P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal targets Capt’s home turf
To hold sangat darshan programmes in Patiala today
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
Under an apparently well-planned strategy to push the already beleaguered former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh further to the wall, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has hurriedly chalked out holding of a string of sangat darshan programmes in the former’s home constituency here tomorrow.

It will be the first time since the SAD-BJP alliance assumed power in 2007 that Badal will be holding sangat darshan programmes at such a big level in any city of Punjab.

Earlier, he had been holding similar, but small-scale programmes at Chandigarh or on his home turf in Lambi. Sangat darshan had remained the favourite “poll plank” of Badal during his last term as Chief Minister.

He is scheduled to hold as many as 10 such programmes on Sunday in 10 wards of Patiala, all falling in Amarinder’s constituency.

The programme, it is learnt, will take off at 8.30 am and continue till 5 pm.

During his whirlwind trip, Badal is likely to issue hefty grants for development works with an eye on votes in the forthcoming parliamentary polls and particularly to initiate a direct rapport with people of Patiala, especially when Amarinder stands disqualified as an MLA from Patiala.

Patiala mayor and senior SAD leaders, it is learnt, had specifically been summoned to Chandigarh on Saturday with directions to form lists of proposed or pending development works in the wards to be visited by the Chief Minister.

Patiala seems to be the first city of Punjab about which the Chief Minister has suddenly exhibited a keen interest in the shape of holding of sangat darshans. Residents of Patiala who were feeling left out following Amarinder regime’s exit from the power game are anxious and rather elated over sudden government attention they are going to get in the shape of sangat darshans. “At least, our city will hopefully get some development now,” hoped Sandip Singh, a resident.


Poor response to admission in ayurvedic colleges
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Late counselling and confusion over the status of various ayurvedic colleges in Punjab has resulted in the 12 institutions drawing a virtual blank during the past three days of counselling.

With only a day of counselling left, out of the 620 seats available, only 22 admissions have taken place. While Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, has admitted 16 students, Laxmi Narayan Ayurvedic College, Amritsar, three and Urmila Devi Ayurvedic College, Hoshiarpur, one. The other nine colleges have drawn a blank.

According to college managements, some admissions are likely during the last day of counselling by when even PMT candidates are likely to be exhausted and vacant seats offered on the basis of class XII merit.

According to sources, the government is mainly responsible for the state of affairs. The counselling, which could have been held as early as August 1, was delayed unnecessarily because Government College, Patiala, had been forbidden to hold admissions by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and was trying to clear its name. That, however, was not necessary in the end, with the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowing all five colleges, which had been stopped from conducting admissions to induct students, besides forming a monitoring committee to oversee the functioning of all ayurvedic colleges in the state.

According to the college managements, Punjab has lost out to other states, with students from the state taking admission in Karnataka and even neighbouring states.

Raj Kumar, who is president of the managing committee of Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, said admissions had taken place in all ayurvedic colleges, including those in Haryana and Chandigarh, more than a one month ago. He said due to this, there was a severe paucity of serious students who wanted to take up ayurveda as a profession.

Mai Bhago Ayurvedic College Muktsar chairman Amarjit Pasricha also admitted this fact during a conversation with TNS. He said the uncertainty of the admission process was responsible for the abysmal turnout for the ongoing counselling.

Already the merit, which started for those who have cleared the halfway mark of 400 marks out of 800 in the PMT examination, was reduced to 385 and is now pegged at 320.

Ashwani Sharma, who is director of Ayush as well as principal of Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, and chairman of the counselling committee which is holding centralised counselling in Patiala, said he did not know the exact figures of the admissions that had taken place in his college for the past three days. He said the figure could be around 18. Sharma said he also did not know about the admissions to other ayurvedic colleges.

Meanwhile, the sources said besides late counselling, there was confusion among parents about the status of various colleges, which were earlier barred from the admission process but have now been allowed to admit students. Some parents are fearful about the fate of the admission process, as the colleges still have to be inspected regarding the facilities being provided by them.


Heroin in devotional material
Publisher’s son, employee released
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
Even as the owner of Canada’s Payal Video Company, Inderjit Singh has denied having ordered devotional material seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from which 4.8 kg heroin was recovered, yet Harbhajan Singh, director, Chattar Singh Jeewan Singh confirmed that his firm had been sending him such material for a long time.

Sources said the DRI had also confirmed the hand of Rabjeet Singh, son of the publisher, in smuggling heroin to Canada. This was why his brother Prabhjit Singh and an employee of the publishing house, Tejinder Singh, had been released after investigation. Gurinder Pal Singh of Raj Castle Music Company, Ludhiana, was picked up by DRI Rabjeet Singh’s clue. Rabjeet and Gurinder had been given two days’ remand on the request of the DRI. However, Harbhajan said the release of Prabhjit and the employee, who had packed the courier, was enough proof they were innocent. He hoped Rabjeet would also come “clean” after the probe.

The DRI is also studying the lifestyle of Rabjeet, who has been visiting foreign countries in connection with family business. He enjoyed links with high- ups in India and abroad. Canada has already emerged as hot destination of heroin, smuggled from Pakistan, Punjab being the transit point. According to Parvasi, a Punjabi weekly of Canada, more than 100 Punjabi youths had been killed in one decade due to warfare.

The Canadian Punjabi paper, edited by Rajinder Saini and Shameel, had also highlighted the drug racket in Canada stating these gangs, lately concentrated in Peel region, were closely linked with kidnapping, drug trafficking, extortion, beating and killing of innocent citizens.

Meanwhile, the publisher has urged SGPC president Avtar Singh not to exploit sentiments of the Sikhs by giving “inflammatory” statements to the media as they had already suffered huge business losses due to such utterances.

He, however, said his firm was ready to hand over Birs of Guru Granth Sahib to the SGPC provided it supplied the copy of the ordinance, issued by the state government, banning the publication of Guru Granth Sahib by private publishers.


Timely police action could have saved Seona
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
Had the Amritsar police arrested radical Sikh leaders involved in an attack on Akali leader Darbara Singh Seona, his wife, former SGPC member, their daughters and guests near the SGPC complex here on May 25, his killing could have been averted. Seona was shot dead by three youths in front of his house in Patiala yesterday.

Seona and members of his family had been severely injured in the attack by by Sikh youths at Baba Jeevan Singh Serai, near SGPC complex. Around 60 activists of a radical Sikh organisation, armed with swords and lathis, had come to the room of Seona at the serai and demanded from him an unconditional apology for writing an alleged blasphemous article in a Punjabi daily. He had refused to be apologetic, saying that he was prepared for a debate on the issue.

The youths, who had attacked Seona and his family, later vandalised the local cinema where film “Singh is Kinng” was being screened. A police official, who had been injured by them, succumbed to his injuries. Some of the youths were also involved in blackening of the faces of two sons of a controversial publisher.

Seona had annoyed the radical Sikhs by claiming in his article that Guru Gobind Singh had not bestowed “Guruship” on Guru Granth Sahib. However, Dr Gursharn Singh, former Editor of Punjabi daily Spokesman, said the article could not be understood properly because of improper headline. He said an academic discussion had been going on this subject for a long time.

After the attack, Seona had told the media that members of a breakaway group of the Damdami Taksal and other radical Sikhs had been responsible for the attack.


Plot to kill dera chief; 3 arrested

Jalandhar, September 13
The police today arrested two accomplices of Harjant Singh, alias DC, a former terrorist, who had been arrested on September 4, and seized weapons, including two mousers with magazines and bullets.

It produced Harbant Singh of Tarn Taran district and Mukhtiar Singh of Ferozepur district before the local court, which remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days. They had been nabbed on the revelations made by Harjant, a resident of Batala.

According to the police, the interrogation of Harjant had revealed that the trio was planning to kill Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sacha Sauda, in connivance with Pakistan-based agency ISI. The seized ammunition had been provided to them by the agency, the police added.

Based on the investigation of Harjant, the police has sought production warrant of Amarjeet Singh from the Patiala prison. — UNI



Amritsar: Of PM’s visit and unfinished agenda
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, September 13
Residents of the city will once again accord a warm welcome to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 18, but there will be questions as well on his inability to implement the ambitious projects declared by him during his maiden visit to the city in September, 2004.

Dr Manmohan Singh will be in the city to inaugurate the centenary celebrations of Punjab and Sind Bank. Earlier, his visit to the city in July had been deferred due to a Parliament debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The realty check on Prime Minister’s four ambitious projects: Setting up of a special economic zone (SEZ), biotechnology park, national institute of studies on Guru Granth Sahib and the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar GT road, has found that none have taken off with the exception of the four-laning of the highway. The residents rued that the projects had either been shelved or shifted to other cities, depriving the city of major Central investments.

BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu had supported the SEZ project with the backing of the business community, forcing the government to come out with its blue print. The then Congress government enlisted the support of private developers and signed an MoU with DLF during the presence of the PM when he visited the city earlier. However, the project could not see the light of the day as farmers protested the acquisition move. The agitation by the Kisan Sangharsh Committee and the subsequent developments in Nandigram and Singur in West Bengal forced the government to shelve the project.

The Prime Minister faces a daunting task to implement his vision for the city where he grew up and completed his graduation before going to the UK for higher studies. The second big Rs 100-crore biotechnology park proposed for the city was siphoned off to Dera Bassi near Chandigarh following political and bureaucratic pressure.

The autonomous institute for Guru Granth Sahib Studies, which was proposed to be set up in GND University, was mired in controversy as the files continue to shuffle from one ministry to other. It has been learnt that the project has truncated only to be reduced to a mere centre at the university level thus lowering its importance.


No plan to join politics, says Harsimrat Badal
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 13
Putting an end to all speculation about her joining politics, Harsimrat Kaur Badal said here today that she had no intention of doing so. She said it was the tag of Badal, which forced political watchers to think like that.

The Badal daughter-in-law was in the city to preside over Mela Dhiyan Da, a women’s festival, organised by the Cultural Department, Punjab, at Ramgarhia Girls College. Harsimrat said this was not a political visit. She was here just to promote the project Nanhi Chhaan (small shade), initiated by the state government and Ranbaxy. She requested the people of Punjab to consider saplings as their daughters and nourish them with warmth, love, care and affection.

The project could be successful if an end was put to dowry system. Women, be it mothers, daughters or sisters, must revolt against the dowry system so that the problem of female foeticide, which was creating a serious imbalance in society, could be effectively dealt with.

The Badal daughter-in-law further said she had distributed 1,50,000 saplings of Nanhi Chhaan, which had got a good response from various sections of society.

“People from various churches have contacted us. The project does not involve a particular religion. People from all religions should join hands to give it a boost. We intend to involve different NGOs as well,” she said.


PepsiCo staff to intensify stir
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 13
An action committee of several workers and farmers’ organisations, formed to get 12 suspended and one dismissed employee of PepsiCo India Holding Plant at Channo reinstated, today warned the district administration that if it failed to solve the problem of workers of the PepsiCo factory by September 19, direct action would be taken against it.

Press secretary of the PepsiCo India Holding Workers Union (AITUC) Kishan Singh today told this reporter over the phone that it had also been decided that workers, labourers and farmers would block the Sangrur-Patiala national highway at Channo on September 19 to get the 13 employees of the factory reinstated. Besides this, a dharna would also be staged at the main gate of the second plant of the factory, namely PepsiCo Foods Concentrate Plant, at Channo to get it closed, he added.

Kishan said these decisions had been taken at a meeting of the action committee, which had been held at the main gate of the factory, at Channo today.

The meeting had been attended, among others, by state president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Joginder Singh Ugrahan, district president of the BKU (Dakonda) Gurmeet Singh Bhattiwal, district convener of the Dehati Mazdoor Sabha Gurmeet Singh Kalajhar, state president of AITUC Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal, and president of the PepsiCo India Holding Workers Union Sanjiv Kumar, he added.

Meanwhile, four persons sustained minor injuries in a clash that took place on Saturday between two groups of the Bhawanigarh Truck Operators Union first in the complex of a gurdwara and later in the truck union complex. However, at both places the police intervened and succeeded in averting a major clash.

Local DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said a meeting had been organised in the gurdwara complex in connection with a dispute between the PepsiCo India management and workers of the PepsiCo India Holding Plant, Channo.

A group of the truck union had attended the meeting. Members of the other group reached the gurdwara sahib and protested against not inviting them to the meeting. At this an altercation took place leading to a clash. 




Judicial officers express concern over ‘fake’ CDs
Administrative judge asks them to exercise caution
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Morphed CDs have apparently become a matter of concern for the judicial officers. It seems the judicial officers are apprehensive that some unscrupulous elements are preparing bogus CDs to “fix them up”.

They are of the opinion that some professionals in the filed of videography are editing the clippings.

The CDs are then being presented in such a manner that these give the impression of judicial officers being involved in shady deals.

The matter was taken up by the judicial officers this morning with the administrative judge of Ludhiana sessions division.

The judge was there in Ludhiana in connection with the holding of a special lok adalat organised by the Punjab State Legal Services Authority to decide pending cases and matters at pre-litigation stage.

The judicial officers from Ludhiana and neighbouring areas were present there for constituting as many as 31 Benches for taking up over 23, 127 cases of different types.

Available information suggest a section of judicial officers told the administrative judge they were finding themselves in an uneasy zone, not knowing which conversation, with whom, would be recorded and subsequently manipulated to project them in a bad light.

The judicial officers urged the judge to take up the matter with the high court so as to enable them to work in a more congenial atmosphere.

The administrative judge, it is believed, told the officers not to allow such like apprehensions to come in the way of their judicial functioning and asked them to continue working in a fearless environment.

The Judge added even the high court was aware of the circulation of such fake CDs, and the Bench was of the opinion that too much of reliance should not be placed on stuff like these

At the same time, the Judge warned the officers to exercise utmost caution during their interaction with the general public, at private and even at public functions.

The Judge added prevention in the matter was the only cure of the malady.


Amarinder’s property should be attached: Chandumajra
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) general secretary and former MP Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra demanded to attach the personal properties of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, including his Moti Mahal, in order to recover Rs 360 crore amassed through corrupt means.

Agitated over Amarinder’s running abroad successfully, Prof. Chandumajra said it was a matter of great dejection for the people of Punjab. He apprehended the people of the state would raise questions regarding who would compensate the loss of Rs 360 crore caused by Amarinder and his party. He said the Amritsar Improvement Trust was just one example of corruption, and a thorough investigation in deals in similar bodies of Punjab could open a Pandora’s box and could further unveil huge amounts of money earned through such deals.

He appealed to the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to raise this issue in the Punjab Assembly to recover Rs 360 crore from Amarinder’s personal property worth millions so that the people of Punjab should not feel that it was a political gimmick by the Akali Dal government to gain popularity.

He also appealed to the Punjab Assembly to accept this money from Amarinder to be deposited in the state treasury and also asked the authorities of the Amritsar Improvement Trust to initiate legal proceedings against the accused.


Resignation of Khalsa college principal sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
Radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa has demanded the resignation of the principal of B.Ed Khalsa College, Dr Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, for allegedly “misleading and befooling” the public to cover up for the error of actor Shah Rukh Khan, who had reportedly indulged in smoking on the college premises.

Its general secretary Kanwarpal Singh, while urging the management of the college for a stern action in the matter, criticised Dhillon for telling a “white lie” to cover up for actor’s error. He said that it was on record that the union health ministry on a complaint of the Punjab government had directed the state health authorities to issue a notice to the actor.

Meanwhile, Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhinna, honorary secretary of Khalsa College Governing Council, said Khan had not smoked in the college complex. However, to avoid such a controversy in future, the management had decided to explain terms and conditions for a film shoot in the college complex.


Panel to find VC for Baba Farid varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Punjab government yesterday constituted a search committee for the appointment of new vice-chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, as the term of present incumbent Dr Ravinder Singh is ending on October 23.

According to medical education and research minister Tikshan Sud, the committee includes Prof J.S. Bajaj, vice-chairman, Planning Board, Punjab, chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, Prof K.K. Talwar, director, PGI, Chandigarh, Prof P.K. Dave, former director, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr K.S. Chugh, consultant nephrologist, Dr P. Ramachandran, president, National Academy of Medical Sciences, and Lt-Gen H.L Gulati (retd), Armed Forces Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

Sud said the registrar of the Baba Farid varsity would be member secretary of the search committee. He said the committee had been asked to submit a panel of three names arranged alphabetically within one month for the final decision of the government.


ASI fires into air, booked
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 13
Makhan Singh, assistant sub inspector (ASI), Punjab Police, fired a shot into the air in front of the police station division No. 2 here to frighten head constable Parmod Kumar with whom he had picked up a quarrel last night.

A case has been registered against Makhan and Parmod has been sent to the Police Lines for indiscipline.


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