P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt mulling new anti-terror law: Rahul
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 24
The UPA government will make no compromise on terror, but will not bring back the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) that was a failed law.

This was stated by AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi here today.

He said the government was contemplating a law on terror, but it would be a new one and the one that would serve its purpose. “How can we bring an Act that has failed to check the attack on our Parliament? The same law has failed to prevent the Kandhar incident,” he pointed out.

He was in the city to address mediapersons at the end of his three-day tour of the state. “Fighting terrorism requires strong political will and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has got what it needs to get the job done,” he said.

Supporting the nuclear deal, Rahul said, “The deal will raise India’s status in the world and provide technology that was denied to us earlier. It is a prestigious deal that has been successfully negotiated by our Prime Minister and we are the lone country in the world to have been exempted from strict norms by the NSG. It will also meet country’s growing energy needs”.

Commenting on the educational scenario, he said the country’s education standards had to be raised to the international level if people were to compete with the world. Quality education and vocational and technical training would open new avenues of employment for the youth. Some fundamental flaws needed to be removed, he added.

Citing an example, he said the US earned in excess of $13 billion through its universities from Indian and Chinese students. “We need to train more people that can be absorbed in MNCs and Indian companies, but the requisite training facilities are not in place,” he said.

He said there was no need to worry about the economy of the country as it was in the hands of a Prime Minister who was an economist par excellence. He said the inflation rate was falling and India was economically growing at a faster pace. Even the meltdown in global markets had failed to have much impact on our economy, he pointed out. Reacting to a query on his visit to the Golden Temple, he said it was one of the most spiritual places he had ever been to. “I liked it and will be back for more soon,” he said.

He dismissed misconceptions about 1984 incidents and said there were no differences among the Sikhs and the Congress. “I have respect for everyone,” he said.

Rahul said the attacks on Christians were unfortunate and that every citizen had the right to practise a faith of his choice.

Visits Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s village

Rahul paid floral tributes at the statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at the museum at his native village Khatkar Kalan on Wednesday evening.

He went around the museum for about 25 minutes. Later, he visited the ancestral house of the martyr and addressed a short public meeting organized in the park adjoining the house. Rahul said he was humbled by the contribution of the Punjabis in the freedom struggle.

Punjabis’ optimism bowls him over

The optimistic attitude and determination of Punjabis to make it on their own was what bowled over Rahul Gandhi during his three-day whirlwind tour of the state. Earlier, he interacted with Dalit youth and listened to their grievances.

Recalling his stay in a Dalit village near Hoshiarpur last night, he said he interacted with families who were largely carpenters. “I was highly impressed by their optimism amidst the rigours of rural life and the absence of infrastructure,” he recalled.

“Although they rued the lack of medical, educational and other allied facilities, they looked and sounded confident about themselves. In fact, they were sure that their efforts would bear fruit and they would make a difference in their life on their own”, he said.

“This is totally opposite to the mindset of people in some of the other states where people in the countryside are largely pessimistic and seem to have resigned themselves to their fate”, he said.

Visit enthuses youth, but irritates leaders
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi seems to revel in changing rules of the games and his visit to Punjab, while generating enthusiasm among the youth and marginalised sections, whom he has patronised, has been looked at with dismay and even irritation by the entrenched political class.

The visit, which concluded this evening, saw Rahul reaching out predominantly to students, particularly girl students. He interacted with students of Punjabi University, Patiala, and colleges in Ferozepur and Gurdaspur. Rahul also took care to take the views of the marginalised by holding an open interaction with SC representatives in Jalandhar.

What was heartening was that an effort was made to draw the youth of Punjab to the Congress at a time when the party is engaging in its first democratic election of the state Youth Congress as a pilot project. Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla said with an outside agency conducting the election, the youth from the grass-roots level could now acquire positions in the party.

In his decision to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar as a humble devotee, Rahul sent out a clear signal about how he would like to engage people of the state.

However, real politics is about elections and this necessitates engaging the entrenched political class and identifying leaders and candidates who can win the coming parliamentary elections for the party. On this issue, Rahul did very little, much to the irritation of the party. Senior Congress leaders disclosed that Rahul continued to give an impression that he was on a voyage of self-discovery rather than holding any meaningful brain-storming exercise or sessions leading to any concrete action plan.

The sanitised manner in which the entire trip was planned and conducted has left leaders fighting with each other rather than participating whole-heartedly in the visit.

There was intense competition over display of banners in all the towns and cities visited by Rahul and even more so over who would be allowed proximity to the Gandhi scion. Unfortunately present and former legislators, who are the backbone of the party in the state, were denied entry at many of the places visited by Rahul. The security staff was handed a list given by the coordinator of the functions in a particular town and he often did not include the names of important persons he did not get along with. This saw legislators fighting with police constables to gain entry into premises where functions were being held.

Congress leaders, however, maintained the visit had rejuvenated the party in the state. Senior leader Brahm Mohindra said Rahul had interacted with all sections, including the political leadership on the last day of his visit at Ludhiana today.


Rahul proves to be a crowd-puller
Kanchan Vasdev and Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
Rahul proved to be a crowd-puller as hundreds of people besides Congress men jostled with each other to have a glimpse of the youth leader.

Near-stampede like situation prevailed on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road where people from the city and parts of Jalandhar district descended in large numbers, giving a tough time to security personnel to keep them off the road.

Barricading on both sides of the road proved too sufficient to control so many people. At places Congress men had to make human chains to prevent the people from coming onto the road.

Many women and children too were part of the crowd, who waited for hours to greet Rahul. Several Nihangs were seen eagerly waiting for the youth leader.

As soon as his convoy arrived, a wave of frenzy overpowered all those present there. Hundreds of hands waved at him in unison. Seeing so many people waiting for him, Rahul opened the door of his Merc, stuck out of the window and responded to people’s gesture.

Meanwhile, Rahul underlined the urgent need to employing agriculture to combat global warming.

During an interaction with young farmers of PAU, he expressed concern on rising temperatures affecting agriculture. There was a need for an immediate action plan, he said, adding that “give me a data of relevant information, which I would like to place before my party high command. We will engage experts to give us a workable action plan to save our environment, which nears entering a point of no return”.


School puts off exams to facilitate SAD function
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Panjoli Kalan (Fatehgarh Sahib), September 24
The government senior secondary school here declared holiday today to facilitate a political function of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Also the examinations to be held today were postponed.

District education officer (secondary) Vijay Kaushal, feigning ignorance about the issue, said an inquiry would be conducted in this connection. “A school could not declare holiday due to a political function and postpone the examinations without any reason”, he said.

The school caters to six or seven villages, including Behropur, Panjola Khurd and Majra, and has a strength of about 600 students.

At the function, Sukhbir was to felicitate Karnail Singh Panjoli for rejoining the SAD. Panjoli had been a loyalist of Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He had joined the SAD 1920 and the shifted to the SAD (Amritsar) before joining back the SAD today. He is also the present sarpanch of the village.

Local SAD workers had started preparing for the function two days ago. The school had been bedecked with flags and festoons. September tests of students are under way and today was the second-last examination of students of Class IV to plus two.

The office of the principal was sealed by the police and the classes were occupied by the political and religious leaders where they held press conferences and had breakfast and lunch. SAD senior leaders, including Sukhbir, were seen sitting in the office of the principal during the function.

While none of the schoolteachers and principal was available in the school, the political leaders, panchayat members and others, in their speeches, termed the function a big political rally for the improvement and success of the villagers.

A clerk deployed in the school, Amarjeet Singh, said the examination had been postponed due to the rally with the approval of the DEO. The DEO refuted the claims of the clerk.


Govt ‘makes money’ from jobless youth
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 24
The government of the SAD-BJP combine, which had made promises to the youth during the Assembly elections in 2007 that it would create more employment opportunities for them, has collected about Rs 1.10 crore from unemployed youth who had applied for 168 vacant posts of inspector in the Excise and Taxation Department.

Each candidate of the general category was asked to pay Rs 500 to the department along with the application. The department has not spared even unemployed youth of the SC category, who were asked to pay Rs 250.

Sources said more than 25,000 candidates had applied for these posts till September 22, the last for the submission of applications. Nearly 80 per cent applicants belonged to the general category, while the remaining were from other categories of SCs, ex-servicemen, etc.

“Is not it the duty of the state government to provide employment to the youth? For what has the government collected about Rs 1.10 crore from unemployed youth to fill just 168 posts?” asked Jasdev Singh, whose brother is an applicant. “In its manifesto, the SAD had talked of overcoming the problem of unemployment by filling 1,50,000 vacant posts. But, now the SAD-BJP government has started making money even from unemployed youth”, he said.

Certain applicants from the general category said they had to spend about Rs 10,000 just to apply for the posts. Besides paying Rs 500 through demand draft or pay orders, they spent money as fee for a course in computer application that was one of the eligibility conditions for these posts.

Ram Chand, uncle of another applicant, said out of 25,000 applicants, 24,832 would be rejected as only 168 posts were to be filled.

The sources said the department had engaged a university to conduct a written test for the posts. The university would be paid Rs 200 per candidate.

“We are unemployed. Most of us are a big liability on our parents. And the SAD-BJP government has added to our misery by making us spend so much just to apply for the posts”, said Gurdev Singh, a relative of an applicant.

Instead of giving unemployment allowance to the youth, the government is taking money from them to apply for jobs. Private companies do not ask for money and most of them give TA and DA to the candidates who are called for interview.



Dal Khalsa crosses swords with SAD (A)
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
The Dal Khalsa today termed the statement of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) against Kanwarpal Singh, a senior leader of the party, as misleading, irrational and mischievous.

In a hard-hitting statement, party president H.S.Dhami took SAD (A) office secretary Harbir Singh Sandhu to task for interfering in their internal matters. He clarified that Kanwarpal was the backbone of the party and he had voluntarily stepped down as general secretary as per the spirit of the constitution of the Dal Khalsa.

To a question, he said the bickering in the SAD(A) was not engineered by Kanwarpal, as was being alleged, rather it was the utmost failure of the top party leadership that the party, SAD (A), had split. 


MCI no for admissions to forensic medicine course
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
Even as the Damocles sword of de-recognition continues to hang on Government Medical College here, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has debarred the Forensic Sciences Department of the college from admitting new postgraduate students from next year.

This has come as a bolt from the blue for the authorities who are trying their heart out to save the college from de-recognition by removing objections raised by MCI teams from time to time during inspections.

However, it is disappointing that the medical college authorities have failed to get the department recognition since its inception in 1985, in spite of the fact that two of its head of the department, J.S. Dalal and the present incumbent Jagdish Gargi, have remained principals of the college. Dalal, who is presently director, Research and Medical Education (DRME), remained head of the department from 2003-2006, while Gargi is presently acting as principal of the college, besides heading the Forensic Sciences Department. He also remained HoD from 1989 to 2002.

The MCI team raised objections during its inspection in 1998 and again in 2008 this year as the department having vacant seats of a professor and two assistant professors.

Gargi said the MCI was only a recommending body and could not de-recognise or debar from admitting students. He added that he would write to the authorities concerned to fill the vacancies as soon as possible. He said already a list of possible candidates for the vacant posts had reached the college and decision would be taken under the instructions from the DRME.


Computerised land-mutation centre inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Morinda, September 24
Punjab's first computerised mutation centre was inaugurated here today. The record of land mutations of Morinda tehsil have been computerised. Now people will not have to request revenue officials like tehsildar and kanungo for copies of the land records. A copy of the documents can be had by visiting the centre and submitting fee of Rs 20.

"Computerisation of records means fewer mistakes in documents, elimination of middle men and faster processing of work," said financial commissioner, Punjab Romilla Dubey inaugurating the centre.

She said by December 2009, land records of all other 19 districts of state would be computerised in the Punjabi language.

She lauded deputy commissioner, Ropar, B. Purushartha for the computerisation of land record. The D C said of 73 villages of Morinda, records of 71 villages had been computerised. Patwaris and other employees were trained to operate the system in August. Earlier the record used to be prepared manually, and possibility of errors was greater. Ropar's land record will be computerised. A patwari will be deputed at the centre to attest copies of records.

ADC (G) Arshdeep Singh Thind, SDM Chamkaur Sahib J. C. Sabharwal and district revenue officer Inderjeet Kaur were among the present.


BJP Yuva Morcha rally against drugs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
The BJP Yuva Morcha led by Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP MP, took an oath at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial here today to fight against the rampant drug abuse in Punjab. Earlier, they carried out a motorcycle rally to spread awareness against the drug addiction and its abuses.

The morcha inducted many colleges, schools and university students in their endeavor to make the society drug free. A number of BJP workers, who had joined the Congress later on, were re-inducted into the BJP fold.

Earlier, the motorcycle rally started from Khanna Smarak, after passing through various bazaars of the walled city it ended at Jallianwala Bagh.

BKU to hold marches

Chandigarh: The Rajewal faction of the Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU) has announced statewide marches against drug abuse by youth on September 27. Union president Balbir Singh Rajewal said the union was issuing an ultimatum to all smugglers and drug dealers in the state to wind up their activities within a week, failing which lists would be prepared and given to the police for necessary action.


Bank staff strike work
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, September 24
Employees of all banks here today observed the nationwide strike called by the United Forum of Bank Union. The call was given in protest against the privatisation of public sector banks, rejection of recommendations of the Raghuram Rajan Committee and the Anwarul Hoda Committee, merger of public sector banks, amendment of the Banking Regulations Act, etc.

All of them assembled outside the Bank of India, Hall Bazaar, and held a massive demonstration, raising slogans against the anti-employee policies of the UPA government.

Sangrur: Employees and officers of the public sector banks observed a strike in the district against the privatisation of banks, merger of the public sector banks, and in favour of the early settlement of wage revision. A demonstration was also held in front of the main branch of the State Bank of Patiala (SBP) here on Wednesday.

Addressing the protesters, central committee member of the SBP Employees Union, Punjab, Sunil Jain said if demands were not accepted soon then an indefinite strike would be observed in October in all public sector banks.


Situation grim in Ghaggar areas
Sushil Goyal

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 24
A fresh 100-foot breach in the Ghaggar river, that occurred last night near Andana village, and unplugged old breaches have led to flooding of standing crops on about 4,000 acres in Andana, Baopur, Shahpur Therri, Chandu and Banarasi villages of the Khanauri-Moonak belt.

However, the administration succeeded in plugging the most part of the 70-foot breach near Andana village today. Owing to a rapid flow of the river, the administration was facing problems in plugging the breaches near Andana village. The work to plug those breaches will resume after the level in the river recedes. The situation is grim in several flood-affected villages.

Meanwhile, the Ghaggar continued to flow above the danger mark (752 ft) at 753.1 feet at Khanauri this evening. A portion of a dilapidated bridge on the Moonak-Tohana road at Moonak village, about 15 km from Khanauri, collapsed last night, forcing its closure.


Procurement of paddy from Sept 29

New Delhi, September 24
The procurement of paddy in Punjab will begin on September 29, the Central government said here today. Officials said on the request of the Haryana government the procurement of paddy had already been pre-poned to September 22, adding that in Punjab as well the exercise had been advanced to September 29. Meanwhile, they said the export of the PUSA 1121 variety of non-basmati rice had been allowed. — TNS


Misplaced Priorities
No bulletproof car for Beant case judge
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
It may very well be a classic case of misplaced priorities. Punjab has bulletproof cars for its IAS and other officers. But the government has no such vehicle to spare for the judicial officer, who awarded death sentence to militants in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.

The disquieting revelation was made before Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the hearing of a petition based on a communication in this regard. In a communiqué to the High Court, the issue of threat to the judicial officer’s life and the need to provide him with a bulletproof car, is well pronounced.

As the matter came up for hearing, it became apparent that the State of Punjab has been entrusted with the task of making stopgap arrangements for providing the judicial officer with a bulletproof car till necessary arrangements are made by the Union of India and other respondents.

Appearing before Justice Ranjit Singh, the state counsel said Punjab, as of now, has seven bulletproof cars. Out of the total, one has been provided to senior IAS officer D.S. Guru.

Another bulletproof car was with Punjab Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal. After hearing the counsel, Justice Ranjit Singh observed: “The court has no objections to whom the government provides bulletproof vehicles, but at the same time arrangements must be made for providing the judicial officer with a vehicle.”

Firm on taking the matter to a logical conclusion, Justice Ranjit Singh categorically told the Union of India and other respondents to file their statements. “If the respondents claim what they have done is enough, their contentions will be recorded and if something goes wrong in the future, they will be held responsible,” Justice Ranjit Singh asserted.

Justice Ranjit Singh also verbally directed the respondents to fairly assess the threat perception and take a decision accordingly. The issue of providing the judicial officer with adequate security cover has been hanging since long. The high court registrar had in November 2007 asked UT home secretary to provide round-the-clock security.

Subsequently, the home secretary wrote to the Centre, stating that two bulletproof cars with the UT police were used for ‘Z’ security to VIPs. The letter pointed out the security of the judge had been suitably augmented when he was to pronounce the judgement in the Beant Singh case. The demand for the bulletproof car was declined by the Centre.


High Court
Order on affidavit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Taking up a petition on the election of presidents in the Punjab municipal councils, the high court today asked the state to file an affidavit by Friday stating whether it had issued notification under Section five of Punjab Official Languages Act, 1967. It requires all Acts, Rules etc. of the Punjab government to be published in Punjabi.

The direction was issued by Justices S.K. Mittal and Justice Jaswant Singh on petition filed by Om Prakash Gupta and nine other members of municipal council, Mandi Gobindgarh. The petitioners had challenged the validity of a rule providing for reservation of municipal council president’s office for women, the scheduled castes and the backward classes. He claimed the rule should have been framed in Punjabi, and not in English.

Elaborating, petitioners’ counsel Satya Pal Jain argued as per the Official Language Act, all the orders and rules by the state of Punjab have to be in Punjabi. However, the state government in 1994 framed the rules in English, which was illegal in the eyes of law because as per provisions of the Act, it has to be in Punjabi, and not in English.


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