P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


‘Tampering with’ heritage
PSU, NBS activists burn govt’ effigy
PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 19
Activists of the Punjab Students Union and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha today burned effigy of Punjab government to protest against alleged tampering with original structure in the name of conservation of Jallianwala Bagh near Gold Hatti chowk in walled city here today.

Dharminder Patra, general secretary of the union said the government was disrespecting martyrs, who fought for independence , by tampering with original structure of the place where hundreds of persons were killed by indiscriminate firing by British General Dyer in 1919.

The union demanded tampering stopped and construction in Jallianwala Bagh handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Protests at Malerkotla, Barnala, Sunam

SANGRUR: Punjab Students Union (PSU) and Naujwan Bharat Sabha (NBS) activists today burnt effigies of the government and demonstrated in Sangrur and Barnala districts in protest against changing original structure and design of Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar lathi charge and registration of cases against activists of both organisations by the Amritsar police. Organising secretary of the district unit of the NBS Bhupinder Singh Longowal said members and activists of the PSU and the NBS today burnt effigies of the state government and demonstrated at Malerkotla, Malaud, Sunam, Longowal, Dhanaula and Barnala. He said the state government would not be able suppress voice of the youth.

Longowal demanded stoppage of changes in the original structure and design of Jallianwala Bagh . He demanded cancellation of cases registered against the leaders and activists of the PSU and the NBS at Amritsar. He also sought action against the police officers for resorting to lathi charge on activists of the PSU and the NBS at Amritsar on February 12. 


Vigilance threatening Cong MLAs: Raninder 
Ex-Minister Khiala’s family joins Cong
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
‘The Vigilance Bureau (VB) has started threatening all eight sitting Congress MLAs in Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency telling them to stop canvassing,’ alleged general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Raninder Singh, son of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, here yesterday.

Raninder, a front-runner for Congress ticket from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, lashed out at Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, saying the Vigilance Bureau was acting at his behest. Fear of losing Bathinda Lok Sabha seat had been forcing him to issue such orders, he charged.

He said Congress MLAs Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Mangat Rai Bansal and Jeet Mohinder Singh, all confidants of Amarinder Singh, had got threats from the VB. On Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s statement that in Amarinder Singh’s regime , he and his son Sukhbir Badal were framed , Raninder said, ‘They were interrogated once and VB officials had visited their premises just once. But we have been called to the police station many times . I have appeared more than 13 times in the Ludhiana City Centre case’.

On the VB case related to his private company and Bank of Baroda, he said the case was to harass him his company had got no subsidy from the state government nor the state government had investments in the bank.

Mansa (OC adds): The Congress got boost in the region when family of ex-Minister and leader of the SAD 1920 Baldev Singh Khiala, who died recently, joined the Congress in the presence of Raninder Singh.

The family members of Khiala who joined the Congress included Gurdial Kaur, his wife, sons Nirmal Singh and Jagwinder Singh, Rimpal Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Babaljeet Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Avtar Singh, all grandsons, Lal Singh Makhawala, son-in-law, Gurpartap Singh ( grandson) and Manjeet Kaur, daughter.

Raninder later said the Congress wanted peaceful elections but if the SAD used any illegal means, then it would get befitting reply. 



Mohali-Phagwara highway move opposed 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 19
Questioning the need of second highway from Mohali to Phagwara via Machhiwara and Nawanshahr areas, the Congress said today the project would be sheer waste of money and lead to the displacement of thousands of farmers.

As the notice to acquire land for the highway has been issued, farmers at some places near Phagwara protested against it and met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this regard.

Senior Congress leader Umrao Singh said: “Second highway is not needed when one exists between Mohali and Phagwara through Ropar . The one through Nawanshahr and Banga can be improved by adding more lanes to it.”

He asked: “Why people of Doaba be made to pay for travelling on roads that lead to their area from Chandigarh or Mohali?”

He said people travelling on existing highway from Mohali via Ropar, Nawanshahr to Jalandhar had to pay toll at Kurali, Kathgarh (near Balachaur) and Behram (near Phagwara) and those travelling to Hoshiarpur from Mohali had to pay toll at Majari, Nangal Shaheedan besides Kurali and Kathgarh. They had to pay toll at Mangarh for further travelling to Dasuya from Hoshiarpur and at Adda Lachowal for travelling to Tanda from Hoshiapur.

He said for travel on new express highway from Mohali to Phagwara via Machhiwara area, people would also have to pay toll as it was to be built by private parties.

“Instead of constructing another highway, people of Doaba should be provided with free way by exempting them from toll charged on the existing highway”, said Umrao Singh.

Congress leader from Doaba Sukhpal Singh Khaira said instead of providing basic facilities and social services like quality education, health care, safe drinking water and power supply, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal was talking of building express highways.

If Sukhbir Badal had any “compulsion” to construct the express highway, he should get it constructed as elevated highway over the existing one to avoid displacement of thousands of farmers and villagers, Khaira added.

Khaira said one could easily travel from Phagwara to Mohali on existing highway and with its widening and constructing bypasses at one or two places, travelling time on the highway could be further cut by 15 minutes.


PSEB Class X Exam
Passing maths, science, English not compulsory
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Punjab government has decided the students appearing in the Punjab State Education Board’ matriculation examination will not have to pass in mathematic , science or English to pass the examination.

A decision that passing in these subjects will be compulsory from the 2009 session was taken by the government in October 2008 but it is learnt Education Minister Dr Upinderjit Kaur has reversed the earlier decision. Sources add the “review” decision was taken after it was pointed out to her in case students were not passed in these subjects the results of the board would drop from 20 per cent to 40 per cent. At present students appearing in the matriculation examination through the Punjab School Education Board can fail in any two subjects (except Punjabi) and still pass the examination. Generally both mathematics and English are ignored being “difficult” subjects.

However the Education Department had guidance of the minister decided to revamp quality of the board examinations. In October 2007 the board decided to have seven subjects for Class X from session 2008-09: English, Punjabi, Hindi, mathematics, science, social science and computers. The government made it compulsory to pass in Punjabi (as before), maths, science and English. The students could however fail in one of the rest of the subjects.

The decision has now been reversed and the old system would continue. Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, chairman of the Punjab School Education Board today said the review decision was taken as there were not enough teachers in schools to teach these subjects well. “Once we have the requisite number of teachers , we would be making the passing of these two subjects compulsory,” said Dr Dhillon.

Sources however said the decision was political one as it would become embarrassing for the government to justify sudden sharp drop in pass percentage of the board.

Students failing in maths, science and English constitute large number in the board examinations as these subjects are considered tough. Despite the fact that it is not compulsory for the students in class X the board pass per centage ranges between 60 and 70 per cent. In case the two subjects are made compulsory the results would take severe beating. Almost 3.6 lakh students appeared in the exam last year.

Parliamentary Secretary Harish Dhanda who is a member of the board said he did not want to comment on the decision. “But there is no doubt level of maths and science subject taught in India is very difficult as compared to corresponding classes in other countries. It becomes difficult for students to cope with ,” he added.


Five ADGPs get DGP rank
Now, state has 10 DGPS
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) for additional director-generals of police (ADGP) here today approved all five candidates for promotion to the rank of director-general of police (DGP) taking the number of DGPs in the state to 10.

Headed by the Chief Secretary and with the Home Secretary and the DGP, as members cleared the cases of officers of the 1975 and 1977 batches . They are Anil Kaushik of the 1975 batch and Shashi Kant, Jyoti Trehan, Chander Shekhar and J P Birdi of the 1977 batch. The sources said the cases were cleared today for promotion after the completion of files regarding annual confidential reports (ACRs), which had not been affixed earlier.

With the promotion of these five officers as well as forwarding of the case of police chief NPS Aulakh to the Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet for appointment as next DGP of the National Security Guard (NSG) the race for the post of state DGP has hotted up. Sources said Aulakh was the front-runner according to seniority among the three names recommended to the Appointments Committee and because the Union government usually went by this criterion, he was favourite for the NSG top job.

If Aulakh is selected for central posting he wille join on March 1, and the government will decide on next DGP soon. Sources said the selection would be made after due consultation between the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister who had not disclosed their minds on the issue. The front-runners include K K Atri and Shashi Kant.


Change of counsel at finance commissioner’s behest strange, says court
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
In Punjab, the finance commissioner can get a state counsel changed in proceedings pending before the courts –– at least this is the impression the Punjab and Haryana High Court has got from a war widow’s petition.

As the petition on allocation of land came up for hearing, Justice Ranjit Singh asked Punjab’s additional advocate-general PC Goyal to explain certain issues pertaining to the case.

Goyal, on the other hand, told the court that the brief of the case had been taken away from him. He added the same had now been entrusted to another additional advocate-general KS Dadwal.

In general, each courtroom has law officers present from both the states of Punjab and Haryana. They assist the Bench in the cases, and are almost never changed in midst of proceedings of a particular case, unless they are shifted from one courtroom to another.

During the hearing of the war widow’s case, Goyal also informed the court that the arrangement had been done at the asking of the finance commissioner. Taking note of the submissions, Justice Ranjit Singh observed it was strange to notice “that the finance commissioner has managed to get the state counsel changed.”

Apparently miffed over the development, Justice Ranjit Singh questioned: “How can this be done?” The Judge added, perhaps, the state advocate-general alone could explain it to the court.

“To the court it would convey very misleading impression. A state counsel cannot be permitted to be changed amidst a case. This is for the advocate-general to see if he wishes to belittle the state counsel, who is an additional advocate-general”.

Putting a stamp of disapproval on the current practice, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: This court would not permit the dignity of a counsel to be compromised with.

Before parting with the orders in the matter, Justice Ranjit Singh added: “Goyal is required to assist the court in the case as well”. 


Centre sanctions Rs 154 cr to Punjab
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Government of India (GOI) has sanctioned an additional Rs 154 crore to Punjab under the Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Scheme (JNNURM). The GOI had earlier sanctioned Rs 226 crore for various projects undertaken in the state.

DS Bains, Principal Secretary, local government, who is in charge of the scheme in Punjab, said this amount had been given under the UDISSMT module of the JNNURM.

“For 10 projects of water supply sewerage and sewerage treatment plants in Bathinda, Jalandhar, Majitha, Malout, Muktsar, Pathankot, Sunam and Zirakpur, the Centre has already given Rs 226 crore,” said Bains.

He added that in addition to these projects, similar projects were being taken up in seven other towns - Adampur, Fatehgarh Churian, Ferozepur, Kapurthala, Majitha, Malout, Muktsar- for which the state would get Rs 78 crore from the Centre. “The total cost of the projects in these seven cities is about Rs 124 crore out of which the Centre’s share is Rs 78.2 crore,” explained Bains.

Other than these projects, the state has got an additional Rs 76 crore for the third phase of the Jalandhar sewerage system. This project includes laying of the main trunk line, the lateral sewerage lines and setting up of two sewerage treatment plants, one on Ludhiana road and another on Kapurthala road.

“For the first two phases of the Jalandhar sewerage system, the Centre has already paid Rs 100 crore. We had gone to them for an additional request that a third phase of the system would entail connecting the lateral sewerage lines to the main lines for which another Rs 95.4 crore was needed. They have approved this plan and agreed to pay Rs 76 crore towards the implementation of the third phase,” said Bains..


Diversification of rural economy needed: Expert
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Punjab needs to stop talking about crop diversification and take up diversification of the rural economy if it has to overcome challenges being faced by its agriculture sector, said eminent economist Prof Ranjit Singh Ghumman.

The economist from Punjabi University, Patiala, who was here to deliver the valedictory address of the national seminar on “Emerging Challenges for Agriculture in India with Special Reference to North Western Region”, organised by the Dept of Geogreaphy in the Panjab University today, while talking to TNS, said the twin policy of competitive populism and reliance on the private sector had resulted in complete abdication of social responsibilities on the part of the government.

Prof Ghumman said what was needed was both crop and non-crop diversification as well as vertical integration with the industry. He said this had not happened so far due to which even contract farming had not been successful in Punjab. Another measure could be institution of farmer cooperatives, he added.

The economist said all this was needed simply because as much as 62 per cent of the operational land holdings in the country were in the hands of marginal farmers. He said these land holdings had become unviable and policy makers needed to understand that they could not be made viable by increasing minimum support prices of crops.


‘Number of poor up under UPA’
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, February 19
Growing poverty would haunt the UPA in Lok Sabha elections as it has increased by 20 per cent in its tenure as per the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).

BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu yesterday criticised economic policies of the UPA government. Quoting from the Institute of Statistics information, he said number of people living below the poverty line (BPL) had gone up by 20 per cent under UPA. rule .He said according to reports, to be presented to the government by the NSSO, in 2004-2005 there were 27 crore people in the BPL category. However, now the figure shows addition of 5.50 crore people in this category. He said it was national shame that people were bracketed poor due to economic policies of the government. He said the government had claimed eight to nine per cent growth but still number of poor people was increasing.

On fiscal deficit, which had reached six per cent of the GDP in this vote-on-account Budget presented by the Congress-led coalition, he said it would catalyse inflation. He added the Congress had failed to live up to aspirations of people. He also attacked the government for hiding behind the global recession to conceal grim economic realities of the country. 


Adopted girl branded with iron tongs
Vikrant Jindal

Malerkotla, February 19
A girl (8), who was adopted from her parents by a couple was allegedly tortured by them. Four days ago, the couple allegedly branded the girl and her sister (6), who came to play with her, with hot iron tongs. Biological father of the girls has admitted them to the local civil hospital with serious burns.

The victim, Yasmeen, daughter of Mohammad Rashid, a resident of the Raikot road, was adopted by Mohammad Anwar and his wife Naazli, residents of inside Sirhindi Gate, last year. Rashid reported the police alleging the couple had adopted his daughter promising good care. He said as he had three daughters and two sons and small income , he agreed to the proposal of Anwar and Naazli. However, after the adoption they banned their entry to the house. But due to affection he (Rashid) used to go there. He alleged during his visit there, he came to know about the condition of his daughter as she narrated her ordeal . Later, he complained regarding this brutal act of the couple. Four days ago, when Yasmeen’s sister Kajal had gone there to play with her, they picked up some sugar from the kitchen to eat. When Naazli came to know of this, she allegedly branded them with hot iron tongs.

He said he took them to his house. Meanwhile, Ali Mohammad , domestic help of Anwar, approached him to send back the girl. A case against---Mohammad Anwar, Naazli and their servant Ali Mohammad had been registered.


Stone of modern jail laid
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 19
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal today laid the foundation stone of modern double-storeyed district jail at Bhaini Bagha village in Mansa district today. 

It will be constructed by the Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) spending Rs 13 crore.

Jail Minister Hira Singh Gabria, DGP (Prison) Anil Kaushik and Superintendent of Central Jail, Bathinda, LS Jakhar were also present on the occasion.

The jail will have capacity to house 550 prisoners. It will have modern facilities.


Compensation for war widows
State not doing enough: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court believes the state of Punjab is not doing enough for the war widows.

“It seems that a number of war widows have either not been allotted land, or have been allotted land which is not cultivable,” Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court has asserted. “The situation, as it is exisiting for allotment of land to war widows, cannot be accepted”.

In an apparent attempt to reach the bottom of the truth, Justice Ranjit Singh has now asked the State of Punjab to supply to the court the data that would bring out the real picture.

“The state is directed to provide information as to how many war widows have been allotted land since the Chinese aggression in 1961,” Justice Ranjit has categorically asserted.

The Judge has also asked the state to specify “how many claims have been satisfied till date and further how many war widows are yet waiting allotment of land”.

The directions follow the filing of a petition by a war widow, Pushpa Rani. Appearing before the court, her counsel GS Nagra asserted the petitioner lost her husband in 1971, and was fighting for her due ever since.

He added 10 acres was to be handed over to her, but it was given to someone else. Suitable land in alternative was yet to be handed over to her, he asserted.

As the matter came up for hearing, Rajpura tehsildar Kuldip Singh appeared before the Bench in pursuance to an earlier order, dated February 11, and told the court that 48 bighas had been allotted to the petitioner on February 13.

He added the petitioner, on the other hand, refused to take possession of the land.

Taking note of his submission, Justice Ranjit Singh observed it could have something to do with the apprehension the petitioner had all along been expressing that the land being allotted to her was not fully cultivable. Before parting with the orders, Justice Ranjit Singh fixed March 19 as the next date of hearing in the matter.


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