L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Boy poisoned by ‘neighbour’
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Pakhowal/Ahmedgarh, November 6
Anguished over a minor altercation between two neighbours, a woman of Pakhowal village allegedly poisoned a 5-year-old son of a Dalit leader to settle a score. The boy is battling for life at a private hospital at Ahmedgarh.

Amandeep, the boy, took ill yesterday evening when his parents had gone to work in the fields of some farmer of the village. A neighbour asked his mother Sunita Devi to rush back home as Amandeep was not feeling well.

When Sunita Devi reached home Amandeep allegedly told her that “Reena’s mother made me drink bitter tea forcibly after dragging me inside her house from the street.” The child had started vomiting reportedly after consuming tea.

Amandeep also kept repeating about the bitter tea and fell unconscious. He was rushed to a hospital at Pakhowal village and then to Sarabha village. Doctors at both hospitals referred him to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, stating his condition to be serious.

He is now admitted to Hind Hospital at Mandi Ahmedgarh. Doctors attending on him said he has not yet regained conscious. His parents have in a complaint filed with the police alleged that their neighbour forced their son to drink the “poison-laced tea.” They have further stated that there had been minor altercations among the two families in the past also over trivial issues.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Suresh Kumar, father of the child, expressed anguish over the alleged callous attitude of the authorities at the Civil Hospital, which allegedly kept the child at hospital for more than four hours last evening before giving him treatment. “To save his life we rushed him back to Hind Hospital and prayed the doctors to treat him as a special case,” he said.

The SMO, Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, Dr Manjit Kaur, denied the allegations. She said the family might have not contacted any doctor and added that she would look into the matter and take action if found any laxity on the part of the staff.

Meanwhile, the Raikot Police has started the investigations after recording the statement of the parents. Mr Suresh Kumar, who is president of the Kilaraipur unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Balmiki Rishi Dharam Shikhsha Samaj, alleged that his son had been administered poison by one of his neighbours.

Mr Dharam Pal, SHO, Raikot, said a police team led by Swaran Singh, ASI, had visited the Hind Hospital at Ahmedgarh. A number of witnesses were questioned but the case is yet to be registered. He said the police was not able to record the boy’s statement. Dr Sunit Hind, Director of Hind Hospital, said the condition of the child was serious and he was not fit to give any statement. 



BJYM activists burn Aiyar’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
In a bid to register their protest against the “unwarranted” hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, activists of the BJP and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) today held a demonstration at Clock Tower Chowk here today and burnt an effigy of the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Senior BJP leaders, including district chief Subhash Verma and former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, also joined the protest which was led by the district president of the BJYM, Mr Sanjay Kapoor.

The leaders alleged that the Congress led UPA government had betrayed the masses by effecting a massive hike in the prices of petroleum products, which would, in due course, have an adverse impact on the prices of other essential commodities.

Functionaries of the BJYM and the BJP also charged public sector oil companies and cooking gas distributors with creating an artificial scarcity to exploit people even as the enforcement agencies were watching the situation helplessly. They maintained that the party would continue its struggle against the “excesses” of the ruling combine and safeguard the interests of the people, particularly those from the weaker sections.

Among others present on the occasion were Mr Sadhu Ram Garg, Mr Kamal Chatley, Mr Ashok Loomba, Mr Om Parkash Bhardwaj, Mr Uma Dutt Sharma, Mr Prem Sagar Aggarwal, Mr Shakti Sharma, Dr Balbir Chand Kapila, Mr Parveen Bansal, Mr Rajeev Katna, Mr Surinder Sharma, Mr Kanshi Ram, Ms Sunita Aggarwal, Mr Rakesh Gautam, Mr Veer Abhimanyu, Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, Mr Vipin Chander Pal, Mr Balwant Rai Mattoo, Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, Mr Harish Bedi, Dr Sudama Tiwari, Mr Kewal Gupta, Mr Rajneesh Dhiman, Mr Rajesh Sharma, Mr Sanjeev Malhotra, Mr Bharat Bhushan Sharma, Mr Jatinder Kumar, Mr Ashwani Behl and Ms Reena Dhawan.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, member of the state executive of the BJP, has remarked that the hike in the prices of petroleum products would lead to a financial burden on the masses. In a statement here today, he said the “anti-people” policies of the government had throttled the national economy and the trade and industry were on the verge of going sick.

Mr Grewal, a former state president of the BJYM, also said the prevailing policy on the pricing of essential items like petrol, diesel and cooking gas would hit people from all sections of society hard and the ruling combine might have to pay a heavy price for the “blunder.”



Spurious cracker units under fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
The Friday blast in the Salim Tabri area of the city has jolted the district administration which has swung into action and launched a crackdown against the illegal manufacture and storage of crackers in the city.

With less than a week left for the Divali celebrations, the administration is toiling to handle the problem of illegal manufacture and storage of crackers in the city.

On Friday, a massive blast rocked a house in Salim Tabri area where crackers were being manufactured illegally. A woman sustained serious injuries in the incident and later succumbed to the same.

The incident has exposed the dangerous practice of illegal cracker manufacturing units in the residential areas in the outskirts of the city.

Several cases have been registered in this regard. But that does not seem to deter the manufactures who are always in search of new methods.

The problem has assumed menacing proportions as Ludhiana has a massive demand for crackers during the Divali season. The returns on the cracker trade are massive.

A cracker dealer disclosed that he was surprised as to why people resorted to an illegal manufacture as these were available at very low rates.

He revealed that the margins for crackers ranged between 200 to 300 per cent. And even the transportation was not any problem.

Since the cracker trade is purely seasonal as the demand lasts for about a fortnight only, the cracker dealers try to make best of the available time.

Huge stocks of crackers are learnt to be lying in godowns at various places in the city.

Although the administration had not allowed the setting up of sales counters at potentially dangerous places, some dealers have still managed to sell crackers in these areas.

Meanwhile, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, has issued another appeal to the people to come forward and inform the administration about illegal cracker-manufacturing units.

Mr Verma said the administration's success, as in the past, hinged upon the zeal of the citizens to help the police in tracking down such units.

The DC said those putting the lives of citizens at risk because of their reckless manufacturing of crackers in the residential areas would face legal action.

He further asked the SSPs of Ludhiana, Khanna and Jagraon to carry out raids to nab the culprits.



Survey of rain-affected fields completed
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 6
The local Revenue Department has completed the survey of the fields of those farmers who were affected due to hailstorms and heavy rains around three weeks back. While the rate of compensation to be paid was yet to be fixed, village-wise detailed reports have been submitted to officer concerned.

Farmers had to resort to distress selling of paddy as their demand to restart procurement by government agencies was not acceded to. Besides suffering yield loss, these farmers had to spend more on reaping.

Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, stated that the department headed by Mr Mukesh Sharma had submitted a detailed report in connection with the area under paddy cultivation that had suffered loss due to heavy rains and hailstorms on October 11. The survey had further revealed that the farmers whose crops were hit, were still busy collecting their produce.

Crops in about 2,301 acres at Jandali Kalan (239 acres), Rohira (212 acres), Akbarpur Chhanna (133 acres), Baurhai (391 acres), Nathumajra (369 acres) Dilawargarh (191 acres), Umarpura (369 acres), Walaitpura (99 acres), Malikpur (273 acres), Ahmedgarh Chhanna (112 acres) and Momnabad (109 acres) were damaged, varying from 26 per cent to 100 per cent.

Mr Nahar Singh and Mr Palwinder Singh, sarpanch and panch, respectively, of Jandali village said a meeting of the representatives of the village concerned would be held to discuss the problem. 



Abductor in police custody
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, November 6
The police today arrested a man who was missing with a minor girl of his native village, Umaidpur, for over a month. Police sources said Jasvir Singh was found with the girl just as they were about to board a bus.

The father of the girl had lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that Jasvir Singh had abducted his daughter from the school at Tibba.

According to the sources, Jasvir Singh has admitted that he had cheated his parents and villagers by saying that he was going abroad but he never went there. He stayed at Khanna, bought a house in Samrala and then picked up the girl from her school. He claimed to have married her.



Woman found dead in bus
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
An unidentified woman, who boarded a bus from Phagwara, was found dead in the bus when it reached here in the afternoon.

The woman, who was sitting on the front seat, suddenly collapsed. Driver stopped the bus and a doctor travelling with them declared her dead. Later, she was found to have inscribed a note on her left arm stating she was responsible for her death. Her body has been kept in the Civil Hospital mortuary.

In another incident, a soldier posted at 17 FAD, Baddowal was killed when his gun went off accidentally. He was identified as Sameer Thapa. An inquiry is on to ascertain whether it was an accident or suicide.



Caving in of Gill bridge affects traffic
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
Traffic between Malerkotla and Ludhiana has been seriously hit since the bridge on the Sidhwan Canal near Guru Nanak Engineering College caved in a few days ago. There was reportedly no traffic on the bridge when it started caving in. The traffic was immediately diverted towards an adjacent bridge.

Old-timers recall that the bridge might be about 50 years old. It was an important link between Ludhiana and Malerkotla. Over a period, it became one of the busiest bridges in the city. It connected the city with scores of villages along the Sangrur road.

Following increase in traffic, an additional bridge was constructed adjacent to it about a decade ago. Thereafter, the traffic coming towards Ludhiana would pass through this bridge, while that going out of the city would pass through the new bridge.

Now the entire traffic coming towards and going out of Ludhiana passes through the new bridge, which is relatively narrow in width. During peak hours, it leads to traffic jam.

The residents of Gill village have demanded that the government should take immediate measures to construct another bridge in place of the old one. The administration has also stopped pedestrian traffic over this bridge lest it should lead to some accident.



European delegates arrive for Dhanwantri meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
Ayurveda and ayurvedic medicines are fast catching the attention of people in Europe. This was stated by about 50 delegates from different European countries who arrived here last night to participate in the Dhanwantri Day celebrations. The delegates have come here on the invitation of Dr Pradeep Nagrath, Managing Director of the Pentavox Herbals, which will hold the conference.

Dr Anil Mehta, an ayurvedacharya of the Indian origin based in Holland, said more and more people in Europe had started practicing ayurveda. He is the chairman of the European Institute of Scientific Research on Ayurveda.

The practitioners stated that they had found ayurveda to be a great science which was being ignored.



Veterinary surgeon awarded
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
Dr Jaspreet Singh, a veterinary surgeon, was awarded the “Outstanding Alumni of the year 2004 Award” for contribution to veterinary science at the PAU here yesterday. He is the youngest veterinarian to receive the award.

He has the distinction of leading the PAU team at the national and regional level cattle and livestock fairs.



Chamber’s plea on implementation of VAT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has claimed that the implementation of valued added tax (VAT) from April 1 next year without adequate provisions to compensate states for revenue loss and to provide tax relief to the trade and industry in the states concerned would fail to have the desired effect.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan and Mr Avtar Singh, president and secretary of the CICU, respectively, said 26 states in the country, including Punjab, had given their consent to implement VAT so far, but the Union Government had apparently done little to evolve requisit mechanism to make the move successful.

They observed that under the proposed VAT system, the CST had been maintained at the present level, whereas the previous government had made a commitment to reduce it by 50 per cent. Moreover, there was nothing to show that any action was being taken towards merger of other taxes and levies like excise duty, service tax, octroi and entry tax with VAT, as had been promised. They were confident that giving effect to a ‘truncated’ VAT system would prove counter-productive and would multiply the problems of trade and industry.

They urged the government to bring about the promised merger of all state and local taxes and duties and ensure a single taxation system before the implementation of VAT. The government should also see to it that there should be complete uniformity in VAT rate and that it should take effect simultaneously all over the country. A comprehensive VAT system of taxation alone would enable the trade and industry to become competitive in the domestic and global markets, they added.

The CICU flayed the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas, while commenting that the move would worsen the plight of the common man while at the same time badly hitting the trade and industry. It called for an immediate rollback in the prices of petroleum products.



OBC gets into expansion mode
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) has more than 200 ATM's spread over the entire country and the number will go up to 300 by the end of this financial year. This was stated by Mr Rajeev Rishi, Deputy General Manager of the bank, while inaugurating a new ATM at Dharampura branch here today.

Elaborating on the future plans, he said the target was to become a Rs 1,00,000-crore bank by the end of fiscal 2005-2006.

He said that like all major banks, the ATM card holders of the OBC would, however, have access to over 2500 ATM's all over the country under the ATMs sharing arrangement between several prominent banks covered under MITR.

Mr Rishi informed that almost 99 per cent of the bank's business was routed through computerised processes and technology upgradation was a continuous process.

Mr Rishi said the bank had embarked on an ambitious plan to interconnect all its branches by March 2005 and more than 500 branches were likely to get covered under CBS while the rest would be covered in the forthcoming fiscal.

"Already enjoying a unique distinction of being a 'zero NPA' bank, the OBC is also aggressively building up assets in retail credit, small- scale sector and agriculture."

He announced that in order to mark the beginning of the festival season, the bank had come out with a special housing loan rate of 7.25 percent applicable to all maturities for a limited period. 


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