Sunday, April 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


The importance of being Sukhbir Badal
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
What is so special about Mr Sukhbir Badal that the administration comes to a standstill whenever he happens to be in the town? And who keeps the record of his itinerary? All the officers in the local administration, including the police, are on duty whenever he happens to be in the town. So everyone, who is someone in the administration, ensures that he is not just in the town during his visit but is also roaming round the junior Badal.

Only today the younger Badal was in the town to inaugurate the CT Scan unit of the Deep Hospital. And guess who were the people who swarmed the venue? All the senior and junior officers in the administration and police were there to receive and see him off. These people had made a beeline at the venue making everything official of an otherwise private function. All this at the cost of hundreds of people who had to face tremendous hardship owing to the police “bandobust” that virtually turned the entire place into a fortress.

Interestingly, the unit Sukhbir Badal inaugurated has not put up any state of the art equipment, but reportedly second hand machinery that has been allegedly purchased from another doctor who ran out of business.

Not only this, the “cordial hospitality” that is accorded to Mr Sukhbir Badal is always at the cost of the convenience of the common people. And many eyebrows are being raised over the way the people in administration behave with the common masses during his tour. All the roads leading to the venue, where he was to inaugurate the unit, had been sealed one day in advance. People were rudely directed by the police officials manning these roads to take alternate routes. The worst was when people going to bring their children from schools were forced to take longer routes.

And people wonder whether the same arrangement is made in case any other minister of the Badal government happens to be in town. No need to mention that Mr Sukhbir Badal is not even a minister but a member of the Rajya Sabha only. Whether the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will be able to declare his only son as the heir apparent or not, the state bureaucracy has already done so, at least in Ludhiana.


Another child kidnapped in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
In another incident of child kidnapping in the city, eight-year-old Laxman has been reported to be kidnapped from near his house in Prem Nagar Islam Gunj by some unidentified persons on the evening of March 5.

The police has registered a case of kidnapping against unknown persons. It has sent wireless messages to different places but no clue to the child's whereabouts has been found.

Panic prevails in the Rajasthani community near the old jail as two months ago a number of children of this community were kidnapped. Some were sodomised and murdered.

According to Mr Mul Chand, a cobbler, his only son Laxman had gone to buy something from the market and had taken Rs 15 from him. However, he has not returned so far. The family has enquired from all friends and relatives but no clue has been found. He said he did not suspect anyone and had not received any ransom call so far.


2 persons beaten up by mob led by councillor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
Two persons were beaten up by an angry mob led allegedly by a MC councillor at Dugri here today following a dispute between representatives of a local gurdwara and a newly constructed school over the ownership of plot of land.

The injured, both relatives of gurdwara President Bachittar Singh, have been admitted to the Civil Hospital with serious head injuries. The police was in the process of registering a case till the filing of this report.

The incident took place in the afternoon when Mr Bachittar Singh sought to stop the inauguration ceremony of a school said to be constructed by MC councillor Dharam Dev. Mr Bachittar Singh said the school was constructed illegally on the their land and they had a stay order against any construction or other activity.

However, the councillor, was present on the occasion and the crowd threatened him of dire consequences as they claimed to be the rightful owners of the land.

Mr Bachittar Singh left the place but later an angry mob allegedly led by the councillor gheraoed his house and began raising slogans. Two relatives of the gurdwara president, who came to the family's rescue, were attacked by the mob.


Intoxicating influence of liquor mafia
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, April 7
Place: Ghanta Ghar Chowk; Time: 11.30 am: A well-dressed man, a visitor to the city who has checked into a hotel in Bhadaur House here on the previous night, stops by a cigarette shop, buys a pack and casually enquires from passersby the way to the nearest ‘English theka’.

Somebody tells the man that those ‘thekas’ are closed since March 31 after an unsuccessful auction of liquor vends. He is advised to look for a vend at either Samrala Chowk or on Ferozepore Road. The man shrugs his shoulders and walks towards the hotel as he does not want to go to either of the two places for buying a pint of whisky when a hotel waiter can help.

However, before he can return to the hotel, a man of the liquor mafia spots him. Within no time, money changes hands and the visitor returns to his hotel.

Place: Guru Tegh Bahadur Market near Ghanta Ghar; Time: noon: A local resident, who knows his way around, arrives at a shop which is not a liquor vend). Old customers do not make any fuss as they rarely have to wait for more than 10 minutes. Money changes hands and a code slip is given to a man of the liquor mafia who works there.

He rushes with the code slip to an underground godown somewhere near Hotel City Heart and returns with the stuff safely tucked under his belt. The codes are special. “ek rupiya” stands for “one bottle” and “frooty” for “raspberry” or “santra”. “Ek rupiya frooty” means a bottle of ‘santra’ or ‘raspberry’.

There are different codes for various brands of English liquor as well. Among the regular customers of this outlet are a number of policemen who mostly come with a “party”.

Another such centre in the heart of the city which the rich prefer is Gur Mandi. It is reportedly being run by a businessman of the market under the “patronage of the police”.

On the question whether such outlets sold only smuggled liquor, sources said smuggling of liquor was an old practice in city. They said, with the city police looking the other way, smuggling had become easier.

Three cheers to the great liquor mafia of the city for safeguarding the interests of the worshippers of Bacchus here! Delayed auctions do not bother them at all. They have got used to buying the stuff from places other than the vends.

Such outlets came up all over the city past year soon after a cold war began between the Garcha group and the Syndicate. This tussle was a result of a policy of Mr Adesh Partap Singh to break the monopoly of the Garcha family in the city’s liquor trade.

Even before March 31, the vends near Ghanta Ghar Chowk that are now closed, were not doing a good business at the window. This is because the bulk of the business had shifted to illegal outlets. A bottle of country liquor that was priced at Rs 80 could not be sold at Rs 50 at the window, so these outlets came up. Though some of the owners of these outlets have suffered losses, they are determined to stay in business.

Local liquor barons are not bothered by auctions because, even after opening a legal vend, they have to sell liquor illegally.


Sahil case: residents refute police claim
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
Residents of Roop Nagar Colony here refute the claim of the police that it had solved the Sahil kidnapping case. They said residents of the colony had played a major role in the recovery of the child from a manhole.

The police, too, rebuffs the claims of the residents. It said the residents had not informed the police in time and this could have proved dangerous for the child.

“Residents informed us two days after they had noticed suspicious movements of two persons in the area. These persons, later, turned out to be the kidnappers,” Mr Parmod Ban, Superintendent of Police (City-II), said. He said the police had acknowledged the cooperation it had received from the residents in solving the case, but no specific individual had been singled out.

A seven-year-old child, Sahil, was kidnapped by Adbul Mannan and Pappu Paswan on March 31 and, later, rescued by the police from a manhole where the kidnappers had thrown him. Later, the district police chief, Mr Kuldip Singh, at a press conference, had praised the police for solving the case.

However, a number of residents of Roop Nagar where the kidnappers had taken the child, tell a different story. Mr Somnath Mishr, a resident, said, “The police had been informed about the activities of the two persons who had come to live in the colony. When they brought the child there and residents asked Mannan about him, he said the child was his sister’s son.”

When the child disappeared the next day, the two said he had fallen ill and shifted to a relative’s place. However, residents were not convinced and reported the matter to the police. After this, two constables came there and took away the youths.

Mr Mishr said residents did not want a reward, but an appreciation for being vigilant. He said if the effort of the residents was recognised, citizens would be encouraged to help the police.

Mr Parmod Ban, SP (City-II), stuck to the earlier police claim. 


Probe ordered into suicide case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
The district police chief, Mr Kuldip Singh, has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident of suicide by an old couple, Devinder Sharma and Pushpa Sharma, at Chotti Haibowal. The Focal Point police and the Economic Offences Wing of the police blame each other for the incident.

Mr Parmod Ban, Superintendent of Police (City-II), has been asked to take up the case. The SSP, Mr Kuldip Singh, said a case had been registered and if any police official was proved guilty, action would be taken against him.

However, the police has not arrested any official of IndApparel Ltd, though a case of abetment to suicide has been registered against the company. Vishal, couple’s son who had absconded after allegedly duping the company of Rs 16 lakh, has also not been traced so far.

It was alleged that the Focal Point police had illegally detained Devinder. Inspector Santokh Singh, SHO of the Focal Point police station, said, though the case against Vishal had been registered at his police station, the EOW had been investigating it. He denied the allegation of Mr Sham Bihari, Devinder’s brother, that the Focal Point police had picked up Devinder on March 1 and kept him in illegal confinement for two days. He said the case file had been sent to the EOW.

However, the DSP of the EOW, Mr Satish Malhotra, said the files had been received on April 1 only and the investigating officer, Mr Nishan Singh, had visited the couple’s house in this regard on April 2, but had found it locked. He said the EOW had no confession cell where a person could be detained. He also said the EOW always sent a notice under Section 160 to the person who was called for investigation.

Meanwhile, the viscera of the couple has been sent to the State Chemical and Examiner’s Laboratory at Patiala for identifying the poisonous substance that they had consumed.

The couple had left a suicide note that said they were being harassed by owners of a factory who wanted to know the whereabouts of their son, Vishal.


Rs 230 crore for projects
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
The work for augmentation of water supply and sewerage in the state has received a big boost with a Rs 230 crore project, being implemented with financial assistance from HUDCO. Under the project, Rs 150 crore would be spent on expansion of water supply and sewerage facilities in Ludhiana alone, while works would also be undertaken in towns like Sangrur, Patiala, Nawanshahr, Rampura Phul and Bhawani Garh.

This was stated by Mr Sat Pal Mahajan, Chairman, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB), while addressing a news conference here yesterday. In addition, various water supply and sewerage projects were being executed at Khanna in Ludhiana district, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, involving nearly Rs 85 crore and works were under various stages of completion.

Claiming that the state government had laid special emphasis on providing clean drinking water and other basic amenities like sewerage and storm water drainage, Mr Mahajan said that as against a total amount of Rs 30 crore spent for this purpose in 1997-98 the allocation was increased substantially in 1998-99 to Rs 67 crore and to Rs 90 crore in 1999-2000. During the current financial year, around Rs 150 crore would be spent on water supply and sewerage projects in Punjab. With the completion of work on the ongoing projects, an estimated 72 percent of the population would have access to clean drinking water.

According to Mr Mahajan, after much fits and starts, the work on Rs 300 crore Sutlej action plan was now progressing well, with the state government making available funds to the tune of Rs 28 crore for acquisition of land at Ludhiana and Jalandhar. In Ludhiana the PWSSB had taken possession of 90-acre land near Bhattian village, 130 acre in Balloke village and another 40 acre in Jamalpur for setting up pumping stations and treatment plants. In Jalandhar also notification has been issued for acquisition of land for this purpose.

The inordinate delay in the execution of the project, mainly due to financial constraints, he added, had led to escalation in the total estimated cost from the original Rs 230 crore to Rs 300 crore now. The state government was to bear the cost of the land at around Rs 70 crore while rest of the funds were being provided by the Centre. The PWSSB Chairman said that in Ludhiana and Jalandhar, the work was delayed due to land acquisition process taking a very long time. The disposal work in Phagwara was already commissioned and in Phillaur, it was near completion. The project was expected to go on stream in next two years, he added.

Mr Mahajan disclosed that the work for treatment of canal water to make it safe for drinking had been taken up at various places in the state and when functional, these projects would prove a boon for those areas, where quality of ground water was not up to the mark and the areas badly affected with waterlogging. Replying to a question he informed that at an average 110 new tubewells were installed each year to increase the coverage of population under the drinking water schemes in Punjab.

Mr S.K. Verma, Mr K.S. Momi, Superintending Engineers of PWSSB and other officers of Ludhiana circle were present at the occasion.


World Health Day celebrations
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
The World Health Day was celebrated in the city to spread awareness about the importance of health to the masses. The hospitals organised talks by the eminent psychiatrists and psychologists as the theme was related to the mental health. Various clubs and private organisations also organised functoinsto make people know the importance of good mental and physical heath.

In India about two crore persons are mentally ill and in Ludhiana, there are about 60,000 such people said Dr (Ms) Ravinder Kala, an eminent Psychologist and counsellor, in a discussion on ‘Mental Health’ organised by the Sewa International, a wing of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, and Aas Kiran De-addiction Centre.

She added that two per cent of the Indian population is mentally retarded and suffer from diseases like schizophrenia and 10 per cent are having other psychological problems like maniac depressive illness and psychosis.

Dr G.R. Singh, a psychiatrist, Aas Kiran De-addiction Centre, said mental illness like any other physical illness is a disease and it should not be considered as a social stigma.

Prof Sarabjeet Singh, Director, Social and Health Services, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, emphasised on educating the masses that it is not the work that tires but the tension of work makes us tire. The studies have shown that religious persons are more confident, he added.

In his presidential address, Dr Raghbir Singh, an eminent skin specialist, said that alcohol is the main culprit for increasing stress level in the society. Dr Deepinder Singh, Medical Officer, Aas Kiran, said countries like the USA have realised that spirituality is one of the major stress fighting measures. People can improve their mental health through spirituality, by reciting gurbani, naam simran and service to the society. He underlined the need to take care of the challenge of mental health to the youth.

Principal Hari Singh, former Dean, Longowal Institute of Engineering, Principal Rawel Singh, Counselor, Col Raghbir Singh, Mr Gursharan Singh, Computer expert, Mr Surjeet Singh, Zonal Secretary actively interacted in the discussion.

The meeting unanimously resolved to strengthen the coordination among NGOs and professionals for making effective interventions in order to improve the mental health.

The tiny tots of GGN Public School, Model Town Extension, initiated one-week of the World Health Week with the health march. About 60 young students of the school marched along the VLCC staff at 9.30 a.m. from the Fountain Chowk till the Mall Road. Ms Sandhu, wife of the DIG, Ludhiana, handed over the’ Health is Wealth Flag’ to the students to mark off the start of the march. Health quiz was also conducted at the occasion.

Meanwhile, the World Health Day was also celebrated today by the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in the Dumra Auditorium by organising a special session. It consisted of talks and discussions focussed on ‘Mental Health-Stop Exclusion- Dare to Care’, which has been declared by the World Health Organisation as a theme of the year. Prof V Mohan, Executive Head, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, delivered the welcome address and introduced the importance of the topic. On this occasion Dr R L Narang, Chief, Department of Psychiatry, emphasised on the attention which mental health requires, specially in the era when mental diseases were engulfing society.

It must be noticed that psychological illness constitutes 15 per cent of the total diseases prevalent in the world. Due to the pressures of fast life and other changes, the levels of stress have increased alarming rates, specially in big cities. Depression, phobias, anxiety disorders, manic depressive disorders etc are some of its manifestations.

Dr Vinay Gupta, Reader in the Department of Psychiatry, threw light on the topic.’ Past, Present and Future of Psychiatry.’ He said earlier psychological disorders were thought to be strictly psychological in origin but with the changing times a lot of research has been carried out in this area and it has been found that some neuro-chemical changes in the brain were their cause and they can be treated by variety of drugs available in the market today. But these drugs should strictly be taken with the consultation of a psychiatrist as they have a lot of side effects also. He also stressed on the stigma related to mental illness in the society and consulting psychiatrists for the same. He said society should look at psychological illness with the same attitude as it looks at physical illness. It should develop more sympathetic and helpful attitude towards the patient. Mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean madness. It can be found among any class of people in different forms like anxiety, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction etc.

Dr Ranjeev Mahajan, Reader, Department of Psychiatry, talked about the myths related to psychological problems prevalent among people. He said unlike the popular concept, the complete treatment of psychological disorders is possible and these days a wide range of therapies are available for that but more psychologists and psychiatrists are required. In Ludhiana there are near about 20 psychiatrists. He also added that there is a need to spread more awareness among the physicians regarding the mental health because a patient at times suffers from psychosomatic disorder or carry some symptoms of psychological disorder along with the physical disorders.

A question answer session also took place in which the penalists and the audience interacted with each other. Dr Daljit Singh, Dean, Academics, proposed a vote of thanks to everyone for making the session a success.

Fatehgarh Sahib

World Health Day was celebrated at Dashnami Akhara, Sirhind, today where a blood donation camp was organised by the Baba Uttam Giri Blood Donors Society. Fiftyone persons donated blood.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, inaugurated the camp. Mr Sudan said that a special campaign will be started in the district hospitals for the mentally sick patients.Back


Churches of Ludhiana

LUDHIANA is mini India. No other country has given birth to as many religions and religious orders as India has done. No other region on this globe has provided the necessary spiritual climate to other religions for growth as this subcontinent did in the past and is doing at present. Ludhiana is a step ahead. At the time of partition almost the entire Muslim population migrated to their homeland. Believe it or not, at present more than four lakh Muslims live in the metro. The city is an index of India. It has a sizable Christian community. Some are locals or regionals, some hail from West Bengal, Nagaland and Mizoram. A substantial percentage belongs to Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu. Some of the Christians are notable persons in the education and medicine fields. Ludhiana stands as a symbol of Green Revolution. It is a nursery of eastern religions. It is at present the heartland of the many times reduced Punjab. Despite pollution, Ludhiana is madly in love with life. Its temples, gurdwaras, mosques and churches manifest human bonds.

Quite a few churches dot the city skyline, some stand at the nearby towns of Samrala, Khanna (G.T. Road), Jagraon and Phillaur. They are identified as APM (American Presbyterian Mission) churches. Most of these are run by the UNCI (United Churches of North India), the parent body.

The city churches are older than the above ones. Some are the creation of historical events. A few have contributed to history. One such, Kalvari Church, is called the mother church. It is one of the oldest churches having been established in 1837.

It appears relevant to recall that there were Christians in India before they were in England, for that matter, in most of the European countries. It is believed that one of the companions of Jesus Christ (St Thomas) came to South India. A church was established in the Ist Century on Malabar Coast. A number of tribal and fishing communities became Christian, besides those known as Syrian Christians. They are supposed to have migrated from West Asia (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, etc.). They are Roman Catholics. In the Middle Ages we witness the arrival of Europeon colonial elements: traders, mercenaries, missionaries, etc. From Goa to Bengal along the vast coast line, we see rise of new settlements, including churches. Historians can notice two powerful organisations: American Presbyterian Mission and the Scotch Mission. Serampore (near Kolkata) created history through learning of native languages, printing of books, etc. It started a revolution in the history of modern Indian languages.

Ludhiana historically is linked with Serampore on one side and with the rest of north-western (undivided) India on the other. The Kalvary Church compound housed the historic printing press which proved the future lighthouse. A chain of educational institutions was started from here. Legends such as John Newton, John C. Lowrie, James Wilson, etc. stayed and worked here. Dr Miss Edith Brown played church organ and sang psalms. Christ Church, (Civil Lines, near Phawara Chowk) was built in 1882. It is an Anglican church run by the Church Missionary Society. It was built for the company cadres and British army personnel during the earlier Raj phase. The cemetery is remainder and reminder of those years. In the main old shopping centre, we see Girjaghar at a crossing known by its name. There is a Methodist church on the CMC campus. John Wellesely had its deep association. Dr Brown addressed the medical students and fraternity from its pulpit.

Mention may be made of a few Ludhianvis who have been associated with these churches in one way or the other. Mr Sunder Singh Mangat became St Sunder Singh, Mr Benjamin hailed from Kerala and took up the job of headmaster of Textile Industrial Technical School housed at Fort. He transformed handloom into power-loom. Needless to say, Benjamin Road owes its name to this wiseman who served industry and commerce.

Dr A. Mahadev Daula (hailing from Mattewal-Sekhewal) got his doctorate from Germany and taught history with distinction. Similarly, Prof Reuban Das mastered philosophy and earned fame as a scholar. Elizabeth Wylie, Sunil Pillay, Arthur Ewing, Miss Mathai, Ms Haffmeristers, John Peters, etc. outshine in the annals of education.


Foundation stone of leisure valley laid
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
Former Union Minister and Member of Rajya Sabha, Mr Sukhbir Badal, today laid the foundation stone of the Rs 1.5 Crore leisure valley project in the city. The project, to be developed in an open area of 22 acre along Sidhwan Canal from Ferozepor Road to Pakhowal Road and further from Pakhowal Road to Dhuri Railway Line, was being planned by a professional landscapist.

Speaking to a group of mediapersons at the occasion, Mr Badal, who is also the general secretary of the ruling SAD-B, asserted that propaganda about the party ‘having a rural bias was absolutely wrong and without any basis’. To drive home the point, he said the government was working for the overall progress of both the rural and urban areas in Punjab. In Ludhiana alone, two flyovers on Dhuri Line and Dhandari were under construction and work on two others would commence soon. Construction of a Ring Road, around the city, at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore, would also be taken up in the near future

He claimed there had been massive expansion of sewerage and water supply facilities in all the major towns and elsewhere and construction and strengthening of roads had been taken up in a big way. Work for four-laning of Chandigarh-Ludhiana and Ludhiana-Moga roads would commence soon and plans to construct flyovers at Morinda and Kurali river overbridges over Sutlej river at many places, were under way. The work for infrastructure development, undertaken by the SAD-BJP government in Punjab, he added, was unprecedented.

Mr Badal charged the opposition parties, including the Congress, with raising non-issues to mislead the masses, only because these parties had no real issue to attack the government. The controversy on Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s), raised by the Congress, was a non-issue. “If the EVM’s could be fixed, I would not have lost election from Faridkot.” He further asked the Congress whether it boycott the elections, if the EVM’s were used in next assembly elections. Maintaining that the assembly election in Punjab would be held on schedule, he said the Congress propaganda on mid-term polls was misleading.

The City Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal and the MC Commissioner, Dr S.S. Sandhu told that the patch of green land would be a walkers delight and a respite from pollution ridden environment of the city. Besides recreational facilities for every age group and two large parking spaces on both sides , it will have long walking and jogging tracks, splash pools, a tower of shadow, an amphitheater, a skating rink, children house, sculptures and sand pits, ornamental lights, water effects and benches.

Prominent among others present at the function were Mr Harjinder Singh, Joint Commissioner MC, senior officers of the civic body and several councillors.


Sukhbir denies role in liquor row
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
Former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member Sukhbir Badal today denied any role in the ongoing liquor controversy that has led to continued stalemate over the auctioning of vends in Ludhiana. He denied all differences with his brother-in-law Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon on the issue of liquor auction and otherwise.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune after inaugurating a diagnostic centre in the city, he claimed that he had no stakes in the liquor business and his name was unnecessarily being dragged into the controversy.

The auction of the nine of the 11 segments for the sale of liquor in Ludhiana has been held back due to the confrontation between the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, and the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha. Mr Garcha is said to be supported by Sukhbir Badal due to Mr Garcha’s differences with Mr Kairon.

However, Sukhbir Badal claimed that there were no differences between him and his brother-in-law. He attributed all the controversy to the media and said he did not think there was any need to clarify anything.

Asked about his suggestion as how to resolve the deadlock, he said, the ball is in the Chief Minister’s court and he is to decide. “Let him decide”, he observed, while clarifying, “I am not even sure whether the matter has been really referred to him or not”.

About his reported support to Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha in his war against Mr Kairon, he said, both were important leaders of the Akali Dal and both were holding important portfolios and both had to be treated at a par. 


Phone services disrupted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
Residents of Daba Road, particularly the business community, have been put to great inconvenience on account of theft of underground telephone cables almost a week ago, resulting in breakdown of the communication network in the area.

Mr S.P. Singh Shahpuri, Chairman, Small Scale Industries Association, Daba Road, said in a press release here today that the industrial units were suffering due to lack of communications. He urged the Telecom Department to lay another cable at the earliest.


CM urged to clear pension benefits
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
Mr Sunder Lal Mehta , Vice-President, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Punjab, and Dr Shiv Gupta, General Secretary, INTUC, in a joint press note issued here today appealed to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to clear the pending matter of granting pension benefits to all the retirees of municipal committees and municipal corporations who had retired before 1990. A number of deputations have already met the Chief Minister in this regard.

The INTUC leaders also appealed to the Chief Minister to direct all the departments to pay retirement benefits to the retiring employees on the date of retirement itself. Before launching the voluntary retirement scheme, the state government must ensure that it has sufficient funds for immediate payment under the VRS to those who opt for the scheme.


Bid to loot jewellery shop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
Shopkeepers of a market in Shastri Nagar thwarted an attempt to loot a jeweller's shop by two youths armed with sharpedged weapons at about 2 p.m. here today.

One of the alleged robbers, Jeewan Jyoti, was overpowered by the shopkeepers while the second, unidentified one, escaped. The police arrested Jeewan but he had to be hospitalised as he had suffered injuries after being beaten up by the shopkeepers. The police has recovered a scooter on which the youths had come to the shop. According Mr Tilak Raj, SHO of Model Town police station, it was a valiant effort by jewellery shopowner Bhupinder Singh and later help by other shopkeepers that spoiled the robbery move. He said that Bhupinder Singh was alone in his shop when the two youths entered and branded a sharpedged weapon at him.

They demanded jewellery and cash. However, the owner resisted and jumped on one of the robbers. In the scuffle, the owner received a minor stab injury but did not let the robbers go. Other shopkeepers arrived and caught one of them.Back


25 bottles of illicit liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
As many as 25 bottles of illicit liquor has been seized from Gurpreet Singh, a resident of Jodhewal. The accused has been arrested and a case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.

Opium seized
The police has seized 500 grams of opium from Ram Chander, a resident of Sultan Pur in Uttar Pradesh, and arrested him. A case has been registered under Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Knife seized
Kansi Ram, a resident of Gaunda in Uttar Pradesh, has been arrested for possessing a kamanidar knife. The police has registered a case under sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

Amplifier recovered
The police has recovered a stolen amplifier of Sharp brand from Sunil Kumar, a resident of Azad Nagar, and arrested the accused on the information of Dawinder Kumar, a resident of Salim Tabri, who works for City Cable. A case has been registered under Section 379 of the IPC.Back


Mandi Board and arhtias wait for wheat
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
The wheat procurement operations have already started officially but the officials of the state procurement agencies and arhtias are still waiting for the farmers. The arhtias in the Ludhiana grain market maintain that rain during the past few days and changes in the weather have delayed the harvesting of the crop. It may take another one week or so before the wheat procurement operations really pick up.

A visit to the Salem Tabri grain market revealed that in view of the government's strict instructions to procure wheat after cleaning by power cleaners, the farmers may face some problems in selling the produce as the electricity situation may worsen in the coming days. The government has also ordered to mention the trade mark of the purchasers on each bag to ensure accountability for quality procurement.

The arhtias are worried about the payments to the farmers as the record of the state government agencies has not been very good, especially of Markfed. Mr Surat Chander Kapoor, President, Market Operations, Arhtias Association, says, ‘‘There are generally not much problems during the wheat season as compared to the paddy season. We are expecting 70,000 to75,000 bags of wheat procurement in this season as against 3.5 lakh bags of paddy. The produce will be mostly purchased by the government agencies. The traders are not ready to buy the wheat as there are no takers of wheat at such a high rate in the domestic or international market.’’

The rate of wheat will be around Rs 700 per quintal for the consumers as they will have to pay 4 per cent sales tax, 4 per cent market fee, 2.5 per cent arhtias' commission, about Rs 4 per bag as other charges, in addition to Rs 610 per quintal as the government's minimum support price for wheat.

Mr Surat adds the wheat procurement would continue till May 10. About 20 arhtias who are functioning in the market, maintain that the payments to the farmers will depend on how early the government agencies make payments to them.

The market committee has made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the hassle-free procurement of the crop. Mr Gurdeep Singh, an employee of the committee, disclosed that they would provide enough labour, gunny bags, water and electricity in the market.

He appealed to the farmers to bring their produce to the Salem Tabri market which has enough space and better facilities as compared to the other mandis.

The farmers should also try to bring their wheat after cleaning it properly.

In fact, during the past few years the farmers of only eighth to 10 neighbouring villages have been opting for that grain market.

The committee is further expanding the area under sheds and providing other facilities to attract more farmers.

He agrees that there are no arrangements for extinguishing fire in case of emergency or proper sitting arrangements for the farmers in the market.

However, he says, ‘‘We have made toilets for them. The committee is also spending about Rs 20 lakh on civic amenities and Rs 10 lakh on computerisation of the official work in the present Budget. It would expedite the procurement operations.’’

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