Wednesday, December 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



DIG residence land transferred to PUDA
To be used for commercial purposes
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 25
With the transfer of DIG’s residence land in Canal Colony, Pakhowal Road, here, to the Punjab Urban Development Agency (PUDA) under the optimum land utilisation policy of the state, decks have been finally cleared for the commercial use of the prize piece of land worth crores of rupees. The DIG residence has become the first such property of the Police Department in the city to be handed over to PUDA for commercial use under this policy introduced in the state three years ago.

Sources in PUDA disclosed to Ludhiana Tribune that the area was transferred on papers but the possession by PUDA and the subsequent auctioning would be possible only if a former DIG, still living in the house, would vacate it.

Sources in the police said that the transfer of the land was facilitated after the state Police Department cleared the proposal of constructing the residence of the DIG in the DIG office premises near Old Courts Complex. Sources said that the department did not raise any objection as it would be convenient for the officers to have a residence near the office itself.

The transferred DIG residence which is located on Pakhowal Road when converted into commercial accommodation is all set to generate a good amount of revenue for PUDA as it is located on prime land. As per the rough estimates the property would be worth crore of rupees as Pakhowal Road is a four-lane road. Moreover, the area has over the years developed into the main market with many shopping plazas coming up every now and then.

The DIG’s residence is one of those properties which were shortlisted by the government in the plan initiated some three years ago. The Old District Court was already transferred but it was also yet to be exploited commercially as the courts and the lawyers’ chambers were not shifted to the New Courts Complex.

The Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA, Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, when contacted, confirmed that the land had been transferred in PUDA’s name but it was yet to take its possession as the former DIG was staying there. He said that as soon as the possession is given to PUDA it will take over the area. Mr Ramesh Kumar said PUDA had made elaborate plans of auctioning the land in order to develop a market there. The land is estimated to fetch crores of rupees as it is located near shopping plazas.



Petty crime on the rise
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December, 25
Scene I: A Maruti Zen came to a stop along the outer wall of Laxmi Cinema, three begging women with little children in tow, rushed towards it. They started pestering a woman in the car for alms. It was only after some time of their verbal pestering that the woman found to her utter horror that her bag on the car seat was missing and so was one of the begging women.

She immediately raised an alarm. Some passers by and a number of auto-rickshaw drivers, who frequent the place gathered there. The police was informed.

The beggar women started weeping and their little children also started doing likewise.

Soon, couple of cops and a woman constable arrived on the scene. One of the drivers, who had been present all along, offered to take the beggar women and their children to the police station in his Tata Sumo, which was accepted by the police party.

Auto-rickshaw drivers said it was routine thing. They said they had caught such women several times in the past but the police always let these women go scot-free.

The woman car driver , who was on a visit to the city from Aur, told this correspondent that the stolen bag contained some important documents, some cash and a couple of watches.

Scene II: Fifteen minutes later, at the same place, two more women arrived carrying infants in their arms. They were not very well dressed but had good features. One of the auto-rickshaw drivers, who knew who these women were, told them that the police had just taken away two of their tribe. One of the women asked the auto-rickshaw driver about the age of the kids accompanying the beggar women. After that she assured him that these earlier women belonged to a different group and that they had no connection whatsoever with ‘such type of thieves’.

The auto-rickshaw driver later told this correspondent that these women hooked and robbed auto-rickshaw passengers. Their modus operandi was that one of the women, sat next to the prospective victim. Then she leaned on the man, with her nimble fingers did ‘the job’. Once the job was done, they asked the auto-rickshaw driver to stop and they go off. It was only after the duped passenger reaches for his purse to pay the auto-rickshaw driver that he realised that he had been robbed.

Men were not the only victims. Women were also deprived of their purses and gold necklaces and chains by these criminal women. There are a number of other such instances, which are on the rise.

These criminals can be checked and apprehended only if the beat cops remained alert and on the move in their respective areas.



Officials told not to leave headquarters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 25
In view of the growing tension along the international border and the coming state Assembly elections, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, has directed all district heads not to leave their headquarters without his permission till further orders.

The order was issued here today under the directions of the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, who says that district heads of all government departments, corporations and boards, besides executive officials of all municipal councils in the district, will not leave their stations without the DC’s permission.

Mr Sandhu said the order had been issued in view of the coming Assembly elections and the situation along the border. He said disciplinary action would be taken against officials who violate these directions.

The DC also asked officials to sanction station leave to the staff with caution, to prepare for any emergency. He said, however, there was no need to panic. He said the district was at a safe distance from the border and there was no movement here of persons from the border villages. “However, we are prepared,” Mr Sandhu said.

Meanwhile, the local Army authorities are reported to be working in close coordination with the district administration. The Army is receiving all assistance that it wants from the local administration. The administration is learnt to have arranged the transport for the movement of troops.



Ludhiana parks to be given a facelift
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 25
Even as the inquiry report in the incident in which a young  girl, Gurpeet Kaur, was killed when a pillar of the main gate in a park in Rajguru Nagar fell upon her, was still awaited, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) has embarked upon a comprehensive repair and renovation work, initially in all the seven parks in the locality and subsequently in several other parks, located in other residential schemes of the trust.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, told Ludhiana Tribune today that Mr Gurnam Singh, Executive Engineer, Provincial Division, PWD, was conducting inquiry into the mishap and his report was expected in the next couple of days. “The administration views this incident seriously and once the responsibility is fixed, stern action will be taken against erring officials.”

According to Mr M.M. Vyas, chairman, LIT, the particular park, where the tragedy struck the unsuspecting girl, was developed about a decade ago. Barring one Junior Engineer, the then officials, who had supervised the construction work, had retired from service and two of them had passed away. The samples of construction material from the crumbled pillar, were sent to the Structural Engineering Department in local Guru Nanak Engineering College for testing and the report was still awaited. Meanwhile, the LIT, he added, had recommended to the state government to order the transfer of the Junior Engineer concerned.

Mr Vyas further said that even though the Improvement Trust had inadequate funds, and the existing schemes of the LIT were generating very little revenue, a massive repair and renovation work for all the seven parks in Rajguru Nagar had been undertaken. The estimates for this purpose were already being prepared. “We shall seek the needed funds from the state government out of grants being distributed at Sangat Darshan or tap other resources.” In any case, money would be arranged and financial constraints would not be allowed to come in the way of proper and up to the mark maintenance of parks.

The LIT chairman asserted that the trust was committed to fulfill its responsibility to the city population. It was in this context that a detailed survey of all the parks in the trust schemes was being carried out in order to identify those, which were in desperate need of repair and renovation. Once the survey was complete, the LIT would make a comprehensive plan, including funding sources and undertaking the work. “We shall ensure that the parks remain in such places where people could have fresh air and children could play in relative safety rather than sites for tragic incidents.”




India seems to have become literally a ‘holiday’ home. Besides about 100 Saturdays and Sundays, there are holidays on religious festivals, birth and death anniversaries and the other occasions. Every festival season is a holiday season and, for the past two months, there have been holidays almost on alternate days. This has almost brought the work in government offices and banks to a standstill. The holiday bug is so deep seeded in our minds that even on one working day between two or three holidays, most of us opt for a casual leave to bridge the gap. The government has provided the employees with such an abundance of privilege, casual and medical leaves that, as one senior official said, “No matter how strict an official tries to be, he cannot get his subordinates to do the work because they can avail themselves of a number of holidays. We certainly need a holiday on holidaying.

The Christmas spirit

Potbellied Jeetu is a popular newspaper seller of the city. Year round, he ensures that every customer gets the day’s newspaper on time. However, come the second week of December and he dons the Santa Claus dress, cap and a snow-white beard and goes around distributing sugar candies and toffees among children. He is not a Christian, but he makes use of the Christmas season to show his love for children. Some newspaper photographers, who want to click pictures of Santa Claus distributing gifts, request him to tell them in advance the time and place where they could shoot him in action.

Epic mistake

On annual functions, schools try to put up best shows. This Sunday, a school in Sunder Nagar, at its annual function, did something “innovative” that hurt religious sentiments of many persons. The cultural show by students included an item ‘Modern Ramayana’ that showed “a modern Sita” dressed in skirt and “a modern Rama” dressed in jeans. All of a sudden, “a modern Ravana” appears on the stage and “the modern Sita” goes with him on a date, saying goodbye to “the modern Rama”. The audience comprised mostly the parents of the students, so, they did not raise an objection. However, several of them said afterwards that it was sheer mockery of religious beliefs.

Longest break

Last Thursday, when the colleges re-opened after the strike was called off by the union of non-government colleges, the mood of students should have been upbeat. Firstly, because the colleges had opened after the longest break, so far, of 30 days and they were meeting their friends after a long time. Secondly, now their course could be covered. However, students were in low spirits as they were told that examinations were to begin the next day. The date-sheet that they received was such that preparatory holidays were almost zero and examinations were to be held on Sundays.

Bad defence

Recently, a news item regarding the supply of substandard fertilisers through state cooperative societies was published in this newspaper. Officials of the company and the department, as usual, tried to defend themselves. Officials, instead of providing the Press with the desired information, snubbed employees of the Department of Agriculture for unfolding the scandal to the Press and issued them show-cause notices. One of the Directors of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange, who works as a consultant for the company concerned, approached the reporter and offered to “make a settlement”, saying that any other news item on the issue should not be published. If the company is innocent, why make a “settlement” then?. Is something being hidden?

Share and care

Everyone is celebrating Christmas and the New Year in the city by sending cards or gifts to their near and dear ones. Heavy season discounts offered by shopkeepers are also attracting customers. Leading hotels are organising night dance parties and dinners. However, at the same time, a number of children here can be seen begging in the streets, roundabouts and traffic lights in this cold weather. Is there a way to motivate all citizens to share the Christmas joy with these children by providing them with food, shelter and education. This will be a gift in the true Christmas spirit for these orphaned children.




Badal holds back tickets
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 25
Though there has been no surprise in the announcement of candidates for 45 Assembly constituencies by the Punjab Chief Minister and head of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, much is being read into his silence on who would be the party candidate from Ludhiana West and Ludhiana Rural constituencies.

Both areas are being represented by the Akali MLAs who have shifted loyalties to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Ludhiana West is represented by Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Ludhiana Rural by Mr Hira Singh Ghabria. Mr Grewal’s proximity to Mr Tohra is well known.

This has added to speculations that Mr Badal has still hopes of rapprochement between Mr Tohra and he. Mr Tohra, however, has been saying that this is not possible now.

The other reason being given for not announcing a candidate for Ludhiana West is the rivalry for the ticket between Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, acting district chief of the party, and Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, party Vice-President. Moreover, the Bharatiya Janata Party has also been laying claim to the seat this time.

There are reports that both leaders are not against rapprochement, to stop the Congress from coming to power. Some senior Akali leaders, recently, at a rally at Koom Kallan, criticised only the Congress and not the Panthic Morcha.

Those who got the tickets today included Mr Ranjit Talwandi, son of a former SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi, from Raikote, Mr Jagdish Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, from Kila Raipur, Mr Charanjit Atwal, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, from Koom Kallan, and Mr Kripal Singh Khirnia, an SGPC member, from Samrala.

Mr Garcha and Mr Atwal already represent Kila Raipur and Koom Kallan, respectively. Mr Talwandi and Mr Khirnia had been unsuccessful in the 1997 elections against Mr Harmohinder Singh and Mr Amrik Singh, both of the Congress, from Raikote and Samrala, respectively.

These selections were rather expected. It was in Kila Raipur only that some opponents of Mr Garcha wanted Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana to be fielded from there. With the announcement, the opponents of Mr Garcha have received a setback.



Panthic Morcha receives 750 applications
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal Panthic Morcha has received as many as 750 applications from aspirants for ticket to contest the ensuing Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in February.

Disclosing this here today, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, Panthic Morcha, said that the committee including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Ravi Inder Singh would decide about the candidates.

The committee would meet at Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow after the Shaheedi Jor Mela conference.

Baba Bedi said that the Panthic Morcha had not yet finalised the seat sharing with the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Baba Bedi said that the election manifesto of the Panthic Morcha was also being finalised and a committee consisting of Mr Charan Singh Lohara, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Khaira, Mr Sukhinder Singh, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Gurbachan Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur had been set up for this purpose.

The election manifesto would be ready within a week, he added.

Answering to a question, Baba Bedi said that the Anandpur Sahib resolution seeking more powers for the states would also be a part of the election manifesto of the panthic morcha.

He, however, added that the panthic morcha did not believe in radicalism but would press for the protection of the rights of minorities.



Reliving the Dec 26 horror
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, December 25
Life has come to a halt for Mr Santosh Kapoor, a small-time pan vendor near the local committee gate. He is yet to forget the horror of receiving the body of his 20-year-old son Lucky, exactly 10 years ago. Lucky was among 60 unfortunate persons who were gunned down by terrorists at Sohian railway crossing, near Chauki Mann village, on December 26, 1991.

The impact of the tragedy has been such that even after 10 years he keeps asking the people who were with his son at that time: “Where did you leave behind my son?” The tragedy is writ on his ageing face. Recalls Mr Vijay Verma, who was among the survivors and one of the neighbours of the Kapoors, the family is shattered since then. Mr Kapoor has another son and a daughter and Lucky was the youngest. He was working with a private company at Ludhiana at the time of his death.

This small township cannot forget the horror when almost all the families had lost one or the other member, relative or a friend in the most macabre and gruesome massacre, in which terrorists killed about 60 passengers of a Ferozepore bound train. “It was a live horror show that was enacted for about an hour”, recalls Mr Verma.

Narrating the hour-long incident of death and horror, Mr Verma recalls: “The train had departed from Ludhiana at 5.30 p.m. By the time it reached Chauki Mann, it was already dark and most people were gossiping or playing cards. All of a sudden it came to a halt as someone had pulled the chain”. In fact the train had stopped at the same place and same time three days earlier also, after someone had pulled the chain.

This was probably a rehearsal by the terrorists, who were now enacting the drama of death. He revealed that he had some premonition that something wrong was going to happen.

Immediately, some people boarded the train and started showering bullets with their automatic weapons. A number of passengers died. Finished with this job, they started looking for the survivors and segregated them. While they spared one section of people, others were asked to line up outside the compartment. “Just then someone switched off the lights and we tried to hide ourselves under the seats, while some people managed to escape”, he disclosed.

It was one of the most gruesome acts men could commit against their fellow beings. There were heart-rending scenes while the terrorists were showering bullets on people belonging to a particular community. “I could notice a middle-aged woman struggling to hold back her young son, whom terrorists wanted to take away to be shot. As she struggled hard, the terrorists asked her to give up, otherwise she would also be shot dead. As she refused to give in, they showered bullets at her son, who died in her arms and she kept on screaming and crying, weeping and wailing and nobody dared to go near to console her”, recalls Mr Verma, with horror and some sense of disbelief for having that horrible hour of the dance of death and bloodshed.

Mr Verma and another boy had fled in the darkness towards the other side of the railway track. As the flashlights from the vehicles passing on the road fell on them, they were noticed by the terrorists, who had now gone on the rooftop of the train.

The terrorists started firing after them. They continued to run for their precious lives, till they reached the main road, where some BSF personnel helped Mr Verma board a vehicle to reach Jagraon and tell the gory tale of death he had witnessed.



Faith prevails upon death

The historic Gurudwara of Shri Fatehgarh Sahib bears a living testimony to the unique and unparalleled martyrdom of the two younger Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Baba Jorawar Singh aged 8 years-10 months and Baba Fateh Singh aged 5 years-8 months. This is the place where they were bricked alive by the tyrannical Mughal Ruler Nawab Wazir Khan.

The Nawab employed every trick and coercion in his arsenal to force them to embrace Islam, but the two delicate children stuck to their guns. Their faith was dearer to them than death. They preferred to die than to leave their religion. This historic Gurudwara commemorates their heroic sacrifice for their faith.

Named after the younger Sahibzada Baba Fateh Singh, it attracts millions of devotees every year from far and near. The devotees throng this historical monument on the occasion of the annual JOR MELA from December 25 to December 27 to pay their reverend homage to the brave sons of Guru Gobind Singh.

The unique sagas of this martyrdom begins with their separation from Guru Gobind Singh. Escorted by Gangu Brahmin they went to his Kheri village along with their grandmother Mata Gujri Ji. Gangu betrayed them and got them arrested. They were imprisoned in the Royal Fort of ‘Thanda Burj’ at Sirhind. The Nawab left no stone unturned to lure them to accept Islam, but to no avail. Even the efforts of Wazir Sucha Nand to terrify remained fruitless. The two innocent did not give up their faith in Sikhism. When all their efforts cut no ice, they were bricked alive on 13th POH.

The news of their martyrdom spread like wild fire, in the city of Sirhind, plunging everybody in deep mourning. Dewan Todar Mal got a small piece of land from the Wazir in exchange for the Gold Mohars which covered equal to the space for their cremation. Mata Gujri could not bear the sad news of the martyrdom of their young grand children and also laid down at ‘Thanda Burj’.

The place where Mata Gujri Ji and young children were cremated is now known as Gurudwara Jyoti Saroop, where a historic Gurudwara has been set up.

Bhushan Sood
Press Correspondent
Mandi Gobindgarh-Amloh.



They too celebrate Christmas
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 25
The inmates of Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s Home celebrated Christmas here today. Over 150 persons, including children, have been residing in this home. These include mentally retarded, physically handicapped and destitute also. The home has been specially decorated for the occasion.

Musa, a mentally retarded girl, who’s parents had left her in the home five years ago said she was very happy here. She was given some new clothes and sweets by the sisters. She also said that she did not remember her parents as she had four other friends to play with.

Paul Steven, an octogenarian, who’s both the sons were killed in Singapore said last evening they had a nice tea-party. “A huge cake was cut and everyone enjoyed the festival. We also went to the Church and offered prayers. We try to spread the message of love, peace and joy of Jesus”, said Mr Paul.

Harpal Kaur, a mentally challenged woman, has been residing in home for the last three years. Her two sons left her here. She said,” Asin girja gaye te uthe ardas kiti” (we went to the Church and offered prayers there). She said that she was enjoying the festival as the home was very nicely decorated with lights and trees.

Neeta, another young woman from the city, has been staying with others for over last two years. She said she was married and had three children, but her husband left her there. She said,” Sometimes I feel very homesick because none of my family members turned up in these two years. But I’m happy. Last night we all went to church which was nicely decorated and we sang together. They look after us very well. They give us clothes and good food to eat”.

One of the attendants on duty said that there were over 10 youngsters in the home. “They all are happy here. Some of them are not more than two years. Philanthropists come and bring sweets, fruits, toys and clothes for these children. They consider us their mothers”, added the attendant. Goongi, another mentally retarded teenager, complained that she did not enjoy the festival because she had a fight with one of her friends.

A large number of Christians, along with people from other communities, gathered at the Chapel Church of North India here to celebrate Christmas. The church compound was fully decorated with candles and other things. The people offered prayers and sang carols. Rev Deepak Parkash advised them to follow the path laid down by the Bible as it led to peace and prosperity.



Masihi Dal celebrates ‘parkash utsav’ to mark X’mas
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 25
The United Masihi Dal organised a musical evening “Parkash Utsav 2001” on the Christmas eve at Sanjay Gandhi Colony at Tajpur Road here last evening.

The programme, with an impressive gathering of members of the Christian community, opened with a hymn, invoking the blessings of Jesus Christ. A prayer was offered by Pastor Eric Masih, the choir of Pastor Janak Abraham and Sion Masih Kalsia enthralled the audience with devotional songs and music, while Pastor Sultan Masih, Pastor Shafiq Masih and Pastor James Bhatti delivered discourses, based on gospels.

Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Director, Markfed, who was the chief guest, offered his greetings on Christmas and assured to the Christians take up their demands at the appropriate level. Mr Baljit Singh, sarpanch, Mr Bachan Singh Nagar, Mr Gurdip Singh, sarpanch, Ladian Khurd, and Chairman, Market Committee, Sahnewal, also addressed the function. Earlier, Mr Bachan Masih, president of the Masihi Dal, welcomed the chief guest and other dignitaries.

Prominent among others present were Pastor Prem Sagar, the Rev William Bansi Lal Mattoo, Pastor Parkash Chand, Pastor Iqbal, Pastor Peter, Pastor Madan Lal, Pastor Shamon Massey, Pastor Mohan Lal, Pastor Lubaya Masih, Mr Newton, Mr Sardar Masih, Mr Dalbir Masih, Mr Shamon Patras, Mr Lazarus Masih, Mr Salamt Masih, Mr Yakub Masih, Mr Sat Pal, Mr Yunus Masih and Mr Surjit Singh Gill.



Young Voice
Helping others is her mission

Preeti Singh
Preeti Singh

Preeti Singh, a young bubbly girl who is a postgraduate in Mass Communication from Panjab University, is an upcoming human rights activist. ‘‘With my background in mass communications, I have been able to acquire enough confidence to be able to interact with people confidently.’’ she says. She is doing another Master’s in Human Rights from an institute in Delhi.

‘‘I feel sad at the state people are taken for granted in the world. And till more and more young and educated people come forward to fight for the cause of those who either do not have enough resources or are too unaware to fight for themselves, the nation is not going to develop.’’she says. TNS



Several injured in bus-trolley collision
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, December 25
Passengers of a Punjab Roadways bus (PB-10-AN-9613) received minor injuries when a tractor-trailer coming from wrong side hit it at Nichi Mangali on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road. The driver of the tractor-trailer fled. A case was registered under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC at Sahnewal police station.

A similar case was registered on the complaint of Jeet Ram of Doraha, who alleged that an autorickshaw, being driven by Jagdev Singh of Chandran, hit his scooter when he was coming to Sahnewal from Bhairomunna. 


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