Monday, June 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Admn identifies five sites
Shifting of ammunition depot
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
The controversial issue of the shifting of the Baddowal Ammunition Depot is all set to attain centre stage once again with the district administration finally selecting five sites for setting up the depot and recommending them to the Centre for final decision.

The administration’s move is directly opposite to the stand taken by the Baddowal Ammunition Depot authorities who had written to the state government that there was no move of shifting of the depot. Due to the tension on Indo-Pak border, it was being thought that the depot’s shifting might be stalled or postponed indefinitely. But now it has come up again.

According to sources in the administration as many as five sites have been selected in the district where the depot can be shifted safely. They, however, refused to divulge details about the sites.

Around three months ago the leaking of news that one such site had been selected near Mullanpur the affected villagers had protested strongly. Similar was the case at two other sites near Jagraon where the district administration had undertaken a survey to identify a secure site for the depot.

Panchayats of seven villages, including Sawaddi, Talwandi Kalan, Virk, Shekhpura, Garuhe and Morrkarima had decided to oppose any such move of the government. They had decided to raise the issue at every possible platform to avoid setting up of the depot anywhere around these villages.

Confirming the development, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, said the administration had suggested five sites that cannot be disclosed at this juncture. He said the communication had been sent to the Union Government and final decision would be taken by the Centre in cosultation with the state government and the Ministry of Defence.

Sources said as per a special direction of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) the administration had communicated the sites for approving the plan of shifting the depot from near Ludhiana, where it was considered to be a major threat to the life and property of the residents particularly in the wake of a number of fire incidents in ammunition depots in Pathankot and Rajasthan.

The MoD clause says that keeping in mind the huge financial burden of the shifting of the depot, the state government should search for a site near the present location of the depot. Sources said another reason was that the depot could not be shifted more towards the Jagraon side because of its proximity to the border and threat to the depot especially due to the possession of long range missiles by the neighbouring country.



Man awaits drowned son’s body
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
It was a heart-rending site at the Barrewal bridge over Sidhwan Canal near South City all through the day. A hapless father along with concerned relatives had been camping near the bridge since last night hoping that the body of his drowned son would surface at the falls near the bridge. Till the evening, the glimmer of hope he had of recovering the body became more dim with no sign of the body.

His 12-year-old son Govind had accidentally fallen in the canal along with two other children and three women but was the only one to have drowned. The child along with his mother and migrant labourers was washing clothes on a canal bank. First two women slipped and fell in the canal. As a number of people surged ahead to rescue them, several others, including three children also slipped and fell in the canal.

While others were rescued by passersby or some other persons washing clothes, Govind was swept away by the strong current. The credit for the rescue work is being given to an unknown Sikh by the eyewitnesses. The man reportedly took off his turban and pulled out at least two women and two children.

But for the family of the drowned child, the ordeal had only started. After searching in vain for the boy’s body all night, his father Updesh Kumar and other relatives camped at the Barrewal Bridge from early morning. ‘‘ People and police have told us that the bodies get stuck under this bridge. We will sit here till we find the body’’ said Updesh Kumar trying to fight tears.

He said Govind was his only son. He has two daughters. ‘‘ Our whole world has come crashing down,’’ he kept repeating this. According to relatives accompanying him the condition of the deceased’s mother was worse. She was crying uncontrollably and had not eaten anything and was pleading, with every one to bring the body of her son.

Updesh Kumar said while he was camping on this bridge other relatives had gone further towards Sidhwan Bet. He said no one was sure whether the body would be found or not or in what condition it would be. He said he would wait there till he found the body. He said he was still optimistic as people have found the bodies after even a week.



Drug-free zones around schools, colleges
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
In what could be the first ever serious campaign against tobacco and gutka — in the city, the district police has initiated the process of creating a drug-free zone near educational institutes in the city. In a related scheme, the district police will also shortly launch a unique “Dial 100 scheme” for schoolchildren so that they can be taught to take police help in an emergency.

The zone would include an area of at least 100 mtrs around an educational institute. No one would be allowed to sell gutkas of tobacco or other drugs inside these zones. The first aim of the move is to check the increasing tendency of taking drugs among the schoolchildren.

According to an accepted study, as many as 66 per cent of schoolchildren in the city are hooked on to one or another drug. Most of these are bought from rehris, kiosks or shops near the schools or colleges.

Such an action was a long-pending demand of several anti-drug social organisations, especially the Aaas Kiran De-Addiction Centre, in the city. These organisations have been launching a campaign of saying No to Drugs in the city for the last three years.

Mr Sarbjit Singh, a teacher in the Journalism Department of Punjab Agricultural University and Dr Deepinder Singh of Aaas Kiran De-Addiction Centre had conducted the studies. They had raised the issue at several platforms but an action on the studies was awaited.

Giving details about the campaign, Mr H.S. Sidhu, SSP, Ludhiana, said he was quite concerned about the prevalence of drugs among schoolchildren. ‘‘The activists of a social organisation informed him that the incidence was quite high and need to be controlled as today drug addicts can be tomorrow's criminals.”

The SSP said there was some confusion whether the Supreme Court had banned selling of tobacco or other drugs near educational institutes as the case was with the selling of liquor. He said the police in some states had enforced the drug-free zone and the Ludhiana police will also shortly achieve this.

The SSP said he would hold meetings with the representatives of the different school managements and would also send teams to the schools to study the situation.

Dr Deepinder Singh of Aaas Kiran De-Addiction Centre said the campaign was the need of the hour. He said the Kerala Government and some other state government had enforced the 100 metre zone scheme.

He said drugs like tobacco and zarda were available in Re 1 pouches outside the schools. Often sold as pan masalas the pouches contain strong drugs and the addiction grows. Dr Sarbjit Singh had found that even students of class-II were hooked on to drugs. A study on inmates of different hostelers had revealed that over 50 per cent of them were addicts.



Three ‘jebkatris’ arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
Three members of the infamous “jebkatri” gang, on whose four members the word “jebkatri” was allegedly inscribed by some policemen in Amritsar district nearly a decade ago, have once again landed in police net. The CIA Wing-II of the Ludhiana police caught these alleged gang members at a police naka today with the help of the PCR motor cycle squad.

Giving details Inspector Mukhwinder Singh and Sub-Inspector Gurpreet Singh said the police had recovered stolen jewellery worth around Rs 1 lakh from the members. The gang specialised in chain snatching and pick-pocketing.

Explaining the modus operandi, the police officers said the women always worked in a group of three to five persons. They identified a victim in a crowded place — the place could either be a marriage palace, cinema hall, some fair site, bus stand, railway station, a religious place or a place where lot of people assembled.

The gang members used to close in on their victim and one of them used to unhook the chain and let it fall on the ground. If the victim raised an alarm, the women would point at the fallen chain and if the victim remained unaware of the theft one of the gang members would quietly pocket the chain.

The police said the women were allegedly into the business since their childhood. They were the only earning hands in the family, as the male members were entirely dependent on their earnings.

The police said the women had recently stolen a number of gold chains at a marriage ceremony. However, to their ill luck, they were recognised in the video film of the ceremony.



Govt flayed for exploiting staff
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, June 16
Various employees’ unions in the state have blamed the state Government for exploiting employees by setting aside the laws. Terming transportation of employees in trucks and tempos, as a gross violation of law, these unions have demanded action against those officials who were responsible for making persons on duty travel like this.

Mr Inderjit Sharma acting President Panjab Mulazim Dal alleged that about one lakh employees were thus transported during ZP and Block Samiti elections whereas officials travelled in air conditioned cars. Thus administration violated the Motor Vehicle Act and court orders. He said those officers should be booked under appropriate sections of law who made employees travel by trucks.

SCBC Teachers’ Union state president Gurmel Singh Chandar alleged that administration was treating employees like slaves. Referring to information received through employees he said vehicles which carried employees were spoiled with sand, silt and other materials and some employees also fell sick because of this.

Mr Sikander Singh Jartoli, a GTU leader, said the government was treating machines in a better way than the employees. He said care had been taken to save the EVMs during previous election and Sumos and mini buses had been engaged to transport these machines while school teachers were made to travel in trucks and tempos.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, state president Panjab State Subordinate Federation, on the other hand blamed government of attacking the democratic right of unions to protest. He said truck and tempos were the only means of transport easily available to unions. Besides using these vehicles at the time of election ruling parties generally use them to make their political rallies a grand success. He urged the government to amend the existing law and allow this transport with suitable measures.



Four marriages solemnised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 16
Four girls from poor families were married through the efforts of Shri Raghunath Sewa Dal at the Community Centre, Aggar Nagar, here today morning. The girls were married according to religious rituals. Each couple was gifted furniture, utensils, ornaments, dinner set, tea set, cookers and even a makeup kit.

Mr Shiv Narayan Gupta, general secretary of the organisation, says the dal has been organising the marriages of poor girls since many year. Applications are sought through advertisements and sarpanches are involved in the process. The applications are scrutinised, girl’s place is visited to verify the facts and the bride’s family is introduced to the bridegroom’s family. A date is finalised and all the couples are married on the same day.

Besides, the dal has started a tailoring school to train girls in the art of stitching clothes. Eighteen girls are currently getting free training and another 25 girls are on the waiting list.

The sewa dal also maintains a park in Aggar Nagar. Out of the 52 members of the dal, 22 executive members contribute Rs 11,000 towards the maintenance of the park. A Bhagwati Jagran is also organised by the club every year.



Martyr remembered
Our Correspondent

Khamano, June 16
Rich tributes were paid to Sepoy Avtar Singh of Shamshpur village, near Khamano. He was killed while fighting with militants in Jammu and Kashmir on June 6.

The village panchayat has decided to give a 10-marla plot to Ms Ranjit Kaur, widow of the martyr, and one-and-a-half kanal plot to construct children’s park in his memory.

Dr Harbans Lal, Forests Minister, appealed to the residents to look after the families of martyrs. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the park and Rs 1 lakh for the development of the village. He said Ms Ranjit Kaur would be appointed as clerk and the other benefits would be provided to the family. The Machhiawra block Congress president, Mr Surinder Kundra, announced Rs 50,000 for the park from the MP fund of Mr Gurcharn Singh Galib.

Among others who addressed the gathering were Mr Iman Singh Mann, Prof Nirmal Singh Maneli, Mr Harbans Singh Pandher, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Sudesh Agnihotri, Mr Babu Singh, Ms Malkit Kaur Dhillon and Mr Sukhbir Singh Pappi.



Work suspended
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, June 16
Due to fiscal crisis the work on the Khanna-Machhiwara road is lying suspended for the past many days. As many as 150 engineers and employees of RS Builders, the company assigned the job, are demanding the pending payment for 3 to 5 months and have gone on strike. The fate of this 26 km-long project costing Rs 24.51 crore has become uncertain, as a partner of the company parted with the company few months ago. The company has also demanded an extension period of 6 months, which is likely to be given by the State Government. Mr Mohinder Singh, MD of the company, admitted that the work had come to a halt due to non-clearance of some bills. 



Work on project begins
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 16
The work of Rs 2.35-lakh sewerage pipe-laying project was started here on Saturday. The councillor of ward No. 4, Mr Madan Lal Bagga, said 2,000 persons living at Netaji Nagar in the Saleem Tabri area would be benefited from this project. Among others who present on the occasion were the XEN, Mr Narain Dass, the SDO, Mr Pardeep, and Congress workers, including Mr Sunil Datt and Mr Bhupinder Singh.



Two cops arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 16
The Jagraon police today arrested a Head Constable and a constable who belonged to a five-member gang of robbers accused of looting a liquor vend near Bassian village in May.

SSP, Jagraon, M.S. Cheena said Head Constable Bhagwan Singh and constable Jaskaran Singh were arrested from a police check post in Mullanpur. The police has seized a .12 bore rifle and 10 cartridges from their possession.


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