Tuesday, August 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


SVM students, staff take on management
Our Correspondent

Later in the day, the management decided to withdraw the orders on increasing the school fee. It was also decided that the excess amount of fee deposited by the students would be adjusted.

Ludhiana, August 12
Resenting a hike in fee while demanding an increase in salaries, the students and staff of Sanatan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, today joined hands against the management as they launched an agitation on the school premises.

Agitating students try to damage a fan in a classroom
Agitating students try to damage a fan in a classroom. —Photo Inderjeet Verma

Students from the senior section, accompanied by their parents, raised slogans against the management for increasing the school fee. The students were so outraged that some of them even tried to damage fans and benches in their classrooms. While the half-yearly examinations of the students were to commence today, the teachers refused to oversee the exams.

The teachers blamed the management for not increasing their salary as was promised to them. They said they were assured a hike in their salaries by 80 per cent as soon as the hike in fee was to be introduced, but no such orders were passed by the management.

When Ms Sadhna Sharma, Principal, called up the members of the school management to apprise them of the situation, she was told to close the school for the day. Ms Sharma, however, refused to do so. Soon, the members of the management, including Mr Prem Chand Gupta, president, reached the school but were gheraoed by the teachers and parents.

The members of the management alleged that the staff members had themselves declared a hike in the fee and refused to accept having issued any such notification. On the contrary, the teachers showed written orders passed on August 10 by the management authorising Ms Sushma, a school teacher, ‘‘to collecting increased fee from the students’’.

Mr Mangat Rai, president of the teachers’ union, Mr Raju Thapar, councillor of the ward, principal and parents held a meeting with the management. Following the meeting, the management decided to withdraw the orders on increasing the school fee. It was also decided that the excess amount of fee deposited by the students would be adjusted in the next installment. The management also assured the teachers that their salary would be increased by 65 per cent from the next month.

Later, the parents and teachers held a separate meeting and decided to form a parent-teachers’ association within a week’s time to solving such issues from time to time.

Ms Sharma, when contacted, confirmed the incident. Supporting the staff members, she said the demands of the teachers were genuine and that the members of the management were making false allegations against her staff. She also accused the management of bringing with them some ‘‘anti-social elements’’ who tried to push back and hurt agitating teachers, parents and students, thus, creating unhealthy environment on the school campus.

Ms Sharma, however, later declared that the school would function normally tomorrow and the examination would continue as per schedule. She said the test that was scheduled for today would be conducted later and a suitable date would be announced soon.

Mr Prem Chand Gupta, however, could not be contacted at his residence. Meanwhile, the district unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has condemned the role played by the management in introducing a hike in the fee structure of the students to facilitate an increase in the salary of the staff. Extending full support to the students, Mr Rohit Sharma, school representative of the ABVP, threatened to launch an agitation in case the fee of students was increased. He also said the management should look for other means to increase the salary of the teachers.



112 gastroenteritis, 13 cholera cases confirmed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
There has been a constant rise in the number of gastroenteritis and cholera cases in the district. Officials at the Health Department today confirmed that at least 112 cases of gastroenteritis and 13 cases of cholera have been reported from different parts of the district so far.

The cases have been reported from various city hospitals, including Christian Medical College and Hospital, Bhagwan Ram Charitable Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Civil Hospital and Pahwa Hospital.

One of the officials of the health department on condition of anonymity stated that the department was doing its best to curb the diseases by collecting water samples, distributing chlorine tablets and creating awareness by distributing literature, but still a lot more had to be done.

“The department still lacks basic preventive and first-aid medicines such as Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and chlorine tablets.

These financial constraints have become a matter of concern at the time when the city is witnessing continuous rise in the number of gastroenteritis and cholera patients,” said the official.

Though the district health officials claim that they have been taking all necessary precautionary measures, including educating people about the causes and prevention of diseases, more cases are pouring in everyday.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president of the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said some showers in the coming days might increase the risk of gastroenteritis taking epidemic proportions in the city especially in the low-lying areas.

“The authorities concerned should improve the sanitation in the city and people should consume chlorinated or boiled water and avoid eating out,” said Dr Gursharan.



Dead child ‘not a victim of rape’
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The mysterious and controversial death case of a two-year-old girl, who was said to have been either killed by dogs or a rapist, is all set to be closed as the viscera and swabs examination report has stated that no evidence of rape or attempt to rape has been found.

The case had become quite a headache for the police as different theories leading to the girl's death were in circulation. The case was widely highlighted and followed by the media as well

The viscera report has upheld the opinion of the police and girl's family that she was mauled by stray dogs. The rape theory was propounded by Civil Hospital doctors who conducted the post-mortem examination. Even as police sources revealed that curtains have fallen on any further police investigation into the case following the chemical report, Civil Hospital sources still maintain that they do not believe the child was mauled by stray dogs.

The doctors’ opinion, however, has no legal binding as this is their feeling out of experience and not on the basis of any medical proof. They, however, insist that at the same time there is no conclusive evidence that the stray dogs had killed the girl. The bites, they say, could have been made by a man.

Nevertheless, the police says it has completed investigations under Section 174 IPC, and the case was being filed as the girl's family also maintains that the rape theory was wrong. Police sources said doctors had expressed their suspicion of rape theory in the post-mortem report but with the chemical examination report stating that no evidence was found, the rape theory has weakened considerably.

Civil hospital doctors when contacted said they had never stated the rape was committed and the swabs will not tell that an attempt was made. The two-year-old girl was found dead lying partially buried under sand in an abandoned plot in Makkar Colony. Her body bore marks of nails and bites of animals. The marks made the police conclude that the child was eaten by stray dogs. The police claimed this to the media also and conducted investigations under Section 174 IPC in the case.

However, the post-mortem examination conducted by a board of doctors, including a lady doctor, had thrown a completely new light on the case. Civil hospital sources said the post-mortem examination revealed that there were injury marks on the private parts of the body which did not look like the one caused by dog bites. A doctor, who was part of the Board , has confirmed the findings.

He said in such cases the postmortem report only suggests that something of this kind had happened and the final confirmation comes only from the chemical examination of the swabs. The doctors also revealed that exact cause of death could not be known. It was, however, suspected that the child could have died due to asphyxia as lot of sand was found stuck in her throat.


Generators add to pollution problem
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The Supreme Court’s landmark judgement on air pollution in April this year and a latest study by scientists working under United Nations Environment Programme that a vast blanket of pollution had engulfed the country, has not shaken the Ludhianvis and the district administration if the use of diesel-run generators is any indication in the city.

Even as the anguished judges of the apex court had equated the everyday air pollution in the country with the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the officials of the district administration are yet to wake up to the alarming situation prevailing in the city that tops the list of the most polluted cities in India. Its residents too are yet to realise the fact that they are poisoning their own air.

The level of pollution in the city has already crossed the alarming proportions thanks to the industry as well as the public transport system that is running on diesel and emanating poisonous gases into the atmosphere. The condition worsens as soon as the summers come. As there is a rise in temperature and power cuts the residents switch on their generator sets that run on diesel.

The pollution caused by the diesel generators has compounded the pollution problem in the city. Already the vehicular and industrial pollution has crossed all limits.

While these gen-sets emanate thick smoke it becomes almost impossible to pass near them. Whenever there is a power cut, climbing up on one’s roof is enough to witness black clouds of the smoke billowing in the sky, thanks to the callous Ludhianvis who have devised novel means to install their generators away from their living areas without dealing that they are polluting their own environment.

A visit to any of the domestic areas, industrial areas or the markets is enough to witness the menace of pollution caused by these generators. In some areas, according to rough estimates, every house has a generator. Some residents have even installed them on their roofs with the long exhaust pipes discharging poisonous gases up in the air.

According to figures gathered by the Ludhiana Tribune from the District Administration, which has conducted a thorough investigation in this field, the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the city is between 500 to 600 microgram while the permissible limit is only 200 microgram. These are the startling revelations of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

The data of the presence of sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are also not less alarming. Both the pollutants are equivalent to 80 microgram, while other cities in the state do not have more than 10 to 12 micrograms of these pollutants. These pollutants are considered border line but the way the environment is deteriorating, things can only get worse.

Mr Mani Nag, an NRI who is on a trip to Ludhiana, said he was shocked to see that the city had become all the more polluted. “When I was coming here I was thinking that some things would have changed for the better. Rather I was disappointed to see the rising air-pollution. The other day I tried to sleep on my terrace. But at midnight I was woken up by the smell of burning diesel. I was scared to see that all houses in my vicinity had switched on their generators that were emanating smoke and it became very difficult to breathe in the air. When I woke up in the morning after sleeping on the terrace I noticed a very thin layer of black ash-like substance on the uncovered parts of my body. I am really worried about the environment of this city,” Mr Nag said.

In a landmark judgement on banning the buses running on diesel in Delhi the Supreme Court on April 5 had said the government by not ensuring clean air in Delhi was responsible for causing ‘‘far greater tragedies’’ than the gas leak which took thousands of lives at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal some years ago. ‘‘The Bhopal gas tragedy was a one-time event which, hopefully, will not be repeated. But here, with not enough concern or action undertaken by the Union of India, far greater tragedies in the form of degradation of public health are taking place every day’’, a Bench of Justice B. N. Kirpal, Justice V.N. Khare and Justice Ashok Bhan had remarked in the CNG case judgement.

It had further quoted a report of the World Bank, stating that the annual health cost to India was up to Rs 5,500 crore due to air pollution. ‘‘The culprit for the aforesaid (diseases) was pollution in the ambient air’’, the court had said.



Dhand held again
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The Haibowal police has arrested Nirdosh Dhand, an alleged bad character, in connection with a fresh case registered against him.

The police was, however, maintained a studied silence on the issue, saying that it was not in a position to reveal anything at this juncture. Meanwhile, sources have confirmed the arrest. Nirdosh Dhand is one of the most written about alleged criminals in the city. Over 20 cases of violence, murder and extortion were registered against him. He had claimed that he was acquitted in most of these cases.

He was in news recently for his alleged proximity to Akali leader Sucha Singh Langah, who was arrested by the state Vigilance Bureau for amassing property disproportionate to his known sources of income. The Akali leader had reportedly attended some functions organised by Dhand. Dhand was probably the only alleged criminal in the city who was taken for a round in an open jeep by the police in order to end his alleged terror among the masses. The incident took place more than a year ago.



Is MC shielding encroachers?
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 12
In a brazen act of defiance and showing utter disregard for fellow residents, a commercial unit in Mohalla Veer Pariwar in New Model Town locality has encroached upon a part of the public street by extending projection of the balcony outside the house line to the extent that it has virtually become a roof over a portion of the street.

Unmoved by the repeated representations of the affected residents for action against the culprits and removal of encroachment, the Municipal Corporation officials have washed their hands off the whole affair by maintaining that though the projection was a violation of the building bylaws but it was quite an old construction and no action was called for. However, the residents assert that contention of the MC officials was a cover up exercise and the projection was raised in October, 2001.

According to a representation, submitted to the MC authorities by more than half a dozen residents of the locality, owners of property (number 3290/5) had covered a part of the public street through a projection. The street, already being very narrow (about five and a half feet), has been deprived of natural light due to the projection.

In support of their claim that the projection was not an old construction, the affected residents showed to the Ludhiana Tribune a copy of the complaint dated October 11, 2001, made at the police station concerned, saying that part of the street was being covered in an unlawful manner. The complainants say that the police did come to the spot and the owners of the property were restrained from raising the construction any further. However, the police advised the affected people to approach the civic officials, who were competent to take further action in this regard.

“On being apprised of the matter, some MC officials did visit the locality and talked to the property owner. But to our shock and horror, they (MC officials) later started threatening us with demolition of our houses on the ground that these had been constructed without proper building plans and in violation of the building bylwas,” the complainants rued. Going a step further, some of the affected residents, who had raised their voice against encroachment, were also served with notices for ‘encroaching upon’ government land.

One of the complainants, requesting anonymity, said the then BJP councillor, Mr Inderjit Panchhi, had openly sided with the owners of the property concerned and it was under his influence that rather than taking any action against the erring property owner, the MC officials were resorting to issuing threats to the complainants. “An Assistant Town Planner (ATP) in Zone D, associated with the inquiry, who has since been transferred, had publically told us that the civic body would take no action in this case,” he added.

The ATP Zone D, Mr Tarlok Singh, stood his ground to maintain that the projection, which covered a portion of the public street was an old structure and it would be unfair to take any action at this juncture. The Municipal Town Planner, Mr P.K. Garg, who according to the ATP, had also inspected the site, conveniently forgot all about the case. When asked about the fate of the complaint by the Ludhiana Tribune on telephone, he said, “There are so many complaints and I visit so many sites. How can I remember this specific case and give my comments?”



A cooked up kidnapping tale?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
Some unidentified car-borne youths today sent the Sarabha Nagar police into a frenzy, when they allegedly attempted to kidnap a schoolboy. The police, however, terms the case as much ado about nothing, saying the kidnap theory was based more on suspicion of the alleged victim’s parents.

The police sounded a red alert in the city following the alleged attempt. The incident took place near Guru Nanak International Public School. The police said actually the boy was not going to school for the past over two weeks. He used to leave his house for school but never attended the school.

When the school authorities sounded the parents they questioned the boy. He said he was being regularly picked up by some men in a white Maruti van. On parents’ request police protection was given to the boy and cops in mufti went to the school for the past three days. But no kidnapper turned up.

Today afternoon when the boy was coming out of the school, a Maruti car stopped near him. It, however, sped away when the persons sitting in it saw some men with the boy. The car stopped at some distance away and when the cops started following it, it sped away.

A senior police official said the boy had not been able to explain what the alleged kidnappers used to do with him when they took him away. The police said the boy could have cooked up the story as an excuse for not going to the school.



Drought repercussions show up in business
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The predominant importance of agrarian economy of Punjab is being strongly felt by the business and trading community here, with most of the business establishments registering a decline in turnover compared to the corresponding period in the last year. The ever-busy Chaura Bazar and the adjoining markets around, which are considered to be the nerve centre of trade and business in Ludhiana, present a dismal look against an otherwise heavy rush of customers.

The decline in trade is being attributed to the poor economic condition of people in the countryside. Chaura Bazar and the adjoining markets like Gurh Mandi and Dal Bazar have recorded very low turnover during the past two months. According to Mr Mohit Jain, a wholesale dealer, who supplies goods to retailers, the situation was too bad there. The orders had come down as people were not making any major purchase and restricting themselves to spending on essential household items.

Although the market remains very dull during this time, it has been too disappointing. “It is not that people do not have money, they are holding it back as they are apprehensive about the time to come”, Mr Jain pointed out, while adding, “the main problem for farmers who constitute over 80 per cent of our customers is that they are not able to get money from the lenders and commission agents”.

The produce does not sell before September. By that time, the farmers borrow money mostly from the arthiyas (commission agents) and it is the borrowed money or the advance, they spend for various purchases. But this time, with poor prospects of a good crop the arthiyas are also not prepared to part with their money, lest it should turn into a bad debt. Even the money lenders are reported to have vanished from the scene.

Ram Kumar, a retailer of consumer goods in Chaura Bazar, said he had been observing quite a fall in the number of people visiting the market. He observed that while the number of people visiting Chaura Bazar had already fallen due to the ongoing work on the elevated road project, the plight of the farmers is another major factor. With most of the urban customers having shifted to the modern markets like the Mall, Gumhar Mandi and Feroze Gandhi Market, the shopkeepers and traders are now mostly dependent on the ruler clientele.

According to Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, a leading dealer of electric and electronic appliances in Chaura Bazar and the general secretary of the Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Punjab, the drought conditions have further complicated the situation. “It seems to be the last straw on the camel’s back as there was already recession prevailing for some time and now the drought has dashed all hopes of revival”, he remarked, while adding, this will have its shadow over the coming festival season also and most of the traders were too cynical and apprehensive about any major change in the market outlook.



Rattan to scan dera literature
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has taken a serious note of the happenings in Punjab over the controversy regarding the activities of the Ashutosh Baba of the Divya Jyoti Sansthan Noormahal in Jalandhar district and has asked Mr N.S. Rattan, Secretary, Higher Education, and Dr J.S. Neki, a renowned Sikh scholar, to scan the literature of the Noormahal dera.

Mr Rattan, when contacted, confirmed that they had collected some literature and video cassettes from the dera of Ashutosh Baba which was being scanned.

Mr Rattan has also formed a panel of five Sikh scholars of the Punjabi University (3) and of Guru Nanak Dev University (2) to assist them in the scanning of the same.

Mr Rattan disclosed that they had almost examined the literature and now the video cassettes were being scanned by them. After completing the scanning of the material, they would submit the report to the Chief Minister.

When asked when he would submit the report, Mr Rattan said that it would take about another week to complete examination of the material procured by them.

It may be mentioned here that the Sikh organisations, including Akal Takhat and the SGPC, have sought a ban on the activities of Ashutosh Baba and Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarewala. A clash has already taken place between the supporters of Ashutosh Baba and activists of the sikh students federation (Mehta) and Khalsa Panchayat in Malout last month in which the police had to open fire and a number of persons were injured.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president , Sant Samaj and Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takhat, have formed an action committee against Ashutosh Baba and sought closure of his dera in Punjab.



Decomposed body found
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The badly decomposed body of a migrant labourer, Ajay Kumar, was found lying abandoned in the vast dumping ground of the municipal corporation in Gopal Nagar today morning. The man had gone missing on Saturday. The police believes he was murdered by some persons because of some personal enmity that day only.

The body could be identified late in the evening only. The police said it had found a diary from the pocket of a trouser worn by the man.

It did not disclose his address or identity but contained addresses of three persons. The persons were traced and called. One of them recognised the man and called his parents.

The man’s father, Mewa Lal, who was crying inconsolably, said his son had left home on Saturday for day’s work in D-One factory in industrial area. He used to work as a washerman there. He lived in Gopal Nagar Tibba road. He is survived by three children, including two daughters.

Mewa Lal said he does not suspect anyone. He said they were searching the missing man for the past three days. However, they had not registered any complaint with the police.

The condition of the body was very bad. Worms had eaten into the body. The police said there were no injury marks on the body but it was quite old and had decomposed a lot.



Bank employees’ strike on Aug 21
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
On the directive of the All-India Bank Employees Federation, the Punjab Bank Employees Federation has announced to hold a procession on August 21. It will hand over the list of defaulters, who owe the bank Rs 1 crore, to the Deputy Commissioner.

The federation has demanded that for improving the ‘health’ of the banking industry, the privatisation move should be abandoned as it is against the interests of the nation and economy.



Beopar Mandal seeks relief for hosiery units
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 12
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has urged the government to immediately intervene and save the local hosiery industry from an impending crisis, created by introduction of Form C by the Sales Tax Department.

A deputation of the mandal, which met the Punjab Minister for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, here on Sunday, lamented that the hosiery trade in the city was facing a big problem in sales because small traders and Tibetan retailers, who purchased almost 80 percent of the hosiery items, were shying away and were shifting to alternative markets like Delhi. because being unregistered dealers, they had to pay 10 per cent sales tax. The situation was so grim that till date, the markets were almost deserted whereas August and September were supposed to be peak months for hosiery trade.

In a memorandum submitted to the minister, the mandal opposed 36-A Exim Form slapped upon exporters of hosiery goods and demanded the retention of old form 24 for this purpose. “The introduction of the new form will breed corruption and create harassment for hosiery industry,” it was asserted.

According to Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, District Secretary of the mandal, the minister was apprised that the hosiery industry in the city was contributing a whopping sum of Rs 9 crore to the state exchequer by way of taxes and over 5 lakh persons were directly or indirectly employed by the industry and trade. Emphasising the pressing need for immediate relief to the hosiery industry, the deputation pointed out that the government should come forward without any further delay lest the hosiery industry and trade should suffer irreparable damage.

Responding to the demands of the Beopar Mandal, Mr Pandey assured that the government would address the problems being faced by the hosiery sector on priority basis. He said he would take up the matter with the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, and would also arrange a meeting of the trade and industry with the minister in next couple of days. Mr Pandey further told the delegation that the Punjab government would take up the matter of Central Sales Tax Form C with the Union Government at the appropriate level.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Baba Ajit Singh, Chairman, Mr Kasturi Lal Mittal, president of the PPBM, Mr Jagdish Anand, Mr Parveen Bansal, Mr Ashok Jain, Mr Ashwani Ahuja, Mr Kamal Gupta, Mr Vijay Walia and Mr Chaman Lal Pampi.



Hosiery traders to observe bandh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
The Ludhiana Hosiery Association has decided to observe a bandh on August 20 in protest against the ‘black laws of the government’ imposing various taxes and restrictions on the hosiery traders.

The general secretary of the Beopar Mandal, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, said today that all hosiery dealers had unanimously decided to observe bandh.

The main demand of the association is withdrawal of order on sales tax Exim form and form C. Mr Aggarwal said both these forms imposed certain restrictions on the hosiery manufacturers which were beyond their control.

He pointed out that the government had asked the hosiery manufacturers to procure form C from the purchasers of their goods. The form is allotted only to those dealers who have got their sales tax number and whose turnover is more than Rs 5 lakh.


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