Friday, January 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Victimised for ‘exposing cop’
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 10
A handicapped person has alleged that he had to face the wrath of the police because he had protested against the SHO of Kheri Naudh Singh who had extorted money from him for the release of his brother. He said that he had been running from pillar to post in quest of justice and had even approached the Chief Minister twice, but instead of getting justice, he had been implicated in a false case.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today, Mr Rajdeep Singh, a physically challenged man of Hargana village in the district, alleged that his tale of woes started when SHO Bhupinder Singh after joining started harassing his family, alleging that they were carrying out the sale of poppy husk in the area, and demanded monthly bribe. He said they expressed ignorance about the poppy husk sale and urged him to make inquiry from any quarter in this regard, but he did not relent and took my younger brother into custody.

He said that with the help of the village panchayat and some influential persons, the matter was settled for Rs 15000 and an amount of Rs 9000 was paid to the SHO to get the release of his younger brother. The remaining amount was to be paid later. He said that after the release of his brother he could not make the balance payment. Therefore he started threatening to put them behind bars. He said that apprehending threat to life, he made a complaint to the DIG, Patiala range, against the extortion and the threatening attitude of the SHO. The DIG marked an inquiry to be conducted by the then SP (H) I.S. Randhawa. The SP (H) visited the village and got on-the-spot information and recorded statements of villagers and panchayat. In his report submitted to the then SSP, he recommended to register a case against the SHO. He said that when the SHO came to know about the finding of the inquiry, he immediately made contact with influential persons of the area and offered to make compromise with me. He said that he agreed to compromise and the SHO refunded Rs 9000 taken from him for the release of his brother and also gave him affidavit in which he had apologised from him for harassing and taking money. In return, he gave in writing that they had reached a compromise.

He said that when the SP (H), who conducted the inquiry, and was handling the case, got transferred, the SHO again started threatening him and demanded back the affidavit, which he had given to him accepting taking of bribe. He said that he refused to give the affidavit as he had already handed over that affidavit to the then SP (H), the SHO started mentally and physically harassing them. Frustrated from the humiliation, they met the Chief Minister in sangat darshan programme and made a complaint against the SHO. He marked inquiry to the SSP but no inquiry was conducted. Rather the SHO became more bold and started humiliating them.

He said that afterwards they went to the residence of the Chief Minister and narrated him their tale of woes and gave a representation to him. He marked fresh inquiry to be conducted by DIG, Patiala range, who in turn marked it to ASP, Patiala, to conduct inquiry. He said that unfortunately the ASP did not visit their village to conduct inquiry and demanded the original affidavit from him. They told him that the affidavit had been handed over to SP (H), who conducted the inquiry earlier. To their surprise, he came to know that a case had been registered against him u/s 465, 468, 471, 182 IPC, alleging that he had made a false complaint and prepared a false affidavit. Not only this, he was arrested immediately and sent to Patiala jail. He said that after 20 days in judicial lock-up, he was released on bail.

He said that it was unfortunate that he did not get justice from the Chief Minister. He said that the SHO had managed the “inquiry”. He demanded fresh inquiry into the entire episode from the CBI or the crime branch as the affidavit given to him by the SHO, in which he had apologised and accepted taking the bribe, was original. He said that even the stamp vendor from whom the stamp paper was purchased, and his register carried the signatures of the SHO, the typist, who typed it, and the witnesses are still ready to record their statements. He said that he had been unnecessarily put behind bars. When contacted the SHO of Kheri Naudh Singh said that the accused is a habitual liar and a case has been registered against him on the recommendation of ASP, Patiala, as he had made a false complaint. He refused to reveal whether the SP (H) had also conducted inquiry in the same case. He said that earlier also a case u/s 420, IPC, was got registered against him. He termed the entire allegation levelled against him as baseless.



Live wires a big threat
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, January 10
Despite loss of two lives due to electrocution in the past few days, it appears as if the Railways authorities are not serious about the danger of live electric wires atop rail lines to run electric locomotives. These live wires with load of 25 kv are capable of attracting living beings from a distance of about 3.5 inches. The flow of electricity in the wires is so high that it takes a few seconds to take a life of a human being who comes quite close to these.

Yesterday an Army jawan lost his life while he was putting a net on a heavy vehicle loaded on a special train. A labourer had also died a few days ago after coming in close contact with a wire.

Every year many persons die after coming in direct contact with such wires. But the authorities concerned have not done anything substantial except putting up small caution plates at the railway station which mention the current load in these wires, hardly serving any purpose. The caution plates at the railway station are in English. Moreover, these are too small to read from a distance. One can only read these plates when one stands close to them. There are no instructions on these mentioning the safe distance from the wire and how to avoid any tragedy.

One can witness big and bold advertisements of family planning, prevention of AIDS, literacy programme and other products and services. But there is not a single educational advertisement to spread awareness among people about this deadly danger at the railway station. Till date no awareness drive has been started by any government and non-government organisation for the safety of people.

A passerby, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said, “This is the need of the hour. Appropriate action must be taken by the officials as an Army jawan recently lost his life because of lack of awareness about live wires. If he had a little knowledge about the live wires and the safe distance to maintain while working, he would have been alive today. The authorities must put appropriate caution boards at railway station and near rail tracks to avoid any untoward incident. Moreover, a proper awareness drive should be launched by the Railway Ministry throughout the country to save human lives.”

A senior railway official said “the state government did not take any initiative to do anything related to the problem. The officials operate under certain constraints and cannot take any decision on their own to launch an awareness drive about the danger of these wires.”



Teachers not paid for 5 months
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 10
Over 1,353 government schoolteachers of Punjab under the Operation Blackboard scheme have not received their salaries for the past five months.

They have already written to the Central Government about it and even met officials of the State Education Department in this regard, but nothing is being done to release the salaries. Teachers, who have to travel upto 40 km a day to schools in rural areas, are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

These teachers had been recruited under this scheme of the Government of India in its Ninth Five-Year Plan. Teachers were appointed in primary and middle schools of underdeveloped areas of the state. The scheme that began in August 1998 was to be financed by the Centre for the plan period. The state government was supposed to take over from there.

Teachers said they were annoyed at the delay in payment of salaries, which had become an annual affair. They said, this time of the year, they usually received their salaried after three months of delay, but, this time, the problem had become unbearable. They said that the state government received an annual grant, but the funds exhausted by August 31.

They said, the salaries were to be sanctioned by the Centre and there was a long channel for getting this sanction. They said everytime they approached the state authorities, they put the blame on the Centre for the delay in calculating the expected expenditure of the year. They also said, while the expenses soared every year, the grants diminished with it.

Of the 1,353 schoolteachers of Punjab, 108 teachers are posted in Ludhiana. These include 27 science teachers, 32 mathematics teachers, two teachers of Punjabi and 47 of social science.

While most of these teachers have to commute to villages in Raikot, Samrala and Payal subdivisions every day, some of them have been appointed in city areas like Shimlapuri, Abdullahpur Basti, Giaspura and Baddowal.

Similarly, 170 teachers have been appointed in Amritsar, 126 in Ferozepore, 117 in Hoshiarpur, 106 in Jalandhar, 105 in Sangrur, 92 in Patiala, 64 in Kapurthala, 62 in Ropar, 57 in Muktsar, 54 in Mansa, 52 in Bathinda, 45 in Fatehgarh Sahib, 37 in Faridkot, 32 in Nawanshahr and 26 in Moga.

Besides, teachers said the government was appointing fresh staff under the scheme in some districts. 



Honesty makes him pay dearly
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Honesty pays, it is said, but in the case of Mr Pardeep Kumar Arora, a local lawyer and former Executive Officer with the Local Bodies Department, honesty had made him pay dearly. For, his unwillingness to pay bribe for remaining in the job, taking political help and refusal to adopt corrupt means to please some of the bosses have left him on the street.

He is the only candidate in the revised list of recruitment of Executive Officers who has not been recommended for the job again. All the others whose recruitment had raised eyebrows, in the first place, following a petition filed against the recruitment in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, have been surprisingly found “worthy” for appointment again. Thus, the move to remove some of the allegedly unworthy candidates out of the 66 selected ones has resulted in the elimination of one candidate only.

While the High Court yesterday issued notices to the state government and the Local Bodies Department over the issue of the revised list, Mr Arora is running from pillar to post to know why exactly was he left out. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Arora claims the only reason was his honesty. ‘‘I was the only candidate, who was selected without bribing anyone,’’ he claims. His selection was done infact after some hiccups only. According to the documents provided by Mr Arora, he initially did not figure in the selection list. ‘‘I was surprised that while several candidates having less numbers were selected, I was rejected,’’ he said.

On enquiry, he found out that several of the “unworthy” candidates had managed selection just on the basis of being the relative of some bureaucrat or politician. He raised a hue and cry and was shocked when a senior bureaucrat and a politician demanded bribe to get him through. He did not pay the amount as he was eligible and his case could not be ignored for long.

He was given appointment and he finally joined as Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Moga, in April 1999. He was transferred to Lohia Khas (Jalandhar) in May and subsequently as EO, Mullanpur Dakha, in the same month. He remained in service there till October, 2001, when on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Local Bodies Department prepared the revised list of the candidates and his name was not in the list.

‘‘Several persons, politicians and bureaucrats contacted me for giving them money to see me through, but I could not do so,’’ he claims. He added that first of all he wanted to stick to his principle of honesty and secondly, he did not had the amount demanded from him. ‘‘I remained at a lucrative job and saw my counterparts minting money. I was a witness to several kinds of corruption,” he claims.

Mr Arora is now at the crossroads of his life. A qualified lawyer, he was doing good practice when he got the job. Now after a gap, he is struggling to find feet in the legal profession. He had even sold his cabin in the district courts here and is now functioning from a makeshift arrangement. Ludhiana Tribune tried to get viewpoint of senior officers in the Local Bodies Department but they were not available. An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, only commented that the truth was on Mr Arora’s side. 



College girl dies of heart attack
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 10
Jasbir Kaur, a first-year arts student of the local AS College for Women, died after a heart attack on the college premises here today. Jasbir, a resident of Lalheri Road here, collapsed in classroom, following which, the college authorities called a doctor who referred her to the local civil hospital, where she was declared “brought dead”. The body was handed over to her parents after the postmortem.



Intense lobbying among SAD aspirants for Ludhiana West seat
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 10
With the SAD taking its own time to decide on party nominees on most of the Assembly seats, including the two local Assembly segments — Ludhiana Rural and Ludhiana West — aspirants of the SAD ticket from Ludhiana West are doing intense lobbying and in fact making all-out attempts to outdo one another in staking claim for the party nomination.

A new turn of events, perhaps being witnessed for the first time, was a fierce battle for oneupmanship between traditional Akali activists — Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, acting district president, and Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, vice-president, SAD, both owing allegiance to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, between themselves and non-Hindu segment of the party represented by Mr Amrti Lal Aggarwal, an adviser to the party, and Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, president, District Bar Association, on the other side.

With the formal announcement of party candidates being expected any moment now, the political activities of the claimants have reached a feverish pace with series of meetings being organised and other avenues like caste, old relations and factions, being explored.

The factions led by Mr Makkar and Mr Bhatia organised separate meetings in the city in which their supporters called upon the party leadership to allot party ticket to their respective leaders in view of their ‘dedication and loyalty’ to the party. In addition, Mr Makkar and Mr Dhanda, along with their supporters, have met Mr Badal in Chandigarh and Moga, respectively, to press their claim. Mr Aggarwal, who claimed support of several local Congress activists and at least two Cabinet Ministers, said he would lead a deputation of a large number of social, religious and educational institutions to meet Mr Badal tomorrow at Jalandhar.

A meeting of SAD activists, presided over by Mr Pritpal Singh, president, Gurdwara Akalgarh, resolved that Mr Bhatia be nominated party candidate from Ludhiana West to respect the sentiments of urban Sikhs and to recognise the contribution of a loyal and dedicated worker. Many of the office-bearers of Akali jatha (urban), party councillors and other panthic leaders attended the meeting.

Mr Dhanda informed in a press note that a deputation, comprising industrialists, doctors, lawyers and prominent people from all walks of life, met Mr Badal in support of his claim to the party ticket. Mr Anmol Rattan Sidhu and Mr Bhupinder Singh Rathore, chairman and vice-chairman, Bar Council of Punjab, respectively, also accompanied the deputation.



SAD-BJP govt can bring prosperity’
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 10
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, while addressing the people gathered outside the SDM’s residence yesterday, asked them to support the right candidates in the coming assembly elections. Declaring that the major opponent of the SAD-BJP coalition was the Congress, he said that though he was sure that the people of the state would decide in favour of the former, any other verdict given by them would also be acceptable to him.

He blamed the Congress for all the problems faced by the country. He alleged that the successive Congress governments at the Centre had meted out step-motherly treatment to Punjab and deprived the state of sufficient electricity, water and capital, giving rise to the problem of terrorism.

Mr Badal said that at the time of the last elections, the Congress had apprehended that if the SAD-BJP alliance came to power, insurgency would make a comeback, but the coalition government proved this wrong.

Mr Badal said that he wanted to make Punjab an industrial state. Lambasting the Panthic Morcha, he said that its one-point programme was to oust him from power. He lamented that though his government had sent invitations to the Panthic Morcha as well as the Congress to attend the official celebrations to mark the 200 years of coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, leaders of these parties did not come to attend it. He added that this made it clear how much the Panthic Morcha cared about the panth.

Supporters of Mr Bhag Singh Mallah, the sitting MLA, who is also the Chairman of PUNSUP, and Mr Charanjit Singh Gidderwindi, both of whom are aspirants for the SAD ticket, clashed just before the arrival of Mr Badal. However, they were calmed by the efforts of others.



Computer error delays ‘ring’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 10
While Telecom employees and its subscribers have largely benefitted from computerisation in the department, here is an interesting case in which a consumer has been suffering because of a minor computer error.

According to Mr Rakesh Kumar, a local resident, he had deposited three application for telephone connections with the BSNL on October 10, 2000. One of these applications belonged to him while the other two were in the names of Mr Amar Singh, resident of Chander Nagar Colony, and Mr Surinder Kumar, resident of Gagandeep Colony.

The complainant said that two of these phones were installed in March and December, last year. “But my telephone connection has not been released so far,” he said.

He said he had met the Commercial Officer, Mr R.M. Rai, about a week ago in this connection. “Mr Rai got the file and said the date of booking of the telephone was October 10, 2001, and not October 10, 2000. But when I told him that all three telephones were got booked by me on the same date, the officer said then there must be some computer error,” said Mr Rakesh Kumar.

According to the complainant, his son Naveen Kumar visited the Telecom office near Samrala Chowk yesterday. “But the officer on duty said that he would write to the Transport Nagar office authorities to confirm the exact date of booking, only then he would be able to do anything,” he said.

The complainant said even if it was a computer error, why should he be made to suffer. “I have the receipt which shows that the telephone was booked in 2000, even then officials are not ready to listen to my grievance,” he said.



Construction in park opposed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 10
Residents of ‘C’ Block of Rishi Valmiki Nagar say that the construction by the Viklang Sahayata Kendra (VSK) in a public park near the kendra is a bid to encroach upon the park for using it for commercial purposes.

Mr M.L. Anand, Chairman of the Maharishi Valmiki Nagar Welfare Association, said, “All points of entry to the park have been closed, certain structures have been pulled down, grills and bricks have been removed and angle-irons are being installed all around the park to put up a barbed-wire fence. The park is being ploughed and the kendra management has said that a gate will be put up at the park entrance.” Residents of the area say that it will violate their right to a free access to the park.

The welfare association said repeated representations to officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) had failed to make the VSK management stop the construction. The LIT had not responded to the offer of the association that the park be handed over to the association for maintenance.

However, the LIT Chairman, Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, had a different story. He said the fears of the residents that the park was being encroached upon were baseless. “The LIT will not allow any public place to be encroached upon or misused,” he said.

Mr Vyas said, due to limited resources of the LIT, most public parks and green belts here were in a state of disrepair. The LIT was trying to invite public participation for the maintenance of parks and the VSK management had accepted such an offer.

He said a team of the LIT officials had visited the site today to make sure that no structure was being raised in the park. A part of the grill and supporting pillars had been pulled down by construction workers to make way for a tractor-trolley. He said the VSK management would maintain the park strictly according to the undertaking it had given to the LIT. The park would be completely open to the area residents.

The welfare association was, however, still not convinced.



Truck overturns, traffic hit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Traffic on the Ferozepore road, near Grewal hotel, was partially affected for several hours today following a freak accident in which a mini truck (HR-37-5839) overturned while negotiating a curve and fell on the road divider. Power supply to some areas was also affected as the mini truck damaged a pole supporting electric wires.

The truck driver, Mangat Ram, was injured, while the conductor escaped with minor injuries. The accident took place at about 4 a.m. According to the conductor, they were coming from Bilaspur and heading towards Moga when the accident took place. He said they had tea at the Jagraon bridge and after some rest they had begun the journey again. The mini truck was on normal speed he said but lost balance while negotiating a curve which suddenly came up, he said.

The truck was loaded with gur.



No clues to missing man
Tribune News Service

Ajit Singh
Ajit Singh

Ludhiana, January 10
Mystery shrouds the disappearance of a scrap dealer, who went missing from Shimla Puri on December 15 last. While the family alleges foul play, the police suspects that the man could have gone on his own as he had a fight with some members of the family.

Ajit Singh, the dealer, owned a scrap shop in the Shimla Puri area. His wife, Ninderjit Kaur, said she had searched for him at every possible place but there was no clue to his whereabouts. Though she does not suspects anyone, she alleged some foul play behind her husband’s disappearance. The police said it had flashed messages across the state and other states but no clue has been found.

She said her husband had gone to sleep in the shop on December 15 but when her son went to the shop in the morning, her husband was not there. Nothing was stolen from the shop and there was no sign of any struggle. They complained to the police but nothing has been done so far.

She said her husband was earlier a Taxi driver and had started the scrap business recently. He owed money to some people.



Woman booked for committing fraud
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 10
The Economic Offences Wing of the police has started investigations into a case registered against Kulwant Kaur of Jangpur under Sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the IPC, on a complaint lodged by Zora Singh of the same village. He alleged that the accused had entered into a deal with him to sell her land, and he had given her Rs 10,000 in advance.

Though she had promised to execute the sale deed by July 26, 2001, she breached the trust by selling most of her land to Mohinder Singh on April 3.

She did not even return the money to him, complained Zora Singh. Kulwant Kaur has been arrested.

Dowry death case: The police arrested Jugesh Verma of Saincharan Mohalla in connection with the x death of his wife, Uma. A case has been registered against him and his family under Sections 304-B, 506 and 34 of the IPC. It is alleged that all the accused used to torture Uma for more dowry ever since her marriage. She was forced to leave their house and come to her parental home.

On November 24, 2001, the accused came there and threatened her. Upset over this, she committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan.

Jugesh was produced today in the court of Mr Harpal Singh, SDJM, who remanded him to judicial custody till January 24. 


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