Tuesday, August 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


When celebrations ended in mourning
Prompt action could have saved lives
Our Correspondent

Officials of the Samrala administration didn’t feel the necessity to visit the spot. Civil authorities were being condemned by the people present over there. Gloom descended over the whole of Powat village after the death of Gurpreet Singh (17), the scooterist who was crushed to death by the matador which fell into the canal afterwards. Gurpreet, a student of 10+1 at Chopra Public Senior Secondary School, Machhiwara, was returning to his village when the accident took place. Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, came to attend the funeral of Gurpreet . He expressed grief over the whole incident which claimed 11 lives. 

Sahnewal , August 26
A pall of gloom descended on this town today when six bodies of the yesterday’s tragic accident near Macchiwara were brought to their native place at Purana Bazaar here today. Ten persons out of the 11 who died in the accident belonged to one family.

Entire town joined the family in the moment of grief. Almost all shops and business houses remained closed to express condolences to the family.

A huge assembly of mourners thronged the place to share the irreparable loss suffered by the family.

The ‘few’ surviving members of the joint family of Labh Singh are in a state of deep shock owing to the tragedy that struck the family yesterday.

Labh Singh, who preferred staying home due to some urgent work, is not being able to reconcile himself with the fate. The news of the accident came to him as a bolt from the blue.

Seventeen members of the family had gone yesterday morning to visit Gurdwara Chamkaur Sahib but 10 lost their lives when the Matador in which they were travelling fell in the Sirhind Feeder. The six dead were cremated today afternoon. Two more bodies were recovered today close to the accident site but were held back for post-mortem examinations at the Samrala Civil Hospital. Two more bodies are yet to be recovered.

The six who have been cremated are Jagir Kaur (60), wife of Labh Singh; Suman (15), daughter of Narinder Singh; Rakesh Rani (40), wife of Balwinder Singh; Sawarnjit Kaur, wife of Balbir Singh; Mandeep Singh, son of Balbir Singh; and Gurjit Singh, son of Narinder Singh. The bodies of the two who have been sent for post-mortem examinations are Kulwinder Kaur and Niki. The two persons who are unaccounted for are Tarlochan Singh and a five-year-old girl, Bhupinder Kaur, daughter of Jasvir Singh.

The seven who had a miraculous escape are Jasvir Singh, his wife Avtar Kaur, their daughter Amandeep Kaur (7) and son Gurmukh Singh (40 days), Manpreet Kaur, daughter of Balbir Singh; Paramjit Kaur, wife of Narinder Singh, and Amandeep Singh (5), son of Tarlochan Singh.

The police and administration is busy searching for the two bodies in the canal. Meanwhile, the funeral procession was attended by Mr Heera Singh Gabria, former MLA, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president youth wing, SAD (B), Mr Jaswminder Singh Sandhu, vice-president, Congress (rural), Mr Jewan Kapila, former president, Nagar Panchayat, Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, local MLA, Mr Jaspal Singh Jassi, SDM, Samrala, Mr Vinod Kumar Mehta, EO, Mr Balbir Chand Kapila, senior vice-president, BJP Punjab, Mrs Bhawna Garg, SDM, (Ludhiana East).

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Labh Singh said: “My son Jasvir Singh had been blessed with a son after five daughters and hence the family wanted to pay its obeisance at Gurdwara Chamkaur Sahib. The child is just 40 days old and had a miraculous escape along with his mother and father.

I have lost all. The cruel hands of fate have snatched my loved ones.”

Meanwhile, the town wore a deserted look today as most of the shops remained closed to share the grief. People reached the cremation grounds and consoled the bereaved family.

Machhiwara: The alleged inhuman and callous behaviour of police officials and civil authorities of Machhiwara has revealed that had these officials taken their duty seriously, the rescue work being conducted by the people of Powat and Sehjo Majra villages would not have come to a halt and many lives could have been saved.

Though Gurwinder Singh of Powat village informed the officials concerned four times immediately after the accident took place but they reached the spot after one hour from a police station which is just at a distance of 10 KM from the site of the incident. The official’s behaviour disappointed everyone present there.

Moreover, other officials of Samrala administration didn’t feel the necessity to visit the spot. Civil authorities were being condemned by the people present over there. Gloom descended over the whole of Powat village after the death of Gurpreet Singh (17), the scooterist who was crushed to death by the matador which fell into the canal afterwards. Gurpreet, a student of 10+1 at Chopra Public Senior Secondary School, Machhiwara, was returning to his village when the accident took place.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, came to attend the funeral of Gurpreet . He expressed grief over the whole incident which claimed 11 lives.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Atwal expressed surprise over the role of authorities. He added that it was the duty of the district officials to observe the rescue work. “It is most unfortunate that no one turned up on the spot”, he said. He termed this negligence as an act of inhumanity which cost many lives. He demanded from the government to sanction ex gratia grants to the bereaved families without any further delay.

The Machhiwara police has registered a case against the deceased matador driver Tarlochan Singh under section 279, 304A and 427 of the IPC. According to the latest information, the police was able to recover two more bodies out of missing four. Bodies of Kulwinder Kaur wife of Tarlochan Singh and Gurmeet Kaur daughter of Narinder Singh were recovered today.



CBI continues to grill cops in Mukhija murder case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
The Ludhiana angle of the sensational murder case of congress leader Harmesh Kumar Mukhija, in which the prime accused Gurmukh Singh Kuku had allegedly claimed he was in the custody of the Sadar police here at the time of the murder in far away Moga, has again gained spotlight with the accused sticking to his statement even after his questioning by CBI sleuths for over a month.

The CBI team investigating the case, however, continues to disbelieve his claim and asserted that it has not closed the Ludhiana angle of the case, and is in the process of grilling some local cops over the accused’s claims.

The Congress leader was gunned down on November 13, 2000, at Dharamkot in Moga district. The police investigation named Gurmukh Singh Kuku as the main accused and said political rivalry was behind the murder. Some eye-witnesses had claimed that they saw Kuku firing the shots.

The accused, who had gone absconding, created a flutter by filing a statement through his lawyer before a judge in Ferozepore that he was arrested by the Ludhiana police on charges under Excise Act on November 12, and was in police custody at the time of murder.

It was alleged by the victim’s family that the accused had created an alibi to save himself. Later, due to the intricate nature of the case, the investigations were handed over to the CBI, which visited Ludhiana several times in order to investigate the case.

The main accused, Kuku, surrendered in the CBI court, Patiala, early this month after eluding arrest for one-and-a-half-years. The mystery surrounding the Ludhiana angle, however, remained as after almost a month’s questioning by the CBI, Kuku sticked to his guns.

CBI sources revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that even though the accused was maintaining his stand, the CBI does not believe him and will conduct further investigations in the local angle. They said that the Ludhiana angle was one of the most important key to the case and the CBI has some leads about the suspicious kind of arrest if it was really of Kuku.

AIG Paramjit Singh Gill was also entrusted an inquiry by the state government into the accused’s Ludhiana angle. The police officer visited the Sadar police station but the case was handed over to the CBI before the inquiry was completed.

According to CBI sources, a case against Gurbax Singh Kuku had definitely been registered at the Sadar police station on November 12 but the manner in which the sequence of events took place before the arrest and the later the process of releasing him on bail had raised suspicions which ultimately led to the initiating of inquiry first by the Punjab police and then by the CBI.

Sources said the accused who was caught from Satluj bridge near Phillaur carrying 12 bottles of liquor in violation of the Excise Act had allegedly behaved in an abnormal manner at police nakas at the Jagraon flyover near Ludhiana railway station and then a few minutes later at the Jalandhar bye-pass chowk.

His behaviour at the two nakas prior to his arrest has also been recorded in the inquiry undertaken by the AIG. According to sources, the policemen posted at the nakas have revealed the abnormal behaviour of a man. The police staff has said that they got the impression that the man was deliberately trying to get arrested.

According to CBI sources, the theory of abnormal behaviour by the man has been substantiated by the fact that his car number has been recorded by the different police personnel. Continuing with the doubts, there were allegations that the man was kept locked and was allowed to sleep outside. This allegation was yet to be verified by the CBI.

Interestingly, the man was released on bail the very next day on the surety bond of two policemen, which is not termed as usual. Later, one of the policemen standing as surety bond was sent to the police lines.

The CBI inquiry, according to sources, is concentrating several angles of the case. The first theory was that the man was allegedly involved in hatching a conspiracy of the murder and had through his alleged arrest got prepared the alibi to protect himself in future. The second theory was that it was not Kuku but someone else who was arrested. The third theory was that the version of the accused is correct and he is innocent.



‘Petrol pumps owned by Congmen’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Apparently in order to counter the Congress demonstration scheduled to be held on August 28 against petrol pump allotments, the BJP leadership today came out with a list of 20 petrol pumps and gas agencies reportedly owned by various Congress leaders, workers or their relatives. The petrol pumps and gas agencies have been mostly allotted during the last Congress regime at the Centre between 1991 to 1996 headed by Mr P.V. Narsimha Rao.

Ridiculing the campaign launched by the Congress against it, the local BJP leaders condemned the party for trying to exploit a non-issue and blow it out of proportion. The BJP leaders demanded that the way the government cancelled the allotments of the petrol pumps allotted since January, 2000, it should also cancel the previous allotments as they were made purely on political or personal considerations.

Giving details of the petrol pumps and gas agencies, a BJP spokesman suggested that the Congress leaders should go for introspection and should first surrender their own petrol pumps and gas agencies which they got without following any norm. “While the present government did follow some procedure and norms and everything was done according to a proper procedure, the Congress governments made such allotments on discretionary basis”, the spokesman alleged.

Among the petrol pumps and gas agencies owned by the Congress leaders, including the sitting and former MPs, MLAs, former ministers and other prominent office-bearers and workers. These, according to the BJP, include Inder Gas Service, Inderjit Gas Service, Sharma Filling Station, Lucky Service Station, Dewan Gas Service, Avtar Flame, Gillson Gas Service, Rana Gas Service, Ram Singh and Sons, Kehar Gas Service, Azad Gas Service, Amrik Petrol Pump, Highway Filling Station, Surinderpal Singh Petrol Pump, another petrol pump in Mehdoodan owned by Mr Amrik Singh, Kisan Filling Station, Gill and Company, Amrik Singh Petrol Pump, Sai Filling Station and Amrit Enterprises.

The BJP spokesman said this list includes only some names of the Congress leaders who were rewarded for their party affiliation, while there are scores of similar other leaders and workers who own gas agencies and petrol pumps across the state. The party claimed that it was preparing another list for the entire state to expose the Congress. “We will show them the mirror to have a look at their own face before pointing a finger on others”, the BJP spokesman remarked, while adding, “if they have any moral courage they should own it and admit that they have been benefited by the previous Congress regimes at the Centre and the state”.



Two labourers drugged, robbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Two unidentified migrant labourers were drugged and robbed on board a train last night. They were admitted to the local Civil Hospital by some labourers late last night, who did not return today.

The incident comes close on the heels of a similar case of robbing of two soldiers of the Indian Army while they were travelling in a train. The police was yet to nab the culprits in that case.

Civil Hospital sources said the labourers were admitted by some labourers who promised to come back. They said as the victims were yet to regain consciousness, no clue to their identity or the train they were travelling in had been found.

Doctors said the labourers were given high dose of a strong sedative and would take some time before they could get normal again.

A gang has been operating in the region for the past several months. It has robbed several people onboard a bus or a train. The gang members first befriend their victim and then give him some sedative mixed in a biscuit or some snack. The victims have been found lying unconscious in train apartments, on railway station and even on roadside.

The local railway police maintains that the victims are not robbed in their area and are only recovered here. They say that the police of other areas or even states like Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir should nab the gang members. The news reports emanating from those parts also reveal similar passing of buck by the police.



Cong’s ‘anti-employee’ policies flayed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 26
Lambasting the Congress government in Punjab for persistently pursuing such policies that are detrimental to the interests of employees and other sections of society, the Punjab State Karamachari Dal has threatened to intensify the agitation. Activists of the dal, while staging a district-level dharna in front of Mini Secretariat here today, announced that similar protest dharna would be organised at Sangrur on September 4 followed by Moga on September 11.

Addressing the rally of protesting employees, the state chief, Mr Hari Singh Tohra, charged the new government with not only adopting a callous attitude towards pending genuine demands of the employees but also further going to the extent of denying such facilities and concessions that were achieved by the employees after prolonged agitation.

He observed that the employees were a frustrated and dejected lot after the state Budget for the current year had brought misery for them in the shape of scrapping of the LTC, non-payment of three instalments of the DA, replacement of medical allowance with pension scheme, denial of non-practicing allowance to doctors, privatisation of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and several other public sector undertakings, ban on recruitment and imposition of petrol cess and other levies.

Deploring the government on policy of privatisation, Mr Hari Singh Tohra further rued that the government had already taken a policy decision to close down five more corporations namely Punjab Tourism Development Corporation, Punjab Alkalies and Chemicals, PUNCOM, PUNWIRE and Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation, which would render more than 2,000 employees jobless. “Continuing with its anti-employee policies, the government has sacked 134 employees from the Education Department. Another 108 handicapped employees in the Rural Development Department have been shown the door and plans are being formulated to throw out 4,700 persons, recruited by the Punjab Subordinate Services selection Board”.

The dal president, while attacking the policy of privatisation, maintained that the massive losses and other financial irregularities plaguing the boards and corporations were the doings or rather misdoings of the bureaucracy, which still ruled the roost and influenced most of the government decision. According to official figures, the state has 206 IAS officers and 258 IPS officers. Top heavy police administration with scores of decorative posts like the ADGPs, the IGs and the DIGs are a big drain on the exchequer, which needs to be dealt with but the government lacks the will to do so and the low-rung employees are being made scape goats.

Through a memorandum submitted to the district authorities, the dal demanded that all allowances be restored, service benefit of 4, 9 and 14 years be granted, employees should be given bonus on the Central Government pattern from 1997, ad hoc and contractual employees be regularised, policy of privatisation and contract system be scrapped and minimum wages be raised in proportion with rise in prices.



Cong gears up for dharna
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 26
Activists of the Congress party, led by Mr Harwinder Singh Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, will hold a dharna here on August 28 against “scams and scandals” of the NDA government at the Centre and the BJP, the leading constituent of the ruling coalition.

Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president, District Congress Committee, while addressing a meeting of party workers here for the proposed dharna and the state-level function at Payal on August 31 to mark the death anniversary of late Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh, said the dharna against the Vajpayee government and the rally at Payal would focus on “misrule” of the BJP-led coalition and highlight “dubious” dealings of senior government functionaries, which had sullied public offices and political scenario in the country.



Concern over financial health of PSEB
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
A Zonal meet of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees has expressed serious concern over the financial status of the board. Other issues discussed were power sector reforms, reduction in transmission and distribution losses, curbing theft of energy, steps to improve consumer service, work culture and implementation of various circulars relating to junior engineers.

The PSEB employees felt that keeping in view the deep financial crises prevailing in the PSEB, the Punjab Government should immediately compensate the PSEB in lieu of providing free power to the agriculture sector, besides subsidising power to various other categories of consumers. The PSEB leadership urged the State Electricity Regulatory Commission to immediately decide the revision of tariff, which had already been delayed. They also demanded stringent measures to curb power theft and recovery of defaulting amount from influential persons.

Stating this here today, Mr Davinder Singh, general secretary, Council of Junior Engineers, PSEB, said besides this, the session further stressed upon self-development among the union leaders. Their role in widening their organisational base and ways and means for proper implementation of the Benevolent Fund was also discussed.

Central leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh, president, Mr Davinder Singh, general secretary, Mr P.S. Mundi, senior vice-president, Mr Harjit Singh, Advisor, Mr S.P. Bansal, secretary south zone, Mr Rupinder Kumar, president, Patiala zone and Mr C.S. Gill, additional general secretary, DEA, interacted with the leadership.

The council office-bearers further requested the Board management to immediately interact with all major union associations of the Board to find ways and means for improving functioning of the PSEB and also create work culture to create motivation/responsibility at every level.

Mr R.P. Shorie and Mr H.R. Bhatia, vice-president and secretary central zone, respectively, of the council welcomed and thanked the participants for their response to the interactive session and stressed on similar interaction in future for the betterment of the PSEB.



Ghumar Mandi traffic problem persists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Notwithstanding the recent assurances by shopkeepers of Ghumar Mandi that they will not park their vehicles on the road, two main roads passing through this market remain choked during peak hours.

About six months ago, the traffic police had introduced the system of one-way traffic through Ghumar Mandi. The move was supported by the general public and a number of shopkeepers also. However, some shopkeepers opposed it on the pretext that this had adversely affected their business.

Several shopkeepers said the one-way traffic had helped in streamlining the traffic. “For sometime, everybody felt relieved as customers could easily move in the market”, a fruit-seller in the market said. “But the decision was reversed by the traffic police due to pressure by a handful of shopkeepers”.

They maintained that against the general perception that one-way traffic will adversely hit the business, it will rather lead to increased business during the peak hours. “As of now, the customers avoid coming or passing through Ghumar Mandi during the peak business hours, as it is very difficult, rather impossible, to move smoothly through the market at that time”, another shopkeeper admitted.

While most of the shopkeepers admit individually that there should be one-way traffic in the Ghumar Mandi area, particularly on the national road and another leading towards Arti Chowk, once they get together they start opposing the idea. However, they have one valid point as there is no parking place in the vicinity where the customers or the shopkeepers could park their vehicles.

The SP (Traffic), Mr Gurdial Singh, also agreed that the non-availability of parking space in the area was the main problem. He said the traffic police had already written to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to put dividers so that the drivers do not cross to the other side. On the unauthorised parking along the road, he said traffic cops were regularly fining the offenders.



Consumers rue poor phone services
Our Correspondent

Amloh, August 26
Telecom services being provided here and the surrounding villages by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have become irksome.

Consumers complain that they repeatedly visit telecom offices at Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh but they have found no solution to their problems.

Mr Data Ram, a resident of ward no. 4, today distributed a photocopy of the collective representation made to the General Manager Telecom, Patiala, that contained the signatures of around 60 consumers, including sarpanches and head of various organisations.

It was stated in the application that bi-monthly consumer bills were either not being delivered to consumers or delivered late for which the consumers were being made to pay surcharge and late fee penalty. In March, bills were issued for one month instead of two months. Moreover, the bills were not distributed to them as the only postman posted in the town had proceeded on leave and no alternative arrangement was made. Consequently, telephone bills, money orders, roll numbers of students, result cards, interview letters and other important mail remained piled up at the post office. Furthermore, the BSNL added Rs 105 to each bill as restoration fee when there was a provision of penalty for delayed payments.

Consumers also rued over-billing by the department. Mr Shiv Kumar, president, Anti-corruption Unit Amloh, said STD facility at the telephone exchange often remained out of order for days together. When contacted, Mr Amarjeet Singh, SDO Telecom, said the postal department was responsible for the delay in delivery of telephone bills. Junior Accounts Officer, Mandi Gobindgarh, however, could not be contacted for comments.



10,000 Thapar families to take part in mela
Our Correspondent

The memorial of Baba Gajju ji Thapar
The memorial of Baba Gajju ji Thapar

Ludhiana, August 26
As many as 10,000 Thapar families from all over India and abroad are likely to participate in the annual mela to pay homage to Baba Gajju ji Thapar. The mela is being held on September 7 in Gurdev Nagar by the Samadhi Shri Baba Gajju ji Thapar Biradari.

Dr Rajesh Thapar, press secretary of the biradari, said in a press note here today that preparations to hold the annual gathering of Thapar families were under way. He said a meeting of the biradari which was held to review the preparations, had passed a resolution asking the authorities concerned to name the elevated road between the Jagraon bridge and the Chand cinema after Sukhdev Thapar, who was hanged by the British along with Bhagat Singh and Raj Guru. The meeting also demanded that the road leading to the samadhi site of Baba Gajju ji Thapar in Gurdev Nagar should be named after Captain Vijayant Thapar, who laid down his life in the Kargil war.

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr Deepak Thapar, Mr Surinder Thapar, Mr Satish Thapar, Mr Harish Thapar, Dr Vijay Thapar, Mr Karan Thapar, Mr Vir Bhushan Thapar, Mr Sandip Thapar and Mr Anil Thapar.

Dr Thapar told Ludhiana Tribune that the programme on September 7 would begin with “aarti” at 6.30, am after which puja and darshan would continue till 3 pm. Election to the life membership sabha and sewadars of the Thapar biradari would be held at 4 pm . A bhandara would also be held on the occasion from 7.30 am to 3 pm.



Poets discuss book
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 26
The book ‘Warjana Ton Par’ written by Baldev Parwana was the subject of discussion by the Punjabi Sahitya Academy at Punjabi Bhavan. The discussion was part of the ongoing monthly discussions undertaken by members of the association to discuss a new book.

Prof N.S. Tasneem said the poetry of Parwana lies between romance and realism. Love is wonderful and to talk about is not prohibited. Parwana has written about experiences of his life with rare sincerity and boldness. No doubt, he is influenced by Marxism yet his poetry is quite free from any “isms”. His poems have a mass appeal as his subject is “love”.

Dr Sarbjit Singh, who had come from Chandigarh, read a paper on the book. He said, “Parwana depicts the agony of downtrodden people in a symbolic way”. Dr Surjit Singh of Mukstsar said poetry of Parwana is an attempt to break the cultural and political shackles to liberate a person. He further said that his poetry is a continuous journey to achieve freedom from all chains the society had imposed.

Gurbhajan Gill, acting president of the Punjabi Sahitya Academy, appreciated the style and language of Parwana’s poetry. Dr Gulzar Pandher, a critic, said Parwana’s poems throw light on rich past heritage and also attempt to find new horizons in art and poetry. He said Parwana possesses great sensibilities.



Police probe on in note case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
While there is immense interest in the media regarding the authenticity of the million-dollar note, the district police continues its slow probe into finding whether the note was genuine.

A senior police official said as far as the case was concerned, the police was not bothered about the authenticity of the note. He said the case was simply of cheating of innocent persons by two alleged swindlers, including a terrorist- turned-trickster. The victims were cheated by showing them a million-dollar note, which was allegedly never given to the victims.

Police sources said irrespective of the authenticity of the note, the case of cheating against the accused would stand. Media reports had said that the note was once easily available in the USA at a cost of 50 cents to $ 100.



Kirtan Darbar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 26
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, a “Kirtan Darbar” will be organised at Gurudwara Ramgarhia, Miller Ganj, on August 31 by the management of the Ramgarhia Educational Council. Prominent “ragis” and “dhadis” would present shabad kirtan and recite gurbani on this occasion.



House burgled
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, August 26
Robbers decamped with cash and jewellery from the house of a master and mistress of a government school.

The couple, Mr Sher Singh and Ms Inderjit Kaur, had gone to the school and their children too were out when the incident took place. The robbers entered from the bathroom window and took away gold ornaments.

The robbery was detected only when the couple returned home. A case was registered at the Sahnewal police station under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC.

Man cheated: A man was cheated of Rs 1.85 lakh as he was lured by a travel agent to sent him to a foreign country.

The deal was established at Rs 3.50 lakh out of which Rs 1.85 lakh was paid by him on the spot. The complainant, Kirpal Singh of Lalton Kalan village, alleged that Bahadur Singh and Balkar Singh of Rurka village defrauded him. A case under Sections 420, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered.


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