Tuesday, October 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Defiant temple authorities resume construction
MC does not know what to do
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 8
In the aftermath of the demolition of an extended wall of Sri Gauri Shankar Mahadev Mandir, adjoining Durga Mata Mandir, here on September 29, which snowballed into a major controversy and saw the MC Commissioner, Dr S.S. Sandhu, being shifted in an undeserving manner, the temple management has assumed arrogant and aggressive postures.

The reconstruction of the pillars and outer wall, allegedly raised on a part of the road, had been taken up as a defiant gesture, while the Municipal Corporation, after initial action of demolition of ‘unlawful’ structure, appeared to have developed cold feet and at least for the time-being, was watching the situation in a helpless manner.

The government decision to order the transfer of Dr Sandhu, under pressure from the local unit of Bharatiya Janata Party, a constituent of the ruling coalition for the simple reason that Lala Lajpat Rai, a party MP, also happened to be the vice-president of the Durga Mata Mandir Trust, had so much demoralised the MC administration that every senior officer virtually sealed his lips when asked for his comments on the matter. So much so that the fact that temple wall and pillars were raised on an encroached part of the road was being sought to be debated by the members of the mandir trust, while the MC officers were also indirectly supporting the move by maintaining a studied silence.

On the other hand, the temple management, emboldened by the mass protest that the demolition evoked and a volte face by the MC top brass, had virtually made their intentions clear by restarting the construction work. Lala Lajpat Rai and other members of the temple trust had been openly castigating the MC for demolition of the structure and throwing challenges to prove if the temple management had encroached upon government land. The veteran BJP leader had chosen to conveniently forget that he had been discussing the issue of encroachment on part of the road with the civic officials for more than a month prior to the demolition.

With the reconstruction of the demolished structure already on, the temple trust had also, in a way, made a four-member committee, comprising two MC officials and two representatives of the temple management, redundant. The committee was set up by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, who also holds the charge of MC Commissioner, to look into the entire issue of encroachment on government land and possibilities of widening the road for the smooth flow of traffic on the main road, where the temples are located. Ironically, the committee was set up in a meeting, in which Lala Lajpat Rai and other members of the temple management were present.

When persistently asked to make the MC stand on the issue clear, the Additional Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, who also heads the building branch, told Ludhiana Tribune that the Assistant Town Planner of the area, Ms Kanwaljit Kaur, had been asked to submit a report with exact measurements of the area of road under encroachment today itself and the report would be placed before the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, for his appropriate orders.



Tragic survival, uncertain future
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Surviving a high dose of poison could have brought cheers to any person but for the 11-year-old Vaijayanti, the sole living member of the family of Bansi Lal, who administered poison to his whole family yesterday, it appears more painful and horrifying.

‘‘ What would I do now? Who will take care of me? How and where would I live?’’ These were some of the questions rocking the mind of this minor girl, who at such a tender age had a close brush with death besides having to undergo a cruel tragedy of watching her parents and two siblings die in front of her eyes.

Her tears had dried up by today afternoon by the time the bodies of rest of the family were cremated only to replaced by a haunting of unsure future. After being tired of crying and asking these questions the girl stared blankly at the mourners sharing her grief at a city cremation ground. Consoled by friends, other relatives and persons who did not even know her, the girl was looking expectantly at them seeking a answer which never came.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the girl recalled the ill-fated Saturday night, when her father had suddenly returned home after weeks of disappearance and brought bananas for them. The poverty-stricken children fought with each other to get most of the share without suspecting that it would be their last meal.

The children began writhing in pain immediately after eating the fruit. She being the eldest, tried to do something for them but felt giddy herself and vomited. In a semi-conscious stage, she saw her parents hugging each other and crying. She told this correspondent that she then learnt they all were going to die but was helpless and could not know what to do. She too fell unconscious.

When she regained consciousness next afternoon, her whole world had crumbled. Her parents, a young brother and sister who used to play with her, were lying dead on a bed. She said she first though they all were asleep but when they did not rise despite being called and touched, she could only scream loudly.

The girl said since then people had been coming to condole her but without providing any solution. She did know what to do. She asked this correspondent what should she do now and but no one seemed to have an answer for her future.



US-Afghan war: tough times ahead for industry
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
With Americans having at long last retaliated and struck back at Afghanistan, speculations about war have ended and the uncertainty started. Although the non-participation of India in the war has come as a great relief for the common man over here, this has led to apprehensions among the business community which has already been reeling under recession for quite some time due to the overall slump.

As the news about the American attacks was aired, people started getting glued to their television sets watching the real war games till late in the night. And it dominated all the discussions all through the day, with the common refrain of relief that Indians were sitting aside. “Had it been otherwise (if India had to participate) it would not have been easy as India could become a direct target”, remarked Mr Jeevan Dhawan, a leading industrialist and social worker.

While the common man seems indifferent except for the general interest about the war outcome, if it has any, the business class seems to be a worried lot. According to Mr Aneesh Dhawan, director of the Gitane Exports, manufacturers and exporters of sweat shirts and jackets, “the war will definitely hit both the domestic as well as the international market”. He pointed out such situations created a sense of panic among the buyers and the retailers become apprehensive, in the process hitting hard the manufacturer. “The war could not have taken place at a worse time, particularly when the industry was already reeling under tremendous pressure”, he observed.

Mr V. K. Goyal, CEO of the Vardhaman Spinning Mills, a leading export house of the country, said: “Although there may not be an immediate fallout, in case the war continues for long, as it appears, this may have an overall negative impact. “The business is obviously going to suffer”, he remarked.

Another exporter, Mr Neeraj Saluja, disclosed that the exports to Europe and Middle East have totally stopped after the war. Presenting a dismal scenario, he revealed that the Ludhiana industry, particularly the hosiery and the cycle and the cycle-parts manufacturing units, were headed for tough times both at home and abroad.

Some leading industrialists, who did not want to be identified, confided to Ludhiana Tribune that they had already started cutting on productions well in advance. “War became imminent on September 11 itself, and everyone expected it. So most of us were mentally prepared for the eventuality”, a leading hosiery exporter of a leading brand revealed, while adding that the duration of the war, as how long it will last will be significant.

The cycle and cycle part industry is the most apprehensive. They have the reasons. Mr Anil Mittal, who exports cycle parts to Europe and other countries, disclosed that ominous signs had started appearing in Cologne, Germany during the bicycle exhibition organised from September 12 to 16. He revealed that while on earlier occasions there would be a mad rush for participation in the exhibition, this year nobody turned up for the exhibition on the first two days, as World Trade Centre and the Pentagon had been bombed only a day earlier. “Now that the war has started, exporters do not have any great hopes as the market, which has already been hit hard by recession, is likely to recede further”, he observed.

While medium and small manufacturers and exporters are already a worried lot, leading exporters with a massive turnover feel no better. “Bigger (business) houses are bound to feel the greater impact, no matter if they are able to bear it. But in the long term the war will hit all types of industry badly”, a senior executive of one of the leading industrial houses observed.



Fruit-sellers using banned ripening agent
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Despite a ban on the use of a commonly used chemical ripening agent, the fruit dealers in the city are using the chemical right under the nose of the health authorities, which do not seem to be bothered about the health of lakhs of people who consume these fruits not knowing the danger lurking inside.

Bananas being ripened using calcium carbide, a chemical which has been banned the world over.
Bananas being ripened using calcium carbide, a chemical which has been banned the world over. 
— IV

While the fruit dealers are violating the orders banning the use of chemical with impunity, the city residents are pouring into the hospitals with mouth ulcers, gastric irritation and even food poisoning after consuming these fruits, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the Health Department.

While the Chief Medical Officer was not available for comments despite repeated attempts, sources in the department told Ludhiana Tribune that only two years ago two such dealers were fined but no dealers had been booked by the department although it was an open secret that they used the chemical in many parts of the city especially to ripen the bananas.

The situation has been assuming alarming proportions as Ludhiana is termed the second largest ripe banana market in North India as bananas worth Rs 13 to 15 lakh are supplied every day to almost all parts of the state. So the dealers, to meet with the demand, are resorting to using the banned chemical for ripening the bananas fast.

A survey by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that in Sabzi Mandi, the dealers had erected such small shelters where the process of ripening bananas was repeated almost everyday with the help of the banned chemical. This process was even carried out in houses of migrant labourers in residential colonies but there was no check on them.

The survey also revealed that the chemical, calcium carbide, commonly known as masala or potash was banned the world over and it was even banned for use in laboratories.

Being sold for Rs 25 per kg the chemical was a cheap substitute of Ethephon, a plant growth regulator which is permissible for ripening of the fruits and costs around Rs 115 per 10 mg.

The chemical is available openly in general stores which are selling it to the dealers. Anybody can visit such a shop and ask for it in as much quantity as one requires.

A fruit-seller, who uses the chemical for bananas, told Ludhiana Tribune that this chemical was so reactive that it caused blisters if was touched unknowingly. He said that if it was kept in sun it emanated very strong gas.

He said that it was usually kept in small packets near the piled bananas for a day or so and the work was over. He said that he knew that the chemical was banned but there was no check on it. He said that he was using it for the past many years and had never faced any trouble.

Dr A.S. Dhatt, a scientist in Department of Post Harvest Technology, PAU, said that calcium carbide was a very reactive chemical but it was being used all-over the country despite the ban. He said that nobody was following the safer ripening process as it required controlled temperature conditions and proved costly.

He said that the actual process required around five to six days and with the use of calcium carbide it required only 24 to 36 hours to ripen the fruit. He said that another chemical Ethephon was permissible as it was converted into gas and was not that harmful for humans, but it being costly, was not preferred by the fruit sellers.

He said that this chemical was not only used for bananas but for other fruits also which matured without ripening. A local doctor said that this was a very deadly chemical and the patients, who he received with ulcers in the mouth and with blisters on the skin, could only be treated with the help of steroids.



Exploitation of children a common sight
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 8
Sundays conjure up pictures of family outing, picnics, movies, eating out , thronging market places. Out of all these, thronging market places is the most preferred way of spending a Sunday evening with friends, family or being just on one’s own.

Sarabha Nagar is the area that has eateries on the roadside, bhelpuri and ‘chatpati’ chaat sellers and big bright balloon sellers, who entice kids dressed in their Sunday best. Restaurants, ice-cream parlours etc abound here. But what is most-heart-rending is the sight of small urchins aged between 9 years and 12 working for 11 to 12 hours a day at a salary of Rs 1000 only Their job is to push the cycles and the cars of well-to-do children to and fro on the pavement.

Literally, it is back-breaking work as they have to bend and push the little vehicles and they have to bend from waist downwards at rather odd angles. It being Sunday, 10-year old boys were hired to meet the excessive rush. Ramu, who works for five hours on Sundays pushing the toy cycles and cars, says: “I work at a tailor’s shop in the day time and come and help out here. I am paid Rs 20 for five hours of hard labour.

The rush starts between 5pm to 6pm. We finish by 11 or 12pm. The only rest period is when the kids are busy doing something else and cars and cycles are free. So we relax for a few minutes, otherwise it is continuous work.”

Monu has been working for the last two years and is quite an old hand at it. He says: “I have four more siblings. The father spends all the money on lotteries. When he loses, he becomes frustrated and turns violent. Living at home can be a nightmare at times. In fact I am caught between the devil and the deep sea. If I do not work, my family suffers as my Rs 1000 does help my family. I can’t think of going to school as I have to help my mother run the family.”

The 20-odd children employed do not get any refreshment from their masters. He just supervises and sees that they are using their time to his profit.

Hundreds of revellers and scores of policemen deputed to maintain security at the market are totally oblivious of the fact that child labour is prohibited by law. Even if children have to be hired, they have to be 14.

After working for three hours, the children need to rest for half an hour. They are not to be working in the late hours. But like in other spheres, the laws are meant to be broken. Moreover, who has the time to be bothered about the problems of poor children. ‘Sub chalta hai’.


Divali may see less pollution this year
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 8
Divali, the festival of lights, can be an environment friendly day this year, if Ludhianvis develop some sensitivity towards environment and buy only those crackers which are eco-friendly and create less noise and air pollution.

Environmentalists are happy that many shopkeepers are selling such like crackers this year. The shopkeepers say that cracker factories at Shiv Kasi have made crackers according to the specifications provided by the Supreme Court. Manufacturers of popular brands have generally adhered to the specifications and guidelines laid down by the court, they said. Crackers are also priced cheaper this time as compared to the last year. The dealers say the market is rather ‘cold’ this year as there has not been many takers for the crackers and yet say Diwali spirit is missing.

According to Amarjeet, who has been in the business for many years, due to high inflation there are not going to be many buyers. Now that the USA has attacked Afghanistan, and also the destruction of the WTC has caused worldwide recession, which has affected Indian economy, as well. Traders feel that Divali celebrations will be a low key affair. Thirty five people have put up cracker stalls at the Government College for Women and all are worried about law sales, he said.


Amarinder to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
This year’s ‘Baba Banda Award’ will be conferred on Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, for his meritorious services to the nation and society. The Panjab Bairagi Mahamandal will hold the award ceremony on October 16 at Raj Kamal Palace, Patiala, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bairagi Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. This was announced by the mandal president, Mr K.K. Bawa, addressing a state-level meeting.

He said the previous awardees included Beant Singh (former CM of Punjab), Rajesh Pilot, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Col Gurbux Singh Dhillon (INA), Gen Mohan Singh (INA) and Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga of the Ghadar Movement.

He announced that Bawa Ravinder Nandi of Ahmedgarh would be given ‘Master Chain Singh Award’ for bringing about social awakening and revolutionary changes in the biradari. Mr Mohinder Das Bawa (Mullanpur) would be honoured with ‘Mahant Lachhman Das Award’ for his efforts to preserve heritage of the Bairagi community.

Prof Jeewan Das Bawa, general secretary of the mandal, commented on the glorious past of the Bairagis and stressed the need to employ the philosophy of Baba Banda Singh Bairagi to fight social evils. Mr Baldev Bawa, president of the Banda Bahadur Brigade, announced that the meritorious students of the biradari would also be honoured at this function.

Others present at the meeting included Mr Harbhajan Das Bawa, chairman, Managing Committee, Dr Gurcharn Singh Pannawa, president, (Sangrur district), Mr Bhagwan Das Bawa, state press secretary, Mr Hari Das Bawa, Mr Darasar Holotali, Mr Barkha Ram Patiala, Mohinder Singh (ETO), Mr Narang Bawa, Dr Mohinder Singh, Mr Puran Das Bawa, Mr Lachhman Das Bawa, Mr Mohan Singh Bawa, Mr Ajit Bawa Kakran, Mr Nand Singh Bawa, Mr Gurdial Das Bawa and Mr Jagdish Bawa.



Woman, daughter unsuspecting victims of AIDS
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
Deepinder Kaur (not her real name) and her four year old daughter Beena are unsuspecting victims of the dreaded acquired immuno deficiency syndrome (AIDS). They do not know when they contracted the HIV virus, which causes the AIDS, but they were diagnosed of having the disease about three months ago. The mother and daughter are living in a nearby village and the entire village knows about their affliction.

Deepinder Kaur was married to Harnam Singh, who recently died of AIDS. Harnam Singh, who was quite old than Deepinder, had married second time after retiring from the merchant navy. He had acquired a good fortune and settled down in his native village. He was running a small business before his death.

While Deepinder Kaur was not prepared to entertain any inquiries on the issue, Harnam’s relatives admitted that he had died of AIDS. They had come to the Additional Deputy Commissioner’s office seeking financial aid for Deepinder and her daughter. They also showed the laboratory investigation reports of the blood samples of Harnam, which confirmed that he had been suffering from AIDS for quite some time.

Says his brother, ‘‘He (Harnam) was getting treatment for various ailments. At one stage we thought he was suffering from tuberculosis. But when the disease could not be controlled, he went to some other doctor, who recommended some tests which led to the discovery that he has been suffering from AIDS for a long period’’. He regretted that they learnt about the disease quite late.

The doctors said that Harnam might have contracted the disease while he was in the merchant navy which made him to move around the world too frequently. Although he had retired from the navy about seven years ago, the doctors said the disease could even take longer time to complete its circle. Moreover, there were no early symptoms immediately after contracting the HIV infection, as these developed quite late when it was difficult to control it.

After he returned home and married Deepinder, she also contracted the disease after the marriage. And their daughter too got it at the time of her birth.



MC employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
Employees of the Municipal Corporation today held a gate rally to focus on the reported highhandedness of the civic administration and the state government. The activists of the sangharsh committee of MC employees threatened to intensify the agitation if the pending demands were not accepted and implemented forthwith.

Addressing the agitating workers, Mr Hans Raj Gagat, Mr Walaiti Ram Moong, Mr Ram Parkash Gill, Mr Dina Nath Sidhu, Mr Jiwan Lal, Mr Baldev Raj Bhumbak, Mr Kala Hans and Mr Kishan Lal criticised the government for dilly dallying over the just and genuine demands of the employees, which included recruitment of safai workers on the basis of seniority, an end to contract system of labour and abolition of mohalla safai committees.

A section of safai workers also held a protest demonstration at the office of the MC Additional Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, demanding reinstatement of 169 safai workers, employed as daily wage workers for years together, who were sacked after an equal number of workers, retrenched during strike period, were reemployed on the basis of directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.



Lions Club holds installation ceremony
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The installation ceremony at the Lions Club (Ludhiana Vishal) was held here at a local Hotel under the Chairmanship of Lion Kamalinder Kumar Singla, Past District Governor. Lion Satish Mehendroo, Past District Governor, was co-Chairman of the function.

MJF Lion K.M. Goyal, International Director Endorsee, from Delhi was the chief guest. Lion Anil Aggarwal and his board of directors was installed by Lion Darshan Mooga, vice-district governor of the District 321-F. Past District Governors, Lion Janak Gupta, Lion K.K. Sawhney, Lion Swarnjit Singh, Lion Rajiv Lochan Mahajan, Lion Paramjit Kohli, Lion K.L. Malhotra and Lion Prem Grover congratulated Lion Anil Aggarwal, President and his team.

On the occasion ‘Lion Shiromani Award’ was conferred on MJF Lion Kamalinder Kumar Singla, Past District Governor, by the chief guest, for his services to the poor and downtrodden people of the society.

As District Governor, Lion Singla had collected and contributed Rs 17 lakh for the eradication of blindness, he contributed Rs 2 lakh for Latur earthquake victims, collected 4,400 blood units for poor patients. About 7,300 free eye operations were also conducted under his leadership.



Victory for developing nations at Geneva: BKU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
The Bharitya Kisan Union (BKU) has termed the draft of declaration of the ministers at the Geneva meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a big victory for the developing countries. The BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, said in a statement here today that stand taken by developing nations dominated the exercise at Geneva for evolving an agenda for the forthcoming WTO World Convention at Doha.

According to Mr Lakhowal, the consensus at the Geneva meet was that the developed countries should put into effect the decisions taken earlier. The Indian delegation played a decisive role by impressing upon the participants that most of the developed countries were going slow in implementation of the decisions taken earlier, which included slashing of subsidies and other incentives to the farmers.

The farmers in developing and underdeveloped nations, he added, were at a position of great disadvantage while competing with their counterparts from developed countries, solely due to hefty subsidies and other facilities, provided to them by the governments of their respective countries. The issue would continue to be under focus in the Doha convention also, if the developed countries failed to act in a desirable manner.

Mr Lakhowal emphasised upon the Union Government to continue its relentless efforts for removal of anti-India and anti-agriculture clauses from the WTO agreement. He further asked the government to initiate necessary steps to get patents for Indian seed crops and breeds of animals under the Patents Act in order to safeguard the interests of the domestic farmers.



NCERT criticised for ‘distorting history’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
The city unit of the ABVP has criticised the NCERT for distorting history of India in its books and blamed communists in the government body for deliberate distortions.

At a meeting yesterday, in which Mr. Kamlesh Singh, state organising secretary of the ABVP, was also present, the pro-BJP student body observed that there was no need to rewrite the Indian history in the NCERT books. The meeting agreed with leaders of the Sikh community who had raised objections against the distortion in the books brought out by the NCERT.

The meeting further observed that the distortions did not relate to Sikh religion alone but to other religions as well. According to history books of the NCERT, Akbar was ‘great’ but these books do not say that Rana Sanga, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh were also greatmen. Moreover, there has been no mention of heroes of the Indian freedom struggle in the NCERT books.

The meeting resolved that the ABVP would urge the Central Government to ensure that distorted history is not printed.



One booked for sodomy
Our correspondent

Jagraon, October 8
Judge Singh (5) of Khangah Mohkam Din Chowk has reportedly been sodomised by Labha of the same locality. The local police has registered a case under Sections 377 and 342 of the IPC against the suspect on the statement by Sarwan Kaur, grandmother of the victim.

According to the complaint, Judge Singh, was playing in the street and went missing at about 6 pm yesterday. His grandmother along with her son, Mangat Singh, tried to find him and when they passed near the house of Balbir Singh, father of Labha, they heard cries of the child. When they knocked the door, Labha fled out of the house and the boy was found in fermented condition.

The boy was examined at the local civil hospital. The suspect has been arrested and sent in judicial custody till October 22, by Mr Harpal Singh, SDJM.



Man held for possessing charas
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
The Division Number 6 police yesterday arrested Kewal Kumar from near Cheema Chowk and seized 260 grams of charas from his possession. The arrested man, who originally belongs to Rohtak, has been living on the Radha Soami road for sometime now. The accused has been booked under Sections 20, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Eve-teasers held

Under the campaign of the city police to nab eve-teasers, the Division Number 3 police on Sunday arrested three boys belonging to Jalandhar and booked them under Section 294 of the IPC. The arrested boys are Birju, Raju, alias Dari, and Sonu.

Beaten up

The Division Number 4 police has registered a case under Section 365, 388, 323, 342 and 34 of the IPC against Darshan Singh and his wife, Manjit Kaur, and another unknown person on the complaint of Mr Avtar Singh, a son of Mr Surmukh Singh, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, who reported in his complaint to the police that the accused accosted him on the way and took him along. Later, the accused locked him in a room and gave him a severe beating before releasing him.

Case registered

The Division Number 5 police has registered a case under Sections 382 and 506 of the IPC against Raman Kumar along with some other persons, all employees of Dada Motors, here, on the statement of Mr Surjit Singh, a resident of Haibowal Khurd, who stated in his complaint that the accused forcibly took his scooter from the New Courts complex on Sunday which he had purchased on installments from the motor company.

Woman held

The Model Town police on Sunday arrested Kalpna, wife of Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of Manohar Nagar, on charge of possessing 24 bottles of illicit liquor. The recovery was made by the in charge of the Atam Park police picket. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered against the accused.

Four held for gambling

Mr Jaswinder Singh, ASI, posted at the Haibowal police station, on Sunday apprehended Rajesh Kumar, Bablu, Rajinder Singh and Hukam Singh while they were gambling. An amount of Rs 1,170 and a pack of playing cards were recovered from their possession. A case under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act has been registered against them.


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