Monday, May 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Badal ready to face judicial panel
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 5
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is ready to face any inquiry but with a condition. Talking to reporters here today Mr Badal said the Congress had promised in its election manifesto that it would hold inquiry against corruption during his regime through a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court but it had not done so.

Mr Badal maintained that if Mr Amarinder Singh constituted a judicial commission comprising sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court with the approval of the Chief Justice, he would be ready to face any inquiry.

He said he had set up a commission consisting of a retired judge and he had not got the approval of the Chief Justice of the High Court. Mr Badal asserted that instead of levelling allegations against him, the truth should come before the people through a sitting judge of the court.

When his attention was drawn towards the disclosures by the persons in connection with the case of corruption practices by Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Mr Badal said the Vigilance Bureau had extracted these by use of force on these persons. He said Ravi Sidhu had been appointed as PPSC chairman by the Congress and the persons arrested in this case were all Congressmen and the Akali Dal had nothing to do with it.

Mr Badal said none of this family members had been named in the scam.

Referring to the cases against akali leaders and workers Mr Badal said Mr Amarinder Singh was seeking revenge as managing directors of the cooperative bank of Amritsar had been sent to police remand four times so that they could name Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura.

He said so far nothing had been found against Mr Brahampura. It was just a case of political vendetta and witch-hunting in which the Chief Minister was indulging.

When asked about the performance of Amarinder Singh’s government during the past two months Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had not fulfilled any promise so far. He had asked the farmers to retain the ‘parchis’ of paddy sale with them and the Congress government would pay them a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal but this had not been done so far. Similarly, the Chief Minister had failed to put the case for hike in procurement price of wheat and only Rs 10 per quintal increase had been given. “The Chief Minister is only busy in witch-hunting and development has come to a halt”, he said.

Mr Badal said the state government should go in appeal against the decision of the High Court on the abolition of octroi. The former Chief Minister in reply to another question said the SAD was not for confrontation with the Congress government in Punjab. But they were being forced to have one. “We are organising district wise conference to fight against the repressive policies of the Congress government.”

He described the Amarinder Singh government as ‘anti-people’, without any aim of serving the people of the state. It has only one point programme “Badlian karo te badla lao” (make transfers and take revenge).

Mr Badal was in Ludhiana in connection with the opening of a chemist shop opposite Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.



Beeline for Congress tickets
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
While on the one hand there is hectic activity and heavy rush of applicants seeking Congress nomination for the elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, the other parties seem to be in search of candidates and there seems to be less activity in these parties with not many aspirants for the party tickets.

The mood in the Congress camp seems to be upbeat in the wake of its popularity wave. However, too much enthusiasm among the Congress supporters may prove too dear for the party as there is a great probability of more rebels joining the electoral fray this time.

Over 620 applications were received by the party for the 70 MC seats this time. All aspirants have appeared for the mandatory interview before the selection committee headed by the local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib. The interviews were held on May 2 and continued the whole day.

The high number of aspirants for each ward, on an average nine and most of them very keen on contesting, has made the job of the selection committee members very difficult. Besides factionalism is also contributing to this difficulty.

However, the chairman of the committee, Mr Ghalib has been maintaining that the selection of the candidates would be by consensus only and that there were not much differences within the party. But his predicament was apparent after he along with other 14 members of the selection committee had to rush first to Chandigarh and then to Delhi to finalise the list with the approval of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

But even after the two days the list is yet to be finalised. Interestingly, while most of the selection committee members were in Delhi some of the aspirants were waiting here for Mr Lal Singh, who was supposed to release the list. The meeting of the selection committee was in progress in New Delhi, till late in the evening.

However, Akali and the BJP leaders claimed that not much should be read into the mad rush for tickets. They maintained that the initial euphoria was already over and there would be at least two or three rebel Congress candidates in each ward.



SAD-BJP meet on ticket distribution
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
A joint meeting of leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal and the Bharatiya Janata Party was held here today to finalise the seat-sharing arrangement for the forthcoming elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, scheduled for May 19. Some BSP leaders also attended the meeting.

The meeting was attended among others by the district presidents of the two parties, Mr Harbans Lal Sethi of the BJP, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar of the SAD-B, former Assembly Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former ministers, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Tota Singh, former Deputy Speaker, Mr Satpal Gosain and others. The BSP leader, Mr Gurmail Pahalwan, was also present at the meeting venue. Mr Gurdev Badal and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder were also expected to attend today’s meeting.

The meeting assumes significance in view of some differences between the two alliance partners over a couple of seats. However, it was learnt that the two parties reached a final agreement. Former Chief Minister and the SAD-B President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s presence in the city, earlier in the day also helped to smoothen the finalising of the lists.

Although there were some initial differences over the allotment of Akali ticket to Mr Kulwant Singh Dukhia, president of the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran, as the BJP opposed it, the SAD-B later agreed to the BJP demand. The BJP leaders were opposed to Mr Dukhia’s nomination on account of his open opposition to Mr Satpal Gosain during the assembly elections.

Mr Dukhia, who is close relative of Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, had not even the supporters in his own camp. Mr Makkar also opposed his nomination. In fact, the SAD-B workers staged a demonstration against Mr Dukhia in front of Mr Badal today, thus ensuring that he does not get the party nomination. Later the BJP leaders said, that they were not so keen to get the ward into their kitty, but wanted to ensure that Mr Dukhia did not get the ticket. However, Mr Bhatia was pacified with his son being allotted the party ticket from ward 36 in Abdullahpur Basti.

The SAD-B had hinted that it would like to contest more seats. However, the agreement was likely to be reached on the previous arrangement when both parties contested 35 seats each. 



Solve petty issues, ICAR tells PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
“Solve your problems at home and don’t bother the Central Government for your petty issues.” This is the message that has been conveyed to the employees and authorities of all state agricultural universities (SAUs) in the country by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the premier agricultural research organisation of the country.

In a letter sent to the agricultural universities, a copy of which was received at PAU recently, the ICAR has expressed its displeasure at the increasing trend of writing complaint letters to Prime Minister, President, Vice-President and officials of the Union Ministry of Agriculture by employees of such varsities. It has also asked the Vice-Chancellors to gear up the administration to solve these problems at the local level only.

The strongly-worded communication said writing such letters amounted to wastage of time of the officials concerned and the complainant also. This was because the officials did not have the time for solving petty service matters.

The ICAR has asked the heads of all agricultural universities to discourage such correspondence and prepare the university administration in such a way that the staff grievances are minimised and the staff is not politicised.

Mr J.S. Bhatia, Assistant Director-General of the ICAR, in a letter has said that a tendency has been observed among the staff of the SAUs, particularly teaching and technical staff, of writing to high officials by airing their grievances like placement, promotions, transfer and of writing freely against Vice-Chancellors. He further maintained that it is not a healthy trend to disturb the Central Government on matters on which the university or the state government is the competent authority and may be in a better position to help.

He further said that it is neither a good reflection on the working of the university, which receives grants in bulk from the ICAR, nor appropriate for these staff members under relevant conduct rules to take freedom to alarm the Central Government and the ICAR about the corruption in the universities and abuse of power by VCs.

The ICAR has asked the universities to instruct the staff to use internal grievances redress system, move court to get justice in the matters of service and allied matters. The letter further reads that the staff may also be instructed that the provision for appeals etc to high officials in the Central Government is not for their abuse and must necessarily be avoided as the same are meant for exceptional, utmost, bonafide and urgent and lawful use only. Those violating these norms by writing habitually be disciplined.



Bitter facts about sweet fruits
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 5
In spite of a ban on the use of a commonly used chemical ripening agent, the local fruit dealers are using the same with impunity. The inaction of the Health Department in this regard has put at stake the health of lakhs of people who consume these fruits without realising the danger involved in it.

As the orders banning the use of such chemicals are being flouted with impunity, the city residents are complaining of mouth ulcers, gastric irritation, sore throat and even food poisoning in some cases after consuming the fruits.

While the health department is supposed to check the use of chemical agents to ripen fruits , no raids have been conducted for years despite the commonly known fact that the dealers are using such chemicals to ripen the fruits.

Many people have suffered from ulcers in the mouth after eating musk melon. Mr S.S. Dhingra said, “After eating a few slices of a musk melon, I felt severe pain in my mouth. Small ulcers had developed in my mouth. Since I had put the hard outer layer of the melon in my mouth, I developed ulcers. Then someone told me this was due to the chemicals still clinging to the outer layer. The ulcers got cured after two days, but I did suffer a great deal of pain.”

Similar experiences of pain after putting the skin of mangoes, peaches and plums in mouth are quite common.

The main cause of this is stated to be the chemicals used to ripen the fruit. Improper washing of the fruits leads to ulcers.

Sometimes the chemicals even permeate through thick skins of fruits like bananas and can burn the tongue.

A survey conducted by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that in many areas, the dealers had set up small shelters where the process of ripening of fruits like bananas and mangoes was repeated almost everyday with the help of the banned chemical.

The survey also revealed that the chemical, Calcium Carbide, commonly known as masala or potash, was banned the world over and it was even banned for use in laboratories.

Being sold for Rs 25 per kg the chemical is a cheap substitute for Ethephon, a plant growth regulator which is permissible for ripening of the fruits and costs about Rs 115 per 10 mg.

The chemical is available openly at shops selling plastic bags etc to the dealers. Anybody can visit such a shop and ask for the chemical in as much quantity as one requires.

A fruit seller who uses this regularly to ripen bananas told the Ludhiana Tribune that this chemical was so reactive that it caused blisters if was touched unknowingly. He said if it was kept in Sun it emanated very strong gas.

He said it was usually kept in small packets near piles of bananas for a day or so and the work was over. He said he knew that the chemical was banned but as there was no check on it so he was using it. He added that he had been using it for the past several years and had never faced any trouble. 



Terrorist blames it on brother-in-law
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
Karamjit Singh, alias Laddi, an alleged terrorist belonging to the Bhindrawala Tiger Force, who was arrested by the local police yesterday, has told investigating officers that he was initiated into the world of terrorism by his brother-in-law.

The alleged terrorist, who was underground for the past 10 years, told the police that he had no ideological attachment to the movement, but was led astray by his brother-in-law.

His arrest is being considered significant by the police as the accused is believed to be knowing the whereabouts of a huge quantity of arms and ammunition possessed by other key members of the outfit. Police sources said Laddi remained active for about three months only with his brother-in-law, Sukhdev Singh, alias Sukha, and two other terrorists. His brother-in-law and two other terrorists namely Mangal Singh, alias Pappu, and Gurbachan Singh, alias Dogar, had been killed in a police encounter in 1992.

Since then, he told the police, he went underground and lived in several parts of Amritsar district. He said several teams of the police were after him, but he managed to elude arrest. The police was also on his trail as he was the only surviving member of the militant organisation, which was at that time active in and around Ludhiana. The police is not able to recover weapons from other members and he is the only one believed to be holding a key to the problem.

The sources revealed that the accused was so far tight-lipped about the whereabouts of the weapons.

Laddi was arrested by Proclaimed Offender staff of the police from Dushera Ground in Shiv Puri. He was arrested after 10 years. 



Satguru clarifies on succession
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 5
Satguru Jagjit Singh, head of the Namdhari sect, today clarified that he had not nominated a successor as he is hail and hearty.

In a signed statement the head of the Namdhari sect said that wrong propaganda was being made that he was not keeping good health and that he had nominated someone as his successor.

Satguru Jagjit Singh said Baba Ram Singh, founder of the sect, had directed the sangat to follow certain traditions and his message was being spread from Bhaini Sahib. It was also being propagated that he was under “seige” of certain elements and the Namdhari Panth was in danger, he added.

Satguru Jagjit Singh said this was a false propaganda and there was no danger to the Namdhari Panth nor was he under siege of some persons. He had the same relationship with the whole sangat.

Satguru Jagjit Singh further said that in some newspapers it had been reported that he had nominated Thakur Dalip Singh as his successor. “This is absolutely false as at no stage Thakur Dalip Singh was nominated his successor nor it was being done”, he said.

He has appealed to the sangat not to be misled by any such propaganda and they should lead their life according to the path shown by the Guru. 



Scooter-borne youths gun down one
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, May 5
To turbaned youths opened fire at Harnek Singh Naik of Bibipur village with a gun. The man breathed his last on the spot. The scooter-borne miscreants then ran towards Turmuri-Jarg village, according to one of the field workers, a witness to the crime.

Pal Singh, working in a nearby field, told the sarpanch of the village, Jagdev Singh about the incident, who in turn, informed the Payal Police.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302, 341 and 25 of the Arms Act and begun investigations. The spot was later visited by the SSP, Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, the SP (D), Mr Gurkirpal Singh, the SDM, Payal, Mr Amarjit Singh and Mr Jaswinder Singh, the SHO, Payal Police Station, along with the police party.

According to the SSP, Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, “The investigation in the case is being done by SHO, Payal and soon the miscreants will be behind bars.” According to preliminary investigations, it has been found that a . 12 bore rifle has been used for the killings, added the SSP. It is significant to mention here that the deceased was attacked by some unidentified people in 1993, but he had survived the attack then.



Man beaten to death
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, May 5
In a heinous incident Kaunke village, near here, last afternoon, two men allegedly murdered Jagir Singh, a resident of the same village, by beating him mercilessly.

According to the FIR lodged by the deceased’s son today in the local police station, Jagir Singh was on his way back home when the accused dragged him into their house and started beating him mercilessly. When his condition became serious, the man put him outside their house and informed his family. When the family members of Jagir Singh rushed him to the local Civil Hospital to get him admitted there doctors referred him immediately to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, where he succumbed to his injuries. The police lodged a report under Section 174 of Cr PC last evening but after the post-mortem report, a fresh FIR under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC was lodged against the accused Sukhdarshan Singh and Guddu, who are at large. 


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