Saturday, April 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Firemen put money before action
...while fields burn and farmers go red with anger
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Farmers of the district are not happy with the controversial rule of the Fire Department to charge Rs 300 per hour from persons who need its services outside the municipal limits. While farmers struggle to control raging fires in fields, the department is adamant on its advance payment demand.

Farmer want the rule scrapped because the say that free fire-safety service is essential in a welfare state. In their view, the system is biased against rural people. “When urban people don’t pay the charges, why are we forced to do so,” they say.

The local Fire Department, however, justifies the payment in view of acute financial crunch. An official of the department said the charges had been introduced two years ago by the Municipal Corporation because the Fire Brigade had no resource of its own. The charges had been increased from Rs 200 to Rs 300 this year, but the department gave relaxations wherever necessary. Show of sympathy is reducing because, then, farmers do not pay any amount.

Everytime a field fire destroys wheat crop, farmers complain that whenever they contact the Fire Office for help, fire officials tell them to deposit Rs 300 in the MC office first if they want the service. Farmers also say that firemen do not turn up even after repeated telephone calls and always demand money before action. How can farmers reach the Fire Office when their crop is in flames.

Sources in the Fire Office said, as per the rules, if the fire is out of municipal limits, then, Rs 300 for every hour of service is taken from affected persons. There are directions from the top that firemen should ask farmers for money before sending firefighting equipment to the spot. A fire official said, if the money was not paid after the fire had been doused, the blame of non-recovery was put on the Fire Office employees, so they were forcing farmers to deposit the money first. Mr Kartar Singh, Assistant Divisional Forest Officer, was not available for comments whenever sought.

Mr Iqbal Singh, a farmer of Issewal village whose wheat was destroyed in a fire day before yesterday, said he had telephoned fire officials, only to hear that he would have to deposit the money first. There was little left for firefighters to do when they arrived.

Farmers of Tusse and Halwara villages who lost their wheat crop in fire in hundreds of acres on April 17, said: “When the fields were on fire, we kept calling firemen on telephone, but to no avail. The attendant on telephone told us to come to the office and pay Rs 300 first.” Had firemen arrived in time, the damage would have been much less. Farmers of Dakha and Kailpur villages, where wheat worth Rs 5 lakh was destroyed in a fire a few days ago, also have similar complaints. Mr Jasmail Singh, one of the affected farmers, said that he had kept calling the Fire Office, but no one would come from because the advance had not been paid.

Farmers want that the government should tell firemen to reach a spot immediately at receiving information of a fire. Help in time can save losses.



How the Sanju case was solved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The factors like a home-made handkerchief found from the child's body, overcleverness of the accused and the post-mortem examination pointing at sodomy, which was cleverly hidden by the police had all contributed to crack the infamous Sanju murder case that rocked the city on Wednesday.

Inquiries from the investigating team revealed that the five accused had committed a lot of mistakes in their zeal to escape the police net and infact it required some armtwisting by the police to nab them.

The lead was developed from the post-mortem examination report, which stated that the boy was sodomised. The police, however, cleverly succeeded in hiding the fact and everyone kept on thinking it was a case of tantrik killing or murder out of personal rivalry. This relaxed the actual killers who finally fell into the trap.

The sodomy theory suggested that the accused would do so only when the victim recognises them. This is what happened in the case as the main accused, Sugreev, was a close relative of the victim, Sanju. The police also got suspicious over the behaviour and actions of the main accused as he was the first one to suggest that the body could be found in an abandoned plot from where it was found eventually.

The person could not give a satisfactory answer to the police on why he started weeping at the sight of a body from a far away distance.

Then the police also found a handkerchief on the child’s body which was homemade and had not been made by the victim’s father. This meant the killer could also be a tailor or a worker in a hosiery unit and this proved true in the case of Sugreev.



Fifth accused identified

The police has found that there were five youths who killed Sanju. Only two of them have been arrested and the police is conducting raids to catch the three who have absconded.

The fifth accused is named Munna, who, according to the arrested persons, instigated them to commit the crime. The police says that the accused are now blaming each other for the instigation, though they have confessed to committing the crime. The accused whom the police had identified earlier were named Sugreev, Guddu, Pammi and Shamma. Sugreev and Guddu are already under arrest.



Hundreds flee colony fearing police crackdown
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
With tables turned against them, hundreds of residents of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) colony behind the Vardhman Mills, who had reportedly participated in the violent protests over a child’s killing on Wednesday, have fled from their homes following a massive crackdown of the police on them.

The colony wears an almost deserted look as people, mainly migrant labourers, have left their homes and shops. Locks on houses and shops greeted a team of Ludhiana Tribune today later afternoon when it visited the colony. If there was any human presence, it was that of women and children only.

People have fled as the police had already arrested at least 20 persons from the colony on charges of rioting and arson. The “mood” in the Police Department was that these persons had to be “taught a lesson” so that they don’t repeat the things again. SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu had also announced at a police-public meeting yesterday that such a reaction by the public would not be tolerated. He said the police lost several valuable hours of investigation, in which the accused could have slipped away.

In a distinct shift from the police policy adopted in the past, the district police had booked more than 20 persons and several other unidentified ones on charges of rioting, blocking traffic, damaging property and even attempt to murder in Wednesday’s violence. Such road blocking and violence was not uncommon in Ludhiana. Alleging police inaction, people have been taking to streets in the past but it was for the first time that such a police crackdown had been effected.

Highly-placed police sources told Ludhiana Tribune that the police decided at a recent meeting that “enough was enough” and if no action was taken against the rioters then such protests would take place again. Sources added that the police was not taking one-side action as it had already suspended and transferred the SHO of the Vardhman police station for dereliction of duty.

Residents of the colony who fleed at the sight of police and mediapersons agreed to talk only after some persuasion that their names or pictures won’t be published. An elderly lady, Shanti (name changed), said there was panic in the colony as the police was raiding the premises every now and then to catch the people involved in rioting and arson on that fateful day. She said in her opinion every thing that had happened and what was now happening to them was wrong.

Another woman said she did not participate in the violence even though her emotions were tempting her. “Who could have controlled himself over the sight of the body?” she asked.

The colony was in news for the past two days following the macabre killing of a minor child, Sanju, who was allegedly sodomised and killed by five youths of the same colony.

Agitated residents took to streets on the recovery of the body on Wednesday morning, alleging police inaction in the case. At that time none knew about the killers, who had quietly joined the mob and participated in the violence. The violent mob torched a private car and a police gypsy besides damaging other vehicles and almost held the city to ransom.



Dance Like a Man — watch like a movie
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
‘Dance Like A Man’ is a powerful play that shows three generations of conflict, jealousy, ambition and power struggle. It is about traditional south Indian husband and wife, Jairaj and Ratna, who try to excel in bharatnatyam all their life, but never achieve perfection. They pin all their hopes on their daughter Lata, whose career in dance promises to be outstanding.

The play brought here by the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam was staged in Guru Nanak Bhavan yesterday. The play opens with Lata bringing her finance, eager beaver son-in-law to be, Viswas, home to meet her parents. Their hopes and family history unfolds from their conversation in a humorous way, before Lata’s parents come home with their tensions.

Ratna is shown to be a woman with contempt for her husband whose life has also been disturbed due to his rebellion against his father because of his obsession with dance and the death of his first son.

The actors double up as each other’s younger and older versions and portray the tension and frustration of the old couple as they take stock of their lives. Lillete Dubey, who plays Ratna, steals the show with her portrayal of a woman with pent-up frustrations due to her failure to reach the top in spite of being dedicated and manipulative. In the end, this honest confession comes from the old couple after a lifetime of blame game: “We lacked the brilliance and magic to dance like gods.”

The four actors play seven characters from three generations. Only Lillete Dubey (Ratna) has one role. The play has been formated much like a film with time, setting and frame of reference changing every fraction of a second. The play has won critical acclaim in India as well as abroad.

Lillete has directed the play with skill. In order to show flashbacks, she has made her three characters move effortlessly between the past and the present. The dialogues are satirical and make you laugh. Sets by Pradeep Sarkars depict a typical south Indian home and music is by a talented Carnatic vocalist. Choreography by a leading ‘bharatnatyam’ dancer, Geeta Chandran of Delhi, is excellent.

Vijay Crishna, who plays Amritlal Parekh and older Jairaj, has juxtaposed the roles wonderfully. A veteran of stage and the Managing Director of Godrej GE, he juggles his job and his passion for theatre well. Lighting is by an experienced Lynne Fernandez.

Suchitra Pillai, an engineer who switched over to stage, television and films, was superb in the role of young Ratna and Lata. She has studied drama in London. Joy Sengupta as young Jairaj and Viswas has given a commendable performance. He has been under the tutelage of Ebrahim Alkazi.



Resentment over cancellation of exams
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
There is a great deal of resentment among the students of B.A., B.Com, BCA, M.A, B.Ed, M.Ed, Shastri, Diploma in Statistics, post graduate diploma in computer sciences, M. Com, MFC, diploma in vocational agriculture, MMC, MSc, and post graduate diploma in health, family welfare and population education as their examinations scheduled for today have been postponed to May 8.

The examinations of the above mentioned classes were postponed in the wake of a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) to boycott the examinations of all the three universities — Punjabi University, Panjab University and Guru Nanak Dev University. Ms Harmeet Kaur, Principal and a member of the Senate says,” PCCTU had to take this extreme step as the government has not released the arrears and not followed the gratuity and pension plan. The colleges have not received any grants since last November and the teachers have not been paid any salaries. We wanted to bring our pain and anguish to the notice of people and the government. We have been tolerating government’s apathy for years now. The number of students has doubled since November 1981 but no new teachers have been recruited. Instead of giving 95 per cent aid, the government has been giving only 62 per cent and that ,too, has stopped. How are we supposed to pay the salaries?”

Though the previous government had taken out a notification to tackle the problem, but nothing had materialised. The new government too had forgotten its poll promise of taking up the issue. “At least the new government should have given us some assurance, but no such luck. So PCCTU has gone on strike to give a signal to the public and government of our distress", she added.

The students appearing for examinations, however, resented the postponement of the examination as they had studied hard and prepared for their different exams. Many of them came to know of the postponement of examination only when they reached the examination centres today.

When asked if they did not read about the change of dates in the newspapers said they had no time to read newspapers as they were busy preparing for their exams.

Gurtek, Maninder , Harsh and many others who had come to take political science exam of BA Final from places like Khanna, Raikot, and Doraha, respectively, were rather furious at this change of dates. They said,” As it is we find political science a difficult subject. We had to prepare hard for the paper. Now we have been told at the last minute that the exam has been postponed. What is our fault? Between the government’s apathy and teachers’ problems, the students are being made to suffer. Now again the tension of the paper would hang over our heads.”



Registration of bogus voters alleged
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, April 26
The enumeration of new voters and additions and alterations carried out during the revision of electoral rolls for the coming municipal elections have come under a cloud with allegations of several irregularities by enumerators being levelled by contenders, sitting councillors and political functionaries in the city.

While Mr A.K. Sinha, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), who is the District Election Officer for the civic poll, has disregarded the complaints, saying these were politically motivated and unfounded.

It may be recalled that earlier Mr Pran Bhatia of the BJP, Mr Sunil Mehra, a BJP councillor who was recently expelled from the party, and Mr Kulwant Singh Dukhia of the SAD, among others, had lodged formal complaints of irregularities in the revision of rolls. Joining the bandwagon of complainants, another BJP functionary Mr Chaman Lal Chatley has alleged that several hundred bogus votes were made in ward No. 48 at the instance of a sitting councillor and some other political activists.

Mr Chatley, who had lost the 1997 civic election to a Congress rebel, contesting as Independent, has charged that he had already filed objection to 1,200 new votes in the ward within stipulated period and on scrutiny of the draft roll he had found another 250 votes in the names of non-existing persons, non-residents of the area or fictitious addresses.

Citing examples, he alleged in a written representation to the District Election Officer that migrant labour working in the area on a temporary basis were indiscriminately registered as voters. In addition, hundreds of persons were shown to be living in the same house and even some retired or serving government and civic officials living in different city localities were registered as voters in ward No. 48.

Mr Chatley further pleaded that insufficient time was given for filing claims and objections to the persons concerned, which had virtually defeated the very purpose of revision of rolls. He urged the State Election Commission to review the matter and allow more time for scrutiny of draft voter lists and to issue claims and objections so that bogus votes could be deleted.

Meanwhile, the Dhaulgiri Apartment Residents Welfare Society has alleged that the names of residents of Dhaulgiri Apartment at Mall Road has not been included in the voters’ list.

A resident of the apartment, Mr Adish Bamba, said not only the fake names had been added in the list, but also the name of the building had been mentioned as Anarkali Complex. He said he was surprised to see so many fake names in the list, while 50 residents of the apartment had been excluded.

Mr Bamba said they had already lodged a complaint with Mr Sinha. He alleged that this had been done deliberately by the authorities concerned in connivance with some political parties. He said when he asked the officer concerned regarding the matter, he replied that the process of making the list had been completed.

In another complaint lodged with the State Election Commission, a resident of Civil Lines, Mr Devakar Goswami, claimed that after scrutiny of the list of ward No. 48 he found 3,000 fake votes.

Mentioning some specific cases, he said in booth No. 8 residents of Anarkali Complex at Mall Road had not been enrolled. Moreover, there were many individual cases in which people got enrolled themselves twice or thrice by giving difference addresses.

According to a press note issued here today by the Deputy Commissioner, the state government has ordered to make enquiries regarding those voters whose names have been deleted during the Assembly elections. It said the voters whose names had been deleted without any reason could apply again along with necessary proofs to the Election Officer.



NGO gets bonded labourer released
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Sewa Singh
Sewa Singh

Ludhiana, April 26
The Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan (DDVA) has claimed of getting a bonded labourer, Sewa Singh, a resident of Jodhpur village, Abohar tehsil in Ferozepore district, released from the police custody at Kabarwala police post under Malout police station.

Sewa Singh was allegedly arrested by the police without any charge on April 22 and no entry regarding his arrest was made in the records. Moreover, it was also alleged that he was mercilessly beaten up by the police due to the pressure put by a landlord, Major Singh, for whom he had been working as a ‘siri’ at Sarbala Bothla village, Malout tehsil in Mukatsar district, since June, 2001.

While talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he disclosed that while in detention the police bashed him mercilessly. He said he was beaten up so badly that he could not walk properly. The right foot of the victim got swollen due to third degree torture by the police, he added.

He said after an altercation with the landlord, he and his brother Mewa Singh decided to get rid of the painful life of bonded labour. He further said they approached the DDVA for help and filed an application for their release with the Chairman, National Human Right Commission (NHRC), New Delhi, on April 16, 2002.

Sewa Singh stated that soon after the filing of the application, the landlord started threatening them. They sent their families to safer places a month ago.

The police caught Sewa Singh on April 22 and illegally detained him for two days and two nights. The police allegedly treated him in an inhuman manner. “Now I do not know the whereabouts of my bother as he has been absconding since many days. Perhaps, he does not want to become the victim of the police atrocities,” said he.

The DDVA has complained regarding the brutal act to the Senior Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner, Mukatsar. The organisation has demanded that a case be registered against the policemen accused for the illegal detention.



PWD workers’ dharna on May 7
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, branch PUDA (Ludhiana), will stage a rally-cum-dharna outside the department’s head office on May 7 to air their protest against the non-implementation of their already accepted demands.

Mr Chinder Pal Singh ‘Billa’ and Mr Jagdish Singh ‘Bittu’, president and general secretary of the union, said in a press note issued here today that the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) had decided in a meeting several months ago that the ad-hoc employees would be regularised with effect from November 6, 2001, but the orders have not come so far.

They said the union members took up this issue here today and resolved that some PUDA officials were creating unnecessary hurdles in the way of the implementation of the decision.



6 hurt in bus accident
Tribune News Service

A private bus that rammed into the divider of the Ferozepore road near Rajguru Nagar, Ludhiana, injuring six persons.— Photo Pradeep Tewari 

Ludhiana, April 26
At least six persons were injured when a private bus rammed into a traffic lights pole near Rajguru Nagar on the Ludhiana-Jagraon road this evening. The injured were shifted to private hospitals near the accident site. No one was injured seriously. The accident took place when the driver of the private bus (PB-10 X 3397) tried to overtake a vehicle and barged onto the central verge of the road. It also damaged a traffic light pole before finally coming to a stop.





Man held for murdering wife
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 26
The Dehlon police has arrested Lakhvir Singh alias Bittu of Gujjarwal village for allegedly murdering his wife Paramjit Kaur . A case under Section 302, IPC had earlier been registered. According to information, Paramjit Kaur of Amargarh got married to the accused and had three daughters from the marriage. Lakhvir Singh used to harass his wife for not giving birth to a son. When the couple was harvesting wheat, Lakhvir Singh allegedly attacked and injured his wife with a sickle and she succumbed to her injuries.



CFTRI resource centre faces closure
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
Following three decades of services in providing expertise in food technology, grain storage and food processing to various government and private organisations, the Central Food and Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has now been told to shut down its resource centre.

In a recent communication from the CFTRI headquarter at Mysore and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the staff of the local centre has been told to stop all activities as there were some financial problems to run the centre. The unexpected move has, however, caused much resentment among the staff which has appealed for roll back of the decision.

The decision regarding the shifting of infrastructural facilities at the triple-storey building is also pending. Even the staff is yet to get any directions for transfer or further employment. The disappointed staff has appealed to the food processing industries and officials of Markfed, PAIC, Jindal Agro Industries, HAIC and Oswal Agro to impress upon the CSIR and CFTRI to withdraw the directions.

The members of the staff have said with the closure of the centre, five northern states, especially Punjab and Haryana, would be deprived of the services and expertise provided by it. They said the centre had helped rural masses and unemployed women to set up their own small scale industries. It had popularised mini dhal mill, papad press and leaf-cup making machines under rural development programmes of the United Nations Development Programme.


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