Friday, August 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Uneasy calm at sant’s deras
Police security stepped up
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Noormahal, August 1
An uneasy calm prevailed in two deras of controversial and self-styled saint Maharaja Ashutosh at Noormahal, near Phillaur, here today following yesterday’s violent incident at Malout even as the followers of the sect were quite tense over the developments.

Not taking any chances, the Phillaur police has put more policemen on security duty at the two deras in order to avoid any violent incident here. The police sources said apart from the security, police patrolling of the areas has also been intensified. Sect sources said they had also beefed up their protection but would not resort to violence.

Earlier, Ludhiana District and Phillaur subdivision had witnessed a number of protests by the Sikh organisations, namely the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), Dal Khalsa, Khalsa Mission Committee and the Khalra Dharam Prachar Committee. All these protests were peaceful.

Not much followers of the controversial Baba were seen at the two deras of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Santhan of the sect at Noormahal today when a Tribune team reached there. Most of them, as revealed by some present ones, were still camping at Malout to stay with their guru.

One dera is in the heart of the town while other, the main and to the large one, is located quite away in an isolated place. Indicating growing prosperity, hectic construction activity is on in the main dera. While the main Noormahal-Pakhowal road is broken from several places, a link road to the dera is new and quite smooth.

The sect members were cautious in meeting strangers. They, however, opened out to mediapersons immediately and offered all kinds of assistance. Blaming the Sikh organisations for yesterday’s incident Karamveer Singh and Naginder Singh, sewadars at the main dera, said they didn’t mean any harm to anyone. Ask them what inspired them to join the dera, and you come across all kind of reasons. Talk more and stories of how Maharaja Ashutosh cured several drug-addicts and performed miracles will come after one another.

Putting aside the violence at Malout, the sewadars said it rained heavily in that region yesterday and claimed it was only because of the Baba. They claim that whenever a satsang is held here, it always rain. Incidentally it rained today also in Phillaur-Noormahal belt even as Baba was away to Malout.

Naginder Singh said he came here to become free from drugs. ‘‘ I was addicted to all kinds of drugs and only Maharaj helped me to leave them,” he said

Karamveer Singh, a B.Sc Medical graduate, said he wanted to understand the realms of life and Babaji showed him the direction. Jagtar Singh was a student of religion and believed that only a true guru can show them the right path.

The sewadars said Maharajji had given an open invitation to anyone to come at the dera and observe for themselves the lifestyle and the teachings there.


Tohra condemns Malout police firing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
Senior Akali leader and former president of the SGPC, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has condemned the police firing and lathi-charge on peaceful demonstrators yesterday at Malout, where they were protesting against the activities of the head of Divya Jyoti Sect Ashutosh Baba.

In a statement released here today, Mr Tohra regretted that the government had resorted to the action against the people who were organising peaceful protest, while it had let off the main culprits like Ashutosh Baba. He warned that the activities of people like Baba Bhaniarawale and Baba Ashutosh were only vitiating the peaceful atmosphere of the state.

Demanding that the government should withdraw all cases against people who were protesting against the sect, he said Baba Ashutosh should be booked for vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in the state.

Meanwhile, the SGPC chief, Mr Kripal Singh Badungar, has also condemned the firing incident at Malout. Mr Badungar yesterday visited the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC) to enquire about the condition of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi of the Khalsa Panchayat, who was injured in police firing at Malout yesterday.

Talking to reporters at the CMC, Mr Badungar demanded that the head of the sect Baba Ashutosh should be booked under the provisions of POTA as he had threatened the peaceful atmosphere of the state. 


Private students’ fate hangs in balance
Denied admission to polytechnic courses
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, August 1
Hundreds of students who had appeared privately in matric examinations and are now seeking admission to diploma-level engineering courses in government polytechnic colleges of Punjab have been denied admission by the State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training this year.

The board has added a new clause this time in the revised prospectus stating that only regular students from recognised schools of the state could apply in the 85 per cent category seats reserved for the internal candidates from within Punjab. Under such circumstances, the students who had appeared privately and had even secured top ranks in Joint Entrance Test conducted by the board in May this year were not allowed admission in the category.

When the students reached for their counselling two days back in Chandigarh, they were told that they should have applied in the 15 per cent category open for students on all-India basis for which the counselling was closed. As a result, the students lost their chance of getting admission this year. Since admission process to Class XI in all government or affiliated schools of the state has also been completed, the students fear that they might be forced to lose one year.

Students said when they had applied for admission earlier, they were given prospectus in which no clause regarding category of students appearing privately was specified. Later, they said when they had qualified in the test and were called for counselling they were sent another prospectus which looked quite similar to the one they had received earlier and they did not pay any heed to read out each and every clause once again. The students said the prospectus did not even indicate addition or revision of rules in the prospectus.

Rakesh, a student, said it was when they reached the venue for centralised counselling at Government Polytechnic, Sector 26, Chandigarh, and their certificates were checked that they came to know of such rule. The students said they felt much shocked and complained to the officers but no one listened to them.

Sukhpreet, another student, said she believed that it was a sheer violation of Article 25 of the Constitution which stressed on the law of equality. She said she felt that even though she was a Punjabi and was carrying domicile certificate as a proof, she was being treated like an alien in her own state. She said it was ridiculous if a state board does not approve of certificates issued by a school education board of the same state.

Mr Rupinderpal Singh, father of a candidate, said he was worried about the fate of his son. He said he would write to the Chief Minister, the Education Minister and the Technical Education Minister seeking help in the case. But he regretted that since admission to all free seats were already over, he would have to shell out over Rs 22,000 against the normal amount of Rs 3,000 if his plea is accepted.

Dr Arunachal, Director of the board, when contacted, said he was simply following the orders of the Punjab Government passed on May 22 this year. He said as soon as he received a notification, he made a suitable amendment in the prospectus and sent a copy to all applicants.

Dr Arunachal said it was the duty of the students to carefully read the copies and accordingly appear for the counselling. Since they did not appear earlier on the days when counselling for non-Punjabis was being held, they have now suddenly lost the chance of getting admissions.


2 cholera, 42 gastro cases confirmed
Our Correspondent


  • There is an outbreak but not in an epidemic form, say officials.
  • Corporation claims to take 16 water samples everyday from different localities.
  • Two big institutions in the city found to be supplying water without adding chlorine.

Ludhiana, August 1
Notwithstanding the Health Department’s claim about tackling the oft-recurring problems of cholera and gastroenteritis, two cases of cholera and 42 gastroenteritis cases have been confirmed by the department officials themselves today. Though the cholera and gastroenteritis statistics are not alarming till now but the officials concerned have to take timely preventive measures before the diseases start taking their toll.

Dr J.S. Bhullar, Civil Surgeon, while confirming the cholera cases said Prem Bahadur (31), a resident of H.No. 42, Street Number 2, Chandu Ka Vehra, Fatehgarh Mohalla, behind Chand Cinema and Paramjit Kaur (35) a resident of H.No. 1870/105, Kila Mohalla, Near Durga Mata Temple, had been found to be confirmed cases of cholera. The two patients were reported from Bhagwan Ram Charitable Hospital.

The CS said the department had already sent their mobile medical teams in these areas to find out the source of infection. “The health workers are taking water samples from these areas. Unless we get the results the source of infection can’t be known. Our mass media wing is creating awareness among the residents in slum areas.”

The department also confirmed 42 scattered cases of gastroenteritis in the city. Though the disease has not assumed an epidemic form, yet these cases have been reported from various localities like textile colony, Sher Singh Da Vehra, Islam Ganj, Indra Colony, Vishvakarma Colony, Janakpuri, Dholewal and Pratap Nagar. Four out of the total 42 cases have been reported from Machhiwara. The patients have been admitted at various city hospitals.

Dr Bhullar said these were the latest figures and the department had already informed the Municipal Corporation authorities about the cases.

Every year the same story of outbreak of several diseases like cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis is repeated in the city causing panic among the city residents.

Ms Veena, a resident of Jawahar Nagar camp said the number of the patients increased every year. “The officials concerned wake up only when there is a rapid increase in the number of patients. We have not been distributed any literature or chlorine tablets by health workers. We are not aware of preventive measures even”, said Ms Veena.

Mr S.K.Sharma, Commissioner Municipal Corporation, said the MC was already taking all necessary steps. He added, “These must be the sporadic cases. The officials are taking 16 water samples from different localities in all the four zones in the city everyday. Not even a single report of water contamination has been received by the civic body”.

However, he added that two samples of water taken from a major educational institute and the other from a charitable hospital, were found to be having no chlorine. Since these institutions had their own water supply, there was every apprehension of contamination of water.Back


Slashed Maruti prices hit second-hand sales
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
The slashed prices of Maruti 800 seem to have hit the sales of second-hand cars in the region. At the same time it has also led to sharp increase in the sales of the new Maruti cars.

According to second-hand car dealers, the market which was already facing acute slump has further been hit by the price slash.

There are about 50 dealers of second-hand cars at the Feroze Gandhi Market and in Model Town area. These cars are mostly sold on Sundays when people from different parts of the region visit these two car bazaars. While earlier hundreds of cars were sold in a week, now the number is not more than 50, car dealers say.

According to Mr Rajinder Kumar Tailor, a second-hand car dealer, slashing of prices by Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) has led to a decline in the sales of second-hand cars.

However, it is not only the Maruti cars which are sold here, many people purchase second-hand luxury cars also. These include Mercedes, BMW, Opel Astra, Ford, Lancer, Honda City and others. In fact, within two or three months of the launch of a new car, it is available in the Ludhiana car bazaars. With the demand for second-hand Maruti cars on the decline, it is this segment that is sustaining the car bazaar of Ludhiana.

According to Mr Rajinder, only a few years ago, Ludhiana was the main centre of second-hand cars in the north India. During the past few years, second-hand car bazaars have come up in different cities like Jalandhar, Pathankot, Moga, Ferozepore and other places. This has massively cut the sales in Ludhiana. But these car bazaars mainly offer second-hand Maruti cars. In case anyone wants to purchase a branded car he will have to come to Ludhiana.

The scene may be gloomy for the second-hand car dealers, but it is quite rosy for the dealers of new cars. Enquiries made from different dealers of the MUL revealed that sales have registered an increase of up to 50 per cent after the slashing of the prices. 


Punjab Roadways buses to remain off road today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
All buses of the Punjab Roadways will stay off the road in the state tomorrow as a protest against the proposed privatisation of the roadways by the state government. This was stated here today by the various staff unions of the Punjab Roadways.

In a statement to the Press, Mr Rajinder Singh Lalton, an office-bearer of the Punjab Roadways Conductors Union said on a joint decision of the employees union, supervisor staff and drivers union of the roadways, August 2 is being marked as a protest day and all buses would remain off the roads.

A rally was organised by members of the unions outside the Punjab Roadways workshop in the morning today where various speakers demanded that proposal of privatisation of Punjab Roadways should be withdrawn at once otherwise the peaceful atmosphere of the state would be at a stake.


No major shortfall in paddy yield likely: Johl
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
Dr S.S. Johl, a noted scientist and Agricultural Adviser to the Punjab Government, does not apprehend any major shortfall in the paddy production in Punjab because of poor monsoon. However, this optimism is sounded with caution. Because, Dr Johl points out, it will be at a relatively higher cost than what it will have been with a normal monsoon.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune in an exclusive interview here today, he also substantiated the observations of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that there was no drought in Punjab. He said there would, however, be drought-related losses for various reasons. He said the Chief Minister’s statement was being misinterpreted.

He said unless and until there was more than 50 per cent loss it cannot be termed as drought. So far, he said, the total loss assessed had come to 20 per cent only. “This does not make Punjab a drought-hit state,” he said.

Dr Johl said the agriculture in the state was not too much dependent on rains as there was a good irrigation network in the state. “But this will lead to additional inputs in terms of more electricity for farm sector, more expenses on diesel for running generators, maximum power cuts leading even to closure of schools and other such things,” he explained.

He said the state was justified in seeking financial assistance from the Central Government as there were some direct losses like power curtailment and closure of schools. “But there is no escaping the fact that the agriculture has to be saved to save the overall economy of the state,” he said. The Punjab Government has demanded Rs 800 crore as compensation from the Central Government to tackle the situation.

Putting forth his expert point of view he said although there had been a considerable loss much would depend on the weather conditions at the end of August or in the beginning of September. In case there were rains during that time it could damage paddy crop which would be nearing maturity, he said. However, in case the weather remained clear there could even be some increase in the yield, he added.

He said he would not be surprised if the total yield of paddy registered an increase for the same reason. “But, of course, this would be at increased costs that would be borne by all sections of the society,” he asserted.


Biomedical waste project nearing completion
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 1
With the biomedical waste disposal project in an advanced stage of completion, the hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions like veterinary hospitals and slaughter houses, generating biomedical waste, would have the facility of proper disposal by early September. The project is being set up by a Hyderabad-based firm M/s Medicare Incin Pvt Ltd on ‘build, own and operate’ (BOP).

According to Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, the firm would provide a common facility for treatment and disposal of bio medical waste, generated in the health care establishments in the city, as well as other major towns in the state of Punjab strictly according to provisions laid down in Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998.

The MC had provided 2000 square yards piece of land located opposite Central Jail on Tajpur Road to the company against an annual lease money of Rs 1 lakh. The firm would operate on user-pays basis, charging Rs 2.70 per bed per day from hospitals and nursing homes within the city limits, Rs 3.20 per bed within a distance of 100 km from the city and Rs 3.70 per bed for any distance beyond that. A sum of 10 paise per unit out of the recovery against disposal would be payable to the civic body.

While the city hospitals and nursing homes had an estimated strength of around 7000 indoor beds, the common facility being set up in the city would have an initial installed capacity of 20,000 beds. For health care institutions other than those having indoor patients, 1 kg of biomedical waste would be taken as a unit equivalent to one bed.

Mr Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that in accordance with the technical bid submitted by the firm, it was proposed to install a mechanical loading incinerator of 200 KG per hour capacity with alkaline scrubber and 30 metre high chimney, an autoclave for disinfection of plastic, rubber, latex, metal and glass. a shredder and a landfill for the disposal of residue. The project, estimated to cost Rs 1 crore will have an installed capacity of 5 metric tonnes per day for treatment and disposal of bio medical waste. A 50 kva capacity generator to work as standby for power would also be installed.

A spokesperson of the firm said that having sufficient experience of proper treatment and safe disposal of biomedical waste, the company had a running facility for biomedical waste disposal at Hyderabad, which was handling around 6000 bed capacity, spread over 300 hospitals in the southern megapolis and another at Bangalore. Besides in Ludhiana, the firm was setting up similar projects for biomedical waste disposal in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

The company, entrusted with the job of handling and safe disposal of biomedical waste would arrange for collection of segregated biomedical waste in closed container vehicles from the identified common waste collection site. The collection containers for segregation of waste in accordance with Biomedical waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998 would be provided by the company while the health care institutions would pack and seal the segregated biomedical waste in plastic bags at their level.


Chaos rules city roads
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
How long does it take to travel a kilometer or two in Ludhiana? Well usually it should take not more than two or three minutes given the city roads. But it can take anywhere up to an hour if the overzealous city traffic cops are managing the roads. This is exactly what happened on Tuesday morning when it took residents almost an hour to reach their destinations if they made the “mistake” of passing by the Fountain Chowk.

As the traffic police failed to regulate the traffic of office goers intending to pass through the Do Moria Pul, the vehicles got diverted towards the Jagraon Bridge, the only other route connecting the new city with the old. As a result long queues’ in the sweltering heat made travelling a short distance a hellish experience. What made things worst was that the entire GT Road from the Jagraon Bridge has been dug up due to the ongoing elevated road project.

The Fountain Chowk that serves as an intersection for five major roads chokes easily and the experiment of the traffic police to put traffic lights has failed. With no regulations, the traffic usually flows freely, but whenever the traffic police tries to manage the traffic it invariably results in long queues of cars and the jam that follows takes hours to clear.

The city police has the infrastructure like wireless and walkie-talkie sets, so even if someone jumps traffic lights and breaks rules, the traffic cops are actually seen chasing the culprits on their scooters. The administration had announced last year that the traffic police would be given the latest equipment to manage the ever-growing number of vehicles in the city.

Many roads in the city were divided with plastic cones to regulate the two-way traffic, but over the years these traffic cones on the Do Moria Pul, Ferozepur Road, etc have broken down becoming more of a traffic hazard than a safety measure. Similarly the dividers put up in the Ghumar Mandi area have become more notorious for causing accidents rather than for making the flow of traffic smooth, the purpose for which they were put up. Officials, however, claim that lack of funds has resulted in a situation that has put traffic management on a low priority.


DMCH issue will be resolved soon: DC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 1
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, has asked all political parties to give a few days time to the administration to sort out the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) controversy. This he said to a delegation of leaders of various political parties that had met him last night in connection with the ongoing tussle at the institution.

The leaders condemned the police action on DMCH employees. They said it seemed as if the city was being converted into police cantonment. They urged the administration to take positive steps in this regard, otherwise, all political parties and other citizen groups would resort to further action.

They demanded that the cases against the employees be withdrawn, all of them be released, the police harassment of employees be stopped and they should be allowed to stage peaceful dharna outside the hospital. They also demanded that a case under Section 302 of the IPC should be registered against the police officials responsible for the death of electrician Sat Pal. The police officials who tortured employees, particularly women, should also be punished, they said.

The Deputy Commissioner, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said he hoped that the matter would be resolved soon.

Meanwhile, Mr K.K. Bawa of the Congress told Ludhiana Tribune that representatives of various parties had met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on July 30 at Chandigarh in this regard.

“The CM has assured us that appropriate action will be taken to improve the situation and the authorities concerned will be asked to look into the matter at the earliest,” maintained Mr Bawa.

The delegation comprised Mr Malkit Singh Dakha, Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar and Baba Ajit Singh (all from SAD); Mr Rajinder Bhandari from the BJP; Mr Harish Khanna from the Janata Dal; Mr Jagjit Singh Layalpuri from the MCPI; Mr O.P. Mehta, Dr Arun Mitra, Mr B.C. Chhiber (all from the CPI); Mr Tarsem Jodhan, a former MLA; Mr Harish Dhanda, president Bar Association; Dr Rajesh Sharma and Dr Sekhon, Secretary and Treasurer of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Ludhiana.

DMCH staff hold condolence meeting
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 1
Despite being stopped by the police to enter the park outside Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), employees continued their dharna and held a protest march today. The employees along with the Jabar Virodhi Action Committee held a meeting to condole the death of Satpal. 

Mr D.P.Maur, president, Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association, addresses the gathering. The employees also alleged that the police forcibly took Sukhwant, one of the striking employees, when he was entering the park.Back


65-yr-old thrown out of house
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 1
A 65-year-old widow, her physically challenged son and her minor grandchildren are forced to live under the sky in the streets of city as their landlord had thrown their belongings out of the house to get it vacated despite the status quo orders issued by a local court.

The victim, Ms Pal Kaur, a resident of Anand Nagar, alleged in a press statement here today that she was living on rent in the house of Joginder Singh, a resident of Jarg village. Joginder Singh and his son, Happy, were threatening her to vacate the house. She filed a civil suit in the court of the Additional Civil Judge, Khanna. On July 27, the court ordered to maintain status quo and appointed a local commission on July 30. They informed the opposite party about it and also a gave a copy of the order to it.

Ms Pal Kaur also met the SSP, Khanna, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, who directed her to give in writing that she would vacate the house in three months. She alleged the police was not listening her at the behest of her landlord. Joginder Singh and his son had threatened her that the Khanna SSP was their relative.

She has demanded an action against her landlord .


Art of Living world’s biggest NGO’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
The United Nations (UN) has accredited Art of Living as the biggest NGO with it and has been given a special consultative status attached to the Economics and Social Council. This was disclosed here today by Mr Ram Laxman, media incharge of the NGO in the city. According to him, the foundation has been recognised for its path-breaking achievements in healing and human values by World Health Organisation (WHO).

A charitable and non-profitable organisation, the main focus of this organisation, he said, was to offer service through programmes offered in the areas of the holistic health, education, social and community development, crime prevention and social rehabilitation. People from different communities in over 148 countries, spread over six continents have experienced profound peace and transformation by following programmes of the foundation, he said.

The driving force and inspiration behind this organisation is its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shanker who was born in 1956 in Southern India. At the tender age of four he could recite the Bhagavad Gita. He is the founder of the other organisations like Ved Vignan Maha Vidyapeeth, Die Gaseschaftfur Inneres Wachstumk, Germany and the International Association for Human Values, Switzerland. Recently he was awarded Phoenix Award by United Nations the highest award for social services. He is the regular featured speaker in the United Nations. In 1995 he was chosen one of the three most wise men of the country, he said.

He further disclosed that Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji will visit Ludhiana on September 7 and 8, 2002. The Ludhiana chapter will organise two programmes that will include a rhythmic breathing session and a satsang, besides an address by him. 


Constable found dead
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
Mystery shrouds the death of a Home Guards Constable who was found dead at his residence in Threeke village today early morning.

The Constable, Jagjit Singh (35), was found lying dead on the floor of his room. Family sources said he had dinner last night and had no health problem. The family was shocked to find him dead and called the police.

He was posted on security duty at Gur Mandi for the past over four weeks. However, he had not gone to duty since Monday.

Police sources said no clue leading to death has been found so far. No suicide note was found and there was no injury on the body, which could have suggested murder.

Police sources said a possible cause could have been an overdose of some drug. 


Society flays rituals

The Taraksheel Society Ludhiana has criticised various ways and means like the “burning of dolls, offering porridge at the feet of water gods and many other rituals having no scientific basis being adopted by the people to please rain gods in and around city by thousands of people. OC


One held in rape case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
An alleged rapist was caught by Sherpur police today morning. He was accused of attempting to rape a 6-year-old girl in the area. He was handed over to the police by the family members of the victim.

The police, however did not disclose the identity of the accused and said the matter was being investigated and the police would be in a position to give details tomorrow only.

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