Sunday, January 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Panic in city after quake
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — The earthquake on the Republic Day shook the city as well. Most people here were either in bed or going through their morning chores when the earthquake struck. Within no time, residents here rushed out of their houses. The tremors were felt for about 30 seconds here.

Though there was no loss of life or property in and around Ludhiana, panic prevailed here for a considerable time after the earthquake. Mr Jeevan Dhawan, an industrialist, said he was taking a bath when the earthquake struck. He felt as if his heart had stopped functioning and he was about to collapse. He rushed out of the bathroom and sat on a chair, but the ground beneath his feet continued to move. He took a while to realise that it was an earthquake.

Experts say that it was the severest earthquake in the past 50 years. Most residents of the city also say that they have never experienced such intense tremors in their life.

Mr Jagdish Chander, an 80-year-old local businessman, said he had experienced a number of earthquakes in his life, but yesterday’s tremors made him fear that his house might collapse. “I am surprised to find that the walls of my house have been able to resist the shocks,” he said.

“There is grief here over the damage that the earthquake has caused in Gujarat, but residents of the city also feel relieved that they have escaped unhurt,” said Ms Sahiba, a housewife. She said she had been so scared after the earthquake that she rang up her husband to know about his welfare.

Thousands of residents here like here started making telephone calls to their relatives across the city.

The one-day strike by the PCO owners added to their woes as many persons could not find a PCO that was open. As the news from Gujarat started coming in, the enthusiasm of the Republic Day thinned and grief took over.


Relief for victims
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — The staff of the offices related to the Deputy Commissioner in the district have donated their one-day salary, while the Deputy Commissioner, ADC, ADC (D) and all SDMs have donated two-days salary each, totalling about Rs 2.5 lakh, towards the relief fund for the Gujarat earthquake victims.

Giving details the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, said the district administration had decided to create relief fund for earthquake victims in the District Red Cross Society here. He appealed to all the social, religious and voluntary organisations, trade and industrial associations and general public to come forward to make liberal donations for the victims of the earthquake. The donations could be submitted in the shape of cheques/bank drafts in the name of Indian Red Cross Society (Relief Fund), Ludhiana, or in cash against a receipt, in the office of Secretary, District Red Cross Society, Ludhiana. He said that the office of Red Cross Society would be functional for this purpose even on holidays.

Mr Sandhu also informed that the Sabji Mandi Ahrtiyas Association has donated Rs 1 lakh and trade associations of Mullanpur have donated Rs 1,13,400 towards the relief fund. The funds collected for this purpose and the blankets received by Red Cross Society would be shortly dispatched to the Gujarat Government for the affected people.


Nirdosh booked for murder, taken out in procession
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — The district police registered a case against a former Vice-President of the Punjab unit of the Youth Congress, Nirdosh Dhand, here today, for the murder of an industrialist. The industrialist had been killed six months ago and Dhand had been underground for the past more than three weeks. He was arrested yesterday.

A police squad led by the DSP, Mr Satish Malhotra, and Inspector Paramjit Singh took out the accused in procession across the city to “erase his terror from the minds of the residents”.

The procession began from the District Court Chowk and returned there after an hour after it had passed through colonies around Kailash Cinema. Traffic jams occurred at some places when residents came out of their houses to see the accused.

Later, at a press conference, the SSP, Mr Kuldip Singh, said Dhand had admitted his guilt and the procession had been taken out to tell the public that no one was above the law. He said the accused was involved in a large number of cases and many of his victims still did not approach the police because they feared him. He said the procession would help them shed their fears.

The plan of the police seems to be working as a number of persons approached the policemen who were taking out the procession and accused Dhand of extortion and land grabbing.

The SSP said Sub Inspector Warryam Singh had helped the police solve the case, for which, he was being recommended for receiving the IG’s Class-1 Commendation Certificate. The SSP also praised Inspector Paramjit Singh, SHO of the Division No. 6 police station, for his role in solving the case. He said Dhand had been caught near Oswal Chowk past night by the Inspector. Dhand was entering the city in his Maruti Esteem car (PB-10-AN-4498) when he was caught.

The DSP, Mr Sandeep Malhotra, and Inspector Paramjit Singh said that a Jagraon-based industrialist, Tirath Garg, had taken some loan from Nirdosh Dhand, but was not able to return it in time. Tirath was allegedly strangulated to death by Dhand on the night of June 22. Tirath’s body was found in his factory office.

The SSP said the accused would be further questioned to know about his alleged involvement in several other cases. He said, so far, the name of any police official or politician had not come up during the investigations in this case, but no one would be spared if found guilty.


Pulse rate of PCO owners up
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — Yesterday, telephone subscribers of the city were happy to find that now they could call their acquaintances in Punjab and Chandigarh at local-call charges. Many persons used this opportunity to call their relatives in the state. However, this facility has made the PCO owners worry for their profits. There is also confusion on the calculation of the pulse rate according to the call-radius.

Most of the PCO owners said they were unhappy because now they would not be able to charge Rs 2 for the service as before. Mr Sachin, a PCO owner, said, “Since morning, I am facing problems in trying to convince my customers on the pulse rate. Customers think that if they have called Chandigarh for three minutes, they should be charged Rs 2, whereas, according to the pulse rate, the cost of the call is Rs 12. Customers think that the PCO owners are cheating them. The pulse is 180 per second in the 50 km radius, but in the 50 km to 100 km call-radius, the pulse rate is 120. People do not know about these slabs. The Telecom Department should clear the confusion on the pulse-rate slabs or customers will continue to say that we are cheating them. The department should also allow us to charge Rs 2 for the service.”

Manjit Singh Rawat, another PCO owner, said, “This scheme is good for the public, but not for the PCO owners. We may have to close the PCOs if our profits continue to fall.”

Mr Krishan, another PCO owner, said, “The PCO owners are thinking of making of a representation to the DoT, though we do not expect positive response from the authorities. First, they give an unemployed person like me a PCO, and now, they want to take it away. I cannot understand their policies.”

“I am running a PCO for the past ten years and this decision has come as a shock to me. Customers do not understand that the pulse rate remains the same, but only we will not be receive the service charges. However, we should get the service charges and the commission rate should also be increased. The PCOs are open for almost the entire day. After putting in such hardwork, if we do not earn bare minimum, how are we going to survive. Yesterday, all the PCOs here were closed in protest of this policy. This decision is hasty and confusing,” said Ms Lata Nayyar, a PCO owner.

The DoT should at least give clear information regarding the pulse-rate slabs and the service charges to reduce the confusion among the PCO owners and their customers.


Tension around old jail over missing boy
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — The old jail here, notorious for being a place of hiding for anti-social elements, which was being cleaned by the city police, was once again the centre of attention today morning when about 100 people of Islam Gunj area descended on it in search of a 12-year-old boy, Mohammed. Shakeel reported missing for the past 5 days.

Tension prevailed in the area in the morning, when the mob, accompanied by the boy’s father reached the jail for search, saying that they had found the boy’s shirt from the jail last evening. They also refused to accept the police’s assertion that no child had been found there and there was strong vigil of the police in the jail. The mob, however, insisted on its own vision and the police, understanding their emotions, finally allowed them to search the jail. However, nothing was found.

The boy had gone missing since January 22. He was last seen on a bridge over a drain in Issa Nagar. Son of Mohammed Hussain of Islam Gunj colony, the boy used to work in a tea shop, before disappearing mysteriously. A case in this regard was registered in the Division No 2 police station on January 24.

Atiq-ur-Rehman, President Indian Muslim Council, who led the mob, told reporters that residents of the area were deeply concerned at the repeated incidents of disappearance of minor boys. He said since earlier, a number of children or their bodies or their clothes were found from the old jail, they suspected that the same fate had befallen the missing boy.

To add fuel to fire, a white shirt, allegedly, of the missing boy, was found from some bushes in the old jail, which prompted more people to flock the place in the morning.

Inspector Hardev Singh, in charge Division No. 2, who is also supervising the cleaning operation in the jail, said the suspicion of the mob was baseless, as a large number of policemen were keeping a round-the-clock vigil in the jail. He said the shirt, which had been claimed to be of the missing boy, appeared to be of a large size and not that of a 12-year-old.

Giving details of what the police had done to trace the missing boy, Inspector Hardev Singh said they had sent messages to police stations all over the state. He said as no photograph of the missing boy was available, the police was finding it hard to trace him.


Residents drugged, 4 houses robbed
By Jupinderjit Singh and Loveleen Bains  

BHAIRON MUNNA (Sahnewal), Jan 27 — Robbers struck at this village early today and looted four houses. They decamped with cash, jewellery and many household items.

The police suspects that the robbers were migrant labourers who knew the residents of these houses. It seems that they had drugged the residents before searching for the valuables. No one was injured and the robbers went away as quietly as they had come.

Charan Singh, owner of one of these houses, was the first one to wake up in the morning and came to know about the robbery when he found the door of his house locked from outside. He said, he thought someone had played a practical joke on him and shouted for help. Members of his family, on waking, discovered that the lock of a room had been broken and the place had been ransacked.

When the family shouted for help, some neighbours opened the door. The family was shocked to know that the neighbouring houses had also been robbed in a similar manner. More than 15 persons were sleeping in these houses, but no one heard any noise.

The houses that were looted belonged to Charan Singh, Sarbjit Singh, Pawanjit Singh and Surjit Singh. Residents of these houses are relatives, but live separately. They said they had a number of migrant labourers serving in their fields, but were uncertain if anyone of them was involved in the robbery. A team of the Sahnewal police reached the site early today and took several fingerprints. All the villagers had gathered at the place and there was panic among them.

Inspector Raj Balwinder Singh, SHO of the Sahnewal police station, said migrant labourers could be behind the incident. He said the robbers probably knew the houses well as they had broken the locks of only those rooms where cash and jewellery had been kept.


Needle left inside woman’s body?
By Kamal Kishore Shankar

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — A Raikot-based doctor, owning a private clinic, has been accused of causing death of an old woman due to his alleged negligence while treating her. The doctor had allegedly left a stitching needle inside the woman’s body which ultimately worsened her condition.

The complaint was recently admitted in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. It has posted February 22 as the next date of hearing. The doctors concerned have also been served with notices.

Mr Darshan Singh, a resident of Kalsan village in Raikot tehsil, stated before the forum that he brought his mother to a hospital in May, 1999, for a medical check-up as an outdoor patient as she felt pain in the abdomen.

The complainant alleged in his complaint that without any investigation whatsoever, the doctor created a sense of scare in the mind of his mother, Dalip Kaur, and after physical examination created a sense of emergency and advised the patient for an emergency surgery, without fully explaining the purpose, relief and remedy expected, the risks and consequences of the surgery for the removal of uterus without undergoing nay pre-operation test/investigation.

The complainant stated before the court that Dalip Kaur was not convinced and decided to go back to her house to discuss with her family and the same day Mr Gandhi, who brought the patient to the hospital, approached her with message of the doctor that the cure could be achieved by just simple medical therapy and there is no need of surgical intervention.

The complainant further stated that at this assurance the complainant’s mother was again brought to the hospital for observation and investigation. The complainant stated that the next day she was given anaema and taken to a different room with her clothes changed and on entering the operation theatre the complainant’s mother was put on the intravenous fluid but she ran out after removing the glucose needle. Some employees rushed out and dragged back the patient and gave an injection to make the patient unconscious.

The complainant alleged that it was only after persistent enquiries that Mr Darshan Singh was told that by a doctor that some major operation had been performed and that patient would gain consciousness after two hours. The patient was discharged after 19 days and having spent Rs 35,000. The complainant alleged that he was not

issued any receipt against the payment.

The complainant stated that his mother was again taken to the hospital because the pain was still persisting. The patient was given some medicines and assurance. But after three days the complainant again took his mother to the hospital where the doctor told that the urine is coming due to psychological disturbances which could not be cured. After this the opposite party referred the patient to some doctor in the DMC&H, Ludhiana, on October 18, 1999. The doctor in DMC&H advised certain investigations and ultra scan. The doctor, after studying the reports, wrote a letter to the opposite party that the patient had big vesico-vaginal-fistula (VVF) and bilateral hydronephrosis. The complainant took the patient to the opposite party who flatly refused to entertain the patient.

The complainant stated that he took his mother to other hospital where it was discovered that a curved stitching needle was visible in the X-ray. The needle was then removed. But the case was so complicated that the old lady died on November 9, 1999.

The post- mortem reports says the cause of death is chronic renal failure which was due to the VVF created by the operation/treatment of the case of CA cervix without proper diagnosis.


Photography and Ludhiana

PHOTOGRAPHY and Ludhiana as theme may look out of place. In fact photography came to Ludhiana in the early decades of the last century. Sehgal brothers arrived from the city of K.L. Saigal and a film establishment appeared in Chaura Bazar. The hoarding Dr Labhu Ram & Sons made a landmark and its show-room displayed photographs of Maharajas and other notables. Prakash Sehgal is remembered as a sociable person and Prem Sehgal as an artist. Their studio closed about 20 years ago. A portrait of Principal A.C.C. Hervey, done at this studio occupies pride of place in the office the Principal, Government College.

Then came the legendary Abdul Haq. He was hard of hearing and he accepted his deafness by adding ‘Bola’ (deaf) to his name and called his studio A.H. Bola and Sons. Then two brothers arrived from Jalandhar (Mr Purshotam Lal and Mr Sardari Lal) Khanna Photo Studio earned a well-deserved name. Its charges were high but people gladly paid for quality.

Prakash Photo Studio appeared with a bang. His son, Dhason Vir, is a press photographer. Prabhat Studio was set up by Mr Kashmiri Lal, who learnt the art from Prakash. Sood Studio was established in the early fifties.

Mr R.L. Lekhi, a resident of Thapran Mohalla near Daresi Ground, is among the pioneers of photography in India. He was with the Indian Railways as Chief Photographer and designed ‘See India’ series of posters displayed at important railway stations. He won a gold medal for his portrait of King George V, grandfather of the present Queen Elizabeth. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (then Home Minister of India) was interested in photography and Mr Lekhi provided professional guidance to the Sardar while working as the official photographer of the Government of India.

Now, young professionals are breaking fresh ground. T.P.S. Sandhu and Prof Kanwaljit Singh (T.V. Newscaster) have specialised in their chosen fields. When the prestigious G.N.D. Bhawan was inaugurated, the Chief Minister also inaugurated Sandhu’s exhibition of photographs. T.P.S. Sandhu, specialises in portraiture. His portraits include those of Ali Sardar Jafri, Ramanand Sagar, Balkavi Bairagi, Parvez Mehdi (Pakistan), Hans Raj Hans, Pargat Singh (Olympian), and Dr Khush (Manila), besides other dignitaries. He also excels in night photography. He captured the historic night scenes of Sri Anandpur Sahib during the Tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa.

Photography has made progress from still to movie. Ludhiana held the flag high in the film-world through Mohan Sehgal — Asha Mathur and further by Dharmendra and the Deol clan, strongly cemented by Sahir and at present held by Anil Dhanda, the ace photographer. Dhanda has many silver jubilee films to his credit (Ailan-e-Jung, Tahalka). As Director (Cinematography) his contribution is ‘Barood’ (cine-fans will remember the Rs 5 - million set). Dharmendra, Akshay Kumar, Raveena Tandon, Raj Babbar and other cine-stars hail Dhanda’s imaginative perception. 


Badal hopeful on wheat issue
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed confidence that the Centre will fix “reasonable minimum support price” for wheat and there is no cause for concern. However, he was non-committal on the exact price likely to be fixed by the Centre.

Talking to reporters after presenting awards at the concluding ceremony of the Asian School Hockey Championship, Mr Badal pointed out, that he along with the Haryana Chief Minister had met the Prime Minister and brought to his notice the issue.

Regarding the nomination of SAD candidate for the Majitha assembly byelection, Mr Badal said the issue would be decided in the Parliamentary Affairs Committee meeting being held on January 27. He said he had no say in the decision since his was a democratic party and it would be decided in a democratic manner.

When pointed out to him that there was all probability of his being authorised as had happened in the past to choose the candidate, Mr Badal said the issue would be decided at that stage only.

Mr Badal strongly denied that the ruling coalition had been keen on an early bypoll in Majitha assembly segment which fell vacant due to the death of the sitting MLA. He pointed out that it was the decision of the Election Commission and the state government had no say in it.

The Chief Minister evaded a direct reply on the Ayodhya issue and the demand raised by the VHP dharam sansad for handing over the disputed site to it for the construction of the Ram temple. He said, “Let us fight elections in Punjab only”.

Mr Badal also had a detailed meeting with the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University Dr G. S. Kalkat. The two reportedly discussed the issue relating the agriculture in the context of the less minimum support price being recommended by the Commission on Agriculture Costs and Prices.


R-Day celebrated with fervour
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — The Republic Day was celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervour in and around Ludhiana, with a number of functions organised at different places to mark the occasion.

The main function was organised here at the sprawling lawns of the Government College. The Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly Assembly, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal unfurled the national flag and took the salute from an impressive parade, which constituted contingents of Punjab Home Gards, NCC Boys and girls, Scouts, Girl Gaides, ex-servicemen and school children.


Cinema hall in bad state
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — A variegated scene greets the visitor — rehris selling eatables, heaps of garbage, mud and slush ground, rag pickers and parked autos, minibuses and matadors before the main gates. Well, this is one of the city’s oldest cinema halls — the Raikhy Theatre.

As soon as you enter the hall, you are surrounded by beggars with small children, who will not let you in, unless you give them something. Gatekeepers who sit sunning themselves, do not bother to stop the beggars. There are continuously running water taps. Walls near the taps are green due to algae. Urinals near the canteen give put a stinking smell. Open eatables exposed to dirt can be seen lying in the canteen situated in the parking area,which is open for rickshaws, scooters, bicycles and cars.

The manager of the cinema told Ludhiana Tribune that the theatre was maintained properly. However, at times there may be some omissions, he admitted.

He blamed the viewers for keeping the taps open. The cinema authorities had also arranged for a plumber to avoid the taps leakage. About the open eatables, the manager said that by the time the eatables got ready, they were properly covered.

Talking about the stink of the urinals, the manager said.” Sweepers clean all the urinals with phenol in the morning. The toilets are cleaned again during intervals”. There are four gents and one ladies toilet in the hall. Attendants claimed they cleaned these every day.

The theatre has a capacity of about 900 people.There are 140 seats in the balcony and boxes. The balcony ticket is for Rs 20. The dress circle has a seating capacity of 400 and the reserved section has more than 230 seats. The ticket of the dress circle is for Rs 15 and reserved seat is for Rs 10. The seating arrangement is not by ticket numbers.

There is proper fire control system with about 18 ceasefire cylinders in the cinema hall. Another canteen is situated outside the balcony. There are about six exhaust fans in the hall. There are open pits near the parking area near the canteen which could be harmful for commuters in the dark. The manager said that. “As soon as they will be cleaned, they are properly covered”, added the manager.


Auto-dealers seek cut in surcharge on ST
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — Auto dealers here have urged the state government to abolish the surcharge, which is affecting the sales of automobiles in Punjab. According to them, a few months ago state finance minister had decided to impose uniform sales tax on various goods but the Punjab Government decided to continue with 10 per cent surcharge.

According to industry insiders, more than 5,000 vehicles are sold every month in Punjab. About 1,000 are sold in Ludhiana alone. However, the sales have been badly affected, thanks in part to recession and to the surcharge on ST. Now number of customers were prefering to buy vehicles from the neighbouring states since there was no surcharge imposed.

Mr V.K. Dheer, Manager, of an agency, was of the view that the surcharge had hit the sales to the tune of at least 15 per cent. It simply meant that in Ludhiana alone about 150 customers were buying cars and taxis from Haryana and the National Capital of Delhi every month. At the state level, these figures were more than 500 per month. Consequently, the Sales Tax department was losing about Rs 2 crore every month to the neighbouring states.

It may be mentioned here that the fate of automobile spare-part-manufacturers was not better than the auto-dealers. Ludhiana has a significant number of auto spare-parts manufacturers. In this though, the ST was 8 per cent, but the government had again imposed 10 per cent surcharge on ST. It was affecting the sale of spare parts in the state, as there was no surcharge in the neighbouring states.


ITBP to organise recruitment camp
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Jan 27 — “Indo Tibitian Border Police will organise a special recruitment camp in Kauri village to honour the villagers who helped the rail accident victims in the 1998 rail accident.” This was stated by Mr Gautam Kaul, Director General, Indo Tibitian Border Police, who came to Kauri to inspect the building of auditorium constructed by the ITBP in Kauri village ‘in memory of the head constable, who died in the accident.

Mr Gautam Kaul said, while comparing the rail accidents of Kauri and Farukhabad, that there are two aspects. He said when the Kauri rail accident occurred, the people of four villages came to help the victims without any greed and they served for humanity. And when a similar accident occurred in Farukhabad, the people of six surrounding villages came to loot the victims and they killed the injured to stole their valuables.

At the time the panchayat made certain demands to Mr Gautam Kaul, who assured them to fulfil these demands.


Labour inspector beaten up
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Jan 27 — The Khanna police has registered a case against four trade union leaders for allegedly beating up a labour inspector in his office, when he was performing his duty.

According to information available, the labour inspector was holding court to settle some labour dispute when Harvinder Singh, president Super Milk Plant Workers Union, Dharam Pal Angrish, Kewal Yadav and Sudama Ram came to his office. Then Harvinder Singh started beating him without provo- cation and his companions misbehaved and abused the inspector and his staff.

The labour inspector was rushed to the civil hospital, from where he was discharged later.

According to SHO City, Mr Rajesh Hastir, a case under Sections 323, 352, 186 and 34 IPC has been registered. However, no arrest has been made so far.


Car stolen
From Our Correspondent

JAGRAON, Jan 27 — A white Maruti car (No. DBD 6516) has been stolen from the residence of Mr Ashish Kumar. As per the version of the complainant, he had parked his car outside his residence at night but found it missing in the morning. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

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