Tuesday, January 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Elevated road project mired in controversy
By Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The vociferous opposition of many a councillor, particularly from the ruling SAD-BJP combine, several BJP activists, including its district president, Mr H.L. Sethi, and groups of traders and shopkeepers likely to be affected by the project notwithstanding, the Municipal Corporation is going ahead with its ambitious elevated road project, which would be constructed over the existing Old GT Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand cinema in the city.

Ironically, it is the senior BJP leader and Punjab Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, who has made it clear in no uncertain terms, more than once, that the project would come up and one minor differences that had cropped up, in the district unit of BJP, including the councillors, as well as the traders and the shopkeepers, would be amicably sorted out.

Even in the face of stiff and vocal opposition from within his own party, Mr Tandon has repeatedly given an explicit impression that he has been keenly involved with the project from its conceptual stage and would go to any length to see it through. During his visit to the city last month, the MC officials had arranged a special presentation of the project, which they claimed to be first of its kind in the region.

In a visual presentation at Circuit House, in the presence of Mr Tandon, experts of the Rail India Technical and Engineering Services (RITES) had shown the drawing, design and construction technology of the 2.5-km-long elevated road, estimated to cost Rs 42 crore. According to RITES experts, who would provide the technical consultancy for the project, no existing structure or building would be damaged during the construction by pre-fabricated slabs method. Moreover, the construction work, they informed, would be carried out during night hours, with absolutely no spill over of building material at the site, so that the trade and other normal activity, as well as traffic on the GT Road was not affected.

Senior MC officials term the opposition to the project by the BJP councillors as ‘misplaced’ and ‘political gimmick’, aimed at gaining sympathy and support of traders. While in public, many of the BJP councillors assert that the project was not brought before the general house, in private, they admit that it was approved by the Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) and later the general house accorded its approval. Leader of the BJP councillors, Mr Pran Bhatia, and one of his vocal colleagues, Mr Sunil Mehra, have gone on record to say that their party will launch an agitation against the project and would force another general house debate on the controversial project.

The traders and shopkeepers of Old GT Road, Clock Tower and Mata Rani Chowk have formed a ‘sangharsh samiti’ to coordinate the agitation against the proposed project, which they claim will uproot more than 5000 shopkeepers on either side of the Old GT Road and would create more problems than it will solve. The proposed elevated road would not provide any relief to the local traffic, while it would block the sunlight and present other security hazards to residential and commercial buildings on either side of the GT Road.

Rather than spending a massive amount on the elevated road, the cash strapped civic body could spend the same money on urgently needed development work, like strengthening water supply and sewerage facilities in the city. Further, the MC could go for construction of small ring roads around the city and strengthen traffic management to improve the chaotic traffic conditions in the city.

The Chief Engineer of the MC, Mr M.N. Sharma, said tenders for the project were floated and many a builder of national and international acclaim, had evinced interest in the prestigious project. A pre-bid conference for the prospective tenderers would be held on January 12 and the technical part of the bid would be opened on January 22.


Gaushala handed over to voluntary organisation
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — After the death of eight cows in the its gaushala the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has handed over its management to the Gobind Gau Sadhan, a voluntary organisation that takes care of cows. The Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, yesterday handed over a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to the sadhan for the care of the cows. Some cows have already been transported to the sadhan.

The minister also announced an inquiry into the death of the cows. The inquiry would be conducted by the Additional Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Mr Dalip Kumar. He disclosed that the inquiry would take into consideration all the factors which led to the death of the cows and also fix responsibility for the death of the cows. The inquiry committee will submit its report within three months.

Mr Tandon said the Gau Raksha Committee, which would take care of the cows, had been asked to take proper care of the cows. Their functioning would be monitored from time to time. He said it would be ensured that the gaushala was properly maintained and the cows were taken due care.

The Gau Raksha Committee was represented by its senior office-bearers who included Mr Harish Dhanda, President of the District Bar Association.

Answering a question on the transportation of cows to different parts of the country which ultimately land in slaughter houses, the minister said the government was allowing only the transportation of those cows for the milk purposes. He denied that these cows were taken to slaughter houses.

Earlier due to the public pressure and hue and cry raised by the councillors, the Mayor, Mr Upender Singh Grewal, had decided to hand over the management of the gaushala to the Gau Sewa Samiti. The decision was taken at a meeting between the Mayor and the councillors yesterday.

On the other hand, the Municipal Corporation had prepared a comprehensive plan to construct sheds, concrete floor with proper drainage system for the cows. The MC was trying to shift the blame on to private dairy farmers. According to the Secretary, MC, about two years back work had started but the owners of the Haibowal dairy complex had resisted the move on the pretext that the cows to be kept there might be carrying some diseases which could infect their own healthy cows.

The secretary said during the past six months seven meeting were held between the representatives of the Gobind Gaudhan Gaushala and the officials of the MC and it was decided that all the cows would be shifted to the gaushala and the corporation would reimburse the expenditure. As many as 107 cows have already been shifted.


Gaushala deaths: YRJD, YC demand high-level probe
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The Yuva Rashtriya Janata Dal (YRJD) and Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) have called upon the government to order a high level probe in the malfunctioning of the gaushala, maintained by the Municipal Corporation here, where eight cows had died recently due to pathetic living conditions.

In a hard-hitting statement, the state president of YRJD, Mr Vijay Mahajan, has charged the coalition partner, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with criminal silence over the sensitive issue, “the BJP has been seeking votes in the name of cows, but when it comes to providing protection and reasonable living conditions to the hapless animals, the party and the government, failed to discharge their responsibility”.

Mr Mahajan further alleged that the report of an inquiry ordered by the state government last year, when a cow had died in the gaushala, had not so far been submitted. “The so-called inquiry ordered now by the government will meet the same fate.” He said the death of cows and the subsequent decision to hand over the cows to a privately-run gaushala was a conspiracy, reportedly hatched by certain BJP and Akali Dal leaders, who were out to encroach upon the prime land of the gaushala.

The YRJD leader demanded that MC officials and staff responsible for alleged misappropriation of funds allocated by the civic body for fodder and other expenses of gaushala, should be identified and sternly dealt with.

Meanwhile, a former joint secretary of the PYC, Mr Kimti Rawal, has sent telegrams to the Deputy Commissioner, SSP, the DIG of Police, Ludhiana range, demanding registration of a case under Sections 259 and 11-D of the Cruelty to Animals Act and Protection of Animals Act for the death of eight cows in the MC gaushala near Haibowal Dairy Complex. He has alleged that the cows had died due to ‘negligence, carelessness and inhuman treatment’ by civic body employees. The staff, deployed for maintenance had bungled in providing adequate food to the animals and taking timely measures to protect them from extreme cold.

A copy of the representation has also been sent to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, for treating the same as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), keeping in view the sentiments of the Hindu community. 


No takers for PUDA houses
By Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — A colony constructed by the Punjab Urban Development Authority in Phase III of the Urban Estate, Dugri Road, here wears a deserted look as there are no takers for houses. Not only the investment which is calculated to be in crores of rupees made in the colony is going waste but the condition of the houses is deteriorating gradually.

Besides, reports of the colony fast attaining the status of a haven for anti-social elements has also made it a matter of concern for the police and residents living near it. Moreover, those residing in one or two houses of the colony feel scared due to security reasons.

The colony, which was constructed two years ago, has as many as 1,000 flats, divided into two blocks — MIG and LIG. Although there are a few takers for MIG flats as these are single-storeyed houses and left to the owner for completion, there are no takers for the LIG flats.

The flats wear a deserted look as nobody is seen there even during day time. The place looks like a concrete jungle with no life at all. The residents of the nearby colonies like Karnail Singh Nagar and Passey Nagar complain that as there is no streetlight in the area the place plunges into darkness after twilight and there is every possibility that any anti-social elements could operate from there.

The residents say that many incidents have occurred. Some brawls between various gangs have also taken place in the locality. They say it was even spread that a kidnapped boys was also kept in one of the flats here. They say that there is no watchman in the area and anybody could do anything in the abandoned area.

The colony which is almost complete has well-designed parks and roads which are deteriorating due to the vagaries of the nature. Residents living nearby say that nobody is taking these flats as these are highly priced and in the LIG flats there is only a single-room on the ground floor which is not of much utility.

A senior official of PUDA, who did not want to be identified, said there were 666 LIG flats which were priced at Rs 1.5 lakh and 256 MIG flats priced at Rs 5.30 lakh each. He said that PUDA wanted to tie up with a government authority or some corporation to provide the houses to their employees. He said that as this was not made possible due to certain reasons they decided it to give it to some private persons.

He said that PUDA had advertised these flats and these would be allotted after a response is received. He said that PUDA had many schemes under which the payment could be made in instalments.


Shootout victim dead
Case registered against cops
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The city police today booked a Punjab police Inspector, his gunman and two others for the last evening’s shoot-out incident that took place near a nursing home in the New Prem Nagar area.

However, no arrests have been made so far. One of the injured, Avtar Singh, died today.

The incident took place late last evening when three persons, including a man and his son, sustained bullet injuries in the colony when they reportedly had heated arguments with a group of persons who were allegedly drinking in the middle of the road.

According to an eye-witness, the incident took place when six friends including him were going towards the Tagore Nagar on scooters and bikes to drop one of their friends, Sushil. Just a few yards before the residence of the injured boy, Avtar Singh, some persons were blocking the way. One of them was in police uniform.

According to the FIR, some argument erupted between the two groups over the issue of leaving the path . The allegedly drunkard cop and his accomplices opened fire and also thrashed them.


SPORTS Coach falls under the category of teacher
HC directs PAU to grant study leave
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — In a significant judgement, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to grant study leave to an employee of the Directorate of Students’ Welfare, who had been coaching the students of the university in hockey for the last several years. Striking down the statutes of the university regarding the definition of a teachers, the court has held that a sports coach falls under the category of a teacher.

Mr Harinder Singh Bhullar, who is working as Assistant Director of Physical Education, joined the PAU as a hockey coach on June 23, 1970. Subsequently, he was promoted to his present position on April 17, 1997.

Mr Bhullar requested the university authorities on April 18, 2000 to allow him study leave to enable him to do Ph.D. in Physical Education in one of the universities of Punjab. The authorities, however, turned down his request vide an order dated August 30, 2000 on the grounds that his service as a coach in the university could to be taken into account for the purpose of study leave since it did not come under the category of teachers in accordance with the statutes of the university. The authorities also informed him that only his service as the Assistant Director of Physical Education could be considered for the grant of study leave. But since he had not rendered the requisite service in that capacity to enable him to get study leave, his request could not be conceded, Mr Bhullar was told.

Significantly, according to the PAU statutes governing the conditions of service of teachers, contained in Chapter VII of the PAU Act and statues, a teacher may be granted study leave on full pay and allowances for a period of three years if he has served the university for at least five years.

Mr Bhullar filed a writ petition in the High Court praying that his service as coach be regarded as that of a teacher since, he argued, a coach imparts training to his students like a teacher. In support of his argument, he cited two judgements of the Supreme Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which sports coaches had been regarded as teachers.

A division bench comprising Mr Justice R.S. Mongia and Mr Justice K.C. Gupta found the contention of the university's counsel that coaches are not teachers untenable. The judges held that, ‘‘The petitioner had been imparting skills to the students who had been playing hockey since 1970 and as such he comes under the definition of a teacher.’’ They further observed that in such circumstances he is entitled to the grant of study leave on full pay and allowances as is admissible for higher studies. Quashing he university’s order of August 30, 2000, the judges have directed the authorities concerned to grant study leave to the petitioner to undergo Ph.D. course.


Cable mafia active in city
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — Cable mafia, said to be active in metropolitan cities of the country like Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi, has established deep roots in the city as well. In a typically filmy style, dadas of various colonies and even streets are forcing cable operators to pay mahina (monthly), if they wish to function peacefully in the area.

The modus operandi of the mafia is simple. First, it demands money from a cable operator who wishes to lay wires in an area. If the cable operator refuses to budge, the dadas cut the cable wires from different places daily and even steal amplifiers, thus causing harassment and financial loss to the operator, who finally yields to their demands.

Secondly, the mafia comes into picture in the areas already covered by an operator. It starts laying wires on its own in that area and provides connections at very low rates. The mafia does this to extract money from the existing cable operator whose business is severely hit by the mafia’s act of providing connections at low rates.

As the mafia man does not pay any taxes or registration charges and thrives on showing obscene films or new releases in violation of the Copyright Act, it can afford to charge less while the existing cable operator cannot withstand such a loss.

While the police denies the existence of any such mafia, the cable operators confess of being regularly harassed by the dadas. As an evidence they refer to several complaints and FIRs lodged with the police regarding the constant disruption in their work by the mafia which steals amplifiers and cuts wires.

The operators are so terror struck by the mafia that they do not wish to be quoted or approach senior police officers for the redress of their grievances. ‘‘I made several visits to the police station in this regard. But when nothing was done, I had no option but to give a ‘monthly’ of Rs 3000 to one such don’’ he said.

According to an investigation though the entire city has the presence of such mafia, the problem is acute in localities like Old City, Islam Gunj, Field Gunj, Prem Nagar, Mata Rani Chowk and even Sarabha Nagar. Of late, the mafia people have devised a novel method. They simply disconnect one of the main wires of the cable operator and in its place join their wire. Thus, they provide connections of showing the films to the subscribers and then lure them into becoming their subscribers.

Mr G.S. Sandhu, SP (city), when contacted, denied having received any such complaint. He said in fact it was for the first time that he had heard of the existence of any such mafia. He said if the cable operators had met the lower-rank officials and were not helped then they should meet senior-level officials.

A cable operator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they had informed the police but no action was taken. He said the cable operators have proof of this as they have copies of several FIRs registered in the police stations regarding the theft of wires and amplifiers. He claimed that every one knows about this but no one was willing to admit it. The cable operator was reluctant to go to the police, alleging that nothing will be done.

He said they have now taken remedial measures on their own. They have given instructions to the subscribers to immediately inform them when a disruption to the programmes is caused. The cable operators have also employed persons to keep a vigil in the area. As a small measure they have also tried to install amplifiers on the premises of the subscribers’ houses to minimise the incidents of theft.


Gang of robbers busted
From Our Correspondent

JAGRAON, Jan 8 —The Jagraon police today claimed to have busted a gang of robbers which was involved in various cases of extortion and dacoity in Jagraon and Ludhiana police district. Among the major solved cases include robberies committed at gas agencies in the two police districts.

Mr Baldev Singh Brar SHO Jagraon, said in a press release here today that the police had also recovered a big haul of arms and ammunition from their possession which includes one DBBL 12 bore, one .315 bore rifle, one .32 Wembley soch revolver, one pistol 32 bore countrymade, one 315 bore countrymade pistol, a small kirpan and an iron rod along with four scooters and a mobile phone.

The persons arrested are Baldev Singh, Rajinder Singh, alias Gora, P.S. Dehlon, Harmit Singh, alias Meeta, Manoj Kumar, Satnam Singh, Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha and Bhupinder Singh, alias Kala.

The arrested persons reportedly admitted their involvement in the dacoity of Rs 2,87,000 at Jagraon and having injured a person, having looted a .315 bore rifle, .12 bore DBBL along with bullets, VCR, gold ornaments, clothes etc. at gun-point during broad day light from the house of Malkiat Singh at Kacha Malak road Jagraon. They also admitted to having snatched at gun-point a movie camera and golden ornaments at Mullanpur from a commission agent.

The gang looted cash at gun-point from gas agency at Raikot, Rs 1,20,000 from Shivalak Gas Agency, Barewal, Rs 14500 from a salesman of a gas agency at Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana.

According to the police release, they have also confessed to having looted Rs 44,000, ornaments from a factory premises in Chander Nagar, Ludhiana, Rs 28000 from a woollen traders at Jalandhar bypass Ludhiana, Rs 1000 from the house of a trader in Jhodewal Basti, household articles from a house at Sunet village and having snatched gold chains, cash and purses from the passengers of tourist buses.

The gang member confessed that they had planned to commit a robbery at a shop of a wholesale tea seller at Jagraon.

Mr Brar said that one member of the gang Baldev Singh who is the chief of this gang is an ex-military man and is also president of the unit of Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Block Sudhar and the other Harmit Singh, alias Meeta, is the son of the owner of Amar Filling Stations and an octroi contactor.


Primary schools not utilising grants
By Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — Call it the callous apathy and inertia usually attached and attributed to the functioning of the government departments or the lackadaisical attitude of the people there, most of the primary schools in the Ludhiana district which were granted Rs 1 lakh each for construction or renovation purposes, have not utilised these funds even after seven months.

While the prices of the cement, bricks and other construction material has inflated much in the past few months, the schools still seem to be thinking of ways to utilise the amount. Of the 148 primary schools that received a grant of Rs 70,000 each in May and a further amount of Rs 30,000 in June, only two schools of Jawahar Nagar and Kauri have reportedly utilised the grant for renovation purposes. Majority of the schools have not even formed a seven-member committee as per the preliminary requirement.

Some of the schools are not utilising the grant because the headmaster/ headmistress of that school in whose name the grants have been sanctioned, is on the verge of retirement and he/she does not want to get involved in ‘‘unnecessary work’’ even as their schools are in dilapidated conditions.

The work has also not started in some of the schools which are short of staff. A headmistress of a single teacher school falling in Dakha constituency, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said that, ‘‘There are already two rooms in my school. There seems no more requirement to set up more rooms in the school as I am the only teacher for all the five classes and I have to take combined classes for all.’’

Sources in the Education Department revealed that when the schools were sent reminders to utilise the grant, 12 of them sent the amount back. Of these schools, five said that they did not require any renovation. These five schools included the Government Primary Schools of Shimlapuri and Brahmpuri.

The remaining seven schools could not use the grant as their building was not constructed on government land. These schools included those located in Taraf Kara Bara, Inderpuri, Janta Nagar and Punjab Agricultural University. The officers in the Education Department said that such grants which have been returned will be utilised for other schools.

It is also learnt that some of the schools have not yet received the grant as the MLA of that constituency hailed from the opposition party. While allocating the grant, some of the MLAs have given away grants to relatively well-equipped schools overlooking some of the schools in dilapidated conditions. The Government Primary Schools in Bharat Nagar and Sarabha Nagar which need much renovation have not yet received any grant.


Homeless and houseless — in the open

THE mercury is dipping. But, there are hundreds of homeless and houseless people, with no roof over their heads, who have to sleep out on dirty, filthy pavements, and verandahs in front of shops, in almost all markets of the city, on Jagraon Bridge, outside bus stops , outside the Railway Stations and whereever they can find space.

Who are these unfortunate people? These are the ragpickers, junk collectors, beggars, and rickshaw-pullers who are too poor to afford a dwelling. They just spread a ragged plastic sheet made out of plastic bags and cardboard sheets to prevent direct contact with the pavements, as well as, for warmth. All their wordly possessions are on their persons. But alas, the body heat fails to counteract the dropping temperature as the night deepens. The teeth chatter uncontrollably. The bodies diseased due to malnutrition and working in unhealthy environments, wrack with frequent bouts of cough, and eagerly await for the sun to come and thaw their weary, aching bodies.

Ramprasad, a migrant labourer from Gonda, UP, who is able to pick up a job occasionally, says,”I feel God must be punishing me for my sins of previous life, or else why I should live a dog’s life, literally. Sometimes, I see a couple of stray dogs snuggling up to me. Perhaps it is the joint warmth of our bodies that keeps us alive. The same blanket keeps me warm during the day. Since my income is so meagre, I can buy neither woollens nor proper food. May be I am suffering from TB, for I am coughing all the time, but I can’t afford to go to a doctor. Where are the time and money? When it rains, then you can’t even begin to imagine the torture I have to undergo.”

There are many Ramprasads who have to spend their entire lives on pavements. Haria, a ragpicker, not by choice but out of compulsion, has been sleeping on the pavements. He says, “I was left on the pavement by someone. Some kindly old man used to give me dried chapatis and made me sleep next to him. After some years, he died. Eversince then, I have been fending for myself. I do not even know how old I am. But I feel a 100-year-old as my life is nothing but a saga of misery, pain, hunger and loneliness. Sometimes, I wonder, why we don’t matter to the government? I know poverty is our crime. But did we have any choice in this matter? Why can’t the government provide us neat night shelters and something hot to eat? We can pay them a nominal amount. At least they can give us some dignity, otherwise, what is the difference in our lives and stray animals’ lives? Pigs, dogs and we all, homeless and houseless, sleep together on the pavements like strays.”

Ludhiana Tribune tried to contact the Municipal Commissioner and Secretary of Red Cross to find out about any schemes of providing shelter to these homeless people. But in spite of repeated efforts they could not be contacted.

Bhiku, another road dweller said, “We heard seven to eight cows died and some people are going on a fast to protest against this. But when we die, we will be just a part of statistics. Newspapers will say “36 persons die of cold.” We will not be missed either by our families as we have not been able to send them money or by political parties for we do not form a vote bank.” — A.A.


2 missing children brought home
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The efforts made by the Ahmedabad police has united two families of the city with their missing children who had gone missing about one and a half months back.

It was the craze of seeing film stars that prompted the two little ones to embark on a journey to Mumbai. While it was the first such trip for nine-year-old Sonu, it was umpteenth time for Sunny Rajkumar.

A police party from Ahmedabad brought the two boys from a Children Home in that city to Ludhiana. The Division No 2 police helped the party to locate the addresses of the boys.

Sonu lives in Manjit Nagar, while Sunny in Atam Park. Sonu’s parents sell channa-bhatura, while Sunny lives with his distant aunt.

Sonu said he wanted to see his favourite actor Mithun Chakraborty. Sunny said he too wanted to see film stars, especially Shah Rukh Khan.

The money they carried finished at Ambala. They decided to work at a tea shop and save money for the onward journey.

They managed to earn Rs 100 in a few days and boarded a superfast train. However, they lost the money, but found Rs 50 from a toilet of the train and got down at the next station which was not Mumbai, but Ahmedabad. At the station, activists of the Children Home of the Ahmedabad District and Probationary After Care Association took the children under their care. Later the police was approached to take the children to Ludhiana.

Mr Kishore Singh and Mr Abhey Singh, both head constables, said they visited various police stations before reaching Division No 2 Police Station. SHO Randhir Singh took the boys to several locations revealed by them but it was only after a few such visits that the boys recognised their homes and were able to meet their parents.


Bank employee unions oppose VRS
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — The Central Government’s decision to disinvest its share in the public sector banks from 51 per cent to 33 per cent and the introduction of Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), have caused fear among bank employees’ unions. Almost all bank employees are opposing tooth and nail, the privatisation of banks. However, they know that it is a losing battle under the present circumstances. The government seems to be determined to privatise the banks, though it is saying it is not privatising but expanding the capital base of the banks.

Regarding VRS however, there is a confusion among the employees. While the employees’ unions are opposing the scheme, a section of bank employees favour the scheme. The unions are trying to convince their members not to opt for the scheme. The target of most of the bank managements is to retire at least 10 per cent of the employees through VRS.

According to the provisions of VRS, all permanent employees who have completed 15 years of service or 40 years of age, are eligible. The employees will get 60 days salary for each completed year of service, or the salary for the number of months for which his service is due, whichever is less. The other accumulated funds will be also paid to him, besides a pension. The scheme is open till March 31.

While criticising the very logic of VRS, Mr K.R. Tripathi, president, Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) said, ‘‘The managements are implementing the scheme as a ‘hire and fire’ policy, to curtail the rights of the trade union members in the banking industry.’’

The employees’ feel that though the package is apparently a good one, they will, however, lose the medical benefits and any increase in the pension due to increments in the salary. In addition, all the facilities provided by the banks such as phone, house and others will come to an end.

Though a good number of employees are opting for the VRS in different banks, yet the unions claim that a majority of those who had opted the VRS in the past, failed miserably to make a mark in other professions that they later joined.

Mr Rajinder Bhalla, a branch manager at the Centre Bank of India, Jamalpur branch and organising secretary, Centre Bank Officers Union, is quite sceptic about VRS. He said,‘‘ Besides losing a permanent job, one will also lose social status in the society. My family members will spend the money and taunt me as an idle man.’’

Mr Tripathi, also alleged that VRS was an indirect retrenchment of bank employees, therefore under Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, extra salary at the rate of 15 days salary per year of completed years of service, should also be paid to employees opting for VRS. As the management of bank has the discretion either to accept or reject the application for VRS, retention compensation must be paid to those employees whose applications are rejected without their fault. He fears the managements of banks would also cause harassment, by rejecting applications of interested employees.

Dr Shiv K. Gupta, joint general secretary, Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC), in a memorandum submitted to Mr Yashwant Sinha, the Union Finance Minister, has suggested that the period for ex-gratia amount of salary should be added in pensionable service. The gratuity and pension amounts should be calculated at latest basic salary figures and not on pre-revised basic, without any justification.

Mr S.M. Vikal, another unionist, points out that the government has not provided any fund to the banks for VRS. They will have to take loans from the World Bank or other agencies to pay for it. Secondly, the best employees may leave the banks. 


Keeping human values alive
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — Keeping the human values alive, a good Samaritan, Mr Surinder Singh, is not only helping the elderly to get their pensions, but has also rescued a minor girl. He provided her shelter for some days and moved from pillar to post to reunite her with her parents.

Mr Surinder Singh, a middle aged man, rescued Champa, an 11-year-old girl who was found by him roaming around in Bonkar Dogra village, a month ago. Realising that she had lost her way, he took her to his house and provided her with shelter.

The girl, who claims to be a resident of Delhi, said that she was left by her mother at the railway station. She could not tell how she managed to reach the village which was around 12 km from the railway station.

Fearing that somebody might harm her, he kept her with his family and took her to various police stations in order to locate her house. But he did not succeed. Later he asked the police officials to send her to Nari Niketan at Jalandhar.

“She did not want to go there. She was crying bitterly when I left her at Nari Niketan. She was saying ‘uncle please don’t leave me here,” he said.

“I want that she finds her parents. I have been moving to various post offices taking her with me, but I was not able to find her parents. I can sit happily only when she is reunited with her family,” he added.

The girl who is dark in colour says that her father’s name is Faujal and he works as a bangle seller. She was wearing school uniform when he found her. Anybody who can help the girl in finding her parents can contact Mr Surinder Singh at phone number 0162-801682. 


Mass marriages performed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 8 — To mark its 34th annual function, the Shaheed Memorial Sewa Society solemnised the marriages of 11 orphan girls at the Sri Sanatan Dharam Mandir, New Model Town, here yesterday.

The girls hailed from different faiths. Present on the occasion were Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, principals, teachers and students from different schools. 


Congress rally on January 19
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Jan 8 — The Congress will organise a protest rally and conference on January 19 as part of a state-wide protest programme against the Akali-BJP government in Punjab.

Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Vice-President of the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress Committee and grandson of Mr Beant Singh, declared at a meeting here that a rally and a conference would be organised in the grain market of Doraha on January 19 which would be presided over by Capt Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.


Two held for gambling
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Jan 8 — The Khanna police claims to have arrested two persons on charges of gambling here on January 6. Mr Rajesh Hastir, SHO, police station (City), said an accused, Devinder Kumar, son of Ramji Dass, was arrested from Lalheri Road and Rs 170 were recovered from him. The second, Ajay Shuda, son of Pemila Shuda was arrested from Devi-Diwala and Rs 450 were recovered from him. A case under Gambling Act has been registered against them.

According to an other report, thieves stole valuables from the house of a XEN of PSEB on Samrala Road here today. The Xen was out of station with his family. A neighbour saw window panes broken. The police and the Xen were then informed. The value of stolen goods is yet to be ascertained. 


Woman crushed to death
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, Jan 8 — A woman was reportedly crushed to death by a car on GT Road, near Doraha yesterday. According to information available, a 58-year-old woman was crossing the Grand Trunk Road near Doraha, when a Tata Indica (No. PB10A M-9104), coming from Ludhiana, crushed the lady.

The driver of the car tried his best to save the woman by applying brakes but could not and his own car was damaged when an Esteem car (No DAL3CE-3007), coming from behind hit it due to the sudden application of brakes.

The woman was admitted to the hospital by First Aid Post team, where she breathed her last. A case has been registered under Section-304-A at Payal police station. 

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