P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Security forces remain on high alert
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Developments in the Union Capital notwithstanding, security forces, including defence forces, continue to be on general alert with vigil at busy public centres stepped up.

Instructions for general alert to security forces are in accordance with the prevailing security environment and there is nothing unusual about it, a source in the defence forces said maintaining that certain exercises carried out from time to time were a part of the general drill.

Besides the defence forces, both state and Central police organisations too have been instructed to be extra careful, especially those deployed around vulnerable installations and public places, including railway stations, airports, bus stands, cinema houses, shopping centres and educational institutions.

Increased emphasis is being laid on invisible security also. The Punjab government has already set in motion the process for installation of closed-circuit TV and video cameras at busy public places, select government offices and vital installations.

The sources reveal that even banks and other institutions that handle heavy cash transactions, have been instructed to step up vigil and security measures.

After both India and Pakistan went for confidence-building measures some years ago, there has been a visible change in atmosphere in the region that has generally remained free from any major incident of terrorist strike. The only significant exception was the bombing of the train near Panipat.

Security experts’ caution against any complacency. They maintain that days are gone when lathi-wielding constables were symbolic of security drill. Instead, technological advancements necessitate increased emphasis on invisible security control systems that also minimise public harassment.

Since November to February is not only a festive and marriage season, it makes the task of security agencies a little tougher. Many of the major hotels in the region have already introduced strict security control drills where normal guests are not allowed to drive in their vehicles to the parking lots. Besides, the guests are required to undergo frisking after passing through metal detectors.

Similar drills have already been in practice at airports in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal. Railway stations and inter-state bus stands may be covered next. Controls over issuance of arms licences and permission to carry firearms may also be tightened further. Of late there has been a growing trend among women to ask for arm licences.

While some of the government offices, especially those of the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana, and other senior functionaries, have become high-tech, routine checks have been ordered to be mandatory for visitors to general public offices.


Plea to utilise ex-soldiers’ services
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Various organisations of ex-servicemen today urged the administration to set up disaster management cells to tackle Mumbai strikes-type situations.

Office-bearers of two ex-servicemen’s organisations, including the Indian Ex-servicemen League (Punjab) and the Atam Raksha Sangh, today said it was a shame that 10 terrorists played havoc with Mumbai in 60 hours.

Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd) and Col H.S. Kahlon (retd), from both organisations, said they were pained to see delayed reaction of the government to the attacks. They demanded recruitment of ex-servicemen between 30 to 45 years in the special disaster management cells in different parts.

''Instead of waiting for the National Security Guards (NSGs) for so many hours, they could have used the valour of such ex-servicemen had they constituted a cell to fight such situations. The soldiers of the country are ashamed that the terrorists held us to ransom for so many hours,'' said Colonel Dhillon addressing reporters here today.

He added the NSGs provided to a number of VIPs stationed at Mumbai too could be mobilised to reach to the place and stop the terrorist action.


Govt wants wheat export through Wagah
Asks FCI to speed up movement of stocks
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Punjab Food and Supplies Department has requested the Centre to allow border trade of wheat to Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Wagah land route to clear the huge wheat stocks lying in the state.

The state has also claimed that slow movement of wheat stocks by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), with as much as 70 lakh tonnes of wheat lying in stores and in the open in the state, has been to the disadvantage of the state.

In the request made to the Centre, food and civil supplies minister Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon has proposed that the state be allowed to import cement in lieu of wheat from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. “This will result in a win-win situation for everyone”, he said.

The minister, while talking to The Tribune, said the wheat movement was so slow that even if the FCI engaged 40 special trains for the purpose, the wheat stocks could not be cleared in time. Kairon said he had told the FCI to take possession of the wheat stocks and make due payment to the government. He said the state on its part was ready to maintain a reasonable stock of 20 lakh tonnes as a buffer till the arrival of the next crop, but could not depute all its manpower resources in maintaining 70 lakh tonnes of stored wheat belonging to the Centre.

Meanwhile, in another development, the Food and Civil Supplies Department has decided to pay the bonus on paddy amounting Rs 650 crore by December 31. The minister said it was for the first time that the bonus of Rs 50 per quintal would be paid directly into the bank accounts of farmers. He said farmers who did not have bank accounts would be given cheques. He said online payment of bonus had already started in Fatehgarh Sahib and Amritsar districts.

Kairon said a six-month exercise had resulted in the creation of a data bank of 10 lakh farmers, who would be paid online and also issued J-forms if they so desired.

The minister disclosed that 125 lakh tonnes of paddy was procured by state agencies and about 10.5 lakh tonnes by private traders. Last year state agencies had procured only 103 lakh tonnes of paddy.

Speaking about the demand by rice-sheller owners to raise the ratio of damaged rice from 3 to 4 per cent, he said his department supported the demand and that he had met the union food minister and secretary of the department and supported the cause of the rice-sheller owners. He said all formalities like sampling of rice were completed and the Centre was expected to take a decision on it shortly.


FCI demands exclusive mandis
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Facing flak from the Punjab government for procuring only 1.7 per cent of the total paddy at mandis this season, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has voiced the need for “exclusive” FCI mandis in the state to improve its share in paddy procurement.

While explaining why its share in paddy procurement has fallen down, GM of the FCI, Punjab, Sarvjit Singh today pointed out that out of the 1,500 mandis in the state, the FCI did not have a single mandi exclusively allotted to it.

Talking to The Tribune, Sarvjit said: “It is not that the FCI is reluctant to procure paddy. The truth is that Punjab farmers, millers, arhtiyas as well as transporters find it both inconvenient and non-profitable to work with the FCI due to various reasons. The result is that the FCI ended up not entering the paddy procurement chain at all.”

“Procurement by the state agencies is ‘virtual purchase’ by the millers as practically it is the miller who checks the quality and lifts the heap if he sees profitability in it, no matter what the moisture content or the percentage of foreign matter. The miller owns the responsibility of the quality and quantity of the stock in the mandi,” he added.

Against this, the FCI brings paddy to its own godowns first and then issues it to the miller against advance delivery of rice. “As paddy remains in the custody of FCI staff and is subject to stringent supervision, our staff has to adhere to moisture specifications. With alternative purchasers willing to pick up the stock without being finicky, neither the farmer nor the commission agent, who in majority of the cases happens to be the miller as well, is willing to offer its stock to us,” he explained.

Sarvjit further pointed out that due to the mushrooming of rice mills in the state, there is a scramble for paddy among them. “The millers are willing to accept paddy with higher than prescribed moisture and without proper cleaning as a sort of incentive to the farmer. This they can afford now due to the improved profitability and in some cases for sheer survival,” he said.

He added transporters were also not willing to give trucks to the FCI as the corporation was bound by a High Court direction not to load over 9 MT of produce in the trucks. “The state agencies load up to 13 MT of produce in the same trucks. The result is that the stocks keep lying in mandis for days if not weeks awaiting the convenience of the transporter,” he said, adding that the FCI stands some chance of improving its procurement share in case it gets exclusive mandis.


Gill for A-I to pitch in
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 1
Union minister M.S. Gill and chairman of the committee, set up to look into the issues related to the Amritsar airport, has asked the Union Aviation Ministry to make available to him detailed background paper about the flights taking off from the airport, infrastructure and other related matters.

Gill told The Tribune on the phone that it was a matter of concern that international flights from the airport to some important destinations had been terminated. The latest addition to the list of such flights had been Jet Airways’ daily flight from Amritsar to London. Earlier Singapore Airlines had done so. “Amritsar is the western gateway of India and I would like that the airport there should be linked to all important cities of the world,” said Gill.

Gill said he would call a meeting of the aviation and related ministries to discuss all issues related to the Amritsar airport. He said he would like that in case private companies were not prepared to operate flights due to financial crisis, then Air India should come forward to launch flights from Amritsar to other international destinations where Punjabis were settled in good number. “I would also talk to Naresh Goyal, owner of Jet Airways, and urge him to resume flights from Amritsar,” said Gill.

“As head of the committee I would go deep into the reasons that led to the termination of flights from Amritsar,” said Gill. On being asked whether there were certain Delhi-based vested interests which wanted the airport at Amritsar should never come on the international map and were working towards its failure, Gill said he would look into this aspect too.

On the slow progress on the infrastructure front, Gill said in seven years only Rs 78 crore had been spent on the infrastructure at the Amrtisar airport and with the same pace Rs 80 crore released for addition in the infrastructure was being spent. He said he would ask why the pace of work was slow. Then there was also the issue of parking charges, Rs 100 per hour for cars.

The Amritsar airport was to be named Guru Ram Dass Airport, but the Aviation Ministry had not done so. The airport at Chandigarh was to be named Shaheed Bhagat Singh Airport, but this issue had also not been resolved yet, though the Haryana government had also given concurrence to the name. There were many airports which had been named after important personalities of respective regions. There are the Kamraj, Shivaji and Subhas Chander Bose Airports. “I had already raised this issue with the Union Aviation Ministry and also wrote to the aviation minister in this regard,” said Gill.


Russia seeks Punjabi boost to agriculture
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Russian Ambassador Vyacheslav I Trubnikov said today that his country was keen on increasing the potential of the Kudankulam nuclear plant and to take up construction of more nuclear power plants in collaboration with India.

Speaking at an interaction after delivering the Haksar memorial lecture at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here, the Russian Ambassador said the adoption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group of the Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India had paved the way for complete removal of export restrictions on nuclear collaboration. He said this would give a substantial boost to Indo-Russia cooperation in this crucial sphere.

The Ambassador also stated the country had initiated a process whereby it wanted to invite Indians and particularly Punjabis for giving a boost to agricultural production in Russia. “We have vast territories which are absolutely uncultivated and want to bring them under the plough”, he said. The Ambassador said earlier the Russian government had reached out to fellow Russians living in the neighbouring CIS countries and urged them to settle in Central Russia. “However the demographic distribution is still not even and there is a need for more manpower”, he added.

Two units of 1,000 MW each are being constructed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Atomstroyexport as part of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. The project is likely to become the largest nuclear power generation plant in India.



Majithia refutes Amarinder’s allegations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Information and public relations minister, Punjab, Bikram Singh Majithia today said former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was indulging in allegations about the Badals buying a Rs 24-crore plane.

“We have not one, but four planes, three of these since 1970. But these all belong to companies of which my father Satyajit Singh Majithia and my brother Gurmehar Singh are directors. We have been in aviation business for nearly 40 years now,” said Majithia.

Regarding the purchase of a new plane allegedly by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Majithia said the said plane had been bought by Orbit Aviation Private Limited which was promoted by his father and brother and which was an off-shoot of the Saraya Aviation Company. He said the plane was purchased by taking valid term loan of Rs 19.25 crore from Punjab National Bank, New Delhi, and the Orbit Resorts also had a subscribed share in it. The minister said these companies were recognised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and had valid certification for engaging in non-scheduled air transport service.


Youth Cong workers clash
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 1
Nitin Sharma, chief spokesman for the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), suffered injuries when he was allegedly attacked by Gurdarshan Singh Randhawa, president of the Gurdaspur unit, and his associates at the local Congress office this evening.

Sharma, who has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital, told The Tribune on the phone that Randhawa and his associates had attacked him. He had been consulting senior party leadership regarding the filing of a complaint with the police.

A senior party leader, who was eyewitness to the incident, said fisticuffs were exchanged, chairs were thrown on each other and windowpanes of the office were damaged as the workers clashed.

Sharma said he had demanded the expulsion of Randhawa and others from the party for the alleged attack. Randhawa and his associates also tried to rig the election of office-bearers of the PYC being held as per the directions of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

He said today, scrutiny of nomination papers of about 300 candidates was done in connection with the election of block president. Party observer Alvin Joseph, Mohan Lal and Kalminder Kashyap were present.

When one of the voters of Kalanaur block raised objection in connection with the nomination papers of Pardeep Sachar, who was a candidate for the post, a verbal duel started among workers, which turned into a clash. He said he was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon by Gurdarshan Singh and others.

He said he had reported the matter to the police.

Meanwhile, Randhawa, while denying the allegation, said only heated exchange of words took place among them. Later, both of them entered into a compromise. He said Sharma was a respectable leader of the party.

Manoj Gupta, emergency medical officer, said Gupta had two stitches on the head and he was out of danger.

Alvin Joseph said action would be taken against erring leaders and workers.


Lawyers ransack SDM’s office
Demolition of chambers sparks protest
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 1
Agitating over the demolition of around 70 chambers, which were allegedly built without permission, lawyers today vandalised the office of SDM Sandeep Rishi here.

Earlier, on the orders of district magistrate Kahan Singh Pannu, newly built chambers were demolished. On a call of the Bar Association, the lawyers also blocked traffic near the district courts for a couple of hours.

However, staff of the offices of the deputy commissioner and SDM supported the demolition, leading counter-sloganeering in the courts complex.

In a complaint lodged with district police chief, the SDM alleged the advocates, led by V.K. Dhand, president of the Amritsar Bar Association, Amarjit Singh Bhatti and Sunil Luthra along with unidentified persons forcibly entered his office at about 11.10 am. They used derogatory language against the deputy commissioner and him. He alleged that the advocates also interfered in the working of the office. The agitating lawyers removed his nameplate and trampled it under their feet, alleged the staff of the SDM’s office.

However, members of the Bar Association alleged that employees of the offices of the DC and SDM raised provocative slogans against the lawyers that led to unsavoury situation in the complex.

The deputy commissioner said the drive against encroachment on the court complex was launched on the basis of the directions given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The orders of the High Court clearly mentioned that any spirited person could file a suit against the officials who were instrumental in the encroachment on the government land. Meanwhile, the police dithered to lodge an FIR against those who caused damage to public property.


Pakistan hospitality overwhelms jatha
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Attari, December 1
Mumbai terror strikes notwithstanding, love and affection between people of India and Pakistan remain the same. In fact, Pakistan nationals have expressed solidarity with the residents of Mumbai while condemning the acts of terrorism as Pakistan has also been a victim of such attacks.

These were the views expressed by the Hindu pilgrims who returned from Pakistan after paying obeisance at Katasraj in Chakwal district.

Talking to The Tribune, a resident of Jalandhar, Gurneet Dhir, director of the Indian Art and Culture Society, said the “allegation” by Indian leadership that Pakistan was involved in the terror attack had upset the residents of Pakistan who showered all love on the visitors from Indian side.

She said during their stay in Pakistan they were free to move in markets. She said higher officials of the Pakistan government visited them. Even all senior officers were helpful to them.

Shiv Partap Bajaj, president of the Kendrya Sanatan Dharam Sabha (Northern India) and leader of the jatha, said a majority of their demands put up to Waqf Board and the Pakistan government had been fulfilled. He said stairs and “ghats” at Amar Kund, one of the important Hindu pilgrimage spots, had been repaired.

Ravi Mahendru, president of Jalandhar BJP, said anger among public was palpable there, but that did not appeared in their conduct 
and behaviour.


Trade fair: 77 from Pak confirm participation
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 1
The PHD Chamber of Commerce (PHDCC) has confirmed that a 77-member delegation from Pakistan will participate in the five-day international fair which opens here on December 3.

Chairman of the Punjab Committee of the PHDCC Rajiv Bali said despite Mumbai strikes Pakistani traders, led by Tahir Javed Malik, senior vice-president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce had been issued visas and expressed wish to be in the holy city on December 4 for inauguration of the fair.

Bali said the state government had directed the local administration and the police to make arrangements for the comfortable stay of the foreign guests and the smooth conduct of the business event. He said about 25 Pakistani exhibitors showcasing their products at the India International trade fair in New Delhi had confirmed their participation. He hoped the fair would reduce the tension created following the Mumbai strikes and act as a bridge between the business communities of both countries.

Co-chairman of the organising committee R.S. Sachdeva said the fair would trigger great economic activity which was the need of the hour in view of the global economic meltdown. He said the fair would enhance regional cooperation and resurrect the derailed economies of both nations.

Meanwhile, arrangements are in full swing at the venue of the fair at Ranjit Avenue where last-minute thrust is being given to make it a grand affair.


Docs pay tributes to Mumbai victims
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
In a meeting held here today, the Patiala Association of Allopathic Practitioners (PAPA), paid tributes to the martyrs of Mumbai terrorist attacks. A two-minute silence was observed in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in the operation.

President of the association Dr Satwant Sachdeva said doctors should teach people to rise above caste and religious barriers and inculcate patriotism in society.

“We should be proud of our soldiers who are always ready to defeat the nefarious designs of the enemies. A message of strong and united India should transcend in all countrymen of our nation,” he added.


11 poor couples tie knot
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 1
A Vedic Virat Sammelan held here yesterday concluded with a pledge to eradicate social evils and awaken the youth to moral and social degradation, besides working for the overall development of Punjab.

Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health and family welfare minister, called upon the youth to oppose social evils like female foeticide, dowry, corruption, racism and regionalism. She said the youth should shun the Western ways of life and return to their roots.

Chatanya Muni, founder of Sundar Nagar Math in Himachal, said India was capable of becoming world leader if it identified its internal powers.

Meanwhile, the Arya Pradeshik Pratinidhi Upsabha (APPU) thought of a campaign involving 10,000 youths to vow to banish dowry and female foeticide from the country to inculcate spiritual values enshrined in our ancient books for prosperous and meaningful life.

As many as 11 couples were married, besides providing 100 sewing machines to the widows, 50 tricycles to the handicapped and CD players with braille system to the blind on the occasion.

The 101 members, including Sikh youths who participated in the sammelan as a sign of solidarity, pledged to denounce the system of dowry and other social evils afflicting society.


Board approves panel for PTU VC’s post
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Board of Governors of the Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, today approved a panel of names to be forwarded to the state Governor for the appointment of vice-chancellor of the university.

A meeting of the Board of Governors here, which was presided over by chief secretary R.I. Singh, approved a panel following recommendation made by a search committee constituted for this purpose.

According to sources, an academic recommended by the state BJP might get the top post.

However sources said academics from outside the state also figure in the list. Secretary, technical education Tejinder Kaur only confirmed the board had approved a list of names.

Sources, however, said the board was by and large going by the recommendations made by the search committee constituted for this purpose.

They said the name of a former vice-chancellor, a former dean as well as noted academics from outside the state had figured in the list submitted by the search committee.

The Board of Governors of the PTU include Dr N.P. Singh, dean, Examinations of the university, R. S. Khandpur, director-general of Pushpa Gujral Science City, Narinder Sehgal of Kapsons industry, industrialist Chander Mohan and S.P. Oswal of Vardhman Spinning Mills.


Students exposed to art of film-making
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
The budding journalists got an opportunity to try their hands on crafting of films and TV programmes at a seven-day workshop-cum-symposium, “Vision 2020: Future of Media in Convergence Era”, at the Punjabi University, here today.

The workshop was organised by the varisty’s department of Journalism and Mass Communication. The two events were conducted by Prof Ujjwal K. Chowdhury, Dean, Symbiosis International University and director, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, Utpal Amerndra Chowdhury, a noted filmmaker and Pune’s FTII visiting faculty, and Imram Shahid, programming head of 90.4 FM. The interesting aspect of the workshop was that it was extended from four to seven days on the persistent demand of the students.

Utpal Chowdhry shared valuable tips with the students on ‘subtle nuances’ of film making and film appreciation, which included understanding film grammar, language, shot and scene analysis, picture composition, visualisation, script and screenplay writing, lighting and sound effects. His methodology included shot-by-shot and scene-by-scene analysis of at least a dozen Indian classics and Oscar winning films such as ‘Bicycle Thieves’, ‘Glasses’, ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘Happy Anniversary’, ‘Wedding’, ‘Clear Skies’, ‘Manthan’ and ‘Pather Panchali’.

In his keynote address, Prof Ujjwal Chowdhury said media convergence was opening a new chapter everyday, changing its landscape, its curves and contours. While talking about media convergence and its challenges, he strongly felt that as a result of this development, “very soon televisions, computers, mobiles and radio will be replaced by a single synthetic tool, even as it will bring about other big changes in the world of communication, both in its content and business”.

Terming the seven-day programme as ‘not less than a film festival’, students described it as a blessing to learn the process of film making. According to one of the students, Navita Madaan, Chowdhury, through his excellent demonstrative techniques, had made her learn the art of “condensing and expanding the real and reel times”. Similarly, another student Anshuman Gupta said, “This workshop has brought a complete transformation in me, having shown the path in my professional career. I was never exhausted even after the long eight-hour sessions.”

Dr Gurmeet Maan, head of the department described it as an eye-opener. It not only transformed every student’s perspective and style of thinking about the film making process, but also exposed them to learn the art of ‘reading’ a film, he said.


Nursing students to go on hunger strike
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 1
Nursing students of Patiala have decided to intensify their agitation. The students have been agitating to press their demands for payment of stipend and issuance of notification for the recognition of College of Nursing by the Punjab government. Presently, the college is affiliated to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.

As part of their intensified stir, 10 students of the college would sit on a day-long hunger strike in the premises of the Government Rajindra Hospital. The number of protestors would increase to 20 on Wednesday.

Navkiran Kaur, president of the nursing students federation, told The Tribune, here today, that the authorities had been ignoring their demands.

She further said the present College of Nursing was earlier functioning as School of Nursing before being upgraded in the year 2002.

While, students of the School of Nursing used to get GNM Diploma, now, after 4-year training, the students got BSc Nursing degree.

However, the college had not been notified by the government. As a result of which students could not get jobs in states outside Punjab or in foreign countries. Navkiran said the students were made to work for atleast 48 hours a week without any stipend. On the other hand, the para-medical staff members got Rs 4,500 as stipend per month.

She said last year they had met the health secretary and apprised him of the situation. However, nothing came out of it. Even on March 1 this year, the students held a meeting with the health secretary and Director Research and Medical Education (DRME) at Patiala where, the students claimed, they were assured stipend and also that the government would issue a notification to upgrade the facilities at the college.

She demanded that the students of nursing be paid a stipend ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 per month.


MCom students given MBA question paper
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 1
Guru Nanak Dev University’s supervisory staff here today distributed a wrong set of question papers among students appearing for M.Com part I examination causing confusion among them.

Students pointed out that they were given the question paper of MBA semester I instead of the M.Com question paper and the examination staff rectified the error after more than half an hour. They demanded that the university authorities compensate for the time lost as they were unable to answer the questions.


World AIDS Day
132 HIV+ cases detected in Sangrur
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 1
Two integrated counselling and testing centres (ICTCs) at Sangrur and Malerkotla Civil Hospitals have detected 132 persons, including 55 women, suffering from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the first 11 months of 2008. Two new ICTCs were recently established at Dhuri and Sunam Civil Hospitals to check the HIV status. During 2007, 129 HIV positive cases were detected in Sangrur district. However, these are not AIDS patients as an HIV positive case converts into AIDS patient after 10 to 15 years.

According to information, about 5,000 persons visited the Sangrur ICTC from January to November 2008, of whom 86 were found HIV positive, while about 3,000 persons visited the Malerkotla ICTC during the past 11 months, of whom 46 were found HIV positive.

Sangrur civil surgeon Dalip Kumar said an HIV test for every pregnant woman, registered in the hospitals, had been made mandatory. About 10 pregnant women had been detected HIV positive this year. He said every TB patient should also be tested for HIV and the HIV positive case referred to TB clinic for examination as both diseases were inter-linked.

In charge of Sangrur ICTC Inderjit Singla said the possibility of many other HIV-infected persons could not be ruled out in the district as many persons at the initial stage either did not know about the disease or hid the disease. Thus, they played a big role in infecting other persons.

Meanwhile, the local ICTC today observed the World AIDS Day by organising a painting exhibition, quiz and declamation contests at the Civil Hospital here. Dr Dalip Kumar, who presided over the function, disclosed that an anti-retro viral therapy treatment centre (ART centre) would soon start functioning here to treat HIV positive cases free of cost.

District TB officer Dr Surinder Singla, local Civil Hospital SMO Dr H.S. Bali, Dr Rahul Gupta and representatives of some NGOs also spoke on the occasion.

Seminar on AIDS awareness held

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, the NCC unit of Desh Bhagat College, Bardwal (near Dhuri), under the command of NCC officer Balbir Singh, organised a seminar on AIDS awareness on the college campus here on Monday. The seminar was presided over by Jaspal Singh Khroar, deputy director, Industry Department, Punjab, Chandigarh. District family welfare officer Makhan Singh delivered the keynote address. Principal of the college Hazura Singh welcomed the chief guest, speakers and NCC cadets.


Lawyer shot at
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 1
In an alleged property dispute case, a local advocate Gurbinder Singh Cheema reportedly sustained a gunshot injury on his hand near a local marriage palace on the Sangrur-Patiala road last evening. He is now under treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh. On the other hand, Jaspal Singh, son of Balkar Singh, who belongs to the other side, also reportedly suffered injuries on his face and he is under treatment at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

City in charge of the local police station William Jeji said this evening which side opened the fire could not be established.

However, the police had sent its men to Chandigarh and Patiala to record the statements of Cheema and Jaspal and on the basis of their statements the police would initiate proceedings to register the case.


Services of safai sewaks to be regularised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The Punjab government has decided to regularise the services of safai sewaks working in Mohalla Sanitation Committees as on April 1, 2008, and also recruit more safai sewaks. Manoranjan Kalia, local bodies minister, Punjab, said the safai sewaks working in the committees on this date would be recruited and their services regularised.

He said the committees had been formed in respective municipal corporations/councils to interview the candidates. Kalia added said the committee would regularise the services of the safai sewaks who met the recruitment criteria.

The age limit for candidates of the general category would be between 18 and 35 years and for Scheduled Caste candidates upper age limit would be 40 years.


High Court
Suo motu notice of liberal remission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Taking suo motu cognizance of liberal grant of remission to convicts in Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the state government to report on the actual situation.

Concerned over the matter, Justice S.D. Anand has asked for consideration of the issue on the judicial side. The Judge took cognizance of the practice after instances of convicts being granted remission came to his notice in criminal appeals.

In these matters, the remission was thoroughly inappropriate on the touchstone of illegality and propriety. The practice of granting such liberal remission was enabling the convicts to obtain release after undergoing meager period of sentence, Justice Anand observed.

The Judge was of the view that “exercise of power for grant of remission in such liberal, casual, lackadaisical manner prima facie amounts to cognizable travesty of justice.

“The records of the cases indicate that convicts had been allowed remission which were much larger than period of actual sentence undergone by the convict”.

Giving specific instances, the Judge noted that appellant Prithvi Kumar Das was convicted in August 2003 for 10 years rigorous imprisonment under section 376 of IPC. But, was released after four years six months and 20 days.

In another case, an accused in a heinous crime was on February 24, 2004, convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but availed remission of five years two months and two days.

Taking up the matter, the bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Nirmaljit Kaur issued notice for December 15.

Passport release

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann’s prayer for release of passport and two-month trip abroad was today allowed by Justice Pritam Pal.

The high court, while granting him bail in a matter, had directed him to deposit his passport with Kotwali police station at Amritsar and had asked him not to leave the country without permission.


Delhi court reopens case against MLA
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 1
The Delhi High Court has accepted two appeals of the Department of Customs and a local resident against the orders of a trial court in which local Congress MLA Joginder Pal Jain was acquitted under the benefit of the doubt following the death of a key witness in a case pertaining to foreign currency registered against him 20 years ago. The court has fixed December 4 as the date for arguments.

Two FIRs, one under Sections 417, 419 of the IPC, Section 12 of the Passport Act and the another under Sections 132, 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act- 1962 were registered against him on January 29, 1988. He was arrested by the custom officials while boarding a Thai Airways flight on a fake passport and was in possession of huge amount foreign currency packed in the boxes of sweets.

After becoming MLA in the last Assembly elections, Jain was detained by the police in this case after 20 years and he remained in the jail for about two months before being released by the High Court.

According to the documents available with The Tribune, he was found travelling on a fake identity of Mohan Lal, son of Ram Lal of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Ludhiana. In this fake passport case, he was recently convicted by a court, which imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 on him.

In the foreign currency case, he was acquitted by the court of Sanjeev Jain, additional chief metropolitan magistrate, in 2006, following the death of local resident Manohar Lal Grover, who was also travelling along with jain in the same flight.

However, the Department of Customs moved the Delhi High Court against this order of the trial court, which was accepted by the court. Meanwhile, Naresh Kumar Grover, son of late Manohar Lal Grover, also approached the Delhi High Court against the orders of the trial court and his appeal was also accepted by the court.

Grover had approached the High Court because the Department of Income Tax had launched prosecution against his deceased father to recover Rs 60 lakh penalty.


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