P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Mumbai Terrorist Attacks
UPA govt must quit, says Dhumal
Time to stop Pak from acts of terrorism: Punj
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Qadian (Gurdaspur), November 30
A section of senior leadership of the BJP, which descended on this town today, demanded that the entire Congress-led UPA government should quit office as it had miserably failed to contain terrorism and had allegedly been allowing innocent people to fall prey to terrorists' bullets due to its soft corner towards them.

While Chief Minister, Himachal Pardesh, Prem Kumar Dhumal, said attacks on various landmarks of Mumbai by Pakistan-based terrorists had exposed the chinks in the security of the country, which was to be ensured by the Central government, Rajya Sabha MP and in charge, BJP, Punjab Affairs, Balbir Punj said the time had come when the Central government had to think how Pakistan could be stopped from executing its nefarious designs.

Dhumal, Punj, Avinash Rai Khanna, Manoranjan Kalia, Jagdish Sahni and many other leaders of the BJP and SAD (B) attended the bhog ceremony of Kailashwanti, mother of Ashok Parbhakar, national co-convener, Hindu Jagran Manch and Sangh parcharak of the Rashtriya Syamsewak Sangh (RSS).

Dhumal while talking to mediapersons said the resignation given by Union home minister Shivraj Patil on account of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai was a delayed step. He added that it was a situation where the entire UPA government should quit office. The Congress-led UPA government had made Patil a scapegoat.

He said the demand of resignation of Gujarat Chief Minister Narinder Modi made by Congress leader Rajiv Shukla due to the reason that attackers came through Porbander, falling in Gujarat, was without any logic as the world knew that Modi had been fighting a big battle against terrorism.

Punj, while stating that India always wanted that its relations with Pakistan should be good, said the UPA government should think how long they would allow the country to face terrorist attacks by keeping a soft attitude towards this menace.

He said during the BJP-led NDA government, the terrorists were either killed or arrested as it never compromised with national security. However, in the past three years, though about 1,200 persons had been killed in about 20 terrorist attacks in different parts of the country, only two police encounters took place with them. He said it showed the non-seriousness of the UPA government towards the menace of terrorism. 


Sukhbir for national anti-terror policy
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said here today that the country required an anti-terror policy to defeat the designs of terrorists. “War against terrorism must be launched,” he added.

He was here to attend the 99th Shaheed Parivaar Fund function organised by the Hind Samachar group.

Interacting with reporters before leaving for an all-party meeting to be held in Delhi, the SAD leader said, “We need to formulate a master plan to fight terrorism in the country. He favoured the setting up of an FBI-like agency to deal with terrorism in India. The country should respond quickly to tackle terrorism”.

Condemning the Mumbai strikes, the SAD president said, “Let us keep regionalism aside and stand united against global terror. Somewhere down the line that national spirit is missing and now it is the right time to show our strength”.

Dig on Raj Thackeray

Condemning Shiv Sena-type regionalism, he had a dig on Raj Thackeray. He took out his mobile phone and read a message widely circulated after terror attack on Mumbai: “Where is Raj Thackeray and his brave Sena? Tell him that 200 NSG commandos from Delhi (No Marathi manoos! All South and North Indians) have been sent to Mumbai to fight the terrorists so that he (Raj) can sleep peacefully”. 


Residents pay tributes to martyrs, victims
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
A group of holy city residents today paid tributes to martyrs and victims of the brutal attack by terrorists on the financial capital of the country killing about 183 innocent persons.

Echoing the sentiments, all participants in one voice said the terrorist attack had shaken the nation. However, the real target of the militants was the love and unity of the country. They only wanted to provoke radicalism. The group called upon people to uncover their hidden love and revoke radicalism.

The participants took out a rally and paid homage to the martyrs and innocent people killed in the incident by lighting candles at the historic Jalianwala Bagh here. They took a pledge for their stand to take responsibility “for the country, for the world”. They raised the slogans that they were one and united and no terrorist attack could divide them. They also called upon all the countrymen to express solidarity and unity to give a befitting reply to enemies of the country. 


NRIs pledge solidarity
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Strong and flourishing Indian community overseas has not only condemned barbaric terrorist attacks in Mumbai and other Indian cities in recent months, but has also volunteered full support and help to overcome the crises created by such inhuman actions.

Both prominent NRIs and their various organisations not only held special prayer meetings to pay tributes to those bravehearts who made the supreme sacrifices in fighting terrorists, but also to all those innocent people who fell victims to the barbaric attacks.

Special meetings were held in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, California, Berlin, Teheran and several other places where those who addressed the gatherings not only expressed solidarity with the Union government and the bereaved families, but also volunteered to extend all possible help, including technical expertise, for thwarting any such attacks in the future.

Barjinder Singh Sodhi, president of the Berlin chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, said, “Our immediate thoughts are with families and friends of those killed or injured in these attacks. We, the overseas Indians, are together and ready to lend any support to thwart any such attempts.”

Vikramjit Singh Bajwa, a US-based NRI, said the Indian-American community was ready to send not only a team of specialist doctors, but also technical experts, especially those in electronic war combat technologies, to assist authorities back home.

The Indian community in Iran, says Pervinder Singh Chandhok, also held a meeting to express deep hurt and shock over unprecedented terrorist attacks.

“We join in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the President and the Prime Minister and all people of India, especially the bereaved families who lost their loved ones. We pay glowing tributes to the martyrs and also share grief of foreign nationals who lost their near and dear ones in these barbaric attacks,” said a resolution passed by the Teheran-based Indian community.

NRIs and their organisations held that such “dastarldly acts against our motherland are not only strongly condemnable, but also expose forces that are jealous of India becoming a major economic power of the world.”


May cast shadow on Indo-Pak fair
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 30
Echoes of Mumbai mayhem is likely to cast shadow on the second edition of the international fair with a large Pakistani component which opens here on December 3.

The hosts here are receiving calls from Pakistani visitors and businessmen about India’s mood after Mumbai killers reported a link with Pak-based terrorist organisations. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the main organisers of the five-day event, have assured protection and security during their visit to the city.

The security agencies were apprehensive and cagey about the certain fringe elements who may try to disrupt the event, but SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, allaying the fears of disturbance, assured foolproof security to the visitors from the neighbouring country.

PHD Chamber sources said they were expecting a large number of businessmen and visitors as more than 400 visas had been issued by the Indian Embassy, but Mumbai would definitely cast its shadow on the coming trade fair. They, however, hoped that the economic agenda would prevail over the current grim scenario.

Voices were also being raised from some quarters for postponing the event. Director of Punarjyot Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu and other peaceniks said their efforts had received a major setback and said Pakistan must come on its image by taking positive steps.



CM, son persecuting Congress activists, says Amarinder
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
Criticising Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the father and son were resorting to political terrorism by targeting Congress activists in the state.

Cautioning, especially Sukhbir in this regard, Amarinder said either the SAD president should stop persecuting Congress workers or be ready to face retaliation.

Speaking to reporters at the residence of PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Amarinder, who was here today to attend a function, said it was high time that the father and son stopped targeting political opponents in the state.

He said 48 sarpanches belonging to the Congress had been killed by SAD activists after the recent panchayat elections in Punjab. Of these, 12 were killed in Bathinda district alone. Besides it, criminal cases had been registered against 7,500 Congress workers, he said.

He said Sukhbir’s brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia was also party to the political terrorism in various parts of the state.

He said Badals had amassed immense wealth in one and a half years. They had bought land worth crores in Port Blair, Mauritius and Dubai as well. They had also started a five-star hotel in association with Trident-Oberoi group in Haryana, he asserted.

Badals had also bought a 12-seater Jet by spending Rs 24 crore, Amarinder said. The Citation-2 jet was named VT-PSB (Parkash Singh Badal), he added. The Jet had been painted yellow and blue, the two colours representing the SAD-BJP political coalition, added Amarinder.


Amarinder refuses to share stage with Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh refused to share the stage with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal here today. Both leaders were invited to attend a function here organised by a newspaper publishing house.

Amarinder, who is chairman of the Campaign Committee of the PPCC, told the organisers that he would not like sit where Sukhbir would be seated. “How can I share a stage with Sukhbir, whose party activists have killed nearly 50 sarpanches belonging to the Congress recently ?” said Amarinder. 


Shaheed Parivaar Fund
Rs 2 cr given to Bihar CM for flood-hit
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
The Hind Samachar group of newspapers handed over Rs 2 crore to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to help flood-affected families under the Shaheed Parivaar Fund programme organised here today. The function was attended by who’s who from the political field.

Although a philanthropic event, fight against terrorism in the wake of Mumbai attacks echoed loud and clear. Call to unite against terror was discussed at length.

Addressing the gathering Nitish Kumar especially mentioned the hate crime carried against Bihari migrants in Mumbai over some days. “It is high time we should shun regionalism to express our solidarity at the national level. Over some months we have seen how innocent Bihari migrants were made butt of the joke in Mumbai. But we should not forget that it is a Bihari migrant who is responsible for the progress of the country at the grass-root level. Whether he (Bihari migrant) is working in a factory or as a labourer his contribution in the making of the nation cannot be denied”.

On Rs 2 crore handed over to him under the Bihar Chief Minister’s Relief Fund he said, “I am indebted by the response of the Hind Samachar Group which stood by us at the time of need. More than 10 lakh people were affected due to floods in Bihar”.

He added that the government especially disbursed Rs 250 each to the flood-affected families for utensils at the hour of crisis. “Besides this we also arranged 1,500 safe deliveries with shagun for the newborns. While baby boys were given Rs 10,000, baby girls were handed over Rs 11,000 each”.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “India has been witnessing terror activities for 20 years. We have not been able to control such forces. Politicians should keep their party interests aside and tackle this problem”.

Bihar Governor R.L. Bhatia too expressed gratitude to the Hind Samachar Group.

Cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, transport minister Mohan Lal, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Rajya Sabha member Avtar Singh Karimpuri, former MP, Iqbal Singh, Jalandhar cantonment MLA, Jagbir Singh Brar, chief parliamentary secretary, Avinash Chander, Mangat Ram Pasla and Baldev Raj Chawla were among the speakers.


No Jet Airway flight to London from today
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 30
From tomorrow Jet Airways’ Amritsar-London daily flight from the Rajasansi International Airport will not operate. The last flight which carried about 200 passengers had left for London to return tomorrow morning which will be the end of over two-year-long flight operations. The airline was daily operating Airbus 330 with 220 passengers’ capacity to London and was quite a hit with a large section of Punjabi NRIs based in England and here.

An airline spokesperson, preferring anonymity said there were various factors which had forced the airline to stop the flight for the time being and re-evaluate several options, including cargo load, intake of first class passengers and others to decide future plans of operations from here. He said there were other reasons as well, including disparity in the landing other operational charges besides lack of cargo quantum forcing the airline to take this harsh and unpopular decision. He said even the government had reduced the aviation turbine fuel charges, but still the management of the airline had decided to stop its operations from this airport.

Meanwhile, fruit band vegetable entrepreneurs and exporters who had invested crores to set up the export channel said this airline was providing excellent timing and was boon to the farmers of this area.

Several trade organisations, including the CII and politicians, had expressed concern with the Union government over the curtailment of various international flights by Jet Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Punjab CII vice-president Gunbir Singh said tourism would be another segment which would be hit hard and feel impact of curtailment of flights in the near future.

The Union civil aviation minister had under pressure from various quarters constituted a five-member committee headed by union minister of state for sports Dr M.S. Gill, which includes BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu, Tarlochan Singh, MP Rajya Sabha, chairman, Airports Authority of India and the regional director, Air India to review the working of airport and take corrective decision.


Bumper crops push up land lease rent
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Farmers in Punjab have reaped a rich wheat and paddy harvest this year. But the riches earned are not for theirs to keep, as the lease rent for agricultural land has gone up by 15 per cent to 20 per cent this year.

Across the state, lease rent (theka) has seen an upward revision of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per acre. If last year, this rent was anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000 per acre, it has been increased to Rs 23,000 and Rs 35,000 per acre. Though the contract rent for wheat had increased marginally by about 10 per cent, a good wheat harvest in the state propelled the lease rent by another 10 per cent this year. Perhaps, for the first time, the rent has seen such a steady rise in a single year.

As farmers get ready to lease out their land, they are anticipating another rise of Rs 2,000 per acre on land rent. Bhupinder Singh, a farmer from Bhedpura village in Patiala, said against Rs 25,000 per acre last year, the rent would go up to Rs 32,000 for the next crop. “Whenever, the crop production goes up, the rent, too, is hiked. Though the rent goes up marginally, this year the high production and high price fetched by farmers, especially those sowing PUSA 1121, have led to a sharp increase in the rent,” he said.

This year, Punjab has produced 156 lakh tonnes of wheat and so far over 130 lakh tonnes of paddy. The yield for wheat increased to 45 quintals per hectare. Other than the good crop, the minimum support price for both crops had been substantially increased by the government of India. The MSP of cotton crop, grown in the southern part of the state, too was hiked by 45 per cent over last year’s.

This has ensured that lease rent is up not just in villages near cities, but also in villages located in the interiors. Nirmal Singh, a farmer of Khooni Majra village near Kharar, said the lease rent had increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per acre in his village, as well as in Bagri, a village near Nabha, where he owned some land and leases it out.

The fact that large tracts of cultivable land on the fringes of cities have now been sold off by farmers, too has contributed to rise in land rent. These cash rich farmers now look for land to be taken on contract in the interiors, and are willing to pay higher price, said Karamjit Singh, a farmer of Dhilwan village near Kapurthala, “The cultivable land is shrinking, while the number of cultivators are increasing. This has contributed significantly to the rise in lease rent”. 


Director given marching orders
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The Punjab government has given marching orders to director, research and medical education (DRME) Dr J.S. Dalal who completed 58 years of age yesterday.

According to official sources, Dr Dalal was given relieving orders last evening. Dr Dalal was professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine in the Government Medical College at Amritsar before he was appointed DRME last year.

The decision has raised eyebrows in medical education circles as Dr Dalal has been relieved from the post of DRME and also retired compulsorily from government service. Medical teachers in Punjab are generally given extension after they attain the age of 58 years.

This extension continues till the date of superannuation and they generally get relieved at the age of 60 years. Punjab has raised the retirement age of medical teachers to 60 years in view of shortage of medical faculty in the three state-owned medical colleges.

Rakesh Singh, secretary, Department of Medical Education and Research, said today that Dr Dalal had been relieved as DRME on attaining the age of 58 years. He did not comment why he had been relieved as professor of forensic medicine.

Tikshan Sud, Punjab minister for research and medical education, said today that Dr Dalal was working as DRME and had been holding the additional charge of professor of forensic medicine. He said since Dr Dalal was DRME he was relieved on attaining the age of 58 years. When pointed out that the substantive post of Dr Dalal was professor of forensic medicine and he held the additional charge of post of the DRME, Sud said he would have the matter looked into.


‘Fill posts of doc for better healthcare’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
The PCMS specialist doctors association has urged the Punjab government to fill 650 vacant posts of doctor to improve the health services in the state.

The association, which held a meeting here today under the chairmanship of its president Kashmir Singh, said if the state government was sincere in providing better health services to the people, it should direct the Punjab Public Service Commission to fill all vacant posts of doctor. “Owing to a large number of vacant posts, specialist doctors posted at various places have to perform duty for 18 to 24 hours for several days in a month. As their much time is spent in performing general duty, they are unable to provide medical care to patients who are needed to be attended by a specialist doctor,” said association general secretary Dr S.P. Bhagat.
The association said handing over of the dispensaries to zila parishads had caused a lot of harm to the health services in the countryside. As this experiment has failed, health services at the village level should be restored to the Punjab Health Department. “There is no coordination between the zila parishads and the health department with regard to providing healthcare to people in the rural areas,” said Dr Bhagat. As doctors posted in zila parishads were not answerable to the health department, this severely affected implementation of all national health programmes in rural areas, added Dr Bhagat.

Many specialist doctors have applied for voluntary retirement under the VRS as they feel overburdened with the work in hospitals. The association said the health department authorities had been delaying promotion of doctors. Meetings of the departmental promotion committee were not held for several months, it said.

“We are being treated like bonded labour,” said the association. The Punjab government should appoint doctors on the basis of the Indian Public Health Standards that had been implemented in all states of the country. Doctors for general duty should immediately be recruited to spare specialist doctors for handling patients requiring special medical care. Specialist doctors should be given special scales, incentives and additional pay for doing service in rural areas.

All vacant posts of senior medical officer, deputy directors and other senior officers, should be filled soon. A ban on the VRS for doctors and on acceptance of their resignation should be removed immediately.

Those doctors who wanted to serve in government medical colleges should immediately be relieved from duty in civil hospitals and community health 

The association said it would resort to an agitation in case the state government failed to meet the demands raised by it.


Amritsar to host National Youth Festival in Jan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 30
The National Youth Festival is being organised by the Directorate of Youth Services in Amritsar from January 12 to 16. It would be for the first time that the National Youth Festival would be held in Punjab.

The main venue for the 14th annual event is Guru Nanak Stadium, Amritsar, where the opening and closing ceremonies for the mega festival will be conducted. Hundreds of participants from 30 states and union territories are expected to arrive for the event.

Disclosing this, Capt I.S. Dhami, assistant director, youth services, said preparations for the event had already begun. He said youth of the age groups of 18 to 35 years would be participating in 20 cultural and literary competitions. These would include folk dances of various states, classical dances, including Kathak, Odissi and Kuchipudi, instrumental music with harmonium, guitar, tabla, mridangam and flute. Events of Hindustani classical and Karnataka music, classical vocal music, one-act play, folk songs, elocution and debate would also take place on the occasion.

There will be some non-competitive events as well, including su-vichar wherein youth icons, invited to attend the event, will offer their views to the participants and interact with them.

Dhami said the three young Olympic medallists — shooter Abhinav Bindra, boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar — had been invited to attend the festival and stay with the participants for five days. “A confirmation is yet awaited. We have also sent invitations to Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Kiran Bedi and Navjot Singh Sidhu,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister or the President were expected for the opening or closing ceremony.

The other non-competitive pursuits will include adventure activities like para-jumping, adolescent camp, youth artists camp on a theme announced on the spot and kavi sammelan. A food court will be a part of the event in which food specialities of all states would be laid out. Dhami said, besides the stadium, there would be several other venues, including Guru Nanak Dev University. While one-act plays will be organised at BBK DAV College, the folk song competition will be conducted at Government College, he said. The youth services official said some events would also be taken to Jallianwala Bagh and Lawrence Road for better public participation.

During the course of the festival, national youth awards and Indira Gandhi youth awards would also be distributed, the names for which are yet to be finalised. The budget for the youth festival has been doubled to Rs 4 crore this time, said Dhami, adding that various provisions, including TA to all the participants, their stay and other arrangements had to be made.


Food Development Centre
Signing of MoU deferred

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) yesterday deferred indefinitely the signing of an MoU with a Canadian delegation regarding the establishment of a food development centre in the state.

PAIC sources said the MoU could not be signed because the Canadian delegation from Manitoba returned back from Delhi, following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. 

The MoU was to be signed here last evening following which the Punjab minster of agriculture Sucha Singh Langha was to address a press conference.

The Canadian delegation was to come to Chandigarh to participate in the Agro Tech 2008. — TNS


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