Monday, April 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Renewed hope for Kaonke’s family
Tribune News Service

Kaunke Kalan (Ludhiana), April 28
Almost 10 years after Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaonke had gone missing and his family almost believed that he was dead, the High Court’s direction to the state government to conduct an independent inquiry into the incident has given a new ray of hope to the family.

Acting on a petition filed by Member Parliament Simranjit Singh Mann, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has given two month’s time to the government to probe the case and submit the report.

A Ludhiana Tribune team met members of his family at Kaonke Kalan, who are hoping against hope that the inquiry would be fair and the guilty brought to book.

Mr Hari Singh, Kaonke’s eldest son, and Kaonke’s mother, Gurdev Kaur, said that after the inquiry they would at least come to know what actually happened to the Jathedar and whether he was alive or not. They strongly believe that the religious leader was liquidated, like scores of other youth by the police during the terrorism era.

‘‘We are hopeful but we would like some impartial officer to be appointed for the job, as the government had not made public the last inquiry report, for it ostensibly went against the police’’ said Mr Hari Singh. He added that though they were getting tired of inquiries they had the patience to go through this one.

They said if the worst came to worst, they would at least be able to perform the missing person’s 'Bhog ceremony' which had not been done all these years.

They however said that an almost secret 'Bhog ceremony' had been organised on January 10, 1993, but the police, at that time, had not allowed their relatives and neighbours to attend it.

Recalling the series of events since April 30, 1986, when Kaonke was arrested by the police, Mr Hari Singh said that he was picked up from the Golden Temple Complex, Amritsar, at the instance of Surjit Singh Barnala, the then Chief Minister’s government and a number of cases registered against him. He alleged that is father was tortured by the Punjab Police and shifted from one investigation centre to another.

He was then released in 1989, along with other Sikh clergymen. After one year, he was re-arrested by the Ludhiana police on the orders of the then SSP Sumedh Saini.

The family said they suspected that Kaonke was given some chemical which slowly poisoned him, as he was admitted to Rajendra Hospital, Patiala, for more than eight months during police custody. He was released again in 1992.

The police once again arrested him and he was released on January 1, 1993, as the police had allowed him to go home due to the death of his infant grandson. When the family was performing the last rites of the boy, Inspector Urmit Singh of Jagraon police picked him up from Gurdwara Patti Badan, Kaonke, where he was yet to perform the last rites.

People, however, forced the police to let the Jathedar go to his house, where he took his bath and bade goodbye to his relatives.

His wife Gurmel Kaur, said that the police did not allow them to provide food to him at the police station even as he refused to eat at the premises.

She said although her husband had been arrested by the police in front of a crowd from his house, the police had concocted a story saying that he was picked up from a village ‘akhara’ and escaped from police custody on January 3. 



Family says murder, cops say suicide
Youth’s ex-girlfriend goes in hiding
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
While doubts remain on the manner of death of a computer engineer who was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in Bharat Nagar yesterday, his relatives got a case of murder registered against unidentified persons here today.

The police is not sure what caused the death, but the family of the 27-year-old youth, Rohit, who was killed, say that he has been killed by the family of a girl with whom he had an affair. The police does not believe them and it registered an FIR only after it received a report of the post-mortem examination showing that the youth might have been poisoned before he was hanged.

However, the police is still working on the suicide theory. It says that no one knew the boy would be alone in the house at the time he is believed to have died, which makes them believe that it is a suicide.

The police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC against unidentified persons, but not against the family of the girl with whom the boy had an affair. The police says that, so far, there is no evidence that links this family to the case.

However, the girl’s family and relatives have disappeared, apprehending police crackdown. Sources in the police said the team of the Division Number 5 police could not talk to any person of the girl’s family as all of them had gone in hiding.

The girl’s family lives in a colony on the Pakhowal Road and its house is, now, locked. Had they stayed, the police team that visited the house would only have questioned them, at most.

The death of handsome Rohit has shocked all who live in Bharat Nagar colony, especially his uncle Ranbir, who found him hanging.



‘Octroi won’t be reintroduced
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 28
“Government will not reintroduce octroi in the state,” said Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, while speaking at a press conference at Sukhdarshan Entertainers here yesterday evening.

Mr Barsat said the Punjab Government would purchase electricity from other states to meet the shortage of power. Talks were being initiated with the Orissa Government for the purchase of electricity. He further said that the police districts constituted during terrorism days could be abolished after receiving the report of sub-committee formed for the purpose.

Mr Barsat said the commission formed to probe irregularities committed during the tenure of previous government was not to harass any particular political party. He said government would conduct inquiry into every case where a complaint was received. He alleged that Akali government intentionally cancelled 8,000 to 14,000 votes in every assembly constituency, otherwise the Congress would have got more seats.

He said government had decided to prepare a list of employees who were getting salaries without doing any job. These employees would be adjusted in other departments where there was any staff shortage.



Seven persons beat up SI
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 28
A Sub Inspector of the Khanna police was beaten up by at least seven persons, including three women, last night.

The SI had gone to Dehru village for conducting a raid following a complaint by a PCO owner of Bagri Kalan village.

According to the police, a PCO owner of Bagri Kalan had complained to the Samrala police that some persons had threatened and robbed him of Rs 2,200 at gunpoint. He said that he knew one of them.

Following the complaint, a police party, led by Sub Inspector Harbhajan Singh, went to Dehru to conduct raids to nab the accused. When the police reached the village, SI Harbhajan Singh went to the house of alleged accused from one side and other policemen went from the other side.

When the SI entered the house, seven persons already gathered in the house attacked him and beat him up. They torn his uniform and fled from the scene.

The seven persons have been identified as Harpreet Singh, Baljeet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Harjit Kaur (wife of Baljeet Singh), Darshan Kaur (wife of Sampuran Singh), Surinder Kaur (wife of Harpreet Singh) and Ghoga.

The Sub Inspector has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Khanna.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 353, 386, 332, 342, 141 and 149 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.



PAU smokes up own advice
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
It seems that Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) does not believe in practicing what it preaches, going by the burning of agricultural waste on the campus.

While the PAU keeps telling farmers not to burn agricultural waste, it burns its dry leaves and other such waste on campus, causing much air pollution.

The PAU advises farmers to give up the habit of burning wheat and paddy stubble because it pollutes the environment, causes various ailments and depletes the soil of nutrients. However, it has failed to educate its own sweepers on the issue. The PAU sweepers practice the old way of disposing of the waste — collect and burn. The university authorities should teach their own employees first about the dangers of what they are doing.



Inquiry into boy’s death
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 28
The Superintendent of Police (D), Mr Gurkirpal Singh, started an inquiry into the death of Arun Sood here yesterday. Arun Sood (15) was found dead in his study room on February 3. His body was found hanging from a ceiling fan by his younger sister. The body was taken out by breaking open the door.

On the complaint filed by the father of the victim, a case under Section 302, IPC, was registered against the tenant, Goldy. But Goldy filed an application that he was innocent.

The then SSP, Khanna, deputed Mr Amarjit Singh, DSP, to conduct an inquiry who said in his report that it was a case of suicide. But the parents were not satisfied with the report. The SP (D) visited the spot last evening.



Govt directed to probe Babli rape case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has directed the Punjab Government to inquire into the case of a Dalit girl, Babli, who was allegedly gang-raped by Barnala police personnel following which she committed suicide.

This was stated by the Chairman of the commission, Mr Vijay Sonkar Shashtri, who was in the city today to attend a function organised by the Bharti Valmiki Dharam Samaj.

He said although the commission had come into existence only a month ago, as many as 7,500 complaints regarding Dalits’ exploitation had already been received by it. He said most of the complaints were from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

He said the commission had the powers to take action against the guilty in cases of torture or exploitation of Dalits, besides directing the state governments to conduct inquiries into such cases.

About the cases of mass murders and rapes in Bihar, he said such incidents were the most unfortunate ones and the commission had taken a strong notice of such incidents. He said the commission would launch a movement to spread awareness about the powers of the commission, besides encouraging people to send their complaints to it. He said the commission would also launch a helpline for Dalits.

Stating that the Bengal government had informed the commission that no such cases were reported in the past four years in the state, Mr Shashtri said the commission had decided to conduct a survey of the state before making any statement in this regard. He, however, said if this was true than the Bengal government definitely deserved kudos.

Mr Shashtri was honoured by the members of the Bharti Valmiki Dharam Samaj. A delegation of the Vishwa Guru Ravidass Mission led by its chairman, Mr Jaswant Kataria, met the chairman and submitted a charter of demands to him. Mr Shastri was accompanied by a member of the commission, Mr Narayan Singh, and an MP from Chattisgarh, Mr Punu Lal Molay.



‘Women need to know the power of empowerment’
Our Correespondent

Ludhiana, April 28
“Women only need to release the hidden power inside them for empowerment. No outside source can empower them,” said Ms Amarjit Kaur, secretary, AITUC and general secretary, National Federation of Indian Women at the third state level convention organised by Punjab Bank Employees Federation this morning at Nehru Sidhant Kender.The convention was attended by more than 800 women bank employees from all parts of the state.

Ms Amarjit addressing the women present said women can do all jobs as well as their male colleagues, but society has been dominated by the thought processes of the males from centuries, who relegated women to the background, labelling them as the weaker sex.”All of us have to change the mindset and value system of society, tilting the balance in favour of women. We recognise the differences between the two sexes. We would not like to compete with males but complement them. Women have tolerance, patience and during crisis can stand like a rock and face adversities,” she added.

She made the audience aware of the pitfalls of globalisation and free market trade. She said once powerful countries get patents of ‘neem’, ‘haldi’, ‘karela’, we will not be able to use them. In any situation like war, riots, retrenchment of jobs, poverty, women are the first causalities. The banking sector under the World Bank and International Monetary Fund has suggested reduction of jobs. When women are transferred, people know it is not easy for her to live by herself, leaving her family. So the next step is to offer her a voluntary retirement scheme. Women must be well informed, as information is power. Only then can they earn their rightful places at homes, at work place, in politics and in the government,” she reiterated.

Ms Kanwal Kaur Jit, Reader, Economics Department, Punjabi University , Patiala, strongly condemned Globalisation and its fallout. She said “In the open economy market the choice of what and for whom to produce has been taken away from the hands of Indians. When every sixth person in the world is an Indian, isn’t it strange that the nation should have no control over these issues?”.

She said facts speak for themselves. Gender bias can be seen in all fields. Whereas 75 per cent to 95 per cent boys get a chance for higher education, only 21.69 per cent girls get one. As far as wages are concerned, in the unorganised sector for the same work, women get two thirds of the wages as compared to men. Not because they do lesser work, but since they are considered biologically weaker. Even as far as family planning is concerned, males can go for sterilisation operations as they are easier but in 75 per cent of the cases women have to undergo such operations.

Ms Harmit Kaur, principal of Ramgarhia College, said that increasing consumerism has made dowry demands more extensive, causing anguish to girls’ parents. Rise in female foeticide and infanticide has reached alarming proportions.

Sudesh Kumar, Chairman and N.K. Gaur, chairman and general secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, welcomed the women delegates and apprised them of the problems of gender bias, exploitation at work place etc. They urged them to be at the frontline of the battle against gender bias that persists in all walks of life.

Ms Manjit Sodhia, Dr Bharati Uppal and Ms Tejinder Kaur also addressed the audience.



Painting competition on drug abuse
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
A painting competition on drug de-addiction was recently organised by Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Dugri Zone, at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Phase-I, Dugri, with the help of the managing committee of the Gurdwara. According to Mr Surjit Singh , the zonal Secretary, about 700 students from 16 schools participated in this competition.

Prof Sarvjit Singh, Director, Social and Health Services, while addressing the students, got them to promise that they would neither abuse any drug in life nor would allow any member of their family to abuse any. He also told them about the effects of drugs abuse.

Various schools, which participated in the competition were, Josaf School, Dhandra Road. S. B. M. C. Senior Secondary School, New Era High School, Urban Vihar; Central Model School H. B. C. Dugri; G. R. D. Public School; Janta Model High School; Dashmesh Public School; Guru Hargobind Public School; Guru Harkishan Public School; Ekta Public School; Bhai Himmat Singh Nagar, all situated at Dugri; Government Middle School, Phullanwal; Government High School, Jabaddi; Sri Guru Hargobind Public School, Thakkarwal village; Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa High School Simlapuri and Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa High School , Simlapuri.

In the first group, Asha from Harkishan Public School, Dugri, got the first position, while Jasmeen Kaur stood second and Sandeep Kaur and Puneet Kaur of the same school got the third position. Similarly in the second group, Jaspreet Kaur from Guru Harkishan Public School got the first position, Gurpreet Kaur the second position, Apinder Kaur and Tanpreet Kaur Aulakh of the same school got the third position

Sardar Sardul Singh Memorial Traditional Trophy went to Guru Harkishan Public School, Dugri. Runner-Up Trophy was awarded to Josaf Public School, Dugri. Under the leadership of Mr Jaspal Singh, Coach, PAU, 10 judges delivered the judgement. Mr Baljit Singh, Hindustan Export, and Mr Surjit Singh, president of the Gurdwara, gave away the prizes to the winners.


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