Friday, March 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Kisan Mela: a rich harvest of ideas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The two-day Kisan Mela, the ‘Maha Kumbh’ of Punjab farmers, opened here at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today with a significant theme, ‘Precision farming for high profits’. As many as 50,000 farmers from all over the state swarmed the campus to know about the latest in the field of agriculture and were all ears to a hard-hitting speech by noted economist Dr S. S. Johl, who sought to make farmers realise the consequences of not resorting to diversification.

Dr Sardara Singh Johl, an economist of international repute and Agricultural Advisor to the Punjab government, speaking from the podium of the Kisan Mela, suggested to the agricultural policy planners and farmers that in order to bring agriculture out of present crisis, there was an urgent need to study the international market and re-structure the cropping pattern accordingly.

With no politician addressing the farmers as ‘chief guest’ at the Kisan Mela to boast about the government’s populist measures and ambitious schemes, the event became a platform for experts to make a frank statement to the farmers. While hailing the efforts of the Punjab farmer to catapult the country into the Green Revolution, experts told them that their cooperation was once again sought by the government to pass through the difficult phase the present agriculture was in.

Dr Johl said that there are no buyers in other parts of India for Punjab wheat and rice because 60 million tonne of foodgrains was already lying in the stores. Out of this, 20 million tonne of foodgrains are virtually rotting here. The Government may purchase the forthcoming 11 million tonne of wheat by raising bank loans but there is little possibility for disposing it into the national or international markets.

Dr Johl made a startling revelation that government expenditure on storing foodgrains for two-and-a -half years is much more than its free distribution among the millions of Indians who cannot afford to purchase. For systematic study of international market to assess the demand of different commodities, alongwith the required quality parameters in different countries, Dr Johl suggested the setting up of a Rice Board and wheat Board in Punjab.

“These boards should be primarily responsible for international market survey and providing funds for technology generation.” He asked the farmers to be ready for providing funds for establishment and working of these boards. Dr Johl gave an open invitation to farmers, scientists, businessmen, policy planners and others to give suggestions for the formulation of an agricultural policy, which is beneficial both to the consumers as well as farmers. These suggestions may be sent through the Director of Research, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. While complimenting the progressive farmers of the state for experimenting with innovative ideas Dr Johl advised them to share their experiences with other farmers also and to work as Extension Agents to spread the seeds of their success.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Dr Johl said that he was all for the sowing Bt-Cotton in the state. He said while the western countries had accepted the genetically modified crops, we, who required these crops more than them, were not going in for them.

In his presidential remarks, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, expressed serious concern over the wide gap between the sale price of farmers and purchase price of consumers. Elaborating his point, Dr Aulakh said that the milk with 4 per cent fat is sold by the farmers at Rs 6 per litre, while consumers have to pay Rs 15 for the same. He suggested the establishment of marketing policy and infrastructure in order to watch the interests of the farmers as well as consumers. Dr Aulakh further said that all efforts to increase production and productivity have been overtaken by the increase in population which has risen from 36 crore at the time of Independence to more than 100 crore at present.

Improving the quality of farm produce and minimising the cost of production are the two priority areas in Punjab agriculture at present. He asked the scientists to generate technology with this objective in view and advised farmers to adopt these technologies in consultation with scientists. Dr Aulakh also added that the surplus of foodgrains in the country is also a myth because at the present level of production, the per capita annual availability of foodgrains in India is only about 200 kg, as compared to 245 kg at the world level and 450 kg in China. He said that if an immediate breakthrough in production was not brought about, our country might face a serious food crisis.

Earlier, Sardar Nek Singh of Khokh village of Patiala and Mr Aman Bahl of Gurdaspur were honoured with the ‘Sardar Dalip Singh Dhaliwal memorial Award’ for innovative farming. Mr Bahl started farming after his M.A. in Economics. During the past 16 years, he has done pioneering work in vegetable seed production. The seeds of carrot and brinjal produced by him are marketed at the international level. He has also set up his own processing plant at his farm in order to grade the seeds and improve their quality. Sardar Nek Singh has excelled himself in hybrid seed production and mixed farming.

While addressing the gathering, Dr Gurdev S. Khush, rice breeder of international repute and winner of many international prizes for agricultural research, congratulated Mr Bahl and Sardar Nek Singh and advised other farmers to follow suit. He complimented Punjab farmers for their contributions expressed the hope that they would be able to meet the present challenges also.



Seed rush grows; diversification unpopular
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, March 21
The two-day ‘Kisan Mela’ that opened on the Punjab Agricultural University grounds here today was a big draw and farmers came there from all parts of the state. Pavilions of manufacturers of tractors, pesticides and farm equipment gave the grounds a festive look.

While a few women who visited the fair could only be seen near various stalls put up by girls of Home Science College, seed stalls remained as popular as ever. Many farmers had arrived here early to be the first ones to get the seeds.

Farmers know that they need to diversify and come out of the wheat-paddy cycle, but don’t know which crop to switch to.

They say that diversification can only be introduced if they are assured of maximum returns, low cost of production and the least pressure on natural resources.

Many of them say that they are already experimenting with new crops. “Paddy has always been the most potent crop for us because it gives us maximum profit. If wheat brings us loss, paddy makes up for it,” say farmers.

They say that cotton — the main crop for diversification — has failed them. Most farmers are aware of crops for diversification, but they are not certain about the cultivation of these.

Mr Tarsem Lal of Chaapra village said he had sown groundnut on 2 acres and wheat on 24 acres. The yield of groundnut was not more than 25 kg per acre. “It did not give me any return, so, I cannot think of cultivating it again,” he said.

The Sarpanch of his village, Mr Himmat Singh, said farmers had tried to cultivate vegetables, but the venture had flopped in the absence of a suitable environment for growing baby corn, broccoli or the other such vegetables. He said he would cultivate sugarcane this time and paddy as well.

Mr Devinder Singh Guram, a farmer of Guram village, said he planned to cultivate paddy on a part of his 45 acres this year. “I am trying out sugarcane and turmeric this year. If the returns are good, I will have an alternative crop next year,” he said.

Some farmers said, this time, they would again cultivate paddy as the new government had no choice but to procure their produce. “If we face problems this time, we will change the crop next year.”

Mr Harbans Singh, a farmer of Dhuri, said he was aware of the need to diversify, but there was no profit in crops other than wheat and paddy. “If farmers sow vegetables, most of these go waste when the prices come down. A farmer would rather throw away his produce than sell it at an unreasonable price,” he said.

Scientists have been saying that the cultivation of traditional crops like wheat and paddy deplete the top soil of nutrients and lower the water table, but most farmers are still afraid to switch over to other crops.

One of the farmers at the fair said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had told them to switch over to floriculture, but before he could solve problems of marketing and storing, he had to move out.

Mr Karnail Singh, a farmer of Jagraon, said, “I had gone in for sugarcane cultivation on 20 acres, but sugar-mill owners cleared the bills of outsiders and left out local farmers, which was discouraging for those who had tried to diversify. Sugarcane is a sturdy crop and easy to grow, but if it keeps on giving no return, farmers can’t keep on sowing it.”

Mr Gurmeet Singh Khatra, a farmer of Sangrur, said, “I have been coming to the fair for many years now. I took the advice of agriculturists and sowed pulses and maize on a part of my land. Now, I do not know how to market my product because the government has no definite policy in this regard. If my experiment succeeds, I will have more land under maize and moong cultivation.”

Mr Tarsem and Mr Karnail Singh, farmers of Moga, said there was a shortage of water in their district, due to which, they could not even think of diversifying. Mr Tarsem Singh of Talwandi said, in his village, all farmers had decided to sow turmeric, but were not sure whether they would get a good price or not.

“We have been sowing wheat and paddy all our life and we will continue to do so. How can we feed people if we do not sow wheat and rice? We are getting a better yield and better seeds each year, so, we are satisfied with traditional crops,” they said.

A farmer, Mr Aman Deep, and his companions from Faridkot got only one sack of seeds after a long wait. “If we want more sacks, we will have to stand in a serpentine queue again like every year. Farmers are more and the supply of seeds is short. Scientists advise us to buy standard seeds for better yield, but we don’t get enough of these,” they said.

It is the same story every year at ‘Kisan Mela’. Seeds are in short supply, dirty foodstuff is being sold and clean drinking water and toilets are nowhere to be seen.



The feminine side of Kisan Mela
Our Correspondent

Students of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Faridkot, display their handicrafts at the Kisan Mela held at PAU in Ludhiana on Thursday.
Students of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Faridkot, display their handicrafts at the Kisan Mela held at PAU in Ludhiana on Thursday.

Ludhiana, March 21
Near the Communication Centre of PAU, a couple of metres away from the main ‘pandal’, the venue of Kisan Mela and Seed Centre, stretched a few stalls displaying colourful handicrafts and embroidered household articles that riveted the attention of the passers-bye. The Department of Clothing and Textile had displayed embroidery stitches of different regions, namely, ‘dasooti’, ‘Sindhi’, ‘Manipuri’, ‘Chamba’, ‘Kasuti’, ‘Phulkari’, ‘Kutch’ and cross stitch. They had used these stitches to embellish cushions, salwar suits and pillow cases.

Adjacent to their stall, Food & Nutrition students had displayed various diets for different diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Farmers showed keen interest in the special diets for heart patients , the incidence of which has increased among this community.

These departments had also organised various shows like ‘healthy baby show’, and a pickle making competition. A potato peeling contest proved to be very interesting as the ladies had to peel the potatoes at a great speed. ‘Saag’ chopping drawing and ‘sewian making competition’ also evoked good response from rural women. Some students of Human Development had drawn models of an ideal ‘balwadi’ needed in rural areas. In one corner were placed blocks which would help the child to better his motor coordination. There was a sand pit and in a corner were toys for multi- developmental skills. A doll’s corner was another fascinating aspect of the ‘balwadi’. The students had readymade drafts for soft toys on sale.

In the stall of Department of Horticulture, farmers were seen asking questions about the production and sale of disease -free kinnows. The multiple queen bee and Royal Jelly technologies exhibited by Department of Entomology also attracted farmers, especially their wives. The Department of Family Resource Management had tried to show visitors how they could save time by introducing labour-saving devices.Art and Craft Self Help Training Society, which aims at making girls of lower income group in dependent had displayed handicrafts that ranged from cushion covers to salwar suits and sweaters. Mr. Niranjan Singh, the secretary of the Society said,” We have 200 centres all over Punjab. 25 per cent of our students are handicapped. After attending courses, the girls are able to support themselves. Similarly a stall of handicrafts was put up by girls that work under training programmes for improvement of the girl child in block samities. The girls are from the families of yellow-card holders.

The girls of Home Science had baked cakes and cookies and had a brisk sale. The students of Krishi Vigyan Kendar, Faridkot, had also arrived with their beautifully crafted and embroidered ‘jutties’ and paintings. Their stall too drew a huge rush.

The mela is on tomorrow. 



PAU securitymen rough up sacked teachers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The two terminated teachers of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) who have been protesting at different venues for the past many days; were today stopped by the security staff of the university when they were trying to enter the pandal of Kisan Mela to hand over a memorandum to the chief guest, Dr Sardara Singh Johal, Agricultural Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab.

The teachers, Dr Amarjit Singh Grewal and Ms Sarabjeet Dhaliwal, former Senior Immunologist and Assistant Economist respectively, were trying to enter the main pandal of the Kisan Mela when the chief guest arrived for inauguration. But the security guards did not allow Dr Grewal to enter and also allegedly manhandled him. They spared Ms Dhaliwal, thankfully, but did not let her enter the premises.

The two guards, Tejinder Singh and Baldev Singh, who had been following Dr Grewal since morning stopped him just outside the pandal, forcibly took him away from the venue. Dr Grewal broke his watch in the process. They even took away a bundle of papers carried by him to the venue. Talking to The Tribune near the venue Dr Grewal said that both the guards had been posted outside his residence on the campus in the morning as the authorities had anticipated that he would embarrass them in front of the chief guest by registering his protest.

He said that when he came out of his house they followed him everywhere wherever he went. But when he reached the site for inauguration they forcibly whisked him away from there and tried to force him into a police vehicle. Some farmers, who witnessed the scene stopped the security guards from doing so.

Then an ASI, Gurbinder Singh, intervened and restored peace. He too, however, did not let them enter.

The security guards, Tejinder Singh and Baldev Singh said that they were directed by the PAU authorities to follow the professor and not to allow him to enter the venue.



Is Siti Cable harassing TV viewers?
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 21
Are the TV buffs in the city being taken for a ride by the cable operators? Well, yes! If you consider the fact that the cable operators have jacked up monthly charges while denying subscribers of their favourite tele-serials on the Star TV network for the past few days.

Siti Cable subscribers in areas like Christian Medical College and Hospital Road, Brown Road, Jalandhar Bypass, Daresi and Salem Tabri have complained that despite paying increased monthly charges to the cable operators served by Siti Cable, they were unable to watch their favourite serials on Star Plus, besides going without other popular channels of the Star TV network.

Dr Neena Chawla, a resident of Doctor’s Colony of CMCH, said for the past five days, their cable operator was not telecasting various channels of the Star TV network. “We are unable to watch our favourite serials like kyonki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi’ and ‘Kahin kisi roz’. Recently, the operators have increased the monthly subscription charges. If we are paying them Rs 200 per month, we are entitled to watch all these paid channels”.

Mr Kewal Krishan, another subscriber on Brown Road area, said people were fed up with the monopolistic attitude of cable operators. “Wheat I contacted the cable operator for knowing why he was not telecasting Star channels, he simply refused to listen to me”, said Kewal Krishan.

Another resident of the area said several subscribers had warned the cable operator of this area that if he did not provide all the channels, they would get the services from other operator. “But one of the official of Siti Cable said it was impossible as no other cable network will not be permitted to provide cable services in our area”, said the irked resident.

One of the officials of Siti Cable admitted that they were not telecasting Star channels, but attributed it to some technical problem. He went on to assure that the things would be set right by the evening. “The residents can not get the services of any other cable operator or network as we have divided our areas in the city”, said the official.

But the enquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that Siti Cable owed a lot of money to Star TV. In view of the non-payment by the Siti Cable, the Star TV network had stopped providing all its channels to the Siti cable which include Star Plus, Star News, Star Movies, Star World and National Geographic Channel.

Interestingly, one of the Deputy Commissioners in Punjab had fixed the monthly subscription rate for cable connection. But the multinational companies approached the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which directed the Deputy Commissioners of all the districts that they had no power to fix cable charges.

Meanwhile, the two main cable operators in the city have increased their monthly subscription from Rs 100 to Rs 200 and even above. The cable operators said they had to increase the subscription as the pay channels had also increased their fee due to increased popularity of their serials. But there were areas in the city where viewers were still paying Rs 75 and Rs 100 per connection. 



Labourers robbed of Rs 27,000
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 21
Sixteen migrant labourers residing in Doraha have complained of a theft of Rs 27,000 at Ludhiana railway station when they were about to board the Jan Sewa Train yesterday.

The labourers were going to their village, Rupoli (Tirbhanga), in Bihar after earning money for their family members after one year. These labourers were about to board the train when they found their back and front pockets of trousers picked.

Santosh Kumar was robbed of Rs 1,600, Dharmesh Kumar of Rs 5,200, Subodh Kumar of Rs 1,600, Ajay Kumar of Rs 2,500, Nagina of Rs 500, Vinay of Rs 1,600, Manoj Kumar of Rs 6,000 and Bachi of Rs 1,000.

Santosh Kumar, who is working at the shop of the secretary, Punjab Kariyana Retailers Association, said, “We searched for the police around but could not find. As we were stunned by the tragedy, we returned to Doraha frustrated and helpless.” He added that he was going to the village on the occasion of his brother’s marriage. 



Mayor’s ward reserved for women 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The government is learnt to have finalised May 19 as the date for holding elections to the Municipal corporations of Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala. A notification in this regard is expected soon.

In the shuffling of wards to be reserved for women, the Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, the Deputy Mayor, Ms Santosh Aneja, and the leader of opposition in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, have been affected by the reshuffle. Before every election to the corporation the reserved wards for women are changed. The government has reserved 24 wards for women candidates.

After the current reshuffle, Mr Grewal will not be able to contest from his present ward number 41, which has been reserved for women. Mr S.S. Ahluwalia has also lost the ward number 47 to women. Mr Ahluwalia was aspiring to be the next Mayor after the takeover by the Congress government and outstanding performance of the Congress candidates in Ludhiana city.

Similarly the BJP leader, who was also an aspirant for the post of mayor has also lost his ward number 59 to women. Similarly, Ms Santosh Aneja, who was elected from ward number 70, which was earlier reserved for women, will not be able to avail the benefit of reservation.

The government adopts a particular pattern for reserving wards for women. This year the counting started with 2 and every third ward in the series like 5, 8, 11 and so on till 69 has been reserved for women. After the reshuffle, 18 Congress, 12 BJP, eight SAD, six Panthic Morcha, one BSP and two Independents have been affected with either the women candidates losing the benefit of reservation or the male candidates losing it to reservation for women.

Most of the councillors have welcomed the reshuffle saying it was a routine process as the wards are to be reserved for women by rotation. “No motives should be attached, nor should there be any heartburn over the shuffle”, a senior government official said.



Minister vs Deputy Commissioner
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Who cares even if a minister proposes? Not at least the new Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal. Recently, Mr Aggarwal rejected a recommendation made by a minister in the Punjab government. And the recommendation was for a public cause.

On March 7, the office-bearers of the TB Eradication Society approached the Minister for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, seeking his help for getting Guru Nanak Bhavan for organising of a programme on the occasion of TB Eradication Day that falls on March 24. The minister assured them that he would arrange Guru Nanak Bhavan free of cost, since it was a programme being organised in the public interest.

Encouraged by the response of the minister the society office-bearers approached the DC, Mr Aggarwal, on March 11. They went along with the recommendation letter of the minister. “What followed was quite unexpected and unpredictable”, remarked an office-bearer of the society. The DC did not entertain any of their requests and dismissed them within a minute. “It was really embarrassing for us having been treated like that as we are all respectable citizens serving the society”, the member added.

The DC reportedly asked them that why should they be provided Guru Nanak Bhawan as TB was still spreading at an alarming pace. “And how do I know that you are really working for the TB eradication”, the office-bearers quoted him having asked them. Moreover, he told them he was not even aware of any TB Eradication Society in Ludhiana.

And when another office-bearer tried to argue with him, saying they were carrying the recommendation letter of a responsible person, with no less a minister himself having recommended their case, the DC was not prepared to listen to anything. 



Creating home away from home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
They have literally created a home away from home. And at the same time they do not seem to have forgotten their roots that are deep in the land they hail from. Because it is these roots only that are binding them together as a community of “sincere and hardworking people” who have become an important part and parcel of the cosmopolitan life of Ludhiana.

And when they performed various cultural programmes particular to their area, they seemed to have created a mini Uttaranchal here only. To add to their morale, the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr Bachi Singh Rawat, who also belongs to Uttaranchal, stayed all through the proceedings of the programme. He also released a souvenir and a directory of the community on the occasion.

There are about 20,000 people from Uttaranchal living in Ludhiana, working in different fields right from the domestic help to middle and top executive positions. They have also formed Uttaranchal Kumaon Vikas Parishad led by Mr Balam Singh Aswal for bringing the community together and also articulating various demands. Today’s function was also organised under the aegis of the parishad.

Presenting the demands, the parishad has demanded that Hindi be declared as the second official language in Punjab. Besides, they also urged upon the Punjab Government to provide them with some land so that they could set up a community centre there for various cultural and community related activities. The parishad also sought a daily bus service from Ludhiana to the last end of Uttaranchal as people keep on coming and going. It also demanded that at least one extra coach may be attached to any of the trains from this region that moves through Uttaranchal.

Reacting to the demands Mr Rawat assured them he would take up all the demands with the state government so that they were resolved at the earliest. He congratulated the members of the community for presenting themselves as a cohesive cultural force in Ludhiana and contributing to its progress and development.

A number of local artists and from outside enthralled the audience at the sprawling Arya College grounds with their traditional performances, including song and dance numbers, which are unique to Uttaranchal. The minister also presented awards to meritorious students of the community. 



City Scan
The mystery of the royals

With the ascent of Captain Amarinder Singh to the chair of the Chief Minister of Punjab, several chapters of history invite rereading. History, it is believed, repeats itself. Ironically, its new face clarifies less and confuses more, whereas, logic needs the basis of facts, if not truth. In history, incidents are more than incidental and some accidents are more fatal than others, for these crudely tell upon the course of events. Some others bring change for the better. A coincidence in one’s life may be termed a chance, but a coincidence in a ruling house calls for a deeper study. Patiala is one such case.

Kapurthala, Nabha, Jind and Faridkot also throw up interesting facts, some of which are stranger than fiction. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur hailed from the princely house of Kapurthala. The Princess was a khadi-clad Gandhian and the minister for health in independent India’s first Cabinet under Pandit Nehru. No princely house in her life equalled her in this respect. Arun Singh, of the erstwhile ruling family of Kapurthala, served as a minister of defence under Rajiv Gandhi and resigned when the Bofors issue came up. With Amarinder Singh becoming the Punjab CM, a new chapter begins.

He is the first member of the erstwhile royal family of Patiala to achieve this seat of power in Punjab democratically. The transforming factors undergo transformation. Amrit Kaur, Arun Singh and Amarinder Singh share the first letter of their names. Chance?

Haryana has had some chief minister with names beginning with the letter ‘B’ and ending with the word Lal.

Banda Singh Bahadur fought the Mughals, encouraging tillers to own their fields. Ahmed Shah Abdali made deeper inroads into India, to destroy and loot, not to conquer. Ala Singh (Phulkian Misal) proved a man of destiny. He was held captive after a battle near Barnala in 1762. Ahmed Shah Abdali gave his adversary the title of Raja, so, Ala Singh, plough man turned soldier, became Raja Ala Singh. His Patti became Patti-Ala and, subsequently, Patiala enlarged itself to become Patiala state. The names of Ahmedshah Abdali and Ala Singh begin with the letter ‘A’. Ala Singh finished the work of Banda Bahadur and Sirhind gained a new face. Vast areas of Malwa had new political power.

History looks redeeming as well as cruel. Any family that at any time owned Koh-i-Noor was cursed — destiny or mystery? To the West of India, Ayub to Zia is an A to Z story. Yahya to Bhutto is reverse gear, according to the Persian alphabet. Ahmed Shah owned Koh-i-Noor, Zamanshah inherited it and lost the throne — a tragic A to Z story. King Aman-Ullah was deposed and had to take refuge in Rome. King Zahir Shah met a similar fate and was exiled to Rome. At Ludhiana stayed the deposed rulers as refugees.

Raja Ala Singh of Patiala had a short rule (1762-65) and his only son died in his life only. His grandson, Amar Singh, succeeded him and ruled for 16 years (1765-81). He was followed by his son, Sahib Singh (1781-1813). During this time, this state became a British protectorate. Maharaja Karam Singh became a staunch supporter of the British and expanded the state in his reign (1813-1845). His son, Maharaja Narinder Singh, ruled for 17 years (1845 to 1862), during which, he became known for his wisdom and bravery, which got him the title of KCSI.

Maharaja Mohinder Singh (1762-1876) succeeded too early and died too young at 24. Rajinder Singh succeeded him at the age of 4 and died at 28. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh also had a short rule. Early death of rulers, in quick succession — would you call it mystery? Patiala was the richest, the biggest and the strongest feudal state when it took a big leap forward to modernity.

We can reread the footprints of destiny. Ranjit Singh (1799-1839) ruled as a great sovereign lord and his family ruled for two generations, after which, none of its male members survived. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was a great sportsman who built the highest cricket pitch in the world and presided over the Chamber of Princes of India. His son, Maharaja Yadavinder Singh, ruled till August 14, 1947. At the Independence, he was the first royal to merge his state with the Union of India. Sardar Patel and the Maharaja of Patiala symbolise unification and patriotism. Patel-Patiala was a golden chapter in the history of Patiala. The state was merged with the other states of East Punjab to form Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

From Alif (‘A’) of Ala Singh to Yey (‘Y’, the last letter of the Persian alphabet) of Yadavinder Singh — history of Punjab has come a full circle. With Amarinder Singh begins another story and history may repeat itself. Great men make history, but the greatest change its course. Commoners keep on just existing.

M.S. Cheema



Holi celebration by ladies’ clubs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
The members of AarCee Ladies Club celebrated Holi here today at Basant Resorts. The members had made a colourful rangoli to mark the festival. Dressed in their best, the ladies sang various songs.

A choreography was presented by the club members in which they danced on all the Holi songs. The dances of Priya Kapoor, Ritu Pahwa, Silky, Gurpreet and Bawa Magoo were appreciated by the club members. Mithu, another club member, presented a solo dance performance on “Holi ke din dil mil jate hain”.

Ms Pinky Kalra, the new president, congratulated the members and presented a vote of thanks.

A fancy dress competition was held at Sarabha Ladies Club. The members were dressed like beggars, drug-addicts and panditji. Rano Padam won the first prize, Geeta Arora was given the second prize and third prize was bagged by Ashu. 



Tailor falls in nullah, dies
Our Correspondent

Samrala, March 21
Pappu Khattran, a tailor, fell into a nullah in front of his shop on the Machhiwara road here today and died on the spot.

Pappu belonged to Khattran village, near here, and was suffering from fits.

He was rushed to the local civil hospital where he was declared dead by the doctors. His body was handed over to his relatives after post-mortem.



Murder accused also a narcotics smuggler
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The arrest of four persons, including two women, in the Turna advocate murder case is proving to be a major success for the CIA Wing I of the local police as one accused or another is being found involved in several other crimes, some of a more heinous nature.

Close on the heels of the police claim that key accused Kamlesh Rani was planning to kill Youth Congress leader Gopal Munga, who was her former husband also, the CIA police has found that another accused Gogi was a notorious narcotics smuggler who was wanted by the Madhya Pardesh police. The MP police had allegedly caught heroin worth Rs 32 crore from the accused in that state but he had managed to give the police the slip.

SP (D) Shiv Kumar told Ludhiana Tribune that during investigations, CIA in charge Mukhwinder Singh found that Gogi was involved in narcotic smuggling.

Inspector Mukhwinder Singh said the police was investigating into the smuggling activities of Gogi as he could lead the police to some international racket of drug trafficking. The fact that the police had recovered heroin worth Rs 32 crore from his place in that state indicates the level of his involvement in the illegal trade. He said what could be disturbing was that heroin smuggling at such a high level was not common in this region and there could be a possibility that the accused had smuggled some huge quantity here also. This could be warning signal for the residents as regular smuggling could destroy the younger generation. He said the Madhya Pradesh police would be in the city shortly to do further proceedings in the case.

The CIA police has also registered another case of conspiracy of murder against key accused Kamlesh Rani for planning to kill Gopal Munga.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Gopal Munga lamented that had the police listened to his case four years ago, two precious lives would have been saved. He was married to main accused Deepti Arora, alias Kamlesh Rani, alias Jyoti, but was cheated and duped of thousands of rupees.



Youths snatch chain, flee
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
Two motorcycle-borne youths, wearing helmets, snatched the gold chain of 65-year-old Ms. Jeet Kaur, a resident of Model gram, here yesterday while she was going on foot to the house of her son in the afternoon, and fled. The elderly victim was so stunned that she did not note even the registration number of the motorcycle.

Student injured in assault: Twenty-year-old Amandeep Singh alias Prince, a student of G.G.N. Khalsa College for Boys, Ghumar Mandi, suffered sword injuries in the head following an alleged armed assault by his rivals here yesterday.

According to information, Amandeep Singh, who is a resident of Jodhan village, had had a tiff with some other student of the same college a few days ago whose elder brother along with 15-20 of his cronies had entered the college campus yesterday and started looking for Prince, who also reached the campus along with his friends and a scuffle ensued between the two groups. On the college campus. An injured Amandeep was immediately rushed to the Civil Hospital. He alleged that all the attackers were armed with lathis and swords and were under the influence of liquor. The Civil Lines police has registered a case and further investigation is on.

Neighbours clash in SAS Nagar: Several persons were allegedly injured in an armed clash yesterday between two neighbouring families in SAS Nagar falling under the division number six police station.

One family, whose three members, namely Manjit Singh Makkar and Trilochan Singh Makkar, brothers, and nephew Paramjit, were injured in the clash, allege that the accused, constable Ravinder Singh and his family, attacked their shop along with 15-20 persons. They arrived at the shop, threw chilly powder in the victims eyes and threatened them with swords and also snatched Rs. 50,000.

On the other hand, the cop alleged that members of the Makkar family and 15-20 other unknown persons attacked his family at their residence and his 55-year-old mother, Ms Urmila, and sister, Anamika, were injured in the attack while his brother Rupinder Singh managed to escape. Statements of the injured belonging to both of the parties who have been admitted to the Civil Hospital have been recorded and further investigation is on.

Assaulted: The Model town police has registered a case under Sections 323, 341, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Baldev Singh, a resident of Kartar Nagar in Model Town, against Paramjit Singh, a resident of Bhawanigarh in Sangrur district, Jugraj Singh, Balwinder Singh, Jitender Singh and Gagandeep Singh, all residents of Amargarh in the same district. The complainant had alleged that the accused intercepted him on Tuesday, beat him up and also threatened him before running away.

Knives seized: The division number two police arrested on Tuesday Ashok, a resident of Dholewal and recovered a kamanidar knife from his possession.

Similarly, the Civil Lines police arrested Raju Chaudhery, a resident of Bharat Nagar chowk area, the Sarabha Nagar police arrested Jwala Parshad, a resident of Rajgarh village and the Haibowal police arrested Vijay Kumar, a resident of Dairy Complex, Haibowal, on Tuesday and recovered kamanidar knives from their possession. All the accused have been booked under the Arms Act.

Arrested for assault:
The Raikot police has arrested Jang Singh and Shangara Singh of Kalsian village in a case registered under Sections 323, 324, 326 and 34 of the IPC. The police has earlier arrested Sumer Singh and Jagraj Singh in connection with the same case.

According to a press note issued by Mr Balkar Singh, SSP, both the parties had caused injuries to each other following a dispute over a house.

Liquor seized: The Hambran police has arrested Banta Singh of Walipur in Kherebet area and seized 6.93 litres illicit liquor from his possession.

In another case, the Sidhwan Bet police arrested Bagicha Singh of Ghuman in Rauwal area and seized 15.18 litres of illicit liquor.

Separate cases under Sections 61, 1, and 14 of the Excise Act have been registered at the Hambran and Sidhwan Bet police stations.



SSI units allege service overcharges by SBI
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The small-scale industrial associations here have alleged that the local branches of the State Bank of India ( SBI ) are charging exorbitant amount for small services like making a draft or issuing cheque books etc. The SBI, which has most of the SSI accounts, is bringing out rules to fleece customers.

Mr Shyam Sunder Vijay of Ludhiana Cycles alleged that the Gill Road branch of the bank had deducted Rs 400 per quarter from his current account (01050060522) maintained in the name of his firm, Ludhiana Cycle Samachar, on January 30, 2002, and on February 1, 2002, for not maintaining the minimum balance of Rs 10,000 without any prior intimation. He alleged that some other branches of the same bank allowed the minimum limit of up to Rs 5,000.

He said, “Despite my repeated reminders to the bank manager, he has not rectified the mistake. Ironically, the other nationalised banks were levying charges only if the average quarterly balance was lower than the minimum limit on any single day of the quarter. The bank is not ready to treat the current account against his firm like an individual account for which the charges are just Rs 200 for flouting the rule of maintaining the minimum charges.” Mr Shyam Sunder lamented that while for income tax purposes, the proprietorship concern was considered as an individual for all purposes, but the SBI was making its own rules to fleece the SSI units.

The enquiries made with the SBI revealed that there was no clarity on the part of managers in different branches. While one of the managers at the Fountain Chowk branch, said, “In the current account, one should keep the minimum amount of Rs 5,000 at any point of the quarter, otherwise the bank would charge Rs 10 to Rs 20 for not keeping that balance.” However, the Chief Manager, Mr Prem Verma, Gill Road branch, when contacted in this regard, said, “The minimum amount should be Rs 10,000 for a firm’s account and Rs 5,000 for an individual current account. The bank had debited Rs 800 for not keeping that amount consistently for two quarters.”

Mr Ashish, a hosiery manufacturer, pointed out that the SBI branch used to cut Rs 10 to Rs 20 every time in case he could not maintain the minimum amount of Rs 5,000 in his current account, due to one or another reason, but Rs 400 is simply an overcharging in this case.

Among others, Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Ludhiana Electroplaters Association, has also raised this issue at a bankers’ meeting but in vain. He said, “On the one hand, the SBI branches are asking us to keep the minimum amount of Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 or the other hand they are charging up to Rs 40 for providing a bank statement up to 2 per cent for getting a draft from our own account, and even for the visit of a bank official to the units.”

He asked how could the SBI officials justify these charges when they were not giving any interest on their minimum amount kept in current account.


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