Tuesday, November 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

 

 

Gambling rampant in big hotels, posh areas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
While the police is registering almost ten cases on an average daily against the seemingly ‘small-time’ gamblers indulging in the illegal activity on streets or abandoned places, it has not been able to lay its hands on any bigwig involved in gambling. The police has been continuously raiding the hideouts of minor players in the game and boasting the recovery of cash of few thousands and even few hundreds, it has, however, not raided big hotels and a number of ‘newly-rented’ bungalows of industrialists at several places in the city.

Gambling worth crores of rupees goes on unabated in big hotels, especially a few located on the Ferozepore road, as the police seems to be turning a blind eye. There are also reports of the involvement of police personnel in the case as a number of planned raids were leaked out and the police could not find anything. A hotel in the Industrial Area was raided on along with some others yesterday but the police failed to find anything.

While the hotel authorities claimed that the police had unnecessarily harassed them due to which some of their customers left the place, the police said they had definite information that gambling was going on in the hotel. The police had also got an information that flesh trade was rampant in the area but no clue was found. Police sources said it was being believed that the raid was somehow leaked.

Interestingly, sources revealed that while the police took a superficial action against the gamblers, influential residents of the city and the gambling racketeers were camping in big hotels and clubs and carrying out their activity freely. The influence of hotel owners was allegedly preventing action against them. A couple of businessmen reportedly lost about one crore yesterday itself.

The sources said the police had information about the gambling activity in clubs and hotels but was not taking action. The police also had information that a number of bungalows and kothis in the Industrial Area and posh colonies were being rented out for few days to facilitate bungling.

SSP H. S. Sidhu was not available for comments.

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PAU hostel warden given clean chit, but shifted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has shifted the warden of Hostel Number 7 and the hostel supervisor in the wake of allegations levelled against them by residents of the hostel.

Though the warden, Dr Gurdip Singh, has been absolved of all charges in a university inquiry, his resignation has been accepted. The hostel supervisor, Mr Brij Mohan, has been transferred to some other department.

Some students had accused the warden of misbehaving with them and misappropriating the hostel and common-room funds.

Though authorities had tried to pacity students, hostel residents had picketed the residence of the Vice-Chancellor of the PAU on Friday, demanding an immediate removal of the warden concerned. The Dean Postgraduate Students and the Director Student Welfare had rushed to the spot and had assured the students that the warden would soon be removed.

The VC had ordered an inquiry into the matter to be conducted by a committee comprising Dr K.S. Sekhon, Dean PGS, Dr M.S. Tiwana, Dean, College of Agriculture, and the Director Student Welfare, Mr J.S. Toor. He had sought a report within two days.

The report was submitted here today and, according to it, the allegations levelled by students could not be proved. According to sources, the report mentioned that the warden had also not misbehaved with the students. Rather, it was the hostel supervisor who had ignored some of their demands. The DSW has transferred him elsewhere.

The report says that the past record of the warden is not tainted, though the students had alleged that he had been removed from the charge of one of the hostels of the university a few years ago after certain allegations. The report said there was no mention of any such incident in his ACR.

The report said the students had levelled baseless allegations as one of them had a huge hostel bill that was pending. It said the warden had caught the students at night when they had been watching a video on a CD player.

The report says that there is no scope of misappropriation of the common-room and mess funds and the warden has utilised these as per rules.

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Kidney racket: cops ‘following’ forgive and forget policy
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
No further headway has been made in the kidney-racket case after the arrest of two persons of Patiala who are not the main accused in the case.

Though a month has passed since the racket was exposed, the police has not achieved anything substantial other than the arrest of Rajesh Kumar, one of the agents in the racket.

The main accused, Amritpal Singh, is still free and no raid has been conducted in the city or elsewhere to arrest the other accused. The police has also failed to arrest a municipal councillor of Patiala, even though he and two other influential persons had allegedly submitted false affidavits.

The absence of any follow up action by the police has given rise to speculations that the police is under pressure from some quarters. Though the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr H.S. Sidhu, had said earlier that the law would take its course and the culprits would soon be arrested, nothing has been done so far.

The police sources said the police was being pressurised not to conduct raids or arrest some influential persons involved in the racket.

The accused who belong to Patiala have also been let off as the police considered their mercy plea. Sources said relatives of a kidney recipient and persons close to the municipal councillor had met a senior police official and pleaded that they be let off as they had submitted false affidavits to help a needy person only. xz

The police officials have reportedly issued verbal directions that no one should be arrested from Patiala in this case. The police had not considered the “human angle” while arresting two close relatives of the kidney recipient who had also submitted similar affidavits.

Sources say that the police was all set to raid some hospitals in the city because it had relevant clues to the whereabouts of the main accused, Amritpal Singh, but, for reasons unknown, it did not go ahead with the plan.

While the SSP, Mr H.S. Sidhu, was not available for comments, a senior official said the reasons for not much headway in the case were regular visits of the VIPs to the city and the lack of any conclusive evidence against the accused.

The official said the police had decided to be lenient with the Patiala-based persons on humanitarian grounds as the accused had submitted false affidavits only to help a friend in need.

The official, however, denied that the police was going slow in the case.

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Four-year-old girl electrocuted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
Tragedy struck the family of a mason in Baba Deep Singh Nagar here last night when a 4-year-old girl was electrocuted after she accidentally came in contact with high voltage electricity wires that pass over the area just a feet or half above the rooftops.

Anjali, the victim, had gone upstairs to play, when due to darkness, she touched the wires and suffered an electric shock. She was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital but could not be saved.

Ranjit Singh, her father, is holding the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) responsible for the tragedy.

He said the residents of the colony had met the PSEB officials several times and given them written representations demanding a raise in the height of the electricity wires that hung precariously hung just above the rooftops.

Other residents of the colony said several other minor incidents had taken place earlier also but nothing had been done by the PSEB. In fact, this was the second incident of its kind in less than two weeks. Earlier a similar accident had taken place in Industrial Area in which a middle-aged-man was electrocuted to death.

The PSEB authorities had given assurance at various times that the height of the wires would be raised but nothing was done in this regard.

The family members of the latest victim Anjali have demanded registration of a criminal against the erring PSEB officials.

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Recession-hit industrialists economise on Divali gifts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The mood of industrialists this Divali is a little bit depressive. Hard talks at Doha on the WTO have affected the sentiments of the industry, especially of garment manufacturers. Decline in exports in the aftermath of terrorists attacks on the WTC and subsequent war in Afghanistan have hit profit margins of the local units. Consequently, industrialists are using innovative ways to cut down expenses, and one of these is to by showing less magnanimity while giving ‘traditional’ Divali gifts to important officials and their own workers as well.

In the recent years expenses on Divali gifts had touched new heights The impact of recession made it necessary to cut down expenses. Interestingly, it has badly hitting the business and culture of Divali gifts. Sweet makers and gift shop owners complained that their sales have dipped this year.

Referring to the changing trends in the gift culture, Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Ludhiana Electroplaters Association, said, 'The Divali gifts had started as a customary goodwill gesture, which later took the form of subtle way of offering bribes to the officials of different departments. Though a small sweet box or dry fruits costing Rs 200-300 may not be called bribe, but when costly gold sets, garments and other goods are offered to officials of various departments, it is nothing but bribe. Industrialists try to keep them in good humour so that they should not act against them too harshly’’.

Commenting on token gifts to the workers, Mr Kumar, pointed out that in the era of retrenchment and unemployment, workers had understood the financial constraints of their employers. So they are ready to settle for anything. The industrialists, instead of cutting down expenses on workers' gifts, would rather think twice due to sympathy and industrial relations.

In fact, industrialists are presenting sweets, utensils, blankets or even cash from Rs 500-5000 depending upon the rank of the worker and the financial condition of the industry. Mr Joginder Kumar says, 'One thing is certain that no one is ready to spend more money on festival presents in comparison to the last year.’’

Another industrialist, who did not wish to be named, said, 'We have taken a decision at the association level that no gifts would be offered to the officials of the police, sales tax, income tax, central excise and the state labour department. However, token presents would be given to bank managers, and some officials of the Pollution Control Department and industry department. This is just part of our goodwill towards them and we do not expect anything in return from them.’’ A team of the income tax department, which had gone to collect festival presents, was reportedly reprimanded by an industrialist, he said.

Mr Vinod Kumar Thapar, president, Knitwear Club and Mr S. C. Ralhon, chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council ( EEPC), also admitted decline in gift culture due to low profit margins in the industry. Enquires made with the officials of different departments also revealed that there was a significant decline in quantity and quality of presents.

However, one of the officials in the Income Tax Department, said, 'We do not crave for these small offers. It would be better if the industrial associations take collective decision to do away with the culture of Divali and New Year gifts. This money should be rather spent on better causes like the health and education of neglected children of the city’’. However, there is no person or organisation, which has the courage to take that decision, he lamented. 

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Hospitals gear up for Divali 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
While Divali is yet to come, several fire incidents have already claimed some lives in the city. At the same time, the authorities of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH), Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and the Civil Hospital have alerted their doctors and other staff to be prepared for any eventuality during the Divali days.

Reports gathered from various hospitals indicated that a number of people have already sustained minor or major burn injuries during the past few days. Last year about 120 city residents had suffered from various burn injuries on the Divali night. Serious injuries can lead to loss of eye-sight, limbs and can even cause death.

Dr Waheguru Pal Singh, Medical Superintendent, GTB Hospital, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said that last year over 15 patients with burn injuries were admitted to the hospital. More than 50 patients with burn injuries had visited the OPD. Dr Waheguru Pal Singh, who is also a plastic surgeon said, ‘‘We have already alerted the emergency unit. The hospital is well equipped to treat the burn patients. Though the burn injuries on the Divali night are not very serious yet proper treatment by trained medical professionals should be given to the patients’’. He said that a 20-year-old boy with hand and facial burn injuries had been admitted to the hospital last night .

Dr Sandeep Puri, Medical Superintendent, DMCH, said that the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit, in the hospital was ready with all facilities. ‘‘The surgeons, orthopedic surgeon in the hospital have been alerted. The doctors will always be on duty during these days. Last year over 22 patients were admitted to the hospital. No doubt that 90 per cent of these patients get minor burn injuries but still the loss is gross’’.

Dr A.B.Thomas, a plastic surgeon and former Principal, CMCH said,‘‘Prevention is always better than cure. There is no need to be panic. If a person receives burn injuries, plenty of water should be poured on that particular affected area. The hospital is prepared for any sort of emergency’’. He stressed that people, specially the children, should burst crackers very cautiously.

Dr Rajinder Kaur, Civil Surgeon, said that department was taking all necessary precautionary measures. ‘‘In case of emergency, we have arranged some beds for such casualties. The doctors and other staff have been given instructions on the issue,” she added.

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Government employees in for a holiday bonanza
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
Starting from tomorrow, the employees of the government departments, state boards and corporations all over the state can look forward to a week-long holidays and indulge in festivities to celebrate Divali.

In fact, Monday was the only working day for the government employees, following two gazetted off days on Saturday and Sunday, with November 13 and 14 being gazetted holidays on account of the Coronation Day of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Divali, respectively.

November 15 is again a restricted holiday, followed by another gazetted holiday on November 16 in view of Vishvakarma Day, which precedes Saturday and Sunday.

The attendance of employees in various government offices was affected and there was a general atmosphere of festivity. Many employees, particularly those with their families living elsewhere, had taken casual leaves today to avail themselves of consecutive holidays, some extending to almost 10 days.

However, the National Games 2001, scheduled to commence here on November 19, would act as a hurdle for employees and officials of some departments and the Municipal Corporation, which are closely involved with the arrangements for the mega event.

Senior officials, as well as employees, have been asked to report on duty during the holidays as well so that final touches could be given to the arrangements and the city could be spruced up to arrange a large number of athletes, sports officials and VIPs from all over the country.

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Burglary at cremation ground
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
Not even sparing the place for the dead, burglars broke open locks of a number of donation boxes placed at a cremation ground in Salem Tabri sometime last night and decamped with about Rs 3000.

According to a complaint lodged with the police, some unknown persons stole the cash and locked the sewadar in his room. The sewadar could not see anyone. He realised only in the morning that he was locked in the room. He raised an alarm following which some workers at the cremation ground broke the lock. It was then that the burglary was known.

According to police sources, the police was suspecting the involvement of some drug-addicts who are mostly seen camping in or near the cremation ground.

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Pervez, Bush bashed in poems
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
The role being played by the Chief Executive of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, in the ongoing war in Afghanistan seems to have caught the fancy of poets and satirists. Most of the poets who participated in a Hasya Kavi Sammelan in Nehru Sidhant Kendra here on Saturday evening took to Musharraf bashing and painted him a helpless person caught between the need to please the Americans and the Islamic world at the same time.

The sammelan provided the audience with the much needed catharsis by reciting the poems of wit, satire and irony. The function was organised by the Nehru Sidhant Kendra Trust on its premises. Politicians, like ever, remained the punching bags of poets.

Humourist Surendra Sharma got the audience in splits when he presented a poem on the theme ‘Karva Chauth’. He said, on this day, women threatened their husbands that either they should fulfill their exorbitant demands, or else, they would break the fast. Every poet talked about corruption, but with a pinch of humour.

One poet said that he had sympathy for Musharraf who was caught between the devil and the deep sea (between Bin Laden and Bush). The poets also took a dig at the American Presidents. Arun Gemini said that Bush and his father had been unlucky as Bush Sr had waged a war against Saddam Hussein and his son against Afghanistan, and in between, like a wiff of fresh air, came Monica who was taken away by Clinton.

The poets who participated in the sammelan were Om Parkash Aditya, Manik Verma, Arun Gemini, Mahendra Ajnabi, Ved Prakash, Sita Sagar, Mamta Sharma and Surendra Sharma.

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MC launches sanitation campaign in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
The Municipal Corporation today launched a comprehensive sanitation campaign in the city in the wake of ongoing festival season and the National Games 2001, scheduled for November 19. The campaign would run till December 5.

The campaign was formally inaugurated by the Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, at Guru Nanak Stadium in the presence of the City Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal; MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia; a large number of councillors and senior civic officials.

Mr Dhindsa, who is also the working chairman of the National Games Organising Committee, while focussing on the need to make sanitation a habit, sought the cooperation of the city population to keep the city clean, particularly during the next fortnight when the National Games would be on and the city would have a large number of visitors from all over the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kalsia observed that a clean environment was a prerequisite for a healthy body, mind and society. He said he would undertake tour of all 70 city wards during the period where the sanitation campaign was on and the MC employees and officials, working in the best-maintained ward, would be honoured at a special function to be organised on Republic Day.

The MC Additional Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, who is incharge of the Health and Sanitation Department, maintained that while the campaign was launched to spruce up the city in preparation for the National Games, the civic body would endeavour to bring a qualitative improvement in the cleanliness level under a continuous process, with the cooperation of the city people.

City Mayor Mr Grewal, Commissioner Mr Kalsia, along with senior MC officials and councillors, swept the open area around the stadium with brooms to formally launch the campaign.

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Rural bias alleged in govt policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
The District Youth Congress (DYC) has lambasted the SAD-BJP government for its total failure to provide basic civic amenities, said Mr Parminder Mehta, president, DYC (Urban), while addressing a party workers meeting at Ram Nagar on Hargobind Marg. Alleging that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Cabinet colleagues had amassed massive wealth, he said the government exchequer was empty and the trade and industry were facing an unprecedented recession. The government had amply displayed its rural bias by providing the facility of free power to big landlords and farming community, whereas the urban population was being throttled under jacked up local and civic taxes.

“Almost half the population in the city is forced to make do with polluted drinking water and is living under the constant threat of several diseases and epidemics due to worst kind of insanitary conditions. On the other hand the Chief Minister and other ministers are doling out indiscriminate grants to their favourites and siphoning funds under the garb of various projects, which exist only on papers,” he added.

Making special mention of local and state-level BJP functionaries, Mr Mehta charged them with misappropriating funds in the municipal corporation in the form of ‘commission’ on various contracts awarded to their favourite or benami contractors and certain selected firms. The councillors belonging to the ruling alliance in the civic body were obstructing development works in the city on the basis of political differences, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, Chairman, Labour and Employment Cell of the PPCC, has decried the denial of basic civic amenities like sewerage, water supply and streetlights to residents of Guru Nanak Nirankari Colony in Sunder Nagar. Addressing a meeting of the colony residents, he derided the civic body for its failure to initiate steps to meet the demands of the area residents, while hefty taxes were being recovered from them.

Mr Bawa assured the people that he would take up the issue with the Mayor and seek the help of Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, to redress the civic problems of the area residents.

Among others, Mr Gurbhej Chhabra, Mr Sudhir Jain, Mr Sanjiv Gupta, Mr Rajesh Jain, Mr Neeraj Jain, Mr Ashu Jain, Mr Vinod Kumar, Mr Ashok Arora, Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Pawan Chopra, Mr Rajinder Soni and Mr Nitesh Jindal were present in the meeting.

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Potters’ once-a-year hay day 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
Subhash Kumar, a potter in Ghumar Mandi, and his family have been working nonstop day and night these days. For this time comes only once in a year. They are busy making earthen lamps (diyas) that will be sold on Divali. The family hopes to sell at least 10,000 earthen lamps this year as there has been much demand for these lamps.

Ghumar Mandi, which owes its name to potters, has only a few potters left now. In fact it has become one of the busiest and modern shopping malls in Ludhiana. Most of the potters have already abandoned their traditional profession and opted for other vocations. Even those who still make pots, do not do it round the year, but only once at a time like this that too on demand.

Says Subhash Kumar, ‘‘This is no longer a profession which can help you earn money for two square meals a day, so we have to work elsewhere’’.

Subhash and his two sons are working in different factories. However, they take some time out during Divali for making the diyas which are sold in thousands. Interestingly, while there may be a great craze for modern things, people still prefer the earthen lamps on Divali. And Subhash’s family has been trying to cash on this interest.

Subhash is not the only potter who is making diyas, but one of the few left in the profession. They make diyas of varied designs and size according to the customers’ choice.

Suabhash admits that the demand for diyas has been increasing every year. ‘‘While earlier not many people used to purchase diyas and those purchased would purchase only a few, but more and more people purchase diyas these days and in good number’’, he disclosed.

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MC workers to observe ‘black Divali’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
Activists of Valmiki Samaj and the Safai Mazdoor Federation of the civic body here have decided to observe ‘black divali’ in view of the non-payment of bonus, medical allowance and other incentives due to the workers.

At a joint meeting of the Safai Mazdoor Federation and several other bodies of municipal corporation workers here today, the SAD-BJP government came in for a sharp criticism for pursuing anti-worker policies. The speakers castigated the government and the civic administration for sacking 169 daily wage safai workers. Prominent among those present at the meeting were Mr Walaiti Ram Moong, president, Safai Labour Union, Mr Gajraj Prajapati, president, Municipal Workers Union, and Mr Ram Parkash Gill.

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Kandils, hataris add glamour to Divali
Our Correspondent



These kandils will ‘capture’ the Divali lights in Ludhiana. 

Ludhiana, November 12
The colourful handmade kandils or dolas, as they are popularly known, are a part of Divali celebrations. Every house hangs up a kandil in front of the house with a lamp inside to beckon the Goddess Lakshmi to enter the house. Every year, the kandil makers try to give them different shapes to attract the customers. The hataris made of clay are a must for Lakshmi puja. Inside the hataris are placed small idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Ganesha.

According to Hindu mythology, even though Divali is a day devoted to Goddess of wealth Lakshmi, Ganesha has to worshiped before her as he had received a boon from Lord Shiva that no prayers would be accepted without Ganesha’s worship.

The colourful diyas are vying with the multi coloured, multi shaped candles which people are preferring in these days.

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Peace march
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
The Guru Nanak World Peace Organisation would organise a peace march that would travel throughout Punjab. The purpose of the march is to make students aware of the hazards of drug addiction. They urged the political parties to unite together to fight the menace
.

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