Tuesday, August 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PAU gives students health insurance
Mishap victims Anshuman, Deepak to be beneficiaries
From Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — After some initial reluctance, the Punjab Agricultural University has finally come to the rescue of its students in distress. In a case probably the first of its kind, the PAU authorities will provide financial assistance to two students, Anshuman Kohli and Deepak Panth, who were injured seriously in a road accident some time ago.

For the first time, the university has included medical fund in the fee structure to be charged at the rate of Rs 50 and Rs 100 from old and new students, respectively. According to Dr K. S. Sekhon, Director, Students Welfare, a decision to this effect was taken at the 102nd meeting of the Deans Committee recently after accepting the recommendations of the committee constituted to frame the guidelines and rules for providing a health insurance cover to PAU students. The Vice-Chancellor has also approved the decision.

The scheme will be implemented according to the Amalgamated Fund rules. Dr Sekhon informed that a student can claim a maximum of Rs 500 per semester ordinarily. For hospitalisation, the reimbursement for exceptional cases per semester will be 75 per cent of the admissible amount, subject to a maximum of Rs 30,000 in normal cases and Rs 50,000 in exceptional cases of hospitalisation. All students on the rolls of the PAU are eligible for medical reimbursement.

A representative of the students' union, Mr Gurbaksh Singh, told The Tribune that the university had initially been hesitant in providing special assistance to the accident victims on the plea that they should claim the money from the military authorities as the truck which hit the two victims belonged to the Army. However, according to Mr Singh, the military authorities refused to pay any compensation when a student, Sumit Misra, met some military officials.

It was only after intense efforts by the students that the authorities yielded and decided to provide financial assistance to them. Dr Sekhon, who is also the sanctioning authority, said in this particular case, the reimbursement can be made on the basis of a medico-legal certificate. Since the DSW is authorised to sanction an amount up to Rs 30,000 only, he said, he would put the case before the Vice-Chancellor for sanctioning a higher amount under exceptional case category.

According to Dr P. S. Sidhu, Senior Medical Officer, PAU hospital, Deepak's case can be defined as exceptional.

Meanwhile, doctors at Sutluj Hospital, where the victims have been hospitalised, said that Deepak's condition was deteriorating. The patient is at present in the ICU. Surgery has been delayed because he is suffering from fever and jaundice.

Earlier, some students had collected Rs 5,000 for the accident victims. The PAU Teachers Association collected and deposited Rs 21,000 for Deepak and Rs 14,070 for Anshuman in Sutluj Hospital yesterday.Back


India’s first powerbike launched
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Hero Cycles Limited added a new product to its stable by launching Hero Powerbike — the first electric bicycle of the country.

Mr O.P. Munjal, Co-Chairman of the company, unveiled the bicycle at a press conference today. For the company, the development of electric bicycle is a major breakthrough. “This eco-friendly bicycle is expected to change the way people ride bicycles in our country. It will provide the Indian consumer with an environment-friendly and effortless mode of transport on congested and overcrowded roads,” Mr Munjal said.

The introduction of the product makes the company one of the few in the world to possess the technology to develop things for global market.

When Indians had only black and green Roadster bicycles, the company had introduced a whole range of fancy bicycles. It was also the first to bring the concept of mountain bike in the country. The mountain bike segment the fastest growing one in the market today.

Exclusive brands for particular segments have made the products of the company popular among consumers. About 2 lakh Ranger Swing-18 speed bicycles are on Indian roads today. Five years ago, it was difficult to believe that a bicycle priced at more than Rs 3,000 could be sold in India. Such are the rapid changes in consumer-choice patterns today.

The powerbike could be an ideal product for Indian conditions where people, on an average, commute 10 to 15 km at a stretch in cities daily. Due to increasing costs of fuel and vehicle maintenance, Hero Powerbike can become a simple mode of commuting with negligible running cost.

“In the new millennium, people will shift from the fossil fuels to electrical devices,” said Mr Munjal. “All vehicles, including the mass rapid transport system, will rely on electrical energy. Most of the research and development in the world is progressing in this direction,” he said.

The powerbike weighs 38 kg and has a maximum speed of 20 km per hour. It can travel for 40 km before the batteries need to be recharged. It has a motorised 36 Volt DC hub drive and the power source is three numbers lead acid maintenance-free batteries. The bike is priced at R 7,500.

The company will test market 200 such bicycles in September all over the country for feedback from consumers. Initially, the product will be launched through selective channels having facilities for providing after-sales service.Back


Norms flouted while issuing NOCs
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Despite strict laws against the export of cows for slaughter to other states, the bovine mafia continues to indulge in the trade, thanks to the complicity of some officials in the Deputy Commissioner's office who issue the no-objection certificates.

According to activists of the People for Animals, an organisation which is actively campaigning against cruelties to the animals, the district administration has been flouting the provisions of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955.

Section 4-B regarding the permit for export of animals clearly specifies that "any person desiring to export cows shall apply for a permit to such officer as the government may by notification appoint in this behalf, stating the reasons for which they are to be exported as also the number of cows and the name of the state to which they are proposed to be exported and shall also file a declaration to the effect that the cows for which the permit for export is required shall not be slaughtered".

In a clear violation of the act, the district administration issues NOCs without verifying most of the details. The PFA activists claim that in none of the NOC issued by the district administration here it is mentioned that where the cows are to be taken. They claim even the name and addresses by the applicants seeking NOCs are fictitious.

It is a standard practice by the bovine traders that they claim the animals are being exported for agriculture purpose only, while they land up in slaughter houses. The NOC issuing authority is supposed to verify the name of the state and the address to which these animals are to be transported. But so far hardly any of the applications for the NOCs mentioned all these details.

The PFA is also sore over the treatment meted out to the animals during transportation. It points out that despite clear specifications of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the animals are transported in most cruel conditions. It says none of the guidelines of the act are being followed by the transporters.



Baddowal awaits memorial to Sikhs 
who repulsed British
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — The sleepy village of Baddowal, about 14 km from the city towards Jagraon, is more in the news because of its dangerous proximity to an Army ammunition depot, particularly after the Bharatpur depot tragedy. Few are, however, aware of its historical importance that dates back to more than 150 years.

Some time in 1846, when the British forces were on the rampage, capturing one area after another of Hindustan, it was the brave Sikh ancestors of Baddowal and surrounding villages that stopped the Englishmen’s march. The achievement provided the village a permanent place in the country’s struggle for freedom but today, in the absence of a befitting memorial, the memory may be shortlived.

Though the villagers have built a small memorial at the entrance of the village , they are awaiting the one promised by the state government. According to villagers, successive governments in the state belonging to different political parties have promised the construction of a memorial to commemorate the victory of the Sikh forces, but nothing concrete has appeared so far.

The latest in the series has come from the Shiromani Akali Dal government. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, at a function held in the village on April 2 this year, had promised a grant for a memorial, but four months after that, no development has taken place regarding it.

The villagers fear that as remnants of the fort and some pillars have vanished from the scene, similarly, the memory of the glorious feat will also pass into oblivion.

According to village elders, Dilip Singh and Ajit Singh, the British forces were making large strides in the erstwhile state of Punjab. The area was ruled by small subedars who were weak and divided and easily gave in to the better equipped British. Under such depressing circumstances, a handful of Sikhs of Baddowal and surrounding villages joined hands with the Khalsa forces of Lahore and repulsed the attack in a fierce fight at this village.

According to literature available on the war, the Sikhs defeated the enemy more with courage than with arms. While the British had cannons and latest guns, most of the Sikh soldiers challenged them with anything they could lay their hands on. The literature claims that besides swords and spears, the villagers even fought with tools used in agriculture.

Stung by the defeat, the British returned with more forces. Lord Hardinge launched a massive attack on the village with a joint operation by the British forces. The force not only managed to kill the resisting Sikh soldiers but also destroyed the whole village with cannon shells. The fort of Raja Ajit Singh Laddua, the Commander of the Sikh Army, was also razed to the ground.

The village Sarpanch, Mr Surinder Singh, says that the bricks and Debris of the fort was transported to Ludhiana and used to extend the Lodhi Fort near the Sutlej. He said only ruins and some pillars of the fort remained, as a remnant but they too gradually disappeared as the villagers used the place to construct houses.

Today, apart from the pillar, an old well said to be more than two centuries old in the village is also a remnant of the battle. Villagers said a tunnel connected the fort and the well which was cleverly used by the Sikh forces to surprise the enemy from behind while they were attacking the fort.

Mr Surinder Singh is hopeful of an early construction of the memorial. He claims that the government was committed to its promise but there was a little laxity on their part too as they had not submitted a proposal of the memorial so far. He said the delay was because they were consulting architects for a befitting memorial.


The birth of Natkhat Kanha
From Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Janmashtami, the birth of Krishna is celebrated on Bhadrapad Krishnashtmi. The most lovable and naughty of the 22 avtaars of Vishnu, Lord Krishna was born on this day in Mathura in the Dwapar yug, in the jail of Kansa. People call him by various names like Murlidhar, Kanhaiya, Shamsunder, Ghansham and Natkhat.

He is always remembered for his mischiefs with Radha and the gopis. He is also known as Kaamdhenu because of his love for cows. Cows are important for religious reasons and are called Gau mata.

On Janmashtami, temples are decorated in a colourful manner. The cradle of Bhagwan Krishna is decorated with flowers. Various tableaus depicting the childhood and youthful days of Murlidhar are exhibited on this occasion. Devotees recite hymns at various temples. The fasting devotees accept prasad at midnight.

The next day is celebrated as ‘Nand Mahotsav’. Turmeric, oil, ghee and curd are sprinkled on idols of Krishna and his cradle is made to swing slowly by the devotees. It is said that by fasting on this day, one can be freed from the cycle of rebirth.

People celebrate Janmashtami in different ways. Some devotees in temples make a small baby cry at midnight as it symbolises the birth of Lord Krishna.

There is atmosphere resounds with the pravachans of the Bhagvat Gita. People call artists from Mathura and Brindaban for making the idols of Radha, Krishna and Kansa. Shobha yatras are taken out in the city and maha kirtan darbars held at various temples.

Raas lila is performed by children as well as youngsters on bhajan like Maiya mori main nahin makhan khayo. In the recent years, people have started to cut cakes and blow candles at midnight to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna.Back




Gill gets Sarkar Praman Patra
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Dr M.S. Gill, Senior Agronomist, Department of Agronomy, Punjab Agricultural University, has been awarded the Punjab Sarkar Praman Patra, 2000. The award was presented to Dr Gill at the state-level Independence Day function held at Amritsar by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The award carries Rs 11,000, a gold medal and a citation.

Dr Gill was involved in testing and evaluating the research done at research stations on the farmers' fields under rainfed conditions in the Kandi area of Punjab. He has played a pivotal role in the dissemination of improved dryland technology by adopting various demonstration techniques under the ''lab-to-land programme'' in eight villages.

He also developed an integrated model at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kapurthala, to increase and maintain the daily income of small and marginal farmers and has imparted vocational training to the unemployed rural educated youth to establish their own agri-business. He acquired advanced training at the University of California, Davis, USA, in 1995.Dr Gill also played a key role as coordinator in the planning and implementation of different agricultural programmes at the Rural Demonstration and Training Centre for Self-Employment, Padhri Kalan (Amritsar). Earlier, on account of his outstanding contributions in the project, the district administration, Amritsar, awarded him a commendation certificate. At Padhri Kalan, the farming system approach was the main thrust point and as a result 22 dairy farms were established and three village ponds rehabilitated into fish ponds. He was also instrumental in developing vegetable demonstration area of 10 acres with drip irrigation system ,besides getting installed 26 biogas plants. He implemented the idea of boundary plantation of poplar trees in cooperation with farmers. 


Ruling party charged with exploiting youth
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — The youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has charged the ruling SAD (B) and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with exploiting the Sikh youth for their personal political gains.

Addressing a news conference at Gurdwara Akalgarh here yesterday, the youth wing President, Mr Balwinder Singh Bains, said the ruling party was using the youth as a tool for winning electoral battles, while it had failed to improve the educational facilities or create more employment opportunities for them during its tenure of three-and-a-half years.

Mr Bains rued that the political parties were paying mere lip service to the youth while their real problems seemed to be on nobody's agenda and none of the governments had sincerely done anything to ensure a better future for the youth. Even the basic issues of unemployment and illiteracy were accorded low priority whereas the populist and vote-catching measures were vigorously pursued.

The youth wing President further observed that the wrong policies of the ruling combine had created a chaotic situation and an economic mess in the state and the Chief Minister had no way out but to go for mid-term elections to wriggle out of the tangle, which was of his own making. Mr Badal, he added, had entered into a secret pact with the World Bank to withdraw free power to the farm sector before the GATT and WTO agreements came into force. The SAD (B) had already started preparations for the mid-term assembly poll and the persistent denials by the Chief Minister were just a ruse to spring a surprise on other opposition parties.

Mr Bains said that Mr Badal had mortgaged the interests of Punjab and the Sikh community with the Centre to retain political power with the help of BJP. The SAD-BJP government in Punjab had failed to resolve any of the pending problems like state capital, river water sharing, release of detained Sikh youths and territorial disputes. Similarly, playing in the hands of the BJP, the Punjab Chief Minister had betrayed the Sikh population of Udham Singh Nagar and at the instance of the RSS, dubious attempts were on to damage the separate identity of Sikhs, he alleged.

According to Mr Bains, the SAD (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, will address district-level meetings all over the state from August 25 to expose the misdeeds and anti-people policies of ruling SAD (B)-BJP alliance.


NGOs urged to work in villages
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister of Punjab, urged voluntary and social organisations involved in charitable services to work in rural and remote areas also.

Mr Mittal was addressing a function organised by the Bharat Vikas Parishad at Rishi Nagar here yesterday to give scholarships to poor, but brilliant students.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated a self-employment and rehabilitation centre for handicapped persons on this occasion.

Mr Mittal said, in urban areas, a large number of NGOs, religious, social and health organisations were providing extensive community services, whereas, the rural population remained neglected.

The minister appreciated the Bharat Vikas Parishad for providing artificial limbs to about 3,500 persons. The parishad has also provided medical and education facilities to poor persons. The minister urged the parishad to launch similar campaigns for handicapped persons in the Ropar district.

He said the process of identification and registration of handicapped beneficiaries had already been completed in the district. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for a building of the parishad.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, DC, said the NGOs and the other social and religious organisations were working in a well-planned way to extend charitable services to maximum persons in the district. Past year, the district administration, in collaboration with the parishad, had provided artificial limbs to every handicapped person in the district which was a record.

He said, under this programme, the district Red Cross Society had spent Rs 57.37 lakh to provide hearing-aids, calipers, upper limbs, lower limbs and tricycles to handicapped persons.

The DC also said the district had launched another campaign to check drug abuse among the youth. Under the campaign, which had an active involvement of the NGOs and de-addiction centres, seven camps had been organised to train volunteers.

These volunteers would organise camps and seminars in colleges and schools to create awareness among the youth about the affects of drug abuse.

Lala Lajpat Rai, a member of the Rajya Sabha, also praised the parishad for the helping needy persons. Dr Lajpat Rai, President of the parishad, said, in the past three years, Rs 1.75 crore had been spent on facilities for poor people.

He also thanked the state government for allotting 3,130 square yards, besides a grant of Rs 13 lakh, to the parishad.

At the function yesterday, 65 poor, but brilliant students of seven colleges received scholarships worth Rs 1,200 each. Scholarships worth Rs 1,000 each were given to 94 students of seven schools.


A man who never tires
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Work hard and you can make it to the top. That’s the message Hawaldar Joginder Singh wants to give to the younger generation. And the wisdom behind the words is based on a lifetime of experience.

Joginder Singh started out, 55 years ago, with nothing except an iron will. Today, he can look back at life with satisfaction. He has everything required for a comfortable living. A car, a tractor, a television, telephone, VCR, automatic washing machine and the works. But Joginder Singh remains a down-to-earth hardworking person.

Joginder Singh joined the Indian Army in 1962, as senior in charge of his 1200 teammates. He used to look after his family and save some money from his meagre salary of Rs 45 a month. Looking back, he says, “Contentment is a must in life. Those were the days of struggle but with God’s grace, I managed to look after my family and we were happy”.

Despite being affluent, with three children settled abroad, he continues to work as a security guard for some establishments, from where he earns about Rs 7000 a month. He also gets a monthly pension of Rs 2,500.

Why does he need to work? He has a ready answer. Because he does not want to sit idle when he is in sound health and able to work as hard as anybody else.

He claims with pride: “I am working for a jewellery shop as a security guard. My son, an agriculturist, owns a shop of pesticides and fertilisers at Jodhan village. He earns well and leads a good life”. His elder daughter, a doctor, is well-settled in Norway and the younger daughter has also gone to Norway for further studies.

He has everything today that a man could crave for. Still, he works untiringly. “I get my pension, still I do night duty for some offices, he says.

He deeply regrets the fact that he is not educated, but he has offset this shortcoming by providing good education to his children and grandchildren.

He says with pride and a great sense of achievement, “When I see my grandchildren conversing in English, I feel really good and am satisfied that at least they could do what I could not”. Even then, he does not stop working. “I am an active person and am still fit to face the hardships of life. Then why should I sit idle and be dependent on my son?” he asks. 


Bid to steal car
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — The police thwarted an attempt by four youths to steal a car at gunpoint on the Ferozepore road on the night of August 18.

Raj Kumar alias Raj, his cousin Ashok Kumar and some of their family members were returning home in their Maruti car from a marriage party. It is alleged that a Zen car (PB-25-A-6919) came from behind and blocked their way.

The youths got out of the car, pointed a pistol to the head of Raj Kumar and snatched car keys from him. However, a police car came there and the youths had to run. The police squad followed them, but they managed to escape.

The police has registered a case under Sections 382, 511 and 34 of the IPC.Back


300 kg of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Ten bags of poppy husk, weighing 300 kg, and 1.5 kg of opium have been seized from two persons during the past 24 hours.

According to information available, ASI Manjit Singh of Sadar police station was on a special search operation near Alamgir village along with his patrol party when he saw the accused, Hem Raj and Avtar Singh Pappu. The two were stopped and the police found that they were carrying 10 bags of poppy husk, each containing 30 kg of the drug.

In yet another incident, 1.5 kg of opium was seized by ASI Rajwinder Singh of Shimlapuri police post from Arjun Singh, a resident of Jalawal in Rajasthan. It is learnt that the seizure was affected by the ASI on the Barota road during a special checking on August 20.

In both cases, the police has booked the accused under sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Congress man steals MC records
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 21— In yet another incident of politicians taking the law in their own hands in order to reiterate their position and their leadership, a Congress leader snatched the old records of the Municipal Corporation from employees while they were trying to destroy these and ran away with the same.

In the FIR registered against Mr Jaswinder Singh Brar, a Congressman, under sections 186, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC, it is alleged that on August 18, while Mr Basant Kumar Dutta, Superintendent, Zone D, along with other employees of the MC, was destroying the old records of the corporation, they were apprehended by the said Congressman.

It is alleged that the accused first threatened the MC employees against destroying the records and then forcibly loaded all the records on a four-wheeler and ran away.

The FIR was registered at Sadar police station last evening after an application for the same was given by Mr Dutta.


Porno sites gain popularity
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 21 — Porno sites offered on the Net are becoming popular. Watching such sites is the second most sought after activity on the Net after chatting. While there are many such sites, the appearance of a new one keeps the browsers interested.

According to a survey by the Ludhiana Tribune at cyber cafes, males, right from teenagers to those above 50 years old, are logging on to porno sites.

The porno material available on the Internet in India is only in still form. The motion pictures present on the Net cannot be opened here because of shorter bandwidth problem.

With most of the Internet cafes in the city offering complete privacy, with separate cabins and curtains in the front, these offer a conducive atmosphere to all those obsessed by such sites.

Even though the cops of the city have kept a check on pornographic magazines and exhibition of adult movies, there is hardly any check on pornographic material available on the Net.

A couple of cyber cafe owners, however, have taken the moral responsibility to discourage the use of the Internet for such reasons. One owner said even though there are innumerable sites on the Internet carrying porno material, he has blocked access to more than 100 most frequently visited sites. He said whenever he comes to know that a visitor in his cafe has opened a porno site, he notes down the address of that site and when the person goes away, he blocks that site too. When the person again comes to his cafe, he is not able to open the site and after a few trials, moves away.

But what about the teenagers who have the Internet at their place but no check as their parents are hardly aware of what their kids are doing on the Net?

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