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Debt leads two Bathinda farmers to suicide

Bathinda: The sad saga of indebted Punjab farmers continues with two more persons hanging themselves in the district.

A farmer union leader Tehal Singh allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a beam of the ceiling of his house in Phul town. The police found a suicide note, in which the deceased wrote he was taking the extreme step owing to his precarious financial condition.

In a similar case, Jagmeet Singh of Chak Fateh Singhwala village in the Bucho block allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself.

Jagmeet's family family said he was under debt and was disturbed for the last two-three months. He returned home from the fields last afternoon after sowing cotton crop. He went to his room to take a nap, but was later found hanging by one of the family members in the evening.

BKU leaders of the village said two years ago, Jagmeet's father Khem Singh had met with an accident, in which he had fractured his leg. The family had to take a loan of Rs 6-7 lakh from private moneylenders to pay medical bills. Jagmeet, who had a small landholding, failed to pay the debt that forced him to end his life.
















Protest against Pb govt: Power engineers to switch off mobile phones tomorrow

Chandigarh: Intensifying stir against Punjab government, engineers of power utility PSPCL today announced to switch off their mobile phones tomorrow in protest against non-acceptance of their demands.

With engineers remaining incommunicado, it will be hapless power consumers who would have to face tough time as their complaints regarding load shedding remain unattended.

"We have decided to sharpen our stir as per which all engineers of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL) will switch off their mobile phones on May 23 from 9 AM to 5 PM," PSEB Engineers Association President Baldev Singh said in a release.

Already, PSPCL has been imposing power cuts ranging from 1 to 4 hours because of gap between power demand and supply.

Singh said engineers had been forced to intensify their stir despite being fully aware that it was going to increase the hardship of the consumers, particularly those in the agriculture sector as sowing season for paddy was near. "However, in the overall long-term interests of power sector and consumers, it is imperative to stem the rot," he said.

The protesting engineers would also go on mass casual leave after June 10 for one day.

Protesters are already holding 'work-to-rule' agitation whereby engineers do not work after working hours.

Association is protesting against the Punjab government's move of raising the retirement age of CMD and Directors of PSPCL from 62 to 65, saying that it was the violation of tripartite agreement signed at a time of unbundling of erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in 2010.

"There is sluggishness in bringing down losses and improving consumer services. There is acute shortage of staff in the field both in PSPCL and PSTCL and managements are least bothered about the deteriorating consumer services," he alleged.

Singh alleged the state government had also failed in notifying the common recruitment and cadre of PSPCL and PSTCL.

He further claimed that the issue of difference between pay scale between new engineers and old engineers had not been resolved yet.

Besides, engineers have also been demanding setting up of a 1320 MW thermal power plant in state, rationalisation of work load of engineers, and bringing distribution reforms.

PSEB Engineers' Association has been demanding a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to resolve the pending issues. PTI


















Nawaz Sharif mulls attending Modi's swearing-in ceremony

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is still considering to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and a final decision will be taken by the evening after consultations with the civil and military leaders, officials said on Thursday.

Foreign office has confirmed that formal invitation has been received but any decision by the Prime Minister to attend the ceremony on May 26 in New Delhi has not been taken as yet.

Sources within Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said the Prime Minister wanted to normalise ties with India to promote commercial and business activities.

“He is keen to improve ties which is also the official policy of the party but he needs to take various aspects of the relations into consideration,” a top PML-N leader told PTI.

He said the invitation has come at a short notice and the premier needs time to accept it.

He also said that any decision about going to India will be made by the evening after consultations with the civil and military leaders.

Diplomatic sources said that unexpected move by India’s Prime Minister-designate has left Sharif with difficult choices.

“If he skipped the invitation it will send a very negative message to India and the world but the acceptance may bring backlash from the hardliners and hawks who consider Modi as anti-Pakistani,” said a diplomat. — PTI
















RJD to support JD(U) government in Bihar

PATNA: In a surprise move, senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui on Thursday said his party will support the JD(U) government headed by new Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a mahadalit.

"RJD will support the JD(U) government led by...Manjhi," Siddiqui, RJD legislature party leader in the Assembly, told IANS.

Siddiqui said a formal announcement would be made at a meeting of RJD legislators on Thursday evening.

The RJD has 21 members in the 243-member state Assembly.

The new Chief Minister, who succeeded Nitish Kumar, said he was happy to get the Rashtriya Janata Dal's legislative backing.

"It is nice to hear that the RJD will support my government," he said.

Two days ago the Congress extended support to the JD(U) government. The Congress has four legislators.

Nitish Kumar resigned on Saturday following his party's debacle in the Lok Sabha polls.

The JD(U) has 117 legislators and also enjoys the support of one CPI member and two Independent legislators. — IANSBack

















Thailand army chief announces military coup on live TV

BANGKOK: Thailand's army chief announced in a televised address to the nation on Thursday that the armed forces were seizing power after months of deadly political turmoil.

"In order for the country to return to normal quickly, the National Peace Keeping Committee comprised of the army, the Thai armed forces, the Royal Air Force and the police need to seize power as of May 22 at 4.30 pm," army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha said.

The Commander-in-Chief, who invoked martial law on Tuesday, said the coup was needed to prevent the conflict escalating. "All Thais must remain calm and government officials must work as normal," he added.

The move came after military-hosted talks between the kingdom's political rivals apparently failed to reach a compromise on ending nearly seven months of mass protests on the streets of Bangkok.

Rival protest leaders at the talks — held at a heavily guarded military facility in the capital — were seen being taken away by the army although it was unclear whether they had been formally detained.

The long-running political crisis broadly pits a Bangkok-based royalist elite and its backers against the billionaire family of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, a former tycoon-turned-populist politician, was ousted by the military in a coup in 2006 but still enjoys strong support, particularly in rural northern Thailand.

His sister Yingluck Shinawatra was dismissed as Prime Minister earlier this month in a controversial court ruling after months of protests seeking her overthrow.

Her supporters have warned of possible civil war if opposition demonstrators achieve their goal of seeing an unelected interim premier take power to oversee vaguely defined reforms widely seen as a bid to cripple the Thaksin family's political power. — AFPBack
















Punjab Jail Minister Sarwan Singh resigns from Badal Cabinet

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Cabinet Minister for Jails, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Sarwan Singh Phillaur submitted his resignation from the Council of Ministers "on moral grounds" following recent reports of alleged involvement of a family member in drug trade.

Phillaur submitted his resignation on Thursday following "some adverse though false and misleading reports in a section of the press against a member of his family", an official release said here.

The minister submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in New Delhi. Badal was in the Capital on his way to Ahmedabad for attending the swearing-in ceremony of new Gujarat Chief Minister.

In his resignation, Phillaur said: "Although the media reports in question have no basis in truth and are totally false and grossly misleading, yet I am resigning from the Council of Ministers on moral grounds to uphold the highest traditions of our party, the Shiromani Akali Dal." 

He said he had taken decision for maintaining complete transparency and accountability, and also "to keep up my own impeccable record of personal and professional honesty and integrity in my long political career." 

The release said the minister also told the Chief Minister that he was a strong votary of social and political uprightness and transparency and had always conducted himself with dignity and decorum in his long career spanning nearly four decades.

Phillaur also emphasised that he had always practised what he described as "principled and value based politics, which was the hall mark of Akali politics." — PTI


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