Monday, February 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Struggle to gain monopoly turns violent
‘Police supporting persons charging goonda tax’
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The struggle between two groups of transporters, one of whom is allegedly supported by leaders of the ruling Akali Dal and certain officials of the Police Department, to gain monopoly over transporting coal from the Dhandari Kalan Dry Port took a violent turn here today when about 40 persons attacked labourers and truck drivers who were loading coal.

Though no one was seriously injured in the attack, the coal loading work at the dry port came to a standstill. About 2,000 labourers, who make both ends meet by working at the port, were rendered without work for the day.

A heavy police force was deployed later in the day to avoid any untoward incident. In the evening Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, also visited the site and met police officials to solve the problem.

The tension was remnant of the troubled times in December 1999 when work of lifting the coal had been paralysed due to a struggle between the transporters. At that time the final showdown developed between a former MP and two ministers of the Akali government. The former MP, who was against charging of the alleged ‘goonda tax’, had managed to win over the group demanding the tax.

Today's attackers allegedly belonging to a man who, according to the Coal Merchants Association, had come last year from Assam and was again demanding payment of ‘goonda tax’ from transporters and coal merchants. According to office-bearers of the association, about 40 people armed with lathis, rods and sharp edged weapons reached the port at about 10 a.m. and forcibly stopped the lifting of the coal.

The association alleged that the attackers were saying that only one transport company would lift all coal and no one else would be allowed to operate.

Interestingly, the police had also stopped a select group of transporters from lifting the coal yesterday. While the transporters and the coal merchants affected by the police action had alleged in a press conference that the police was supporting the persons charging ‘goonda tax’, the police said the trucks were not being allowed to operate as they were operating through fake transport companies and their papers were not up to the mark.

The police force headed by DSP Gurjit Singh also reached the site. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he said certain coal merchants had complained to SSP Kuldip Singh about the ‘violence’ and he has been sent here by the SSP to control the situation. The DSP said that the police was not taking side with any one and invited the merchants to come and lift coal from here.

The labourers, who were visibly terrified, said they were being sandwitched in the struggle and feared loss of livelihood.

The struggle began three days ago, when the Focal Point police booked five transporters on the charge of evading sales tax by issuing fake sale receipts. The transporters and the affected coal merchants, however, had in a press conference alleged that the case was registered at the behest of a man from Assam who had threatened the traders to pay him Rs 300 per rake lest he will not allow them to work peacefully.


No action in land grab case
DC's orders against construction flouted
By Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — In violation of the orders of the district administration, construction work is going on unabated in the four colonies at a disputed land near Tajpur Road here. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, had issued orders that no construction would be allowed on the spot and no cash in the form of instalments would be given to the "self-styled" owners some 10 days ago.

Not only the orders were being flouted but even no action has been taken against the revenue officials who allegedly connived with certain land grabbers and allowed residential colonies to come up on government land. Even a dead man was shown as tilling the land in the revenue records.

Besides this, the Police Department has also turned a deaf ear to the repeated pleas of a man, Mr Rakesh Kumar, who claims to be the owner of a portion of the disputed land. Even though the police has completed an inquiry into the land scam, no one has been booked so far.

To cap it all, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had also issued verbal orders on December 22 at PAU after the complainant had met him, these were not complied with. Even almost all newspapers had widely covered the land scandal and its various aspects. The administration and the police had neither taken any action nor denied the reports containing the allegations levelled against them.

The district administration had issued orders that a muniadi would be done in the colony to inform the residents of the illegal land. It was also announced that a notice board about the illegal colony would also be put up. However, no such thing was undertaken. A notice board is said to be erected at the place but was immediately removed.

While Mr Sandhu was not available in spite of repeated attempts, official sources said the administration was in a fix over the issue as the irregularity in the revenue records had continued for the past one decade or so and the administration had to take action against several revenue officials, including some senior officials also.

According to the complainant, Mr Rakesh Kumar, the administration recently issued a statement regarding the ownership of the government in the disputed land but no word was said about the right of the complainant who has been moving virtually from pillar to post to get justice.

An official of the district administration preferring anonymity said the claims of the complainant could not be verified as no record of the land ownership was available.


Forum penalises Dada Motors
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — In a significant decision the District Consumer Disputes Redressal forum has directed a vehicle company to pay a compensation of Rs 60,000 to the complainant for deficiency in services.

The forum has directed Dada Motors Limited, Dholewal Chowk, to pay the compensation to Mr Rajinder Kumar Garg. The complainant had purchased a Tata Tempo LPT 709 from the firm on hire-purchase basis. The vehicle was financed by Dada Motors at an interest of 12.5 per cent per annum.

The amount was to be returned in 23 instalments and the first instalment was of Rs 17,000 and the other instalments of Rs 16,500 each. The complainant deposited the amount with the opposite party and the entries to that effect were duly made in the passbook issued by the opposite party. The opposite party calculated an amount of Rs 3,80,000 against the vehicle, of which Rs 3 lakh was the actual amount of the vehicle and the rest was the hire premium and insurance amount.

The complainant had paid an amount of Rs 3,78,000 till August 8, 1998, but the opposite party did not issue any mandatory statement.

After the complainant paid the total amount the opposite party had no interest in the vehicle and on march 25, 1999, no amount was due. Rather the opposite party was liable to refund Rs 5,000. The opposite party forcibly took away the vehicle from the lawful custody of the complainant with a dishonest intention to pressurise the complainant to pay Rs 25,000.

The forum in its decision held that the opposite party is deficient in service and the complainant is entitled to get back the vehicle.

The complainant had requested the forum to direct the opposite party to hand over the vehicle to him and pay a compensation of Rs 3,50,000 along with interest till the date of final payment of the amount.

The forum held that the opposite party in order to cover up the act of taking the possession of the vehicle has manipulated the account. It also held that the complainant had paid the full payment and there was no justification in taking away the vehicle.

The forum held that there was clear deficiency in service on the part of the vehicle company and it is bound to return the vehicle to the complainant and pay compensation for keeping the vehicle illegally. 


Few buyers in second-hand two-wheeler market
By Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The increasing dominance of finance companies in the two-wheeler market has affected the sale of two-wheelers in the second-hand market in the region. Changing preferences of youth, advertising campaigns in the media, and coming of new models in the market have depressed the market of second-hand scooters and motor cycles. Continuous decline in the agriculture sector for the last three years has also weakened the demand in the rural sector further.

A visit to the local second-hand scooter market on the Gill road is sufficient to prove the point. Dealers in this about 15-year-old market are sitting idle. Customers complain that the sellers demand too much price for the old two-wheelers whereas the financiers can help buy a new one by paying small cash amount.

Mr Harpreet Singh Kohli who has been trading in the two-wheelers for the past seven years said, “We have been sitting idle since morning and have not made a single deal. There are about 40 dealers who on an average sell 10 scooters or bikes as compared to 20 that we used to sell on an average a few years ago. The finance companies have badly affected our business, as they themselves buy the two wheelers.”

Interestingly it is very easy to buy a Bajaj Chetak scooter of 90s in good condition for Rs 4,000 or a Hero Honda model of 1989 for just Rs 14,000. Though dealers say that most of the consumers want to buy a scooter or a motor cycle which is not more than five years old. Enquires made from a number of dealers revealed that a Hero Honda bike of 1999 model could be had for Rs 30-32,000 compared to a new bike which costs around Rs 40,000 with registration and insurance cover. The average cost of a Bajaj Chetak’s 95, 97 and 99 model is around Rs 9,000, Rs 11500 and Rs 16000, respectively.

However, Mr Balwinder Kumar, a mechanic, points out that it is not the model number but the condition of the vehicle that would determine the cost. Customers take their assistance to check the condition of engine and other parts. When asked about the genuineness of the two-wheelers in the market, Mr Inderjeet Chawla of the Punjab Scooter Association said,” Before accepting a bike for sale, we check the identity of the engine, registration copy and the person coming for sale. In case for a doubts we ask for a local guarantor.”

Regarding the prevailing trends in the second-hand two-wheeler market, Mr Tejinder Singh, another dealer, said,” There are no buyers of scooties and mopeds in the market. The price of even a one-year-old TVS scooty can fall up to Rs 10-15,000. People generally buy Bajaj and LML scooters and Yamaha and Hero Hondas in the motor cycle segment. Some Kinetic Hondas are also sold. The average cost of a Kinetic Honda of 1996 make is around Rs 19,000 as compared to Rs 36,000 of a new model. “

Dealers say that most of the sellers are urban people and buyers are from the rural area. Gujjars of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur come here to buy Rajdoot motor cycles. Mr Ratan Lal of Dholwah village , near Hoshiarpur, had come to buy a Rajdoot bike. He said, “ I had visited markets of Khanna, Patiala and Jalandhar also in the past, but I found that this is the cheapest and safest market. The chances of cheating here are relatively low compared to other markets.”

Observers of the market said the market generally picks up by the end of January or the beginning of February as the customers from far-flung places start coming after the winter season to buy bikes and scooters. The sales fall in the month of July and August, the rainy season. The market attracts more customers on Sunday though it is open on other working days also.

Mr Harpreet Singh urged the administration to provide some land for the market, as the scooters had to be parked on the road which hampered the traffic on the busy Gill road. The traffic police often pushed them back but they had no alternative but to encroach upon the road unwillingly. 


PCMS wants to join relief work
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The PCMS Association, Ludhiana district, through its general secretary, Dr Balwinder Kumar, has sought permission to send a team of doctors to quake-hit Gujarat.

In a letter to the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, the association has stated that doctors posted in Ludhiana district had already donated Rs 1,000 each to the relief fund. It said the proposed team of doctors would be sent to Gujarat in collaboration with the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti which is supported by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development and the National Literacy Mission Authority.

A list of the names of four medical officers posted at Sudhar, Pakhowal and Sidhwan, along with a nurse and a class IV employee has been sent to the Health Secretary for approval.

The association has requested that for the period of two weeks, these medical officers should be considered as present on duty.


‘Public indifference responsible for corruption’
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — It is not only the politicians or the bureaucrats who are responsible for the widespread corruption in the country but it is also the indifference of the public that was boosting corruption. The middle class has lost enthusiasm to fight the corruption. Most people are now interested in buying their personal salvation than fighting for the common cause, said Mr Joginder Singh, former CBI chief, who was here today to interact with the public. The meeting was organised by a local departmental store.

He has written a number of books such as Inside CBI, Outside CBI, Be The Best and Inside India. Two more books are in the offing — one on the Indian police and the other on the Bofors. A graduate from the Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, Mr Joginder Singh felt that there was a lot of corruption in central government departments than state government offices because of big budgets and less transparency.

Criticising the present system for most of the problems that the country was facing today, he said, ''More than three crore cases were pending in the courts. The vacant posts in the courts were responsible for the delay in giving justice to the people. Though the CBI had found Ms Sheila Dixit, Mr Sukh Ram and Mr Satish Sharma involved in corruption, the court in its wisdom released them. Two courts had different views on their involvement."

When asked about the increasing number of bureaucrats who in their late years of service indulge in politician bashing to gain cheap publicity, he denied the allegation and said, "It is good that some persons were coming forward to oppose the corrupt ways of the politicians. The media has also done a great service to the nation while exposing different scams. The democracy was maturing in the country. It was not possible for a single party to impose emergency in the country."

Regarding his future plans he said, "I am writing two books. I am looking for some offers from some political parties to join politics. It is necessary to enter the field of politics to clean the system."


Holiday schemes gain popularity
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — Punjab may have missed the opportunity to benefit from the hotel and tourism industry that has been growing at a tremendous rate in recent years. Lack of historical tourist places and lack of government’s innovative policies are often blamed for it. But rich and middle-class people of the state in general and of this industrial city, in particular, have developed a taste to enjoy holidays in summers as well as winters at the hill stations such as Mussoorie and Shimla.

Timeshare holiday schemes have come up to woo customers. A number of tourist companies have opened their offices in the main hotels of the city to book resorts at these places. These companies provide family and group packages by taking a fixed amount in advance. For example, a person can get a package for staying in the selected resorts in any part of the country as well as abroad for a week or more for the next 33 years. He will have to pay Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh, varying upon the options of stay and time of the year.

Mr Mohinder Kumar, a bank employee is one of those who is happy with the scheme. He informed that he along with his four friends had purchased the timeshare and now they visit different places in groups as well as with their families using cards of each other.

However, some users of the scheme have accused that they have been duped by these companies. Mr Rajinder Chawala, a lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at CMC, was called by a company office recently. He was offered one-week holiday package for Rs 89,000 for 33 years with 25 per cent discount. However, when he contacted the head office of the company at Delhi, he came to know that the Rs 89,000 was the cost of the package without discount.

Mr Naresh Khattar, chairman and managing director of a company, agrees that there are a number of fraud companies in the industry. They get money even for those resorts which have not been even constructed. The clients must check the credentials of the company before making any payments.


Sikh killings condemned
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today condemned the killing of eight Sikhs at Srinagar and demanded resignation of the Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani.

A special meeting of the wing was convened at Gill village near here today which was presided over by Mr Balwinder Singh Bains, President of the youth body.

The meeting recalled the massacre of Sikhs in March last year at Chhatisinghpora and the killings of Sikh truck drivers later near Banihal. These killings were part of a deep-rooted conspiracy aimed at widening the rift between different minorities.

Mr Bains also criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal for not being able to safeguard Sikhs. He said the Chief Minister could not take any measures in this regard in spite of a call given by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Prominent among those who attended the meeting included Mr Dhian Singh Mand, former MP, Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary, Mr Sarabjit Singh, president of Ludhiana unit, Mr Jagbir Singh Sokhi and Mr Ranjit Singh Ubhi.


Meeting held
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — An important meeting of Akali Jatha ( Urban) was held under the presidentship of Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, vice-president, Akali Dal, here today.

A resolution was passed to express deep condolences for those who were killed in the Gujarat earthquake. While sympathies were expressed for the survivors, thousands of rescue teams were thanked for their round-the-clock service.

Through another resolution, the meeting decided to send groups of workers to Majitha to canvass for the party candidate in the Majitha byelection.

Among those who participated in the meeting were Mr Pritpal Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh Dukhia, Mr Arjan Singh Cheema, Mr Kashmir Singh Sheera, Ms Sukhwinder Kaur, Councillor, Mr Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Ms Charanjit Kaur and Mr Sarabjit Singh Kochhar.


Demand for spacious post office
From Our Correspondent

MANDI GOBINDGARH, Feb 4 — Mandi Gobindgarh town, an industrial centre of Punjab with the richest municipal committee in the state, has post office located in just one room.

The post office is being run in a rented building and no effort has been made by the postal authorities to find some spacious building for the purpose.

People here come to deposit their telephone bills as well as other deposits such as KVP, IVP and SSC etc besides regular postal work. There is also lack of parking space, making visitors to the place park their vehicles on the road causing hindrance to the traffic. More than 20,000 migrant labourers work in the mills of this town. They have to stand in long queues to send money orders etc to their native place.

Residents here have been demanding a well-equipped and a modern post office with latest facilities to expedite the postal work.


NSS camp held
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The NSS volunteers from Punjab Agricultural University organised a camp in the Vardhman workers' colony yesterday. About 60 NSS volunteers participated in the camp.

Dr K.S. Verma, Programme Coordinator, said in a press release here today that the activities carried out included environmental cleaning, removing of debris, a counselling session with spouses of workmen on household activities like kitchen management, hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, mother and child care and adult literacy.

The NSS workers also gave a demonstration on how to make utility articles out of domestic wastes. They took up a mass literacy programme for the labour community. They provided literacy kits to the workers' families.

Dr Verma briefed the workers on the poisonous effect of the congress grass.


Scooter rally by Valmikis
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — Members of the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj held a scooter rally in the city today in connection with the birthday celebrations of Guru Ravi Dass to spread the message of the guru and promote peace and brotherhood among the people.

The rally, led by Mr Vijay Danav, was flagged off by Mr Satinder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, from the Bhagwan Valmiki Temple in Chhowni Mohalla.

The rallyists were holding placards and raising slogans.


A feast of music and dance
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — Basant Utsav, a presentation by Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam at Nehru Sidhant Kendra to bring forth the local talent, proved to be a commendable effort as the participants kept the audience mesmerised with their performances in vocal and folk singing, folk dances and histrionics. The programme was part of the final presentation of talent hunt conducted in colleges of Ludhiana.

All items presented were awarded first prize at the zonal level competition of Panjab University. Ms Kusum Verma and Ms Charanjit were the anchors of the programme. Sukhleen Minhas of KCW College gave a scintillating Kathak dance performance from Jaipur Gharana based on thumri, ‘Kahe rokat dagar pyare nand mero’. Her expressive face, good footwork and delicate hand movements left the audience spell bound.

Hema Sharma of SDP College, presented a khyal based on Raag Yaman. She also rendered a ghazal later. Sanjeev Kumar, a visually challenged boy, from GCW welcomed Ritu Raj Basant by playing on dholak.

Rog lag gaya balla, main chudaongi kinjh palla, a Punjabi song was sung by Renu Bala of Ramgarhia College for Women. Mandeep Singh from SDP College presented a vilambhit and drut Khyal in raag darbari.

The Rajasthani folk dance presented by students of KCW was breathtaking. Surbhi Jain came on the stage taking chakkars in vigorous manner and later all other girls dressed in glittering, authentic, Rajasthani attire, danced so vigorously that the synergy emanating from them could touch the audience.

Girls of GCW presented giddha. Later, there was a special giddha of banjarans in a tradition style.

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