Friday, July 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dejected farmers begin ploughing fields
No lush green cover in sight
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Aandloo (Ludhiana), July 18
Untouched by the mild showers that lashed the region today, farmers of the Pakhowal-Raikot belt in the district continue to be resigned to their fate. The lush green cover that one witnesses in the countryside this time of the year is fast turning brown as the crops wilt for want of water.

After a long wait, residents of the district were jubiliated as the dark clouds hovered over. Their joy was shortlived as the rainfall was not only scanty but favoured isolated tracts in the region and eluded the place where it was required the most. This is the scene in scores of villages in this belt where a number of dejected farmers have already ploughed several acres of land or are thinking of initiating the process.

Sick of the insufficient and erratic power supply and the elusive monsoon, the farmers of the district have taken this extreme step as the crop has wilted due to lack of proper irrigation. Parched land and dried crop is what can be seen in the rural areas.

Left with no hope from the weather gods and the Punjab State Electricity Board, the disillusioned farmers of this village alone have ploughed at least 25 acres of paddy fields. The villagers’ move is all set to be emulated by several other farmers in the district as the latest weather forecast claim that the rain would remain elusive for another week.

“We have fallen under debt. If we will persist with the crop, the debt will increase. The crop will not survive and even if it does, the yield will fall drastically. We have no option but to plough the fields,” says Mr Inderjit Singh, a farmer while summing up the entire problem.

A former sarpanch of Aandloo village, Mr Inderjit Singh said he has ploughed his 20 acres under paddy after his crops suffered severe damages due to the shortage of irrigation water. “This crop would not have yielded anything. The water level has fallen to a considerable low and many tubewells have become non-functional. We are left with no other alternative but to plough our crop,” he said.

He said last year five drums of diesel were used to water the fields and this time over 20 drums have been used for the same area. The cost has risen so high that we will only suffer losses.

Similar tale of vows was narrated by Mr Amrik Singh, a farmer of Dhalian village. He said that he had sown paddy on 15 acres of land. The condition of his crop has become so bad that he is also thinking of ploughing his crop. “I will wait for two more days. If there are rains then its okay, otherwise I will sow some other crop.”

Not only the paddy but the green fodder for the livestock is also facing acute threat of drying in the heat wave. Mr Bachan Singh of Dango village told The Tribune that the delayed monsoon had affected even the fodder crop. “We fear that if the rains don’t come soon the cattle will starve as there won’t be any fodder.”

The farmers said once the land was parched, water will not stand in the fields and thus the crops were doomed to be lost. The Tribune team saw that a large stretch of land was wearing a parched look. Acute dry spell is prevailing in the region and all eyes were turned towards the sky.



PTU restrained from holding fresh admissions
Naveen S. Grewal and Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, July 18
The state government has thrown a spanner in the wheel of the much-hyped admission to various distance education courses of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) by restraining the university from holding any fresh admission. Interestingly, no reason has been assigned for the move, leaving the university authorities in the dark. The university was caught unaware of the government’s move and no one at the university or the technical education directorate is aware of the reason for this ban on admission.

Technical Education Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee when contacted at Jalandhar said that he was unaware of this “ban on admissions”. The minister, in fact, said: “I too have been told that an advertisement stopping admission to the courses of distance education has appeared in some newspapers, but I am not a party to any such decision”.

Most newspapers have carried large advertisements as recently as today that announces the starting of various new courses through distance education. One of the advertisement says “Anytime, anywhere affordable university education — A golden opportunity for students, professionals, housewives, government employees, businessmen, defence personnel and retired persons”. When contacted, Mr S.K. Bhatia, Registrar, PTU, said that Mrs. Romilla Dubey, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, had taken the decision and that he was unaware of the reasons for such a move.

Director of Technical Education Roshan Hunkaria when contacted said that only Mrs Dubey was in a position to make any comment on the government's decision to stop all new admissions.

However, despite repeated attempts, Mrs Dubey could not be contacted as she was said to be in a meeting till the time of filing this report. It may, however, be mentioned here that after the retirement of Dr H.S. Gurm, Mrs Dubey has been appointed the acting Vice Chancellor of PTU as a make shift arrangement.

There has been a question mark over the issue of recognition of these courses for the past some time, with the university claiming that all its courses are recognised not only by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), but also internationally accredited by the International University Accrediting Association of the USA and the Virtual University Accrediting Association of USA.

The recent move of the state government stopping admissions to courses starting from August 1, 2002 is also likely to have a fall out on the existing courses and thousands of students pursuing these courses at various study centers all over the country.

Besides, the fate of hundreds of students who have already applied and paid admission fee for an array of new graduate, postgraduate, diploma and certificate courses announced through distance education programme this month also hangs in balance.

The university had for the first time offered a dual degree option to all its students in several new streams, including bio-informatics, hospital management, operation theatre technology, clinical microbiology, medical laboratory technology, bio-technology, multimedia technologies, media, advertising and journalism, cookery and catering, hotel management and tourism, conference and event management, beauty technologies and cosmetology, fashion technology and interior designing. Scores of study centres that had been given approval for starting these courses have already made huge investments for setting up of laboratories and appointment of faculty for introducing these courses.

The “virtual online campus” set up in collaboration with a Jalandhar-based IT company which also falls in distance education programme is also likely to be shut down after this decision.

Under this project, the university had introduced several new graduate and postgraduate courses for students in India as well as abroad through its website,



Why were MC tenders worth Rs 30 lakh cancelled?
D.B. Chopra

Ahmedgarh, July 18
The fact that the local Municipal Council, the nagar palika, has become a den of corruption, again came to the fore on July 12 here when tenders worth about Rs 30 lakh were cancelled under intriguing circumstances.

According to sources, tenders for various development works, which were to be allotted on July 12 had to be cancelled following disagreement between contractors and officials over the latter’s insistence to allot a major chunk of the work to a particular contractor.

The sources further told Ludhiana Tribune that for the past four years, various contractors undertaking the nagar palika works, have been running a common pool to grab the works of their choice at lucrative rates. However, the cat came out of the bag this time with some contractors vehemently opposing the proposed allotment of a major and more profitable chunk of work to a contractor who is said to be favourite of the work-allotting officer, the SO. The disgruntled contractors alleged that the SO was himself a sleeping partner of the contractor he wanted to favour.

Town residents in general have been accusing the nagar palika officials of having exceeded all limits of corruption by hobnobbing with contractors and fleecing the exchequer. Mr Hira Lal Goyal, an advocate and an active Congress leader of the town, has been demanding a probe by the Vigilance Department into the various works scams of the nagar palika undertaken in the past six years.

He has written to the Chief Minister vide his registered letter dated March 25 to get a probe initiated against the president of the Municipal Council, Mr K.L. Badhan, and a former Executive Officer, Mr I.A. Khan and subsequently get a criminal case registered against them.

A resident of Ward No 2, Mr Goyal, at the very outset cites the case of a street in his locality where crushed stones had been laid for the purpose of making a metalled road about six years ago. But till date, the bitumen that was supposed to be laid on top of the layer of the stones has not been laid, he said, adding further that the locality suffered from the absence of streetlights and proper street drains.

Mr Goyal further drew the attention of the Chief Minister to the fact that while the nagar council had received crores of rupees during the past four years for developmental works, the condition of several roads of the town remained deplorable. These roads are the bus stand, Adda Raikot road, Bus stand-railway station road, the railway road, the road from Gurdwara Dukhnivaran to Jandali, the road connecting Gandhi Chowk with Bajrang akhara, the road from old tehsil complex to the Chand cinema, the stretch lying between the Janta College for Women and Gurdwara Ravi Dass Bhagat ji and the police station road, also known as the thana road. The condition of these roads was deteriorating in spite of the fact that the nagar council disburses cheques worth about Rs 15 lakh every month among the contractors.

The attention of the Chief Minister has also been drawn to the fact that a monthly expenditure of Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 was being incurred on about 1000 street light points in the town which was equal to the expenditure on about 3000 street light points in the nearby town of Malerkotla.

Mr Goyal deplored the fact that in spite of orders by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon to the then EO on September 13, 2001, that development works should be completed in Mr Goyal’s locality, nothing had been done so far except that some bitumen-laced crushed stones dug up from somewhere else in the town were laid again in the street during the election-days recently, while the street drains should have been constructed before undertaking the road work.

Mr Goyal further alleged that the nagar council had built two welcome gates on the Jandali road and the Pohir road at a cost of Rs 5 lakh while the actual cost of these gates did not exceed Rs 1.5 lakh. Similarly, public funds were also allegedly misappropriated in the construction of Ambedkar chowk where a statue of the dalit leader was also erected.



Detained employees’ plight shocks Johar 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18
Breaking his silence for the first time today, former minister and MLA from Ludhiana West, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, expressed shock and anguish over the plight of the detained employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC). Mr Johar visited these employees in the jail today where they narrated the tale of horror to him. He said they were being kept in most inhuman conditions inside the jail as if they were dreaded criminals.

Addressing a press conference after meeting the employees, Mr Johar said, "I am anguished over the harsh treatment meted out to these employees, including the women". He said the police had exhibited no respect for the female employees, who were also victimised. He said he was deeply upset over the turn of events and their tragic fallout.

Expressing his regrets and disappointment over the incidents of July 13, Mr Johar said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister. He demanded that the police should withdraw all cases registered against the employees and release all of them.

Expressing his displeasure over the role of the police, he observed, "It could have acted in a more responsible manner and could have exercised greater restraint and avoided injuries to so many employees and also to the police personnel". He expressed his sympathies with all those injured in the incident.

He said the matter was of great concern and urgent importance since one of the premier institutions of the region had been closed since July 13. He stated that he was exploring the legal options of the case so that all employees arrested by the police are released forthwith. He observed, "it would be in the best interest of everyone that the police withdraws the case and releases everyone unconditionally".

“In order to ensure permanent peace and settlement of the issue it is necessary that all sections involved are taken into confidence", he observed, while adding "there is a great resentment among the employees as they have been subjected to numerous atrocities and have been booked and jailed for no major offence".



DMCH faculty creates corpus fund
Shivani Bhakoo
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
The faculty of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital has created a corpus fund out of voluntary contributions of each member to help DMCH employees. This would help homeless, jailed employees with clothes, food and other items of daily use.

In a general body meeting at old DMC, the faculty deliberated over various measures to restore various aspects of the functioning of the hospital at the earliest, including issues of governance, the constitution of college council, teaching assignments etc. The basic idea was to revamp the system completely on democratic lines. The house unanimously resolved that the hospital was to run by the doctors for patients and students.

The general body said that it recognised the loss suffered by the patients and students as a result of closure of hospital. It impressed upon the authorities that if students were unable to attend classes for few more days, they were likely to loose precious time, potentially implying that the University may differ their examinations by six months or so.

The doctors appreciated the efforts of lawyers to provide all type of legal support to the employees.

The faculty noted with concern that the police was still raiding the homes of the employees and harassing them. Unless this stopped completely, the employees will never surface, added the doctors. The day to day working of DMCH cannot be resorted without the participation of employees. They said that it was imperative for the district administration to provide and ensure a safe climate that was conductive for them to live normally. The need of the hour was to ensure normalcy and win the confidence of the distraught employees and not to terrorize them.

Meanwhile, the Association of Teaching Staff, Lord Mahavira Homoeopathic Medical College in a special meeting condemned the merciless atrocities done by the administration against the staff who were there for service of humanity.

The Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Union has also condemned the management and administration for the brutal beating of DMCH employees. To protest against the violence, various organisations will organise a rally at Chatar Singh Park, Near BVus Stand on July 20, said Mr Tejinder Singh Sohi, secretary, PSEB Employees Federation.



New managing panel for DMCH
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
The ongoing tussle between the management and Employees Union of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) today took a new turn with the setting up of a new managing committee.

The resignation of Mr Prem Nath Gupta, secretary, Managing Society DMCH has been accepted by the management. The four new members appointed to the managing society of DMCH include Mr Balraj Kumar Verma, Mr G.C.Dhawan, Mr Amrit Nagpal, Mr Satish Kumar Sanwalka and Mr Sunil Kant Munjal.

According to reliable sources, in the absence of Mr B.M.Munjal, president of the managing committee, Mr Balraj Kumar Verma will look into the matters.



Bail orders for five persons
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
Five persons arrested in connection with the violence that took place on July 13 in the DMCH here were ordered to be released on bail against a surety of Rs 50,000 each. The bail orders of the accused persons booked under Section 107/151 CrPC were passed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate.

The police had arrested 42 persons and booked them for various criminal offences. While 28 persons, including women, were facing charges under Section 307 IPC, 14 others were taken in custody for breach of peace. Those granted bail included a taxi driver, and four workers of the hospital canteen, which is run by a contractor.


Are UP politicians giving shelter to accused?
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18
Connections with high-level political leaders in Uttar Pradesh, including members of Legislative Assembly and Council, are proving to be a saviour for at least seven persons accused in the three-month-old murderous attack on a senior union leader of the Railways outside his house near Jagraon bridge here. The same connections are acting as a major stumbling block for Ludhiana police that had sent over 10 raiding parties to nab the accused.

Disclosing this to Ludhiana Tribune, sources in the local police and unions both here and in Uttar Pradesh reveal that the raiding parties of Ludhiana police had but for the political connections almost succeeded in arresting some of the seven accused in the case. The local police has decided to make another try. A police party was sent to UP yesterday to make some progress in the mission.

The coming to light of the deep political relations of the accused and their alleged sheltering by some UP politicians is a new twist to the sensational murderous attack on Mr Bipin Chand Sharma, general secretary of the Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union. What was earlier being thought as a case of mere rivalry between unionists has now become a case of high-level intrigues allegedly hatched by some political bigwigs in the biggest state of the country.

The new turn assumes significance in the light of the recent move in the country barring political leaders from contesting elections due to their criminal activities. Sources said the leaders were involved in the attack in order to keep some union leaders with them.

A few days after the attack on Mr Bipin Chand Sharma, the Ludhiana police had claimed a major success by arresting an accused, Manjit Singh, from Uttar Pradesh. However, even though Manjit Singh has in his interrogation named at least seven more persons in the conspiracy to eliminate Mr Sharma, the Ludhiana police has failed to lay hands on even a single other accused person. This is all due to the active sheltering given to the accused by political leaders, mainly belonging to anti-Congress parties in the state.

Well-placed police sources admitting the stumbling block in the investigation of the case said raiding parties have been sent to Uttar Pradesh more than 10 times but all have returned empty-handed. The teams were in touch with the UP police and all knew where the alleged criminals were but due to sheltering by political leaders, the police could not progress further. Some of the accused are quite close to some members of the Legislative Council in UP. Some of these are even considered close to supporters on a national level leader in that state.

Police sources said the raiding team met some leaders of different political parties and sought their help. The leaders denied they had any knowledge or involvement in the attack.

Mr Bipin Chand Sharma was shot at and seriously wounded by some unidentified assailants outside his house near Jagraon bridge on April 18 late evening. He survived the attack.



‘Evolve code of conduct for gurdwara polls’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has expressed concern over the manner in which elections were recently held for the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, which it termed as a danger signal to the entire sikh community.

Calling upon the Head Priest of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to intervene in the matter, the BKU secretary general Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, observed that degeneration in gurdwara politics had hurt the feelings of the Sikh masses. “Although the elections were purely religious and the contestants were supposedly religious minded persons, the kind of misconduct was far too much even in comparison to the political contests.

There was blatant use of money and liquor in the poll, he added.

According to Mr Kadian, the contestants in the DGSMC elections had stooped too low and had given a go-by to traditions and tenets of the Sikh religion much to the annoyance of the common people.

He urged the head priest of Akal Takht to take a serious note of the conduct of the contestants in Delhi gurudwara polls because any laxity shown could have far-reaching repercussions on religious affairs of the Sikh community in future.

The BKU activist demanded that those guilty of religious misconduct should be summoned to Akal Takht and given exemplary punishment. "The clergy should set up a committee of Sikh scholars to evolve a code of conduct for gurdwara elections and take effective supervisory measures to check religious misconduct in future.”



Employees hail decision on DA
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
Punjab Municipal Workers Federation (INTUC) has hailed the decision of the Fiscal Management Committee of the Punjab Cabinet not to give effect unilaterally to the decision of freezing of dearness allowance, leave encashment and commutation of pension formula.

A meeting of the executive committee of the federation, presided over by Mr Tarsem Lal, here welcomed the move by the Fiscal Management Committee to review the implementation of fiscal reforms laid down in the state Budget and to take employees into confidence on this crucial issue.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Tarsem Lal, president of the federation, remarked that the federation had urged the government to review the decisions which were to adversely affect the employees and not to go in confrontation with the employees, especially the subordinate cadres, who always stood with the government.

The federation he added, would soon arrange meeting of the representatives of the civic employees to sort out several important issues of the employees. The most prominent of them being the financial crisis being faced by the employees due to refusal of the Union Government to slash the income tax slab and persistent hike in the prices of essential commodities.

Meanwhile, Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, president, and Mr Shiv Gupta, general secretary, state unit of the INTUC, said in a joint statement here today that at a meeting held in New Delhi, the national president of the body, Mr Sanjeeva Reddy, was removed from his post for his anti-workers and anti-Congress policies. The meeting was attended by representatives of 11 states. The delegates further elected Ms Kanta Sood as new president of the INTUC. The new president was also authorised to nominate other office-bearers for effective working of the body at headquarters and state units.



Bank employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation (Ludhiana Unit) staged a day-long dharna here on Thursday in support of Bank of India Employees Union along with Bank of India employees to protest against actions of the management of Bank of India (BOI).

Among others the employees were addressed by Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary PBEF, Mr Ashok Awasthy, president, PBEF, and Mr Roop Lal Mehra, president, Bank of India Employees Union. These leaders said that the management of the BOI had let lose a reign of terror with a view to introduce Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for the second time so that a large number of employees opted for the VRS.

All office-bearers of the association throughout the country have been transferred from Administrative Department to far away branches to cripple the functioning of the union, the leaders claimed. The management, they said, had put restriction to the effect that office bearers posted in a zone could not participate in negotiation in any other zone, thereby virtually paralyzing the bi-lateral system. They alleged that the general secretary of eastern Maharashtra has been removed from the service of the bank, while the general secretary of Gujarat state has been removed by serving chargesheet when he lodged protest against harassment to staff by the management. Now in Punjab Mr Roop Lal Mehra, president of Punjab state posted at Amritsar and three top office bearers, one vice-president and two deputy general secretaries posted at Chandigarh had been served show cause notices.

On the occasion the bank employees took a pledge to defend public sector banking, for better customer service and opposed establishment of asset reconstruction company and demanded to publish a list of defaulters above Rs 10 lakh, declare default of bank loans, a criminal offence, stringent laws for recovery of bad loans.



Mexican food festival
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 18
If anything travels faster in modern world, it is the taste and the food habits which know no geographic or cultural or civilisational boundaries. That is why people relish the Mughal, the Chinese, the Italian or the European food as much as they like their traditional food.

Catering to the changing tastes of the people of Ludhiana, it would be the Mexican treat in Maharaja style for three full days.

Maharja Regency is organising a three-day Mexican food festival 'Wild West' from July 19 to 21.

According to the General Manager, Mr Vikas Shrivastav, the main purpose of the festival is to break the monotony. The ambience of the festival has been done up in a typical Rodeo-Mexican style with ranches and log gates to give the feeling of being in the West. 



Brief spell of rain
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
The much-expected first rainfall of the season that came shortly after noon today was a disappointing affair as it did not last for more than 15 minutes.

The rain started on a promising note with big droplets of water and people cheering and shouting for more. But sadly, after 10 minutes, it fizzled out.



BSP youth front chief removed

Ludhiana, July 18
The BSP has removed Ms Jaswinder Kaur Jassi from the post of the president, youth front, Punjab, and from the primary membership of the party, according to the president of the Punjab unit, Mr Mohan Singh Phallianwala. OC



Woman dies in looting incident 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 392 and 460 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ajit Singh, a resident of Gaunsgarh village, against six unknown assailants, who entered his house on the intervening night of July 16-17 and attacked his family to loot cash and household goods.

The complainant stated that his wife and his brother along with his child were injured in the attack. All of them were rushed to the CMC Hospital, where Narinder Pal Kaur, his wife, succumbed to her injuries. No arrest has been made so far.

Woman beaten up: The Basti Jodhewal police on Wednesday registered a case of beating under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Ms Suman, a resident of Karamsar Colony on the Tibba road, against Pushpa, wife of Mr Ramji Dass. The complainant had alleged that the accused intercepted her on July 16, beat her up and also threatened her. No arrest has been made so far.

Three held for quarrelling: The Focal Point police arrested Surinderpal, a resident of Dhobi Colony in Moti Nagar, Dilbagh Singh and Upkar Singh , both residents of Kohara village falling under the Sahnewal police station, while they were quarreling with each other in the main market of Moti Nagar, resulting in traffic jam and disturbance of peace in the area on Wednesday night. The accused were later booked under Section 160 of the IPC.

Bike stolen: The Basti Jodhewal police on Wednesday registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Mohinder Singh, a resident of Prem Colony on the Rahon Road, against an unknown person who allegedly stole his bicycle from in front of a shop in Meharban village on July 16.


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