Saturday, December 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Pedestrians exposed to heavy highway traffic
From D.B.Chopra

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — Pedestrians have been pushed off the footpaths, on the stretch of the National Highway between Jagraon Bridge and Chand Cinema, particularly in front of the railway station and Kamla Nehru Market. This exposes them to the hazards of sharing the road with the fast moving traffic.

Kamla Nehru Market, which extends from Raikhy Cinema Chowk to Jagraon Bridge is divided in two parts. One is on the right of the railway station and the other is on its left. This “modern” market was constructed with much fanfare in the early 70s and everyone had then applauded it. The eight-foot wide roofed verandah outside the shops was a shoppers’ delight as they could move from one shop to another with ease.

Gradually, the scene started changing from one of spick and span openness to that of ugly congestion as the shopkeepers started extending their businesses to the verandah. But one could still wade through the chaos. Now with the exception of a hosiery showroom and a hotel, all shopkeepers have extended their establishments right up to the end of the verandah and have also included the narrow footpath that was built for pedestrians when the verandah was made inaccessible to them. Beside the narrow footpath are parked cycles, scooters and cars. Thus about 20 feet of the public thoroughfare go unutilised. 


The old city has lost its old world charm. The Chaura Bazar is no more Chaura. And the Chauri Sarak can safely be called a narrow lane. Brown Road is in tatters, devoid of all its glory. Walking along a road in the old city is a nightmare. You never know when a cycle, a scooter, a rickshaw or even another pedestrian will bump into you.

The larger public interest has taken the back seat in the Municipal Corporation where corruption reigns supreme. Instead of removing the encroachments, the anti-encroachment wings of the corporation and PUDA have in fact encouraged them.

Ludhiana Tribune has decided to highlight the encroachments so that the powers that be could sit up and take notice. It is never too late. What is needed is a strong will on the part of the politicians and the bureaucrats concerned. The first report in the series appears today.

Only half the width of the road remains available to the moving vehicles. With clothes and other items hanging outside the shops, the market presents the look of a village bazaar.

According to the norms set for the maintenance of national highways, there must not be any obstruction within 15 feet on either side of the road.

Next to the Kamla Nehru Market is the Raikhy Cinema taxi stand. The movement of taxis while these are being parked and taken out also poses problems for the pedestrians. Minor accidents are the order of the day. The same is true of the other lane that takes the traffic moving towards Jagraon Bridge. Apart from the shopkeepers who have occupied the footpath, there are scores of rehriwallahs and other roadside traders who not only slow down the vehicular traffic but also create problems for the walkers.

A shopkeeper of Kamla Nehru Market, who had his wares displayed all the way up to the footpath and even further, said that it was difficult to attract customers without displaying their wares outside. He said the shopkeepers had paid for 12 feet by 37 feet of space including the eight-foot wide verandah and as such they had the right to use it.

But the owner of a showroom which does not display anything in the verandah, said that though they had paid for the verandah, they were required to keep it free of obstacles to ensure smooth passage for the shoppers.

Of the stretch between the taxi stand and Chowk Ghanta Ghar, the less said the better. Since the shops here have no verandah, the shopkeepers display their wares on the road itself.

From Ghanta Ghar Chowk onward up to Chand Cinema, though there are not many shopkeepers to occupy the road, congestion remains on account of the haphazardly parked three-wheelers, mini buses and rickshaws besides a number of rehris.Back



Kirtans, diwans on Martyrdom Day
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — The Martyrdom Day of Guru Teg Bahadur was observed at various places in the city today.

All gurdwaras witnessed devotees arriving in large numbers since morning to participate in diwans, kathas and kirtans. Langars were organised in all gurdwaras. Roadside langars by individuals and business houses were also put up all over the city.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker, Panjab Vidhan Sabha, called upon the people to follow the path shown by the Guru in order to build a new social order so that the coming generations remember our rich heritage.

He was addressing a religious congregation on the occasion of the Gurpurb functions at Koom Kalan village, about 30 km from here today. Mr Atwal said Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his life in the fight against repression and injustice to uplift the oppressed classes. He said Sikhs had contributed in a big way in getting the country liberated .

Local buses and three-wheelers as also other vehicles were diverted last night to other routes because of the nagar kirtan being taken out in the old city. The police also resorted to a mild lathi-charge on cyclists at certain places to ensure a smooth passage for the nagar kirtan.


Take public complaints seriously, DC tells officials
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — Presiding over the weekly sangat darshan programme in the mini secretariat here yesterday, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K.Sandhu, pulled up officers for taking the complaints of the public lightly. He issued explicit directions that henceforth, an inquiry into each complaint, should be conducted in the presence of the complainant and detailed report, on each point of the complaint, be submitted.

Mr Sandhu took strong exception to the failure of police in conducting a proper inquiry into the complaint of one Mrs Joginder Kaur, a resident of Butari village. The Block Development and Panchayat Officer was asked to conduct an on-the-spot probe and submit the report by next week. In a similar case, one Naseeb Kaur, a resident of Akalgarh village, complained that the BDPO had not involved her in the inquiry into unlawful possession over a plot allotted to her. The Deputy Commissioner asked the concerned official to conduct another inquiry in the presence of the complainant.

In yet another instance of the complainant being unsatisfied with the manner of probe, Mr Sandhu took the concerned BDPO to task and told him to immediately conduct a second inquiry into the alleged encroachment on a plot, owned by one Ishar Das in Balliewal village.

The complaint lodged by Mr Bhajan Singh of Humbran village about the highhandedness of police was entrusted to the SDM for conducting a probe. Similarly, complaints of running an industrial unit in a residential house, encroachment of government land in rural focal point in Khwajke and unlawful occupation of a plot on the basis of forged and fabricated documents in Prem Nagar locality were marked to concerned officers, with the instructions that the reports must be submitted in the next sangat darshan programme.

As many as 48 complaints were taken up in the programme, out of which 32 were settled on the spot. The Deputy Commissioner instructed the officers to take public complaints seriously and to conduct impartial inquiries, so that justice could be dispensed speedily.


Fervour marks Jumma Namaz of Ramzan
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — A large number of muslim devotees gathered at the local Jama Masjid to celebrate the first jumma of Ramzan. The occasion was marked with traditional fervour. While explaining the significance of Ramzan, the Imam said, “Ramzan is a month of total surrender to Allah. It is the time to delve deep into the inner recesses of our hearts. It is also the time to call upon Allah’s rehmat to guide us through the maze of human entanglements.”

For a Ludhianvi Muslim, Ramzan is also a time for social rejuvenation. The local Jama Masjid is the centre where the Muslims congregate during the month of Ramzan. “The evening gathering at the Jama Masjid presents a kaleidoscopic view of Indian culture. It is heart- warming to see people from different regions — Biharis, UPites, Punjabis, Bengalis and Kashmiris offering Namaz at the same place. Perhaps, at the abode of Allah, man- made differences ebb away automatically. All that remains is a sense of belongingness to the Supreme Father, “says Maulana Habib-Ur-Rehman Saani Ludhianaver, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Ludhiana.

For the five lakh Muslims of Ludhiana, Ramzan is the month to cull out all the sorrows from their lives and make a fresh beginning. Though Muslims as a community are closely knit, yet the month of Ramzan makes fellow-feeling all the more palpable. “During this month we feel that a common thread of humanity joins us all. And in this brotherhood, all communities are included,” remarks Mr Usman, a religious leader.

The philosophy behind the fasts can be encapsulated in the words — surrender unto God’s Grace. In fact, the whole month of Ramzan is divided into three parts. For the first 10 days, Allah’s grace descends upon the humankind. The next 10 days are the days of forgiveness and the last 10 days signify a total liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

When asked about the routine on a typical day of the Ramzan month, Ms Zarina, a young Muslim lecturer explained, “Our day starts at 4 o’clock in the morning. First, we have Sahri (a sort of breakfast). As per this year’s time table, the morning food has to be eaten before 5.30 am. Up till 5.45 in the evening, not even a drop of water or a morsel of food should touch our lips. After that, we can break our fast.” Interestingly, dates, the fruit of the season, are considered auspicious for breaking the fast.

For youngsters, Ramzan assumes an added significance. “After all, it is the most opportune time to get a new wardrobe, without having to pester your parents about it,” remarks Abdul, a young Muslim boy. His friend chips in to say that though Ramzan has an aura of abstinence around it, yet it is not bereft of enjoyable moments. He adds,” Ramzan is a unique mix of solemnity and gaiety. If it is the time to dress to the nines, it is also the time to check our inner barometer to see whether we are following the tenets of Allah.”


Two booked in abduction case
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — The police has registered a case against two persons for allegedly abducting a girl. According to police sources, a case of abduction has been registered against Neeraj Kumar and Pankaj, both sons of Suresh Chander Goel of Chet Singh Nagar, Ludhiana, for allegedly abducting a girl Jaspreet Kaur, daughter of Basant Singh of the same area. No arrests have been made so far. The FIR said, the two accused had allegedly abducted Jaspreet, a student of B.Sc, first year, in the Government College for Girls.


For her, life is a mission of compassion
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — “My life has been a rollercoaster ride. I have seen the desecration of human relationships. But then, I think forgiveness enriches our life,” says Ms Poonam Kalra.

Poonam’s life can be summed up in a single word-compassion. Castaways — humans or animals make her reach out to them. She has an amazing knack for looking after the sick and the downtrodden. Poonam’s voluntary work includes caring for sick animals, spastics and old people.

Poonam’s childhood was spent at a missionary home at Kalimpong. Born of an Assamese mother and an English father, her childhood was bereft of the protective care of the parents. Her father left for England when she was just a kid. She says that the memories of her father are hazy, just like the distant stars in a dim sky. About her mother, too, she has only vague memories.

Once she tried to contact her father, but got a cold reception. Eventually, she learnt to accept the fact that parental affection for her was a forgotten story. But instead of lamenting about it, she accepted it with unruffled calmness.

Poonam stayed in the missionary school till 1969. Later on, she took up a job at a hostel in Sikkim. Those were tough days for her. She was hard pressed for money. “ I know the pain of deprivation from the marrow of my bones. When I was at Sikkim, I did not have money to buy even a blanket for myself.”

All the time when Poomam was struggling to come to grips with life, she was determined about one thing - she would not let sorrow cloud her outlook towards life. “ I wanted my life be a rhapsody of compassion and piety. I took care not to let my circumstances unnerve me psychologically. “

Today, Poonam is a happily married woman. She is a mother of a school - going daughter. Her marriage to Mr Davinder Kalra was not all smooth sailing, as they not only belonged to different castes, but also to different regions. She says there were some initial hiccups, but the undaunting support of her husband’s grandmother got them through. In fact, the old lady was full of affection for Poonam, who had nursed her back to health with unflinching devotion.

Poonam’s home is an alcove for sick and abandoned animals. But she questions the tendency of many people who keep animals just for pleasure but discard them, the moment they become sick or injured.

Poonam has seen the withering of dreams, she has seen the grim reality of life in her childhood itself.

“Does she still dare to dream?” “I think my tete-a-tete with sorrows is over. Otherwise too, I am an incorrigible optimist. I dream of opening a home for animals . Also, I want to make a place where old people who live away from their children can visit on weekends. These may be dumbcluck enterprises to some, but for me they are almost sacred,” says Poonam with determination on her face.


Villagers resent ministerial apathy
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — Residents of three adjoining villages, Nurpur Bet, Khaira Bet and Gorsian Hakim Rai — are agitated over the “indifferent attitude” of Punjab ministers and bureaucrats towards martyrs, as none of them reached Nurpur Bet yesterday on the occasion of the bhog ceremony of Sepoy Gurpal Singh who was cremated on November 21.

Mr Harjinder Singh, Sarpanch, Khaira Bet, Mr Harchand Singh, ex-sarpanch Nurpur Bet and Mr Malook Singh, Sarpanch, Gorsian Hakim Rai, told Ludhiana Tribune today that resentment prevailed among residents of these villages as even the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, had not bothered to pay a visit to the martyr’s family so far. They said that the general feeling among the villagers was that since Gurpal belonged to a poor family, a visit was not considered worthwhile by the bureaucrats and any of the ministers.

However, they expressed their gratitude to Mr Manjit Singh Brar, SDM Ludhiana (West), Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, MLA and Wg Cdr M.S. Randhawa for attending the bhog ceremony of the martyr. Wg Cdr M.S. Randhawa, District Sainik Welfare Officer, gave an assistance of Rs 5000 to the martyr’s family on the occasion.

Gurpal Singh leaves behind his younger brother Harbhajan Singh (17) who has studied up to the ninth class and an elder sister Kulbir Kaur. Both of them are unmarried and unemployed.

The sarpanches, echoing the sentiments of the villagers, said that if no minister visits the family in the near future, the residents of these villages would boycott government functions to vent their resentment against the ministerial apathy.


A man with a mission
From Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — There are several people who make it big in life, but there are very few who remember their past and draw inspiration from it. The life of Raja Singh can typically classify as a rags-to-riches story. But despite his tremendous success in life, this vegetable seller- turned-technician-turned-philanthropist spends each day in planning to improve the condition of those who have not been so fortunate in life.

The Chairman of the Guru Ram Das (GRD) Academy, Mr Raja Singh, remembers the days in 1947 when he migrated from Mirpur, now in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and worked as a labourer at a wage of 25 Paise a day. Then he started selling vegetables for survival. But he never lost faith in the almighty and struggled hard and set up many companies that are today known as Texla, Beltek and Bestavision.

“After making enough money in life, I decided to give it back to the society which had been so kind to me. Keeping this in mind, I started the GRD Academy, a school that strives to promote religious tolerance, brotherhood and Punjabi culture”, he said. Today the GRD Educational Trust runs schools in Dehra Dun, while more are planned and would come up within the next year in Uttaranchal, Haryana, Mohali and Patiala.

Ludhiana would have yet another GRD Academy somewhere in the Dugri area by next year. To be set up at a cost of Rs 3 crore, Mr Raja Singh said it will be a top educational institute catering to the needs of the NRI’s. “The school will stress on Punjabi culture and sports”, he said.

A part of his gesture of gratitude towards the guru he came up with the idea of Sarb Sanjhi Gurbani, a programme that perpetuates brotherhood and communal amity. The first of its kind, this programme has been telecast on TV for years now. Lines from the programme Koi Bole Ram Ram, Koi allahey are very familiar to everyone today. The cassettes of Sarb Sanjhi Gurbani are priced at Rs 13 making it affordable for all.

Going back into the years of his struggle, Mr Raja Singh says that the credit of his success goes to his brother Joginder Singh, whose interest in electronics catapulted the family from selling vegetables to manufacturing radios. “I learnt making radios from my brother and in 1960 we established the Jupiter Radios. With the advent of television, both I and my brother diverted into making television and this is the history of Texla TV”, he says.

Today, on one hand he is into education, on the other hand he still fondly nurtures the electronics empire that he created for himself. “In 1985, when everyone was running away from Punjab due to terrorism, I decided to float a company here”, he says.

“Since I never went to school, I strongly feel that no one should be deprived of education”, says Raja Singh who runs the orphanages under the name of Dashmesh Gurmat Vidyalaya at Anandpur Sahib and in Delhi.

A man of vision, he is abreast of the changing trends in technology and says that all my schools will be fully computerised .

Notwithstanding his achievements he feels that he still has a long way to go in ensuring that every deserving child gets good education and the primary motive of his mission is to start educational institutions everywhere.


Talwandi’s appointment hailed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — Mr Sukhwinderpal Singh Garcha, General Secretary, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, today congratulated Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi on being elected as the new SGPC president.

In a press release, Mr Garcha while recalling Mr Talwandi’s past services to the panth, said that he was a senior leader who had the capability to lead the Sikh masses.

He further said that the former SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had damaged the honour and traditions of Sikhism and a change in the SGPC leadership had become imperative.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, had played an important role in getting Mr Talwandi installed as the new SGPC president, he added.

Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar, Mr Bakhshish Singh, Office Secretary, SHSAD, Mr Harmohan Singh Sarhadi, Mr Shivtar Singh Bajwa and Mr Buta Singh, both members of the working committee of SHSAD and a host of other SHSAD, leaders welcomed Mr Talwandi’s election.


Beggars high on drugs
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — They may not be able to get food two times a day, but they definitely manage a bit of charas or opium at least four times a day. Hundreds of beggars in the city who are reportedly addicted to drugs, mainly charas and opium, spend all their “earnings” on these drugs only.

Although no exact estimate about the number of beggars taking to drugs is available, a random survey by TNS among different beggars in the city revealed that a large number of them consume charas and opium. And most of them had no hesitation in admitting these, as they were used to the addiction for years together.

A beggar on the Lakkar Pull, who described himself Kishen, frankly admitted that he has been consuming charas for so many years. Most of the beggars justify taking charas and opium by claiming themselves to be sadhus and “real followers” of Lord Shiva. They depend on alms only.

The sadhu did not disclose the place from where he got charas. “Everybody knows where charas is available and you get the moment you want”, he claimed, even offering to get it for others. The sadhu revealed that some of them rub leaves of bhangh themselves in the countryside to make some quantity of charas out of it. Bhang plants grow naturally in the uncultivated stretches of land, besides along main inter-city roads.

Apprehending that some of these addicts may be acting as peddlers also, a police official, however, expressed his helplessness in taking any action against these people. He pointed out that it is difficult to prove any charges against them in court. Moreover, he revealed, their addiction has been an accepted fact and nobody objects to it. The only thing the police tries to ensure is that they do not act as conduits for smugglers.

Some of these beggars can live without food but they cannot live without charas. These beggars have their own groups and circles in which they smoke charas. They share charas among themselves. They can be seen at Lakkar Pull, outside the Dandi Swami and other temples. Even at the Ludhiana Bus Stand, a number of beggars can be seen smoking charas in cigarettes, particularly outside bathrooms.Back


Bus operators’ association threatens stir
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — The Punjab Roadways Bus Operators Association (kilometer scheme) has appealed to the Punjab Government to look into its demands immediately, failing which the association will be left with no option but to resort to agitation. This was decided at a meeting of the association held under the presidentship of Mr Bhag Singh Bhawra.

In a statement released by the association, it complained that the diesel rates had not been increased as per the clause of agreement due to which the operators were facing financial crises. The members said that the clauses of the agreement were not been followed by the state transport department due to which, various depots had changed the routes of buses to other states and no extra charges were being paid to the operators.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Bijan, member of the association ,said that according to the tender, new buses were to be given A class(above 450 km), B class (above 400 km) for one-year-old and C class (350 to 450 km) for two-year-old buses, whereas the new buses were being given B and C class routes. Mr Bijan said the Roadways Department under rescheduling policy was decreasing the kilometers of buses to less than 400 km, adding more difficulty for the operators.

Mr Bhawra said that as per the agreement, the payment had to be released within seven days from the submission of the bill to the department. He alleged that all the depots were delaying the payment from 20 to 40 days due to which operators were facing financial crises.


Non-lethal technique to ward off harmful birds
From Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Dec 1 — A new harmless technique to ward off harmful birds from fields has been developed in Punjab Agricultural University. The new technique claimed to be novel in nature is non-lethal and includes both technical and chemical methods.

One of the numerous dangers that crops face comes from birds. Though some birds are useful as these feed on harmful insects and pests, some others are harmful since these cause extensive damage to crops at the sowing and maturity stages.

Crows, parakeets and some other birds whose population has increased enormously in Punjab in the recent years due to the changing agro-ecosystem and crop diversification, which ensure availability of abundant food and safe roostings to them throughout the year, are serious pests of crops like maize, sunflower and other crops. With the promulgation of the Wildlife Protection Act, it is now unlawful to kill birds by administering poisonous chemicals to them. Therefore, the scientists at PAU are busy looking for alternative methods which do not kill birds but only repel or scare them away so that they do not damage crops.

According to Dr C.S. Malhi, Ornithologist, Department of Zoology, PAU the scientists of the university have developed two novel, non-lethal techniques, — mechanical repellants and chemical repellents — to save crops from the attack of harmful birds.

The mechanical repellents are based on the studies of the behavioral pattern of birds, which have revealed that birds use alarming calls during conditions of fear and flock calls for activities of their flock. Birds, according to ornithologists, avoid visiting such field from where they hear such calls.

Dr Malhi says that the Research Evaluation Committee of PAU sometimes backapproved an audio cassette of alarming and flock of parakeet and crows innovated and developed by him. He claims, that the playing of this cassettee during morning and evening hours scares away the birds and halts their activities. Mr Malhi claims that if the cassettee is played for 15-20 days during sowing and maturity states of maize and sunflower, birds can be effectively kept at bay.

The scientists further say that the technique developed by him is not only eco-friendly but also economical as it is without any environmental hazards or danger to birds or wild life. He suggests that amplifiers and additional speakers may be attached to the cassette player to cover large fields. The cassette can also be used to good effect in orchards, adds Dr Malhi.

Chemical repellents induce physiodogical effects and behavioural changes in birds, depending upon their responses. These repellents have been classified as stupefying, frightening and deterring. These repellents have the advantage of easy and facile acceptability and low cost. The chemicals used in these repellents only cause pre or post intestinal disturbances in the birds. In fact, these repellents render crops unpalatable during vulnerable stages of growth and maturity.

Chemical repellents also work by causing pain, irritation, fear or temporary sickness among birds. Of these, those which inflict irritation or sensory pain are more effective. The exposure of such repellents affects the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, nose and gut lining.

The non-lethal repellents developed by him are mainly neem-based and include some fungicides also. Neem-based chemicals are of plant origin and are absolutely non-lethal in nature. In case of fungicides, non-lethal concentrations have been identified after intensive laboratory-based studies. Dr Malhi affirms. The neem-based repellents, he informs , are BBR + and Viron-X, while the fungicides include Thiram, Bivastin, Deusyl which are used as seed dresses. Dressing of seed with these fungicides prior to swing can prevent damage to seeds, seedlings, sprouting of such crops as sunflower or maize. These repellents possess all the three properties of causing fear, irritation and temporary sickness in birds. The aversion caused by them in birds is both long-lasting and effective, emphasises Dr Malhi.

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