Friday, May 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Protests against custodial death
Police vehicles damaged * Haibowal SHO suspended
Jupinderjit Singh  
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 3
Tension prevailed in the city today as an irate mob, agitating against last evening’s custodial death of an aged farm labourer, gheraoed the Haibowal police station since early morning and also forcibly shut down shops in the area.

Angry protesters, including women and children, armed with iron rods and sticks vent their ire against two Allwyn Nissan vans of the city police and smashed their window panes. They had severely damaged six vehicles, include Gypsies, vans and Maruti cars — belonging to the police as well as private — last night.

They also stoned a petrol station nearby in a bid to force its closure.

Meanwhile, the District police chief Kuldip Singh has put Warryam Singh, SHO, Haibowal police station, under suspension for being morally responsible for the death of Karnail Singh, the farm labourer. The SHO has, however, denied any kind of involvement in the episode. He said he was not present at the police station and no one had informed him of the move to pick up the deceased or about his death later. He said he came to know about it only when he was informed in the late evening that an angry mob had gheraoed the police station.

The police has registered a case against Head Constable Ranjit Singh, Home Guard Ajaib Singh, and Balbir Singh, on whose complaint the police had picked up the farm labourer last evening on the charges of stealing some iron grills. The police has arrested the home guard and the complainant.

The post-mortem of the deceased could not be conducted till evening as the family members of the deceased stressed on the registration of a case against Warryam Singh also. DSP Satinder Singh, however, said that the police has already taken due action in the case.

A meeting between a 35-member action committee formed to fight the case and the police remained inconclusive till evening. While the committee demanding immediate registration of case against Warryam Singh and compensation and job for the affected family, the police said a case against him could not be registered as he was not present in the police station at the time of the incident.

Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, MLA, speaking as a spokesperson of the committee, said the police should give at least Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the grieved family. They have also demanded a job for the eldest of the three sons of the deceased.

Interestingly, the FIR lodged by Piari Kaur, widow of Karnail Singh mentions that the death took place at DMC hospital where Karnail Singh was taken for treatment by the police. However, Sarbjit Kaur, sister-in-law of the deceased, claimed that Karnail Singh had died inside the police station and the police was trying to cook up some story by claiming that he had died at the DMC hospital.

A large police force was deployed in the Haibowal area.

Sarbjit Kaur, a close relative of the affected family, said due to the murder the entire family had been shaken terribly. She said the whole Haibowal Kalan village knew Karnail Singh well and had come on their own to protest against the police torture.

According to the FIR, Karnail Singh (50), a farm labourer, was detained by the police on the complaint of Balbir Singh, a dairy owner, that Karnail Singh had stolen some grills from his house.

At about 5.30 p.m., two policemen Ranjit Singh and Ajaib Singh along with the complainant Balbir Singh came to Karnail Singh’s residence and took him to the police station. He was allegedly tortured by the cops, which resulted in his death.

As Karnail Singh allegedly succumbed to the torture, his body was reportedly thrown out of the police station by cops at around 7.30 p.m. As some people noticed the body lying outside they got suspicious. Within no time about 500 persons gathered outside the police station, shouting slogans against the police and demanded action against the guilty cops.



Fourth case in two weeks

THE custodial death of farm labourer Karnail Singh allegedly in Haibowal police station is the fourth incident of police high-handedness in the district during the past two weeks. Six policemen, including an SHO, have been placed under suspension, while two lives were lost in the incidents.

The first case reported in these columns was of Tusse village in Jagraon police district. The body of a mason, Balbir Singh, was found near the village in mysterious circumstances. It is yet to be ascertained whether he committed suicide or was murdered. His relatives and the village panchayat, however, holds the police responsible for his death. They allege that he had been harassed by the Sudhar police for the past four months at the behest of another relative.

The second incident took place in the same police district. The Sudhar police was again accused of stripping a Dalit woman in the police station, besides beating up her husband and another relative. They were arrested by the police on the charge of being involved in a murder case. They were called to the police station, but tortured and the woman stripped. The police is conducting an inquiry into the case. SHO Prem Singh has been suspended in this case.

In the third case, a newspaper published pictures of certain cops beating up a suspect pick-pocket in the city. The suspect was caught by certain persons in a function and handed over to the police. However, the cops began thrashing him and even tied him with electric wires. His plight was duly caught by a lensman. The Ludhiana police embarrassed by the picture promptly suspended the three cops.

The fourth case concerns the custodial death of farm labourer Karnail Singh. Two police cops and a civilian have been booked for murder, while the SHO of the police station concerned has been suspended. Irate mob damaged eight police vehicles.



PAUTA resolves to move court against CAS
5 members resent decision, stage walkout
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 3
Teachers of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) will move court to get the grievances related to the implementation of the career advancement scheme (CAS) redressed.

This was a majority decision taken at the general body meeting of the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association (PAUTA) organised at here today. Almost all the teachers present were of the opinion that the CAS should be implemented with effect from January 1, 1996, instead of July 4, 1998.

However, quite a ruckus was created at the meeting when a section of the teachers resorted to slogan shouting against the decision to move the court. At least five teachers staged a walkout in protest against the decision.

According to Dr Hari Singh Brar, President of PAUTA, the decision to move the court had been taken as the policy was of discriminatory nature. He said that as per the policy the total service benefits were not being given to some teachers, especially the associate professors.

He said that starting from the selection of a teacher in the varsity he was required to put in 17 years to become a professor and minimum eight years for a reader to get promoted to the post of a professor. He further said that the scheme required the readers who had already put in 13 years of service to work for eight more years to become a professor. It meant that such a reader was forced to put in 21 years of service to become a professor under the scheme.

Dr A.S. Joshi, Vice-President of PAUTA, said that Clause 2.6 of the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research was being misinterpreted by the university. He said: "The clause suggested that the teachers who have already put in more years of service should be given the total benefit of service. They should not be insisted to put in eight more years as the minimum required period is 17 years."

Commenting on the walkout by some teachers, Dr Joshi said that PAUTA was not for or against any group of teachers and was doing the rightful thing. He said that some of the teachers who were against moving the court were actually the ones who had started service with the university after completing their Ph.D and if the minimum 17-year policy was followed then they would become juniors.

Those who walked out from the meeting were Dr H.S. Dhaliwal from the Department of Horticulture, Dr D.R. Sharma from the Department of Entomology and Dr O.P. Chaudhary from the Department of Soils. Dr Chaudhary while coming out of the meeting said that the office-bearers of PAUTA were not giving anybody else a chance to speak and express views. He also said that they were taking the decisions on their own.

Contradicting his allegations, Dr Joshi said that out of a number of more than 250 teachers present only five teachers walked out. Had more teachers been dissatisfied they would also have walked out of the meeting.



Over 10 million HIV infected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
“India has over 10 million HIV infections, which form about one-fifth of the global HIV infections. Yet, unfortunately, there are not many facilities to care and rehabilitate people living with HIV/AIDS”. This was stated by Dr I.S Gilada, Secretary-General, People’s Health Organisation, during his lecture on ‘Aids and People Living with AIDS’ at the Dumra Auditorium of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital today.

During his lecture, Dr Gilada said so far no anti HIV-drug had been developed in the world, which could completely rid a patient from AIDS, a devastating disease that was rapidly spreading in India due to lack of awareness and education amongst masses. The state of Punjab had registered a fast growth of AIDS as well as HIV positive cases.

Dr Gilada said that in Punjab, truck drivers, sex workers and migrant labourers comprised the high-risk group. He said due to negligence on the part of the health authorities and the government, the country was going to be badly affected in the coming years. “There has been no concrete cut plan programme to prevent spread of AIDS. The Health Department gets only 0.33 percent of the total Budget and the government is dependent on the World Bank sanctions”, Dr Gilada said.

Dr Gilada said that AIDS was spread by unprotected sex, blood transfusion and ignorance about the disease in about 70 per cent of the cases. The brain, lungs, intestines and blood were the organs worst affected once a patient contacted the disease.

“Ludhiana will soon be getting an AIDS management, prevention and counselling centre at Ludhiana”, Dr Gilada disclosed. He stressed on the need for an early diagnosis and prompt treatment of the disease for maximum relief to the patient.



Desire for ‘foreign’ husband costs them dear
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 3
Four years ago, the world seemed to rest at Sagarika’s feet. The tall, beautiful, educated and articulate 26-year-old Punjabi damsel from the city had two choices after completing her BA from the Government College for Women. Pursue a Master’s degree or marry a Punjabi boy settled in England. She decided to tie the knot. Perhaps she wanted to lead a carefree and luxurious life like her elder sister who was already settled in a western country.

Her parents found the match suitable in every way and things worked out well for them, at least that is what they thought at that time. Sagarika’s marriage took place in the city in February 1997. The boy left after some days and promised to call his wife to the “promised paradise”. A month later, she did land in England, but to her surprise her husband was only still looking for a job. Before marriage, she and her family were made to believe that the boy had a “flourishing” computer business in the UK.

Talking to this correspondent, Sagarika bitterly recalled how her dreams were shattered overnight when she discovered that her husband was gay and had got married under pressure from his family. “He told me about his sexual preference and announced that he would continue to live with his friend”. After her world turned upside down, she managed to return to her parents and sought a divorce. Today, she is trying to force herself to pursue academics that she had given up in favour of marriage.

Ritika (not her real name), another graduate from a local college, married an NRI settled in California in 1998. During their honeymoon, her husband promised her a “dream come true” life once she joined him in the USA. After he returned, for months there were calls and letters from abroad, but not the promised ticket to the USA. Eventually, the telephone calls too stopped. Worried parents of Ritika, took up cudgels and sent their daughter to her husband on their own.

Within days she realised that neither her husband nor the in- laws wanted her around. Though she managed to stay there for a while, it was not before long that her husband asked her for a divorce. Belonging to a well-to-do family, her parents arranged for her return. Today, Ritika is happily re-married.

These are only some examples of Punjabi girls’ dreams of going abroad turning sour. There are several such cases where NRIs have willingly succumbed to pressure of parents and relatives and taken unsuspecting girls for a ride. According to a local lawyer who has handled some divorce cases, Mr R.L Gupta, over 80 per cent of NRI weddings turn out to be failure as most of the families of victims of such doomed marriages did not verify the credentials of the boys.

He says that besides being unable to verify credentials of the boys, the girls hardly get any time to assess their compatibility with the boys, who are invariably in a hurry to get married. To substantiate his point, he cites the example of an NRI, who proposed to Mahima Suri (changed name), an MBA student from Ludhiana, during the wedding of his friend. Mahima liked the boy and the boy’s parents approached the girl’s side. Mahima’s parents tried to find out details of the boy’s family, but Mahima managed to convince her parents for an early marriage. There was a lavish marriage and Mahima went abroad with her husband.

She returned sooner than expected. While talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mahima said,” My husband turned out to be a mamma’s boy who could not take any decision on his own. He used to tell each and everything that I shared with him to his mother. My mother-in-law started interfering in my personal matters. She sometimes even prevented me from sleeping in the same room with my husband. I was ill treated by my in-laws. Once when I asked my husband to live separately he thrashed me badly. And when I could not bear any more, I was forced to filed the divorce papers.”

Today, Mahima is teaching in a city school and she wants to be independent, and the mere thought of marrying again scares her.

While girls from good families are fortunate enough to come back and get re-married, there are hundreds of girls from poor families with little education who are either left high and dry after the “holiday honeymoon” gets over or continue to live a life full of misery after their dreams of a “firangi life” turn sour.



The ivory tower of desires

Like the girl next door, Sukhwinder Amrit is composing ghazals and nazms in an inconspicuous manner. ‘Kanian’ (2000) is her latest collection of poems. Earlier her two collections of ghazals — ‘Suraj di Dehleez’ (1997) and ‘Chiragan di Daar’ (1999) — had received much acclaim in the literary circles. Generally a good writer of ghazals (ghazalgo) is not expected to be a good writer of poems (nazmgo) also but she has done well in both the genres. She is with Faiz, Sahir, Mohan Singh, Ishwar Chitarkar and Jagtar in this context.

In her long poems, she goes back to the early days of her life. During those formative years, she felt miserable due to the overbearing attitude of her father towards the members of the family. Like a bully, he would smother the newly-sprung aspirations in the young hearts. He would also strike fear in the minds of his mother and wife. The poetess has recalled those excruciating moments so very vividly. She has however, conveyed her feelings in a guarded manner with the help of metaphors.

On seeing him/the boli of the ‘giddha’/received the fatal cut /underneath my teeth/the dance movements/entangled in my feet/petered out unceremoniously./ My ebullient desire for ‘kikli’/ was smothered out./ My enthusiasm/ for participation in ‘Teean’/committed suicide.

Now in hindsight, she blames her mother to be too docile to allow her husband to act so ruthlessly. She does not want to be sentimental, while recalling the unsavoury incidents of those days. She has no intention to forgive her mother for her submissive attitude. Nor does she entertain the idea of disregarding the past events as bygone.

I search in her soul/the long-lost songs of love/I jot down those songs/ in a new notebook./ These smouldering songs/take the form of burning coals/when I intend to place them/on the loveless palms of my father/ He had snatched away/from the hands of my mother/the notebook/full of love songs/in days of yore.

During her childhood she was interested in drawing as well as singing. But the domestic atmosphere did not allow her to pursue her hobbies. Such activities on the part of a girl were severely frowned at. In her teens she took recourse to composing poems. Even this was considered unplatable by the orthodox family. Consequently her note-book of poems was consigned to the flames. Thereafter, she started committing her poetic compositions to memory. This method provided sanctuary to her wandering thoughts. Her early marriage did not allow her to emerge on the literary scene. She had other engagements to attend to, besides completing her education. Even now she is engaged in her postgraduate studies.

She is at her artistic best in her short poems. In these the poetess recedes into the ivory tower of her desires. She tries to fathom the depth of her feelings for the object of desire. There is no selfish trait in this odyssey for the true innerself. It is an attempt to grasp the meaning of human relations. At times she is left high and dry with the feeling of existential nothingness. In some of her short poems like ‘Chhoh’ (The touch), Sukhwinder Amrit settles down, like a butterfly, on the shifting contours of her love-lorn heart.

The touch of my warm lips/thawed the frozen river in him./ Earlier a thousand sunshines/had committed suicide/by striking against/its hard surface.



Haphazard parking of vehicles creates problems
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
The only wide road in the vicinity of Chowk Ghanta Ghar which connects the GT Road at Mata Rani Chowk with Deepak Cinema road has been reduced to an alley, thanks to haphazard roadside parking of cars and scooters.

The road was a pleasure to walk or drive on till a few years ago i.e. before the coming up of the multi-storeyed air-conditioned shopping complex, Calibre Plaza, opposite Bhadaur House. Earlier, most of the business activity on the road was restricted to Bhadaur House, where there was sufficient parking space. On the other side of the road were only the central post office and the central telegraph office, besides some shops towards the Mata Rani chowk which did not count for much anyway.

But now that the Calibre plaza has started attracting more visitors, the problem of parking has increased. Particularly annoyed are the Bhadaur House shopkeepers and owners of showrooms facing the Calibre plaza as there is little parking space left for their own customers, as the same is usually occupied by visitors to the Calibre plaza.

Gatemen employed at showrooms have a tough time all day cajoling ‘outsiders’ not to park their cars or scooters in their respective front lots. Sometimes there are ugly scenes also when tempers run high on both sides.

Though the Calibre plaza boasts of an expansive parking on the top floor, people generally prefer parking their vehicles outside. Maybe they do not want to waste their ‘precious’ time in hauling up their vehicle in an elevator and then taking it down. It is better to cause discomfort to others than to ourselves. Well, that is the way it is , whether you like it or not.

The problem is equally worse in front of Bhadaur House market blocks facing the Central Telegraph Office. On this stretch, in addition to the haphazard parking of scooters and cars, there are a number of rehris selling fruit juice, sugarcane juice, fast food and so on which take plenty of space. Particularly in front of an English wine shop where tipsy customers do not care a bit about the way they park their vehicles. Nobody deems it wise to forward an advice or suggestion to tipsy guys for their ‘answer’ is already known.

The traffic police of the city, during Mr Bhatti’s tenure as SP, had deputed some traffic cops on the road to regulate parking and ensure smooth flow of traffic. But after being on duty for about a couple of months, they have also vanished from the scene.



Ayyappa temple in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
Good News of Keralites of the city. An Ayyappa temple will be shortly coming up in Sector 32-A of the PUDA Urban Estate on the Chandigarh road, according to Mr V. Pillay, general secretary of the Sree Ayyappa Seva Samiti, a religious and charitable organisation.

Mr Pillay told Ludhiana Tribune today that Mr Ram Krishan Menon, an astrologer and temple architect of fame, had already finalised the places alongwith specific directions for the temples of Lord Ganesha, the Shiva family and Lord Ayyappa in the same complex.

After taking into account various astrological considerations, it has been decided that prior to the construction of the main Ayyappa temple, a temple of Lord Ganesha facing east would be built after the completion of which a temple dedicated to Shiva family facing west would also be raised.

Work on the main Ayyappa temple would begin soon after Mr Menon returns from Kerala with the proposed plan of the temple to be finalised after proper consultants with religious heads of Kerala. A committee to oversee the construction work would also be formed to ensure that work is carried on without any hindrance, added Mr Pillay.



An avtaar of Hanumana?
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, May 3
Though the world is making new advancements every now and then, the man has failed to relieve himself entirely from the clutches of blind faith and superstitions. Man, sometimes, follows things without realising any logic behind the event or story.

A similar incident took place with Raj Mohammad of Sahnewal, whose wife, Salma Begam, gave birth to a child having a 6-inch long tail. The child was labelled as an avtaar of Hanumana who has been sent by God to bring righteousness in the shattered world. The child became the talk of the day everywhere around and money began to pour in. At present their house is crowded with ‘devotees’ and a long line of vehicles can be seen even from a distance.

The situation took a new turn when Raj Mohammad went to Nabipur, his wife’s village, to bring back the mother and the child. But he was forced to return empty handed as his father-in-law refused to send his wife and child back.

Whether it was love or greed, it is difficult to say, but Raj Mohammad was forced to lodge a complaint with the local police and the president of the nagar panchayat. About 30 influential people including Dr Shamsher Singh Kaile, president, nagar panchayat, and Mr Tejinder Singh Sandhu, President, SAD (Urban) went to the village to make the two families arrive at a common decision. Mr Sandhu, said the family has now developed an easy way of making money. What the future has in store for the child, it is difficult to say at this stage, as the truth has yet to be revealed, he added.



‘Gear up to face WTO challenges’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
The training wing of the Research and Development Centre for Bicycle and Sewing Machine organised a prize distribution function, which was presided over by Mr D.S. Chawla, President, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Chawla exhorted the trainees to equip themselves with latest technology and modern techniques to effectively face the challenges posed by the WTO regime and in this direction, this organisation can play a vital role by providing adequate number of trained personnel, he added.

Mr Chawla presented awards to trainees for best discipline and best attendance and wished them a bright and purposeful career. Mr B.S. Sangha, General Manager of the centre, extended a formal welcome to the distinguished guests. While reading out the annual report, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, Deputy Manager (Training), informed that five batches of trainees had already completed their training and the sixth was about to finish the training.

The trainees also presented a colourful cultural programme on this occasion, which comprised of religious songs, Punjabi songs, bhangra and dance. Ten trainees took part in the best artist competition and Mr Jatinder Kumar (Maintenance) bagged the trophy.



Yarn industry wants cut in sales tax
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
The yarn trade and industry has pleaded for reduction of sales tax on yarn in order to bring about uniformity with other neighbouring states and to effectively check the large-scale evasion of tax, mainly because of higher rates of taxation, which make the goods produced by local manufacturers uncompetitive.

A deputation of the Federation of Yarn Trade and Industry, headed by Mr Tulsi Das Jaitwani, president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, met the Financial Commissioner (Taxation), Punjab, Mr Y. S. Ratra to place before him the case of the yarn trade and industry and to apprise him of the problems being faced due to higher rate of sales tax. Others comprising the deputation were Mr S.P. Lamba, chairman, Mr C.S. Ahuja, vice-president and Mr Arun Gupta, secretary of the federation.

According to Mr Jaitwani, the government had already issued a notification for a uniform rate of 4 per cent sales tax on yarn, which would be effective from April 12, 2001. Mr Ratra, however, showed his inability to further reduce the sales tax because a uniform rate of sales tax in northern states has to be maintained and final decision in this respect could only be taken by National Sales Tax Committee, set up by the Union Government. On being told that the rate of sales tax on yarn in certain neighbouring states varied from nil to 2 per cent, Mr Ratra assured that the matter will be looked into.

The members of the deputation, representing the yarn trade and industry, urged Mr Ratra to take up the matter with the Government of India at an appropriate level to bring down the sales tax to 2 per cent on an all-India basis. Due to higher rate of sales tax in the state, a large number of units had shifted to other states. Mr Ratra was informed that Ludhiana was among the biggest consumers of yarn, with a daily consumption of over 2000 tonnes but as a result of high rate of sales tax, the domestic trade and industry were suffering while units located in adjoining states were flourishing.

Mr B.S. Ralhan, Joint Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Ms J.J. Kaur, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner also participated in the discussion.


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