Friday, September 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Scared residents seek arms licences
By Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — Following a spate in armed robberies in and around Ludhiana and the Jagraon subdivision during the past few months, there has been a panic reaction with a number of people in these areas seeking arms licence from the district authorities.

Four persons were killed and several others injured in numerous attacks by armed robbers, most of them supposed to be belonging to the notorious kale kachhewale gang. Although there has been no such incident during the past one month, yet the number of applicants seeking arms licence has not decreased.

Sources in the Deputy Commissioner’s office revealed that the number of applicants had increased by over 50 per cent during the past three months. Giving figures, the sources said, the number of people who has applied for the arms licences in the month of May was 450, against 275 in April.

As the armed attacks started in villages, people became panicky with more and more of them applying for licences. Similarly the number of applicants witnessed an ascending trend. In the month of June it was 475. Although in July the number of applicants was slightly less as it came down to 395 , in the month of August it again went to 475. In the first 13 days of September 300 persons have at for persons have applied for licences.

Officials involved in issuing licences revealed that most of the applicants had been maintaining that they had applied for the licences due to spate in armed robberies in and around the villages.

Avtar Singh (not his real name) from a village near Jagraon said, people were not crazy about keeping arms. But the circumstances had made them feel apprehensive. “These are the worst times I have seen, when the entire village sleeps in fear”, said the 60 year old villager. He recalled that even during militancy people were not so scared as they were now today.

With the local police reportedly short of staff for carrying night patrolling, people have been asked by the authorities to start thikri pehras. Though thikri pehras were started in most villages, people were generally scared of moving around much because of being virtually unarmed, especially in the peripheral areas of the villages. In a large number of villages, people took armed licences to be given to those on the thikri pehra duty.

District authorities here said usually they did not deny a licence to anyone. Only formality needed was the clearance from the police. They said, the day an application was received, it was forwarded to the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police for verification. And the moment the verification report was received from the SSP’s officer, licence was issued to the applicant.

Long queues of applicants from villages could be seen outside the office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner, who is the issuing authority. A number of people told to Ludhiana Tribune that the possessing of weapons gave them a sense of security.Back


Cops to probe lottery racket
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — The city police today sent a special team headed by an Inspector to Chandigarh for verifying the claims made by a representative of Azad-Hind Lotteries that its Shubh Divali Bumper scheduled for October 26 were genuine and registered with the Punjab Government.

The team had been sent after certain persons , complained to the police about their suspicion that the lottery was fake. They had alleged that the lottery was fake as it did not carry the stamp of the state government and signatures of the Principal Secretary Finance, Punjab.

The complainants, who did not wish to be quoted , also alleged that the telephone numbers given by the company were also wrong as calls made to the office numbers revealed that no such company existed. The complainants alleged that the lottery ticket also did not carry the mandatory place and time of the draw. The city kotwali police said the representative had been detained and sent along with the team to Chandigarh. 


Duped villager seeks justice
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — An illiterate Dalit farmer is running from pillar to post for justice. He wants that the person responsible for shattering his and his son’s dreams be booked.

Mr Harbans Singh, a marginal farmer of Bhattian Dhaha village near Humbaran, who had come to the sangat darshan programme today, while talking to TNS said he had come here as the last resort to seeking justice. Another villager had duped him of over Rs 60,000 of his hard-earned money on the pretext of sending his son to Dubai. It was more than two years back that they were cheated. The accused still continued to remain free and the police had failed to take any action against him.

The 32-year-old son of Mr Harbans Singh, Mr Daljit Singh, aspired to make it big by settling down in Dubai. The father and son had worked day in and day out to save enough money to arrange for the travel expenses of the latter. It was then that they were approached by another villager, Kammikar Singh, who promised to help them fulfil their dreams.

Beginning January 1998, Mr Harbans Singh is alleged to have paid Rs 55,000 to the accused within three months. He then took Mr Daljit Singh to Mumbai with the promise of sending him to Dubai. After they reached there, Mr Daljit Singh was made to stay in a chawl

“Kammikar would tell him that he would soon be sent to Dubai and would ask him to get more money. Daljit would then call back. I would send more money to him. After a few weeks, we realised that the accused was cheating us. Daljit came back home after losing all the money,” he recalled.

“It has been more than two years. We have repeatedly approached the accused to return our money and my son’s passport. The matter was also taken up by the village gram panchayat a few times. Kammikar has been asked to pay our money back, but he has not done so,” he rued.Back


GNPS postpones exams
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — The half yearly examination of Guru Nanak Public School, which were to commence today, have been postponed indefinitely as the school is closed.

When the students came to school to appear in the examination, they were told to go back home as the school had been closed for an indefinite period. The Class X and XII students were, however, allowed to enter the school for filling up the CBSE forms. The teachers were told to stay back.

In the morning, the students raised slogans in favour of Ms Kulwant Virdi, the ex-principal. Some of them were carrying posters with the message — ‘‘We want Ms Virdi back in school’’.

In a press conference called up by Mr Ranjit Singh Bhail, honorary Principal and General Secretary of Shri Guru Nanak Public School Trust, said the school was closed without his consent. ‘‘I was coming towards the school when I saw the students moving back. It was surprising for me. Later, in the school I held a meeting with the staff and they insisted on me to not to come to the office. But I said I have to come as per the court orders. The staff also wanted Mr R. S.Gill, vice-principal, to be appointed incharge of the academic part, to which I agreed, but Mr Gill declined,’’ he said.                     

He further said the staff wanted an assurance that none of them would be removed and I assured them in this regard. When asked about the examinations, he replied, ‘‘I want the examination to be conducted on Monday, but if some opposition is there, the school will be closed for ten days again. The teachers will have to come everyday and if anybody remains absent for three consecutive days, some disciplinary action may be taken. ’’ Refuting allegations that Mr Bhail had threatened the teachers, he said the teachers might have misinterpreted his words. He was, instead, in favour of a friendly atmosphere among employees at all levels in the school.

Asked about reasons for indifferent attitude of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the chairman of the Trust, towards the school matters, Mr Bhail replied, ‘‘We told him to come but we cannot pressurise him. The other four Trustees, including me, keep discussing the matters.’’

The parents of the school students seemed worried about the outcome of the tense situation in the school. Back


No arrangements for sangat darshan visitors
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — Charan Singh of Chack Mafi village in Samrala tehsil had come with a complaint against an ex-sarpanch, for allegedly misappropriating the money that had been allotted to the panchayat under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojna and also the earnings of the panchayat from the land it had leased out on contract, to the weekly sangat darshan at about 10.30 AM.

Charan Singh had been standing in the long queue for about two hours, awaiting his turn to enter the conference hall where the Deputy Commissioner listens to public grievances every week, in presence of the team of other officers, specially called for the occasion. He had no grievances for having to stand in the queue for such a long time. But it would have been better had there been proper arrangement for drinking water and fans.

Similarly two brothers Wazir Singh and Jagir Singh had come from Raikot with a complaint against the Municipal Committee, which reportedly had blocked the drain adjacent to their house. The drain which had earlier also been blocked had been opened after the orders of the Deputy Commissioner. However, the municipal officials reportedly constructed a structure which blocked the drain again, creating problems for them. The Deputy Commissioner asked the SDM Raikot to visit the site and file a report on the issue.

As the sangat darshan programme gets popularised with more and more people coming to seek redress of their grievances, the administration appears to be not making proper arrangements for the visitors. While all the officials, who are required to respond to the queries raised at the sangat darshan on the spot sit inside the airconditioned conference hall, the people perspire it out, in the corridor. So much so there is no sitting arrangement either.

Over past some weeks the number of people coming to sangat darshan has increased. While it may reflect well upon the performance of the administration and the Deputy Commissioner, the lack of arrangements like that of drinking water and fans is being badly felt by the people. In fact a number of complainants come for second or third time as all the problems are not solved instantly.

However it is not always that the officers follow the instructions in the sangat darshan programme by the Deputy Commissioner, despite stern warnings. Mr Krishen Chander Sood of Model Town had come today for the seventh time. He had a complaint against the Pollution Control Board, which was not taking any action against a soap factory. Mr Sood argues that caustic soda fumes were coming out which were hazardous for health. The DC took serious note of the issue and asked the concerned department to take action within one month.

In another complaint a tailor from Ahmedgarh village Sukhdev Singh, charged some officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board of demanding bribe for installing electric meter in his house. Sukhdev Singh said he had met the Superintending Engineer of the PSEB also and brought the matter to his notice on August 25 last, without any results.

However, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S K Sandhu, assured that he had taken serious note of the issue and would raise the matter with the Chief Engineer.


Waiting for promised jobs, prize

By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — Four divers, who had saved a number of lives in past several years in the city, are today a disillusioned lot. The municipal corporation has still not fulfilled its four-year-old promise of providing a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and a government job for their heroic acts.

Ever since an official of the municipal corporation, in the presence of the police and district administration officials, promised the award to Rutal Mahato, Satyan Sahni Naresh Shah and Bablu Shah-in 1996 , the four have been virtually running from pillar to post to get it. Their efforts have not been successful as yet. Their efforts have not.

Originally hailing from Bihar, the four have been working as divers for the past more than a decade. That they are experts in the profession is evident from documents shown by them as their services were called several times by the administration.

Narrating their tale of woe to Ludhiana Tribune here today, Rutal Mahato and Satyan Sahni were literally in tears. Recalling the time of the announcement of the promise along with producing supporting documents, they said in May 1996 three well diggers died when a well which they were digging caved in.

Officials of the district administration and the municipal corporation soon descended at the site but could not retrieve the bodies. Someone told about the divers and they were called.

According to the two, municipal officials led by an Xen, who is now as a Superintendent Engineer promised a cash prize and a government job to all if the three bodies were retrieved. The divers said the work was very dangerous and when they embarked on it the walls of the well shook causing alarm to them.

The labourers then demanded some additional equipment which was not provided and the administration told them to leave the work as they wanted to do it on their own through deep digging. However, the digging plan failed as it caused danger to the adjoining houses. The services of the divers were again called but when they to reached at one of the body and wanted one special equipment, their services were again suspended.

In the process, seven days passed, which also saw two demonstrations by the residents of the area against the administration. After one such demonstration, their in services were again called. This time according to the labourers, the administration did as demanded and soon all bodies were retrieved.

However, the labourers were not given the promised job and since then they have been knocking at the doors of the MC officials, district administration and even political leaders for the award.

After many rounds of the offices concerned they finally managed to get an award of Rs 1000 only, besides being honoured at Independence Day in 1997 but the promised prize is not forthcoming. One of them was given only a temporary job in the corporation which too was taken terminated.

Airing their grievances, the divers also produced documents of their work which showed that they had saved lives from Budda Nullah, the Sutlej and retrieved several other dead bodies, not caring for their own lives.

Mr S. S. Sandhu, Commissioner, MC, when asked for comments, said the divers had come to him but as the MC had no written record of the promise, he could not do much. Moreover, he said the MC recruitment was not possible as the state government had banned all appointments. He said there was no documentary proof that the officials had made.Back


Cooperatives to get priority: Dalam
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — The Punjab Government will give top priority to cooperative construction unions while allotting construction work to give a boost to the cooperative movement in the state.

This was stated here today by Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Minister for Public Relations, at the installation ceremony of the chairman of the Ludhiana Cooperative Labour and Construction Societies Union, Mr Ajmer Singh Bhagpur. Mr Dalam said a notification to this effect would be released shortly. Highlighting the advantages of the cooperative movement in this connection, the minister said it would help in eliminating the contractors, who used substandard material, and improving the quality of the new constructions.

He said the Punjab Government would encourage the cooperatives on the Haryana pattern, for which the government had decided to grant recognition to cooperatives with a strength of 21 members, instead of the earlier necessary strength of 101 members. Even three persons, provided they were qualified engineers, could float a cooperative society engaged in construction activity.

In order to involve more unemployed youth in the cooperative sector, the government had decided to extend a Rs 3 lakh credit limit to such ventures. In view of the great workload at the District Public Relations Office at Ludhiana, special funds would be earmarked soon, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, the Punjab Speaker, Mr Charanjit singh Atwal, said the cooperative movement was very strong in the state. Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal also spoke. Nearly 50 sarpanches of various villages, most of them members of the cooperative union, were present.Back


Taking the message to villages
By D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, September 14 — The annual circus of political conferences at the just concluded Chhapar fair, about thirty km from here, is over. All the political leaders who descended on the scene on Wednesday, have left the village after delivering their speeches with plenty of gesticulation. This time round, these conferences had a special significance in view of the coming Sunam byelection. No political party spared any effort to put its message across the speakers to the rural masses.

The entire show would not be possible if there was no audience at all. Ludhiana Tribune spoke to some persons to know what brought them to these conferences.

Mr Amar Singh, a 76-year-old farmer from Mullanpur Dakha, was sitting alone among the backrows. For him it is an annual business to be in the conference. He does not come to the mela to enjoy merry-making, but to listen to various leaders. He is planning to visit other conferences as well.

He thinks it necessary before fully assessing the situation and taking a final decision. When he returns to his village, he will be surrounded by friends and relatives, who will demand the latest from Chhapar. He is an opinion leader whose word is valued by the villagers. After they have got all the news, they look up to him for guidance. He thinks he is doing a duty to his fellowmen and the village by his conference excursions.

Mr Avtar Singh (61), a resident of Siarrh village, has been coming to the fair for the past 40 years. A farmer by profession, he is interested in politics. For the past many years, he has been giving a patient hearing to almost all the leaders of various political parties, only to narrate it to those village folk who are unable to attend these conferences in person.

Mr Gurmel Singh Fauji is a retired Lance Naik. He fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars. He is a hard-core Akali worker who has been ignored by the party leadership. He attends all Akali conferences to pester the leaders to give him some recognition.

Mr Darshan Singh (60), is also a farmer who makes it a point to attend every conference at the fair. Rachheen, his village, is not far from the fair site. So there are little chances of missing out any time. He also takes on this responsibility of listening and analysing for the people of his village.

For Mr Kuldeep Singh of Pohir village, going to all the conferences is a useless exercise. He thinks it enough to attend the conference of his choice. He will go back to his village and spread the party message in the village by the word of mouth.


Policeman or thief ?
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 14 — A local industrialist has accused a policeman of being involved in the theft at his residence in Urban Estate three days ago, after claiming to have recognised him as one of the thieves in front of the latter’s seniors.

The house of Mr. Ajay Dhir was robbed by four persons wearing masks on the intervening night of September 11-12. The thieves had reportedly decamped with 20 tolas of gold and Rs. 40,000 in cash and a few other valuables. The thieves had reportedly also been carrying firearms.

However, after the FIR was registered by the police on the morning of September 12, the complainant’s brother claims to have recognised one of the accused from his dress, while he was travelling with the policeman on the scooter. On closer inspection, he also recognised the policeman, Hawaldar Charanjit Singh, as one of the accused from the scar on his forehead.

The Station House Officer, Focal Point Police Station, Inspector Paramjit Singh, when contacted said the allegation on the policeman was baseless as the complainants could not have seen the face of the accused through his mask.” However, in order to dispel the doubts of the complainant, we have interrogated the police man or, but so far nothing has come out of it. Moreover, the accused policeman was on duty at Samrala Chowk at the time of the theft.”Back

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