Friday, March 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


‘Education must for women liberation’

International Women’s Day hardly creates as big a fuss as Valentine’s Day and only a small percentage of educated women is aware of it. Men, as ever, would ignore it, in spite of enjoying a holiday on account of it. Indian women became aware of this day only a few years ago after education brought in some change.

Women of Ludhiana women have diverse opinions on women’s issued on this day. They have been pondering over their contribution to their families, society and the country. They say that women are facing immense problems. Women that die every year in India due to complications at childbirth equal the population of all Ireland. We add a new Australia to us every year.

“Women have no right on the womb; they are given no choice in matters like whether they want children, how many children they would like to have and how many female foeticides they have to bear before they beget a male heir. They are pawns in the hands of their husbands and in-laws. Women’s Day will have no significance unless men change their attitude towards women — from derision to respect,” say Rekha, Mala, and Kismet of Panjab Agricultural University.

Ms Harinder Dhillon, who has been associated with women’s education for the past 37 years as a teacher and principal of the Khalsa College for Women, says: “The day has definitely made an impact. When we became aware of this day, all we could do was make our students aware of their rights. However, they followed it with open discussions on hitherto taboo subjects like molestations and rape, besides their physical well-being. Even, the attitude of parents has changed. Earlier, they educated girls to improve their matrimonial prospects, but these days, daughters receive the best of education. The day brings in focus all women’s issues and this awareness should reach women of the lower strata of society as well. These women are battered by their drunkard husbands, in spite of working hard. They have to be educated.”

Students of the Khalsa College for Women said they were happy that they had a day dedicated to them, but it had not made much difference to the society. “More has to be done to make the nation aware of the contribution of women in national economy. Just a day is not enough to change centuries-old male dominance. At times, we feel the gender bias, so, when we become mothers, we’ll treat our sons and daughters equally,” many of them say.

Some students of the Government College for Women, say, “There is never any Women’s Day function in our college, so, we learn of the day through the next day’s newspapers.” Some other students say, “It is an important day, but, so far, only symbolically. When we discuss the day with men, we get a mocking laughter in response.”

Ms Tejinder, a lecturer of Ramgarhia College, says: “We are proud that March 8 will be a day of women. Once families begin to realise the importance of women, the awareness will spread to neighbourhood and, from there, to society. Awareness brings power, which is the first step towards emancipation and women are becoming aware.”

Unfortunately, the benefit of change has not reached middle-class and poor women, who in spite of financial independence, succumb to the commands of their husbands, go through unwanted pregnancies and perform the double duty of homemaker and breadwinner. Nirmala, Sakshi and Guni see no escape from the frequent domestic violence. When asked, why don’t they report the violence to the police, they say: “Why should we do it — to get more beating? We will rather end our lives than bear the torture, but, then, who will take care of our children? For us, there is no hope.”

Their daughters also face a bleak future, as they have to play mother to large brood. Only a few would get a chance to be educated. International Women’s Day is just an empty word for them. Asha Ahuja



Women who built Ludhiana
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, residents of this city cannot help remembering the women who shaped the city’s present at a huge personal cost, making Ludhiana a modern and a progressive city. A few of these torchbearers are revered, as much as they are missed. But for them, this city could never become the medical and educational Mecca that it is producing some of the finest brains in the country.

It was way back in 1886, when Dr Edith Brown, during her maiden visit to Ludhiana was appalled at the terrible state of health of Muslim women, most of whom never came out of their purdah. The decision to return to America and obtain a degree in tropical diseases was instant. When she did return to the city, she hired a room in Chaura Bazaar to start a clinic. When a woman came to her out of curiosity, Dr Brown gave her four annas and told her, “Tell others that everyone who comes here to read will get four annas. No attendance no four annas.” This is how she started Women’s Christian College in 1893, that is today known as the Christian Medical College and Hospital.

She was not a missionary, as she was a mission unto herself, whereby she served the suffering humanity, shared their pains and improved their environs to best of her ability. Excellent nurse and expert surgeon, the down-trodden and neglected attracted her attention. She would go to dirty homes and take practical action to improve their environs.

Miss Sudha Sen, a Bengali lady, who graduated from Oxford University, realised that without education, women could never improve their lot. So, she returned from England and started teaching at Government College for Women, Lahore. Mian Abdul Hayet, a minister from Ludhiana in the cabinet of Sir Sikander Hayat Khan Tiwana, the then Premier of Punjab State got a government college sanctioned for the city. In 1942, he personally requested Miss Sen to build a girls college The Government College for Women, Ludhiana, is a result of her personal efforts. She got the plan for the college approved, got the site sanctioned and later remained principal of this prestigious institution till 1956.

She hand-picked girl students and appointed them lecturers. Some of her students have served the highest offices in the country. After retirement, she did not let her zest for teaching take backstage; she served the Khalsa College for women and built it into an institution par excellence.

Closely associated with her was Mrs Harparkash Kaur, who later received a Padam Shree for her contribution to education. She belonged to Sidwan Khurd village. Married at an early age to a landlord of Mianwali in Doaba, she lost her husband early. Greater tragedy struck in the death of her minor son. Thus started her inward journey. She rescheduled her life and built a primary school with family resources, that soon become the school in the area for girls.

Among the pioneering women of the city, Miss Andma Kuriyan, a Syrian Christian, hailing from Kerala has her own place. She set an example of self-sacrifice. She taught at the local GCW, but spent every spare moment in social work. She adopted needy girls, educated them and in some cases found suitable matches for them. In this personal mission, she often involved Ms Harparkash Kaur. After retirement, she involved herself in education of rural women at Sidhwan.

Belonging to Kashmir, Bibi Sardar Begum, mother of Sahir Ludhianvi, set an example for women by resisting the inhuman attitude of her husband, Chaudhary Fazal Mohammad, a landlord of Sekhewal village on the outskirts of Ludhiana. She fought a fourteen-year-long battle for the custody of her son, Sahir, whom she wanted to educate against the wishes of her estranged husband, who wanted Sahir to take to agriculture. Supported by her mother in her cause, Sardar Begum was a shining example for several oppressed women to follow.

The name of Dr Shivdev Kaur, who became a widow in her teens, cannot be overlooked when it comes to working on the health of the underprivileged. Daughter of Dr Hira Singh, Dr Shivdev Kaur passed her Class X exams after her husband’s death. She went to Lady Irvin Medical College in the early 1920’s, once an exclusive male preserve to become a doctor. She took to educating poor children. Some of the children she helped grow up were later married to ministers, army officer and bureaucrats.

Mrs Amarjit Kaur set trends in Punjabi literature. Being uneducated herself, she went on to learn reading and writing and wrote an award-winning book called Pardesh yatra that was sourced from the letters she received from her husband while he was away to Europe for higher studies.

The list of women from Ludhiana who have contributed immensely to the evolution of the city is endless and it would be unfair to mention a few names, leaving out others.

But city residents know that but for these women, Ludhiana would not have had the same importance on the nations map as it does today.



‘Put papa in kitchen and mama in office’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
This is a high time for changing the mindset of male-dominated society that does not consider women equal to men. Though the condition of women has improved a lot, there is still a long way to go before women are considered equal to men.

Film star, social activist and a member of the Rajya Sabha, Shabana Azmi, talked about the priorities for setting up an agenda for women empowerment in India. She said, “All her life, she is considered a second-class citizen. Worse, she is not even allowed to be born in a number of cases.”

“We still tell our children that their mother is in kitchen and father in office... why can’t it be other way round. However, society has changed a lot and women, now, give a tough competition to men in all fields, though we still have to go a long way.”

The Rajya Sabha member, mostly known for her minority activism, said the best way to empower women was to educate them. She said: “We discriminate with girls, who are either denied higher studies or not given a fair chance.”

When asked about her opinion on whether the absence of a feminist movement in India was responsible for women’ plight, she said she agreed as well as disagreed with the statement. She said: “I disagree because I believe that the feminist movement in its western format does not hold much significance for Indian women because of a difference in issues and concerns. I agree on one point that there is a need for women to start asserting themselves, for which, they can take the western movement as a model, but not a role model.”

“Women empowerment in India is possible only when men accept it as important for family and society.”



Women’s Day special on Alpha Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
Alpha TV Punjabi, the premier Punjabi channel from the Zee Network, is making special efforts to celebrate International Women’s Day. Special programming has been planned for the special day, the first in the new millennium, “Raahen” (The Path), is a variety programme based on song and film clippings and is anchored by Kimi Verma. The programme will portray the great journey of Indian women from Sati Savitri to Astitva, Sati Ansuya to Khalnaika or Mother India to Mother 98.

The second programme stated for the day is the Punjabi feature film “Maavan Thandiyan Chhawan” at 2 p.m. This film is very much in tune with the theme of the day and presents the true face of a Punjabi woman and a mother.

In the evening it is time to have fun with a special entertainment programme “Dhamak Jalandhar Paindi” . To be telecast at 6 p.m, it is a special event which features prominent female Punjabi singers and artistes like Rajeshwari Sachdev, Manpreet Akhtar, Dolly Guleria and Parminder Sandhu amongst others. This programme is of one-hour duration

To wrap up the proceedings of the day, the second part of the programme “Raahen” will be telecast.



Govt employees await salary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
What was feared seems to have come true. As the state faces a financial crisis, about half of the government employees in Ludhiana and neighbouring districts have not been paid their salaries for the month of February so far. Sources in the local administration disclosed that there was no money in the treasury and the banks had also refused to make payments against the salary bills. All salary bills were reportedly returned today without any payment.

The sources said that about Rs 16 crore are paid in the form of salary to the employees in Ludhiana district. The payments are made through a specific nationalised bank. While half of the amount has already been paid, the other half is still pending. The government is supposed to send a letter of credit to the bank for the required amount. However, the bank has not received the LOC so far, which has resulted in the non-payment of salary bills.

According to the normal procedure, the Punjab government forwards the LOC to bank for the required amount. However, since there is no money with the Punjab Government, it could not provide the LOC to the bank. As the Punjab government has already taken an overdraft from the Reserve Bank of India, it has not been granted further payment so far, which has led to the state slipping into acute financial crisis.

Hundreds of employees had to return without pay even today after they learnt that the salary bills were not being credited in absence of money in the treasury. While the District Treasury Officer was not prepared to speak, the Deputy Commissioner could not be contacted, as he was claimed to have left the office.

The sources claimed that since the government was left without money due to the close of the financial year, there was some difficulty in making payment of salaries to the employees. Moreover, the time consumed in change of guard at Chandigarh also delayed the sanction of overdraft from the RBI. The new government is reported to have taken up the matter with the RBI and the issue is expected to be resolved soon.

The state government, which is already reeling under a sever-financial crunch, is awaiting the collection of taxes for the payment of salaries to the staff. A senior government official claimed that salaries had already been paid to most of the employees. However, he admitted that there was some delay in the payment of salaries to some employees due to some financial problems. “These would be sorted out soon and the salaries will be paid in a day or two”, he claimed.

Meanwhile, reports from other district headquarters also suggested that employees had not got their salaries for the month of February. While in Ludhiana a number of employees have already got their salary, in districts like Jalandhar and Kapurthala a similar situation prevails, with the employees awaiting their salaries.



It’s like any other day for her
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, March 7
While the world celebrates International Women’s Day on Friday, she, like thousands of labouring women in the country, continues to face hardships of life. Ever since her husband passed away about a month ago, Lajwanti (42), a resident of Miller Ganj, is carrying on with the roadside business of selling ‘datuns’ near the Ghanta Ghar. But she is finding it hard to bring up her four minor daughters and a son.

Narrating the tale of her struggle, she said as they (she and her husband) could not afford to educate their seven children, including six daughters, they had to push them into their business. Four of her daughters are still unmarried.

When her husband was alive, he used to go out in the countryside in the early morning and cut ‘datuns’ from ‘kikkar’ and ‘neem’ trees which they used to sell. But now she has to buy the stuff from others and sell the same after cutting it into pieces as a result of which her profits have come down.

One of her daughters, Mala, 17, assists her in the datun business. Mala has studied up to the 3rd standard only as her parents could not afford to educate her further.

Has she ever thought of changing her business? No, for she hardly knows anything else that can fetch her sufficient money to ensure even a hand-to-mouth living for her family. While Mala remains with her mother from morning to dusk at their roadside station, other daughters remain at home to take care of household chores and look after their little brother.

The poor mother and daughter, who labour all through the day, do not know anything about Women’s Day. For them, it is their customers that matter.



Bhadaur House Market cries for basic amenities
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 7
The major commercial centre —Bhadaur House Market in the heart of city lies in a state of utter neglect. The problem created by indiscriminate parking of vehicles everywhere, not only creates difficulty for shopkeepers, as well as hotels and restaurants, which abound in the complex, but also the visiting public, who find it hard to traverse through the commercial hub.

According to Mr N.S. Nanda, President, Bhadaur House Market Association, parking space provided in all the blocks of the market, was more or less occupied by vehicles, owned by nearby markets like Mata Rani Road, Old G.T. Road and Deepak Cinema Road, whereas the shopkeepers of Bhadaur House Market and their customers were often left with no parking space for their vehicles. At times, the vehicles are parked either in front of shops or other establishments so that business was adversely affected.

In a memorandum submitted to the Municipal Corporation Commissioner Mr R.L. Kalsia, the association has urged that the issue of parking vehicles inside the market should be resolved in consultation with the traffic police and the traffic wing of the MC.

It has been pointed out that the condition of the road between the market and the open drain is deplorable which is in urgent need of resurfacing. The condition of other roads and open areas inside the market was no better and the sanitation level also left much to be desired. In the absence of regular cleaning, the waste collectors had virtually made the market their store house.

Mr Nanda pointed out that the open drain sites were put to auction by the MC a few years back but regrettably the construction work had not been taken up till date. The MC would do well to impress upon the owners of these sites to commence construction or reauction them.

The shopkeepers further say that the water supply and sewerage systems within the market needed strengthening. The market was facing acute scarcity of drinking water due to connectivity problem of the main water line and sewerage overflowing from manholes due to choking and lack of regular cleaning.

The fountain at the corner of the market, the memorandum added, had not been functional for quite some time and street lighting was in dire need of maintenance. Mr Nanda has asked the MC authorities to consider dismantling of the fountain which would ease the flow of traffic on Mata Rani Chowk and provide more space for the slip way towards Bhadaur House Market.



‘Build hospital at disputed site in Ayodhya’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch and several other left democratic bodies have urged the Union Government to register cases against those self-styled religious leaders, who were fomenting communal tension and instigating violence.

In a press note here today, several left and democratic bodies, including Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch, Inquilabi Kendra, Punjab Democratic Teachers’ Front, Jamhoori Adhikar Sabha, Democratic Employees Federation, Tarksheel Society and Moulders and Steel Workers Union, further demanded that the government should come forward to construct a modern and well-equipped hospital at the disputed site in Ayodhya, where patients from all religions, castes and creeds could be provided free treatment.

Mr Jaswant Zeerakh, the General Secretary of Vichar Manch said that while continuing communal riots and violence in Gujarat were reprehensible, the communal powers, responsible for these incidents and the state government, which had failed to deal with the situation deserved condemnation. “The government and the self-styled religious leaders are equally responsible for the prevailing situation in Gujarat”.

The bodies gave a clarion call to all sane individuals and justice-loving bodies to launch a mass movement against religious fundamentalists, guilty of extending overt and covert support to communal elements. “It is only the will and determination of the people which can foil the evil designs of communal forces and anti-people governments,” Mr Zeerakh added.



Lok Janshakti Party units dissolved 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) national president and Union Minister for Coal and Mines Ram Vilas Paswan has dissolved the Punjab state unit and all district units of the party.

The decision was announced at a meeting convened by Mr Paswan at Delhi, which was attended among others by state and district level office-bearers and the party candidates, who contested the assembly elections. The meeting discussed in detail the dismal performance of the party in the elections.

According to a press note, the state president, Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, the Youth Wing president, Mr Manjot Singh Grewal, and the Dalit Sena president, Mr Kiranjit Singh Garry, will, however, continue to retain their posts and will reorganise the party units in Punjab in consultation with the party leadership.

The LJP Youth wing will hold a meeting here on March 10 to interact with party workers before taking up the task of reorganisation of the state and district units.



Book on Partap Singh Kairon released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
A book on the life of Partap Singh Kairon titled ‘Partap Singh Kairon — Vision and Conviction’, penned by Rupinder Kaur Gill, Professor, Khalsa College for Women, was released by Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, yesterday. The event was organised by Sobha Singh Memorial Foundation in collaboration with the Communication Centre.

According to the author she had written thesis on Partap Singh Kairon which she now has upgraded into a book. Incidentally it is the first book on him. Major-General Himmat Singh Gill (retd), who presided over the function, said Partap Singh was an extraordinary man who translated his vision into reality and did a lot for the masses. Complimenting the author, he said the book presented the truth about the life of Partap Singh Kairon.

Dr Aulakh said Partap Singh Kairon materialised his progressive dream in the form of PAU. His wisest step was to persuade P.N. Thapar (ICS) to become the first Vice-Chancellor of the university.

Ms Sarbarinder Kaur Grewal, daughter of Partap Singh Kairon, thanked the gathering for remembering him after almost four decades and appreciated the efforts of the author in writing a book on his life and achievements. 




Farewell: Mr Gurjit Singh, who retired as Planning Officer from the District Town Planning Department, was given a warm send-off by his seniors and staff on Thursday. Those who spoke on the occasion were Mr R.P. Jindal, Senior Town Planner, and Mr H.S. Dhillon, DTP. OC



Three given drug-laced juice, robbed of Rs 80,000
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
A poultry farm owner and his two assistants were given drug-laced juice by a swindler and decamped with Rs 80,000 after they fell unconscious. All the three were admitted to the local Civil Hospital last evening in an unconscious state.

According to the information, poultry farm owner Surjit Singh, who runs his farm on the Sangrur road at Dhuri, received a phone call in the morning from Iqbal Singh, who told him that since his wife was under treatment at a hospital, he was in dire need of money and as such he was willing to sell his broilers at a throwaway price of Rs 80,000. When asked by Mr Surjit Singh about his address, the man told him to meet him outside a PCO at Dehlon.

Mr Surjit Singh took along his assistant Mr Surinder Singh and driver , Vicky, along with him and the three of them drove in a Tata 407. When they reached the place, a man came forward and introduced himself as Iqbal Singh. The alleged swindler then offered them the drug-laced fruit juice. Then he accompanied them in the Tata 407 vehicle to an unknown place where he said he would show to them the broilers he wanted to sell. But the vehicle had hardly travelled for a couple of kilometres when the alleged swindler asked them to stop the vehicle on the pretext of getting one of his acquaintances along. Soon after that Mr Surjit Singh and his companions fell unconscious in the parked vehicle and the swindler decamped with the cash. Since Mr Surjit Singh failed to keep an appointment with a friend in the afternoon, he started looking for him. Later they were found in unconscious state in the vehicle parked near Dehlon.

Illegal detention alleged: Mr Tarun Gupta, a resident of Salem Tabri, has alleged that his father, Mr Satish Gupta (55), has been kept in illegal custody by the Railway police following a complaint against him by his employers that he had misappropriated Rs 35,000 which had been given to him to purchase some goods from Delhi.

Mr Tarun Gupta said his father had been deprived of the money by a thug who had given his father drug-laced tea at the railway station on the night of February 22. A rickshaw-puller had dropped his father in an unconscious state at his house in Salem Tabri at about 3 am after which he was rushed to the Civil hospital. But when he returned home on Tuesday after getting discharged from the hospital, policemen from the Railway police took him to the police station on the plea that he would be sent back soon. According to Mr Satish Gupta, behaviour of sub-inspector Hardip Singh, who came to the hospital to record his statement, was very unruly. However, the Railway police denied having kept Mr Gupta in illegal custody.

One held with poppy husk: On a tip-off, the Koom Kalan police on Tuesday conducted a raid and arrested Jaswinder Singh while his companion Balbir Singh managed to flee. The police claimed to have seized 60 kg of poppy husk from the accused and booked him under various sections of the NDPS Act.

One shot at: Mr Chandan, a milkman, was shot at and was injured, allegedly by his brother-in-law, while he was coming back from his daily round on the Barewal road last evening. The injured milkman is a resident of Inder Colony falling under the Haibowal police station.

According to the father of the injured, Mr Baltohi Ram, his son-in-law had been demanding Rs 50,000 for quite some time and had been threatening to shoot them if they failed to comply with the demand. The injured has been admitted to the CMC Hospital and the police has registered a case.

Fraud alleged: The Focal Point police has registered a case under Section 406 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Vasudev Singh, district manager, Punjab Financial Corporation, against Arjun Singh, Amarjit Singh and Dalbir Singh, all residents of Field Ganj. The complainant had alleged that the accused had obtained a loan of Rs 4,788 lakh which the accused had failed to repay. No arrest has been made so far.

Beaten: The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Sections 452,324 and 323 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Virender Singh, a resident of New Model Town, against Harminder Singh of the same locality on the charge of entering his house and beating him up on Tuesday.

Woman injured: A pregnant wife of karyana merchant in EWS Colony falling under the Division No. 7 police station was injured when she came to the rescue of her husband after he was attacked by about half a dozen men. The injured woman, who was hit in the abdomen, has been admitted to the Civil hospital in a critical condition.

According to the information, Krishan Kumar, a karyana merchant was attacked by half a dozen persons in inebriated condition out of old enmity on Tuesday night while he was sitting at his shop. When his wife came to the rescue of her husband, the inebriated attackers allegedly kicked her in the abdomen. The police has registered a case and is on the look-out for the accused.

Woman elopes: The Model Town police has registered a case under Section 366 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Chander Kant, a resident of New Kartar Nagar, Dhuri Lines, against his neighbour, Mewa Lal, a migrant. Mr Kant had alleged that the migrant and his wife were missing since October 22 last.



Woman alleges dowry harassment
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, March 7
A woman of Nathumajra village, near here, has alleged dowry harassment at the hands of her in-laws.

According to Ms Jasmail Kaur, she was married to Gurmail Singh of Badhni Kalan as per Sikh rites on February 13,1998. Her parents gave her a decent dowry, including golden jewellery and household articles. She alleged that she was kept in dark about the age and marital status of the groom, who was much elder to her and concealed facts about his earlier marriage in the USA.

Immediately after marriage, her husband started compelling her to bring more dowry. He used to beat her at the instance of his mother, Bhagwan Kaur, father, Mohinder Singh, sister Parminder Kaur and another relative Nirmal Singh. Not bowing to their pressure and physical and mental torture when she refused to bring any more dowry, she was thrown out of her house. Apprehending threat to her life she has approached the police to stop the main accused from leaving India and desert her.

The police has registered a case under Sections 406, 420 and 498A of the IPC and informed the American Embassy. No arrest has been made so far.


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