Sunday, October 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



MC develops cold feet over encroachments
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 27
Chances of the civic administration taking any steps against the recent encroachments by religious bodies upon part of a public road and a park in the city are remote, if any, and after the initial hullabaloo, the Municipal Corporation appears to have developed cold feet in moving against the offenders.

In utter disregard to the fact that a lackadaisical attitude towards encroachments in the city, if not curbed with a firm hand, might take a turn for the worse, MC officials have put the entire issue on the backburner in the hope that with time it might be forgotten.

A senior MC official during an informal chat confided to Ludhiana Tribune that come what may, the MC would not touch any religious body to remove the encroachment on the road. For obvious reasons, he requested not to be quoted.

After what happened to the then MC Commissioner Dr S.S. Sandhu, when a portion of the temple, extended towards the roadside was demolished in a midnight operation here, the reaction of the civic administration is understandable. But what will happen to civic planning if the encroachments, particularly those by religious bodies, are allowed to mushroom, seems to be nobody’s concern.

Close on the heels of the encroachment of a part of a road by Durga Mata Mandir Trust, the management of Shiv Mandir in Kitchlu Nagar had put up a gate at a public park, right in front of the temple, despite assertions of the MC officials that they would permit nothing of that sort.

That except for passing the buck when asked the reason for inaction, the MC officials took no corrective measures, is evident from the fact that construction work continues at the Durga Mata Mandir and the gate, put up at the Kitchlu Nagar park, remains installed with no action, whatsoever, from the civic administration. The reports, submitted by officials of the building branch on the extent of encroachment in the two instances, were gathering dust in the MC office, with no one apparently keen to ‘bell the cat’ and risk his neck in the process.

The Deputy Commissioner Mr S.K. Sandhu, who retained the charge of the MC Commissioner after the transfer of Dr Sandhu for almost two weeks, was under immense pressure on the issue of encroachments and had called for detailed reports from the building branch, which were duly submitted to him for necessary orders, which never came. But with Mr R.L. Kalsia taking over as the new Commissioner, Mr Sandhu can breathe easily now and leave the new Commissioner to deal with the situation, who might take some more time to act as he was still in the process of acclimatising himself with the day-to-day working of the civic body.

While senior MC officials were maintaining a studied silence on the matter and making allout efforts to steer clear of the controversy for obvious reasons, civic employees in general, were of the opinion that the MC administration had always been rather indifferent to instances of encroachment by religious institutions and cite several examples to substantiate their statements. “This is a sensitive issue and charges of hurting religious sentiments can snowball into major controversies and even create communal tension. But then places of worship should not indulge in erecting encroachments and other irregularities,” remarked a civic official requesting anonymity.



Flouting safety rules with impunity
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, October 27
Fireworks retailers are violating the fire safety rules made for safety of life and property during the sale of fireworks on the occasion of Divali by the Department of Explosives. According to a rule, the fireworks stalls or sheds must be at a distance of at least three meter from each other. But investigations reveal that at some of the places earmarked by the District Administration for the sale of crackers, the shop do not maintain the distance specified, which is essential to minimise loss in case of fire. If the shops were to be put up separately, it would be easier to control fire on a particular stall or shed.

Retailers often violate this rule for better display and effective use of vacant space. They do not want to leave even an inch of available space, so that a wider range of fireworks may be displayed effectively. In order to avoid any legal hassles, they do put up the stalls at a distance of three meter, but connect these stalls with iron or steel sheets, so that the ‘blank shop’ between two stalls is not be visible to customers and they then use the space in front of these sheets for display of their product. In this way, they manage to hoodwink law enforcement authorities.

This is not the only violation. According to another rule, retailers are not allowed to use the footpath or space in front of the stall. It is also mandatory for the retailer to ensure space for the customer and avoid congestion. But these rules are seldom followed by them.

It is also mandatory to have a sufficient number of fire extinguishers and fire buckets at every fireworks stall, but sources reveal that retailers get a small fire extinguisher on rent or from a friend which is returned after the safe and sound sale of fireworks.

An other rules to sell fireworks to an adult or person not below 18 years which is often violated most often. On can often witness children, buying fireworks.



Murder accused at large despite bail cancellation
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
Anil Jain, an undertrial facing murder charges, continues to be at large despite the cancellation of his bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 15 and the issuance of arrest warrants against him by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana, on October 23.

In a letter addressed to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, Rima Jain, wife of Sunil Jain, who was found murdered under mysterious circumstances on October 23, 1999, apprehended that Anil’s being at large might lead to the destruction of evidence against him.

Anil Jain is the main accused in the case relating to the murder of his brother Sunil Jain. She alleged that eversince Anil was released on bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on November 16, 2000 he had been trying to tampar with the evidence and win over witnesses.

She pointed out that despite stern warnings by the High Court, Anil won over three main prosecution witnesses, who were declared hostile by the court. She said, in view of this, the High Court immediately cancelled his bail on October 15. Subsequently, the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr A.K. Sharma, issued arrest warrants against Anil Jain on October 23. But he had not been arrested so far.

However, officials at the Focal Point police station, where the case had been registered, claimed that they were yet to receive the orders of the High Court and the arrest warrants issued by the Additional Sessions Judge. They said the moment they received the orders, they would take immediate action. Rima Jain, however, said one of the officials in the police station had confirmed to her that the court orders had already reached them.Rima Jain alleged that instead of submitting to the process of law, Anil Jain was harassing and threatening her by involving her in false cases concerning his mother’s property and also trying to win over the remaining prosecution witnesses. She said she had to move the High Court for a blanket bail for the “false cases” registered against her by Anil, his mother, Sudershana, and his wife, Sangeeta. The court granted her blanket bail till December 7.

She said, she perceived a threat to herself and her family, besides the prosecution witnesses and appealed to the SSP to provide them protection till the trial of the case was completed. 



Dalits to stage dharna at Raj Ghat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
The Government of India may have chosen to adopt ostrich-like attitude during the World Conference Against Racism in Durban by taking the line that our Constitution ‘ensures’ that Dalits are not discriminated against, but complaints regarding caste-discrimination continue to pour in from all parts of the country. And the ‘progressive’ state of Punjab is no exception. Continuous discrimination against the Dalits of Jhal Bibdi village in Kapurthala district has forced them to take the hard decision of leaving their village and starting a protest march to Delhi on November 14, the day of Divali.

According to Mr Gian Singh, a representative of Dalits of the village, “All Dalit families will lock their houses and deposit keys with the Deputy Commissioner before proceeding to Delhi on foot. We will stage a dharna at Raj Ghat and continue sitting there till we get justice and our oppressors are punished.”

Dalits of Jhal Bibdi, in a pamphlet, accused the upper-caste-dominated village panchayat of taking a discriminatory decision of closing down one of the two ponds, meant for draining out the sewage water. They allege the panchayat has diverted the village development grant to build a drain connecting the two ponds. Now, the pond that used to drain out water from the houses of Zamidars has been filled up with sand, and water from the entire village is being diverted to the pond situated near the low-lying Dalit colony, they say. The Government Primary School, where most of the children of Dalit families go for school, is also low-levelled and adjacent to this pond. Dalits apprehend that with the pond receiving water beyond its capacity, their houses as well as the school building may get damaged. They allege that ‘Manuwadi’ zamindars are annoyed with them because they have stopped working as bonded labourers for them, and started moving to cities for employment.

They also hold a grouse against the district administration for being a party to the discrimination against them. They allege that Mr Vivek Aggarwal, who took over as the DC Kapurthala in June, has overruled the decision taken by Mr V. K. Singh, former DC, that both ponds in the village should remain open. The new DC has decided that the existing pond will be made deeper, and extra water will be drained out in the land adjacent to the pond, they say, adding that this land is the playground of the school.

They apprehend that if the pond is deepened, the water they draw out from handpumps for drinking, will become even more polluted. They have warned that if the grant meant for village development is (mis)used for increasing their miseries, they will be forced to write to the Central Government, the World Bank and the IMF to stop giving aid to the Punjab government.

They have appealed to the people of the state to send copies of their pamphlet to the SC/ST National Commission, Chandigarh, in order to bring their plight to its notice. They have also approached the Dalit Dasata Virodhi Andolan (DDVA), Phillaur, which has in turn appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter. According to Mr Jai Singh, president of the DDVA, “The plea taken by the District Development and Panchayat Officer, that the second pond was built on private land and so its owners could not be restrained from filling it, was not justified. The pond was built on mustarka malkan land (common land of the village).”

On being questioned, Mr Aggarwal, District Commissioner, said, “Several inquiries have found the panchayat decision to be correct as the village, being small, needs only one pond. Besides, more ponds will result in more filth. However, in case water enters the houses of Dalits, we may decide to reopen the second pond.” 



Cyber cafes thrive on porn sites
A Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
Easy access to adult websites and lack of monitoring by the police has strengthened the zeal of Internet surfers to visit these sites without any restriction.

Ms Anita, who regularly visits cyber cafe to check her e-mail, said “It become very uncomfortable to sit in a cafe when a person sitting on the next system starts visiting adult sites. Those who come in groups, generally start talking about these sites loudly which makes it uncomfortable for the others to sit there”.

Mr Harish, a netizen, said he felt embarrassed when he noticed some young boys sitting next to him in an Internet hub opening pornographic sites. He said lack of monitoring by the administration had encouraged such users.

“In some cyber cafes, no separate cabins are available and one user can easily watch the monitor of an- other user. At such places when anyone opens an obscene site it becomes difficult for the others to sit on the next seat,” he said.

According to another netizen, it should be the duty of the cyber cafe owners to keep a check on the kind of site the customers were visiting. He further said these websites could easily be locked. ‘Netnanny’ and ‘Cyber Petrol’ are the software that could be used to restrict the use of unwanted sites by the network service providers. However, cyber cafe owners maintain that it was quite difficult to keep a vigil on all users sitting in the cyber cafe.



No check on illegal sand mining 
Tribune News Service

Qadian, October 27
The state government has failed to check illegal sand mining in the Sutlej river bed here, which is going on for the past many years with the alleged connivance of some officials of the Mining Department, local police and neighbouring farmers. It has badly damaged the Dhusi bundh and created a flood threat to the city and its neighbouring villages. The contractor is allowing the lifting of sand from the restricted area near the bridge. Tractor-trollies have been running without any permit from the Transport Department. These vehicles have badly damaged the newly constructed link roads and the dust has badly affected the crops in the nearby fields.

The panchayats of six villages, including Kadian, Kassabad, Jamalpur Lelli, Bhatian, Bhaderke and Hazurbagh colony, have passed resolutions demanding a ban on sand lifting and illegal mining near the bridge and the Dhusi bundh, as it has created a threat to their survival.

The residents of Kadian and nearby villages held a dharna on the road today to stop loaded vehicles coming from the river bed. Mr Rachpal Singh, sarpanch of the village, said, ‘‘It is a scandal which is going on with the active connivance of some officials of the Mining Department, local police and neighbouring farmers, who are collecting Rs 100 per tractor-trolley and Rs 150 per truck, besides the same amount “being charged by the contractor.’’

He said according to the mining rules 40 paise should be charged per tonne of sand as royalty, but the contractor was charging Rs 100-150 per vehicle for allowing sand lifting from the banned area. He added, ‘‘We have submitted a memorandum to the DC, besides writing to the Chief Minister, the Irrigation Minister and the State Transport Commissioner, but nothing has been done so far to stop this illegal mining. Perhaps a flood like that of 1987-88, when the Dhusi bundh had breached here resulting in heavy damage to crops and animals in the neighbouring villages and about one third of the Ludhiana city, would awake the government.’’

Later a visit to the river bed, about 3 km from here, revealed that a number of vehicles were being loaded with sand. Mr Surinder Singh of Loharan village, who was loading his tractor-trolley, questioned, ‘‘How can it be illegal? We have paid Rs 150 to the farmer, who claims that he owns this land, and Rs 100 to the contractor. It is government’s duty to check mining, if it thinks it was illegal.”

Mr Charan Singh, a farmer, accepted that he was collecting money for allowing sand lifting. He claimed that he owned the land and was not worried about any action.

Mr S.R. Kler, ADC (Development), when contacted in this regard, said, ‘‘We are conducting an inquiry and action would be taken if someone was found digging sand from the government land.’’ He, however, expressed ignorance about the charging of money by the farmers. Regarding the damage to the link roads, he said, ‘‘The roads are bound to be damaged, but these are also repaired in due course.’’

The village panchayats have urged the Chief Minister to order an inquiry into the scandal. Prof Manjit Singh Qadian, district general secretary, Bharati Kissan Union, said the villagers were not against sand mining, but the government must construct wide roads towards river bed and ensure that mining was restricted to a limited area only, without damaging the bridge or creating a flood threat”.



Demand to regularise daily wage staff
Our Correspondent

Khamano, October 27
The PWD Workers’ Coordination Action Committee has urged the state government to regularise the services of about 4000 daily wage workers, who have been working for the past 16 years. At a meeting here today, Mr Suresh Sharma, state president of the committee, condemned the state Finance Department for not regularising the workers.

He announced that the morcha started at Matka Chowk, Chandigarh, would continue till the demands were met. The workers of PWD the Public Health, and the Irrigation Departments, PUDA, the Sewerage Board and the Forest Department will hold marches in the constituencies of all MLAs belonging to the ruling alliance.

The speakers announced that if the demands were not met, a big rally would be organised at Gidderbaha on December 11, where the next course of action would be announced. The meeting was addressed, among others by the convener of the union, Mr Baljit Singh Badrukhan, Mr Sukhdev Singh Saini and Mr Mohinder Singh Dhaliwal.



Autorickshaw drivers hold march
Our Correspondent

Autorickshaw drivers hold a protest march in Ludhiana on Saturday.

Ludhiana, October 27
Autorickshaw drivers, belonging to the Ludhiana Zila Autorickshaw Union, staged a dharna here today in protest against challans by the District Transport Officer (DTO), and the SP (traffic), on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, as the Ludhiana Mini Bus Operators Union had filed a writ petition demanding a check on the illegal plying of autorickshaws on their routes without permits.

Mr Om Parkash Jain, president of the union, said: “The administration has not taken any action against the illegal plying of mini buses, which do not have any permits, but the poor autorickshaw drivers are being targeted.”

He urged the government to allow them to run the autorickshaws within the city limits as they were providing valuable service to the public. He said the indiscriminate issuance of licences for new autorickshaws was creating problems. The district administration should put a ban on this.

It may be pointed out that the DTO and the SP (traffic) have been asked by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to appear in the court on October 29 in connection with a writ petition filed by the mini bus operators, in which they had blamed the two officers for not taking action against the autorickshaw drivers, who were operating without any permits on their routes.



Call for medical bandh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
The district unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has given a call for medical bandh in the city on October 31 against recent attacks on medical professionals by certain anti-social elements.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president, IMA, Ludhiana, in a press note here today said certain persons who wanted to tarnish the image of medical professionals were creating problems. Nursing homes were being attacked regularly in different parts of the country. He alleged that any death in a nursing home or hospital led to problem for the doctors. Police cases were also filed against them.

He said under such circumstances, it had become virtually impossible to work. Dr Gursharan appealed to all medical professionals to close their establishments on October 31.



Infantry Day celebrated
A Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
Infantry Day was celebrated today at the Officers Mess of the 103 Inf Bn (TA) Ludhiana, Dholewal.

Serving and retired officers of various units and battalions participated in the celebrations.

Infantry played an important role in the 1971 war against Bangladesh, which India consequently won on October 27. After the historic victory, this day has been observed as Infantry Day.

In the morning, Col T.P.Singh, Commanding Officer 152 Inf. Bn TA (Sikh), conducted the Sainik Sammelan where martyrs were remembered.



Demonstration against US attacks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
Activists of the Lok Morcha, Punjab, staged a demonstration here today in protest against the US attacks on Afghanistan and called for immediate end to the bombings. The morcha said the bombings were only leading to civilian casualties.

The activists started the march from the Clock Tower and after passing through different areas reached the Mini Secretariat where they staged a demonstration. Criticising the USA for launching a war against people of Afghanistan, they alleged that it was not a war against terrorism but only an attempt by the USA to establish its supremacy.



4 held on eve-teasing charge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
The division No 4 police arrested four eve-teasers on Friday and booked them under Section 294 of the IPC. Those arrested are: Sowami Nath, a resident of Shanti Nagar, Narinder Kumar, a resident of Khawaja Azam Chowk, Romesh Kumar, a resident of Jodhan village and Deepak, a resident of Dhuri Lines, Manohar Nagar, Ludhiana.

Duped of diamonds

The Division No 5 police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Vinod Bhalla, a resident of Chandigarh, against Banarasi Lal and Soni, also residents of Chandigarh . Mr Bhalla has alleged in his complaint that he had given six diamonds to the accused for selling. But the accused had neither sold the diamonds nor returned the same to him and thus committed a breach of trust and fraud.

Case registered

The Division No 3 police has registered a case under Sections 420 and 506 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Vishnu Gupta partner, M/s National Yarn Agency, Madhopuri, Ludhiana , against Rajiv Nagpal, son of Mr Mehar Chand of M/s Hari Collection, Farid Nagar. The accused used to buy hosiery goods from the complainant but a cheque given by the accused was dishonoured by the bank concerned.

Knife seized

The police on Friday arrested Vinod Kumar alias Raju. a resident of Karnal, from Bajwa Nagar, and seized a kamanidar knife from his possession during special checking. A case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered.

Liquor seized

The Model Town police arrested Shiva, a resident of Manohar Nagar, from Arora Market Friday during special checking and seized 12 bottles of country liquor from him. The accused has been booked under sections 61,1 and 14 of the Excise Act.

Goods recovered

The Focal Point police has registered a case under Section 292 of the IPC against Pawan Kumar, a resident of Guru Arjun Dev Nagar, Ludhiana, Ram Avtar, a resident of Guru Arjun Dev Nagar and Ram Avtar, a resident of Faizabad in UP, and recovered four CDs, a TV, a VCR and a stabiliser from them which they had stolen from Beant Pura mohalla on the GT Road.

Cracker seller held

The Sadar police has registered a case under Section 286 of the IPC against Gurmeet Kaur, a resident of Tehal Dass Nagar, Salem Tabri, selling fire crackers without having obtained a valid permit to do so.

Poppy husk seized

The Galib Kalan police arrested Darshan Singh, a village, at a check-post on the Killi-Chahlan road and seized 15 kg of poppy husk from him. A case has been registered against him at the Sidhwan Bet police station under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.



One booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Jagroan, October 27
The Raikot police has registered a case against Inderjit Singh of Mohalla Molvian in Raikot under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC on a complaint filed by a married woman of the same locality.

In her complaint, she alleged that Inderjit raped her for over 10 years and threatened her with dire consequences if she informed anyone about it.



Vendor booked for disturbing traffic
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
In an interesting case, probably the first of its kind in the city, the division number four police yesterday booked a roadside vegetable seller near Kapur Hospital for causing disturbance to traffic in the area.

Mukesh Kumar, son of Mr Ramesh Kumar, has been booked under Section 283 of the IPC.


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