Thursday, January 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Two Akali leaders among 18 booked in land scam
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
More than three years after the Panchayat of Kasabad village started fight against the alleged illegal selling off of 12 acres of panchayat land, worth about 2.5 crore, to private persons, by some Akali leaders in connivance with some revenue department employees, the district police today booked 18 persons for the alleged scandal.

The accused include a senior vice-president of the district unit of SAD(Rural) and a Block Samiti member. A nambardar has also been booked. The case was registered at the recommendation of Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal, who got an inquiry conducted by SDM Bhawna Garg.

The highlight of the case was that the accused got the panchayat land sold to some individuals, some of whom were fictitious. As to how the names of these persons figured in the revenue records, however, remains a mystery. The panchayat could not take any action against the accused all these years because of alleged political patronage by the previous government in the state and because of a powerful land mafia in the district.

Documents with Ludhiana Tribune state that the accused — Harjit Singh — a serving member of the area’s Block Samiti and his wife Jaspal Kaur, Nirmal Singh, Senior vice-president, Sukhjit Singh and his wife Jasbir Kaur, Rupinder Singh, Bachitar Singh, Darshan Singh, Rajinder Singh, Bhag Singh, Tarlochan Singh, Swaran Singh, Avtar Singh, Gurjit Singh, Kuldip Singh, Anup Singh, nambardar — all residents of Kasabad village only. Two other accused were Tarlok Nath and Lalit Kumar, residents of Industrial Area-B, Ludhiana.

They have been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC for cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy to illegally occupy the government land.

Serving village sarpanch Inderjit Singh said the price of the land was Rs 20 lakh per acre. He said the villagers had not lost this land due to the scandal but had also lost a regular revenue of about Rs 1.80 lakh per year. The revenue was earned from the annual auction of the land as it was given on an year’s lease for agriculture purposes.

Documents regarding the inquiry report said the Gram Panchayat Kasabad village, was the owner of the said property. Since 1961, the village was giving the land on lease but in May, 1999, Tarlok Nath of Industrial Area claimed that the land belonged to him and Lal Kaur.

He said the land belonged to Lal Kaur since 1975 and she was the rightful owner. The other accused were also involved in the land sale deed. However, when the panchayat members of the village contested the charges they were shown documents in favour of the claims of Lal Kaur.

Inderjit Singh, Sarpanch of the village, said no person in the previous government and administration had helped them. It was ultimately now that the district administration had heard their pleas and conducted an inquiry. The inquiry stated that it found substantial evidence that the land sale deed was fake and no woman named Lal Kaur existed in reality.

The inquiry report has, however, found that no employee or official other than a village nambardar was involved with the accused in the case. The police was yet to arrest any of the accused.



Shopkeepers up in arms against PUDA, MC
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 1
More than 50 shopkeepers on Lakshmi Cinema Road and Old G.T. Road near Jagraon Bridge in the city are a harassed lot with nobody to turn towards to seek justice. They allege that a private builder, in connivance with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) officials, was out to uproot them and deprive them of their livelihood.

The shopkeepers, who claim to be lawful tenants of shops, owned by the Municipal Corporation, apprehend that in a deep-rooted conspiracy, attempts were being made to evict them and handover the said land to the private builder, who had purchased an adjoining piece of land from PUDA almost three years ago. According to office-bearers of the Lakshmi Shopkeepers Association, the builder, an influential businessman, had pulled strings and had managed to get the total area of land sold to him, revised from the original 7,889 square yards to 8,307 square yards from the Department of Revenue and Rehabilitation, Government of Punjab. An official letter to this effect had already been written by the department to the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.

The affected shopkeepers maintained that they were occupying these shops for well over four decades and were paying regular rent to the corporation. Many of these shopkeepers had given consent to the civic body to buy the shops and had already paid a part of the sale consideration.

They alleged that at the instance of the buyer of the plot, adjoining these shops, the PUDA administration had hatched a conspiracy to get their shops demolished and uproot them to provide bigger frontage to the land in question. The shopkeepers expressed their resolve to fight against the injustice.

The PUDA authorities had sold the prime commercial land, measuring 7,889 square yards at the site of Government Knitting Institute, near Lakshmi Cinema on Old G.T. Road in the city for Rs 8.05 crore in December 1999.

The buyer of the land, who wanted to develop the site as a commercial property, is said to be keen on a bigger access to the property and with this intention in mind, he had been making efforts to encompass the 15 feet strip of land towards National Highway side of the plot, which is 282 feet in length.

While an elaborate exercise, undertaken by the district administration to measure the disputed land and the width of Old G.T. Road on the basis of existing revenue record had proved inconclusive till now, the Deputy Commissioner, in a meeting convened last month, had directed that a joint committee, comprising officials of PUDA, MC, PWD and revenue departments would take up the demarcation of land and also submit a report specifically on the status of G.T. Road, lying on one side of the said land.

The MC, finding itself on a slippery ground for being unable to provide relevant record or rent deeds of the shops around the disputed land, was also asked not to put up any structure or interfere in the vacant land and further that all parties concerned would maintain status quo till a final decision was taken.


MC officials accused of demanding bribe
Work on road in Haibowal locality
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 1
A contractor, enlisted with the Municipal Corporation here, has charged senior civic officials of demanding ‘commission’ at a higher rate and further expressing their inability to execute the awarded work on the ground that the heavy amount of bribe to be paid to officials at various levels, left him with no margin of profit.

The MC administration, however, has strongly refuted the allegation, saying the contractor had failed to carry out the work within stipulated period and was now trying to evade penal action by making such accusations without any evidence. The officials termed the action of the contractor as a simple blackmail and pressure tactics.

The contractor — Mr Arun Kumar Singla — was awarded the work of construction of road in Mandir Wali Gali in the Haibowal locality at a cost of Rs 4.76 lakh in February, 2002, and work order was issued to him on March 13, 2002, for signing agreement within seven days and completing the work in six weeks. The contractor, however, did not sign the agreement, nor the assigned work was started for almost six months.

When the contractor was served repeated notices from August 12, 2002, and thereafter to explain his failure to commence the work and complete the project within stipulated period, he retorted first by laying the blame on the telecom department, which had dug up the street and delayed the commencement of work and then by accusing the officials of demanding ‘commission’ at a higher rates, which would render the work unprofitable.

According to sources in the MC, the top brass was not giving much credence to the charges levelled by the contractor for the simple reason that he himself had defaulted in carrying out the work in accordance with the work order. But what had surprised many was the studied silence maintained by the officials concerned at various levels, who were targeted by the contractor. Even otherwise, going by the facts of the case, the officials were also equally guilty for delay and subsequent non-execution of the work. It sounds incredible that for a work which was stipulated to be completed within six weeks, the officials failed to take any notice for more than six months and further no step was taken to forfeit the earnest money for non-compliance with the terms and conditions, which should have been the first thing to do.

It was reliably learnt that the administration had initiated action to ask the contractor to back up his allegations with an affidavit so that the guilty officials could be proceeded against.

However, in case the contractor failed to act accordingly, the MC might lodge a criminal complaint against him under appropriate law for levelling false charges and damaging the reputation of the civic body.



When myriad feet tapped...
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
A million feet might have tapped and a million hands raised in jubilation as the clock ticked 12 in the night and heralded the arrival of New Year. As the past year passed by and the new one started everyone had the reason to celebrate in hopes and expectations. And celebrations in Ludhiana are always unique, rampant, rapturous may be a little short of being mad.

It was a countless crowd in the Satluj Club listening and dancing to the numbers of Jassi who kept them moving their legs and tapping their feet for over two hours. As the popular numbers rolled out the dancing on the floor also intensified. His ‘Dil le gayi kudi Gujarat di’ or ‘Gal wich pa le nishani yar di’ were expectedly cheered and shouted at in celebration and jubilation. But the selection from other popular Hindi and Punjabi numbers was equally remarkable.

The celebrations continued till late in the night and people continued dancing till 2 am. And they were getting a good premium for their time. And Jassi is always best and enthralling the crowds as he makes the occasion interactive.

There could not have been a better tribute to the motherland than the recitation of Vande Matram for a few minutes in the course of his popular number. For sometime the sky reverberated with Vande Matram... Vande Matram... and Jai Mata Di... Jai Mata Di.

Despite the dense fog that usually makes the night cool, calm and quiet, the New Year night was full of sound and fury with the youngsters roaming on the roads till late in the night. They kept on shouting, hooting howling and of course celebrating as that is what they meant by all this.

There were other functions at different places like in Park Plaza, the Lodhi Club, the Ludhiana Club, the New Star Health Club, Jamalpur Chowk and hundreds of other private parties organised in the city to welcome New Year on a jubilant and hopeful note.



Kites dot city skyline 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, January 1
‘Happy New Year: welcome 2003’ say gigantic kites. These are proudly displayed in Kitab Bazaar, Daresi Ground and many more areas inside the walled city. So popular are these this year, that a dozen or two are being sold even at paan shops and every small and big market.

The new variety of kites in plastic with thin bamboo strips, instead of the conventional two strips, have caught the fancy of boys. Babblu, Bhola, Rohan, all students of Class V11, say: “We are excited to see the kites in the shape of a dragon, star, man and even a fish. We do not know how easy or difficult they would be to fly, but certainly they are attractive. Priced at Rs 35, they are rather expensive compared to the kites made of paper, but these kites offer novelty. We can fly them even in the rain, and that will be exciting.”

“The clear skies, the winter vacation with Lohri approaching, all these factors have perked up the sales of kites,” explains’. Gauri Shankar in kite business from a long time. He says: “We get kites mainly from Lucknow and Kanpur. Muslim kite-makers are adept in the art. They are into kite making since generations. We also get kites from Amritsar and, of course, Ludhiana.”

Children are seen carrying various kinds of kites and thread (dor) to fly the kites. And why not? There is so much to choose from. The kites called gudda are as big as four feet and more. It will need a skilful flier to fly such a heavy kite.

Vinit Jain, and his friends say: “We experiment with all kinds of kites. At times we buy chajjas, or paris. Actually, we pool in money and make two teams. Since fierce competition will start around Lohri, we are holding practise trials.”

The other popular kites are Tuggals, Lucknow kaat and kantu. A good kite is only half job done. The other half is to get good sharp thread that even cuts the fingers of the fliers. The ordinary thread is made to pass through powdered glass and gum to give is razor’s edge sharpness and required stiffness.

The special thread comes from Barielly, Amritsar and Ludhiana. Some keen kite fliers get the thread sharpened under their own supervision. 



Greeting people SMS way
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
Hundreds and thousands of SMS messages were sent on the eve of the New Year yesterday. Probably this was one of the most convenient, direct, instant and also cheap medium that people could use on the new year’s eve.
This also saved lot of time and paper that would have been used for the greeting cards.

Like for Mr Aneesh Dhawan, a young entrepreneur, who earlier had to sit and sign hundreds of greeting cards for days together, nothing could have been better than the SMS.

All his friends who possessed mobile phone were approached instantly, no matter where they were.

Various mobile phone operators said there was heavy congestion on the route yesterday and today the SMS messages took quite a long time to reach their destination. Even some messages were returned without delivery.

The operators said although it was not possible to say how many SMS messages were sent during the past two days, the number was certainly high. “It must be the highest ever”, an operator said. The SMS greetings continued even today.

Some people like Mr Vineet Punia sent over 300 SMS greetings yesterday and today. Mr Punia said:

“I must have received an equal number of greetings also”.

He pointed out that the SMS had other advantages also. “You do not have to ascertain about the location of the person as at the time of new year eve most people are out...but with SMS this problem was also solved”, he said.

At the midnight no message could be transmitted. The network remained busy till late in the night.

People were seen trying to redial the numbers time and again, without much success. Even the basic service lines remained busy till late in the night.



Defence officers celebrate New Year
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
The Ludhiana Officers Institute of the defence services officers held its first function on the New Year eve. More than 200 serving and retired officers and their family members joined the fun and frolic at the function, which lasted well past midnight.

The retired defence officers of Ludhiana were delighted that at last they have an institute of their own where they could interact amongst themselves. Their wives and children danced their way into the New Year.

At the stroke of midnight, the power supply was disrupted for a brief moment followed by bursting of crackers and the entire gathering rose to greet the New Year. As the power resumed revellers hugged each other and wished for a happy and prosperous New Year. A number of games were organised, including continuous dance, following which prizes were distributed. Everyone praised arrangements made by 152 Inf. Bu (TA) Sikh in whose officers mess the institute is located.Back


Traffic light blues on GT Road
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 1
The improper maintenance of traffic lights on the GT Road is causing a lot of inconvenience to residents, commuters and the traffic police of this town. The traffic lights at four points of the total five points are not working properly. This is leading to accidents everyday. However, the municipal council, Khanna, has not bothered to take corrective measures.

The traffic lights were installed at five points on the GT Road by a social organisation, Khanna Welfare Society, six years ago. The society collected more than Rs 10 lakh of the work. The then MP, Mrs Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, donated Rs 5 lakh for the purpose out of local MP fund.

The lights were installed in the Amloh road near bus stand, Lalheri road chowk, Railway road chowk, Samrala road and at Malerkotla chowk by a Delhi based company, M/s Computer Maintenance Company.

To run these lights in a better way the society handed over the maintenance of these lights to the local Municipal Council in 1997. The council took over work of maintenance by passing a resolution at a meeting of the council.

Instead of better performance the functioning of the traffic lights deteriorated. For more than six months the lights on the Samrala road and the Malerkotla road are not in a working condition while the lights on the Lalheri road and the Samrala road are partially working causing inconvenience.

It may be mentioned here that the local SDM, Mr Manvesh Singh Sidhu, had already directed the local council to repair the lights on priority but even after three weeks nothing had been done.

Condemning the indifferent attitude of the council, Mr Vijay Sharma blamed the council president for all problems of the city residents, including traffic lights. He said if the president was keen on getting the lights repaired he must use his power under Section 35.



The role of cultural dialogues

In retrospect when I view the cultural festival organised by Spic-Macay for three days recently at GRD Academy (Ludhiana), I feel that the labour of love has been amply rewarded. Much scheming by state co-ordinator Manveen Kaur Sandhu and Convention Co-ordinator Navin Talwar had gone into the making of the Silver Jubilee National Convention, under the guidance of Dr Kiran Seth, the Founder of the society.

The classical music and dance highlighted the richness, variety and aesthetics of Indian culture to the spellbound audience, whereas the workshops on creative writing, pottery, kalamkari, calligraphy, weaving, folk instruments, theatre and kathak provided an occasion for establishing a rapport between the teachers of various arts and the students drawn from schools of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi. Arpana Kaur came all the way from Delhi to present, through the slides, her experiments in the field of fine art. Hers had been a breathtaking demonstration of the display of colours on canvases during her sojourns in the different parts of the world. Her paintings that depict the legend of Sohni (Mahiwal) are a class apart.

But, personally speaking, the dialogue that took place first through song and music, and then verbally, between the Rumi Sufi Group from Iran and the Indian audience was a rare achievement of the convention. I felt thrilled when the two sisters, Mahsa and Marjan, accompanied by Reza Abaee (head of the group), Shahram Gholami and Ali Razmi, presented the poetical compositions of Maulana Rumi, better known in India for his Mathnavi, as well as some folk songs. The power of music charmed schoolchildren, teenagers, young persons and senior citizens alike. The difference in the age-groups of the audience vanished and the centuries-old cultural ties between India and Iran found the missing link in this warm bond of understanding.

The next day, I had the chance to exchange my views with Marjan Vahdat with regards to musical instruments and the selection of songs and lyrics. Rumi Sufi Group highlights the Sufi poetry through the medium of folk music and folk melodies. They have visited countries like Germany, France, Holland, England and the USA but this second visit (the earlier one in 2002 at Amir Khusrou Festival in New Delhi) is again an attempt to strengthen the cultural bonds between India and Iran.

On the last day, I met Mahsa Vahdat who was more vocal about the Persian poetry, of which I had been a keen student during my school and college days. She had with her Rubaiyat-e-Omar Khayyam and Diwan-e-Hafiz, the beautifully published books. She parted with the earlier one for the former Principal of Khalsa College for Women, Ms Harrinder Kaur Dhillon, and was considerate enough to present the second one to me.

This pocket-sized Diwan-e-Hafiz is now my prized possession as it has been autographed by her with a couplet of the great poet. In the evening, Ms Dhillon presented her a return gift and told her to keep the phulkari on her shoulders. On my part, I read out a page in Persian, composed by me with great effort during the day, to both the sisters who appreciated my eulogy for the cultural heritage of Iran. Mahsa Wahdat kept the return gift of mine in her purse as a token of my warm feelings for the country of her birth.

I would like to quote the famous couplet of Hafiz Shirazi in which he says that one can enjoy one’s stay in this as well as the other world if one is considerate to one’s friends and courteous to the enemies:

Aasa’ishe-dogeeti tafseere een do harf ast

Ba dostan murav’vat ba dushmana mudara

N.S. Tasneem



Garments disbursed among deaf and dumb kids
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
To mark the New Year, the District Red Cross Society organised a function at Bal Bhavan in Sarabha Nagar here today. Ms Sunil Agarwal, Chairperson District Red Cross Society, presided over the function and presented sweets and garments to deaf and dumb children being taken care of by the society.

Extending her best wishes to the physically challenged children and the staff, Ms Agarwal said more cultural programmes would be organised for the children in the school and the society would also encourage the involvement and participation of students in such programmes to improve their ability.

She also stressed the need for persuading more NGOs to provide better educational and medical facilities to the disabled children getting education and training in the different schools. She assured that the society would also involve Health organisations to hold periodical medical check-up camps in the schools for the under-privileged children.

A cultural programme was presented by the deaf and dumb students of the school. Among others who were present on the occasion include Ms Rakhi Gupta Bhandari, former ADC (D), Ms Rubi Fernandis and Ms Pappu Avinash Singh, both social workers.



Kelkar report condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Punjab, has condemned Dr Vijay Kelkar’s recommendations for abolishing various exemptions under the Income Tax Act.

Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary, National Organisation of Govt Employees and INTUC, however, has welcomed the suggestion of raising income tax limit from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000.

He said in European countries, a single slab of 20% income tax was charged and in return the government provided free education, free medical facilities and social security to the aged citizens. The Indian Government, on the other hand, caused unnecessary harassment and victimisation of honest tax-payers.



Greeting card hollow ritual

A celebration holds promise and carries value. Most of the present-day events end as hollow rituals. Often an important event repeats itself as a mere drum-beating and carries more noise than message. Cards make the mail heavy and postmen are overburdened. Urgent messages are unduly delayed. Greeting cards are printed, impersonal messages. Ironically, the sender does not pen these lines. Interestingly, the reader does not respond properly . It goes on . A few years ago, the Zero-hour callers on New Year had put heavy load on Ludhiana Telephone Exchange. It collapsed and the entire traffic on it was cut off. Many genuine messages had stopped midway and many more had suffered loss of time.

We are a deeply sentimental people highly excitable and emotional. With the year going by much undesirable must end. As we welcome the New Year, we must be clear about the desirable best. Ironically, we repeat rituals and learn a little.

We live in modern houses cherishing materialistic means and desiring luxuries. Parochialism and communalism hit us hard. We are neither science-oriented nor spiritual. Ludhiana or Punjab, despite the green revolution and industrial progress, lack the spirit of celebration, including the New Year. We preach but forget to learn. Punjabis love bhangra but often lack rhythm in life. We carry Nation’s load as truck-drivers and contact AIDS. We compromise blood for poison, health for disease.

There is need to check the menace of drugs and alcoholism create space for youth to grow. We have a rich heritage to inspire hope. Near home, let us create space for making the biggest city a real metro. Light the lamp. Darkness is not our fate.

Punjab in general, Ludhiana in particular, must make a masterly futuristic plan with a quick follow-up. Each day will be too distant for a metro-rail. All metros have suburbs the GT Road will choke like a railway under-bridge. The triangle of Samrala, Jagraon and Phillaur will be densely populated, courtesy terrifying rate of growth. We must plan to build series of dams/tanks to contain supply of water and fight floods. Simultaneously, to develop fisheries. Plan fast to yield space of rice fields to horticulture. Less wheat and more vegetables should be our target.

It is good to send and receive New Year greetings. It is better to share or exchange ideas about the time to come. The best is the will to collectively plan our future. Let us resolve to identify man-made miseries and root out their causes. Hell is our making, not destiny. Ring out misery.

Ludhiana, too, must have its metro-rail like London and New York. Leave pessimism and generate optimism. Brave new man, in each one of us, is yearning to arrive. Create space. See real image of God individually. Add meaning to cards. Put significance to calls. One and all.

M.S. Cheema



2940 kg of poppy husk seized

Ludhiana, January 1
A police team headed by Mr Mohinder Kumar Ghai, SHO of Police Station Raikot has seized 140 bags containing 2,940 kg of poppy husk from a truck. According to a press note issued by Mr Jaspal Singh Dhanoa, SP(D), Jagraon, the team was on a special patrol duty when it found a truck overturned near Littran village. The documents of the vehicle depicted the name of the driver as Jagtar Singh and owner as Dilbag Singh, both brothers of Seomajra (Haryana). The team also found 2940 kg of poppy husk from urea fertilizer bags.

2 HELD FOR SODOMY: The Raikot police arrested Sukhminder Singh and Zora Singh of Lohatwadi village on the charge of sodomy. According to information, both accused took Sarbjit Singh (5) to their house and committed sodomy. On hearing Sarbjit cry, his father reached there but the accused managed to flee.



Hero Honda to rev up export target
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana: Hero Honda has set a target of exporting 23,000 motor cycles during this fiscal year. At present 16,000 motor cycles are being exported. The company is also planning to sell spare-parts abroad.

Mr Brijmohan Lal Munjal, Chairman, Hero Honda Ltd, said: “The two-wheeler market is roughly five million plus of which motor cycle market constitutes 70 to 75 per cent. The market in the coming two years is likely to grow. The company has been finalising new models in consultation with Honda and in accordance with the consumers’ aspirations”.

He said: “The company has two challenges — sustaining the leadership and working its strategy innovatively. The latter is very important because competitors are working on the moves of Hero Honda and they are able to push the products much faster in the market at competitive prices”.

Regarding the future plans of the company, he said: “The company is already working with 100 per cent capacity utilisation and this year its capacity limit is likely to touch two million bikes. The company has a plan to produce 10.8 million Hero Honda and is planning to set up third plant. At present we are going through basic criteria and viability studies. Once that is finalised them we will take up other issues”.

“As the standard of living is going up there is a good scope for industry to grow. However, the growth will be faster once the per capital income crosses the threshold level of $ 100 (that is twice in the current level)”, Mr Munjal added.



‘Ensure credibility of immigration agencies’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
There has been a steady increase in the number of applicants seeking immigration to countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia. People belonging to varied age groups are seeking immigration for better prospects. Immigration is neither difficult and nor impossible, provided you get proper counselling and guidance.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh, Director, Sunrise International Legal Services, an immigration consultancy service, all prospective immigrants should ensure that they are applying through a credible agency. “It is not difficult to emigrate to these countries and there is scope for all sorts of people...even ordinary matriculates”. He suggests that people should adopt legal ways which may take some time but are foolproof.

In order to ensure that wrong people offering consultancy for immigration are eased out, various immigration consultancies have formed the Association of Professional Immigration Consultants of India (APIC). Mr Kuldip Singh has been appointed its president. The main purpose is to enure that immigration aspirants are not fleeced by ‘doubtful’ consultants.


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