Thursday, May 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Armed robbers strike in Bharti Colony; 3 injured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
About six armed robbers struck at a house in Bharti Colony just on the outskirts of the city late last night and seriously injured three persons, including a woman, besides allegedly decamping with cash and jewellery.

The police, however, claims that the robbers who carried rods, swords and guns, ran away without taking a single penny. It said swiftness shown by the Salem Tabri police, which reached the house 10 minutes after the distress call was received by the control room, proved to be the saviour of the family as the robbers ran away after knowing about the approaching police.

According to the victim family, the house owner, Purshottam, a farmer, had also fired shots in the air which probably terrified the robbers. The police said it chased the fleeing robbers with the help of a tracker dog but the scent was lost on a road.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune from their hospital bed, the injured persons — Dharamvir, his wife Devinder Kaur and servant Shakeel Ahmed — recalled that they were sleeping when at about 1.30 a.m., six persons armed with guns, swords and rods entered the house. They hit Dharamvir and his wife on the head and arms and pulled away her ear-rings. They then beat up Shakeel Ahmed and snatched away Rs 1,500 from his pocket.

While Shakeel had a swollen shoulder, Dharamvir has head and other injuries. The woman was badly injured. Her right arm was broken, an ear was cut and she had a swollen neck also.

Mr Parmod Ban, Superintendent of Police (City-II), talking to reporters in the evening, claimed that not a penny was taken away by the robbers.

He said that the police reached the site within 10 minutes of the receipt of the call by the control room. He said the police had started a special exercise to act swiftly in the event of any distress call.

According to him, the police might have reached the site early if the distress caller knew that he could dial 100 directly from his mobile phone. He said it was unfortunate for the police that valuable time was lost in the process of making the phone call, otherwise the police might have caught them red-handed.

He said the police immediately sealed the entire district and expressed hopes that the robbers might be caught soon.


DNA report goes in favour of DSP
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
The much-talked about Jagraon murder case in which DSP Ashok Puri is the main accused seems to have taken a curious turn with the DNA report stating that the five-month-old child of Gurjit Kaur was not fathered by the accused. The use of DNA examination, which is rare, had also added immense interest of the public in the case.

While the affect of the DNA report on the case would be known later only, the accused was released yesterday evening on the directions of Chief Judicial Magistrate A.K. Mehta here after the accused furnished two bonds of Rs 50,000 each. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the release of the accused on bail. The accused was trying hard to get bail since the case was instituted against him.

Expressing confidence in the judiciary, the accused DSP talking to reporters after his release declined to comment much and said he would present his point of view in the court only. He, however, said that with DNA report in his favour, his stand of voluntering for the test had been vindicated.

According to a copy of the orders received here today, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar had in orders passed yesterday released the accused on bail citing the DNA report disclosure. The report, though received after much delay, categoricallly stated that the petitioner was not the father.

The orders say that “the facts and circumstances of this case are such that prima facie, this court is satisfied that the petitioner may be falsely implicated in the case. In the petition, the details have been given about the rivalry of the petitioner with other police officials. The DNA report prima facie tends to show that the prosecution story may well be concocted”.

“Apart from this, there is a a delay of 26 days in lodging the FIR. There are different versions also with regard to the age of the prosecutrix. In the school certificate of birth, the date of birth given is February 22, 1984. In the birth certificate, the date was March 7, 1983. The ossification test indicates that the age of the prosecutrix was 17 years. However, it would be inappropriate to make any comment on the value of the facts narrated above. These will have to be seen at the stage of the trial”, the orders said.

The orders say that as there were hardly any chances of the petitioner interfering with the evidence or the prosecution witnesses, consequently, this petition for bail is allowed.

The court directed the petitioner to be released on bail to the satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ludhiana. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ludhiana, has been directed to impose strict conditions to ensure the attendance of the petitioner at the trial. The petitioner is directed not to leave the country without the prior permission of the court, surrender to the trial court the passport or any other travel documents that may be in his possession. The petitioner is also directed to surrender any fire-arms, licensed or unlicensed which may be in his possession.

He is directed not to contact or approach the prosecutrix in any manner. The petitioner is directed to report to the local police station at Jagraon every Monday between 10 AM to 4 p.m.

It may be recalled here that DSP Ashok Puri was facing charges under sections 376, 342, 506 and 120-B since February 19 last year. It was alleged that he had raped Gurjit Kaur at the instance of brothers, step-father and mother. Later, the woman also stated that she was pregnant and the DSP was the father of the child. The DSP had demanded DNA examination which could not be conducted anywhere in North India. Subsequently, the examination was done in Hyderabad which sent its report to the High Court.


Harassment by the DMC security staff
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
Complaints of rude behaviour by the security staff of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital seems to have become a routine. While the Ludhiana Tribune has, in the past, received several complaints by the relatives of the patients of having suffered harassment at the hands of security guards, a Tribune team had today had a first hand experience of the way they treat visitors.

Even though it was not the first time that reporters were visiting the hospital to talk to injured persons and get their photographs, two security guards, Hakam Singh and Gurdev Singh, prevented a team of scribes from meeting two persons injured in an attack by robbers.

The security guards did not let the team enter even after knowing its identity. The team maintained calm and requested the guards. However, they were pushed aside. The security guards shouted at the top of their voices, “Passe ho ke gal kar”.

As the Public Relations Officer was on leave, the team went to the Officer on Special Duty, Mr Bhanot, who referred them to the Chief Security Officer. After much persuasion the photographers were allowed to take pictures of the injured.

However, the team, after meeting certain patients, had to again pass through the same guards to go to the another ward. The guards again stopped them saying the slip was valid only for once.

The arguments made by the team proved futile. Again the security chief was requested. However, the guards then stopped the cameraman saying the camera was not allowed. When they were reminded that the photographer was allowed to take camera earlier why were they objecting now. The guards said you do whatever you want to do we would not allow the camera to be taken inside. Ultimately the security chief again came to the team’s rescue.

The harassment continued further when a doctor, Dr Sandhu, pushed around a Tribune photographer who was taking shots of an injured person.

The Medical Superintendent, Dr Sandeep Puri, could not be contacted for comments.


PAU to get Rs 15-cr corpus fund for research
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
In order to overcome the shortcomings of the present inflexible system of distribution of funds earmarked for various research projects, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has mooted a proposal to the state government for a granting a fund of Rs 15 crore to pay special attention to the research related to diversification of agriculture.

The Vice-Chancellor, PAU, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, told the Ludhiana Tribune that the proposal was being sent and the Director Research, PAU, was asked to submit the report of projects of various departments which required the funds. He also said that the government had already promised to release the fund after the project was submitted with it.

The announcement of the release of this fund would be seen as another good news for the PAU, during the last 15 days, which was facing a deficit of Rs 22 crore in the current year. Earlier the Punjab State Electricity Board had provided free electricity for all tubewells in the farms of the university. The university was expected to save an amount of Rs 15 lakh on the electricity.

The Vice-Chancellor said that the capital would be deposited in the bank and the total amount generated from it in the form of interest would be utilised for various research projects. He said that the money, which was otherwise granted to the university for different research projects under various schemes, was to be utilised for the same project and not for others. Substantiating his point he said that the funds granted for research in wheat was to be utilised on research of wheat only and not for any other crop.

Dr Aulakh said that the university would generate an amount of Rs 1.50 crore every year and it would be spent on multidisciplinary research to help in diversification. The Vice-Chancellor said that he had written to the state government for releasing the funds for research and the government had responded positively.

He also said that the government had also agreed to waive a cut of 10 per cent on the total funds released by it for agricultural development projects to be undertaken by the PAU.

Dr M.S. Bajwa, Director, Research, PAU, said that the preparation of the project would take another 10 days as all departments were asked to make the projects from their own areas and submit with the university authorities. He said that some of the departments had already submitted their projects.

He said that the research was becoming very costly day by day so the thrust of the university was on multidisciplinary as well as interdisciplinary research. He said that after the implementation of WTO treaty the world had become an open market and the farmers of the country were facing challenges.

He said as the PAU was trying its level best to discourage farmers for adopting the wheat-and-rice cycle and encourage them to diversify crops. Hence it was must to adopt multidisciplinary research. Dr Bajwa also said that as much as 10 lakh hectare area was to be shifted to other crops.

He said the focus of the university for utilising these funds was on the farming system as a whole, which included special emphasis on cotton, sugarcane and dairy farming.


‘Summit welcome, though much isn’t expected’
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
The proposed Indo-Pak summit-level talks, likely to be held between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajapyee and Pakistani military ruler General Parvez Musharaaf in the month of June, seem to have generated little optimism among the people. Yet the move has been hailed as a welcome step initiated by India as it may help, at least, to open communication channels and lead to improvement in relations.

A cross-section of the people The Tribune talked to observed that much should not be expected from the proposed summit as this will not be for the first time that the talks would be held at the highest level between the two countries. As long as the two countries stick to their old stand without taking bold initiatives, it is unlikely that the talks would lead to some conclusion.

According to Mr Raghubir Singh, an agriculturalist and an industrialist who owns a steel rolling mill in Mandi Gobindgarh, the two countries need to adopt a reconciliatory and resilient approach. “If they mean to break the deadlock, they can, but it depends how serious they are”, he observed. He pointed out, improved relations will be in the interest of the two countries, particularly for the business and industry. He said after the relations had slightly improved, huge quantity of steel was exported to Pakistan. However, it all crashed after the Kargil war. He hoped that a new era will begin with two leaders agreeing to talk to each other.

However, Miss Natasha, a lecturer in the Arya College for Women, had quite a different opinion. She expressed surprise as why India made a volte face in making an unconditional offer for talks with Pakistan, especially when everybody knew that Pakistan was still abetting and instigating terrorism in India. Miss Natasha was of the opinion that as long as Pakistan continued to support terrorism and instigated insurgency, India should not have agreed to the talks.

Mr U S Kanwal, a retired Superintending Engineer of the PWD, while welcoming the development said the two countries should accept the reality that they can no longer survive on nourishing enmity with each other. If the two countries want to prosper they will have to be cordial and friendly with each other. He pointed out there is a trend in both the countries about creating a phobia among the public about each other for narrow political ends. This needs to be stopped for a healthy relationship.

Mr Suresh Sharma, a dealer in the car bazar feels that the dialogue between the two countries at the highest level should be a continuous process. He said if they talk for a while and then again start spitting venom against each other, this will obviously not lead to anywhere. He opined that the two countries should resolve at the first hand that whenever they have a grievance against each other they should bring it to each other’s notice and sort it out mutually without involving others.

Mr P M Sundara Raj, joint secretary, Punjab Tamil Sangam, welcomed the initiative, hoping that there would be a positive outcome. He pointed out it would be after a long time that the talks between the two nations would be held at highest level.

Similarly Miss Priyanka a student of MIT, said, not much should be expected from these talks. She pointed out the mutual suspicion and mistrust between the two countries is too deep and has been continuing for a long time. It will obviously take a long time to resolve it. But a new beginning has been made at least, she pointed out. 


School students exposed to tobacco, liquor menace
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, May 30
Young generation in the city, including schoolchildren, is getting deeper and deeper into addiction of tobacco, liquor and other intoxicants. Even as the world celebrates the No Tobacco Day on May 31, little has been done to spread awareness about the ill-effects of tobacco.

Cigarette and tobacco rehri-owners, liquor vendors, bar owners and lottery sellers doing brisk business outside the school premises seem to be especially targeting schoolchildren, just as the district administration seems to be looking the other way.

Such conditions have become very common outside schools, especially in the old city area. While the parents are feeling concerned over this alarming issue, the school authorities seem to be unperturbed with the growing number of such vends.

On either side of the main gate of Satyawati Oswal Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Miller Ganj, liquor vendors, rehri-walas selling cigarette, gutkha, paan and zarda and lottery sellers have formed a permanent place for their operations. During a visit to the school, Ludhiana Tribune found gate-keepers and Class IV employees carrying tobacco products in their pockets inside the school premises and consuming such products during the working hours.

Autorickshaw owners and rickshaw-pullers, who come to pick schoolchildren, buy lottery tickets and tobacco products from the stalls outside the school gates. Obviously, school students get exposed to such products and yearn to consume these.

A lottery ticket-seller having a stall on the right side of the school told Ludhiana Tribune that while majority of his customers were labourers of Miller Ganj, at times he even had school children shelling out their pocket money for buying a lottery ticket. He also said that two to three children of the school were probably hooked to gutkha and had become regular customers of the gutkha-seller.

Adjacent to the Ramgarhia Senior Secondary School for Boys, Miller Ganj, is an “ahata” (drinking place) where consumers of liquor turn up. Also adjacent to the main gate of Kundan Vidya Mandir, city branch, is a bar of an old hotel and a wine shop exactly opposite the rear gate of the school.

Similarly, in front of Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School is the Daresi Ground, which has become the gambling den and scores of men gather from noon onwards and continue to gamble till late evening.

Mr Sukhbir Singh, grandfather of a primary student of a school here, said that all temporary establishments must be removed from the vicinity of the school. He said that students were innocent and could be easily misled by their friends, rickshaw-walas and other employees, who were already addicted to intoxicants.

An association of parents of school children had met Mr Kuldip Singh, SDM (West) last week, asking him to remove all vends of tobacco, gutkha, cigarette, liquor and other intoxicants outside the school gates.

Mr R.P. Sharma, representative of the management of the school, when asked about the menace of liquor and tobacco vends, said he, too, had pleaded with the district administration last week to get the vends removed. However, no action had been taken till date. He also said that he had asked the school teachers and other employees to keep a vigil on the students after the school so that no child visits liquor and tobacco vends.

Ms N. Mannan, Headmistress, KVM, city branch, said that children of the owner of the bar adjacent to the school building were studying in the same school and the bar was posing no harm to the school students.

In a recent study conducted on ‘Use of tobacco among schoolchildren of rural Punjab’ by Satwant Kaur and Sarabjeet Singh of the Department of Journalism, Languages and Culture, Punjab Agricultural University, it was found that there had been a rise in gutkha addiction among school students near Mullanpur. Nearly 66 per cent of the school students of Issewal, Dakha, Hambran, Mohi and Chak Kalan are hooked to gutkha, which was readily available outside school premises.

Hundred school students, studying in Classes VI to X, were randomly selected for the purpose. Amazingly, two thirds of the students admitted to addiction to gutkha without hesitation. Nearly 45 per cent of these students said that they had tasted gutkha in the school premises while the rest started its consumption at the market place or elsewhere.

The study also revealed that nearly 65 per cent of the addicted students were introduced to gutkha while they were studying in Class VII or VIII, 22 per cent in Class IX and X and the rest while they were in Class V or VI. Almost 65 per cent of such students tasted gutkha in the company of their friends, while the rest 35 per cent consumed it in the company of their brothers and other relatives.

It was also found that nearly 59 per cent of the addicted students took two packets of gutkha everyday, 19 per cent of them took consumed three packets daily, 17 per cent took one packet daily and nearly five per cent students were taking four or more packets per day.

The study revealed that 32 per cent of the school students were also consuming other drugs including alcohol, tablets etc. Interestingly, 46 per cent of the students were aware of the ill effects of gutkha, yet they were not able to give up.


Phones out of order
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
Several telephones of the private telephone company, Connect, have remained disrupted for the past some time. The subscribers are facing a lots of hardship due to the non-working telephones. Contrary to the claims of Connect, subscribers feel that the company had failed to provide adequate services.

Ludhiana Tribune unsuccessfully spent the entire day to reach senior sales manager a on his Connect telephone.

One of the subscribers said: “Even when the phone worked there was continuous disturbance during conversation”.

Several people, including many scribes, have waited for over a month to get a new Connect connection. At the same time there are rising complaints that customer services have deteriorated over a period.

Several Connect subscribers, Ludhiana Tribune talked to, said that earlier they were getting connections within 10 days, but now getting a new telephone connection took more than a month. Besides, most of them complained that several agents through whom they were getting connections were “non-cooperative”.

Mr Rajesh Bindra, a PCO owner at Model Town, said that he had applied for a new telephone connection on May 2 but the telephone has not been installed.

The customers are dissatisfied with the services rendered by the company. Dr Mahesh Gupta, residing in Shivaji Nagar, said that his telephone got disrupted on May 8 and he had immediately sent a complaint to the company office. He said that the company, which claimed that services would be given to them within three days, was able to restore the services after 12 days.

Ms Kanchan, another subscriber, said that he could not dial a single mobile number from his telephone. Everytime there was a message, “the mobile number you are trying to reach has either been switched off or not responding at the moment”.


Lok Morcha plans mass movement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
The Sanja Lok Morcha will launch a mass movement to highlight failures of the Akali-BJP government in Punjab. In the first phase dharnas will be held at all the district headquarters starting from Jalandhar on June 14.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Harish Khanna, convener of the Janata Dal (Secular), Punjab, a constituent of the morcha, said there was resentment among the people of the state as the government had failed on all fronts. He alleged that rampant corruption was prevailing everywhere and the rulers were busy in amassing wealth.

The Janata Dal leader said to channelise the grievances of the people, a mass movement will be launched . This is being supported by all the parties other than the Congress, the BJP and the Akali Dal.

Listing the issues to be taken up during the mass movement, he said there was widespread unemployment in the state. He pointed out that Punjab, which was said to be a prosperous state in the country, was leading towards bankruptcy with a huge debt of about Rs 30,000 crore. He claimed that during the Akali-BJP regime, about 20,000 small-scale units had closed down.

The Janata Dal leader said in order to provide a viable and acceptable alternative to the people of the state, who are fed up with the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance, the morcha had decided to contest all the 117 seats in the forthcoming assembly elections.


Protest against BJP leader’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
Hundreds of workers of the District Valmiki Sabha led by the body’s Chairman, Mr Ram Parkash Gill, held a protest march against Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, head of the urban cell of the local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, for his “objectionable remarks” against the Valmiki sect. The protesters, later, burnt the BJP leader’s effigy at Ghanta Ghar Chowk here today.

Mr D.P. Khosla, Vice-President of the Punjab unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party, said the BJP policies had been anti-Dalit and the RSS, too, had insulted Dalits on Doordarshan.

He said the removal of Mr Bangaru Laxman from the top post of the BJP showed the party’s attitude towards Dalits. Mr Ram Parkash Gill even sought the arrest of Mr Sethi.

Mr D.P. Khosla, later, told newsmen that the district unit of the BSP would stage a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner here. He said a BSP delegation had met the Deputy Commissioner on May 24 in this regard and submitted a memorandum of its demands.


Beauty and herbal products go hand-in-hand
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 30
“The first batch of lipsticks that we manufactured and sent to our dealers came back to us because the sticks broke and the colour spread,” admits Ms Vijay Dhingra, who is into cosmetics business and her cosmetics are sold off the shelf in the northern region. From an ordinary housewife a decade ago, Ms Vijay Dhingra is running a successful cosmetic manufacturing unit now.

Her best-selling products are lipsticks. Vijay has a wide range of lipsticks and has 80 shades to offer in matt, frosted and glitter finish. Her products include fairness creams, creams for massaging, face packs for pimpled and normal skin, shampoos of many kinds and ‘mehndi’ mixed with a wide range of herbals to prevent dandruff and give bounce to normal hair.

A bored housewife, Vijay Dhingra started a ‘beauty parlour’. During that time a seed was sown into her mind. Armed with B.Sc. chemistry degree, she knew that she could get a license necessary for getting ingredients required for making cosmetics. The next step was to get training in cosmetology. For this she had to go to Delhi to train under professional cosmetology consultants to learn the basics and finer points of making cosmetics.

Soft spoken Vijay says: “I use herbal products. All my creams and other products carry the ingredients used in them. All our products are tested in a government laboratory and analysis report is given to the Drug Department. So we have to maintain quality in all the batches. Moreover, we keep upgrading our products as we keep inviting professional consultants to give us the latest up date in new technology. The marketing of products was very difficult when we started in 1990. But now we have good distributors and our salespersons take the orders, and now that my sons are grown up, they are helping me in marketing of my products. My husband was supportive but he is into his own business of industrial dyes and paints.”

She has employed 15 people, mostly women. It was interesting to see the lipsticks being made. In one big pan, castor oil (the main ingredient), carrot oil, vitamin E oil, bees wax are mixed well. In another vessel the ground colours (edible) are cooked for 6-7 hours in a double boiler. Eighty different pans are used for 80 different shades when a particular batch is to be made. The ingredients are put in the moulds. Then they are immersed in ice to freeze them. They are removed from the moulds and to give them sheen, the sticks have to pass through high flame. The sticks are inserted manually into the lipstick cases. Finally the stickers of the company and the shade numbers are affixed.

She gets the oils in big drums from Mumbai and gets the empty bottles for creams and shampoos and cases for lipsticks from Delhi. She has huge containers of herbal oils store in the house. 


Road in colony dug by LIT staff
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
Residents of Kabir Colony on Pakhowal Road here have alleged that the engineering staff of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), acting in a high-handed manner, dug and damaged a portion of the connecting road in F Block of the colony which had been used as a passage for the past more than 20 years.

In a memorandum submitted to the district authorities, a copy of which has also been sent to the Punjab Chief Minister, the residents charged that an assistant engineer, accompanied by other staff members and equipped with a bulldozer, descended on the spot and without any prior notice dug a portion of the road.

They alleged that the unlawful act of the LIT had caused damage worth Rs 3 lakh to the Kabir Cooperative House Building Society. Besides, the residents were denied the right of free access through the passage.

However, the trust engineer, Mr A.K. Kansal, told Ludhiana Tribune that the allegation levelled by the residents was not true. He said the passage in question was not a public street and it passed through a plot which stood allotted to some body. The trust, he added, was well within its rights to check the unauthorised use of a private plot.


SAD-BJP govt neglected youth: YC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
The SAD-BJP government in the state has neglected the youth during its four and half year rule in the state. Not even a single scheme for the welfare of youth has been formulated by the government during this period.

This was stated by Mr Gurbhej Singh Chhabra, chairman of trade cell of Punjab Youth Congress, while addressing a youth meeting at Sahibzada Fateh Singh Nagar locality here last evening.

Charging the government with creating division among youth for its political motives, he said the number of unemployed youth had registered a rise in the state. The indifferent attitude of the government towards the problems of youth was evident from its inaction to respond to the demands of ETT teachers, who were on strike in Chandigarh for the last more than four months.

“While the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been busy in rehabilitating his own family members and other relatives during the last four years, now he had started the political stunt of 'sangat darshans' to woo people in the wake of forthcoming Assembly elections,” remarked Mr Chhabra. He, however, expressed confidence that the people of Punjab would not be misled by false promises of the ruling combine.

A former minister, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, who presided over the meeting, felicitated Mr Chhabra on his nomination as chairman of trade cell of the PYC. Among others, Mr Baldev Sharma, Mr Jasbir Singh Jassal, Mr Dimple Rana and Mr Akshay Bhanot were present.

Meanwhile, the Janata Dal (Secular), Punjab, has decided to launch a mass movement against the state government for its failure to curb the lawlessness, police excesses, violation of human rights, atrocities against women and the weaker sections and the unabated crime wave, gripping the state.

Mr Harish Khanna, convener of the party, said in a statement here today that all these issues would be highlighted during the agitation and the people would be shown the real face of the SAD-BJP combine.


Shiv Sena questions BJP on Zaffarwal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
Reacting to a news reports that Wassan Singh Zaffarwal would be entering active politics, the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Punjab unit, today fired its first salvo against the former militant.

In a press release issued here today by the Punjab unit president of the sena, Mr Pawan Gupta, said that the sena was worried over the reports that Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, a close relative of Mr Sucha Singh Langah, a senior Akali Minister in the Badal Cabinet, would be entering politics in the near future.

He said the day he did so would be an unfortunate one for Punjab.

Mr Gupta accused the BJP of supporting the Akalis about the dramatic return of Zaffarwal to Punjab and his subsequent statements. He asked the BJP whether it would continue to support Akalis or sever its relations with them if and when Zaffarwal was given an Akali ticket in the coming Vidhan Sabha poll.


Amarnath Yatra registration to start on June 10
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 30
The registration for the Amarnath Yatra will start on June 10 and the first batch of pilgrims will leave Ludhiana on July 1. According to Mr Rajinder Sharma, President, Shri Amarnath Yatra Welfare Board, all arrangements have been finalised. Mr Sharma held a meeting recently with the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister, Ms Sakeena Yatoo, in Jammu and submitted a memorandum to her on the various arrangements needed to be made for the yatra.

Mr Sharma, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said every year the site of langar was changed without any reason at the will of officers concerned and the langar organisers faced a lot of difficulties. He said keeping in view the terrorist attack during the Amarnath Yatra in 2000, special security and lighting arrangements should be made at all the langar sites. Besides, near every langar site, adequate provision of civic facilities such as toilets, bathrooms and availability of drinking water should be made by the government.

It was also observed during last year’s terrorist attack that the provision of makeshift medical facilities provided by the state government was inadequate. Not even a single lady doctor was there to attend the injured female yatris.

Mr Sharma said the facility of registration, limited to certain centres should be extended to every state. The devotees halting at Jammu for security check were often harassed and faced a lot of difficulties during the short stay. Adequate arrangements of accommodation were, therefore, required.

The helicopter services should also be started at the earliest. The overcrowding of vehicles carrying yatris should be avoided.

While 1.8 lakh pilgrims visited the Amarnath cave last year, this year the number is expected to cross two-lakh mark. The first batch of pilgrims is expected to have darshan on July 4 which will continue till August 4 when the holy mace will reach the cave.


Probe sought into SBI’s promotion test
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
The Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) has demanded a high level inquiry by an independent agency into the promotion test of State Bank of India (SBI), alleging several irregularities in the same.

The INBEC president, Mr K.R. Tripathi, has said that the SBI management had discriminated against general category employees, while undue benefits were given to candidates, belonging to Scheduled Tribes in Himachal Pradesh in the test for promotion from the clerical cadre to officer cadre.

In a written complaint addressed to the Additional Secretary (Banking) and copies marked to the Chairman, SBI, Union Finance Minister, Central Vigilance Commission, Mr Tripathi observed that the ST candidates were awarded five extra marks for rural posting. Moreover, in the said test as many as 3,870 candidates had appeared for 70 vacancies, and the management called in 300 of them for interview, in utter disregard of the provisions in the career path scheme, signed between the bank management and the employees’ union, under which not more than three candidates should be called for 2 posts.

He further charged the management with discrimination, saying the candidates with postgraduate qualifications and CAIIB professional degrees were not given any extra weightage, whereas the trainee officers were given extra marks at the time of promotion for similar qualifications.

Mr Tripathi said senior officers in Local Head Office of SBI at Chandigarh had manipulated the entire process of test and interview with malafide intentions to accommodate their favourite candidates.


Dharna by telecom employees 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
The National Federation of Telecom Employees Union of the BSNL staged a dharna against the BSNL’s policy to take up rented accommodations for office purpose outside the office of the General Manager, Telecom, here today.

Mr Harish Khanna of the union said all these buildings lacked basic civic amenities. Most of the department’s offices were situated in residential areas and narrow streets and there were no parking facilities available.


Woman foils bid to kidnap son
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
Four persons reportedly tried to kidnap a 12-year-old boy of an industrialist family from his house on Mall Road here yesterday. The boy’s mother foiled the attempt.

The police has received the complaint, but a case is yet to be registered. Ms Rima Jain, mother of the boy, said the kidnap attempt was made by four persons, including a woman, all of one family who had earlier duped her of Rs 20 lakh.

Ms Rima said the attempt had been made to force her not to demand the money back. She said she had been receiving threats on telephone for the past several days and had even informed the police about this, but no action had been taken. She said, after her husband’s death, she had entered into a partnership with these persons who later cheated her.

She said, yesterday night, these persons had visited her house in a car and enquired from her securityman if she was at home. “They returned after five minutes and tried to kidnap my son Bharat. I was in the house and rushed out on hearing Bharat’s cries. They ran away after they saw me.”

She has lodged a complaint at the Division No. 5 police station in this regard.Back

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