Monday, October 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Garcha supporters go underground
Panic for some, cheers for others
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 20
Even as SAD (Badal) rank and file today condemned the arrest of former Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha by the Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar, yesterday, a number of Akali workers close to the Garcha family and workers of Mann Singh Garcha, who were employed for the alleged shady land deals, have gone underground.

The development has meant panic for some as well as cheers for others. Several persons, claiming to be the victims of land grabbing, have started making demands for the reopening of their cases.

Though the absconding persons, mostly musclemen, were fearing arrest after the nabbing of the Land Mortgage Bank Director, Mr Sukhwant Singh Tillu, a close associate of the Garcha family, the arrest of Akali MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha has pressed panic buttons among them.

Even Mann Singh Garcha, who, according to the reported statement made by Tillu to Vigilance officials, has been involved in land grabbing at Ludhiana, had gone underground. Family sources said all male members of the family except one son of Sukhdev Singh Garcha were in hiding, fearing some action against them.

Several close aides of the Garcha family, including some property dealers, agents and police touts were untraceable today. Mann Singh Garcha had allegedly taken licences of liquor vends in names of several of his workers, who had gone in hiding since yesterday morning. The alleged agents in land dealing have also disappeared. Informed sources said though so far there was no move to nab these persons, the terrified workers feel they can be picked up any moment.

Mr Harcharan Singh, who lives near Dholewal Chowk, is one of the several alleged victims of land grabbing. Talking to The Tribune, he said he now hopes of getting back his allegedly grabbed property at Dholewal Chowk opposite Division No. 6 police station. He claimed his property was grabbed by Mann Singh Garcha some years ago but all his pleas to the Ludhiana police, administration and the then Akali government in Punjab had fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president All-India Youth Akali Dal (Badal), has condemned the arrest of Akali MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha. 


From rags to riches

For Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, who was arrested yesterday by the Vigilance Bureau on charges of embezzlement of crores of rupees, it has been a phenomenal rise from being a mere bus conductor working with a private transport company to the rank of a Cabinet Minister, close to the Chief Minister and wielding unbridled power.

Hailing from Dhandari Kalan village, on the outskirts of Ludhiana, Mr Garcha is the eldest of the four sons of Mr Kehar Dass Sadh. The family migrated to Bhutta village where it got the land from a woman who had adopted their father as her foster brother. Although family claims its inheritance to Bhutta village which falls in the Kila Raipur constituency, it is now settled in Ludhiana only with a few houses in the Gurdev Nagar locality.

The family continued to live within the modest means available in Bhutta village. None of the four brothers — Jagdish Singh, Mann Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Baldev Singh — were educated enough. The eldest Garcha can read and write Punjabi and Urdu only. However, Mann Singh Garcha got into various jobs which even brought him bad reputation.

Emergency was the turning point in the family’s social, financial and also the political career. The former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was lodged in a Ludhiana jail during the emergency. Mann Singh was also in the jail while facing the charges of murder. And it proved to be the real blessing in disguise. Mann Singh became friendly to Mr Badal. The association that started in jail continues till now.

The family did not leave Mr Badal since then. First Mann Singh joined as a sevadar and then graduated to be the security guard to Mr Badal. Later the family used its clout in the business in the backdrop of widespread charges of land grabbing and parallel liquor trade.

About a decade ago the family ventured into the lucrative liquor trade. And the golden period started for the family in 1997 when Mr Parkash Singh Badal returned to power. He contested election from Lambi and Kila Raipur. In fact the Kila Raipur election was fought for him by the Garchas only. Later, Mr Badal vacated the seat and Mr Jagdish Garcha contested on the Akali ticket. Victory was a forgone conclusion for Mr Garcha with the entire government machinery stationed in the constituency.

It was for the first time that Mr Garcha contested the election and entered into the Assembly. Later he was appointed as the Minister for Technical Education. And it is during this tenure, when he allegedly embezzled over Rs 11 crores while granting franchise to various computer training institutes besides providing affiliation to various distance education centres with the Punjab Technical University. VS


Mohan Singh Mela ends
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 20
The two-day Prof Mohan Singh Mela concluded here today with singers and artistes mesmerising the audience. Awards were conferred upon Gurpal Singh Pal, Jatinder Kaur, Niranjan Singh Bawa, Harbhajan Jabbal, Jaswant Sandila, Ravinder Grewal, Sahib Singh Thind, Rachhpal Singh Pamal and Om Parkash Gasso for their contribution to their respective fields like literature, comedy, drama etc.

In the afternoon session, folk singers and other select singers, including Jaswant Sandila and Ravinder Grewal, regaled the audience with their songs. The poems of Prof Mohan Singh were also recited to remember the poet.


Health project for slums mooted
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 20
The state government has mooted a community health project for the slum areas here, aimed at providing basic health cover to the poorest of the poor in urban slums. Named ‘Urban reproductive and child health project’ (RCH), it would provide necessary guidance and infrastructural support for setting standards for health care services, safeguard the interests of families living below the poverty line (BPL) and ensure public and private participation in preventive, protective and curative health care services.

With the municipal corporation in the city as nodal agency for the RCH project, the management committee, set up by the state government is to be headed by city Mayor, with the MC Commissioner and the Civil Surgeon as its Vice Chairman and Member Secretary, respectively.

Giving details of the project to Ludhiana Tribune, the MC Commissioner and Vice Chairman of the managing committee, Mr S.K. Sharma, said the RCH managing committee would have functional control over health posts, urban family welfare centres, urban slum area dispensaries and other health care centres in the urban area to be established under the project. The managing committee or the agency, as the terms of reference describe it, would be empowered to hire contractual staff for secretarial work as well as programme specialists and management consultants within the ambit of perspective plan and annual work plan.

“To provide free or low cost preventive, protective and curative facilities and to promote primary health care services, the agency will set up ‘rogi kalyan samitis’ in the urban slum areas with the financial assistance through loans and advances and funding from various development agencies.” The state level RCH society had already released an initial grant of Rs 5 lakh from the sector reform fund to the local agency for setting the project in motion, said Mr Sharma.

Elaborating the activities of the agency, he said a core planning team would soon be constituted which would formulate a perspective plan (for five years) as well as annual rolling operation plans as per the guidelines of the Centre and the State Health and Family Welfare Department. A Part of the funding for the execution of these plans would be made by the state RCH Society in accordance with agreed benchmarks.

The broad activities under the RCH project would target maternal and child health care, with emphasis on ante-natal and post-natal health care, referral of high-risk cases, immunisation programme, malnutrition, respiratory and water-borne diseases. It is proposed to have atleast one health post for a population of 15,000 with one ANM and a representative of the slum area being service providers. “The agency will seek support and the involvement of the NGOs and such bodies for the daunting task of improving community health and creating awareness.”


Valmiki Jayanti celebrations
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, October 20
On the eve of Valmiki Jyanti, several shobha yatras were taken out in the city today. Devotees lined up on yatra routes and distributed prasad among the participants. The city wore a festive look as several buildings along and temples were illuminated.

Different political parties organised functions and processions. Colourfully decorated tableaux, several of them prepared by children, featured prominently in the shobha yatra.

The Dr B.K. Ambedkar Society, Doraha, celebrated Valmiki’s jayanti at Adaich Colony today. After the bhog of Shri Akhand Path, a community lunch was served. Kirtan by Bhai Amrik Singh Ragi Khalsa Jatha was enjoyed by the audience. Mr Sher Singh, Ex-President Sundar Nagar, Mr Harjit Singh, SDO, Mr Baldev Singh Mangat, organiser, Gurughar Doraha, Sarpanch Gurnam Singh Adaich, Mr Harmal Singh Rawa Rampur, Mr Mohan Singh Khajanchi Guru Ghar, Ranbir Singh were presented siropas on the occasion.

Meanwhile, asserting that the Valmiki samaj was the backbone of the Congress, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister for Printing and Stationery, said here yesterday that the party would leave no stone unturned to improve the lot of the Valmiki community.

Mr Pandey was addressing a special function in connection with the Valmik Jayanti which was held near Lal Bahadur Shastri School by the Punjab Pradesh Valmiki Sabha.

A free medical check-up camp was jointly inaugurated by Mr Hans Raj Gagat and Mr Virender Kapoor.


Bajrang Dal launches campaign
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 20
The Bajrang Dal has launched a nationwide campaign against terrorism in the country. The convener of the Dal, Mr Prakash Chander Sharma, said the campaign was not aimed against any particular community, but only against the terrorism that is trying to raise its head in various parts of the country. Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Sharma maintained that it was very essential that the people of the country, particularly the youth, were woken up against the threat of terrorism. He cited the examples of the recent attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat and that on Parliament.

He emphasised the need for the Hindus to keep weapons so that they can themselves counter the threats. He said the awareness campaign was launched in the country from September 15. The leader also announced the start of the campaign for creating awareness about the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. 


Mini Chhapar mela concludes
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, October 20
A three-day mini Chhapar mela held at the Guga temple, near Chhapar village, where thousands of devotees paid obeisance to Guga, an embodiment of Nag Devta, concluded today.

A large number of shops and recreational stalls had been set up. Merry-go-rounds and ‘tamashas’ were the main attraction for the visitors. In the absence of any stipulated schedule the police found it difficult to control traffic on the link road passing through the mela.

Though the mela is an annual event but this time the civil administration was conspicuous by its absence.

During the mela private buses and auto-rickshaws plied between the local bus stand and the mela without any permit. Besides chaotic arrangements, substandard eatables were sold.


80 kg poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 20
The Dakha police has seized 50 kg of poppy husk from Resham Singh of Umrewal village, police station Jalandhar from the area of the Jangpur Rurka road where the accused was sitting on a gunny bag with another bag. The police arrested the accused and registered a case under Sections 18,61,85 of the NDPS Act.

The police also arrested Gurbachan Singh of Falian wala’ police station Jalalabad from the area of Majri and seized 30 kg of poppy husk.


Abducted girl rescued
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 20
A 13-year-old girl, who was kidnapped by Chander Kumar, a migrant living in her neighbourhood in Dharam Pura Mohalla on October 16, has been rescued and the suspect arrested from his native village in Uttar Pradesh.

According to information, the police, after conducting raids at various places in the city, was subsequently rushed to UP to nab the suspect, and returned yesterday after carrying out the mission successfully. The suspect has been booked under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC and the girl, who alleged that Chander Kumar had raped her all these days, was medically examined at the Civil Hospital.

Woman assaulted by in-laws: An estranged wife, who had been living with her parents for the past six months, was taken home by her in-laws yesterday following a hearing at the marriage dispute cell in the morning and allegedly beaten up by them.

According to Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of Ram Nagar, he had married his daughter Priya, 24, to Munish Anand of Maya Nagar about four years ago. However, after about one year of the marriage, her in-laws allegedly started harassing her for more dowry.

He said around 3 pm he got a phone call from his daughter that she was in trouble. He, along with his son, reached her in-laws’ house and found that she had been confined to a room and the in-laws were beating her up. He rescued her and admitted her to the local Civil Hospital before informing the police. Priya has a two-and-a-half-year old daughter and a one-year-old-boy.

NRI couple held: The police yesterday raided a hotel on Ferozepore Road and arrested three persons, including an NRI couple settled in England, for allegedly running an immigration racket. Those arrested are Yash Pal Sharma, a travel agent, and Pargat Mangat and his wife Kiran Mangat.

According to information, the couple had advertised in newspapers that those wanting to go abroad would be interviewed at the hotel. At the time of the police raid, one interview had already been conducted and the second one was in progress. The woman, who had been interviewed for the post of a nurse, had also deposited a fee of Rs 38,000 for the interview. Passports of the NRI couple have been impounded, according to the police.


Suicide: Major Singh (55), a mentally challenged, reportedly committed suicide by consuming sleeping pills. He was admitted in a serious condition to Sidhu Hospital, Doraha, where he died at 2 pm. He belonged Billaspur village and was in a mentally upset state of mind for the past many years. The police has begun investigations under Section 174 of CrPC and sent the body for postmortem.

Liquor seized: Hawaldar Mohinder Singh seized nine bottles of illicit liquor from Surjit Singh of Ghaloti village from Rara Sahib. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered at Payal police station.

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