Monday, October 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Week after wife’s murder, man commits suicide
Police pressure killed him, say relatives
Tribune News Service

Chronology of events

  • OCTOBER 5: Robbers kill Manroop’s wife Sandeep Kaur and leave him unconscious.
  • OCTOBER 7: Manroop is discharged from hospital.
  • OCTOBER 11: The police questions him.
  • OCTOBER 13: He ends his life between 2 am and 6 am.

Police story

  • Relatives allege that Manroop ended his life due to harassment by the police.
  • The police says that he was questioned, but not pressurised.
  • It says depression killed him.
  • Manroop had been depressed since the death of his wife.

Ludhiana, October 13
A week after robbers killed a woman in a Block-B house of the BRS Nagar here, her husband, Manroop Singh Grewal (35), committed suicide in the same house early today. His death has sparked off a controversy on the role of the police in driving the man to suicide.

While the police said he had committed suicide due to depression, his relatives said the police had been harassing him, as it suspected him of having got his wife killed.

The man was found dead in a bathroom by his father and brother-in-law at about 6.30 am. At about 2 am, he had retired to bed depressed, said Mr R.S. Grewal, elder brother of Manroop. He said his brother had taken his two-year-old son to his room to put him to bed. Manroop, allegedly, consumed Celphos tablets between 2 am and 6 am. No suicide note has been found on him, but a bottle of Celphos tablets has been found, according to the police.

Yesterday was the day of the ‘bhog’ of his wife, Sandeep Kaur, who was killed by robbers in her house (36-B, BRS Nagar) on October 5. Robbers had left Manroop unconscious and he had taken two days to recover. His relatives said he had been upset since then.

Mr R.S. Grewal said his brother had been rather worried about his six-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. He had often wept inconsolably, holding his children in arms. His depression had deepened when senior police officials had started grilling him for hours together two days ago, accusing him of being responsible for his wife’s murder, Mr Grewal said.

He said: “My brother could no longer tolerate the harassment and ended his life.” Today, agitated relatives of Manroop told a visiting team of the Sarabha Nagar police to leave the house.

When asked, the Superintendent of Police (City-I), Mr Harish Kumar, said the police had indeed questioned Manroop Singh two days ago. He said the circumstances of the robbery had been strange. “We questioned him about various angles of the murder theory, including his involvement, but we did so in routine. It is wrong to say that the police was harassing him. We, deliberately, did not accuse him directly, as he was already under depression,” he said.

Mr R.S. Grewal said: “My brother and his wife loved each other deeply and there was no problem in their relationship. Even Sandeep’s relatives are convinced that her husband was innocent. Mr Charanjit Singh, brother of Sandeep, who is based in England, had been living with his brother-in-law since Sandeep’s death. He was here yesterday as well; rather, Manroop’s father, Mr Balbir Singh, and he were the first ones to spot the body.”



Rain exposes plight of mandis 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, October 13
After months of physical labour, the Punjab farmers, when finally managed to take their paddy produce to the mandis, it was only to discover that their problems were far from being over. Taking the state of mandis into consideration, it seemed that their actual problems had just started. Rain showers that lashed the region yesterday damaged a huge quantity of paddy completely besides affecting the quality of the rice.

Once again exposing the sorry state of the mandis, rain resulted in leaking of sheds in the mandis and formation of rain-water pools, thereby affecting the produce. Had it been a heavy rain, the farmers would have to suffer huge losses.

The worst hit was the Jagraon mandi, touted as second biggest market of the state, which exposed the government’s lack of preparation to procure and store the produce in of mandis during the procurement season. Because of the low plinth level this mandi was filled with water last evening and the farmers went into a tizzy to protect their produce.

A survey of Mullanpur, Sawaddi and Humbran mandis by a Tribune team revealed that the conditions in these mandis were far from satisfactory and the farmers were a worried lot.

At Jagraon mandi the rain water had even entered the sheds which were supposed to protect the produce from bad weather. Here, due to the lower level of the mandi ground the water flowed into the sheds and spoiled the produce kept there.

The rain water had accumulated and the farmers had assigned labourers to spread the wet grains under sun. Inquiries revealed that the sheds of this mandi were constructed a few years ago during the regime of Badal government, at a cost of Rs 4 crore. The five sheds were being occupied by the migrant labourers only and most of the produce was kept in the open.

An official of Market Committee, Jagraon, said that there was a sort of in-built curvature on the mandi roads which acted as a cup giving an opportunity for water to get accumulated. He said, ‘‘For the past many years the market committee has been telling the mandi board to raise the plinth level of this mandi but to no avail. We even took the chief engineer on the spot and showed him the exact problem. We are already falling short of money and it is not our duty to raise the plinth level. The floors are also faulty as they are made out of premix which gets spoiled after some time. If the floors are bricked then we can get it repaired as it doesn’t ask for much money.’’

The official, however, said that no damage was caused to the paddy in yesterday's rain and claimed that there would be no problem in the procurement. It should be recalled here that two years ago during the paddy season, paddy worth lakhs of rupees had been damaged after similar rains.

Sewerage is another problem of Jagraon mandi where the water gets collected as the sewerage gets choked. Officials said that the system was re-laid two years ago but there was not much change in the scenario.  

In Bhammipur village also the farmers were up in arms against the government for not laying the concrete or brick floor. They said that after a scanty rain the floor of the mandi got converted into mud and pools of water.

Similar problems were aired by the farmers of Pakhowal village which is still a kutcha mandi. During the wheat season also farmers had lost their produce as it had submerged into water after rain.

In local mandi in Salem Tabri, the farmers rued that the tin sheds had corroded and it led to leakage of rain water. Farmers also complained of improper lighting system in most of the mandis.



No quashing of FIR in Pammian kidney case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 13
The controversy regarding the infamous Pammian Kidney case refuses to die down. A few weeks after the ADGP (crime), Punjab Police, stated in his inquiry report that the alleged victim had made a false complaint and had recommended that the FIR should be quashed, the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has directed the Ludhiana police not to cancel the FIR till further orders.

The commission issued these orders following a fresh petition by the alleged victim, Jagsher Singh of Pammian village. The petition filed through a human rights activist, Mr Charanjit Singh Bakhshi, further claimed that the report was one-sided and the victim never knew that his kidney was being taken out in the operation.

This gives a new twist to the case as till now the allegation was that the victim was cheated by the accused by not settling his family abroad as promised in return for donating his kidney.

A copy of the PHRC orders received here today said the Crime Branch inquiry report mentioned about the statement of one Ajmer Singh, whose name did not even figure in the list of accused named by the victim in the FIR. The petition stated that inquiry officer did not bother to provide the alleged victim an opportunity to present documents which could have gone against the accused.

The commission also ordered the SSP, Ludhiana, to submit a report on the orders on December 19. A high-level inquiry by the Crime Branch of the state police had acquitted three persons accused of tricking a resident of Pammian village into giving his kidney in return for ensuring greener pastures abroad for his family.

While absolving the accused, Navtej Singh, Ajmer Singh and Sukhdev Singh, all belonging to Samrala, of all charges levelled by Jagsher Singh, the inquiry report stated that the kidney transplantation operation conducted at the DMC Hospital was done with the consent of the alleged victim.

The report had, thus, turned the tables on the complainant in the case. It observed that the motive of the complainant was questionable as he had filed the complaint more than two years after ‘he donated the kidney willingly’.

The report prepared by the SP (Crime), Mr Ranjit Singh Dhillon, on behalf of the ADGP (Crime), was submitted to the commission on September 2.



BKU flays poor power supply to farmers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 13
The Bharatiya Kisan Union, while expressing serious concern over the erratic and inadequate power supply to farmers, has apprehended that the prevailing power situation in Punjab would negate all efforts of the government to bring about the diversification of agriculture and the farmers will have to continue with the traditional crop rotation.

The BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, said in a statement here that the new government scheme for motivating farmers to reduce the area under wheat crop and switching over to alternate crops like pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, sugarcane and fodder had received tremendous response. However, power supply to the farm sector, which in any case was not more than four to five hours daily, was proving to be a wet blanket. “The economic condition of the debt-ridden farmers makes it impossible for them to nurse these alternate crops with expensive diesel.”

Mr Lakhowal further observed that if the government was really keen on rescuing the farmers from the traditional wheat-paddy rotation, it should ensure a minimum power supply of 10 to 12 hours daily the year round. Moreover, the support prices for the alternate crops also needed to be fixed well in advance on the basis of the price index for 1966-67 so that more and more farmers were motivated towards diversification. He asked the government to formulate a comprehensive marketing policy for the suggested alternate crops in view of the fact that on earlier occasions, the farmers, who had taken up cultivation of other crops like sunflower, mustard and barley were unable to find any buyers.

The BKU supremo reiterated the demand that support prices of all rabi and kharif crops be announced before the sowing season so that the farmers could assess their profitability and choose the suitable crops. “The failure on the part of the government to timely announce the MSP of various crops, invariably leads to harassment and exploitation of the farmers.” For example, the sugarcane crop was about to be harvested but the government was still to announce its MSP. He also called for effective steps for the recovery of more than Rs 80 crore arrears of sugarcane growers towards the sugar mills.



Dandiya raas by Gujarati Samaj 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 13
The Gujarati community of the city celebrated Navratras by organising a dandiya raas under the leadership of its president, Mr Raj Thakur of Shree Gujarati Samaj.

It was for the first time that Gujaratis had organised dandiya and garba dances in the city. The famous Gujarati garba dance was organised at Lakshmi Narayan Temple, C-Block, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, with great enthusiasm by Gujarati community of Ludhiana.

Almost 100 families residing in the city participated in this programme. People of different religions and communities, including Punjabis, Malyalees, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims were also invited to participate in this dance.

The programme started with bhajan and devotional songs. Mr Raj Thakur and the other executive members of the Samaj Mr Bharat Bhai Shah and Mr Dinesh Mehta said that Gujaratis considered Navratras quite important days and on all nine days people celebrated by performing puja followed by dandiya and garba, folk dances of Gujarat.

Mr Raj Thakur said that they were grateful to Mr Vasudev Shukla, president of Lakshmi Narayan Temple Sabha, for the co-operation extended to the Gujarati community. The Gujarati damsels dressed in typical ‘ghagra cholis’, and boys in ‘dhotis and kurtas’ enjoyed themselves during the celebrations.



Seminar by Punjab Sahit Akademi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 13
A seminar on ‘Rut Aave Rut Jave’, an anthology of poems written by Amrik Singh Pooni, was held by the Punjab Sahit Akademi in Punjabi Bhavan here today. The seminar was presided over by Ajaib Chittarkar, a Punjabi poet. Amrik Singh has given a voice to the downtrodden and has been writing poetry for positive development of society since 1965.

At the end of the seminar, the working president of the akademy, Prof Gurbhajan Singh Gill, thanked writers of the monthly paper, ‘Vichar Lahri’, and introduced them to the anthology of poetry written by Amrik Singh.



ISKCON centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 13
An ISKCON centre was inaugurated in Brindaban Road area this morning by priest Rasika Nand. President of the Karnal ISKCON centre Sakshi Gopal Das and president of the Chandigarh centre Ankinchan Prabhu presided over the function.

The centre is located in Sterling Towers. The foundation stone was laid by Mr Ajay Bhandari, owner of Sterling Towers. Speaking on the occasion Mr Raksha Nath said the setting up of the centre would attract devotees from all corners of the world to Ludhiana.



Indians bottle French perfume
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 13
“Men may be drawing bigger corporate salaries than women, but there are fields, like the world of perfumes, where both enjoy equal rights,” said Ms Catherine Barbies, a French who is here to promote a brand of French perfumes made in India.She said: “French perfumes are famous world over for heady fragrance, but these are also expensive. Considering this, a French perfume company based in New Delhi and having its plant in Jaipur, is importing fragrances from France and bottling these in India to make these products affordable for the masses.”

“India is the fastest growing consumer market in the world, which offers vast opportunities for beauty and healthcare business. Estimated to be a $ 1.1 billion market, it is growing at a rate of about 20 per cent every year — waiting to be tapped,” she says.

Catherine has perfumes in two price ranges — First Class and Paris E’lysee’s. The products are priced reasonably. Stares following her makes her uncomfortable. “However, once you come to know the people of India, you find them to be nice,” she says. She lives with her journalist husband in New Delhi.


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