Wednesday, November 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Old couple found murdered
Migrant labourer main suspect
By Ravi Inder Singh Makkar and Iqbal Singh

MACHHIWARA, Nov 21 — In yet another incident of heinous crime allegedly involving a migrant labourer, an old couple, Mr Surat Singh (70) and his wife, Ms. Gurcharan Kaur (65) , was reportedly done to death on Monday night at Ramgarh village, near here. The servant of the slain couple, Raju, a migrant from UP, is suspected to be the main culprit behind the crime. He had absconded.

There has been a spurt in incidence of violent crime involving migrants in the district during the past few years. According to sources in the police, more than 50 cases of heinous crime have already been reported from Ludhiana district alone during this year. These include a many as 18 cases of murder.

The murdered couple reportedly lived with one of their daughters and sons-in-law. The couple was all alone in the house when the servant allegedly murdered them. Their daughter and son-in-law had gone to attend a marriage. The son-in-law works in the Police Department.

Police sources said the crime took place after midnight because no neighbour had any inkling of the dastardly act committed next door. It is also suspected that the old couple was murdered with sharp-edged weapons a their bodies bore deep wounds. The suspect after committing the crime had allegedly searched the entire house for valuables as locks of all trunks were broken open and the bicycle, too, was missing.

The family members came to know about the incident at 7 a.m. The police was informed by an Akali leader, Mr Harjit Singh Sherian, a relative of the deceased.

Mr Rajesh Hasthir, SHO, Machhiwara, Mr Sushil Kumar , DSP, Samrala and Mr Gurmail Singh Sidhu, SP, Khanna reached the spot. The bodies were handed over to the relatives after a post-mortem examination. A case has been registered by the police.

The couple had four married daughters and were living with one of them.

The SSP, Khanna, Mr R.N. Dhoke, said parties been despatched in search of the main suspect, Raju, at his native place and other suspected hideouts. A case under Section 302 of the IPC had been registered.


Sepoy cremated with military honours
Tribune News Service

NURPUR BET (LUDHIANA), Nov 21 — The mortal remains of Gurpal Singh of the 6 Sikh Light Infantry were consigned to flames with full military honours in his native village here today, with thousands of persons, including Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command, Mr S.R. Kaler, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Kuldip Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, attending his funeral.

Gurpal fell to the bullets of Pakistani army in the Pallanwala sector along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on November 19. His body reached here yesterday. His father, Mr Balkar Singh, lit the pyre.

The body was covered with the Tricolour and placed at his home for the people to pay their last respects. Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh was the first to place a wreath on the body.

Gurpal joined the armed forces at the age of 16 in 1997. His 21-year-old sister Kulvinder Kaur is scheduled to be married next month.

Paying his condolences to the bereaved family, Mr Kaler said the Punjab government would provide all facilities to the family on the pattern adopted for Kargil martyrs, including Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia compensation, a plot or Rs 5 lakh for construction of house and job to one member of the family. The local higher secondary school would be named after Gurpal Singh, he added.


Two arrested in Roopak murder case
By Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — “He screamed when I tried to strangulate him. I got scared and let go of him for a split second, but immediately decided to finish the job. I tied the cloth around his neck with all my force and in a few minutes — he was dead. I was elated that the job was done without any complications and before anyone could see me, I took the child’s body and placed it on the railway track. Then I went back home and was soon off to sleep... dreaming of the good things I would do when got the ransom money.”

This is the confession made by 16-year-old Chandan — the main accused in the kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Roopak Kumar, while he was confessing about the crime in a largely attended press conference at the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sarabha Nagar, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, here today.

The two accused, Chandan and his 23-year-old brother, Manoj, were arrested by the police party led by the in charge of the Jagat Puri police post, ASI Waranjit Singh. They were later presented before a local magistrate and remanded in police custody.

While confessing that they had kidnapped the child and later killed him, an unrepenting Chandan said he had done this only to get the ransom money, which would have helped him enjoy all the facilities of a comfortable life. “I was sick of the drudgery and the state of always having a few dreams but never having to see them being fulfilled. I don’t think I did anything wrong, but I was foolish enough to get caught,” he said.

It may be noted that the 11-year-old child was kidnapped by a former neighbour for ransom and later done to death in order to avoid the inconvenience of keeping the child in custody.

Narrating the case, DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill said that Roopak Kumar was kidnapped by Chandan on November 8, while he was on his way back from school. “The accused met him after the school was over and sweet-talked him into coming with him for playing. The child agreed on the condition that he first be taken home so that he could leave his school bag home. However, Chandan asked him to leave a book with him so that he could read it while the child went home. The child agreed and after leaving his bag at his home in Vivek Nagar, went to play with the accused.”

It is learnt that Chandan then fed the child two samosas laced with sleeping pills. Though the child began to feel drowsy soon enough, the accused did not allow him to sleep. He later strangled and killed the child by taking him at a secluded place at around 7 p.m. on November 8. Then he kept the body on the railway track and fled the scene.

The body of the deceased was, however, cremated by the Railway Police on November 9, after it was found lying on the Ludhiana- Laddowal railway track. The GRP staff had taken the body to the Civil Hospital here for a post-mortem examination on November 9 and after this was conducted, the deceased was cremated. The GRP then proceeded further after filing the case under section 174 of the Cr. PC.

Senior police officers here said that they were now waiting for the investigating officer, SI Ram Chander of the Railway Police. They said the officer was presently away to Jammu and was in possession of the negatives of the photographs of the deceased that were clicked by him as part of case property. It is learnt that the IO is expected back tomorrow and only after the police here gets the photographs that they will have proof of the murder having been committed.

Meanwhile, a police party from the Haibowal police station is learnt to have searched the rail track on the evening of November 18. It is learnt that the police party has already found the clothes of the child that were lying near the railway line.

It was only on November 12 that the police had registered a daily dairy report (DDR) about the missing child. It is learnt that even after the police had registered the DDR, Roopak’s father, Shankar Jha, did not suspect that his child had been kidnapped and maintained that the child had lost his way somewhere and would be found soon.

However, a few days later Shankar Jha received a ransom note, written in Hindi, demanding a sum of Rs. 50,000. The note said that if the money was not delivered to the kidnappers then the child would be killed. The parents then handed over the note to the police and it was through this note that the police was finally able to reach to the suspect.

It is learnt that the suspect was staying in the same locality as the Jhas. Of late, the suspect was in dire financial straits and it was thus that he had master minded the plan to kidnap and kill the child for money. He confessed: “I put the ransom note in the book that I had taken from Roopak and threw it in his uncle’s house. I then went and said that I had seen the people throwing the note and that they were known to me. I thought that this would help me get closer to the uncle, Manm Singh who had a lot of money. I thought that he would give me the money himself to hand it over to “the accused.” Later I again approached Mann Singh Jha’s family and said that I had met “the accused” near the ganda nullah and that they had beat me up. However, this raised the police’s suspicion about me and I was caught.”

The accused said it was on the advice of a fellow villager from Bihar, Amarjit Singh also 16, who had come here two months ago that he decided to execute this plan of making a quick buck by kidnapping a child for ransom. “He had told me that Mann Singh Jha was a rich man and that I could kidnap his son. In fact, I had written a letter to him a month ago demanding money or threatening to eliminate his family. But they thought that someone was playing a prank on him and had never taken it seriously. I wanted to kidnap Mann Singh’s son, Chandan, but the kid was quite smart and inspite of my efforts to get close to him, I failed. So, I decided to kidnap his nephew instead.”


Will renaming serve any aim?
From A Correspondent

HAIBOWAL (Ludhiana), Nov 21 — Haibowal Kalan will be rechristened as Shankarcharya Nagar on November 23. This renaming has had a mixed response from the residents. Some of them feel the renaming will stimulate positive feelings and a sense of belonging among the residents.

Mr Sharma, a shop owner, says the name Haibowal rings a somewhat sinister note in the minds of those who know it as a low-lying undeveloped area, half submerged in water. The new name will take away that negative connotation, he claims.

A few residents, however, have dismissed the renaming as a cosmetic change of no worthwhile significance. A daily wage earner says he hardly expects the renaming to make any difference to his cramped living quarters.

The moot question is will the rechristening really change the ground realities? As of now, Haibowal is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, there are palatial houses with spacious gardens . The streets leading to these houses are metalled and fairly clean. On the other hand, some parts of Haibowal look nothing more than shoddily arranged cluster of huts. This is especially true in the outer fringes of the area.

Dusty unmetalled roads make the drive through these colonies a dusty affair. Potholes and raised manholes make the streets uneven and bumpy. The streetlights fare no better.

In areas that are relatively well - maintained, huge piles of refuse can be seen in corners. One of the residents says though there is a municipal committee sweeper who cleans their roads regularly, the refuse is not disposed of properly. It is just piled up in the empty plot adjacent to their house. Sometimes, the residents get the waste burnt at their own expense.

Mr Rajiv Katna, a councillor, said before he became councillor, the area falling under his ward was totally neglected. Today, 95 per cent of the area had at least one facility of clean drinking water or metalled roads, he added. Mr Hem Raj Aggarwal said he hoped that by June, 2001, 95 per cent of the roads within his ward would be metalled. He informed that a 20-lakh road project would be inaugurated on November 26. Ms Manjit Kaur Gogi, said she expected the roads of some of the areas falling in her ward to be completed before Baisakhi.

There is no denying that Haibowal has registered some positive changes as far as the civic amenities are concerned. Yet a lot remains to be done. Only time will tell whether the promises are actually fulfilled. 


Class IV employees clash over protest; 6 hurt
From Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Nov 21 — Class IV employees of the Irrigation department, who were protesting against the transfer of eight of their colleagues by XEN H. S. Dhaliwal in front of his office here today, were subjected to violence by employees loyal to the officer.

When this correspondent visited the scene soon after the incident took place, the vacant space in the office complex was littered with brickbats and stones. An eyewitness told that the protesters had been demonstrating peacefully. Trouble arose when they tried to enter the complex and march towards the office of Mr Dhaliwal. The protesters were then attacked with axes, kirpans and shovels by the Class IV employees loyal to Mr Dhaliwal. At least six agitating employees sustained minor to mild injuries. Some of the agitating employees also retaliated by throwing stones on the aggressors.

Traffic on the Ferozepore Road, where the office is situated, came to a halt for a while before the police arrived on the scene and put an end to the prevailing chaos.

Mr Sajjan Singh, president, the Class IV Government Employees Union, Punjab, told Ludhiana Tribune that a deputation of the union would soon call on the Irrigation Minister and urge him to order reversal of the "unseasonal" transfers which were against the guidelines issued by the state government. He said that if the demand was not accepted by the minister, the union would resort to a statewide agitation.

Photostat copies of the letter, which was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner yesterday by the Union, were distributed among newsmen by the union leaders. It was stated in the letter that employees had been threatened of dire consequences earlier also when they had staged a demonstration on November 6 last. It was also stated that the state government had banned the transfer of Class IV employees from one district to another. Mr Dhaliwal had violated these orders by transferring six employees posted at Ludhiana to Moga.

A similar letter had been submitted to in charge of police station, division number five, yesterday informing the officer about today’s demonstration.

The agitating employees later held a rally that was addressed by Mr Kuldip singh Kaul, Ludhiana district president, Mr Bhanwar Singh, Mr Bhagwan Singh Bhangu, Mr Pyare Lal, Mr Sohan Lal and a few other union leaders as well.


Civil Hospital sans water
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — The recent decision of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to stop water supply during day has already had its impact on the civic life in the city. However, the Civil Hospital appears to be faced with acute crisis.

Sources in the Civil Hospital revealed that for the past four days there had been no water in the hospital. The patients admitted there had been the obvious sufferers. Toilets and bathrooms had started stinking.

About four days ago, the Municipal Corporation stopped day time water supply in the city. This has caught people unawares. Hospitals and various industrial units have become the worst sufferers as they can hardly make any alternate arrangements.

While the Civil Surgeon could not be contacted, an official in the hospital said there was limited storage capacity. While earlier the water would be supplied twice a day. The water was properly stored. However, after the day time supply was stopped, the water could be stored only once.

Lack of storage capacity in the hospital has compounded the problems. The official said, the problem was likely to persist in case the corporation did not restore the day time water supply. Because, it might be too difficult for the hospital authorities to enhance the storage capacity in the hospital.


Gang of thieves busted; 5 held
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — The Focal Point police claims to have busted a gang of robbers while they were planning to commit a few heinous crimes in the locality. The police has also recovered some arms and ammunition from them.

According to the information available, a police party led by SI Dalip Bedi had organised a naka near Mundian Khurd village, when they received secret information about the five-member gang hiding behind the Central Jail.

The police party raided the place and arrested all five accused Charanjit Singh, Suresh Kumar, Rajesh Kumar, Rajinder Singh Raju and Rajinder Singh Bobby. They also recovered three .12 bore pistols, six live cartridges, two knives and two stolen scooters from them.

It is learnt that the accused were history-sheeters.


Rival groups clash; case registered
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, Nov 21 — A case has been registered by the Sahnewal police regarding a feud that took place between the two groups running audio cassette shops.

According to a report registered by Sanjeev Kumar, Mohan Lal Verma, Rajesh Verma, Bablu, Lovlu and two unknown persons beat up his companion Amardeep and injured him. Earlier, too, a feud was going on between the two parties over the issue of money.

It was, however, resolved after some time. But trouble had started brewing again since the past few days. One of the parties resorted to physical violence in which Amardeep sustained serious injuries.

A case has been registered under Sections-324/323/148/149, IPC.


Chance arrest of murderer
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Nov 21 — The police today arrested a Bihar resident, Ajab Lal, from Saloudi village near here. During interrogation, he admitted that he, along with two others, had killed Sant Faqir Mohammad in Bhattian village on September 30. He is also wanted in two cases of murder in Bihar.

The police also arrested Ravinder Singh of Bija, whose wife Jasbir Kaur had allegedly committed suicide due to harassment. A case under Section 306 of the IPC has been registered.


Study recommends neem-based insecticides
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — Recent research conducted by a scholar from the Department of Entomology of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), has revealed that the whitefly, a dangerous insect of the cotton crop, can be effectively controlled by using neem-based insecticides.

Mr Gurnam Singh, who has worked under the guidance of Dr G. S. Dhaliwal, for Ph.D , reported in his thesis entitled “Management of whitefly on cotton with neem-based insecticides” that certain neem formulations containing 10,000 ppm (parts per million) of adirachtin could be used for effective control of whitefly.

Mr Singh says that although cotton crop had been subjected to a heavy dose of pesticides, it was still infested with insect pests. American bollworm, had, no doubt, caused extensive damage to the crop ,the whitefly, too, was a serious pest of cotton. Whitefly causes extensive damage to the crop when its population per leaf reaches six to eight. Apart from damaging the crop, the whitefly also transmits curl views to the cotton leaf.

Mr Gurnam Singh notes in his thesis that indiscriminate and indiscreet use of insecticides has effected the population of the natural enemies of the whitefly. As a result, the dangerous insect had developed resistance to most of the available insecticides. In addition, its fertility had increased.

According to Mr Singh’s findings, the whitefly causes damage for about 50 days. During this period, five sprays of synthetic insecticides are recommended at an interval of six to 19 days to keep the population of whitefly below damaging levels. Mr Gurnam Singh found that when neem-based insecticides are alternated with synthetic pesticides, only four sprays at an interval of 11-18 days are required. Of these, two were synthetic pesticides and the other two neem-based insecticides. Besides, his research has revealed that the yield of cotton obtained with synthetic pesticides was the same, as the one obtained with the alternate use of neem and synthetic pesticides.

Mr Singh’s findings are reportedly of immense significance, since neem-based pesticides have been found to be safe eliminators of many of the natural enemies of the whitefly as well as the pollinators of the cotton ecosystem. The findings affirm that the substitution of eco-friendly neem formulations for synthetic pesticides could lead to a reduction of 50 per cent of pesticide load in agro-ecosystem.




THE widening of roads, construction of flyovers and medians notwithstanding, traffic bottlenecks within the city continue to multiply. The worst traffic bottlenecks are between Jagraon Bridge and Old Subzi Mandi chowk; the entire old or walled city; from Mata Rani Chowk to Fountain Chowk and from Fountain Chowk to Old District Courts Chowk and Domorhia Bridge.

In fact, entire city has become a major traffic bottleneck with the number of unauthorised autorickshaws and cycle rickshaws multiplying rapidly. Besides there is no segregation of slow and fast traffic.

As such the introduction of traffic lights has been of little help in improving the mobility of the vehicular traffic throughout the city. The presence of traffic policemen in some of the highly congested areas does not help much in maintaining the movement of traffic.

The Old District Courts, for example, have very little parking space. As a result, the vehicles spill over to the road thus hampering the movement of vehicles on the road leading to Domorhia Bridge.

Other major hurdle in the way of the smooth movement of vehicular traffic is encroachments on roads, especially by vendors and at number of places by stacking of construction material. The problem assumes serious proportions in old and walled city where roads and streets are narrow and where even in normal times, only one-way traffic is feasible.

When heartstrings go dead

A man is lying on the road , possibly sick or injured, or may be sozzled. Traffic zooms past him, oblivious of his prostrate presence. Looks like a straight lift from a tear jerker Bollywood flick? Absolutely wrong. This is a morning scene on a busy road of Ludhiana, a city fast emerging as a metropolis of Punjab.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic, flashing neon lights, smoke clogged atmosphere — the city-bred folks tend to live life in the fast lane. The day begins with a flurry of activities. All details are chalked out leaving little room for unstructured activities. Time is tethered to a set of fixed agendas.

Perennially pinched for time, the residents of the city often gloss over small courtesies that enliven life. No doubt, the rat race to emerge the winner automatically deadens a part of our sensibilities. So far, passable. But what if it is a matter of life and death ? What if a man is hanging on the precipice of death and you pass him by just because you are too busy to attend to him? What if an accident victim lying on the road elicits nothing more than a few sympathetic grunts from your side?

Technically, this phenomenon is called bystander apathy. It is the offshoot of the modern life where people are too busy scraping through their own existence to have time to help others. Interestingly, the more the number of people who witness an accident , the less are the chances of the accident victim getting any help. The reason for this is fairly simple : there is a diffusion of responsibility. Each person thinks that the presence of other persons automatically takes away his share of responsibility and he is no longer morally bound to help the victim!

Enterprising migrants

Hand-carts, or rehris selling vegetables and fruit, have been an integral feature of the town since ages. In the busy Chaura Bazar of yore, one could always buy plum-sized lemons or the prized, black cauliflower from a rehri parked near the Old Kotwali or the church.

Elsewhere too in the city, a rehri could be seen here and there doing a round. But today the scene is very different with rehris now selling virtually everything from hairpins to garments.

The rehri culture of the town got a definite boost with the influx of migrants from UP, Bihar and other states in the early eighties. Things Ludhianavis had never seen before, like the Chiwra made of rice that makes for a staple diet for the migrants from UP, appeared exclusively on a large number of rehris in front of the railway station and in labour colonies inhabited by migrants.

They also decided to make and sell the favourite sweets of their respective lands which, however, the Ludhianvis seldom bought. But nevertheless, they gaped in wonder and marvelled at the ingenuity of these people for whom doing business with their own folk in a distant land was thrilling and paying too.

Soon they were into virtually everything, from owning a cigarette kiosk round the corner to a number of cycle-rickshaws which they rented to their countrymen and even money-lending. At present, most of the rehris in the city are being run by the migrants who find these very profitable indeed.

The transformation has been total. The bloke from UP has become a businessman.

Under the open sky

The governments at the Centre and the state may be claiming to popularise the primary and secondary education across the country. Yet the promises are too far from being kept. Go to any school, particularly in the countryside, the schools tell a tragic tale of apathy. Besides the lack of infrastructure, including the shortage of staff, at certain places there are not proper and safe buildings even.

Lalton, a village in the suburbs of Ludhiana prides itself in having a senior secondary school with several hundred students on the rolls. On the papers the school has everything that the government takes pride in claiming. The science laboratory important in teaching of science is closed as there is no proper place to place the scientific equipment required for the practicals.

The building has reportedly been declared unsafe by the Public Works Department, since the walls have already started cracking. The hundreds of students attend their classes under the open sky (see the picture on top). While the winters have brought cozy relief, during the summers the situation is too intolerable and the students have to search for shelter.

According to Mr Gurpreet Singh Bassi, the president of the Youth Club Lalton, many representations were made to the authorities but nobody seems to be bothered.

Customer jumbling

The Chaura Bazaar market in the city present a very busy look, especially on Sundays. The market is generally flooded by the people in search of new clothes and new ‘things’. There are sales on some shops for the complete 12 months. The ever busy Ludhianvis, who are usually free on Sundays only, just step in to these shops and get variety of good things for reasonable price for themselves and for their loved ones.

The rush on the shops is so enormous that really cannot distinguish between the salesman and the customer. Last Sunday, saw a young pretty girl standing in front of a shop which was packed with people. She was unable to enter the shop. She asked, from outside the shop, the price of a sweater she liked. The person whom she had asked started smiling at her. She was quite annoyed with that person as he was not giving her any reply. She went to the proprietor of the shop. Proprietor was also astonished to hear the complaint against his salesman. As he enquired about the incident, he was found to be a customer and not the salesman. The girl also felt little embarrassed.

In the clay we mix

Clay has a whole lot of philosophy behind it. Religious gurus tell us that we are made of clay and will mix with it finally one day when the time comes. We have even some old film songs that extoll clay like anything.

Apart from providing food for philosophical thought, clay also provides livelihood to many a maker of clay objects such as diyaas, matkas and piggy banks for children. In fact well kneaded clay can be given any shape by an artist.

But Giani Ram has no pretensions to be an artist. He makes no artistic or fancy objects, only the traditional clay items of daily use which he can easily sell to eke out a meagre living. For him art means little but hard work means a lot.

Living in a house in Kila Mohalla near Daresi, Giani Ram sits at his potter’s wheel as early in the day as possible. Even at the age of 70, he does not, rather cannot, afford to waste any time as it a crucial factor in his work . His hands continue to move deftly while he talks about his profession. Instead of rotating the potter’s wheel with a stick the old-fashioned way, he has installed an electric motor that saves a lot of his time and energy.

It is indeed very fascinating to watch him work. Peering from behind his thick glasses necessitated after being operated upon for cataract about 10 years ago, Giani Ram picks up the required lump of the kneaded clay by his side and puts it on the potter’s wheel to give it the shape he desires. Soon he turns and twists his fingers to put life in the dead clay . A small water pan is by his side from which he can take the required amount of water to soften the clay as and when required. To his right and in front is an old-fashioned hubble-bubble (hookah) to which he turns only after he is finished with a big lump of clay to refresh himself for another bout of hard work that needs plenty of patience as well.

After he has readied the piggy banks or whatever the same are left to dry in the open. Then comes the baking stage when the dried clay objects are put together and heated with the help of dung-cakes and other combustible material.

Giani Ram has no regrets whatsoever. He is a contented man concerned only with the work ahead that calls for immediate attention. And he hopes to work on and on, on his potter’s wheel till the wheel of his life comes to an abrupt stop and he mixes with clay, the sustenance of his lifeline.

Ticket please

The railway authorities are never tired of claiming that they are making extra efforts to nab the ticketless travellers. Even Minister for Railways, Ms Mamata Banerjee, has, at a number of times, announced that her ministry is trying to pull the Railways out of financial crunch. However, not a day passes when the political masters of the country as well as their innumerable followers (mis)utilise the limited resources of the railways.

It is true that in Parliament and outside they will always ask the public to tighten their belt and not to depend on the government subsidies. But they will never hesitate even from breaking the law to get benefits.

On last Sunday, the leader of the Congress and the president of the PPCC, Mr Amarinder Singh had come to city. He was going to Dharamkot via Ludhiana in connection with the bhog ceremony of another leader who had been recently murdered.

About a hundred local Congress leaders and workers had gathered on the railway station to receive the leader. Interestingly, neither any of the leaders and workers felt the need to buy a platform ticket nor the railway officials tried to stop them. To enter the platform, platform ticket is mandatory otherwise the guilty can be fined or prosecuted.

When the ticket collector was asked about this violation, he smiled and said, ‘‘Do you want my suspension. Who can dare ask them for platform tickets? We can not ask even for the travelling ticket and you are asking for platform tickets.’’

Interestingly, all these public servants were raising slogans on the arrival of Mr Amarinder Singh. The other passengers on the platform were looking at them quite anxiously. A local leader asked the station master to open the room so that their leader can meet the Press.

A girl while coming out of the station said disgustingly, ‘‘Is there no one to stop all these people who are creating mess on the station. Can not they wait just outside the station?’’ One wonders if these ‘ political leaders’ can be asked to pay for the platform tickets.

— Sentinel


Janata Dal (S) to protest against govt policies
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — Lashing out at the Centre and the state government for pursuing such policies that are detrimental to the interests of farmers, trade and industry and the people, the Janata Dal (S) has announced to launch a mass agitation throughout the country, which will commence with gherao of Parliament in Delhi on December 14. Besides, senior leaders of the party, former Prime Ministers H. D. Deve Gowda, V. P .Singh, I. K. Gujral and Chandra Shekhar will join the protest and address the rally.

This was stated by Mr Harish Khanna, state president of Janata Dal (S) here today. He said as a result of wrong economic policies of the government, influenced by the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO regime, the farmers and the small-scale industrial sector was on the verge of ruin. The policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation, which had replaced the ‘swadeshi’, in utter disregard to the interests of the people, had inflicted irreparable damage to the economy.

According to Mr Khanna, the opening up of items of mass production in the country, for import under the WTO regime, had considerably shrunk the market for domestic industries. More than 700 items had already been opened up for import without quantitative restrictions and as many more were due to be permitted by April 2001. Charging the NDA government, headed by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, with total failure to safeguard the interests of the people and the nation, he remarked that even though the cost of farm production had gone up by almost 30 per cent during the past one year by way of hike in the prices of fertiliser, diesel, seed and other inputs, the farmers were being denied the proportionate increase in the prices of agricultural produce.

The Janata Dal (S) chief claimed that the party functionaries were mobilising support from amongst farmers, traders, industrialists and people from all other walks of life to participate in the gherao of Parliament in order to wake the government out of its slumber and to take timely remedial measures to save the national economy from reaching a point of no return.



Babies up for adoption
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — Mr and Mrs C. A. Anand (names changed) were without a child even 10 years after their marriage. Mrs Anand was keen to adopt a child but her husband was not too sure. Finally, they decided to adopt an infant daughter of their cousin who already had three daughters. The little girl brought sunshine into the lonely couple’s life.

Another childless couple, who are quite affluent, thought of all the pros and cons before adopting a baby. They did not want a child of unknown origin to inherit their riches. The younger brother of the husband who already had two sons, gave them his third son for adoption.

However, not all childless couples can adopt babies from their relatives. Some of them have to approach adoption agencies. B.L. Kapur Charitable Hospital in Sabzi Mandi here is one such institution which gives away babies for adoption. This reporter saw an unwed handicapped girl who had left her four-day-old baby in the hospital. The baby weighed 1.5 kg, and was immediately put on a drip. This hospital is doing a yeoman service by accepting such babies, sometimes sick and grossly underweight, tending them lovingly and giving them a new lease of life.

The Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr T.S. Cheema, said, “Earlier people used to adopt children readily, but these days very few people are coming forward. People know that we have babies to give away for adoption. So they keep coming to us. Sometimes some NRIs also come and adopt children from this hospital. Adoption is a legal process which takes three to six months. Usually, we give babies for adoption to families who can afford to keep them in comfort.”

Dr Cheema said on an average they spent Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 every month on the upkeep of a baby. Since this was a charitable hospital, the prospective foster parents were asked to remit the money spent on the baby. “In one case, we were asked to keep a child for an NRI for a year,” he added. According to Dr Cheema, the parentage of the baby is kept confidential and if a child is adopted by a local couple, they are advised to remain in touch with them.


The unwanted girl child
By Minna Zutshi

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — Child adoption brings into focus the state of affairs in our male-dominated society. Male infants are rarely given away for adoption. A majority of the babies that are offered are females.

A doctor in a hospital where infants are sent for adoption said women usually did not mind having a number of daughters in the hope of having a son. Sometimes poverty-ridden families decide to send such infants to an orphanage in the hope that they will be taken care of. A doctor at Dayanand Medical College said that often mothers abandoned their female babies in the hospital itself just after their birth.

Children, especially girls, born out of wedlock are frequently left in orphanages. Such children rarely find acceptance in our present social set up. Says a woman advocate: “The patriarchal system prevailing in our society enjoins a woman to have a male tag attached to her name to give legitimacy to her children. An unwed mother has to bear the brunt of social stigma and is ostracised. She has no option but to part with her child and she goes through all this almost mechanically.” Parents of an unwed mother also consider giving away the baby for adoption as the next best alternative to abortion, she added.

The lack of sex education further accentuates the problem. Many times girls and boys get into a physical relationship without being aware of the consequences.

Society places a premium on the looks of a woman. Handicap of any type becomes a nightmare for the parents who believe that their primary duty towards their daughters is to marry them off. A sick, malnourished daughter is an unwelcome addition to the family and such baby girls are often abandoned in orphanages.


Khanna police launches women, child helpline
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Nov 21 — The Khanna police has launched a women and child helpline, the first of its type in Punjab, at a function held at the local Improvement Trust Building, here today. This was inaugurated by Justice V. K. Khanna, Chairman, Human Rights Commission, Punjab.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Khanna, said that elimination of female children before birth was on the increase in society. He said, there were two issues related to children. One was the children who commit crime and second was of the children who were abused. Society has to be sensitive to the problems of the women and children. The police has a major role to play in this regard because of its close liaison with these sections at various levels. To deal with their problems this helpline had been created, Mr Dhoke said.

Mr A.P. Bhatnagar who presided over the function, lauded the role of persons who today adopted child victims for education. He stated that the next project by PNRC would be for women. He pointed out that children were more sensitive and therefore, could easily be made aware of their rights.

Justice V. K. Khanna, while addressing the function said that advocates, judicial officers and officers of other departments should also play an effective role in making helpline a success. He also called upon the public to co-operate and give all help to the police.

Mr Ram Singh, SP, Operation, presented the vote of thanks.


YC flays stoppage of water supply
From Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Nov 21 — The District Youth Congress (DYC), has strongly criticised the civic body’s move to discontinue water supply during the day and has called upon the municipal administration to immediately withdraw this ‘anti-people’ decision.

The DYC president, Mr Parminder Mehta, has said that the non-supply of water in the afternoon had evoked widespread resentment and in particular, the poor, who had no storage capacity, were the worst sufferers. Mr Mehta, who had earlier met the Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Jagdish Loomba, to impress upon him the dire need for restoration of the water supply during the day, expressed his surprise over the remarks of the group leader of the BJP councillors, Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, that no decision to discontinue the day time water supply was taken in the general house.

He lambasted the ruling alliance councillors for maintaining a ‘silence’ over the enhancement of water rates and imposition of penal interest on arrears. Mr Mehta observed that if Mr Bhatia, was to be believed, and the MC authorities had gone ahead with stoppage of water supply in the afternoon, without taking the approval of the general House, then the BJP should clarify its position and come forward to join the agitation, to be launched in next couple of days if the MC administration did not relent and the day time water supply in the city was not restored.



Accident victims remembered
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Nov 21 — A Bhog ceremony in memory of the accident victims of Kauri village was performed here yesterday. The accident had taken place on the night of November 26, 1998, in which about 220 persons were killed.

The bhog was organised by the Rail Hadsa Prabandhak Committee. The general secretary of the committee, Pandit Khurpal Chand Bhardwaj, said all administrative officials, police officials and railway officials were invited, but nobody cared to visit the place. 


Roadside entrepreneur
For them, winter means good business
From A Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 21 — Most of the rehriwalas selling omelette spell omelette as “aamlate’, but it does not matter. The only thing that matters is that it should be delicious. A number of rehriwalas making omelettes outside the District Courts are doing good business as winter has set in. Most of them have been there from many years.

Narender, an omelette seller, says, “I am able to sell 30 omelettes a day. A buttered omelette costs me Rs 8 and I can save Rs 2 per omelette”. Jagdish and Prem say that they sell about 15 to 20 omelettes a day. Their clients are generally litigants and local lawyers. During summer, when the court closes, they are jobless.

While the omelette sellers are folding up their business outside the District Courts in the evening, in other parts of the city, persons from Orissa start making omelettes. They cater to students who are either going for tuitions or are returning from tuitions. The factory workers also stop to eat an omelette.

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