Thursday, April 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Child’s murder sparks violent protests
Traffic blocked on Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway for six hours; many vehicles burnt
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

The mother of the child who was killed being consoled by her relatives
The mother of the child who was killed being consoled by her relatives while sitting in dharna on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway on Wednesday. 

The mob cheers as a police jeep and a private car burn.

Cops make a hasty retreat as the mob attacks them.
— Photos by Pradeep Tewari

Ludhiana, April 24
The macabre killing of an eight-year-old child, whose badly mutilated body was found in a plot behind Vardhman Mills today early morning, sparked off violent protests by angry relatives of the deceased and residents of a colony of migrant labourers near Samrala Chowk. The protests which lasted for over six hours witnessed pelting of stones on policemen, torching and damaging of vehicles and firing in the air by the police. Tempers had particularly flared up at the condition of the body as the killers had removed the eyes and some other organs.

A frenzied mob, consisting of hundreds of migrant labourers, including women and children, blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road near Vardhman police station for over six hours, torched two cars, including a police Gypsy, damaged several three and two-wheelers besides injuring some policemen by pelting stones in protest against the killing of the child and the alleged police inaction in the case. No one was injured in police firing.

The labourers agreed to remove the blockade only after the police assured them that the killers would be nabbed soon and action would be taken against the erring police officials, found guilty of inaction in an inquiry in the case. It took lot of persuasion by the police, civil administration officers and some politicians to pacify the violent mob.

The child, identified as Sanju, son of a tailor, Amarjit, originally belonging to Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) had been missing since yesterday morning. According to the child’s father, he had reported the matter to the police at Vardhman police station but his complaint was not taken seriously. He said he was curtly told by the police that it was normal for children of this age to run away. ‘‘ The police officials told me to search at relatives’ places and inform them in case the child does not return after some weeks ’’.

Unable to control his tears, he said some people spotted the body of the child in the morning and they informed the police but police did not come. Mr B. D. Yadav, a BJP leader, said people lost their temper after looking at the condition of the body and went berserk. ‘‘The killers had plucked out the eyes of the child and his chest and stomach had also been ripped open ’’.

An angry crowd marched to the Vardhman police station where a heated argument ensued between them and the police. In the meanwhile, lot of people gathered there and the busy Chandigarh-Ludhiana road was blocked outside the police station. The mob started pelting stones when the police tried to use force.

The situation worsened when some additional police force from Focal Point and Division No. 6 police station reached the site. The police started the operation to chase away the mob but was outnumbered and had to retreat. The protesters, whose number was growing rapidly, then vent their anger at the police and vehicles trying to pass through the road. Several policemen were injured due to stone pelting. A team of the police had to open fire in self defence.

The firing however, further angered the mob and it began damaging every vehicle it could lay its hands on. At least two cars, including a Gypsy belonging to Focal Point police and a private car was burnt, six auto-rickshaws were damaged besides several two-wheelers. The mob attacked a private bus and beat up the passengers. It also forcibly occupied a truck and used it for blocking the road. The two vehicles were however, spared any damage.

The mob also did not spare mediapersons. At least two photographers were injured when they were manhandled by some persons in the mob. Their cameras were also partially damaged.

The situation was finally brought under control with the intervention of senior police officers and political leaders, who held several rounds of talks with the leaders of the mob and the parents of the child. DIG Rohit Chowdhry, officiating SSP Parmod Ban and SP (City-I) Naunihal Singh along with Mr Surinder Dabbar, a congress MLA and Mr Nahar Singh Gill, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee succeeded after several hours in convincing the mob that the police would be able to do something only when they road blockade was lifted and the post-mortem of the body was conducted.

Later, talking to Ludhiana Tribune DIG Rohit Chowdhry said he had deputed SP Pramod Ban to inquire on the allegations of police inaction in the case and recommend action against the guilty cops. He said a special investigating team under DSP (Industrial Area) Snehdeep Sharma had been constituted to solve the case at the earliest.

The DIG also informed that the police was taking action against persons responsible for damaging the vehicles and pelting stones.

Senior police officials told Ludhiana Tribune that the police suspects that the case could be one of tantrik killings or the child was brutally done to death due to some personal rivalry with the family. Police officials said they could not say much as the police had got no time to investigate and was busy in handling the mob since morning.



Post-mortem report confirms murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
The post- mortem examination of the eight-year-old child, Sanju , has confirmed that the minor boy was murdered with a sharp-edged weapon. The examination, however, claimed that all organs of the body were intact. The eyes were damaged giving an impression that these had been plucked out.

The relatives of the child were claiming that the killers had taken out some organs, including the eyes, from the body.

This infact was a major point for escalation of tension earlier in the day. In a related development, the district police has also registered a case of rioting and arson and damaging government property against several unidentified persons in the evening.



Tantriks abound in city
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, April 24
If protection amounts to promotion as well, the city police can safely be accused of promoting tantriks despite sufficient evidence suggesting its involvement in the murders of at least four children in the recent past.

While the police has not been able to make much headway in the earlier cases possibly involving tantrik activity , the discovery of a badly -mutilated body of an eight-year-old boy in the city this morning, which had the eyes and other vital organs like the heart and kidneys missing, has again stirred up the issue of tantriks, who perform or advise their clients to perform certain gory rituals to fulfil their varied wishes of wreaking vengeance on a jealous neighbour or having a male child and so on.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune in this regard were revealing. The migrant factor is the uppermost, as all murders of children in the recent past have been reported from areas thickly populated by migrants.

That also explains the overwhelming presence of various tantriks in the city, particularly in the Focal Point area where the concentration of the migrant population is said to be the highest in the city.

A tantrik working at Dhandari, revealed the investigation, was paying up to Rs 40,000 per month to a number of cops from different police stations and operating freely.

He charges Rs 50 for a brief consultation. Though the man is married and has two sons, he has abandoned them.

His wife has been engaged in a legal battle with him for quite a while. The tantrik, because of his connections with the police and politicians, thinks he is all-powerful and his wife cannot make him buckle under any kind of pressure.

The wife has accused him of bigamy, as he is allegedly living with another woman. But the tantrik takes the plea that the woman has been employed by him as an artist or “kalakaar” to help him in his profession.

A cop , who is in the know of the tantrik’s various “settlements” with various cops, told this correspondent that the tantrik had connections over and above the police too.



Storm uproots tree, house damaged
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The house of Mr Puneet Chopra, a resident of the Udham Singh locality, was damaged when a fully grown eucalyptus tree in a municipal park, adjoining his house, was uprooted by strong winds that lashed the city today and it fell down with a heavy impact on the roof, causing immense damage to the building.

Quite healthy in appearance and more than 60 feet tall tree was standing in the park surrounding the tubewell in the area and a cement platform had also been constructed around the base of the tree. The force of the tree damaged the platform and caused cracks at several places in the building of Mr Chopra as it landed on the roof of the house. The trunk also blocked the bylane between the park and the damaged house and traffic on the section was disrupted till this evening.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Chopra said had the electrical cables not taken some of the impact of the falling tree, the damage could have been worse to the building as well as its occupants.

Mr J.S. Bilga, Executive Engineer (Horticulture), who was supervising the clearing operations, said he was equally shocked at the incident which was not less than a mystery. He said more than a dozen workers had been deployed to clear the blockade. 



Bhatia group disbands panel
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 24
In the wake of widespread criticism and opposition from party cadres, the SAD Vice-president, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, yesterday not only disbanded the parallel selection committee to decide on party candidates for the municipal elections in the city, but also went a step further to say that he had no intention to challenge the authority of the four-member panel set up by the SAD president for this purpose.

Mr Bhatia said in a statement here yesterday that the aspirants for party ticket should submit their applications to the former Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, while adding that all decisions taken by the selection committee would be accepted by the party functionaries. Ever since he was denied party ticket from the Ludhiana West segment in the Assembly elections, Mr Bhatia has been nursing strong grouse against the party leadership, more so because his staunch rival, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, managed to secure nomination from the same seat. Mr Bhatia and his supporters had openly canvassed against the official candidate.

In an act of open defiance, Mr Bhatia on Saturday set up a four-member committee, comprising himself, a former president of the SAD youth wing, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik and Mr Pritpal Singh, which he had announced would receive the applications for party tickets from the aspirants and would submit the same with recommendations to the party high command. It may be recalled that the SAD chief had formed a committee headed by Mr Atwal to receive the applications from those desirous of ticket. Mr Tota Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar being the other members of the committee.

Meanwhile, sharply reacting to yet another act of gross indiscipline by the Bhatia faction, a former minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, the SAD youth wing president, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, a former minister, Mr Jagdev Singh Tajpuri, and a councillor, Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura, have rejected the parallel committee set up by the ‘dissident’ group. In a joint statement, they charged both Mr Bhatia and Mr Aliwal with attempts to erode the party base in the city and further asked the party leadership to take stern action against such elements.



Dismiss Modi govt, demands Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
Activists of the Congress, led by the District Congress Committee (Rural) president, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, staged a dharna at Mini Secretariat here today to lodge their protest against communal carnage in Gujarat. They demand the dismissal of the BJP government, headed by Mr Narendra Modi.

Mr Lapran and other functionaries, including Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, and Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, a former MP, observed that the virtual massacre of members of a minority community had virtually struck a fatal blow to the glorious name of the nation.

“The Modi government had not only failed to maintain law and order and bring the communal elements and criminals to book, but also there was irrefutable evidence of the government being in complicity with the offenders,” added the speakers. They were critical of the stand of the NDA government, which was still shielding Mr Modi.

The activists, in a memorandum submitted to the President through the district administration, have demanded immediate dismissal of the government and imposition of President’s Rule in the state.



Lonely yet not alone
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 24
“Ever since the interest rate on savings were lowered by the BJP government , people like me with little savings cannot even eat two square meals a day,” says frail, yet sprightly 71-year-old Ms Gil Rosemary Palmer, a Scottish lady. Without any family, the lonely lady has been given free boarding and lodging at Vocational Rehabilitation and Training Centre, courtesy Dr. E.M. Johnson, Chairman of the institute, and his wife. The couple look after her like an elderly member of the family.

She had worked as a stenographer and assisted Mr. Johnson in his work from the year1985 to 1997. Her cataract forced her to give up work. Through the efforts of VRTC, she was operated and lenses were fitted in her eyes. She says "After the operation, I can see better, but I could not continue as typist. I had nowhere to go. No relative in India and none that I know of in Scotland. I had built a small room in a portion of a house in Isa Nagri. The man sold the house but never gave me any money. Seeing me homeless, and houseless Johnsons were kind enough to give me a home.”

Ms Palmer stays in the new building some distance away from VRTC on Rajpura road. In between the two buildings is a ‘killing station’. Actually it is ‘filling station’, but Ms Palmer feels that no filling station should be in a residential colony. Since she doesn’t want to traverse that distance at night , she cooks her own dinner- mostly boiled vegetables. Due to a drop in interest rates she cannot afford a newspaper. But she is amazingly aware of the latest happenings and has a clear mind and has sharp memories. She said that she was born in Nainital, had her schooling in Mussorie and after studying till 8th she had to discontinue her studies as the school closed. Then when her mother died, she tried to find a job. Worked in Dehradun at various places as the matron as a helper. The experiences were not very pleasant. One of her employers paid her a meagre salary of Rs.20 and asked her to eat less.

She is universal ‘auntie’ to all the students and teachers of VRTC. She assist the teachers in learning new patterns in knitting. Her English pronunciation and diction is excellent and she helps the children in improving the speaking skills. She is suffering from muscular dystrophy. To activate her muscles she walks a distance of about 10 km from VRTS, climbs the stairs of Lakkar Bridge to attend service at the Union Church in the city. Good at stitching, she alters the clothes given to her. “I had gift for music and I could compose too, but never had the money to buy a piano. I had a harmonium. It is out of order and again because of financial crunch, I cannot get it repaired. I would have loved to teach children music. The visually challenged have special affinity for music and they would have enjoyed. I have tried to be happy under all the circumstances for I know what cannot be cured has to be endured.”



Markfed official made to return bribe
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 24
In a significant move the Arhtiyas Association, Khanna, forced a Field Officer of Markfed to return the amount of the bribe which he had taken at a rate of 80 paise per quintal from arhtiyas.

It had been alleged that he had taken about Rs 1 lakh as bribe. It is also alleged that the official delayed the lifting of wheat procured by Markfed. While confirming the allegation of bribe, the District Manager, Markfed, Mr Virinder Singh, said an inquiry was being conducted against the guilty official. MD, Markfed, had directed to take strict action against the guilty official. District Manager said Field Officer Sukhdev Singh had been transferred.

Sukhdev Singh had denied all charges levelled against him.

Local Akali leader and member of the Market Committee Khanna, Mr Kamal Jit Singh, alleged that the field officer had been taking bribe of 80 paise per quintal of wheat from arhtiyas.

According to information available there was a delay in lifting of wheat purchased by the Markfed for past few days. The matter was brought to the knowledge of the MD, Markfed. Mr S.S. Channy, at the local grain market on Monday. He asked the DM to take action and to send a detailed report of inquiry to the directorate.

Sukhdev Singh said the allegation levelled against him was false.



Consumer workshop
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The National Forum for Consumer Rights (NFCR) will organise a consumer workshop on April 27 here at B.C.M Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar. In this workshop topics of discussion include, general, financial and medical consumer awareness, legal concerns and services lapses, food supply and petroleum consumer awareness. 



Theft case against Nepali servant
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The Model Town police has registered a case under Sections 381 and 328 of the IPC against a domestic servant, Shankar, who had drugged a housemaid in the Model Town Extension here in the absence of the house owner two days ago and decamped with cash and valuables.

Mr Manpreet Singh, house owner, had lodged a report with the police against this Nepali man.

Harassment for dowry: On the statement of a woman named Ms Satwinder Kaur of the Model Town Extension, the Model Town police has registered a case of alleged harassment for dowry against her in-laws — Gurdip Singh, Swaran Singh, Nirmal Kaur, Gurmit Kaur and Jasbir Kaur — under Sections 406, 498-A, 506, 313 and 120-B of the IPC.

The complainant had alleged that the accused had tortured her physically and mentally. She said these frequent beatings had even terminated her pregnancy.

Cases of beating: On the statement of a man called Kuspinder Singh of Maharaja Nagar, the Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case of alleged beating against four men — Rinku, Sony and two other unidentified persons — under Sections 323, 341, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

On the statement of a man named Mr Amarjit Singh, who lives in Khud Mohalla here, the Division Number 3 police has registered a case of alleged beating against several persons — Kashmiri Lal, Rakesh Kumar, Rimpy, Pappu and some of their accomplices. Mr Amarjit had alleged that he had been attacked with iron roads.

Cases against eve-teasers: On the complaint of a man called Mr Charan, who lives in Sasrali Colony here, The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case of alleged eve-teasing against a man called Gurpreet Singh, who lives in Boothgarh village.

Mr Charan told the police that the accused used to ring up his sister often and talk to her in foul language.

On the statement of a man called Mr Bhajan Singh, who lives in Bokar Gujjran village, the Koom Kalan police has registered a case of alleged eve-teasing against three persons — Bittu, Gian Singh and Sucha Singh.

Mr Bhajan alleged that the accused had made a pass at his wife and addressed her in foul language.

Booked for blocking traffic: The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case against two men — Kulwant Singh, who lives in Daad village, and Jagtar Singh, who lives in Mundian Kalan village — on the charge of obstructing traffic by parking their vehicles in the middle of the road.

Fraud alleged: On the statement of Mr Ravinderpal Singh, owner of Ravinder Gas Company of Sarabha Nagar here, the Sadar police has registered a case of alleged fraud under Sections 406, 408, 427 and 506 of the IPC against a man called Ram Chander and several of his men.

The accused have been charged with not depositing the money collected after the delivery of 14 cylinders of the LPG. When asked to return the money, the accused had allegedly threatened the owner of the gas company.

Murder case solved: The Jagraon police on Wednesday claimed to have solved the murder case of a farmer, whose badly decomposed body parts, including skull, were found from agricultural fields in Madarpur village in February.

According to Jagraon SSP Balkar Singh Sandhu, the farmer, Mukhtiar Singh, was allegedly murdered by four persons, all of whom were narcotic smugglers and illicit distillers. Only one of them could be arrested. The smugglers allegedly first befriended Mukhtiar Singh with the aim to grab his property and then killed him in a brutal manner. The killers allegedly stabbed the farmer in the head and then strangulated him. They later cut his body in some parts and dumped these in the fields.

The decomposed skull of the deceased and some body parts were spotted by some villagers. Later, the police also found some clothes of the deceased near the site. The relatives of the deceased were able to identify him on the basis of clothes and the face.

The Senior Superintendent of Police said the accused, Piara Singh, arrested by the Sidhwan Bet police has disclosed that he and the other accused were narcotic smugglers and illegal distillers. They met the deceased farmer and hatched a conspiracy to grab his property by establishing friendly ties with him. After achieving the target, they killed the farmer.

He said the police was hopeful to arrest the three remaining accused. They have been identified as Harmesh Singh, Gurcharan Singh and Harchand Singh.



CICU poll: candidate threatens to move court
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
In a recently held elections of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking (CICU) for the post of president, some interesting facts have come to light. The presiding officer, Mr Harbans Singh, General Manager, District Industry Centre, claimed that candidates were not expected to sign the nomination forms and there was no separate form for the withdrawal of candidates from the fray.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune today he said: “According to rules of the chamber, only two persons, who had proposed and seconded the names of the candidates, had to sign on the nomination form. There was no space for the signature of the proposed candidates in the form. They had to sign the form only if they wanted to withdraw their candidature.”

Members of the chamber were surprised over the new interpretation of the election rules. They pointed out that according to rule No. VII: “Member(s) desiring to contest the election shall file nomination paper with the presiding officer in the meeting hall.” However, according to the new interpretation by the presiding officer, the nomination form would be submitted by two supporters (proposer and seconder) with their signature, and not by the candidate. Since there is no nomination form for a member to fill, the elections void as no nomination is filed, else if signatures are affixed at place of withdrawal then both candidates have withdrawn.

Mr Manmohan Singh Marton, one of the candidates, said in a press conference here today that the presiding officer played a partisan role and rejected his nomination forms within minutes of his filing the papers on the plea that he had signed the nomination form. He claimed that despite repeated requests the form of the other candidate was not shown to him.

He alleged that Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, who has been president for the past 10 years, had planned to cancel his papers in connivance with the presiding officer. Showing a two sets of nomination papers, Mr Marton said: “I was shown a different set of nomination paper by the presiding officer in his office, a day before the elections, and was told that withdrawal form would be separately given if required. However, at the time of the nomination, I was given a different form and after my signatures, the form was summarily rejected.”

He said he would challenge the election of Mr Pardhan in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


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