Sunday, November 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Arhtiya-inspector nexus busted
Vigilance Bureau registers case 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
It is official now. The arhtiya-procurement inspector nexus, allegedly thriving in Pakhowal and surrounding grain markets for the past one month, has finally been confirmed by the Vigilance Bureau, here.

Busting the racket, the Vigilance Bureau has booked an arhtiya and an inspector of PUNSUP procurement agency under the Prevention of Corruption Act for charging an illegal tax of Rs 5 or more per quintal from farmers for procuring paddy.

DSP Darshan Singh has been entrusted with conducting investigations into the racket to determine how many more persons were involved besides estimating the amount pocketed through illegal tax.

Sources said with Rs 5 to Rs 10 of illegal tax charged per quintal and more than one lakh quintal of paddy being procured from the Pakhowal grain market daily the scam might involve several lakhs, if not crores.

According to an FIR, inspector Mangat Rai of PUNSUP and arhtiya Som Nath have been booked under Sections 420 and 120 of the IPC. They have been accused of indulging in corruption and malpractices by forcing farmers to pay the illegal tax.

Meanwhile, panic gripped the arhtiya community in the region following the vigilance raids and the registration of the case.

Sources said the arhtiyas were even trying to use political clout and money power to ensure their safety. Several other arhtiyas, whose names have not figured in the investigations, were also playing safe by sticking to rules.

A similar racket had come to light in Goraya subdivision of Jalandhar district last month, where an arhtiya was booked by the police.

Farmers of Pakhowal-Raikot belt have been complaining about the nexus since long. Their plight got noticed when two arhtiyas of the Pakhowal grain market gave affidavits to vigilance officials about the alleged scandal. Consequently, the department started conducting raids in Pakhowal.

The accused arhtiya, Som Nath, has however, claimed that he was being victimised at the behest of the two arhtiyas because of personal and business rivalry. Some other arhtiyas, Krishan Kumar, Kuldeep Grewal, Megh Raj and Jaggi, also supported his assertion while talking to “Ludhiana Tribune”.

The sources pointed out there was strong resentment among the farmers of the region regarding the illegal tax they were forced to pay in order to get their paddy procured.

The farmers have been facing adverse circumstances this season. To cap it all, illegal tax was being allegedly charged from them.

The nexus thrived on the compulsion of the farmers to sell their produce. The sources said the arhtiyas and the procurement officials used to refuse buying the produce saying that its quality was inferior. The farmers would thus agree to pay illegal tax in order to sell their produce.

Seasoned farmers were already resigned to the fact. The situation of denying the tax did not arise as the arhtiyas used to make the payment only after cutting illegal tax.



Transporters’ strike on Nov 8
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
The decision of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) to call for fresh bids from transporters under the kilometre scheme has evoked strong criticism with the existing transporters demanding extension of the scheme for a minimum period of three years on existing terms and conditions. In the absence of a positive response from the PRTC management, the bus operators would observe a day’s strike on Nov 8.

A meeting of the PRTC Kilometre Scheme Bus Operators Association, Punjab, was held here under the chairmanship of Mr Pardeep Gautam, Secretary, to take stock of the situation arising out of the anti-operators decisions of the PRTC management. The operators while reiterating the demand for continuation of the present contracts sought cancellation of the fresh tenders under revised terms and conditions invited by the PRTC management.

To focus on their genuine demand, the association has decided to observe a strike on Nov 8. Charging the PRTC management with discriminatory and arbitrary attitude, Mr Gautam alleged that the operators were being coerced to run their busses on unscheduled and unroadworthy routes in violation of the terms and conditions of the agreement. He further asserted that the management had not been making payments to the operators according to the Fare Table framed by the RTA and instead had been withholding the payments beyond the agreed terms of 15 days.

The bus operators, present in the meeting, observed that as a result of the transporters being forced to run buses on non-viable routes and not being paid in accordance with terms and conditions of the agreement, the operators had been put to enormous financial loss. The association condemned the unrelenting attitude of the PRTC management and held the same responsible for the present mess.

In a resolution, the bus operators urged the Punjab Chief Minister and Minister for Transport to intervene otherwise the transporters would be forced to adopt the path of agitation and the proposed strike would not only put the state government to unbearable financial loss, but would also cause inconvenience to the passengers. The association also urged the state government to mitigate the innumerable sufferings of operators and remove the uncalled for restrictions imposed upon them.

Prominent among those present in the meeting were Mr Kuljeet Singh Aulakh, Mr Mohan Lal Sharma, Mr Sukhjeet Singh and Mr Jasbir Singh.



Divali gambling at its peak
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Divali and gambling go together. At least in Ludhiana, where every club, ladies’ clubs included, and most of the houses and farmhouses turn into virtual casinos. The gambling goes on till late in the night and in several cases prolongs up to the morning. People come here from different places to gamble. And most of it is purely for entertainment.

Ludhiana Club, one of the oldest clubs in the city, tops the list. Here professionals and amateurs try their luck at the cards. Stakes are believed to be quite high, sometimes running into crores of rupees in this club. Leading industrialists and businessmen play here. And the gambling hours are always stretched longer and longer during these days.

According to Mr Ajit Kumar (not his real name), a regular visitor to the club, while gambling goes on in routine in the club, during the Divali days it is certainly unusual. He said while playing here demands lot of expertise and of course lot of wealth, watching people here to play cards is always thrilling and exciting. Because within a span of few hours only people move from rags to riches and then back. “That is what people called gamble”, he pointed out.

In Satluj Club also the gambling is a routine activity in added quantum during the Divali days. Here also the gambling continues till late hours. Even some police officials can be seen in the card room during these days, while their escort keeps on waiting outside. Against the heavy stakes in the Ludhiana Club, it is a little less in the Satluj Club. Here people play more as a hobby and for entertainment than anything else.

And other clubs like Model Town Club, Lodhi Club, Lakshmi Ladies Club and other small clubs are also abuzz with activity during these days. To quote an office bearer of one of these clubs, the gambling goes on round the clock in almost all the places, be it the homes or the farmhouses, without a break. He said people here feel if they do not play cards, of course at very low stakes, they feel that they have not celebrated the Divali, the festival of lights, which is also associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

Interestingly women of all ages, play cards during these days along with the menfolk. “There is nothing wrong if women play cards or gamble”, said a member of the Lakshmi Ladies Club, adding, this (gambling) is the best entertainment for them. While mostly it is the rummy, people also play flash with three cards and in some games the stakes run up to several lakhs of rupees. It is better seen to be believed.



MC fire brigade on ‘high alert’ for a safe Divali
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
In a bid to prepare for any eventuality arising out of incidents of fire or other mishaps during the forthcoming festival of Divali in the city, the municipal corporation has decided to maintain the staff of fire brigade as well as operations and maintenance wing on duty during the gazetted holidays from Nov 1 to 5. The employees deployed on duty during these days would be granted alternate holidays at a later date.

Presiding over a meeting of the civic officials here, the MC Commissioner Mr S.K. Sharma directed the fire brigade staff to remain in preparedness. Similarly, the O and M wing has been asked to carry out inspection of all the fire hydrants and other sources of water supply in the city to feed the fire tenders in case of need.

The meeting was attended by all Zonal Commissioners, Superintending Engineers and officials of fire brigade. The Assistant Divisional Fire Officer, who was present in the meeting said that all fire tenders had been thoroughly checked and were found to be in perfect working condition. He said the fire brigade staff was put on high alert for the next few days and both the men and machines were fighting fit to deal with any kind of fire in the city.

In an appeal to the members of public, Mr Sharma said that crackers should not be burst in thickly populated areas. Further, the residents were asked not to keep any inflammable material like kerosene oil, petrol, LPG, plastic or other domestic articles on roof tops to avoid incidence of fire from bursting of crackers.

In the wake of restriction on storage and sale of fire crackers in congested city localities and interior areas, the MC Zonal Commissioners were directed to maintain a strict vigil and ensure compliance of the orders in letter and spirit. The Commissioner said some additional telephone lines were provided to the fire brigade to ensure easier access and further cut down on response time.

In case of fire contact:

Fire Office Control Room: 101, 304244

Fire Brigade main office: 750764, 750765, 749619

Millerganj: 531600

Samrala Road: 701698

Focal Point: 670101



Mom-to-be, beware of fireworks
Shivani Bhakoo

Fact file

  • The pregnant woman, if exposed to high intensity fireworks, can sustain irreversible side-effects.
  • Even pre-term labour pains start due to exposure to high intensity sounds.
  • Restlessness, irritability, hypertension and hysteria are other features noted in pregnant women exposed to noise and chemical trauma of pyrotechnics.
  • Problems like jaundice and even death of the baby in the womb can occur if there is any injury to blood vessels.
  • Women in the second and third trimesters should avoid exposure to fireworks, which produce very loud noise.
  • In case of any doubt, blood analysis for detection of fetal cells in the mother’s blood is essential to have a favourable prognosis.

Ludhiana, November 2
A pregnant woman is a special individual or rather two individuals, who if exposed to ‘high intensity blasting fireworks’ can sustain irreversible side effects. The fact was disclosed by Dr Vineeta Munjal, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, in her retrospective study in obstetric centres in Delhi and Ludhiana.

Dr Munjal, while talking to ‘Ludhiana Tribune’ said, “I have found that women exposed to a blast trauma during festival seasons, mostly during the last three months of pregnancy, were admitted with excessive movements of the unborn baby in the womb. These women had to be hospitalised with strict bed rest and given medical management. Often women came with pre-term labour pains due to exposure to high intensity sounds”.

Restlessness, irritability, hypertension and hysteria were other features noted in pregnant women exposed to noise and chemical trauma of pyrotechnics. Crackers exploded in narrow alleys and closed spaces, especially by children, were the culprits in maximum number of cases.

Dr Munjal said that children born to women with prolonged exposure to a particular low- sound level do not suffer from any adverse effects, but if pregnant women were subjected to very noisy situations after fifth month of pregnancy, when the ears of the unborn child have developed and the baby can perceive sound, newborns cannot tolerate loud noises and begin crying every time they are exposed to such sounds.

Dr Munjal elaborated, “The baby in the womb is surrounded by a protective fluid and therefore is not susceptible to direct inquiry. The inquiry, in fact, occurs to the bed of tissues where the baby is attached to the mother’s body. This is the site through which nutrients and oxygen is supplied to the baby for its proper growth. Placenta, as this area is called, has a big maze of blood vessels.”

In her analysis, Dr Munjal emphasised that sound waves passing through the mother’s body into the body of an unborn child were reflected at this mother-baby functional area, placenta, with a consequent separation and onset of early labour pains and risk of pre-term delivery.

Moreover, due to inquiry to the blood vessels at this region, there may be intermingling of the blood of the child with that of the mother and in RH negative mothers, problems like jaundice and even death of the baby in the womb can occur.

Dr Vineeta Munjal suggested that women in the second and third trimesters should avoid exposure to fireworks which produce very loud noise. If exposed to noise or blast trauma, they require immediate admission to the labour room for monitoring the status of the yet to be born baby and delivery if need be.”



Div No. 5 police station gives a cleaner look
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The district police has finally restored the ambience of Division No. 5 police station by whitewashing the advertisements of a soft drink company painted on the building at the behest of an official of the police station.

Ludhiana Tribune had last month highlighted the issue that whether the building was a police station or an advertisement board. The Division No. 5 police station headed by SHO Shankar Dass was the only police station in the city which was displaying such advertisements. The very essence of a police building was thus deeply affected.

The advertisements not only left the visitors jarred but was also against the orders issued by the district police authorities that no company could use the police station buildings for its sales promotion exercise, as it directly affects the image of the police.

Police stations in Ludhiana were being developed as ideal police stations for practicing the much publicised community policing scheme of the Punjab police. But the advertisements on police building were taking the seriousness factor of a police station away from it.

Police sources said after the publication of the news item, senior officers took a serious view of the glaring violation and directed the police station officials to rectify the mistake at the earliest. As a result, the logo and the name of the softdrink were erased. Large white squares can be seen now in their place. It could not be known if some action against some cop was taken or not.

Informed police sources disclosed that recently the district police had issued verbal directions to the force that no police station or post should allow its premises to be used as an advertisement board. In Ludhiana the police station buildings looked more like a platform for display advertisements rather than a police station.

Several police buildings in the city, especially in the old areas, had to get the walls whitewashed in order to escape the authorities’ ire last month. However, the Division No. 5 police, in stark violation of the orders, went ahead and allowed the advertisements.

Inquiries by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the issue of advertisements was highly debatable one in police circles. With paucity of funds hampering regular whitewashing or repairing of the police buildings, the station house officers or in-charge of police posts have on their own got the advertisements painted.

Police sources said the painted walls gave a cleaner look to the police buildings. There was always pressure from the senior officials to keep the police stations clean.

“We used to get it done from some social workers or through donations”, revealed a station house officer preferring anonymity. But then there were complaints about forcible collection of money, he said. The police then found a middle-path by seeking help from private companies.

The arrangements served as a marriage of convenience for both the parties. While the cops got clean walls, the companies got space for free publicity. The companies, in fact, profited more from the arrangement. Space for advertisements was costly in the city and one had to dish out several thousands per square feet.

One police officer said jokingly that a visit to a police station always tires one physically and mentally. And the companies offer nothing better than a softdrink to freshen you up.



Massive development plan for urban areas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, Punjab, has disclosed that the state government had chalked out a comprehensive programme for the development of urban areas and providing other basic amenities in all the cities of the state, under which potable drinking water, sewerage, lights and roads would be provided in all the urban localities.

He said this while addressing a largely attended gathering, after inaugurating a new tubewell commissioned in ward No 1 in Haibowal today at a cost of Rs 10 lakh as a part of the new project of the municipal corporation, Ludhiana, to provide potable water to 100% population in the city, which was launched by the Chief Minister yesterday in Sherpur.

The Transport Minister said that the government had taken effective steps to make the municipal bodies self-dependent by mobilising their own resources. He said that under the Sutlej action plan, an amount of Rs 160 crore being spent to lay new sewerage system in Ludhiana city and three new treatment plants were also being set up at a cost of Rs. 85 crore for the treatment of sewerage water in Ludhiana.

Addressing the function Mr. Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, informed that the corporation had sanctioned funds amounting to Rs 30 lakh for different projects in Haibowal and Shimlapuri areas falling in his constituency and assured that more funds would be got sanctioned for all the wards in area.

Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, municipal corporation, speaking on the occasion claimed that Ludhiana city would shortly become the most beautiful city of North India and with the completion of new over bridges, the complicated traffic problem would substantially be eased. He assured that all parts of the city would be given sufficient funds as per the requirement of the population.

Prominent among others who attended the function included, Mr Hem Raj Aggarwal, Municipal Councillor (Ward No. 1), Bibi Amarjit Kaur, MC Ward No. 2, Mr Ramesh Mahajan, Mr Dev Raj Kapur and Mr Suresh Handa. 



Scribe’s father cremated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 1
Darshan Pal Vinayak (65), father of senior journalist, Ramesh Vinayak, Chief of the Bureau of Chandigarh of India Today group, who expired yesterday after a brief illness, was cremated at Doraha today.

A large number of people from all walks of life, including his colleagues from print and electronic media, officers, political parties, social and educational organisations were present during the cremation.

Mr Rahul Bhandari ADC(G) Ludhiana on behalf of Chief Minister Punjab Amarinder Singh, Mr Darshan Singh, DPRO, Ludhiana on behalf of Mr BIS Chahal Adviser to the Chief Minister Punjab, Mr Sucha Singh Mast, SDM, Payal, Mr Bant Singh Doburji, Ex- Chairman Budhewal Sugar Mills, Mr Pawan Dewan, General Secretary Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, President, Municipal committee, Doraha laid wreaths on the mortal remains of the late Darshan Pal Vinayak before cremation.



‘Cong’s economic policies bad’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha has condemned the economic polices of the Congress government in Punjab, that it said were having adverse impact on trade and industry. The state president of the BJYM, Mr Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, said in a statement issued here today that various new taxes were being levied and procedures were being made complicated.



In-laws get police remand in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 2
On the complaint of a woman named Gurminder Kaur of Sherpur Khurd village, a case under Sections 498-A, 406 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered against her husband Ranjit Singh and in-laws, Nachattar Singh, Sukhwinder Kaur, Gurmit Kaur and Jagjit Singh. The woman also has a son. The police has arrested Nachattar Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur. Mr Tejwinder Singh, SDJM of Jagraon, has given the accused three days of police remand.

Gurminder said her in-laws used to harass her for bringing inadequate dowry, saying that they expected more from her NRI father. Her father had given them Rs 2 lakh more, which her in-laws didn’t give her when she left for England and applied for immigration for her husband. When she visited India again, her in-laws asked her to buy them a house and a car in England, besides giving them more cash in India. Then, Rs 1 lakh was given to them.

About two years ago, her husband reached the UK and turned rude soon after gaining the citizenship of that country. After he started torturing her, the couple separated. following which, her husband told her to settle the issue with his parents in India.

The woman came to India about 10 days ago and met her in-laws and other relatives. Her in-laws, then, demanded a house and a car for their son in the UK or Rs 50 lakh to be paid in cash in India. They said, if their demands were not met, they would get Rajit to remarry in the UK.



Doctor’s house burgled
Our Correspondent

Amloh, November 2
Burglars decamped with valuables worth Rs 20,000 from the house of a doctor here on Thursday. Burglars took away 150 gm gold, 500 gm silver, remote control of an air-conditioner and a camera. The incident took place between 10 am to 2 pm. The doctor’s house is in the Khanna road area in Ward No 2, Amloh.

According to an FIR lodged by Dr Neeru Jindal, she used to go to her clinic after locking her house at 10 am and return back for lunch around 2 pm. As usual, on October 31, she went to her clinic, but when she returned she found the locks of the doors of her house broken. Valuables were missing from the almirah.

Finger print expert reached the spot, but they found that the finger prints were not clear.

One booked for fraud:
Boota Ram of Rara mohalla in Agwar Ladhai has been booked by the police under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC for fraudulently inducing Swaran Singh of Dalla village, Patti Saran, on the pretext that he was related to Mr Ajaib Singh, Civil Judge, Jagraon, and that he would manage a favour in a case filed by Pritam Singh, father of the complainant, against Kuldip Singh of Mehna village and Karnail Singh of Dalla village. The case pertained to some land and Boota Ram took Rs 80,000 from the complainant on the pretext that the same was to be paid to the Civil Judge.

Illicit liquor seized: The police has arrested Ramesh Kumar of Parjian Biharipur and seized 90 bottles of illicit liquor from him. A case has been registered under the Excise Act.



Henry’s claims false, says industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
The president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab), Mr P.D. Sharma, has said that the statement of the Industry Minister Mr Avtar Henry, is politically motivated. The Industry Minister has made hollow claims regarding the steps taken for the development of industry, he has said.

In a rejoinder to Mr Avtar Henry, Mr Sharma has said, that there are national, regional and state-level organisations to represent the interests of industry. In Punjab, there were only two umbrella chambers to represent industry. The Chief Minister had not held any meeting with either of the chambers despite the requests from the chambers. Once a meeting fixed at Ludhiana had been cancelled at last minute.

Mr Sharma said a local MLA of the ruling party had taken a delegation of members of the other chamber to the Chief Minister and had been made to wait for three hours. “The Chief Minister gave only 10 minutes to the delegation and directed the Principal Secretary (Industry) to have further discussions with the delegation. The Principal Secretary said there was no need for any meeting,” said Mr Sharma.

Mr Sharma, also said the claim of the Industry Minister that inspector Rrj had been eliminated from Punjab was false and steps taken by the present government were rather encouraging inspector raj.

He said exim form was nothing but handing over industry to the Sales Tax Department. Nowhere in the country was such a draconian law and the state government had not studied the impact of entry tax on industry. He said the VAT would also give the police power to harass industrialists.

Later, Mr Sharma said he had talked to Mr Henry on telephone and he had expressed ignorance about any statement issued by him against industry.

Mr Henry told Mr Sharma that he had neither visited Ludhiana on Friday nor issued any statement. He invited the chamber representatives to have discussions with him on the problems, being faced by the industry.


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