Saturday, July 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



1,000 live bombs recovered from steel scrap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
Dhandhari Kalan, the dry port situation about 10 km from here, has literally been sitting over a powder keg so far.

About 1000 live bombs were recovered today from the steel scrap lying in the Container Freight Station (CFS) there, in a massive combing operation launched jointly by the district administration, Army and the police. The operation lasted for two days.

Fortunately no untoward incident took place there and everything passed off safely so far, as the scrap had been lying there for quite some time. The security experts were shocked to discover such a huge number of live bombs in the steel scrap. Even if one of these bombs had gone off, it would have led to major tragedy. ‘‘Thank God, no accident took place during all these years, it would have been disastrous’’, remarked an official supervising the search operations.

Most of the scrap imported by the steel manufacturers here had come from Kuwait. It was believed to have been left out from the Gulf War following which it found way into India, where the steel manufacturers import the scrap for producing high-quality steel.

Although the issue had come to the notice of the district administration about four years ago following an accident which claimed the lives of four schoolchildren, it was only now that the administration and the Army agreed for a joint operation to search for the live ammunition there.

The quantity of the ammunition recovered from the steel scrap was said to be the highest made so far. It could have caused serious destruction anywhere. As many as 112 live bombs, which had been lying in the police station Payal, were taken to the Field Ammunition Depot (FAD), Baddowal, near here yesterday. The 1000 bombs recovered today were also taken to the FAD Baddowal by the Army experts.

There was a sense of relief among the people and the administration. ‘‘Everyone feels relieved, particularly after learning about the number of live bombs we were staying with all these years,’’ said an industrialist, who runs a giant steel unit in the vicinity. The sense of relief was more apparent among the people in administration as they feel that they had averted a major tragedy.

The district administration, after seeing the quantum of ammunition which had reached here, issued strict instructions to the importers of the scrap to ensure that this did not happen again. They would be held responsible for any import in future, a district official said.

However, it was clarified that the import of such a huge quantity of ammunition could be possible only in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Usually there used to be a few live shells whose number was not even in two figures that would come with the scrap. ‘‘But nothing can be ruled out now,’’ a district official remarked, while pointing out, ‘‘even anti-national elements could use this way to import arms and ammunition into the country for various acts of sabotage.’’

The search and combing operation which started yesterday, continued till late in the evening today. Most of the scrap had already been searched through and the operation was carried out smoothly and with full safety. A number of bomb disposal experts from the police and the Army had been pressed into service. It had been an absolutely clean operation, an official in the administration disclosed.


Cong leader’s body found
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
Sukhdev Singh Manewal (52), member of the Ludhiana Zila Parishad, vice-president of the District Congress Committee and a close aide of Mr Ishar Singh Meharban, former Congress minister, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the banks of a canal at Garhi Tarkhana, village near Machiwara, late in the evening, today.

His body was spotted by some pilgrims returning from the Naina Devi yatra. They informed the Machiwara police which recovered the body and sent it for a post-mortem examination to Ludhiana. A deep wound inflicted on his neck suggests that either he was shot dead or stabbed.Back


Marriages of convenience?
Vimal Sumbly and Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu studies the documents of Aisolde Litter.
Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu studies the documents of Aisolde Litter, a German woman, who married Manmohan Singh of Payal on Thursday.
— Photo Rajesh Bhambi

Ludhiana, July 27
They cannot talk to each other. For the simple reason that one is German and the other a rustic Punjabi. And still they say, they love each other. And they are already husband and wife. Their marriage was solemnised by Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner S K Sandhu under the Special Marriages Act.

The matrimonial tale of 37-year-old Manmohan Singh and 34-year-old Aisolde Litter is not a mismatch of compulsions. It is a simple arrangement. Manmohan Singh belongs to a village near Payal in Ludhiana district, while Litter belongs to Germany. Manmohan will thus be able to immigrate to Germany without undergoing the cumbersome procedure required to procure a visa.

Theirs is not an isolated case. Only three days ago, another Punjabi youth Palvinder Singh married another German woman Reita Fefe, who is almost double his age. That marriage was also solemnised by the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner on last Tuesday.

Such types of marriages are never consummated. For they are not solemnised for that purpose. This is rather the easy way out to the West, the promised land. With widespread unemployment in Punjab, particularly in the countryside, the youth are looking only towards the West. However, not many among them are eligible to procure a visa. While many youths try to enter western countries through illegal means, some have devised intelligent ways.

According to an immigration lawyer, who was present at both the marriages, this is the simple and the best way available for people to migrate to the foreign lands where visa rules are strict. Under this procedure, a bride is arranged from the country of destination obviously by some known friend or relative. The rates are settled. The girl (in most cases they happen to be middle-aged women) is flown to India. Here she enters into a matrimonial contract, making her “groom” eligible to migrate to her country.

In the case of Manmohan and Litter, it was his Germany-based brother-in-law, who arranged a bride for him. However, the bride said that she had come here on a tour and here she fell in love with Manmohan. When asked by the Deputy Commissioner what she found in Manmohan to marry him instantly, she retorted promptly, “he loves me”. And when the DC pointed out he is not able to speak her language, not even English, she said, “He is smart enough and he will learn German...I will teach him German”.

The “couple” did not even move together. When Litter was getting the documents signed, Manmohan could not be seen anywhere around. He was to be spotted from the crowd, after the DC insisted on his presence for the registration.

The “marriage” of Palvinder Singh was more surprising. While he entered his age as 23, the age of his bride Reita Fefe was entered 45. They also claimed that they were in love with each other. And how did they fall in love? “While sitting in a restaurant in Germany, I found him to be smart and interesting and proposed if he could marry me and he said yes”, the German lady said, after getting her marriage registered.


HC ultimatum to Punjab on pension issue
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 27
Retirees of private colleges of Punjab should be happy after yesterday’s judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the pension and gratuity scheme for them. Acting on a petition filed by a retired principal of Doraha’s Guru Nanak National College, Mr N.S. Tuli, in October 1999, the court ordered that the Punjab Government was not following the Security Services Amendment Act of 1999 regarding the scheme.

Professor K.B.S. Sodhi, President of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union, said the double Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjer and Mr Justice J.S. Kehar had asked the Punjab Government to implement the Act within three months and report to it by November 1.

The judgment has brought some hope for the teaching and the non-teaching staff of private colleges of the state. They have been fighting for the implementation of the Act for the past two years. The implementation was being delayed due to several reasons, including the late furnishing of details regarding the CPF by colleges and insufficient corpus fund collected from these institutes.

According to the Act, the scheme will benefit more than 7,000 employees of private colleges of the state, including many of those who retired after April 1, 1992. Prof Sodhi said the implementation of the scheme would provide hundreds of retired teachers and their families with some relief.

He said, however, the teachers’ body would continue its agitation as long as the government did not pass the pension-payment orders. “Rallies will be held at Jalandhar (on July 30), Muktsar (on August 1) and Patiala (on August 3) in protest against the delay on part of the government in implementing the Act.

Members of the local unit of the teachers’ union will participate in the Muktsar rally. The union will plan the future course of action at its executive-body meeting at Dakha on August 15,” he said.


Sr officials to raid police stations
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
In order to check incidents of illegal detention and consuming of liquor during night hours at the police stations, posts or pickets in the four police district under the Ludhiana Range, a Range Officer of the rank of a DSP or above will conduct surprise raids at two places every week.

This had been decided at a recent meeting of the district police chiefs, headed by DIG Suresh Arora recently. Sources said the decision had been taken in the wake of a number of complaints by the public to the senior officers about illegal detention as well as liquor consumption by cops. One of the recent examples was of the Dugri police post under the Model Town police station where two alleged drug smugglers fled from the lock-up when the police personnel on duty were consuming liquor. Another example was of the Subhash Nagar police post where two alleged tipsy constables beat up certain people that led to the staging of a protest dharna in the area.

Giving details of the new drive, DIG Suresh Arora said the drive was very successful in Jalandhar Range and the number of complaints had reduced sharply. Under the plan the Range Officer would be appointed on rotation basis. Mr Manjit Singh Dhesi DSP (D) has been appointed the first Range Officer. 


Drug addict’s journey to reformation
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, July 27
Having realised the futility of drugs, a hard-core addict himself for two decades, Pradeep Goel has today not only given up the habit by sheer grit and determination, but has also turned into a reformist. His only mission in life is to save all those people who have succumbed to the lure of drugs.

At the age of eleven when boys are wearing half-pants and waiting to wear trousers , Pradeep Goel had his first taste of alcohol. From where did he get it at that age? His peers, who had provided him the first taste of alcohol, did not know that they had pushed him from a precipice to dark caverns of drug habit. He tried alcohol a couple of times. By the time he was 14 years of age, he had started on hard drugs like, hashish, ganja, regularly. In order to get money, he began stealing money from home. If his mother would give him errands to run, he would walk, save money on the bus fare and spend it on drugs.

He says, ‘‘Drugs are easily available. Sometimes even the drug addicts turn ‘pusher’ and supply drugs. I had no interest in studies. By 1973 I gave up studies and took up petty jobs to help me buy drugs. Now I was a confirmed drug addict. I stole, connived with thugs, even made fake certificates, did any thing for drugs. My friends were dying all round me due to overdose of drugs, and I knew I could die too, but the drugs are so powerful, that inspite of the horror of death , one thinks drugs can’t harm you and you are invincible.”

He graduated through correspondence course and got a job as salesman. Then he thought of learning typing. He did things in extremes and typed for six hours a stretch. He says, ‘‘Obviously I had developed a lopsided personality. My family had kicked me out. I believed in a cock-and-bull story of my friend and joined him in business. I was totally cleaned out. Earlier if I was smoking a cigarette of smack once , now I needed it round the clock. Desperate men do desperate deeds. Since I am intelligent, I advised others how to steel things. I was down and under and had no money to buy smack as I was smoking 40 chilms a day. M drug habits started interfering in my work. I was broke. I was forced to ‘chase’. It is also called ‘chasing the dragon’ Chasing means putting the brown sugar on the aluminum foil and igniting it. It is the cheaper and more potent way of being high. Thank God I did not start to inject drugs. I had reached the bottom. I had never wanted to join any detoxifying centre as I believed that no one ever gets cured. When my doctor made me meet a person who had recovered, I thought it was time to join ‘Kripa’ a drug detoxifying centre run by former drug addicts and professionals in Mumbai.’’

He stayed there for four months but then left thinking himself to be cured. After staying clean for a month , he was back to taking drugs. He associated with pickpockets, extortionist and procured money for satisfying his drug craving.

He said that drug-victims were very cunning. He wanted to join ‘Kripa’ again for de-addiction so he got a letter from Delhi office asking them to admit him as without the letter they would not have taken him. Somehow he conned his family into believing that he was getting a job in Mumbai and managed to get clothes from them and went smartly dressed to ‘Kripa’. His old counsellor knew that he was not out yet and asked him to go away. With 10 paisa in his pocket, he sat outside the gates of ‘Kripa’ hoping they would take him in. But they shooed him away. Since his brother in Mumbai wouldn’t accept him, he chose to sleep in the grave yard. After three days without food and drugs, he was prepared to meet his Maker. As a last ditch effort he dragged himself to the center, one counsellor asked him to come in and told him that he was lucky that the Director had relented. Another five and half month of detoxifying till his ‘ego’ told him that he wanted to be a counsellor. All gave him a clean chit but one of them said, ‘‘You are not clean as yet. Stay for a longer period.’’ He ridiculed the idea and was clean for just a few months. Back to square one. Back to drugs. Back to a detoxifying institute, Ashiana, in Delhi. And finally it was the triumph of man’s will power over drugs that Pradeep finally kicked the habit on the momentous day of November 10, 1991.

Ever since that fateful day Pradeep gets occasional thoughts that if he had smack, he would have enjoyed but the thought is driven out when he is helping others detoxifying.

Pradeep( 47) is presently working as project director at Ek Jyot, a drug de-addiction Centre at Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar. According to him, “Being a drug addict is like on a roller coaster ride. When on drugs, one is on the highs and when the effect wears off one is on the lowest possible ebb. The difference between living on drugs and without them is that while on drugs , one exists like slaves and without drugs one lives savouring every minute of every day.”

While he was doing a course conducted by professional from UN Drug Control Programme, he met Harsimranpreet and both of them decided to work together. His message to the parents is not to hide the drug-taking habits of the children. Rather they should be taken to professionals who could help them. The causes for getting hooked to the drugs could be biological, psychological, and social.

In the first category certain genes are responsible and in psychological causes, it could be the mental make-up of the person whereas social causes could be neglect by the parents, peer pressure, frustration, one parent may be alcoholic. It could be mix of all causes. Addiction to drugs is just like any other disease and needs sympathetic treatment and understanding, he added.


Panches told that they’re powerful
Our Correspondent

Amloh, July 27
“Panchayati Raj should be made more purposeful for implementing ambitious welfare schemes of the government,” said Mr J.S. Kesar, Principal Secretary (Rural Development and Panchayats) of the state, on the first day of a seminar in Sangam palace here on Thursday. The seminar was organised under the supervision of Mr R.S. Jangoo, Subdivisional Magistrate of Amloh.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) sponsored by Unicef. About 1,700 panches and sarpanches of five blocks of the Fatehgarh Sahib district and officials of various departments participated in the seminar.

Mr S.K. Chatarvedi, state head of the Unicef programme, said the programme had helped the state educate the participants about the 73rd Amendment of 1992 which provided the panchayats with more powers and responsibilities than before.

Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, MLA of Amloh, appreciated the development works done by panchayats in his constituency. Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, State Secretary of the Panjab Human Rights Commission, traced the history of the commission in his address. He said anyone could approach the commission with complaints of child labour, abuse of children’s rights, female infanticide, and bonded labour. He said the commission redressed the grievances quickly.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib, said training was given to panches and sarpanches at the Sirhind, Khera, Bassi Pathana, Khamano and Amloh block headquarters to generate awareness regarding the 73rd Amendment that provided one-third reservation for women and reservation for candidates of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes in panchayats.

Ms Anu Dixit, head of the programme; Dr Kesar Singh; Mr J.R. Ghai, District Development Officer; and Mr B.S. Sidhu, ADC, also spoke on the occasion. Panches and sarpanches shared their views on the workshop with officials. Ms Dhanwant Kaur, Sarpanch of Salani village, said the issues discussed here should not end with the workshops. She demanded strict action against those who committed infanticide. Mr Kehar Singh, a sarpanch; Mr Paramjit Singh Janjua, Sarpanch of Khanian village; Mr Harbans Singh, Sarpanch of Raipur Chopdaran village; and Mr Gurmail Singh, Sarpanch of Mallowal village, said human rights wings should be formed at all district headquarters and elections of panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads should be conducted simultaneously.


Lok Morcha mobilises masses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
The Punjab Lok Morcha organised a political convention here to moblise support for the state-level rally being organised in the first week of September. The rally will either be organised in Ludhiana or Jalandhar.

Addressing a press conference, leaders of the morcha, Mr Harish Khanna and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, said the rally would be addressed by the four former Prime Ministers Mr V.P. Singh, Mr Chandershekhar, Mr H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr I K Gujral, besides the former Union Defence Minister, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Mr Khanna and Mr Wadala said the main objective of the morcha was to provide the people of the state a viable alternative to the Akali Dal, the Congress and the BJP, as these parties had failed the people’s expectations. They claimed people were disappointed with these parties and they desperately wanted an alternative.

The morcha leaders alleged that the SAD-BJP government had engaged itself in the corruption only and had forgotten all the promises it had made in the election manifesto. Mr Khanna pointed out that the Akali Dal had promised autonomy to Punjab within the Constitution. But after coming to power, the party has forgotten it. Nor did Mr Badal has appoint any judicial commission to probe the killing of innocent people during the militancy in the state, he said.

The leaders declared that they had kept their doors open for all the non-Congress, non-BJP and non-Akali Dal parties to form a joint front. They hoped that the morcha will pave the way for the Constitution and consolidation of the third front in the state which will provide a good alternative.

Among others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Rajwinder Singh Hissowal, Mr Kudleep Singh, Mr Lakhwinder Singh Boani, Mr Kirpal Singh Hans, Mr Dildhiaraj Singh Mann, Mr Teja Singh Tiwana, Mr Darshan Singh Zeeda, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Arshi and Rashpal Singh Gill. 


Teej and saawan celebrations by ladies’ clubs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 27
Though the events associated with the celebration of teej may have changed over the years, the essence continues to remain the same. This was evident from the manner in which members and dependents of the Niharika Ladies Club celebrated the festival of teej — a traditional Punjabi festival today.

The celebrations began with the traditional jaago with ladies dressed in their brightest best. Jaago was tastefully decorated with flowers and small diyas. A swing was also made for the members. The ladies were dressed in yellow and green-coloured sarees and suits. Some of them had flowers tucked in their hair.

The club had arranged various competitions of mehandi, tattooing, nail art and bindi making amongst the club members. The judgement of these competitions was based on the originality and neatness of the work.

Ms Charneet Thukral, president of the club, said that teej was one of the favourite festivals of young women. “Young married women go to their parents’ home, have fun and enjoy with their old friends. We have tried to bring those pleasant memories by celebrating these kinds of festivals”, she added.

The month of saawan with rosy and romantic hues was celebrated by the members of Venus Ladies Club here today. The ladies had a gala time celebrating the advent of saawan in its multi-shaded splendour.

The ambience of saawan was palpable at the celebrations. The stage was decorated with phulkaris, baagh, manji, peedhi, charkha, gagar and baltoi, with one lady sitting on a manji doing the phulkari work and another milling the wheat on her chakki.

Club members Bindiya and Sonalika performed solo dances on Punjabi numbers hulle hullare and paabi deeva jaga. All the members performed giddha and enjoyed the celebrations.

President Jasbir Kaur and the secretary, Mrs Bawa, presented the vote of thanks after the programme. 


Sikh morcha against misguiding community
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 27
A new Sikh body, Shri Hemkunt Sikh Morcha, has given a call against misguiding the Sikh community as far as the creation of Khalistan is concerned.

In a press release here today, Mr G.S.Middha, the working general secretary of the morcha, said that the so-called panthic leaders had always betrayed the community. He said these leaders had been instigating Sikh youths to face bullets while they were hiding themselves all the time. This did not conform to principles of Sikhism, he added.

Mr Middha said that while it was right to demand more rights as true patriots, to incite young boys for Khalistan was against the tenets of Sikhism. He said that these so-called community leaders had not only created divisions among the community, they were themselves a divided lot and were looking for external support to maintain their supremacy.


Summer queen contest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 27
The Sarabha Ladies Club organised a summer queen contest at Hotel Le Baron yesterday. The participants were dressed in chiffon in summery colours with appropriate accessories.

The contest included four rounds. First was the catwalk round, followed by the introduction round. Third round was questionnaire round and the final round was the modeling round in which all participants walked on the ramp confidently.

The contest was divided into four age groups. Group 1 was for the members below 35 years of age. Ms Jyotsna was declared the summer queen in this category while Rohita and Divya Manchanda were declared first and second runners up. Ms Vijay Ghai was declared first and Darshi got the second prize in the 35-45 age group, while in the age group of 45 to 55years, Kikky Behl was declared first and Manju Tondon bagged the second prize.

In above 55 year age group, Daljit Kochar was declared first and Harbans Bedi got the second prize. The judges on the occasion included Ms Deepika Nayyar and Ms Ramneek. 

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