Monday, September 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Kidnapped children recovered from Nihangs
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — The city police has achieved a major success with the recovery of two kidnapped children within a few hours of the kidnapping being reported. The accused in the kidnapping case, who have been arrested by the police, are also learnt to be involved in at least four other kidnappings in Raikot, Sudhar and Beas.

It is learnt that the victims were two of the three children of Rajinder Kumar and Urmila Devi. The couple was reportedly having strained relations for the past couple of months and Urmila Devi was staying at her father’s house in Lamma village in Jalandhar for the past nine months along with their eldest child, Meenakshi. The other two children (victims — Manisha and Himmat) were staying with Rajinder Kumar, but would go to their mother every few days.

The victims had reportedly gone to Lamma on May 1 to spend a few days with her and were later brought back to Ludhiana by their grandfather on May 4. Since Rajinder Kumar was not at home, the two children were left in the custody of a neighbour, Pankaj Sharma. When Rajinder Kumar came home, they were nowhere to be found.

The father thought that the children had again gone back to their mother and did not worry about them. It was only on September 2 when he went to Lamma to meet them and get them back that he got to know that they were missing.

According to an official press release sent by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh, the kidnapping of the two children — Manisha, 12 and Himmat Kumar, 10 — was reported to the police only yesterday, almost four months after the children were reportedly picked up. A police team led by DSP Sarabha Nagar immediately got into action and three separate teams of police officers were formed to trace the missing children.

It was late in the night that both children were recovered by the police from their kidnappers. DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill said, “We had earlier received secret information about a Nihang in Shivpuri area with a child visiting another Nihang, who was selling cannabis. A team of police led by ASI Gurbinder Singh immediately rushed to the spot and the Nihang was apprehended.”

The accused, Gurmeet Singh, alias Killi Pir, then led the police to a hutment where he had hidden one of the children, Himmat Kumar. He is reported to have told the police that he wanted to send the child as a Sewadar in the Alamgir gurdwara in the service of God and so had kidnapped him. He had also given him a new identity by renaming him Jodha Singh.

Later, on his interrogation, he also told the police that the other child, Manisha, was in the custody of his friend, Nihang Dharam Singh of Bhuse village in Amritsar and was presently serving in a gurdwara in Cheecha village. He also confessed that they had picked up the two children from outside their house on May 4 and had wanted only to help them in their daily chores.

It was then that another police party led by Inspector Rajeshwar Singh, SHO of Haibowal Police Station and ASI Megh Raj Singh went and arrested Nihang Dharam Singh from Cheecha village. He then told the police that he had illegally confined Manisha in his room and the girl was then recovered. The two children were later handed over to their father, Rajinder Kumar.

It is also learnt that the two accused had been indulging in kidnappings in Raikot, Sudhar and Beas. While the victims had been released in all the cases, the accused had never earlier been arrested by the police.


Widow gets justice after 6 years
CMC told to pay Rs 3 lakh compensation
By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — Six years after the death of her husband due to negligent medical services given in the Christian Medical College ( CMC ), Baljit Kaur and her three minor children who were since then demanding action against the institution have finally received justice.

In a rare judgement against a prestigious medical institution, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed the Christian Medical College (CMC), Ludhiana, to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5,000 as costs to Baljit Kaur and her three children, whose husband Mohan Singh died due to “negligent service” rendered by the institution way back in 1994.

According to a copy of the orders received here today, the Commission, consisting of its President, Mr H.S. Brar, and two members Mr Jasbir Singh and Ms D.K. Bhamrah, held the institution guilty of providing doctors not expert in treating injuries suffered by the deceased. The commission was also of the view that Mohan Singh was neglected and left at the mercy of junior doctors and not attended by a specialist or competent senior doctor.

The orders describing the brief facts of the case said the complaint widow and her three minor children through their representative, Mr Baljit Singh, had appealed to the commission against an order dated April 22, 1999, of the District Forum, Ludhiana. The complaint was dismissed leaving the parties to bear the costs.

The complainants had appealed to the state commission and stated that Mohan Singh had met with an accident while driving his scooter near PAU, Ludhiana, on January 26, 1994. He was immediately taken to a hospital in Sarabha Nagar from where he was shifted to the CMC on February 1, where he expired after two days.

The CMC contested the complaint denying any negligent services. But after listening to both parties and perusal of supporting documents submitted by both the parties, the commission found that in the list of doctors, the doctor-in- charge was shown to be a lecturer in the Department of Surgery, whereas record proved that she was a lecturer in general surgery only .

The commission said a neurosurgeon was required to treat the patient, but it was not provided . It said either the services of a neuro surgeon should have been called for or the patient should have been referred to some other hospital in the city or outside. Further perusal of records by the commission revealed that the patient was treated by a junior doctor and not by any senior one, even though the seriousness of the patient demanded better care.

The commission said as the patient had been charged for hospitalisation, it was obligatory on the part of the hospital to have made arrangement for the treatment by an expert. It said in the absence of such arrangement, it became obvious that Mohan Singh died because of the negligence of the CMC in rendering service to him.

The commissions aid as Mohan Singh was the only breadwinner of the family, his widow and three children deserves a compensation of Rs 3 lakh in addition to the costs.It said the amount be paid to the complaints within a period of one month of the receipt of this order. The compensation is to be equally distributed to all the four complainants and amount falling to the share of the minors shall be deposited in fixed deposit schemes in a nationalised bank.


MC officers not to attend house meetings
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — The presence of senior officials of the Municipal Corporation at the general house meetings will become a thing of the past, if a recent circular issued by the Department of Local Bodies, is given effect in letter and spirit.

While the senior administrative and technical officers, present during the general house meetings of the MC, did facilitate the matter to some extent by providing information on various issues raised by the councillors and assisting their seniors in sorting out matters to the satisfaction of the elected members, at times, these meetings were used by the councillors to intimidate the officers by levelling allegations, just to mount pressure and get their works done, which otherwise would take a lot of time and persuasion.

The ongoing battle for one-upmanship between the councillors and the MC officers, has in the past, taken unsavory turns occasionally, as happened in the meeting held on July 5. After a heated exchange between councillors belonging to different political parties over encroachment of MC land and unauthorised constructions, some ruling party councillors alleged that the MC commissioner was shielding certain officers who were facing corruption charges. Even though the commissioner stoutly denied the charge, there was an outburst from councillors belonging to other parties and the meeting was adjourned amidst unruly scenes and disorder.

The MC officers had taken strong exception to the conduct of the councillors and had, at that time, decided not to attend general house meetings in future, if the elected representatives of the civic body were to continue, what they described as mud slinging, motivated by personal and selfish motives.

In fact, the MC officers were not comfortable while attending the house meetings, claim highly placed sources, which had, of late, became battle grounds to settle scores, trade charges, mount political pressure to secure favourable decisions on controversial matters and so on. Moreover, the Municipal Act also stipulated that the meetings of the Municipal Corporations be attended only by the commissioners, secretaries, while in other civic bodies, the executive officers might be allowed to sit in the meetings. The Act further provided that the concerned heads of the departments should be available and could be called if the house needed any clarification, but such officers should immediately leave once the relevant information had been provided.


IT courses to be introduced
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — The Punjab Technical University (PTU), in collaboration with Asset International, the professional-training arm of Aptech Limited, will soon introduce two new postgraduate IT courses in Punjab. This is to provide IT training to the youth, particularly in rural areas. These short courses are PG diploma in e-commerce technologies and PG diploma in software export technologies.

Addressing a news conference in Circuit House here, the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, said the PTU and Asset International had signed an MoU to introduce these courses in five institutions of Ludhiana from September 15 under a pilot project. These institutions include the Government Polytechnic for Women and GND Polytechnic in Ludhiana, the ITI at Gujjarwal, the ITI at Samrala and Government Senior Secondary School at Saholi.

The minister said, keeping in view the demand for IT professionals worldwide, the Punjab Government had decided to offer the courses at subsidised charges, initially. The five institutions would have 600 trainees. Later, the training programme would be extended to all 160 ITIs and polytechnics in the state.

Mr Garcha said Punjab would be the first state in the country to provide such training which would produce 20,000 trained IT professionals every year. “With the involvement of the corporate sector, the quality of training will improve and trainees will get jobs easily,” he said.

He also said the state government would spend Rs 10 crore on infrastructural facilities for the programme. Mr Garcha said the present education system was creating a large number of educated unemployed youth who had non-technical degrees. He said such educated youth could be diverted towards the IT and the industrial sectors. He said Punjab would need 2 lakh trained IT professionals in the next eight years.

The Vice-Chancellor of the PTU, Dr H.S. Gurm, said the university would focus on the IT training and the establishment of training centres in rural areas. He said, depending on the response to these courses, more courses could be introduced.

Mr Sri Kant Sinha, Regional Manager (north) of Asset International, said an annual fee of Rs 20,000 would be charged for these courses. He also said the top five students of each institution would get a merit scholarship of Rs 10,000 each. Aptech Limited would hire the top two students of each centre.

Mr Sinha said the country’s IT training industry had to meet the projected demand for 1,40,000 professionals in the next two years as per a recent survey by NASSCOM. The industry reports also said, even if the IT manpower pool increased ten times in the next 5 years, it would be absorbed by the IT industry. India would require at least 2.2 million IT professionals by 2008.

On the prospects of e-commerce and software exports, Mr Sinha said the e-commerce transactions by 2003 would be worth more than Rs 10,000 crore.

The demand for Indian software professionals was increasing in countries like the USA, the UK, Germany and Japan. India was expected to be a leading supplier of quality trained manpower, he said.


Police raids city hotels
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — As part of a special operation launched by the CIA staff, the police raided four city hotels in order to check immoral trafficking of women here.

A team of police officers led by the CIA in charge, Inspector Maninder Bedi, today conducted raids on Hotel Hilltop, Hotel Zoom, Hotel Regency and Hotel San Plaza. During these raids, three couples were arrested from Hotel Hilltop near Bharat Nagar Chowk and one couple from Hotel Regency in the Focal Point area.

A few people who were gambling are also reported to have been picked up during these raids.


Shrimaan scheme in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — After success in Patiala district, the popular Shrimaan scheme of the Punjab police has now been launched in the Focal Point area of the city.

Announcing this here today at the inaugural function of a computer education institute held in Focal Point, Deputy Superintendent of Police Gurjit Singh said that the scheme started in this area from today. The scheme aimed at improving mannerisms of the Punjab police while dealing with public. Hitherto known more for their rude behaviour, the scheme demands the policemen to address public as “shrimaanji” or ‘shrimatiji’ as the case may be.

Even the police personnel attending telephones will now begin their sentence with the word “shrimannji”. The scheme will be shortly extended to other parts of the city.

DSP Gurjit Singh also announced starting of special and separate helplines for children, parents and old persons in the Focal Point area. He said the helplines would be available round the clock for redressing grievances of the people. He invited the public to make the maximum use of these lines in order to get justice and to help in controlling the crime rate in the area. The helplines numbers would be advertised shortly.

Talking about the scheme Dr D.J. Singh, Deputy Director, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, said the community policing scheme introduced by the academy would go a long way in improving police-public relations in the state. He called upon the public to make maximum utilisation of the scheme and cooperate with the police.


300 widows get relief 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — More than 300 widows of the town were given relief in the form of rations and other items of daily use by the Gyan Sthal Mandir Sabha at its 37th monthly function here today. Mr Vijay Chopra, Chief Editor, Hind Samachar group, was the chief guest.

Others who attended the function included the Punjab Cabinet ministers, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha and Mr Baldev Raj Chawla, Mr S.S.Bhatti, SP Traffic, and the Executive Magistrate, Mr Bharat Bhushan Garg.

Mr Chawla, in his address, described the monthly relief scheme launched by the Gyan Sthal Mandir Sabha as the only one of its kind in the whole of the northern India. He also lauded the services of the Hind Samachar Group of newspapers in organising relief work for the far- flung calamity stricken areas of the country. He also announced a grant of Rs 30,000 to the sabha from his discretionary fund.

Mr Chopra lauded the services of the sabha which had been organising monthly disbursement of ration and other necessary household commodities to the poor widows of the town for the past three years or so. The scheme was started with providing relief to 51 widows.


Nudity on TV criticised
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — A paper reading contest on “How far nudity is justified on television” and “Role of husbands in the household work” was organised by the Geetanjli Ladies Club yesterday. More than 12 participants took part in the contest and shared their ideas and feelings regarding the subjects.

“Nudity poisons the mind. Exploitation of woman should be stopped. Our culture is being destroyed.” These were the views of every woman present at the contest. Most of the women felt that their culture was losing moral values. Sex related crimes had increased in the society. As one of the participants said, “Yantra poojante nari”, earlier people used to worship woman like Durga, Laxmi and Parvati but now only the physical aspect of a woman is highlighted and not her personality, identity and dignity. The papers read by Megha Gupta, Achla Gupta and Amrita Vij were applauded by the audience.

Mini Pruthi, Kiran Soi and Seema Gupta came out very well with their expressions on “Role of husband in household work”.

Ms Asha Miglani, President of the club, introduced the two judges, Ms Sushil Verma, Principal of the SDP College, and Ms Shruti Maini, Head of Medical Transcription at Chandigarh hospital, to the club members. The judges said the efforts made by the participants were really appreciable and it was difficult for them to make the judgement. Dr Achla Gupta won the first prize while Kavita Ahuja and Kiran Garg got the second and third prizes respectively. Dr Amrita Vij was given the consolation prize.

The club also donated Rs 5,000 to late Krishan Adeeb’s wife, who was an Urdu poet and had died recently.


CM reviews law and order situation
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — A high-level meeting of the Department of Home was held here the other day to discuss the law and order situation in the state in view of the forthcoming Assembly session. The meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Sources said, besides the CM, those present at the meeting included the Home Secretary of Punjab, the Director General of Police and the Inspector General of Police (Headquarters). Another purpose of the meeting was to prepare replies to the questions expected to be raised by the members in the forthcoming session of the Punjab Legislative Assembly. 


Cut flower production booming in Punjab cities 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — The appreciation of flowers for their aesthetic value has now slowly turned into realisation of economic potential also with a promise of handsome returns per unit area. This has also led to the development of domestic market for cut and loose flowers on sizeable scale in big cities like Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, besides other towns and cities.

Growing of flowers has caught the attention of growers to increase their income by selling them in and around big cities. It is a big business of many countries. Of late serious efforts are being made to enter into the export market of the world by the state.

A coordinated effort is being made by Punjab Agricultural University, the agricultural and processed food export development authority, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation to achieve this goal. The climatic condition of Punjab are highly favourable for produciton of seeds, bulbs and flowers. However, for exporting cut flowers there is a need for modification of environment for which structures like green houses are required. This type of growing is a costly affair and requires a lot of finances which discourage its adoption on a large scale. This makes it possible only for big industrial houses and growers to adopt such a costly technology. For individual small growers having small capital, growing of flowers for local market is a highly profitable venture.

Cut flowers have now become an integral part of almost all the social and cultural events. The production of such flowers like rose, gladiolus, carnation, chrysanthemum, tuberose lilliumus, gerbera and others and their availability on commercial scale has led to their use in bouquets and arrangements for gifts.

According to Dr J.S. Arora and Dr Ramesh Kumar, the growing of flowers for cut flower production was considered a difficult task considering the sub-tropical conditions of Punjab where extreme conditions prevailed both in summer and winter months. Punjab Agricultural University has led to standardise the production technology of some of the production technology of some flowers for commercial cultivation which includes gladiolus, rose, chrysanthemum, carnation, gerbera and others.

The PAU has recently identified some good varities of gladiolus for commercial growing. Some of them are sancere, white prospering, nova lux, eurovision. Other promising varities are rose supreme, friendship and priscilla. The best plantation time is October for cut flower and corn and cormel production. However, to supply the flowers in the market over a longer period staggered planting from September to November at fortnightly interval is also suggested.

Chrysanthemum is also important for cut flower as well as loose flower production. The university has recommended some varities for loose flower production for the benefit of growers. Some of them are Birbal Sahani, Baggi, Ratlam, basanti. Carnation is another flower important for production. Standard sim carnation have replaced the seed carnation for commercial growing.

Gerbera can be produced under Punjab conditions successfully. The promising varities are gold spot, blorosa, rosabella and lilabellaliy. And then there is tuberrose which can fill the gap in the market and forms an ideal cut flower.


Problems pile up for potato farmers
From Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — Ujjagar Singh is expecting a bumper potato harvest this year. However, it brings little cheer to him or his family because the crop may not get him the desired income.

Ujjagar Singh is not the only one; there are thousands of farmers across the state, particularly in the Doaba region, who are worried. Although the potato harvest season is about a month away, the expected overproduction of the crop is causing a problem. With huge potato stocks already in cold storage chambers throughout the state, farmers are worried about sale prospects of the new crop. Officials of the Agriculture Department said there was likely to be a bumper potato crop this year.

A random visit to various cold storage chambers by The Tribune team revealed that huge stocks of the past year’s potato produce were still there.

Farmers have a good reason to feel worried. Currently, good-quality potato is selling at between Rs 60 and Rs 140 per 80 kg bag. Farmers fear that prices may go down further after the arrival of fresh crop in the market.

Ujjagar Singh grows potatoes in about 200 acres near Phillaur. He said he was afraid that nobody would purchase the new crop. Besides this 200 acres, he has considerable land on contract basis where he grows potato.

Getting the buyers is a secondary problem for farmers like him. They are more worried about whether they would find a place to store their harvest or not.

Ujjagar Singh owns a cold storage chamber, but many other farmers are not so fortunate. Due to poor income from the crop in the past few years, many farmers have not been able to payment the rent for using cold storage chambers.

Owners of most cold storage chambers said almost all potato farmers had not paid the rent. “We understand the problem of farmers, but we are also in a difficult situation,” said Mr A.S. Chauhan, manager of the Guru Nanak Cold Storage near Jalandhar bypass. “Farmers have not earned enough from the crop in the past few years and this has made them almost bankrupt,” he said.

He said a bag of potato cost Rs 140 and a farmer did not get even half of this amount. “Out of this, Rs 55 goes to cold storage units. The cumulative charges on transportation add up to Rs 20. The farmer hardly gets about Rs 65 per 80 kg bag.

The problem of farmers in the Doaba region has become more serious after farmers in the cotton belt of Bhatinda and its surrounding areas have also started growing potato after a decline in the cotton harvest in the past few years.

Potato is one of the main cash crops of the state. However, for the past few years, overproduction has been rife. Also, huge stocks of potato are lying in storage depots of Maharashtra and Karnataka, in the absence of customers. Hasan in Karnataka is one of the leading potato centres of the country. There, over 1 crore potato bags are still lying, adding to the worries of farmers.


A tough going for small dhaba owners

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — “Papi pet ka swal hai”. To fill their bellies, most of the small dhaba owners have left their native homes to Ludhiana to keep their home fires burning.In this article we are not dealing with dhabas on the G T Road, or Deluxe dhabas.

Very modest dhabhas on the roadside are run by people from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. These dhabas can be classified into two kinds. One type of dhaba is at the ground level, where an earthen tandoor is fixed, while the other is on the rehris.

Ramesh, of Sarabha Nagar has a small dhaba. He has arranged bricks to give it a shape of a bench and spread a mat for his customers to sit. He has a few utensils, two big pots for cooking dal and vegetables and a big parat to knead the dough, a few steel plates, etc. He says, “I sell a roti for 75p and a plate of dal for Rs. 3. Vegetables, mostly potatoes, are also sold at Rs 3 per plate.This is the standard number of utensils required by a dhaba owener to start his enterprise.

The customers are generally rickshaw walas or the daily-wage earners. During the whole day, he uses 4 kg of atta and 1/2 kilo of dal and spends Rs 60 to buy wood for the tandoor. I am able to save only Rs 50 to 60 a day. I have a large family to support. I have five daughters and one boy.” So far he has been able to marry off one of his daughters. For the wedding, he had to borrow money. He is in debt. “How will you pay off?” this correspondent asked.

“I will pay it in years to come. My second daughter has taken a job as a house maid and will be getting around Rs 1000.”

He lives in poverty and is hardly able to support his family. Apparently he has not heard of family planning. Jagdish Parshad, who has a dhaba on the pavement, in Civil Lines, has also come from Sultanpur, UP. Now settled in his own house in Salim Tabri, he is not very happy with the way things are going. He said, “Municipal Corporation harasses us a lot these days. Earlier they did not bother us so frequently, but now a days they come once a week, and take away tarpaulin. Then I have to go to MC and pay a fine ranging from Rs 400 to Rs 1000 depending on the mood of the officer. I charge Rs 1 for a roti and mostly I serve the whole meal comprising dal, chawal and rotis for Rs 10. I serve three meals a day. Breakfast is for Rs 5 only - two paranthas and dahi or dal and pickle is a must. My customers are labourers and rickshaw walas.”

He has employed two boys to clean the utensils. He pays Rs 500 and Rs 700 to the boys, respectively. His work yields him an income of Rs 100 a day. “I have four children. I am trying my best to manage in my meagre income. The dhaba walas have no associations. Sometimes when the customers do not come on account of rains or holidays, we wonder how we will manage in this mehngai.”

The rehri dhaba walas also sell paranthas for Rs 5. Almost all homeless people, eat their breakfast from these dhabawalas.

The irony is that they feed people, yet with great difficulty are able to feed their own family. — AA


Dharna outside sadar police station
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 3 — A large number of people today staged a dharna outside the Sadar police station against the alleged inaction of the police in arresting two of the accused in the murder of Preet Kaur.

The angry relatives and friends of the family of the deceased raised slogans against the police during this dharna that lasted over two hours. They demanded that the police arrest the mother-in-law and the sister-in-law of Preet Kaur who was allegedly pushed into the canal by her husband, Jhujhar Singh after a minor altercation a few days ago.

The dharna was lifted only after the police gave an assurance of arresting the other accused soon. When contacted, the Superintendent of Police, Mr Pramod Ban said that the police had already arrested Jhujhaar Singh and his father and raids were being conducted to arrest the other accused.

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