Friday, June 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


1 s t   A N N I V E R S A R Y   S P E C I A L


Thank you, readers

A YEAR ago on this day, The Tribune took a major step forward and launched Ludhiana Tribune to serve Punjab’s most vibrant city with detailed coverage of events and problems having a bearing on the city. A team of correspondents was mobilised and equipment put in place to cover all aspects of happenings in this prosperous mini metro and its surrounding areas.

The past one year has been both momentous and fulfilling. We have been making concerted efforts to make Ludhiana Tribune along with the main paper reader-friendly.

We have succeeded, to a large extent, in bridging information gaps. Information is power. With the flow of information, the gaps between generations and different age groups are bridged. Indeed, our friendship and emotional bonds with our readers have stood the test of time over the past 121 years. Our readers have nurtured us. That is how we have grown from strength to strength.

We thank you for the confidence reposed in us. Ludhiana and its surrounding areas deserve a better deal from the authorities. We shall play our role as a watchdog of the citizens’ rights and run campaigns for better civic amenities and a healthier environment. We have your problems at heart. We value your comments and suggestions and promise to give you a richer fare both in content and sweep.



A city that never goes to sleep
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

It is 12 o’clock in the night. Ludhiana is still awake. In fact, the megacity never goes to sleep. Sheela, a well-known party hopper calls up his friend from the Satluj Club. Tells him he has already ordered for his favourite drink and he can come anytime. The party will go on till 3 a.m. and if it is a weekend, it may go on further. It is not just the drinking and dancing that goes on till the wee hours, but gambling, euphemistically called rummy, as well.

Ludhianvi girls and boys dance through the night.While the boozers, gamblers and dancers are about to wind up, the bells start ringing in temples and the holy chants from the gurdwaras start reverberating in the sky, a refreshing rhythm and melody accompanied by the chirping of birds.

Partying is not a fashion. It is a habit in Ludhiana. For people here have worked their way hard to affluence and luxury. They work the full day and spend a few hours in the night to enjoy. That makes Ludhiana the largest consumer of liquor in Punjab and probably the north as well. Besides the elite Satluj Club, it is at the bars of Lodhi Club and Ludhiana Club where people sit and drink to discuss everything, from business to politics and economics. Even gossip like a senior bureaucrat’s weakness for women or the extra-marital affairs of friends and foes alike is grist for the rumour mill.

Ludhianvi girls and boys dance through the night.
Ludhianvi girls and boys dance through the night.
— Photos Rajesh Bhambi

The bars at the Majestic Park Plaza, Grewalz, Maharaja Regency, City Heart also attract a number of people graduating their evenings into the nights. The habit of liquor is so deep and thorough that thousands of Ludhianvis have procured licences from the Excise Department which allows them to keep about 10 bottles of liquor with them at a time. For they do not want to booze in an illegal manner. And a number of liquor outlets remain open round the clock. Even if they down their shutters after 9 p.m. there is a small hole in the shutter which remains open for the entire night. People hand over the money and the desired quality and quantity comes out.

There is another favourite pastime. Rummy. Ludhiana, like Mumbai and Delhi may take pride in transacting lakhs of rupees every night over rummy. While on an average Rs 25 lakh may be changing hands every night during the lean months, in winter months the cumulative amount transacted in all the clubs and places where cards are played, touches Rs 1 crore. And on special occasions like Divali, the amount gets multiplied several times.

It is not just the men, who put their stakes, but the women as well. Women along with the men. And the women, like men, of all ages. Tables are fixed for fixed people for rummy in each club. This is the elite. Hundreds of others, belonging to the lower classes also gamble.

Thousands of others, who do not like to booze or gamble also want to be out during the night or most part of it. These people go for eating out. And there are a number of places like the Majestic Park Plaza, Gazebo, Maharaja Regency, Grewalz, Batra, City Heart and few others, reserved for the elite. The rush is such that at times there have been scuffles among the customers to get a place in the restaurant and also among the customers and the staff. But that is rare. And for the average middle classes, there are places like Model Town, Fountain Chowk, Clock Tower, Sarabha Nagar, Field Gunj, Cinema Road and a few other places where they eat out in the evenings.

Some restaurants and the dhabas outside the railway station remain open for the full night. It is not just the passengers who come out of the railway station who take food there, but even people from far-off places like BRS Nagar and Dugri, who get late while drinking and take food there. Besides, there are hundreds of exclusive ice-cream parlours spread over different parts of the city, thronged by hundreds of people till late in the night.

Ludhiana is the pioneer to start the DJ concept in the region. The trend started from close door parties to the big ones. Although there are many good and outstanding DJs in the city now, but the credit goes to Bhanu who started the trend only to spread it across the region. No party is complete without a DJ and dancing floors. And there are scores of marriage palaces which do not hold parties for marriages alone. Small parties and get togethers are frequently organised in these palaces on one pretext or the another. Be it the examination result of a child, settling of a business deal, return of a relative or a friend from abroad, not to speak of marriage anniversaries and birthdays. For, Ludhiana is a city where people are fond of finding an excuse to party. Even the parties organised in the name of children have a separate liquor menu as the elders always outnumber the kids there.

And what do the big and elite do? They live in a world of their own. Almost all the big industrial houses of Ludhiana, with world-class standing, have constructed at least one spacious farmhouse in the sprawling lawns, slightly away from the city. Here they relax and cool themselves, far from the maddening crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city. A farmhouse belonging to a big industrial house situated in the outskirts of the city is spread over 12 acres. A place that promises a temperature at least three to four degrees less than that in the street of the city, for the lush greenery with plants abounding the place. It is literally an oasis in a desert. Besides, there is a home theatre, a discotheque, a billiards room and other luxuries. This is not an exception, just an example. And it is for a few hours of the night. Otherwise they (the owners) have no time. That is Ludhiana.

There is another equally important aspect of Ludhianvi life. Regular jagratas, the religious congregations. Probably that is the one occasion when the elite and the common man sit together to listen to religious discourses or the devotional renderings of stars like Narinder Chanchal or Anup Jalota or anyone else. For faith is an important characteristic of Ludhianvis. 


After Dharmendra, it’s Divya
Lovleen Bains

The short, sweet Divya Dutta, with a bundle of talent, is today on the road to name, fame and success. Determination is her keyword and she says, “Though the steps may be slow, they are steady”.

After Dharmendra, Divya is the star from the small town as Sahnewal. She has carved a niche for herself in the film industry. This correspondent chanced to meet Divya on her short visit to her native place.

Did she always want to be an actress? She replies, “With doctor parents, I was supposed to be interested in academics. But circumstances kept moving me towards the show business.”

Her breakthrough, however, came with her selection for the film industry by the Stardust Academy along with Indrani Banerjee and Sonali Bendre.

Having already played prominent roles in ‘Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna’, ‘Suraksha’, ‘Hinsa Path’, ‘Veergati’, ‘Agni Sakshi’, ‘Ram Aur Sham’, ‘Iski Topi Uske Sar’, ‘Chhote Sarkar,’ ‘Raja Ji’, ‘Train to Pakistan’, ‘Shaheede Mohabbat’ and Shyam Benegal’s ‘Summer’, Divya is now shooting with Gurdas Mann and Tabu for ‘Zindagi Khoobsoorat Hai’, with Abbas and Ashutosh for ‘Dil Ke Peshe-Peshe’, with Sharad Kapoor and Raveena Tandon for ‘Khajurao’.

Divya has given an exciting performance in short stories of Amrita Pritam named ‘Zapt Shuda Kitab’, directed by Tanuja Chandra. Her serial ‘Itfak’ on Zee TV was liked by people. At present, she is working in ‘Kadam’ on Sahara and ‘Sanskar’ on Zee TV. Her success as an anchor came out with ‘Rang Tarang’, ‘Peche Guddian De’ and ‘Hum Tum Ik Camere Mein Band Ho’. She is acting in Indo-German film ‘Devi- The Bride in Red’. Then, there is a top-notch international music video for a prominent UK Boyband called ‘Basement Jaxx’ which features Divya Dutta and model Kiran Janjani. Divya is also doing advertisement films. She also gave her voice to Lisa Ray in Mahesh Bhatt’s ‘Kasoor’. Giving live shows all over the world with Sonu Nigam, Govinda, Salman Khan and Raveena Tandon, is a part of her career.

“And back home,” says the charming Divya, “the initial hesitations and questions of why did you choose such a profession have now given way to a sense of recognition. My mother always supported my work, but my grandparents were wary of my joining films. Now when I come here I am admired much to the pleasure of my family.”


Theme parties take root
Asha Ahuja

A decade ago, entertainment events in Ludhiana generally meant flowing booze and snacks, men sitting separately from women, loud banter which grew louder and more disconnected as the party progressed with the effects of alcohol taking precedence. Women whispered in corners and showed off some glitterati. Parties went on till about midnight.

But a lot has changed since then. Event management has become an industry. Professional in the entertainment business have set up shop to provide services. A party is a test of the skills of the entertainer and his alignment with the tastes and preferences of the customer. In this business, innovation is the key to success. A show thrown in, a live performance, the theme, the layout of the party, a never-before attempted effect. These are some of the factors that event managers have to look into to ensure a ‘different’ party.

Mass media reach such as MTV and Channel V, improved connections to metros like Delhi with the advent of the Shatabdi, and the resultant exposure to the entertainment scenes has created an awareness amongst the clients. Having attended similar parties in Delhi, they aspire to bring these into Ludhiana. They want to be known as the ‘in’ people. Parties have, therefore, evolved into a completely participative crowd. A professionally managed sound and light event with tons of specialised equipment back up a good show. A popular artiste is brought in with his troupe for a performance. They are put up in the best of hotels. Food and drinks are contracted out to people who are more than the traditional caterers. Designing the layout of the spread is as important as the menu and culinary delights. Drinks are a specialized arena. Professional bartenders are at times brought in from Delhi. They design bar options, come up with fascinating concoctions that make even the teetotaller’s mouth water. The show gives the feel of a traditional American pub when artistes are hired to crack jokes, show off fascinating tricks with cards and other things like matchsticks.

The menus cover a host of tastes and preferences. Health food options are now available as regular menu items. The layout of the spread is appetizing and appealing to the eye, and conducive to self-service.

Themes bring in variety and push the innovation trend. Everybody wants to be ‘different’. Some years ago, the ‘rain’ dance became a good theme and targeted the yuppy crowd of party boppers. In this, artificial rain is created and people dance to music.

Occasional goof-ups show that the industry has a long way to go. Corporate houses or party throwers have still not learnt the art of selecting the event management company and briefing it about the objective of the party. The final event should be approved in content and style, by the client where with corrections made necessary. The structuring of the show can be left to the professional with a clear brief. That would bring about a well-coordinated show with the appreciation one is looking for from the target audience.

Ludhianvis are not too far away from realising the dream of their dream parties.


Average town becomes megacity
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana is not just the Manchester of India but also the industrial capital of the north. The reasons are obvious. Given the enormity of the industrial growth with thousands of crores of annual turnover and also exports, Ludhiana’s growth has been unparallelled and unmatched. There may not be a single city which has witnessed such rapid expansion and spectacular growth like of Ludhiana.

A city that had just quarter of a million people only 50 years ago, as most of its population had crossed over to Pakistan, now has own three million people. Till the time of partition, Ludhiana, which was founded by the Lodhis in the 15th century, was a Muslim majority city.

With streams of migrants flooding the city at the time of Partition and most of the Muslim inhabitants fleeing to Pakistan the city assumed a new character. Barring the Oswals, the woollen giants known worldwide for the imposing brands like Monte Carlo and Casablanca, most of the big business houses, including the Munjals, the manufacturers of Hero Cycles, and the Pahwas, the manufacturers of Avon Cycles, are migrants who were uprooted from their land which had been rechristened as Pakistan.

Ever since Partition Ludhiana has absorbed and synthesised different cultures into one. It became a crucible where various cultures melted and a new culture of entrepreneurship emerged and emerged to the degree of perfection. No wonder Hero became the world’s largest cycle manufacturer in the world with a daily production of 17,000 bicycles.

It is due to the influx of the migrants from Pakistan that most of the old localities of the city are inhabited by these people only. The areas like Field Ganj, Islam Ganj, Basti Jodhewal and other interior parts have all been inhabited by the migrants from Pakistan. And a good number of them have moved out to more posh localities like Model Town, Sarabha Nagar, Kitchloo Nagar, B R S Nagar and the Civil Lines.

Before the setting up of industrial focal points and earmarking of industrial areas the entire industry of Ludhiana was concentrated in the old city more so around the historic Daresi ground. The world famous woollen and garment industry owes its origin to the narrow alleys of the old city. In fact, thousands of small scale units still exist there with a combined output worth hundreds of crores of rupees.

After the government decided to organise the industry in a proper manner, industrial areas were earmarked and industrial focal points set up. There are several industrial areas, which are now identified with the industry only, which have come up during the past three decades around Ludhiana.

The expansion has been so rapid and phenomenal that old timers wonder how it happened. According to Mrs Sudershan Prabha, of Atam Nagar, who came here from Sialkot in 1949, Ludhiana looked like a village when compared to Lahore and Amritsar. She belonged to Lahore and after staying for some time in Amritsar they shifted to Ludhiana. She said even till the late sixties the entire area of Atam Nagar was only open fields with standing crops. Now Ludhiana has become bigger than Amritsar and may be even Lahore, she feels.

The city was limited up to the Jagraon Bridge and across the railway line within the Civil Lines area. Beyond that it was desolate land. Ludhiana is proud of having horizontal as well as vertical growth. As the city expands, the industrial output has also increased. According to rough estimates there are about one million labourers from Bihar and UP working in Ludhiana. The potential to provide employment to such a huge population is self explanatory.

According to Mrs Satnam Kaur, who migrated from Pakistan and settled down in Field Gunj, Ludhiana was not spread beyond Field Gunj and the Civil Lines area. “Across the line the entire area on the Ferozepore Road looked desolate and deserted and people were afraid to go there during the evenings”, she recalls.

Although Ludhiana has made phenomenal progress, the expansion of the city has not been coherent. Says Mr D B Sahrahan, who came here in 1954, “the growth has been quite unplanned”. Originally from district Montegomery in Pakistan he went to Bombay and stayed there for a few years. “The city was very small at that time”, he recalls. He observes that it was the concentration of brilliant and enterprising people who converged here and gave a new thrust to industrial growth and development to Ludhiana. 


Winds of change transform Ludhiana
Asha Ahuja

Gone are the days of friendly neighbourly ‘kiryana dealer’ shops. The shops that were dimly lighted, with shelves stocked with blackish tins that stored the provisions. The ‘baniya’ weighed on the old-fashioned scale with weights. The sacks full of other ingredients were stored in even dingier stores. The housewives spent a lot of time cleaning the pulses, rice etc.

With more and more women joining the workforce, shopkeepers started employing women for cleaning lentils etc. Then the smart ones started packing them in one-kg and half-kg packs and even masalas were packed neatly. Today the shopping scene has undergone a revolution. The modern shops have separate sections for ‘dals’ and lentils, masalas, detergents, and other items. The display is attractive. The free offers with the sale of a particular product is advertised extensively.

Some big stores in posh localities of Ludhiana prepare an extensive list of the ingredients and the shopper has just to tick the ingredients needed and telephone the store and the ‘ration’ is delivered home. Time and effort saved. No need to be on the crowded roads of the city.

The next important requirement of the people after ‘roti’ is ‘kapda’. The old fashioned shops sold bales of a limited kind of material arranged haphazardly to the easily satisfied customer. Only in a few big ‘sari showrooms’ in Chaura Bazaar, could the shoppers select dress material seated on chairs. Most of the shops had sitting arrangements for the customers where the customers had to take off their shoes. Then arrived mannequins and window dressing became more attractive. The shopkeepers started stocking more variety of clothes. The competition grew. ‘Brand awareness’ came. Then there was no stopping Ludhiana from taking off in a big way. Film star Deepa Sahi, on a visit here, said, “I am amazed at the changes that have taken place in Ludhiana. It seem as if the city is ready for takeoff and soon will be on a par with Bangalore.”

Big modern showrooms selling brand names have come up in Ludhiana. The interiors and ambience is given importance. Interior decorators are doing good business. Multi-storeyed air-conditioned showrooms have made shopping easier and more pleasant.

Some stores even offer a book shop and a restaurant for the convenience of the shoppers. The shoppers can amble leisurely in the cool environs of the stores and spend hours. They compare favourably with the best of stores in the metros.

Customers are made members of particular stores and are offered discounts, which encourages them to shop at that particular store. Stars as Lisa Ray, Riya Sen and Shobha De have been invited to inaugurate stores. The consumer never had it so good.

Pubs, discotheques, bowling alleys were things alien to Ludhianvis a few years back. An 18-hole golf course in Phillaur suits the needs of sporty people. New colonies lure the buyers by offering promotional schemes. The colonisers have drawn out extensive plans with complete designs to impress the prospective buyers. The customers are given a royal treatment. Bankers too come to your doorstep to discuss about car loans and house loans.

The education scenario is geared to make the students meet the challenges of global change.

The cultural scene has also improved. Thanks to SPIC MACAY, school children got a chance to savour Pandit Shiv Sharma perform and Radha and Raja Reddy dance. Punjabi literature has blossomed and many new Punjabi literary works of local and NRI writers released. The Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam brought stars like Jaya Bachchan, Kadar Khan, Shubha Maudgil and many other famous personalities and changed the arid cultural scenario of Ludhiana to a very rich one.


Crime rate rises with growth
Tribune News Service

No place in the state acquires more attention than Ludhiana when it comes to crime. Name any facet of the criminal world and ample evidence of its flourishing in Ludhiana can be found. Whether it is narcotics, immoral trafficking, satta, gambling, drug abuse among children and women, thefts, snatchings, robberies, murders or frauds and of late property disputes, hawala dealings, all varieties of crime take place at high rate in this part of the state which is well-known for its prosperity.

There are areas which have become synonymous with crime of different kinds. While Basti Jodhewal, Haibowal, Salem Tabri and especially Dhakka Colony, near the Bus Stand, are notorious for the sale of all kind of drugs, Shimla Puri and a new colony at the end of Rajguru Nagar is known for immoral trafficking. The city has a high incidence of property disputes and economic offences. There is a racket of financiers who lure potential customers and after giving them loan, multiply the money according to their own rules and rates of interest.

Then there are areas like Chowni Mohalla, Lottery Bazaar and New Sabzi Mandi where hafta takers thrive. The daylight murder of two alleged kingpins of hafta taking gangs a few months ago seemed to have temporarily stumped the crime, but it is continuing.

The city had always remained in the news due to the spreading of crime. However, in the past six months, the incidence has assumed such major proportions that the state government had to send the DGP and the Home Secretary twice to the city to take firsthand knowledge of the kind of crime flourishing here.

The city has a population of over 30 lakh. About 10 lakh comprises migrant labourer, which is referred to as the backbone of the Ludhiana industry. Though it is debatable whether the migrant labourer is solely responsible for the crime, the city police authorities believe it to be the main culprit. According to them, the migrant labourer commits crime and runs away from the city and is most of the times untraceable.

Figures accrued from the police records show that murders, attempts to murder and cases under the Excise Act had only witnessed a rise last year in comparison to the previous year while other crimes witnessed a fall. However, in the first four months of this year, the crime rate has definitely witnessed a rise.

According to the figures sent by the police department to the state government last month, as many as 11 dacoities have taken place in the first four months of this year whereas last year, there were a total of 16 dacoities. The cases of burglary, hurts, cheating, and kidnapping have almost touched the 50 per cent figure recorded last year.

Though the police claims that the figures keep rising and falling and blames the media for over-emphasis on the crime incidents, the cases reflect the graveness of the crime. Of late, the manner in which property disputes flared up in the city leading to the death of several persons, it seemed anti-social elements had no fear of the police.

The police has its own problems, including shortage of staff and infrastructure, including communication, is cited as the main reason of rise in crime. It has sent detailed proposals to the state government for providing it with latest infrastructure, but nothing has been done so far.

According to SSP Kuldip Singh, crime has not increased. ‘‘It is the coming out of several local pullouts of the various newspapers which has led to the problem. In their zeal to outdo the other, reporters sensationalise and publish in detail even minor crimes. Photographs of the crime scene are published and it gives an impression that the crime has increased rapidly.’’

Citing figures, the SSP said the crime rate has remained almost the same with minor fluctuations. For instance, he said, the murder figure from the year 1996 to 2000 has remained between 55 and 65, with a dip of 41 in 1999.


When city had no police stations

Tracing the history of crime in the Ludhiana Gazzeteer, it is revealed that there were no police stations in the city before Independence. There existed only one Branch Thugee Office in the city till 1848. This agency did useful work for the city in preventing crime, but was abolished towards the close of 1853 as it had been rendered unnecessary as a result of the general measures adopted for the eradication of the crime throughout the province. During the last year of its existence, 12 thugs were arrested, of whom five were convicted, five released on security and two acquitted.

Regarding the incidence of crime in Ludhiana Mr H. Davidsson had written that the general public during those years was notorious for criminal propencities, especially highway robberies and thefts of all sorts. He maintained that the propencity of the crime decreased with the establishment of police posts in 1883.

Mr T. Gordon Walker had observed that the mass of the people was quite content and law-abiding. The exceptions were Gujjars and especially the Rajputs and were the rable of towns. Most of the serious offences came under the heads of theft and robbery. He said that the Gujjars in the Bet area did a lot of cattle-lifting and Rajputs did not go beyond gambling.

After the coming into force of the Indian Penal Code in 1962, crime began to be handled systematically. The help of Col. Harvey, Superintendent General of Thuggee and Dacoity Operations in England and native states, was sought to discover the hiding places of the plunderers, who infested the state with highway robberies. At that time child, kidnapping, importation of slaves and counterfeiting of coins were the other main crimes.


From Rs 25 per month to millions
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, is today known for its hosiery units. But the history of the hosiery industry, which boasts of an over Rs 10,000 crore annual production, is not more than 60 years old. In fact, it was the vision of a group of entrepreneurs that has made all this happen.

Among the living legends of the industry, Mr S.P. Kapoor, is a name to reckon with. He is one of those who nurtured it from the beginning with their dedication and hard work.

Mr Kapoor, now in eighties, reminisces, “I had just entered the factory office and my uncle looked at his watch. It was quarter past eight, a cold January morning. And I was late by fifteen minutes.” I could not look into the eyes of my uncle as I felt so embarrassed. I decided to always reach in time in future. My uncle would expect me to come on time and work till late evening. Today, Mr Kapoor is one of the leading hosiery exporters of the city.

“Hosiery manufacturing has passed through ups and downs. I have made my millions not through a lottery ticket or some quiz programme, but through sheer hard work and determination. Our period was of hard work. The younger generation has not seen the period of struggle and the day and night sweating put in by their elders”, he observes.

Going down the memory lane, he recalls, “In 1938, I had just appeared for the matriculation exam from Hari Singh High School, Jammu. I had come to attend a marriage in Phagwara. My uncle, who used to run a shoe factory, asked my father to lend me to him to help him in business. That is how I entered the business”.

He stayed with his uncle for a year. Later, he shifted to Ludhiana, where his another uncle had a hosiery business. He worked with him for three years. Initially, he was paid Rs 25 per month, and later, Rs 40 per month. During that period, he did all jobs — from that of a peon to that of a supplier. “My uncle would expect me to look after everything — the finance, manufacturing, marketing , supply and so on”, he discloses.

Feeling confident about his ability, his father gave him Rs 20,000 to open Vijay Laxmi Hosiery unit in 1942 , a joint venture with his uncle. “That was the turning point in my life, and I never looked back. We would make sweaters, cardigans and other items from imported wool. Later, I split and opened my own unit”, Mr Kapoor says.

When asked about the big leap, Mr Kapoor explains, “An order worth Rs 2 crore from the government to supply sweaters, socks, blankets in 1951 proved to be the stepping stone in my life. That was the time when we were facing labour problems as the Muslim labour had left the country after Partition and skilled labour was scarce to find.”

His wife and relatives are of the view that he was born for work and has had no life outside the business. “That is true as I have no hobby except work. Though there were only 15 to 16 units at the time of independence, we were determined to put Ludhiana on the international map by producing high-quality hosiery goods at cheap rates”, he revealed.

His daily schedule is still the same. He reaches the factory by 10 and works till 5. 30 p.m. That has been the schedule for the past 50 years or so. Though his two sons have taken over the business, he does not like to stay at home.

One of the great moments of satisfaction was when he was elected Chairman, Wool and Woollen Export Promotion Council, in the early seventies and again in 1978. Summing up his experiences of the new responsibility, he says, “I was impressed when I went abroad as a member of ‘ Study-cum-sale team ’ to the U.S.A., Canada and Middle East in 1970, and later to Norway, Sweden and then to Iraq, with the machinery they had there. Consequently, we decided to modernise the industry by importing German machines”.

When asked about the limitations afflicting the city’s hosiery units, he remarks crisply, “Lack of professionalism and the inability to follow a set time schedule.” The current scarcity of skilled labour is so acute that it will affect the future growth also. Though there are so many clubs and organisations in the industry, no one has tried to tackle the problem sincerely. 


Pioneer of cycle industry
Tribune News Service

“It was the time of the British. The year was 1937. The government was recruiting youths in the Army for World War II. We wanted to hit the government. My father, himself a mechanic, would lure the local youth who had come for recruitment and motivate them to start workshops for manufacturing cycle parts. It was our way to hit the government — to move the local youths from supporting the foreign government and to build our own cycle industry”, recalls 75-year-old entrepreneur of the city, Mr M.S. Bhogal, the founder of the Bhogal Group of Industries and a pioneer in the cycle parts manufacturing.

He is among the few persons like Mr O.P. Munjhal of the Hero Group of Cycles and Mr Onkar Singh Pahwa of Avon Cycles and entrepreneurs like Mr Hans Raj Pahwa and Mr P.S. Chawla who had build the foundation of the industry. Hero and Avon may be better known brand names today in the national and international market, but it was Mr Bhogal who played an important role in the development of the industry.

Reflecting on the days gone by, Mr Bhogal says: ‘‘Initially very few dealers would purchase the products of indigenous manufacturers, but after the beginning of World War II all the supplies from England stopped. The demand for country-made goods increased manifold and the industry started growing.’’

Regarding the future of the cycle industry, Mr Bhogal is very enthusiastic. He points out the cycle is a pollution free vehicle. Moreover, its demand will always be there in the rural and semi-urban India.


History forgotten: poor care for rich heritage
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhianvis’ acumen in business is well known, but the city residents and the successive administration over the years seem to care little for history. Not only have they turned a blind eye to several monuments of historic value but have also not done much to preserve the heritage for posterity.

Most of the residents are unaware of the city’s rich past. The latest edition of the Ludhiana Gazetteer is two decades old. It has not been updated for years. It is written on the basis of recordings of history done by British writers. At some crucial points, the Indian point of view is missing.

For instance, the Gazetteer does not mention much about historical and strategic importance of the Lodhi Fort. It is also silent on Ghanta Ghar, a landmark of the city. Though it has details of the development of the city from its founding in the 15th century, the developments of the 20th century have not been mentioned.

There is no mention of certain marvels in and around the city. One of them was about a timeless wonder in the form of an 122-year-old stone clock or sundial which lies in wilderness in a Canal Rest House near Doraha. There is no record of the ‘inns’ built during the reign of Sher Shah Suri along the Grand Trunk Road. Only a passing reference is made on the war memorials covered in the column.

Ludhiana had an important role to play not only in the freedom movement, but also in the development of Punjab. It was founded in the mid 15 th century by Yusuf Khan, a Lodhi chief of Sikander Lodhi. He was sent here to check the Khokhars who were threatening the rule of Sikander Lodhi.

Yusuf Khan built a mud fort on the bank of the Sutlej river which used to flow near the city then. It has since changed its course. The fort had a great strategic value. It discouraged anyone trying to cross it over. Its importance can be gauged from the fact Sutlej was one of the main hurdles in the way of plundering conquerors.

The fort assumed further significance when Maharaja Ranjit Singh built another fort near Phillaur on the other side of the Sutlej. The British used it as a cantonment. The fort helped the British largely in controlling the 1857 mutiny.

The fort from which the city derived its name is in a shambles these days. Most of its inner part and barracks have crumbled. People have slowly demolished the huge walls and used the bricks and the rubble for constructing their houses. Some houses have also been built on the fort land.

There is a mysterious tunnel with several tales attached to it in the fort. Though the exact opening of the tunnel is not known, it is said it goes under the Sutlej and opens at the Phillaur Fort or somewhere else. Legend has it that the tunnel was dug up either to enable the fort inhabitants to flee during an emergency or to surprise the enemy, attacking them from Sutlej side by attacking them from behind.

A majestic cannon lies ignored and abandoned in the fort. Dating to the 19th century, the cannon bears marks of some British company and was used extensively in several wars. Neither the district administration nor the state Archives Department have any inkling of a cannon standing ignored at the place.

A 122-year-old marvel in the form of a sun-dial or sun clock or stone clock had been lying hidden for many years. Built on a pedestal, it uses the sun rays to work. The iron hand requires only sunlight to fall on it to show time. The shadow that is made falls on a parallelogram-shaped dial of the clock numbered one to twelve.

The marvel lies in wilderness. Though an excellent attraction, it remains hidden.

Guards say the Canal Rest House was the permanent abode of the British. One of them, R.G. Kennedy, built this clock. Its antique value as well as unique design make it fit for preservation.

Another shocking case is the destruction of a stone scripture of Shah-Shuja-ul-Mulk, an Afghan king who had gifted the invaluable Koh-i-noor diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in return of the Shere-e-Punjab’s gesture to allow him to take shelter in ‘Lodhiana’ after he was made to flee from Afghanistan in a coup.

The Afghan king reconstructed a small fort called Bhadaur Fort in the present Bhadaur House in the city. The old mud, known as katchi garhi, was built by Bhadaur villagers. A stone proclaiming the residence of the Afghan King who spent 20 years here stood for decade in the present day Central Post office building. His residence was destroyed.

During the expansion of the Post Office building, the stone scripture and some remaining rooms of the Afghan King were plundered. The city thus lost its important link to a diamond which changed several hands and is now in the possession of the British. The Indian Government is trying hard to bring it back to the country.

The ignorance of two inns along with a fort at Payal is another case in point. A sarai near Doraha has been used for shooting of several films but due to the apathy of the Conservation Department, it is crumbling. The same has been the fate of another such sarai near Payal. A Fort in Payal town has also met with a similar fate.

The city gave rise to many freedom fighters and celebrities like Sahir Ludhianvi, but they too have been given a cold shoulder. While the state government has only last week completed the renovation work of the House of Kartar Singh Sarabha, it has yet to restore the houses of martyr Sukhdev Thapar in the city and Lala Lajpat Rai near Jagraon. Similarly, the Bassian Kothi, the last abode of Maharaja Dalip Singh the last Sikh ruler, is also lying abandoned near Raikot.

The district has seen several wars, mostly with the British. At several places, the locals or Englishmen erected memorials as a testimony to the bravery of the soldiers. Two such memorials — one at Baddowal and another at Aliwal — are still standing. However, official apathy may not allow them to remain so for long. While the Baddowal memorial was erected by the villagers as a testimonial to the bravery of the Sikh forces against a British attack, the Aliwal tower was constructed by the British as a testimony to the intense struggle between the British and the Sikh forces which was witnessed at the Battle of Aliwal.

Though the memorial was constructed to mark the sacrifice of the British soldiers, it is also a commentary of the gallantry of the Sikh forces who, according to history, even fought with agricultural tools to repulse the British. The monument still awaits its due from the state government.

The case of Ghanta Ghar, another monument, is the same. Ill-maintained, it’s beautiful ambience as been destroyed over the years as a number of tall and ugly structures coupled with a cobweb of electric and cable wires shadow its beauty.

One hopes the city rises to appreciate its rich past and the government takes some measures to preserve the historical structures.


Tourism potential of city lies untapped
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, the financial capital of Punjab, attracts visitors from far and wide. The burgeoning population of the city and the large number of business visitors provide a good scope for tourism, yet the potential remains unexplored.

The city has already acquired the character of a metropolis. It has become a habit for the people to dine outside. Being an industrial city, life here is definitely fast and the people wait anxiously for the weekends to escape from the hustle-bustle and have a break. Most of those looking for a sojourn go to far off places as this place offers them no spot for excursion.

Apart from these local tourists, a large number of persons come here for a business trip. The city, however, fails to hold them back as it has little to offer for their recreation purpose.

With the potential tourists available, the region only has to develop places of their interest. Though it has several historical monuments and water bodies, they lie ignored. On one side the Sutlej river flows and on the other, a channel of canals encircles it. Yet the region does not have a single boating club or an artificial lake to attract tourists.

Apart from the unexplored potential of tourism near the water bodies, the district has a number of old sarais and other historical monuments, which, thanks to the government’s apathy have been lying abandoned.

The SAD-BJP government had in its inception year announced an ambitious tourism circuit for the state. Bibi Jagir Kaur the then Minister for Tourism, had announced that though tourists were coming to Chandigarh, they were heading towards Himachal Pradesh or Haryana and not Punjab. While Patiala, Ropar and Amritsar were the key stopovers, Ludhiana also found a significant mention. It was proposed that the tourism value of this city would be exploited. All schemes have, however, remained on paper.

For the record, the region has three places of tourist interest. The Neelon resort, Tiger Safari and the War Musem. Under control of the state government, the places are much talked about, but have little appeal among the tourists. Lack of publicity, government’s apathy, and the absence of new attractions have taken the sheen off these places.

Though located at convenient places, they have failed to generate interest. Due to the lack of good attractions, people do not make special efforts to visit these places. Most of the times the places act as just another stopover for some passersby. It has been noted that people only have some snacks outside these places instead of visiting them properly.

Neelon, 25 km from Ludhiana towards Chandigarh had promised much when it was opened a few years ago. But the interest could not be sustained. Situated on the bank of the Sirhind feeder, the Neelon tourist resort is surrounded by a green cover which is becoming a rare commodity in Ludhiana. The place was opened with much fanfare, but later ran into a controversy as the state Wildlife Department and a number of animal rights activists objected to the manner in which the animals were kept in small enclosures.

The shifting of the animals subsequently deprived the place of a major attraction. Several proposals were later mooted to add more attractions to the place, but the ground reality remains the same.

The Tiger Safari, situated 10 km on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway, is another potential tourist resort not exploited to its maximum. Having the cool and calm environs, the safari provides a place for those looking for a few hours of peace.

The Wildlife Department has, however, not tried to exploit its potential. With only 12 tigers and a few black bucks, the place has limited appeal. Some time ago, the department had announced a scheme to bring more animals like bears and crocodiles to attract visitors. Though a bear enclosure was partially constructed, the animals are yet to arrive.

The department could erect a small restaurant inside its precincts and provide seating arrangements by putting up umbrellas here and there. Although the environs of a forest match with the safari, the lawns need to be beautified with ornamental plants.

The city’s location on the Grand Trunk Road which connects it to a number of other cities provides it an advantageous position. Moreover, as many as 121 trains cross the city every 24 hours. These can always help the tourists coming from far and wide. To add to it are the NRIs who have emigrated from here to other countries have their relatives here. They often visit their relatives, thereby adding to the number of tourists.

Being the business capital of the state, the industrialists can invest money for constructing various places of interest like lake clubs, boat clubs, amusement parks and the like. They can generate money from these places and provide the city a place on the tourist map as well.


Youngsters hooked to drugs
Shivani Bhakoo

Sanjay (not his real name), a good looking, educated boy of 25 years, got into drugs when he was only 18. He went to Amritsar to study law. But his life took a new turn there in new surroundings and with new friends. He was away from his family. There were mixed feelings. Sometimes he missed his parents too much while at times he felt he was free to do anything as there were no restrictions.

Sanjay could not share his state of mind with anyone. He was always confused and absent-minded. His classmates wanted to relieve him of this confusion. One of his friends pushed him towards the highly addictive drug-smack, to get relief. After tasting it once, Sanjay felt himself on top of the world. For hours, there was no tension, no confusion and no burden. He was thankful to his friend who took him out from confusion and depression. Slowly, he got hooked to the drug.

Today, Sanjay is admitted in a city hospital. He is struggling for life. He is not able to sit, stand or talk properly. Sometimes he is unable to recognise his family members. He says that he cannot bear the pain. All the time he wants to have a ‘little’ dose of smack. Doctors and his family members are trying hard to get him out from the influence of smack.

Sanjay is the only son of his parents. He comes from a well-off family of businessmen in the city. Despite having so much money, his parents are completely shattered. They do not want to be identified. The poor condition of Sanjay is giving them sleepless nights. Their child has fallen prey to one of the most dangerous drugs — brown sugar.

Sanjay is not the only victim of drugs. Several other young boys too are taking one or the other form of drugs. “The number of drug addicts has increased rapidly in Punjab in the past decade. During terrorism, there was strictness and proper vigil by the police. But nowadays, there is no law and order. The parents are too busy and hardly pay attention to the children,” said a psychiatrist, who also treats drug addicts.

Ramnik Singh (name changed) is a 24-year-old MBA student. He is also admitted in a city hospital. He comes from a middle-class family. He is addicted to opium. He consumes opium three times a day. He got hooked to the drug because he felt it was a ‘status symbol’ amongst friends. He has been being taking the drug since 1997.

“I have realised that it is bad for me. It gave a wrong impression to my younger brother. I do not want him to be like me. I told the parents about my addiction. They were happy that at least I now want to lead a normal life. They brought me here,” said Ramnik.

Ramnik’s father, a professor, said that when he got to know of his son’s addiction, he was badly shaken. “Every time he used to make some new excuse. We have brought him up in a friendly atmosphere. There was absolutely no burden on him. He fell into bad company and crossed the limits. But I am satisfied that he has realised his mistake,” said the father.

Ramnik used to get opium from Rajasthan and in the city, the drug is easily available at Transport Nagar, Bus Stand and Railway Station.

“All these drug addicts are young adults, who in the normal course, should have been busy building their careers. But unfortunately, they have been trapped in the whirlpool of drugs,” said Dr Rajeev Gupta who cures drug addicts.

The circumstances which pushed Rajesh Kumar (name changed) towards drugs were quite different. Married for past eight years, Rajesh has two sons. “I suffered a major setback in my business. There were psychological as well as financial problems. I used to be very depressed. One day, one of my close relatives offered me a small tablet (opium). After taking it, I was relieved and relaxed,” said a lean and fragile Rajesh Kumar.

The mental torture which his wife Sheetal is going through is horrifying. She told her tale of woes: “I got the packet of opium from his pocket and showed it to my in-laws. I wanted him to be hospitalised for treatment. That night my in-laws and husband thrashed me, but I managed to run from the house and told everything to my sister. Both my parents died in a road accident. Today, I am all alone to look after him. My in-laws hardly come to see their son.” Today, Sheetal, who is in her twenties is totally broken and scared.

Satwinder Singh, a young Sikh boy of 23, wanted to settle down abroad. He had high expectations. After finishing his plus-two from Rara Saheb, Satwinder went to Delhi around two years back to get the passport formalities completed. Delhi life simply “impressed” him and one day he was given poppy husk and black poppy seeds by one of his close friends. Later, he started taking two bottles of cocaine-based phensedryl syrup everyday.

Today, Satwinder Singh is hospitalised in a city hospital. His father starts crying when anyone visits him in the hospital. Satwinder who had a strong physique has become feeble and turned pale. He needs the help of his old father’s shoulders to walk.

Thousands of city’s young boys are ruining their lives. Dr Rajiv Gupta, when asked to give the reasons for this trend, says, “Drug addicts are multiplying. Unemployment, easy money, easy availability of drugs, negligence by parents, bad company, poor control system due to nuclear families, stress and burden of studies and over protectionism by parents are some of the major reasons contributing to the subject.”

Dr Gupta said if the addicts were not given money for the drugs, they could become hostile and dangerous. Some of the addicts from affluent class have even assaulted their mothers and sisters in the domestic violence. Almost every second boy in the city consumed gutka, cigarette or alcohol.


Youngest ‘cyber kid’ in town
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

He can barely say his name, but with the ease with which he can handle the computer keyboard surprises most. At three, Preetinder Singh, “Pleet” as he calls himself, can play various multimedia applications, including his favourite songs on Winamp player, check e-mail and even beat the computer as an opponent while playing Cricket 97.

In kindergarten, Preet has been to school for only a month and is yet to learn the entire alphabet, but he figures out the keys from the images of the characters on them. He may not be the only “cyber kid” in town, but he is certainly one of the youngest. Yet, for him the “pooter” (computer) is no obsession.

“He barely spends over half an hour on the machine each day, but if denied access to the machine, Preet is not his normal self”, says his father Kamaljit Singh, an electronic engineer, who runs a TV spare part manufacturing unit in the city. How did Preet learn using the computer? “We have a computer at home. My wife Karanjit Kaur and I use it for our business and for checking e-mail, browsing the world wide Web, etc. Preet just picked up by observing us handle the equipment”, he says.

Navigating the desktop comes as easily to him as putting on a game like Clanderial Light. He can change wallpapers, run the Windows Media player and even connect to the Internet. “We have “bindoos” (Windows) 2000 at home”, he told this correspondent at The Tribune office, where Preet demonstrated expertise in handling the computer. Unable to speak clear sentences, he is, however, able to convey what he means when he says, “Do you have any ta-toon (cartoon) CD?”

What does he enjoying doing the most on his computer? “Change the wall paper with pictures of myself, mummy and papa and also listen to music”, he says. “Aa jaa bhabhi jhoot leh, dil totey totey ho gaya and gora gora mukhra” are his favourite songs that he must listen to at least once a day.

A LKG student at Guru Nanak Public School, Preet often says “daddy eeh kee ho gaya (daddy what has happened)”, when the computer does not respond in the manner, he had expected. His father says that they generally take turns to sit in front of the computer, but minutes of computer time is reserved for Preet when he returns from school in the afternoon.

Having put his hands on a computer for the first time about six months ago at age two and a half, Preet has come a long way in six months. Going by his knack for the microprocessor, he seems to be all set to achieve heights at a tender age. His entire family including grandparents are all excited about the inborn talent of the child. Best of luck Preetinder!


Lure of riches via satta wrecks many

A satta slip
A satta slip

Thanks mainly to the get-rich-quick approach of the people and a corrupt police force, satta mafia in the city rules the roost.

The city is full of ‘dasaiwaals’, ‘khaiwaals’ and ‘liwaals’ who together constitute the trio vital for a smooth conduct of the satta business.

A dasaiwaal is, as the name suggests, one who claims to possess prophetic powers for the next day’s number. It is anywhere between 01 and 100 and is opened at Bahadurgarh, near Delhi, every morning.

Many babas and so-called saints in the city and surrounding villages are doing brisk business at the expense of gullible people who come to them with the belief that a baba would one day give them the magic number which would finally remove all their financial problems. The modus operandi of these babas is very simple. They give different numbers to different people so that at least one person happen to strike it rich the next day. The ‘lucky’ man pays obeisance to the baba with gifts and cash.

Some of these babas keep shifting from one place to another whenever they anticipate trouble from a disgruntled ‘chela’ or occasionally, because of a sex scandal. The cleverer of the lot, however, do not predict a number directly. They take recourse to the safer method of uttering something vague which is generally interpreted by the eager listeners in different ways. If an interpretation by even one ‘believer’ turns out to be correct by chance the next day, the baba is showered with high accolades, compelling the rest of the chelas to think that their own service of the baba must be inadequate. So they try to please the baba with whatever they can, from sweeping the ashram or dera to offering him whatever he fancies most.

The lure of ‘matka’

The lure of the ‘matka’ is far greater than that of the various state-sponsored lotteries for obvious reasons. Whereas a single-digit lottery ticket costing Rs 22 would entitle one to Rs 200 only, payment for the same amount staked on a number between 01 and 100 in the ‘matka’ market would be a little more than Rs 1500, at the current rate of Rs 70 for every single rupee. Moreover, whereas the minimum cost of a lottery ticket is Rs 11, in the ‘matka’ market, bets can be placed even for Re 1. The illegal ‘satta’ is an equivalent of the one-digit lottery, in which there are only 10 numbers to bet on, i.e. from 0 to 9. And for every single rupee, the payment is Rs 9.

The lure of ‘matka’ and lottery is deadly. Thousands of men have been destroyed by these social evils. While the lottery business is proving beneficial to only a handful of authorised lottery organisers, the satta business is making rich only the khaiwaals and the police officers who allegedly protect the business.

Scores of examples of men who have lost everything, including their families and homes, in the sordid world of satta and darha can be cited. The number of people wrecked by the evil is much more. Men running fabulous showrooms have been reduced to running business on a footpath. And those owning vast ancestral properties have been rendered homeless. However, the influence of satta is so blinding that the addict rarely gives up hope of becoming a millionaire within a couple of days because it takes only two winning numbers on the trot to strike it really big.

Men opting for this kind of money making exercises are a mixed lot. They come from all sections of society. The poor rickshawpullers and other daily wage workers to the educated school master and the well-to-do sethjis, all try their luck in the numbers’ game. Each one bets according to his position. There are affluent satta addicts in the city for whom betting anything from Rs 10,000 to 5,000 a day is a routine affair. Some of them continue to stick to a particular number throughout the month, increasing the bet with the passing of each day.

Bookies are smart

Various matka dons in the city have their own networks of bookies through whom the day’s business is conducted. A number of ‘Khaiwaals’ are in the lottery business also as it is a convenient cover for their matka operations. The bookies, who are paid a commission of 15 per cent to 20 per cent on their respective collections, are mostly part-time operators as the business picks up only in the evening. To avoid detection by the police, these bookies do not issue any receipts or carbon copies of the numbers betted upon as used to be the practice some years ago when customers were duly given carbon copies of the numbers betted upon with the day’s number encircled along with the date etc. The bookies have become cautious regarding new faces wanting to place a bet. Yet, it is not impossible to impregnate their racket.

But in spite of its great lure, ‘matka’ is not attracting as much business as the lotteries due to a number of factors. First, ‘matka’ business is losing its charm because of dishonest practices being adopted by ‘khaiwaals’ who sometimes deny having received a particular bet or try to cheat the ‘liwaals’ by cooking up a late- night- police -raid story. The business being an illegal one, the duped ‘liwaal’ has no locus standi to claim the payment. A friendly cop, however, can be of help. He can persuade the ‘khaiwaal’ to make the payment if he is promised half of it.

Secondly, a stigma has been attached to ‘matka’ because it started at a time when betting and gambling were scorned by the society. Even today, when gambling and betting are fast becoming a way of life, the stigma remains. While it may be socially alright to stand for hours in a lottery market, the story is different in the case of ‘matka’.

Ban lottery, legalise matka

The votaries of ‘matka’ put up a strong case for legalising it. Lotteries have turned thousands of people into virtual idlers who start the day with morning lotteries at 8.30 a.m. and go on trying their luck at various lotteries till the evening. With the recent introduction of evening lotteries after 5 p.m., even labourers and office-goers who finish their working day have been lured into the business. As a result, there are now more men on the city roads who can afford to waste some money everyday before reaching home.

Supporters of ‘matka’ point out that the government gets only a small cut while the lion’s share goes to the lottery organisers and distributors. Instead of wasting so much of paper and ink for tickets, the government should issue licences to ‘khaiwaals’ with provisions to safeguard the interests of the ‘liwaals’ in that all payments are made without any cheating.

The large force of lottery addicts will also have to look for some worthwhile work if lotteries are banned and ‘matka’ legalised for it is a once-a-day affair. Compulsive and professional ‘liwaals’ can satisfy their craving with some money at the end of a working day rather than wasting the whole day buying various lotteries and awaiting the results.

The police on its part, finds the ‘matka’ business very useful like other illegal businesses in the city as far as flow of easy money is concerned. Now and then, a small-time bookie is booked under the Gambling Act. It is only rarely that a ‘khaiwaal’ is taken into custody.


Work on for 10 years, but war museum still awaits completion
Tribune News Service

While the State Government is creating a lot of noise on the preservation of the material related to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sher-e-Punjab, on the bicentenary year of his coronation, the work on Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum, the only one of its kind conceived and owned by the State Government, still awaits inauguration.

Almost 10 years have passed since work on the museum had started. Though paucity of funds was the main reason in the delaying of the project, the lack of concerted effort by the authorities concerned had also been a contributing factor.

The later reason seems to be a stronger factor particularly in the post-Kargil phase where the State Government had for umpteen times announced policies to commemorate the sacrifices made by the defence personnel hailing from the state.

However the museum, according to it’s publicity leaflet, was planned to create general awareness about the defence services not only for its role in defending the country but also in strengthening the bonds of national integrity and unity. Sadly, in spite of such high talks the museum which has immense potential of being a befitting tribute to the war heroes is still awaiting attention. Though tourists visit the place and see whatever exhibits have been offered, the place can be opened officially after the completion. The tickets to see the museum can also be charged which can return some of the investments.

It was in early 1991 that the foundation stone of the museum was laid by Gen. O.P. Malhotra, the then Governor of Punjab. At the ceremony it was announced that the museum , the first of its kind made by the State Government, was planned to commemorate the sacrifices made by the people of Punjab in defending the country. Before this museum the various defence battalions or regiments stationed in the state had common practice of making such museums but they exhibit feats of their own. The museum aimed to present at one place almost all the feats of the defence personnel of the state.

Though it was promised that work on the museum would be completed on a war-footing, yet it has now been 10 years since the initiation of the construction work. Only two years ago a hall having light and sound effects, for screening a film based on the feats of Punjabis in both pre and post-independence India for defending the motherland, was completed and inaugurated. The completion of the work on this front had raised hopes that the remaining portion would also be completed at the earliest but they are yet to be fulfilled.

According to official sources after the laying of the foundation stone the work went on at a rapid pace for two years but then the financial hiccups appeared in the way. The work remained suspended for almost three or four years before the funds were released. The work continued in fits and starts and depended entirely on the allocation of funds. Last year its massive building was completed at a cost of Rs 2 crore and according to sources another Rs 80 lakh is required to finally open the museum.

A visit to the site revealed that the museum has been made at an excellent location on the outskirts of the city. The place already has immense tourism potential as the Tiger Safari is located next to the museum. A hotel of the Punjab Tourism Department along with some private restaurants are also located nearby.

Though located in an excellent place the museum looks good only from outside .The inner halls, except two or three, are empty and are awaiting exhibits to be installed there. An interesting hall where uniforms of different regiments from the British days are kept is also not in good shape. A number of closets for exhibiting the uniforms are yet to be completed. Those which have been done are awaiting the uniforms.

Another significant pending work is of a sculpture depicting the scene of the end of the Indo-Pak war in 1971 when the Pakistan general signed the documents of surrender.

The completed halls offer pictures of the war heroes including the Paramvir Chakra winners of the state along with portraits of other highly decorated soldiers. The lawns offer tanks and aircraft, both real and models, which are a delight to watch. However, if a path could be constructed along the exhibits for proper movement of the visitors, then the place can present a better picture. A tractor parked along the defence vehicles acts as an irritating eyesore. It appears too odd in the illustrated company of the model of the INS-Vikrant and a real SU-7 fighter aircraft along with several models of tanks.

The Deputy Director, Sainik Wealfare, Wing Commander M.S. Randhawa said that the State Government had released a grant of Rs 10 lakh for sprucing up the museum. The Deputy Director also said that the Central Government had also released Rs 7.5 lakh and has asked for the utilisation certificate of the funds released. He said that the museum would be completed within one month’s time and would be inaugurated after that.

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