Monday, October 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Debt, poverty force man to kill self, wife and 2 kids
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
In a shocking incident, a debt-ridden man committed suicide after killing his wife and two children by deceiving them into eating poison mixed in bananas at a colony near Tibba Road sometime during last night. The incident came to light in the late afternoon today when the man's third child, an 11-year-old daughter, survived miraculously and narrated the entire tale to her relatives who informed the police.

According to a statement given to the police by the sole surviving member of the family, Vaijayanti, the family was living in acute poverty as their father, Bansi Lal, was spending all his earnings in the lottery trade and suffering huge losses for the past several months. He was even unable to pay the house rent and was allegedly kicked out of several rented apartments. The girl told that her father had taken loan from several persons including his close relatives who had been making rounds of their home demanding their money back.

Police sources said the man used to vanish regularly and had returned to his home yesterday evening only after about two weeks. He was depressed and had brought bananas for them. The girl said the bananas were laced with salt. However, she, her mother Kiran Devi, 8-year-old brother , Anand and a 3-year-old sister were shocked when the man told them that he had mixed poison in the bananas as he wanted to relieve them all from ‘‘this hell like life’’.

The girl said his father and mother began crying and soon fainted. She vomited initially but fainted later.

The girl miraculously survived and came to her senses today afternoon. She immediately raised an alarm and ran outside her house. The neighbours and some relatives living nearby consoled her and informed the Basti Jodhewal police.

Police sources said the bodies were sent for post-mortem examination in the late afternoon and the report was awaited. Civil hospital sources, however, revealed that doctors had confirmed that the deaths had occured due to poisoning. The viscera of the deceased have been sent for examination.

Police sources said the shocking incident has once again highlighted the ill-effects of lottery and satta trade in the city due to which several families had come under heavy debt.

Meanwhile, the scene at the site was hair-raising. The bodies were found at different places in the house. It appeared that the deceased had had a very painful death.


Cops on guard in gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
Tension prevails in the district as reports of protests against sacrilege continue to pour in. The police has provided security at least 20 gurdwaras in the city.

Besides posting at least one policeman each at about 20 gurdwaras, the police has earmarked gurdwaras in an area to specific police parties, which have been directed to conduct regular patrolling. The police had not provided security at the gurdwaras earlier and had told the gurdwara managements to put up security guards themselves.

A bandh-like situation prevailed in Pakhowal and Chowkimann areas. A mob led by local religious leaders blocked traffic on the main highways.

At Pakhowal, shops remained closed throughout the day after a Sikh organisation announced that a bandh would be observed in protest against the incidents of sacrilege. A march was taken out from a local gurdwara to the bus stand. Traffic was blocked at the main Pakhowal road for over two hours.

Tension prevailed in Chowkimann near Jagraon this afternoon as a mob staged a march and blocked traffic on the Moga-Jagraon highway for over two hours. A strong police force was deployed in the area, especially after the demolition of a dera in Siloani village yesterday.

Sources said security arrangements were made in the wake of criticism of the police by some religious leaders for not providing them with security. The police had explained that there were hundreds of gurdwaras in the city and it was practically impossible for them to provide all these with security.

Mr Pritpal Singh, chief sewadar, Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib, welcomed the providing of security at places of worship. He called upon all gurdwara managements to post more security guards to ward off any untoward incident.


Death penalty sought for sacrilege
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has demanded capital punishment for any act of sacrilege. At a public meeting here today, the district head of the SAD (B), Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, urged the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to take up the matter with the Union Government to bring a legislation in this regard.

Mr Makar said, if there was harsh punishment for such acts, no one would dare to commit such acts. He said any person responsible for such crime should be punished under Section 302 of the IPC.

The Akali leader urged people to maintain peace and communal harmony. He blamed the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic Morcha) for trying to spoil the peace in the state.

Mr Makar urged all political parties to rise above selfish interests and create a congenial atmosphere in the state.



Vanjara Sikhs from Rajasthan visit PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
Vanjara Sikhs, a poverty-stricken community which lives in remote areas of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, have been provided with a ray of hope by Punjab Agricultural University here, which had offered to provide the free seeds as well as other agricultural expertise to the community in order to help them in their uplift.

This offer was made to a 60-member delegation of the Vanjara Sikhs, who are presently on a week-long trip to various places of religious and historical importance in Punjab. They were on Friday on a visit to the PAU and left for Baba Bakala on way to Amritsar on that day.

The Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh, called upon the visitors to give a lead to the Rajasthani farmers working in the field of agricultural development following in the footprints of their Punjabi brethren who have led the country to usher in Green Revolution.

Dr Aulakh expressed the hope that the Vanjara Sikhs who had been in close proximity of the Sikh Gurus will be able to meet this challenge. He assured all the help by way of providing improved seeds, vocational training and technical know how. He said that if necessary, some scientists could be deputed to provide on-the-spot guidance in Rajasthan.

Dr Kharak Singh Mann, Retited Advisor, UNO, and Secretary, Vanjara Foundation, recalled the sacrifices of Lakhi Shah Vanjara who took a great risk for bringing the body of Guru Teg Bahadur after execution by the Mughal emperor. Dr Mann also said the Vanjara Foundation would give every possible help to provide employment to Vanjara youths in Punjab. He said that this would pave a way for integration of these Sikhs with the main Sikh stream line.

Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director, Extension Education, and Dr G.S. Nanda, Director, Research, PAU, also addressed the meeting and answered the queries of the visitors.

The members, most of whom have been visiting the state for the first time, were bowled over by the university and especially the Social History Museum. They also visited the farms of the PAU.


Convenience wins as environment loses
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
Notwithstanding repeated warnings by the district administration, Punjab Agricultural University and the Agriculture Department not to burn the stubble of paddy, farmers in the district are still continuing the practice.

While scientists and field workers have been cautioning the farmers time and again against burning paddy stubble as it adversely affects the environment, soil fertility and human health, they are putting the stubble, which is left in the fields after harvesting the crop, on fire to save time and labour.

A survey of the villages in the district by Ludhiana Tribune has revealed that almost all farmers, especially the ones who have harvested the paddy with threshers, are burning the stubble. The resultant smoke is visible not only in the villages, but also the city. A layer of smoke can being seen in the city around midnight, when the environment is said to be clean.

Though most farmers are aware of the ill effects of the practice, they say they will think about it next year. Says Mr Balwant Singh of Latala village, “We know that the fire is dangerous for the fields as everytime the scientists tell us, but what should we do? We have to prepare our fields for the next crop and there is no time left for us now.”

Another farmer says incorporating the stubble into fields by chopping it, as advised by scientists, leads to severe pest attack in the next season. Farmers say the only way is to pull every root out and dispose it of, but this takes a lot of time. They say the pests are destroyed in the fire and the fields are free of stubble.

Doctors say pollution caused by the smoke is responsible for many lung ailments as many cases of bronchitis and allergies start pouring in every year, adding that eye infections are also a common ailment reported due to this.

Dr G.S. Nanda, Director Research of Punjab Agricultural University, said the university had recommended disposing of paddy stubble by any other method as it caused loss of micronutrients present in the top layer of soil and death of microorganisms.

He said the best method was to incorporate the stubble in the fields by chopping it into small pieces.

Environmentalists and agricultural scientists had raised a lot of hue and cry over the ill effects of smoke due to burning of stubble last year. This year the farmers are doing it all over again, not learning from past experiences.


Labourer thrown from rooftop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 7
A minor altercation among three labourers, under the influence of bhang (cannabis), allegedly led to the brutal murder of one of them, who was thrown from the rooftop of a three-storey building at Kesar Gunj chowk in Kotwali police station area at about midnight last. The police is learnt to have arrested the accused, but had yet to announce their arrest ‘officially’.

According to sources, Ravikant Mishra, a labourer, was seen atop a building, along with two unidentified labourers by some residents of the colony. There was an altercation going on among them. They were also consuming something. However, soon thereafter, a loud shriek of a man was heard which was followed by a thud as someone had fallen on the ground.

Later, the residents found that the two unidentified labourers had thrown the deceased, Ravikant Mishra, down. He is believed to have told something to some persons before breathing his last. However, no police official of the district was available to confirm it.


Documentary on paddy farming
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 7
A team of Bollywood actors was in Ludhiana for the past two days as the shooting for a documentary film for farmers was in progress. The 20-minute documentary film ‘Sehyog’ explains how to get good quality of rice. The documentary is in Punjabi and was being shot in paddy fields of Ludhiana. The producers of the documentary plan to dub it in all regional languages later on.

The story revolves around two farmers. One is progressive and uses right pesticides and manure with the obvious result that he gets a very good crop. The other farmer uses traditional methods and does not pay attention to the advice of agricultural experts. The progressive farmer is able to sell his yield in the fields without any problems and returns home happily. His wife is happy that, on her insistence, he took the advice of the agricultural expert seriously. The other farmer is unable to sell the black grains that his crop has yielded for he never took preventive measures as suggested by the agricultural expert which could have helped him in getting a better crop.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the team members said they were happy at being in Ludhiana and enjoyed ‘maaki di roti’ and ‘lassi’ at a wayside dhaba. The film is being financed by Syngenta, a pesticide company. The area manager of the company, Dr M.S. Maali, said, ‘‘The company had launched a programme ‘Sehyog’ with 10 farmers who possessed 100 acres of land. They were advised when to use pesticides so that they could save their crops from ‘tela’, and sheet hopper. The farmers who gave their ‘sehyog’ were happy as their paddy was of good quality and was sold immediately at good price.’’ About the documentary, he said, ‘‘Although it has been set in rural Punjab, the farmers all over the country will benefit from it.’’


BSP to contest all 117 seats
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, October 7
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest all 117 seats in the coming Assembly elections in the state and emerge as a strong political party.

This was stated by Mr Kashi Ram, President of the BSP, here yesterday. He urged Dalits and Jats to prepare themselves for the forthcoming elections. He claimed that 85 per cent of the population of the country was with the BSP and it was capable of forming the government. The party had a stronghold in Punjab and it would not arrive at any sort of agreement with any party, he added.

Mr Kashi Ram claimed that the people were tired of the existing government and the Congress. They wished a change for the better and the BSP was the only alternative, he added. We would form the government and make it run as successfully as in Uttar Pradesh, he said. After coming to power, our first task would be to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations, he asserted.



INTUC to submit memorandum
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 7
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Punjab unit President, Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, will submit a memorandum, urging elections to the state unit of INTUC through secret ballot, to Ms Sonia Gandhi, President, All-India Congress Committee (AICC).

In a press note issued here today, it was stated, “the state unit of INTUC will demand separation of labour cell of the AICC from INTUC, since President of INTUC, Mr Sanjeeva Reddy, has totally failed to organise the labour cell all over the country.” The immediate removal of the National president from INTUC is another demand in the memorandum, said the statement.

In the memorandum it will be asked that some reliable person from private and public sector should be nominated president of INTUC so that the workers movement in the country is strengthened more vigorously and effectively, said the press note.

Officials of the state unit of INTUC, including general secretary, Dr Shiv Gupta, Mr K.R. Tripathi, joint general secretary, Mr Sundar Lal Mehta, vice-president, Mr P.S. Walia, and organising secretary, Mr Wassan Singh Goraya, criticised self-styled leaders of INTUC who had conducted a meeting on September 15 in Ludhiana for participation in the Ranchi delegate session to be held from November 3 to 6.



Demand for pension scheme
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 7
The Class IV Government Employees Union, Punjab, and the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board state sub-committee have urged the state government to introduce a pension scheme for the board employees and pay bonus pending for the past four years before Divali. It also asked the government to implement payment of other allowances such as washing allowance, etc.

Meanwhile, at an annual election meeting, the following office-bearers were elected for the year 2001-2002: president — Mr Ram Pal; senior vice-president — Mr Kashmira Singh; vice-president — Mr Buta Singh; general secretary — Mr Balram Krishan; cashier — Mr Manohar Lal; adviser — Mr Ram Abhilash; auditor — Mr Barjinder Sharma; and propaganda secretary — Mr Gurcharan Singh.


Cable operator, employee assaulted
Tribune Reporters

Sahnewal, October 7
A cable operator and his employee were beaten up, allegedly by three persons involved in the same profession, at Kohara near here on Wednesday. A case in this regard was registered under Sections 341, 323 and 34 of the IPC at the Sahnewal police station yesterday.

According to sources, Satinder Pal Singh, a cable operator at Kohara, his wife Surinder Kaur and his employee Devinder Singh were at his shop when Dilbag Singh, his wife Nirmaljit Kaur and his uncle Sham Lal came and attacked the operator and his employee. Devinder Singh was hit on the head with a tube rod and he was then taken to a private clinic, where he was kept under observation. Professional jealously was stated to be the reason behind the attack.

One beaten up

Nahar Singh of Gailewal village in Koomkalan complained that Gurpal Singh, Ravinder Singh, Sucha Singh and Baljit Singh brought a woman to his poultry farm. When he objected, they beat him up. A case under Sections 323, 324, 342, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC was registered.

Two booked

A case under Sections 341, 186 and 34 of the IPC was registered against two persons on the complaint of an excise officer. Mr Ranjit Singh, the excise officer, mobile wing, Punjab and Chandigarh, complained that while they were bringing a truck (PB-10E-9745) to the Sahnewal police station as it did not carry all relevant papers, they were obstructed on the Kohara road and forced to leave the truck by two car-borne persons, Jasbir Singh and Rakesh Kumar of Mandi Gobindgarh.

Two women held

The police arrested two sisters, Jaswinder Kaur and Sita Devi, of Lamme Jatpura village for scribing the Bhav Sagar Granth at the instance of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara and booked them under Sections 295-A, 153-A and 504 of the IPC. They were produced in the court of Mr Hari Singh Grewal, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), who remanded them in judicial custody till October 20.

Dera demolished

The dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara at Seeloani village near here was demolished. The persons were angered over the recent incidents of sacrilege reportedly by his followers.

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