Monday, March 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Tension over girl’s death; doctor booked, 8 arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
The Basti Jodhewal police today booked a city doctor on alleged charges of causing death due to negligence of a young girl and also arrested eight relatives of the victim for manhandling the staff of the doctor’s nursing home and disturbing peace by gheraoing the hospital.

Basti Jodhewal and Rahon road area in the city remained engulfed in tension since early morning following the staging of a dharna outside Preet Nursing home by relatives and neighbours of a 13-year-old girl, Kamaldeep Kaur, who died at the hospital last Sunday. Alleging death due to negligence, the agitators gheraoed the nursing home today morning, one week after the death and allegedly manhandled the staff of the hospital.

They were demanding immediate action against the doctor S.S. Arora, and closure of the hospital. The situation become more volatile when members of the district unit of Indian Medical Association arrived at the scene and supported the doctor.

The Basti Jodhewal police had to come to the rescue of the hospital staff and succeeded in dispersing the mob only after arresting eight persons. The police act, however, further angered the mob who marched to the police station and demanded immediate release of the arrested persons. The mob remained outside the police station for over four hours and left the place only after the police released those staging the dharna on bail in the evening . On the complaint of the girl’s parents, the police also registered a case under Section 304-A against the doctor, S.S. Arora.

A senior police official, however, added that the police will take further action against the doctor only if after an investigation the allegations against him were found to be true. The official said they suspect some other motive behind the late action adopted by the girl’s parents.

The victim, Kamal, was allegedly suffering from a brain tumour and had died at the Preet Nursing Home last Sunday. Speaking on behalf of the doctor, Ludhiana IMA President Dr Gursharan Singh said the complaint was motivated and only aimed at blackmailing the doctor. He said some unscrupulous elements in the area were instigating anti-social elements to adopt such measures against the doctor. He said earlier also some miscreants staged dharnas and then earned thousands of rupees through mediators.

Dr Gursharan Singh said the IMA has decided to fight tooth and nail, such incidents as the blackmailing of doctors on alleged death due to negligence was growing rapidly. He said earlier, the doctors compromised fearing loss of business, even if they were right, but now the IMA has directed all of them to fight the menace.

Interestingly, the nursing home was in news a couple of months ago also, when a child declared dead at the hospital had ‘come alive’ in the cremation ground. 



Political rivalry leading to clashes
Tarsem Jodhan’s son booked
Jupinderjeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, March 3
Rural areas in this district, which witnessed some pre-poll violence and tension on these election day have not been free of these problems in the post election scenario as well.

Close on the heels of the death of a woman in Majhali Kalan village near Samrala early this week in a scuffle between supporters of two political parties, two fresh incidents in Jagraon police district, occurring over political rivalry, have rocked the region. One of the incidents involves the son of former MLA Tarsem Jodhan and second of some relatives of a close associate of Akali MLA Ranjit Singh Talwandi. The incidents reflect that political rivalry was still simmering among supporters, although the leaders have publically acknowledged their defeat.

Taking a swift action in a yesterday late evening incident, the Jagraon police has registered a case against Sonu Jodhan, son of Mr Tarsem Jodhan, a former MLA and one of the losing candidate from the sensitive constituency of Kila Raipur. The case under Sections 323, 326, 511 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused for ‘mercilessly’ beating up Kewal Singh, a political rival, in Pakhowal village last evening. The accused after beating up the man allegedly put red chilli powder in his eyes. The victim has been hospitalised. Doctors attending on him said they had saved his eyesight.

The police has, however, not been able to arrest the accused. The Jagraon police claimed to have conducted raids in this connection, but to no avail. While his father, Mr Tarsem Jodhan, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, police sources said they had inquired into the possibility of political victimisation of the accused but, had not found any evidence to suggest any kind of implication.

According to the information available here, accused Sonu and victim Kewal Singh had an altercation on the day of election and were nursing a grudge against each other. Kewal Singh was a supporter of the Congress candidate, Ms Khangura. Yesterday, the victim was allegedly attacked by the accused and some of his unidentified supporters and was mercilessly beaten up.

In the second incident, the Jagraon police has booked more than 10 persons belonging to different groups in Lamme village here on the charge of causing hurt to each other and disturbing peace in the area. While the FIR states that the two groups had quarrelled due to factionalism in the village, sources said the two groups, including some women, had clashed over political rivalry. One of the group was led by a woman sarpanch. Owing allegiance to SAD MLA Ranjit Singh Talwandi. The SSP Balkar Singh Sandhu has entrusted the inquiry into the case to Mr Mohinder Singh Chahal, SP (D). All the accused face the charge of attempt to murder.

The two cases follow the death of an old woman in Samrala early this week. She received serious injuries when she was caught in the fight between members of two rival political groups. The Samrala police said the woman had nothing to do with the fight, but she got injured in the incident.

Apart from these major case, several minor incidents continue to be reported from several parts of the district days after the announcement of results.



Liquor vends’ auction: battle among political bigwigs
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 3
The Punjab Government is not contemplating changes in the excise policy of the state and the existing policy is likely to be retained for the auction of liquor vends for 2002-03. A formal approval of the state excise policy is awaited from the council of ministers which is yet to come into being.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner (Taxation), Punjab, when contacted, yesterday said that a draft excise policy was ready and it would be put before the Cabinet as soon as it was formed.

Mr Ratra indicated that there would not be any major changes in the existing excise policy and the auction of the liquor vends would be held on time.

The realisation of the excise duty from the sale of liquor in Punjab was one of the major sources of revenue and the state government had fixed a target of collecting Rs 1,340 crore from the same during 2001-2002.

Mr Ratra claimed that the state would achieve the target and there would be no shortfall.

The liquor business in Punjab was a big business and political stakes were involved in it. As a matter of fact, the auction of the liquor vends was reportedly motivated by the political consideration and a lot of political pulls and pressures were witnessed during the auction days. The liquor business had been strongly politicised. But this was not only in Punjab and it happened in all states.

During the auction of liquor vends in Punjab and its districts like Ludhiana, Amritsar and Bathinda strong political struggles were witnessed. Last year, in Ludhiana district, the auction of the vends had to be postponed three times and the final auction was held at Patiala. The reason for the same was a reported struggle to capture the liquor trade between Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Education Minister in the Badal government, and Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Mr Badal, who was holding the portfolio of Excise and Taxation. Mr Mann Singh Garcha, a brother of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, is a leading liquor contractor of Ludhiana and the Garchas were supported by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a son of the former Chief Minister. Mr Kairon succeeded in breaking the monopoly of the Garchas as he brought in a liquor contractor, Ponty Chadha, who reportedly got a sizeable area of Ludhiana during the final auction held at Patiala.

Similarly, Mr Kairon was able to get his men accommodated in Amritsar and some other districts.

The small-time liquor contractors who were associated with the bigger fish were hoping that the auction of the vends would be fair this time. They said the auction of liquor vends would be first acid test of the Amarinder Singh government as the auction had to be completed before March 31. It may be mentioned here that auction of vends in Ludhiana district was delayed for about 20 days last year and the final auction was held in April and the Excise and Taxation Department had to run the vends during the intervening period.

Enquiries showed that 2001-2002 was comparatively better so far as the earning of revenue was concerned and the income generated by the liquor vends. They did not face any loss and they had been selling both country-made liquor and the IMFL (India-made foreign liquor) at higher prices because of the monopoly control. The year 2000-2001 was a bad year for the vends as the government in a bid to break the syndicates, allotted the vends to the small contractors, who could not compete with the bigger ones and they faced losses. Some of them were declared defaulters by the Excise and Taxation Department.

Enquiries revealed that the liquor vends had been selling premier brands of whisky like Peterscot at Rs 400 per bottle and some sold the same at Rs 350 per bottle against the official price of Rs 300 per bottle. Similarly, Royal Challenge was sold at Rs 300 to Rs 350 against the official price of Rs 285 per bottle, Red Knight at Rs 225 against Rs 200 per bottle and common brands like Bagpiper at Rs 150 against Rs 100 and Director's Special and Aristocrat at Rs 150 against Rs 100 per bottle, respectively.

Even country liquor was being sold at higher prices of Rs 100 and Rs 90 against the official rates of Rs 80 per bottle.

It was further alleged that liquor contractors and officials made money while selling liquor to the marriage palaces which bought more quantity of liquor against the official permits issued by the department. The neighbouring Haryana had changed the policy of auction of liquor vends and introduced the tender system for allotment of vends. The UP Government also changed the policy last year and introduced the lottery system. This was done to check the political pressures. Under the lottery system the licences were allotted to the vends there. Enquiries further showed that in Amritsar district various groups known as Sweety, Anand Sarup, Rana, Sarkaria and Ponty Chadha are active, while in Jalandhar, Bhalla, Krishan Lal of Delhi and Brij Mohan Lal in Nawanshahr and Kapurthala.

In Ludhiana district groups of Garchas, Ponty Chadha, Amrik Singh Dhillon and Kalia were active in the trade and had strong political links. In Bathinda, Shurli of Delhi and D. Malhotra, who were also active in Faridkot, Moga and Ferozepore. In Sangrur, Amrik Singh Dhillon, while Tinku and Pawan Singla were active in SAS Nagar and Kharar.

The sources disclosed that there were about 12 liquor contractors who controlled the trade in the state. They associate with small-time contractors after gaining control of the vends or groups of vends.

One liquor contractor, on condition of anonymity, said that liquor business could mar the reputation of the government as it had happened during the regime of Beant Singh and Harcharan Singh Brar. These government had become notorious owing to political interference in the auction of the vends.



Ex-serviceman found murdered in village
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
An alleged illicit relationship between two distant cousins led to the gruesome murder of an ex-serviceman in Sawadi Kalan village, 14 km from Jagraon, yesterday evening. The body with over 20 wounds was found in an agricultural field near the village late last evening.

The police has registered a case of murder against Balwinder Singh, alias Billu, and some unidentified persons. The police believes that the accused’s “well-known” illicit relationship with the victim’s wife had led to the murder.

The ex-soldier seemed to have struggled a lot with the killers as fingers of his both hands were cut when he presumably tried to snatch the sharp-edged weapons used to kill him.

According to the FIR lodged at the Sidhwan Bet police station on the complaint of Surjit Singh, a brother-in-law of the victim, the deceased and his wife had several bouts of bitter quarrel over the woman’s alleged illicit relationship with a distant cousin Balwinder Singh in the recent past. The ex-serviceman had started living permanently in the village after his retirement early last year and had come to know about the affair.

The FIR states that at one time, the couple having three grown-up children, had decided to take divorce but agreed to bury the past at the intervention of some relatives and the village panchayat. However, the alleged illicit relationship started again a few months ago, causing some heated arguments between the two. The three children of the couple left them and started living with Surjit Singh.

The police said that last evening, the ex-serviceman went to the fields for some work on his bicycle but did not return. Late in the evening, some relatives searching for him spotted his body in the fields while his bicycle was lying about 200 away. One slipper of the deceased was near the bicycle while the other was near his body.



‘Ban fundamentalist bodies’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
Different trade unions here have urged the central government to ban fundamentalist organisations belonging to both Hindu and Muslim communities to check communal violence in Gujarat and other states. Condemning the killings of innocent people at Godhra by anti-national elements, they have sought the use of POTO and other anti-terrorism acts to curb violence.

Expressing his deep anguish and grief, Mr Jaswant Jirakh, district president, Punjab Inqualabi Kendra, said, “Some of the fundamentalist parties belonging to the majority and minority communities are responsible for these barbaric riots and destruction of national property. The government should immediately ban the organisations involved in these acts.’’ He assured the minority community that at this crucial moment, the trade unions would strongly stand by their side to protect their fundamental rights. He appealed to the workers not to be swayed by the propaganda of religious organisations.

Mr Bhajan Singh, district president, Democratic Teachers Front, claimed that these organisations were responsible for disturbing communal harmony in the state and country in the name of religious bigotry and should not be spared by the government.

Addressing a rally of workers, Mr Kasturi Lal, secretary, Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Federation, affiliated to the AITUC and AIFEE, said, “We strongly condemn the killings at Godhra and the subsequent violence.” The leaders alleged that the state government had not only remained a mute spectator but was also guilty of a serious dereliction of its duty by not taking any action against the culprits.

Mr Jirath said that to maintain communal harmony in the city, different trade unions would soon organise a march and meet the Deputy Commissioner to apprise him of their feelings and to express their support to the victims of violence at this juncture. 



Clear sky after three days of cloudy weather
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 3
The city woke up to a clear morning today after three days of cloudy weather with intermittent drizzling.

It was around 9 last night that rain, accompanied with hailstorm, lashed the city and surroundings areas. Added to the downpour of water and hail were cold winds that swept across the city. The rain started on a brisk note but later settled for a slow but steady stint till 4 am. But for the wheat crop, the hailstorm did not last longer than half an hour. In spite of that, some loss to the wheat crop has been reported from rural areas.

The overnight rain once again turned the old city areas into a muddy and slushy slum. Puddles of stagnant rainwater could be seen on all city roads and the areas around Ghanta Ghar, Chaura Bazar, Gur Mandi, Saban Bazar, Field Ganj, Khud Mohalla and other localities virtually became out of bounds for the pedestrians on account of the slush created by the overnight rain.



Siropa denial invites criticism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
The refusal of siropa to Capt Amarinder Singh at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Thursday has called for strong criticism of the former Chief Minister of Punjab Mr Parkash Singh Badal at the hands of certain leaders of Congress.

Alleging that the SGPC Chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar did not honour the Chief Minister at the behest of Mr Badal, Mr K.K. Bawa, Chief of District Congress Committee (Urban), Mr Pawan Diwan, Vice-President, Indian Youth Congress and Mr Gurbhej Singh Chabra, Member Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said that Mr Badungar had reduced the SGPC to a wing of Akali Dal (Badal) and did not consider it the supreme organisation of the Sikhs. 



City Scan 
Democracy as means of change

With elections dust settled and the new government in seat, politician are discussing results, formation of ministry etc. Intellectuals are exchanging ideas and sharing views. Academics are debating the merits of democracy as an instrument of change. The feeling and thinking people are facing certain obvious realities. The intellectuals are debating issues. Discussing and reviewing the scenario. Watchful citizen is feeling more concerned with problems the common man confronts. Till next elections, we have a gap of time. Next stage being the election of the Lok Sabha.

The advancement in science, technology, medicines, communication, education, engineering besides trade, commerce and industry is breaking all-time records. Any one feeling involved asks: Have we risen up to the expectation? Do we meet the nation’s need? Do our leaders, planners and Parliamentarians feel concerned about the aspiration of people? What do the vote-seekers promise? What is their performance? and Where do we stand?

The cynic turns down all these questions as downright sentimental cries. The pessimist advises the thinking people to write off hopes. The optimist partly holds the fort. The wise says: Now you lead the masters. Voters have power. Political power is held by the people. Know your worth. It is the realist who reads history and learns from it. It is he who sheds off prejudice. An ideal realist is ideally objective. Being objective, he is watchful by nature. Being inquisitive, he looks wider in space and goes deeper in time. The good chunk of society is comprised by sensitive and sensible people. They include educated as well as those gifted with common sense. A good percentage of youth feel more occupied as participating democrats. This trend has been noted by many of us during the recent events. Youth were active, old people were reticent, older still were indifferent.

The Election Commission delimits the constituencies. Orders come from the top, work starts at the grass roots. Things step by step take political turns. Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha and 117 Assembly seats, a central seat can cover nine Assembly ones. They can be contiguous and region-wise. The slices thus torn confuse many and look illogical. Same about reserved seats. The Press should lead a debate on this issue.

Ludhiana has 12 seats, North-West of the city, Haibowal area, is integrated with Dakha. The nature of problems is radically different, agricultural and irrigation there and health and education here. Developed urban areas are yoked with Ludhiana rural, one misses the logic.

At every election time some run and cry in a panic: Bogus voters, non-resident voters, fake voters’ list etc. Why do not the well-informed of the country arrest the mischief as it springs up? What are the workers of political parties for? If a certain party has evil design what are others for? Such indifference is politically suicidal. In an age of computers, such information should be easily available. It should go to Internet. The district administration should buy time from local television channel. The administration should periodically provide vital information to the public.

We have elections for panchayat, SGPC, local bodies, Assembly and Lok Sabha. The DPRO should have a publicity wing for mass education. In an age of instant electronic link-up, the Jalandhar TV centre can be put to wider and better use in this respect. It is good that the seats are no more proportional to expanding populating for the Lok Sabha. Should we not debate the feasibility of four seats per state plus some for UTs?

Do we realise that we are highly emotional people? An emotive issue disturbs the balance. Consider a page from the Westminster, our model. Prime Minister Winston Churchill won World War II as national hero and he lost the election just after that historical victory. Why? They know better as realists. The British think dispassionately issue-by-issue. When and how will we rise to the making of real Republic as voters? As legislators?

M.S. Cheema



Furnace association withdraws strike
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 3
Induction Furnace Association Mandi Gobindgarh, has withdrawn its strike announced for an indefinite period in all the 41 units located here, after the Association reached a compromise in a meeting on Friday held at Chandigarh with Mr V.K. Sharma and Mr P.S. Sodhi Commissioner and Additional Commissioner of Central Excise Department, Punjab, according to Mr Mohinder Gupta ,President, Mr Kuldeep Goyal, General Secretary and Mr Hukam Chand, Executive Member of the Association, who conveyed the decision to this correspondent here today.

The officers assured the association that action would be taken against the official, who was found causing unnecessary harassment to industrialists, as the latter already paid the highest levy as compared to other states and even in other towns of the state and assured co-operation in future also.

It is to be noted that the agitation call was given in protest against un-necessary dragging of industrialists’, names in false cases on flimsy grounds.



Farewell, Mr Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
As the outgoing Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, hands over charge to his successor, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, people here are bound to remember him with nostalgia for his way of handling various situations and issues.

Ludhiana is probably the largest district in Punjab, with a population of about 40 lakh and about 30 lakh in the city alone. It is the political and commercial capital of Punjab. The district is politically sensitive.

Though appointed in the tenure of the SAD-BJP government, he did not invite any charges of partiality or bias. He also stayed away from controversies.



Body of missing man found
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 3
The body of Mr Santokh Singh, 45, resident of Guru Arjan Dev Nagar, who had been missing since February 25 last, was found under mysterious circumstances yesterday from the Sector-32 area on the Chandigarh Road. Residents, who discovered the body in the morning, immediately informed the division number seven police, which got a postmortem conducted on it at the Civil Hospital. The death was reportedly caused by some poisonous substance taken by the deceased whose viscera has been sent for a chemical analysis.

Kidnapped woman returns: A 22-year-old woman resident of Salem Tabri, who had allegedly been abducted along with her two-year-old daughter about seven months ago, returned home yesterday.

According to information, the woman had been living with her husband, Naresh, who sells ice-candies on a rehri, in the area for quite some time. But in July last year, two of her acquaintances, Pappu and Mintu, allegedly kidnapped her and took her to a brick-kiln at Rohtak where she was confined to a room and repeatedly raped by the two youths. In her complaint lodged with the police, the woman also alleged that both the youth also tortured her mentally and physically during her confinement at the brick-kiln. The police has registered a case of kidnapping and wrongful confinement against the accused. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Freak accident: Vandana, a 26-year-old resident of Cemetery Road died in a freak accident here yesterday. According to information, the girl was making preparations to hold a kitty party at her home. She reportedly slipped from some height fell down. In the process, the dupatta around her neck got entangled somewhere and the girl died of suffocation. According to another version, the girl committed suicide. The division number five police has registered a case and the viscera of the deceased has been sent for a chemical analysis.

Akali leader passes away: Paramjit Singh Garewal, a senior Akali leader and member of Jassian village panchayat, who had been admitted to the DMC Hospital after an accident passed away yesterday. Mr Garewal was injured while he was coming from Phillaur along with his wife on a scooter after it was hit by a speeding car near Amaltas Hotel on the Jalandhar Road. Mr Garewal’s wife had died on the spot and he had been rushed to the hospital.

Suspected thief paraded naked: A young migrant from UP, Rajesh Kumar, was paraded naked in a street of Nanak Nagar and parts of the New Sabzi Mandi in the Salem Tabri area here yesterday afternoon by some other migrants who suspected him of having committed a theft in the area. According to information, Rajesh Kumar was allegedly beaten up by a group of migrants before they stripped him naked and compelled him to walk through the lanes. Later, the suspected thief was tied with the help of a rope and was interrogated by other migrants.

Black marketeers held: On a tip off on Friday, the Focal Point police conducted a raid in the area and arrested Sushil Kumar and Anil Kumar, both brothers, on the charge of selling kerosene in the black market and booked them under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act. The police also took into custody 2,860 litre of kerosene, which the accused had stored for sale in the black market.

Poppy-husk, opium seized: The Sahnewal police on Saturday arrested Harpreet Singh alias happy , a resident of Gaddon village, and recovered 20 kg of poppy-husk from his possession. The accused was arrested following interception at a naka near Dehlon.

The Sadar police, during routine checking at a naka, arrested Pyare Lal, a resident of Prahladpur village and recovered 1.5 kg of opium from his possession on Saturday.

Another alleged smuggler, Gurjant Singh, a resident of Ayali Khurd village, was nabbed by the Sadar police on Saturday and 10 kg of poppy-husk was recovered from his possession.

The division number six police, during checking at a naka in Transport Nagar, arrested Murali Lal, a resident of Vasant Vihar, falling under the Haibowal police station, on Saturday and recovered half kg. of opium from his possession.

All the four accused have been booked separately under different sections of the NDPS Act.

2 booked for quarrelling: The Focal Point police on Saturday arrested two persons on the charge of quarrelling at a public place and hindering a cop from performing his duty under sections 182,353,186,506 and 34 of the IPC. According to information, Trilochan Singh, a resident of Jamalpur Colony, and Ram Murti, a resident of Jain Colony, Moti Nagar, were making quite a scene in Jamalpur Colony. When the duty cop, Mr. Parminder Singh, tried to disperse them, the accused also misbehaved with him.

Beaten: The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case under sections 456,323,506,148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Ms Manjit Kaur, a resident of Vikas Nagar, against Arvinder Kaur, a resident of Kila Raipur village, and her sister Rajinder Kaur, a resident of Lajpat Nagar, Model Gram and four other unknown persons. The complainant had alleged that the accused attacked her and injured her.

The Jodhewal police has registered a case under sections 341 and 234 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jesban Singh, a resident of Inder Colony on the Rahon Road, against Rachhpal Singh and his son, Babbu, who allegedly beat up the complainant on Saturday.


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