Wednesday, November 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Complaints of missing money orders surface again
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — The infamous postal money order scandal that hogged headlines a few months ago is raising its ugly head again. A number of migrant labourers working in the city have renewed allegations against the Postal Department of undue delay or mysterious vanishing of their money orders sent to their native places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The local Postal authorities admit that some complaints of delay in the payment of money orders came up recently. They, however, maintain that the problem, like in the past, was still at the receiving ends of the money orders, and that there was no held-up here.

While the migrant labourers allege that there were hundreds of such complaints every month, the official figures of the Postal Department show the number of complaints to be less than 15 in a month

The non-receipt of money orders had been reported in these columns a couple of months ago also. The city has more than 8 lakh labourers. They regularly send money home to their native villages. Investigations by the Postal Department head office in New Delhi at various places, including this city and post offices in UP and Bihar, made a startling disclosure that some postal employees in the two states were actually minting large amount of money of the labourers by encashing the money orders sent by them to various places.

At least two employees of a remote post office in a Bihar village were reportedly suspended for deliberately holding back the money orders. The height of corruption was that these employees had went on to loan the labourer’s money to the needy family to which it was originally sent. What is more, the employees had charged interest for it.

After this, no new cases of delay of MOs were reported but now similar complaints are surfacing again. Mr Nageshwar Singh, president of the district unit of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, while complaining about the increasing instances of such cases has demanded a high-level probe into the whole affair. He said earlier they were told that some employees of the department in UP and Bihar were responsible for it but now the delay is being caused again.

Mr Nageshwar Singh has urged the authorities to find a solution to the problem once and for all by conducting a high-level probe into the matter. He said he was confident that there were problems not only in Bihar and UP but here also.

Mr M.K. Khan, Senior Superintendent, Post Offices, however, refutes the charges. He said if the problem was here then at least one or two cases of such delays of the money orders to other states in the country should also have been reported.

Mr Khan said they had set up a special customer care centre in the office for dealing with such complaints. He claimed that the department immediately sends a search message to the post office concerned the same day it receives the complaint.


People’s charity increasing beggars
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Begging appears to be assuming professional propositions in Ludhiana. There is no restriction on the beggars who can be spotted anywhere and everywhere, from the traffic lights to the shopping centres. Probably, this is being encouraged by the people who give alms generously to these beggars.

With affluence around, the people here do not mind giving something in charity. With so many philanthropists giving so much daan to the ‘needy’ beggars outside the religious places, the number of beggars is multiplying. The religious places in particular are swarming with beggars. Most of these beggars are able-bodied and can earn their livelihood by hard labour. There are very few physically challenged people who deserve alms. There is no particular age and sex. The men, women, young and old besides the small children crowd around a person at any busy place creating a nuisance.

While no official or unofficial survey is available about the number of beggars in the city, there is no denying the fact that their number has multiplied in proportion to the increase in the city’s population.

According to Pandit Mahanand of Dandi Swami Tapowan Ashram, who sees these beggars swarming the temple daily, most of them are into the ‘profession’ because of their family. Pandit Mahanand had a number of revelations to make. He revealed that most of these beggars were drug addicts. While they beg during the day, they purchase drugs to consume during the night. He pointed out, there had been a phenomenal increase in the number of beggars thanks to the philanthropy of people. Even if someone offers them work they do not accept it as they get money without any labour.

Hundreds of beggars can be seen outside the Durga Mata temple and Dandi Swami Tapowan Ashram. The number multiplies on Tuesdays and other festivals. The people provide them with tea, breakfast, warm stuff like sweaters and blankets and also the money. Some of the beggars according to Pandit Mahanand are from good families with houses and land in their villages and yet they beg.

The beggars no longer make their demands in a humble way. There have been a number of complaints when the beggars have forced people to give money. In some cases the beggars have even torn the clothes of people if they refused. The common scene is at the traffic lights where these beggars, mostly children wipe the window screens of vehicles and demand money in return. This, according to a teenaged beggar “is not begging, but labour for my work”.

While no beggar disclosed how much he earned during a day, the earnings usually range from Rs 50 to Rs 200 a day, depending upon the day and the place. At religious places, and on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the beggars “earn” a handsome amount. But they are not always so lucky. While there is a general belief that most of the beggars belong to an organised group, but none of the beggars this reporter talked to agreed that he or she belonged to any such group. However, the beggars have an understanding about their places where they can beg. They usually “do not encroach upon each others territory”.


IMA official fears threat to life
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — The situation arising from the directions handed down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Punjab Government against medical practice by unqualified practitioners in the state, took an ugly turn today. Dr Ashwani Goyal, general secretary of the Punjab state branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) informed the IMA headquarters, as well the police, that a group of unregistered practitoners, led by one Mr Amrik Singh, had threatened him and his family members with dire consequences if the IMA did not withdraw its petition filed before the high court.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued directions to the state of Punjab to check unregistered medical practitioners from practicing medicine, way back in 1998. Since the government had failed to take effective measures in this regard and the menace of quackery was continuing unabated, the IMA had filed a petition to initaite contempt of court proceedings against the state government. The next date of hearing in the case is fixed for November 29.

According to information received from Jagraon, Dr Goyal was accosted by a group of unregistered practitioners accompanying Mr Amrik Singh, who claimed to be their president, and was asked to with-drawn the court case against them. When told that it was a policy matter which could only be decided by the state branch of the IMA, the unruly practitioners threatened that they will not only stage a dharna and gherao the IMA officials, but would eliminate him and his family members.

The unregistered practitioners were reported to have told Dr Goyal that “the number of such practitioners in Punjab is more than 1.5 lakh. They will eliminate you and your family members will disappear if the petition in the High Court was not withdrawn immediately.”

Dr Goyal has apprised the IMA headquarters, the Civil Surgeon, the SMO Jagraon of the apprehended threat to his life and property and safety of his family members. A formal complaint has also been lodged with SSP, Jagraon, with a copy to sent the Director General of Police, Punjab, demanding action against the culprits and adequate security measures to protect the IMA office bearers. 


Wife sentenced for beating up husband
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Wife bashing is a common occurence but in a unique case, Mr Ashok Kumar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), has sentenced Lakhbir Kaur to one-and-a-half-year imprisonment for beating up her husband, Rajinder Singh. The judge also sentenced the couple's son, Sharanjit Singh, and another person, Raj Kumar, to similar punishment.

According to a copy of the order received here today, Rajinder Singh had complained that he was married to Lakhbir Kaur in 1981 and had two sons, Sharanjit and Manjit Singh. About six to seven months ago, he developed some differences with her wife. One day he saw two suspected persons in his house but when he objected to their presence, his wife caught hold of him. His son also joined in and hit the father. The other persons also started beating him up.

His brother, Jagdev Singh, came to the scene after listening to his cries and saved him. The acccused ran away from the scene and the injured man was taken to hospital. The medical examination also established the beating up of the persons. The aggrieved husband later approached the court.

The defendants counter-alleged that the injuries were self-inflicted. They also said that the injured person was actually misbehaving with the family.


Student-police interaction
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Nov 28 — In a special campaign initiated by Mr Ram Singh, Superintendent of Police (Operation), Payal, students were educated about the role of police personnel in the security of the people. Students of Guru Nanak Model Senior Secondary School visited Payal police station in order to have first-hand knowledge of the functioning of the police station.

The students were also made to interact with the lower rank staff of the police. The Superintendent of Police explained to the students that there was lack of understanding about the working of the police stations. The students were given information about FIR, Rojnamcha, etc. Also, the identification and handling of firearms used by the police were demonstrated to the students. The role of the police in the case of loss of any certificate, driving licence, passport, etc, was also clarified.

Apart from this, suggestions were invited from the students in response to which they proposed change of colour of the uniform and renovation of the building of the police station.

Talking to the media, Mr Ram Singh said that since children had an unbiased mind, it was easy to change their perception about the police. He added that 150 schools from rural and urban areas in Khanna police district were being invited to provide them with first- hand knowledge of the police and its working.

Mr Balraj Singh Sidhu, DSP, Payal, said that they needed the help and cooperation of the people in this awareness campaign. Mr Arvind Puri, SHO, Payal, provided the students with a 20-point questionnaire form to be filled by them in order to assess their minds.


6-year-old dies in accident
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Raju, a six year-old child, died in a collision between school and police vans at the Jalandhar bypass chowk here this morning.

His father, Malkit Singh, suffered an arm fracture in the accident. Three other travellers in the school van escaped with minor injuries. All five were relatives. The happenings after the accident were also shocking as the child’s body was kept on the road and later in the van for about six hours.

The accident occurred at about 6 a.m. when the school van coming from Jalandhar side could not spot a police van allegedly parked in the middle of the road. The school van hit the rear of the police van. The child sitting in the lap of his father fell out of the bus due to the jerk and died immediately.

The relatives of the child alleged that the police was more concerned about removing signs of the accident from the road instead of looking after the injured. Mr Virender Kumar Sodhi, President, Ward No 5, have in a statement demanded an immediate inquiry against the police personnel responsible for the incident and the alleged inhuman treatment.


4 robbers arrested
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — With the arrest of four persons in separate raids, the police here today claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough in solving several cases of robbery and snatching, which had occurred in various parts of the city in the recent past.

According to a press note issued here today, a number of special nakas were erected at several points in the police station area at a tip-off about some movement of suspected gangsters.The police gained success as four persons were arrested and a number of stolen vehicles and goods were recovered from them.

The main items in the recovery list included three Maruti cars, bearing registration numbers DL-5C-A-8540, PB-31-0039, and the third one without number. Two pistols along with four cartridges, two knives, two scooters and a Yamaha motorcycle had also been recovered from their possession. According to the police, the recovered cars were stolen from the area of Police Station Division no 2. The police also claimed that the accused had admitted of stealing gold ornaments and cash from Shimla Puri area recently.


1 killed in clash over property
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Nov 28 — One person was killed and two were seriously injured in a clash at Khanpur village, 5 km from here, today, over a piece of land.

According to information available the court has given the judgment in favour of Prithipal Singh and his son for five kanals of disputed land. They went to the fields to plough the land and were confronted by their relatives. Jagtar Singh, Dharmpal, Ranjit Singh and Raju, resulting in a clash in the fields. Iron rod, were used in the fighting. Mr Jatinder Paul Singh, 26, son of Prithipal Singh, who had won the case succumbed to his injuries at the PGI. Mr Prithipal Singh and his other son are admitted to the Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

According to Mr I.S. Randhawa, SP(H), a case u/s 302, 323 and 34 IPC has been registered at Police Station, Sirhind and the culprits would be arrested soon.


Police phones disconnected
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Nov 28 — The Telephone Revenue Authority (TRA), Khanna, has disconnected the telephone connection of the Sadar police station, Khanna, due to the non-payment of Rs 52,000 that had been pending since April, 1999. It is also learnt that the telephone connections of the City police station, Khanna, and the Payal police station have also been disconnected by the TRA.


Mixed response to cancellation of cricket tour
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Although the debate about the Indian Government’s decision to cancel the Indo-Pak cricket series is still on, the Union Minister for Sports, Ms Uma Bharti, appears to have already put a seal on the subject by ruling out a going back on the decision. This is despite the fact that five MPs have recently urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision.

On the other hand, people have diverse opinions about the decision. While some people endorsed the government’s decision saying that there was no reasons for Indians to play with Pakistanis considering its open support to militancy in Kashmir, others observed that sports should not be mixed with politics.

Talking to a cross-section of people, Ludhiana Tribune discovered that while the decision annoyed sports lovers, but the general public supported the government decision.

Opposing the government decision, Amit Sharma, a post-graduate student felt that sports help in developing healthy and harmonious relations between two countries. "Sports ease tension and promote the feeling of sportsmanship and universal brotherhood," he pointed, while opposing the cancellation of the tour. He appreciated the efforts of some MPs for urging the Union Government to reconsider its decision.

In a similar tone, Mr Naresh Goyal, a wool trader, said the government should not interrupt the chain of efforts for establishing peace between the two countries. "The government should not disappoint cricket lovers", he said, while emphasising that two countries should regularly play cricket.

Mr Rohit, a shopkeeper, was of the opinion that politicians should not interfere in sports. He said they should not play their dirty tricks with the game. This decision would not help the country in any way in its diplomatic pursuit to score over Pakistan, but will definitely hurt the feelings of sports lovers across the two countries. "The Indian team should be allowed to play with Pakistan", he asserted.

Mr Bhushan, a salesman opined, "sports is the only way to communicate the message that India wants peace." He suggested that India should not be intolerant and the efforts of promoting peace through dialogue should continue. Sports, he felt, can be one such means of communication.

Ms Bharti Dhar, a housewife, however, felt differently and said, "we should boycott the country which was responsible for killing so many innocent people in Kashmir". She opined, "we should not have anything to do with Pakistan whether it is sports or anything else".

Mr Girish Kapoor, a businessman, says that despite serious efforts of India for peace between the two countries, Pakistan has responded only by intensifying the killings in Kashmir. Supporting the government decision, he said, "by playing cricket with Pakistan we will be insulting our Kargil martyrs." He asserted that there should be no compromise with Pakistan, as long as it continues with its evil designs against India, particularly in Kashmir.

Mr Sayedan, a medical representative, felt that confrontation should be avoided at all costs. ''While the Government of India may have its reasons for the cancellation of tour, but what will we get out of it ?", he asked, while adding that ways and means for long lasting peace should be explored.



IT was more than 25 years ago or so that city residents were elated when they heard of a rail link between Ludhiana and Chandigarh coming up in the near future.

The business community was particularly delighted about the project which it thought would boost the city's trade in a big way. Since then we have had a number of governments both at Chandigarh and at Delhi but the promised rail link has failed to come up. Although there have been reports of preliminary surveys being conducted and a plenty of assurances by political leaders from time to time, there is nothing concrete as yet which may rekindle any hopes in this regard.

Hopes of an early rail link between the two cities have been revived and dashed so many times till now that the cynics among the city residents do not like to talk about it anymore. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who visits Ludhiana frequently, has been saying from time to time that work on the project would commence soon. But like a true politician he never revealed the real thing.

But nevertheless, the Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr Digvijay Singh, who was here the other day, disclosed that it was the Punjab Government in fact which was responsible for the delay in the project. According to him, the state government had failed to give consent to contribute 5 per cent of the total project cost, the share of the beneficiary state. In this connection, Mr Digvijay Singh cited the example of the Konkan Railway project which had been completed on schedule as all the four states concerned had shared part of the cost.

Going by the affluence of the city, it should not be impossible for the residents to contribute 5 per cent of the total cost considering the fact that the coffers of the state government are empty.

Common cause

Notwithstanding the general sycophantic approval of family rule even in a democratic country like India, there have always been some notable dissenting exceptions who refuse the allegiance of loyalty (read sycophancy). These leaders mostly suffer, as the loyalists (read sycophants) usually outnumber the dissidents.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma also claims himself to be a dissident with a cause against the culture of sycophancy. He along with Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar and Mr Tariq Anwar left the Congress just because they did not want to tow the line of others, which, they claimed, was nothing more than sycophancy. Mr Sangma has been unambiguous in his stand that the country's Prime Minister should be a natural born Indian, too blasphemous, in a culture that is dominated by unfailing sycophancy, to be tolerated.

Recently Mr Sangma was in the city to attend a seminar on ''autonomy'' organised by the Government College for Women. During the lunch break he was swarmed by journalists and some local politicians, prominent among whom included Tohra loyalist Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal. The topic not unexpectedly was as recent as the election of Ms Sonia Gandhi as the AICC president and the challenge to her leadership by Mr Jitendera Prasad. Mr Sangma said so many things which the scribes were noting down so seriously, while Mr Grewal was looking on. Mr Sangma while referring to Ms Sonia Gandhi, made a pithy remark, "we do not want that the single seat of the Prime Minister be reserved for one particular family, everybody should have the right over it". Mr Grewal, a lawyer's wit as he possesses, intervened to make a point with a similar theme, "we want a similar interpretation of your purpose in our state also as we have also suffered on similar count". The meaning was obvious. He said the seat of the Chief Minister should not be reserved for one particular family, at least in Punjab. Mr Sangma laughed, for someone else also shared his pain. So did the scribes. But Mr Grewal meant more than he merely said. Enough of meeting ground for a common cause!

Poetry and liquor

Yeh massail-e-tasawaf, yeh tera bayaan Ghalib,
Tujhe ham wali samjhte, jo na baad khwar hota.

(Your concerns so mystic, your style so unique, you would be a prophet, Ghalib, but for your wine).

This is the self-appraisal of Ghalib who believed that he would have been a prophet only if he did not drink.

But there is an unending and everlasting relationship between poetry and liquor. Not just Ghalib, even Iqbal, whose spartan nature is well known, could not resist the temptation of writing about wine. Iqbal said, "Waiz sabut lae jo mai ke jawaz mein, Iqbal ko yeh zid hai ki peena bhi chhor de" (Should the priest produce evidence against wine, Iqbal too will pledge never to touch the glass).

In fact if anything has rivaled the women in Urdu poetry, particularly that of Ghalib, it is wine. Ghalib has always been a favourite among the people. Whether anyone knows poetry or not, but he definitely knows who is Ghalib. Such is his popularity. And our modern-day poets have every reason to know him. Not necessarily for seeking inspiration and imitating his style and other things but many more things.

A literary organisation recently organised a mushaira in memory of Sahir Ludhianvi, another great poet the country could take pride in, who belonged to Ludhiana. The organisers had chosen the sprawling lawns of a reputed school as the venue for the occasion. The sky was open. People were shivering with cold. But the organisers had taken due care for warmth and cozy ambience.

Liquor and poetry vied with each other in their spontaneous and generous flow. Most of the poets tasted the drink within the reasonable limits, the limits of remaining within sanity. But there were some, rather a very few of them, whose liquor overtook their poetry. This was reflected in the mushaira itself. If the sensual jealousy has any parallel, it is intellectual jealousy. And it happened at the mushaira. As one local poet started rendering his compositions, another who was dead drunk and sitting amongst the audience started pouring generous invectives on the poet and calling him names quietly. But at the same time he did not hesitate to raise his hands in appreciation waah waah!

The situation reached such a pass that the compere of the mushaira had to intervene from the dais. He remarked that the Urdu language stood for dignity and decency. For the time being the invective stopped flying. But no sooner had he (the compere) stopped sermonising the naughty poet, the same voice was heard again with the same words in the same style. Guess against whom the invective were directed this time. The compere only!

Begging for ice-cream

Begging is becoming too popular in the city with hundreds of philanthropists offering alms to the beggars unrestricted. For charity is a great virtue. The number of children joining the begging brigade is increasing in phenomenal proportions. But it is not the poor and the needy alone who beg. It is the children from families which may not be well-off, but will definitely not need to beg.

Recently some of the shopkeepers in the Field Gunj area found some children begging from people. Unlike their real beggar brotheren, these children were found to be dressed relatively in a better way. And these children maintained their standard. They do not beg for a rupee or two, not even five, but Rs 10 straightway. And they buy icecream for it (see picture).

But the children seem to be wise and intelligent enough to succeed in their trade. They don't merely ask for money, they also explain the purpose. The moment a car stops in front of a shop, these children swarm it forwarding their hand imploring upon the people to give them Rs 10 so that they could get a pair of shoes or clothes or feed their "ever" ailing father or mother. While most people do not offer a single penny, there are still some faithfully credulous people who give in to their demands. It was the shopkeepers who found wherefrom did these children get the money for the luxury as icecream is for a child. A number of these children also go to the school and belong to average middle class families. So next time ensure that you are giving the money to a right person.

Basement business

The posh residential areas of Sarabha Nagar appears to be assuming greater significance with more and more commercial establishments jumping in to start their offices in the area. Since the area had primarily been earmarked for residential purposes only, there was hardly any space available for commercial purpose.

But businessmen with big money have always some way out for them. A number of influential businessmen have already opened their business offices in different blocks. Most of these offices are being run from the basements and the ground floor.

While those who had constructed their houses a decade ago are unable to make much gain, as most of these houses do not have basements, those which have been constructed recently have basements. Because they themselves reside in the upper stories, while renting out the basements and the ground floor, as it keeps on the flow of money regularly.

Ladies of Ludhiana

Most of the affluent class Ludhianvi ladies consider and claim themselves to be too genteel and dignified. And they have their own definitions of dignity. They go in for everything that is in vogue. It may be jewellery, latest outfits, new models of handy mobile or even cars. They will always be in a mood to display their riches whenever there is a gathering, preferably of women, as women notice each other more than men do. Not necessarily out of jealousy.

And most of them have a multi-faceted personality. They may be too genteel and dignified yet they cannot resist some basic human temptations. Generally there are monthly meetings at all the ladies clubs and the organisers arrange a variety of dishes for the club members. One gets a shock as these ladies betray their instincts usually the time of eating. The genteel mask of dignity comes off when one watches them rushing (read pouncing) at the foodstalls. The moment the food is served, the ladies start deserting their seats and rush towards the food that is too tempting for them to leave others behind.

The organisers keep cajoling and convincing them to maintain discipline and keep patience from the mike itself. But the ''hungry'' ladies cannot resist the temptation. This is a routine in most of the ladies clubs, some of which claim themselves to be to elite to be open for general people.

There is a sad footnote to this comedy. It has been noted that usually a huge quantity of food gets wasted because the food is either prepared in access or most people leave half-finished plates. Most of the women overload their plates with almost all delicacies on display, but are seldom able to consume all, leaving a good quantity to be wasted. Needed a lesson in table manners, if you don't mind.

Shabby Shatabdi

The most luxurious Shatabdi train sometimes considered as a status symbol to be travelled by appears to be on the routine track of the Indian Railways. The train had come up with a lot of excitement and expectations for the Ludhianvis. All expectations seem to have been belied with the service going the traditional railway way.

As one gets seated inside the train there are no longer the cushioned seats. The seats of this so-called splendid sumptuous train are already torn apart, wearing a shabby look. The cleanliness in the train seems to be a forgotten tale. The food served in the train is no longer tasty as it is usually stale. One needs to be bold enough to have it as there is always the risk of landing up with a doctor next day. Many passengers have suffered from food poisoning during past few days.

People would travel by the Shatabdi train with one consolation at least that they will reach on time. But even that exclusiveness seems to be wearing out. There is no guarantee that it may not get late, not by minutes but hours. And it has been happening more frequently now. And cleanliness is as good or bad as in any other train. On the other hand, the fare of the train is increasing constantly while the quality of service is declining at an equal pace.

Welfare council

The Model Town Welfare Council is doing a commendable service for the residents of the area. There is a big room attached to the office where a large number of newspapers are placed for the convenience of the old people. They read the newspapers till 1o'clock and also doze of without anybody bothering them. The council has taken the responsibility of maintaining the parks of Model Town. It will also develop a green belt on the periphery road connecting Jawaddi Road with Dugri Road. The council aims at planting a number of trees there. It has already planted a lot of trees on the main road for providing shelter to the people and also improving the environment. Shortly, it is going to start yoga classes for the senior citizens in the Community Centre. The council also maintains sanitary conditions in Model Town. The Janj Ghar, which is very popular for old-age marriage functions, is also maintained by the Model Town Welfare Council. The other localities could take a leaf from the page and follow suit. The actions and cooperation of the people will definitely make the city clean.


At the back of three-wheelers, trucks, buses and tempos, we find some interesting phrases and couplets obviously painted there by the owners of these vehicles.

The most common of these is, however, the one that warns the viewer against casting an evil eye on the vehicle. Buri nazar wale tera moohn kala, either written in Punjabi or Hindi, can be spotted at the back of a large number of vehicles. But any variation on this hackneyed phrase sometimes provides some food for the thought. Only the other day, Sentinel spotted a three-wheeler near the Damoria bridge which said, buri nazar wale, toon DMC jaaye, meaning that the one casting an evil eye on the vehicle shall land up in the DMC hospital.
— Sentinel


Paddy theft complaints
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Nov 28 — Resentment prevails among commission agents of Sirhind Mandi due to the non-lifting of paddy purchased by the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, which has resulted in theft of paddy.

According to Mr Sadhu Ram, a spokesman of commission agents, repeated requests and reminders to officials of the procurement agency as well as the DFSC had fallen on deaf ears. The purchased paddy is lying in open in the grain market. The secretary, market committee, has served notices to the procurement agencies to lift the paddy as soon as possible, otherwise rent would be charged according to the bylaws.

Even the labour union has given in writing to commission agents that they would not be responsible for any damage or theft of paddy lying in the mandi. This resulted in theft of 78 bags of paddy on November 27 from some yards. The commission agents alleged that the theft had occurred due to the negligence on part of the procurement agency.

Sources said that despite orders by the Deputy Commissioner of DFSC to clear the Mandi, DFSC expressed inability blaming DM, Punjab Agro Industries, for not carrying out the lifting process.


Matrimonial bypass to Canada
From Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Want to go and settle down in Canada without fulfilling the eligibility criteria and byepassing most of the Canadian immigration laws? Just arrange a matrimonial alliance with a Canadian citizen. And there are a number of agents available to offer you an alliance for a handsome fee. That is what a number of people have been found to have done. You can cancel the marriage and do not even need to consummate it.

After the United States, Canada is the second most popular destination for the people in Punjab. But most of them do not find themselves eligible and qualified enough to meet all the requirements. Moreover, of late the Canadian government has reportedly formulated a new immigration policy which lays down so many conditions that it is difficult to meet them all.

There is a unique matrimonial way out. If one gets married to a Canadian citizen, he becomes eligible for a Canadian citizenship without any hassels. According to information available, scores of people, mostly from rural areas in Punjab, have migrated to Canada by using this way out, although it involves an expenditure much more that would be required in the normal course.

The marriages are arranged by certain agents. The marriage is settled for a fixed amount. Usually the bride comes from Canada. Half of the amount settled in the deal is paid to the bride at the time of marriage and the remaining amount is paid after the immigration process is complete. It usually takes six months to one year after the marriage to complete the process.

Such marriages are purely commercial. These marriages are never consummated. The bride and the groom never stay together. All the matrimonial formalities are completed legally with documentary and photographic evidence. The moment the groom receives the immigration documents the “marriage” comes to an instant end.

According to local agents there is no law which could prevent this type of immigration to Canada. This being the most convenient method and less time consuming a number of people opt for it, even if they are married.

However, the number of people seeking immigration to Canada after following the normal procedure is no less. According to Col H.S. Khurana of Canam, an immigration company, on an average every year about 400 people from Ludhiana alone migrate to Canada after fulfilling all the eligibility criteria. There are four categories under which people can get a visa for Canada.

Under the new laws a person needs to score 70 points for securing a visa. The points have been divided according to various eligibility criteria like, age, educational qualification, work experience (compulsory) and also the relatives in Canada. This is followed by an interview. However, in some cases the interview is waived off if the person manages to score sufficient points on other counts.

Colonel Khurana disclosed that mostly the people belonging to the upper middle class trained in various technical programmes seek immigration to Canada. Such people do not find many difficulties in getting a visa.


War of one-upmanship in Ludhiana SAD
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — The ambiguous stand taken by the party high command on the issue of deciding the Ludhiana district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal has virtually led to the crisis in the party, with two rival groups forming their own separate units at the circle and ward levels.

It is a war of one-upmanship between two senior leaders, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar and Mr Amarjeet Singh Bhatia. While Mr Makkar claims to be the acting district president of the SAD duly authorised by the party leadership, Mr Bhatia counters it by saying that Mr Makkar has not been appointed by anyone.

According to Mr Makkar he was the senior vice-president at the time when the district president and local MLA, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, switched loyalties to the group led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. He claims that he is the "natural acting president" as he was appointed senior vice-president by the party itself.

However, Mr Bhatia argues that Mr Makkar is a "self styled" district president as he has no authority. He challenged Mr Makkar to show written proof of his appointment.

The rivalry between the two groups reached its flashpoint when at a function attended by senior party leaders at Gurdwara Alamgir, the stage secretary addressed Mr Makkar as the district president of the party. This was resented by the supporters of Mr Bhatia who manhandled the stage secretary. This was followed by an armed clash between the supporters of the rival groups on Gurpurb celebrations in the month of May.

The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal has been delaying in making a decision. The ambiguity of his stand has compounded the confusion. While recently Mr Bhatia had reportedly been marginalised, his nomination as the vice-president of the party in the recent reorganisation, made all these reports redundant, giving new lease of life to his political career.

Countering the charges of Mr Bhatia, Mr Makkar accused him of creating hurdles in the smooth functioning of the party. He alleged, "Mr Bhatia is a natural opponent of every right thinking person in the party."

In order to ensure supremacy, each of the two rivals has been making maximum number of delegates and also constituting units at the circle and ward level. Mr Bhatia claimed that he had made 1,950 delegates against about 1,400 made by Mr Makkar. He said only the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was authorised to nominate the district president. "If Mr Badal makes him the district president, only then can I accept him so," he added.

Both the groups have the support of different senior party leaders. While Mr Makkar is reportedly being supported by the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, Mr Bhatia enjoys the patronage of the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha.


Robbers loot liquor vend
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Three suspected armed robbers struck at a liquor vend in Baranhara village near here last night and decamped with unspecified amount of cash.

According to an FIR registered at the Sadar police station here today, the robbers also fired a shot but no one was injured. They had come on a scooter at about 8.00 p.m. and demanded cash from Babu Ram, a worker at the vend.

The robbers fired a shot when the worker refused to part with money. The terror struck worker then could not offer any resistance. The police has registered a case under Sections 382, 34, 25, 54, and 39 against the three unidentified accused.Back


Body found
From Our Correspondent

MACHHIWARA, Nov 28 — The local police found a dead body from a sewer situated on Kopar Road, here, early morning. The dead body was identified as that of Mr Rajinder Singh (44), an assistant lineman residing in Machhiwara. A case under Section 174 of the CrPC has been registered. The cause of death could not be ascertained.Back


Exporters seek govt help to boost trade
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 28 — Exporters here are facing a lot of problems due to the “indifferent attitude” of the state government and the local administration.

The industrial policy for export promotion that the state government has promised a number of times, should be announced immediately. The small-scale engineering export firms are facing a stiff competition from manufacturers in other states.

The major disadvantages for the state exporters include high tariff charged by the CONCOR, high indirect taxes like sales tax and octroi. These taxes are refunded to exporters in most of the states.

These points were raised by Mr S.C. Ralhan, Chairman (NR), Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC). He was speaking at a seminar on the "Role of states for export promotion under the WTO."

He said with the implementation of the WTO norms, the role of state governments had become important to help the exporters. Perhaps that was the reason that the Government of India had kept Rs 500 crore for the states for the promotion of exports.” The share of Punjab in this allocation was around Rs 20 crore. The state government should take steps to solve the problems being faced by the exporting community.

Speakers said they were being fleeced by the CONCOR for transporting their goods to Mumbai port. It was charging Rs 17,800 for moving a cargo of 20 containers from Ludhiana to Mumbai though it was paying only Rs 10,612 to the Railways.

The Punjab State Warehousing Corporation could earn a minimum profit by investing Rs 9 crore in 90 wagons, besides charging Rs 2,000 less per container from exporters. This will benefit the exporters of Punjab to the tune of Rs 7 to Rs 8 crore. There were a number of private parties ready to coordinate in this venture.

Mr Ralhan agreed though subsidy could not be given by the Central Government, the state was free to give assistance for the promotion of exports. The state government could repay the indirect taxes. Some formula should be devised to refund these taxes which could be refunded by the Central Government.

Exporters demanded the immediate announcement of the export policy by the state. The declaration of the export zone was part of that policy. The state government should persuade the Central Government for its declaration on priority basis.

Later, a memorandum was given to the Deputy Commissioner to forward it to the state government.

In the memorandum, the industry representatives urged the state government to abolish sales tax on advanced or special imports on the pattern of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The imposition of sales tax on the advanced licences was affecting the profit margin of the exporters as they were already working at very low margins of 2 to 5 per cent. By enacting a law, it could abolish this sales tax. 

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