Saturday, April 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Revenue from liquor vend auction drops
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
Much to the chagrin of the Punjab Government and particularly the Minister for Excise and Taxation, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, the much-delayed auction of liquor vends in Ludhiana district, which took place in Patiala till late last night, fetched nearly Rs 25 crore less revenue as compared to last year.

As against a collection of Rs 216.89 crore from the liquor vend auction in the district last year, the vends were auctioned for Rs 192.59 this year, showing a decrease of around 11.4 per cent. In addition, the government had suffered a loss of almost Rs 60 lakh per day during the past 20 days on account of non-opening of the liquor vends.

The deadlock over the auction of liquor vends was a direct result of a battle for oneupmanship between Mr Kairon and his Cabinet colleague, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, whose family held the sway over liquor trade in the district for a long time. It was only during last year that Mr Kairon, who is also the son-in-law of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had successfully dislodged the Garcha group, commonly known as “syndicate” by inducting other contractors.

Since the move did not prove to be a success in the long term and the newly inducted contractors had to suffer heavy losses, the department found to its horror that there were no takers for the liquor vends in Ludhiana even at the level of bids offered last year, whereas the government had fixed a target for a reasonable hike of at least 10 per cent over the collections made during the previous year. It was in this context that a liquor baron from Uttar Pradesh had been called in, reportedly at the behest of Mr Kairon, to bid for the liquor vends in the district.

After initial resistance to the move by the two giants in the liquor trade that the remaining circles of liquor vends should be shared between the syndicate headed by Mr Man Singh Garcha and the group of contractors led by Mr Chadha to avoid unhealthy competition, the department appeared to have come round and relented. The Garcha and Chadha groups had been awarded the Samrala Road and Ferozepore Road groups, respectively, in the auction held earlier at Patiala on March 31 while in the auction for the remaining circles held yesterday, the former secured the Rajpura Road group and the Rahon Road group while the later successfully bid for Lajpat Nagar, Daba Road in the city and Jagraon, Dehlon and Raikot circles in the district.

While the auction of the vends, though extending till late hours in the night, was more or less smooth, some contractors have raised objection to the auction of City Circle II (Lajpat Nagar), which fetched Rs 14.32 crore as against the previous year's bid of Rs 18.35 crore. The contractors alleged that the officials of Excise and Taxation officers had approved the bid of the Chadha group in an unfair manner. “This is the only circle where the rate of incidence is less than 100 (95 to be precise), whereas in other circles it is over 100 and in some cases around 150.”

With the auction of vends having taken place, the successful contractors were making hectic efforts to make the vends functional as early as possible, with a large number of shops already in business. “With 20 days already gone, no one wants to lose any more time as the license fee has to be paid for the whole year,” a contractor remarked.


Real cops catch fake ones
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
They are members of a gang of automobile thieves, but they do not use any master key to unlock their target vehicles and speed away. Rather, they wear police uniforms and set-up checkpoints on the oustskirts of the city, where they stop passing vehicles and force drivers to abandon these.

After being active in the region for almost one year, three members of this gang have finally been arrested now. They have confessed to stealing at least 18 vehicles and injuring a number of persons in the process.

Two of them — Jagjit Singh and Avtar Singh — once used to safeguard people’s property instead of stealing it. While Jagjit was once a Home Guard, Avtar was a security man of a marriage palace. The third person, Gurmail Singh, had a criminal background.

The police has seized a number of police uniforms, badges and stars from them. Avtar Singh said he even used to wear the PPS badge when he was the security man of a marriage palace. He said the initials on the badge meant Punjab Palace Security and not Punjab Police Service.

Mr Pramod Ban, Superintendent of Police (City- II), and the DSP, Mr Gurjit Singh, said the police had been following the gang for the past several months. They were finally caught within two hours of snatching a scooter from a local resident two days ago. The police had acted on a tip off.

Mr Ban said the accused had snatched a scooter and injured its driver on the Mullanpur-Raikot road, snatched an Ambassador car from a person at Phillaur and a Maruti Car from a person on Feroze Gandhi Road, robbed a tyre factory and a bus-conductor. They had also snatched cars from a number of persons.


100 police phones disconnected for non-payment of bills
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Hundreds of telephones belonging to the Police Department and installed at various places, including police stations, police lines and the residences of the police officials, have been disconnected by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) as the arrears running into lakhs of rupees have not been paid for the past over four years.

According to senior BSNL sources, the total outstanding arrears pending against the Police Department in Ludhiana Circle alone are about Rs 50 lakh. As many as 110 telephones have been disconnected in Ludhiana city alone, while the exact number of the disconnected telephones in other police districts of Ludhiana like Khanna and Jagraon could not be ascertained.

These telephones are installed at various police stations, offices of the police officers, including the offices of the SPs and DSPs, and their residences. It is learnt that the payments are pending against the department since 1996.

The sources disclosed that the major defaulters, besides the Police Department, include the district administration and hospitals. A number of telephones of the district administration have also been disconnected.

Surprisingly, telephone services to a number of government hospitals, including the Civil Hospital, have also been disconnected on account of non-payment as the arrears reportedly are running into several lakhs.

Interestingly, of the 110 police officials whose office or residence or both telephones have been disconnected for outstanding arrears, about 50 are using their own cellular phones as none of them is said to be officially entitled to the cellular phones. While they manage to pay the bills for their cell phones, which also run into thousands of rupees, their official phones remain disconnected for non-payment of the bills.

The BSNL sources revealed that there was no seriousness on the part of the Police Department to reactivate the telephones after depositing the arrears.

In certain cases, the officials said, the Police Department had been giving the plea that the bills were disputed. But they were not prepared to settle even the disputed bills either.

The BSNL officials said the main problem arose due to the excessive use of the telephones by the officials. Most of the officials crossed the ceiling and the department refused to pay the excess bill. In certain cases the bills of some officers had been running into thousands of rupees many times more than their due entitlement.


Austerity drive meets rough path
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
A questionmark has been put on the implementation of the austerity drive launched by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, as only a few air conditioners have been removed till date even though the last date to do so was April 16.

While the exact number of the ACs removed could not be ascertained, it was reliably learnt that less than one-fourth of the about 200 ACs on the campus have been removed. The defiance by the several heads of the departments and the inability of the maintenance department to fix windowpanes were the factors responsible for the implementation of the scheme.

The certain heads of departments did not remove the ACs and had said that they required ACs in their labs as their research work required a controlled room temperature throughout the day.

A professor of the university, on the condition of anonymity, said that this was a mere harassment as almost all the agricultural departments needed ACs in their labs and could not do without it. “How can the university overcome the deficit of Rs 22 crore by just removing the ACs. I think it is an exercise in futility”

Another head of department, who had not removed the AC as yet, said: “I have already disconnected it and have asked the maintenance department to remove it as the window will be left without a windowpane. To fix a windowpane is the responsibility of the maintenance department. So I am waiting for them to come and take it away.”

The circular issued by the VC had asked the various faculty members and officebearers of PAU to remove the ACs by April 16 and submit these to the Estate Officer. The Estate Officer was required to give a comprehensive report to the VC by April 18.

The Vice-Chancellor, said that there was a problem as some officials were not removing the ACs on the pretext of one reason or the other. He said that he would make sure that all the ACs which were really not required should be removed. He said that he had come across certain officials who were not returning the ACs saying that their windows were without windowpanes and removal of AC meant that the vacant space made the rooms vulnerable for thefts.

He said that there were some officials who had got computers installed in their offices and then asked for an AC saying that their rooms needed it for the computers. He said that he was not going to take up such reasons and had asked the deans and directors concerned to certify such officials who actually required ACs in their labs.

He also said: “I am going to get the detailed report of all the ACs removed and which have not been removed as yet. We will take strict action against those who are not removing the ACs deliberately.” 


Boy, teacher found guilty of cheating
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 20
The Director Public Instructions (Schools) has found a son of an office-bearer of the management body and a teacher of the local A.S. Senior Secondary School guilty of cheating in Class XII examinations and abetment to it, respectively. This was announced by the Controller of Examinations of the Punjab School Education Board, Ms Harcharn Kaur Brar.

According to the information available, following a complaint, Mr Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI (Schools) had raided the school examination centre and found that a teacher posted there had allegedly been providing the boy with answer sheets. The DPI’s report says that the superintendent of the examination centre has no role in the case. A five-member inquiry committee was also constituted by the school management to study this case and submit a report within 10 days. However, after the management head gave a statement to the Press that there had been no incident of cheating in the school, a controversy was raised.


Road safety: wake-up call for city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
A seminar on ‘Road Accidents Major Killers: An Update on Causes and Prevention’ was organised in Christian Medical College here today.

Participants said education could play a major role in preventing accidents. They stressed the need for making traffic education a part of school curriculum, so that, citizens could learn to observe traffic discipline early in life. They said an autonomous traffic regulatory body should to formed to frame the rules for issuing driving licenses and enforcing traffic rules.

Mr B.S. Soodan, State Transport Commissioner, said, “The increasing number of deaths on Indian roads is a matter of concern. There will have to be private driving-training institutes and license authorities. People should not let victims of accidents die on roads, but help. Truck drivers and masses should get traffic education.”

Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional Director General of Police (Training and Road Safety), said the NGOs could help in spreading traffic education. He said, “The first-aid post at Doraha that is maintained by an NGO, has 25 ambulances. It has saved many lives by rushing victims of accidents to hospitals.”

In his address, Dr Joginder Singh, Director Health Services (Family Welfare), said the CMC had projected road accidents as disease, so doctors had to find ways for stopping these. He said, “Besides reporting accidents, media should also tell everyone how these could have been averted.”

“Aggressive drivers should change their attitude,” said Mr Sarabjit Singh, Director General Of Police of Punjab. Mr S.S. Sandhu, Municipal Commissioner, said engineering, education and enforcement were important elements in traffic management. “Encroachments are traffic hazards that are difficult to remove due to political interference. Most accidents happen because people have no knowledge of traffic rules. Most drivers on roads are untrained. Violators should be punished and road engineering should improve. Satellite imaging of the city is being done to map the location of all buildings and roads for traffic management.”

“We should not drive at night with headlights on high beam. Most cyclists die in road mishaps because their bicycles do not have reflectors. Bicycle manufacturers should install these on every unit they make,” said the Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh. Dr T.M. Jaison said the CMC would set up a modern trauma centre soon and also teach people and policemen how to handle victims of accidents.

Medical students, later, demonstrated how to extricate injured persons from cars and administer first-aid. The number of accidents and deaths in road mishaps here are increasing. It is time for all to wake up.

Causes of accidents

  • Narrow roads, heavy traffic.
  • Increasing number of vehicles.
  • Faulty road engineering.
  • Encroachments.
  • Ill-maintained vehicles.
  • Reckless and drunken driving.
  • Overspeeding.
  • Violation of traffic rules.
  • Underage drivers.
  • Slow and fast traffic together.

Preventive measures

  • Traffic education in districts.
  • Improved town planning.
  • Proper parking lots.
  • Traffic education for truck drivers, rickshawpullers, villagers and migrants.



People should be educated and not dictated’
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 20
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti’s directive to the Sikh community on female foeticide has been well received in the city with people welcoming the initiative aimed at removing the imbalance in the male-female ratio and abiding by the Sikh maryada which holds women in high esteem. But at the same time residents feel that the directive is unlikely to have any far reaching effect in the absence of a well planned drive to educate the people.

Dr Iqbal Singh, a leading gynecologist in the city, says that it was a matter of conscienceness rather than any directive. Merely saying something cannot have the desired results unless it is backed by education. It is basically the concept of inequality between boys and girls that has to be demolished from the minds of people. Once the society starts looking at boys and girls as equals, people’s attitude towards girls will change, he says.

Dr Iqbal admitted that female foeticide was very prevelant in society but there was definite decline in female foeticide as more and more people were beginning to accept children of both sexes. “There should be a restriction on the number of children,” said Dr Iqbal.

Ms Pratibha Thakur, an expecting mother, feels that there is no difference between a girl and a boy. She said she was only concerned for a normal and healthy baby. Ms Thakur said people should realise that daughters were more loving and caring towards parents than sons. The decision of Akal Takht should be welcomed as it will improve at least some percentage of the society.”The people indulged in the practice will be scared to some extent”, added Ms Thakur.

Mr Vikram, working in a private company, felt that such directives could not stop female foeticide. “May be those people do not know the exact position and demands of the family. The mental torture at the hands of husband and in-laws could be more painful and disturbing”, he said.

A newly wed housewife, Mrs Deepali Vaasan, too welcomes the decision of Jathedar Vedanti. She said people in this country needed such directives for things to be implemented. She added,”if you try to make people understand, they think you are a fool. At least doctors will be scared and stop doing unethical practices of female foeticide”.

Mr P. Lall, an advocate in the city, said female foeticide was the problem of not just Sikhs. This kind of directive could not solve the problem of masses. Everyone knew that the practice was wrong but still they did not think twice before murdering an unborn child. “The decision of female foeticide remains between family and doctor. This can not be an open secret. How can people, who have issued the directive, can stop this practice?” questioned Mr Lall. He said emphasis should be on making the people realise the wrong rather than scaring them with punishment.


Need for collective effort’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
The Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Dr Joginder Singh, has said that the state government has not received any complaint against any doctor or an individual for performing female foeticide or abetting such an act.

During his visit to the city for a meeting with the local medical specialists in the Civil Surgeon’s office here today, Dr Joginder Singh said that no action against any doctor was possible without evidence.

He said that the Dowry Act or the Female Foeticide Act should be adopted and not enforced.

He said that people should have small families.

Proper education should be given to the children. He expressed his concern over the alarming drop in the female ratio in the state.

Dr Joginder Singh said that medical profession could be fruitful only when religious organisations and NGOs extend their cooperation to serve humanity.


Imam’s call against foeticide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
Close on the heels of the Akal Takht directive against female foeticide, Maulana Habibur Rehman Saani, Shahi Imam of the local Jama Masjid, gave a call against female foeticide here today.

Addressing a large Friday gathering at the mosque, the Imam said that female foeticide was against the tenets of Islam and those who indulged in it were the enemies of mankind. He called upon the Indian Government to prosecute under Section 302 of the IPC those doctors who used ultrasound to determine the sex of the would-be baby.

The Imam appealed to all religious leaders to socially boycott those who practise the heinous act of foeticide. He also outlined a plan to organise public demonstrations against the practitioners.


Colony residents submit memo
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 20
Resentment prevails among employees of the Irrigation Department over the decision of the Punjab Government to uproot them from the residential Canal Colony here and convert the same into a commercial complex. Canal Colony is situated on the Pakhowal road in the heart of developed area of the town and the land is very prime one.

The residents of the colony, who are all employees of the Irrigation Department, have urged upon the state government not to dislocate them.

The Punjab Government has taken a decision to make optimum utilisation of the government vacant land in the state to generate funds for the development of the state by selling the vacant lands at market price. The government has decided to transfer all such vacant land to the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and develop into commercial complexes.

The colony, which is spread over an area of nine acre, provided accommodation to more than 100 families. The memorandum sent to the Chief Minister has been signed by 119 employees. Officials of PUDA say that their number is 30-35 families. Besides, the residential colony Canal Rest House which is at the moment under the occupation of the DIG, Ludhiana Range, is also a part of the colony.

The rest house at one time was used as the main guest house for the visitors. But with the construction of Circuit House, the same was occupied by the police during the militancy.

In a memorandum, the employees have said that the canal colonies were constructed near the offices of the canal department all over the state, including here, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Patiala, Ropar and Sangrur, in order to ensure the availability of the staff during the emergency.

They maintain that their children are studying in the educational institutions near the colony and any dislocation will cause them manifold problems.

The government while deciding to dislocate the employees also decided that they would be provided alternative accommodation in the PUDA built MIG and HIG houses at Ludhiana.

According to the memorandum, the available houses do not fulfil the requirements of accommodation already given to them by the department, whereas the senior quarter accommodation consists of four rooms. The accommodation available in PUDA houses is insufficient.

The memorandum points out that as per the decision of the government taken on March 25, 1998, only surplus land, abandoned canal rest houses belonging to the Irrigation Department is to be disposed of in open auction. But the colony in question is a residential colony and is not a surplus land or a vacant land.

Mr H.S. Ghuman, Estate Officer, PUDA, Ludhiana, when contacted, said the colony area was being acquired under the OUGVL (Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Lands). PUDA has different types of houses available for the employees which would be allotted to them. Besides, the government is leaving 2 acres of land for the construction of houses for them in the colony after disposing of the remaining area for commercial purposes. PUDA has already sold some of the vacant land in the vicinity of the old jail, near the Civil Hospital, here and fetched a good amount, claimed Mr Ghuman. He said the Deputy Commissioner would also make arrangements for the residence of the DIG.


Filth, garbage, encroachments — hallmark of Sabzi Mandi parks
Kuldip Bhatias

Ludhiana, April 20
A strip of green belt, earmarked for parks, all with boundary walls and iron grills, just outside the main gate of New Sabzi Mandi in Salem Tabri here has virtually turned into a big eyesore due to poor or no maintenance and indifferent attitude of the horticulture wing of the Municipal Corporation.

The parks present a pathetic look, with heaps of rotten vegetables, garbage and filth, which is dumped by the sweepers and employees of shopkeepers in the mandi, as well as vegetable venders. Devoid of any ornamental plants or grass, the parks are, more often then not, used as dumping ground for transporters of vegetables or by vegetable and fruit venders.

The parks, that are nothing short than garbage dumps and breeding grounds for flies and mosquitoes, have become such a menace for the residents of the area and the wholesale dealers of vegetables and fruits in the mandi that the unhygienic conditions, besides posing a permanent health hazard, could at any time, lead to outbreak of epidemics.

Says Mr Kirpal Singh, vice-president of Arhtiya Association and an old-timer in the mandi: “You can not call these places parks by any stretch of imagination. These are potential health hazards.” He rues that the health and MC authorities have turned a total blind eye towards the parks, which need more attention in view of the fact that the entire supply of fruit and vegetables to the city was made from this market. His tone gets angrier when he points out that MC was earning a huge amount of money from the Sabzi Mandi everyday by way of octroi. “Can’t the civic body spend a little amount on development of parks and improving the sanitation in the area,” he asks.

The point Mr Kirpal Singh tries to make does not need any further elucidation when one sees the score of small time vegetable and fruit-sellers squatted along the parks at the entrance to the mandi with heaps of their commodity, amidst swarms of house flies and mosquitoes and the unbearable foul smell coming from the filth and garbage in the park, mostly comprising discarded over-ripe or rotten fruit and vegetables.

As if this was not enough, employees of parking contractor, who was recently awarded the contract in the area by the MC, had broken a side wall and grills of one of the park to utilise the site as cycle and scooter stand.


Dharna against police ‘inaction’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Nearly 200 angry shopkeepers of the Talab Mandir road staged a dharna for over two hours in front of Division No 3 police station this afternoon to protest against the alleged police inaction in the last evening’s incident in which a shopkeeper was attacked by another shopkeeper for selling goods at lower rates.

The shopkeepers also kept their over 250 shops closed in protest. They blocked traffic at a chowk near the police station. The agitating persons relented only after the police assured them of nabbing the accused by tomorrow evening.

However, later Mr Singhania, a spokesperson of the shopkeepers, threatened to stage a dharna in front of the SSP’s office and also to surrender the keys of their shops if the police failed to keep its promise. The shopkeepers also announced that they would keep their shops closed from April 23 to 26.

He said after the attack, the shopkeepers were panic-stricken and did not feel security of their life and property. Mr Singhania said even though two victims had identified three of the five attackers, yet the police was not arresting them. He accused the police of supporting the attackers.

Refuting the allegations DSP Satinder Singh told the agitating shopkeepers at the dharna site that the case was registered last night only and the police had conducted several raids to nab the accused. However, all of them had absconded.

According to Mr Singhania, the incident took place late last evening when certain shopkeepers picked up a fight with Chaman Lal, another shopkeeper, who was selling goods at lower rates. With the intervention of other shopkeepers and the Talab Mandir Road Shopkeepers Association, the matter was resolved. However, later five persons attacked chaman Lal and his servant with shapredged weapons and sticks. They beat them up and damaged goods in the shop.

The police had registered a case under Sections 323, 34, 429, 452 and 506, IPC.


No amnesty for terrorists: DGP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The Director-General of Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, today ruled out the possibility of awarding general amnesty to wanted terrorists whether they surrender or are arrested by the police.

Talking to reporters after attending a function at CMC Hospital here today, he said the terrorists would be tried under the law and so far there was no proposal of quashing all cases against them. He said if some discussion of this sort was gaining momentum in the political circles to encourage more wanted terrorists to come forward, then he was not aware of it.

The DGP also denied that the police had stage-managed the arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal or other terrorists. Responding to questions that how did Zaffarwal manage to slip into the state on a fake passport, he said that the laxity was not on the part of the police but the civil aviation security staff.


Brick-kiln labourers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
To protest against the anti-labour policies of the Punjab Government, the Lal Jhanda Brick-kiln Employees Union organised a rally from Chattar Park to the office of the Deputy Commissioner here yesterday. Mr Tarsem Singh Jodha, General Secretary of the union, said that the Punjab Government was giving additional benefits to the brick-kiln owners and did not bother about the inhuman conditions the labourers were subjected to.

Mr Chander Shekhar, General Secretary, Centre for Indian Trade Unions, said that the Centre did not take any action against the owners of brick-kilns for keeping them closed for three months and overcharging the bricks.


Bar Association call off strike
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 20
The Bar Association has called off its three-day old strike. The strike was to protest against the alleged manhandling of a local advocate and registering a case against him.

In a press release, association President Jagmohan Singh said the matter had now been settled amicably.


Fake currency note racket busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The city police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang involved in duping migrant labourers by giving them fake currency notes in exchange of old ones.

Four persons, Dharminder Kumar, Badshah Lal, Raju Mohan and Mani Lal, have been arrested. Inspector Paramjit Singh, SHO, Division No. 6 police station, revealed that the persons targetted migrant labourers and offered new currency notes in exchange of old ones. He said in certain cases they also duped labourers by taking old currency notes and giving them new, saying that they would deposit their money orders which they never did.

The police has recovered several fake currency notes from their possession.


PSEB employee arrested in graft case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested an employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board on the charge of corruption. Raghbir Singh, area lineman, was caught redhanded by DSP Sarup Singh when he was accepting a bribe from Mr Harcharan Singh, a resident of B.R.S. Nagar.

Mr Harcharan Singh had complained to the police that two employees of the local office of the PSEB had demanded Rs 1,500 from him for installing an electric meter. Following the complaint the police caught hold of Raghbir Singh at the spot and arrested him. The other accused, Gurmeet Singh, JE, has absconded and efforts were on to nab him. A case has been registered against the two.

The SP, Vigilance Bureau, has appealed to the public to help the police in nabbing such offenders. He has said that those helping the police would be rewarded Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000.

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