P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal largesse for Patiala
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 14
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today presided over a series of sangat darshan programmes at various places and announced plans for the development of the city, which till yet has been considered the fiefdom of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Badal announced that Rs 8.5 crore would be spent to provide free domestic electricity connections to the economically weaker sections for one bulb, including installation of meter, the charges of which would be borne by the PSEB. Besides, Rs 5 crore would be spent on the upgrade and beautification of the parks in Patiala. Badal also announced Rs 50 lakh for the development of the local police lines. He added that a grant of Rs 117 crore had been sanctioned for the development of power infrastructure in the city. Three new grid sub-stations would be established here.

The Chief Minister said various special schemes had been drawn up for the welfare of the residents. Government’s technical adviser B.S. Dhaliwal would be visiting the city tomorrow to give a concrete shape to these schemes.

Regarding the complaints related with the issuing of Blue Cards under the Atta-Dal scheme, Badal announced that a fresh survey would be conducted soon by organising camps at the ward level.

Badal said a similar survey for old-age pension beneficiaries and those of other social schemes would be conducted soon.

Taking potshots at Capt Amarinder Singh on his home turf, Badal reminded the gathering that the previous Congress government had spent nearly Rs 200 crore on the city but still its drainage facilities were woefully inadequate.

The Chief Minister said since Capt Amarinder had done nothing for the welfare of the people of this city, he was now “adopting Patiala” and from now onwards the city would not be discriminated against”.

The roads of the city were in bad shape. Capt Amarinder Singh had actually done nothing concrete for the city in the five years of his rule. From now onwards, there would no paucity of funds for the development of the city, Badal added.

On the former Chief Minister having gone to the UK in the wake of a Vigilance case slapped on him, Badal said it was the duty of the law-enforcing agencies to arrest Capt Amarinder Singh.

He and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal were facing cases during the stint of Capt Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister, but he had never even thought of fleeing to places like London or Dubai.


Now, ruling combine, Cong fight ads battle
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
After a war of words, it is a war of advertisements for the SAD-BJP combine, which is repeating what it refers to as “facts” which have been revealed following the release of the Vidhan Sabha report on the Amritsar Improvement Trust land scam.

The SAD particularly is hammering in the fact that neither the Congress nor former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who, along with his former Cabinet colleagues, has been accused of gross irregularities, are refusing to discuss the report per se, but are harping on technicalities.

The SAD, which first fielded Committee chairman and BJP legislator Harish Rai Dhanda to explain the report in its entirety followed it with an explanation from Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and then by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Today it was the turn of senior SAD leader and cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh to talk about the report.

Simultaneously, to ensure that the issue does not die down with Amarinder going abroad, the ruling combine is coming out with large advertisements to explain the issue to masses. This includes the entire sequence of events highlighting the role of senior Congress leader Bir Devinder Singh as well as the unceremonious sacking of former Amritsar Improvement Trust chairman Ratna protesting against exempting part of the scheme from acquisition.

In direct contrast, the entire onus of responsibility to defend Amarinder in the case has been taken on by his camp members, particularly Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu. No senior Congress leader is coming out to defend Amarinder, indicating the party is still very much a divided house and part of it is happy at the turn of events.

Jeet Mohinder released a statement from a number of legislators and senior leaders “condemning” the slander campaign being unleashed by the SAD-BJP combine on the issue. The release said after earlier attempts to defame Amarinder boomeranged on the combine, it was trying to defend itself by literally buying space for this campaign in newspapers.

Targetting Sukhbir, the statement said, “Have the SAD and its vindictive president Sukhbir got so desperate that they now want to run a trial by media through these paid advertisements ?” It also claimed that quotes attributed to Ratna were fabricated.

Meanwhile, Capt Kanwaljit Singh in a statement today quoted a Supreme Court judgment of September 11, which categorically described record tampering as “crime worse than murder”. He also asked Amarinder to stop taking shelter behind technical issues and confront the charges regarding his involvement in the Rs 360-crore Amritsar Improvement Trust scam.

Capt Kanwaljit said ironically the Supreme Court cancelled the bail of billionaire Ansal brothers on the same day the Vidhan Sabha unseated Amarinder. He said the Ansal brothers were sent to jail for tampering with records, a charge that also stands against Amarinder.


Save medical colleges, docs urge CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association has appealed to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to save medical education in the state. Medical institutions are sick and virtually struggling to remain alive, the president of the association, Dr Hardip Singh, has said in an appeal to Badal.

The association has said the vacant faculty seats have not been filled despite the fact that a show-cause notice for the withdrawal of recognition and suspension of admission under Section 19 of the Medical Council of India regulations has been given to medical colleges in Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot.

Dr Hardip Singh said the shortage of medical teachers in state medical colleges could be avoided if timely appointments and promotions of MS/MD doctors were done. Every year more than 300 doctors do MD/MS from state medical colleges and are eligible to be appointed as assistant professor as per the MCI Regulations. But, they have not been appointed by the government, he claimed.

He said: “A strange situation has arisen now as same person, who is considered ineligible by government medical colleges in Patiala and Amritsar, can get appointment as assistant professor in GGS Medical College, Faridkot, because now it has got freedom from government rules”.

He has demanded an inquiry into the functioning of the Department of Medical Education and Research during the past 20 years and fix the responsibility for the present crisis.

This is high time to amend Punjab Medical Education Services Rules and fill vacanct posts of assistant professors by inviting applications on the basis of seniority from those PCMS candidates who possess MD/MS qualification and are eligible as per the MCI rules.

The association has said there are instances that even after putting in 25 years of service and obtaining MD/MS qualification, the state has harassed and humiliated these doctors.


PM’s state visit put off
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Hundreds of people protected by the police have heaved a sigh of relief with the announcement of the cancellation of the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Punjab. The Police had temporarily withdrawn the security cover of many protectees on the ground that extra force was required to secure Amritsar and Ropar for the PMs visit.

Sources in the police said Dr Manmohan Singh had postponed his visit to Punjab and a new date would be announced later. As per the communication received at the State Police Headquarters, no reason has been given for the change in the Prime Ministers programme. He was to visit Amritsar on October 18 to attend a function by Punjab and Sind Bank.

After two days at Amritsar that included a visit to the Golden Temple, he was to visit Ropar to lay the foundation stone of an IIT there followed by another foundation laying ceremony at Mohali.

Meanwhile, the PPCC, which had constituted two reception committees for receiving the Prime Minister at Amritsar and Ropar is trying to ascertain the reason for the cancellation. A senior Congress leader said the visit would most likely take place in October after he returns from his visit to the US and France.

The PM will be meeting US President George W. Bush on September 25 and then sign Indian first nuclear agreement with France in Paris on September 30.

Meanwhile, a senior police officialsaid the police was putting in extra hard work to ensure an incident-free visit of the Prime Minister in view of the recent Delhi blasts.


Rahul to tour state
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
All-India Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is set to tour Punjab to give a fillip to the ongoing membership drive under a pilot project, which aims to ensure the first democratic election in the state unit of the Youth Congress.

Rahul is expected to tour for a period of three to 10 days in the next week. He will arrive in Chandigarh and then proceed on a tour of the state, covering most of the districts, including Muktsar as well as border districts.

Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla said Rahul would interact widely with youngsters keen to become members of the party. He said the membership drive, which had started on September 2, would continue till September 30.

Singla said after the membership drive, the Foundation for Advance Management of Elections (FAME), an NGO, would prepare the voter list for the election. He added after scrutiny, direct elections would be held to choose the president, four vice-presidents and six delegates from each block.


Tribune Impact
Dept to hold test in Punjabi too
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 14
Rectifying an earlier decision, the Punjab government today said the test to select excise and taxation inspectors would now be held in Punjabi. Earlier the test was to be held in English. The government issued a corrigendum in this regard today and extended the date inviting applications in this connection till September 22 to recruit 168 inspectors.

The Excise and Taxation Department has made the provision to hold the test in Punjabi also, along with English following The Tribune highlighting that the conducting of the test in the English medium would hit candidates from rural areas hard as they mostly study in the Punjabi medium. In fact, the conditions laid down earlier by the department to recruit inspectors were against rural students.

Sources said after going through the issue raised by The Tribune, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal told Excise and Taxation Department officials to issue the corrigendum announcing the test would also be conducted in Punjabi. However, even after the Chief Minister’s intervention, the department has not changed the condition of computer training. The department has made it mandatory for every applicant to produce a certificate, along with his application, that he has done the course in computer applications for 120 hours from a government recognised institution or from the computer centre having ISO 9001 certification.

Teja Singh, a citizen, said Badal should intervene to direct the Excise and Taxation Department to do away with the computer course condition. He said after selecting candidates, the department could train them in its office. He said there was no such condition laid down to appear in a test for IAS, PCS and in other services. Why was there such a condition in case of inspectors? Such a condition would lead to exploitation of candidates who wanted to apply for the test because they would have to get certificates from computer centres to become eligible for the test.

Teja said the political leadership should ensure justice to rural students, otherwise disadvantaged, while filling posts in government departments. The Excise Department had tried to deny level playing field by laying down conditions to recruit inspectors, he said.

He said the department had given only nine days to apply to those who would opt for appearing in test in Punjabi whereas earlier the department had given more than a month to apply to those candidates who were to take the test in the English medium.


Two trusts, many parallels, unparalleled fraud
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Are Improvement Trusts virgin and rich areas that ruling parties find easy to exploit?

If the amazing parallels of the Ludhiana City Centre scam and the Amritsar Improvement Trust land exemption case are any indication, these statutory local bodies, constituted with the specific purpose of promoting the development of new areas of a city, have turned out to be the bane of the previous Congress government in general and the former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in particular.

Chronological studies of both cases throw up some stunning revelations: Both came to limelight and remained subjects of discussions not only in the administrative circles, but also in the state legislature during the previous Congress government in the state. The two cases, raked up and fuelled by the ruling party members themselves, provided the Akalis a strong tool to put Amarinder and his ministerial colleague Jagjit Singh in a political quagmire.

In both cases, Amarinder had agreed for a probe in the Amritsar Improvement Trust case by a House Committee and in the Ludhiana City Centre scam by an inspector-general of the Vigilance Bureau.

The Amritsar case became contentious after alleged tampering of the Vidhan Sabha record that was referred to a Privilege Committee.

Interestingly, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and the Amritsar Improvement Trust had their chairpersons - Ashok Garcha and Ratna - replaced by Wg Cdr P.S. Sibia and Jugal Kishore Sharma, allegedly for raising objections to the proposals.

It is the prerogative of the state government to appoint chairpersons and other members of the Improvement Trusts. Chairpersons could be either civil servants or influential local politicians who have, besides some nominated members from among municipal councillors or local bigwigs, some ex-officio members, including town planners, engineers and architects.

When Improvement Trusts are dissolved, then administrators appointed by the state government take over their functioning.

Local bodies minister Jagjit Singh has also been named and booked along with his Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in both cases. Subsequent appointees in the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, Wg Cdr PS Sibia, and Amritsar Improvement Trust, Jugal Kishore Sharma, also could not escape the Vigilance net. The FIRs suggest their active involvement.

The preliminary investigations in the two cases refer to tampering of records. Intriguingly, babudom had dissented with the schemes that were approved at the highest level of the Chief Minister.

The ruling SAD-BJP alliance has been throughout denying any political witch-hunting or vendetta politics in registration of these major scams involving Ludhiana and Amritsar Improvement Trusts. The SAD-BJP alliance holds that it was the inquiry committee report of IG CSR Reddy of the Vigilance Bureau that became the basis of registration of a case in Ludhiana City Centre scam, while in the case of Amritsar scam, it was Bir Devinder Singh, who was, for a brief period, deputy speaker in last Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who had raked up the issue on the floor of the legislature.


PTU without regular VC for 3 months
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 14
Punjab Technical University (PTU), with more than 50 engineering, architecture, management and other colleges of the state affiliated to it, is without a regular vice-chancellor (VC) for three months.

The post of the VC fell vacant in May following the resignation of Dr S.K. Salwan who had informed the Punjab government of his quitting the post in February. The government had asked him to continue till an alternative arrangement was made, but he relinquished the charge on May 23.

At present, Tejinder Kaur, principal secretary, Technical Education, is officiating as VC. As Tejinder is posted at Chandigarh, she visits the PTU office here once a week.

In the absence of an academic as regular VC, PTU affairs are in a mess.

“Important institutions like PTU that deal with the fate of thousands of students doing engineering, architecture, management, pharmacy and other courses cannot be run with remote control sitting in Chandigarh. Such institutions require 24-hour involvement as head,” said an academic.

“Parents and their wards visit the university with problems, which can be resolved at the VC level. However, they return disappointed in the absence of a regular VC of PTU,” he added.

Meanwhile, managements of unaided colleges say 5,000 seats have been unfilled in 46 engineering colleges of the state because of “mishandling” the counselling for admission in such colleges.

“PTU started counselling on July 1 and continued it till the end of August. In the meantime, a good number of students from Punjab got admission in neighbouring states like Haryana,” said J.S. Dhaliwal, president of the Punjab Un-aided Technical Institutes Association (PUTIA).

“We were unable to admit a large number of students and approached various engineering colleges for admission in Punjab from Himachal and other states, as counselling continued for two months and there was no clarity as to how many seats will be filled on the completion of counselling,” said Dhaliwal.

PTU, which had promised to hold counselling online six months ago, failed to honour the promise. The then Chief Minister had agreed to single counselling, but the department remained stuck to holding two counsellings spread over several weeks. Later, it was reduced to two months.

“While the Punjab Technical Education Board that deals with polytechnic colleges was able to do counselling online with meagre resources, PTU that deals with engineering courses and has Rs 80-crore budget, failed to do so,” said Dhaliwal.

“Our association will meet next week. After that, we will meet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to inform him about the problems faced by unaided engineering colleges vis-à-vis PTU,” he said.



Expulsion of Amarinder
Criticism unmerited, says Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Bir Devinder Singh stated yesterday that it was painful to get unmerited criticism and being levelled trouble-maker ignoring the gravity of the situation.

He had raised the question of exemption of 32.10 acres in favour of a coloniser on the floor of the House by way of Starred Question No. 1540, on February 22, 2006, which was put off to February 28, 2006, as the minister could not answer the supplementaries.

“On February 28, 2008, also no business of the House could be transacted and it was adjourned to March 1, 2006, since the minister concerned could not answer satisfactorily the supplementaries raised by me as well as Opposition members of the House. On March 1, 2006, sensing the mood of the House, then Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had offered to constitute a Committee of the House, which had the consent of the minister to the proposal and consequently, the speaker said, “Committee of the House will be formed”. This decision of the House was reflected in official Bulletin No.7 of the Sabha Secretariat dated March 1, 2008.

Report of the Privilege Committee was presented before the House on December 18, 2007, to which no member of the House, including the opposition, raised any objection and on the motion moved by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the House unanimously decided to constitute a Committee of the House to look into the exemption of 32.10 acres in favour of a coloniser of Amritsar.

“Even when the report was presented in the House on September 5 Amarinder Singh, who is a member of the House, could stand on personal explanation and raise all pleas which have been raised before the high court as to the constitution of the committee and competence of the 13th Vidhan Sabha to consider its recommendations,” he added.


Reliance offers to build rapid transport system in Amritsar
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Reliance Energy Limited (REL) has offered to build and operate a mass rapid transport system (MRTS) for Amritsar city. A preliminary proposal of the project has been submitted by REL to the state government.

The suo motu proposal has been accepted by the government and the company has been asked to go ahead with the preparation of the detailed project report.

“The REL team is expected to visit the city next week to start the work on the technical study,” Dr S.S. Sandhu, MD, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), said.

The system will be built keeping the Golden Temple as the epicentre of the city and the aim is to allow easy access to the temple for both outstation visitors and the local residents. An alignment along the road connecting the Raja Sansi Airport to the walled city via the railway station has also been proposed. The proposed station for the system near the Golden Temple is expected to be at a walking distance from the temple. The entire alignment will be elevated and have at least 10 stations.

A part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, REL has proposed to route the project through the ‘Swiss Challenge’. This means that REL’s proposal will be recognised as the original project proponent following which it will submit a detailed project proposal. The finalised proposal will be put up for reverse bidding. Reliance has also deposited a bank guarantee of Rs 4 crore as per the rules of the Swiss Challenge to the PIDB.

“The system connecting the Raja Sansi Airport to the walled city will be developed through a concession of build operate and transfer (BOT) for a specified period or even build operate own (BOO),” said Dr Sandhu, adding that the REL proposal was still in nascent stages and it would take some time before things really get started on the ground.

The system could be a metro rail, a light-rail transit system, a mono rail or a rubber tyre-based transit system, depending on he results of he feasibility study to be conducted by REL.

A team of technical experts from the company have already conducted a preliminary study of the city.

REL is the only company in the private sector which has been awarded such projects in India. It is developing a 12-km elevated such system along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor in Mumbai.


Call to strengthen Sikhism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
The International Confederation of Sikhs yesterday called for a united effort from all Sikhs to strengthen Sikh religion.

Noted economist Dr S.S. Johl, who was recently chosen convener, said the ICS would coordinate and guide giving dispassionate views on issues relating to Sikhism.

Reiterating that the ICS was a non-political body, Dr Johl said it should take a stand on all issues related to the religion and development of Sikhs and these views should have an intellectual content and not be fanatical. He emphasised on more united efforts of various organisations working towards the same goal.

Dr Johl said the ICS should have a committee of at least 10 Sikh scholars to study various issues concerning religion, understand these and help the ICS form independent opinion on it. He added that there was need to have a language council also within the ICS.

He asked the district units of the ICS to work towards the goals laid down in the constitution of the ICS. “Let our role be pro-active and not reactive,” he said.

Dr Johl called upon Punjabis across the world to join the ICS as members and also contribute to the Guru Nanak Education Fund. The fund, he pointed out was used to educate talented and bright students.

Manpreet Badal ‘will make better CM’

Commenting on the state of Punjab’s economy Dr Johl said the state was in a bad shape. “Haryana has Rs 6,400 crore surplus and Punjab is languishing. We need right kind of politicians at the helm. If people of Punjab make Manpreet Badal Chief Minister of the state, I guarantee Punjab will also regain its glory and become No. 1 state in India,” he said.


Rural students lag behind in technical education
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Rural students continue to lag behind their urban counterparts as far as taking admission in technical courses in Punjab is concerned. Even institutions created with the aim of providing education in rural as well as border areas have only a fraction of rural students.

Rural students have only partly benefited by Punjab Technical University with admissions in engineering colleges affiliated with the university seeing admission of 11,908 rural students against 17,863 students from urban background in 2007-08.

Creation of private universities may widen the urban-rural gap in the state if the figures of newly created Lovely University, Jalandhar, are taken into account. Only 3,910 rural students took admission in technical courses in Lovely University in 2007-08 against 14,565 students from urban areas.

According to information collected by the technical education ministry following a question in this regard by legislators Makhan Singh and Ajaib Singh Bhatti in the last Assembly session, it was revealed that the number of rural students in technical courses in Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University, Amritsar, and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, is also in the decline. GND University, Amritsar, which serves the entire border belt as well as predominantly rural areas in Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts, admitted 15,763 students from rural background in technical courses in 2007-08 against 74,792 students from urban areas.

Among the other universities in Punjab, Thapar University, Patiala, admitted 302 students from rural areas, against 4,154 students from urban backgrounds. If the total number of students admitted in technical courses in all universities in the state is taken into account, rural students come up to 32,285 while the strength of urban students is 1,12,592.

According to the technical education ministry there is no such provision for reservation for rural category. It, however, said 70 per cent seats are reserved for the rural category in Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur College of Engineering and Technology, Fatehgarh Sahib.

The ministry claims that the government has increased the intake of private unaided technical institutions by 10 per cent so that they can reserve these seats for poor, backward and meritorious students. Though, the ministry claims the scheme has been implemented from the current session, the poor meritorious students who could have availed of it.


Computer teachers block Shatabdi
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 14
Computer teachers on contract staged dharna and stopped the Amritsar-bound Shatabdi train for half an hour at Jalandhar cantonment railway station today afternoon demanding regular jobs.

State president of the Computer Teachers Union, Punjab, Gurwinder Singh said he with teachers started dharna on the track at 11.45 am as per programme to stop for an hour Shatabdi train, which ran through at 12.15 pm.

The Railway authorities thought it better to stop the Shatabdi at Phagwara station itself for avoiding inconvenience to passengers.

As the news of dharna by computer teachers spread, police personnel led by SP S.K. Kalia and GRP DSP Ashwani Kumar reached the spot.

The protesters assured the police officers to lift the dharna at 12.45 pm.

Gurwinder justified the stopping of the Shatabdi as, according to him, the state government was not paying any heed to their demand of regularising them.

He said the BJP, a partner of the ruling alliance in Punjab, had included in its manifesto during the Assembly elections that computer teachers would be regularised.

The president of the union said several peaceful demonstrations had been held and met education minister Dr Upinderjeet Kaur, local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, state BJP chief Prof Rajendra Bhandari and BJP MP Navjot Sidhu in favour of their demand, but to no avail.

Gurwinder said the ministers met them only when they gheraoed them. Kalia had assured them a few months back to have a meeting arranged with the CM, but it was not .

He said they had not been paid salary for three months.

When the union tried to talk to the education minister about non-payment of salary, her PA asked them to contact director-general of school education (DGSE) Krishan Kumar, who in turn told them that the department did not have enough funds to pay them salary.

Amarinder Singh’s Congress governments had appointed 7,000 computer teachers on contract on Rs 4,500 a month, later it was increased to Rs 7,000.

After lifting the dharna, the protesters went to Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall in a procession raising slogans against the Badal government. The union decided to hold district-wise demonstrations after every 21 days.

GRP DSP Ashwani Kumar said no FIR would be lodged against protesters as they had lifted the dharna after a few minutes.


Principal gets threat calls
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kartarpur, September 14
While former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh left his house at Dhaliwal village for an undisclosed place a few days ago in the wake of the registration of a fresh FIR against him and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh by the Vigilance Bureau, the principal of Master Gurbanta Singh Memorial Janta College here has reportedly received threat calls.

The principal of the college, chairman of whose managing committee is Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, has written to DGP N.P.S. Aulakh about the threats to the principal, Dr Gurpreet Kaur. She has stated in a letter to the DGP on Thursday that certain persons had threatened her that she would meet the same fate as the principal of Jalandhar-based KMV College principal Rita Bawa. Bawa was found murdered at her official residence on the college campus.

Dr Gurpreet Kaur states she had been appointed principal about three years ago. Certain persons hatched a conspiracy to remove her from the post, but they could not succeed. Now, she had received threats from the same conspirators, led by two lecturers of the college, that she and her family members would be attacked.


A peep into culture through doors
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The historic treaty signed between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Lord William Bentick, the then governor-general of India that took place under a peepal tree on the banks of the Sutlej at Ropar on October 26, 1831, is still preserved on a crafted door at a private house in Zira in Ferozepur district.

The painstaking research, “The village, doors and culture”, done by Dr Parmjit has studied the carved, handcrafted, decorative and antique doors and windows across the state and in other states depicting unique composite culture of Punjab. The study includes details of a Budhist stupa excavated in 1968 by experts of the Directorate of Archaeology, Punjab, in Ucha Pind, Sanghol, (Fatehgarh Sahib) and other sites of archaeological significance, relating to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. The research of Dr Parmjit, supported by her husband Bharpur Singh Sandhu, a town planner based in Uttar Pradesh, has also touched upon the designs and motifs crafted on the doors and windows of Harappan (1720- 1300 BC) and other civilisations.

A noted Punjabi writer, Dr Karnail Singh Thind, has said the thesis of Dr Parmjit is unique in many ways, thereby creating a history of sorts in Punjabi folk research.

The research shows that many Punjabis have preserved old doors and windows even as priceless historic monuments have been razed. She has given the pictures of iron gates of Attari-Wagah border, the magnificent doors of the fort of Sultanpur Lodhi and other historical buildings. Interestingly, the scholar has given the picture of the door of the tomb of the descendants of Sain Mian Mir at Rattar Chhattar village in the Malwa region. Another picture is about the memorial of Mohammad Sher Khan at Batala. The study shows ancient Indians, especially Punjabis, were renowned for their architectural excellence and had given their civilisation a highly distinct look with Nanakshahi baked-brick urban architecture.

The doors with panelled models would give beauty to the buildings, depicting different tastes and beliefs of a man. The main entrance adds a lot to the appearance of the house/building.


Shooting of serial ‘Kirpan’ begins
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
Bollywood baddie and character actor Raza Murad feels himself lucky to get a chance for playing the role of a “sabat surat” Sikh in teleserial “Kirpan”, the shooting of which started here today.

“This is for the first time in 37 years of my stint in this industry that I got a role of Sikh and feel myself lucky”, said Murad who is playing the role of Gianiji in the serial being produced by the Sony Entertainment channel.

Talking to The Tribune, he said rich Punjabi culture had become a necessary part of the film industry and small screen was not an exception to it. He said every second movie in Bollywood nowadays had at least one Punjabi song which was considered a sure-shot for the success of a film.


Licencee arhtiyas to get shops in new mandis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 14
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday asked the Punjab Mandi Board to chalk out a plan for ensuring the allotment of shops to all licencee arhtiyas in the newly constructed mandis in the state, especially in Ghaga, Bhikhi, Khemkaran, Harike, Kalanour, Mallawala, Khadoor Sahib, Khalra, Rampura Phul, Ladhoke, Badhni Kalan and Mamdot mandis.

Badal was presiding over a meeting of representatives of the Federation of Arhtiyas Association, Punjab, and officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department and the Punjab Mandi Board.

Conceding the demand of the association to give them due representation in the Punjab Mandi Board, Badal directed the Board to include one additional representative of the association in the board of directors. He also asked the Board to accept J and I-Forms being submitted by arhtiyas as per the practice.


Valtoha for reviving probe against VC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The nomination of Virsa Singh Valtoha, an Akali MLA, as senate member of Guru Nanak Dev University for a second term has given clear indications of the state government’s approach towards vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh .

Though there were two other senators, Lakhwinder Singh Lodhinangal, another Akali MLA, and Ravi Shankar, nominated by the state government, Valtoha had been in the news for demanding inquiry against the vice-chancellor on the floor of the Assembly. It was on Valtoha’s demand that the state government had asked B.C. Gupta, principal secretary (home) to conduct an inquiry against the vice-chancellor.

Immediately after his nomination as senator, Valtoha had said he would raise the demand of reviving inquiry against the vice-chancellor since the education minister had committed in the Vidhan Sabha that action would be taken against the vice-chancellor if he was indicted by the inquiry officer. He also raised objection over the selection of three syndicate members from senate without waiting the nomination of state government’s senators.


Custodial death: Kin await promised aid
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 14
The family of Jagtar Singh (20), who had been found dead in the Chowk Mehta police lockup on April 24, has been running from pillar to post to get the compensation announced by the administration.

Following a protest by kin of Jagtar and farmer leaders, out of Rs 5-lakh compensation announced by the administration, Rs 2 lakh had been given to the family before his cremation. They had been promised that the remaining amount would be given to them within 15 days besides a government job to a member of the family.

The kin of the victim lamented that there was little hope that they would get the remaining amount of compensation. No one from the government has come to console the family, they alleged.

Meanwhile, Gurnam Singh Dawod and Rattan Singh Randhawa, state convener and district secretary of the CPM, respectively, claimed that a judicial probe into the death of Jagtar had indicted SHO of the police station Harjit Singh Bajwa and recommended the registration of a murder case against him.

Various farmer organisations under the banner of the Joint Platform of Mass Organisations today said they would gherao the office of the SSP on September 24. They urged the government to arrest Bajwa.

The judicial enquiry had been ordered into Jagtar’s death after a protest by the family of the deceased and various farmers’ organisations in April-end. Jagtar had been found hanging from the roof of the police lockup. He had been brought to the police station after a complaint by Raman Kumar of the same area that his minor daughter had been kidnapped by four persons, including Jagtar.


Villagers get mobile medical services

Sangrur, September 14
To provide better healthcare services under the National Rural Health Mission programme in rural areas of the district, mobile medical services were introduced in Sangrur district by the health authorities when civil surgeon Dalip Kumar flagged off an air-conditioned mobile medical vehicle for Cheema village (Sunam) from the Civil Hospital complex here on Friday.

The mobile medical unit has been set up at a cost of Rs 35 lakh. — TNS


Malta Boat Tragedy
SC allows plea of probe mission
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 14
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court (SC), consisting of Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice D.K. Jain, accepting the plea of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission (MBTPM), has granted to address the question of law on the role of the government of India in cases like the Malta Boat Tragedy (MBT).

According to a press note by chairman of the MBTPM Balwant Singh Khera here last evening, the mission had filed a plea in the Supreme Court and the case came up for hearing on September 11, before the Bench. Counsel for the Union government argued that as the emigrants perished in the Malta boat tragedy doing an illegal act, thus did not need any indulgence on behalf of the government. He also said any help in this manner would be seen encouragement to illegal immigration by European countries.

T.S. Chandok, an office-bearer of the mission, argued that the victims had valid travel documents and crossed all emigration channels. The victims’ families had suffered due to corrupt employees of the Protectorate of Emigrants, Union of India. Now the government of India could not walk away from responsibilities of actions of its employees. The government must take all actions to redress grievances of the victims.

More than 300 youths were drowned in the tragedy on December 25, 1996, of which 176 were Indians.


Poll violence Councillor, 4 others booked
Megha Mann
Tribune news Service

Kharar, September 14
The municipal council elections here were marred by a firing incident in ward number 15 at around 6:30 am today.

In his complaint to the Kharar police, Congress candidate Ratish Aggarwal’s supporter, Jitender Gupta, principal of Tagore Niketan School, alleged that while he was returning after erecting tents near the polling booth, SAD candidate Jai Bhagwan Singla’s supporter Nirmal Kumar and three unknown people started abusing him.

Gupta alleged that he was beaten up and dragged to SAD office around 25 metres ahead of the spot. Within minutes more people started roughing him up, including Jai Bhagwan Singla. However, Gupta somehow managed to make a call to one of his friends. His friends advocate Natrajan Kaushal, Ajay Kumar and Jawahar Lal rushed to the spot.

A case has been registered at Kharar police station against Singla, Nirmal Kumar, and three unidentified persons under section 307 of IPC for attempt to murder.


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