P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Procurement over, farmers yet to get paddy bonus
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 29
While farmers have urged the Punjab government to clear payments of paddy bonus recently announced by the Centre, commission agents of Khanna have urged cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh to order an inquiry into the delay in releasing payments to farmers whose paddy was procured by Markfed, a cooperative organisation.

The Centre had announced Rs 50 per quintal as bonus on paddy. The payment of the bonus is to be made through the state government procurement agencies, which have procured paddy for the Central pool. The state government is supposed to distribute about Rs 700 crore among farmers as bonus to be reimbursed by the Centre.

Recently, the state government had announced that it would immediately make payments against bonus to farmers, without waiting for the money to be released by the Centre. In fact, the government had declared that it would transfer the bonus money in the bank accounts of farmers.

However, the farmers say they have not been paid the bonus yet though the paddy procurement season has concluded. Certain farmers had sold the paddy to procurement agencies in October.

President of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) Balbir Singh Rajewal said as the Centre had already released bonus money, payments should be made to the farmers immediately. He said it might take time for the farmers to get their accounts opened in banks, but because of this reason, payment of bonus should be not held back.

Rajewal said many farmers, who had informed the authorities of their account numbers, were yet to receive bonus payment.

Sources said bills, along with the J-form, required to get bonus, would be submitted to the procurement agencies by commission agents. The commission agents would not submit the bills till they were informed by farmers about their bank accounts. Completion of such a process might take a long time.

Meanwhile, the commission agents of Khanna said Markfed had not released the payment of farmers whose paddy was procured in the first week of November. They said the delay of about 20 days in the release of payment to farmers should be investigated. The government had promised to clear payments in 48 hours of paddy.

Commission agents said Markfed had held up the payment on account of gunny bag charges. As commission was yet to be paid to commission agents, procurement agencies could adjust gunny bag charges against that money.


Karimpuri blames NDA, UPA for growing terror
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The policies and programmes of both the NDA and UPA have pushed the country on the threshold of a deep crisis by widening the gap between the rich and the poor besides dividing people along the language, religion, region and caste lines.

“If India is facing tragedies like terrorist attacks in Mumbai and other metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities, it is because of their divide-and-rule policies,” says Avtar Singh Karimpuri, newly elected Member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh.

Karimpuri, one-time BSP MLA from Punjab, was nominated by the BSP supremo Mayawati for one of the nine Rajya Sabha seats, elections for which were held early this month.

“Only the secular and pro-people agenda of Mayawati can pull India out of the multiple crises. See how Uttar Pradesh is progressing. People in many parts of the country have started looking up to Mayawati as an alternative leader to lead the country and reconstruct both its social and economic fabric,” adds Karimpuri.

Karimpuri, accompanied by a couple of party leaders, including Paramjit Singh Kainth, visited The Tribune this afternoon.

The BSP is set to make big gains in the ensuing Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. “We hope to do well in the Union Capital, which is going to the polls today. In Punjab, we will contest all 13 seats on our own,” says Karimpuri, setting at rest any speculation that his party would enter into any poll alliance with any party.

“Unlike the NDA or UPA, Mayawati has a transparent system of funding the party activities. For example, when we filed our papers for the Rajya Sabha, money was paid from the party funds that are collected through coupons and donations from the common man, adds Karimpuri.

Mayawati has special affection for Punjab. It is one reason that during her first term as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, she named a new district after Shaheed Udham Singh. Now she has got Karimpuri from Punjab elected to the Rajya Sabha from the UP quota.

“She sincerely thinks that both the NDA and the UPA governments have done great injustice to Punjab.”

The BSP will contest all the 13 Lok Sabha seats on its own. It has already named six of its candidates. They are Madanjit Singh, a retired superintendent of police from Sangrur, Dr Harbhajan Awla from Ferozepore, Kewal Krishan Chauhan, a Gujjar, from Anandpur Sahib, Dr Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, an ENT specialist, from Hoshiarpur, Surjit Singh, a retired IFS officer from Jalandhar, and Gurnam Singh, a retired sessions judge from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Karimpuri revealed that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal talks of an alliance with the BSP only on the eve of general elections to put pressure on the BJP. “He has never come back to us to talk about an alliance after a preliminary meeting before the 2004 general elections. His statements of alliance with the BSP are only politically motivated to mislead or misguide people.”


Capt Amarinder to meet victims of torture
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 29
Making a significant departure from his “style”, former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh will meet those Congress workers of this district who have faced torture allegedly at the hands of members of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance ever since it came to power in Punjab.

Not only this, the former Chief Minister, who is the chairman of the state campaign committee, will also give enough time to the workers from rural areas so that their grievances were heard in a proper manner during his one-day visit to this town on December 11. PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee would accompany Capt Amarinder Singh. On the other hand, in a significant development, Congress leaders and rank and file of this district belonging to different groups, sank their differences today and worked out the modalities of the arrangements to be made for the visit of the former Chief Minister.

Those senior Congress leaders who attended the meeting held in the local PWD guest house included Partap Singh Bajwa, Raman Bhalla, Aruna Chaudhary, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Ashok Sharma, Naresh Puri, Fathe Jung Singh Bajwa, Anu Gandotra, Ajay Verma and Piyush Talwar.

However, district Congress president Krishan Chand Bains was conspicuous by his absence. Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) general secretary Anu Gandotra said Bains could not attend the meeting as he was busy with some personal work.

Another Congress leader Ajay Verma said the main aim of the meeting was to mobilise the party workers at the time when the Lok Sabha elections were approaching. He said the former Chief Minister would meet workers at the grassroots level. About 500 workers of 11 assembly segments will participate in the meeting.


Harsimrat urges corporates to take up girl child’s cause
Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The debutante in Harsimrat Kaur Badal managed to charm all big daddies of the corporate world. Her simple suggestion about all corporates taking up the cause of the girl child and women employees as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) had the gathering with industry doyens like K.V. Kamath, Adi Godrej, S.P. Oswal and Gautam Thapar floored.

The wife of Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal made her maiden presentation to the top shots in India Inc, as they gathered here to participate in the National Council meeting of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Espousing the cause of the girl child, Harsimrat asked the industry to help in creating an environment at the workplace that will help in empowering women. “I seek your cooperation to support women’s education and skill development for wives of your employees, and setting aside a small percentage of your profits to provide free education to female children of your employees,” she said.

While clearly stating that she was not trying to gain political mileage through this, Harsimrat asked the industry to create job reservation for women, especially in Punjab, where women’s participation in work was just 18.7 per cent. “I have come to you with a hope that all of you will try and take small steps to take the cause of girl child forward,” she said.

CII president Kamath accepted her suggestions and said they would include these in the minutes of the meeting of the CII National Council. A number of members also expressed desire to start such an initiative in their companies.

Later, talking to TNS, Harsimrat said she had chosen to address the gathering of industrialists from all over India, so that they could take this social cause across India. “I also spoke to them about how we have set up the Nanhi Chhan Foundation with the help of Harpal Singh. We have launched this project from Sri Harmandar Sahib, wherein we give saplings to all to spread the message against female foeticide,” she said.



Mumbai Terror Strikes
BJP politicising issue, says Cong
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 29
Saluting the police officers who have laid down their lives while fighting terrorists in Mumbai, several senior Congress leaders have taken on the BJP for allegedly politicising the issue. Congress leaders, including Harnek Singh Gharuan, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Ramesh Singla and Sukh Sarkaria, said the BJP, which had questioned the integrity of officers like ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was one of the police officers who died while fighting terrorists, was now announcing a reward of Rs 1 crore for him.

Congress leaders said the BJP had levelled serious allegations against Karkare and stated that the investigation being conducted by Karkare in the Malegaon blasts was a politically motivated. Now, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had announced a reward for him !

Harnek Singh and other leaders said the battle against terrorism could only be fought by uniting all political ranks and not by playing politics on this sensitive issue as was being done by the BJP.


Decision on candidates soon: Dhindsa

Patiala, November 29
Secretary-general of the SAD and MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today affirmed that the SAD-BJP combine will finalise candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections within 10 days.

Dhindsa was here as the chief guest at the annual prize distribution function of Government Mohindra College. He said the party would fight elections on the basis of the development work done by the state government, particularly in rural areas.

Dhindsa said the party would face no problems if the Congress aligned itself with the Lok Bhalai Party of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia. He added the Congress had no issue to fight the elections. — TNS


Presence of stem cells in brain not certain: Symposium
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Identification of stem cells in the nervous system can lead to the cure of various brain diseases. Prof Sahil K. Sharma, former professor and head, Department of Biochemistry, AIIMS, New Delhi, stated this after inaugurating a two-day symposium on "Molecular Aspects of Brain Ageing and Neurological Disorders" and annual meeting of the Society for Neurochemistry (India) here yesterday.

He said the nerves were the most important and complex organs of the human body and though many had studied interaction of brain cells, little was known about the presence of stem cells in the brain.

Professor Sahil said brain development was thought to be largely hardwired and accomplished by birth and it was thought that brain had essentially no regenerative capacity. The remarkable discovery of adult neurogenesis and the existence of neural stem cells existing in the mature central nervous system (CNS) had changed this view.

The symposium has been organised by the Department of Biotechnology of Guru Nanak Dev University and sponsored by the IBRO, ISN, DST, ICMR, CSIR and SNCI.

The eminent neurologist said the generation of new neurons in an adult brain had generated enthusiasm and curiosity for the functioning and repair of the brain cells. He said adequate physical exercise and balanced diet could help generate and repair neurons for the good health of the brain. He said these newly generated neurons were essential for memory, learning, vision and mood modulation of human beings.

Prof K. Subbha Rao, president, SNCI, in his keynote address said there was a constant debate on the contribution of genetics and environmental factors to the process of ageing. However, as on this day, the only environmental factor, definitely shown to influence the rate of ageing and lifespan (at least in experimental animals) was dietary cause for evolutionary changes of various species, he added. He said there was also strong evidence accumulating to implicate various genes in the ageing phenomenon. He said till today there were about 300 gene products identified as capable of modulating the ageing process.

Dr Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, said, “Our ageing population is also facing these ailments in epidemic proportions. These diseases invade the most inaccessible reaches of the brain, making it extremely difficult to track the illnesses and also the determination of the mechanisms behind them - the essential starting points for designing treatments, cures or devising preventive measures,” he added.


Need for more proactive steps: Punj
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, November 29
The Congress-led UPA government should have taken proactive steps to deal with the economic crisis in the country instead of following the US economic structure. This was stated by Balbir Punj, BJP’s in charge of Punjab affairs, while speaking at a state-level seminar on “Role of Chartered Accountants (CA) in Economic Development and Current Economic Crisis” organised by the CA wing of the BJP here today.

Punj said Americans has different geographical and family structure and the Indian government had followed them without knowing its fallout, resulting in heavy losses to the country. He said Indian economic structure was very strong and the people in the country continued to save money in banks keeping in view the future needs of the families.

Manoranjan Kalia, minister for local bodies, said the Punjab government would go in for reforms in the state by bringing in various development projects besides seeking funds from the Centre for improving infrastructure.

Earlier, Gopal Krishan Aggarwal, national convener of the CA wing, alleged there was rampant corruption in every front and the benefits of various schemes were not reaching the common man.

Commenting on the world economic turbulence, Aggarwal said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram had failed to foresee the economic slowdown which had decreased the profitability of the industrialists, traders and business community in the country. He urged the government to protect the local traders.

‘No grievance against govt’

Tarn Taran: The seat-sharing issue between the BJP and the ruling Akali Dal in the state has been resolved once for all and the BJP would contest three seats and the SAD the remaining 10 seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

This was stated by Punj here on Friday after presiding over the 8th annual function of the local Mamta Niketan Convent School.

Commenting over the performance of the state government, the leader said the BJP was very much happy over the performance as the state government was doing its best even in the present grim financial situation.

Regarding the alleged allegations of promotion of own family by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punj said the BJP had no objections over the issue. He expressed his satisfaction over the performance of the state government on the economic front. He further said all states were facing acute financial situation and the same was the case with the Punjab government.

The BJP leader, while commenting on the fulfilment of promises made in the manifesto of the SAD-BJP during the last Assembly elections, said most of the promises had been made. The remaining would be fulfilled during the tenure of the government.

The senior BJP leader was honoured by the school authorities.


Freedom fighter dies at 94
No civil official attends cremation
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 29
The already depleting galaxy of freedom fighters lost yet another star when Capt Umrao Singh of the Indian National Army (INA) died at his village Mannan, 43 km from here, late last night. He was 94 and is survived by three sons and two daughters.

Though a police party led by a head constable and comprising six other constables performed the state honour by firing shots into the air and reversing their arms, family members were disappointed that no senior official of the civil administration attended the cremation, despite the fact that they were informed well in time.

Harbans Singh, son of Capt Umrao Singh, told TNS that he felt that the civil administration had insulted the great freedom fighter by not participating in his funeral.

He added that he had informed the revenue official of the village about the death and cremation of Capt Umrao Singh. Neither any senior civil official nor any politician attended the cremation.

He said he was contemplating to lodge his protest with the Punjab government for the “maltreatment” meted out to the freedom fighter after his death.

Capt Umrao Singh, who joined the INA in 1937 in Malaya and worked with Netaji Subash Chander Bose for years together, was honoured with the Tamar Patra by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. A dinner was hosted in his honour by late president Giani Zail Singh.

Capt Umrao Singh, who remained president of the Gurdaspur district Freedom Fighters Association for about 15 years, remained in Multan (Pakistan) jail till 1946. Though he was tortured by the British army to depose against three generals of the INA namely P.K. Sehgal, Gurbax Singh Dhillon and Shah Nawaj, who were facing trails for fighting against the British army, he did not betray them.

Baldev Singh, revenue official of Mannan village, when contacted said he had informed his superiors about the death of Capt Umrao Singh and his cremation today morning. He added that he did not know why no one from the civil administration participated.


Xen’s account attached for non-compliance of court order
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The Haryana State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has held an executive engineer (Xen) accountable for non-compliance of an order. The case pertains to the release of tube well connections for domestic and agricultural purposes.

Taking up an application filed by complainant Girish Vohra of Panchkula, the commission has directed the attachment of the bank account, “to the tune of Rs 50,000”, of the engineer posted with Operation Division of Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam.

The commission has added: “For non-compliance, amount of Rs 3,000 penalty has been imposed on the opposite party. It will be deducted from the salary”. The matter will now come up for further hearing on December 15.

Acting on Vohra’s complaint against the Xen and two other opposite parties, the commission, comprising president J.N. Bhardwaj, along with members Sarita Jain and Vijay Gaur, had in January directed the release of the tube well connection for the “agricultural purpose” as well as domestic category in the land at Mansumpur village without asking for any extra amount.

The commission had also directed payment of Rs 50,000 for mental agony, harassment and costs. A month’s time, from the date of the order’s communication, was granted to the opposite party for complying with the orders.

Going into the background of the matter, Vohra in his complaint had asserted that he had applied for electricity connection in the “agricultural purpose” category. A domestic connection was also sought. A total amount of Rs 2,215 was also deposited for the purpose.

“But even after a lapse of four years, neither the connection for agricultural purpose, nor for domestic purpose, was provided, even though electricity connection was released to some of his neighbours, who had applied much later,” Vohra had claimed.


World AIDS Day
Jalandhar has big plans
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 29
There are over 18,556 HIV + patients in the state. The actual figure might be much more, for this number corresponds only with the test reports that have been confirmed in the 56 integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTCs) across Punjab. Nearly 450 cases have been detected positive in the ICTC centre at the civil hospital, Jalandhar, this year. It is in view of this alarming number that the district health authorities have launched an extensive AIDS awareness campaign this time.

Even as World AIDS Day falls two days later, the programmes have already begun. A counselling session was held for truck drivers in the Bharat Petroleum complex yesterday. There is another such educational programme scheduled for the ITBP jawans on Monday. Civil surgeon Dr S.S. Walia said his department had tied up with a private FM channel for organising “nukkad” nataks on the theme around the city. He said he was planning to hold a district-level AIDS Day function at Nakodar on Monday.

Students would take out an awareness rally across the town and villages. Besides, a declamation contest would also be held. Dr H.S. Lamba of the civil hospital said a declamation contest, a painting competition and orientation programmes would also be organised on the day by the Red Ribbon Clubs of various colleges at Pushpa Gujral Science City on Monday.

Several NGOs have also been roped in for the programmes. Prof Anoop Watts of the Jalandhar Citizens’ Welfare Council said he would organise a mind exercise with students of DAV College on the day. The students would be asked to put in slips, with their queries related to AIDS, in a box kept on the campus throughout the day. “This will help the otherwise reluctant students to come forward to clarify their doubts while concealing their identity. We will answer these queries one by one during the course of a seminar,” he said.


Fazilka to have car-free zone
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 29
Situated on the Indo-Pak border, Fazilka has become the first in the region for implementing another unique concept of car-free zone today.

The Fazilka Municipal Council (MC) has declared the Clock Tower area in the heart of the town as car-free zone. No motorised four-wheelers and heavy vehicles will be allowed to move in this zone for 12 hours from 8 am to 8 pm. Special emphasis, through traffic calming devices and permanent barriers at four locations, has been laid to make this zone pedestrian and cycle-friendly keeping in view the global warming and to check the menace of traffic.

The credit for the implementation of this concept goes to Anil Sethi, newly elected president of the Fazilka MC. “Twentyfirst century is governed with the agenda to reduce global warming and I am sure Fazilka is going to be the flag-bearer for the cause through energy conservation and transportation,” said Sethi. More than 70 per cent of the air pollution was contributed by the transportation sector alone, he claimed.


Mumbai attacks inhuman, says Makkar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 29
Different organisations and associations strongly condemned the dastardly and one of most daring terrorist attacks on the financial capital of the country.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar said it was the most audacious attempt to destabilise the country, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of people, including foreigners. No religion in the world subscribed to the theory of killing and perpetrating crime, he said.

He described this incident as most inhuman and unfortunate. He urged the people to come together on one platform to fight terrorism.

Meanwhile, the All-India Anti-terrorist front, Bajrang Dal, the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today organised protest rallies and burnt effigies of terrorism and Pakistan. They criticised the ISI which, they alleged, was behind this attack in Mumbai.


Daylight robbery in Malerkotla
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 29
Two robbers today entered a house situated at Krishna Colony on the College Road here and robbed two women in their houses.

According to information, two youths armed with knives and “daratis” entered the house of Chand Rani, wife of late Ashok Singla, and attacked her with the weapons. They started to pull her chain and bangles.

Chand Rani raised an alarm. On hearing her cries, her daughter came out from the room. The robbers also attacked on the daughter and snatched her chain and ring.

Meanwhile, neighbours came there and tried to catch the robbers, but the robbers ran towards the main road.

The public chased them and caught one robber. After this, they handed over the robber to the police. According to DSP Gurpreet Singh Sikand, the police is interrogating the accused.


10 held for smoking at public places
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 29
During a special campaign, the local police today arrested 10 persons smoking at different public places, including the bus stand and the main bazar, in the town.

City in charge of the local police station William Jeji said this evening that these persons had been arrested for violating the ban imposed on smoking at public places. Later, they had been produced in a local court which imposed a fine of Rs 100 each on them. After the payment of fine by the persons, they had been released, he added.


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