Monday, July 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Exorcists drive them to insanity
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — A woman was repeatedly beaten with an iron tong by a Baba in the Simlapuri area on July 6 in an attempt to get her exorcised.

A man was so much under the influence of a Baba that he was ready to leave all material things, renounce the world and become an abstainer.

These are not just isolated cases but proof that superstition is thriving and even in this age of science, hypnotic powers of fake godmen can lead many a people to the verge of insanity.

Both the above mentioned psychiatric patients admitted in Sirish Nursing Home at Ghumar Mandi, are battling to regain their sanity they lost following the influence of two godmen.

One of the patients, a 35-year-old businessman from Chandigarh, reportedly presented around Rs 30,000 as offerings to a Baba at a temple in Mani Majra. He was visiting the Baba to ask him to use his supernatural powers to find out when his business would pick up and he would recover the losses that he had incurred during the past couple of months.

He now lies in the hospital under sedation even as his family waits outside, relieved that he has been saved from the clutches of the godman. The victim's brother-in-law informed TNS that he was a resident of Kotkapura and had shifted to Chandigarh recently in order to start a new business venture. "However, around three months back, he suffered major losses and in desperation he started visiting the Baba. The Baba so influenced him that he started ignoring his family and became over-religious. Gradually, he stopped going to work and would only spend his time at the temple in Mani Majra."

He also informs that it was only when he and the victim's father in Kotkapura got a call from one of the victim's clients about the non-payment of dues around one month back that they got worried. "Whenever we asked him about his business, he said that he was doing fine. But after we got a call from the client, we confronted him and he then confessed that he was under the influence of this Baba. We forcibly brought him to Ludhiana for treatment , but after two days he again ran away to the Baba's new abode in Himachal Pradesh," he said.

He added that it was with much persuasion that they brought him back to Ludhiana for treatment. Informs Dr Rajeev Gupta, a consultant psychiatrist, "The victim is so much enamoured by his guru that he believes the latter's forecast of his death in this year itself. It was under this guise that that the Baba was defrauding the victim."

However, the second case of the 27-year-old woman of Dhandari Kalan is quite spine-chilling. She was supposedly under a severe depression as she was an invalid and unable to get married. It is learnt that she reportedly lost her mental balance a few days ago and the family decided to take her to a Baba in Simlapuri to get her exorcised.

She was reportedly beaten-up with an iron tong and chains in the process, informs Daljinder Kaur, her sister-in-law. "We were told by another family member that the Baba could help treat the patient, so we went there. But we never knew that this exorcism would leave her in this condition," she says, pointing to the victim lying crouched on the hospital bed as she groans in pain.Back


5,000 take B.Ed. entrance test
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 9 — More than 5,000 candidates appeared for the B.Ed entrance examination which was conducted today at 25 centres located in about 11 colleges of the city.

Before the examination, anxiety prevailed among the candidates. Till the last moment, some of them were seen going through their notes. Others were discussing general awareness topics. The 'repeaters' had a field day. They were the centre of attraction as the 'first timers' gathered around them to get tips about the type of questions.

Parents of some of the students waited outside the colleges for the three hours the examination was conducted. While some parents were quite tense, others seemed to be relaxed.

Even after the examination, some of the candidates were tense. They were worried about the tough competition arising out of limited seats.

There was chaos outside these centres and traffic jam was observed for some time.

Girls wait outside a college after taking the B.Ed examination in Ludhiana on Sunday.



Obsession with foreign brands
From Shivani Bhakoo

Only foreign brands please, we are Ludhianvis”. We are very Hi-fi guys and only buy foreign clothes. You see. Indian clothes are ‘passe’. Ordinary people wear them.

They have their own quirks in choosing the whisky brand, perfumes, cigarettes, shoes and even lingerie. These days, craze is for foreign designed marble kitchens and American furniture too.

People of Ludhiana are obsessed with Versaches, Kliens and Christian Diors. At parties the sentence: “You know this shirt is a designer shirt”, is commonly heard and the wearer of the shirt would immediately add an unbelievable price tag to it. And when someone claims he, too, has a similar designer shirt, the Ludhianvi youth will leave no stone unturned to prove that the other’s shirt is a fake one.

The city’s image of being the largest manufacturer of hosiery products in the region notwithstanding, the local stuff is just not acceptable to the generation-Y. Even the manufacturers of the local brands wear “phoren” brands. Yet the irony is that our brands find place in the foreign markets.

Interestingly, due to this fancy of the city youth, the business of a large number of manufacturers who make fake clothes, flourishes. They have cleverly understood the taste of the public and thus a number of imitated foreign brands have flooded the market. Their job is to simply stitch the cloth according to the design of the popular product and sell it at reduced rates using the Nike and Reebock labels. That is why one finds shirt of one brand selling at different price at different shops in the market.

Mr Vikas Jain of Oswal fabrics said, “I like wearing popular brands like Rado watches, Arrow shirts and Reebock shoes. They compliment my status and put me in better light in the society”. He is not worried about the costs. “When I can afford them then why should I go for ordinary brands?” he said.

Sachin, who deals in the courier business, is another youngster who has a similar passion. Instead of buying two or more locally manufactured shirts, he will just go in for one costly foreign brand like Calvin Klien or Gucci. He says, “We have to live according to the society where branded names are in vogue these days”.

Mr Vikas Aggarwal has another reason for choosing only popular brands. He said, “These brands, though costly, are definitely of better material and more durable as well”. He added that one does not regret spending on one shirt as it is more long lasting than three or four local shirts bought for the same price.

Mr Simarjit Singh Nota, who deals in textile machinery, goes in for popular brands as he wants to look different from others. These popular brands are not within the reach of majority of the population and anyone wearing them definitely has a separate identity.

Not only clothes, but also other products like eatables, drinks, shoes and even perfumes sell on the basis of their brand value. Mr Sameer Tangri, another businessman, has selected different brands for different products. He has chosen a particular brand for the shirts, trousers, watches and even the liquor.

A conversation at any get-together of Ludhianvis begins with queries about the new brands that have entered the market. Then follows a well-enacted showing-off the product and in this field, the ladies face a stiff competition from the males. Persons showing off their products soon take centre-stage. Are we not carrying the craze for foreign brands too far ?Back


Pvt hospitals fleece in absence of rules
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — In the absence of a regulating authority to monitor their functioning, private hospitals are fleecing the public. No standard fee is set for any investigation or consultation. An ultrasound may cost anything between Rs 150 and Rs 700, depending on the rates set by each hospital.

A local hospital recently charged a patient about Rs 5,000 for an overnight stay. The bill showed that the patient had been charged Rs 700 for the ultrasound, Rs 850 for the RFT test and Rs 800 for consultation fee by the doctor for a single consultation. The said doctor was a general physician and not related to the particular illness of the patient, who was suffering from a kidney problem.

This is not an isolated case but an example. Most private hospitals in the city have been resorting to unethical practices, without any care or concern for the patients. Some such hospitals claim to be "charitable hospitals". In fact most of these charitable hospitals are "most uncharitable", remarked one senior physician of the city.

Fortunately, a number of doctors have been trying to resist the rot. But the general trend tends to go in other direction.

Most of the doctors TNS talked to agreed that charging Rs 800 for a single consultation was too much. They were also critical about the highly inflated bills slapped on the patients for investigations like ultrasound or CT scan. One doctor pointed out, "If charitable hospitals can conduct an ultrasound for Rs 150 only on a no profit no loss basis, there is no reason for other hospitals to charge exorbitant price for the same tests". Explaining further, he said nobody expects the private hospitals and nursing homes to be charitable, but they should not be uncharitable either.

However, private nursing home owners have been defending and justifying the charges they claim from the patients. One owner of a private hospital pointed out the "other costs and expenses" involved in the functioning of the hospital are too much. It is not just the investigation alone. That may seem a bit expensive, but see how many facilities are provided to the patients.

One main reason for the exorbitant hospital charges is said to be the share the hospital has to pay to the referring doctor. In fact, in most of the private nursing homes, there is an exclusive column in the admission register about the referring doctor, where his name and address is entered. Although this has full medical and legal justification, the information is recorded in the admission register to ensure that the said doctor gets his share for referring the patient.

For a long time, there has been a demand for some state-level regulating authority for the private hospitals and nursing homes to monitor their functioning. As of now, there is no binding for anybody to start a hospital or a nursing home, fix the fee according to his desire and extort as much money as he can. The need for such an authority becomes important for other reasons also. These include the facilities provided by the hospital, availability of the medical and paramedical staff, the infrastructure and other life-saving equipment. Some of the nursing homes are reportedly not having the all-important 'life saving system' which can be needed during the course of a surgery.

There is a suggestion that till the constitution of some regulatory authority, the district administration should at least set guidelines for the private hospitals and nursing homes under the supervision of the Civil Surgeon to monitor their functioning, particularly in regard to the fee charged and the facilities provided to the patients.


Jacob's statement irks Cong
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has taken strong exception to the Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob's reported statement ruling out the possibility of a mid-term poll in the state.

The party described it as unbecoming of the status and dignity of a person no less than the Governor of the state to comment on a political issue.

In a joint statement, the PCC general secretary, Mr Nahar singh Gill, and the organising secretary, Mrs Barjinder Kaur, regretted that the Governor had joined the issue with the political parties. They pointed out the office of the Governor was far above the political and partisan issues. They said the Governor had no business to comment on the issue that concerned the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government only.

The PCC leaders criticised the state government for its "allround failure". They disclosed that the Congress would soon be launching a movement against the misgovernance of the SAD-BJP combine. They said the people had been suffering as they were denied the basic amenities like electricity and water.

Both leaders alleged that the law and order situation was getting worse in the state. The SAD-BJP combine had little time for governance as it was concerned only with saving the government whose existence was already threatened by the internal rebellion with the SAD. They pointed out the price rise had badly hit the common man and also due to the hike in electricity tariff, the industry was also struggling for existence.

Mr Gill and Ms Kaur also criticised Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal's reported comments against Ms Sonia Gandhi. They said it was regrettable and condemnable and Mr Badal should apologise to Ms Gandhi for the same.

The two leaders claimed the people of the state had rejected the SAD-BJP combine in the recently held municipal elections. They said the people had reposed faith in the Congress in these elections under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Gill and Ms Kaur demanded immediate dismissal of the government and said fresh elections should be held soon so that the confidence of people in the government is restored.


SPCA seeks grant for vet hospital
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, local branch, has urged the district administration to provide a promised grant to the society for the construction of a veterinary hospital at Mattewara village near here.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Suresh Gupta, Secretary of the society, said the government had already provided two acres to the society, but due to non-supply of funds as promised by the government, the construction work of the hospital could not be started.

The release also said that the society rendered free medical service to more than 100 pet and stray animals in a special animal welfare camp at Rahon Road here today. Free medicines were also provided. People who brought stray animals for immunisation were given prizes.

The Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr H.S.Gill, speaking on the occasion, extolled the need for preventing cruelty to animals and informed the gathering of how to keep their pets in proper health.


Swani Motors to pay up
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The State Consumer Redressal Commission, Punjab, at Chandigarh has upheld a decision of the District Forum here of awarding compensation of Rs 10,000 as damages with another Rs 2000 as costs to Mr P.K.Gupta, a complainant.

According to a copy of the orders received here today, the state commission has dismissed an appeal filed before it by the Managing Director of Swani Motors Ltd. of the city against the order of payment of compensation by the District Forum here.

Mr Gupta had complained that Swani Motors was not able to rectify a fault in the car even after repeated check-ups. The complainant said apart from feeling harassed, he also suffered financial loss as he had to pay the repair bill after every visit.

However, Swani Motors had contested the plea that there was no defect in service provided by them. Rather, misuse or excessive use of the vehicle by the complainant resulted in frequent breakdowns of the car.

The commission, after hearing both the parties, upheld the decision of the District Forum that there was deficiency in service. It also vacated a stay order on the payment of compensation obtained by Swani Motors.


Demand for curbs on migrants opposed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The Communist party of India (ML)-Liberation has described the demand for restrictions on migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, being raised in various quarters of Punjab as dangerous and unconstitutional.

The District Secretary of the party, Mr Ramesh Sharma, said in a statement here today that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was trying to disown the moral and constitutional responsibility of maintaining law and order by attributing the increasing lawlessness in the state to migrant labourers.

The former SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, went a step further in demanding not only a ban on the migrant labour, but also depriving them of the right to vote and have a ration card.

Mr Sharma observed that there was no provision for anything like Article 370 in Punjab and every citizen of the country had a fundamental right to purchase land, register himself or herself as a voter and obtain a ration card in this state. Moreover, people like Mr Badal and Mr Tohra should not forget that the migrant workers from U.P., Bihar and other states were the backbone of industry and agriculture in Punjab.

Rather than making silly demands like banning the entry of workers from other states, which would give rise to several other serious problems, what the government ought to do was take steps to curb the exploitation of workers, violation of human rights, corruption and black marketing, he added.


Why able employees became cheats
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — Criminals or victims of the socio-economic differences? This question has been raised in the case studies of four employees held responsible for frauds in the Divisional Department of Posts recently.

With two of these frauds exposed in the past month only, the issue of growing crime in the department has gained significance. Authorities are alarmed at the incidence of such frauds because the department serves mostly less-educated middle-class and lower-middle-class rural persons.

These persons put every dime they can spare in post office saving schemes and nothing is more shameful than to defraud them. However, an analysis of the lifestyles of persons behind the frauds revealed that they were not hardened criminals, but, the disturbing pressure of the socio-economic differences had forced them to commit the crime. Another factor was the menace of single-digit lotteries, responsible for the destruction of many homes. Three of the persons arrested for frauds were regular lottery players.

The study did not aim to justify the crime, but, to seek the reasons why these first-time offenders had done so after putting in nearly 20 years of service each. Their track records were clean and one of them had only a couple of years left in the service.

Three of these persons were men and the fourth a woman. All belonged to the lower-middle class of society and were Class III employees. One of them who had committed a fraud to the tune of Rs 60,000 died mysteriously a couple of years ago. The second fraud reported in the past year was to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh. The third, of more than Rs 2 lakh, was committed by a woman in a rural post office, while the latest one, of Rs 1.5 lakh, was committed by a cashier. He, too, died past month under mysterious circumstances.

That these employees were forced by factors other than criminal tendencies was also reflected in the lenient action taken against them by the department itself. None of the cases had been tried in a court. Two of these persons allegedly committed suicide out of depression before any action could be taken against them. Their family members have deposited the money which they had withdrawn illegally and all seems to be forgotten.

The Department has even reemployed one of these persons who had also deposited all the money he had stolen. The action against the woman employee is likely to follow the same course as she, too, has deposited all the money she had stolen, reportedly.

"We have to kill the crime and not the criminal," says Mr M.K. Khan, Senior Superintendent of the local Post Office. He said, "The persons have played more with the public trust than with the money, but, one has to investigate why did they risk their jobs, pension and other benefits after so many years of service."

Mr Khan said, according to an unofficial study of the cases, it had been found that the three men had been in an earnest need of money to support their families. Lured by the get-rich-quick lottery gamble, these persons slowly got so entrapped in it that they invested not thousands, but, lakhs of rupees in it. Ultimately, they began withdrawing small amounts of money from different accounts or stealing the vip money in order to make the payments.

The woman employee, too, needed money urgently to support the family. According to the family sources of the employees who died under mysterious circumstances, the persons were acutely depressed after the detection of the crimes. Sources said they always thought of depositing back the stolen money once they won a huge lottery, but, the day never came. From able and hardworking employees, they became criminals overnight. Two of them could not bear it for long and allegedly ended their lives, though the causes of the deaths are still a mystery.


No money order receipt for 3 years
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — A Professor of Punjab Agriculture University here is a harassed man for the past three years, courtesy the postal service of the region.

In a letter to the Ludhiana Tribune, the professor, Dr S.N. Sharma, said he had sent a Rs-250 money order to his friend in Kerala in August, 1997, as shagun for the marriage of his daughter. But till date, he has not received any receipt acknowledging the delivery of the money order.

Dr Sharma complained that he wrote several letters to the post office authorities both here and in Kerala, but has got no response. The Professor has sentiments attached to the money order as it was a shagun. In his letter, a copy of which has also been sent to the Chief Post Master-General, Kerala, and the SSPO, local Division, Dr Sharma has demanded immediate acknowledgement of the delivery of his money order or refund of the amount with due interest of three years.


Local Adda to lose name, identity
From D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, July 9 — In Ludhiana, the city which is continuously making history, names, especially of places, do not matter much. There are a number of places within the old city which have assumed new names with the passage of time. One such place here which is about to lose its old identity and acquire another is Local Adda near Laxmi theatre.

The building housing the old local bus stand near the theatre came into existence in the early 70s. As time flied by, the triangular place which does not measure more than two bighas, could no longer cope with the increasing passenger traffic. Local buses stopped plying from here, but, the place continued to be called Local Adda. The Municipal Corporation opened a chest clinic in the building and also rented out some space to a bookshop.

A resident of the city, Mr I.J. Verma, says, "Before the place was converted into the local bus stand, it served as Chandigarh da Adda because the place was only enough for a few buses which plied between Ludhiana and Chandigarh for most part of the 60s."

Mr Verma said Bhadaur House was once known as Jalandhar da Adda as the place served as a stand for the Ludhiana-Jalandhar-Amritsar buses. On the railway-station side of the clock tower was Jagraon da Adda for the Ludhiana-Moga-Ferozepur buses.

Now, the building that once housed Local Adda is being razed to make room for a modern, state-of-the-art multistoreyed complex to accommodate the city's Fire Bridge Headquarters.

Once the headquarters shift here, it will not be long before the place gets a new name and a new identity. Fire Brigade is as good a name as Local Adda.

Since history repeats itself, 20 or 30 years later, the place may well have another name, another identity.


Elbow-length gloves to avoid pollution
From Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, July 9 — Young damsels hiding behind masks and wearing elbow-length gloves on the arms have become a common sight on the busy roads of this city. They are not just avoiding tanning of the skin in this hot and sunny weather, but are more worried about the ill-effects of the scores of polluting agents emanating from the chimneys of the industries onto the roads of this Manchester of India.

Till last year, these were worn by schoolchildren at fancy dress competitions and the mesh design gloves used to be seen in the fashion shows only. The long gloves were also necessarily worn by patients suffering from skin diseases. But now the local gals have made these the necessary part of their daily wear. And the environmentalists caution that if the growing pollution is not controlled, all of us will have to wear such protection in near future.

Sapna Kalia, a graduate, who wears elbow length gloves and covers her face with dupatta says, “It is good for me that these type of gloves have become a rage. I reside at Millerganj, which is a highly polluted area. By the time I reach my home, these white gloves turn almost black because of soot deposition on them.”

Kiran, another collegiate, has bought full arm-length gloves, which she wears with her cut sleaves. “If I do not wear these gloves on some day, my arms get tanned the same day.”

These gloves are made of pure cool cotton and are stretchable. While the most common length of these gloves is till the elbow, they are available in full arm length and in simple hand size as well. White is the only colour in which these are available.

Only a few shopkeepers are selling these types of gloves this season. But seeing the growing demand, more shopkeepers plan to keep these in the next season.

Mr Harjit Singh of Bhainan di Hatti in Karimpura Bazaar is supplying these gloves only on order. He is charging Rs 50 for elbow length gloves, Rs 75 for full arm length gloves and Rs 20 for the simple hand gloves.

Another shopkeeper, Dr K.B. Jain of Raja, who has his shop in Chaura Bazaar, says, “Till last year, these type of gloves were bought only by some people under the recommendations of skin specialists. But this season, several college-going girls and some working women have bought these.”


Cool morning, humid day
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The city had a cool morning today, following a brief spell of rain around 5 a.m.

A cloudy sky persisted till 11 a.m. or so before a moderate east wind cleared the sky to some extent. As the sun shone down on the city it grew hot and humid as the day progressed.

The clouds that gathered overnight because of the southwest wind are likely to reappear in the night. There may be another spell of rain in the next hours, according to weather-watchers.Back


CM's assurance on health facilities
From Kuldip Bhatia

JAGRAON (Ludhiana), July 9 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, claimed that the state government had chalked out a comprehensive programme to provide quality medical facilities to the entire population of the state, under which 152 new hospitals were being constructed at a cost of Rs 422 crore. Out of these, work on 100 hospitals was near completion, where latest medical equipment, diagnostic aids and treatment facilities would be provided during the current financial year.

Addressing a largely attended function at grain market after inaugurating the newly constructed 50-bed hospital here yesterday, the Chief Minister announced that a special campaign to eradicate tuberculosis was being launched in the state and the health department was fully geared up to serve the patients in an efficient and systematic manner. He said the state government had decided to observe the year 2000-2001 as Development Year and funds around Rs 4500 crore would be spent to strengthen infrastructural facilities in the state. These would include strengthening and constructing roads, widening main roads and highways and construction of bridges, flyovers, school buildings and hospitals. During last year, 2250 kilometres of new link roads were constructed, while under a comprehensive plan, it was proposed to built 20-kilometre new link roads in each assembly segment and repairs of school buildings would be carried out at a cost of Rs 30 crore during the current year. Two new bridges over the Sutlej would be constructed near Machhiwara and Sidhwan Bet in Ludhiana district at a cost of Rs 130 crore.

Taking the previous congress governments to task, Mr Badal rued that it was due to their ill-conceived policies and discriminatory attitude that Punjab was deprived of its state capital, river waters and Punjabi-speaking areas. The central investment in Punjab, during the last 50 years, was a meagre one per cent, which had led to poverty, unemployment and economic backwardness. He revealed that since Independence, the total central investment in Punjab was just Rs 14,000 crore, whereas the present government had been able to bring in various giant projects, involving an investment of Rs 45,000 crore, during its short tenure of three years.

Responding to the demands of the area, Mr Badal announced that work for repair of the Ludhiana-Sidhwan Bet road and the Sodhiwala-Jagraon road would be taken up soon and the construction of a Rs 65 crore bridge over the Sutlej, near Sidhwan Bet, would also commence shortly. He assured availability of adequate funds for development works, like water supply and sewerage, in Jagraon town.

Speaking at the function, the Punjab Health Minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, explained in detail, several measures taken to provide better health care facilities to the people. He said buildings of 40 new hospitals were completed, 50 more were near completion and 10 hospitals in the state would be developed as most modern hospitals, equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities. He further stated that the health department would launch a special campaign to check the sale of spurious drugs and to provide treatment and rehabilitation facilities against drug addiction. The Punjab Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister of State for Health Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, and Chairman of Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Mr Bhag Singh Malla, also addressed the function.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, addresses a function at Jagraon on Saturday.Back



Reminiscences of a POW camp
By Lt.Col C.S. Dhillon

WE were lodged in the POW Camp of Odine in Southern Italy. The accommodation was temporary huts with timber floors. British and Indian prisoners of war could freely mix up. So in the evenings, after having our grub, Indian POWs who could converse well in English used to get together and had sessions on subjects like military history etc. Sometimes, the Italian guards used to ensure through their interpreters that we were really not weaving a conspiracy to escape. During these sessions, we used to get bits and pieces of news relating to war on all the fronts. Our moods and morale used to swing up and down with the victories and defeats of the Allied forces. We were eagerly waiting for the much-talked about second front.

The Allied forces had cleared the Germans from North Africa and were poised for invasion through Europe. Both in the evenings and mornings, there was a drill for head counting. It was done in a most meticulous way. Sometimes, there used to be a lot of confusion and commotion when some thing went wrong. There used to be a flurry as Italian officers and other ranks struggled to tally the actual and figure on record. We used to derive pleasure at this comedy of errors.

That was in the month of August 1943. In September, the Bodoglio Government arrested Mussolini, the dictator. For fear of Hitler’s reaction, they were moving from place to place. The capitulation of Italy was imminent. As stated earlier, the morale of Italian forces was very low and they were in a lethargic and defeatist mood. The government wanted to try for peace, but it was against the interest of Germans. Hitler immediately ordered Skorzeny, a legendary military leader, who had earlier captured Horthy from Budapest. Skorzeny also headed the operation to arrest Tito, who was also hob-nobbing with allies secretly. But this operation failed.

Skorzeny located Mussolini at a ski resort on the loftiest peak of Appenennines, about 100 miles from Rome. He was lodged in Gran Sasso Hotel with heavy guards around him. It was a swift commando action by a number of gliders led by Skorzeny which landed on a small patch of green. Mussolini was rescued within a matter of four minutes after landing and transported to Germany as a gift to Hitler. We used to get regular news that Italy might surrender any time and we were busy in planning escape.

Some naughty British POWs started taking liberties to tease Italian guards. One day, at the evening roll call, someone in my file of four passed indecent remark when an Italian corporal with protruding belly passed by us. I and three British prisoners were marched to prison. Inside the prison, we were confined to a small cell. It had a brick floor and a tin was kept in the corner for defecating. Late at night, when we got no food, we banged on the door. The sergeant jailer came and told us that we would be punished the next day.

We slept on the hard floor with acute pangs of hunger. During our stay in the prison, we heard that 22 prisoners had escaped through the tunnel. This project was clandestinely going on for the past many weeks. The modus-oprandi was to lift the plank of the floor and reach the ground approximately three feet below. POWs in turn, with a batch of two, dug the earth and spread the same in the space between floor and the ground.

The POWs standing as sentry on the entries of the barrack were supposed to signal if the Italian guards were coming that way. Immediately the planks would be replaced and a blanket spread over the same. A bunch of POWs would sit on the blanket to show as if they were seriously engaged in playing cards. We were not told of the duration of ordeal. But on the sixth day, we were marched out of the cell and taken to the station, where we found that POW camp was being evacuated and our comrades also had started arriving. We were put in the goods train. We could only think that we were bound for the North, but the destination was not known.



 3-member gang of car thieves busted
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The local police has busted a three-member gang of car theives and has recovered six vehicles from them.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh, said the DSP of Sarabha Nagar, Mr Harmanbir Singh, had received an information about a gang of car theives operating in the area. It was learnt that the gang was selling off stolen cars in the car bazaar.

The police received an information that the car theives were coming towards Ludhiana from the Moga side. The Sarabha Nagar police led by SI Jagjit Singh and ASI Abdul Rashid set up a special checkpost at the Sunet Bridge and began checking all passing cars. A car with registration number PB-10-6828 was stopped by the police and on checking, it was found that the three occupants of the car were car theives. The three men tried to escape, but, could not and were arrested.

The three accused are Balwant Singh, Jaswant Singh and Gurmel Singh. Five cars with registration numbers DL-10-CD-3422, CHK-8106, PB-10-F-9417, DL-4CD-1756, PB-10-3356 and PIC-1776 have been recovered.

The police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC. While four of these cars had been stolen within the past two months, one had been stolen in November 1999.Back


15 kg of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — A police party led by Inspector Maninder Bedi, in charge of the CIA staff, has seized 15 kg of poppy husk during a special patrolling duty.

It is learnt that the police has arrested a resident of Suuan, Bihar, Arvinder Singh, during patrolling from near Kheri village. It is learnt that Arvinder Singh was now residing in Sherpur Road. He has been booked under sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

MLA's PA booked

A personal assistant of the BJP MLA, Mr Satpal Gosain, has been booked by the police on charges of abusing government officials and trying to hinder them from performing their official duty.

A case under sections 353 and 186 of the IPC has been registered on the complaint of a Junior Telecom Officer, Mr Charanjit Singh, against Neetu Pradhan, PA to Mr Gosain, Salim Khan and Raj Kumar Malhotra.

It is alleged that all the accused abused the complainant and his team of officials on yesterday in Mohalla Amargarh and also prevented them from performing their official duties.

5 cartridges seized

The Sahnewal police has seized five live catridges from Khalkat Yadav and he has been booked under the Arms Act.

In another incident, the Division No 5 police has booked a man, Varinder Kumar, alias Bal Mukand, under sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act. A kamanidar knife was recovered from the accused who is a resident of Rajasthan.

Attempt to kidnap

A woman has accused two persons of a village of trying to kidnap her and her sister-in-law on July 7.

In an FIR registered at Sadar police station, it is alleged that Jagmohan Singh and Sonu tried to kidnap Meera Devi and her sister-in-law, Savita, and forcibly took them to a secluded spot, but when the victims raised the alarm, the two ran away after threatening them. The police has registered a case under sections 54, 506 and 34 of the IPC.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |