Saturday, May 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Boys outshine girls in Class XII exam
Deepkamal Kaur and Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 25
Hard work, regularity and encouragement from teachers and parents has brought laurels to the several Class XII students of schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, the results of which were declared here today.

The toppers of the city include Ranjan Gupta (medical) from DAV Public School with 92.6 per cent, Nikita Sood (non-medical) from Kundan Vidya Mandir with 92.4 per cent, Mandeep Bhatia (non-medical) from DAV Public School with 92.2 per cent, Ajay Goel (non-medical) from DAV Public School with 91.6 per cent, Rahul Kohli (commerce) from BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School with 90.8 per cent marks and Jujhar Singh (non-medical) from DAV Public School with a score of 90 per cent.

Boys have outshone girls this year and students of DAV Public School have excelled by grabbing the top positions this year. Most of the toppers of the city said that hardwork, self-study, regularity, support from parents, friends and teachers led them to success.

Ranjan Gupta of DAV Public School, who aspires to be a neuro surgeon said, ‘‘I studied from five to six hours daily. I was regular with the home assignments given to me by my teachers. At home, my parents, both ayurvedic doctors, helped me in getting better understanding of the subjects.’’

Ranjan, who lives in Maluad, said, ‘‘I have already cleared written test for AFMC and will appear for the interview on June 18. Currently I am preparing for AIMS and Punjab PMT examination.’’

Nikita Sood of KVM, however, wants to become an IAS officer, as soon as she completes electronics engineering. ‘‘I was always optimistic, concentrated in my studies and worked diligently while preparing for Class XII examination,’’ she said.

Mandeep Bhatia of DAV Public School, who has scored 99 per cent marks in mathematics, 98 per cent marks in Physics, wants to become an electronics engineer. Much thrilled after knowing about his result, Mandeep said he had never expected that he would be scoring that high.

Ajay Goel, again of DAV Public School, scored 99 marks in mathematics. ‘‘Hardwork and regularity, support from my teachers and above all blessings of the Almighty led me to success,’’ he said.

Rahul Kohli, a commerce student from BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, said, ‘‘My aim is to do graduation from Sri Ram College of Commerce and, thereafter, take up business management at IIM, Ahmedabad.

Jujhar Singh of DAV Public School owes his success to his father who is a Civil Engineer at Guru Nanak Polytechnic. He wants to be an IAS officer after completing BTech in Electronic Engineering. 


4 directors of firm booked for power theft
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
The local officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) supported by certain factions of the city’s Industrial groups are on a collision course over the former’s move to book a city-based industrialist on charges of theft of power and beating of PSEB employees who had conducted a raid on the industry premises.

While both the parties have been at loggerheads since the last week, fresh confrontation began today with the registration of a case of theft of power against the four directors of Bains Alliance Limited by the police on the complaint of the PSEB. The controversy surrounding the last week’s registration of a case against a local industrialist for allegedly beating up certain employees of the PSEB and a counter case registered against the PSEB employees of beating up some factory workers flared up further today.

On the other hand the SAD (Amritsar) today came in the defence of Mr Balwinder Bains , president of the Youth Wing of the party and gave an ultimatum to the PSEB to withdraw the case and resume the disconnected power supply within a week otherwise they will stage dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office and also launch an agitation against the PSEB.

On the complaint of SDO Gurmeet Singh, the Sadar police today booked four Directors of the firm Balwinder Bains, Paramjit Singh, Simarjeet and Karamjeet Singh — on the charges of theft of power. According to the FIR, the PSEB had disconnected the power supply to the factory last week after the factory employees allegedly beat up certain employees of the PSEB who were members of a raiding party. However, today an Inspection team of the department found that the factory was indulging in power of theft and had got a “kundi” connection from a main line.

The PSEB employees were accompanied by a team of the Maraudi police post and disconnected the illegal connection. It has also been alleged in the complaint that the firm was consuming a load of over 95 kw whereas the approved load was less than 65 kw.

However, countering the PSEB allegation Prof Sukhjinder Singh, acting president of the SAD (Amritsar), told a hurriedly convened press conference in the afternoon that the PSEB was harassing the industrialist and false cases had been registered against them. He said Balwinder Singh Bains was a respected leader of the party and would not indulge in the theft of power or beating of employees.

He claimed that the firm had never indulged in such practice ever since it was opened in 1999 and had been regular in payment of the bills and no balance amount stands against them. He alleged that certain PSEB officials were settling personal scores with the Industrialist.

Interestingly, both the groups have alleged discrimination by the police. While the PSEB employees say the police has not arrested the factory employees, the factory officials allege that the police has not taken any action against the PSEB officials and were giving undue favour to the department.


City police nabs swindler
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
He opened new finance companies, lured hundreds of people with higher rates of interest on their savings and promised to double their money in the shortest possible time and then fled away leaving the investors high and dry. He then moved over to another city, to dupe more people, this was the modus operandi of the alleged master swindler, Naib Singh Dhillon. Dhillon, the Managing Director of various finance companies, was wanted by the police of almost all districts in the state. After having duped thousands of people of at least Rs 5 crore in the past few years only he is finally in the Ludhiana police net.

Declared a proclaimed offender in a case of de-frauding hundreds of people in the city in 1999, he was arrested in a fraud case by the Patiala police two weeks ago. However, he was released on bail and was about to leave that city when a police party from the Ludhiana Economic Wing caught him unawares.

According to the DSP (EO), Mr Satish Malhotra, the alleged swindler is facing charges of duping scores of city residents in at least three cases registered against him in the last two years. He said though the cases were only three the number of complainants was in hundreds. The police has sent messages to the Bathinda and Jalandhar police which also want him in several cases of frauds registered against him in their districts. He was arrested two years ago by the Ludhiana police but had jumped bail and had been absconding since then.

According to the police the alleged swindler operated in the region through three companies — Sarvotam Forests Ltd, SFL Housing Loans Ltd and SFL Finance Ltd. He kept on shifting cities in the past two years and duped thousands of persons.

Interestingly, the police has also decided to take action against a number of unidentified people who had allegedly sold off swindler’s property, including his house and land and distributed the money among themselves.

Commenting on the nature of the police action, the DSP said police was trying to establish the identity of the people who had sold off the property of the accused. He said the police action would depend on the result of the investigation. He said the police was also working on the possibility that the accused might have sold off his property himself. 


Fire-fighting exercises at ammunition depot
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
In the wake of massive fire at the army ordnance sub-depot at Birdwal near Suratgarh in Rajasthan yesterday and at the ammunition depot in Pathankot recently, the army authorities at the Badowal Ammunition Depot have also started taking safety measures against any such eventuality. The army authorities have planned a “mutual aid fire practice” on May 28 to prepare itself and the local administration to deal with any such situation.

According to Mr Anand Lal Parmar, Sub-Fire Officer at the local Fire Brigade office, “We have received a letter from Major Gurcharan Singh (Administration) at the Badowal Ammunition Depot to send our fire-fighting teams and tenders on May 28 to conduct “mutual aid fire practice”. Our department has agreed to participate in that exercise. About 20 fire tenders are expected to participate in the practice. The teams of Air Force Station, Halwara, will also participate in the exercise.”

The army authorities and the local administration have no doubt taken some measures to ensure the safety of the ammunition and the residents. Recently, show cause notices were also issued to the owners of the marriage palaces and the villagers residing within the range of 1000 square yards of the depot after the Punjab and Haryana High Court instructed the local administration to vacate the land.

It may be mentioned that Defence Act, 1903, stipulates that an area ranging from 1,000 yards to 3000 yards should be declared as a work of defence area and no construction should be allowed there. The army authorities at the Badowal depot, however, maintain that the lenient attitude of the local administration and interference of political parties have resulted in mushrooming of residential colonies in the vicinity of the depot. It would not be easy for them to provide security cover to all people.

They also said that the 1000-yard limit was set in 1963 when the present ammunition depot was set up here. However, with the advancement in weapon technology and the number of weapons kept at the depot, the range should have been increased to several more kilometers. It may not be possible to evacuate the residents whose number may be in lakhs, in case of fire or some other accident at the depot.

The officials in the Municipal Corporation and the administration agree that they have no action plan to deal with any such emergency. Army officers are also tight-lipped about their preparedness to evacuate the people. The Commanding Officer of the Badowal Ammunition Depot, when contacted in this regard, declined to comment and his subordinate officer informed that it was not in their purview to talk to the Press.

The sources in the depot, however, maintained that the Ferozepore and Badowal depots fall in the “maximum risk category” in this area. “Due to soaring heat the grass has already dried. It should have been regularly chopped as it may result in a massive fire in case some miscreant throws even a piece of burning cigarette.”

Mr Parmar suggests that the army authorities should at least install sprinkler system that would extinguish fire automatically in case of any accidental fire. 


Traders plan agitation against MC
Elevated road controversy
Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
Close on the heels of an indefinite protest by the Bharatiya Janata Party against the City Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, the Sangharsh Samiti of traders and shopkeepers has also decided to launch an agitation against the MC administration on the issue of the controversial elevated road project.

Announcing this at a news conference here today, the samiti convener, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, and president, Mr Som Nath Grover, said that samiti activists would burn an effigy of the Mayor at the MC headquarters on May 31 and would further resort to a chain hunger strike from June 2 if the civic body did not relent.

Besides Mr Aggarwal and Mr Grover, other samiti activists including Mr Gobind Ram Multani, patron, Mr Amarjeet Happy, general secretary, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, secretary, Mr Subhash Singal, secretary, and Mr Jagdish Anand, finance secretary.

Mr Grover, charging the Mayor with pursuing ‘anti-people and anti-trader policies, alleged that more than 5000 traders and shopkeepers, carrying out their business in the 2.5 kilometre area of proposed flyover, would be ruined, whereas the project would not be of much use to the city residents. He was of the view that even with the construction of the elevated road, over the existing Old G.T. Road, at a staggering cost of over Rs 33 crore, the traffic situation within the city would not ease at all.

The MC, they added, should rather regulate the movement of three-wheelers in the city and take effective steps for early completion of roads along the Budha Nullah and commence work on the proposed flyover in place of the existing Lakkar Pul and the Ring Road project, which would facilitate easy movement of vehicular traffic in the city.

Mr Aggarwal and Mr Grover took several Congress councillors and the party legislator, Mr Rakesh Pandey, to task, who, they said had assured the shopkeepers their support but were now siding with the city Mayor and lending enthusiastic support to the project.

Expressing their apprehensions over the elevated road, they said construction of a 55-feet wide flyover on the existing G.T. Road, with a width of 60 to 72 feet, will lead to several problems. The covered National Highway would lack natural light and the width of the road would also decrease, since the existing road divider of a 2 feet width would have to be expanded for the support column. Even otherwise, their was no justification of spending a huge amount on such a project, when the MC was going in for massive loans to fund the sewerage projects in the city.


FCI flayed for discrimination
Our Correspondent

Samrala, May 25
The Food Corporation of India which is a Central Nodal Agency for foodgrain procurement and movement is discriminating against Punjab and its state foodgrain agencies regarding the movement of foodgrain particularly wheat stocks lying in the state.

These allegations were levelled by Mr Bhupinder Singh, state president and Mr Ashwani Kumar, state general secretary of the Markfed Field Employees Union, here today at Civil Rest House.

They alleged that FCI is acting in a partisan manner towards state agencies, violating FIFO (first in first out) system and furthering its selfish ends which may ultimately have disastrous affect on the state foodgrain agencies.

Both the union leaders also said it had been pointed out that while FCI is engaged in dispatching its currently procured wheat crop through special trains, the state agencies had been left in the lurch as usual. State foodgrain agencies of Punjab as on today have nearly 80 lakh MTs of wheat stocks for the past four years with them.

This year an equal quantity of wheat from 2001-2002 crop has been procured by state agencies — Food Civil Supplies, Markfed, Punsup, PSWC and Punjab Agro — and they now hold wheat stocks to the tune of more than 1.5 crore empties, they added.

The leaders also said these wheat stocks worth billions of rupees are deteriorating due to storage for long period and unscientific condition. The stocks are lying under open sky, open fields without demarcated boundaries besides being exposed to vagaries of nature and attack by rodents and storage pests/insects for years together. The action of FCI tantamount to cutting a cruel joke on the state economy viz a viz thousands of state agencies employees engaged in procurement and storage of wheat. The employees are illegally held responsible for natural losses occurring during longer storage while state government and managements of the agencies have been cornered and rendered helpless by FCI and all their requests for early movement of piled up wheat stocks have not yielded any results. No care is being exercised on account of perishability and real shelf life of wheat which does not go beyond one year in any case.

The union leaders further said, “It is pertinent to mention here that wheat stocks procured this year in Punjab are affected by unseasonal rains, lusture- lost grains have been rendered unfit for long term storage. The wheat has been procured under all pressures as has been highlighted by media on various occasions, during the current procurement season. The employees’ unions have been continuously pleading with state government and its Food Department to take up the issue of non-movement of state’s wheat and discrimination by FCI at a higher level.

The union leaders also said the employees of state agencies apprehended grave danger to the very existence of state foodgrain procurement agencies and it employees if the assault by the FCI goes unchecked.

The leaders also announced that the Markfed Field Employees Union has decided that the matter of discrimination and FIFO violation by FCI may have to be taken to court if nothing emerges in this context in the near future. They may also launch an agitation alongwith all employees to secure justice.


Driver left in lurch by transporter
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Thanks to the apathy of a local transporter, one of his drivers is lying behind the bars in Madhya Pradesh. The transporter is allegedly not coming forward to help the driver nor has he paid any salary to his family, living in Sheikh Daulat village in Jagraon tehsil.

Gurmail Singh, working for a local transporter, was detained by the Madhya Pradesh police near Gwalior for not possessing documents. According to Gurmail’s relatives, he was driving a gas container supplied by the transporter. The documents relating to the consignment were allegedly forged and the driver was not aware of it.

His relatives claimed since Gurmail was illiterate he could not understand whether the documents were genuine or forged. He came to know about it only when he was intercepted by the police. However, he was released by the police to get the original documents.

When he returned to Ludhiana, the transporter reportedly told him that he had talked to police officials and a central minister had also talked to some senior police officer in MP. Since Gurmail had no reason to doubt his employer, he left for MP again. There he came to know that nobody had telephoned the police and all he was told by his employer was false.

Subsequently he called back his employer here, who did not respond positively. Rather the employer allegedly claimed ignorance about the entire episode and reportedly told the police to take action against the driver. He was detained in a police station in Morina. Surprisingly, the employer did not care to inform the relatives and family members of Gurmail.

They came to know about it only recently. It took them about two weeks to get a copy of an FIR registered against him. The family members are sore with the employer who had not taken any measures to seek his release. Nor has he paid the salary to his family members.

Gurmail Singh is the only earning hand with five daughters and son, besides an elderly mother. The family members are moving from pillar to post to get him released. They said they had also met the Deputy Commissioner seeking his help for the release. 


Tension at Nanaksar gurdwara again
Tribune News Service

Nanaksar (Ludhiana), May 25
The holy shrine of Nanaksar is once again in news and once again for the wrong reasons. This time controversy was raised over the issue of demanding donations from devotees, against the norms set by its founder Baba Nand Singh. The latest incident took place about two days ago when the followers of Baba Lakha Singh objected to the demand and acceptance of the donations at the gurdwara at the behest of Baba Ghala Singh.

Nanaksar gurdwara has remained in the news for quite some time now with a few factions having emerged there and vying with each other for the control of the shrine. In the struggle for supremacy Baba Ghala Singh decided to change the existing golden dome of the shrine. Since it required at least 40 kg of gold, he felt short of funds.

Although there is no tradition of accepting donations, Baba Ghala Singh went against the precedent and made the announcement demanding donations. This was resented by several others who argued that it would go against the will of the founder of the shrine. There is a strict rule that nobody will offer any donations here. In case some one offers anything by mistake, he is advised against it by the sewadars. Even there is a board right on the entrance of the shrine, which clearly says that the donations should not be offered here.

However, Baba Ghala Singh reportedly justified his move to ask for donations. He has claimed that since it required lot of money to make the dome he had to ask for it. He asserted that he was doing all this for the shrine and not for his personal use.

It was one of the devotees, Mal Singh, who claimed to have donated a lot of money, who raised hue and cry on the issue. He alleged that the money he had contributed had gone into wrong hands. So he was appealing to others not to offer any contributions anymore.

One of the sewadars belonging to rival factions has been asking others not to offer any contributions and that the funds were allegedly being misused. This reportedly infuriated the supporters of Ghala Singh who reacted and there was hot exchange of words. Tempers were running high on both the sides.

With both the groups in possession of sophisticated weapons, the devotees apprehend serious problems and have appealed to the administration to deploy the police there. Even Baba Ghala Singh has himself been convicted of murder which was the result of the same kind of rivalry.


Murder case turns murkier
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Mystery surrounding the recovery of the body of a worker, Harvilas, from a factory in Gill village, near here, four days ago has deepened further with the post-mortem report hinting that the man had not died of any external injury and but died after consuming poison.

Sources revealed that the report had further perplexed the police. Earlier, the police was working on the theory that somebody had beaten up the worker. However, with the viscera sent for examination to the State Chemical Examiners Laboratory and the revelation by doctors that the man could not have died of superficial injuries, the investigation has to be started on the new lead.

The examination reveals that the injuries could also have been suffered by the man after he consumed poison.

Police sources said the police had already investigated deeply into the angle of murder by some factory officials as was alleged by relatives of the deceased and the panchayat of the villager. It has almost ruled out the possibility of the involvement of the factory officials as the deceased was a favourite worker of the owners and on his recommendation two of his relatives were given employment in the factory recently.

The police is also intrigued by the timing of the death. According to the post-mortem examination, the death took place between 6.15 p.m and 8 p.m. on May 21. Police investigation reveals that the deceased was alone in the factory at that time.

The police suspects that the deceased might have consumed poison by accident. It is also working on the possibility of being given poison by some person.


Gala time for kids
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
It was a gala time for the tiny tots attending a summer camp here today. They enjoyed each others’ company, danced to the various tunes of latest Hindi film numbers, played with colourful balloons and balls for more than two hours.

The ‘pool party’ was specially organised for small children by Hollyhock Nursery School. The girls were nicely attired in bright coloured swimming costumes and the boys wore lower costumes. The small kids wearing multicoloured costumes of red, orange, pink, blue and green looked fresh, enthusiastic and expressive. Two swimming pools were made for the children to swim and dance.

The organisers of the theme-based party said that the purpose was that the kids should be outgoing and interactive and wanted to introduce a new and unique concept. Ms Preeti, one of the organisers, said: “They get a lot of exposure and confidence in such camps. The kids who were very shy earlier, have come out with lot of activities. They are relieved from their hectic studies as well”.

Ishan Jain, a five-year-old boy, looked very excited and enthusiastic. “I am enjoying. yahan pe nahane se koi mana nahin karta”, he remarked in utter joy and jubiliation.

Seerat, another kid attending the summer camp, said: “We learn to make glass paintings, birthday caps, Santa Clause and Christmas trees. Mummy says very good when I show my things to her. I am enjoying my holidays”.

“The summer camps educate kids with some time of creative activities. It is difficult to manage them at home during summer break. They learn to make so many beautiful things. I think such summer camps are the best way to impart knowledge to the kids”, said Shilpi Talwar, a mother, whose daughter is attending the summer camp.


Asha Ahuja

The summer heat is causing summer madness which can be seen on the roads of Ludhiana. The increase in the number of vehicles and the impatience of the drivers makes a cautious driver thank his lucky stars when he reached home unseathed.

The drivers of powerful cars overtake from the wrong side, the scooterists drive in a serpentine pattern, swaying dangerously, buses with their pressure horns intimidate the motorists and push them hastily into the other lane, risking accidents. To add to all this are the horse carts, rickshaws, cycles and tractor-trailer that make Ludhiana a road-user’s nightmare.

A resident of B.R.S. Nagar who mot long ago enjoyed making short trips on his scooter, is now mortally afraid of taking out his scooter. The licences of these unruly drivers should be confiscated, he says.

There has been one change for the better. The scorching heat has driven the stray cattle, pigs and stray dogs away from the roads to their shady haunts. For a while, the drivers are having a respite from this menace.

The cruel summer has also brought to the fore the humanitarian spirit of the Ludhianvis. They have the set up water coolers for thirsty travellers. Several ‘piyaus’ with traditional earthen pots offer cold water to parched throats.

Doctors are advising the residents to protect themselves from the sun as some cases of sunstroke have been reported. They are advising the residents to drink plenty of water and also to get themselves immunised against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and other water-borne disease.

Experts at the Punjab Agricultural University have advised dairy and poultry owners to keep the cattle and birds in sheds and make them drink plenty of water. They have also advised them to get the cattle vaccinated against diseases like Gal ghotu and FMD.

A new movie, ‘Mujhe kuch kehna hai’, has hit the screen. If other star children can get into films why should Jatinder’s son be left behind. Tushar Kapoor makes his debut in this film with Kareena and Rinki Khanna, two other star children.


Chambers’ plea to Badal on power hike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
While Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is busy pleasing’ the industry by giving it concessions whereas the Punjab State Electricity Board is demolishing the same. The Chief Minister had announced a number of concessions to the industry in a day-long meeting with the local industrialists on May 15 The concessions announced by the Chief Minister have not yet been implemented. The PSEB has raised the security charges (advance consumption deposit) approximately by three times with effect from May 10 from all categories of consumers.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, president, Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and secretary Mr Avtar Singh, and Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry Punjab president, Mr P.D. Sharma, assailed the PSEB.

The domestic charges have been raised from Rs 180 to Rs 500 per kw, non-residential supply from Rs 300 to Rs 700, small power from Rs 225 to Rs 500, medium supply from Rs 375 to Rs 750 and large supply from Rs 750 to Rs 1000, respectively.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh, in a statement today maintained that the PSEB had acted in an arbitrary manner as the Chief Minister had announced on May 15 that all financial matters would be decided by the PSEB, including hike in revision in the power tariff. Both the chambers have urged the Chief Minister to intervene and stop the implementation of the revised and hiked security.

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