Wednesday, February 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Kidnapper of child killed in shootout
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — Rakhdev, a migrant from Gorakhpur, who kidnapped five-year-old Ashley from his tutor's house and strangled him on February 15 and who was produced at a press conference here this afternoon after his arrest in the morning, was killed in the ''counter fire'' by the police at the Jhamat bridge on the Sidhwan canal, it is learnt.

Police control room sources said after the press conference he was taken to the CIA where he also confessed to possessing a revolver which he had buried somewhere near the canal bridge. A police party took him to the spot for the recovery of the revolver. The alleged kidnapper fired at the police party as soon as he dug the weapon out. Hav Ramji Lal was injured, while Rakhdev was killed in retaliatory fire by the police party, the sources added.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, SSP, could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts. He had been out of office all day in connection with the visit of Mr Parkash Singh Badal to the town and Phillaur.

Mr Munshi Ram, grandfather of Ashley, who was killed by his kidnapper, said today that the family was ready to pay any ransom for the release of the child. They had been waiting for a ransom note or call which, however, never came.

  The aggrieved grandfather was of the opinion that pressure by the police prevented the kidnapper from making any contact with the family. 

After kidnapping the child, the kidnapper had been hovering around the place, he said. As soon as he saw policemen descending on the scene, he panicked, and this must have led him to commit the murder.

Earlier the body of Ashley was exhumed from a field in Sidhwan Bet village near here after his abductor and killer was nabbed by the police here this morning.

Presenting the killer before newsmen here this afternoon, Mr Kuldeep Singh, the district police chief, told reporters that Rakhdev, 30, who hailed from Gorakhpur, had abducted the child with the motive of demanding a ransom from the child’s parents. He had been unemployed for quite some time and used to while away his time in front of the boy’s home. The mother of the child used to send him on minor errands. The child was quite familiar with the abductor. The police had established the identity of the criminal after all suspected persons in the vicinity had been rounded up for questioning, as he was the only person missing.

Mr Kuldip Singh told that a police party had been sent to Gorakhpur in the hope that he would have taken the child there. When he was not found there, the police was convinced that he must be somewhere in or around the city. He told the police that after kidnapping Ashley, he took the child to Sidhwan Bet village. But when the child got restless, he lost his nerves and decided to strangulate the child in order to silence him and buried the body.

The killer had abducted the boy from his tutor’s house on the pretext that the boy was wanted by his mother who wanted to take him to a doctor.

When questioned about the increasing involvement of migrants in various crimes in the city, Mr Kuldeep Singh said the police would prepare a strategy in this regard within the coming week.


Massive power pilferage in Ludhiana
By Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — Free power supply to the agriculture sector and the debate on the privatisation of the state electricity board have overshadowed the issue of the power theft in the state. Officials in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) say power theft has reached alarming proportions. Mr A.S. Randhawa, Engineer-in Chief, PSEB, Ludhiana, while talking to the TNS said, “There are around four lakh meters in the city and we collect Rs 120 crore per month as electricity charges. Undoubtedly, the transmission losses vary between 13-14 per cent of the total consumption. However, about 10-12 per cent of the electricity consumed in the city is pilfered by the commercial, industrial and domestic sector. It means that every month the board has to lose Rs 12-15 crore in power pilferage amounting to more than Rs 150 crore in a year.”

Mr Randhawa claimed that the power theft in the industrial sector had decreased to some extent but the problem of unauthorised load is severe in some of the industries. On the request of various industrial organisations, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, Minister for Power, had announced a Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) on December 31. The scheme was duly notified by the board in a modified form. But the board has not received a single application so far for the VDS.

Difficulties in checking power theft

* Faulty mechanical meters recording less consumption.

* Unsanctioned load and theft by the industrial units, especially in the residential area.

* The policy of Pollution Control Board not to issue no-objection certificate to the industries for the regularisation of load in the residential area.

* Uncooperative attitude of the police and administration.

* Low-conviction rate of convicts in the courts.

* Lack of motivation on the part of PSEB employees.

* No political will to check power theft.

The industry sources alleged that VDS offered by the board is nothing but a trap to cut their connections. Mr Avtar Singh, an industrialist, said, “The board is demanding an affidavit that a ‘no-objection certificate’ from the Pollution Control Board would be submitted within the next six months. However, it is a fact that the Pollution Control Board will not provide any such certificate since most of these units are in the residential area. Industries in these areas are already banned.”

Industrialists fear that after some time period the board may disconnect their present connections too. “Now we are running our industries by paying some amount to the board employees. The board should not ask for any affidavit if it really wants to make the scheme successful,” adds Mr Deeraj Gupta, president, Ludhiana Traders and Manufacturers’ Association. According to the PSEB estimates, there are more than 10,000 industries in the city in the residential areas which have unsanctioned load varying from 10 to 50 kv load. The board had proposed the regularisation of the load by taking Rs 1100 per kv as regularisation fee. It is roughly estimated that an industrialist could have regularised his load by paying Rs 15,000 on an average. It would have fetched more than Rs 15 crore to the board. Currently, a substantial part of this amount is alleged to be pocketed by certain board employees.

Mr Randhwa said: “Besides industrialists, power is pilfered by traders, shopkeepers and in the labour colonies. The lack of motivation on the part of board employees, uncooperative attitude of the police and administration are the main hurdles to check the pilferage.”


DMCH intern beaten up 
By Shivani Bhakoo

Dr Yadvinder Singh
Dr Yadvinder Singh

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — Dr Yadvinder Singh, an intern in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, who was allegedly beaten by other interns of DMC, has charged the Haibowal Police with inaction and reluctance to register his First Information Report. Rather than booking the culprits, the police had been pressurising him to compromise with the other party. The intern, admitted to the DMCH with multiple injuries, had identified those who mercilessly beat him up and named the persons, but even after a week, he is waiting for the police to take any action.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today, Dr Yadvinder Singh said that he was going around with a female intern of DMC for the past five years but their relationship broke some time ago, due to some reason. On February 12, he went to the canteen on the second floor of the hospital, where the girl was standing with Dr Rishi Dev, another intern in DMCH. According to Dr Yadvinder, Dr Rishi abused him in the canteen itself for following them and unnecessarily harassing the girl. After a heated argument, Dr Yadvinder left the place immediately.

Dr Yadvinder added that on the same day, he went to Udham Singh Nagar Market with two of his friends, Dr Tejpal and Dr Mandeep. He said, “All of a sudden, a Contessa car (PB10K 9093) arrived on the spot, in which Dr Rishi and five other boys were sitting. Without any provocation, they attacked me with hockey sticks and swords and thrashed me like anything. I received most of the injuries on my head and face and I became unconscious and was admitted to the Emergency of DMCH by Dr Tejpal and Dr Mandeep.”

Dr Tejpal, a friend of Dr Yadvinder alleged that they had approached the SHO, Haibowal several times, but the police was dilly-dallying. He also alleged that the police showed him the application written by the girl against Dr Yadvinder Singh and pressurised them to compromise with Dr Rishi Dev. “We are not foolish, we will move the court now”, added Dr Tejpal.

Meanwhile, Mr Wariam Singh, SHO, Haibowal Police Station said that “I never refused to lodge an FIR. As a matter of routine, we have to seek the permission from senior officers before registration of a case”, he said. He further informed that the complainant was called to the police station on February 19, but no one turned up on that day.


Shobha yatra on eve of Shivaratri
From Our Correspondent

Shobha yatra on the eve of Shivaratri in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Elephants lead the shobha yatra on the eve of Shivaratri in Ludhiana on Tuesday. — Photo by D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — The huge 225-kg silver rath was the main attraction of the shobha yatra this time on the eve of Shivaratri that was taken out from Daresi Grounds through various parts of the city here today.

Before the start of the shobha yatra, a function was held by the Shivtratri Mahotsav Committee at Daresi Grounds, which was attended by Shankaracharya Madhavashram, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Panjab, Mr Sat Pal Gosain and Mr. Brij Lal Rinwa apart from hundreds of party workers belonging to the Akali Dal and the BJP. Mr Vijay Chopra, Chief Editor, Hind Samchar group of newspapers, was also present. However, conspicuous by their absence were Mr Jagdish Tangri, president, Shiv Sena, and his supporters.

The vast Daresi Grounds , swept clean overnight, were sprinkled with lime powder along the outer limits. Entry to the venue was being regulated by police personnel who were present in large numbers along the boundary and the outer periphery as well. Cops manning gates meant for pedestrians on the Gita Mandir side were not allowing anybody in. Those wanting to sneak in through these gates were told to use the main gate towards the fort side. Even children were being chased away by baton-wielding cops. In fact, the whole ground presented the look of a fortified garrison with cops and commandos hovering all over the place with their walkie-talkies and guns in position.

Various leaders , who addressed the small gathering, devoted a major part of their speeches highlighting the political achievements of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had managed to spare some of his valuable time for the function.

Later, Mr Parkash Singh Badal formally started the mandatory puja before the beginning of the shobha yatra. Mr Brij Lal Rinwa and Mr. Sat Pal Gosain jointly hoisted the saffron flag to mark the occasion.

Cops, who were already having a tough time regulating entry to the VIP enclosure, were caught off-guard when the silver rath was manually pulled into the barricaded security zone by saffron-turbaned party workers. In the melee that followed, a couple of steel-pipe barricades were dismantled under the impact of forceful workers who did not want to be left out of the VIP enclosure.

The shobha yatra, which started soon after Mr Badal's departure, was led by a pair of elephants. Then followed students from a number of selected schools. The nearly a km-long procession was interspersed with attractive tableaux depicting various postures of Lord Shiva and vehicles carrying various kirtan groups singing hymns praising the lord.

Traffic cops at Mata Rani Chowk and elsewhere along the procession route were having a tough time controlling and directing traffic which was thrown out of gear at several places. Businessmen hurried with their daily market chores to avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.

The pooja of the holy silver rath carrying Eklinga Mahadev was performed at Sanglawala Shivala where the shobha yatra culminated in the evening .Back


Leopard fear grips villagers
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Feb 20 — A leopard is said to have been sighted at two villages near Doraha and created confusion and fear among the villagers, early in the morning yesterday.

According to sources, the leopard was seen by Gurnam Kaur, when she was about to milk her cattle around 6 a.m. She was shocked and told her servant about the same. They planned to stay quiet for sometime. For about half-an-hour the leopard kept on sitting and after that went away, without harming any- body. The leopard had been sighted, at Gurditpura, near Doraha, on the earlier night at about 9.45 p.m.

The sarpanch of the village, Mr Achchar Singh, contacted the SDM, Payal, Mr Amarjit Paul, who in turn consulted the police and reported the same to the Wild Life Department. According to Mr Paul, “A police party was sent, but the leopard could not be traced as it is now out of our area and probably near Samrala. It had come most probably from the nearby jungles ”Back


Teachers resent census duty
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — The Government Primary Teachers’ Association, Punjab, has expressed its resentment against the enforcement of census duties for the primary teachers of the government and aided schools here. Mr Baldev Krishan Modgill, general secretary, of the association, said that students of primary section were affected as their teachers have been sent on census duties during the peak time for studies. 


Encroachments by private bus operators
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — Connivance or perhaps negligence on the part of the authorities concerned has led to encroachments on several roads in the city by private bus operators leading to chaos, confusion and nuisance for the residents and shopkeepers.

Jawahar Nagar, Punjabi Bhavan Road, Mata Rani Chowk (near Ghantaghar), Sarabha Nagar's I-Block and several link roads between the bus stand and Bharat Nagar Chowk are some of the heavily encroached upon roads. Residents' demand for including these encroachments in the list of places earmarked for the removal of encroachments has so far proved futile.

It may be mentioned here that these roads are being used by certain transporters as stand for private buses and autorickshaws. Most of the residents feel that the transporters have turned the roads into private property. Some of them have even made their offices on these roads. These roads give the look of a mini bus stand with some of the buses parked here 24 hours. These buses cause a lot of noise and air pollution.

Nirmal Singh, a resident of New Jawahar Nagar, said that drivers park their buses everyday and cause disturbance to school children. The children even feel scared while crossing the roads.

Santokh Singh, a resident of the Sarabha Nagar area, said that though these buses did not cause any harm to them but the drivers create trouble for women residing there. He said: "the drivers often make derogatory comments."

Drivers of these private buses and mini buses stop unscheduled anywhere they want on their routes that include bus stand to Chaura Bazar, Ferozepur Road to bus stand, Chaura Bazar to Jalandhar bypass, Chaura Bazar to Haibowal and the local bus stand to Jamalpur. The mini buses are often parked at Mata Rani Chowk, near Ghantaghar. The shopkeepers and the passers-by are affected due to noise, making arguments between shopkeepers and bus drivers a frequent event.

Passengers add to the confusion by not observing traffic rules. Raman, a shopkeeper in the Mata Rani Chowk area, said that whenever there was green light, the passengers open the doors either to get down or to get into the bus. He said: "this kind of action on their part can be dangerous as others are unaware of passengers or conductors opening these doors suddenly."



The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah has several unique traits that all politicians will always envy him for. He can tune himself to circumstances. He can speak fluent Punjabi among Punjabis and chaste English among Englishmen. He can argue about the Kashmir case at the United Nations as deftly as he can appreciate good music. Recently the flamboyant Chief Minister was in the town to attend the marriage ceremony of the son of a leading industrialist, Mr Jangi Lal Oswal. Only a few days before, about 15 people had been killed by militants in his home state. But Dr Farooq was composed. He seemed to enjoy every moment at the marriage. Surrounded and swarmed by big businessmen and beautiful women and a handful of journalists, he seemed to be deeply involved in the songs presented by noted film singer, Udit Narayan. He would cheer for each song that Udit Narayan presented, while nodding to what others said to him. Dr Farooq, stayed at the wedding for about three hours. In fact, he also kept the National Security Guards, who are entrusted with his security, at bay, just to ensure that none of the people who had come to meet him were harassed. But the ever vigilant commandoes, known as Black Cats, kept a close watch, scanning everyone who shook hands with Dr Farooq, although from a distance.

Vulgar, shameful

Change is the law of nature. The cultural transition that the country is undergoing, is viewed as on influence from the West. There are certain ‘culturalists’, in the parlance of some cultural policemen, who are trying to resist this change. For them, most of the West is vulgar and all influences are an intrusion into our rich traditional and culture. One may agree or disagree with them. But on certain occasions, people are forced to think whether there is some logic in their polemical arguments. Recently, the Satluj Club organised a grand party to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Fortunately or unfortunately, there were no Shiv Sainiks carrying Mr Bal Thackrey’s fatwa to disrupt the celebrations. But people did miss them. While everything was going on well, the organisers made about a dozen semi-clad models walk on the ramp. While couples were dancing on the floor, these girls in a revealing attire, (if there was any) were moving around on the stage. Not many people liked it. The girls made many a person look the other way. While nobody would like to approve of Mr Bal Thackrey’s fatwas, no lone liked the shameful display of flesh either. We would, the Club managers rather not do it again.

Badly engaged

It was really heartening to know that most of the places in Punjab could be reached through local dialling with 95 series. Everyone tried it to make at least one call to a relation in Chandigarh, Amritsar, Patiala or Bathinda. However, for so many days the numbers could not be connected as the lines could not be reached. Thanks to the extra rush on the lines on account of the localised facility. And most people who tried the number with local dialling heard a pathetic voice from the phone. ‘All the lines to this route are engaged, please dial after some time’. If only the telecom people could record a better voice, devoid of pain and pathos, which cheers you up when the lines remain engaged for long.

Henna blues

During the marriage season, the brides these days wish to apply elaborate mehndi, not only on their arms and feet but about 6 to 8 inches above the ankles. The designs are executed free hand and take an inordinately long time. The ‘mehndiwalas’ take full advantage of the brides’ whims and fancies and charge as much as Rs 3,100. The relatives are also charged according to the proximity of relationship with the bride. Like the sister, sisters- in-law, who also have intricate designs drawn on the palms will be charged quite high. The innumerable young things, who are going to wear ‘lehngas’ get mehndi designs round their navel ,and some adventurous young ones even get mehndi applied on their backs and arms. Mehndi ki Raat is a totally women affair, which begins in the afternoon and ends late by night. At the fag end, all the maids also get mehndi applied, much to the delight of the team of mehndi walas, who go home richer by a couple of thousands with boxes of sweets and a sumptuous dinner. One is happy that traditional mehndi has made such a big comeback.

The cop stop

The other day, a low-ranking police employee was complaining to his senior officer that the previous night, his son and nephew were detained by policemen on traffic duty. They were asked to show the documents of the two-wheeler, driving license and insurance. When they found that everything was in order, the policemen searched the pockets of the two boys and removed a few hundred rupees found on their person. When the boys protested, they were taken to the nearby police station and given a sound thrashing. The repeated pleas of the boys that they were family members of a fellow policemen fell on deaf ears of the police personnel, most of whom were in an inebriated condition, rued the policeman.

Now isn’t it a taste of one’s own medicine !

Struggle sans publicity

In these days of public relations and media management, there are a number of persons and organisations who have mastered the art of getting their ‘achievements’ published. Some times, mediapersons know about these ‘achievements’ more than their neighbours. However, there are some sincere social workers, who prefer to work silently. Mr Harjinder Singh, president, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) residing in Doraha, is one of them. For the past over one decade, he has been associated with organising and mobilising agricultural labourers for their economic and social rights, but he has never thought of contacting ‘big’ newspapers, especially the English language newspapers. When asked about the reason, he said innocently,‘‘ They do not understand the problems of the illiterate agricultural labourers, who are unable to articulate their point.

Moreover, we have no resources to get our stories published.’’ However, on further probing, he said that their union was associated with fighting legal cases against repression by some of the landlords in the rural area and also in organising Dharnas and rallies of local and migrant labourers to get justice from the police and local administration. Interestingly, he is a full-time worker of the union, working on a meagre salary of less than Rs 1,000.

Holding to ransom

Strikes seem to have become a tool of blackmail with any one who can use it. And surprisingly, they hardly care about its impact on the public. Recently, there was a lightning strike in a leading medical college and hospital. The provocation for the employees was the transfer of their president from one place to another within the hospital. The administration claimed it to be a routine administrative reshuffle, while the union has been attributing it to the efforts of the administration to weaken the union. For a mere transfer, the employees went on strike leaving hundreds of patients unattended. Not just that, they also locked up one senior official of the hospital and held him hostage with only one condition for his release that he should withdraw the transfer orders. Several employees were injured when the police tried to release the said official. Nobody approved of the police action as the employees should not have been lathi-charged. Surprisingly, the ubiqtious politicians belonging to all parties queued up to issue blind support to the union against the management. While the union may have a cause to argue, but the way it pursued its case by holding an official in lock up for about 15 hours was not advisible. Besides, hundreds of patients remained unattended as the employees went on strike.

Religion and nuisance

Religion is a matter of faith and personal belief. Nobody has any right to question the faith and beliefs of others. However, certain rituals that have got attached to the religion are infringing on the freedom of others. Ludhiana has now become an epicentre of religious jagratas and nagar kirtans. These seem to be organised more for show and less for faith. On an average, two nagar kirtans by all the communities are organised in Ludhiana every month. The nagar kirtan processions are taken out through the busiest parts of the city, bringing the entire traffic to a halt. Recently, during a nagar kirtan, the traffic on Jagraon bridge remained blocked for over three hours. Thousands of vehicles and people were stranded on the roads with hardly anywhere to go, while the organisers appeared to enjoy the show of strength. Each group involved in the “business of nagar kirtans” always tries to score some points over the others by organising a bigger show and holding the traffic and life of the city to ransom for more time.

Husbands’ night, a farce

A premier local club, Lakshmi Ladies Club, celebrated Husbands’ Night, which though an annual feature, was held after a lapse of three years. The idea behind the whole thing is to provide husbands a great evening by providing excellent food, entertainment, booze and fun at the cost of Rs 1,300 per couple. Most of the husbands agreed that Kumar Sahnu and his troupe entertained well. But the fact that they had to buy their own drinks did not jell with the husbands. Most of them thought that since the wives were playing hosts, they should have offered free drinks. Where was the need to hire Cater to Cater, a catering firm which offers 90 dishes and charges exorbitantly. The husbands argued that the food could have been simpler and the money saved could have been used for drinks. On that day, the husbands had to spend a lot of money on drinks as they had to pay for their friends also. They further contended that since they are paying all the expenses of the club, through their wives, in the form of subscription, the wives should have been more gracious hosts and not charged for anything on the husbands’ night, as they were the guests.


A fellow scribe brought to The Ludhiana Tribune office a coin, looking like a Five Rupee coin, which in fact were two 50 paise coins, glued together to give the look and feel of a coin of 10 times higher in denomination. That is one of the uses you can put a 50 paise coin to!

— Sentinel 


Theft in NRI’s house
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 20 — The police has caught a domestic servant in connection with a theft at Mr Karam Singh’s residence in Sarabha Nagar. Mr Karam Singh is an NRI.

According to the FIR registered with the police, Mr Karam Singh has alleged that Chander Bhan, who had been working as his domestic servant for the past six years, is responsible for the theft of his valuable documents including his Indian passport, his American Green Card and gold jewellery and watches.

Mr Karam Singh had fired the servant a few days ago. He alleged that since his servant was very familiar with the layout of the house, he criminally jumped into the house and broke the latch and entered inside.

The police has apprehended the servant. He was brought to Ludhiana from his native village in Uttar Pradesh and has been charged under Section 381, IPC. Nothing has been recovered from him. He has been sent to the judicial custody.

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