Friday, November 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Tension eases, but lava still boiling
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
Normalcy has returned to the Basti Jodhewal area of the city where tension had prevailed for five days after an alleged act of sacrilege in Guru Ravidass Temple. However, rival groups had organised separate programmes to propagate their views on the controversy.

These groups have formed different action committees to pursue their objectives. Members of the Guru Ravidass Mandir Sangharsh Committee, at a press conference organised here today, condemned Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, for honouring the alleged perpetrators of the act of sacrilege. They have also decided to meet the Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, to apprise him of the “atrocities on the Dalits” and demand a high-level inquiry into the incident.

On the other hand, the Khalsa Action Committee formed by members of the Amrit Sanchar Jatha and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here today. They were demanding cancellation of the cases against six persons who had been accused of committing this act of sacrilege.

The committee has also urged the Mandir Committee to abide by the Akal Takht rules. Mr Jaswant Kataria and Mr Shiv Ram Saroay, head of the Vishwa Guru Ravidass Mission, and members of the Guru Ravidass Sangharsh Committee said they believed that the act was just another incident in a series of atrocities against the Dalits in the state. They said a delegation of the committee would soon meet the Punjab Governor and demand a high-level probe into the Basti Jodhewal incident as well as the other such incidents.

Dr Amarjit Kataria, General Secretary of the mission, said the SC-ST Commission of India was already considering the case and the public should maintain peace at all costs. He said the accused had been treated leniently by the city police. He said someone was trying to mix religion with politics.

Later, activists of the Khalsa Action Committee staged an hour-long dharna outside the DC’s office. In a memorandum to the DC, the committee gave its side of the story. Its members said they were only trying to preserve the sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib.

They have demanded cancellation of the cases registered against the accused, who are members of the jatha, and urged the DC to persuade the Mandir Committee to accept its demands. The leaders said they meant no disrespect to Guru Ravidass.



Search operations launched near National Games venues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
As part of security arrangements in the city for the 31st National Games, the police here has launched a massive “Operation Search” in areas near the venues of the games, visitors’ place of stay and along various routes. The police has also demanded additional force from the state for providing ‘foolproof security’.

Facing shortage of police personnel, the city police has demanded additional force from the state government through the IG (Zonal), Jalandhar. The request is yet to be approved.

The security arrangements in the city are being considered vital as the opening and closing ceremonies of the games are scheduled here on November 19 and December 1, respectively.

Taking a large number of citizens by surprise, different police parties earlier this week began a house-to-house search in areas falling within 1.25 km of the games venues, boarding places of players and officials and along the routes. Police teams have been inquiring about the number of family members, their profession and their programme during the period when the games would be organised.

Police teams have also recorded details of the number of tenants and their complete biodata. The residents in the earmarked “sensitive area” have also been directed to give deatils about the number and identity of guests expected during these days. Meanwhile, certain residents called up Tribune office here to know if the inquiries were being made by the police only.

While SSP H.S. Sidhu refused to give details about the security arrangements, citing the sensitivity of the issue, information gathered from reliable sources said a number of VVIPs, including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister L. K. Advani, would be in the city for the games.

The SSP said the police is going to be “over busy” not only for the National Games but also for the organisation of the celebrations regarding the bicentenary of the coronotion ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Police sources informed that the state has been divided into two zones for the purpose. The Patiala, Ludhiana and Jalandhar Range force will do duty at the National Games while the Ferozepore, Border Range and forces of other districts have been called to Amritsar for security duty for the coronation ceremony. According to available figures, the city has about 4500 police force, which proves even inadequate for normal working.

Sources said that over 5000 players and officials, apart from the viewers, are expected to be in the city for the games. 



Ban on crackers goes up in smoke
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
It seems that the orders of the district administration exist only on paper. The orders of the District Magistrate on noise pollution, paddy-stubble burning and bursting of firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am have been flouted with impunity.

The Supreme Court orders were violated on Divali, when deafening noises could be heard from all directions. Residents of the city burst firecrackers throughout yesterday night and continued till afternoon today. Rather, the noise increased after 10 pm yesterday.

The pollution level also went up and the visibility on roads became very poor. The night was a noisy affair. Though the Punjab Pollution Control Board is yet to assess data for yesterday on the concentration of various gases in the air, the suspended smoke and poor visibility were ample proof that the environment had been a casualty on Divali.

A few days ago, the District Magistrate, Mr S.K. Sandhu, had banned the manufacturing, sale and use of firecrackers that produced noise exceeding 125 db or 145 db at four metres from the point of bursting. He had also made it clear that the ban had been imposed on the direction of the Supreme Court regarding the control of noise pollution caused by bursting of firecrackers.

The DM had said that it should be a silent Divali between the given time limit and there would be strict action against violators.


Dead ‘come alive’ for land grab
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 15
Some powerful ruling-party functionaries close to a minister of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and a group of corrupt revenue officials in the district have been charged with bungling the land records of Assi Kalan village in this district. To dispossess lawful occupants, the racketeers have reportedly managed the transfer of ownership of cultivable land of the village through “personal appearance” of certain individuals who had died years ago.

Allegedly, the revenue officials concerned, who were aware of the truth, were hand in glove with the land mafia. As a result of inaction on part of district and police officials, the complainants are being “openly threatened” that they should not pursue the matter.

Mr Rajinder Pal Singh, a former sarpanch of Assi Kalan, said two villagers — Pritam Singh and Nihal Singh — were shown to have personally appeared before the revenue authorities on August 6, 1998, for the transfer of the ownership of land in the name of a man called Mohinder Singh. However, Pritam and Nihal had died on December 16, 1990, and June 25, 1991, respectively.

Under the garb of forged and fabricated ‘intqal’ (entry of change of ownership of land in revenue records), efforts are being made to evict the genuine occupant of the land since 1978, Joginder Singh, and take a forcible possession of the land.

On Joginder’s complaint, the police had registered a case on September 26, 2001, under Section 420 of the IPC against Mohinder Singh. However, allegedly, under pressure from some ruling-party functionaries, the police did not take any further action. Rather, Mohinder Singh lodged a counter complaint against Joginder and three others, including a former sarpanch of the village, Rajinderpal Singh. This case was registered under Sections 341, 323, 295, 506 and 34 of the IPC.

Rajinderpal alleged that the police and the revenue officers were favouring the accused under pressure from a kin of a Cabinet minister. He said lawful occupants of the land and the other residents of the village, most of whom belonged to Backward Classes and Scheduled Castes and supported the victims, were also facing threats.

Rajinderpal said most Dalits in the village had Congress sympathisers among, which was one of the reasons for the situation.

The complainants have also written to the Deputy Commissioner and the the DIG of the Ludhiana police to order a high-level inquiry into the case.



Pension scheme not self-sustaining’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
The staff of private colleges recently got a setback when they came to know that the much-awaited pension-cum-gratuity scheme was not self-sustaining and could not be implemented. The fact came to light following a meeting of the Punjab and Chandigarh Teachers Union with Ms Geetika Kalah, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, recently.

According to Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, president of the union, Ms Kalah told them that the scheme drafted by the Finance Department to the Education Department was being sent back as the department officials have found that it could not be implemented. He said that the assurances given by the Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Education Minister have, therefore, turned out to be political gimmicks only.

Prof Sodhi said that at a meeting of the union members held yesterday, it has decided that their struggle would be intensified and the office-bearers would court arrest at Chandigarh on December 3. He said that all college teachers of Punjab would go on “ceasework” from December 4 to 10.

Besides, Prof Sodhi has sought the intervention of Mr Parkash Singh Badal to resolve the crisis and save the situation.


Three children missing
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, November 15
A resident of Guru Nanak Colony, Ram Bhawan, who belongs to Allam Matthia Bagahi Kutti in Kudhi Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, has mentioned in an FIR that his daughter Shusila Rani, 12, has been missing since September 26.

He has said that the girl used to visit Tija Kumari in the neighbourhood. Though he had asked Tija Kumari not to call his daughter to her house, she still used to call her and was trying to “get her involved in a dirty business”. He has alleged that Tija Kumari exploits women by luring them into this business.

Though the police has registered a case against Tija Kumari, no arrest has been made, so far, and the girl has not been traced as well. Rather the police is allegedly harassing relatives of Ram Bhawan.

In another case, a 15-year-old boy called Chandu has gone missing from Janta Nagar here since September 17. His relatives have been looking for him in the city and at the railway station. His parents said, on September 14, the boy had gone to the railway station. His parents said, on September 14, the boy had gone to the railway station to catch a train for his village in UP along with his two companions. Allegedly, a boy snatched Rs 1,800 from Chandu, after which, he went missing. “When his companions informed us of the incident, we came here to find him. We even tried to filed an FIR at Ludhiana, but nobody heard us. Somebody told us that Chandu had gone to Mandi Gobindgarh, so, we came here. A railway employee told us that he had seen the boy here, but did not know where could he be now.”

In another case, Kuldeep Singh, 13, of New Shastri Nagar here has been missing since September 22, the day he came home from school at 2 pm and went out soon after changing his clothes. His mother got and FIR registered and the family has been searching for him ever since, but have had no luck, so far. The DSP of Amloh, Mr Harcharn Singh Bhullar, said he would look into the matter. However, he said investigations were on in the case of Shusila Rani.



Congress workers remember Nehru
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
Rich tributes were paid to the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on his 112th birth anniversary in several functions organised by the Congress and its front organisations in the city today.

In a function organised by the Urban Development Cell of the Indian Youth Congress here, the Youth Congress workers offered floral tributes to Pandit Nehru who was described as creator of the modern India. “The policies pursued by him to strengthen the national economy and to usher in a technological era are relevant even today.”

Various speakers including Mr Pawan Diwan, Mr Akshay Bhanot, Mr Jarnail Singh Grewal, Mr Jaswinder Singh Saabi, Mr Nirmal Kaira and Mr Munish Tandon, criticised the present government for its policy on public sector which was being sold out to private companies, thereby sacrificing the interests of the employees.

The activists of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Sewa Dal paid homage to Pandit Nehru in an impressive function held at the Hanuman Mandir at Shahpur Road here. After garlanding the portrait of Pandit Nehru, Mr Sushil Parashar, chief organiser, recalled his great love for the children. He said it was solely due to the farsight and vision of Pandit Nehru that India occupied a pride of place among the developing nations.

Mr Kulwant Singh Swami, organiser of Sewa Dal and in charge of this district, said the first Prime Minister had made a significant contribution to taking India towards progress, industrialisation and technological revolution. The district chief of the Sewa Dal, Mr Kuldip Singh Kukkoo, and the in charge of women wing, Ms Gurpreet Kaur, also spoke at the occasion. Among others, Mr Harcharan Singh Rippy, Ms Gurdip Kaur, Mr Dhani Ram, Mr Vikas Sharma, Ms Harbans Kaur, Mr Rampal Singh Gill, Ms Asha Rani, Ms Rekha Passy, Mr Harpal Singh, Mr Labh Singh, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Garib Das, Mr Jiwan Singh, Mr Madan Lal, Mr Lekh Raj and Ms Shanti were also present.



Rs 10 cr for welfare of animals
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
Ms Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Culture, Government of India, has sanctioned Rs 10 crore for the welfare of animals. This money is part of Rs 100 crore sanctioned by the Government of India as part of 2600th Janam Kalyanak of Bhagwan Mahavir. The sum of Rs 10 crore has been released to the Animal Welfare Board of India for disbursing this to various gaushalas, pinjrapoles and bird hospitals and shelter.

Dr Sandeep Jain, member Animal Welfare Board of India, in a statement today said that an executive meeting to formulate the criterion for allotment as per the guidelines framed by the ministry was held in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Justice Guman Mal Lodha, chairman, AWBI.

Dr Jain said that the cows were suffering because of lack of water, fodder and adverse conditions. He said that the situation could be alleviated by setting up new gaushalas and increasing the capacity of old ones by creating necessary infrastructure for the cows and their progeny to protect them and to ensure adequate sustenance.

Dr Jain said that financial assistance will be provided under this scheme to any trust or NGO or autonomous body formed under relevant laws or any state agency, including Local Government or Panchayati Raj institutions.



Festivity marks Divali
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
The festival of lights, Divali, was celebrated with religious fervour in the city. The slump in business and overall recession failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Ludhianvis. Crackers worth crores of rupees were burst and gifts worth lakhs of rupees were exchanged by the city residents. People from every strata of society, irrespective of their religious affiliations, took part in the celebrations.

Houses, shops and industries in Civil Lines, Dandi Swami, Model Town, Sarabha Nagar, Malhar Road, Field Ganj, Chaura Bazaar, Daresi, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Deep Nagar, Kundan Puri, Shiv Puri, Industrial Area, Focal Point and Bhadaur House were tastefully decorated with multicoloured lights. People had placed several diyas and candles on the roads as a mark of Lakshmi Poojan.

Various new varieties of crackers, including bursting trees, pencils, chakris and multinational fire works were on display for over two hours at the Sutlej Club where club members collectively celebrated the festival.

Most of the residents finished their preparations for Divali Pooja in the afternoon itself. The grihalakshamis were ready with their pooja samagri which included idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi and gold and silver coins (symbols of wealth). Sweets, phullian, cheeni ke khilone were distributed amongst families and friends.

The entire city was shimmering with lights. One shopkeeper, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said: “Who says people are not purchasing gifts and crackers this year. This is one of my best Divalis from business point of view”.

Ms Shalini Hitesh, a homemaker, was of the view that the festival of lights should be celebrated traditionally. “We enjoy, exchange gifts, burst crackers and play cards on this occasion. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil and signifies the sharing and coming together of people from different walks of life.

The members of Arya Samaj, Maharishi Dayanand Bazaaar celebrated Divali by organising havan yagya. Nepalese community also celebrated the festival by bursting crackers and playing cards. Mr Ram Bahadur, a Nepalese citizen said, “Though we are away from our homes yet we are happy because we gather together, sing songs and enjoy the festival”.

Meanwhile, several cases of burn injuries were reported from various city hospitals on the Divali night. Dayanand Medical College and Hospital spokesperson said over 11 patients with minor burn injuries were given first-aid in the hospital. Most of the cases were of hand and facial burns.

Dr A.B.Thomas, a plastic surgeon in Christian Medical College and Hospital, said 11 cases of burn injuries had been reported in the hospital last night. “These patients were given first-aid in the hospital and were discharged. No major burn injury case was reported in the city”, he said.

The spokesperson for Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital said several cases of minor burns caused due to crackers were reported in their hospital.

A spokesperson for the Civil Surgeon Hospital said not even a single case of burn injury was reported at the Civil Hospital on the Divali night.



Firemen minimise loss on Divali
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
Firemen here remained on toes on Divali night and saved property worth crores, making the festival safe for residents by controlling fires at as many as 32 places.

A large number of fire incidents were reported due to bursting of crackers on Divali in residential and commercial places. This year, fire gutted property at five commercial places, compared to about eight places last year.

But the number of fire spots were 14 compared to last year. The commercial places where fires broke out last evening were Dinesh Nath Cloth House at Gujjarwal Road, Sahib Synthetic near Jalandhar bypass, Amit Hosiery at Wait Ganj, a godown near Jagraon Bridge and Ratra Industries at Abdulapur Basti.

The owner of Dinesh Nath Cloth House, Mr Vijay Kumar, informed that fire broke out due to the bursting of a cracker near the wooden board of the shop due to which loss of about Rs 1 lakh occurred. He said timely effort of firemen saved property worth crores.

In an another incident, a boiler was burnt at a factory in Sahib Synthetic near the Jalandhar bypass. In other three incidents of fire at commercial places, stocks worth lakhs of rupees were saved by prompt action of firemen.

In residential areas, fires broke out at about 20 places in the old city due to the bursting of crackers in the old city, including Miller Ganj, Lakkar Bazar, Field Ganj, Subhani Building area, Daresi Road, Wait Ganj, Abdulapur Basti, Hargobind Nagar, Ram Nagar and Mohalla Saidan. Congestion in the old city was supposed to be the one of the reasons for the fire incidents in the area.

Fires in new urban areas of city were reported at a few places, including residential complex of Punjab Agricultural University, Bhai Randhir Singh Nargar, Sarabha Nargar and Kichlu Nagar and Model Gram. 



Rally at Sarabha tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
The All-India Youth Federation and the Sarb Bharat Naujawan Sabha would jointly hold a rozgar prapti chetna rally on November 17 at Sarabha, the native village of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha, to focus on the problems of youth and the need to create awareness about employment opportunities for the educated youths.

This was decided at a meeting of these bodies held at Karnail Singh Nagar here last evening. Activists of the Rozgar Prapti Chetna Muhim participated in the meeting in large numbers.

According to Mr Dilraj Singh, convener, Sarb Bharat Naujawan Sabha, the gathering in the Sarabha rally would later proceed to Clock Tower Chowk in a convoy of vehicles where floral tributes would be offered at the statue of martyr Sarabha. City residents would organise functions in Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar and other localities elsewhere to accord welcome to the convoy of vehicles. An elaborate ‘langar’ would be arranged at the venue of the rally, for which the party activists were assigned specific duties.



Panthic Morcha’s bid to rope in BSP
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
In a desperate bid to forge an alliance, which could effectively face the challenge posed by the ruling SAD-BJP coalition and provide a viable alternative to the electorate in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab, the Panthic Morcha was contemplating an electoral adjustment with the Bahujan Samaj Party, headed by Mr Kanshi Ram.

It was learnt that Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha, and the BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, were closeted in an extended meeting. While no details of the meeting were available, it was expected that two discussed the modalities for the electoral adjustment and tentative seat-sharing formula, without arriving at a final settlement.

The Panthic Morcha had come into being when the Akali Dal factions, headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala and Mr Jasbir Singh Rode were brought together on the platform, on the basis of mutually accepted common agenda, by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, the head of Sant Samaj.

The BSP, having suffered electoral debacle in the last elections, followed by a vertical split in the party, is also on the look out for some sort of adjustment with like- minded parties to improve its prospects.



Action against MC official demanded
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 15
Shopkeepers, who are tenants of the Municipal Council, Mansa, and have deposited Rs 20,000 per square yard with the municipal council to become owners of the shops they are holding, have demanded action against the Executive Officer of the council for his failure to execute sale deeds of the shops in their favour.

Talking to this correspondent here today, they said, they had deposited the amount as per the decision of the committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner on June 4 last. Thereafter, the municipal council had authorised the Executive Officer and the president of the council to execute the sale deeds in their favour. Since then, the shopkeepers have been approaching the municipal authorities but they are sent back on one pretext or the other.

They said they had deposited lakhs of rupees with the municipal council. They had written to the Subdivisional Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Director, Local Government, Bathinda but no action had been taken, they said. Now they have written to the CM, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to take action against the Executive Officer and get the sale deeds registered.


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