Friday, August 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Principal told to proceed on leave
Missing answer-sheets case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Punjab Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicine (PCHSM) has directed the Principal of the local Lord Mahavira Homoeopathic Medical College to step down till an inquiry into the missing answer-sheets case is over.

In a letter to the college management, the Chairman of the council, Dr Bhupinder Singh, has asked the management to appoint a senior lecturer as the college Principal till the inquiry committee absolved Dr Ravinder Singh Kochhar of all charges.

The inquiry was ordered by the council on August 10 after some irregularities were alleged in the answer-sheets. The council had debarred some students from taking the supplementary examination. Parents of some of these students had alleged that there had been large-scale irregularities in the working of the council. They had also alleged that some answersheets had gone missing from the examination centre.

The council had initiated an inquiry into the missing answer-sheets case and a subcommittee had also been constituted by the Board of Studies in this regard. The Registrar and Secretary of the Council was told to conduct the inquiry and report back to the board in two weeks. It was asked to give the exact reason for the misplacing of the answer-sheets. The subcommittee will meet for the first time tomorrow.

The council had recently debarred several students from taking the next supplementary examinations on the suspicion of having cheated in the examinations.

One of the reasons for this action against the students by the Unfair Means Committee (UMC) was that the answer-sheets were not in uniform order and contained irregular stamp marks. Though no specific case of cheating has been established against the students, they have been penalised on the basis of some findings of the council members that have not been disclosed to students, much to resentment of parents.

The inquiry will inspect the role of certain officials of the college and the allegations of the misconduct in the last supplementary examinations.

Parents of the students say that their wards have been wrongly penalised and the council should review its action. The Chairman of the council said the action against a clerk and the students had been taken after a proper investigation.



Society ex-secy commits suicide
Police books three colleagues
Tribune News Service

Phallewal (Ludhiana), August 23
A poverty-stricken former secretary of the Cooperative Society Phallewal, who was demoted to the rank of a salesman recently, ended his life yesterday in this village by hanging himself from a tree. He allegedly committed suicide as “he was unable to tolerate any further the alleged harassment at the hands of his colleagues belonging to a rival group”.

Balwinder Singh

On the basis of some letters recovered from the pocket of the deceased, Balwinder Singh, the Jagraon police has booked three employees of the same society on the charge of abetment to suicide by the man. Those booked include Dyal Singh, president, Satinder Singh, secretary, and Jagjit Singh, sewadaar, of the society. The police arrested the former two today, SSP Balkar Singh Sandhu, told Ludhiana Tribune.

A team of Ludhiana Tribune witnessed heart-rending scenes at the house of the deceased, who has left behind his wife and two young children. According to the sequence of events narrated by family members, Balwinder was known to have affiliations with the Congress due to which a group owing allegiance to the Akalis was allegedly harassing him for the past two years. The latest alleged harassment was that he was not paid salary for the past one year and thus was unable to feed his family.

Narrating her tale of woe, the deceased’s wife Amarjit Kaur said their ordeal began about two years ago when Balwinder Singh was falsely implicated in a scam of several lakh of rupees in the society. The woman said all pleas of her husband and influential people regarding his innocence fell on deaf ears, and they had to sell their property to pay off a heavy amount of money swindled by someone else.

However, even after that her husband was implicated in another case. Finally, an inquiry by Assistant Registrar State Co-operative Societies came to their rescue and her husband was re-appointed secretary of the society. However, to their chargin, the local president of the society kept overruling the orders and demoted her husband to the post of a salesman.

Their harassment did not end here. Her husband was not provided salary for the past one year. Due to acute shortage of money, they came under heavy debt in order to make both ends meet. The situation worsened when, due to the non-payment of salary, their children could not continue studies at a school in Kila Raipur. Middle-aged man who had started remaining in acute depression. He began talking of ending his life when the accused allegedly stopped marking his attendance and locked his room in the society.

Yesterday afternoon, his body was found hanging from a tree near the village.

Mr Balkar Singh Sandhu, SSP, Jagraon, said the police had recovered a number of letters in which Balwinder had expressed his mental health and the harassment by some people in the society. He said on the basis of the circumstantial evidence, the police had booked the three accused for allegedly creating circumstances that led to the suicide.



Tree of reverence for students, teachers
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, August 23
This is no ordinary berry tree. It has served as a pillar of support to many students who are studying or have passed out from the Government Senior Secondary School for girls, Bharat Nagar.

Come Thursday and the activity abounds around the tree in the form of prayers and offerings of yellow sweets. More than the teachers here, the berry tree has come to stand as a symbol of reverence not only for the taught, but also some lecturers and residents of the area.

The worshippers believe that the tree possesses some supernatural powers and can fulfill all their desires. While majority of the girls say that they pray for good results and a perfect match, the teachers said that they pray for promotions and good health of their family members. For this, every Thursday they come to the school carrying sweet yellow rice, bananas, besan ladoos or any other yellow-colour prasad, pray with folded hands and do a parikarma of the tree with a firm faith that their desire will be fulfilled.

The faith is so intense that while the tree, which is located in the backyard of the Department of Vocational Studies, is causing damage to the building, no one can dare to even talk of felling it. The teachers say that there has been a plan to expand the building but since the tree falls in the area, the plan has not been implemented.

The students and teachers say that myth is that in the past under this tree there was a samadhi of a saint who vested all his powers in the tree. From that time onwards, the tree grants the wishes when anyone prays there with full faith. Even the girls who have passed out from the school and are married out of the city, make it a point to ‘make obeisance’ to the tree every Thursday, say the students. While majority of the students and teachers worship it on Thursday, some of them come to it on Mondays and Tuesdays when they keep a fast. The students say that at the time of examination, the students can be seen standing in queues, waiting for their turn to offer prasad to the tree.

The faith on the tree is so intense that the students, entire teaching and the non-teaching staff prays before it. The girls of Class IX say that every Thursday they make it a point to worship the tree before attending classes. ‘‘If we miss that time, we ask the class teacher to permit us to worship the beery tree and the teacher never denies,’’ say the students.

‘‘The ber tree has helped us at all times. When we are not prepared for the test, the ber tree helps us to attempt it successfully and when we are scared of examination, it helps us build confidence, so the faith is natural,’’ say the students.



A stepmotherly treatment
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The physical handicap of Lalit Kumar Chopra was not enough to move his father and stepmother. He literally received a stepmotherly treatment from them after he lost both his legs in an accident. His parents turned him out of house and forced him to live in a tin shed on the third floor of the building where they were living.

Lalit Kumar, son of Surinder Chopra, a travelling ticket examiner at the Ludhiana railway station, lost his mother in 1988, after which, his father remarried. Things were not so bad till 1993 when a railway engine crushed his legs and both limbs had to be amputated.

Soon after this, his stepmother started “ill-treating” him, while his father remained “a mute spectator” to this. The couple got a tin shed constructed at the top floor of the Railway Colony building here, where Lalit was made to live. All these years, he would crawl up his way to the top floor. “I did not lose courage because I accepted this as my destiny,” he told a group of reporters outside Bachat Bhavan where he had come to present his case at the weekly ‘sangat darshan’ programme.

Lalit did not give up his studies even after the accident. He was studying in Class IX when he lost his legs. He cleared Class XII examination through his courage alone. “I was convinced that only education could help me get somewhere in life, so, I in spite of tough times, I did not give up,” he said.

He also approached higher authorities of the Railways with complaint against his father, but no one did anything to help him. In 1998, he had applied for a job under handicapped quota in the Railways at the office of the Divisional Railways Manager of Ferozepore. However, so far, he has not received any response in this regard.

It was his teachers who helped him out of the situation. To save him from crawling up the stairs to reach the third floor, his teachers provided him with a space in the Government School of Jawahar Nagar Camp here



Panchayat ghar demolished, land encroached upon
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 23
An interesting incident of encroaching upon the panchayat land after demolishing the newly constructed panchayat ghar has come to light. Mr Jaswinder Singh, a former sarpanch of Lohari Kalan village, in a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, has alleged that the present sarpanch, Mrs Mohinder Kaur, in connivance with Malkiat Singh not only caused a financial loss by demolishing the newly constructed panchayat ghar but also helped him to encroach upon the panchayat land, while the department is dealing with the matter in other way.

In his complaint, he mentioned that when he was sarpanch of the village in 1993-94, the panchayat got a grant of Rs 92,000 from the government for the construction of a panchayat ghar in the village. He said after getting the estimate and the site duly approved from the department, the construction was started. In the meantime, Malkiat Singh filed a suit in a court and got a stay order, which was later vacated and the Sessions Court and the High Court dismissed Malkiat Singh’s appeal.

He alleged that as his term as sarpanch was over and the fresh election was held, the newly-elected sarpanch, Mrs Mohinder Kaur, gave a statement against the panchayat interests and the building was handed over to Malkiat Singh. He said Malkiat Singh not only demolished the panchayat ghar and constructed his house at that site but also used the debris of the demolished building. Thus, the grant and the public money of Rs 92,000 had gone down the drain.

He also mentioned that they had earlier complained to the Director,

Rural Development and Panchayats, who marked an inquiry and the then DDPO, who conducted the inquiry, in his report vide letter No 5191 dated August 31, 2000, recommended the suspension of the sarpanch. The department had neither taken any action in this regard nor made any attempt to recover the government land and the amount.

When contacted, Mr Paramjit Singh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad, who is handling this complaint, said that despite efforts, the present sarpanch had not produced the record. She had confirmed that the panchayat ghar had been demolished and panchayat land encroached upon. He said as soon as the record was produced proper action would be taken.



Probe ordered into beating up of woman
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
In yet another case of police inaction, a woman has been moving from pillar to post to get a case registered against the culprits who mercilessly beat her up, which ultimately led to her abortion. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S R Kaler, before whom the woman appeared today at a sangat darshan programme, has ordered an inquiry to be completed within two weeks.

According to Gurmeet Kaur, a resident of Nurpur village, falling in the Jagraon police district, she was mercilessly beaten up by some of her neighbours on June 9. She alleged, this led to her abortion, as she was pregnant for two-and-a-half months. When she approached the police, no action was taken. In fact, an inquiry conducted by the police held her responsible for levelling false charges, and a case was to be registered against her.

The police is even disputing her claim that she was pregnant and her pregnancy was aborted due to the beating up. However, an initial inquiry conducted by a general physician had established that she had been pregnant for two-and-a-half months. Apparently to prove her wrong, the police referred the investigation to some specialist gynaecologist who also supported the police version that she was not at all pregnant.

As the case has become complicated, Mr Kaler today directed the Ludhiana Civil Surgeon to investigate the matter and verify the facts. However, he took strong exception to the police not taking any action. Even if she was not pregnant, she was beaten up and yet the police did not act, he lamented.

In a separate case, Rajwinder Kaur of Jagraon alleged that she had been deserted by her husband Ravinder Singh due to the pressure from his parents. Rajwinder and Ravinder had secretly married on their own at Gurdwara Mehdiana. They were living together separately from Ravinder’s parents. In the meantime, Ravinder’s parents reportedly kept on pressurising him to desert Rajwinder.

On August 2, Ravinder left her alone at their residence and started living with his parents. On August 21, he married another girl. Rajwinder said, “now he even refuses to recognise me”. Her mother, Surinder Kaur, who is a member panchayat said that although they had filed a complaint with the police no action was being taken. Rajwinder’s father Jeet Singh is a rickshaw puller. Rajwinder also showed the photographs of her marriage with Ravinder.



Debate on Test championship ends in draw
A Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 23
There has been a mixed response here to the decision of the Union Government to disallow the Indian cricket team to participate in the Asian Test Championship. While some persons have hailed the government’s decision, there are others who say that the Indian team needs to play in this tournament against top teams of the subcontinent to improve its performance.

The four-nation Asian Test Championship is to begin from September 15 and Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be there, but not India. This is because the government of India has decided not to play against Pakistan in protest against the Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism in India.

Mr Ramandeep Singh, who works in a multinational company, said, “We should not have any kind of relations with Pakistan. Initially, it seemed to be a political issue, but now, it is a question of self-respect. Pakistan has betrayed India many times and we have compromised every time,” he said.

Shamita, a second-year student of arts in the local Government College for Women, said the government’s decision was justified. “Pakistan has created so many problems for our country and is still encouraging cross-border terrorism. In such circumstances, there is no question of playing with them,” she said.

Mr Sumit Kumar, owner of a retail showroom, also supported the decision. He said, “Before taking on Pakistan in a cricket match, we should solve the other problems first,” he said.

Jyoti, a student of the local Government College for Women, praised the Union Minister of State for Sports, Ms Uma Bharti, for her decision. She said any cricket match between India and Pakistan was not sport, but a war; and a match at this moment could evoke tension between the two countries.

Navneet, who has been a national-level badminton player, criticised the government for “mixing politics with sport”. He said, “This is an absolutely wrong move. If Indians can compete with Pakistan in hockey and wrestling, then why not in cricket as well?” He said the decision was biased. “National sentiments are hurt only when we don’t play against Pakistan,” he said.

Poonam, a local resident, also opposed the move and said, “On one hand, India is trying to improve relations with Pakistan, and on the other hand, it is sending wrong signals there. Sport should not be mixed with politics because sport unites people and does not divide them.

Mr R.R. Katyal, General Secretary of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Association, said such moves could lead to the vanishing of the cricket from the subcontinent. “Cricket is the only game that generates interest all over the subcontinent and matches between India and Pakistan are good crowd-pullers.”



Amnesty move for tainted cops condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Punjab State Committee of the Marxist Communist party of India (MCPI) has condemned the move of the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to grant general amnesty and relief to the police cops involved in cases of custodial deaths and fake encounters during the militancy days in Punjab.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Kuldeep Singh, state general secretary, said, “The cases against these cops have been registered after thorough inquires conducted by high judicial officers and the CBI at the directions of the Punjab and Haryana Court and other high judicial bodies. General amnesty would annul the process of law and would tend to negate the judiciary which would be tantamount to open interference into the functioning of judicial system and rule of law by the executive authority.’’

The Punjab unit of the MCPI has also expressed its serious concern over the irrelevant and irresponsible statement of Mr K.P.S. Gill, who has tried to cast aspersions and suspicion on judiciary and judicial officers. The Punjab and Haryana High Court should take suo-moto notice of the statement of Mr Gill and act according to the law for showing contempt to the judicial system.

The party has opposed any amnesty to cops or extremists of any shade. Mr Kuldip Singh asserted that the cases registered against the cops were moving on very slow pace which were being delayed on one pretext or other.

The MCPI has also strongly opposed the move of the Central Government to increase the pay and perks of Members of Parliament and ministers which would put heavy burden on the state exchequer and ultimately a burden on the people of the country. Need of the hour was to down size the burden by taking austerity measures.

The party has, however, welcomed the move of the Ludhiana police for calling for the lists of property and bank accounts of police officials up to the Inspector level to inquire about the disproportionate income and property of corrupt officials. But it felt that order should not limit to the Inspector level police officers rather it should cover the higher police officers also said Mr Kuldip Singh.



Mega show opens in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 23
Inside Outside Mega Show, an exhibition of interiors and exteriors organised by Business India exhibitors, was inaugurated today by Ms Bublee Sandhu, wife of the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, at Maharaja Palace.

This exhibition is first of its kind in the city. Exhibition will be on for four days. The local co-ordinator, Mr Anup Gupta said it can facilitate leading architects, designers and decorators of Punjab and has provided platform for integration to these three industries.

Organisers are targeting the professionals. About 5,000 special invitations have been sent to the architects and builders of the state, said Mr Gupta. There are about 100 stalls in the exhibition. The sheer variety of products displayed from bathroom fittings to floor furnishings to laminates, veneers, wood coatings, furniture accessories, designer bed linen etc. in the various stalls.

Mr Gupta said this concept was started 10 years ago as Living in Style Exhibition at Welcome Palace.

Mr Vikas Sharma, architect and a visitor to the show said this kind of show helps to develop new ideas.



Construction firm’s claims demolished
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
An inquiry ordered by the Chief Engineer (IP) of the Punjab PWD (B and R) Branch into a claim by V.K. Sood Engineers and Contractors, that all construction material had been washed away in flash floods at a Machhiwara site on August 15, has found the claim to be incorrect. The company had been building a bridge on the Sutlej.

An official of the company, Mr Ashwani Sood, on August 16, had said that, after the water level had reach 1.75 lakh cusecs on August 15, the entire material had been washed away, leading to a loss to the tune of Rs 25 lakh. This had made the company stop the construction work for two months.

However, an inquiry conducted by the Project Engineer of the Central Works Division 3 of the PWD (B and R) of Ludhiana found the facts contrary to the claims made by the company. The probe showed that the water discharge had been less than 1 lakh cusecs and the Irrigation Department had verified this figure. Moreover, the maximum design discharge of the bridge was five lakh cusecs at any time.

The company had claimed that, “Due to a sudden discharge, the work had to be stopped and machinery, cement, sand, gravel and steel were washed away in the flood.” The report said such discharge was normal in rains. It said, “Cement, steel and shuttering plates had not been washed away as reported from the site. Only 5 or 6 truckloads of gravel and sand on the Machhiwara side “might” have been washed away. The report said, “Machines, cement, steel and the other shuttering material on the Rahon side is intact.”

The inquiry report contested the claims of the company and said the intensity of the water current had not been enough to created such damage. It also said the loss could not be to the tune of Rs 25 lakh because no machines had been washed away.

Regarding the claim that about 250 labourers working at the site would be paid Rs 100 per day for the two months when there would be no work on the site, the probe report said the number of labourers at the site was far less than quoted. It said the labourers were already engaged in the other activities at the site. The report said there was no need to suspend work for two months as everything would be normal within a week.



Mother poisons kids, ends life
Our Correspondent

Khamano, August 23
A woman and her two children died after taking some poisonous substance at their home here this morning.

According to sources, a migrant labourer, Sham Pandey (40), living here for the past many years, had four children — two boys and two girls. Today when he went for work, his wife Sandhya (32) gave some poisonous substance in place of medicine to her two children, Sachin (6) and Kajal (4), and had it herself, too, as all of them had been unwell for the past some time. Soon after consuming poison, they started vomiting.



MLA lodges theft complaint
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 23
Mr Balwant Singh Sahpur, the lone SAD MLA from the district, has lodged an FIR with the Bhadon police station alleging that three of his servants had stolen Rs 6.5 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 1.5 lakh from his residence. Interestingly, he came to know about the theft about a month after it was alleged to have been committed.

According to the DDR No. 6 on August 19, written on the statement by the MLA, it has been alleged that he had employed three servants — Bhim Bahadur, Ramu Bahadur and Fateh Bahadur — from Nepal for domestic work and were working for the last one year. He has further alleged that on July 27 all the three servants fled the house and took away cash amounting Rs 6 lakh and jewellery of his daughter-in-law worth Rs 1.5 lakh. He has mentioned that the amount was kept at the house as he had sold his Zen car and an industrial plot. He said he was to deposit an instalment of his bus but the money was found missing. After further search it was found that the jewellery was also missing. He has urged the police to nab the culprits.

When contacted, the DSP said the MLA had lodged a DDR with the Bhadson police station. He said the police would investigate the sources from where the money came and then the arrest warrants for the servants would be obtained. He said the police could not contact the MLA to know the identity of those whom he had sold the car and the plot.

However, on the other hand the police sources confirmed that a police party headed by an ASI along with the son of the MLA had gone to Nepal to nab the servants.



Army man killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 23
Mr Sukhwinder Singh, an Army man aged about 25 years, who belonged to Dehrka village, was killed near Lal Palace here. While taking a turn, his scooter (PB-25L-0383) was hit by a private bus (PB-10AM-5177). He died on the spot. Mr Sukhwinder Singh, who got married in March this year, had come to his village for a week.

LIQUOR SEIZED: A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered against Deepak Kumar, a resident of Charaian, Bihar, at the local police station for possessing 12 bottles of illicit liquor.

GAMBLER HELD: The local police arrested Jaswinder Singh of Bachan Singh Ahata from the Old Sabzi Mandi Area while he was alluring people to invest money in a number game, and booked him under Sections 13 A, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act.



Proclaimed offender arrested after 20 yrs
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 23
The local police arrested Bagicha Singh of Gatti Jattan village, a proclaimed offender who had been absconding for the past 20 years. A case was registered against him in 1982 under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act. This was disclosed in a press release here today by Mr Balkar Singh, SSP, Jagraon.



Boy dies in accident
Our Correspondent

Samrala, August 23
Hardeep Singh (15) of Ghulal village, near here, was killed last evening when the cycle he was riding was hit by a truck near Chahalan village. His body was handed over to his family after post mortem at the Civil Hospital.

The police has registered a case and started investigation.



Patwari arrested
Our Correspondent

Amloh, August 23
The Vigilance Bureau, Fatehgarh Sahib, today arrested Hoshiara Singh, a patwari, from his office and recovered Rs 5,000 which he had taken as a bribe from Mr Harinder, alias Happy.


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