Saturday, May 12, 2001,  Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Police blames it on poor infrastructure
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Facing criticism due to the recent spurt in criminal incidents in the city, the Ludhiana police has held the shortage of men, vehicles, infrastructure and funds as the main reason for the problems faced in combating the crime.

Terming it as ‘a limping police force running after the zooming ahead criminals equipped with modern gadgets’, a senior police official stated that unless the government strengthened the police force by providing modern gadgets and required infrastructure, the crime scene could only go from bad to worse.

According to a detailed report sent to the state government through the Home Secretary, Mr Bikramjit Singh, who was recently in the city to assess the law and order problem, the police seemed to have a case.

Not only it has the highest number of people to be looked after by one constable in the city, it has also faced a cut of 27 per cent in the force. The communication system with the majority of wireless sets already having attained the ‘condemned’ status and disconnected telephone numbers, have become a liability instead of an asset. Vehicles seem to be trudging along on meagre quota of petrol and diesel and the condition of the police station buildings, with many declared unsafe, was deplorable to say the least.

The report laced with graphs and charts begins with decrying the fact of policing the largest concentration of population in the state. According to it the city has the highest population density, 804 persons per sq km, in the state and the lowest sex-ratio of 824 females per 1000 males.

While the low sex-ratio gives rise to prostitution, molestation, abduction and even rape as was witnessed in recent cases, the large population makes it difficult for the police to keep a surveillance over the entire police district. According to the report, the Ludhiana police has one constable after every 638 persons whereas the Punjab police rules require that after every 450 persons there should be one constable.

The recommendations of the National Police Commission are much more strict. It says that for effective policing the police should have a constable after every 300 persons. The report states that the Ludhiana police, under such circumstances, bears a work load more than two times the prescribed norms, four times of Chandigarh and three times of the Punjab average.

According to the report, there has been a 27 per cent cut in the staff. While in 1996, there were about 6,500 police personnel, the number has now come down to 4,712.

One of the most disturbing factors is the lack of proper communication facilities. The police has 208 wireless sets of 20 watt battery out of which only 85 are working while the remaining, over 10-year-old are fit to be declared condemned. Out of the 194 sets of 2 watt battery, as many as 135 need to be replaced. Due to bad condition of the wireless sets the communication is affected and the police is delayed in reacting immediately to an emergency.

Another factor is that of the telephones. Almost 60 per cent of the department telephones were disconnected due to the non-payment of bills. According to the report, the outstanding payment was a whopping Rs 16,67,709.

The condition of police vehicles is pathetic, claims the report. About two-third of the fleet of 185 vehicles was more than eight-year-old and was hence prone to faults and required heavy repairs. Forty-eight condemned vehicles are awaiting disposal, while 40 others have completed the norms for condemnation and shall go off the road during this year.

The Government has reduced the budgetary allocations of petrol for the vehicles from Rs 1.93 crore to Rs 1.10 crore this year.


Cops told to win over public
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
The Principal Home Secretary, Mr Bikramjit Singh, is scheduled to visit Ludhiana again on May 15 to review the follow-up measures being taken by the local administration, particularly the police, in view of some recent crime-related incidents.

Having come under fire for the increased number of incidents the local officers in the police are understood to have been asked to make themselves available and accessible to the people. Inaccessibility of the local senior police officers reportedly figured prominently during the meeting of the PHS and Director General of Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, with the local officers in the administration on May 9.

Sources said that both the senior officers expressed their displeasure over the rise in incidents of crime. Although no particular officer was to be blamed, they were reportedly not happy over the way things were handled after the incidents took place. The officers reportedly made particular mention of the poor interaction of some officers in the police with the public, leading to communication gap and erosion of faith and confidence among the public in the police.

The officers, sources disclosed, underlined the need for restoring the credibility among the public about the efficacy of the police and the administration. They observed that special focus was needed to be laid on public interaction to avoid any misunderstanding.

The PHS also took serious note of the media reports about the VIP treatment being provided to certain proclaimed criminals in Ludhiana Central Jail. He regretted that despite the issue being highlighted repeatedly, no measure was taken to check it. This, he pointed out, had severely hit the image of the police.

On May 16, the PHS is expected to meet the representatives of the general public also, as during his first visit he restricted himself to meeting the local officers only. Sources admitted that enough homework could not be done prior to the first visit of the PHS along with the DGP which led to some misunderstanding among the public.

The sources clarified that the administration had no purpose in not arranging the interaction of senior officers with the public. They said since it was arranged quite on a short notice, within less than 24 hours after the Chief Minister’s announcement, not many people could be informed. Moreover, they felt that senior officers seemed to have acted in panic as they took no time in rushing to Ludhiana. The sources said they could have studied the situation and could have summoned the local officers prior to visiting Ludhiana to take stock of the situation themselves.


Sensitisation programme for police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Stung by the recent criticism of police in the wake of the sudden spurt in cases of police high-handedness, the city police has launched a sensitisation project to educate the police force on the need of better communication with public and to give it a more humane face.

Besides the project, the district police chief, Mr Kuldip Singh, in a meeting of the gazetted police officers, issued new guidelines for the system of policing to be adopted.

The SHOs have been directed not to call any persons ‘unduly’ to the police station. They have also been directed that instead of calling old persons and women to the police station, the police personnel should go to their respective areas and sort out the problem.

The meeting was held yesterday with an aim to brief the newly appointed SHOs and to take corrective measures to improve the police image.

Among other major decisions, the police has decided to strengthen the Zaildari System. Under this system the zail officers in each police station (which is divided in different zails, that is areas) will handle problems occurring in their areas.

After this system is enforced, the police would be required to go to the door of the complainant instead of calling them time and again to the police station.

Mr G.S. Sandhu, SP (City-I), said the SHOs had also been told not to allow complaints or disputes to linger on till these take an ugly turn as happened in the Sunet land dispute which led to the murder of three persons.

The SHOs have also been directed to solve long-pending disputes at the earliest.

Mr Parmod Ban, SP (city- II), said that under the new scheme the SPs and the DSPs would make regular visits to the police stations in the Ludhiana police district in order to educate police personnel about the right method to react in a time of crisis.

He said the scheme had been launched from the Division No 6 police station where one session was held yesterday. The force would be specifically educated to learn from the recent instances of public unrest arising out of the alleged cases of police high-handedness.

Mr Ban said the police personnel had been asked not to act under public pressure. He said recently three constables began beating an alleged pickpocket when a mob wanted them to give the pickpocket a lesson.

Another lesson is not to get physical with the accused and not to take the law into their hands.

The direction seems to have come from the custodial death in Haibowal.

The third key lesson being imparted was to react immediately to any emergency call.

The police personnel were also being briefed about the need to be polite with public.


Ludhiana absconder held in Germany
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
An NRI’s bid to escape the clutches of the state police, that was after him since April in connection with his alleged involvement in a dowry death case, has failed as he has been apprehended by the German police.

Gurdev Singh, one of the main accused in the alleged murder of his newly-wed wife Amarjit Kaur in Ghungrana village, had fled the country immediately after his wife succumbed to burn injuries in a city hospital on April 9. Though the Jagraon police had arrested four other accused in the case, the NRI seemed to have gone far away from the reach of the police.

However, thanks to the immediate action taken by the German police on the requests of the Punjab police, he is finally behind bars. According to the SSP, Jagraon, Mr Jaskaran Singh, modalities for either extraditing him to India or prosecuting him in Germany, if he had already attained the citizenship of that country, were in the process.

On the request of the German police, the Jagraon police has sent the details of the accused and the charges under which he was wanted in India.

Giving details about the case, the SSP said that Amarjit Kaur was married to the accused Gurdev Singh in March this year. However, just after a month of the marriage, the woman was allegedly burnt by her husband and four other in-laws for dowry.

The police had arrested Sukhwinder Singh, Hardeep Singh, Kamaljeet Kaur, and Surjit Kaur, in this case. However, taking advantage of his NRI status he managed to flee the country. The police then alerted the police of various countries where the accused was suspected to have fled.


PAU scientists told to help farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, has asked the scientists of the university to help farmers face the challenge posed by WTO.

Dr Aulakh was addressing a meeting on ‘Future Thrust Area in Research’ organised to upgrade research at PAU yesterday.

He said that the new research which was being undertaken at PAU should concentrate on improving the quality of the produce.

The meeting was organised to lay emphasis on quality research in the wake of the challenges of WTO.

The experts speaking on the occasion said that the varsity was concentrating on production and high yield of the produce till now, but with the changing scenario the focus had shifted on the quality and cost effectiveness.

It was also emphasised in the meeting that the farmers of the state should be encouraged to cultivate crops other than wheat and paddy and the new varieties should be researched to help in diversification.

The experts maintained that the cultivation of paddy and wheat was putting negative pressures on the health of the soil and underground water.

To overcome this problem the farmers should be urged to switch over to cultivation of sugarcane, cotton and maize.

The Vice-Chancellor called upon the scientists to fill the gap between PAU research and field problems.

The Director, Research of PAU, Dr M.S. Bajwa, held a meeting with the heads of various departments before the meeting with the VC.

Dr Aulakh said that in the coming days PAU would concentrate on the quality of the produce so that our produce matches with the international standards.

Dr Aulakh said that by improving the quality of the produce all the challenges posed by the WTO Treaty would be easily faced.

The cost of production was another important topic in the meeting.

The V.C. said that the scientists of the PAU would do their level best to help the farmers overcome the difficulties.

The meeting was attended by Dr M.S. Bajwa, Director, Research, Dr J.S. Kollar, Director, Extension Education, Dr G.S. Nanda, Head, Department of Plant Breeding, Dr R.G. Saini, Department of Genetics, and all other heads of the departments.


Scholarships awarded to students
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 11
The Nehru Sidhant Kendra organised a function here today. Vinod Khanna, actor-turned-politician, was the chief guest on the occasion. He distributed scholarships worth Rs 10 lakh among needy and meritorious students of schools and colleges of Punjab.

Mr Rakesh Mittal, a trustee of the kendra, said the Nehru Sidhant Kendra Trust was constituted in 1983 by Mr Satpal Mittal, a former MP. The trust has been organising two oratorical competitions every year for students. Later in 1990 the trust decided to grant scholarships of Rs 1 lakh to needy students.

This year 763 students have received scholarships. Out of them 376 students were given the amount in the first week of April. Mr Mittal told the audience that Khanna had adopted a village in Gujarat. But unlike others he was not satisfied by rendering financial help only but also supervised the construction of houses for villagers. He said the trust wanted to start a school for students belonging to weaker section of society.

The programme started by rendering of Vande Mataram by students of BCM School. Mr Prem Nath Gupta, president of the trust, lauded the efforts of Mr Satpal Mittal to the promotion of education. Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, Mayor, was also present.

The Mittal Pandey Scholarship (medical) was awarded to Shewta of DMC&H, while for engineering the award was given to Vishal Narang and Rajat Jain of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. Paramjit Singh and Mandeep Singh of Guru Nanak Engineering College were also awarded scholarships.

Winners of the declamation contest held on May 4, at Nehru Sidhant Kendra were also given prizes. In the English declamation contest, Dilpreet Grewal of GGN Public School 1; Amrita Grewal of DAV Senior Secondary School 2; and Anil Goyal of KVM Senior Secondary School 3. In the Punjabi declamation contest: Jasleen of BVM Senior Secondary School 1; Simmi of BCM Senior Secondary School, Focal Point, 2; Kamini Arora of Rashtriya Bal Vidya Mandir School 3. In the Hindi declamation contest: Deepti of BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School 1; Param Chawla of DAV Senior Secondary School 2; Neelima Pandey of BCM Senior Secondary School, Focal Point, 3.

The programme ended by singing of national anthem by students of RS Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar.


‘Indians have the capacity to do well’
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 11
“Indians settled abroad are in the higher income groups of any country that they have chosen to live. So we should not think that Indians cannot rise above the poverty line in India. In fact, we have made poverty as a religion,” said filmstar turned MP from Gurdaspur Vinod Khanna, who was in the city to give away scholarships to students at Nehru Sidhant Kendra.

Vinod Khanna in his white ‘band gala’ shirt and black trousers looked almost as dashing as Vinod Khanna of yesterday. He had come to Ludhiana at the bidding of his friend, Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal.

When asked whether he was interested in education, he said: “Yes, but I would like people to turn inwards and follow the dictum ‘know thyself’. Education plays a important role in shaping the destiny of a country. What we need are more jobs. Why is the Nobel Prize not awarded to a person who can create wealth and help the world in providing jobs that could yield wealth for everybody? In fact I would like every Indian to possess a Rolls Royce. We should change our attitude towards riches and should not look down upon wealthy people.”

“We have to create a society that learns to compete. The government should not give any subsidies and help people to stand on their own feet. The government should provide a proper infrastructure that would help the people to progress. Indians have in them the capacity to reach the stars provided they are given the right kind of incentives and encouragement.”

Talking about movies, he admitted candidly: “I do not see many movies, not even of my son. But I know for a fact that the technical side of our movies is as superior as that of the West. What we lack is in computer-generated graphics and special effects. Now I have been appointed chairman of Film, TV Institute of Pune. I want to revive the lost glory of that institute. I want the institute to produce eminent actors and directors. I want to introduce a few new courses like animation, art direction and film production, computer graphics etc.”


Cong launches signature campaign
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 11
The District Congress Committee today launched the second phase of a ‘signature campaign’ in the Ludhiana west constituency against the NDA coalition government in the Centre, headed by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, accompanied by Mr Pawan Diwan, chairman, Urban Development Cell of India Youth Congress, and other party functionaries visited door to door to have signatures of the people on a memorandum demanding dismissal of the NDA government. The memorandum, carrying signatures of lakhs of people from all over the country, would be later submitted to the President of India.

According to Mr Bawa, several key functionaries of the ruling alliance were exposed by tehelka dotcom and their involvement in defence deals was beyond any doubt. But still, the NDA government, having compromised the security of the nation, in its lust for power, had refused to quit gracefully.

A senior Congress leader and a member of the Lok Sabha, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, meanwhile, has demanded a high-level probe in to the alleged connection between Mr Brijesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the Hindujas.


Programme for proper use of funds
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 11
A programme to ensure proper utilisation of the funds sanctioned for various development projects during the sangat darshan programmes of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, has been chalked out. This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner at a press conference here recently.

He said signboards mentioning the name, estimated cost and dates of initiation and completion of projects would be displayed in the villages. He added that officials of the departments concerned would be held responsible for good quality and speedy completion of project and would be asked to submit proper utilisation certificate of the amount to the government within three months.

He added that Mr Badal had sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore to 51 panchayats of the district, and had laid stress on welfare of the underprivileged and weaker sections of society, youth clubs and mahila mandals. He stated that Dalit colonies would be constructed in eight villages, in which five-marla plots would be given to every Dalit of the village. He further said Rs 5 lakh had been given to youth clubs and Rs 20,000 had been given to the needy. 


Changing face of Ghumar Mandi
D. B. Chopra

Ludhiana, May 11
Ghumar Mandi, once the exclusive domain of potters, which was then located on the outskirts of Ludhiana, has over the years become a fashionable shopping centre in the heart of the new city. A couple of potters, however, still manage to eke out a living by selling earthenware.

To begin with, potters had ample open space in the area where they could make and bake their products which with the passage of time became less and less due to growing population. Now for the past 20 years or so, the potters of Ghumar Mandi are selling earthenware purchased from potters of elsewhere places.

Mr Ram Lal (85) is one of the potters who are still in business. He says most of the potters have gradually opted out of the profession because of the declining profits and the trend among the younger generation to go in for more tidy jobs. He has been running his small shop since ages because he does not have any knowledge about any other trades. To supplement the declining family income, he started a tea and cigarette shop in the same shop about three years ago which is now run by his son. According to him sale of earthenware is fast declining due to the growing impact of modernity. But he has no intentions of closing his shop as long as he is alive for he has no money or plans to start something new at this age.

Another potter, Mr Roshan Lal (68), is more vociferous. He says there has been a sharp decline in business over the past five years which he attributes to refrigerators which have become so common.

He buys his stuff from potters at Dugri and Dhandra villages. But now he seems to have had enough of it. He says next season he is not going to sit waiting for a customer for hours together. Once the current season is over, he would look for some other business.

But it seems that the vanishing tribe of Ghumar Mandi potters has also created a scarcity of sorts among people who want to buy a pot as they have to pay through their nose to get the one of their choice. There are school children who want a specific pot for the purpose of painting it on the instructions of their teachers.

Realising this new trend, Mr Kashmiri Lal (35), who has been running a tea shop for the past many years, has started selling earthen pots of different shapes and sizes for the past six months or so. He says profits are good in this line. There are earthen vases meant for flowers and tiny plants which sell for up to Rs 100 a piece. Then there are school children who want particular pots for painting the same. He sells about four big water matkas everyday which give him a nice return, he says. Then there are fancy pots which are sold for up to Rs 150 a piece.

Irrespective of what other potters of Ghumar Mandi feel and think about their business, Kashmiri is indeed happy with his newly found side business. Those who think potters of Ghumar Mandi now belong only to history must revise their opinion.


PSEB draws flak on surcharge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 11
The decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to levy an additional fuel surcharge of 5 paise per unit on all categories of consumers has come in for sharp criticism by industrial and the domestic consumers, who opine that the hike is unwarranted, ill-timed and arbitrary.

The Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association termed the step anti-industry, which had caused widespread resentment among the members of industry, particularly the small-scale sector. Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association, observed that the industry was passing through a financial crisis, caused by market slump, both in the domestic and international sectors.

He said the industrial units were in need of incentives and financial assistance. Rather than being provided succour, the industry was being burdened with another fuel surcharge by the PSEB, which was bound to hit the industrial economy hard, he added. Charging the PSEB management with financial mismanagement and apathy towards the consumers, Mr Kohli observed that the PSEB had no moral right to jack up the power tariff by way of fuel surcharge when it was not in a position to provide regular and uninterrupted power supply.

Mr Kohli further asked the PSEB to withdraw the minimum monthly charges in the wake of erratic power supply and prolonged unscheduled power cuts being imposed on industrial consumers. These were causing huge production losses and had landed the members of industry in an unprecedented financial crisis, he added.

The MIG Welfare Society criticised the PSEB for its anti-people policies. Mr Kuldeep Singh Kreer, general secretary of the society, said the fuel surcharge and the 10 per cent surcharge on domestic power bills exceeding Rs 2000 should be withdrawn.


Encroachments galore on GT Road
D. B. Chopra

Ludhiana, May 11
Can’t the city do without the controversial elevated road project aimed at easing traffic between Jagraon Bridge and Chand Cinema on the GT Road?

Of course it can do so provided all encroachments by shopkeepers and roadside vendors on the stretch are removed.

A number of factors responsible for turning the National Highway into an alley can be listed. Top on the list should be the encroachments made by shopkeepers of the Kamla Nehru market who have not even spared the footpath constructed along the veranda. In fact, some shopkeepers have extended their business even well beyond the footpath. Secondly, the road is narrowed down by the row of auto-rickshaws and rickshaws which are parked outside the railway station on the highway despite the fact that there are proper stands for the same on the railway station premises. Thirdly, there are rows of parked cars, scooters and cycles on both sides of the highway which take a toll of public space. And lastly, there are rehriwalas and other footpath vendors who add to the chaos. In the absence of any clearly marked footpaths, pedestrians are exposed to the hazard of moving in the fast traffic lane of the GT Road.

Near the Ghanta Ghar, most of the highway remains permanently occupied by mini buses and auto-rickshaws for which there are no authorised stands on the road . The drivers of buses and auto-rickshaws can be directed not to wait for passengers for more than a minute. Auto-rickshaw drivers can be asked wait for their turns with their vehicles parked at the auto-stand at the back of Ghanta Ghar.

People opine that if the administration removes all this chaos by taking stern action against those using the road for business purposes , there would be no necessity for the elevated road since the GT Road, sans encroachments, would be wide enough to take care of any volume of heavy traffic.

At the same time, however, the observers feel the civic body is not interested in removing encroachments by shopkeepers and roadside vendors as it would be detrimental to the vested interests of some officials of the municipal corporation.

Moreover, the corporation high-ups were interested in getting their share of the 43 crore project, the cost of which was likely to go up further by the time the project is completed , the observers added.


Information centre in city soon 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
The CICU complex to be build at Focal Point here will provide information about the business prospects of 137 countries. It will be made available to facilitate the entrepreneurs for conducting business without wastage of time, said Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, in a press note issued here today.

While expressing his gratitude to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for laying the foundation stone of the complex, on May 8, he said, the chamber, which has been in the service of trade and industry since 1968, would soon be capable of imparting training to the entrepreneurs by conducting short-term courses. These will include general management, personal management and industrial relations, production management, system management, financial management, project management, system study and data processing.

The general secretary, Mr Avtar Singh, said the CM had donated Rs 5 lakh for the construction of the complex.


Flavour of the week
Asha Ahuja

THE police is supposed to help the public. But in the city, the atrocities of the police have surpassed the tolerance levels of the public. Deaths in police custody have proved that the police is nothing short of barbarians. In spite of the people raising hue and cry, stoning police vehicles, gheraoing police stations, the police seems to be quite indifferent to public pressure. The Home Secretary, Punjab, Mr Bikramjit Singh, on his visit to Ludhiana took everyone by surprise when he claimed that the law and order conditions had not deteriorated when the facts prove otherwise.

Ludhiana appears to have magnetic powers for attracting glamorous stars. Vinod Khanna and Mehr Bhasin were in the city to award scholarships to students and to open a slimming institute, respectively. Kiran Bedi, too, was in the city for a programme called DRIVE (Dental Research Institute of Versatile Education). Ketan Mehta and Deepa Sahi, both famous film personalities, will also be in the city shortly. Hariharan, a famous singer, will regale the audience with his mellifluous voice next week.

Ludhianvis, in spite of heat wave, are enjoying the visits of these famous personalities. Why all these hi-fi people are visiting the city will have definitely something to do with lucre is obvious?

The situation on electricity front is dismal. It seems PSEB cannot check power cuts. The noise of generators is getting on their nerves.

No silver lining appears to be on the grim horizons of a city called Ludhiana. May be only the children are happy as they will be getting summer holidays, but then may be not, as their parents will be forcing them to join computers, dance, painting and karate classes, to make them all-rounded personalities. Poor kids - their lives have lost all pleasure of childhood.

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