Sunday, June 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Girl gangraped for three days in a religious place
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Five persons, including three religious preachers, allegedly gangraped a girl, beat her up regularly and injected her with drugs for three days in a room inside a religious place near here on Ferozepore Road. The girl was abducted from an orphanage in Uttar Pradesh and had been kept in confinement here.

Residents raise slogans in protest against the alleged rape of a girl by certain employees inside a religious place in Ludhiana on Saturday.
Residents raise slogans in protest against the alleged rape of a girl by certain employees inside a religious place in Ludhiana on Saturday. — Tribune photo

The alleged rapists also threatened to kill the girl with a gun. They also forced her to watch adult movies. She was finally rescued from the ‘torturous’ captivity by some residents of an adjoining PSEB colony, who heard the cries of help of the girl this afternoon. They also found some movie cassettes and an air gun from the room.

As soon as the girl was rescued, a furious mob that had gathered in and outside the religious place, gave a sound thrashing to the three preachers who were caught on the spot. The fury of the mob grew as the girl, in a terrible condition, narrated her tale of woes to the assembled public.

Timely intervention by the Sarabha Nagar police saved the priests from the mob’s anger. The two employees of the religious place, who were co-accused in the case, had managed to flee.

The three preachers caught by the public and later handed over to the police — have been identified as Tarsem Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Gurdeep Singh. The police said it was conducting raids to nab the absconding sewadaars Raja and Satnam.

In her detailed statement given to the police at Sarabha Nagar police station amidst raising of slogans by angry mob which had followed the accused there, the girl said that she belonged to a district in Uttar Pradesh. She lived in an orphanage. The accused met her there and lured her into meeting them outside on the promise of getting her a lucrative job. Once outside she was thrown into a car and brought here.

‘‘For all these days, I was raped repeatedly. Whenever I raised my voice I was beaten up or threatened with a gun. They also gave me some injections at which I could not remain conscious’’ the girl told the police.

The girl said further that today she was left alone for some time and managed to reach a window. She then raised an alarm and called through gestures some people standing in the adjoining residential colony of the Punjab State Electricity Board. The people came to her rescue and got her released.

The girl was later examined at the Civil Hospital. The doctors confirmed the rape. The report also stated that she was injected with drugs and had several injuries on her body.

Surprisingly while the heinous crime was going on, no one at the place of worship, claimed to have got any inkling of it. Baba Jagir Singh, Head preacher of the gurdwara, told Ludhiana Tribune that he had been ill for the past few days and had remained inside his room and had no knowledge about the crime.

Meanwhile, the incident has evoked strong criticism among heads of religious organisation and places in the city. A former MLA, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr Pritpal Singh Pali, Head, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib and Mr Amarjit Singh Happy, Head Gurdwara Akalgarh, have condemned the incident and have demanded stringent punishment for the accused.


Poultry farm employee clubbed to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Unidentified assailants clubbed to death an employee of a poultry farm before decamping with Rs 25,000 from a locker of the farm here last night. The incident came to light today morning when other employees of the farm reached the place for the day's work.

The deceased has been identified as Udesh Kumar, 32. He was found lying in a pool of blood in the office of the farm. Maximum injuries seemed to have been inflicted on the victim's head. According to Mr Gurdeep Singh, owner of the farm, he was informed by other employees of the sordid incident today morning.

Mr Gurdip Singh said he used to keep some money in the locker as it was not safe for him to carry cash to his house everyday. He said he was shocked at the incident.

The Vardhman police has registered a case. Police sources said the incident was reminiscent of the petrol pump robbery and murder case that occurred sometime ago. The police believes that similar to what had happened in the earlier case, a former or present employee of the poultry farm was probably involved.

The police believes that the motive of the assailants was mainly robbery, but it seemed they killed the victim as he must have probably recognised one or more of the assailants. The police is learnt to have rounded up some suspects, including some employees of the poultry farm, but no thing has been established so far.

The scene of crime presented a ghastly sight. The deceased was lying in a pool of blood and had been killed in a macabre manner. The deceased seemed to have put up quite a struggle with the assailants as was evident from the condition of the roon from where the body was found.


Passing the buck in a gasping city
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
It is a matter of criminal neglect that thousands of industrial units in Ludhiana, which generate several tonnes of industrial waste — toxic and otherwise — each day, has no official dumping site in the district which largely contributes to the rising pollution graph of a mega city already gasping for breath.

In a city of big bucks, this callousness also sheds light on the allegedly well entrenched entrepreneur — bureaucrat — politician nexus that ensures — for a fee — that all the “ambitious, futuristic proposals and recommendations of “high-powered committees” remain on paper only. One just has to flip through the various handbooks and abstract findings and recommendations of the state pollution control board to see that even concrete proposals initiated to combat this menace are not being pursued actively for obvious reasons.

It is a common sight to see trucks lined along the Sidhwan Canal and other areas of the city disposing the waste polluting the already highly polluted waters. The Budha Nullah is a prime example of the callousness and greed of man. The easiest way to beat the system — unless one wants to spend lakhs on a disposal system — is to “pay off” the officials who look the other way at blatant violations. It is no surprise that a majority of the businessmen opt for this route and carry on with their work.

The administration, the members of the industrial fraternity and the corporation are passing the buck to each other for the past many years, without arriving at a viable solution. As the endless and unproductive interfaces between the parties continue, the city continues with its downward march on the most polluted city scale with the common man caught in the middle.

A random survey of the focal point and industrial area by Ludhiana Tribune team revealed that hundreds of units were using the open areas — supposed to be developed as lungs of the polluted surroundings by way of parks and green belt — to dump industrial waste. Dyeing units are the biggest culprit along with those which burn rick husk. Banned under the Punjab Pollution Control Act for being highly polluting industrial units continue to do so with impunity. Most of them dump the burnt husk in the industrial area and nearby open places.

The magnitude of the problem can be gauged from the fact that although the entrepreneurs are aware of the acute problem, they shrug off their responsibility by passing the buck to the authorities. Nevertheless, they reveal that there are more than 300 dyeing units in the city, which produce more than 200 trucks of burnt rice husk every day. Due to lack of a proper dumping space, tractor-trailers are hired to dump the waste at different places. It is for the government to take appropriate measures to check the menace.’’

Others, while admitting to Ludhiana’s huge contribution to the ecological degradation, stress that it is for the government to take appropriate measures. They feel that since the industry paid Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh per annum per unit as house tax, the municipal corporation should provide some assistance to dispose of the industrial waste.

Meetings between the industrialists and the municipal authorities in the past to trash out the issue have been unfruitful. “At a meeting held a few months ago, it was assured that the MC would provide bins or containers to dump the waste. However, it has remained a promise so far. Most units are throwing the waste in the neighbouring places, which include hazardous matters as well. It has also resulted in narrowing of roads and choking of the sewerage systems well,” claimed an entrepreneur.

On the other hand, the MC authorities take shelter in “practically unenforceable” acts and claim that legally it is the duty of the industrial units to dispose of the industrial waste after proper treatment at the selected places.

The Punjab Government has identified a place near Dera Bassi (Patiala district), where they are supposed to cart away the waste material themselves. The MC has already given sufficient time to the industry and has initiated punitive action against the defaulters. Many units were also challaned. Regarding collection of house tax, the authorities claim that “more than Rs 2 crore has been spent to develop infrastructure in the industrial area though there are a number of big defaulters.”

Small entrepreneurs point out that the government, local administration and the MC have failed to provide adequate land nearby for the dumping of hazardous matter over the years. Small units are operational on marginal profits and should not be expected to spend much on the disposal of industrial waste, especially when lakhs were being collected by way of house tax.

This argument is shot down by the authorities who claim that in view of the pollution, the site had been earmarked at Dera Bassi after much thought and deliberation. Moreover, the units are doubly benefitted since they save huge sums by using a cheap fuel (rice husk) besides pocketing transportation charges to the dumping site. One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too, they pointed out.

As the buck passing continues, the zoning atlas of the state pollution control board in its survey found that a substantial number of factories were operating in the industrially most unsuited area and that the air pollution sensitivity levels were the highest in and around the major settlement-Ludhiana.


Police books protesting women
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Instead of vacating the official premises of the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), occupied forcibly by the Shimla Puri police a few days ago, the police today booked the women who were protesting yesterday in Mini Secretariate for disobeying the orders of the Deputy Commissioner and using a loud speaker on the Mini Secretariat premises.

The case was registered against some women Aganwadi workers under Sections 282/149 and 188, IPC, and Sections 4/5 of the Noise Act for using a loud speaker on the lawns of Mini Secretariate and disobeying the orders of the Deputy Commissioner, who had allowed the Shimla Puri police to shift the police station on the premises of the CDPO office.

The police had cane-charged the protesting women yesterday in which several women were hurt. The registration of a case has added insult to the injury as the police instead of redressing their “just” grievance booked them. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, was not available as he was said to be busy organising a fashion show by the NIIFT, Mohali. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr A.K. Sinha, when contacted said he did not know any details about the case.

SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu was also not available. The DC had claimed yesterday that the office of the CDPO was a government building and the police had every right to shift there due to shortage of space.


Youth throws acid on girlfriend
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
A girl living in New Sunder Nagar near Lohara village falling under the Sadar police station received burns on her stomach and legs after a neighbouring youth allegedly poured acid on her in the small hours of yesterday morning.

According to the girl, who has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital, it was about 4 am when the youth called her through a hole in the common wall dividing their houses, where she was sleeping along with her sister. She said the youth asked her to flee with him to Delhi where they could marry. She alleged that when she did not accept the proposal, the accused took out a bottle containing acid and poured its contents on her body. Her cries woke up her family and neighbours who rushed her to the hospital.


BSNL extends last date for depositing bills to June 5
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
The last date of depositing the telephone bills has been extended to June 5 by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Day before yesterday, telephone bills for one month, instead of two months, were issued mentioning the very next day as the last date for depositing the bill. This was informed here today by the General Manager Telecom, Mr V.S. Srivastava.

Mr Srivastava further added that all subscribers were issued bills for one month due to closing of accounts of the nigam. He said that from now onwards the bills would be issued after every two months. But from June 1 bills would be issued on a monthly basis to only those subscribers whose calls exceed 3,000 every month.

While talking about the new project of BSNL in the district, Mr Srivastava said that BSNL would open an Internet public call office (BSNL cyber cafe) at the Central Telegraph Office to meet the increasing demand of Internet access of the people.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Srivastava said, ‘‘The addition of the new Internet services to the list of BSNL, is one the new development work, in the first 100 days (from April 1 to July 9) progamme of this financial year.’’ Besides this, BSNL would replace 5,000 old telephone instrument (given before 1996) with new ones.’’

While commenting on the problem of subscribers in the Clock Tower and Ghanta Ghar area ( 74 series telephone numbers), Mr Srivastava said, ‘‘Presently the parent exchange of that particular area is Transport Nagar Exchange but soon we would shift it to the Bharat Nagar exchange which, besides increasing the efficiency of series in the area, would help in trouble shooting as well.’’

Mr V.S. Srivastava who had joined as GM, Telecom, Ludhiana, in September 1997 would be replaced by Mr G.S. Julka.


‘Badal’s rally on June 11 a gimmick’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has described the proposed Akali Dal (Badal) ‘morcha’, (rally) on June 11, a trick and a cover-up exercise to hide its government’s misdeeds, corruption and scams as the present government headed by Captain Amarinder Singh was determined to provide a clean and transparent administration’ in the state and had already started a campaign against corruption.

The IHRO chairperson, Mr D.S. Gill, secretary general Mohinder Singh Grewal and Secretary Coordination Jatinder Singh Sandhu, in a statement here today, said the people of Punjab were intelligent enough to ‘rebuff Badal’s trickery’ and would definitely not play into the hands of SAD (Badal) especially as he had totally failed to deliver the promises made and was involved in encouraging corruption during his regime in a massive way.

The SAD’s programme of courting arrests from June 11 onwards, would be an exercise in futility and was bound to be a failure as the campaign against corruption, launched by Capt Amarinder Singh’s government, especially in the case of PPSC chairman Ravi Sidhu, had exposed Mr Badal and his way of working, said the IHRO activists.

They said that the former chief minister had remained silent when POTO was passed, the issue of SYL canal was raised in the Supreme Court by the Haryana Government and the public at large had demanded Gujarat Chief Minister Modi’s resignation.

“Now since the present government has started to tighten the noose around the neck of the corrupt, you allege being made scapegoat for political reasons. Why don’t the corrupt ministers surrender before the police on June 11 and face the charges boldly, instead of courting arrest on that day, just to trick people?” asked the activists.

The fact remains, they said, that we need pro-Punjab parties that should jointly launch a campaign for securing Punjab’s precious natural resources, viz river waters as well as hydro electric works, the issues over which Mr Badal had been sleeping over and maintained a studied silence during his regime.

The IHRO has also asked Capt Amarinder Singh to put pressure on the Centre to resolve the PPSC cases on merit without any political gimmicks, besides streamlining the corruption campaign and reshuffling the Vigilance Bureau to bring the guilty to book, including judges of the High Court.

Mandi Gobindgarh
Commenting on Badal’s morcha from June 11, SAD (A) chief S.S. Mann described it as an effort to save the corrupt. Mr Mann strongly opposed war with Pakistan, as it would result in the loss of crore of innocent lives. Punjab would be the worst sufferer, he reiterated.

Mr Kishan Singh Salana, president, Mr Ravinder Singh Khalsa, general secretary of Amloh circle, Mr Amar Singh Khanian, Mr Nazar Singh and other Akali leaders were also present at the press conference held here today.


Sonia disappoints Congressmen
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Hundreds of Congress workers returned disappointed yesterday as they could not meet the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, who was on board Jammu Mail on her way back from Pathankot to Delhi. The Congress workers were not allowed to meet Ms Gandhi by the security personnel who were travelling by the same train. The security personnel reportedly also advised Ms Gandhi against coming to the gate of the compartment, much to the disappointment of the workers and leaders.

Ms Gandhi had yesterday gone to Shahpur in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh where she addressed a rally of the party. On her way back to Delhi, she boarded the Jammu Mail train from Pathankot. As the news spread here that Ms Gandhi was travelling to Delhi by Jammu Mail, hundreds of Congress workers and leaders, including the District Congress Committee president, Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Pawan Dewan, legislators, Mr Surinder Dawer, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran and other reached the Ludhiana railway station.

They had to wait for over an hour since the train was running late. As the train came to a halt at Ludhiana, the Congress workers started shouting slogans in support of the Congress and its leader, Ms Gandhi. They wanted to meet Ms Gandhi but were prevented from doing so by the strong contingent of the security forces. They had cordoned off the compartment in which Ms Gandhi was travelling. As the Congress leaders insisted on meeting Ms Gandhi to express their wishes to her, Mr Satyajit Gaikwad, secretary All India Congress Committee, who was travelling in a different compartment came out to meet the Congress leaders.

Mr Bawa handed over a shawl to Mr Gaikwad for Ms Gandhi, as a token of love from the people of Ludhiana. For a while it became very difficult for the police and the security personnel to control the strong crowd insisting that Ms Gandhi should come at least up to the gate and acknowledge their presence. The train stopped here for about 35 minutes and the workers stayed put for the entire period.

It took a lot of convincing and persuasion for the Congress leaders to motivate the excited workers to return without meeting Ms Gandhi. Mr Bawa said, the workers were discreet enough to appreciate the security concerns of the Congress president. But Mr Gaikwad conveyed their feelings to Ms Gandhi, who reportedly thanked the workers and leaders of Ludhiana for their love and respect for their leader.


Two elected unopposed in panchayat samiti elections
Our Correspondent

Amloh, June 1
After scrutiny of the 58 candidates whose nomination papers were filed, papers of six candidates from 11, 13 and 14 zones for the panchayat samiti elections were rejected by the SDM-cum-Returning Officer here on Friday. Two candidates, Rajpal Singh and Dalbara Singh from Khanian and Bhatton Zone (both of the Congress), were declared elected unopposed and the forms of Dhara Singh, Major Singh and Gurcharan Singh from Khanian Zone, Sewa Singh and Mohar Singh from Bhatton Zone and Karnail Kaur from Kanjari Zone were rejected.

Now 50 candidates are in the fray. Mr Paramjit Singh, sarpanch of Khanian village, alleged that the forms were rejected of flimsy grounds of non-attestation of caste on the forms by the competent authority, whereas the copy of Scheduled Caste Certificate had been attached with the forms.


Senegal shocks bookies, punters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
The victory of little-known Senegal over the defending champions France in the first match of the Football World Cup 2002 at Seoul yesterday has not only shocked France, but thousands of punters and bookies as well. The result, which was quite contrary to expectations, led to huge losses for thousands of punters who had placed their bets on France.

Quite expectedly, the bets opened with France as favourites. Sources said that the rates opened at 1/15 for France and 1/3,500 for Senegal i.e. whoever placed Rs 100 for French victory would get Rs 15 and those who placed Rs 100 for Senegal's victory would get Rs 35,000.

Since everybody thought France was a safe bet, most of the punters had placed their bets on France. Sources revealed that huge bets were placed for France since it was presumed to be a one-way match as Senegal was not expected to be a match for the defending champions.

Although some punters could get the hint in the 30th minute when Senegal scored the first and only goal of the match, yet many of them did not change their favourite team as it was expected that France would recover in the second half. However, the strong defence put up by the Senegal players did not allow any chance for France to bounce back.

At the end of the day, it was the punters and the bookies who were shocked and disappointed. Betting is not new to Ludhiana. Thousands of people place bets regularly on cricket matches. However, the football world cup offered a good betting opportunity for everyone.

Sources disclosed that the football matches were less-time consuming and less prone to last minute changes of fortune. While cricket is a game of uncertainties, in football, results are by and large on expected lines. However, yesterday's match must have served to be a great lesson for the punters who lost huge amounts of money.


‘Poor power supply negated attempts to diversify’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
“Poorly maintained transmission network of the Punjab State Electricity Board and erratic power supply to agriculture sector has brought all efforts for diversification to a naught and the farmers are being forced by circumstances to switch back to traditional crop rotation of wheat and paddy,” said Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president, and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union, in a joint statement here. Lambasting the PSEB administration for its failure to improve the power supply to the farm sector, they said the acute scarcity and irregular supply had virtually pushed the agriculture sector towards ruination and there were no signs of any relief in the near future.

The BKU functionaries charged the government and the PSEB management with perpetuating a fraud with the farmers. “Erratic power supply has wrecked havoc on the farm economy to the extent that the farmers, who had gone in for cultivation of crops like pulses, oil seeds, cotton and sun flower in response to the call for diversification, were forced to revert back to traditional crop rotation.” They apprehended that if the power scenario did not improve, in years to come, the area under paddy would increase manifold and the precious ground water resources would further deplete.

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian did not take at the face value the announcement made by the state government, saying the farm sector would get 10 hours regular and continuous supply every day. 


Consumer care courtesy PSEB
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has set up its first ever Consumer Care Centre for residents of the district. The centre will function from the office of the Chief Engineer, Operation, Central Zone, from June 1, according to a spokesperson of the Board.

The centre will deal with the complaints of subscribers pertaining to power failure, unscheduled power cuts, besides receiving tip offs regarding graft by Board employees between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Subscribers can also lodge their grievances on round the clock Interactive Voice Response System facility.

Consumers can also visit this centre to seek information and circulars of the board. Besides this, consumer care centres will be operational at the Central Zone circle level from June 1. Phone No. regarding the above are. Customer Care Centre, Office of the CE, Central Zone, Sarabha Nagar: 460303 City East Circle: 450369; City West Circle: 455000; Suburban Circle: 455453; Khanna Circle: 26098.


Tributes paid
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, June 1
Rich tributes were paid to Shaheed Lce Naik Balbir Singh at his native village, Maksudra, near here on Friday . The martyr had laid down his life at Palanwalan sector on the LOC on May 20.

While addressing a mammoth gathering, Mr Tej Partap Singh Kotli, Transport Minister, said that civilians enjoy freedom at the expense of those who face the enemy at the border. He said that it is the prime responsibility of the government and society to look after the interests of dependents of martyrs.

Wg. Cdr. M.S. Randhawa, Deputy Director, assured the family members of the martyrs that relief funds already announced would be paid within a short period.

Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha MLA; Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Youth Congress Leader; Mr Jagjiwan Paul Gill, SAD leader; Jarnail Singh; senior president SAD and Sucha Singh Mast SDM, Payal, and others present also paid tributes.


Tipsy cop breaks leg
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
A tipsy cop returning home on Friday night landed in the Civil Hospital with a broken leg and other injuries after his scooter rammed into a stationery Qualis at the traffic lights at the Dholewal chowk. According to information, Gurjant Singh, an ASI at the Kotwali police station, was returning home allegedly in an inebriated condition due to which, he lost control of the vehicle which rammed into the car at a high speed.

PCO assistant booked

The Basti Jodhewal police has booked Ravi Kumar, a young employee at a PCO on the charge of damaging the PCO and an adjoining chemist shop here yesterday. Mr. Daljit Singh Rathor, a chemist in New Subhash Nagar, had complained that the accused employed by his brother Kulwinder Singh at his PCO, used to invite his cronies to the shop, as a result of which business at the PCO was getting affected. When they asked ravi not to invite his friends to the PCO, the youth allegedly attacked them with the help of about eight of his cronies and beat them up. The complainant further alleged that the accused even took away Rs 5,000 from the cashbox of his shop.

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