Thursday, May 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Lightning puts off lights in Haibowal
Surrounding areas go without power for 24 hrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
Persons who live in Haibowal and its surrounding areas had a sleepless night yesterday after the Jamalpur-Moga high-power transmission line got snapped. Men of the Electricity Department worked since early today to get the power supply restored and accomplished the task by 3.30 pm.

Entire Dreamlane Colony plunged into darkness at about 2.30 am yesterday and remained without power for the next 24 hours. Lightning and heavy shower kept everyone indoors, but persons living near the base of the 132 KV transmission tower got a scare when they heard a loud noise, followed by a blackout.

Everyone in the colony feared that high-tension overhead power cables might have got snapped, which could put them in danger. “We called up at the Power Department, but no one there picked up the telephone receiver. In view of the situation, everyone stayed indoors,” some persons of the area said.

One of these persons, Mr Yogesh Rai, said, “The weather outside was good, but it was still hot indoors. The breakdown affected kids and the elderly the most. The night passed easily, but the afternoon was uneasy. The din of numerous generators added to the irritation.”

An official of the maintenance team who arrived here from Moga at 5 am today said the high-tension cables were in place, but the lightning control wire had been struck. “In view of the inclement weather and lightning, power supply was shut down as a precaution,” he said.

He said a team of 20 men was atop a 105-foot-high pylon to do repairs. To replace the wire, the men have to perch precariously on a small platform, so high that even a small slip can spell disaster. He said the entire wire between the pylons had to be replaced, as only three men were taking turns doing repairs at the top.



Industrialists donate mobikes to cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
The financial position of the Punjab police has deteriorated to such an extent that the Police Department has to rope in industrialists or private organisations to update their infrastructure required for policing.

An example to this effect was evident here last evening when the Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhullar, flagged off 20 motor cycles that have been added to the existing fleet of 55 such bikes of the special police control room.

Ironically, the function, which smelled of the financial problems, left the local police richer by about Rs 30 lakh granted to it by Mr G.S. Ghalib, MP, and Mr Bhullar from their quotas.

All the new motor cycles have been donated by 20 or more industrialists or industrialist’s association to the Police Department. The gesture was made at the special request of the police department as the bikes were necessary for better police administration in the city.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Bhullar appreciated the efforts of the local police administration in showing the police department the way to manage things in this time of financial crisis. He announced a grant of Rs 4 lakh for the police control room.

The flagging off ceremony was attended by a number of MLAs of the district, political personalities the Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh. Mr Ghalib announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for conducting a computer course for the police personnel at the Police Lines.

Mr P.D. Sharma, a donor and spokesperson of all the donors, said the Ludhianvis had proved that they could make any contribution in helping the police or the civil administration in maintaining law and order. He narrated instances of good work done by the PCR motor cycle squad.



Private bus transporters facing fiscal crisis
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
Hit by an overall economic slump, the services in the passenger transport sector in Punjab are on the verge of collapse. Faced with hostile government policies, increasing fuel prices and other input costs, besides high rate of special road tax, most of the passenger transport companies are running into huge losses. Hundreds of buses continue to remain impounded for the failure on the part of their owners to pay the special road tax, which the operators say is too exorbitant at the rate of Rs 2.99 per km per bus.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, representatives of various passenger transport operators, led by Mr Fateh Singh Libra of the Libra Bus Service, sought rationalisation of the tax. The transporters demanded that the transporters should be asked to pay the tax at the rate of the passengers travelling in the bus. They suggested that the bus tickets should be stamped and the tax should be imposed only on the tickets sold.

Supporting the government campaign against the operation of illegal buses running without permits and other legal documents, the transporters urged the Chief Minister that the private buses should not be made the only target. They pointed out hundreds of buses run by the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Chandigarh Transport Union were also flouting the norms, but nobody intercepted or impounded those buses.

Referring to the recent raids on buses, the transporters said they did not mind the government action. However, they said that only those buses which were plying without route permit and the road tax and were flouting other norms should be issued challans. They said, in certain cases buses having all documents and legal requirements were issued challans and impounded on petty grounds, which should be avoided in future. Moreover, they demanded that similar checking should be conducted on the state-run buses, a number of which were also running without route permits and without paying the tax.

While assuring total cooperation with the government to monitor and regulate the bus services in a proper manner, the transporter urged the CM that the state-run buses should also be subjected to a fitness tests. All private buses were subjected to the fitness test every year. However, no tests were conducted for the government-run buses.

Moreover, a number of government buses had outlived their life and were running on roads at a great risk. Besides, such buses were not entitled to the insurance compensation also. The main reason was said to be non-payment of special road tax by the state-run buses.

The transporters demanded a strict check on the operations of the buses by the Haryana Government and the CTU. They alleged that both Haryana Government and the CTU were running more buses in Punjab than stipulated in the agreement with them, thus leading to huge losses to the state on account of road tax. They also demanded check on the registration of Tata Sumo vehicles in Haryana, which later were plied in Punjab for carrying passengers.

Putting up a strong case for the rationalisation of the special road tax, Mr Libra said that the running cost of per bus per km was Rs 13.50, while the income was not more than Rs 12 per km per bus. Besides, he pointed out, the diesel and other input costs had also witnessed a phenomenal rise during last few years.

The bus transporters also demanded a check on carrying of passengers by the trucks and tempos in the state. Besides leading to the losses to the state, the bus transporters, it also led to frequent accidents and loss of life. A case was already pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard. Although the state government ha filed an affidavit to prevent the flow of passengers through tempos and trucks, no steps had been taken on the ground-level. 



Sukhdev’s nephew living in penury
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
The Centre and state governments may have compensated and rehabilitated thousands of the kin of freedom fighters and martyrs who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country, the surviving members of the family of martyr Sukhdev continue to live in penury. They have not been provided a single penny by the government during the past 55 years of Independence.

Mr Bharat Bhushan Thapar is the only surviving member of Sukhdev’s family. Sukdev was his uncle. Mr Bharat Bhushan’s father Prakash Chand Thapar was the younger brother of Sukhdev. He claims that he does not remember that he or his father was ever remembered by anyone, least by the government. “My father passed all his life in struggle and so am I,” he says.

In fact, the state government, more so the local administration, seems to be sleeping over the memorial supposed to be set up in Sukhdev’s memory at his ancestral house in Naugrana area near Chaura Bazar. Mr Bharat Bhushan rues the indifference of the government and the activities being carried out by some self-serving people in the name of Sukhdev. “While the government has forgotten him, some people claiming their kinship to Sukhdev have tagged ‘Thapar’ to their names just to serve their own purpose,” he says.

Leaving the memorials and tributes apart, there has not been any help for his family from the government. Although he has managed to set up a small lottery business, his father lived a very hard life. “He used to pull a cart and sell grass by the roadside,” he recalls with protest and anger in his eyes. In fact, the level of desperation is such that he has stopped expecting anything from the government or the self-proclaimed kin of Sukhdev.

“Some people had set up a trust in memory of Sukhdev. But none of them ever felt that they should also contact us as Sukhdev had blood relationship with us,” he regrets, while explaining it himself, “they might be thinking that if we came into picture, their shops will get closed. So they are trying to keep us away.”

Despite all odds, his father had successfully contested the elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and won. Mr Bharat Bhushan also contested the last MC elections as an Independent, but could not win. However, he is satisfied with the support that people offered him.



Childhood sacrificed to human scavenging
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 29
Government’s tall claims on free education for all seem hollow when one sees ragpickers as young as seven early everyday here, doing what the Municipal Corporation should be doing — picking non-biodegradable material from the rubbish. Reduced to human scavengers, they sell the collected material at Rs 3 a kg or so to earn.

Ragpickers, rather “human scavengers” as they are called, about 2 lakh in number, lead a life devoid of childhood joys.

They labour on, undernourished or diseased, never knowing what laughter, education or balanced diet mean. Meet Raghu and his ilk. It is high summer and they rise early from the floor — their bed — chew leftovers from last night, sling huge plastic sacks on their shoulders and be on their job before daybreak. They defecate on roadside, as they have never seen a toilet from inside. Sanitation and hygiene are alien to them.

Ragpickers know where they will find discarded plastic bags and cartons, so, with bare hands, they sieve the rubbish. By 11 am, they wind up and approach scrap dealers. A scrap dealer of Chaura Bazar says that about 150 such children come to him every day to sell their pickings. They earn about Rs 50 a day.

Some of these children have run away from homes and taken to drugs out of frustration and loneliness. You can find them lying in stupor on footpath. The others contribute towards the household expenses of their large families.

Bhola and his friends have arms reddened with sores because of putting their bare hands in plastic bags filled with broken glass. Many have contracted cough and tuberculosis, but no NGO has come forward to help them. The Nishkam runs schools for such children here. The ragpickers here live mostly in Salim Tabri, Lakshmi Nagar, Jassian and sleep at markets, bus stops or wherever they find a shelter. Experience has been their master, so, they know how to avoid the police if caught.



A month since they last saw water
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
At least 50 families of Naya Mohalla here are having a harrowing time, thanks to the scarcity of potable water for the past one month.

As mercury soars, it spells trouble for these persons every year, as they have to run around all day to collect drinking water. While no one knows whether the scarcity is due to a snag in the area tubewell or any other reason, the situation has been the same for the past four years, in spite of assurances by the Municipal Corporation authorities.

Angry with the MC, these persons had even boycotted the MC elections to express their resentment. However, even after the elections, nothing has changed for them. They have to beg water from neighbours who have arrangement to draw underground water.

A woman of the area, Ms Renu Bala, said, for the past one month, persons of the area had been receiving only 10 to 15 minutes of water supply everyday. Even the received water supply was just a trickle. “The problem has been there for the past many years. The MC employees review the situation and leave, assuring us that a new tubewell would be soon be installed in the area. I have a mentally challanged son to look after, so, the lack of water drives me crazy,” she said.

A group of the women of this area had met the Youth Congress leader, Ms Komal Khanna, who lives in the area. After this, the area started receiving water supply through tankers, but it didn’t continue for long. “After Thursday, no tanker has come and we are still without water,” said Ms Sushma, another woman of the area.

“The other day, an employee of the MC visited our colony. After we told him about the problem, he told us to collect water after midnight, as the water pressure is low in peak hours. Since then, we have to wake up at night to gather water. I have tried switching on motor pump at 4 am and midnight, but to no avail,” said Ms Sushma.

Ms Babli, another person of the area, said: “We have to go out to collect drinking water in tubs and buckets, which can be dangerous for us. These days, reports of the spread of water-borne diseases are being received from many areas.”

Those who live in the affected area are, now, planning to approach the Ward 50 councillor, Mr Sushil Gupta. Besides, blocked sewerage system is also a problem and the MC sweepers and workers who are sent here to unclog drains demand money from persons of the area.



The choice of honesty

It is indeed a difficult choice. Temptations are many and spirit is weak. Sometimes there is a conflict in the mind, but an ordinary individual generally adopts the easier course. Thus there is a smooth sailing for a while and life appears to be a bed of roses. But roses also have thorns.

A time comes when the veil of secrecy is lifted and the house of cards comes rumbling down. Huge amounts of money and high piles of gold in bank lockers stand out in sharp contrast to the entries of modest figures in the passbooks. Then the bogey of mela fide intentions is raised against all and sundry, while the mounting blood pressure of the accused ensures him a bed in a ‘three-star’ hospital.

Such a drastic change has come about during the past five decades that the common people feel baffled. Earlier honesty was considered the best policy. At that time the heads were held high as the conscience was clear. The tainted money was unheard of, even the lavish parties were pooh-poohed. The fair name of an individual as well as of his family was considered dearer than any treasure. Hard work was regarded as the key to success. The children of such families knew no other way of life. Their minds were conditioned in such a manner that they always trod the path of integrity. The end result of all this was the composure of the mind.

Students who receive accolades on merit never deviate from the right path. On the other hand, the students who had been pampered at home and later received undue favours from some teachers could never take stock of things in the right perspective. Wherever they go, they create such an environment as is conducive to their selfish designs.

Honesty is seldom a matter of choice. It is ingrained in the mental make-up of a person. His mind is conditioned in such a way that for him honesty is the way of life. Like the spots on the skin of a leopard, a person of integrity cannot change the texture of his ethical viewpoint even under the most adverse circumstances. It is the need of the hour that we start focusing our attention on individuals who believe in honest dealings and truthful living. In this way prominence will be given to the bigger line drawn beside the smaller one. The hope for curing the disease of corruption in society cannot be discarded offhand.

N.S. Tasneem



C-grade movies a blot on the city
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 29
It is a voyeur’s delight and a moralist’s pain going by the screening of the movies in the cinemas of the city. About half a dozen city cinemas in the city have earned the notoriety of screening only obscene movies one after the other. To cap it all are the obscene posters put up outside the cinemas, much to the embarrassment of the passersby.

Much to the dismay of the residents, the district administration keeps quiet at the issue and no orders have yet been passed to ban the screening of such movies publically. The former Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, had banned the putting up of obscene posters some months ago, but these orders are also being flouted with impunity.

A random survey conducted on any odd day can reveal that atleast six movies run by the theatres are obscene as suggested by their names put up outside the cinemas. One can find that the titles of movie like “My Wife’s Lover”, ‘Unfaithful Wife” and ‘Hot Body” are openly screened and were running during the last week only.

During the current week “Kamina Pati” is being run by Surya, “Akeli Ladki” by Nirmal, “Masti Badi Sasti” by Midi Shringaar.

Many theatres in the mega city show adult English and Hindi movies with tempting titles to titillate the customers to watch the movie. Interestingly, these titles are literal translation of dubbed South Indian language and foreign language movies, ignoring the actual meaning. Moreover, after showing three or four reels of the main movies, the short cuts from banned adult films are shown much to the delight of voyeurs.

While the entire city is digesting the entire scenario with a very bad taste, there are teenagers who out of curiosity are attracted by such movies. A teenager Karan while talking to The Tribune said that he and his friends were dazed and felt shell shocked after watching “My Wife’s Lover” running at a local theatre. Karan and his friends said: “What a start to our vacation. We have always been titillated by such titles and we decided to watch together one such movie. But now we have ended up condemning ourselves for such an act of ours.”

Another teenager Kamini and her friends while sharing their experiences said that being vacations they wanted to watch a movie. Going through the titles of the movies like “Dark Side of Love”, Zulmi” and “Hello Sundari”, the exasperated friends said: “We have seen the new movies, now we can’t watch any of these movies. What does “The Dark Side of Love” reveal?

The parents are worried lot as Ms Bakshi, mother of two young daughters, said: “We feel so embarrassed when they read the titles of movies like “Raat Ki Kaliyan”, “Lonely Hearts”, “Raat ki Ranginiyan”. We wonder why is the district administration allowing such movies with pornographic strips in it? How can we keep a 24 -hour of check over our boys? Obviously they get half- baked knowledge and their curiosity further fanned and they might take to watching these movies. The administration should be more careful during summer vacations as the students want to watch movies”.



Man missing for 18 months
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 29
It has been a long and unending wait for 35-year-old Nisha and her two young daughters, Deepika and Tania, as her husband, Vipan Kumar, remains missing for the past 18 months. According to the FIR registered with the police on the complaint of Vipan Kumar’s brother, Ashok, he had left his home on a Vespa Scooter, bearing registration number PB 10 AP: 4998 along with his friend, Dheera. They have not returned home since.

Ashok said that Vipan was living separately with his wife and two daughters in Khanna. He was running a tailor shop there. On the fateful day, he left for some work and had reportedly told his wife that he would return by the evening as he was to go out of station along with his friend, Dheera. When they did not return at night, Nisha informed her in-laws, who are living at Bhagat Singh colony here.

The family waited for a few days. Later, they informed the police and a case was registered with the Khanna police. However, no clues have been found so far by the police. The police has not even recovered the scooter on which they were travelling.

Ashok disclosed that they had left no stone unturned to look for the two. They published photographs in newspapers and issued appeals. However, the family, more so Nisha, has not given up the hope about Vipan’s return.

Vipan was said to be wearing casual clothes at the time he left his house.



Endless wait for buses, revenue
Our Correspondent

Samrala, May 29
Mr Prem Singh Chopra, a contractor at the Samrala Bus Stand, who had paid Rs 36,000 as an advance of the contract amount of Rs 1.08 lakh from May 1 this year to the Nagar Council Samrala, said despite paying such huge amount, no roadways bus stopped at this bus stand which is a tehsil headquarter. He said buses usually stopped at the unauthorised stop of Ranwan. He added he was paying Rs 800 to Rs 1000 daily as labour charges as well.

On the other hand, the Ranwan contractor, Mr Balbir Singh, when contacted said that he was paying Rs 13,500 per month to the Punjab Roadways, Chandigarh Depot and Rs 5000 per month to the Gram Panchayat, Ranwan as rent.

But Mr Chopra said that Ranwan was not a stop of the roadways and as per the instructions of the High Court, no bus could stop at any unauthorised bus stop.

He added that there was no facility of toilet or water etc. at Ranwan whereas the Samrala Bus Stand was well equipped with all modern amenities.

Mr Chopra said he had requested the local SDM, Mr Jasbir Singh Jassi, the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, the Transport Minister, Punjab and the Chief Minister, Punjab through the local MLA, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, to give him justice as he was incurring a heavy loss as the buses were not stopping at the Samrala Bus Stand. He threatened to move court on this issue.



Man crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Doraha, May 29
A man was crushed to death by a speeding truck, near here, on Tuesday.

The deceased has been identified as Bittu Singh, son of Harphool Singh of Payal. Bittu Singh was on his way to Payal when a truck (No. PB-10-AD-9514) driven by Lovepreet Singh of Majathi (Kharar) allegdely crushed him to death.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered at the Payal police station and the driver has been taken into custody by the police. The truck has also been impounded.

Case registered: A case has been registered at Payal police station against a woman and some unidentified people for allegedly ploughing the land belonging to village Darshan Singh of Rajgarh village.

The complainant has alleged that his four acre land was forciby illegally ploughed up by Hardev Kaur wife of Harbans Singh and some other persons. A case has been registered under sections 447, 427, 148 and 149 of IPC at Payal police station.

Cyclist crushed: A cyclist was crushed to death by a an Esteem car (DL-2 CG-5171) on Tuesday morning. According to police sources, the deceased has been identified as Ram Dhar Giri, a resident of Doraha. He was going towards Kaddon village when while crossing the G.T. Road on his cycle, he was crushed by the car He was immediately taken to Sidhu Hospital where he breathed his last.

A case has been registered under sections 279, 427 and 304-A of the IPC against the car driver who is reported to be at large.

Travel agent arrested:
Dakha police arrested Sanjay Sharma a travel agent for cheating a number of aspirants who wanted to go to abroad and registered a case u/s 406, 420, 506 of the IPC. According to the press note released by Mr Balkar Singh Sandhu, SSP, the accused is running a travel agency by the name Garib Dass Travels, College Road, Mullanpur. Here the accused accepted advance of Rs 20,000 from Kewal Singh to send his son Hardeep to Italy and struck the deal at Rs 3 lakh. But he did not honour his commitment and when asked to return the money, threatened the complainants.

The accused also struck a deal with Balbir Singh of Manuke to send his son Sowaran Singh to Italy and received Rs 20,000 for him but returned him twice from Delhi. Similarly, the agent cheated Gurmit Singh of Rasulpur and received Rs 1,45,000 from him but sent him to Moscow instead of Italy. The victims alleged that when they demanded their money, the accused threatened them at gun point.

Poppy husk seized: The CIA staff police arrested Jasmail Singh alias Bhola of Agwar Khawaja Raju, near a sugar mill and recovered 5 kg of poppy husk from his possession. A case u/s 15/61/85 of NDPS Act has been registered against the accused.


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