaur, wife of Sukhpal, said: “We were already undergoing a very bad phase when this tragedy took place. Hell broke loose when my husband was also made a victim of hate crime. The Sikhs ran from pillar to post to get shelter in gurdwaras, but the Americans attacked them there as well.”
“It was a harrowing experience not only for us, but for the entire Sikh community. Every day Sikhs were being beaten, tortured and killed. They faced the wrath of the Americans and this continued for almost a year,” she said.
At present, the family of Balbir is settled in Phoenix, Arizona. Though he got a plush bungalow constructed at his native village before the 9/11 attacks, Balbir was not destined to live in it. Parwinder went to the US once after the death of her husband, but she laments: “Nothing is left there for me now.”
Sangrur, September 10 SAD (A) general secretary Jeet Singh Alloarkh said today that his party was worried over the reported decision of the PepsiCo India to shift from Channo. He said it would be harmful for the state’s economy and local people, small businessmen, truck operators, labourers and farmers of the area. He said the SAD (A) was for the middle path to protect the interests of the workers and the factory. Alloarkh said his party would not allow the shifting of PepsiCo factory from Channo. He said as the state government had failed to solve this problem, so his party had decided to intervene. Theworkers of the PepsiCo factory,Channo, have been protesting against the suspension of 12 employees and sack of one employee of the plant for more than three weeks. The factory management has suspended production and was said to be thinking of shifting plant from Channo.
Sangrur, September 10
SAD (A) general secretary Jeet Singh Alloarkh said today that his party was worried over the reported decision of the PepsiCo India to shift from Channo. He said it would be harmful for the state’s economy and local people, small businessmen, truck operators, labourers and farmers of the area. He said the SAD (A) was for the middle path to protect the interests of the workers and the factory.
Alloarkh said his party would not allow the shifting of PepsiCo factory from Channo. He said as the state government had failed to solve this problem, so his party had decided to intervene. Theworkers of the PepsiCo factory,Channo, have been protesting against the suspension of 12 employees and sack of one employee of the plant for more than three weeks. The factory management has suspended production and was said to be thinking of shifting plant from Channo.
Immolation bid by ‘absentee’ MC employee,
Patiala, September 10
The attempt was foiled by vigilant MC officials, who came to the rescue of the kerosene-drenched family.
MC officials went into a tizzy when they saw Ravi Kumar, a sewerman, rushing towards the front gate of the MC building along with his wife, two minor sons and two daughters.
Afterwards, he stepped inside the gate, started shouting that his life was ruined by one of his seniors. He pulled out a can and poured kerosene over himself, his wife Anita and the children.
The policemen attached with the MC caught hold of Ravi and his family members and pushed them aside onto the lawns just before Ravi could set himself afire.
Ravi kept shouting that he was victimised by one of the junior engineers and that he had not got his salary for the past about four months.
Ravi, according to MC sources, had been absent for the past three months, and was issued a show-cause notice by the SDO concerned.
MC commissioner-cum-Patiala division commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia reached the spot, along with senior officials, and tried to pacify an agitated Ravi.
“Prima facie there are no genuine grudges of Ravi Kumar, as not only he has been absent from duty for over three months, but he had never met me or any other senior MC official about his complaints,” said Ahluwalia, who got Ravi arrested for the suicide bid.
Earlier, Ravi’s wife Anita, had shot off a letter to local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, alleging that her husband was being victimised by the junior engineer.
“My husband has not got his salary for four months on one or other pretext. Since Ravi was also doubling as an orchestra party member in his spare time, the JE had been threatening him with dire consequences in case he failed to arrange an orchestra girl for him. At one time, the JE had demanded bribe of Rs 10,000 from him. Despite my complaints, no action has been taken against the JE, which forced us to take this extreme step,” alleged a sobbing Anita.
Funds for green education
Mohali, September 10
To sensitise students, it is necessary to educate teachers. For this purpose, the state government has selected the Punjab School Education Board to bring out books. In this connection, a state-level seminar was organised for educationists from all over the state at the board’s headquarters here today.
Prof Ranjeet Singh Bajwa, vice-chairman of the board, in his address, stated that many states had submitted proposals to the union ministry, but only Punjab had been selected.
He said the grant for the project had been given to the board for educating teachers on environment education by way of publication of a handbook. Prof Bajwa informed that Shruti Shukla, a senior scientific officer of the board, was working on the project.
Under the project, Shruti Shukla would get a hand book published for teachers to simplify the teaching of environmental education and introduce new teaching skills and methodology.
Chandigarh, September 10
With the orders, the protection of three-day advance notice granted to Chahal will not remain in force.
Moving the court against orders passed on August 29, the state had contended that the same order amounted to blanket bail and no accused could seek anticipatory bail in case which was yet to come into existence. The order was not in consonance with the law settled by the high court and the apex court in such matters.
Moga residents accuse police of harassment
Moga residents Surinder Singh and two others today accused the police of harassing them at the instance former minister Tota Singh, his son Barjinder Singh and Gulwinder Singh Bawa, who is SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar’s son-in-law. The petitioners claimed they were contesting the elections from ward number four of Moga municipal council and pressure was on them to withdraw from the contest. The high court has issued notice of motion on the petition. They have also sought directions to the Moga deputy commissioner and others to ensure free and fair elections to the municipal council.
Moga residents Surinder Singh and two others today accused the police of harassing them at the instance former minister Tota Singh, his son Barjinder Singh and Gulwinder Singh Bawa, who is SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar’s son-in-law.
The petitioners claimed they were contesting the elections from ward number four of Moga municipal council and pressure was on them to withdraw from the contest. The high court has issued notice of motion on the petition.
They have also sought directions to the Moga deputy commissioner and others to ensure free and fair elections to the municipal council.
Notice to Virk
Taking up an application filed by Punjab for cancelling the bail granted to the state’s former police chief S.S. Virk in a disproportionate assets case, Justice H.S. Bhalla today issued notice to him for September 19. Virk was arrested on September 8 last year from Maharsahtra Sadan, New Delhi, in connection with the case registered by the state vigilance bureau. But, he was admitted to the PGI here the evening he was brought from Delhi. He was granted bail on October 31, 2007. The state counsel said notices had been sent to him respectively on June 2 and July 18 to appear before the investigating agency on June 10 and July 25. But the respondent did not appear. The information about the notice was given to the security guards at Virk’s residence, as he was not present on both the occasions.
Taking up an application filed by Punjab for cancelling the bail granted to the state’s former police chief S.S. Virk in a disproportionate assets case, Justice H.S. Bhalla today issued notice to him for September 19.
Virk was arrested on September 8 last year from Maharsahtra Sadan, New Delhi, in connection with the case registered by the state vigilance bureau. But, he was admitted to the PGI here the evening he was brought from Delhi. He was granted bail on October 31, 2007.
The state counsel said notices had been sent to him respectively on June 2 and July 18 to appear before the investigating agency on June 10 and July 25. But the respondent did not appear. The information about the notice was given to the security guards at Virk’s residence, as he was not present on both the occasions.