P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Truly, they’re driven like cattle
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Bhagu Majra (Kharar), January 10
Nothing is right at the monthly cattle fair held in this sleepy village on Kharar-Morinda road.

Cattle are being transported for slaughter, animals are heaped one upon another in dingy vehicles, cattle fair contractor allegedly does not allow any government official to oversee the system and cattle traders accuse contractors of overcharging them. Besides Rajpura, Bhagu Majra hosts another such fair where cattle are brought for slaughter.

As per rules of the government, only unproductive animals can be slaughtered, whereas at the fair, TNS found calves, as young as six months old, being unloaded from the canters for slaughter.

A veterinary officer is supposed to give these animals fitness certificates before anyone buys them for slaughtering. Dr RK Arora, senior veterinary officer in charge from animal husbandry department, had visited the fair only once and not issued even a single fitness certificate. The fair “boasts” of dealing in around 400 to 500 cattle daily.

“I was posted here seven months ago. After joining I visited the fair, but the contractor said he did not need any doctor to oversee the cattle. I brought the matter to the notice of my seniors as well as SDM, Kharar,” said Dr Arora.

In 2004, the Punjab government gave these fairs on contract basis to private persons. Since then, government officials are continuously facing problems of being threatened by fair contractors.

Not only animals and government officials, but even government treasury is at the receiving hands of these contractors. The government fee per cattle is Rs 5, whereas these contractors charge more than Rs 40. Swarn Singh, sarpanch of village Shatabgarh from Machhiwara says, “Every trader is at the receiving end. Not only the entry fee is being overcharged, the contractor even demands at least Rs 1,000 earned from selling each animal.”

Sarpanches of around 10 villages from Machhiwara area have already given a representation to the director, rural development, but nothing has been done so far.

RK Gupta, SDM, Kharar, said he had spoken to the senior veterinary officer (SVO) regarding this issue. “I have directed the SVO to lodge a formal complaint with the DSP Kharar and also directed the DSP to take action against these contractors,” he said.


National Youth Festival
Sidhu lodges protestover protocol breach
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 10
A major protocol controversy has erupted even before the opening of the 14th National Youth Festival here being organised for the first time in the state.

Taking strong umbrage over the alleged breach of protocol by ignoring local BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu time and again, the leadership in the state has urged the state government to redefine the protocol procedure for the forthcoming festival being jointly organised by the Centre and the state government at Guru Nanak Dev University here on January 12.

According to Sidhu, his status as representative of more than 12 lakh electorate of the key parliamentary constituency of the holy city has been belittled for the third time in a row. He said during the national celebration connected with the centenary celebrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh held here last year and also on the opening of the regional passport office here in August last year, he was not provided a seat on the dais. He was also no allowed to address the audiences on both occasions.

Sidhu added that during the centenary celebrations, he thought it was an omission but the second time, it was a blunder. Now, it is third time in a row and is deliberate and intentional. Sidhu said he had received invitation from the Vice-President of India and MS Gill, Union Minister Of State For Sports And Youth Affairs.

Taking the fight to the SAD alliance partner camp, in-charge of BJP affairs in Punjab Balbir Punj said if the government festival was organised jointly by the state and the Centre, Sidhu should be given his due place. In case he was ignored by the Centre, they would take up the matter with them.

The local BJP leadership have expressed their annoyance over the matter and threatened to not to allow the function to be held if Sidhu was not given his due place.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner KS Pannu said he had conveyed the protocol procedure to the Centre and confirmation has been sent that Sidhu would seated on the dais during the inaugural function of the youth festival. 


Begins cleanliness drive, removes his posters
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 10
Just a couple of days after raising the issue of huge hoardings put up in blatant violations on high-rise buildings around the Golden Temple, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today removed the hoardings with his pictures installed by his party outside the Hall Gate area here today.

However, he avoided media queries on billboards put up by other political leaders saying he could not force others to do the same. He said if anybody wanted to install hoardings, he should rent a unipole rather than dotting every nook and corner of the holy city.

Talking to mediapersons, he said he had asked the administration a number of times to frame an advertising policy. However, nothing had been done so far.

He said it was the joint decision by him and Union Minister for Sports MS Gill to raise the issue of hoardings and high-rise buildings around the Golden Temple that had become an eyesore for visitors.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had imposed a blanket ban on such hoardings on railway tracks and roads within the municipal corporation limits as it distracted the attention of drivers and caused accidents.

Others who accompanied the MP included Mayor Shawet Malik, BJP district president Col Amrik Singh (retd) along with officials of the municipal corporation. 



Review PCS appointments: Khaira

Chandigarh, January 10
Congress MLA from Bholath Sukhpal Singh Khaira has urged the state government to appoint a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to review and make afresh the recommendations for appointment to the Punjab Civil Services.

The criteria to be followed should be strictly merit, seniority, ACRs, impeccable image and other qualities that should be made hallmarks for recommendations for the appointment as PCS officers.

In a letter to the chief secretary, Khaira said the Congress had taken notice of the mala fide intentions of the government to infringe upon the rights of meritorious officers. — TNS 


Sukhbir promises sops to ginning mills facing closure
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
Sukhbir Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, today said the government would provide uninterrupted electric supply to the ginning mills to benefit cotton growers of the Malwa region. He told reporters here that more incentives to the ginning mills facing closure would be considered.

However, he blamed the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for creating problems for Punjab farmers. He said the Congress MPs were silent over the farmers’ problems and not pressuring the Centre for some scheme to bail out the growers. They were also silent on exorbitant prices of petroleum products.

He said the PSEB would formulate incentives for residents of the localities facing flyash pollution around the three thermal power stations at Ropar, Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat .

The SAD chief said the government would focus on administrative and education reforms and steps to make Punjab a power surplus state in the current year. A sum of Rs 400 crore would be spent on upgrading the education infrastructure.

Various facilities would be outsourced and privatised at the district level to remove problems of people. He said filing of FIRs online with the police was also being considered.

He said setting up of a state-of-the-art cancer hospital, five-star hotel and international stadium here would be decided in two months.

Bids were being sought again for building air-conditioned bus stands at Bathinda and Mohali. In three years 80 per cent of the PRTC fleet would be air-conditioned for comfortable travel of poor people.


CBI witness meets SAD chief
SP Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 10
In an interesting development, Khatta Singh, key CBI witness in the high-profile murder and rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, met SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal here today.

Sukhbir and Khatta Singh were closeted in the field hostel of the PSEB where the former also met a number of deputations and interacted with mediapersons.

Khatta Singh had come with his son Gurdas Singh to meet Sukhbir and appraise him about the threatening letter purported to have been written by some Dera supporters. It was mentioned in the letter that Khatta Singh’s son would be eliminated if he deposed in the court.

The CBI witness said he had sought police protection for his son and himself. He was a former driver of the Dera chief and said he was an eyewitness to many happenings in the Dera headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana.

The Dera chief had openly supported the Congress during the last Assembly elections.


City Centre Scam
Cong was paid Rs 55 lakh: VB
 Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, January 10
Today Homes Company had paid Rs 55 lakh to the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) in two instalments for seeking ''undue favours'' in the City Centre project.This was stated by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) in the court of Sessions Judge GK Rai during the hearing of the City Centre scam case here today.

The matter came to light when defence lawyer representing GK Gambhir, managing director, and Vinay Subhiki, vice-president, Today Homes Company, objected to the summoning of his clients by the bureau.

He said after the chargesheet had been filed in the court, the prosecution had no right to summon an accused. He even moved an application requesting the court to direct the prosecution to file reply why his client was being summoned in the bureau office.

In response to it, bureau’s special public prosecutor Mitter Sain made this revelation. The court directed the prosecution to file reply on January 19.

Later, SSP, Vigilance, KS Sandhu said Rs 30 lakh was paid in October 2005 by cheque when the City Centre project was being finalised. Again Rs 25 lakh was paid in January 2006, when contract of Sunil Kumar Dey was cancelled in favour of Today Homes.

He said the bureau had collected the details from the information supplied by the AICC to the Election Commission of India. It has been shown under the income head 'party fund', whereas the accused persons termed it charity. But the AICC was not a charitable institution, added the SSP.

After hearing the arguments, the judge directed the defence lawyers to complete inspection work till Janaury 29. The case was adjourned for the framing of charges to January 31.

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh did not appear in the court citing ill health.


Pbi varsity defaces documents 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
For every provision in the Right To Information Act (RTI), public offices of Punjab seem to have a counter “provision”. In what was seemingly a bizarre attempt to hide information, the Punjabi University, Patiala, allegedly handed over thousands of pages to a Chandigarh-based lawyer with the relevant information on these “defaced” with permanent ink.

The information had been sought by advocate HC Arora of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and when he received the defaced pages, he brought the matter to the notice of the Punjab State Information Commission through a complaint.

In his complaint, Arora stated that he had filed an application under the RTI Act with the public information officer of the Punjabi University, seeking all relevant documents of various appointments made in the university during the tenure of former Vice Chancellor SS Boparai.

Arora received “free of cost” information and documents comprising 12,500 pages. However, on perusal of the documents, he noticed that on all the applications and the appointment letters, the addresses of persons concerned had been defaced with colouring ink in such a manner that those addresses could not be read.

He alleged that this was a case of tempering of documents by or on behalf of the PIO, with deliberate intention to conceal the addresses of the candidates who had been illegally appointed during the tenure of Boparai. Arora requested that the State Information Commission should direct the institution of disciplinary proceedings against the SPIO or any other official responsible for furnishing tempered documents to him.

During the hearing of the complaint, Kulbir Singh, state information commissioner, observed, “It is a very serious matter which shows that information is not deliberately supplied. PIO is directed to provide complete information in original form to the complainant and should also appear personally on the next date of hearing and should file an affidavit why action should not be taken against him.”

Arora added that the university had supplied about 12,500 pages to him free of cost. “Had the PIO provided documents within 30 days, the university would have earned Rs 25,000 for those documents. Now, the authorities have to bear huge expenses on providing to the complainant the photostat copies of all the 12,500 pages of documents at its expense,” said Arora.


Inside Babudom
Maini likely to get Mining
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
As officers belonging to the early ’70s batches are heading for superannuation, some of the lucky ones may also get important assignments to cap their otherwise outstanding careers in civil services on a cheerful note.

Jivtesh Singh Maini may become secretary, Department of Mining. Belonging to the 1974 batch, Maini has had a brief stint as chairman of the National Highway Authority of India before he landed in the Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises as secretary, Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises.

In fact, after serving the Congress government headed by late Beant Singh, Maini has preferred to stay put in the Union capital holding various positions, including Punjab’s resident commissioner in Delhi.

Grapevine has it that he will be replacing Shantanu Consul, a 1974 batch officer of the Karnataka cadre as secretary, Mining. Maini is otherwise due for superannuation on August 31.

Another officer from the region who will be retiring by end of this month is Koshy Koshy, an IPS officer of Haryana belonging to the 1973 batch. Currently, he is the director, Bureau of Police Research. As of today, he is the senior-most IPS officer of the Haryana cadre.

In all probability, an IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre will replace him. The name doing the rounds is of Ranjit Kumar Bhatia of the 1974 batch. The Punjab cadre officers empanelled for senior positions in the central police organisations or the Ministry of Home Affairs include AP Pandey. But the state government is yet to take a decision about sending them on deputation to the Centre. Pandey is heading the police cell of the PSEB.

Interestingly, police officers on deputation with CPOs, including Intelligence Bureau, have been somewhat lucky. For example, Amardeep Singh Rai, an IPS officer of the 1994 batch and currently working with the Intelligence Bureau, has been promoted to the rank of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police.


51 couples having only daughters honoured
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 10
With a view to promote the birth of the girl child and pay respect to those couples who have only one or more than one daughters, the local Nagrik Abhinandan Manch, a platform of 52 organisations of the town, today not only celebrated Lohri with 51 such couples, but also honoured them with shawls and mementos at a Lohri Dhian Di 2009 (Daughters’ Lohri) function organised at the district administrative complex here.

This pious occasion also attracted the attention of many as they saw Sangrur SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and local Congress MLA Surinder Pal Singh Sibia sitting together at the function. Forgetting political affiliations, both leaders attended the function as they knew that it was a pious occasion. Dr Harshinder Kaur, a paediatrician and writer from Patiala, also joined this function.

Preeti Mahant, a eunuch, along with her party, sang a song in connection with Dhian Di Lohri.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Harshinder Kaur read some letters of those girls whose parents did not like them and considered them a burden on them.

In the letters the girls had written their plight at the hands of their parents. They had also written that seeing the plight of girls in a man-dominated society, girls should be killed at the time of their birth, so that they did not face humiliation at the hands of parents, who loved their sons more.

She also disclosed that more than 10 lakh girls were being killed in the womb every year, while thousands of women were dying during pregnancy. She appealed to the SGPC and Hindu religious organisations to frame rules like only 11 members in a marriage party and strict ban on dowry, so that people started giving birth to girls happily.

She also said students of schools and colleges should be made aware of the social evil of female foeticide.

Among the 51 couples, who were honoured for having only daughter(s), included a former civil surgeon Nirpal Singh, advocate Rattan Kumar Verma, Principal Gurdev Singh, SDO Ravinder Gupta and traders’ leader Rajinder Singh Josh.

The speakers included MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MLA Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, chairman of the district planning committee Gobind Singh Longowal and chairman of the Nagrik Abhinandan Manch Principal BS Punia. 


Ex-minister seeks interest 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Former Punjab Minister and senior Congress leader Jagmohan Singh Kang today flayed the Akali-BJP government for non-disbursal of long pending sugarcane payments pertaining to Morinda Sugar Mill and other mills in the state and urged the government to pay interest on it to safeguard the interest of innocent farmers, otherwise the Congress would be forced to launch an agitation.

In a press note issued here, Kang stated that it was disgusting and unfortunate that due to non- payment of sugarcane by the mills since long, the farmers and concerned organisations had to stage a protest.

Expressing sympathy with the concerned farmers, he pointed out that it was a blot on the 
present regime, which felt itself to be farmer friendly.

Kang said it was ironical that on one hand the Badal government made tall claims of giving crores of rupees to villages and towns for development, on the other it was depriving the diligent farmers of their legitimate due of payment of sugarcane.

It is pertinent to mention here that during the previous government, Jagmohan Singh Kang had played a crucial role in stalling privatisation of Morinda Sugar Mill on popular demand.


Panel to probe PTU paper leak
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 10
Punjab Technical University (PTU) today formed a three-member committee to verify reports of leak of mathematics question paper of the third semester of BTech course yesterday. The PTU registrar in a statement said the copy of the question paper had been procured from a TV channel that had telecast a news on the leak.

“Vice-chancellor Rajnish Arora has set up the committee. Following the report of the committee, further decision on the question paper will be taken,” said the registrar. “When we got the news of the leak of the question paper, already the examination in the said question paper had been conducted,” said the registrar.


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