P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Now, political focus shifts to Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18
The city is being spruced up for the swearing-in of Sukhbir Singh Badal as Deputy Chief Minister on January 21. It is after a long time that the SAD has decided to revive its political hub in Amritsar. Senior BJP leaders, including its national president Rajnath Singh, and chief ministers of NDA-ruled states will participate in the event.

Earlier, the SAD used to launch all its morchas (agitations) from Amritsar. However, the party shifted its office and other activities to Chandigarh and Mohali that evoked criticism from the Sikh leadership world over. They would say the SAD gets strength from Amritsar and after winning elections they just forget the holy city.

The scheduled swearing-in indicates Sukhbir would contest from the Majitha constituency of Amritsar district. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Sukhbir, had launched her ambitious “Nanhi Chhaan” campaign from Amritsar. So much so, Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister, had been spending sufficient time in Amritsar and had brought several jathas of devotees to the Golden Temple.

The keen interest shown by them in Amritsar was proof enough that the Akali Dal wanted to revive the pristine glory of the city.

The Chief Secretary and the DGP will hold a high-level meeting here tomorrow in connection with the arrangements for the event. Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, SR Ladhar is overall in charge of the event. A large number of Akali activists, especially youth, have started thronging Amritsar.

Media adviser to the Chief Minister Harcharn Bains said the decision to shift the venue of swearing-in spoke of a daring vision of the SAD president. He said it would also send a signal that the Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister was not Chandigarh-centric phenomenon but belonged to the whole state of Punjab.


Sukhbir move aimed at infusing young blood in Akali Dal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
An animated debate generated by SAD’s decision to induct its president Sukhbir Singh Badal as Deputy Chief Minister in the Punjab Council of Ministers has all components of an orchestrated move to forewarn its alliance partner BJP as well as the Opposition Congress of its emerging new line of youthful leadership.

The new leadership may not be as suave and accommodating as it has been under Parkash Singh Badal, a strong votary of alliance politics.

Though the core committee of the SAD and other organisational committees may be holding Badal in high esteem by designating him as patron-in-chief of the party, the message is clear: Orders and commands have been flowing from the new general of the party, Sukhbir, ever since he took reins of the party as its president.

Many view it as a part of a long-term game plan of Sukhbir that will unfold gradually till the next assembly elections. His own elevation as the Deputy Chief Minister and man of his choice as a successor to Ramesh Inder Singh as Chief Secretary by superseding many are also components of this plan for this year.

It was Sukhbir, who insisted on the party contesting the Delhi assembly elections under its own symbol. He also wants the SAD to have a foothold in Rajasthan as well. Though the Delhi experiment brought no immediate success as all three candidates were defeated, Sukhbir had made his point that it was not only the BJP that could dictate terms, the SAD, too, could do it.

Now, with Sukhbir set to get an important role in the administration as well, the message is loud and clear. Only those who carry out instructions will continue to hold key field positions.

Though political circles are talking of an agreement among senior leaders of the Dal and the BJP over reallocation of Lok Sabha seats as part of an agreement, it does not look credible.

Even if the BJP leadership decides to use Amritsar sitting MP Navjot Sidhu as a star campaigner by promising him either Rajya Sabha membership or a coveted post, it will still have a plethora of organisational problems on its hands. Rajinder Bhandari, HS Grewal or Avinash Rai Khanna from Ludhiana may have the waring BJP factions face to face.

Since Sukhbir will no more be in Parliament, the Dal may like to reward his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia with the party ticket for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat for vacating his assembly seat for the new Deputy Chief Minister.

Sukhbir, sources reveal, may agree to contest from Nurmahal, byelection for which is likely to be held during the general elections.

In the last Congress government in Punjab, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was designated Deputy Chief Minister and in neighbouring Haryana, Chander Mohan had been dismissed from Council of Ministers as Deputy Chief Minister.


Alliance to suffer in polls
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 18
In what is being described as the first open political fight between the ruling coalition partners, the SAD and the BJP, over the induction of Sukhbir Singh Badal as Deputy Chief Minister in the Punjab cabinet, both parties have hurt themselves grievously. As incalculable political damage has already been done owing to dispute over Sukhbir, coalition partners will have to pay a price for it in the Lok Sabha elections.

For the past two years, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been awaiting for an opportune time to hand over the reins of the government officially to his son Sukhbir. However, contrary to his wish and efforts, it has become a most controversial event because of the hue and cry raised by the BJP at the national level.

Badal often used to say that the relationship between the SAD and the BJP is akin to the relationship of a husband and a wife. However, recent events have proved that it was a marriage of convenience between the two and neither of the two is ready to yield even an inch as far as their vested political interests are concerned.

A senior politician said: “If the BJP high command had not intervened, the leadership of BJP’s Punjab unit will have already prepared a petition for filing the divorce”.

Umrao Singh, who quit active politics years ago, said: “What has happened in the past three days was bound to happen because the alliance between the SAD and the BJP is an unnatural happening. There is nothing common between the two at the ideological level. Their political programme, vote bank and interests are different.

“Only one thing common between the two is that they are against the Congress and that is why they operate together at political level despite volcanic contradictions within their coalition”.

State BJP leaders had to return to Punjab with disappointment after the high command preferred to stand by Badal on the Sukhbir issue. They would have never gone to Delhi, if they understood the dynamics of national politics that make it a compulsion for the BJP’s high command to keep Badal on its side. He is the tallest elected leader of the Sikhs, a minority community. Two minorities, Muslims and Christians, are vehemently against the BJP.

In the light of such a political reality, approval of the induction of Sukhbir as Deputy Chief Minister is small a price to pay for the BJP high command, which aspires to recapture power at the Centre.

Umrao Singh said there would certainly be reaction against the BJP as well as the SAD over Sukhbir. “It is violation of an established practice for the past several years that either number two slot in the cabinet or the office of Speaker of the Punjab assembly should go to a representative of the Hindu community,” he adds. 


Is Centre monitoring bonus disbursal?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The Union Ministry of Food has reportedly been seeking periodical reports on disbursement of bonus on paddy it had announced during the last procurement season.

The Food Supplies Department’s initiative of issuing cheques directly to farmers is first of its kind. Of nearly six lakh cheques issued to farmers with reference to commission agents, through whom the procurement was made, has given the state procurement agencies sufficient data base to facilitate direct transfer of bonus and payment 
to farmers.

According to officials, the new system, including Pungrain and Punsup, has provision for a farmer to opt for payment made to his nominated agent who can be a commission agent as well.

“Cheques were issued on the basis of details supplied by the procurement agencies through commission agents. In case there are any discrepancies in cheques, the new system can rectify the mistake within 72-96 hours and the corrected cheques can be issued directly to the farmers,” an official said.

“The agencies have a new provision for direct transfer of bonus payment and interest to the farmers. The farmer or his commission agent has to do is convey the electronic bank account details to the procurement agency or its officials and bonus amount will be automatically transferred,” adds a spokesperson for the department.

Since the bonus is personal incentive of a farmer, the state agencies issue cheques to farmers and sent them through the commission agent concerned.

The officials admitted that some farmers faced problems because of inaccuracies in spelling their names or other details on the cheques. But since banks and state procurement agencies had a huge task of disbursing cheques worth Rs 600 crore with an announced bonus of Rs 50 a quintal of paddy, some discrepancies could have crept in as the deadline of issuing cheques by December 31 was more or less honoured.

Cheques to remaining farmers were also being issued on priority basis. The Centre was monitoring the payments so closely that at times even the money for procurement of wheat was held back for clearance of payment of bonus to farmers.



Maharaja’s descendant to complete their works
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 18
Lahore-based Faqir Syed Saifudin, the fifth direct descendant of Faqir Aziz-ud-din a physician, diplomat and foreign minister at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, has said he will fulfill the dreams of Manveen Sandhu and her husband Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu who wanted to transliterate 50 pages of the historic Ropar Treaty, signed between the Sikh Maharaja and Lord William Bentick, the then Governor-General of India into English and Punjabi languages.

Syed Saifudin, who had come here to attend the bhog ceremony of illustrious Sandhu couple, here today said he would continue to carry forward the mission of the Sandhu couple to bridge cultural gap between both East and West Punjab (Indian and Pakistan). He said though it was difficult to fill the vacuum created with the death of Sandhu couple, yet he would try to bridge up the gap between both Punjabs. He said he was already in touch with senior officials of Punjab government for writing a book on “Ropar Treaty”.

Talking to The Tribune, Syed Saifudin said he had encouraged Manveen to write book on Maharaja Ranjit Singh which was well acclaimed in Indian and Pakistani Punjabs.

Syed Saifudin said Manveen paid several visits to the Panjab Museum, set up by the Faqir family in Lahore, and wanted to bring the artefacts to Amritsar so that residents of Indian Punjab could also see it.

Pak artistes condemn Mumbai terror attack

Ashok Sethi adds: Condemning the Mumbai terror attack, the group of Pakistanis today said it had its fallout on the cultural ties, especially on artistes performing in both countries.

Faizaan Pirzada, a strong votary of Indo-Pak cultural bonds who had jointly conceptualised and promoted the annual Saanjh Festival with Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu and his wife Manveen, who died in a tragic accident last week, said the terrorist attacks were a major setback to the Indo-Pak relations, which were slowly and gradually getting on the rail after the diplomatic thaw a few years ago.

He said the terrorist attack in a theatre in Lahore where 150 Indian artistes were performing on November 22 five days before the dastardly attack in Mumbai did not deter the artistes to buckle under the threat.

He said the present mounting tension would have its negative role on the visits of several artistes, singers and groups as strict visa restrictions were acting as a dampener to improve relations. The artistes belonged to a different genre of people who acted as a peace ambassador and helped to develop cordial and harmonious relationships between the two countries. He urged both nations to lower the tone and tenor of rhetoric.


Homage paid to Sandhus
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 18
Pakistani theatre and television artistes joined political leaders, artistes and citizens here today to pay homage to Dr Shivinder Singh Sandhu and his wife Manveen Sandhu, cultural ambassadors of the country.

Leader of the Pakistani delegation and founder of the Rafi-Peer Theatre group emotion-choked Usmaan Pirzada said he had no words to express grief with the family as it had lost one of the closest allies with whom they shared common bond to lay the foundation of Indo-Pakistan cultural ties. He said he and his group would continue to nourish this ‘Saanjh’ which they jointly started a few years ago. He said they would organise special cultural event in Lahore in memory of Shivinder and Manveen.

He said several, musical and theatre groups in Pakistan wer swayed by the vision of Manveen who had promoted Punjarjyot and were keen to continue the cultural exchange programme as it helped revive the glory shared by people of Punjab divided by Partition.

Messages from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni, former BJP minister in the NDA government, Arun Jaitly and hundred of others were pouring in from India and abroad on the death of the Dr Sandhu and his wife in the car accident on January 11 near Bikaner (Rajasthan).

Meanwhile, a 23-member group of the Ajoka Theatre, known for recreating mysticism of great Sufi Bulleh Shah, led by Malik Aslam and Imran-ul-Haq came down this morning to share grief with the bereaved family. They assured the family to hold several live performances as a tribute to them.

Bikram Singh Majithia, Minister of Information and Public Relations, said in the death of the Sandhu couple, the state had lost visionaries. Sharing his grief with the family, the minister said the government had expressed its condolences.

Former Congress MP and relation of the couple Jagmeet Singh Brar described the couple epitome of virtues.

Dr Sandhu’s friend and Congress MLA OP Soni said people from all walks of life, including rickshaw pullers, handicapped persons, besides members of his own fraternity and admirers, joined to pay tributes to the couple.

Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP, Rajmohinder Singh Majithia, member, Rajya Sabha, Dr Dalbir Singh, Harmeet Singh Sandhu, Anil Joshi, Virsa Singh Valtoha, all MLAs, Hans Raj Hans, Iqbal Singh, former Congress MP, leading doctors and educationists were present.


AISSF hails Orissa committee on ’84 riots victims
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 18
President of All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad has welcomed Orissa government decision to set up a special committee to compensate victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the state. At the same time, he has raised apprehensions that the CBI was trying to protect Jagdish Tytler, senior Congress leader, allegedly involved in the riots in Delhi.

While talking to The Tribune on telephone, he said the decision of the Orissa government to help victims of riots was an eye-opener for the union and state governments who were dilly-dallying in punishing the culprits responsible for the riots in as many 14 states across the country.

The special committee set up by the Orissa government will verify the FIRs filed during and after the 1984 riots, besides sanctioning more compensation according to the new scheme declared by the union government in 2006. The Orissa government had sanctioned Rs 44 lakh for the purpose early this month.

As per the details available, three persons were killed and 25 injured in Orissa during the riots, besides loss to property. Two were killed in Sundargarh district and one in Khurda district.

Earlier, family members of the deceased persons had received Rs 3.5 lakh each as ex-gratia grant as per the central policy. However, the injured persons were yet to get additional compensation as per the new policy. The persons whose houses and shops were damaged in the riots 
had also not got additional benefits.


Court notice to Cong MP
Bipin Bhardwaj/Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, January 18
A court here has issued notice to Congress Rajya Sabha member Dharampal Sabharwal for not making payment to a marriage palace owner where marriage his daughter was held.

The notice has been issued on suit of recovery for Rs 96,000 filed by Gunraj Singh for March 24.

The plaintiff has said Sabharwal booked Daulat Garden, marriage palace, owned by him in parternership with Jaswant Singh. The food. per menu , was fixed at Rs 325 a plate for 500 guests. The defendant paid Rs 50,000 in advance for catering before the marriage.

After payment of Rs 50,000, Sabharwal, refused to pay the balance Rs 96, 000 that includes Rs 60,000 for catering, Rs 20,000 for VAT (@ 12.5 pc) and Rs 16,000 , luxury tax.

The complaint said the defendant, in telephonic conversation, (which he recorded) agreed to pay him the balance but no to avail. Sabharwal said on the phone fro Delhi said the marriage palace owners did not provide quality food as agreed to . There was no food stalls and management for VIP guests at the marriage palace was poor.

Contrary to agreement to provide catering and waiters from Chandigarh, there were local cooks and even the food items finalised in the menu were not provided.

“I have already filed a case against the owners of the marriage palace in the Consumer Court in Hoshiarpur in this regard and hearing of the case is on January 19,” claimed Sabharwal. 


Only 273 child labourers identified
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 18
In what may be termed as lackadaisical attitude of Punjab labour department for minimising child labour, it could identify only 273 child labourers in the state.

It is an open secret that child labourers are working in lakhs in Punjab, especially in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Bathinda, as domestic help in houses, servants at dhabas, tea shops, helpers in different factories and agricultural fields.

According to information provided by Punjab assistant labour commissioner (ALC) to advocate Rajinder Bhatia under the RTI Act, only 273 child labourers were identified from September 2007 to 2008 as per reports received from field officers.

It has been further stated in the letter that the majority of these identified child labourers were migrants and were handed over to their parents.

As many as 224 prosecutions were launched against the employers. However, no such prosecution was initiated against any government official, the ALC stated in a one-page letter sent to advocate Rajinder Bhatia.

Raising a question about the seriousness in pursuing the prosecution of the employers under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 (amended in 2006), Bhatia told The Tribune that the convicted employer might be fined Rs 20,000 or imprisoned for two years for employing child labourers.

Interestingly, the Punjab Labour Department failed to identify even a single domestic child labourer.

However, the ALC failed to provide the information about the welfare of these identified child labourers. The ALC stated that the welfare of identified child labourers was being ensured by the respective Deputy Commissions, so a copy of the letter was forwarded to DCs along with a copy of the application dated 23-10-08 of the applicant Bhatia.

ALC also sent the copy to different ALCs and labour cum conciliation officers posted in different districts.


Cantt board row: Ex-CEO files reply
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, January 18
Former chief executive officer (CEO) of the local cantonment board A Sekhar Babu, in a reply to the principal director (defence estates), Western Command, has denied the allegations of irregularities committed in his office during the past three years.

A complaint was made to Defence Minister AK Antony by one Sugandha Mishra levelling allegations against the CEO and a junior engineer Satish Arora alleging mismanagement of board finances and biased attitude in administrative works. The complaint was subsequently forwarded to the Western Command.

In his reply, Babu stated that money was not wasted as alleged and an inspection by the authorities had already expressed satisfaction on the working of the hospital.

He further said the elementary school in the cantonment area had not been shut down, a shopping complex had been constructed and building of an octroi post was leased out to generate income, no electricity fine was paid, no unauthorised constructions had come up in the area, new water pipelines put into place, and no violations were made in allotting various tenders as alleged in the complaint.

Meanwhile, Arora has claimed that defamation cases pending against the cantonment board and its officials had been quashed by the high court.


Engine derails
Sudhanshu Verma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
The engine of the Avadh-Assam Express (5610) derailed early this morning at Kot Fatta between Mansa and Bathinda near here. No one was injured in the mishap. The train was on its way to Guwahati from Bikaner.

Railway officers said the engine and the special luggage coach jumped the track at 2.35 am. Rescue teams were sent from Bathinda in 45 minutes.

Trains on the Bathinda-New Delhi section remained suspended for seven hours between 2.35 am and 9.45 am. All rakes of the train were pulled back to Bathinda at 7.15 am. The train left for onward journey via Dhuri after making necessary arrangements at 7.40 am, sources said.

Trains were diverted via Dhuri till the track became operational and trains like the Punjab Mail and Udyan Abha Toofan Express were re-routed. Engineers from the Delhi division reached the spot to supervise rail traffic restoration. 


Govt, pharmacy council at loggerheads
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Differences have appeared between the Punjab government and the pharmacy council over removal of council’s registrar PK Bhardwaj. The Punjab government issued orders relieving Bhardwaj of his charge. He has refused to comply with the orders.

Secretary Health and Family Welfare Rakesh Singh has written to the SSP,Chandigarh pointing out that Bhardwaj had occupied the office of the registrar after breaking open locks of the office after new incumbent Dr PPS Coonar who had assumed charge as officiating registrar of the Punjab Pharmacy Council. The police said Bhardwaj replied the council was an autonomous body and so the Punjab government had no jurisdiction over it. The Chandigarh Police said Bhardwaj had told it that a Vigilance inquiry against him had been filed because as “non-government body, the Vigilance too did not have jurisdiction to investigate the council affairs”.

But Dr Coonar too has written to the DSP concerned pointing out that Bhardwaj was preventing him from performing duties. Dr Coonar’s letter states, “It is submitted the undersigned was appointed registrar, Punjab Pharmacy Council vide Punjab government’s memo (6/17/08-3111133/9086-92) of November 20, 2008, and in compliance of these orders I joined duty on November 21, -2008”.

He goes on: “Parveen Kumar Bhardwaj illegally broke the locks of my office during the following holiday and continues to sit in the office forcibly without my legal sanction”. Bhardwaj was transferred to the office of the director, Research and Medical Education after an inquiry found him guilty on several counts and a Vigilance inquiry also recommend actions based on irregularities found in his functioning.

Apparently under the patronage of a BJP minister, the Punjab government is now going soft on the complaints sent to the police.The Punjab government has also overlooked Bhardwaj’s continued occupation of the registrar’s office after the Pharmacy Council rejected the Punjab government’s order on Bhardwaj ’s removal and asked him to continue.

Nearly three weeks after a Principal Secretary-level officer wrote to the Chandigarh Police seeking action and a Joint Director in the Department of Research and Medical Education pointed out “the illegal occupation” of important office under the Punjab government neither the government nor any other body is willing to take corrective measure, apparently on directions of the BJP minister, said to be under pressure.

Developments in the Pharmacy Council have reportedly caused serious difference between the bureaucrats and the politicians dealing with the department as the two have taken divergent views.


US Dy Sheriff Sangha resolves to fight drug abuse
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
Paramvir Sangha (22) has done Punjab proud by becoming first woman Deputy Sheriff in the USA. Fighting drug is her priority as she feels drugs harm the youth more all over the world than anything else.

Policing seems to be in her blood. Her uncle Tarlochan Sohal was Sheriff of neighbouring Mercid county of California. Sohal has been her role-model. Her brother Harnek Singh Sangha was working with the California Department of Correctional (CDC) and played a role in shaping her career as a police officer. Paramvir, born and educated in California, hails from Kala Sanghian village of Kapurthala district of Punjab.

Parmvir was hand-picked by the Sheriff’s Department in Kern county for the post of Deputy Sheriff of Bakersfiled city due to her dedication to serve society and for physical fitness level. She took oath of office and secrecy on January 17.

“I will do everything possible to eradicate the menace of drugs from the Bakersfield area. Drug abuse in fact has devastated the world, particularly youngsters, shattering so many families. My priority will be to maintain law and order in the city and ensure that there is no proliferation of drug trade in my area. I will work closely with community representatives and help those shattered by drugs. There are many families or old people whose wards have been into drug addiction. We will try to rehabilitate such youngsters on priority,” said Parmvir from Bakersfield on the phone.

She said not only in the US, drug abuse was increasing and the scene was murky in Asia, particularly in Punjab. “I get restless when told that more than 64 per cent of Punjab youngsters take drugs. I want to do something for them also if I get a chance,” she added.

Paramvir said she was overwhelmed over her assignment, as it would help remove misconception in Punjab that girls were a burden on parents and largely supposed to be involved in household chores only. “I feel I have acquired wings.The credit for my success goes to my father Gurdev Singh Sangha, my brother Harnek and uncle Tarlochan Sohal,” said bemused Paramvir.


Pen-down protest by 1,200 rural doctors on Jan 21
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 18
Upset due to “unfulfilled” promise of the state government, 1,200 doctors working on contract in dispensaries of villages in Punjab have decided to submit resignations to the government. District heads of the Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA), doctors working under Zila Parishads, at a meeting in Ludhiana today deliberated on taking up jobs in the CRPF/BSF (1,200 vacancies), 600 in Haryana, 500 in Dubai and 250 in the Indian Army.

RMSA president Aslam Parvez said, "MBBS doctors working in village dispensaries of Punjab are competent and meet conditions for all above-said vacancies which are regular jobs with better salary and additional incentives which the state government has failed to give."

Dr Rajesh Sharma, association spokesperson working in Patiala district, said lists of senior medical officers in Punjab were moving so fast that in the coming years the department would have no medical officers, just SMOs which would be a blow to the public health sector.

The RMSA doctors added that a pen-down strike would be started on January 21 followed by a black-badge protest from January 22. 


Book on Sikh philosophy released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today released the revised edition of "Gurmat Vihar Te Sikhi Jivan" based on essays on Sikh history, philosophy and Sikh way of life by scholar and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee president Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar. The book has essays on the life and philosophy of 10 Sikh Gurus, besides Saint Kabir, Guru Ravi Das, Shiromani Bhagat Nam Dev and different concepts of Sikhism in the context of modern era. He also authored "Gurmat Sabhyachar" on Sikh philosophy and ethos in 2008.

Badal praised the efforts of Professor Badungar for pro-active role in propagating value- based teachings of Sikh philosophy in the right perspective. Badal hoped, books based on the philosophy of Sikhism would help redeem the mankind to attain spiritualism in the materialistic society.

Another book, “Neeh Rakhi Gai,” by Amritsar-based journalist Mohinder Singh was also released at the Chandigarh Press Club here by Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd). It is a commentary on Punjab politics of three decades covering the era of militancy and various political developments.

Mohinder Singh’s book also traces the causes of political unrest in Punjab and the role of politicians. A large part of the book is based developments and events covered and reported by the journalist.


Jaundice spreads in Patiala
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
Poor sanitary conditions have cast its shadow on local Raghomajra colony where jaundice has allegedly gripped more than 200 residents in the past fortnight.

Meanwhile, the Health Department has initiated a probe into the matter. Kuldip Kaur, Patiala civil surgeon, has directed the district health officer (DHO) and the medical officer (MO) to conduct a survey of the area to determine the number of persons afflicted with the malady.

Though the exact cause for proliferation of the malady was yet to be determined, the spreading of the disease was being attributed to contamination of drinking water supply lines, owing to accumulation of garbage and filth in every nook and corner of the area. Despite several complaints, the civic body officials failed to under take any corrective measure for over two weeks.

Though, the MC officials descended on the scene when irked residents came out in the open and threatened to resort to some kind of demonstrative action, they tried to push everything under the carpet by saying that there was no problem with the water-supply system in the area and that the residents were getting clean water for drinking. Residents also alleged that the area councilor also did not lend an ear to their aggravating health problems.

Residents alleged that more than 200 of them, mostly youngsters, had already fallen prey to jaundice. Dr Ashok, a doctor of the area, said the number of jaundice-affected persons was very high in the area

When contacted, Harkesh Singh Sidhu, commissioner, MC, said he was not aware about the incident. “I am going to depute a team of our health officials to look into the matter.,” he said.


VB to probe commission paid by PSEB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The alleged payment of Rs 1.62 crore as commission to a middleman by Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for securing a loan of Rs 300 crore from a bank in 2005-06 financial year is now being probed by the state vigilance bureau.

The probe is expected to be completed within two months, the bureau has informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court division bench of the Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hement Gupta during resumed hearing on the PIL.

The petition has been filed by advocate HC Arora and is scheduled to come up for further hearing on January 20.


Missing Businessmen
‘Powerful lobbies out to harass honest officers’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Furious at what he calls baseless allegations levelled against him, an additional advocate-general of Punjab, Ajit Singh Virk says certain experienced criminals, at the instance of powerful persons, were out to harass efficient and honest officers.

“We will expose them in the court,” he says, maintaining that same people had allegedly attempted to browbeat three judges in the missing Ludhiana businessmen case. He refuted the allegations made by mother of one of the missing men. As and when the case approaches the final adjudication stage, fresh petition is filed for shifting the case to some other judge or court. Further, the case was unnecessarily linked to Saini Motors of Ludhiana, he says.

“Neither Saini Motors nor any of its proprietors had anything to do with the basic case that deals with disappearance of a Ludhiana businessman Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and one driver Mukhtiar Singh. They had been missing since March 15,1994,” he said.

Investigations by the CBI revealed that Vinod Kumar and his brother Asish kumar had some bank credit limits from a nationalised bank in the name of their parents for which they were managers or guarantors. Credit limits were sanctioned for bulk booking of Maruti cars that at that time were sold at a heavy premium in the market. Cars booked were allegedly later sold at a premium by duping bonafide customers and the bank too was duped of Rs 60 lakh. A case was registered in Ludhiana. Vinod Kumar and Asish Kumar had filed a series of applications in the high court alleging that their family members were being held in illegal confinement and were being harassed. Applications were filed mainly against the then SSP Ludhiana, SS Saini.

Ajit Singh Virk said it was not correct to call them businessmen as subsequent investigations revealed that Vinod Kumar was facing five recovery suits worth crores of rupees. Besides, there were criminal cases registered against him in 1978 and 1980 at different police stations in Ludhiana. He quoted the affidavit by the state government in the Supreme Court.

Further, Asish Kumar was also facing a criminal case registered against him at Focal Point police station in Ludhiana.

Disappearance of Vinod Kumar, he said, was primarily because of an outstanding liability of Rs 72.01 lakh of Allahabad Bank. Virk further said that a couple of independent witnesses, including a senior journalist and a prominent businessman of Jalandhar, who had long dealings with Vinod Kumar, had seen him. One of them saw him in Nepal and other one at Jalandhar railway station. Both the persons had in their affidavits offered to undergo lie detector test.

Since the missing persons had criminal backgrounds and owed huge amounts of money to the bank, their disappearance was to hoodwink law enforcement agencies as well as the bank. But certain influential and powerful people were out to unnecessarily drag the case by browbeating the judges. “This does not affect our determination to bring the criminals to the law,” he added.


Vets seek parity with medicos
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Expressing solidarity with their counterparts in Haryana, Punjab veterinarians have warned to forge a united front and join the stir in support of demands of vets of neighbouring state, whose parity with medicos has been disturbed.

The state executive of Punjab State Veterinary Officers’ Association, in an emergency meeting held here today under the chairmanship of president Dr Ashok Kumar Sharma, expressed great resentment over the step- motherly treatment meted out to vets by the Haryana government while granting pay scales and other allowances. Dr Sharma said the Sixth Pay Commission had granted parity to vets with medicos, as before, and the Centre had also retained this parity. 


Programme on heart surgery
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 18
The local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) organised a continue medical education (CME) programme on “Heart surgery and non-surgical methods of heart problems” here on Saturday. 

Dr RP Singh and Dr KC Mukherjee from Apollo Hospital, Ludhiana, delivered lectures on the topic. Dr Singh and Dr Mukherjee termed the sugar disease a major cause behind the heart attack in 30 pc cases. They also held obesity another main reason behind heart attacks. 


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