Thursday, January 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Protest against youth’s murder 
Traffic blocked on GT Road
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — In yet another incident of staging dharna and blocking traffic in protest against a crime the traffic on the busy GT Road near Chowni Mohalla in the heart of the city was jammed for more than four hours in protest against the murder of a youth in New Sabzi Mandi here yesterday.

Heavy police force deployed in the area had to use mild force in the evening to disperse some rowdy elements in the crowd when the dharna was almost lifted. These elements had tried to damage certain shops forcing the police to take defensive measures.

Protesters stand around the body of Suraj Bhan, alias Bau, on the GT Road
 Protesters stand around the body of Suraj Bhan, alias Bau, on the GT Road

All shops in the busy Chowni Mohalla and adjoining areas and on the GT Road remained closed throughout the day. The area was tense as chances of clashes between two groups in the area were quite high. The public especially those using the local transport was put to great inconvenience.

The trouble started when residents of Chowni Mohalla close to the group of Suraj Bhan, alias Bau, who was murdered allegedly by four youths yesterday, took to the streets in the afternoon when the body of the deceased was brought for cremation after a post-mortem from the civil hospital.

The protesters raised anti-government and anti-police slogans. Certain political leaders were made to flee the site when they tried to pacify the agitating mob which included a large number of women also.

The mob was demanding immediate arrest of the four persons suspected of murdering the youth. The police force, having substantial number of mounted policemen, was present in large numbers in the area since last night. The presence of the police, however, thwarted the attempt of the mob to attack the houses of persons belonging to the rival group.

Mr Parmod Ban, SP (City) and SDM Kuldip Singh held several rounds of talks with the agitating mob who agreed to relent only in the evening. The youth was subsequently cremated peacefully.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case of murder against four persons Rajinder Singh, Satish Kumar, Pardeep Kumar and Jajji. The police has also rounded up few other youths of the area but the accused have managed to evade arrest.

The police has also deployed a large number of force to thwart any untoward incident in the area.


Chowni Mohalla scene of gang wars
By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — With the murder of Suraj Bhan, alias Bau, in broad day light near New Sabzi Mandi here yesterday and the subsequent protest and jamming of traffic today, the ‘gunda raj’ and ‘lawlessness’ prevailing in the Chowni Mohalla for the past two years has come to the fore once again .

Petty interests of the politicians of all parties who first patronise and encourage such elements and then withdraw support when their desired objective is fulfilled leave the youths of two groups in the area to use their ‘power’ against at each other only. Violence is also triggered by the ‘hollow’ fulfillment derived from gaining supremacy coupled with the ‘need’ to have total control over hafta-collecting business in the city.

Tension had been building up in the colony for quite sometime. Tempers had flared up several times in the past two years

With the murder and subsequent flaring of tempers in the colony the two groups arraying along two communities are only expected to give more nightmares to the police and the public.

According to sources the trouble had started two years ago. Two groups having the murdered youth Suraj, alias Bau, on one side and the other having Satish, were always locking horns over petty matters. The‘ battle’ intensified when some members of the Bau gang left him and joined the other camp.

bitter personal rivalry soon took the shape of a gang war . Apart from supremacy , the two groups also wanted total control over the lottery bazar and the illegal but lucrative business of collecting hafta from shopkeepers in the Chowni Mohalla and adjoining areas.

The first reported violence took place two years ago when the two groups clashed near Ghanta Ghar Chowk leaving several injured. Just couple of days later members of the Bau gang attacked members of the other group leading to a series of attacks and counter attacks .

The situation took a grim turn in June last year when members of both the groups indulged in violence against each other for a week bringing the life in the area to a standstill. A large number of youths, including the deceased, Bau and the suspects Satish and Rajinder Singh were seriously injured.

Though the immediate provocation at that time was the allegations of harassing and molesting women of the colony levelled against one group , the underling factor was the bitter rivalry between the two parties.

However, peace was restored in the area after a week . A number of politicians, both serving and former, jumped in the arena and a Peace Committee was formed. The committee, however, never met and the situation remained tense eventually leading to the murder of Suraj Bhan . 


Timely detection averts scam
By Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — Timely detection by some senior officers averted a major scandal in the Health Department that could have run into at least Rs 1 crore. Subsequently in order to ensure transparency the local Civil Surgeon reportedly referred all purchases to the Director, Health Services.

According to well-placed sources in the Health Department, a meeting of the purchase committee of the department was held on November 5 under the chairmanship of the Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur. The purchases were to be made for the polio eradication campaign. Besides the Civil Surgeon, the SMO and one representative each from the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the Industries Department attended the meeting.

Twentyone items were to be purchased which included several thousand banners to be displayed at different places. One of the clerks, who was allegedly earlier involved in a scam, was dealing in all purchases. The rate quoted for the banners was Rs 85 each. It is learnt that the rates were almost approved. However, the medical officers got suspicious.

In order to verify the rates the SMO, representatives of the DC and the Industry Department went to the market to confirm the rates. Huge variation of rates was noted by them. While the rate quoted per banner was Rs 85, in the market it was found that each banner would cost Rs 40. Besides, there were 20 other items to be purchased for the campaign.

The tenders were instantly cancelled and the official, said to be one of the clerks in the department, was transferred. Apprehending that same thing may happen again, the Civil Surgeon, instead of inviting fresh tenders, referred the entire purchase process to the Director, Health Services. All items, including the banners and other medicines, were subsequently supplied by the DHS to the local officials.

However, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, denied any such thing presenting an entirely different version. She claimed that it was the policy of the government to make purchases at the directorate level and she had not recommended it. Moreover, she disclosed that the rates of the banners were fixed according to the standards set by the government itself. She maintained that the banners were purchased for the price less than fixed by the government. 


Villagers await execution of CM’s order 
Primary school issue
From Our Correspondent

MACHHIWARA, Jan 17 — Though the Punjab Government claims to redress problems of villagers by organising sangat darshan programmes of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yet many of these problems remain unresolved.

The case of Government Primary School, Bhupana, of Block-1 Ludhiana, was put up at Koomkalan sangat darshan on January 2. The school has been lying closed since 1970. Though it has a two-room building, due to non-functioning, it seems to be a cattle grazing place. Even the roofs have developed cracks.

The village residents and the gram panchayat approached the authorities concerned many a time, but could not succeed in getting it unlocked. At last, they took the case sangat darshan programme at Koomkalan on January 2. Under the leadership of their Sarpanch Jaswinder Kaur they pleaded their case before Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in the presence of various officials of Ludhiana district. Mr Badal called the officer concerned, DEO(P), Mr Gurtej Singh, and questioned him about the problem. In the meantime, Mr S.K. Sandhu, DC Ludhiana, intervened and assured that the school would be unlocked with in a week. But after 15 days of this commitment, the school is still lying locked.

The DEO(P) office, Ludhiana, was contacted in this regard. The Deputy DEO(P), Inderjit Kaur Bhatti, replied that the department was trying to establish a branch of school in this village. But she could not tell when the working of this new branch would start.

The villagers are still waiting for the school to start functioning. When asked about the desolate school building, they said that the building would be renovated in a few days. Till then school could function in the village Dharamshala.

Presently, village children have to go to the nearby Jonewal village for education. These students are facing hardships on account of the cold and foggy weather. The villagers are in an aggressive mood. They say that if the Chief Minister’s order could not be obeyed then the plight of a common man could well be imagined.


Political interference hits police working
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — Political interference in police postings, particularly that on the SHO level, is believed to be one of the main reasons for an alarming increase in the crime rate in the city. During the past seven days five murders were reported. The posting of the SHO is reportedly not decided at the local level but at the top. It is the Chief Minister's Office which decides on the issue of SHOs’ postings. It is not just the ruling party politicians who enjoy influence over the police, even leaders belonging to the Congress have also been wielding considerable clout with the force.

Sources in the Police Department revealed that over half of the police stations in the city were being headed by officials from outside the district. And most of these officers are said to be from the home district of the Chief Minister or the nearby areas. These officials are obviously not familiar with the area and the people over there which makes it difficult for them to identify the bad elements. They need to depend on the local staff. Not many SHOs in the district are said to be of the choice of the SSP. Some SHOs reportedly insist on choice postings of the particular police stations and refuse to join elsewhere making it embarrassing for the senior officers.

One of the close relatives of the CM is believed to be directing all postings of the SHO, which the officers at the district level have to follow and implement without any reservations. This does not convey a right message in the administration and the Police Department. Most of these SHOs, owing allegiance to the family, consider themselves to be above all for obvious reasons. And some of them do not even attend the meetings regularly.

Even the recent reshuffle in the police is said to have been done after due consultations with the said relative of the CM. The reshuffle was obviously done in view of the public outcry against the rising incidents of crime in the city. Besides the outsiders, another major cause for rise in the crime is said to be the posting of officers with relatively less experience heading the police stations.

The sources maintained that the proximity of the SHOs with the politicians make them a law unto themselves, as they seldom hold themselves accountable to their immediate seniors. This was reflected recently in two instances. One SHO of the Division Number 2 Randhir Singh was first ordered to be placed under suspension after the murder of an abducted boy. Two police officers had publicly announced that the SSP had ordered his suspension. It was widely covered by the media also. However, subsequently it proved to be a simple case of transfer to Police Lines, for obvious connections.

Another SHO, who was transferred in yesterday's reshuffle, had proved himself to be a pronounced accomplice of an accused in an attempt to murder case. The said accused, claiming to be the leader of a political party, continues to remain at large despite an FIR registered against him under Section 307 of the IPC. The particular SHO reportedly used to update him about all developments in the police regarding his probably arrest. The SHO is also being accused of having told him in advance that the police was likely to raid his premises and he managed to escape. This all was being done, despite clear directions from the SSP that the said accused be arrested at all costs. Sources revealed that the fugitive remained in constant touch with the SHO during all the time and the two used to have regular conversation on their cell phones.

The sources maintained that as long as the interference by the political continued in the police force the functioning was bound to be hit badly. While interference up to a reasonable degree is tolerable but excessive indulgence to the level that every decision needs to be approved and endorsed from the top leads to adverse consequences as is evident here. 


Telecom Dept told to pay compensation
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has directed the General Manager, Telecom Department, to pay Rs 4,000 as compensation for deficiency in services to the complainant, Mr Nirmal Singh Saini, a resident of Janakpuri.

Mr Nirmal Singh had stated that he had booked a telephone connection on March 26, 1996, and deposited Rs 3,000. He met officials for the installation, brought the matter to the notice of the General Manager and filed a complaint before the XVII Telephone Adalat on September 29, 1999.

The complainant further stated that the official had taken the plea that the area in which the telephone was to be installed was technically non-feasible. However, the Telephone Department had issued an advice note on March 12, 1998, for installation of the connection.

After hearing the counsel and the complainant the forum observed that since the said telephone was installed on May 20, 2000, the relief regarding the installation of telephone had already been given to the complainant. The opposite party had taken the plea that after issuing the advice note the telephone could not be installed since the area was not feasible. If the area was not feasible then the opposite party should not have issued the advice note. It took about two years to provide the telephone to the complainant after the issue of the advice note. The forum held that it amounted to deficiency in service.


Encroaching for survival
By D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — This ever-expanding city is full of encroachments. Shopkeepers have extend their sweep well beyond the footpaths. Stationary rehris illegally occupy places meant for public use. House-owners encroach upon public land by growing hedges and constructing garages. Even whole plots have been encroached upon by those with influence. The local government seems to lack the will to deal with this situation. The agencies responsible for containing the menace are helping in spreading it to areas which so far have been free from it.

Shortly before the urban estate on the Chandigarh road was to be handed over to the Municipal Corporation, rehriwalahs in the locality’s markets are said to have made deposits with a leader so as to be in business there. Thus an area that could have been made an ‘encroachment-free zone’ became a zone free for encroachment. A new practice has also emerged. The leader in whom the rehriwalahs have reposed their trust, now goes to the authority concerned every month to ‘deposit’ the ‘collection’.

But there is another kind of encroachment that calls for a humanist approach. These are encroachments done by the poorest of the poor in their struggle for survival. One such homeless, poor rag-picker who cannot dream of having the comfort of a roof over his head, has built a tiny home for himself under a tree in an unfrequented park, with the help of waste plastic sheets. Such unfortunate people do not figure on the agenda of the city’s big-wigs and political heavy-weights.


Missing trader’s body found
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — The body of Darshan Singh, an industrialist who had been missing since January 9 from the city, was recovered in mysterious circumstances from the Sidhwan canal, near the city, last night.

His scooter was also found near the river. The police, according to preliminary reports, is terming it a case of accidental death.


YC groups work hard to outsmart each other
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — Rival groups in the Youth Congress have been working hard to outsmart each other in finalising the arrangements for the protest rallies being organised throughout the state to highlight the failures of the state government.

One such protest rally will be organised in Ludhiana on January 23 .The president of the Indian Youth Congress, Mr Randeep Surjewala, will address the rally.

While factionalism is not new to the Congress or its youth wing, it has also served a better purpose at times.

The Chairman of the Urban Development Cell of the IYC, Mr Pawan Dewan, considered to be very close to both the national president Mr Surjewala and the state president, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, has already launched a campaign to involve maximum number of people in the protest demonstration.

A meeting of the cell was held under the chairmanship of Mr Dewan here yesterday. Among others the meeting was attended by senior Congress leader K. K Bawa and other office- bearers of the cell, including Mr Satinder Pal Singh, Mr Deepak Mehta, Mr Amandeep Singh, Mr Sanjiv Nahar, Mr Sonu Suraj Kaka and Mr Neeraj Kataria.

Addressing the meeting Mr Dewan lambasted the state government for its "anti-farmer policies". he alleged that the state government had failed on all fronts and the people were desperate for a change. he urged the people to rise and protest against the government to make it rectify its mistakes.

Speaking on the occasion Mr K.K Bawa claimed that no section of society was happy with the government. He pointed out that the potato farmers were facing crisis like the paddy growers .

He warned the government to draw a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of the farmers otherwise the Congress would launch a campaign against the government. He said,‘‘the Janaury 23 rally will only be a beginning in this process’’. 


Power restrictions resented
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — The Punjab State Electricity Board’s reported restrictions on the medium-scale industrial units have sent a shock wave among the local units.

Mr Mohinder Paul Jain, chairman, Fastener Manufacturers Association of India, has criticised the board’s decision to impose peak-load-hour restrictions on the industrial units having load of 50 kw and above with effect from January 15.

Mr Jain said that it was surprising that on one hand, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, Power Minister, Punjab, had announced that there was sufficient power supply in the state and on the other hand the PSEB had imposed restrictions on even the medium-scale consumers, which was not justified.

He said that the industry in the state was already passing through a crucial phase due to recessionary trend. The industry would not be able to bear the power cut by the department.

The chairman and the general secretary of the association requested the PSEB chairman to withdraw the peak-load-hour restrictions immediately so that the medium scale consumers and industry could be saved.


Shopkeepers stage dharna
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — Hundreds of shopkeepers, located on the Old GT road in the city, yesterday staged a dharna in front of the Municipal Corporation’s office here in protest against the proposed construction of a 2.5 km elevated road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema over the existing Old GT Road.

Traders and shopkeepers from various associations, including the Clock Tower Traders Association, the Chaura Bazaar Shopkeepers Association, the Chaura Bazaar Welfare Association, the Girja Ghar Association, the Books Market Association, the Hotel and Restaurants Association, the Akal Garh Market Association, the Shoe Market Association, the Ludhiana Electronic Traders Association, the Gujjar Mal Road Traders Association, the Kamla Market Association, the GT Road Traders Association, the Ball Bearing Market Association and the Purani Kotwali Association joined the protest dharna.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, convener of the sangharsh samiti, said the proposed flyover would not serve any useful purpose. While it would serve a mere 15 per cent of the through traffic, more than 5,000 traders and shopkeepers, located along the Old GT road would be adversely affected. “The MC should rather take up the construction of ring roads around the city to improve the traffic management and facilitate free flow of through traffic,” he added.

Mr Som Nath Grover, president of the samiti, pleaded that the project should be scrapped. Proper regulation of three-wheelers, rickshaws and other slow moving traffic was the dire need to bring about some order on the roads in the city. Other speakers pointed out that with the construction of flyover on the GT road, the shopkeepers and residents would be deprived of sunlight and fresh air and would be prone to additional air pollution. Moreover, the buildings on both the sides of proposed elevated road will become insecure because at some places the distance between the commercial and residential buildings and the flyover was just three feet.

The shopkeepers, while criticising the adamant attitude of the civic body, said that on one hand the MC was seeking loans from financial institutions for providing basic amenities to the citizens and at the same time money was being squandered away on such projects that would in no way benefit the people.

Among others, Mr. Harbans Lal Sethi, president, district unit of the BJP (Urban), Mr. Sat Pal Goasian, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, a former Punjab Minister, Mr Harnam Das Johar, Mr Pran Bhatia, Mr Sunil Mehra, Mr Madan Lal Bagga, all councillors, Mr Darshan Arora, chairman, Ludhiana Citizens Council, Mr Jagdish Anand, general secretary, Janata Dal, Punjab, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary, BJP were present on the occasion.


Journalist’s death condoled
From Our Correspondent

SAMRALA, Jan 17 — A meeting of the local Press Club held here on Wednesday in the Civil Rest House, condoled the untimely death of Mr Jagdish Singh Bansal, Chief Sub Editor, Punjabi Tribune. Silence for two minutes was observed to pay homage to the departed soul.

At a meeting of the local Malwa Sports Association presided over by Mr Jagjiwan Singh Khirnian, the services rendered by Mr Bansal towards the Punjabi literature were lauded.

MACHHIWARA: Representatives of various political and social organisations, including Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, MLA, Koomkalan and the Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, former Minister, Mr Ishar Singh Meharban, chairman, Market Committee, Machhiwara, Mr Gurcharan Singh Mithewal, president, Nagar Panchayat, Machhiwara, Guru Nanak Sports Club, Haibowal, journalists, Jagroop Mann, Jaswinder Singh Sachdeva and Ravi Inder Singh Makkar and social worker Mr Darshan Jain today condoled the sudden demise of the senior journalist and Punjabi Tribune's Chief Sub Editor, Mr Jagdish Singh Bansal.

Expressing their grief, they said that Punjabi journalism had lost a person who gave a new direction to the field of Panjabi journalism. They further added that the void created by his loss could not be filled.


Directory of boutiques
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 17 — There is good news for boutiques and parlours in the city as a new directory ‘‘Boutiques and Parlour World’’ has been launched by Idea Ads.

The directory, first of its kind, has over addresses of 150 boutiques and parlours in the city. Along with the addresses the directory also gives information about the specialisation of each boutique and parlour.

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