Monday, August 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Armed assailants murder farmer
Escape with Rs 70,000; personal enmity suspected motive
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Bhamian (Ludhiana), August 12
A well-to-do farmer of this village was shot at point blank range by five unidentified armed persons at about 1:30 a.m. last night. The assailants, with muffled faces, decamped with about Rs 70,000 which were tucked under the mattress of the bed of the deceased after killing him They however, did not harm any other family member nor tried to rob any other valuables from the house. The .12 bore gun used by the assailants was recovered in early morning hours from field towards Jamalpur, some 3 km away, from the village.

Though the assailants ran away with the money, robbery does not seem to be the motive behind the murder. Inquiries from the relatives and villagers suggest that the man, Butta Singh, had allegedly been killed because of some personal rivalry. The police was also investigating the case on the similar lines. A senior police official said the relative ease with which the assailants reached the room of the deceased and then picked up his licensed gun, loaded it and shot him in the temple and only picked up the money lying on the bed hints that someone close to the family was involved.

The police was also baffled at a number of contradictions in the statement of the family members regarding the incident. The police said it was unsatisfied with the sequence of events narrated to them and claimed that they had got vital clues about the killers and would solve the case soon.

When the Ludhiana Tribune team reached the village, 15 km from Ludhiana, today morning, almost the entire village had gathered in the front yard of the house of the deceased. A large number of politicians, including Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker, Legislative Assembly Punjab, also visited the house of the deceased and expressed sympathies with the aggrieved family members.

The bed room of the deceased presented a ghastly sight. The white-coloured mattress had turned crimson with blood of the deceased. Besides cutting the telephone cable, the assailants had not touched anything else in the house.

Mohinder Kaur, wife of the deceased, said the incident took place at about 1:30 a.m. She had gone to the toilet outside the house. However, when she was returning, a number of persons pounced on her. The persons, whose number she realised later was five, ordered her not to shout. They entered the first room where the daughter-in-law of the deceased was sleeping. No one disturbed the lobby and went straight into the room of the farmer. They were armed with rods, sharp-edged weapons and probably some fire arm also but they picked up the licensed gun of the farmer kept on a sofa and shot him in the temple while he was sleeping. The assailants then took the money from under the mattress and ran away.

Varinder Singh, a close relative said the woman did not raise an alarm as she feared the assailants might harm the other family members. He said the family does not suspect anyone. The deceased had no enmity with anyone. Mohinder Kaur said she had even pleaded with the assailants to take whatever they wanted and spare her family members. The assailants were speaking Punjabi.

Police sources said they had found it strange that the main gate of the house was left open. It was also noted that the daughter-in-law was sleeping alone in a room on the ground floor while her husband was sleeping with his unmarried elder brother on the first floor.

Interestingly, a police team headed by an ASI was patrolling in the village at the time of the murder. The team was in the village to check whether “thikri pehras” were being organised properly or not. No one saw any suspicious person.


Parents of ‘suspended’ BHMS students flay council
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
The Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicine has cancelled the exams of several students of BHMS, Punjab, and further debarred them from appearing in for the supplimentary examinations. The Unfair Means Committee of the council has communicated this decision to the students saying the decision had been taken as irregularities were found in their answer sheets.

The parents of these ‘debarred’ students have condemned the decision of the council, alleging that the students were being punished without any fault of theirs and that the council had taken a decision on flimsy grounds.

The chairman of the council, Dr Bhupinder Singh, when contacted justified the cancellation of exams saying only 10 students from all over Punjab were placed under suspension. But the chairman said the allegations were not only baseless but misleading also. “The council has every right to suspend any student for upto three years, if any irregularity is found in his/her case by the UMC”, added Dr Bhupinder Singh.

The parents said the council had levelled different allegations like answer sheets of these candidates had been changed and bore only three stamps instead of four. Besides, the colour ruling within the same answer sheets was different.

However, father of one of the students contradicted the stand of the council by saying if the lines of answer sheets were of different colours, it was not the fault of candidates. “The students should not be punished on the basis of error made by the authorities. The stamps are to be branded by examination superintendent or his representative, if he has put on three stamps and not four, how can the students be at fault?”, added he.

The parents said these suspended students were called by the members of the council. They also alleged that the candidates had been pressurised to admit their fault in writing and were threatened with rustication for three years and their cases will be given to the police.

They asked even if that the answer sheets were changed, written at home and were re-attached with the original, as alleged, how could it be possible without the connivance of examination authorities? “The answer sheets are kept in the custody of Registrar, Principal or Superintendent”, questioned the parents.

The guardians of suspended students said a lot of money was required for this obligation and some of the parents were even unable to pay the tuition fees on time.


BSP to go it alone in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Mr Kanshi Ram, has ruled out any alliance with any political party for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. He said, the party had bitter experiences in the past and it would prefer to go it alone in the 117 seats.

Talking to reporters after addressing a function organised in memory of Shaheed Baba Bacchiter Singh at Salim Tabri here today, Mr Kanshi Ram claimed, his party had consolidated its position here and was in a position to form its government.

Regarding the alliance with the Panthic Morcha, he said, “I want to clarify that we will not align with anyone as we have always been betrayed by other parties”. He disclosed that the focus of the party would be to strengthen its cadres instead of playing second fiddle to others.

He said, instead of aligning with other political parties, he would like to unite all those castes, which had been ignored and exploited so far. He claimed that he had been successful to a great degree and was still continuing with his mission. He said all political parties, even the Communists, who claim to be most progressive, had failed the exploited people.

The BSP chief predicted Assembly elections November and said the party was preparing for the same. He said he was optimistic about the party’s performance in the state as the cadre was expanding.

Criticising the ruling alliance in the state, he alleged that those who were claiming to believe in equaility were the worst culprits. He claimed that there were about five lakh bonded labourers in the state and all of them belonged to the downtrodde sections of the society.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jaimal Singh, president of the Sarpanch Union, assured full support and cooperation to Mr Kanshi Ram in his mission for emancipating the exploited and the downtrodden sections of the society.


Diggers brave death to eke out a living
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Dadhera(Mandi Ahmedgarh), August 12
Undeterred by the number of deaths of labourers during well digging, residents of this village, whose majority of population is of traditional well-diggers, continue to follow the profession since ages, due to the dearth of other jobs.

As many as 125 families of Khans of this village, who have a knack of digging wells, have lost at least one of their family members, during the digging work, in the last decade only in several parts of the state. The villagers are employed as labourers for the jobs of digging the wells in several parts of the state for deepening these due to the depleting water table.

Despite being offered peanuts for the difficult job which is risky as is clear from the high number of deaths, these villagers have no option but to take these assignments. This despite the fact that many families have lost their bread winners.

They have been in this profession for the past many generations when the water table of the region started falling. Every year the agriculturists feel the need for deepening their wells and the Khans are deployed for the jobs.

A common saying in this village is that the Khans have some supernatural powers which enable them to dig the wells.

The young and old are doing the work not caring for the danger lurking ahead. Their womenfolk are dead against their men engaging in this work as many of them lost their husbands, sons and grandsons. But the men say that they have no other source of earning.

Saleem Khan, a digger of this village, while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, said that his daughter-in-law’s brother died recently at Latala village leaving his old parents at the whims of the fate. He said that this profession had only brought them miseries. He said that they were paid Rs 150 for digging one feet of well and it took them at east a week for digging 40 feet of well.

He said, ‘‘Putting our life at a stake we get on to the job but at times after days of hard labour we are not paid a single penny by the farmers. Some farmers are so stingy that they tend to hold back the money and send us back without it. Then we have to take the help of police who is, however, of not much help to us’’.

He said that only during the past few years the village lost six youths and 12 labourers who were buried under the earth, which caved in while digging the wells. Recalling the deaths he said Dani Mohammed (21) of the same village died recently digging a well at Pooniwala village leaving his little daughter, wife and old parents to the mercy of God.

Another youth Shamshad (18) died in similar circumstances followed by Joohar, Aiti Lambardar(8), Razaq Mohammed (28) and Meena Sardar. Fina said that he himself had a narrow escape a few days ago when he, along with his nephew, was digging a well in a village. He saw the earth sinking in and he pulled his nephew out and himself got stuck. Then his nephew went running to the villagers who rescued him.

His wife got so infuriated after the episode that she had not allowed him to take up such assignment in future. ‘‘We, the women of the village don’t want our husbands to dig wells. But seeing our children starving we send them. Back home we keep praying the whole day and heave a sigh of relief after seeing our men coming back. But this is our fate. No body can do anything about it,’’ said his wife narrating her tale of woes.


Janmashtami celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
Janmashtami was celebrated with fervour at Arya Samaj, Dal Bazar, at a function organised by the Arya Sabha, here today.

Presiding over the function, Mr Roshan Lal Arya, president, Arya Sabha, Ludhiana, said that by his sermon 500 years ago, Lord Krishna had done a great favour to the mankind. If everyone followed the principle of working without caring for the 'fruits' and absorb it in our lives, then most of our worries, tensions and other problems would come to an end.

Swami Shobhanand, in his address, said that Lord Krishna’s life was full of struggles as he had to kill Kans and rescue his parents from jail. Later, in the battle of Mahabharta, he sided with religion. True celebrations of Janmashtami meant following the teachings of Lord Krishna, he added. Surinder Kumar Shastri presented a bhajan on the occasion.


When rain brings more misery
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, August 12
In the monsoon season, almost everybody prays to God for heavy rain, but employees and customers of banks on famous ‘Bank Street’ near Vishwkarma Chowk pray for no rain. Heavy rain here is taken to be a curse for them. They have to suffer a lot due to accumulating of water on the sub-way in front of the famous street.

Visiting any of the bank on a rainy day is like an expedition. You are left with no other option but to park the vehicles on the main road. For crossing the water flooded sub-way, you have to fold yours trousers up to knee and hold your shoes, socks and other articles in hands before crossing through it.

One of the customer, Raman (not real name) said, “This place became hell during the heavy rainfall. The accumulated water stinks so much that one has to hold his breath while crossing that pool of dirty water. That day, I have to take bath twice, before visiting the bank and after that.”

Since the banks are in one of the prominent business place of the city, they have a large number of customers who had to suffer a lot during rainy season.

There are about 10 banks and every bank has a large number of customers. The business of these banks are more as compare to other banking place in the city.

The Branch Manger of UCO Bank, Mr Anil Anand, said, “The daily cash transaction of the bank is about Rs 2 crore. The whole business everyday of all banks on the ‘Bank Street’ might be of Rs 30 crore. Such a centre of huge financial activities deserves to have the adequate facility like proper parking, electricity and water.”

There is no effective drainage system in the area. In every monsoon, every bank spends about Rs 2,000 each time, to draw the water out of the office. The only temporary solution to keep the water outside offices is putting up sand bags as an obstruction in its way.

Association of these banks have given many memorandums to the authorities but they have not taken substantial step regarding the problem. Despite being important place from business point of view the authorities concerned remain ignorant about the problem.


Seminar on Punjab and Punjabis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
The Atma Raksha Sangh, a body of war heroes, war widows, veterans, pensioners and youth will organise a seminar on ‘What Punjabis should do now’, on August 26, which will be attended by senior citizens, pensioners and ex-servicemen of the city.

The above decision was taken at a meeting of the body recently which was attended by Col H.S.Dhillon, chief coordinator, Punjab, Mr B.R.Kaushal, president, Punjab Pensioners Confederation, Maj H.S.Neelon, president All-India Ex-Servicemen Action Committee and Mr A.K.Singh, chairman, All-India Railway Pensioners Association.

The president of Atma Raksha Sangh said that Punjabis had not progressed in economic, social, education, health or cultural fields by the Punjabis. He said that farmers were committing suicides and unemployment had crossed all limits. 


Five PSEB employees beaten up
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Nearly 10 persons allegedly beat up five employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board and snatched cash, watches and other valuables from them at Focal Point, here late last evening.

The PSEB employees namely Mr Darshan Kumar, Mr Heera Lal, Mr Saher Singh, Mr Satish and Mr Rajinder Singh were injured. According to the police, the employees were rectifying some fault in electric lines when an argument over some matter erupted and it soon led to the clash. The police said it was suspected that the employees might be removing kundi connections. A case has been registered but no one has been arrested so far.


Power shutdown
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 12
According to PSEB sources, power supply to Focal Point, Narotam Nagar, Bil Bali Chhapri, Ram Nagar, Shivpuri, Railway Road, Kucha Partap, Nai Abadi and New Grain Market areas will remain suspended from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on tomorrow


Havan, yajna for world peace
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
A two-day havan-yajna for world peace was jointly inaugurated by Mr Sat Pal Gosain, deputy speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and Mr Parminder Mehta, president, District Youth Congress (I), at the Kusht Ashram, Islam Ganj, here today. The ceremony also marked the beginning of Janamashtmi celebrations at the ashram. 


DCC meeting today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
A meeting of the District Congress Committee (DCC), Ludhiana (urban), is scheduled to be held tomorrow. According to the DCC president, Mr Surinder Dawer, the meeting would be attended by all local leaders of the party and the two central observers, Mr Ganga Ram Sharma and Dr Ajit Anand Digvekar. The meeting assumes significance in view of the mass mobilisation programme of the party, which is being closely monitored by the two observers. Mr Sharma and Mr Digvekar, both from Chhatisgarh, are scheduled to stay here for 10 days and seek opinion from a cross-section of people.


Slowing down of economy decried
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
The Federation of Tiny and Small Scale Industries of India has decried the slowing down of the Indian economy. As per the central statistics, the growth of manufacturing sector had come down to 2.1 per cent from 6.1 per cent during the first quarter of the year 2001-2002.

Mr Joginder Kumar, president of the federation, said in a press note issued here today that in the months of April, May and June, growth in the manufacturing sector had come down to 2.1, 1.9 and 1.5 per cent respectively.

The declining trend had proved as correct the apprehensions expressed earlier by the federation leaders that following removal of quantitative restrictions on imports, the manufacturing sector would be adversely affected, he added.

Mr Joginder Kumar further revealed that nearly half of the manufacturing units in the small sector were on the verge of closure and massive unemployment was likely to be created as more and more units closed shop in the near future.

It was in this context that the federation had decided to urge the Prime Minister to convene an urgent meeting to evaluate the policy measures announced by him last year on August 30 at the national convention of SSI. 


Traders to call on Punjab CM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
The Electronics Traders Association (ETA), Ludhiana, has constituted an eight-member committee which will call on the Chief Minister at Chandigarh and submit a charter of demands to him.

At a meeting of the association, which was held here today with Mr Daljit Singh Tuli in the chair, it was decided to submit a charter of demands to the Chief Minister listing the demands of the electronics dealers.

The association wanted reduction of sales tax on electronic goods. It was pointed out that sales tax rates on electronics were much lower in the neighbouring states and due to corruption in the Sales Tax Department, electronics trade in the city and the state was suffering heavy losses. It was also decided to ask for abolition of octroi on electronic goods.

The meeting also decided to ask the Chief Minister for a reduction in the general power tariff which would further boost the electronics trade.Back

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