Monday, September 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Villagers up in arms against police-smuggler nexus
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Villagers boo bootleggers

  • Kot Umra village becomes first to take up cudgels against bootleggers.
  • The village panchayat has passed resolution to oppose the practice.
  • The state government has been urged to initiate action against liquor smuggling.
  • Action demanded against some police officials involved in the racket.
  • Disturbingly several women, especially widows, have become carriers for the smugglers.
  • Womenfolk of the village being harassed to join in the smuggling.
  • Urea, injections like oxytocine(used for milking cattle), besides dirty polluted water, used in liquor brewing.

Kot Umra (Jagraon), September 15
The panchayat of Kot Umra village near Sidhwan Bet has become the first village in this district to take up cudgels against bootleggers who reportedly work in tandem with the police. Fed up with the pressure exerted by the smugglers through the cops on those, who do not join their ranks, the villages have passed a resolution wherein they have appealed to the state government to immediately initiate action in this context.

The Tribune has, on various occasions, highlighted the bootlegging operations and the active involvement of police personnel in abetting the smugglers in the Bet area of this subdivision. Poisonous ingredients used in brewing the liquor are not only playing havoc with the health of the people but have also affected the social fabric of this backward area.

The passing of this resolution has upheld the media reports about the rampant smuggling and the involvement of the police in the illegal activity. The resolution also makes a startling revelation that after the young males now woman, most of them widows, have joined the smugglers.

The resolution, replete with specific incidents, also demanded strict action against some police personnel who were allegedly collecting hafta (protection money) from the smugglers and allowing this menace to spread. The panchayat has listed several incidents in which the police let off the smugglers and instead harassed the villagers, who had complained.

‘‘ The children, adult and the aged are hooked on the brew, especially the poor-quality ‘ruri marka’ brand and are dying a slow death. The average life span has reduced. Life-threatening diseases beside this addiction are killing the younger generation,’’ the resolution said. The resolution also claimed that impotency was rampant among the addicts.

Mr Balraj Singh, Sarpanch of the village, while giving details to Ludhiana Tribune said that they wanted to shake the state government out of its slumber by passing a resolution of this nature. He said the brewing and smuggling of liquor had assumed alarming proportions in the surrounding villages coming under the Bhundri police post in Sidhwan Bet police station due to the support extended by the police.

Revealing the unhygienic process of brewing, which is also given in detail in the resolution, he said gur (jaggery) was mixed with the dirty and polluted waters of the Sutlej river. The liquid was then put into a substance called ‘gachi’, which could not be preserved properly without keeping it in a refrigerator as it released certain dangerous gases. Then some portion of some material from which bread was made, was mixed along with ‘Akk, a wild shrub. The liquid thus formed was called laahan. Then the brewers also added urea to the mixture and a dangerous liquor was made through ‘kassidan process.

The smugglers then inject oxytocin, used for milking cattle, in the bottles. The finished product was sold at a rate of Rs 50 in the villages. An additional Rs 10 was taken for house delivery.

Villagers said that in keeping with the times, the liquor was also supplied in polythene packets and was also a handy way for smugglers to carry it on cycles or scooter or by hiding them in laden tractor-trolleys. The usual time of their arrival was between 5 pm to 7 pm. The smugglers had also kept labourers to do the job. They were given Rs 2 per bottle. Now several women had also joined the smuggling bandwagon as it had become quite a lucrative job. Addicts even consumed liquor with salt only. Several widows had also joined the profession.

Talking about the involvement of the police, the village panchayat said that the police allegedly took free supply of best liquor from the smugglers. The things had come to such a pass that the smugglers had started harassing other womenfolk of the village to pressurise them in joining the profession. The villagers had complained to the Bhundri police post of one such incident recently but no action had been taken so far.

The Bhundri police allegedly looked the other way as the smuggler mafia was providing money for constructing a canteen and some other rooms in the police post. They said some police personnel collected Rs 50 and Rs 100 daily from the smugglers depending on the size of their illegal operations.

Some politicians were also involved, the panchayat claimed. If some cop caught hold of smugglers, he had to release them under political pressure. Later, the cops also set their own price or were transferred if they did not join in this racket, the villagers revealed.

Recently some smugglers tried to rope in a villager Darshan Singh and his two friends in the illegal activity, they, however, refused and complained to the police. The police, instead of taking action against the smugglers on their information, detained and questioned the complainant. Due to this bad experience, the villagers now shied away from complaining .

The resolution called upon the state government to come to their aid as they feared tragedy was imminent as the liquor was spurious in nature.



Teachers to move court in protest against poll duty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
The controversy regarding the poll duties for Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections continues with the local teachers, who had opposed the move, deciding to move the High Court on the grounds that they had been discriminated against, while assigning the duties.

Talking to “Ludhina Tribune” here today, Mr Piara Singh Dhillon, president of the Government Primary Teachers Association, said they would leave for Chandigarh tomorrow and file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He said while teachers of some districts were exempted from the poll duty, those from Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur had been assigned the job.

Mr Dhillon alleged this was a blatant discrimination. Teachers from Patiala and Sangrur had not assigned the poll duties as they were from the districts of Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, respectively.

He alleged that teachers belonging to Moga and Ferozepore were also exempted as other important ministers in the Cabinet hailed from these two districts adding that there were only seven teachers from Moga who had volunteered for the duty.

Stating that it was the partisan attitude of politicians that was responsible for these developments, Mr Dhillon said the Deputy Commissioner had written to various government offices in the city to shortlist 125 employees each for the duty. Since nobody had volunteered, the teachers were made scapegoats in the case, he alleged.

Meanwhile the district administration had not yet issued show-cause notices to the teachers. These were likely to be issued tomorrow, sources said.



A career reborn on small screen
Asha Ahuja

Deepti Bhatnagar
Deepti Bhatnagar in Ludhiana on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, September 15
“I am the chosen one, for fortune has allowed me to visit holy places of every religion during the shooting of ‘Yatra’, my travel show,” said Deepti Bhatnagar, after inaugurating a diamond showroom here today.

She said: “I want to make meaningful serials with a touch of glamour. I am producing the series ‘Yatra’ that my husband, Randeep, is directing. Since I am a worshipper of Shiva, I have been to Gangotri and Kedarnath. My next visit will be to the Golden Temple. I aim to tell the youth about religious places of historical importance.”

One-time model, Deepti, strayed into films when Jackie Shroff offered her a role. Deepti says: “I was too naive, then, to critically analyse the script or the other aspects of film making. ‘Ram Shastar’ with Jackie flopped and my career as a film actress did not take off. Had I got a good role in successful movie first up, probably, I would still have been in movies.”

However, Deepti has no regrets, as she is busy travelling abroad for the shooting of her other serial, ‘Musafir Hoon Yaron’, that has taken her to 28 countries, so far. The last country that she visited was Indonesia. Deepti says: “We get a lot of invitations to shoot features on important places of other countries, but, since I am busy shooting for ‘Yatra’, I have to fit my foreign shoots between the shooting of this series.”

She became a businesswoman when she was in Class X. “I used to earn a good money selling jewellery pouches. Television has a great future in India. Since channels prepay artistes for serials, there is no way one can lose money,” she says.

Deepti is planning to make a soap opera ‘Kabhi Ayee Na Judaai’, that will be based on the theme of a happy family. It will not be a sob story and the serial will go on air from January 1, 2003.



ISI-trained ultras hiding in city?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
Two months after the state Intelligence Bureau alerted the Ludhiana police about the possibility of two ISI-trained Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists hiding in the city, no clue has been found about their area of activity or the people they were living with here.

The two agents are also named as suspects in the Doraha railway blast case. Their two other accomplices were arrested in June but they seemed to have slipped away.

Even as the district police had specifically alerted all police stations, besides pasting posters of the suspected terrorists in these places, no headway could be made.

Police sources said it was possible that they could have made good their escape after the key accused in the railway blast case, Vijay Kumar, alias Abdul, was nabbed by the Ludhiana police.

One of the two militants has been identified as Jamal-ud-Din, alias Joginder Masih, alias Joginder Singh. The second is known as Gujjar. 



Dumping ground in residential area
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
Thousands of residents of at least 12 colonies near New Kitchlu Nagar are having a harrowing time as the local Municipal Corporation has started dumping garbage in an open place amidst a residential area.

The residents of New Kitchlu Nagar, Greater Kailash, Altos Nagar, Mahavir Colony, New Ram Dass Nagar, Kitchlu Nagar Lane, RK Puram and surrounding areas are living amidst stink as the fodder mandi of the city has been converted into a garbage dump by the Municipal Corporation, notwithstanding the fact that it is a residential area and the dump is posing a threat to the health of the residents.

The residents said several acres of land, where the MC is now dumping garbage, belonged to the Mandi Board. They said it is actually a chaara mandi and the trolleys of the MC are throwing garbage everyday in the area. They claimed that the garbage of Civil Zone -D of the city was being dumped here. They further said that the MC already had a dumping ground that was situated 5 km away but the garbage-carrying vehicles, in order to save petrol, were dumping the garbage here only.

When a Ludhiana Tribune team visited the place today, stink was emanating from the dumping ground. Even the houses located nearby were filled with the stink. Huge heaps of garbage were dumped on the ground. The passersby were seen covering their noses. The team also saw biomedical waste dumped at the place.

The residents said earlier it used to be an open ground but two months ago, the trolleys of the MC started dumping the garbage here. They tried to stop the employees but the latter threatened them of dire consequences and action by the MC.

The residents said there were certain shops and eateries near the dump and their business was likely to be affected. Moreover, the dera of Radhasowami Satsang was also located near it and every day hundreds of devotees came here.

“Since then, we have been writing to the officials concerned, including MC Commissioner S.K. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal and even Mandi Board Officer Manjit Singh, but to no avail. We even telephoned all of them repeatedly but who cares for the common man?” asked Mr Satish Khullar, a resident of the area.

Stating that they were sick of meeting various MC officials, another resident, Mr Parveen Sohi, said now they were planning a demonstration in protest against the dump. He said, “We cannot do anything comfortably here. We are tired of the continuous smell. We don’t feel like staying in our houses. We keep our doors and windows closed but even then the smell does not spare us.”

The residents said that although it was a nuisance for them during normal days, rains had added to the problem as rainwater had collected there. The place has become an ideal breeding ground for germs and vectors of various diseases. They claimed that many residents were suffering from various respiratory diseases and skin allergies as the wind was carrying garbage particles to their houses.

The Municipal Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him. The Mandi Board Officer was also not available.



‘VRS to improve efficiency in banks’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 15
Sixtynine per cent of the bank officials in the city who opted for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) are satisfied with their decision.” This is the finding of a research study ‘VRS for bank officers : satisfaction and problems of optees,’ conducted by Ms Namita Kohli, MBA final year student of the Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE), under the guidance of Mr Arunesh Garg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Business Management.

According to Dr K.N.S. Kang, Director, PCTE, the introduction of the VRS by the nationalised banks is a revolutionary step. It is expected to lead to optimisation of manpower and enhancement of efficiency in public sector banks. As a result, these banks can compete with private sector banks by diverting their resources to improve their services.

The study included a survey of 50 officers from various nationalised banks like the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Canara Bank and Punjab and Sind Bank, who had opted for the VRS. The study revealed that the major factor which motivated the respondents to opt for the scheme was the urge to establish their own business, followed by willingness to join existing family business, run by the spouse or children and the need for money. Other influencing factors were poor health, stagnation in career and lucrative offers from the private sector.

The study shows that 76 per cent of the respondents are satisfied with the features of the VRS. Currently, 70 per cent of those who opted for the VRS are carrying on their own business while 20 per cent joined the private sector. However, rest of the respondents are sitting idle at home. Out of those surveyed, 30 per cent are earning in the range of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 and another 10 per cent between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000. Most of the respondents have invested the money in business whereas some others have spent either on marriage or education of their children. Some of the respondents has invested in the stock market.

The major problem faced by most of the respondents (32 per cent) after opting for the VRS, the study revealed, was lack of fixed income and loss of annual increments. Absence of compulsory savings like the provident fund and gratuity, non-reimbursement of medical expenses and lack of social contact were also cited as some other problems by the respondents. If given an opportunity, 22 per cent of the respondents were willing to join back their previous employers. The study suggested that the decision to opt for the VRS should not be taken in haste and efforts should be made first to establish alternate source of income prior to opting for the scheme. Further, utmost caution should be observed to utilise funds received under the VRS. The investment of these funds should be sound and judicious.



Battle of Saragarhi remembered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 15
“Exactly 105 years back, on this day, 21 gallant soldiers, with an equally brave non-combatants of 36 Sikh (now 4th Battalion - the Sikh Regiment) in a unique battle, repulsed many an attack of thousands of well-armed hostile tribesman on Samana Ridge in the North West Frontier Province of then undivided India. The battle continued for well over six hours and one by one the defenders fell fighting at their post but did not surrender. It is one of the finest examples of collective bravery in the annals of military history.”

It was on September 12, 1897, that 22 men under the able leadership of Hav. Ishar Singh, fought the battle of Saragarhi repulsing thousands of ‘Afridis’ and ‘Orakzais’ tribesman for over six hours, depicting unflinching loyalty and devotion to their duty, exemplary collective bravery and utter disregard to own safety.

“When the news of the bravery displayed by the Saragarhi battle heroes was flashed to London, the British Parliament gave a standing ovation in a packed house and the fighting qualities displayed by the defenders of ‘Saragarhi post’ received the highest praise all over the world. All the 21 combatant soldiers of the Saragarhi battle were posthumously awarded ‘Indian Order of Merit’, the highest gallantry awards given to Indian soldiers in those days, equivalent to Victoria Cross (VC) at that time and Param Vir Chakra (PVC) of the present day independent India. A rare and unparalleled achievement in a single battle.”

To commemorate the 106th anniversary of Saragarhi Day, a guard of honour of 152 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) Sikh, a newly raised battalion of Sikh Regiment based in the city presented arms at the Saragarhi Memorial, constructed at Jhattan, near Raikot, in this district, the birthplace of Hav. Ishar Singh. A large number of people from all walks of life were present on the occasion.



Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 15
The president of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum, Mr Sushil Malhotra and the secretary general of the Anti-Corruption Council for India, Dr Shiv Gupta, have criticised the charging of heavy toll collection fees by the National Highway Authority of India on the national highway on the Delhi-Ludhiana section. The two leaders said, as per the schedule fixed, a sum of Rs 125 was charged for car/jeep/van and Rs 225 from light commercial vehicles and Rs 440/- from truck, bus and Rs 940 from heavy construction machinery and earth-moving equipment etc.


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