Sunday, July 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Minister accused of shielding killers
Charges framed, but accused not arrested

From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 15 — It appears to be a long and unending struggle for justice for Surinder Kaur. The young widow is moving from pillar to post to get the killers of her husband punished. Even a year after the incident, the police has not been able to arrest the two accused, who are allegedly being shielded by a senior Akali Dal minister. She has alleged inaction on part of the Khanna police, allegedly at the behest of the minister.

Surinder Kaur, a resident of Payal tehsil, has alleged that the two killers of her husband, Jasbir Singh, are freely roaming around in Maqsoodaran village. The police claims to have raided the houses of the accused several times, but, without any success.

Surinder Kaur and her brother, Ram Aasra, told the TNS here today that they had written to the Chief Secretary, Senior Superintendent of Police and Director General of Police, seeking the arrest of the accused. They alleged that since the accused were enjoying the patronage of a senior Akali Dal minister, the police was not initiating any action against them.

Surinder Kaur said, "There are two rival groups, one led by the sister of the minister and the other by Sant Darshan Singh of Dhakki Sahib. All kind of help is being given to members of the either group in order to retain their support. It is because of this that the minister is supporting the accused."

However, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr R.L. Bhagat, said the police was making all efforts to arrest the accused. He also refuted the charge that any minister was trying to shield any of the accused.

The complainants had also approached the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, Mr S.K. Sandhu, at a Sangat Darshan here on July 14 and he had directed the Khanna police to take action.

Narrating the circumstances leading to the death of Jasbir Singh, Ram Aasra, said, "The deceased was a government contractor residing in Payal and his father, Gurdev Singh, was a resident of Maqsoodaran. On June 7, While Jasbir Singh was coming towards his father's village to pick up some sacks of wheat at about half past seven in the evening, he had a minor fight with the two accused who were in an inebriated condition. Jasbir fled from the scene and reached his house, but, the two followed him. The accused entered the house, caught hold of Jasbir and burnt him after dousing him in kerosene."

Some villagers brought Jasbir Singh to the DMC in Ludhiana where he died on June 13. "Since then, the police has been avoiding the arrest of the accused even when cases have been registered against them for murder," Ram Asara said.

Surinder Kaur said, "My husband also gave a statement against the accused to a judicial magistrate, but, now I believe that all that was probably a farce."

The DSP of Payal, Mr B.S. Sidhu, said the police had conducted raids on the houses of the accused, but, had been unable to arrest them. "Since the FIR has been registered on the basis of the dying declaration of Jasbir, there is no way that the accused can be absolved and we are bound to arrest them," he said.


Haven for bootleggers, hell for Excise Dept
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

SIDHWAN BET (LUDHIANA), July 15 — Villages along the Satluj river, especially this one and Noormahal in Jalandhar district, have become a relatively safe haven for liquor bootleggers and a perpetual headache for the local division Excise Department.

The Excise Department has already lost huge revenue in recent years due to the illicit trade. The last auction of liquor vends of Jagraon circle in which the village falls caused a loss of whooping Rs 1.5 crore to the department just because of the illicit brewing.

There were initially no takers for the 30-odd vends as earlier licensees suffered huge losses due to the illegal sale of cheap liquor by the illicit brewers. The department had to allure new licensees with the promise of plugging the illicit trade, but according to analysts the losses continue to multiply. Sources said even though several raids have been organised to stop this illegal practice, but in the absence of a comprehensive strategy to nail the brewers, the trade has now flourished to such an extent that it has just become a way of life for the villagers .

Interestingly, while the brewers are inventing new methods and getting stronger day by day, the department’s means to fight them are dwindling rapidly. The shortage of staff with the Excise Police was already a well- known fact and the latest is that the department’s mounted force specially posted in Jagraon town has no horse or mare left to mount on and catch the brewers.

The force had five horses/mares just two years ago but all of them have died now and the department had not been able to provide new ones either because of some financial reasons or other . These animals were the main weapon of the department against the brewers who resorted to brewing in small islands in the river bed. The mounted force effectively managed to chase them in the past while the department’s jeeps or other vehicles could not do so on the river bed.

Sources in the department revealed that the illicit brewers continue to outsmart the department officials by finding new places to brew liquor. Earlier they used banks of the river and easily crossed over to the other side when the teams raided, but had to discontinue it, as the department began launching joint raids with the Jalandhar district and managed to swoop on them for both sides. Now the brewers have begun using the islands on the river bed and manage to see the raiding teams from a distance and then swim to safety either up or down the river. The department again falls short of material to counter this strategy.

“ We don’t have boats and trained swimmers to launch a hot pursuit” admitted an excise official . He said the illicit brewers know the place and the river like the palm of their hand and manage to flee easily whereas the raiding teams get stuck up and the operation fails.

Mr L A Khan, Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner, here admitted that the place was notorious for illicit liquor brewing but they were trying hard to check it. He said experience has taught that efforts to catch them have not produced the desired results and only some comprehensive strategy can stop the activity. He said the trade also flourishes because of the help of villagers.

According to him villagers go in for this desi liquor as it is much cheaper than the one sold in licensed vends. Interestingly the moment the prices of licensed liquor increases or decreases the illicit brewers also change their prices accordingly.

Mr Khan said one strategy could be to sell liquor at vends at reduced prices but then there would be the risk of destabilising the entire trade. 


Sloppy morning greets residents
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — A sloppy morning greeted city residents today.

The city was lashed by torrential showers a little before 5 am. Accompanying the showers was lightning and a strong wind. But it died down within half an hour and it rained lightly but steadily for a couple of hours. A total of 17.2 mm of rainfall was recorded.

School-going children and office-goers were seen grappling with their bags and handbags. Scooterists had their raincoats on and there was a fair sprinkling of colourful umbrellas as people poured out on to the streets.

Today’s showers were different from the ones the city had in the past fortnight. Unlike the previous showers, which came from clouds brought in by the south-west wind, today’s rain was caused by dark clouds ushered in by the east wind. Water got accumulated in the low-lying areas with puddles of water on roads and streets all over the city. 


Govt seeking details about paddy shortage
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — The Punjab Minister for Food and Supplies, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, today disclosed that massive shortage of paddy given to rice millers had come to the notice of the government and an exercise had been initiated at the highest level to gather all the details in this regard.

Talking to mediapersons here, the minister said all the heads of the procurement agencies and the district food and supplies controllers all over the state had been asked to submit the details of shortage by July 31, when the reports would be reviewed and action taken against the guilty persons. The heads of the departments and procurement agencies would be made accountable and held responsible for any loss to the state exchequer.

Describing the agitation against power tariff hike as politically motivated, Mr Mittal explained that the state government had not only discussed the matter with the industry at length, but a sub-committee of industry representatives had been set up, which had recommended the rates of tariff revision in consultation with their respective associations. He charged the Congress with fomenting trouble and attempting to create an urban-rural divide for its selfish political motives.

The minister, while hailing the new policy of the Union Government for open sale of wheat, commented that it would speed up the movement of wheat stocks, estimated to be around 1.3 crore tonnes in Punjab at present, and make room for the paddy to be procured in the ensuing kharif season. Replying to a question on absence of procurement agencies in certain mandis where wheat crop was still trickling in, he said instructions had been issued to agencies to make arrangements for purchasing the wheat being brought in.

Mr Mittal vehemently denied that there were any differences between the two alliance partners, the SAD (B) and the BJP in Punjab. "The state BJP President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, along with other senior party functionaries, have had a very cordial meeting with Mr Badal and minor irritants between the parties have been sorted out," he added.

On the issue of state autonomy, he made it very clear that BJP could, in no case, support the demand for state autonomy. The BJP had always been advocating more powers and financial freedom to the state and had vociferously opposed any move in the past by successive Congress governments to usurp the powers of the state. He claimed that under the present NDA government at the Centre, headed by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the centre-state relations were at their best.

Earlier, Mr Mittal addressed a meeting of the district (rural) unit of the party, in which, he emphasised upon them to acquaint themselves with the policies and programmes of the SAD (B)-BJP Government and to propagate these amongst the masses. He also told them to ensure that the benefits of various programmes and policies of the government reached deserving persons.


Congress MP reacts to Governor’s statement
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president and member Lok Sabha, Mr Gurcharn Singh Ghalib, has taken strong exception to the statement of the Punjab Governor, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob, on the mid-term polls in the state. In a statement, he said, the Governor must maintain decorum of his office and refrain from making politically motivated statements.

Mr Ghalib observed that the Akali Dal-BJP Government in Punjab had failed on all fronts. “The farmers were forced to commit suicides, industries were on the verge of closure, there was mass unemployment among workers and the coffers were empty.” Criticising the recent hike in power tariff for all categories of consumers, particularly the industrial sector, he said, the government was persuing a policy of systematic annihilation of the industries. Increase in the prices of diesel, kerosene, fertilisers and other farm inputs had made the lives of Punjabis difficult and people wanted to get rid of the government at the earliest.Back


PSEB employees hold dharna
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — In response to a call given by the PSEB Employees Front, employees held a protest dharna in front of the city central division, demanding administrative reforms in the board and acceptance of the pending demands of the employees.

Speakers at the dharna urged the PSEB management and the state government to initiate necessary steps to cut down the generation cost of power, bring about financial discipline and provide better services to the consumers in order to make PSEB a financially viable body. It was emphasised that alongwith rationalisation of power tariff structure, the PSEB management needed to drastically cut down on expenditure, curb power theft and losses, tackle the menace of widespread corruption and at the same time, rationalise the power supplied on subsidies or free of cost.

The distirct President of PSEB Karamchari Dal Mr Parkash Singh Mann, speaking at the occasion, called for fundamental changes in the administrative set up of the PSEB entrusting the management to technocrats and professionals, rather than to political favourites. To make the PSEB a truly autonomous and democratic organisation, the consumers, the workers and the officers have to be involved in the management, he said.

The Karamcharai Dal asked the PSEB management to implement the decisions arrived at in the meeting on May 10, remove the anomalies in pay scales of many sections in the report on category-wise scales, withdraw the circular on appointment of assistant J.E’s and additional SSO’s as junior meter readers and to regularise the work-charge drivers.

Prominent among those who addressed the rally were Mr Raghbir Singh, Mr Ruldu Ram Joshi, Mr Jagjit Singh Dhall, Mr Dharam Singh, Mr Balraj Singh, Mr Rachhpal Singh, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Megh Raj Garg, Mr Rajwant Singh, Mr Ram Singh, Mr Shawinder Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Hari Singh Grewal, Mr Nirmal Singh Khangura and Mr Avtar Singh Virk.


Foreign lands attract Ludhianvis
From Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, July 15 — Soon after his Class XII examination, Rohit Jain’s parents made arrangements to send him to the US for further studies. His parents believe that it is better to spend Rs 5 lakh on his education abroad than to spend on donation for admission to some educational institution back home. After taking a specialised degree from the US, Rohit aims to get a good job and get settle there.

Ms Kriplinder Kaur is a 35-year-old, USA greencard holder. She and her two daughters came back to India only to clear the Microsoft Certified Software Examination (MCSE), which is not much costly in this country as compared to the US. She has also taken up Java and e-commerce courses to ensure that she gets a good job when she goes back.

Monica had no such education needs. Her parents felt that their daughter’s matrimonial life would be better in the States than in India. They married their daughter to an NRI from Australia almost six months back. While her husband left for Australia soon after the marriage, she has got her visa now and will soon leave for Australia.

According to some rough estimates, more than 3000 Ludhianvis are moving abroad for getting settled down there. “Most of the Ludhianvis migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Germany. Only a few of these people are leaving for the UK and the US, because immigration to these two countries is highly restricted,” says Col Harjap Singh, Director, Canadian US Immigration Consultants.

A large segment of these is students, who go abroad for studies and ultimately get settled there. This is basically because there are not many vocational courses in India. Better job opportunities and a handsome salary are some other factors. Most of these students start earning side by side..

Many youngsters are opting for advanced computer courses because they believe that there is significant demand of IT professionals overseas. Aarti Mahajan, a technology consultant at Asset International, informed, “ On an average, two students of our institute clear MCSE examination and 80 per cent of these students are doing the course with an aim to move abroad, where they hope to get job as network manager.”

Some individuals go overseas to put up a business there. Liberal and immediate loan facilities help such individuals to quickly set up their business. Mr Mohinder Singh, who owned a poultry farm here now owns a petrol pump in Canada. Several PAU students and professors have also moved abroad. Most of the students leave the country to pursue higher studies and get suitable jobs there.

Some individuals have got jobs by video conferencing on the Internet with companies abroad. However, these jobs are time-bound and for a period of almost three to four years and individuals get H1 work permits for that period. So when such individuals move abroad, their job is assured. After this period, they have the option to either look for the next job and get their visa extended or return back.

Some individuals who get frustrated with life and do not get visa well in time resort to wrong ways. They approach some agents who give them fake passports and they go by illegal immigration.Back


Number one destination for migrants
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — People are migrating to Ludhiana at a rapid pace. Each immigrant from a big city or a small town is full of ambition. There are many wanting to emulate people like the Oswals and the Munjals.

Ludhiana is emerging as the Dream town of India, claims Mr K.S. Bajwa, a businessman. Life is good in Ludhiana because of its cosmopolitan culture. It welcomes nobody but accepts everybody. For newcomers, there are no ethnic or cultural barriers.

According to Ms Abha Malini, individuals are anxious to make a quick buck. But when things go wrong, it makes a riches to rags story. Many persons come here fired with ambition.

Ludhiana’s population has swelled faster than any other city in the country. It is becoming the number one destination for migrants. The beat, tenor and character of the city has changed.

Mr K.L. Sharma, Mr Vikki Pathak and Mr Amit Verma say Ludhiana has turned into a thriving business centre, with both start-ups and foreign chains thronging the town.

It has become the most happening town of the region. Ms Sheena is of the view that Ludhianvis spend larger proportion of their income on consumer goods than their counterparts in any other part of the country.

Ludhiana offers a variety of hangouts for free spirits — dance floors, bars, restaurants, marriage palaces and five-star hotels.

Mr K. Kapila, a businessman, sums up the spirit of Ludhiana as being a land of opportunities, allowing everyone to rediscover themselves and assume a new persona anytime.


Cut pieces at throwaway prices
From A Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 15 — On Sundays, you can buy dress material at less than half of the original price from Ghumar Mandi without wasting a single minute on bargaining. Several shopkeepers of this market keep on sale a variety of odd-length cut pieces on the roadside outside their shops.

These dress materials which are generally left-over pieces of the rolls of cloth can serve various purposes. One can buy it for a shirt piece along with a plain salwar. Several boutique owners buy these pieces for they have odd-length requirements for certain patterns. Some bright pieces can also be picked for making dresses for children. Some buyers use these pieces for other domestic requirements like making napkins and table cloths.

On Sundays, these cut pieces generally have more sale than the more in-vogue pieces displayed in the shop inside. Says Mr Babboo, one dress material seller, “Urban or rural, rich or poor, all types of people purchase these cut pieces. Since these are relatively outdated, the more fashion conscious people visit to buy these cut pieces for their domestic servants and maids.” These cut pieces, which range from Rs 20 to Rs 250, are not available on the last Sunday of the month, when Ghumar Mandi remains closed.


Naik Kuldip Singh dies in Uri sector
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 15 — Naik Kuldip Singh of Nathowal village in Raikot tehsil of this district was killed while fighting insurgents in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC) on Friday.

The martyr’s body will be brought to his native village for cremation tomorrow. According to Wing Commander M.S. Randhawa, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, here Naik Kuldip Singh of the 10 Sikh Light Infantry was killed at around 10 pm on July 13.

He said the martyr would be cremated with full state honours. The martyr is survived by his wife and two children.

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