Saturday, September 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Panic withdrawal of GPF by telecom employees 
By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Apprehending danger to their hard saved money due to the ensuing corporatisation of the Telecom Department, a numbers of employees of the local Telecom Division and the Khanna and Jagraon areas have resorted to panic withdrawals from their General Provident Fund (GPF) accounts.

While the exact number of employees resorting to this action could not be ascertained, the increase in withdrawal amount speaks for itself about the mad rush of the employees. This month more than Rs 1.5 crore were withdrawn while most of the time the total amount of withdrawals in a year are less than that.

The fears of the employees regarding the merger of the Telecom Department into Bhartiya Sanchar Nigam Ltd from October 1 is said to the main reason behind the withdrawals. Sources said the apprehensions had been further compounded by widespread opposition of the corporatisation move by the telecom employees.

The representatives of the employees had in talks with the government also aired their apprehensions about the possible retrenchment of the employees. They were also concerned about the safety of their savings in case the nigam suffers loss in future.

Thankfully, the department managed to clear most of the applications lest it might have faced some serious agitation from the employees. A senior official said the applications had started piling just about 2 months ago when ago when the news of the corporatisation of the department began doing rounds. The rush was so heavy that the entire wing concentrated on the disposal of applications. The clearance has become more competitive as all kinds of sifarish for the early disposal pour in.

Suddenly, it seemed that some kind of activity was on in the houses of the employees. Some one required money for the marriage of his son or daughter, others wanted to construct a house while some applied for a repair load. Those who had already used the above said options applied for a loan from their GPF accounts on grounds of medical treatment of a family member of even small functions.

An official of the department said not only here but employees in the whole state had resorted to such a practice. At Chandigarh, more than Rs 1 crore had been withdrawn from the GPF accounts. Senior officials had to organise a series of meetings with the employees to convince them about the safety of their nigam. However, they could not stop many from indulging in panic withdrawal.

An employee in the accounts wing of the department said they too tried to convince the employees by given their own example. He said none of their section had applied for withdrawl from GPF account. The senior officials had also requested the union leaders to stop the employees.


PAU biotech centre faces closure 
By Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The Centre of Biotechnology which had been created with so much zeal and aplomb by the authorities of Punjab Agricultural University in 1992, for the path breaking research in agricultural sciences, seems to be heading towards total oblivion.

Originally, the centre had teachers from at least 13 departments of the university to coordinate their efforts on new areas of research. However, the centre is now left with just half a dozen teachers, the others having been declared surplus by the present administration of the university and sent to different departments.

The centre was converted into a department before being merged with the Department of Genetics. The founder Director of the Centre, Dr H.S. Dhaliwal, who says that he put in his earnest efforts to strengthen the centre with plenty of financial support from the national and international agencies appears to have been given a raw deal by the university authorities. At first, he was stripped of the designation and powers of director and later demoted to the rank of head of the department. Late the powers of the head were also withdrawn and he was designated as a Professor.

Recently, three more teachers namely Dr V.K. Gupta, senior microbiologist, Dr Baldev Singh, assistant biotechnologist, Dr G.S. Cheema, have been declared redundant and transferred to the Department of Animal Nutrition, Plant Breeding and Seed Science, Technology, respectively.

Dr Gupta who had been working in the biotechnology centre since 1992 is trained in genetic engineering under the Rochefeller Foundation programme at Scripps Institute, San Diego, USA. He is one of the principal investigators of the Rs 70 lakh-research project funded by the Indo-Swiss collaboration .

Dr Baldev Singh, assistant biotechnologist, has been trained in genetic transformation at International Rice Research Institute, Manila. He is co-principal investigator of the project “Pyramiding genes for leaf rust resistance in wheat” sponsored jointly by the NATP-World Bank.

The third scientist, Dr G.S. Cheema, who has been trained at Teri on plant tissue culture and genetic engineering, has been transferred while he is still on deputation for training in biotechnology to CIMAP, Lucknow.

Two months ago, Dr H.R. Chopra, senior horticulturist, who was working on various projects of biotechnology was first transferred to the Department of Floriculture. After about a month or so he was transferred back to the Department of Biotechnology and now finally he has been transferred to the Department of horticulture. Similarly, Dr Neena Chawla, assistant biochemist, has been transferred to the Department of Vegetable Crops.

Also, Dr Sukhwinder Singh and Dr T.S. Grewal have resigned their jobs. In addition two other scientists, Dr Kuldip Singh, molecular geneticist and Dr Anoop Singh Sindhu, assistant biotechnologist, are being sent to the Ohio State University, USA, for training. In such circumstances the staff strength of the personnel trained in biotechnology will be reduced to just six.

The teachers concerned lament that with these alleged regressive measures the on- going research project, running into crores of rupees and financed by external agencies will have to be abandoned at the cost of the reputation of the university.

Dr H.S. Dhaliwal, former Director, Biotechnology, speaking on the behalf of the scientists said it was quite inexplicable that scientists who were already trained and were actively involved in research were being sent for training at the OSU, America. He said the biological approaches on the increasing productivity and profitability of agricultural operations, while preserving environment and natural resources were too well recognised to be emphasised over and again, according to him his efforts should not be set at naught, by shuttling his colleagues like pawns on a chess board.

Since the Vice-Chancellor was not available for comments this correspondent met a number of senior officers of the university, including Registar, Dean College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, Research Coordinator and the Head of the Department of Genetics.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Registrar, only said the transfers of the teachers had been made by the Vice-Chancellor on recommendations of the Dean, College of Basic Sciences.

Dr Z.A. Zahir, Dean, College of Basic Sciences, said the transfers had been made after taking into account all the pros and cons, including the financial crunch being faced by the institution at present. He was of the opinion that the teachers would be more usefully employed in the new departments to which they had been transferred.

He added that the two departments were merged after reviewing their overall performance and to avoid overlapping of research work.

Dr V.C. Kapoor, Research Coordinator, College of Basic Sciences, was of the view that no research work would suffer on the account of the transfers as the research was being conducted by a team of scientists. He added that the merging of the two departments would make the available infrastructure and laboratories for common use.

Dr G.S. Saini, Head, Deprtments of Genetics, explained that he is overburdened with work as he has to look after both the departments now. Teachers of the university have criticised these transfers.


Memories of partition
Daughter remembers father’s anguish, struggle

WE were not a witness to the most gruesome event of the 1940s i.e. the horrendous partition, but I have experienced the anguish many times when my father relates the pain and suffering he underwent on leaving Rawalpindi. Setting down first in Delhi (for some time under tents) and then in Shimla as a building contractor, he went through the struggles of life — success intermingling with minor failures. Yet at the back of his mind the streets of Rawalpindi remained alive and ticking.

A stalwart of Pindi, my father was the proved owner of a sprawling seven-canal house, the address being 155, Edward Road. The house boasted of the latest royal facilities like modern sanitary kennel with six pedigree dogs, refrigerators etc. He was a member of the ‘lodge’, a club for the elite. My father was also the proprietor of a theatre and owned Surjet Film Distribution Company. Literally fascinated I used to listen to how his movies like Zeenat, Sanjog, Shah Jehan, Rattan’ (to mention a few) were box office hits. The public threw coins in appreciation when Rattan was screened.

In physical appearance and bravery he was just like a Pathan and proudly called himself as one belonging to the frontier. So how could this fearless man who wielded the gun easily and for him hunting was a sport, meekly give up his beloved house and business and shift elsewhere? For him, it was a complete no-no. Bowing to the pressure of the elders, he sent his wife and newly born son to Amritsar but stuck on himself batting all odds till the 11th of August, 1947. With a rifle by his side and four dogs sleeping under his bed he guarded his house and property zealously all alone warding off many a threat to his life as riots were breaking out all around him.

“I used to sleep with my eyes open and with my finger on the trigger,” he used to say. The residents of 22 No. Chowki (as the area was called) placed their trust in him by hiding all their jewels in a pit under his refrigerator. All though the night a cacophony of cries of ‘Allah Hu Akbar’, counteracted with ‘Har! Har! Mahadev’ or ‘Bole So Nihal’ filled the air. Yet he was undaunted. Business men from Delhi rued to calling for an exchange of business. “Give us Regal Theatre and we will give you Moti Cinema” they said but the reaction was: “How can I leave my house and work?”

But the torrent of partition induced-woes came cascading down. He was forced by relatives and partners to flee from his beloved ‘Pindi’ empty-handed’. He just took his weapons and reached the station only to witness a horrifying spectacle of dead bodies strewn all around. The fanatics had beheaded several train passengers. His faithful Muslim servant, Munwa Mir came to his rescue. They boarded the train and Munwa Mir sat in the window. The word also went around that the passengers of this coach were heavily armed.

Slowly witnessing gory sights of blood and flesh intermingling with the rain, the train inched forward and reached Wagah, from where he walked on to be reunited with his family. Later on he came to know that the bloodthirsty rioters had beheaded passengers of the following train also. Life went on with its joys and tribulations but as his beloved daughter (for sons usually do not have the patience to do so) I used to listen to his remembrances and imagine the ordeal he went through, living alone in an explosive atmosphere.

His grand children failed to understand why their ‘Nanaji’ could never get himself to enjoy Independence Day celebrations for that was no time of joy for him.

Today, when he is no more and I read excepts of memories of partition, I feel one with them even though I was born later but can identify with their anguish through my dear father’s remembrances.

— Poonam Bindra


Battlelines drawn for LSE poll 
By Manoj Kumar 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The election for the post of two directors of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange, to be held tomorrow, is going to witness a fierce competition not among groups but between the personalities of the candidates. Interviews with a wide section of members on the eve of the election brought out clearly that the achievements of present management of the Board of Directors are well recognised by the members.

There are four candidates in the fray for the two posts of directors. Mr T.S. Thapar, present Vice-President, LSE, Mr Rakesh Jain, Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Sunder Dass Arora are in the field...The former two members belong to the ruling group.

It may be mentioned here that there are six elected directors, elected from the exchange members. However, there are 12 directors in the board of management. On the other hand, there are three SEBI-nominated and three public men in the management. There are around 300 voters, eligible to vote in the election. Last year 189 members voted in the election and voters turnout this year is expected to be between 200-225. One-thirds of the elected members retire every year.

Mr Thapar claimed that they had tried their best during their tenure to serve the interests of the members as well as investors. “During the past two years, badla and margin systems have been thoroughly streamlined and now leakage of trading position/information has been totally stopped. For the NSE and the BSE tie-up, a company, LSE securities Ltd, has been established and the BSE terminals are already started and the NSE terminals will start functioning in the near future,” he adds.

Mr Jaspal Singh, opposite candidate who was also a president of the exchange, strongly condemns the misdeeds of the present management. “The project of providing the Calcutta Stock Exchange terminals was dropped due to vested interests of a particular member. Extravagant expenditure increased to new heights,” he says.

Mr Sanjeev Singh Singhania of Singhania and Co was of the view, “No doubt the completion of the BSE project has certainly benefited the brokers as well as investors. The voter are more or less satisfied with the present management. Mr Thapar is a sincere, committed and an experienced candidate who should be elected by the members.”

Mr Vikas Bhandari of V.V. & Co opined that Mr Jaspal Singh, had worked earlier in the capacity of the president and actively worked for the development of the exchange and revival of members dignity.

It seems that Mr Thapar and Mr Jaspal Singh have strong winning chances due to their reputation and past performance. Their supporting candidates are quite new for the voters.

Mr Anil Kumar, another member of the exchange while echoing the voice of votes said: We are not interested in group politics. We will vote after watching the past performance of candidates and their commitment for the development of the stock exchange.

The election will be held through simple voting system. Each voter has two voters to vote for two candidates. Results are expected to be declared by the evening.



Non-bailable warrants against publisher 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The court of Mr R.K. Sharma, Judicial Magistrate, here has issued non-bailable warrants against a prominent book publisher of Jalandhar Mr Ashok Kumar, partner of Malhotra Book Depot, who is facing charges under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act and Section 420, IPC, in a suit filed by a local firm Varinder Agro Chemicals Limited.

The next date of hearing for the case is October 16.

In a complaint, the firm alleged that the accused company had purchased printing paper in a partial discharge of the liability, had issued a cheque (no 012047 dated 15.7.95) for Rs 10,50,000, drawn on Central Bank of India, Mai Hiran Gate branch, Jalandhar.

However, the said cheque, when presented for encashment by the complainant through their bankers — Punjab National Bank, Lalu Mal Street, Ludhiana, was dishonoured with the remarks ‘drawers signatures differ from the specimen supplied’.

The complainant maintained that there was insufficient balance in the accused firm’s bank account on the particular day, the cheque was presented to their bank but the remarks on cheque returning memo were managed and manipulated in connivance with the bank officials.

A fact, which was later corroborated by Mr Mukesh Mehta, a clerk in the Central Bank of India, Jalandhar, who presented a certified copy of the statement of account of the accused firm, showing a balance of Rs 6,30,607.87 on the date of the presentation of the cheque.

The court had, earlier issued summons to the accused firm on December 2, 1998, followed by bailable warrants on July 9, 1999, and again on August 19, 2000, without effecting the service of court orders.

In the meantime, the accused firm had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who issued directions to the trial court to proceed with the case but not to pass final orders.


YC activists to gherao MC officials 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 The district Youth Congress has reacted to the recent MC general house decision to slash the timings of water supply in the city and the DYC president, Mr Parminder Mehta, has threatened that party activisits will gherao the Mayor and the MC commissioner if the civic body went ahead with the anti-people decision.

Addressing a party workers meeting in New Simla Puri locality here, Mr Mehta lamented that more than half the population of the mega city was forced to drink highly polluted and toxic water, and rather than providing clean piped water to more and more city localities, the MC had chosen to cut down the water supply during day time. He also wondered that a large number of tubewells sunk in the recent past by the civic body at a massive investment, were suddenly indicating fall in the ground water level. “Lack of far sight on the part of senior MC officers might have led to the present mess, necessitating the curtailment of water supply,” he observed.

Mr Mehta also criticised the elected representatives of the masses (the councillors), who had supported the move. “The councillors had betrayed the people and had misused the mandate given by the electorate in their favour.”

He urged the senior civic officials to put an end to discriminatory treatment to the areas on the periphery of the city and to provide additional development grants to such localities, rising above the political affiliations of the councillors.

Among others, former general secretary of the DYC, Mr Amarjit Singh Matharoo, Dr Dalbir Singh Jassi, Dr Avinash Saval, Mr Gurmel Singh, Mr Amrik Singh Kalsi, Mr Jasbir Gill, Mr Surinder Dhiman and Mrs Vikramjit Kaur addressed the meeting.


Consumer forum penalises bank 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The District Consumer Redressal Forum today directed the State Bank of India, Civil Lines, here to make the payment of Rs 3,070 along with 12 per cent interest per annum to a consumer whose cheque had been lost in transit by the bank.

Mr Brij Bihari, a resident of Gurdev Nagar, here had appealed for compensation to the forum as he had received a cheque of Rs 3070 prepared in his name by a car selling company. The complainant had booked a car with the company, but later had to withdraw the amount as he decided to cancel the booking.

However, the cheque sent in his name was lost in transit by the bank. Upholding the plea of the complainant, the forum ordered the bank to make the payment, along with interest, from November 1998.

In another important decision, the forum today directed the Senior Superintendent, Post Offices, here to hold an inquiry into the fate of money deposited by Mr Jia Lal, a resident of Baba Deep Singh Nagar, in a provident fund scheme of the postal department.


Gang of robbers busted 
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Sept 29 — The Khanna police has achieved a major success with the arrest of a gang of local robbers and recovered a haul of gold ornaments and other valuables from them.

According to information, the gang comprising Chamkaur Singh, Sadhu Singh, Jagga Singh, Jaspal Singh and Swaran Singh were arrested by the police party led by ASI Jaspal Singh of the Payal police station. However, the kingpin of the gang, Bajinder Singh, is still at large.


Setting winter ablaze with colours 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Wipe that bewildered look off your face when you see those short woollen skirts and pullovers for men in all the fiery colours of the imagination hanging in the showrooms. And don’t even ask the salesman if anyone buys them. Chances are that he will give you that ‘are-you-crazy-look’ before explaining that all the guys and damsels are going to make a fashion statement in these very skirts and pullovers.

Wild, vibrant and whacky is perhaps the right way to describe what the fashion forecast for the coming winters is likely to be. Fashion pundits are predicting short woollen skirts or knitted trousers in earthen and neutral shades to be coupled with fitted turtle neck skivvies or short fitted sweaters that accentuate the human anatomy.

But it is the guys who are likely to go wild with reds, royal blues, blacks and mint greens while the girls will go sober in virgin colours like silver-grey, off-white, lavender, beige, and even black. Interestingly, all shades of brown, mocha, cinnamon, muddy maroon and rust that were ‘in’ last season for both men and women find no place this year. Hues of green and blue will also be quite popular for sweaters. The make-up for the season will also be bright.

Akash Bansal, who has made quite a mark with his designer knitwear for women — Rage, “This year most designers are playing with the colours, fabric and styles. For example the woollen capes that were a craze in the 70’s and early 80’s have again staged a comeback as have bright colours.”

He informs that this year there will be a lot of freshness in the fabric used. “Most designers as well as the leading manufacturers like Monte Carlo, Casablanca, Creative Line and Pringle are experimenting more with the yarn and fabric than with the colour of knits. The brightness and lust in yarns are important year. The yarn that is being used this year is a blend between acrylic, wool, crochet yarn, feather yarm tape yarn, angora and the transport filament yarn,” he says.

The local knitwear fashion pundits claim that jacquards and multi-coloured designs are out and variation in knits and basic designs will be the in thing this season.

The local hosiery manufacturers are predicting that this year all styles-jackets, cardigans, pullovers, short warm tops will be in demand. Wollen accessories like scarves, capes and caps will also rule the roost. Opines Mr Girish Kapoor, a local knitwear manufacturer, “The demand for pure wollens, this year, is likely to be only in the upper segment, which demands a highly accessorized sweater with more of aesthetic value. Other than this, the brand consciousness among the customers is going to affect the customer choices.”

Interestingly, the cotton sweaters that were popular last year, are no longer the rage this season. Says Akash Bansal, “The cotton sweaters are difficult to maintain and are not as warm.” However, as claimed by Raghav Chaudhary another knitwear manufacturer even a top brand like Monte Carlo has been making cotton sweaters this year.

“The buyers are more particular about the blends, followed by the style. Till last year, most of the wollens being manufactured were unisex, but now this is not the case. Moreover, with winters being shorter and not so severe, cotton sweaters are still the hot favourites,” he says.

It is worth mentioning here that the wollens made by almost all the top brands being manufactured here are designed by a team of highly qualified designers. Most of the top manufacturers have set-up their design studios in their factories, with a team of designers working round-the-clock. A few others prefer to hire designers from Delhi and Mumbai for a new range of designs to be launched each season. At the onset of each season, almost all the top manufacturers also allocate huge chunks of their budget for advertising the product.


A season of exhibitions 
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Gifts are given to someone you love, pamper or adore. Where love is involved money does not matter. But for the people in the megacity, gifts do not necessarily mean love alone, but are sometimes given to score over others. Presenting gifts seems to be a race for upmanship.

People with lots of money leave no stone unturned while hunting for unique and expensive gifts for their near and dear ones. Ludhianvis are no exception and look out for an opportunity to present costly gifts to their dear ones, specially during the festival days.

The shopkeepers also seem to have well understood the taste of the city residents and they have provided a wide range of gift products for their clientele. The showrooms right from the posh areas like Ghumar Mandi, Sarabha Nagar, Model Town and air-conditioned markets at the Mall Road to the small shops in the interior city are flooded with a wide range of gift items from Rs 150 to Rs 15000 and even more.

The showrooms have a huge variety of designer products and designer potteries as well. Every product attracts the customers in its own way. The trendy furniture and handicrafts for the lovers of classy and stylish lifestyle attract most of the people. Every product is made with lots of perfection and touch.

The products include variety of sceneries and paintings, blankets, quilts, bedcovers, carpets, glass sets, beer mugs, tea-sets, lemon sets, the laughing Buddha in wood, crystal and bone china, flower vase, cut glass vases and bathroom sets in plastics, acrylic.

If the products appeal to the Ludhianvis, they will go and get them at any price and present them to their loved ones to show out their clout. Exchange of costly gift items has become a status symbol for the people over here. The festival days provide the best occasion for them to show their riches.

People are crazy and buy gifts which may be out of reach for the common man. The range of a porcelain scenery ranges from Rs 11,000 to Rs 12,500 for the double framing. The satin bed covers and blankets which are all-time favourite for the women of Ludhiana starts with a unique range of Rs 6,000. The glass sets are available at the rate of Rs 750, Rs 1,600, and Rs 1,700 for a dozen. The eight piece beer mugs cost around Rs 2,400. The 'blue glasses' set of six usually cost around Rs 1,450. The laughing Buddha costs Rs 100 to Rs 500 depending on the material used. There is a wide variety of latest kitchen appliances available with discount coupons in the market.

Most of the shopkeepers informed that the people usually take gifts ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000. Even the children are not behind in the exchange of gifts tradition. The toy shops are packed with variety of soft toys, electronic toys and different types of attractive dolls for the tiny-tots of the city.


Navratras mark return of festive season 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Navratras — the pious nine days mark the return of festive season throughout the country. Durga puja — the greatest festival of India is celebrated with great enthusiasm in every corner of the country. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga are worshipped with devotion by the devotees of Maa Bhagwati. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga include Shailputri, Brahamcharini, Chandraghanta, Kusumanda, Sikandmata, Katyayni, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.

People worship Durga, the divine mother to seek her blessings and guidance to follow the right path in life. Lord Rama also invoked the blessings of the Divine Mother to destroy Ravana, the symbol of evil. Dusehra festival, which usually falls on the last day of Shri Durga Puja celebrations is observed throughout the country as victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.

Shri Lakshmi Puja, the goddess of wealth falls on the full moon night following Durga Puja and is celebrated with great devotion. The worship of goddess Kali symbolises the purpose to see removal of darkness from the minds and to imbibe the spirit of light in the way of life. This celebration coincides with the Deepawali festival.

Shri Saraswati is the goddess of learning. It is a special festival for the learners held on the fifth day of Basant. The days coincide with the harvesting of golden paddy in the villages in eastern parts of the country. The Bengalis show their happiness when the sky becomes clear and there are excellent weather conditions before Durga Puja. People chant hymns and sing bhajans to welcome goddess Uma, the daughter of Bengal at her visit to mother Menka’s house for four days. During these four days, the Bengalis from all castes, creeds and communities eat, sing and dance together and offer prayers to the Divine mother. It is believed that on the tenth day Uma or Gauri goes back to her husband Lord Shiva with a tearful farewell to her parents. People hold Maha Saptami Puja, Maha Ashtami Puja, Maha Navmi Puja and Maha Dashmi Puja at their houses. They invite little unmarried girls — the Kanjaks to their house, worship them and offer red chunnis with prasad of puri, chane and halwa as day symbolises the nine incarnations of Maa Durga.

Some of the devotees of divine mother keep fast on all nine days. They eat food which is specially prepared for the occasion and include fruits, milk, chappatis of ‘singhare ka atta’ and ‘oghle ka atta’, papads made of sago and many other things prepared for fasts.

Various shobha yatras are held by the different temple trusts. The tableaux are well decorated with flowers and balloons.

‘Dandiya’ is the main attraction during these days when children, youngsters and the old ones dance together on various religious and non religious numbers holding ‘Dandiya sticks’ in their hands. They enjoy and offer their prayers to Maa Durga.



NHRC asks UP Govt to submit report 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, to submit, within two weeks, the requisite report on the violence and innocent killings executed by the kale kachhewale gangs in Udham Singh Nagar district, now included in Uttaranchal Pradesh.

In a press release, Mr D.S. Gill, chairperson of the IHRO informed that he had petitioned to the NHRC chairman, Justice J.S. Verma (retd) to take up this case of violence on the innocent Sikh farmers who had been made targets as part of a deep-seated conspiracy to run down the agitation against the inclusion of the district in the newly formed hill state of Uttaranchal.

He said that information received by the Udham Singh Nagar (USN) Raksha Committee had shown that this criminal gang had killed 38 Sikhs in the past three months, allegedly as a sequel to the ongoing controversy. The committee suspected the attacks to be a conspiracy and claimed that the police had failed to arrest even a single culprit, said Mr Gill in the petition.

It is learnt that nine Sikhs had been killed in the Kashipur block of the district since April 9, 1999. Many people saw it as an attempt to silence the agitators of the ongoing struggle led by the USN Raksha Committee.

The NHRC thereupon ordered the UP Chief Secretary, “You are required to submit the requisite information/report within two weeks from the date of receipt of this notice,” taking further notice that in case of default “the commission may proceed to take action as it deems proper.”

Meanwhile, expressing its surprise over today’s media reports that kale kachhewale involved in countless murders, decoities and robberies in Punjab possessed I-cards in the form of character certificates issued to them by their communal activities, the NHRC urged the Punjab State Human Rights to cover up matter, thoroughly investigate its intrigues by its agency and do the needful to check this menace.



Talwandi visits mandis to review paddy procurement 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The paddy procurement operations in Khanna town in this district went at a slow pace, with total purchases during the day at just 20,000 bags and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) accounting for only around 2000 bags. The procurement, it was learnt, could not gain momentum due to some communication gap on the fate of a large number of rice shellers, facing departmental action for various irregularities.

The officials said only nine shellers were allotted to the FCI, while another 16 had not so far been attached to any procurement agencies for being defaulters. The Director, Food and Supplies, Punjab, during a recent visit to the grain market at Khanna had made it clear that only those rice shellers would be treated as defaulters, against whom the department had lodged criminal proceedings, whereas none of the shellers in and around Khanna were facing police cases. According to department officials, the orders of the director had not so far been received.

However, the District Food and Supplies Controller Mr Parveen Vij, claimed that the purchase of paddy was picking speed and the farmers were also realising the gravity of the situation. He said till last evening, 61065 tonnes of paddy had been purchased in all mandis in the district, out of which the government agencies had purchased 26331 tonnes or 43 per cent of the total purchase.

Meanwhile, senior Akali Dal leader and Chairman of the SAD Disciplinary Action Committee Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, accompanied by senior officers of the procurement agencies, yesterday visited around one dozen grain markets in the Raikot area of the district. He saw for himself the procurement work and interacted with the farmers and other functionaries in the mandies.

The farmers were particularly critical of the FCI, which they complained, was not purchasing paddy on one pretext or the other. Mr Talwandi asked the District Manager of the FCI to take remedial measures on the spot and to ensure the immediate purchase of paddy, which fulfilled the specifications laid down by the government.

Mr Talwandi visited the grain markets at Hathur, Lakha, Chakar, Manuke, Kamalpura, Lamey, Talwandi, Raikot, Bassian and Jhoran.

Mr Jaspal Mittal, SDM, Jagraon and Mr Inderpreet Singh, SDM, Raikot , among others, accompanied Mr. Talwandi.


One hurt in accident 
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Sept 29 — Sukhwinder Kumar, President of local Gurunanak Nagar, was injured in a road accident here today.

According to information, Sukhwinder was coming on his cycle near Samrala Chowk, when a truck hit him, injuring him seriously. He was referred to the PGI Chandigarh.



Peon suspended 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Paramjit Singh, peon, octroi branch, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, has been suspended for remaining absent from the duty without prior information. The Commissioner has warned the employees of the corporation to perform their duty regularly and punctually, otherwise strict action would be taken against them.


Cassette released 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The cassette release function of ghazal and bhajan singer Suresh Mehandiratta was held here recently. The bhajans cassette Tujh mein Om, mujh mein Om has been launched by T-Series Super Cassettes Industries. The 11 bhajans in the cassette have been composed by Ranjit Singh Rana.


Petrol station looted 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — A petrol station near the Texla factory in Sahnewal is alleged to have been looted by five unknown persons last night.

It is learnt that five gun-toting persons converged on the petrol station on foot and made good their escape after looting Rs 10,000. At that time, four employees of the station as well as a truck driver and his two aides were present.

Surprisingly, no one raised an alarm and the miscreants managed to get away.

The miscreants soon managed to run away from the backside of the station.

Till the time this report was filed, the police had not registered an FIR as the owners of the petrol station were reportedly not interested in doing so.

Rape bid: one held

The police has arrested Lakshmi Kabaria for attempting to rape a two-year-old child in Chet Singh Nagar three days ago.

It may be noted that the accused had picked the girl from outside her house on the night of September 26 while she was playing there. However, the mother of the child soon noticed that her daughter was missing and raised an alarm.

Along with a few other persons, a manhunt was launched for the child. The accused on seeing the people approaching, ran away after leaving the child behind at a secluded spot. Subsequently, a case of attempt to rape was registered under Sections 376 and 511 of the IPC on September 27, but the accused had managed to flee.

The police managed to arrest him from Moga.

Case registered

Three persons are alleged to have stolen a wrist watch and a few gold ornaments from Vikram Singh in the Jamalpur area. The police has registered a case under Sections 382 and 506 of the IPC against Sumit, a resident of Ambala, Kamal and an unknown person.


Dealers optimistic about Alto 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — Innumerable phone calls, hundreds of visitors and a couple of buyers on the very first day of exhibition of Alto, the new model of Maruti were enough to make the Maruti dealers here optimistic.

The two versions, LX and VX, of the small car were unveiled at all showrooms of Maruti Udyog Limited here today. While the 1060 cc VX version with 16 valve engine, Bridgestone tyres, central locking system, power window, black bumpers, digital metre and air-condition is priced at Rs 3,72,000, the 800 cc LX version with 12 valves, aircondition, but without power window and central locking is priced at Rs 3,06,000. The two versions of Alto are available in six shades — Pacific green, cool silver, Atlantic blue, red, lemon yellow and white. The seventh shade has yet not arrived.

Mr Ravinder, sales manager, Gulzar Motors, says, “Since morning there have been several phone calls. Hundreds of visitors are coming to have a look and feel of the car. From the tremendous response that we are getting, it seems that the car will register high sales. Never earlier have we received such a good response.”

Even Mr Ravinder, finance manager, Stan Auto, is optimistic about the new launch. “People are admiring the car, especially the VX version. We have already sold six cars,” he said.

Commenting on the launch, Mr Anupam Khera, a businessman said, “The car wears somewhat sporty look. Even the arrival of the car is timely as the festival season has just begun and people are in a jubilant mood. This will give an added advantage to the company.”

Mr Sumeet Aggarwal, a collegiate, said, “The advertisement in print media and banners on several roads had created much hype. There was no hint of the product to be launched but the quotations like June 22 is not he hottest day, hottest is yet to arrive, another two days for the hottest and hottest will arrive tomorrow had been real attracting and created suspense. Today when in the morning I read about the launch of Alto, I made up my mind to see the car with my friends.”


Knitwear industry yet to prepare for WTO’ 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 29 — The bell is ringing continuously and sound is very clear but only for those who are ready to hear. The days are not far when the provisions of WTO will come into force especially for the knitwear industry which have been doing good business in recent years. The extra quota for garments lately released by the European Union worth Rs 300 crore may give it a momentary boost but it is going to face a difficult phase in the next year once the quota system is done away under the WTO provisions.

The industry observers are of the view that the local players are sleeping like kumbhkarn and they are not adequately changing themselves for the coming challenge. Even small players like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the international market seem to have done their homework properly and consequently they have started reaping the harvest.

Mr Raghav Chaudhary of Sindh Knitwears who has been exporting hosiery especially cotton sweaters to France, Denmark, Germany, England, Norway and Canada, is of the view, “All are aware that with the coming of WTO we have to face so many challenges. Instead of preparing for it most of the manufacturers seem to be scared. They are not expanding their units.” He claims that even during this year about one lakh sweater pieces from China had entered the Indian market which are much cheaper.

Today the industry is importing hosiery manufacturing machinery mostly from Germany. In the near future the foreign manufacturers may enter the Indian market on a larger scale forcing the small players to shut down their shutters. Presently these goods are reserved for the small scale units. But the government has to open the sector under the WTO provisions. By March 2001, about 90 per cent of the textile sector will be opened for global competition and by 2004 we have to fully liberalise the trade and all the quota system will cease to exist.

Mr Ashok Bansal of Janata Knitwears while expressing the enthusiasm of young industrialists, says, “We have nothing to fear whether there is national or international competition provided we are able to maintain quality and competitive prices in the market.”

Most of the industry representatives are, however the little bit pessimistic regarding the issue. Mr Jiwan Dhawan, president of the Moti Nagar United Factory Association, says, “Frankly speaking we are not prepared for coming catastrophe. Our government has not even provided basic guidelines to the industry what to talk of support. We are rather heavily taxed that is leading to the death of the units. Our units are too small to compete with the large companies. In case we do not plan and implement changes in our factory infrastructure, facilities for the labourers, management and production techniques, the Ludhiana knitwear industry will become a part of our history.” 

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