Wednesday, May 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Couple alleges police torture
Tribune News Service

Raj Kumar, who was allegedly tortured by the Ludhiana police and can barely walk, narrates the incident.
Raj Kumar, who was allegedly tortured by the Ludhiana police and can barely walk, narrates the incident.

Ludhiana, May 8
While the city was still talking about the shocking custodial death of a farm labourer of Haibowal Kalan and there was still no trace of a youth of Shimlapuri allegedly picked up by the police, a new case of an alleged police torture of a couple, accused of theft, by the Kailash chowki police came to light today.While Rajkumar, a migrant labourer, was allegedly kept in illegal confinement for four days and subjected to third degree torture by the police, his wife Vimla, who works as a maid servant, was also allegedly beaten up by her Upkaar Nagar-based employers and the police in the police station itself.

The man who cannot stand for long on his legs alleged that he was picked up on May 2 at about 3 a.m. by the Kailash chowki police on the charge of conspiring with his wife to steal gold earrings of her employer. He was kicked in the stomach and a wooden roller with two policemen standing on the ends was rolled several times over his legs. He was being pressurised for admitting the crime. He claimed he was released on last Saturday evening.

His wife, who is presently battling for life at the DMC hospital, was allegedly picked up on Sunday afternoon and subjected to third degree torture. Speaking with great difficulty from her hospital bed, the woman alleged that she was electrocuted, beaten up with sticks and her head was dipped into a tub full of water in order to make her confess the crime.

The woman said that she was released only when her condition deteriorated in the police station. The woman had blue ink on her thumbs indicating that her thumb impressions were taken on some papers.

According to Mr Dilbagh Singh, a contractor with whom the woman's husband was employed, the police sent her home on a ‘rehri’. The couple lives in a labour colony. The contractor and neighbours corroborated the allegations of torture.

The woman alleged that she was not paid salary for the past two months. She said she had demanded the dues last week after which the allegation of theft was levelled against her. Interestingly, two of her neighbours, Shanti and Vimla, claimed they had left the work in the same house as they were also accused of stealing things.

Dr Rajesh Thapar confirmed the picking up of the couple by the police. He said he knew the labourers as they used to visit him for treatment. He said he had requested the police to release the couple. But when they were released, he was shocked to see the condition of the woman and sent her immediately to the DMC hospital.

The police version about the sequence of events was not available. While the SSP, Mr Kuldip Singh, and the DSP, Mr Satinder Singh, were busy in making arrangements for the Chief Minister’s visit to the city, the in charge of the Kailash police post, Mr Gurvinder Singh, who allegedly picked up the couple has been transferred to the police lines and was not available for comments.

The Sub Inspector, Mr Darshan Rai, posted in his place, has not joined so far. Munshi Jaswinder Kumar, however, admitted that the couple was questioned, but claimed that they were released within an hour and that no one was tortured.

Meanwhile, the woman has alleged that a number of policemen had visited her and implored her to take money and leave the city.


Custodial Deaths
DGP to assess police role
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 8
The Director General , Punjab Police, and the Home Secretary, Punjab, will visit Ludhiana in the next two-three days to assess the law and order situation and the role of the police in the recent custodial deaths.

This was stated here today by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, while replying to questions by mediapersons who had taken up the issue of custodial deaths and the role of the police in the crime in the industrial city.

The Chief Minister said the two senior officers of the state government would meet the citizens besides meeting the district, civil and police officials.

He said the DGP and the Home Secretary would also listen to the junior level officers.

When it was pointed out that custodial deaths had taken place in some other towns in the state also and there was criticism of the police, the Chief Minister said these officials would visit other towns also later, but the first priority would be Ludhiana.

Replying to a question Mr Badal said the sangat darshan was neither a stunt nor an election campaign. He was touring the state to personally know about the difficulties being faced by the people and hand over the cheques to them.

He also denied reports that any cheque had bounced or payment of any cheque had been stopped. He explained that the cheques were cleared after scrutiny by a committee of the district officers.

Mr Badal also refuted the charge that the district planning boards had become non-functional with his sangat darshan and he was keeping all powers with him. “The District Planning Boards are working as usual”, he said.

Mr Badal said the Congress was opposing it because he was serving the interests of the people and he was not bothered about the opposition. “ I am a servant of the people not the opposition”, he said.


Sardar’ of spin honoured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
“I was not playing against Australia with the intention of creating a new record. At that time I was concentrating only on how I could give my best to take my team towards victory. 

All that happened incidentally and there was nothing great about it,” the humble cricket star Harbhajan Singh said while taking to mediapersons here today.

He was in the city to attend a function organised by the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch. He was presented a siropa, a shawl and a gold medal for his excellent performance against Australia.

He disclosed that he was included in the list of 50 players of Sir Don Bradman Club and only three other Indian cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman were honoured by including them in the club. 

The club identifies the player whose achievement is noteworthy and gives him membership. 


Water scarcity hits residents
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
Resident of the city are suffering due to severe water scarcity, which, coupled with the sweltering hot weather, prevailing for the past several days, has thrown normal life out of gear. The drastic power cuts and load shedding, imposed by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has further added to the misery of the people in the city.

A number of city localities are having very little or no water supply, mainly due to the erratic power supply disrupting the working of tubewells. The unscheduled power cuts being enforced without any prior intimation in the city, particularly during early morning and evening hours, are the main culprits, which have affected pressure in the water mains.

According to officials of Municipal Corporation, about 250 tubewell were providing water supply to an estimated 65 per cent of the people in the city and since the onset of summer, the timings of water supply had also been increased to 12 hours.

But facts speak otherwise if the number of complaints lodged in MC zonal offices about inadequate water supply or supply of polluted water are any indication. Residents of a number of colonies, particularly those located on the outskirts complain that scarce water supply in the morning has almost become a routine and as a result the schoolchildren and the office goers, at times, even do not get enough water to take bath.

Situation in the other areas and posh localities like BRS Nagar, Sarabha Nagar and several areas in Civil Lines is no better. For the last many days, says Mr Ashwani Sood, a resident of Haibowal, power situation had deteriorated and cuts ranging between half an hour and an hour were being imposed several times.

In particular, the early morning power cut invariably leeds to disruption in water supply. The water supply had been adversely affected in a number of city localities, admit the MC officials, while attributing it to the irregular power supply.

The Executive Engineer in the O and M cell of the MC and incharge of water supply in the city Mr D.S. Malhotra told Ludhiana Tribune that the civic body had already taken up the matter with the PSEB authorities to shift the early morning power cut to sometimes during the day so that water supply could be maintained in the morning hours, when it was needed the most. “Around 60 per cent of the total demand for water is during the morning hours and with the tubewells rendered inoperative due to power cut early in the morning, it becomes very difficult thereafter to provide adequate water supply as the pressure in water mains is very low.”

Although senior PSEB officials were not available for comment, a low rung officer at the PSEB headquarters here commented that the schedule of power cut on domestic and industrial consumers was in the hands of senior board officials at Patiala and the local administration could do nothing about it.


Forum rejects PSEB plea
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has quashed a Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) demand for Rs 8,008 from Mr Hans Raj, a resident of Aman Colony. The forum further directed the PSEB to refund the amount deposited against the disputed demand, along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum, from the date of deposit till the date of actual payment.

According to the complaint, a bill was issued on February 10, 1999, to the consumer in which an amount of Rs 8,008 was added as sundry charges. According to Mr S.S. Sarna, the representative of the complainant, “Since Mr Hans Raj is serving in the Merchant Navy, his wife, Ms Raj Rani approached the board officials for the clarification on the said amount. She was told that the meter was changed in November, 1998, and tested in the M.E. laboratory.” He added disclosed that she was told after the checking of the meter in the laboratory, that its glassed was found broken and so it was a case of theft of energy, due to which the demand was raised.

It was alleged that Ms Raj Rani was threatened by the board officials that if she did not deposit the amount, electricity would be disconnected. She deposited 40 per cent of the demand to avoid disconnection as per the instructions of the officials. She stated before the forum that in August, 2000, she was told that the case was rejected by the Dispute Settlement Committee and she should deposit the balance amount as soon as possible. The complainant pointed out that at the time of removing the meter, it was not sealed and packed properly and he was not given notice to be present at the time of checking of the meter, which was mandatory. The complainant demanded from the forum that the demand was raised against the rules and was liable to be quashed.

The PSEB pleaded that the meter was burnt and it was changed vide MCO on October 13, 1998. The respondent further stated that it was found in the laboratory checking that it was a case of theft of energy and as such the demand was raised. On the request of the complainant, the matter was referred to the Dispute Settlement Committee after the payment of 40 per cent of the demand, but the committee decided the matter against the consumer.

The forum observed that the demand had been on the basis of an endorsement of the challan. The forum further stated that no notice was given to the complainant to be present at the time of checking. The forum held that the demand was raised against the rules of the PSEB as such, it was liable to be quashed.


Probe sought into PAU investment with Punwire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has demanded a CBI inquiry into the investment of over Rs 4 crore belonging to the CPF, GPF and Pension Fund of the employees and teachers of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) with the PUNWIRE by the university authorities in 1998.

Dr Balwant Singh, Convener of Kisan Cell of the NCP has alleged that the PAU Vice-Chancellor’s reported plea that the decision to loan hefty amount to the PUNWIRE was taken by a committee was untenable. He claimed that the Section 18(2) of the PAU Act, envisaged that it was the duty of the Comptroller to invest the university money.

Dr Balwant Singh, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said he, under the banner of NCP had also written to the Governor of Punjab, Lieut. Gen. J.F.R. Jacob to intervene in the matter and bring to book those responsible for the financial loss caused to the employees. He had asked him to ask the CBI to initiate a probe immediately.

He further alleged that the Section 18(6) of PAU Act states, “All money belonging to the university shall be kept in scheduled bank approved by the board.” Dr Balwant Singh further said it was intriguing that in blatant contravention of the provisions of the Act, the money was loaned to a private company following the VC’s approval.

He further said the fact that an official of the Finance Department of Punjab had advised the university Comptroller on telephone in June 1997 to advance money to PUNWIRE showed that some behind-the -scene activities were taking place to grab the money though this was allegedly kept a closely guarded secret from the investment committee. Dr Balwant Singh asserted that only a thorough probe by an investigating agency could reveal the truth and establish the responsibility. He further alleged that the PAU authorities made little effort to recover the money from Punwire even after the reports appeared in the press that the company was in dire financial straits.



THE special sangat darshan programme of the Chief Minister in the city recently has been dubbed as an election tour by political leaders of opposition parties, particularly the Congress. Accompanied by local MLAs, the Chief Minister went about distributing grants and other benefits in the Christian dominated area around the CMC Hospital. A grant of Rs 5 lakh was announced for the development of the CNI Kalvari Church. This must have pleased nearly 30,000 Christians of the city and endeared them to Mr Parkash Singh Badal. According to the Chairman, CNI Kalvari Church, the CM’s gesture has ‘raised the confidence of the Christian community in the leadership of Mr Badal’. The church is more than 165 years old and the congregation is undertaking the construction of a new church building, ground breaking ceremony of which was held on December 27. Two-third area covering the basement has already been constructed.

Cold dips

With mercury hovering around 43°C in the city, the scorching heat is becoming more and more intolerable. Plus the regular power cuts and erratic water supply has made Ludhianvis to sweat, literally. Not even the phenomenal affluence of the city can beat the summer heat, although the phenomenal number of generator sets in the city does help in providing a sigh of relief. The changed lifestyle of the people is also proving to be a disadvantage for the affluent Ludhianvis. Old-timers recall that about less than three decades ago, when there were no air-conditioners, coolers and limited fans, people would have a dip in a canal. These days it seems to be a thing of past. The only exception is that of some elite swimming pools in the city, where the rich and the affluent cool themselves down, besides burning a few of their calories. These days, the few swimming pools of the megacity are the most frequented places with men, women and children dipping themselves neck deep into the water. 

Summer camp

Good news for parents having kids between 3 and 14 years. In the coming summer vacation, Boston’s Cyberkids will conduct a Summer Camp 2001’ in the city. These 7-10 days short courses would be interactive, knowledge enhancers and fun for the kids. The courses would be an outlet to the child’s logical, analytical and creative skills. The small kids of 3-4 years will be given knowledge of colours, shapes and sizes. The children of 13 to 14 years will be taught the basics of Internet and web page designing. They will be encouraged to think logically. The organizers have given very interesting names to the courses. These will be Mom and Me, Magic Mirror, Scanner Mania, Net Connect, Art Workshop and Globe Trot.

Stinking invitation

The Municipal Corporation authorities have always been in the news for their apathy and indifference to the common people but this time it was the turn of scribes to be at the receiving end. Some unimaginative MC official, in his zeal to publicise the ‘camouflaged garbage container’ scheme, launched with much fanfare in the city, decided to hold a press conference at the venue itself.

The invitation sent to the city news brigade for this purpose made an interesting reading. After briefly mentioning the scheme of the construction and development of beautifully landscaped garbage dumps at several places in the city, it said that the Additional Commissioner of the MC will address a news conference at the newly constructed garbage dump at Club Road, near Guru Nanak Stadium, at such and such date and time. No sir, you can’t dump the press corps like that !

Cut fruit

Despite the fact that gastric diseases are on the rise in the city and the media is reporting it so widely, there is no check on the sale of cut fruit, ice-candies and cold drinks. City roads are dotted with the vendors selling cheap cold drinks and cut fruits. The local Health Department has done a lot to control this menace but unfortunately on papers. The residents unmindful of the danger are seen relishing these products with great gusto. A local doctor commenting on the selling of unhygienically prepared candies put it like this “Is desh ka allah hi malik hai” (Only God can save this country.)

Holding to ransom

Residents of the city don’t mind holding others to ransom. Any small function in someone’s house means he would put up a ‘shamiana’ in front of his house and block the way. He would not think that he is flouting rules with impunity but if somebody would point to them about it the reply would be “Tere baap di zammen hai?” (Is it your father’s land?)



Badal rains relief on panchayats
Our Correspondent

Faror (Fatehgarh Sahib), May 8
It is 6.30 a.m. and members of various panchayats are waiting for the Chief Minister at Amrit Marriage Palace, Faror, for his sangat darshan programme in a hope to get grants for development projects. At exact 7 a.m. helicopter of the CM lands at Faror and the crowd cheers. The Chief Minister goes straight to the stage and starts addressing the gathering. “I have not come here to get any political mileage rather I wanted to give grants for various development works,” he says. He urges panchayat members to highlight collective problems and not the individual ones. The very next moment he starts criticising the opposition parties. He alleges that the opposition parties are planning to file a writ in the High Court to stop these sangat darshan programmes. He says these programmes are a unique method to redress grievances of the people as in these programmes public, officers and politicians sit together to sort out various problems. He asks people to teach a lesson to opposition parties.

After completing his address, he calls representatives of various panchayats. As soon as they come he asks them whether they have brought Harijan members and youth club members with them. Then he listens to their demands and in the last asks for their priority for these. He stresses on Harijan dharamshalas, grants to youth clubs and mahila mandals in every village. He tries to convince representatives of various panchayats to do some development works at their own. When the panchayat members tell their priority for various works, he asks the Deputy Commissioner to prepare cheque for the amount sanctioned and the same is immediately handed over to the village panchayat representatives.

He also encourage the local leaders to acquaint themselves with the problems of their area. He also asks Jathedars and panchayat sarpanches to bring Harijans with them saying “only then they will vote for you.” He also tells Jathedars to visit villages instead of running after the DC and other officials.

As soon as panchayat representatives make a complaint the respective official is summoned and asked to give explanation. Officials of the PSEB, Health and Food and Civil Supply Department faced the wrath of the Chief Minister. He calls the SE of the PSEB to explain the power position, the SE calls his XEN and the XEN called the SDO, the agitated CM rebukes the officials saying that if they don’t know the problems of their area, what is the use of their staying here. Similarly he asks the local Civil Surgeon to explain why he gave wrong information about dispensary.

At the time of handing over the cheques he sounds a warning to the panchayat representatives that if they failed to utilise this grant within three months, it would be withdrawn. This warning sent a signal to the public that the elections were round the corner.

Mr Badal left for Bhani Sahib at 10 a.m. He distributed cheques worth Rs 68 lakh to 16 panchayats. He also gave Rs 2000 to a physically challenged from his pocket. Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Minister for Finance, also accompanied him.

The working style of the CM forced everyone to discuss that SAD(B) under the leadership of Mr Badal is making all out efforts to woe voters. Meanwhile as the Chief Minister distributed cheques for grants to the panchayats of Samrala constituency, the local MLA was conspicuous by his absence.

Ms Parminder Kaur Sodhi, President, District Istri Akali Dal, surprised everyone by asking Mr Badal to give one cheque to her also. The Chief Minister told her “Bibiji I am not distributing cheques to individuals but to panchayats.” But when she insisted, he replied, “please take pity on me, do you want to put me behind bars?”


Mann lashes out at Centre
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 8
The foreign policy of the government has failed miserably as all neighbouring countries have become hostile towards India and Burma, Bangladesh and Pakistan have undertaken joint naval exercises in Bay of Bengal. This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and President of SAD (Amritsar), at a press conference here today. Mr Mann urged the government to provide the same facilities to the dependants of military jawans killed on the Bangladesh border as were provided to the dependants of the jawans killed in Kargil. He launched a scathing attack on the Khalsa Raj Party, which had its headquarters in the USA.


Namdharis’ role in women empowerment stressed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Namdhari Movement has played a significant role in empowering Sikh women by promoting education, widow remarriage and their upward mobility in society. It has provided them with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making body of the sect. The movement had raised its voice against atrocities against women during the British period, when no one was ready to think about them.

These were the views of Dr Gurnam Kaur Bedi, Punjabi Department, Sarup Rani College for Women, Amritsar, in her paper on Namdhari Movement: Feminist Perspective and Social Awareness, presented at the international seminar on Namdhari Movement: History, Literature and Contribution at Bhaini Sahib, about 30 km from here today.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, inaugurated the two-day seminar. Dr H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, welcomed the guests.

In the first session, Dr Joginder Singh, Department of History, GND varsity, in his paper, pointed out that the Namdhari Movement, despite its differences with the mainstream Sikh religion, had worked as a reform movement in society. It had propagated simple way of living, struggle against superstition and colonialism, communal harmony and equal rights for women. A section of the Namdharis had entered trade and industry. There was clash in their professional ethics and religious values. There was a need to collect data on the demographic, social and other changes taking place in the community.

Dr Kudeep Singh, Department of History, SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, said,‘‘According to Namdharis’ belief, struggle for freedom did not end with the transfer of power. The outer wounds or political slavery had been healed, leaving behind the ugly scars of communal hatred. The inner cancer throwing up poisonous virus and retarding the production of balanced healthy growth of economic , social, religious and political was still there.’’

In the second session, Dr Surjit Kaur Jolly, Principal, S.P.M. College, Delhi University, said,‘‘Today we talk about the rights of the child and the UN’s charter on rights of children, but the Namdhari Gurus not only loved children, but used to educate the parents about their behaviour with children. They do not subscribe to caste system or discrimination. Baba Ram Singh, the founder of the sect, offered all the castes social mobility.”

Dr Sarna Arora made a presentation about the contribution of Namdhari Darbar in the field of music. It had organised a number of music samelans in the different parts of the society. Other speakers included Dr R.S. Jaggi, Dr Jodh Singh, Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar, Dr Devinder Singh, Dr S.C. Sacdeva and Dr Baljit Kaur.


MCPI to intensify agitation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has decided to intensify its campaign against imperialist globalisation, which has spelt the doom for the small scale industries and the agricultural sector as a whole in Indian economy.

The Punjab State Committee of the party, which met here last evening, with Mr Labh Singh Bhangoo in the chair, resolved to make a joint cause with other left and democratic forces in the state to fight the ill effects of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation and to further expose the ruling classes, led by the BJP and the Congress party combinations, which were influenced by the policies dictated by IMF, WTO and World Bank.

The party expressed serious concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, which, it observed, was the direct result of rampant corruption in all walks of life. “Instead of attending to the law and order problem, Punjab Government, with the help of Punjab Police, is trying to play communal game by stage managing the surrender and adopting soft attitude towards them,” a resolution adopted at the meeting said. The MCPI placed on record, its staunch opposition to ‘general amnesty’ to hardcore terrorists, who were responsible for the killing of hundreds of innocent persons and other incidents of looting, extortion and abduction. It asked the government to deal sternly with such elements.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh, Secretary, Punjab State Committee, the meeting flayed the government for its failure to streamline the procurement of wheat and to check the exploitation of farmers. Government agencies, particularly the Food Corporation of India (FCI), were reluctant to purchase the produce and poor lifting of the grain from the mandis had made the matters worse. The farmers, it observed, were made to wait for days together in the grain markets and had to suffer avoidable harassment. 


Decision hailed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Government Pensioners Association in a meeting held here has welcomed the decision of the state government to announce additional benefits to them. In a press note issued here today, Mr J.S. Dhilon, president of the association, said, “We are thankful to Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, Finance Minister of Punjab and Ms Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Minister for Social Welfare, for declaring at Fatehgarh Sahib 5 and 10 per cent additional pension benefits.”


Showers bring respite
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
A brief spell of rain this morning brought some relief from the prevailing hot weather for the city residents. The sky which was clear last evening became overcast this morning as a result of the fierce west wind that started belowing over the town sometime after midnight. The strong winds were also accompanied by brief showers which brought about a considerable fall in the temperature.


Six shops burgled
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Six shops on the Gill Road were burgled by unidentified persons last night. The burglars decamped with more than Rs 60,000, while the value of the things taken away by them was being ascertained.

The burglary came to light at about 7:30 a.m. in the morning, when Mr Bagha Singh opened his shop and discovered the incident. Later five other shopkeepers also found their shops had been burgled. A crowd gathered on the road and the situation remained tense for a while.

The police detained four persons on the suspicion of being involved in the incident. According to the SHO Division No. 6, the police had clues about the burglars and was working to trace them. The burglars had used the same method in breaking into all the shops. They climbed on the roof tops and then broke open the doors opening into a staircase which led into the shops.Back


Woman murdered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
A young housewife was found murdered in her rented house in Sarabha Nagar today morning. There were six stab injuries on her body, which was found in a pool of blood by her landlords. Personal enmity is believed to be the reason of the murder. The alleged murderer(s) did not steal anything from the house.

According to the police Lakhbir Kaur aged 25 years, was living in 158-I Sarabha Nagar, with her husband, who was a taxi driver. The couple and their landlords lived in different apartments of the same house. The couple had a child, who was living with his grandparents in a village. The police is suspecting a close relative.


Torture by husband alleged
Our Correspondent

Doraha, May 8
Ms Harbhajan Kaur, a resident of Kaddon village, has alleged torture by her husband. According to an FIR registered at the Payal police station, she has alleged that her husband, Najar Singh of Kaddon village, has illicit relations with a woman in the neighbourhood and when she objected to it, she was beaten up by Najar Singh. A case has been registered under Section 324 of the IPC.

One arrested
Ram Singh of Jarg village was arrested by the police on charge of gambling. A sum of Rs 750 was seized from him. A case has been registered under Sections 13-A, 3, and 67 of the Gambling Act.

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