Wednesday, June 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


No flood control measures for them
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
Even as the district administration claims to have launched its flood control campaign in the city on a war footing, it is yet to do anything for hundreds of residents of New Ashok Nagar here who face floods every year due to overflowing of the Budda Nullah, besides falling prey to countless water-borne diseases.

The area falling in Ward 5 gets its drinking water supply from a tubewell located right amidst a pool that gets flooded due to overflowing of the Budda Nullah during every monsoon. Moreover, some residents throw their sewage in the pond throughout the year. The condition spells doom for the residents who face an epidemic-like situation every year and register the maximum number of cholera cases in the city.

Even after a few showers of rain that had lashed the region recently, the pond in the colony that is actually a space earmarked for a public park, is filled with water and is a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes and other carriers of diseases. A notorious weed, water hyacinth also grows here in plenty.

The residents told Ludhiana Tribune that they had made numerous requests to the departments concerned, but they fell on the deaf ears of the authorities. This time they have decided to complain to the Deputy Commissioner to take notice of the problem.

Mr B.R. Baweja, a resident and president of the Residents Welfare Society of the area, said that the mosquitoes spread malaria in the colony and many water-borne diseases spread their tentacles every year. He said that even the councillor of the area is disposing her dirty water into the pond. “Despite our repeated requests to her, she has not listened to us. We have even requested her to do something about the menace but nothing has happened,” he said.

Mr Baweja further said that there was an epidemic of cholera in the colony in 1997 and many fell victims to it. “Even then the authorities did not bother about it. We had requested the successive civil surgeons and municipal commissioners but nothing has changed for the better. Now we fear that our underground water has also got contaminated as the tubewell is installed near the pond of dirty water.”

Mr Dinesh Bhatia, another resident and Congress leader said that the area, which has taken the form of a pond, was a panchayat land and was donated for a public park. “Instead of making a park in the colony they have made it a pond of water. Many residents are already suffering from gastroenteritis and cholera. When the monsoons would arrive, the fate of the residents can be guessed.”



2 labourers crushed under a wall
Tribune News Service

Debris of the collapsed wall and the bodies of two labourers
Debris of the collapsed wall and the bodies of two labourers, who were buried under the wall, covered with the blue cloth lying in the background, in Ludhiana on Tuesday. — Photo Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, June 25
In a freak incident, two labourers died after being crushed under the debris of a wall near Bahadur ke village early this morning. The wall fell on the victims when a truck, loaded with paddy husk, hit the wall while moving back. The labourers were answering nature’s call by the side of the wall.

There was no time to shift the labourers to a hospital as they died on the spot. Their bodies were retrieved from the debris by other labourers. The two victims have been identified as Sarwan Kumar (22) and Teetar Kumar (27).

The labourers had, incidentally, come in the same truck, which allegedly caused their death. The truck had brought paddy husk for a dyeing mill. Apart from the two deceased one other labourer had come with the truck to download the paddy husk. He escaped without any injury as he was standing at a distance from the wall.

The Salem Tabri police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304 IPC against the truck driver. The third labourer Narain Pandit told the police and mediapersons that the paddy husk was supposed to be down loaded in a vacant plot opposite Adinath Dyeing Mills. The wall covered one side of the plot.

The labourers had got down from the truck outside the plot. They had gone to answer nature’s call behind the wall while the driver was moving the vehicle backwards to bring it near the wall for convenient downloading of the paddy husk into the plot. The driver allegedly could not anticipate the nearness of the wall and rammed straight into it. The bricks and other debris fell directly over the unsuspecting labourers.

The accused driver Sukhdev Singh, however, denied that the accident had been caused due to his mistake. Talking to mediapersons at the accident site, he said his truck had not hit the wall. He claimed the wall had fallen on its own as it was weak.

Sources in the locality said there was controversy over the plot also as it was reportedly not constructed, according to specifications, for storing purposes of paddy husk.



Cops fail to break LeT ultra’s silence
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
The intelligence agencies are a harried lot since the arrested Lashkar-e- Toiba terrorist, Abdul, is proving a hard nut to crack and has allegedly threatened his interrogators. The agencies have been unable to elicit information from him about the whereabouts of his three accomplices and harbourers besides a huge cache of arms stashed somewhere in Himachal Pradesh.

Despite efforts by the Ludhiana, and the Khanna police and the MI, Abdul, kingpin of a floating unit of the ISI-trained terrorist outfit, has not told about his contacts and the nature of his mission in the region. Some vital documents, besides half a kg of RDX and a pistol were seized from him.

The police has been unable to trace his three absconding accomplices, Kamalu Din, Iqbal and Rashid, along with the arms. The publicity following his arrest, most probably, had tipped off his harbourers who had since gone underground as the raids carried out at Anandpur Sahib drew a blank.

According to sources, Abdul had frequently changed his statements during interrogation. But one unchanged statement was that they met at Pathankot and Anandpur Sahib for discussing about various operations. He had also allegedly challenged his interrogators to take him along for the recovery of the arms but at the cost of their lives.

Abdul had reportedly revealed that his group was planning to ‘strike in a big way’ in this area and for this purpose he had received a huge cache of ammunition and explosive material from Jammu and Kashmir. To ferry the material, he and his accomplices had kidnapped a truck driver and the arms were shipped out of Jammu and Kashmir and had been stashed somewhere in Himachal Pradesh.

A die-hard jehadi, this 40-year-old reportedly claims to have been trained by the very best in the ISI and claimed to ‘live off the ground’ for sustained periods of time. It meant that he and others had been trained to be self sufficient in every way and because of this training, could easily mingle in the local population and therefore be hard to detect.

Another factor working for them was that they moved about in small groups in public utility services like the buses, trains and even trucks making them hard to track down.

The sources said that in the past, they had stuck to their own brethren and it was easy to keep a watch on the movements of outsiders in a particular area. But now the ISI had changed tracks and had directed them to assimilate with the local populace. They had been able to hoodwink the police since they were sporting beards and speaking in Punjabi.

This was a wise move and was borne by the fact that one the alias of their members was Joginder Singh Hoshiarpuri and who had lived among the people in this district without anyone being wiser about his real identity. In the case of the Doraha bomb blast, the accused had learnt to speak in a Bihari dialect and mingled with the floating migrant population again without arousing anyone’s suspicions, the sources pointed out.

This development also pointed out to the presence of ‘sleeper’ groups in the state which were activated from time to time for certain operations and allowed to slip back into their aliases cultivated over the years. With the availability of explosives just a day’s journey away, these groups - with the familiarity of the target and terrain - could strike easily and fade away with equal ease while the police follows a cold trail, the sources added.



Kila Raipur girl tops in matric exams
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, June 25
Sandeep Kaur, a student of Nankana Sahib Public School, Kila Raipur, has stood first in the Ludhiana district in X Tenth examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board this year.

Sandeep has secured 92.76 per cent marks and has stood third at the state-level. On the second position is Harpreet Kaur from Guru Nanak International Public School, BRS Nagar, with 90.61 per cent marks, who stands 13th in Punjab. Richa Gaur from Everest Public Senior Secondary School is third among Ludhiana students and has stood 14th in the state with 90.46 per cent marks.

Standing next are Ajay Arora from Saraswati Modern School with 90.30 per cent marks and Vishal Kapoor from Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Public High School with 90.15 per cent marks. Sixth position has been shared by Kitty Pahwa from Atam Public Senior Secondary School and Mamta Rani from Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Public High School, both with 89.38 per cent.

Similarly, seventh position is shared by Silky Jain from Bharatiya Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Udham Singh Nagar, and Preeti Sharma from Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Public High School, both obtaining 89.23 per cent marks. Sukhdeep Singh from New Punjab Senior Secondary School, Humbran, has obtained 88.92 per cent marks.

The ninth position is shared by four students — Sonika from Atam Public Senior Secondary School, Jatinder Kumar from Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School, Gurvir Singh from Shri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Doraha, and Manjit Kaur from Dashmesh Public High School — all with 88.76 per cent marks. Other students who have their names among the top 30 students from the state include Lipsy Rani from Shakti Public Senior Secondary School, Machhiwara, Devinder Kaur from Saraswati Model High School, Doraha, and Chetna Jethi from Saraswati Modern School, all with 88.46 per cent marks.

Sandeep claims that she never took any private tuitions and reached her goal by sheer hard work. She said that she aimed to become a doctor like her elder brother. Harpreet Kaur, the second position holder, who belongs to Barewal village, said when this morning she read her name in newspapers, she was totally amazed. Later, she said, she received a call from the Principal of her school congratulating her which excited her even more.

Ajay Arora said he wanted to become an IT engineer. He said he had never expected more than 90 per cent marks. Since his school did not provide senior secondary education, his immediate target was to get admission in non-medical group in one of the reputed schools of the city which would help him achieve his target, he said. Vishal Kapoor, son of businessman said he wanted to become an engineer. He said that he came to know about his result when his Principal gave him a call late last evening.



‘Illegal’ toll tax at Sutlej bridge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
A major confrontation was averted today at the Sutlej bridge on the Jalandhar road when some transporters resisted attempts by the toll tax collectors to charge extra money. The staff of the contractor reportedly fled when several transporters reached there.

One of the transporters alleged that instead of Rs 15 per vehicle, the toll tax staff were collecting Rs 150 per vehicle and claiming that these were the revised rates. When some transporters resisted it, the toll staff allegedly manhandled some of them.

Today several transporters went to the toll post there. Feeling threatened, the toll staff reportedly left the toll post empty and fled. The transporters are demanding action against the contractor for collecting illegal extra toll tax from the vehicle owners.




The newly elected Mayor of Ludhiana, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, senior Deputy Mayor Mr Prem Mittal and Deputy Mayor Mrs Sushil Gupta, came to the Municipal Corporation office on Tuesday. Scores of Congressmen had gathered there to receive the new team. However, in a race of one-upmanship that is a permanent feature of all the political parties, more so of the Congress, the supporters of Mr Mittal had raised a banner at the entrance of the MC office. (see picture) There was no mention of the Mayor, Mr Gill, or the Deputy Mayor, Mrs Gupta. Not just that, it was witnessed at the moment the three arrived. It was Mr Mittal who arrived first at the MC office. All the workers rushed to lead him to his office. Mr Gill came immediately the next. There was hardly anyone left to receive him at the gate since all the workers had gone behind Mr Mittal. Mr Gill finding himself alone looked around and waited for some time till the workers returned to receive him also, much to his delight and relief.

Urdu in English

Urdu is such a beautiful language that everyone falls in love with it at the very first sight and it has probably been best summed up in a couplet hai yar mera khshboo ki tarah, us ke zuban urdu ki tarah. Notwithstanding its beauty and attraction Urdu continues to be ignored and relegated for various reasons. However, there is a silver lining as lovers and admirers of Urdu have taken upon themselves the task to keep it alive. And these people have started a literary journal Urdu Alive in English. It was necessary to bring it out in Urdu to cater to a widespread readership interested in Urdu. However, surprisingly a programme organised in connection with the release of the summer issue of the journal was compered in English and the digression was rightly pointed out by the audience.

Industrial pollution

Charity should begin at home but the district administration does not believe in this adage. A couple of days ago the top brass went to town on the measures being taken to curb pollution by three-wheelers in the city. A laudatory measure, indeed, but what the authorities probably overlooked was that a major part of the menace is due to the hundreds of polluting industries in the city. Since locking horns with the deeply entrenched entrepreneur lobby was not a “wise “ step, the autorickshaws were a good option since they were not only highly visible but a soft target. ‘Check ‘them and book them and earn some brownie points with the people’ seemed to have been the motto behind the drive. But the question is, will these well-meaning but cosmetic measures really make Ludhiana — one of the most highly polluted cites — pollution free?

No shreeman ji

The polite ‘Shreeman ji policy’ of the district police does not seem have reached the lowest rung level. This is what can be deduced from the behaviour of some constables posted at the police lines. A team of journalists had gone to attend a function but was stopped at an entrance gate by a Home Guard constable. The constable asked the purpose and was politely told. However, he suddenly become rude and said ‘‘ Tun gaddi passe laga, piche saab aa rahe han,’’ but no officer was coming in. The constable did not ever mentioned the word shreeman ji. When he was reminded about the polite address system, he said: No shreeman ji wam ji for me..

Milk of kindness

Milk of human kindness flowed strongly in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar last week. A mongrel bitch had given birth to four pups in a park. The mother was not keeping good health and same was the condition of the pups. Humanity stepped in. First, the residents living around the parks started giving milk and food to the animals and kept a large bowl near the dogs .Then to cap it all milkmen passing near the park made it a habit to pour some milk in the bowl. The efforts bore fruit when after few days the pups started running around and the mother also managed to arrange food for them on her own.

Rat menace

The police lines in the city is facing a strange problem these days. Trained to catch criminals, the cops living in the barracks in the lines are busy catching rats. The result is not encouraging so far as the population of the rodents is on the rise. They are infact becoming daring also and not bothered about the heavy police presence. One such chivalrous rodent even reportedly bit at the face of a cop causing a serious injury. One hopes there is some special campaign to catch the rats.

Police meetings

An overdose of everything is bad, it is said. This seems to be exactly the case regarding the organisation of a large number of police meetings in the department. The number of meetings has grown so much that most of the time when a cop is accessed on his mobile phone, he just replies, ‘‘ meeting witch han, pher karioy’’. In fact the meetings are being convened by different police officers. First, a topmost official holds a meeting , then to the next and so on till it reached the chowki level. While the result is welcome if it reduces the crime rate but if public has to wait for long, then the policy is questionable.


If Colonel Lakshmi Sehgal of the Rani Laxmi Bai segment of the INA is elected the President of India, she would provide a good food for thought to the entire nation. It would be whether she should be addressed as the Rashtarpati or not!




MC refuses to be cowed down by telecom giants
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 25
Refusing to be cowed down by the clout of telecom giants, including Reliance, Bharti Telecom and HFCL, the Municipal Corporation has imposed harsh penalties and has tightened the noose of bank guarantee clause against permission for road cutting in the city to lay optical fibre cable (OFC) for basic telecom services.

Information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that after the Reliance group company, M/s Punjab Cyber Net Private Limited which was earlier granted permission for road cutting for a total length of 30.83 km, in different areas during the period July 2001 to March 2002, failed to restore the dug-up roads back to their original position, the civic administration decided to get tough. Under the then prevailing terms and conditions, the company had deposited an amount of Rs 7.54 lakh as bank guarantee against repair and restoration of roads to their original condition.

However, a status report prepared by senior officials of the engineering branch of the MC termed the repair and restoration work along many roads as incomplete or unsatisfactory. As a result, the MC ruled against giving any further permission to the telecom companies for further road cutting for laying OFC.

The report, submitted by the MC to the state government had pointed out that the company was granted permission for road cutting to lay OFC on the explicit condition that subsequent repairs would be done within 15 days. “Whereas the company has already carried out the work for cable laying, no interest has been shown by it to repair the roads.Whatsoever repair has been done is quite unsatisfactory,” it had stated.

Charging the Reliance Group company of shoddy work, the report further stated that the company, while taking up the repair work, had put a two-inch layer of bitumen mixed crusher instead of three-inch required on the GT Road, that too, without proper compaction of stone metal. A rin-6 inch layer was layed in place of required eight inches. Similarly, while making manholes, no care was taken to restore the existing camber of the road, which was rather reversed by constructing inspection manhole at higher level at many places.

When contacted the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, said in the face of representations made by the companies and sensing the increasing demand for telecom facilities, which would be available to city population once the OFCs were in place, the civic body had relented and the Reliance group company was granted permission for further road cutting in various localities in Zone A against a bank guarantee of Rs 46.68 lakh. The amount of bank guarantee was calculated on standard rates, applicable to DoT and other government departments and was sufficient to cover the cost of repair and restoration of the damaged road as per the specifications of the MC.

The roads where the company was permitted to undertake digging to lay OFC were in old city area of Sunder Nagar to Budha Nullah, Charan Hosiery to Islamia School, Division No 3 to Chaura Bazar. In addition, the company was further asked to deposit a sum of Rs 10.78 lakh to cover the repair and restoration work of various road cuts in Zone A and Zone B earlier dug up by the company as there were not properly repaired.

Adopting the same policy towards other major players in the field, the civic administration had allowed Bharti Telecom to cut road from Domoria Bridge to Jalandhar bypass against a deposit of around Rs 15 lakh. The repair and restoration of the dug-up sections of the road by the MC staff was almost following the digging up process and the stretch of road from Domoria Bridge to Arya School Road was already in the process of restoration with earth filling already completed.

Mr Sharma made it clear that the civic administration was aware of the inconvenience caused to the public by digging up of roads, but at the same time, the work for infrastructural development had also to be carried out. He observed that with the full cost of proper repair and restoration being deposited by the telecom firms, henceforth would be no delay in restoration of the affected roads back to their original position because any laxity shown by the companies would lead to encashment of the bank guarantee and repair of the road by the MC at its own.



DC, lawyers on collision course
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
The dye seems to have been cast for a confrontation between the district administration and the city advocates supported by some Congress councillors following an unsavoury incident involving a local lawyer and the Deputy Commissioner in the latter’s office today.

While on the complaint of Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, the Division No 5 police has lodged a complaint under Sections 353 and 186, IPC, for allegedly obstructing a public servant in the official discharge of his duty assaulting or using criminal force to deter a public servant from doing his duty, the accused lawyer B.K. Rampal alleged that the DC misbehaved with him, confined him illegally and implicated him in a false case.

The District Bar Association has also condemned the incident and called an urgent meeting to decide their future course of action. A number of Congress leaders and lawyers have also decided to file a suit in a district court seeking damages for the alleged misbehaviour with the lawyer.

The incident took place at about 11:30 a.m. when Mr Rampal had gone to the DC’s office to get his signatures on papers related to a petition of two Congress councillors, who were challenging their defeat in the recent MC elections.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune outside the Division No 5 police station after he was released on bail bond submitted by Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor of the local Municipal Corporation. He said he had sent a request through a peon of the DC office for a meeting. The peon told him to wait as the Deputy Commissioner was busy in a meeting. He said later, the peon told him that he can go in.

However, when he met the Deputy Commissioner, he was told to wait outside. Mr Rampal said Mr Aggarwal started shouting at him without any provocation and told him to get out in a very rude manner. He said when he ‘politely’ requested him to sign the papers, the Deputy Commissioner called his gunmen and told them to take him away and keep him in their custody.

After about two hours, a team of Division No 5 police came and took him to the police station. Meanwhile, the news spread and a number of lawyers including Rana Surat Singh, vice-president, District Bar Association and senior Congress leaders and councillors came to his rescue and got him released on bail.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, however, denied all these allegations. He said he was in the midst of a meeting when the laywer barged into his office and demanded to be heard first. He told Ludhiana Tribune that he and other officers including the ADC, Mr A.K. Sinha, talked very politely to him. He said the officers even tried to convince him to wait for two minutes but the lawyer allegedly continued with his provocation and dared him to take action.

Mr Aggarwal said his duties were obstructed and thus he had to lodge a complaint with the police.



Mayor assumes office
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 25
The new Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, has assured the residents that the civic body will strive hard for the overall development of this industrial hub of the state and promised to bring about qualitative improvement in basic amenities to all sections of the people without any discrimination whatsoever.

Mr Gill, who formally assumed office today along with his deputies Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor and Ms Sushil Gupta, Deputy Mayor, was accorded a rousing reception on his arrival to the office in the MC headquarters this morning. Besides Congress legislator Surinder Dawar, Ramesh Joshi, convener, Urban Development Cell of PPCC and Mr Rajinder Singh Basant, chairman, Trade and Industry Cell of PPCC, other party councillors were present on the occasion.

In a brief interview with Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Gill said he was fully aware of the diverse needs and problems of the city population with regard to basic amenities like water supply, sewerage, roads, streetlights and parks. “While extending coverage of water supply and sewerage in the city were concerned, projects were already in hand for the expansion of these services, which would be completed in due course. However, we shall try our best to make optimum use of available resources and to maintain the civic services in a proper manner.”

According to Mr Gill, the long term planning for civic services would be entirely need based and development projects for outer wards (most of them undeveloped or under developed) would be accorded top priority both in allocation of funds and execution of development projects. “Our endeavour will be to make available all services at par to all sections of society, be they residents of posh localities or slum areas.”

The Mayor sought cooperation of the MC employees and officials for toning up the civic administration and to provide a clean and transparent civic governance to the people. In a note of warning, he made it explicitly clear that dereliction of duty and corruption would not be tolerated and the guilty would be dealt with sternly.



Left parties’ convention on July 6
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
The Left parties would hold a state-level joint convention next month to focus on the ‘anti-people Budget’ announced by the Punjab Government. This was decided at a meeting of state leaders of Left parties, including the MCPI, the CPI-ML (Liberation), the CPM (Pasla Group) and the Forward Block here on today. The convention would be held at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall in Jalandhar on July 6.

‘‘We will focus attention on the anti-people policies announced by the state government through its Budgetary proposals in Punjab Assembly’’, Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, Mr Prem Singh Bhangoo and Mr Kuldip Singh from the MCPI, Mr Anil Mishra, Mr Jaspal Khokhar and Mr Ramesh Sharma from the CPI-ML (Liberation), Mr B.P. Sainy, from the Forward Block and Mr Mangat Ram Pasla and Mr Tarsem Jodhan from the CPM (Pasla), said in a joint statement issued here today.

The meeting expressed concern over the anti-people, especially anti-kisan and anti-employees’ proposals in the Budget for 2002-2003 . It had proposed to increase sales tax on diesel to 2 per cent, on fertiliser from nil to 4per cent at present besides Re 1 as cess per litre on petrol, thus putting an additional burden of Rs 700 crore apart from abolishing free power supply to tubewells and proposal for sharp increase in electricity charges for all types of consumers.

Many public sector undertakings, including the Punjab Roadways and the PRTC, were proposed to be abolished or privatised thus future of more than one lakh workers was being put at stake. Freezing DA of employees for one year from July 2002 was also criticised.

Further more it had decided to discontinue recruitment of employees against vacant posts. Thousands of posts in the Education and Health Departments, were lying vacant. Under the name of austerity, disinvestment and downsizing, the Congress government was on the path of retrenching lower and middle class employees, which would increase unemployment in the state.

Through another resolution, the meeting expressed concern over the apathetic attitude of the Punjab Government regarding the criminal attack by followers of Mr Harkrishan Singh Surjit on Bhai Rattan Singh Yadgar Trust, Jalandhar, state office of the CPM (Pasla), who had taken forcible possession of building, looting the cash and other valuable records of the party in collaboration with the local police at the Congress government’s behest. The meeting expressed sympathy with the victims of this brutal attack and resolved to extend support to the CPM (Pasla) fighting for the restoration of justice. 



Addicts taking to pharma drugs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
Drug-taking youngsters in Punjab have taken to pharmaceutical drugs more readily than the psychotropic substances due to the easy availability of these drugs, according to a recent-conducted study on the drug addicts of the state. The average age of addicts is on the decline with younger people experimenting with drugs, especially in the central region of the state. Prescription drugs are becoming popular as these are not only cost-effective, but easily available and legally safe to store, sell and consume.

This was revealed in a case study of 192 drug addicts carried out to know the trends of drug abuse in Central Punjab. The addicts were registered for treatment at Aas Kiran De-addiction Centre, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, in the city during last year. The study was undertaken by Prof Sarabjeet Singh, Director, Social and Health Services and Miss Paramjeet Kaur, Senior Research Fellow at Aas Kiran.

The study said that the menace of drug abuse was more prevalent among youngsters. About three fourth of the respondents belonged to the age group of 15-35 years. Age of first encounter with drugs was also going down. As many as six respondents had tried drugs before the age of 15 while 52 (27.08 per cent) started experimenting with drugs during 16 to 20 years while 71 (36.17 per cent) were hooked to this deadly habit during 21-25 years of age. Thus more than half of the respondents were trapped in this disease before 25 years of age.

Drug addiction was no longer limited to illiterate or semi-literate persons. The study concluded that persons of varying educational background and different professions were taking to drugs. Drug abuse prevention must become a part of educational curriculum.

Married persons were also prone to drug abuse due to domestic, sexual anxieties etc. Among the most prevalent causes of addiction among the youth were peer pressure or peer acceptance, and curiosity. While those who started taking drugs at a later stage felt an intense urge to relieve themselves from their miseries, loneliness, tensions, stress etc. Many daily wage workers were hooked to drugs in order to work for longer hours. Many addicts, rather, claimed they had minted money by working 18 to 20 hours day by consuming bhukki or popping a pill.

No particular drug seemed popular in this part of the state since an overwhelming number of respondent were taking multiple drugs. Alcohol and tobacco were two gateway drugs.

Those who initiated with these gateway drugs slowly graduated to opium or prescription drugs. Studies revealed that out of every 10 alcohol users, two become alcoholics and equal number fell prey to multiple drugs. Similarly, in the gutkha (tobacco product) users category, majority graduated to narcotics and other drugs. Surprisingly, prescription drugs were becoming more popular with addicts than the illegal drugs since these were cost effective and easily available. Also there was little difficulty in disposing off the wrappers or packing and also nobody could judge from one’s smell or body language.

A significant trend had been observed in the motivation pattern of addicts who came from treatment. Many addicts were motivated by the sobriety of former addicts, who got treatment from this centre and were now leading a healthy life. Also in many cases youth came forward to get their helpers treated for drug addiction. When a father and son duo entered the centre, staff members thought the father had brought his son for the treatment but, it was, the reverse. It was rather an encouraging trend where children of addicts were becoming responsible. Many youngsters on their own were visiting the centre for enquiring about the treatment plans for their fathers, elder brothers or other senior relatives.



Colonisers' panel seek amendment to property Act
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
The Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association has demanded amendment to the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995. The association says in the present form the Act has led only to the harassment of colonisers to the extent that criminal cases were registered against several colonisers.

Addressing a press conference here, the president of the association, Mr Kultar Singh Jogi, blamed the previous government for imposing exorbitant charges on private colonisers which led to skyrocketing of the land prices. He said that each coloniser had to pay a hefty sum of over Rs 7 lakh per acre for developing a new colony.

Mr Jogi further said the association had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, reminding him of his promise made in the Congress election manifesto that the interests of the private colonisers would be kept in mind.

Among other things the memorandum sought relaxation in rules regarding development of private colonies. It asserted that the colonisers had to face red tape and several bottlenecks, which ultimately resulted in the unnecessary litigation and harassment to the colonisers as well as common people.

The association president pointed out that with the implementation of the property Act, 1995, by the previous government, even those private colonies which had been existing for the past more than 20 years and were getting all civic amenities, were declared illegal. This only resulted in undue harassment to the people living in these colonies.

Arguing the case for private colonisers, the association maintained that the government agencies like the PUDA and the Improvement Trusts were not able to meet the phenomenal demands of housing and it was because of the role of private colonisers that there was no major housing problem in the state. He observed that the government should appreciate their role and cooperate with them and not harass them.

Among other demands, the association urged the government to stop the practice of providing licence of estate agents by the PUDA to private colonisers and property dealers. It suggested that the housing and urban development rules should be rationalised to encourage private colonisers. He pointed out if there were more colonisers there would be competition and ultimately the common people would benefit. 



Pen-down strike by bank staff
Our Correspondent

Samrala, June 25
On a call given by the Punjab State Land Mortgage Bank Employees Union, all the employees of the Samrala Primary Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank observed pen-down strike here today and wore black badges.

According to the vice-president of the union, Mr Romesh Chander and Mr Karnail Singh, Samrala unit president, similar reports of the pen-down strike had been received from all over Punjab.

Mr Romesh Chander also said that on June 27 all the branches of the Punjab Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank will observe Punjab bandh and will participate in a dharna in front of the office of the Registrar, Cooperative societies, Punjab, at Chandigarh and will also hold a rally in support of their demands.



Train bomb was planted at Ludhiana: SSP
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 25
The bomb that caused an explosion in the Dhanbad Kisan Express at Doraha was manufactured in Kashmir and was planted in the train at Ludhiana, the SSP of Khanna, Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, stated while addressing media persons at a press conference held in his office here yesterday.

He said the real name of Abdul Shakil is Mohammad Iqbali. He and three other gang members, Zamaluddin, alias Joginder, Mohammad Rashid and Iqbal Mohammad, met at Sarna town as per a plan on March 13.

The SSP said the bomb was prepared using a mixture of a small quantity of RDX and diesel. The bomb could have caused more damage had it contained more quantity of RDX, he said.



Rs 5 lakh stolen from trader’s car
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 25
Mr Mandeep Singh Grewal, a Chandigarh-based trader, was deprived of Rs 5 lakh, which he had withdrawn from a branch of the Bank of Punjab here yesterday afternoon, by unidentified person(s) who broke open the lock of his car parked outside a hotel and decamped with the bag containing the money.

According to the trader, he spent nearly two hours in the hotel after withdrawing money and when he came out, he found that the car had been burgled and the bag containing the cash had been stolen. The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Section 380 of the IPC.

Eve-teasers held: The Division No. 2 police nabbed Davinder Singh, a resident of Islam Ganj, while he was allegedly teasing girls in the Mini Rose Garden in Kitchlu Nagar on Monday morning. According to information, it was about 7 am when the accused started teasing some girls in the garden. The girls called a mobile PCR team, which took the youth into custody and booked him under Section 293 of the IPC.

In another incident, the Shimla Puri police, on Monday, registered a case under Sections 294 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Ms Paramjit Kaur, a resident of Bulara village, against Mehnga Singh, a resident of the same village. The complainant had alleged that the accused used to tease and threaten her on phone. No arrest has been made so far.

Held for poisoning cattle: The Haibowal police, on Monday, arrested one person on the charge of poisoning cattle while his accomplice managed to flee. The accused has been booked under Section 429 of the IPC.

Mr Joga Singh, a resident of Tarsem Colony on the Jassian road, had complained to the police that Bihari migrants, Subhash and Ramesh, who were in his employment, had administered poison to his cows and buffaloes as a result of which one cow died on the spot and five cows and six buffaloes fell unconscious. While Subhash was arrested, his crony ran away from the spot.

Theft cases: The Sarabha Nagar police, on Monday, registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Harnek Singh, a resident of Sugandh Vihar on the Pakhowal road, against unidentified person(s) who stole his Maruti car (Pb-10AA-5719) from in front of Sutlej Hospital canteen on Saturday afternoon.

The Haibowal police, on Monday, registered a case under Section 380 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Hargobind Lal, a resident of Haqiqat Nagar in Haibowal Kalan, against Mahavir, a resident of Gopal Nagar mohalla. The complainant had alleged that the accused, who worked at his sweetshop, had stolen some goods from the shop. No arrest has been made so far.

The Division No 4 police, on Monday, registered a case under Sections 356 and 511 of the IPC on the statement of Ms Sudesh Rani, a resident of Killa Mohalla, against Anil, a resident of the same locality. The complainant had alleged that while she, along with other members of her family, was sleeping on the roof of their house, the accused tried to remove her earring at which she woke up and raised an alarm. The accused ran away from the spot. No arrest has been made so far.



Industry sore over toll tax
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 25
Various trade, industrial and transport associations have strongly opposed the imposition of toll tax on the national highway. These associations said that the toll tax was too exorbitant and would spell doom for the already suffering industry.

Mr Joginder Kumar, Mr O P Jindal, Mr Vinod Dhall, Ubhi, Mr Jaswant Singh Birdi, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India, president and general secretary, Focal Point Association, president and general secretary, Ludhiana Focal Point Phase IV-A association, vice-president and secretary of the Ludhiana Electroplaters Association and general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturing Association, in a joint statement, decried the imposition of hefty toll tax at Doraha (Rs 45)Shambhu (Rs 30) and Karnal (Rs 30) by the National Highway Authority unilaterally to the maintain highway.

Mr Joginder Kumar pointed out that AFCON had laid the National Highway from Khanna to Jalandhar which was a classic example of neglect as number of years had passed and no repair had been carried out.

He pointed out that the Government of India had already imposed infrastructure levy on petrol. There was no justification for the collection of toll tax. If collection of toll tax at two places in Punjab was not justified. There was a great resentment in trade and industry circles over this unjustified toll tax.

The collection of toll tax for the maintenance of the National Highways was not the solution. The Government of India should provide the state government the infrastructure fund collected on petrol. The National Highway authority must ensure that the National Highways were laid with proper material.

Mr Fateh Singh Libra of the Libra Bus Service said that the toll tax would spell doom for the transport industry which was already reeling under severe crisis. He pointed out that the buses and trucks were already paying a token tax of Rs 94 per day. Now there would be the additional burden on these buses.


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