Thursday, August 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Cop suspended for extorting money from 
bus passenger
Tribune News Service

Fact File

  • It was a blatant incident of corruption in full public view. Reports about corruption by cops have been pouring in, but today’s incident was the most daring one. Just for a paltry sum of Rs 500, the cop indulged in forcible extortion in front of several passengers.
  • Cocking a snook at the popular ‘Shreemanji’ policy of the Ludhiana police, none of the cops handling the incident used the polite system of addressing people, victims and even mediapersons.
  • The police instead tried to intimidate the victim, Darshan Singh. They were deterred only by the presence of PRTC staff, who sticked with the victim, and mediapersons.
  • Even as the incident occurred due to impolite behaviour and corruption, the police officers handling the case did not seem to have learnt any lesson. An officer of SP rank openly and rudely ordered mediapersons to leave his room. The reminder of polite behaviour had no effect on him.
  • The media persons wanted to hear the victim’s statement. His family was fearing there could be something fishy. However, the senior officer was thinking otherwise and misbehaved. This only aroused suspicion that they were hiding something. It was not interrogation of an accused but recording of an FIR. Media persons have lodged a complaint with the DIG, Mohammed Mustaffa.

Ludhiana, August 28
The district police authorities today suspended a constable of the PCR motorcycle squad and booked him on the charges of extorting money from a bus passenger, besides beating the bus conductor after a large number of employees of the Punjab Road Transport Corporation and other transport departments blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore road near Agar Nagar for over an hour this morning.

The agitating employees parked the buses diagonally on the road and blocked its both sides from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. forcing the commuters to divert to alternate routes. They relented only after senior officers of the district police reached the site and announced action against the guilty cop. The traffic jam affected school children and employees on way to morning duty.

The cop, Ashok Kumar, had allegedly abused and beaten up the victim Kishan Lal, on board the PRTC bus no. PB-11M-8498. The conductor was seriously injured. One of his hands was broken. He suffered injuries on other parts of the body also. The cop had also forcibly taken Rs 500 from a bus passenger, Darshan Singh after threatening to implicate him in a false case.

The issue of Darshan Singh was in fact the genesis of the problem. According to a statement given to the police by him, he along with his 8-member family had come to the city from Kolkata this morning. The accused cop along with an unidentified one (police says there was no other cop with him) accosted them outside the local railway station and demanded their tickets.

Darshan Singh said he asked him how come the police wanted to examine the railway tickets and refused. The cop then accused them of carrying poppy husk and demanded Rs 900 to let them ago. The family members refused. Meanwhile, a number of people gathered there and the cop allowed them to leave the place.

Kishan Lal
The injured bus conductor, Kishan Lal. — Tribune photo

However, he followed them to the bus stand and boarded the same bus. A few minutes after the bus left the bus stand, the cop started searching the family’s bags telling the other passengers that they were poppyhusk smugglers. However, nothing came out of the search. The cop found Rs 500 in a bag and pocketed the amount despite protests from the family members. Vimal Kaur, Darshan Singh’s wife, and other women relatives said the cop abused them and searched their personal belongings also.

The trouble with the bus driver and conductor began at this juncture. After pocketing the amount, the accused ‘ordered’ the driver to stop the bus on the canal bridge near Verka milk Plant. Mohinder Singh and Amar Singh of the PRTC Workers Union said the driver refused saying that the official stop is just 500 mtrs away at Agar Nagar. However, the cop started abusing. The bus conductor, Kishan Lal, objected to his rude behaviour and was beaten.

By that time the bus reached Agar Nagar, and the driver parked it diagonally on the road blocking the traffic. The passengers also came out and were joined by passengers and transport staff of other buses. The cop, meanwhile, succeeded in slipping way. Kishan Lal was rushed to a local hospital. His medical examination confirmed fracture in one of his hand.

The road remained blocked for over an hour. The conduct of the police after the incident was also questionable. There was a deliberate attempt by some police officers, of gazetted rank, to cover up the case. However they retracted at the offensive mood of the mob.

Later, the police took Darshan Singh to Sarabha Nagar police station to record his statement. The police however continued to avoid mediapersons. When mediapersons kept standing there, they took the complainant out saying his statement would be recorded before a district Judge.

However, the cops took him to the office of DSP Sarabha Nagar, where his statement was recorded in closed door. Media persons were rudely told by an officer of SP rank to leave the room.

Police sources later said the cop had been suspended and booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides beating the bus conductor.



Cong men hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Hundreds of Congress workers today staged a demonstration in front of the Mini-Secretariat to protest against the NDA government's “corrupt practices” in allotting the petrol pumps. The dharna was jointly organised by the urban and rural wings of the District Congress Committee, headed by Mr K.K. Bawa and Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran. It was led by the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Mr H.S. Hanspal.

The protesters were carrying Congress flags, placards and banners denouncing the NDA government and charging it of corruption and favouritism. Party workers stayed all through the rally despite a mild drizzle for some time. The workers also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, to be forwarded to the President of India seeking his intervention in preventing the government from “resorting to such widespread corruption”.

The memorandum listed a number of scandals that figured during the NDA regime. It pointed out, "even a relative of Prime Minister has also been benefited by the allotment, as the relative has given Prime Minister's residential address". It said, "The nation has hung its head in shame and people have lost confidence in the government as it has created a history of loot".

Making a scathing attack on the BJP and the RSS, the memorandum pointed out, "The BJP and its mentor RSS have always been boasting of high moral and ethical values for running and cleansing the political system of the country by providing a clean government. But the party has made a mockery of the moral values it claimed to have stood for by indulging in corrupt practices never seen or head before in the recent history. The shocking revelations of the Tehelka and later the coffin scandal have exposed their reality and unveiled their mask of morality”.

Addressing the gathering, various speakers demanded the dismissal of the NDA government at the centre as “it had crossed all the limits of corruption and inefficiency”. They listed various scams like Century Scam, Spectrum Scam, Stocks Scam and other bunglings in the disinvestment process.

Mr Hanspal said that the countdown for the fall of the NDA government at the Centre had started. "It is only a matter of time when the government will fall and a Congress government would be installed at the Centre", he declared, adding that even the allies of the BJP had started getting disillusioned with the party for its various omissions and commissions.

The dharna was attended among others by local MLAs who included Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Mr Surinder Dawer, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, the DCC urban and rural presidents, Mr K.K. Bawa and Mr Gurdev Lapran, the PYC senior vice presidents, Mr Pawan Dewan and Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka and the District Youth Congress president Mr Parminder Mehta.



Contractors’ bills held up
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 28
A resolution adopted by the Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) of the Municipal Corporation has created a piquant situation in which bills of contractors for development works of different kinds, which stood executed, were held up for payment, and other works in various stages of execution face the threat of being halted.

Not only this, the axe is likely to fall on certain officials, who, overstepping their limits, are said to have shown undue haste in issuing work orders for the tenders immediately after the issuing of the “model code of conduct” for the then civic elections. The F&CC had adopted a unanimous resolution at its meeting held on August 16 through which all such development works, which were approved by the outgoing F&CC, but the works orders were not issued till May 19, were stayed for the time being “in view of the financial situation” of the MC.

Sources, however, revealed that immediately after the civic elections were over and the code of conduct was no longer in force, certain officials in the engineering wing, O and M wing (responsible for water supply and sewerage), horticulture and electrical wing of the civic body had gone ahead with issuing work orders for tenders worth several crores of rupees, which were given a nod by the F&CC of the outgoing house. With a few exceptions, none of the officials concerned of the level of Executive Engineers had felt the need for obtaining fresh instructions or administrative orders from their superiors.

It is reliably learnt that MC Commissioner S.K. Sharma, who is presently on leave, had taken a stand that all such works, put on the hold in the wake of MC elections and model code of conduct, needed to be ratified by the administration and fresh approval had to be sought from the newly elected representatives. Taking a strong notice of the conduct of the erring officials, the MC Commissioner had not only sought their explanation but had made his intention clear of initiating suitable action against them.

Information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that although Mr Sharma, who immediately after taking over as Commissioner of the civic body on May 28, had cancelled tenders for various works estimated to cost over Rs 5 crore, which were invited during the period the code of conduct was in force but opened in the last week of May. However, several others works for which tenders were called earlier were in the stage of issuance of work orders and quite a few officials of the MC reportedly took advantage of the transition period between the exit of the elected members of the MC and taking over of the new councillors. 



Bangs and smoke ample, but no sleep at night
Hammer units create hell
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service


  • Buildings have become dangerously weak due to the constant vibration.
  • Noise pollution alarmingly high
  • Persons living nearby inhale thick smoke with air.
  • Often, bombs in the scrap explode in the furnaces
  • Heart patients unable to get the prescribed rest as the houses here constantly shudder with the noise
  • The thick smoke is giving many persons respiratory disorders.

Ludhiana, August 28
Thousands of persons of Vishvakarma Colony, Partap Nagar and Ram Nagar have been having sleepless nights due to noise and air pollution created by various hammer and furnace units nearby. These units have also become a threat to houses in these areas.

The units belong to scrap dealers who mould scrap iron brought here from abroad. Huge iron pieces are hammered and, then, melted in furnaces in these units. The constant hammering and burning of fuel in the furnaces have made life hell for families of these colonies.

The persons who live nearby say that the situation has worsened because the district administration and the Pollution Control Board have turned a deaf ear to their grievances. Sources in the office of the Pollution Control Board said officials of the board had raided the units in Vishvakarma Colony and Partap Nagar on July 22, cut electricity connections and sealed these units.

However, soon after the raid, owners of these units were back in business. The entire neighbourhood is sick of listening to ear-piercing noises and inhaling thick smoke with air. Often, bombs in the scrap explode in the furnaces, as the workers fail to check whether the bomb is defused or live.

Some months ago, a scrap bomb had exploded in a furnace of a unit in Vishvakarma Colony. At that time, many houses in the vicinity had suffered damage. The thick walls had also developed cracks. Then, persons of these areas had protested and urged the administration to move these units elsewhere in the city.

Mr Pritam Singh, a man who lives in the area, said that he was a heart patient and the continuous noise disturbed him. He said that there were many like him who had a similar disease and didn’t get the prescribed rest as the houses here constantly shuddered with the noise created by huge hammers banging against iron.

He said many houses had developed cracks and the buildings had become dangerously weak due to the constant vibration. He said, persons of the area had been running from pillar to post, but no official had done anything to improve the situation. He also said, even a scrap-bomb blast in JB Foundry had evoked no strong action.

A lawyer who lives in the area, Mr Balbir Singh Sooch, who is fighting a legal battle against the units for the past 15 years, said: “The deafening sounds have been driving us mad and the thick smoke is giving us respiratory disorders. Peace is far away. I have written to the Chief Minister in this regard.”



Gnarled hands shape mighty gods
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, August 28
Theirs are the hands that shape ‘mighty gods’ but still they along with their children are living in poverty. Although they are putting in all their efforts to make idols, they are finding it very difficult to make their both ends meet.

Padam Ram from Jodhpur has been making and painting idols for decades. Living in abject poverty, Padam Ram looks much older than his age. Though he creates objects of beauty with his lean, well browned and gnarled hands, he is not able to feed his five children and his wife.

The wife, Uma, also helps first in making the idols with plaster of paris. She besides looking after her brood of children and cooking simple meals, assists her husband in painting the idols of Krishna. These days they are very busy as people purchase the idols for Janmashtami. With most of their waking time spent on making the idols and painting them, it takes them four to five days to finish one icon. Every time a car stops, they think they would be able to earn money, but many a people just look at the idols and drive away. Padma Ram says: “People do not realise the hard work that we have put in. Just because we are selling the beautiful idols on the roadside, they haggle with us over the price. Since our survival depends on sale of these images, we have to sell them cheap out of sheer necessity. The same idols in the showroom would cost a packet”.

Padma Ram has been making the idols for past 35 years, yet his children cannot go to school. Firstly, there is no school nearby and secondly, they just do not have any money. They just live for the day in a small hut bereft of even minimal comforts. In spite of the great art he possesses, there is no government agency or any NGO to help him market his products in a better way. From the past one decade he has been able to visit his native place once as there is never any spare money.



MLA accused of misbehaviour
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Ms Barjinder Kaur, a former Congress councillor, today accused the sitting party MLA from Samrala, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, of misbehaving with her and passing obscene remarks during the party’s anti-corruption protest demonstration held here in front of the Mini-Secretariat.

Immediately after the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, concluded his speech and people started dispersing, an exasperated Ms Kaur rushed towards the waiting journalists to complain against Mr Dhillon. She alleged that Mr Dhillon had made certain obscene remarks against her, which amounted to character assassination.

She was so angry that she threatened to teach him a lesson. “I was waiting for long to teach them a lesson, and now that our party is in power they would be shown their place”, Mrs Kaur shouted while referring to Mr Dhillon.

However, Mr Dhillon denied all these charges, saying there might have been some misunderstanding on part of Ms Kaur. The Congress MLA argued that he never told Ms Kaur anything to which she objected. “I am surprised over the inquiries being made from me over the so-called incident which never took place”, Mr Dhillon wondered.

Later, the issue was sorted out after the intervention of Mr Hanspal. He held a meeting of the two to “sort out the misunderstandings”. Both of them later said that there was no issue left and the matter should be considered closed.

Ms Kaur also issued a statement explaining, “during the course of the dharna against the central government in Ludhiana today, certain misunderstanding was created by some people about me. After verifying the facts, I found that it was only a misunderstanding. I happened to utter certain remarks before the Press. After clarification, my misunderstanding has been cleared and I withdraw all my remarks. The matter stands closed”.



Cong workers don’t mind using Tricolour 
as party flag
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Congress workers do not seem to mind using the National Flag as the party flag as there are many similarities between the two.

The flags were used in abundance today at its protest demonstration against ‘corrupt practices’ of the NDA government at the Centre.

When the matter was brought to the notice of the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, he said he did not notice it but would ensure that this did not happen in future.

He said “it is very wrong if it has happened, but I assure you that such practice will never be allowed in future”.



Absence of facilities at railway station decried
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 28
The Friends Citizen Council , Ludhiana, has decried the absence of basic amenities at the local railway station.

In a press note here yesterday, Mr Ramman Goomber, president of the council, said while the population of the city has increased manifold over the past 15 years, the railway station remains much the same.

Even while the number of trains running to and from Ludhiana has increased following the electrification of the Ludhiana-Delhi track, there has been no proportionate development of facilities at the station like easy and quick availability of platform tickets, clean and hygienic public conveniences, comfortable and abundant seating arrangements, hassle-free and courteous inquiry information, quick and easy reservation of tickets, upgradation of the refreshment room and most importantly, big electronic display of all incoming and outgoing trains at all platforms.

Mr Goomber further stated that during his tenure as member of the Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee, he had repeatedly raised these issues at the meeting and after constant persuasion some work had also begun. But it was saddening to note, that not only the steps had been withdrawn, even the basic cleanliness at the railway station was deteriorating.

He said on the recommendations of the Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee, the DRM had decided to open at least six ticket reservation centres in all major cities falling under the division such as Jammu, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. Even advertisements in newspapers in this regard had been inserted and applications received. But strangely, with the change in government and the ouster of Mr Ram Vilas Paswan as Railway Minister, the whole exercise came to a halt. Did it mean that the requirements of the general public have ceased to exist ? asked Mr Goomber.

He said the council had requested the Union Minister for Railways and the authorities concerned to take note of the sorry state of affairs at the railway station and speed up the development of basic amenities to provide the much-needed relief to the general public.



Self-employment schemes launched
Our Correspondent

Amloh, August 28
Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, inaugurated a one day workshop, organised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in collaboration with the Child-development and Project Officer (CDPO), Amloh, for awareness to provide employment under the self-help group (SHG) here on today.

The Deputy Commissioner called upon people, especially of rural areas, to adopt various schemes launched by the government to supplement the income of their families, which would remove many hardships faced by them. He appreciated the working of 225 self-help groups. He said Rs 39.15 lakh had been provided to 125 self-help groups up to now by the banks and remaining 100 groups would soon get the needful amount from the banks concerned to start their work.

The Deputy Commissioner further said that an SHG is having about 13 members each who have been earning between Rs 50-100 regular monthly savings. He said most of the SHGs (self help groups) internal lending for meeting their socio-economic needs. Mr Vikas Partap pointed out that 1625 families have got through this schemes employment. Major activities undertaken by SHG members in various ventures are in fancy items, karyana shop, house repair, dairy, cattle shed, sewing, knitting, installation of hand pumps, repair of electric motors etc. Articles prepared by the self-help group were also displayed in exhibition.

Mr K.L.J Khamb, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, said that the SHG approach had emerged as a promising credit delivery mechanism in the country for reaching the rural poor. With a view to creating awareness and familiarisation at the grassroots level functionaries/NGOs/bankers/govt departments are propagating the concept and philosophy of “self- help group” to have better coordination and partnership among various agencies.

Among those who attended the workshop included Mr J.S. Cheema, District Development and Panchayat Officer, Mr Baldev Singh Aulakh, Amloh council chief, Dr Tarsem Lal Mattoo, Dr Mahesh Jindal, Dr Avtar Singh Bhullar, SMO, Mr M L Guru, lead district manager, Harjit Arneja, project officer, Patiala, and branch managers of various banks and NGOs.



BoP employees hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Employees of the Bank of Patiala yesterday held a demonstration at three places in protest against various “anti-union policies” of the management of the bank. The employees have alleged that the management of the bank is backing out of the agreement signed between the two sometime ago.

The demonstration was addressed by union leaders, including Mr Naresh Gaur, Mr A.K. Chhiber and Mr Ashok Malhan. They alleged that the union was not taken into confidence while taking various decisions relating to the functioning of the bank.

Stressing an immediate dialogue, the union leaders said they were ready for it in case the management adopted a cooperative stance in the interest of the growth and development of the bank. However, they warned, if the bank management failed in its initiative, the employees would observe complete strike on September 6.

The main demands of the union include stopping of the “violation of industry wise settlement on computerisation/mechanisation”, adequate recruitment of clerical/subordiante staff, implementation of welfare schemes as per the understanding, expediting the cases of compassionate appointments, pension to all employees who joined between November 1, 1993 and September 24, 1995, relieving of all employees under transfer, besides others demands.

Ahmedgarh: Employees of the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala observed protest on Tuesday.

They wore black badges and organised a rally in front of the branch in Grain Market, where employees from all branches had gathered. Addressing the rally, Mr J.N. Makhija, central committee member, criticised the bank management for not accepting their demands.



Janmashtami shobha yatra today 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 28
The Shri Sanatan Dharam Mahotsav Committee will take out its 52nd shobha yatra in connection with Janmashtami celebrations from the Daresi grounds tomorrow afternoon, according to Mr Madan Lal Chopra, chairman of the committee.

Before the start of the yatra, which is being taken out with the blessings of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Madhavashram, Mahamandelshwar Swami Ved Bharti, Dandi Swami Nigambodhji Tirath, Pandit Bhim Sain and Rishi Onkar Duttji, a ‘havan yajna’ will be performed at 2 pm at Shri Sita Mata Mandir in the Daresi grounds. Mr K.K. Bawa, president, DCC (I), Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, Mr Ramesh Sachdeva (Mahavir Sevak Sangh), Mr Darshan Dabar (president, Bajwa Nagar Association) and Mr Sat Pal Gosain will be among those performing the ‘havan’.

The ceremony of ‘kanya-poojan’ will be performed by Ms Swadesh Chopra, wife of Mr Vijay Chopra, Editor-in-Chief, Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers, at 3 pm at the same venue.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Printing and Stationery Minister, will preside over the main function and the tableaux taking part in the ‘yatra’ will be inaugurated by Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner. Mr H.S. Sidhu, SSP, will perform the flag-hoisting ceremony, Mohammed Mustafa, DIG, Ludhiana range, will have the honour of starting the yatra.

All MLAs and councillors of the city will be honoured by the committee. The yatra will pass through Partap Bazaar, Girja Ghar chowk, Chaura Bazaar, Vaishno Devi Chowk in Division No. 3, Kothi Khwaja chowk and Sanglan Wala Shivala chowk before culminating at Shri Haridev Mandir. A large number of tableaux, hymn-singing groups, schoolchildren, shopkeepers’ associations, bands and bhangra parties will take part.

Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, will give away prizes at a function to be held at the Shri Haridev Mandir chowk at 7 pm 



Durga Mandir to celebrate Janmashtami on Aug 31

The Shri Durga Mandir Committee has decided to celebrate Janmashtami at Shri Durga Mandir, Phase I, Dugri, on August 31, according to Mr Sushil Ramesh Garg, its general secretary. The decision was taken at a meeting of the committee a couple of days ago which was presided over by Mr Garg. Residents of Dugri, Jawaddi, Model Town, Dhandra and from other parts of the city are likely to participate in the midnight birthday celebrations of Lord Krishna. 



Hike in stamp duty flayed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
Members of the Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association yesterday staged a demonstration against the hike in stamp duty on the sale and purchase of the property. They said this decision of the government would severely hit them.

Led by their president, Mr Pritam Singh Pahalwan, the property dealers also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner and urging him to take up their case with the government. They claimed that the business was faced with severe recession and this hike was purely uncalled for.



Convention on August 30
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
The Punjab State Agriculture Cooperative Societies Employees Union will organise a delegates’ convention in Ludhiana on August 30.

According to Mr Gurmail Singh Bharowal, its president, the main speakers will be Mr Parmeshwar Singh Sidhu and Mr Kahan Singh Pannu, both additional registrars of the Cooperative Societies.

Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, Chairman, Iffco, will be honoured with the Cooperatives’ Gaurav Rattan Award on the occasion, he informed.



Our Correspondent

Khamano, August 28
An audit team has exposed malpractices in the Transport Department, on the basis of a document prepared by “an agent” regarding irregularities involving thousands of rupees. Sources said there had been bungling in the accounts.



Probe sought
Our Correspondent

Khamano, August 28
Some local politicians have sought a vigilance inquiry against a Punsup inspector. The inspector is alleged to have sold public-distribution-system wheat in open market and misbehaved with public.



Mill owner held in rice scam
Our Correspondent

Khamano, August 28
A vigilance team has arrested a mill owner, reportedly, in connection with a Rs 250 crore rice scam in Punjab. Some days ago, this mill owner had obtained a bail in a case of violation of anti-pollution norms.

Sources said a Punjab minister had been sheltering him. The minister’s men had met an eyewitness in this case before the mill owner was arrested from his house.Back

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