India
Democracies world over come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid 19


ECI hosts International Webinar on ‘Issues, Challenges and Protocols for

Conducting Elections during COVID-19: Sharing Country Experiences’

Two Publications released on the occasion; India A-WEB Centre to bring

out an ‘A-WEB India Journal of Elections’.

CEC highlights scale of elections to be conducted in Bihar amid the Covid19 pandemic;

Commission to take a decision soon on visiting the State

New Delhi (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : On completion of one year of Chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), Election Commission of India today hosted an International Webinar on the Theme ‘‘Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country Experiences’. It was an occasion for democracies world over to come together to share experiences of conducting elections during Covid19.

It may be recalled that last year on 03 Sep 2019 India had taken over as Chair of A-WEB for 2019-2021 term during the 4th General Assembly of A-WEB held at Bengaluru. Inaugurating the Webinar, Hon’ble Chief Election Commissioner of India and Chairperson, A-WEB Shri Sunil Arora spoke of the "tough predicament" faced by Election Management Bodies across the world - whether and how to hold scheduled elections in a state of public health emergency.

He said the contextual framework of every country was different, the extent and trajectory of the disease varied and so did the capacity of each country to respond to the novel corona virus and its catastrophic impact. He mentioned countries such as South Korea, Australia, Malawi, Taiwan, Mongolia and many others who went ahead with scheduled elections even as they put in place the enormous arrangements required to ensure the health and safety of people while conducting election.

Shri Sunil Arora mentioned that Elections in India pose formidable challenges on account of large electorate, geographical and linguistic diversity and differing climatic conditions. Explaining in detail the scale of the upcoming elections to the Legislative Assembly of Bihar, he mentioned that the total number of electors is 72.9 million.

Explaining the impact of Covid-19 on the election, Shri Arora highlighted how Covid19 exigencies and social distancing measures necessitated a revisit of ECI's extant instructions. The maximum number of electors at a polling station was reduced from 1500 to 1000, and consequently, the number of polling stations jumped by 40 per cent, from 65,000 to 100,000. These changes have huge logistics and manpower implications. CEC mentioned that the Commission would take a decision within the next two to three days, on visiting Bihar.

Chief Election Commissioner also mentioned that ECI has placed a lot of emphasis on extending facilitation to senior citizens, women, Persons with disabilities and in current circumstances, ensuring franchise to Covid positive voters and those in quarantine. In this context, the CEC mentioned how, beginning with the elections to the Legislative Assembly of Jharkhand in November-December 2019, and elections to the Legislative Assembly of Delhi in February 2020, the postal ballot facility was extended to voters who are aged more than 80 years, persons with disability and those who engaged in specified essential services. This facility of postal ballot has been extended to Covid positive electors who are in quarantine/hospitalized.

Shri Sunil Arora mentioned the specific and detailed guidelines that have been drawn up on conducting election during the time of Covid. He also mentioned the successful conduct of elections to 18 seats of the Rajya Sabha in the month of June, 2020. He noted that elections are due in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Naduin the first half of the year 2021.

CEC recalled the AWEB General Assembly, held in Bengaluru in September 2019. He noted that the Webinar today is being held under the aegis of India A-WEB Centre on the occasion of completion of one year of ECI’s term as Chair of A-WEB.

Mentioning the two publications being released today viz. ‘Brief Profiles of the Countries, member EMBs and Partner Organisations of A-WEB’and ‘COVID 19 and International Election Experience’, he said these would be a useful tool for researchers and practitioners alike. He said that A-WEB India Centre has also progressed considerably towards publishing a world class journal called “AWEB Journal of Elections’. The first issue of this journal will be released in March 2021.

Over 120 delegates from 45 countries across the world (viz. Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Moldova, Mongolia,Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Zambia) and 4 international organizations (viz. International IDEA, International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and European Centre for Elections) participated in the Webinar today.

The Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) is largest association of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) worldwide. At present A-WEB has 115 EMBs as Members & 16 Regional Associations/Organisations as Associate Members. ECI has been very closely associated with the process of formation of A-WEB since 2011-12.


CRUEL JOKE AT A TIME WHEN FARMERS DON’T KNOW IF MSP WILL EVEN CONTINUE, SAYS PUNJAB CM

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday dismissed the Centre’s paltry hike in MSP of Wheat and five other Rabi crops as a cruel joke on the farmers amid their growing apprehensions about abolition of the MSP regime following the passage of the new Agriculture Bills in Parliament.



“This is callous. They have made a mockery of the farmers’ protests over the Farm Bills, which by all accounts will eventually pave the way for ending the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and abolish the Food Corporation of India,” said the Chief Minister.



Captain Amarinder said if the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre thought it would appease the agitating farms with this trifling hike they clearly did not understand the situation. “You can’t just throw crumbs at someone who may be on the verge of losing his livelihood as a result of your shameful actions,” he told the Union Government.



The farmers have been asking for a written guarantee that MSP will not be tampered with, but instead, the Centre has handed out to them a measly offering, said the Chief Minister, adding that this once again showed how little the BJP and its allies, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), knew about the farmers and their problems.



At a time when the farmers, in fact the whole nation, was not even sure that the MSP regime will stay, and for how long, making these meager hikes in the support price of a few crops amounted to trifling with their emotions, Captain Amarinder said. The verbal assurances and promises made by a Government which has failed to implement even its written promises and commitments are totally meaningless, he said, urging the central government to even now take cognisance of the concerns of the farmers and address them with meaningful steps instead of such antics.



The Chief Minister said that the farmers are at present worried about their future, and that of their families, and only want categorical and clear commitments, in black and white, that their produce will continue to be procured in the APMC markets at a minimum assured price. They want to be secure about their livelihood, which in any case has been progressively declining due to the Centre’s anti-farmer policies over the past 6 years, he added.



The chief minister also regretted that the centre had once again failed to announce a bonus @ Rs 100 per quintal for paddy straw management to incentivise farmers not to burn it.


STUDENTS OF CLASS 9 TO 12 ALLOWED TO VISIT SCHOOLS IN AREAS OUTSIDE CONTAINMENT ZONES SUBJECT TO WRITTEN CONSENT OF THEIR PARENTS

· SKILL TRAINING IN NATIONAL SKILL TRAINING INSTITUTES, ITIs, ACTIVITIES IN NIESBUD AND IIE ALSO PERMITTED

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Tv Desk) : In partial modification of Unlock 4.0 guidelines in compliance with the directives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Punjab Government on Sunday also allowed the students of class 9 to 12 to visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones only, on voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers.



However, this permission would be subject to the written consent of their parents/guardians from September 21, 2020 as per Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on September 8, 2020.



According to an official spokesperson, the State Home Department has issued detailed instructions to also permit Skill or Entrepreneurship Training in National Skill Training Institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Short term training centers registered with the National Skill Development Corporation or State Skill Development Missions or other ministries of Government of India or State Governments.



Likewise, the activities of National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Developments (NIESBUD), Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) and their training providers have also been allowed from September 21, 2020 subject to strict adherence of the said SOPs.



The orders of MHA issued on August 29, 2020 and the subsequent guidelines issued by the State Government on September 9, 2020 imposing additional restrictions in urban areas including curfew on Sundays would continue to be in operation, added the spokesperson.


CAPT AMARINDER VOWS TO FIGHT TILL HIS LAST BREATH TO PROTECT PUNJAB FARMERS’ INTERESTS


· SAYS HIS GOVT WILL TAKE BJP & ITS ALLIES, INCLUDING SAD, TO COURT OVER THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL ANTI-FARMER LAWS



· POINTS OUT THAT CONGRESS MANIFESTO SPOKE OF REPEALING EXISTING APMC ACT TO BRING NEW IMPROVED ONE



Chandigarh, September 20

Vowing to fight till his last breath to protect the interests of the state’s farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said his government will take the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies, including the Akalis, to court over the new unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-farmer laws of the central government.



“We will move the courts and fight the draconian legislations as soon as they get the presidential nod and become the law of the land,” he said, expressing shock at the way the BJP-led Union Government brute-forced the Agriculture Bills through the Rajya Sabha today.



The Chief Minister questioned the rationale behind putting the controversial and vicious Bills, which were a blatant encroachment of the State’s powers and control of the Agriculture sector, to voice vote, despite strong reservations by the Opposition and inadequate numbers in the House. Why did the House not go for division of votes on this critical issue, which has even divided the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he asked.



Captain Amarinder said that his government will not allow the central government, of which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) continues shamelessly to be a part, to trample the rights and interests of the farmers through these cruel legislations designed to destroy the farmers, and Punjab state for which agriculture is its lifeline. “We stand with the farmers and will do whatever it takes to protect their interests,” he declared.



“They (BJP and its allies) clearly don’t care for what these laws will do to the farmers,” he said, flaying the BJP led government for selling the interests of the farmers to big corporates.



BJP’s so-called `watershed’ moment will be the death of Agriculture and will endanger the nation’s food security, warned the Chief Minister. By pushing the Bills through without consultation with the key stakeholders and even without taking the government of Punjab, a major contributor to India’s agricultural sector growth, into confidence, the Central Government had shown that it had no concern whatsoever for the farmers or the farm sector, he said.



Pointing out that the Bills nowhere make any mention of retaining the MSP, Captain Amarinder said this clearly exposes the ill intent of the Central Government, which has a poor trust record as far as states go. If they could not adhere to the clearly defined provisions on GST, how can one trust them to uphold their verbal assurances on MSP, he questioned.



The Chief Minister asked ‘if these legislations are actually revolutionary and in the interests of farmers, why are the farmers out on the roads in protest?’ The farmers are not fools and would not be marching to Delhi, braving a pandemic, if they did not find the Bills damaging and detrimental to their interests, he said.



Every single provision of these Bills, said Captain Amarinder, was crafted to destroy lakhs of small and marginal farmers in particular, who could not hope to compete in the monopolistic system that the Centre aimed to bring into the sector. “Where will these poor farmers go to sell their produce with the states no longer the pivotal players in the entire agricultural marketing system,” he asked.



Pointing out that these farmers were nowhere near getting the Government-mandated MSP on their foodgrains in the open market that exists even today to a limited extent, the Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that instead of strengthening the State-led marketing system, as the Congress had promised in its manifesto, the central government had chosen to end it completely.



Captain Amarinder also lashed out at the Opposition for continuing to mislead the farmers by spread misinformation on the Congress manifesto of 2019 LS polls, which spoke of repeal of existing APMC Act in order to bring a new, improved legislation that would provide for more markets and more facilities for procurement of the farmers’ produce. What is more, the Congress manifesto clearly and categorically promised to retain the MSP regime, which the BJP government is refusing to do, he added.


NEW FARM LAWS PART OF SAD-BACKED CENTRAL GOVT’S `KISAN MAARU, PUNJAB MAARU’ CONSPIRACY, SAYS CAPT AMARINDER





SAYS DELHI HAS TO RETHINK AS THESE LAWS WILL SPOIL PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT OF HIS BORDER STATE



TAKES DIG AT HARSIMRAT’S `FARMER BROTHERS’ REMARK, ASKS WHERE WAS SHE WHEN THE ANTI-FARMER ORDINACES WERE BROUGHT IN



Chandigarh, September 18:

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday slammed the farm legislations being forced on to the nation by the central government as part of the `Destroy Farmers, Destroy Punjab’ (Kisan maaru, Punjab maaru) conspiracy of the BJP-led NDA, of which the Akalis continue shamelessly to be a part at the cost of their own state and its people.

“I don’t know what enmity the BJP and the Akalis have with Punjab and why they are out to destroy us,” said the Chief Minister while launching the Virual Kisan Mela of the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. The launch was held with virtual connectivity at 100 locations and participated by farmers, farmer representatives and other stakeholders, including ministers, MLAs and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar.

Warning again that the legislations will lead to growing angst among the people in the border state, thus giving Pakistan the opportunity to stoke more fires, Captain Amarinder said the anti-farmer move will spoil the `abo hawa’ (environment) of Punjab. Delhi has to rethink on this issue, he stressed, adding that the legislations would undo the sacrifices made by Punjab and its farmers over 65 years to make India self-sufficient in food.

Accusing the Akalis of playing their own political games in this entire affair, Captain Amariner asked the Badals why the SAD had failed to stand with the Punjab government on these Bills and even on the critical water issue. “Did you not think even once what will happen to Punjab without agriculture and without water?” he asked the Akalis, pointing out that with the SYL issue hanging over the state, the situation was perilous and the SAD had only contributed to the crisis by supporting the farm ordinances.

The Chief Minister said notwithstanding the Centre’s denials these new laws will eventually pave the way for the elimination of the MSP regime and end of the FCI, leaving the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, as recommended by the Shanta Kumar committee.

Strongly opposing the legislations, the Chief Minister also trashed the Centre’s guarantee of MSP not being tampered with, saying it was a Constitutional guarantee given by Parliament, which, in fact, the incumbent government at the Centre was trying to destroy with their brute majority. Even the MSP already announced on items like Maize is not being given to the farmers, he noted, questioning the sincerity of the Government of India.

Categorically rejecting BJP and SAD claims that Punjab was on board with the farm ordinances, the Chief Minister made it clear that the issue of any such ordinances or new laws on agriculture was never discussed at any of the meetings in which his government was represented at the high-powered committee set up by the Centre on agricultural reforms.

Politicians should not lie on such grave issues with serious implications for our future generations, said Captain Amarinder, in an obvious reference to the false and misleading claims of Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Politics aside, this is an issue concerning the future of our children, he added.

With only 13 seats in Lok Sabha, the Congress was browbeaten and the dangerous and vicious Bills were passed by the Centre with brute majority, he pointed out, adding that India’s future generations will not forgive the damage being inflicted on the nation by the NDA and its allies.

The high-powered committee was clearly an eyewash, the Chief Minister said, waving the draft report shared with Punjab, which made no mention whatsoever of the ordinances. His government’s response to the draft report had, in fact, clearly listed its stand on any reforms, he added.

It was shameful that despite knowing these facts as part of the ruling coalition, the Akalis continued to side with the central government and did not oppose the ordinances during the all-party meeting convened by him and did not even come to the Assembly to vote for the resolution against them, Captain Amarinder said.

Taking a dig at Harsimrat Badal’s remarks of standing with her `farmer brethren’ by resigning from the Union Cabinet, Captain Amarinder asked why she forgot that the farmers were her brothers when the Centre brought in the ordinances. Had SAD stood with his government from the outset and put pressure on their ally, the BJP, the current situation may not have arisen, he added.

Pointing out that it was Punjab and its farmers, who toiled with blood and sweat to make the nation food surplus after being a beggar of food for years, Captain Amarinder said despite being a small state, Punjab saved the nation from going hungry through the years. Even during the Covid pandemic, all the food grain distributed to the poor around the country came from Punjab’s godowns, he noted.

The Chief Minister lauded the role of PAU in making India self-sufficient in food grains and said while the Kisan Mela was being held virtually for the first time in its history, on account of the prevailing pandemic, the research university’s support to the farmers amid the pandemic was appreciable.

Earlier, Jakhar congratulated the Chief Minister for ensuring smooth procurement of wheat despite the pandemic, and the excellent management of the Kharif season. Describing the new legislations as dark clouds looming on the farm sector, Jakhar said there can be no food or nutritional security till farmers have financial security, which the central government was destroying with these new laws.


Soni release ODOP report; to help farmers and micro food processing entrepreneurs for boosting income and widening reach of district products

· Also reviewed status of implementation of PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Food Processing Minister Mr. O.P. Soni today released ‘One District One Product’ (ODOP) report here at his official residence, which will help the state farmers and micro food processing entrepreneurs to start their venture related with the potential products of their respective district to further boost their income and widening the reach of specific products worldwide in general.

Patting officials of the Punjab Agro Industry Corporation (PAIC) for preparing the scientific document, the minister said that the ODOP report would be of great help for the farmers engaged in allied farming activities. “Existing micro enterprises processing food products other than ODOP would also be supported, however new units seeking support under the scheme would have to process ODOP products identified for that district”, he added.

ODOP report has covered all the 22 districts of the state and scientifically identified one potential product for each district such as district Amritsar for Pickle and Murabba, Ludhiana for Bakery Products, Hoshiarpur & Fatehgarh Sahib for Jaggery, SAS Nagar, Mansa and Sri Muktsar Sahib for Milk and Milk Products, Barnala and Faridkot for Poultry/Meat/Fish and district Bathinda for honey, Patiala for Guava, Tarn Taran for Pear, Jalandhar & Moga for Potato, SBS Nagar for Peas, Ropar for Mango, Fazilka for Kinnow, Ferozepur for Chilli, Pathankot for Lichi, Kapurthala for Tomato, Gurdaspur for Cauliflower and Sangrur for Onion.

Divulging further, Mr. Manjit Singh Brar, Managing Director, PAIC said that the District Level Committees (DLCs) under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners have been constituted with General Manager, District Industries Center as its district Nodal Officer to provide secretarial support. He said that PAIC shall soon station resource persons having requisite experience in food technology in District Industrial Centres (DICs) for providing technical support to the DLC as well as to micro enterprises/ FPOs/SHGs/Cooperatives etc. He invited owners of all micro food enterprises to contact PAIC for further information and said that the ODOP report has been uploaded on the PAIC website www.punjabagro.co.in. He informed that in accordance with the timelines of the scheme, PAIC has prepared a comprehensive report on ‘One District One Product’ (ODOP) and the same has been approved in the first meeting of State Level Approval Committee (SLAC), an apex body of the State Government to oversee implementation of the scheme.

Later, Mr. Soni presiding over a meeting also reviewed the status of implementation of the new centrally sponsored scheme ‘PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises’ launched on June 29, 2020.

During the meeting, Mr. Anirudh Tiwari, Additional Chief Secretary (Development & Food Processing) apprised that the scheme envisages to directly enhance competitiveness of over 6,672 new & existing micro food processing enterprises by not only providing credit-linked capital subsidy @ 35% with a maximum ceiling of Rs.10 lac per unit, but also by extending intensive hand holding support for entrepreneurship, technology and branding & marketing as well as capacity building.

Mr. Tiwari further said, it is a five year scheme starting 2020-21, adding that under the group category, Farmer Producer Organizations, Self Help Groups and Co-operatives would be supported with credit-linked capital subsidy @ 35% with maximum limit yet to be prescribed, along their entire value chain for sorting, grading, assaying, storage, common processing, packaging, marketing, processing of agri-produce and testing laboratories. Individual SHG members undertaking food processing would be given seed capital @ Rs.40,000 per member for working capital and purchase of small tools, he added.


Preneet Kaur reiterates opposition to anti-farmer ordinances

CHANDIGRAH (OZI INDIAN TV DESK) : Patiala MP and former union minister, Ms Preneet Kaur today reiterated her opposition to the anti-farmer ordinances promulgated by the NDA government earlier, which are now being tabled in the parliament.

Ms Kaur said, she could not attend the parliament today since she was under quarantine after having come in contact with some COVID positive persons.

After observing the COVID protocol, she added, she will be attending the parliament where she will strongly oppose the three ordinances.

She said, she and her party remained committed to watching and safeguarding the interests of the farmers. She said, even if the BJP/NDA use their brute majority in the parliament to go ahead with the passage of these anti-farmer ordinances, her party will explore other legal options to prevent these from becoming the law.

Ms Kaur expressed surprise over the stubbornness of the BJP/NDA government in pressing with these ordinances when farmers from the entire country had fears and apprehensions about these and were protesting against their implementation.

Ms Preneet Kaur is recuperating after an elbow fracture. Meanwhile some of her relatives who came to see her later tested positive for COVID because of which she had to go in quarantine.


Lifetime Achievement Awardees will automatically be eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award, announces Rana Sodhi


· No annual income limit on the pension of veteran players

· Olympian boxer Lakha Singh to be given job of Coach in sports department

· Sports Minister honours Arjuna, Dhyan Chand and Tenzing Norgay Awardees



Chandigarh, September 14:

Punjab Sports & Youth Services and NRI Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi today announced that the Lifetime Achievement Awardees will automatically be eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award, the coveted awards of the state of Punjab. The Minister announced this development, while honouring the winners of Arjuna, Dhyan Chand and Tenzing Norgay Awards here at his official residence.

Rana Sodhi, while applauding the winners of this year's coveted awards, said that their spectacular achievements in the sports arena will inspire youngsters, especially budding players of the state. The Minister was accompanied by Additional Chief Secretary NRI Affairs Mr. Kirpa Shankar Saroj and Director Sports Mr. D.P.S. Kharbanda.

The Sports Minister said that in the sports policy-2018 formulated under the leadership of Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, the winners of Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award were already entitled to receive Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards and 101 sports persons were honoured with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award in the year 2019 under this policy. The policy will now onwards cover all National Sports Award winners including Dhyan Chand and Dronacharya Awards. He said that the Lifetime Achievement Awards winners (Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Awardees) would automatically be considered as eligible for Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards. He said that requisite changes in this regard would be made in the sports policy soon. The Minister asked Director Sports to ensure that necessary amendments were made in the sports policy at the earliest. Rana Sodhi also strictly directed all the district sports officers that they should fill up the forms of the players belonging to their respective districts, who were eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards and send their applications to the headquarters so that no eligible player could be left behind.

The Sports Minister further announced that there will be no annual income limit on the pension given to veteran players. “Whatever the annual income of the veteran player, he will continue to be entitled to a pension", he added.

Assuring players all kinds of support from state government for the upcoming sports events, the Minister said that the state of Punjab is on fast track in the field of sports as the government has notified a comprehensive sports policy to encourage sports through larger participation; focused on high potential games to win medals; structural changes in curriculum to involve children and youth; increased and graded financial assistance to medal winners and to provide job opportunities to deserving sportspersons in government and outside.

The Sports Minister said that a significant decision was also taken to create more employment opportunities for the sportspersons in the cabinet meeting held in the month of July. Now, Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in national games/senior national championships/recognised International Tournaments would be eligible for recruitment for Class I and II posts. He said, the state government has also in-principle decided to create separate quota for sportsperson in government jobs, adding that the government was committed to continuing with 3 percent reservation in all jobs of state Government, its boards, corporations, cooperative/statutory bodies and local authorities for graded sportspersons, who are residents of Punjab and have represented the state at national level.

Punjab hockey player Akashdeep Singh was bestowed with the prestigious Arjuna Award this year, while Kuldeep Singh Bhullar (Athletics), Ajit Singh (Hockey), Manpreet Singh (Kabaddi), Manjit Singh (Rowing), Sukhwinder Singh (Football) and Lakha Singh (Boxing) were given Major Dhyan Chand Award. Similarly, Colonel Sarfaraz Singh has been conferred the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award. Rana sodhi exhorted all the players to further accomplish their set goals and bring laurel to the state.

While the players shared their experiences of the sports arena, they and their relatives expressed gratitude towards Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi. The Sports Minister also assured the players that their demands would be resolved soon.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Rana Sodhi announced that Lakha Singh, a prominent boxer living a miserable life, would be given the job of coach in the sports department, instructing Director Sports to take immediate action in this regard. He said that a job of a boxing coach would be given this month to boxer Lakha Singh, an Asian Games medalist and an Olympian boxer, who was earning livelihood by driving a taxi these days.


PUNJAB PLANNING DEPT. & SDGCC ANNOUNCES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ACTION AWARDS


· Five Award categories to felicitate people working for development of the State

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Planning Department with the support of UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals Coordination Centre (SDGCC) today announced the SDG Action Awards in five categories SDG Action Award for Economic Sustainability, SDG Action Award for Social Upliftment and Welfare, SDG Action Award for Environment Sustainability, SDG Action Award for ‘Leaving no one behind’ spirit, SDG Action Award for promoting integration, convergence, joint action and holistic solutions approach and the winners would be announced on 25th September, 2020 to mark the SDG Day.

An official spokesperson said that nominations for the awards have been sought across the State from common people, universities, industry and all departments. The details of the entire process including nomination form and details about award categories can be accessed at sdg-awards.com.

He said that Sustainable Development Goals Coordination Centre (SDGCC) supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a platform to implement and achieve the ambitious SDG 2030 targets by integrating and facilitating all stakeholders and empower, prepare and fully equip the state of Punjab with technical knowledge, capacity, resources & systems. SDGCC is mandated to work closely with relevant government departments to provide the requisite impetus to the state government’s initiative in rolling out the Sustainable Development Goals.

The world needs to adapt to emerging NEW NORMAL in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and SDGs give a perfect framework to create a sustainable world, said the spokesperson, adding that to carry on the important task of generating awareness about SDGs in the State, SDGCC is proposing to conduct the SDG Action awards to not only inform people about SDGs but also identify and felicitate people of the State of Punjab who have taken action to resolve problems being faced by them and the people around them. The implementation of SDGs necessitates that the WHOLE OF GOVERNMENT and WHOLE OF SOCIETY approaches are followed. In the post COVID-19 scenario SDGs have assumed much more importance in helping create a new normal.

He said that since SDGs were signed on September 25 and that is celebrated as the UN SDG Day, the winners will be announced through a virtual award ceremony, on the same date.SDG Action Awards is an innovative instrument which would encourage, promote and back the efforts of all change makers who are working towards making the world a better place.


UNLOCK 4 : NO CURFEW ON SATURDAYS IN PUNJAB, CURFEW TO REMAIN IMPOSED ON SUNDAYS IN 167 MUNICIPAL TOWNS

Chandigarh, (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Aiming to provide more relaxation in the urban areas during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Punjab Government, on the directions of Punjab Chief Minister, have announced that curfew would remain imposed only on all Sundays in all the 167 municipal towns of the State upto 30.09.2020 and no curfew to be imposed on Saturdays.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Punjab Government said the CM has reviewed the Covid-19 situation and directed to relax some of the restrictions in urban areas. He said movement of individuals for all non-essential activities would remain prohibited between 9:30 pm to 5:00 am within municipal limits of all the cities of Punjab throughout the week.

However, essential activities and services such as movement of persons and goods on national and state highways, inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and unloading of cargo and travel of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and aeroplanes would be permitted.

He further informed that essential services related to health, agriculture and linked activities, dairying and fishery activities, banks, ATMs, stock markets, insurance companies, on-line teaching, public utilities, public transport, industry in multiple-shifts, construction industry, offices both private and government etc. would also be permitted.

Moreover, he added that health care institutions viz. hospitals, labs, diagnostic centre and chemist shops were allowed to operate on all 7 days of the week throughout the day i.e. would remain open 24x7 hours. Besides, movement of persons and students in connection with all kinds of examinations, admission/entrance tests conducted by universities, boards, public service commissions and other institutions would also be permitted.

Giving details of the weekend/night restrictions, the spokesperson said shops/malls, except those dealing in essential commodities, would be allowed to remain open till 9:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday but would be closed in all cities on Sunday. Shops/Malls dealing in essentials would be open even on the weekend, till 9:00 p.m.

In addition, he revealed that religious places have also been allowed to stay open on all days upto 9:00 p.m., as have been restaurants (including those in malls, Hotels) and liquor vends. The restrictions on day/time do not apply to hotels.

It is worth mentioning here that the existing restrictions on passengers in vehicles would also continue to remain in force, with only 3 persons including driver to be allowed in a 4-wheeler vehicle, and all buses and public transport vehicles to allow sitting for only half (50%) capacity with no person standing.

Furthermore , He said that Government and private offices shall operate with 50% staff strength till the end of the month i.e. not more than 50% of employees would be permitted on a particular day. The Heads of Offices would restrict public visitors in Government offices and encourage use of on-line Punjab grievance redressal system (PGRS) and other on-line tools so as to minimise person to person contact in offices.

He stated that Section 144 of the CrPC banning all social, political, religious gatherings, protests, and demonstrations will continue to remain in force throughout the State, while gatherings relating to marriage and funerals shall be allowed only for 30 persons and 20 persons respectively. Strict action be taken against the organisers and main participants for violation of orders u/s 144 of Cr.PC, he added. He reiterated that the above restrictions would be applicable only in urban area of the State.


PUNJAB CM ENDS SELF-ISOLATION AFTER TESTING NEGATIVE FOR COVID

CHANDIGARH (OZI INDIAN TV DESK) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday ended his week-long self-isolation after testing negative for Covid.


The Chief Minister had isolated himself after coming in contact with two MLAs who had later tested positive. He came in contact with the legislators in the Vidhan Sabha on August 28 during a one-day session of the House.


Captain Amarinder, who presided over a virtual high-level meeting of ministers, Congress MLAs and senior officials, disclosed during the interaction that he had got himself tested today and was found negative.


This was the 3rd time the Chief Minister had got himself tested for Coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic.


TO ENCOURAGE COVID TESTING, PUNJAB CM ANNOUNCES FREE FOOD PACKETS FOR POOR FAMILIES IN HOME ISOLATION

CHANDIGARH (OZI INDIAN TV DESK) : To encourage testing for Covid, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced distribution of free food packets to poor families who do not want to get themselves tested for fear of isolation impacting their meager earnings.



The Chief Minister said the distribution of free food packets would help encourage poor families to go for early testing, which was imperative to check the spread of the pandemic and control the increasing fatality rate in Punjab.



The programme will start from Patiala, one of the worst affected districts with widespread false propaganda, he said. The Chief Minister directed other districts to make similar arrangements for distribution of free food packets to poor Covid patients in home isolation so that they get motivated to come out for testing and do not live in fear of losing their earnings during isolation.



Accepting the suggestion of Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar the Chief Minister said that District Congress Committees (DCCs) and local MLAs will help the district administration in the distribution of these packets. The Chief Minister stated this while chairing a virtual meeting with elected representatives, including ministers and MLAs, as well as senior officials. This was the first of such meetings the Chief Ministers plans to hold to fight the malicious propaganda being spread over Covid in villages.



Noting that people were also scared of hospitalisation, Captain Amarinder said his government was encouraging home isolation to combat this fear and had also decided to remove posters/stickers from homes of patients to end the stigma attached to their isolation.



The Chief Minister asked the Ministers to visit hospitals in the districts represented by them, and urged them to encourage party leaders and workers to be more active in combatting the pandemic. He himself would soon be visiting a hospital to assess the situation on the ground, he said.



He thanked the Ministers for Health & Family Welfare and Medical Education & Research for the excellent work done by their departments in battling the Covid and asked them to convey his wishes to their teams and staff members.



Pointing out that nobody knew how long the pandemic would last, Captain Amarinder stressed the need to be prepared for a tough and long-drawn battle. He assured that despite the financial crunch, all necessary funds would be made available by his government to fight the Covid pandemic in the state.


Punjab will launch ‘Digital Parent Margdarshak Program’ to engage stressful parents and Anganwadi children; announces Aruna Chaudhary

· Social Security, Women and Child Development Minister will launch statewide program on Teachers’ Day

· Customized messages in Punjabi and animated video will be shared via instant social media platforms directly to parents

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : To provide fascinating knowledgeable content to Anganwadi children and allay the stress of their parents stuck at home during these perilous times of COVID-19 pandemic, Punjab Social Security, Women & Child Development Minister Mrs. Aruna Chaudhary will launch ‘Digital Parent Margdarshak Program’ on September 5 on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.



Informing further, Mrs. Chaudhary said that Corona has brought change in the way we engage as communities. People, especially parents and tiny-tots are going through a stressful and painful phase, which has brought about in-person disengagement and more reliance on distance learning.



“Keeping this situation in mind, the ‘Digital Parent Margdarshak Program’, which would be carried forward in synergy with the Meraki Foundation, to be launched on Teacher’s Day on September 5”, said the minister, while stressing on the need for distance learning.



She informed that the customized messages in Punjabi, both in text and animated video format, will be shared via instant social media platforms with the parents of the Anganwadi going children availing the services of Anganwadi workers, who will be known as Margdarshaks under this program. The Minister said that our Anganwadi workers have made ‘Mission Fateh’ a success as corona warriors and they will now act as Margdarshaks for the parents. She said, "Margdarshaks would play a pivotal role in the development of our kids."



“We plan to roll out this program in two phases. Phase 1 will cover 11 districts, while remaining 11 districts would be covered under Phase 2”, she apprised, adding that to make this initiate a huge success, the department with support of the Meraki Foundation has been imparting training to its functionaries. She said that the 15 day long training program for Phase-1 functionaries and Margdarshaks has already been conducted.



Mrs. Aruna Chaudhary said that Anganwadi workers have been forming WhatsApp groups with the caregivers of the children attending the Anganwadis and will be disseminating activity content daily, which would be provided by the foundation in an attractive manner keeping in mind the mental level of the children.



The content will also be uploaded on the Social Security department’s Facebook and Twitter handles and made available to the public at large”, she further averred.



The Minister said that a technology-led digital intervention for caregivers will enable a positive, responsive and learning environment at home. Thus, the Department and the Meraki Foundation is launching a digital campaign with special focus on increasing parent-child engagement. Emphasizing on parent-child engagement in this stressful time, she said, adding that children capacity building, during the current times, is a crucial need of the hour.


Spell out your quandary in supporting farm ordinances: Congress Leaders

· Congress Ministers & MLAs corner SAD Patron for lending support to anti-farmer ordinances

· Sacrilege cases took place during ‘mis’rule of so called panthic SAD



Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : The shameless statement given in support of the Union Government sponsored farm ordinances by the Badal family patriarch has exposed the so called farmer friendly face of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which has all but faded away from the political landscape of Punjab.

Castigating the Ex Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Congress leaders’ asked the SAD Patron to spell out his predicament which forced him to support the farm ordinances which have potential to sound death knell for the agrarian sector.

In a joint statement issued from the Party Headquarters, 5 Ministers namely S. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Aruna Chaudhary and Bharat Bhushan Ashu besides 6 MLAs Darshan Singh Brar, Kushaldeep Singh Kikki Dhillon, Pritam Singh Kotbhai, Barindermeet Singh Pahra, Kulbir Singh Zira and Kuldeep Singh Vaid averred that the SAD stalwart, who till now in his 6 decades old political career has so vociferously claimed being the champion of the farmers’ causes, has stabbed the farming community in the back just for the sake of protecting the ministership of his Daughter-in-Law Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The Congress leaders also asked the SAD patriarch to lay bare his quandary which prompted him to commit such a shameful act which amounts to political hara-kiri.

Before pointing out fingers at the Captain Amarinder Singh led Government and Congress Party, the SAD Patron ought to have a sneek peak into his own acts of omission and commission, said the Congress leaders. They added that it was during the ‘Mis’rule of Parkash Singh Badal, who everyday harped boasted of making sacrifices, saw incidents of sacrilege taking place. Not only this, the innocent Sikh protestors, who were peacefully staging protest against the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, were indiscriminately fired upon which pierced the heart of everyone already aghast at the sacrilege occurrences. The so called religious party tenure saw the drug trade flourishing the consequences of which had to be borne by the present dispensation.

The Congress ministers and MLAs also added that this is a brazen attempt by the ex CM to again prop up his party on the political map of Punjab and can very well be equated with crocodile’s deceiving tears. But the people of Punjab won’t be beguiled by these tactics now. The SAD is completely off the radar now on every front. The disappearance of ‘Birs’ right under the nose of the SAD controlled SGPC, is another black spot on the so called panthic party’s face.


Launch of Xcelerator Ludhiana to amplify the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Punjab

Ludhiana (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : The Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Punjab has partnered with Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) to launch a program to encourage and enable entrepreneurship in Ludhiana. ‘Xcelerator’ is a 6 month long curated small business accelerator program to support promising growth enterprises in improving their productivity, efficiency and profitability. The program is co-designed and led by key stakeholders ranging from industry experts to financial institutions in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The ‘Xcelerator Ludhiana’ will be led by a collaborative Taskforce with Mr. Sachit Jain (Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Vardhman Special Steels Ltd.) as the chair along with Mr. Upkar Singh Ahuja (President, Chamber of Industrial & Commercial Undertakings) and other key stakeholders from the government, banks, academic institutes and media. The Taskforce will be advised by a Steering Committee that includes Mr. Ravi Venkatesan (Founder, GAME) and Dr. Gyanendra Badgaiyan (Former IAS & Punjab State Advisory Council Member), among others.

Ms. Vini Mahajan, Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab expressed that the MSMEs in Punjab have always been crucial to creating jobs. The Government understands and appreciates the entrepreneurial grit of the citizens of Punjab and by fostering this talent and innovation, MSMEs will pave clear paths for the growth of the state economy. The promotion of successful growth enterprises will nurture an ecosystem of smaller supporting MSMEs which will in turn enhance the employment potential of the state, thus creating a virtuous cycle of growth and prosperity. The Government of Punjab is committed to supporting GAME in this initiative and building a vibrant ecosystem of entrepreneurial growth in Punjab.

Mr. Alok Shekhar, Principal Secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce added that the commitment of the Government to boost MSMEs in the state of Punjab has resulted in reforms at multiple levels - policy, processes, infrastructure and well as incentivisation. In order to now ace the next frontier, the Department is collaborating with GAME to incubate and spread the culture of Mass Entrepreneurship (ME) in Punjab. This program will unlock the entrepreneurial potential of the state by giving the right tools to MSMEs. Xcelerator will slowly transform Punjab by ingraining entrepreneurship into its very fabric.



The program which is being launched in Ludhiana will have 2 cohorts with up to 20 firms each. The program will eventually be scaled across Punjab and will create a resilient and sustainable local ecosystem conducive to MSME growth and job creation. It will support the growth of mass entrepreneurship and encourage and build aspirations for youth to start new enterprises.

Speaking on this partnership, Mr. Ravi Venkatesan, Founder, GAME said that Punjab has more than 2.59 lakh registered MSMEs which clearly demonstrates its strong entrepreneurial DNA. Yet, many MSMEs are unable to scale, stuck in unproductive business cycles and dated operations. To overcome such challenges, Mr. Venkatesan said, the selected enterprises will be taken through a quick growth journey through specific interventions over six months. Ludhiana serves as a perfect starting point because of its resources, promising enterprises and responsive ecosystem.

The program applications are now open. The launch of the first cohort will be in December 2020. The program invites profitable, non-IT businesses to apply. Profitable businesses with annual revenue of INR 2 crore to INR 10 crore in the service industry, and INR 10 crore to INR 50 crore in manufacturing, trade or export businesses are eligible to apply. Women-owned businesses (majority equity owned by women) with annual revenue in the range of INR 2 crore to INR 50 crore are also encouraged to apply.


PUNJAB GOVERNMENT OKAYS FILLING UP OF 428 MEDICAL OFFICERS VACANCIES

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Tv Desk) : As Punjab gears up to further strengthen its fight against the worsening Covid crisis, the state cabinet on Tuesday approved filling up of 428 regular vacancies of Medical Officers (Specialists) on urgent basis. It also gave ex-post facto approval to 107 posts already filled up for six specialities.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, while chairing the Cabinet meet, said the staff was needed to be on Board urgently to tackle the crisis, with the state projected to be headed for a peak in the pandemic. Captain Amarinder Singh, during his last review, had stressed on the need to identify vacant specialist posts and hire immediately.

The recruitment, to be undertaken in the Health Department, would be done by a Special Selection Committee headed by Dr. K K Talwar through walk-in-interview, an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting.

The posts for which the post-facto approval has been okayed form part of ongoing recruitment process for 323 Medical Officers (Specialists). The Cabinet also decided to carry forward reserve categories posts/adjustment against Medical Officer (General) to meet the shortage of doctors. In view of the high number of suitable candidates in certain specialties, it was also decided to offer jobs to all such successful candidates in that particular specialty and to increase the number of posts in that slab accordingly.

Of the 428 new posts, 136 have been sanctioned at District Hospital level, with maximum of 22 in Pediatrics and 20 each for Forensic Medicine and Gynae, followed by 18 in Microbiology. At Sub Divisional Hospitals (190), maximum 39 posts each are in Medicine and Gynae with Skin & VD (30), ENT (29) and Anesthesia (13). Total of 102 posts have been sanctioned in Anesthesia at Community Health Centres.

The Health Department would be filling these posts as early as possible besides creating more posts if the need arises, said the spokesperson.

It may be recalled that the Health department had taken approval to fill 3954 posts of Medical and Para-medical staff from Cabinet on 30.06.2020 and the recruitment process for that is already underway. Selection process for 323 posts of Medical Officers (Specialists) of 13 different specialists is also going on and issuance of appointment certificates to successful candidates is underway. Of these 323 posts, only 34 belong to General Category and rest are from various reserved categories.

For the purpose of recruitment, the upper age limit has relaxed upto 45 years in case of persons already in government service.

As of today, India has a total of around 31 Lakh Covid cases, of which 41,000 are in Punjab with 1036 deaths reported in the state.


PUNJAB CABINET NOD FOR SETTING UP SRI GURU TEG BAHADUR UNIVERSITY OF LAW AT TARN TARAN

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : The Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday paved the way for the establishment of a law university in the border district of Tarn Taran to commemorate the 400th Birth Anniversary of the Ninth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, as announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh during the Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha.

The Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, approved the ‘Sri Guru Teg Bahadur State University of Law Bill – 2020’ for presentation in the forthcoming session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The draft Bill, prepared by the Department of Higher Education, seeks “to establish and incorporate a State University for the development and advancement of legal education and for the purposes of imparting specialized and systematic instruction, training and research in the field of law and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The objects of the University shall be to evolve and impart comprehensive legal education at all levels, to organise advanced studies and promote research in all branches of law, as well as to disseminate legal knowledge and legal processes and their role in national development by organizing lectures, seminars, symposia, webinars, workshops and conferences. It will also seek to promote cultural, legal and ethical values with a view to promote and foster the rule of law, the objectives enshrined in the Constitution of India and to promote legal awareness in the community for achieving social and economic justice.

Other objectives of the University would be: to improve the ability with a view to analyze and present for the benefit of the public, contemporary issues of public concern and their legal implications; to liaison with institutions of higher learning and research in India and abroad; to publish periodicals, treatises, study books, reports, journals and other literature on all subjects relating to law; to hold examinations and confer degrees and other academic distinctions; to undertake study and training projects relating to law, legislation and judicial institutions; and to do all such things as are incidental, necessary or conducive to the attainment of all or any of the objectives of the University.

The University’s Governing Council, to be chaired by the Vice Chancellor, shall be the plenary authority of the University, and shall formulate and review from time to time the policies and programmes of the University and also devise measures for the improvement and development of the University, among other functions.


GANDHIS CAN LEAD THE PARTY BACK TO GLORY & PROTECT NATION FROM INTERNAL & EXTERNAL THREATS : AMARINDER

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) :Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has opposed the bid by some Congress leaders to challenge the Gandhi family leadership of the party, saying this was not the time to raise such an issue, given the need for a strong opposition against the BJP-led NDA that was out to destroy the country’s Constitutional ethos and democratic principles.



In a statement issued here on Sunday, the veteran Congress leader said the NDA’s success was attributable to the absence of a strong and united Opposition, and the move by these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation. India is currently facing not just external dangers from across the border but also internal threats to its federal structure, he said, adding that a unified

Congress alone could protect the country and its people.



Terming the demand for leadership change as untenable, Captain Amarinder noted the immense contribution of the Gandhi family to the country’s progress since it achieved freedom from the British rule. What Congress needs is a leadership that is acceptable not just to a few but to the entire party, through its rank and file, and the nation at large, he said, adding that the Gandhis were the right fit for this role. Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wanted, he said, and added that Rahul should thereafter take over as he was fully competent to lead the party.



The Chief Minister pointed out that there was not a single village in India which did not have a Congress member to carry forward its ideology of upholding the Constitutional principles, rights and freedoms. The credit for that, he said, went to the Gandhis, without whose selfless commitment, dedication and unimaginable sacrifices, the party would not have stood like a rock in the path of the BJP and its Sanghi ambitions to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion.



At a time when the very bedrock of India’s Constitutional strength was under threat, it was important for every Congress man and woman to stand firmly and unitedly behind the Gandhis, who had held the party together all these decades and could continue to do so, said Captain Amarinder. There was currently no leader in the Congress who could give the party that kind of strong leadership, he said, urging one and all to put the interests of the party and the nation above their own.



The Gandhis were the only universally recognisable face of the Congress, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the Chief Minister stressed, pointing out that of the five generations that had served the country since the pre-Independence times, beginning with Moti Lal Nehru and Independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, two (India Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi) had sacrificed their lives for the nation.



Electoral defeats could not be the yardstick for leadership change, said the Chief Minister, adding that just because the Congress was down at the moment did not mean the Gandhis’ contribution to its growth could or should be undermined. The BJP rose from two parliamentary seats to lead the country, he pointed out, adding that the Congress will rise again, and that too under the leadership of a Gandhi.



Captain Amarinder warned that any move to divide or destabilise the party would give advantage to the dictatorial forces that are seeking to trample the ideals on which our founding fathers had built the modern India, that is respected by the world today. The destruction of those ideals would trigger the devastation not just of the Congress but India as a whole, he added.


WEEKEND LOCKDOWN, DAILY NIGHT CURFEW FROM 7 P.M TO 5 A.M. IN ALL CITIES/TOWNS FROM TOMORROW, AS PUNJAB CM ANNOUNCES EMERGENCY MEASURES





· SAYS `ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ AS HE ORDERS TOTAL BAN ON ALL GATHERINGS EXCEPT WEDDINGS & FUNERALS ACROSS THE STATE



· BUSES AND TRANSPORT VEHICLES TO PLY AT 50% & PVT CARS WITH 3 PASSENGERS, ONLY 50% NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS TO OPEN DAILY IN 5 WORST AFFECTED DISTRICTS



Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Tv Desk) : Calling for `war-like preparedness’ to deal with the massive Covid spike in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered a series of emergency measures, including extension of weekend lockdown with daily night curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. in all the 167 cities/towns in the state from tomorrow.



He has also ordered a total ban on all gatherings except weddings and funerals across the state till August 31. Government and private offices will work at 50% capacity till the end of this month, as per the directives issued by the Chief Minister during a Video Conference meeting with top officials to review the Covid situation in the state, which is witnessing a massive increase in daily cases and an increase in deaths.



Captain Amarinder also directed the concerned officials to restrict public visitors in government officials and to encourage the use of online grievance redressal system, which has been significantly strengthened by the state government to minimise in-person contact with hassle-free online engagement.



In the five worst affected districts of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and SAS Nagar (Mohali), restrictions on vehicular capacity have been imposed again, with buses and other public transport to operate with 50% capacity and private four-wheelers not allowed to carry more than three passengers per vehicle. The Chief Minister has also directed the DCs in these five districts to allow only 50% of the non-essential shops to open on a daily basis to check crowding. These five districts are currently accounting for 80% of the active case load in the state.



The Chief Minister directed DGP Dinkar Gupta to strictly enforce compliance of rules with regard to the number of persons allowed to attend weddings and funerals, and also to ensure total ban on political gatherings till August 31, when the situation will be reviewed. He also asked the DGP to crack the whip on all political protests and gatherings, and asked his own party, Punjab Congress, leadership to enforce the ban strictly.



“Enough is enough,” said Captain Amarinder, adding that “we need to be tough without affecting the state’s economic activity.” Pointing to the 920 Covid deaths reported in the state so far, he said “each death pains me, and the projections for the coming weeks are grim.”



Underlining the need to promote public participation in creating awareness on the measures to check the spread of Covid, the Chief Minister asked the Health department to promote public participation (lok sanjheydari) by involving all other departments, NGOs and local politicians to educate the people.



The Chief Minister said the state was in an `health emergency’ situation, necessitating harsh measures, which might have to be further intensified in the coming days to curb the Covid spread. Though the cases were currently concentrated mainly in urban areas, rural areas were also witnessing an increase, he said, adding that if needed, travel restrictions may have to be imposed.


PUNJAB CM ANNOUNCES 6 LAC JOBS, WITH 1 LAC IN GOVT SECTOR

Mohali / Chandigarh (Ozi India TV Desk) : Vowing not to rest till he had put the state’s economy back on the track of growth, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced a slew of welfare measures for the people, including facilitation of another 6 lac jobs for youth over the next two years, of which one lac will be in the government sector.

In his Independence Day address, the Chief Minister announced that 50000 government jobs will be provided to the youth in FY 2021 and another 50000 in FY 2022. He also announced a Virtual Mega Job Mela next month with the target of placement of 50000 youth in the private sector. He pointed out that his government had already helped 13.60 lac youth get gainful employment/self-employment under its flagship ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar’ scheme.

While reiterating his government’s commitment to incentives for the industry to attract more investment to the state, he said Rs. 63000 crore investment had already been realised on the ground with potential of 2 lac jobs in the State.

Over the next few months, his government will also give debt relief to the tune of Rs 520 crore to landless farmers and workers, said the Chief Minister, pointing out that Rs 4700 crore had already been disbursed to 5.62 lac farmers under the debt waiver scheme of the government. He also announced that his government will soon enact a new land leasing law, to secure the land ownership of the farmers and the rights of tenants on agriculture land.

Captain Amarinder further said that with the launch soon of the Smart Ration Card scheme, as many as 1.41 crore beneficiaries will become eligible to get rations from fair price shops.

To further boost the infrastructure of the state, the Chief Minister announced construction of 1300 kms of State and National Highways with an investment of over Rs 12000 crore in the next two years. While 28,830 kms of rural links roads had already been repaired over the last three years with an expenditure of Rs 3278 crore, the next two years will see repair of another 6162 kms of link roads with an investment of Rs 834 crore, he said, adding that patchwork of an additional 17,000 kms of link roads will also be undertaken at a cost of Rs. 82 crore.

Underlining the need to take Punjab back to its lost glory in Sports, the Chief Minister announced the construction of 750 rural sports stadiums across the state in the next two years. He also announced Rs 2500 crore investment, over the next 2 years, in Phase II of the Smart Village Campaign (SVC), for which Phase I covering 19132 rural works has already been completed at a cost of Rs 835 crores. All rural households of the State will have piped potable drinking water connections in the next two years with an expenditure of Rs. 1200 crore, he added.

Another Rs. 1046 crore will be spent under the Urban Environment Improvement Programme (UIEP) in the next two years, while efforts will be made to make Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojna universal, with coverage of all rural and urban households in the state for health insurance of Rs. 5 lac each, said Captain Amarinder.

Though work on Mata Tripata Mahila Yojana and Mata Kasturba Manila Yojna, aimed at social and economic empowerment of women, had been delayed due to Covid, the schemes will soon be back on track, said the Chief Minister, adding that his government would also soon finalise a scheme for economic empowerment for persons with disabilities.

Despite the economic slowdown resulting from the pandemic, which led to 50% decline in revenue collection in the first quarter of the current year, the state government has successfully initiated several steps to combat the crisis, said the Chief Minister. A sum of Rs 26000 crore boost was given to the farming sector to ensure efficient Wheat Procurement, he said.

Citing the importance of Online Education, Captain Amarinder said 1.74 lac Class XII students of government schools were being given smartphones this year to facilitate their education.

In addition to tax relief and concessions for the industry, several waivers and deferments of fees, taxes and loans payable by the individuals had also been announced, he said. Timely pensions and cash assistance had also been ensured for the poor and needy, said the Chief Minister.

Expressing the confidence that Punjab would successfully overcome the Covid pandemic, Captain Amarinder appealed to the people to continue to extend their wholehearted cooperation to his government to fight the crisis. He urged them to take special care of elderly, while ensuring strict adherence to wearing of masks and other protocols, including avoidance of large gatherings and frequent washing of hands. Get yourselves tested the moment you see any symptoms, he appealed to the people, adding that early testing was the first step towards defeating the disease and winning the war.


PUNJAB CM CALLS FOR READINESS TO COMBAT BORDER THREAT FROM PAKISTAN & CHINA

Mohali/Chandigarh, August 15 (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Warning of continued threat from both Pakistan and China, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday said Punjab would always be at the forefront of fighting the enemy at the borders.

With tensions at the borders continuing, India had to be prepared to deal with any eventuality, said the Chief Minister in his Independence Day address, after hoisting the tricolour here to mark the historic occasion.

While Pakistan continues to resort to firing every day, China, on the other hand, talks about friendship but remains a danger to our nation, said Captain Amarinder, recalling the recent barbaric attack on Indian soldiers by the Chinese forces. India has always given Pakistan a befitting response, which is the only way to deal with them, he said, adding that China also needs to be handled with the same iron hand.

Recalling the contributions of the millions of Indians to the freedom struggle, the Chief Minister said Punjabis had always been at the forefront of every battle. The cellular jail in Kaala Paani (Andaman Islands) have the names of tens of hundreds of Punjabis etched in immortality, he said, adding that even though the I-Day celebrations this year were low-key due to the Covid pandemic, this was the time to remember the sacrifices of all those who had made freedom possible for us. It was also the time to salute the defence forces guarding the nation’s borders from the enemy, he added.

Paying his tributes to Punjab’s freedom fighters, Captain Amarinder reiterated his government’s commitment to extend all benefits of freedom fighters to their next generations (grandchildren).

At the same time, Captain Amarinder saluted the Health Workers and Paramedics who were continuously fighting the invisible Covid enemy, along with the NGOs and religious organisations that have worked tirelessly to provide free food and medicine during the period of lockdown. He also acknowledged the great work done by the farmers, who have produced the food that fed the nation during the lockdown period and government officials who are serving the people in these difficult times.

The Chief Minister recognised the people of Punjab for their cooperation in observing precautions that were helping in containing the pandemic, the students who had marvellously adapted to the online teaching methodology, as well as the teachers who were working day and night to create online content to ensure that the studies of their students do not suffer.

He also lauded the industrialists who had shown remarkable resilience in recovering from the extreme slowdown caused by the pandemic, and the industrial labour which had placed its faith in the state of Punjab and returned to work with the same dedication as before after the initial panic which forced them to leave for their home towns through the trains arranged by the Punjab government.


NIGHT CURFEW IN LUDHIANA, JALANDHAR & PATIALA TO AVOID COVID SPREAD

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Concerned over the rising number of Covid cases in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 am in the worst affected cities of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala from Saturday, while directing all big cities/towns to prepare integrated management plan for treatment of the disease at both Government and private facilities.



As cases in the state went up to 20,891, with 1050 instances reported on one day on Thursday, the Chief Minister also announced a week-long trial of enforcement of the mandatory mask wearing rule by making offenders stand at the spot for an hour with a mask on. He was of the view that making the offenders sweat it out might help check the violations on this count, which had crossed 3.82 lakhs.
Answering questions in his weekly #AskCaptain Live session on Facebook, which was advanced by a day to apprise the people about his visit today to the hooch tragedy affected Tarn Taran district, Captain Amarinder also appealed to the people to get themselves tested early and start treatment in a proper hospital, urging them not to rush to private tertiary care facility directly since good treatment is available in government hospitals. There were adequate testing facilities available in the state, he said, adding that four new testing labs would become operational on Monday. Delay in going for testing and treatment was the main cause for increasing number of Covid deaths, he said, pointing out that with 26 persons succumbing yesterday, the death toll in the state had gone up to 517 (2.47%).
Expressing concern over the steady increase in Covid infections and positivity in the state, which reported 8.50% cases in samples tested in past one week, the Chief Minister said with the peak projected to come in Punjab by end of August or early September, one could not be certain how high the peak of daily cases may go. Given the recent increase in cases in districts like Bathinda, Barnala, Ferozepur, we cannot afford to be complacent, he said, urging people to hold their nerve in these tough circumstances and fight the disease with strength and determination.
In response to a question, the Chief Minister directed an inquiry by the Vice Chancellor into case of death of a non-Covid patient, Dr Parvinder, at GGS Medical College, Faridkot, as doctors refused to treat him till the file work was completed and Covid test report came, even though he was suffering from low Oxygen levels. Expressing his deepest sympathies with the deceased’s wife, Dr. Neeta Pandhu from Abohar, he said this was not acceptable and patient has to be attended first at all costs. Strict action will be taken against those found responsible, he added.
He also shared details of various announcements he had made earlier in Tarn Taran, including enhanced ex-gratia compensation, as well as decisions on appointing Special Public Prosecutors for speedy and proper trial and amending the Excise Act to ensure that repeat offenders do not go scot free. He said in response to a question that the managerial probe into the incident will be completed within three weeks and all those found complicit will be brought to book.



In response to a question from a Tarn Taran resident regarding what the hooch tragedy affected families had told him during their meeting, the chief minister said they want strong action and punishment for the culprits. Though they did not demand it, but he had announced financial help and had directed the DC to ensure that they get what they need, in terms of even jobs and improving their houses, he added. “We will go beyond financial compensation for the families of the victims,” he said. He reiterated his commitment to wiping out hooch problem from the state and said he had directed the DGP to crack down on the hooch smugglers.



On long queues for payment of electricity bills, with no social distancing, the Chief Minister said he will issue instructions to the chairman of the electricity board to rectify the situation. On delay in issuance of heavy vehicle driving licence issuance/renewal in some districts, he said the delay was due to social distancing norms but he would ask the Department to find ways of expediting the process without compromising on the Covid protocols.



On a request for directions to the agriculture department for ensuring supply of good quality pesticides for paddy, and strict actions suppliers of spurious pesticides, the Chief Minister said he had issued strict instructions to the department to conduct regular checks against fake pesticides. He urged the farmers to buy insecticides from only registered dealers.
Responding to another question, the Chief Minister directed DC Muktsar Sahib to inquire into a complaint regarding pressure being put by the principal of DAV Public School on students for payment of fee by refusing to give their note-books. Making it clear that he will not allow this kind of behaviour, he promised prosecution against any school indulging in such acts. To a similar question on pressure from a college for fee payment, he said the Higher Education Department will probe the matter.
In response to a request from a Fatehgarh Sahib resident to allow the livestock market to resume operations, which were suspended in March causing massive losses to the people, Captain Amarinder said he will direct the Department to let the mandi operate, but with total adherence to safety protocols.
The Chief Minister assured a Patiala resident that the delayed exams for the post of Patwari will be held soon, and the positions will be offered now on central government scales, for which the proposal was being finalised for submission to SSB.
To a complaint from a Pathankot resident about non-acceptance of the Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana card for admission to a hospital, the Chief Minister said the hospital in question was not empaneled and card-holders need to go only to empaneled hospitals.


PUNJAB CM DIRECTS DGP TO BOOK THOSE DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN HOOCH TRAGEDY U/S 302 IPC FOR MURDER


· SAYS WON’T TOLERATE POLITICAL INTERFERENCE, MOOTS AMENDMENT TO EXCISE ACT TO ENHANCE PUNISHMENT FOR LIQUOR SMUGGLERS



· ASKS BRAHM MOHINDRA LED PANEL TO SUBMIT REPORT ON PCOCA TO ENABLE GOVT TO CONSIDER EARLY PCOCA ENACTMENT



Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he will not tolerate any political interference in the hooch tragedy case, and directed the DGP to book those directly involved for murder under section 302 of IPC.



Promising justice for the victims of the case, which he termed as the biggest tragedy of recent times, the Chief Minister also mooted enhancement of punishment for spurious/illicit liquor manufacturing and smuggling under the Excise Act, to ensure that repeat offenders remain behind the bars and are not able to come out easily to indulge again in the crime.



As several ministers agreed, during a Cabinet meet, to the suggestion of Advocate General Atul Nanda that a strict law like PCOCA was needed to combat organised crime like illicit liquor smuggling, the Chief Minister asked the Sub-Committee, that was set up under Brahm Mohindra to examine the provisions of the proposed law, to finalise and submit its report at the earliest. He agreed with Sukhjinder Randhawa and other ministers that PCOCA (Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act) could help control hardcore criminals and act as deterrent to gangsters, who continue to deal in organised crime even from prison, and had close connections with terrorists too, said the minister.



The Chief Minister’s directives on the hooch tragedy came during two separate video conferences – one of the cabinet meeting and the other a review meeting of the case with top police and administrative officials.



Captain Amarinder also led his council of ministers in observing a 2-minute silence as a mark of homage to the victims of the tragedy.



“Finish off this business, clean up the border areas,” was Captain Amarinder’s strict directive to police and district officials during the review VC earlier, which was attended by DGP Dinkar Gupta and Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, along with SSPs and DCs of the affected districts of Tarn Taran, Amritsar Rural and Gurdaspur, along with officials of the Excise & Taxation Department.



“This has to stop,” he said, adding that the illicit liquor business had been going on in border areas for a long time, with use of Lahan, but now it had assumed an even more dangerous proportions with the new trend of smuggling from neighbouring states.



Asserting that he wanted “to see an end to this whole business of spurious and illicit/smuggled liquor,” the Chief Minister directed the concerned officials to be extremely strict in dealing with the criminals, whether men or women. Reiterating his government’s zero tolerance policy to illicit/spurious liquor and drugs, he asked the police to coordinate closely with the Excise and other concerned departments to wipe this menace out of Punjab once and for all.



Pointing out that the victims were the poorest of the poor, Captain Amarinder set a 10-day deadline for the concerned DCs and police officers to identify and process cases to provide targeted additional relief for their families. The Chief Minister has already announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia compensation to the families of each of the victims of the tragedy, in which the death toll currently stands at 113, with several more under treatment, which is being provided free in hospitals.



DC Tarn Taran, Kulwant Singh, said his district had reported 84 deaths, with 13 people under treatment. Of these 13, 6 had been referred to Amritsar for eye treatment, while one was critical, he said. On the relief measures, the DC said disbursement of the Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia compensation announced by the Chief Minister for the families of the deceased would be disbursed tomorrow as verification had been completed and processing would be done in the next 24 hours.



The Child Welfare Committee, along with NGOs, had been roped in to counsel the children of the affected families, including two siblings who had lost both their parents, said the DC. Children of employable age will be assisted for self-employment while widows will be given stitching machines and other assistance to earn their livelihood.



DC Amritsar, Gurpreet Khaira, said 15 deaths had been reported in his district, where all efforts were being made to provide immediate relief to the families.



DC Gurdaspur, Mohd Ishfaq, said ration kits had been provided to the affected people and a drive had been launched to create awareness about consumption of liquor, with instructions to destroy any illicit liquor lying with them.



IG Border Range, SPS Parmar, in a brief presentation, said cases had been registered under Section 304 IPC and the Excise Act, and a coordinated crackdown had been launched in all the border areas to identify and nab the criminals and initiate strict action against them under the law. He revealed that initially, the families of the victims in Tarn Taran, which had suffered the maximum loss of lives, hid the deaths and cremated the bodies without post-mortem. He suggested introduction of colour coding for ethanol and other spirits to check illegal sale/distribution of such products.


PUNJAB CM LAUDS FARMERS FOR INCREASED CROP DIVERSIFICATION WHILE SUCCESSFUL KHARIF SOWING AMID COVID PANDEMIC

· UNDERLINES NEED TO DIVERSIFY FURTHER TO SAVE PRECIOUS WATER RESOURCE & BOOST FARMERS’ INCOME


Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday lauded the state’s farmers for successful diversification of nearly 2.28 lakh hectares area out of the traditional paddy cultivation cycle in the current Kharif sowing season, even while ensuring successful completion of crop acreage in terms of sowing of the Kharif 2020 crop.

The success of the farmers in their diversification efforts, even amid the Covid pandemic, has also been recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India, which documented the same in a Press Information Bureau release of 31st July 2020, the Chief Minister pointed out.

The diversification across 2.28 lakh hectares will help save nearly 2.7 billion cubic meters of ground water and about Rs. 200 crores power consumption in the state, thus supporting the Punjab government’s efforts to preserve the scarce water resources, said Captain Amarinder.

While reviewing the sowing activities in the State here on Monday, the Chief Minister said that despite migratory labour shortage in the ongoing kharif season, the state has not only completed its kharif sowing but has also continued to fulfil its objective of diversification even in these difficult times.

The Chief Minister directed the ACS Development to accord top priority to diversification of agriculture, particularly in the light of the diminishing returns on farmer’s produce. The returns for farmers have been decreasing due to squeezed margins on account of almost stagnated MSP and continuously increasing costs of agricultural inputs. Farmers should be motivated to go for crop diversification in a big way by opting for crops like sugarcane, basmati, pulses, fruits & vegetables, he said, adding that this would make the state’s agrarian economy more financially sustainable and economically viable.

ACS Development Anirudh Tiwari informed the Chief Minister that Basmati sowing has been completed across 6.50 lakh hectares, against 6.30 lakh hectares last year. It is expected that acreage under Basmati will touch about 6.75 to 7.0 lakh hectares in Punjab this year.

The state government’s concerted push to use DSR technology is expected to save both ground water and power consumption, along with the natural resources of Punjab, said Tiwari, adding that around 5.50 lakh hectares of Paddy sowing had been undertaken this year through DSR. This, he said, could ultimately lead to achievement of the goal of sustainable agriculture that conserves natural resources and improves farmers’ incomes by cutting down on input costs.

The ACS informed the meeting that Cotton cultivation has been carried out across 5.01 lakh hectares, which is 1.09 lakh hectares more compared to previous year acreage of 3.92 lakh hectares. Last year, the state recorded its highest cotton productivity of 806 Kg lint per hectare.

Acreage under Maize too has seen an increase of 0.83 lakh hectares from the previous year. Last year, Maize was sown in 1.60 lakh hectares in comparison to 2.43 lakh hectares for the current season. Notably, Cotton and Maize crops have very good water saving potential for the state. Similarly, the state has achieved an increase of 5000 hectares under pulses cultivation and 1000 hectares under Sugarcane cultivation.


YOUR THREATS WON’T DETER ME FROM PROTECTING PUNJAB’S & INDIA’S INTEGRITY: CAPT AMARINDER TO SUKHBIR

· SAYS WILL DO ALL IT TAKES UNDER THE LAW TO ENSURE INDIA’S SAFETY FROM ANTI-NATIONAL FORCES

· ASKS SAD CHIEF TO STOP PLAYING INTO HANDS OF SEPARATISTS BY INCITING PUNJAB YOUTH AGAINST POLICE

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Tv Desk) : Taking strong exception to the so-called `warning’ by Sukhbir Singh Badal on recent arrests under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he will do everything under the law as needed to protect the security and integrity of Punjab and of the nation, and the SAD president’s threats could not deter him from ensuring the safety of his people.



If there are any specific instances of wrongful arrest or registration of case by Punjab Police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as he has claimed, Sukhbir should send him a list of the same instead of making unnecessary noise, said the Chief Minister. There was no question of falsely implicating anyone, he said, urging the SAD chief to refrain from playing into the hands of the separatists by trying to incite the state’s youth, especially Sikhs, against the police force.



Pointing out that UAPA had been in existence for long, the Chief Minister reminded Sukhbir that under the SAD-BJP regime, more than 60 cases under UA(P)A had been registered in Punjab, of which 19 were in 2010 alone and 12 in 2017. Of the 225 individuals arrested in these cases, 120 were acquitted or discharged, indicating that indiscriminate application of UA(P)A had in fact been done by the Akalis during their tenure, he observed.



Captain Amarinder lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief for trying to compromise the interests of Punjab with his politically motivated propaganda against the Punjab Police, particularly the DGP, whose professional and secular credentials were above board. It was shocking that Sukhbir, who was leading a party that claimed to be the custodians of Sikhism, was in fact protesting against the Punjab Police’s fight against separatist and terrorist activities designed to divide the Sikhs on communal lines, said the Chief Minister.



Pointing to the increasing attempts by Pakistan’s ISI to infiltrate terrorist modules and smuggle weapons into Punjab from across the border, Captain Amarinder said his government was committed to taking whatever steps necessary, as per the law, to protect not just the state but India from these elements. There were forces bent on destabilising the nation by fomenting trouble and promoting the separatist ideology, he further observed, citing the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Khalistani agenda.



Sukhbir should know that SFJ has been declared as unlawful organisation and its chief Gurpatwant Pannu had been designated a terrorist by the Indian government, and, as such, the police force of all states, including Punjab, were duty-bound to take all legal action to fight their attempts to subvert national security, said the Chief Minister.



At a time when the countries across the world were rejecting the SFJ’s pro-Khalistan agenda, Sukhbir was virtually supporting it with his targeted attacks on his own state’s police department, which had successfully busted 30 terrorist modules and arrested 170 terrorists since March 2017, to ensure the peace and stability of Punjab in the face of extreme threats, said Captain Amarinder. Besides, he said that around 85 sophisticated Rifles/Pistols, including AK-47s and MP-9/MP-5 Rifles, 27 hand-grenades, 3 powerful Chinese made drones, 5 Satellite phones and other terrorist hardware has been recovered, indicating the extent of smuggling of weapons from across the border. Evidently, Sukhbir is not interested in these facts and all he cares about is promoting his own vested political agenda, whatever the cost to Punjab and its people, said the Chief Minister.



On Sukhbir’s reference to Punjab’s `dark era’, the Chief Minister said it was to prevent the return of the state to that dark era that his government and the state police was clamping down on all terrorist and secessionist activities. His government had, in fact, launched a massive de-radicalization drive, using the social media widely to scuttle all attempts by Pakistan and SFJ sponsored forces to radicalize youth in Punjab and incite them to carry out militant or violent activities, he added. Far from charging or arresting these youth, they are in fact counselled and brought back into the social mainstream, said Captain Amarinder.