P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Mob sets bus on fire after kid’s death
Anjali Deswal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
A mob set afire the bus that had run over a 10-year-old boy, killing him on the spot, on the Barnala bypass here today. The bus belonged to New Deep Travels. Saurabh was killed in the accident while his younger brother Monu had a narrow escape.

According to sources, Saurabh, son of Shiv Raj Saxena of Chandsar Basti, was going home along with his seven-year-old younger brother Monu on a bicycle when the bus hit them near the Lion’s Club Community Centre. Saurabh got crushed under the bus while Monu was flung across the road. The bus was overtaking another vehicle when the accident took place.

Saurabh’s uncle, Sarvesh Saxena, who was following the children in a rickshaw, said he had taken the boys to the Nirankari Bhawan Satsang, situated on the Malout road, in the morning. He said the driver of the bus fled from the scene.

SP (city) Narinder Kaushal, SDM K.P.S Mahi, DSP (city) Dilbag Singh, Civil Lines police station in-charge Sandeep Singh also reached the spot.

The SHO said that a case was being registered against the driver of the bus. Those who set the bus on fire were also being identified by the police.

Baltej Singh, president of the Bathinda Mini Bus Operators Union, said: “Burning the bus was not a solution to the problem. In September also, a minor accident had taken place near the Polytechnic and the students had damaged the bus, but the administration did not do anything. Such incidents happen in Bihar but now they have started happening in Punjab also. Such public reactions will discourage drivers from performing duty with confidence.”

Saurabh was a student of Class III and his father is a scrap dealer.

A couple of days ago, a person was killed and six were injured on the same road.


Funding of constituencies biased: Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla said here today that there was little hope for Punjab to progress as a whole with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal allocating 65 per cent of his discretionary funds to the Lambi Assembly constituency. Singla is MP from this constituency.

Singla alleged besides Badal, who had doled out more than 65 per cent of discretionary funds for the Lambi area in 2008-09, his nephew and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had allocated more than 90 per cent of his discretionary funds to his Assembly constituency of Gidderbaha. Singla said the state of affairs was such that ever since the SAD came into power in 2007, more than 50 per cent of all discretionary funds had been doled out for Muktsar district alone.

Such actions were indicative that the Akali leadership had become desperate to woo back the people on their home turf. He said distributing funds “under the guise of development” would not change ground realities for the Akalis.

The youth leader said the SAD government had not even been able to translate the good policies of the UPA for the benefit of the common man in Punjab. The Swasthya Bima Yojana, that had provided cashless medical insurance of Rs 30,000 to about 4.5 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families, had remained on papers in the state and no health smart cards had been issued so far to the eligible beneficiaries in the first phase covering five districts of Punjab.

Singla said similarly funds under NREGA were not being accessed to the full and sincere efforts were not being made by the state or district administrations to issue job cards to unemployed rural poor under the scheme.


Fresh VB probe indicts Amarinder: SAD chief
Sukhbir de facto CM: Capt
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has alleged Amarinder Singh’s “involvement was surfacing” in seven-eight new scams . Reacting to the allegations by Sukhbir, Amarinder Singh has fired a salvo at Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asking the latter to explain in what capacity his son was making such statements.” 

He is known to preside over official meetings and handle official files etc. Have you given him such authoritiy and if so, has he been administered the oath of secrecy?” said the letter by Amarinder to Badal from his Moti Bagh palace residence. Copy of the letter was released to the media by Amarinder’s aide Major Amardip here today.

Targeting Amarinder , Sukhbir alleged Amarinder ‘s name was figuring in seven-eight more corruption cases apart from the Ludhiana City Centre scam, Amritsar Improvement Trust scam and the Intranet scandal. “Corruption of Rs 1000 crore is believed to have been done in these seven-eight new cases being investigated by the Vigilance Bureau,” said Sukhbir after inaugurating the 49th Inter-house athletic meet at Nabha-based Punjab Public School.

‘I don’t even want to comment on statements issued by Amarinder. Amarinder has been saying 50 Congress workers have been killed and another 7,500 have been booked during the SAD-BJP rule so far. If he is so sure, can he provide a list of these people? Could his government prove false allegations against us our family had acquired property worth Rs 3,500 crore?, said Sukhbir.

Sukhbir also attacked the UPA government saying it had pushed the country in quagmire of terrorism, economic slowdown and unrest. “Central government’s anti-people attitude could be assessed from the fact that the oil prices in the international market have come down from $142 to $ 42 per barrel but, the government reduced petrol prices by Rs 2 per litre only to benefit private oil companies. If the BJP-SAD alliance came to power at the Centre we will reduce petrol-diesel prices by Rs 10 a litre. The Bathinda seat would be contested by our family while, other candidates would be announced soon,” said Sukhbir Badal.

Reacting to Sukhbir’s statement and addressing senior Badal, Amarinder said,” As to the threat of registration of eight more cases against me, by your son. Please be free to file as many as you wish. In your arrogance however, I hope you remember that India is governed by a Constitution and the rule of law that emanates from it. We have a judicial system which protects individuals under this law, against such vindictive acts by governments that are habitual in flouting the law. By all means carry out your investigations by your now infamous Vigilance Department and file your cases’ said Amarinder.



Preneet opposes construction cess
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
Badal government’s decision to impose 1 per cent cess on new or old construction activities is anti-people as it will dampen the construction activities in the state.

This was stated by Preneet Kaur, MP from Patiala, here today. She said while the UPA government was persuading the public sector banks to bring down interest rates on housing loans, the decision of the Punjab government would put extra burden on those who aspired to build their own houses. Moreover, the municipal committee charged heavily while approving the building plans. PUDA charged at the rate of Rs 2.50 per square feet for the covered area before clearing the building plan, she added.

The UPA government has also stressed upon the public sector banks to waive the processing fee and other charges on loan applications. The Centre, as such, is contemplating promoting affordable housing to the middle class population, Preneet said.

She demanded the Punjab government should immediately withdraw the tax.


Defining Sehajdhari
Now Kolkata Sikhs revolt against SGPC
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
After Haryana, now it is turn of Kolkata Sikhs to express their differences with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

While the Haryana Sikhs are demanding independent body to manage affairs of historic gurdwaras of their State, Kolkata Sikhs have taken objection to the new definition of “sehajdhari” Sikh the SGPC has given to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

An emergency meeting of various Sikh organisations, gurdwaras and Singh Sabhas of Bengal was held at gurdwara Sant Kutiya in Kolkata on December 12 to discus the contents of the affidavit submitted by SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A resolution passed at the meeting took strong objection to change in definition of “sehajdhari Sikh from the one adopted in a resolution by the SGPC itself on May 12, 1938.

“Sikhs of West Bengal are perturbed to note the contents of the affidavit filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court declaring ‘ sehajdhari Sikh is a novice who has entered the path of Sikhism and will continue to be so till he fully accepts the morals and spiritual vows of Sikhism.’ This is dishonest reversal of the long-standing panthic stance on the most vital issue on which the SGPC had passed its own resolution on May 12, 1938.

“Further, it is no more relevant in Sikh Panth after the 1973 general house meeting of the SGPC demanding so- called Sehajdhari be disfranchised from the Sikh Gurdwaras Act of 1925 and which was subsequently accepted by the Government of India vide its notification (SO1190E) ceasing right of vote of sehajdharis in gurdwara elections.

The West Bengal Sikhs maintain t under the new definition any non-Sikh would pretend to be a sehajdhari to reap the benefit, if any, under the plea that he or she is on the way to adopting Sikhism.

They also contest the SGPC version the new definition was based on an expert committee report constituted by the SGPC executive committee. They said the report did not mention a word about the meeting held on February 4, 2008 in Amritsar where seven-member committee drafted the definition. The report was signed by at least six of seven members, hold the Bengal Sikhs.


Bazidpur makes most of Central scheme
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Bazidpur (Nawanshahr), December 14
Even as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), a dream project of the UPA government to provide at least 100-day employment to unskilled persons, has failed to come up to the expatiations of the common man in Punjab, this sleepy village located alongside the Sutlej has started reaping fruits of the scheme.

A chunk of over 50 acres of barren land, belonging to panchayat, on the right bank of the river has been made cultivable with the efforts of the Soil Conservation Department, Punjab, in just over an year. The project, taken up by the village panchayat under NREGA, provided employment to members of 30 families of the village for over an year. The land has been given to a contractor on a contractual basis for Rs 3.25 lakh for an year.

Narrating the success story of the project, sarpanch Kewal Singh was all praise for the officials of the Soil and Conservation Department, Nawanshahr, who had mooted the plan for bringing the barren land under cultivation.

“Gujjar families had been camping on the land for the past over a decade. Then the wild growth covered it after the water table declined and the Gujjars also migrated along with their cattle,” he recalled.

Former sarpanch Santokh Singh, who takes pride in motivating members of the panchayat for taking up the project, claimed that sincere efforts of the officials and dedication of the villagers made the project a success.

“Even after paying 20 per cent of the contract money to the Block Development Project Office (BDPO), the panchayat will have surplus money for other development works. The cost (over Rs 7 lakh) of the project will be recovered in just two years after giving the land on contract,” he revealed.

Talking to The Tribune, Nawanshahr divisional soil conservation officer Santokh Singh said villagers were enthusiastic over the project and worked with zeal. “Three tubewells were sunk on the land for proper irrigation of the entire chunk. The project, which was kicked off in December, 2007, has been completed before stipulated time in just 11 months,” he claimed.

Santokh Singh claimed that the department had also launched some other projects under NREGA and the villagers were getting the favourable results in the area.


Pak poets denied visa for mushaira
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Absence of Pakistani poets from Jashn-e-Sahir, 36th international mushaira here was a disappointment for the aficionados of Urdu poetry in the city. The mushaira, organised by the Adeeb International, was held here last evening where poets from various Indian states and the UK and the US participated.

Azhar Zaved, Shaista Nuzhat and Neelima Durrani were amongst the Pakistani shayars and shayaras who were invited for yesterday's mushiara but they could not make it as they were denied visa.

Jashn-e-Sahir, popularly known as 'Mecca' of Urdu poetry, has been a common platform for poets from India and Pakistan for 35 years. Reputable poets like Qateel Shefai, Faiz, Ahmed Faraz, Rukhsana Noor and Bushra Rehman of Pakistani origin had participated in the mushiara ever since its inception in 1972.

Rahat Indori, the noted Indian poet from Mumbai, a regular participant in the mushiara condemned the Mumbai blasts adding, "Such incidents are a blow to humanity but denying visa to the Pakistani poets will not change the situation instead it will break communication even on intellectual level. ‘Hum sab to mohabbat ka paigam den eke liye ikatha hotein hai (we l get together to convey the message of love and friendship) and we missed our counterparts from Pakistan," Indori had remarked.

Wasim Bareilvy, another acclaimed 'Urdu poet' from Bareilley echoed the same thoughts as he termed 'Jashn-e-Sahir' as a common platform for Indian and Pakistani poets to unveil emotional, cultural and socio-economical scenario with a positive thought. "It's the time to act in unison and defeat the anti- social elements."

Speaking in his capacity as patron of the Sahir Cultural Academy, Dr Kewal Dheer, the chief organiser of the mushaira said Sahir was a poet who wrote vigorously for peace and friendship. "Sahir equally belongs to people of India and Pakistan as he lives in the hearts that recite his poetry," said Dr Dheer. 


Sangha is chief of women’s welfare panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Punjab government today appointed Gurdev Kaur Sangha chairperson of the Punjab State Women Commission.

Harcharan Bains, media adviser to the Chief Minister said Kiranjit Kaur and Ranjit Kaur Bhatti had been appointed members of the Punjab State Women Commission from the general category and Pushpinder Kaur Mazboor from the SC category. Bains added former minister Dalip Singh Pandhi and former MLA Parkash Singh Gardhiwala had been appointed member of the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission. 


Smuggling of foreign currency case
Moga Cong MLA Jain in spot
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 14
Local Congress MLA Joginder Pal Jain seems to be in trouble. The Delhi High Court has clubbed together two appeals filed against his acquittal by a metropolitan court in a case of smuggling of foreign currency and fixed December 16 for arguments.

The Customs Department recovered more than Rs 16 lakh foreign currency rupees from a brief-case allegedly belonging to Jain from the international airport at Delhi on January 28 night in 1988 when he was trying to go to Bangkok on a fake passport.

The appeals filed by the Department of Customs and one Naresh Kumar Grover in this regard came up for hearing on December 4 before two separate benches of the Delhi High Court due to which arguments could not take place. Due to this , the court ordered to club together both appeals for arguments in one court. The high court also ordered the counsel of Grover would assist the counsel of the Department of Customs during arguments.

The facts of the case reveal two separate FIRs- one under Sections 417, 419 of the IPC, Section 12 of the Passport Act and the other one under Sections 132, 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1962 were registered against Jain on January 29, 1988. He was arrested by the Customs officials on the spot. A case under ‘The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974’ was also lodged against him.

As per documents with The Tribune, he was found travelling on a fake passport with false identity of Mohan Lal son of Ram Lal of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Ludhiana. In this case, he was recently convicted by a court imposing a fine of Rs 3000 on him.

After becoming MLA in last Assembly elections, Jain was also detained by the local police under COFEPOSA after 20 years and he remained in the jail for two months before he was released by a court. 


District planning panels constituted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The government today constituted district-level planning committees in 12 out of the 20 districts of the state. The orders to this effect were issued under Punjab District Planning Committees Act-2005.

Giving details of the government’s decision, Harcharan Bains, media adviser to Chief Minister, said the committees were being set up to broad-base decision making process.

The committees would prepare the draft plans for their respective districts, ensure their implementation and monitor progress of various development schemes meant for their areas. “The Chief Minister has directed the respective administrations to work through these committees and ensure the implementation of a grassroots approach to development,” said Bains.

Balwinder Singh Bhunder heads the Mansa District Planning Committee, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Sikandar Singh Maluka and Surjit Singh Rakhra would head the committees of Kapurthla, Bathinda and Patiala, respectively. Similarly, Gobind Singh Longowal, Harmit Singh Sandhu (MLA), Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, Balbir Singh Ghunnas, Gurcharan Singh Channi, Harmit Singh Bhittiwala, Lakhbir Singh Araianwala and Tarsem Singh Rattian have been made chairpersons of the committees of Sangrur, Taran Taran, Fatehgarh Sahib, Barnala, Jalandhar, Muktsar, Faridkot and Moga, respectively.


Country’s farm policies pro-landlords: Kanwaljit
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
If there number of families depending upon agriculture for sustenance is diminishing it is primarily because of elitist policies of the country revolve round big landlords and farmers.

“If small and marginal farmers elsewhere in Asia can make farming on half an acre of land remunerative, why not in India,” says Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Quoting examples of small and marginal farmers of Japan, Vietnam and other South East Asian countries, he says in Punjab even those with land holdings up to five acres were finding it “un-remunerative”.

This is one reason that a latest study by Punjab Agricultural University says that number of families dependent upon agriculture has come down to nine lakh from 13.5 lakh 10 years ago.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who attended meeting of the International Cooperative Association in Hanoi says India in general and Punjab has to learn a lot from other agro-economies to make its agricultural self sustaining and efficient.

“I will be briefing the union government about the proceedings of the Hanoi Conference and impress the need for policy shift in policies making agriculture pro-small and marginal farmer so that it can sustain as main avocation for majority of people.

In Punjab, the Cooperative Movement has not been sustaining rural agro economy but also working for empowerment of rural women. The health care being extended to those associated with the cooperative movement was not only the cheapest but also promises the highest quality of health care at their door step.

Further, he says, the message given by the Hanoi Conference was loud and clear. It is “Co-operative movement that has prevented worldwide financial meltdown from hitting the farm sector. It has a big message for India and we should now take notice of writing on the wall and make amends before it is too late,” adds the Punjab minister.

He maintains Punjab was far ahead of most of the countries in co-operative sector and new innovative practices.

Talking about the sugar mills in the cooperative sector, he says reports of consultancy firms are awaited before deciding about the future of these mills. These mills need at least Rs 1100 crore for their upgrade and modernisation to become efficient and remunerative. Their capacities are also to be raised.

Though there are speculations these mills may be leased out to private companies, no final decision has been taken as yet.


Delhi jatha pays obeisance
Varinder Walia and Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
A Sikh, no matter where he lives, pays obeisance at the Golden Temple and visits “Sifti Da Ghar” on the occasion of “sangrandh”.

It is monthly affair for the Guru Teg Bahadur Sewa Sabha (GTBSS), New Delhi which organises these monthly religious trips for hundreds of devotees who can not afford to pay for the visit to the holy shrine for obeisance at Darbar Sahib. The jatha has been coming to the holy shrine for four years and 20 per cent of the devotees increase every year.

Continuing this, a 1200-member Sikh Jatha from gurdwara Sheesh Ganj , New Delhi, which arrived here today in a train besides paying obeisance would offer sewa (services) at langar (community kitchan) and joda ghar. The devotees will also pay obeisance at gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh and return to New Delhi tomorrow. Among the devotees about 25 per cent Sikhs are Sehejdhari Sikhs mostly belonging to business community besides having settled in Delhi after migrating from Sindh (now in Pakistan) during partition.

Kanwal Sethi, who had migrated from the Sargodha area of Pakistan said the devotees who have to register their names with the GTBSS about one month prior to the visit are only charged the two- way fare. He said the sabha also makes arrangements for the travel of the poor devotees who can’t pay the fare.

Before boarding the train at New Delhi railway station the devotees wash their hands and feets and Shabad Kirtan and Gurbani continues during the journey. No one is allowed to indulge in chatting between themselves or playing games. 


ASI files complaint against Gabria
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
An ASI has accused jails minister of detaining him illegally in his office. ASI Hardev Singh of the Basant Avenue police post has alleged that jails minister Hira Singh Gabria detained him illegally in his office for half an hour yesterday, abused him and threatened to get him dismissed from the service for booking supporters of the minister in a land-grab case.

Hardev, in a complaint to the Sadar police, alleged that he went to Gabria’s office yesterday after he received a phone call from DSP, Sadar, Paramjit Singh Pannu.

According to the complaint, the DSP told Hardev to go to Gabria’s office and discuss a case (number 261) registered under Sections 447,511,506 and 311 of the IPC. When he reached there, Gabria was present in the office along with the persons named in the case.

Gabria bolted the door of his office from inside and used abusive language besides threatening the ASI for having booked his supporters. He also threatened him to get him dismissed from the services.

“The minister kept me standing in the room for half an hour and I suffered a lot of mental and physical agony,” said the ASI.

Meanwhile, Gabria termed the allegations as a bundle of lies. He said he had asked the ASI to inquire into the case after listening to both parties and then register a case. He added DSP Pannu was also on the spot as he talked to the ASI. The minister said the ASI was playing in the hands of his political rivals. SSP R.K. Jaiswal said he was verifying the facts.


VAT, CST collection up
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Value Added Tax (VAT) collection is on the rise with the state totalling up a combined VAT and CST collection of Rs 4,100 crore till October this year and raising its annual target to Rs 7,000 crore even as the Excise and Taxation Department has initiated the process to recruit staff.

According to sources, the VAT and CST collections have risen from Rs 3,000 crore recorded till October last year to Rs 4,100 crore till October this year, which is an increase of 33.4 per cent.

The VAT collection is encouraging if one takes into account that Punjab had slipped to the third most bottom slot during the past two years of the Congress rule. This year, it has recorded the third highest position in the country.

Finance minister Manpreet Badal, when questioned on the issue, said the complete potential in VAT collection was still to be tapped. He said with the kind of consumption happening in the state, it had the potential to gather Rs 14,000 crore annually on this front. Manpreet said he was aware that the department was facing a number of shortcomings, particularly on the employee front and that efforts were being made to resolve these issues.

The sources disclosed that the Excise and Taxation Department had sent a requisition for recruitment of 74 excise and taxation officers (ETOs). Besides, it had earlier decided to recruit 169 inspectors. The latter recruitment has been challenged in the High Court and though Panjab University had taken a test in this regard, the results are still to be declared.

While VAT is showing a steady increase every month, excise figures are still to catch up. Department sources said excise collection till October this year had totaled to Rs 1,050 crore against Rs 1,130 crore till October last year. The sources said the department expected to net around Rs 1,800 crore by way of excise collections in the current financial year.

The sources said auditing VAT collections and making recoveries where needed was still a problem area and would be addressed only after infusion of more staff in the department.

ETO Officers Association president Paramjit Singh said ETOs were given charge of more than one jurisdiction and were working in field areas without requisite staff or facilities. He also demanded that the government should stop the practice of posting PCS officers to senior posts like assistant, deputy and additional excise and taxation commissioners as such postings only created obstacles in smooth functioning of the department.


Prosecution of public servants in graft cases
Punjab govt sits on files
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Despite the ruling of the Apex Court specifying that competent authority should expeditiously take a decision on the request of the investigating agencies seeking grant of sanction for prosecution of a public servant in corruption cases, the government is still sitting on such files.

The dicta of the Apex Court appears to have no effect on the Punjab government, which is sitting over a number of cases sent to it by the CBI for seeking sanction for prosecution of various IAS/ IFS officers. The information obtained by advocate H.C. Arora from the superintendent of police, CBI, Chandigarh, under the RTI Act, 2005, reveals that the CBI had sent the report to the chief vigilance officer, Central Board of Excise and Customs, New Delhi, seeking prosecution of Virender Prabhakar, assistant commissioner and certain other officials of the department under Section 420, 467, 471 IPC read with Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, the decision of the government is still awaited.

Similarly, DIG of police, Chandigarh, had in a letter dated January 21, approached the chief secretary of the government of Punjab, requesting for grant of sanction for prosecution of Lt Col B.S. Sandhu (retd.); J.S. Samundri, IFS, the then divisional forest officer, Ropar, Harish Kumar, IFS, the then deputy conservator of forests, planning and investigation, Hoshiarpur, K.B.S. Sidhu, IAS, the then chief administrator, PUDA, Mohali, Rajiv Bajaj, estate officer, Forest Hill Resort (Pvt) Karoran, WWICS Pvt. Ltd. through its managing director, Lt Col (retd.) B.S. Sandhu, and Dashmesh Educational Society, for their prosecution under various provisions of PC Act, 1988 and those of Indian Forest Act, 1927,and Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, and those of Forests (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The state government, however, failed to take a decision on the request of the CBI for grant of sanction for prosecution of above said persons, resulting into issuance of reminders dated March 14, 2008, by the CBI to the joint secretary, government of India and CVO, ministry of environment and forests, New Delhi.

The SSP, CBI/ACB/ Chandigarh, vide letter of July 11, 2008, addressed to D.D. Ternach, additional secretary (Pers), the government of Punjab, stated that as per guidelines issued by the CVC in this regard on May 12, 2005, the CBI was not required to consider any representations subsequent to the completion of the investigation.

The SP further observed in his letter that the grant of sanction was an administrative act, the purpose of which was to protect the public servants from harassment by frivolous prosecution and not to shield the corrupt. The SP, therefore, requested that sanction for prosecution of the accused, K.B.S. Sidhu, IAS, Harsh Kumar, IFS, and J. S. Samundri, IFS, may kindly be expedited. 


Abandoning ashes of the dead
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
It may sound shocking but is a fact that a number of bags containing ashes of mortal remains are lying in the lockers of cremation grounds, waiting for their kin to take them for performing the last rites.

During a visit to two such cremation grounds here, TNS found a number of boxes of the cloak rooms locked with rusted locks, which appeared as if no one had even touched them since a long time.

When asked, employees working there said many persons came, cremated the deceased, collected mortal remains, dump those in lockers and then forgot all about it.

Karamjeet Singh, who looks after the cloak room and other activities at Ram Baag, a cremation ground run by Mahaveer Dal, said, “This room has a capacity of 42 lockers but one third of the almirah has been occupied since the past couple of months. No one has come even to ask about the ashes lying here.”

“We have raised an instruction board that one can not claim for the remains after a lapse of 15 days, even then people are callous. When we find the shortage in storage capacity, we break open the locks, put ashes in jute bags and send them to Haridwar for performing their last rites,” he added.

At another cremation ground, Swaragpuri, run by welfare society Patti Mehna in Bathinda, the caretakers told that they too had been waiting for half of the occupied lockers to be opened since the past two years.

Showing rusty locks, Ramu Kumar, a caretaker said, “The condition of locks, which had been put by the kin of the deceased, would itself be sufficient to indicate the time since they had not been opened.”

“We had to break three locks and immerse ashes in the Sirhind canal due to scarcity of space and resources,” he added.

He said there was a bag of ashes lying in a locker, whose kin, a cloth merchant from Gujarat, came and assured them to take the ashes soon but never did.

When contacted, Vijay Kumar, who runs Sahara Jan Seva, a helpline NGO, said, “I am also aware of the fact but I think poverty could be the reason for such an inhuman act.”

“On my part I can say that NGOs working the city will always be there to perform the last rites of all, whose kin are unable to perform such rituals.” he said.


Science Express reaches Bathinda
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 14
How and when did the cosmos come into existence? In its phase II round, the Science Express that chugged into the Bathinda railway station here yesterday, probably had the answer. At least, it could tell you where to find it.

For all those who have found science interesting at some point in their lives, the Science Express is something to visit. The 16-coach air-conditioned express train has a wealth of information on the mysteries of science. Starting from the origin of human life to complex phenomena such as gene sequencing and bio-engineering, it takes one through the modern developments taking place in physics, chemistry, biology and biotechnology.

Science Express, which started from New Delhi on November 30, reached Bathinda for its fourth halt. A joint venture of the union ministry of science and technology, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, research organisation Max Planck Society and BASF, the chemical company, the Science Express is an attempt to develop a scientific temper in students and encourage them to pursue their interest in science. It will leave for Jaisalmer on December 17.

About 40 research scholars from Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad, explained the exhibits to the visitors and interacted with the students.

The multimedia exhibits, visual images, video clips and working models displayed in the train were as fascinating as the scientific concepts themselves. The “chaotic pendulum”, indicating the sheer unpredictability of natural phenomena and positron emission tomography, which could detect neuro-degenerative diseases, are instances of scientific brilliance. While most students who visited the express were from classes VIII and IX, it is mainly aimed at students from Class IX to the undergraduate level. How do stars and planets originate? How are memories formed inside the brain? What are the energy sources of the future? These are among the concepts that are displayed in the coaches. The exhibits also include genetics, computer applications in medicine, the secrets of the universe, nano cosmos, energy sources of the future and the challenges the globe faces.

“I am very excited to be here. The fact that we can interact with exhibits with the help of multimedia is really exciting,” Saurabh, a student of DAV High School, said.

Another student Naman said, “I liked the section on the universe and galaxies. The way things are explained, I feel schools, too, should take an initiative to explain things in this innovative way.”

“We have 16 coaches in the train meant for educational and informational purpose. Students here are informed and educated on various aspects of science and technology and they show curiosity to learn more,” said Dilip Mirzapure, project coordinator.


Film city to be part of Punjabi varsity’s media centre
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 14
Giving wings to dreams of future filmmakers, Punjabi University has envisaged to come up with a “Film City” as part of its upcoming media centre.

The varisty has already earmarked an amount of Rs 4 crore for construction of its state-of-the art media centre, spread over an area of around 30,000 sq ft. Besides, the varisty has planned to reserve its 3 acre of land for setting up of the film city to meet the requirements of 
outdoor shooting.

The media centre will be equipped with audio and video studios, high-end professional photographic and film equipment, multimedia labs, editing and graphic labs, preview audiotorium, seminar room, live TV broadcast studio and a community radio set-up.

This person behind this is varsity’s vice-chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh, who has completed one year in his office. The special beneficiaries of the VC’s would be the university library, Guru Gobind Singh Bhavan and department of journalism and mass communication. Apart from this, the VC has granted “financial autonomy” to the teaching and research departments of the university.

Dr Jaspal Singh said Rs 1 crore had been reserved for replenishing and refurbishing the one-of-its-kind religious centre in the world for carrying out teaching and research works on the subject of comparative religion studies. Known as Guru Gobind Singh Bhawan, the imposing building houses the department of Religious Studies and Encyclopedia of Sikhism. The bhavan will be centrally air-conditioned and will have a 100-seater auditorium. Another Rs 2 crore has been earmarked for total air-conditioning of Dr Ganda Singh main library which happens to be one of the richest libraries in the region. Both these projects have been targeted to be completed in a year’s time as work has already been initiated.

To make the functioning of the teaching and research departments hassles-free, the VC has approved Rs 1 lakh as an independent grant to each of the teaching and research departments for the upgradation and strengthening of their infrastructure. The money could be used for emergency needs and carrying out necessary amendments and repairs. Through an order, he has authorised the Department Administrative Committees (DACs) to make proposals to be approved by the registrar for spending the required money.


Medical officer held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 14
The Vigilance Bureau here has nabbed a medical officer and a pharmacist of Gurdaspur Civil Hospital for allegedly demanding bribe for issuing medical report of victims injured in a dispute.

Dilbagh Singh Gill, SSP Vigilance said today Dr Harbhajan Maddi, medical officer and Ashwani Kumar, pharmacist were nabbed while accepting the bribe. They were booked under Section 7, 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act on the complaint of Baljit Singh whose father- in- law Santokh Singh, a resident of Babbehali (Gurdaspur) was injured in a dispute with Manjit Singh and others of the same area.

Baljit alleged t the accused demanded Rs 4,000 for issuing the medical report. However, the matter was later settled at Rs 3,000. He said the complainant gave Rs 1,000 in advance and remaining Rs 2,000 was to be given today. He said the medical officer took the amount and out of this gave Rs 500 to the pharmacist.


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