Monday, November 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PFA statement creates row
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — The statement of the People For Animals organisation that all events involving animals in the ongoing 53rd Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Rural Sports Meet at Sarabha village and future meets have been banned by the district administration, has generated a controversy.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, today denied having issued any such order. He said he also did not have any knowledge of such an order being issued by his predecessors. He sought an explanation from the PFA office-bearers in this regard today.

The PFA President, Dr Sandeep Jain, in a press note issued yesterday, had claimed that the district administration had imposed a ban on the holding of sport events involving animals. When contacted, Dr Jain said a former Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Goel, had issued these orders. He presented clippings of newspaper reports that quoted an order (number 7107-09 p.b.) issued by the Ludhiana DC in March. Even the SSP of Jagraon, had issued an order (number 10078-91) to officials of all police stations and police posts in the same month, asking them to take action against persons who violated the orders of the DC.

The order assumes significance due to its effect on the world famous Rural Olympics that are held every year at Kila Raipur. It is feared that if events like bullock-cart races and races of the other animals are scrapped, Rural Olympics will lose its charm.

The DC has also ordered an examination of the Animal Protection Act. The PFA claims that, under this Act, events like bullock-cart races amount to cruelty towards animals.

At its meeting with the DC and the ADC, Mr S.R. Kaler, representatives of the PFA said such an order had indeed been issued. They also presented copies of a memorandum that had been submitted to Mr Kaler. The memorandum had urged him to stop the games. The DC has told the PFA representatives to submit copies of the previous orders.

Mr Kaler said he had received the memorandum of the PFA, but had not issued orders to stop the games. If it was so, then by whose orders were the events involving animals scrapped at the Sarabha village sport meet. According to the information received here, an opposing group of the organisers of the meet had approached the Jagraon police. They had alleged that the organisers had violated the Animal Protection Act. However, no police official confirmed that this was true.

Meanwhile, resentment prevails among the organisers of the meet after the scrapping of events. Mr Inderjit Singh Grewal, President of the Sarabha Sports Club, said the organisers had publicised the event all around, but no one had said that they would violate the Act in doing so. They said, if orders of scrapping the events were issued before the meet, they would not have been disappointed.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill and Mr Harchand Singh, both farmers, had arrived at the venue of the meet with their bullock carts. They said they were disappointed at the scrapping of events. They said bullock-cart race was an old practice and part of their culture. They said the animals that took part in such events received a good care and special feed, including dry fruits. They have urged the PFA to consider their viewpoint as well.


Police role in robbery case questioned
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — Even as there are several loose ends to be tied by the police to substantiate its claims of having solved the Rs 35 lakh robbery case, it has now arrested the main accused, Sukhminder Singh.

It is learnt that Sukhminder Singh was nabbed by the police last evening, but he was “formally” arrested by the police this evening. It may be recalled that the main accused, Sukhminder Singh, owner of Neelmani Jewellers, had been detained by the police for questioning on the day of the robbery, November 10. He was with the police till around 1.30 a.m. on the intervening night of November 10 and 11 till he was let off, and was then asked to report again the next morning.

However, Sukhminder Singh never reported to the Focal Point Police Station and was reported to be missing since 8 a.m. yesterday. During this time he visited several newspaper offices and alleged that the police was falsely implicating him in the case.

Talking to mediapersons yesterday, Sukhminder had claimed that he owed around Rs 4 lakh to a jeweller on Gill Road, Bhupinder Singh Bagga, and being in dire financial straits, he had been unable to pay back his loan. He also conceded that the actual theft of jewellery was only 30 to 40 tolas and not 8 kg as he had earlier alleged.

He alleged that Mr Bagga was cheesed off with him and had made use of his close contacts with a police officer of the rank of an Inspector by accusing him of masterminding the plan to get the insurance claim and thus pay off his debt. He informed that a few months ago, when the said police officer was a Station House Officer in the Focal Point Police Station, he had forced Sukhminder to close down his shop till the time he could pay back the debt — a fact that is substantiated by the neighbours and the family of the accused.

He said that he owed only Rs 4 lakh to Mr Bagga and nothing was due on his account to anyone else. Interestingly, the police has also not been able to gather much proof of his other creditors. He agreed that he had got his shop insured as a routine practice for Rs 50 lakh.

Meanwhile, Mr Bagga, when contacted, said that Sukhminder owed him Rs 5.40 lakh for the gold that he had given him for making ornaments and another Rs 12 lakh that he had invested in various committees that were reportedly being run by the accused. He also said that the accused had also not paid back for half a kg of gold that he had bought from another jeweller in Sarafa Bazaar. The police, too, has denied these allegations and said that they had enough proof to nail Sukhminder.

The SP City II, Mr Pramod Ban, maintained that the accused was virtually bankrupt and his cheques of as trivial an amount as Rs 250 were often dishonoured by the bank. It is also learnt that Sukhminder Singh had a mobile connection earlier, but because of non payment of bills, his connection had been snapped by the company. Interestingly, Sukhminder had bought a new cash card only yesterday and during the time that the ‘robbery ‘ was taking place at his shop, he had reportedly called up at his home-cum-shop six times as seen through the mobile phone records — a fact that is not conceded by the wife and mother. It was later that he had called up his neighbour from his cellphone and then told them that no one was answering a call at his shop.

He also said that the accused had reportedly lost around Rs 25 lakh in committees and was being continuously harassed by his creditors for returning their money.

Mr Ban also confirmed that the accused had been introduced to Gopal (the one who is believed to have executed the plan) by a common friend, Arun. It is learnt that Gopal has links with several senior police officers of the rank of IG and DIG in Chandigarh and he is himself a resident of Panchkula. He said that Gopal, with the help of another youth from Nabha, had executed the plan.

The police alleges that the arrangement between the accused Sukhminder and the other two accused was that the stolen booty (worth Rs 4 lakh) would be the remuneration for the latter, while the money claimed from the insurance company would be Sukhminder’s prize.

Meanwhile, police sources said that the police had raided the Panchkula residence of accused Gopal, who had executed the plan on behalf of Sukhminder Singh, but he had absconded. The police has recovered some ammunition from his residence. It is learnt that he is now in Delhi, with an accomplice there. The stolen booty is also with Gopal. 


Village without water for fortnight
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, Nov 12 — The water supply to Nandpur village near Sahnewal has got snapped and the residents have been without water for the past 15 days.

The water-supply unit of Nandpur provides water to Pawa Khagat and Jugiana, besides Nandpur. Now, after some fault in the motor, residents are facing the tough times. It was a similar situation about three months ago and the water supply was restored after 10 days. This was done after the villagers sent a written request to the Deputy Commissioner.

This time, too, requests and reminders have been sent to the authorities concerned, but these have been ineffective so far. Due to the procrastination habits of authorities, residents have no choice, but to drink dirty water. The water is dirty because of the industrial pollution. The underground water in the area has become dangerously contaminated. The release of toxic waste into water by dyeing, textile and chemical units have even made the ground water unfit for consumption.

Residents are fetching water from distant tubewells. Those unable to do so have to drink contaminated water. A regular intake of dirty water by villagers can make them prone to diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and jaundice. There can be an epidemic as well. Migrant labourers living in these villages are not aware of the dangers of drinking polluted water.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bulara, a former MP who lives in Jugiana village, has urged the authorities to find a solution to the water crisis soon. Residents are desperate as well.


Handicapped alleges threat to life
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — Balwant Singh, alias Bant Singh, of Phullewal village, near here, who was beaten up along with Darshan Singh, another villager, by some persons of the same village on November 8, today decried non-arrest of the attackers, and demanded police security as his life was in danger.

Owning a small shop of electric goods, Balwant Singh's both arms were burnt when he received a severe electric shock in 1987. His right hand and the left arm from the elbow had to be amputated.

Talking to reporters here, he said the five persons, out of whom the police has registered a case against four, had come to his house to beat Darshan Singh, also beat him when he tried to intervene.

The handicap person suffered injuries on his head and arms. Darshan Singh, too, was badly injured and is presently recovering in the Civil Hospital here.

He told mediapersons that a woman, who was a religious leader, later came to his house and again beat him up with chappals. He said she even threatened him with dire consequences if he spoke against her or the persons attacking him and Darshan Singh.

He said he was fearing threat to his life as the police was yet to arrest the accused persons.

While senior police officials could not be contacted, police sources said the police had raided several possible hideouts of the accused persons and hoped that they would be arrested soon. The sources said police security could be provided only after the threatened person made a formal request to the police.


Rehriwallahs exploited by MC authorities
From D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — Hundreds of rehriwallahs who sell virtually everything from vegetables to bright-coloured plastics and spicy snacks in residential colonies and market places of the city continue to be exploited at the hands of the municipal corporation.

Sustained investigations during which nearly a score of rehriwallahs were interviewed in detail, revealed some stunning facts with regard to the functioning of the Estate Office or tehbazari department of the local municipal corporation that operates from room number 79 situated at the back of the municipal parking near Mata Rani Chowk.

The most intriguing part of the rehri scene in every nook and corner of the city is the presence of stationary rehris which have been serving the purpose of roadside shops and establishments for various other trades. Rehris, which are supposed to be on the move, have been stationed for years now at vantage points in market places and at other locations where the services provided by these rehris find favour such as tea-and-snacks stalls in front of hospitals where there are no provisions for the same inside the building or where these services fall woefully short of the actual requirements of the people attending to patients in various wards.

While there can be no denying the fact that these rehris cater to public needs, it is also true that the same become a cause for congested traffic on the road in front of the CMC Hospital and other parts of the old city. An accident victim, on his way to the hospital, may well lose his life just because precious seconds are lost on account of congested traffic.

Also there are rehris that do the rounds of residential colonies of the city. These are so popular with housewives that they wait for their favourite sabziwallahs or raddiwallahs.

But the riddle of illegal, stationary rehris that infest the city like anything, can be easily explained after going through what happened with Tarsem Lal (not the real name) only a few days ago.

Tarsem Lal came to the city as a little boy from a village near Amritsar to work as a helper in a factory canteen. He had been to no school. When he grew up to be able to fend for himself, he managed to set up a tea-cart by the side of a road in front of a private nursing home.

On Monday last, officials of the tehbazari department of LMC hauled up his rehri and a “takhatposh” onto the truck with manual help and drove away. Somebody told Tarsem Lal to follow the squad and get his things released before a formal challan was made out by bribing a certain babu accompanying the squad. He came back a disappointed man as he could not locate the squad that day. Next day, he went to room number 79 at the back of the parking lot near Mata Rani chowk that houses the tehbazari department with an application on a printed form which he obtained for Rs 5 from an old man sitting in front of the corporation building busy filling various forms for his clients. With folded hands, he approached the Superintendent rather timidly and placed his application in front of the officer who threw it back telling him to come next Monday. But Tarsem pestered some other officials as he could not wait for another week or so to get hold of his seized articles. He told them that his rehri had been lifted in spite of the fact that he had been paying Rs 100 a month to the leader of the rehri market who collected the money from all rehriwallahs and other footpath traders only to pass it on to an official of the tehbazari department. At this he was told to come the next morning. On Wednesday, he was told to deposit a fine of Rs 750, Rs 500 for the rehri and Rs 250 for the “takhatposh”. He pleaded with the clerk concerned and succeeded in getting the fine reduced to Rs 650. But lo and behold, he was given a receipt for Rs 500 only (though he paid Rs 650) and told to get custody of his belongings from the dump located in Ghora Colony near Transport Nagar. He deposited the receipt with the dump in charge and took away his rehri which had been badly damaged in the meantime on account of careless handling on part of the municipal workers

Only a couple of days ago, this correspondent witnessed a bizarre drama outside room number 79 in the evening. A truck came in carrying a couple of rehris which had been hauled up from in front of the general post office in Bhadaur House. A couple of migrants also followed. One of them wanted to remove the juice-machine fitted on his rehri. While he was removing it, he was told by a bearded man that he could have his rehri back without any delay only if he could dish out Rs 400. The young migrant did not have the money on him but promised to pay later. Soon he walked off with the rehri that had been hauled up only minutes ago.

Persistent inquiries revealed that all the footpath traders have been paying “monthly” to stay in business. Further inquiries in the tehbazari department corroborated the revelations. Reliable sources pointed out that a “monthly” of Rs 100 was the minimum. Rehriwallahs doing business in the old city parts were paying anything from Rs 300 to 500 as “monthly” that varied according to the business carried out by them.

At a rough estimate, there are nearly one lakh rehris and other roadside establishments in the city. Even if the number is multiplied by hundred, the amount is staggering.

Well, when we know fully well that these rehris are going to stay, come what may, why does not the Corporation legalise the same and generate the much-needed revenue in the shape of monthly land rent ?

Over to the Corporation Commissioner. 


Osho meditation camp concludes
From A Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — An Osho meditation camp was organised by Swami Satyaniranjan of Osho Commune International (Pune) from November 9 to 12 here in Ludhiana. About 150 people from various parts of Rajasthan, UP, Haryana and Punjab participated in the camp.

Everyday three types of meditation devised by Osho were practised . Dynamic meditation lasts for one hour and has five stages. For the first ten minutes hyperbreathing is taught. This has to be done early in the morning at 6'O clock when oxygen contents in air are high. For the next 10 minutes, catharsis, which means letting out your inner feelings freely, is practised by the meditators. During this time they can laugh, cry, or scream.

For the next 10 minutes they put up their hands and chant ‘hoo’ while jumping softly . During the next 15 minutes, meditators become silent and observe all the emotions that are going on within them.

In the last 15 minutes, the commune celebrate for they have achieved peace. During all these five phases of dynamic meditation, different kind of music composed by Osho is played.

Kundalini meditation was also practised everyday during the camp at 4'O clock in the evening. In the first 15 minutes everyone is asked to shakes his whole body. For the next 15 minutes, people give themselves to dancing. The following 15 minutes are spent in silence and during the last 15 minutes meditators lie down quietly.

Another attraction of the camp was the Osho White Robe Brotherhood Ceremony. Osho once said, "After I die, how will you contact me?" So just six months before his death he devised Osho Milan Satsang and said If his disciples concentrated at 7'O clock, they would find him in their consciousness.

One of the active members, Swami Anand Sumedh, said “all the gates are closed and everything stops when Osho White Robe Ceremony is going on. Everyone has to participate in it”. He said, "I was 22 years old when I joined Osho Commune in Pune. At that time I was called Jasminder Singh Lamba. When one joines the commune, his name is changed. My name was changed to Swami Anand Sumedh. I joined in the year 1997 and there has been a sea change in my life since then. Earlier, I was frustrated and always remained in tension. Now, although I am jobless at the moment, yet I am content. I enjoy every minute of my life."

He informed that Natraj, Nada Brahma, Vipasana, Sufi Darvesh and Nritya meditation were also taught to the people. Meditators were satisfied, happy and relaxed after four days of meditation.


Bank employees to observe strike on Nov 15
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — More than one million bank employees will observe one-day strike on November 15 to protest against the proposed privatisation of the public sector banks and to press their other pending demands.

Mr K.R.Tripathi, President of the Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) said in a statement that the ongoing negotiations between the government and the representatives of the bank employees had failed to arrive at any settlement and the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, had indicated that the government will go ahead with its proposal to reduce the government equity in public sector banks from the present 51 to 33 per cent.

The other demands put forth by the united forum of bank employees, included infringement of trade union rights of the employees, discontinuation of voluntary retirement scheme and non-reduction in retirement age of the employees from 60 years.

Mr Tripathi further said that if the government introduced the bill for reducing equity participation in nationalised banks on November 28, the bank employees’ unions will hold a demonstration in front of the Parliament House to register their protest.


Should the foreign press come in
From Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — The BJP which has been proclaiming itself to be a 'swadeshi' party is now inviting 'videshi' press to enter the country. But do we really need foreign press to monitor our thinking, and our policies?

To save our culture and our freedom of thought we should think twice before allowing foreign press to come in.

According to Mr S.P. Mahajan, a former Principal of the Government College, Amritsar, "The interests of the country should be left with its people and its government, and not outsiders. Foreign press will exploit our innocent people. More than 40 per cent of people are illiterate and they can be easily influenced by the catchy words and slogans. The press has to focus on the various problems of the society and has a responsibility to educate the public. Without any grassroots within the country, the foreign media will be ignorant of all the problems concerning rural India. Therefore, it is our duty to safeguard our interests. It is only the free press of India which can do justice with India's problems and not the foreign media".

According to Prof. Roop Kumar, "The word invasion of foreign press sounds anarchist in the context of highly competitive world where only the best survives. The age of Ambassadors and Fiat is over. So let our press raise itself to face the competition from the foreign media and emerge stronger on its intrinsic strength."

Dr Rajinder Gulati, Secretary of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, was of the view that free press should be allowed to come in. He said, "Why should we be scared of foreign press when we have competent people handling Indian press. "

Arvinder Narula, a chemist, said, "There will be a healthy competition when foreign press comes in. Journalism in India is not as investigative as it should be. With the coming of foreign press in India, there will be more of investigative journalism. People are smart enough to know whether the news is cooked up or true. So the foreign press will not be able to pull wool over the eyes of Indian readers. They will have to give authentic news."

A housewife, Sonia Walia, quipped, "Foreign press should be allowed to come in. We will get better news coverage as there will be intense competition between the home press and the foreign press."

"Foreign press should come in. CNN gives better news coverage and provides us more news. So if the foreign press comes in, we will get more information. We should give them a chance because in my opinion Indian press can compete with any press. They should be allowed to function only under stipulated code of conduct and full control should not be given to them," were the views of Dr Ritu Gupta.

Major I.S. Sandhu, (Retd.) said , "I personally feel that the foreign media should not be allowed to get directly involved in our country. Our journalists will not get chance to show their own worth in competition with foreign journalists. If they are allowed to come in, they should only be allowed to function with the collaboration of Indian press with Indians holding more equity than foreigners.

No doubt liberalisation and globalisation is needed for the faster development but is there really any need for foreign press . Most of the countries reject foreign media and the BJP should not give up their swadeshi policies and become the slaves of videshi press.


They bring warmth in winters

AS the winter season sets in, people start getting ready to face the season. Woollens and quilts are taken out and spread in the sun to get rid of moisture. Many migrant labourers from Bihar come to Ludhiana to make quilts and stitch them either in the ordinary or in Jaipuri style. A large number of such migrants can be seen on the roadside with sacks full of cotton and polyfibre. They have a small gadget to card wool, fill in pillows, cushion covers and quilts.

Mohammad Najib, is one such entrepreneur. He has come from Bihar to earn money which would probably last for next three months. He is a landless labourer , so it becomes necessary for him to come to Ludhiana to earn extra money. He has no home and has to cart his sacks to his quarter.

He sells polyfibre for Rs 80 a kg and cotton for Rs 35 a kg. Carding charges are Rs 5 per kg and Rs 30 are charged for stitching a quilt. He can do this job in a day if it is urgent. He has four children to feed and the money he makes is hardly enough to keep his family away from the pangs of hunger. He has employed two boys and says he does not make more than Rs 100 a day.

Chand, another migrant from Bihar, has decided not to go back to Bihar for he has no job or house there. In Ludhiana, at least he has a quarter in Vikas Nagar where his family stays . These days he is in the quilt making business. He has three persons to help him. There is a big difference in ordinary stitching and Jaipuri stitching of quilts.

While a Jaipuri double quilt requires only 3 kg of wool, an ordinary quilt takes about 6 kg of wool. Stitching charges for a Jaipuri quilt are Rs 150, whereas for ordinary stitching the cost is only Rs 35. Jaipuri quilt takes longer time to make, because carding is done more extensively and stitches are put more closely.

People these days are preferring polyfibre. It is synthetic and lighter than wool, but more expensive than it. But Chand and Phool Hussain say, "We prefer cotton as it is being used since times immemorial. Moreover, cotton is a natural fibre and it is always preferable to synthetic fibre." — AA.


Well-equipped animal clinic
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — The veterinary clinic at PAU is one of the most well-equipped hospitals for the treatment of animals. Although the clinic in its present form came into being not very long ago, it can rightly boast of having all the modern facilities to treat animals for complicated diseases on scientific lines. Emergency treatment is also given on Sundays and Saturdays.

Even some necessary medicines are given free of charge. The university has adequate arrangements for the stay of sick animals' owners on the campus. To facilitate transportation of sick animals to the hospital and back to the owners' place, the university provides an ambulance at very nominal charges.

In addition, the university has an ambulatory van which caters to the needs of the farmers of the nearby villages of Ludhiana. A team of experts visits the villages and treats sick animals without charging any fee.

The hospital has a well-equipped operation theatre where animals suffering from complicated ailments such as diaphragmatic hermia, intestinal tortion, fractures, foreign body syndrome and the like are operated upon.


Tributes paid to Aliwal's father
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — Cutting across political and social barriers, people from all walks of life thronged to village Aliwal today to pay tributes to the renowned agriculturist and a prominent social figure, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, father of Shiromani Akali Dal Youth Wing President, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal.

Senior leaders of all the political parties, as well as religious, social and educational personalities paid rich tributes to Mr Gill on his antim shardhanjli samaroh, recalling his valuable services to the society.


Car thieves beat up driver, take away vehicle
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 12 — Four unidentified persons forcibly entered into a car on the G.T. Road, beat up the driver, Shiv Shambhu, and fled with the vehicle after pushing the driver out near Bulara village on Gill Road on the outskirts of the city on Friday night.

According to the police, the Maruti Zen car (PB-10AK-5500), owned by a hosiery manufacturer, was intercepted by the accused persons who were following it in Maruti-800 (PB-10L-8183). Leaving their vehicle behind, which the police later found out to be stolen, they forced themselves inside the car and made Shiv Shambhu to go towards Gill Road. On the way, they beat up the driver and threw him out of the moving vehicle before speeding away.

The police has registered a case under Sections 382, 342 and 34, IPC, and further investigation was in progress.


Man crushed by vehicle
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Nov 12 — A man was crushed by a speeding vehicle near Khudani village yesterday.

According to Kamaldeep, an eyewitness, a Tempo (PB-07-2078) driven by Kewal Singh crushed Raghbir Singh of Khudani village at about 5.30 pm yesterday. Raghbir Singh died on the spot, while the driver of the Tempo absconded.

A case has been registered against the accused by the Payal police.

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