Wednesday, December 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Woman accuses DC, ADC of intimidation
Writes to President, rights panel
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
A resident of the Model Town area has accused the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, and the Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), Mr Rahul Bhandari, of threatening and coercing her husband to pay Rs 17 lakh to Sanjay Garg, a businessman and a close relative of Mr Aggarwal, with whom her husband was doing business about five years ago.

In a representation made to the President of India, copies of which were released to mediapersons also, Ms Usha Bhateja, wife of Pradeep, has sought action against Mr Aggarwal and Mr Bhandhari for harassing her and her family. She said she had also sent the copies of the complaint to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab Chief Minister and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission.

However, both Mr Aggarwal and Mr Bhandari, when contacted, refuted the allegations and said the action and inquiries against Mr Bhateja were started on the basis of a complaint against him that he had furnished wrong details in regard to setting up of his factory for which he had taken the loan from Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC). Moreover, the Deputy Commissioner claimed that Mr Bhateja had claimed sales tax exemption from the department without any production.

Mr Aggarwal said a four-member committee had been constituted to investigate the matter and it comprised representatives of the administration, the Industry Department and the PFC. Moreover, he said Mr Bhateja was not the only case which was being investigated and there was another case which was also being probed along with it. He said he was not even aware whether Mr Bhateja had any dealings with Mr Garg or not.

The complainant alleged that her husband and Mr Garg were doing business together till 1997. After that they mutually parted ways and everything was settled amicably. She maintained that there was no outstanding payment to be made to Mr Garg by her husband. She alleged that now at the behest of Mr Garg the both officers were putting pressure on her husband to pay Rs 17 lakh to Mr Garg, although her husband was not liable to pay ‘even a single penny’ to him.

She alleged since both Mr Aggarwal and Mr Bhandhari were occupying top positions of power, they were misusing the same and the local police was under their pressure and had been harassing her and her husband by foul means. She claimed in October, 2002, one police inspector Gurbaj Singh illegally took her husband with him and got some signatures of her husband on some blank papers and even threatened him of dire consequences in case he did not make the payment to Mr Garg within a brief period of time.

She also accused both officers of issuing directions to different departments, the especially Sales Tax Department, the Industrial Department and the PFC, for making inquiries regarding sales tax, machinery and loan amount by taking advantage of their ‘dominating position where as her husband had been running his business as per norms of the departments and bylaws’. Both officers have refuted all allegations as baseless.



Report confirms assault on domestic help
Case of murder registered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The aggrieved family of 11-year-old domestic help, Avdesh, has got a shot in the arm, with the post-mortem examination report strongly suggesting that the boy was beaten severely before his death.

Though, remaining inconclusive, the report based on examination by a board of four doctors stated nail marks were found on the cheeks of the deceased besides injuries on other parts of the body. Marks not similar to ones made by a rope were also found on the deceased’s neck.

Reliable sources disclosed to TNS that this does not mean the boy was beaten to death but it surely questions the suicide theory propagated by his employer and the Sarabha Nagar police.

The post-mortem report was, however, silent on the cause of death. It has sent the viscera for chemical examination. Sources said the exact cause of death would be known only after the viscera examination report was available.

Meanwhile, high drama was witnessed at the civil hospital today and yesterday evening when relatives of the deceased boy, led by his father Gyas Din, blocked the post-mortem examination process. They alleged that the police and a Congress minister were trying to use influence to tamper with the facts.

The family, helped by some local residents, approached the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, who ordered constitution of a board of doctors.

The much delayed post-mortem was finally conducted today afternoon by the board of doctors. The examination was done nearly 48 hours after the death of the boy.

Reacting to allegations, Sarabha Nagar police sources disclosed to TNS that unnecessary controversy had been created by some vested interests. They said the police was conducting an unbiased investigation in the case. It had registered a case of murder at the complaint.

The post-mortem report has, however, stumped the police force. The police had claimed that the case was of suicide.

The boy, Avdesh Kumar, was found hanging from a sanitary pipe in a bathroom of his employer, Vivek Gupta at House No. 203-C, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, on Sunday afternoon. Initially, it seemed to be a case of suicide but then the parents and other relatives of the deceased youth questioned the suicide theory.

Buckling under their pressure, a case under Section 302, IPC, was registered against the employer Vivek Gupta’s family.

Though he was not available at his house yesterday and today, he had denied killing the child or beating him on Sunday. As per his statement to the police and reporters, he along with all his family members left the house Sunday morning to attend the marriage of a relative. The servant was left at home. When he returned at about 4.30 p.m. no one answered the doorbell for a long time. He informed the landlord and they entered the house through a back window and found the body of the servant hanging by a rope from a geyser in a bathroom.

However, the relatives of the deceased boy led by his father Gyas Din refused to buy this theory. They lodged a protest against the police move to deal the case under Section 174, IPC. Buckling under pressure and on the intervention of the senior officers, the Sarabha Nagar police finally registered a case under Section 302, IPC, against the deceased boy’s employers today morning.

The boy’s father Gyas Din, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh, said his son was ill-treated by his employers and even beaten several times. He claimed his son was not even paid his monthly salary for the past one year. He claimed once they got their son to leave the job but the employers forcibly took him away. He said they did not complain to the police then as they wanted the unpaid salary and hoped the employers behaviour would improve. However, this did not happen.

The police said it had registered the case only on the statement of the deceased’s father and would not arrest anybody till their investigation established that the boy had been murdered. 



Sukhdev memorial plan shelved
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

House of martyr Sukhdev in the Nau Ghara area in Chaura Bazaar
House of martyr Sukhdev in the Nau Ghara area in Chaura Bazaar, Ludhiana, in a dilapidated state. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, December 3
The Sukhdev Memorial will perhaps never see the light of the day as the district administration has dropped the idea of preserving the martyr’s ancestral house in the city, owing to the paucity of funds and lack of proper parking space in the area.

The officials of the district administration have not given a green signal to protecting the same house on the plea that it is located in a very congested area and shifting it would require enormous expenditure, which the administration is not in a position to spend on the same.

The former state government had conceived the idea of setting up a befitting memorial of the martyr, who had laid down his life during the freedom struggle of the country. But as per the latest decision of the administration the martyr’s house, where he was born and brought up, would never be preserved and would perhaps be lost in the years to come as it is already in poor condition.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, today said the administration did not have the money to construct a memorial for him in the city as it would requires crores of rupees. He said preserving the house as a memorial would also be a wastage of resources as the house was situated in a very congested area and even if funds were used on it visitors would not be able to reach the place.

He said, ‘‘One cannot reach there by a scooter as the lane, where it is located, is very congested. Moreover, there would be a parking problem. As the place would figure on the tourist map of Ludhiana, tourists would definitely make efforts to visit it and problems like parking would arise. So that move has fizzled out.’’

Sukhdev, a martyr who was executed with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, was born in this house called Nau Ghara (Nine Houses) in Chaura Bazar. The house remained unknown to anyone till three years ago, even 50 years after the Independence. Then the Thapars of the city set up a trust named Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Memorial Trust (SSTMT) to look after the historical place and to create awareness among people about the great martyr. The place was given publicity only after Bollywood actor Raj Babbar visited the place and offered to provide monetary help to preserve the memorial.

The house today stands dilapidated and can come down anytime hinting at the respect the countrymen give to the great hero of freedom struggle, who laid down his life for the Independence of the nation and the countrymen.

When the district administration and Thapars had decided to preserve the house it was occupied by a 50- year-old widow, Saroj, who lived there with her two children. The idea of setting up the memorial had suffered a jolt because they did not want to shift from there due to poverty.

Thapars mooted a plan to rehabilitate her and her family but could not succeed due to an unsavoury controversy. Then an industrialist Mr O.P. Munjal accepted to shoulder the responsibility of providing residential accommodation to the family staying in the house for years due to which the work at the memorial had not taken off during the past three years.

It was declared that the family would be shifted to the flats provided by Mr Munjal along with his workers and the work would start on a fast pace at the memorial. The DC had also said the administration would look for the belongings of the martyr and exhibit these in the memorial.

Sukhdev’s relatives had even announced that they would make available the literature of freedom struggle of India and especially the freedom fighters of Punjab, so that the visitors, especially the new generation could know about the tough time faced by the countrymen.



Stone of storm water drainage project laid
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 3
“Come March 2003 and the industrial hub of Punjab will achieve yet another distinction of becoming the first mega city in the entire region with assured supply of potable water to cent per cent population, with sufficient provisions to cater to the expected rise in population over a long period of time.” This was stated by the MC Commissioner. Mr S.K. Sharma, while laying the foundation stone of a Rs 24.70 lakh storm water drainage project near Gulmor Hotel in Ward No 37 here today.

The city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, and the senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Prem Mittal, who also represents the ward, besides senior civic officials, were present at the function.

According to Mr Sharma, the existing water supply network in the city comprised 290 tubewells, 60 OHSR’s and 1330 km of distribution pipes at present. Work had already commenced on a project under which 42 new tubewells, 4 OHSR’s and 273 km of distribution pipeline would be added by March 2003 at an estimated cost of Rs 18.10 crore for implementation of the water supply scheme in the city.

He said the existing sewerage was also being expanded under an ambitious Rs 150 crore project, funded by HUDCO and other financial institutions. Since the project envisaged 30 per cent funding by the MC from its own resources, it was being executed in a phased manner and was scheduled for completion in 2006.

The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh, gave details of several other major projects being executed by the civic body. He reiterated the commitment of the civic administration to bring about both qualitative and quantitative improvement in the civic services. Senior Deputy Mayor also spoke on the occasion.




Governor Lt-Gen JFR Jacob is known for his jolly and lively nature. But he seldom pleases the scribes as he always prefers to maintain silence on different issues. On Tuesday the Governor was in the city to present prizes to the winners at the conclusion of the 44th National Winter Bridge Championship. The scribes were keen to talk to the Governor, particularly on the issue of the appointment of the SSP, Chandigarh. With so much difficulty and after elbowing out so many security personnel and also top bureaucrat bridge players, the Governor appeared to be kind enough to talk about bridge, which he had learnt from his mother and mastered during his posting in Ladakh. But when asked to comment on the state of affairs in Punjab, he retorted: “This should better be asked from the Chief Minister”. At this moment a lady scribe told him that he had disappointed them (the scribes). To this the Governor remarked: “I cannot help it”. Not just that. He justified and defended himself, saying, “So many girls have disappointed me also”. A belated, but definitely a sweet vengeance. And everybody burst into fits of laughter. That is what the Governor is known for.

Bridge and blankets

Ludhiana is known for its hosiery and knitwear productions. Although the city is not so much identified with blankets, there are so many manufacturing units which have come up in the recent past. And these blankets were abundantly displayed and distributed at the conclusion of the National Bridge Championship among the winners. In fact these were given in addition to the gold and other medals to the winners. Someone from the audience rightly remarked, that these blankets should better have been given to the bridge players in advance at the outset of the game so that they could use these here. Since most of the players were from the south, they had not come with woollens or other warm clothes. Although it was OK during the initial days of the championship, during the last three days the intense cold made them shiver. One wonders if the blankets will really be useful to them back home.

Brazen affluence

Ludhianvi vanity is not just generic, it is encyclopaedic. This is known more to the people living here than to those from outside. Some people are not only vainglorious but they at times turn mad in vanity. There is yet another addition to this vanity fair. People have started giving luxury cars to their daughters in dowry. This is not restricted to the affluent class but even among the upper middle classes. The latest figures available from the car market and various distributors indicate that there has been maximum sale of luxury cars in Ludhiana. No wonder that the maximum units of the Octavia luxury car were sold in Ludhiana and most of them were gifted in dowry.

Turban colours

It is usually seen that in the state the colour of the party becomes the most famous turban colour. When the Akalis come in power, people wear blues, and when the government is led by the Congress, they prefer white. But after Captain Amarinder Singh took over as Chief Minister of Punjab, the pastel coloured turbans donned by him are much in demand. The city youth are making it a point to change their wardrobe as far as turban is concerned and make sure to buy similar colours. Even the turban sellers in the city are doing brisk business by prefixing the word Captain with the turban. All this is reminiscent of a similar episode when the late Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India. At that time the youth had started donning shawls in his style.

Villagers fenders

Residents of various villages like Kum Kalan and Ghudana came for the rescue of hungry Akali workers in district who were transported to these places by the local cops during their jail bharo andolan. The workers who were deserted by the cops in these villages were fed by the villagers only. The villagers as they have been known in the past for the philanthropist deeds proved their saviour once again. They at once arranged for food and water working beyond the party lines. The workers were much agitated at the behaviour of the police but were all praise for the villagers.

Lassi business

Chaati di lassi, the rural version of buttermilk, can actually become a business for certain people. This refreshing drink is actually sold like hot cakes in a city like Ludhiana. A similar vendor in the Model Town area is a favourite place with some ardent lassi lovers. The seller is a resident of Simla Puri and comes every morning with two drums of lassi in Model Town. A glass of this refreshing drink is sold for Rs 5 by him and litres of lassi is sold before the noon only.

Harbhajan live

Harbhajan Mann, famous singer and actor, took a jam-packed cinema hall in the city by surprise on Sunday. His first Punjabi film, ‘Jee-Aayan Nu’, was being screened here. The movie suddenly stopped and darkness engulfed the theatre. The ususual hooting and whistling had just begun, when the lights were switched on in a flash and the focus was on a man standing on the stage. And lo behold, the man was none other Harbhajan Mann himself. He had specially come to the theatre to thank his fans for making the movie a hit. His gesture only increased his fan list.

Noble gesture

At the onset of a function held in Government College for Women, an announcement was made to the effect that a student’s mother was in urgent need of O negative blood group. The teacher announced that her condition was critical and any student with this blood group should come forward. As soon as the announcement was over, a student from BA first year, and a student of MA final came forward without any hesitation. The girls’ instant response won them a round of applause. It was a noble spontaneous gesture and proves that young people have keen sensibilities.

Annual functions

These days all the schools are organising annual functions. Maybe it has something to do with the pleasant weather. But one thing that stands out is that the participants are dressing alike in any given sequence. The students have to pay quite a tidy sum for the costumes supplied them by schools. Moreover, the shops renting out jewellery are making a good sum of money as the charges go up to Rs 100 to more than Rs 500 per day. It is quite taxing on the parents to shell out such a large amounts specially if they have more than one child participating in the function. The other alternative is to opt out from the function. The schools ought to be buying accessories and providing these to the students.

Amazing dances

Come annual functions and the creative juices of staff members of schools flow rapidly. The dances presented are really colourful and most imaginatively executed . In the dance performed at Tagore Public School at the annual function held recently, the small children enticed the audience with their costumes of jungle animals and their antics. The accompanying music was very apt too. (see picture)

Tail piece

Seen written on the rear of a car, “Bad habits are like a virus in the software. They can ruin the system if not thrown out of it.”




Corporation holds khula manch
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 3
In order to tone up its complaints redressal system and to provide a forum to the city residents to directly interact with the civic administration, the Municipal Corporation yesterday held the inaugural session of ‘khula manch’ (open forum) for Zone A in the zonal office at the Daresi road here. Prominent among those present were Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Mr B.K. Gupta and Mr Prem Chand, both Zonal Commissioners of the MC
Besides many of the councillors from the zone, representatives of welfare associations and residents’ bodies and members of public participated and nearly 24 complaints, mostly relating to water supply, sewerage, street lights and stray animals, were raised in the manch. Most of the complaints were settled on the spot while directions were issued to officials concerned to deal with the others within a stipulated period. Officials of the O and M wing and the electricity wing were asked to visit the localities with faulty water supply, sewerage and street lights systems to take remedial steps without any delay.

In his opening remarks, the Commissioner said a fully functional complaint cell already existed in the civic body for booking of complaints at sub-zone and zone level in the city, which were dealt with on priority basis in a fixed time frame. However, there were several issues which needed to be addressed by senior-level officers and it took a lot of time for such complaints to be settled.

“It is the desire of the MC administration to become more responsive, transparent and to provide better civic amenities to the residents. With this aim, the manch has been launched which will provide a forum to the people for personally taking up the complaints, pertaining to civic matters for early disposal. The manch will be an open forum for free interaction between the members of public and the civic administration”.

The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, who presided over the session, said the manch would be organised on every Monday and civic matter like water supply, sewerage, sanitation, street lights, assessment of taxes, licence fee, composition fee and all such matters would be sorted out speedily.

According to MC officials, next sessions of the manch will be held on December 9 at Zone B, near Shingar Cinema; on December 16 at Zone C office on the Gill road; and on December 23 at Zone D office at Sarabha Nagar.



Physically challenged youth awaits help 
for 4 months
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
While several functions were organised in the district today to mark the World Disabled Day in which assurances were given by government officials of taking utmost care in government departments, a city-based physically-challenged youth and his family is having completely opposite experience of government “service” for the past four months.

Making rounds of the Mini Secretariat building all these months, the youth, Teju, is particularly upset at the cold-shoulder he has received from the police department. He is sore at the district administration officials also for not coming to his aid or even giving him a patient hearing.

Teju is married and has two children. He worked as a labourer. In an unfortunate accident near the local railway station about six months ago, he was hit by a train and lost his both arms. With this, the family lost their only source of earning. To add insult to injury, their house in EWS colony was forcibly occupied by some relatives of his wife and the family was thrown out of the house.

Since then, he is making rounds of the Mini Secretariat to get the house vacated as well as to take the help of the administration in getting some work. His efforts have not only proved futile but have only added to his miseries.

Narrating their tale of woe from the lush green lawns of the Mini Secretariat, Teju, his wife and his mother said they were regularly coming to meet the police officers or the district administration officers for the past four months. Most of the time they sit outside only as it was very difficult to reach the officers.

They managed to meet a senior police officer twice who directed them to Vardhman police station and even directed the SHO of that police station over the phone for urgent action on their case. However, the Vardhman police station allegedly turned a deaf ear to their sufferings.

They returned to the Mini Secretariat and have been trying hard to meet the police officers. Someone told them to meet the district administration officials but unfortunately they could not get through the gatekeepers.

The condition of the family is pitiful to say the least. Desperate for help Teju’s wife and mother burst into tears and said no one was bothered about their condition. They can not even manage to have two square meals a day.

Incidentally, the district administration, had in a detailed press note issued in mid-November claimed of making elaborate arrangements for the benefit of physically-challenged persons in the Mini Secretariat. Teju’s case puts a question mark on the claims.



Nostalgic Jacob reveals his passion for bridge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) today turned nostalgic as he recounted his childhood days when his mother taught him how to play bridge. While he picked the game from his mother, he mastered it as an army man while he was posted in the Ladakh region. His lifelong association with the Army and bridge continues till today.

In his brief but lively remarks at the concluding event of the 44rth National Winter Bridge Championship held here, the Governor was too fascinating with his attractive English. Unlike in his usual manner of starting his speech with “Sat Sri Akal”, he straightway addressed the audience with “Good Evening”. And then he travelled down the memory lane.

He recalled when as a child, he accompanied his mother to the bridge parties where she would play the game with other friend. He said, the parties were always a noisy affair and whenever his mother would scold him for making noise, he would counter and point out to her that even they (she and her fellow players) also made a lot of noise.

Subsequently, when he was posted in Ladakh, most of the guys would find it difficult to pass time. In Ladakh, particularly during the winters, the mercury would dip down to minus 400 C and the sun would set quite early. “As we had nothing to do we would play bridge for hours and hours together”, he recalled.

Governor Jacob was too focused to deviate from the subject that was bridge. Even when some reporters tried to talk to him, he said, he was ready to talk about bridge only and not anything else, much less the state of affairs. For that, the Governor said, “you better talk to the Chief Minister”. He also refused to talk about the uncertainty over the appointment of the Chandigarh SSP.

The Governor congratulated the participants and the organisers for organising such an event. He said, bridge was a game of intellectuals and it demanded a serious and focused mind and those who play it, enjoy it a lot. Since most of the participants were from outside the state, mostly from the South, he invited them to Chandigarh for having the better feel of the region. 



Pensioners’ panel seeks redress of grievances
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The first meeting of the Pensioners District Advisory Committee was held here today in which committee members urged the government to redress their grievances.

Chaired by Mr Rahul Bhandari, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), the meeting was attended by Mr B.R. Kaushal, Mr Sardool Singh, Mr Gurcharan Singh and Mr Des Raj Garg. The Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Mr M.S. Jaggi, conducted the proceedings. The committee resolved to recommend Mr Kaushal for nomination to the Pensioners State Advisory Committee as per the notification issued on January 7, 2000.

The committee reviewed the progress of the Pensioners’ Information Centre which was under construction in the mini-secretariat at Rs 15.36 lakh. The members urged the administration to complete the work at the earliest. The officials assured that the remaining amount would be released soon.

The members also handed over a charter of demands on behalf of the Punjab pensioners to the ADC who promised to forward the same to the Chief Secretary for further action. It was also decided celebrate Pensioners’ Day on December 17 in the Punjabi Bhavan.

They also urged the district administration to sort out the problems and difficulties regarding the age verification of family pensioners, especially those who were illiterate and hailed from rural areas from the office of the Civil Surgeon. The members also urged the heads of various department to speed up the cases of employees who had retired but were not drawing pension. Such information should be gathered in respect of retiree’s for the period ending June 30.



Resident alleges police harassment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
A city resident alleged police harassment due to the visit of Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob retd to the city today.

Mr Sanjay Sood, a chartered accountant, in his complaint, alleged that a police party towed away his brand new car while it was parked at an authorised parking lot near the Sutlej Club when the Governor was visiting the club for a bridge championship. He claimed that both bumpers of his car got damaged due to the towing away of the car with a crane.

Mr Sood said that he had parked his car (PB-10AV-5600) at a paid parking lot near the Sutlej Club. But the police towed away the vehicle without any information to him and took it near Rakh Bagh near the Deputy Commissioner’s residence.

He said he did not come to know about the cops who towed away the car. He has demanded action against the cops and also asked for compensation.



Ban on promotions flayed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The Scheduled Caste and Backward Class Employees Front, Punjab, has condemned the decision of the state government to ban the promotions of the government employees.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Charan Singh Halwara, convener of the front, said the decision was affecting the employees of all government departments and demanded that it should be rolled back. 



Murder case solved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The Jagraon police today claimed that a migrant labourer, Ramu, whose body with multiple stab injuries was found near Nanaksar Gurdwara on November 24 was killed by two persons in order to teach him a lesson for teasing one of the accused sister.

Mr M.S. Chinna, SSP, Jagraon, said today the accused had been identified as Jagroop Singh and Premjit Singh.



Labourer crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 3
A migrant labourer was killed in a road accident near Kot village on the GT Road today.

The victim, identified as Sukumar Yadav, was crossing the GT Road near the Manji Sahib Kotan police post. An unidentified vehicle crushed him. He died on the spot. The police has registered a case.


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