P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


‘Murdered’ man comes alive
5 have undergone life term
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, December 19
Twelve years after a man was murdered, he came alive much to the shock of the Jagraon police and the relatives of five persons who have already spent 10 years in imprisonment for the crime that was never committed.

Jagsir Singh (29), hailing from Tallewal village in Barnala, for whose murder these persons were convicted, was living with a changed identity at Chandigarh all these years. He was nabbed by the Jagraon police from Gurdwara Tahiliana Sahib yesterday where he had come to take money from his family.

His family had alleged in 1996 that he had been murdered by the then Sarpanch Nacchhattar Singh, his son, Sheera Singh, and their three accomplices. A body was also recovered from a village drain that was identified as Jagseer's body by his father.

After trying the witnesses in the case, the Additional Sessions Judge, Barnala, had sentenced Nacchhattar, Sheera and their accomplices Amarjit Singh, Surjeet Singh and Nikka Singh to life imprisonment in 1998.

Sheera died while languishing in Central Jail in Barnala and the rest four completed their sentences two months ago.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana Rural, G.S. Bhullar, said the case dated back to June 1996 when Jagseer, who was 17, was absconding due to a criminal case against him. His father Sukhdev Singh alleged the accused, who were his political rivals, had kidnapped and murdered him. A case was registered against the five under sections 364,302 and 34, IPC, at Bhadaur police station that ended in the conviction of the accused.

Meanwhile two days ago, the SHO, Raikot, Gurdial Singh received secret information that Jagseer was alive and he was in touch with his parents and would be visiting Tahiliana Sahib on December 18. They laid a trap but Jagseer gave them a slip. The police chased him and nabbed him in Seeloani village while he was travelling in a car after taking Rs 1.25 lakh from his family. The money was recovered from him along with an identity card and other documents prepared in the name of Baldev Singh as he had assumed a fake identity.

On investigating, the police found that he had contacted his father after the sentence but the latter asked him to stay away from the village as he would be arrested. Since then he was taking money from his family to sustain himself. He was depending on small jobs to sustain himself.

The Jagraon police has booked Jagsir Singh, his father, Sukhdev Singh, and his maternal uncle under various sections of the IPC. Jagseer was remanded in police custody by a court today.


Governor clears Arora as VC
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, finally got a regular vice-chancellor today with the Punjab Governor-cum-chancellor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today clearing the name of Dr Rajneesh Arora for the prestigious post.

In fact, with the appointment of Dr Arora, former vice-president of the Punjab unit of the RSS, the Parkash Singh Badal government seems to have its way in the appointment. Earlier, the Governor has reportedly sent the file back following media reports that the appointment of an active RSS worker would lead to the “saffronisation” of the technical education in the state.

The appointment of Dr Arora seems to be a part of the deal the SAD had with its partner, the BJP. Even Badal had gone on record saying that the appointment of the “RSS activist” would in no way lead the “saffronisation” of the technical education in the state. The government had recommended only one name to the Governor for the post.

Dr Arora, who has been principal of Amritsar College of Engineering and Technology, Amritsar, is credited with the launch of the placement department in Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has been the dean (alumni) of the Amritsar university and is also credited with working at the grassroots level for the tribals in Chhattisgarh. He will succeed Tejinder Kaur, principal secretary, technical education, who has been officiating as vice-chancellor following the resignation of Dr S.K. Salwan.

Dr Salwan, a renowned scientist, had reportedly resigned in April this year following an “uneasy relationship” with the “agitation-minded” staff of the university.

Dr Arora would have a tough task on hand in managing teaching and non-teaching staff, who had been on the warpath with the university management for the implementation of various demands, including enhanced pay and perks, regularisation of the ad hoc and contractual employees and more promotional avenues.


Consortium to run Jalandhar Medical College
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Fifteen years after it was conceived, the Jalandhar Medical College and Hospital will finally take off with the Punjab government today approving a bid of Rs 131 crore received for taking over the project spread over 56 acres.

According to sources, the government will sign an agreement with a consortium of St Joseph’s Health Care System, US, as well as the NRI Academy of Sciences, who have placed the successful bid within a fortnight. The bid was opened today.

The consortium will make the upfront payment of Rs 131 crore and will be handed over the campus of the medical college and hospital, which already had a building covering around nine lakh square feet of space. The medical college is expected to take in students from July, 2010.

Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will also pay an annual fee of Rs 6.25 crore from the eighth year onwards to the Medical Education and Research Department, which will keep on increasing by 5 per cent every year.

As part of its social responsibility, the consortium will run a 500-bedded hospital in which fee would be same as that of the PGI, Chandigarh. Admission to various courses will be according to Medical Council of India (MCI) norms. The consortium will, however, be allowed to run a super specialty hospital in the same premises, for which, it will establish its own fee structure.

The Punjab government had put a reserve price of Rs 120 crore upfront for handing over the medical college land and building in Jalandhar to a private party under the public private partnership (PPP) mode conceived by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB). It has invited expressions of interest and only two parties, Batra hospitals and the NRI consortium, had responded. However, the bid of Batra hospitals was disqualified and not opened as the company had made a conditional offer.

The project was conceived in 1992 during the tenure of the Beant Singh regime. However, its progress was sketchy with the building work being done in bits and spurts. The government had decided to award the project to a private party under a PPP initiative in 2006.



Amarinder, Bhattal set for another face-off
This time over Youth Cong chief’s post
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Punjab Congress bigwigs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Capt Amarinder Singh are set for another face-off, if their efforts regarding the election of the president of the Punjab Youth Congress to be held on December 23 is any indication. This is the first “democratic” election of the body.

The ongoing election, a pilot project, that is supposed to be democratic, has been completely hijacked by senior Congress leaders. Former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar’s grandson Karanbir Brar and senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar’s candidate Amarinder Singh Raja are also in the race for the top post, nominations to which closed this evening.

According to sources, the Bhattal camp is supporting the candidature of Sukhpal Bhullar, son of former minister Gurchet Bhullar while the Amarinder camp is supporting Ravneet Singh ‘Bittu’, grandson of former Chief Minister Beant Singh. Both camps have started hectic political activity to woo block presidents with Bhattal even meeting a delegation of newly elected block and district presidents in Chandigarh today.

The elections could well see new political equations arising in the state. This is because even though the Beant Singh family was perceived to be close to Bhattal, Amarinder is supporting the grandson of the slain Chief Minister.

Earlier, there was fierce politicking among senior leaders for the post of both the block and district presidents of the body. In Sangrur, the Bhattal group’s nominee was able to win the election to the post of district Congress president by four votes, largely due to the efforts of her supporter and district Congress president Surinderpal Sibia.

Sources said in Amritsar, senior leaders Jugal Kishore and O.P. Soni of the Amarinder group were up against Raj Kumar and Gurchet Bhullar of the Bhattal camp. The candidate of the Amarinder group emerged victorious by eight votes.

In another heavyweight contest, in Jalandhar rural, Choudhar Santokh Singh put up his son as candidate for the post of district president with the support of Choudhary Jagjit Singh. Their candidate emerged victorious after defeating the candidate supported by Pradesh Congress president Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

In Patiala rural, Lal Singh’s son Rajinder patronised a candidate who, however, lost to the candidate put up by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur. In Patiala (urban), former Mayor Vishnu Sharma’s candidate, who is the son of former Deputy Mayor Kabir Das, tied with the candidate of Preneet Kaur. In Ferozepur, legislator Sunil Jakhar’s nephew defeated the candidate of senior leader Ravinder Singh Bubble.

There have been few exceptions where ordinary Congress workers have triumphed. This includes Nawanshahr where district youth president Rajwinder Singh Lucky retained the post despite senior leaders, including Tarlochan Sood, Parkash Saini and Santosh Kataria opposing him.


SAD’s youth wing using government PR office
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 19
The District Public Relation Office (DPRO) of Ropar has extended its services to the Students’ Organisation of India (SOI), the student body of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Not only are the staff members of the public relation office rallying for the SOI and extending invitation to the media about its conferences and meetings, they have gone a step ahead by distributing press briefings amongst media regarding SOI’s activity.

In the recent incidences, the SOI formulated its district unit on Thursday and the task of spreading word to media was assigned to the government public relation employees. SOI not only uses the government machinery for their campaigning free of cost, but hasoverloaded the officials of public relation office with extra work. The government machinery is being blatantly misused for political purposes.

Sources in the department say that political workers keep on disturbing them with requests of publicising their activities in the media. It becomes difficult for the employees to meet with such “requests”, especially in the wake of acute staff shortage the department is reeling under.

There is neither DPRO nor an APRO at the district headquarters. Earlier in 1992, there were 30 employees at the district head quarters, whereas presently there are just 15 employees left.

The DPR office also does not have a computer of its own and has been using computer of the deputy commissioner’s office to send e-mails and other electronic transactions. Congress MLA Rana K.P. Singh said the SAD has been using the government machinery to promote its own political interest. He added that he would take up this issue in the Vidhan Sabha. 


Cracker dealers file affidavits against Ludhiana DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 19
Trouble for deputy commissioner, Ludhiana, Sumer Singh Gurjar deepened today with local fire cracker dealers complaining to the divisional commissioner, Patiala division, Jasbir Singh Bir that they had allegedly paid Rs 45 lakh to him to get the cracker sites allotted in their names during Diwali.

Bir was in the city today to inquire into the allegations of corruption against the deputy commissioner levelled by Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, Satpal Gosain. Following the allegations, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered an inquiry into the case and asked the divisional commissioner to look into the matter.

Led by Gosain, the dealers submitted affidavits to Bir at the Circuit House, claiming 60 of them had pooled in Rs 45 lakh to pay to the deputy commissioner as before Diwali.

Gosain demanded an immediate transfer of the deputy commissioner alleging that the dealers were threatened that they would be framed in police cases if they deposed before the divisional commissioner.

He alleged that the deputy commissioner was accepting Rs 2,000 as bribe from patwaris and residents to get their works done from the district administration. He said it was shameful that an IAS officer had stooped to such a low.

Later, Bir said he had listened to both parties and would submit the report to the Chief Minister by December 30. He said he was asked to complete the probe within three weeks.


Rs 20 cr released under Shagun scheme
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 19
The Punjab government has released a grant of Rs 20 crore for being disbursed under the Shagun scheme to 13,333 newly married couples.

Stating this at a public meeting in Muktsar district today, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the social welfare department had been ordered to disburse the money to eligible couples within a week.

A sum of Rs 1.19 crore out of the amount has been earmarked for Muktsar district to which Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Manpreet Singh Badal belong.

The finance minister said the SAD-BJP government was committed to removing the problems of salinity and waterlogging that farmers of Muktsar were facing. Seepage from the Rajasthan and Sirhind canals was the cause of waterlogging.

He said a Rs 1,200-crore project for relining these canals had been prepared and the work would be taken in hand after the harvest of the current crop.

He released a grant of Rs 46 lakh for the development of Husner village and Rs 1 crore for Buttar and three surrounding villages.

He said earnings of the state through VAT and CST till October last amounted to Rs 4,100 crore and the estimate of collection this year was Rs 7,000 crore. However, the collections could be doubled to Rs 14,000 crore in case VAT and CST were paid honestly.


Light showers bring cheer to farmers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 19
Fall in temperature due to light showers in various parts of the state today have brought cheer to farmers in the region. For the past several days, farmers were keenly waiting for rain.

Reports of rain have come from Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Amritsar, Jalandhar and other districts. “Obviously, even the light showers are good for rabi crops, especially for wheat at this stage,” said Balwinder Singh Sidhu.

“We were a bit worried as day and night temperature was relatively high during the past a few days. High temperature during December’s last fortnight is considered bad for the wheat crop which flourishes in cold conditions. Rain has come at the most appropriate time,” said Sidhu. Wheat has been sown in about 35 lakh hectares in Punjab. Last year, area under wheat crop was about 34.85 lakh hectares and its production was 156 lakh tonnes.

Rain will also prove good for the potato crop sown on about 70,000 hectares in the state. 


Education mess in Sangrur dist
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 19
It is a matter of concern for all education-loving people that hundreds of teaching and non-teaching posts have been lying vacant in the Education Department in the district due to which not only the studies of students, but also the administration related work in many high and senior secondary schools, has been affected adversely.

It is difficult to believe that out of 83 government senior secondary schools of the district only two schools have regular principals at Sunam and Dhuri Pind. Thus, 81 posts of regular principal are even today lying vacant. In Sangrur district, there are 75 sanctioned posts of principal, while eight senior secondary schools have no sanctioned post of principal so far. In these circumstances, the duties of principals are being performed by senior-most teachers.

As far as vacant posts of headmaster in government high schools of the district is concerned, that is also alarming. As many as 80 posts of headmaster have been lying vacant in high schools as only 32 schools have regular headmasters these days. The administration in these schools is also being run by senior-most teachers as a temporary arrangement.

According to information, the number of vacant posts of lecturer in various subjects in government senior secondary schools of the district is about 140, including 25 posts of history, 24 of political science, 23 of Punjabi, 19 of economics, 15 of mathematics, seven of commerce, six of physical education and five of physics.

Also, about 300 posts of teacher of different subjects have been lying vacant. According to the data gathered by this reporter, 61 posts of science teacher, 51 posts of social studies teacher, 49 posts of Hindi teacher, 48 posts of mathematics teacher, 37 posts of art and craft teacher are vacant in the district.

Besides the teaching cadre, many posts of non-teaching cadre in the Education Department are also vacant. These include four posts of superintendent, one of administrative officer in DEO office, 25 of senior laboratory assistant, 25 of clerk, about 100 of Class IV employee and about 100 of chowkidar in the schools. 


Punjab to launch pentavalent vaccine 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
In addition to introduction of hepatitis-B vaccination as part of the routine immunisation programme in Punjab in January 2008, the state is now poised to launch pentavalent vaccine (a single vaccination injection comprising diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis-B and vaccines Hi-b) in 2009.

This was revealed by Prof. Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health and family welfare minister, Punjab, yesterday, while addressing the district immunisation officers during a state-level sensitisation workshop held here in view of the forthcoming National Pulse Polio round as well as for routine immunization interventions. The Government of India has planned to introduce pentavalent vaccine in addition to Hepatitis-B vaccination in the routine immunisation programme in 10 best performing states.

Dr S.P.S. Sohal, director, health and family welfare, Punjab, stated that as per DLHS-3 (District Level Household Survey) summary report released by the government of India recently, Punjab is amongst the best performing states which have achieved 80 per cent or above coverage in the child immunisation programme. The government of India has planned to introduce pentavalent vaccine in these better performing states in the next financial year.

Dr V.K. Goyal, state immunization officer, emphasised on the importance of routine immunisation programme in saving thousands of children below 5 years of age. It is pertinent to mention that with Hi-b (Hemophilus Influenzae) vaccination, lives of hundreds of more children would be saved and it will contribute considerably in brining down IMR as well as child mortality rate. 


Gill denies allegations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Punjab former DGP K.P.S. Gill today said the story of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra being interrogated by him was concocted.

In a reply before the Bench headed by Justice Hemant Gupta, Gill said Khalra’s wife-cum-petitioner was trying to nail him only because he was the DGP at the time of the alleged occurrence.

“The menace of terrorism was curbed because of the untiring efforts of the respondent (Gill) and the police force. At the time when militancy has been weeded out, the petitioner is trying to portray that the effective control of the respondent makes him culpable for all illegal and unlawful acts by his subordinate. Petitioner Paramjit Kaur Khalra is seeking directions to CBI to probe the involvement of Gill in the matter.

IGP withdraws petition

Inspector-general of Punjab police Rajinder Singh today withdrew from the court the promotion matter, with liberty to take it up before the appropriate forum. Rajinder Singh had initially moved the court seeking directions to the state to consider him for promotion, along with his batch mates. His services have, currently, been placed under suspension.

Contempt notice

Justice Permod Kohli issued notice to the Amritsar Bar Association president and others asking them to show cause why proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act be not initiated.

Advocate Gurjinder Singh Arora, through counsel Suram Singh Rana, had filed the petition for expelling him from the bar for appearing in a case when the association was on strike. 


Rape case against Cong councillor
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 19
On the statement of the mother of an alleged rape victim, the local police today registered a case against Anupam Kumar, alias Pompy (a local Congress municipal councillor) and five others under Sections 376, 366-A and 120, IPC.

Local DSP Pritpal Singh Thind said the police had registered a case against Pompy, Punjabi singer Balbir Mann and his wife Naina and two others from Patiala.

The victim’s mother had said her minor daughter had been getting dance training at Patiala, from where Akbar Ali, Eisha and Naina took her to Balbir’s house at Sangrur on the pretext that they would arrange a job for her. Later, Pompy visited the house and raped her daughter. 


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