Monday, March 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Employers told to screen workers for TB 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 24
"Everyday 22,000 persons enter the 'TB zone' around the world. While eight million people suffer from tuberculosis every year, two million of them die for want of medicine," according to Baljit Sahi, the organiser of a function held by Ludhiana TB Eradication Society in association with Civil Lines Welfare Society at Arya School to mark World TB Day. A free medical camp was also organised on the occasion. Dr M.S. Chauhan's clinic, which is opposite Arya School, will become the second branch of the society. TB patients will be given free treatment and medicines here. The main office of the Society is at Focal Point. Diet for the patients will be supplied by Civil Lines Welfare Society according to its secretary, Mr S.S.Makkar.

Of the total number of TB patients in Punjab, 40 per cent of the cases have been detected in Ludhiana. The city has the distinction of having more than 7,000 cases registered. Many more probably go unreported.

Dr Satish Nauria, president of TB Eradication Society, and his wife, Savita Nauria, are the force behind the formation of the Society, which was registered last year. The Society has grown since and many industrialists have pooled in to provide help. The Society has made a lot of progress in screening the patients and offering medication. Dr Satish Nauria said industrialists had co-operated by providing funds for the treatment of their workers infected with TB.

He suggested that since a lot of migrant labour from UP and Bihar was employed here, if every owner screened employees(it wouldn't cost more than Rs100), before employing them, the problem could be tackled at the source. It is common knowledge that TB is an infectious disease and one patient can infect 20 more.

Deep Birla, secretary general of the Society said that Rs 600 to Rs700 are needed for medicines per month. The medication has to continue for nine months for a complete cure. So NGOs, industrialists and philanthropists should come forward to help these patients. The patients should be adopted and there should be regular follow ups so that patients complete the treatment. As it normally happens that when patients begin to feel better after a few months, they discontinue the medicines and when there was a relapse the same medicines are not effective any more.

Dr Gursharan Singh, President Of Indian Medical Association, condemned the administration for not co-operating with this NGO. The Civil Surgeon had promised to send a team but it was conspicuous by its absence. He also said that TB can be eradicated but the government has to make sincere efforts.

Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, former Deputy Mayor; Ms Indu Prahar, Mr JaiPrakash and Mr O.P.Angrish, councillors appreciated the efforts of the Society. Dr Nauria said that the Society had cured 50 patients completely and that they were going to tackle the problem on war footing. Dr Chauhan said if a person has fever for a longtime, has constant cough and has blood in the sputum, he should see a doctor. Early detection will help in the treatment.



Rs 6 lakh fraud detected at PAU
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
A fraud of about Rs 6 lakh has been detected in the office of the Comptroller of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The fraud was pointed out by the Audit department some months ago and now a preliminary inquiry report submitted to the Vice-Chancellor has confirmed the fraud.

The University has so far chargesheeted one employee, a cashier in the Comptroller office, but according to the inquiry, several employees, including some serving and former higher-ups may be involved. The amount of fraud is also expected to be much higher. The main basis for the involvement of other officers, as pointed out by the inquiry report was that under the rules, reconciliation of accounts (monthly checking of the accounts) was to be done by the Comptroller's office, but this rule had been given a go by.

Sources in the university said that the report of the preliminary inquiry by an official of the office of Comptroller has revealed that an amount of about Rs 6 lakh had been embezzled by a former cashier. The modus operandi adopted included pocketing money through fake entries, indulging in temporary embezzlement by keeping the University money for personal use for six months and some double entries for one work. One such entry of over Rs 1.5 lakh was made twice in the account books.

The report of the preliminary inquiry has been submitted to the Comptroller, Mr Gopal Dass, and the university is all set to hand it over to an inquiry officer within a week or two.

The office of the Comptroller of PAU receives all cash and cheques of the income earned by the university by selling seeds, produce, auction, students' fee and that from the seed farms outside. The revenue thus generated is facilitated through the Comptroller's office to the bank account of PAU.

In this case, the amount received by the Comptroller office was not deposited by certain employees for months together while they were supposed to do it within a day of accepting payments. What the dealing hands did with the money is not known yet. But the PAU definitely lost interest on the amount for many months as the rate of interest for PAU is much more than offered usually.

The period of embezzlement is believed to be 1996 to 1998. The then cashier of the Comptroller office, Mr Baldev Raj Beri, had been chargesheeted on this account a few days ago. But in his reply he wrote that he did not know anything about these entries and the authorities should ask the then Comptroller, Mr S.K. Bhatia. Mr Beri could not be contacted.

Sources said that the matter came to light only when the audit department started checking the records in 1998. They said that the entries were made in such a manner that it was very difficult to figure out the correct amount. The Vice-Chancellor, after taking over, had ordered a thorough inquiry a few months ago.

In the preliminary inquiry it has been held that had the successive Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDO) been careful in his work such a situation would not have arisen as according to the rules of the university reconciliation is to be done by the Comptroller office with the bank every month. But in this case this had not been done. 



2 well-diggers rescued
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, March 24
Sheer providence saved two labourers Sewak Singh and Amarjit Singh from certain death. They got buried under sand while digging a well in Chakar village near Jagraon last night. Amarjit Singh was rescued after 10 hours Sewak Singh after four hours.

Their lives were saved by efforts of the Jagraon police and villagers. Amarjit Singh and Sewak Singh, are six brothers, all well-diggers.

The incident took place at 5 p.m. last night, when they were digging the well in the fields of Teja Singh. They had dug about 20 feet, when the upper crust of the well caved in, burying them. Teja Singh and labourers raised an alarm and, informed the police.

Jagraon SSP Balkar Singh Sandhu and DSP Rajeshwar Singh reached the site. After some hours, the police pressed tractors into the rescue operation. The joy of the rescuers knew no bounds when they succeeded in rescuing Sewak Singh. The rescue work for Amarjit continued. He was finally taken out at 3.15 a.m, over 10 hours after he got buried.

SSP Balkar Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that the rescue team went ahead on as one of the labourer continued to shriek loudly for help.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune from his bed in the Civil Hospital Jagraon, Amarjit Singh, who had a fractured shoulder said a miracle saved him. He was all praise for the Police Department and the villagers who rescued him.

He said he continued praying to the Almighty for safety. “By sheer luck the bricks that were falling on me aligned in such a manner that I got enough breathing space”, he said.

He felt pain in his left shoulder put all he could do was to callout loudly for help, hoping against hope that he would be rescued. After some hours, he heard voices and this fanned his hopes. When the rescuers reached him, he tried to guide them.

Lying in the hospital, the labourer said he had dug over 40 wells, but this was his first brush with death. “I shudder at the very thought of spending those hours in complete darkness under the sand”. He however hopes he to be fit to re-start work soon. “We only know how to dig wells to earn our bread and butter” he said helplessly.



Labourers robbed of Rs 16,000 
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 24
Robbers looted Rs 16,000 from labourers at three different points from Sounti village on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. The local police has registered a case on the statement of Suresh Paswan, one of the victims, originally a resident of Gobindbara village in Bihar, under Sections 380 and 457 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to sources, the migrant labourers lived at three different tubewells owned by Piara Singh of Sounti village, and Harchand Singh and Avtar Singh of Salani village. They used to work on contract basis in fields during the day and return to the tubewells at night.

The first incident of robbery occurred at the tubewell owned by Harchand Singh when the robbers, posing as policemen and armed with sharp-edged weapons, broke open the door and collected the cash after searching the belongings of the inmates. A similar modus operandi was adopted by the robbers in the other two cases.

The robbers were around 10 in number, spoke Punjabi and seemed to be under the influence of liquor. Five of them remained outside at the time of incident, according to labourers.



Fatehgarh Sahib to have economic offences wing
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 24
On the pattern of Ludhiana district, the economic offences wing will be formed in Fatehgarh Sahib district to control industrial crimes. Steps will be taken to control traffic on the G.T. road. Mr B. Chander Shekhar, SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, made these observations at a meeting organised by the Gobindgarh Steel Chamber of Commerce and Industries in the Municipal Council hall on Saturday.

Earlier, the SSP garlanded the picture of Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his 72nd death anniversary in the municipal complex.

Mr Bharat Bhushan Jindal, president, Mr J.P. Sharma, secretary-general, Mr Raj Bansal, senior vice president of the Chamber, respectively, Mr Dharam Pal, acting president of the Municipal Council, Mr Ran Singh Kalsi, member, BJP state committee, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Bhambri, president, Municipal Council, Comrade Parkash Singh, Mr Rajinder Teeto (both councillors) Mr Ghanaya Lal, industrialist, demanded immediate arrangement for truck parking.

The industrialists said that one third of the industry in the town had been closed. 



BMMP to back Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 24
The Bairagi Maha Mandal Punjab (BMMP) has decided to support the Congress in the forthcoming Malout Assembly by-election. Bairagi community has assured the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, of supporting the joint candidate of the Congress and the CPI.

The president of the BMMP, Mr K.K. Bawa, in a press note here today, said the mandal had honoured Capt Amarinder Singh on October 16 last year at Patiala. He stated that a delegation of the community had also given a memorandum.

The demands include setting up of Baba Banda Bahadur Chair in various state universities and getting special facilities for uplift of the community. It was also decided in the meeting that the martyrdom of Banda Bahadur would be observed at Barnala on June 9.

Those present on the occasion were, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, vice-president, Youth Congress, Mr Ravinder Kaushik, general secretary, Youth Congress, Mr Amandeep Bawa, a congress leader and Rajinder Pal Singh, general secretary, BMMP.



Bhagat Singh's ideals ‘forgotten
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
All governments in post-independence India have failed to provide economic and political freedom to the masses, as contemplated by Bhagat Singh and other revolutionaries. Rather the country was seeing widespread corruption, communal riots, illiteracy and poverty. Millions of youth are unemployed in the country because of the ill-conceived policies of the government.

These views were expressed by speakers participating in a seminar on ‘‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his legacy’’, held here today to commemorate the 71st death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The seminar was organised by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch and Inqualabi Kendra.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr Dalbir Singh, Associate Editor, Punjabi Tribune, said, ‘‘The revolutionaries sacrificed their lives for the independence of the country, but our leaders failed to do justice to their legacy. It led to corruption, communal disharmony and other economic problems. The public also failed to elect good leaders who could take care of their problems. It is now the duty of the youth to come forward or face an even worse situation in the coming days. ’’

Prof Jagmohan Singh, nephew of Bhagat Singh, lamented that had the country followed the ideology of the revolutionaries, it would not have had to face communal riots, like the recent ones in Gujarat. Democratic forces should unite to protect the rights of the minorities and maintain communal harmony, as conceptualised by Bhagat Singh.

Mr Gursharan Singh, Punjabi dramatist, released a novel ‘Gatha Maha Manukh Di’ translated from the Hindi novel by Balbhadar Thakur. Among others, Mr Jaswant Singh and Dr Hardeep Singh also participated in the seminar. Later, the participants marchedss from Punjabi Bhavan to Shaheed Sukhdev Singh's residence in a procession. They blamed the successive state governments for the dilapidated condition of the 'national monument'. 



Police-public meet to be held regularly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The police-public meetings in the city would be held regularly on the last Sunday of every month.

Announcing this at the first ever police-public meeting held in Kotwali police station after a gap of over a year in the Ludhiana police district, DIG Rohit Chaudhry said these meetings went a long way in building an understanding between the police and the public.

Traffic problem, encroachments, misbehaviour by policemen, police inaction and refusal of permission for ‘jagratas’ were the main issues that cropped up at the meeting. Leaders of the Shiv Sena district unit boycotted the meeting. They alleged that they were not allowed to speak. Later they were persuaded and were given time to speak.



Taxation Bar members meet
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 24
A meeting of study circle of the Taxation Bar Association was held under the chairmanship of Mr Ashok Kumar Juneja in which Union Government Budget proposals were discussed.

The meeting passed a resolution that a deputation will soon meet the Finance Minister and suggest for amending the proposals. Mr P.S. Garg, Mr Manmohan Singh and Mr Aijay Vohra expressed their views, among others.



Tipsy gatecrashers thrashed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
A fashion show at Mariot hotel in Dugri took an ugly turn late last night when two youths under the influence of liquor beat up hotel staff and some policemen on duty, including ASI Mukesh Kumar, in charge Atam Park Police Post, when they were prevented from gaining access into a hotel.

The youths, identified as Avtar Singh and Gurvinder Singh, were overpowered with the help of additional police force that reached the site from Model Town police station. By that time the youths had hurt some persons and policemen. Subsequently, angry policemen also thrashed the two at the venue. Later, a case under Sections 452, 323, 354 and 34, IPC, was registered against the two.

According to the FIR, the organisers of the show had restricted entry to those possessing an invite. The two youths allegedly tried to gatecrash but were stopped by ASI Mukesh Kumar, who was on duty in mufti. The youths, paying no heed to the policemen, started beating them up. They had earlier consumed liquor in another room of the hotel and had quarrelled with some members of the hotel staff as well.

The scuffle and the ensuing melee obstructed the fashion show. A number of persons who were part of the audience also suffered minor injuries while trying to restrain the youths.

The accused were finally taken away by the Model Town police.


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