Thursday, August 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Villagers mum on girl’s death
Suicide or honour killing?
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Rurka (Ludhiana), August 8
Was the death of a young girl of this village in July end a case of honour killing or suicide? The question remains unanswered as the relatives of the girl and the other villagers remain tight-lipped on events that led to the death of the girl who had been in love.

The Dehlon police says that it cannot take any action in this case because no complaint has been lodged in the regard so far. The silence of the villagers is the reason why the incident remained hidden all these days.

The love story of Laddi and Rano (not their real names) of the village did not have a happy ending. They were not allowed to marry each other due to an age-old custom of rural Punjab, according to which, marriages within a village are prohibited. The lovers, who were adults, eloped in early July, but were reportedly traced and brought back forcibly by their relatives. The boy, however, did not reach the village and reportedly managed to escape. The girl was allegedly beaten up mercilessly and sent to a relative’s house in Sunet village from where only her body was brought back. The girl’s relatives quietly cremated her.

Bits of information that villagers shared with this reporter shows that the families of Laddi and Rano had friendly relations with each other. Laddi and Rano had grown up together and were in love with each other, but their parents disapproved of the match because of the custom.

When in July the lovers had run away to Delhi, the families had not reported the matter to the police because they feared it would bring the families a bad name. After 10 days of elopement, the boy called up one of his friends and requested him to send him some money. The friend, however, told the boy’s parents about the call, following which the two families decided to bring the couple back. The couple resisted this and the girl, who got extremely violent when told to return, reportedly even broke the windowpanes of the car in which the lovers were being brought back.

The girl was brought to the village, but the boy “managed to escape”. Some villagers say that his relatives let him escape because they feared that the police would harass him which was common in such cases. In such situations, the case is always registered against the boy for kidnapping the girl.

Villagers said the girl had became rather uncontrollable after this and sent to a relative’s house in Sunet where she was said to have died. Village learnt about the death only when they saw a funeral pyre on the village cremation ground. The village Sarpanch, Mr Malvinder Singh, said he knew what had happened, but could take no action as he was bed-ridden for the past two weeks and no one knew what exactly had happened. He said, villagers, as usual, were reluctant to talk about this internal affair of the families as they feared it would sully the reputation of the village.

The Senior Superintendent of Police at Jagraon, Mr Balkar Singh, when contacted, said he had no knowledge of the incident. Later, after checking up with the Dehlon police, he said something of this sort had happened indeed and he had directed the Dehlon police to find out the truth and take action. He said the task of the police would be difficult because no complaint had been lodged in this regard so far.


No grant for vocational courses in government schools
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, August 8
Non-availability of raw materials, lack of faculty and outdated technology for vocational courses has hit students of class XI and XII of government senior secondary schools in the district.

Grant to all 32 government schools of the district was stopped five years ago. Since then no repair of machinery has been made and no raw material or advanced technology techniques have been supplied to the schools from the government. No books have been printed and instructors are teaching from self-made notes.

Vocational training was introduced in the session 1987-88 by the central government under the new education policy. Under the scheme, 32 schools were selected in the district and 20 vocational courses were introduced. Each school was given five trades. Few rooms were constructed in these schools and machinery was supplied from the central government. Instructors were appointed who got 75 per cent salary from the central government while the rest from the state government. Each school used to get Rs 2,000 per trade annually from the central government for purchase of raw materials. Books were designed for the course and instructors who wrote the books got their royalty but these were never printed.

The schools received grants till 1995 after which no new course was added and no fresh grant was given either by the central or the state government. The teachers are now getting salary from the state government but there has been no promotion and no change in their grades. The proposal to appoint principals and vice-principals and promote the instructors to those posts also failed to click.

At the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Jawahar Nagar, five trades, including garment making, knitting technology, automobile engineering, mechanical engineering and horticulture were introduced but due to want of raw materials, the students are not able to perform practicals. Cloth, yarn, steel, petrol, diesel and a variety of plants required to perform practicals are not being supplied to the school. As a result, the students are basically learning theory and take very few demonstration lessons in the school.

At Government Senior Secondary Multipurpose School, Cinema Road, the courses include computer applications, knitting technology, secretarial practice, mechanical engineering and automobile engineering. The students have one computer which has not been upgraded for the past 10 years when it was supplied. Mr C.H. Puri, Principal, said that three more computers lying with the school under a scheme from the Central government would be upgraded utilising some donations and given to the students. He said that the students learn the trades when they go for 21 day on-the-job training in some industry.

Five trades being run at Government Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar, include commercial arts, secretarial practice, TV and radio repair, food and canning and garment making.

The students have been spending more than Rs 1000 per trade on raw material annually to perform their practicals. Class XII students of commercial arts said that they had spent nearly Rs 1200 last year on canvas, oil colours, poster colours, pencils, brushes, pens and sheets. Several students who have talent are unable to pursue the course because of financial crunch in the family.

The instructors have been spending money from their own pockets to buy material for conducing practicals. They said that they felt that computer was a must for the trade as it increased speed, efficiency and created creativity among the students but they would not be able to get it due to lack of grant.

For garment making, the students are given demonstrations on paper as garment for the purpose. The sewing machine for the purpose is outdated and slow and no latest technology machines are being given to the school.

Besides, several schools have not been given instructors for particular course. At the Goverment Senior Secondary School for Boys, Humbran, there is no instructor for course on book keeping ever since it was introduced, thus, no classes could be held. Mr R.S. Bains, district coordinator, also expressed his helplessness in running the courses normally as he said that no fresh grant was coming and no vacancies were being filled.


Papers of choice in their schools
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
Ludhiana has become the first district in the state where the Vidyarthi Certificate Scheme has been launched. Under the scheme, students of senior classes will be issued whatever certificates they require in the schools itself, saving students and their parents the trouble of following lengthy administrative procedures for procuring these documents.

Under the project, all 118 government senior secondary schools will be covered by the end of March 2002. Every fortnight, a team of revenue officials accompanied by a stamp vendor and a typist will visit one school in each subdivision of the district to issue certificates to students of Classes VIII to XII. Members of the village panchayat and the nambardars concerned will also be present at every session to attest the documents.

At a news conference here today, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, said the district administration was well aware that parents of schoolchildren spent Rs 300 to Rs 500 for procuring these certificates. The procedures for procuring application forms, filling up the forms, attestation of affidavits and obtaining copies of the other documents like the proof of residence were lengthy. After this, the applications submitted to tehsildars or subdivisional magistrates were sent to patwaris for verification and returned to senior officials. It took at least a week before the certificate was issued.

Mr Sandhu said, with the introduction of the new scheme, the cost of procuring the documents had come down to Rs 30 and it would come down further once the District Red Cross Society began supplying the application forms free of cost.

In the first round of the campaign, six schools, one in each subdivision, had already been covered and 1,265 certificates had been issued to students. The DC said 101 rural schools of the district would be covered first, following which, the task of issuing certificates in urban areas would be taken up. “Issuing certificates in schools itself will eliminate the menace of bogus certificates and only genuine persons will receive these documents,” said the DC.

Mr Sandhu said the channels for issuing these certificates would continue to be the same and the scheme could be extended to students of private schools and colleges in the district as well.


Survivors recount tale of horror
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, August 8
It was a horrible experience for Ms Suyu, a Korean national, to witness such a barbaric massacre by militants. She was there at Jammu railway station last evening when innocent people were gunned down for apparently no reason.

Ms Suyu was waiting for a train to Delhi from where she had to fly back to her country. After experiencing the beauty of the Kashmir valley, Jammu was supposed to be the last chapter of her passage to India, which turned out to be the most horrifying one. She saw three well-built young men suddenly open fire on the people, after which the situation became chaotic. Terrified, she rushed to the railways officials’ office along with her companions to save her life. One of her companions fell down and an uncontrollable mob ran over him. He had to be hospitalised later. After about a couple of hours, she came out of that room and then was moved to a safe place by the police. This was really a narrow escape for her and her friends, who arrived at Ludhiana railway station by the Malwa Express train today.

Sagar, a young man from Varanasi, along with his grandmother and younger brother, also had a narrow escape. On his way back from Vashino Devi, he was about to enter Jammu railway station to board the Shalimar Express train when the militants opened fire. As he was stopped by the police from entering the station, he missed the train. He had to stay in a hotel for the night.

It was a horrifying night for Sagar’s grandmother, Jailakshmi, too. When this correspondent tried to talk to her, she could not speak. Sagar said that she had not been talking to any stranger since she had heard about the massacre as she was too terrified. She just kept repeating that she wanted to go home.

Sepoy Lakhbir Singh of Rashtriya Rifle Regiment, a resident of Ludhiana, was in a transit camp when the massacre took place. He heard the burst of assault rifles which silenced the voice of innocent people. Being a soldier, it was a normal affair for him to hear the firing shots. However, it was very difficult for him to see people weeping for their near and dear ones. He blamed the security personnel who were on duty at the railway station for the massacre. He said that if they had been more vigilant, the tragedy could have been averted.


Security beefed up at railway station
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
More security personnel were deployed in and around the local railway station today as part of the security beefing exercise in the wake of indiscriminate firing by terrorists at the Jammu railway station yesterday.

According to railway police sources, the Director General of Police ( Railways) presided a meeting of security personnel including the Railway Protection Force to review the security arrangements at the railway station. It was decided to deploy more securitymen at strategic points and intensify the vigil to avoid any possible breach of security. At the meeting, it was also decided to step up patrolling along the railway tracks to ensure safe passage of trains round-the-clock, the sources added.


Consult astrologers and get rid of your problems
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
Wanna get married? Wanna find a job? No problems! There are a lot many computer astrology centres offering a solution to all your problems. They appear to have magic potions with them to fulfill the wishes of a growing number of discontented people.

A psychologist, Dr Mishra says, “The frustrated people who are jobless or the parents who have not been able to arrange matches for their daughters are out of their wits. They need to hear something positive, something that would offer them hope and reduce their tension. These astrologers with their computers appear to be modern 'avtaars' or soothe-sayers who make the dejected, frustrated people happy by projecting a happy future where everything is rosy. These kind of experiences act like a catharsis and provide relief. Hence, the tribe of such people is constantly growing."

One of the advertisements by an astrologer to maintain his safe side tells people that astrology is just a 'science and not a 'miracle'. But the astrologer assures the people that failures unnerve people and fill them with great perplexities, and the astrologer through his 'sadhna' can bring the desired changes in the lives of the people.

It seems these astrologers are so learned that they can do face-reading, read lines on the palm, make a computerised horoscope, find a suitable match. They seem to have all cures for all the problems ranging from grave mental tension to not having a child to not finding of a job or some problems in marital life to running of a successful business. Since these days people ate bitten by the bug of going abroad, that problem can also be dealt with.

But the best is yet to be revealed. One does not have to go to them. Most of the answers to the confusion and troubles can be had over the telephones.

No wonder people in predicaments make a bee-line to them. Who doesn't have problems? But the million dollar question is whether the people get relief from such dream-sellers.

Ludhiana Tribune spoke to some people and found that while some had deep faith, the others sounded to be quite sceptical about the whole concept. Mrs P. Puri said: "I have implicit faith in my astrologer. We do not move one step ahead without consulting him , be it a starting of new venture, or shifting of the house, or matching the horoscopes of children for marriages. It is because of his right advice that our family has progressed so much.

"On the other hand, Samir, a management consultant said: "I am really amazed that though we have stepped into new millennium, we believe in astrology. How can the celestial bodies have influence? When will people of India have a scientific bent of mind? Imagine, my mother talks to one of these guys over the phone and consults him for minor things. It irritates me no end but I can't change her way of thinking. So many times he has been proved to be wrong, yet she finds some excuse and absolves him."

Ms Sumitra Devi has deep faith in them. She is always arranging 'havans' and 'paaths' for the benefit of the family, much to the annoyance of the family members. The rituals prove to be very expensive but they dare not displease her as she has a violent temper.


NCC — in the service of nation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
The National Cadet Corps presents to the country an outstanding symbol of national integration, providing an excellent nurturing ground for future leaders of the country. It motivates youth to contribute to wards the cause of nation building, through service in all walks of life. With this vision in mind, NCC came into being in 1948 through the efforts of late Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. This year, the organisation celebrates its 52nd anniversary with pride.

The NCC offers a lot of character-building exercises to the youth. It helps them to develop courage, comradeship, discipline, leadership, secular outlook, spirit of adventure and sportsmanship. It also inculcates ideals of selfless service among youth to make them useful citizens. It creates a human resource of organised, trained and motivated youth to provide leadership in all walks of life, including the armed forces. The NCC helps to create suitable environment to motivate the youth to take up a career in armed forces.

For the teachers who help the Army personnel to organise this body, they get the status of service officers without military service ability. It provides opportunities to travel abroad and take part in adventurous activities. The teachers are provided opportunities to lead cadets to perform social service, adopt finer values in life and become better citizens of the country.

Col P.S. Bedi is the commandant of the NCC Ludhiana group, comprising eight units. He told this correspondent that two contingents of boys, one contingent of NCC girl cadets and one of Air Force cadets will participate in the Independence Day function, organised by the district administration .

He further said that the NCC lives up to all its commitments. “We find the cadets very intelligent, enthusiastic but due to paucity of funds, we cannot organise as many activities as we would like to for our cadets. Recently, we held a national integration camp at the PAU which was attended by 1000 cadets from all over India. During this camp a lot of project study was undertaken. The cadets were taken to visit the Golden Temple, were taken to see Changing of Guard at Wagah Border and many other historic places.”

Besides institution training in which they learn self-defence, drill, signal training, first-aid with the help teachers known as Associated NCC Officers( ANOS) of schools and colleges, the cadets are involved in social activities. The cadets adopt villages, organise blood donation camps, tree plantation drives, help in pulse polio drive, and interact with senior citizens. Moreover, in any natural calamity like cyclones, earthquakes, the cadets contribute a lot by offering their services.

The cadets attend annual camps, go for trekking and expeditions. The boys learn map reading, go through obstacle course and firing, whereas girls learn home-nursing, firing, manning of telephone exchange etc. After finishing the courses, the cadets are awarded A,B,C certificates. The cadets of Air Wing learn aero modeling, gliding, para-sailing etc. In case the cadets receive C certificate with minimum B grade, the cadets do not have to clear written test for joining the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun or the Officers Training Academy at Chennai. They can directly appear in the Service Selection Board interviews, for which again they are trained twice a year for the interviews.


A scientist with a literary bent of mind
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, August 8
Dr Faqir Chand Shukla, Professor in the Department of Food Technology, is a scientist but with a literary bent of mind. He was awarded the Punjabi Lekhak award, 2000, carrying Rs 1 lakh for popularising science fiction in Punjabi. He says, “I feel we the grown-ups have to educate the younger generation about how to keep themselves healthy and how to keep the environment healthy. Lecture method is extremely boring, so I decided to send across my message through plays with scientific themes running through them. My play ‘Janamdin’ staged last week under the aegis of the Punjab Sahitya Kala Manch was a satire on how the political figures, and other dignitaries plant saplings on birthdays. And that is the end of it. Most of the saplings die due to neglect.”

The children dressed as saplings portrayed through dance movements their thirst and need to be saved. The play directed by Mr Pardeep Sharma was a big hit with the audience. Being a keen scientist he is aware of the problems of pollution, obesity caused by eating “junk food”, food and nutrition. Dr Shukla has penned more than two dozen plays revolving round themes with dual purpose. He wants the popularisation of science through the entertaining medium of plays and at the same time wants to convey his message in a convincing manner.

His play “Doctor Beeji” revolves around a knowledgeable old lady with immense knowledge of home remedies. But unfortunately, no body takes her ‘time-tested remedies’ seriously till an emergency arises in the family. In the play her grandson gets an acute attack of gastroenteritis in the middle of night. The “Beeji” suggests onion extract. Having no other choice, the parents give the son the extract and the vomitings stopped. Through this he wants to say that medicinal plants in daily life like ginger, tulsi and garlic are helpful.

Most of his plays are based on the problems prevalent in Society of today. “Didh Nu Sambhal” revolves round the obese children who are hooked on eating junk food like hamburgers and guzzling of soft drinks.

“Zara Sambhal Ke” tries to stress the significance of ozone layer and how we are destroying it. “Ghun Lagi Zindgi” deals with problems of drug addiction and alcoholism. He has made use of songs, used light and sound effectively, introduced alluring characters like fairies on the stage to make the plays appealing.


SSP seeks public cooperation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
The new district police chief Mr H.S. Sidhu, has sought the cooperation of representatives of the public and the political parties in providing the city an effective and responsive police administration. Mr Sidhu, who assumed the charge last week, was speaking to a delegation of Congress activists led by Mr Surinder Dawar, President, District Congress Committee (Urban), which discussed the law and order situation in the city.

Mr Sidhu said that during his meetings with officials and other ranks during the last few days, he had been emphasising the need for making the police force “people friendly”. “Only those who are in need of assistance and justice, visit the police stations and the police personnel, manning the police stations must realise this.” The SSP also said that instructions were issued to first register the report of the visiting complainants which should be properly investigated.

During an interaction, Mr Dawar raised the issue of indiscriminate challans by the traffic police for minor violations and suggested that a comprehensive awareness drive be launched to educate the drivers and school children so that following traffic rules could become a way of life. He offered full cooperation on behalf of his party for this purpose and all such positive steps by the police administration to improve the policing and the law and order situation in the city.

Mr Dawar was accompanied by a large number of party activists and several block presidents of the party at this occasion.


Aid for animal welfare bodies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 8
The Animal Welfare Board of India, Chennai, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, announced the sanctioning of financial aid to animal welfare organisations (AWOs) and gaushalas at its 90th executive meeting held at Chenai recently.

Dr Sandeep K. Jain, Member, Animal Welfare Board of India, in a press note issued here today, informed that the grants to the organisations working in Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh included Rs 4 lakh to the SPCA, Chandigarh, Rs 2 lakh each to Amritsar Pinjrapole Gaushala, Amritsar; Gaushala Committee, Dhuri, Gaushala Committee, Maur Mandi, Sh. Gaushala Committee, Rs 1.50 lakh to Sh Krishna Gaushala, Mandi Gobindgarh, Rs 1 lakh each to the People for Animals Ludhiana, Nabha Gaushala Committee, Nabha; Gopal Gau Sewa Samiti, Ropar and Rs 50,000 each to Nishwarath Pashu Sewa Samiti, Patiala, Raipur Gaushala, Raipur (Mansa), Krishna Gaushala, Sirhind Mandi, Sh Hindu Gau Rakshani Sabha, Hoshiarpur, People for Animals, Jalandhar; Samshan Bhumi Trust, Guru Har Sahai. The Panchayati Gaushala, Goniana Mandi was given a grant of Rs 30,000 and the Blue Cross of Himachal Pradesh, Palampur, Rs 25,000, Him Jeev Jantu Kalyan Sanstha, Kiyani (HP) and the People for Animals Nurpur (HP) were given Rs 20,000 each.

These amounts have been sanctioned for the purchase of veterinary medicines and instruments, establishment and making water troughs for animals, said Dr Jain.


Drive against drugs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
“Drug-addiction is one of the burning problems in the country. It has destroyed the constructive and creative powers of million of youths and we will have to face this challenge at the grassroots level,” Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commission-er, said at a meeting on drug abuse with social organisations and chemists associations here yesterday.

Mr Sandhu said that 80 villages had been identified and divided into eight clusters consisting of 10 villages each to eradicate the problem of drug addiction in the first phase, which would be launched at Kila Raipur. The social organisations like the Brahm Kumari Ashram, the Rotary Club, the Chemists Associations and the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle would adopt two clusters each. These organisations would identify the drug addicts in villages and give them counselling.

Mr Sandhu directed all the SDMs to identify one village in each cluster and fix a date to organise a Drug-addiction camp at the village level. He also directed them to organise seminars in senior secondary schools and colleges to educate the children about drugs.

The Deputy Commissioner directed the civil surgeon and the drug inspector to check the illegal sale of drugs by chemists. He said that appropriate action would be taken against those found guilty.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Education Minister, said that youth clubs, panchayats and mahila mandals in the villages would be involved to organise camps to root out the menace of drugs. He said that unfortunately Punjab had the highest consumption of liquor in the country and the poor classes were using drugs.


Talk on drug addiction
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
Dr Rajeev Gupta, a city based consultant psychiatrist, delivered a lecture on “drug addiction — a social problem” for the students of Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, Sarabha Nagar and DAV Public School today.

Dr Gupta emphasised the need of living an addiction-free life. He said that drugs always led to disaster. They badly affect the memory, concentration and intelligence of the students and gradually forced them to live a pathetic life.

Dr Gupta blamed the increasing use of alcohol and drugs among students being responsible for rising violence and crime in society. Dr Gupta asked the students to take a pledge that they would never touch the drugs and would come forward to remove the menace from society.


Widow pension distribution
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 8
Over 51 widows were given pension by the Shri Ram Dhand Memorial Free Medical Clinic here today during its 32nd widow pension distribution scheme.

According to press statement, free uniforms and school fees was given to over 251 girl students of senior secondary schools. The clinic was also providing training in various courses like cooking, sewing, painting, mehandi and English speaking.


Inter-state gang of car thieves busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 8
The Railway Police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of car thieves, which sold stolen cars with fake registration copies in Jammu and Kashmir. The police was suspecting that terrorists in the trouble-torn state were using the cars.

One member of the alleged gang of car thieves has been arrested, while two of his accomplices managed to give the police a slip. According to the police, three stolen cars have been recovered. The cars had fake number plates.

The breakthrough came when the police checked the papers of a car but got suspicious about the driver.

On questioning, the man, who has been identified as Isfaq Sahil Khan, admitted that the car was a stolen one. On his information, the police recovered two other cars parked in the railway station parking lot.

Disclosing the modus operandi of the gang, Inspector Lakha Singh said the gang used to steal cars from Delhi and Ludhiana and take them to Jammu and Kashmir where fake registration copies of the cars were prepared and then the vehicles were sold.

The police said the registration numbers of the cars were changed to escape suspicion.


Murder case solved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 8
The mystery shrouding the death of a woman whose body was recovered from Bahadur Ke village on July 20, has been solved with the arrest of an alleged murderer, who, according to the police, killed the woman to fulfil his lust.

Ram Chander, the alleged murderer, was arrested by the CIA police on secret information here today. The accused has reportedly confessed to his crime. A police official said the accused, who was a vagabond, spotted a migrant labour near Jalandhar bye-pass and lured her to go with him. He took her to an abandoned room outside the village. When the woman resisted his advances, he stabbed her. The accused is alleged to have raped the woman after stabbing her and left her wounded in the room and fled.

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