Thursday, January 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Police ‘hushes up’ 1.6 lakh robbery
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 22
If the Ludhiana police had its way, this incident of robbery would never have come to light. Every attempt was made to complete all formalities like conducting of medical examination, taking of finger prints, pressing a dog squad and recording the statement of the victim within one hour, so that no one could get a wind of the incident in which Mr Pawandeep Singh, a local businessman, was robbed of Rs 1.60 lakh early today morning.

Even though the city police is far from solving the case that took place near Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, all paper work required for starting the investigation has been completed. It all happened early morning when Mr. Pawandeep Singh, a paddy husk dealer, was stopped and robbed of Rs 1.60 lakh by three persons with muffled faces. The incident took place around 4.15 a.m.

Armed with weapons and sticks, the robbers beat up the victim before fleeing with the money they snatched from him. A resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, the victim was returning home after delivering paddy husk to some dying units.

Interestingly, while a person close to the victim admitted that the incident did take place, the police refused to accept that anything had taken place. Sources told Ludhiana Tribune that a team of Sarabha Nagar police headed by DSP R.S. Bakshi and SP Harish Kumar supervised the preliminary investigations and got the entire formalities connected with further investigations completed within an hour. It is also learned that the officer had special instructions to keep the incident a secret, especially from the media.

The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case under the relevant Section of the Indian Penal Code and the CrPC. No breakthrough has yet been made in the case, it is learned.



Subscribers up in arms against cable operators
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
With the cable operators trying to jack up the subscription once again, subscribers in the city are unwilling to relent this time with many of them threatening to get the connections severed, even if it means doing away with watching their favourite serials on Star Plus and many other paid channels. Many subscribers are seriously considering switching back to the dish antennas and even exploring the option of subscribing to operators showing non-paid channels for a much lesser amount.

Of late, several cable operators have mushroomed in the city who are offering to provide the services of non-paid channels for anything between Rs 50 and Rs 70, threatening the existence of bigger players like Win Cable and Siti Cable who have decided to charge an exorbitant amount of Rs 350 per month. Unlike the war between the mobile phone operators where the consumer has benefitted, the monopolistic attitude of the cable operators has made the biggest dent in the pockets of the dominant middle class.

Many such cable operators who are charging subscription upto Rs 100 are catering in areas of Gyaspura, Jamalpur, focal point and Dhandari Kalan. They are offering many free-to-air channels like DD National, Sahara, Sab TV, ETC channel, Asia TV network, BFU Music, Astha Channel, Sanskar, PTV etc.

Meanwhile, major cable operators in the city feel that majority of the city residents were willing to pay even Rs 350 for a month to watch their favourite TV channels.

They asserted that there was no threat from these “small” cable operators. They even maintained that the small operators could cater at such a low rate as the Conditional Access System (CAS) was not introduced in Punjab but once it was implemented, the non-paid channels will also have to pay for their telecast. The pay channels — Star Sports and ESPN had increased their rates with effect from December 1, 2002, by Rs 8 and other pay channels had introduced a hike from January 1 this year. From the month of January, the subscribers will be paying anything between Rs 350 and Rs 450 per connection. The per subscriber rate from January 1 includes Star package for Rs 60, Zee package — Rs 50, Sony — Rs 55, Start Sports and ESPN — Rs 32, DD Sports and TEN Sports — Rs 30.50, B-4U Movies Rs 8.90, Time Video — Rs 9, Ultra Video Rs 6, Shamaroo Video Rs 6, T-Series video Rs 4 and Electricity Poles Rent — Rs 10. The total cost of these pay channels will be Rs 271.40 and the cable operator expenses will be Rs 50 and the margin will be Rs 28.60. Hence, the total cost, the subscribers will have to pay is Rs 350, said Mr Dhabha.



Factory worker turns saviour 
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 22
A three-day-old child is dumped in a municipal corporation garbage bin in the dead of the night in biting cold. This is not a scene from a Bollywood movie as this reality struck the residents of the city, when the child was discovered from a garbage dump by a passer-by on Tuesday morning.

While, most people preferred to stand by and watch the abandoned baby, only Mr Rajan, a factory worker, came forward to pick the child up. A day later, Mr Rajan, a bachelor himself, is sure that he is going to raise the child as his own with the help of his mother. “I found the baby, who was apparently abandoned by her parents to die in the cold, in the rubbish bin and I brought her home. So now I get to keep the child”, he says.

Recounting the incident, Mr Rajan said: “While I was passing by the Domoria Bridge yesterday around 7 am, I saw people gathered around the municipal garbage dump. They were all looking at what they thought was a dead child. I moved forward and found the child breathing. Immediately, I picked her up and carried it straight back home”. At his house, Rajan and his mother applied oil on the body of the girl child and gave her a bath. “My mother gave her “gurti” and milk and the child started feeling comfortable. Without wasting any time, we took her to a doctor, who assured us that the child was fine”, said Rajan.

The saviour of this three-day-old child lives in Chawni Mohalla, near Domoria Bridge. Rajan’s mother said: “We have not named the child yet, but she will always be our darling. The neighbours are kind enough to provide woollen clothes to the child. This is a precious gift given to us by God and we will always look after her”.

Rajan said he had informed the police about the child. “We have been approached by many couples for the adoption of the child but I will not give this child to anyone. Nobody picked her up from that garbage dump and now they want to adopt her. I am also taking care of my 12-year-old niece. I can feed the child with whatever little I have. This new family member will always get all the love and affection”, assured Rajan.



PCMSA sore over SIT’s action
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
Members of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) have resented the action of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the infamous kidney scandal and urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to direct SIT to take strict action against all influential persons at whose behest the kidney trade thrived unchecked since the enactment of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Hardeep Singh, state president of the PCMSA, and Dr Ajay Bagga, press secretary of the PCMSA, said so far, SIT was acting in a limited sphere of medical profession and a visible appearance of inability to book the other influential persons involved in the organ trade. Due to this, resentment was increasing among the medical fraternity.

Dr Hardeep Singh demanded a sympathetic attitude towards donors, who donated their kidneys under compelling economic circumstances or were lured by middlemen. Dr Hardeep said, "Strange are the ways of functioning of the state government under which poor victims, who lose organs, land in jails whereas the middlemen, having the patronisation of political and administrative officials, are roaming free.”

The members also demanded a high-level probe by a serving Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to unveil the involvement of higher-ups in the scandal.

Dr Hardeep also urged the government to explore and develop the area of cadaver organ transplantation so that instead of becoming a tool of exploitation by few greedy elements, the medical technique of organ transplant could serve the suffering humanity. “In this way, the demand of the transplantation of kidneys can be fulfilled for patients suffering from renal failure, he said.



AFDR for arrest of guilty in kidney scam
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
The Ludhiana unit of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) has demanded immediate arrest of all those involved in the infamous kidney racket, including doctors, politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and middlemen.

While condemning the highly unethical practice by doctors, Prof. A.K.Maleri, district president, stated that it was very unfortunate that a scientific procedure like kidney transplantation had become a tool in the hands of greedy doctors and unscrupulous elements. In order to satisfy their insatiable lust for money, these persons had made human organs a purchasable commodity, alleged Dr Maleri. He lambasted the medical fraternity, especially the Indian Medical Association, for demanding the release of the main accused, Dr P.K.Sareen.

Holding the callous system responsible for creating such a situation where a marginal section of society had to sell their vital organs like kidneys to make a living, Prof Maleri called upon the citizens concerned and all other social organisations to make it a movement and build pressure and keep vigil on the Special Investigating Team and force it to take this inquiry to its logical end. Strongly pleading the case of the donors, who were invariably from the poor section of society and who donated their organ under compulsive circumstances, Prof Maleri demanded that their case be considered sympathetically and on humanitarian considerations.

The Lok Jan Shakti Party has also demanded a CBI probe into the kidney scam. Mr Kartar Singh, state spokesperson of the party, said that the donors should be given relief by the state government. He said that all the guilty should be punished severely and stern action be taken against them.



48 teachers to quit PCCTU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
Fortyeight teachers of Arya College in a signed statement said that they were deeply shocked at the prejudiced working of the PCCTU and have decided to disassociate themselves from the present set-up of the PCCTU and its intriguing functioning. The trouble arose when two teachers of Arya College, Prof V.K. Handa and Prof Devinder Joshi, were unceremoniously removed. A resolution of disassociation was passed at a meeting of the executive committee of the Arya College unit held on the college premises yesterday.

The lecturers in a signed statement said that they strongly condemned the disrespectful removal of Prof A.K. Handa and Prof Devinder Joshi on considerations of personal prejudices and vendetta. They vehemently condemned the attempt by the present PCCTU set-up to disrespect Prof A.K. Handa, who is due to retire on January 31 after a long and meritorious service as a teacher and celebrated unionist for participating in many a struggle of PCCTU and suffering in jail during the PCCTU struggle of 1972.

They said that Prof Devinder Joshi has been an active and dedicated member of the executive committee of the PCCTU for more than eight years and in removing him, the present PCCTU set-up has only insulted its own self by exposing its considerations for teachers’ cause.

They further said that they would dissociate themselves from the PCCTU under protest and wish to withdraw their membership from it. These teachers said that they were aware that a good number of teachers of various colleges had already dissociated themselves after having been disillusioned at the faction-ridden working of the present PCCTU set-up.

They have asked the teachers of other colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh to disown the present prejudiced PCCTU set-up.

On the other hand, Prof Kanwaljit, university area secretary, said that there were two units active in Arya College. 



BKU opposes privatisation of PSEB
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has opposed the government move to hand over the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in private hands, saying the decision would damage the interests of working class small and tiny industries and the farming community.

The BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, in a statement here today, further charged the government with moving in a hush-hush manner to give effect to the privatisation of power generation and distribution. “No representative body of farmers or other categories of consumers have been called for discussion by the government before taking this crucial decision,” he said.

Mr Lakhowal said it was an admitted fact that the PSEB functioning had been under cloud with charges of rampant corruption and gross financial mis-management for quite some time, which had led to mounting losses over the last several years. But at the same time, privatisation of the PSEB the would not solve these problems. What the government ought to have done to remedy the situation were steps like proper financial management, curbing corruption and power theft firmly and pruning down the overstaffed PSEB. He observed that certain vested interests in the government, in league with private companies, were out to push the decision of privatisation through for their personal gains.

The BKU president made a fervent plea with the government to obtain the opinion of some of the states which had already privatised the respective state electricity boards before taking a final decision in this regard. The experience so far in the states like Maharasthra, Delhi, Orissa and recently in Haryana had shown that post-privatisation, the power scenario had further worsened with drastic cuts being imposed and the power tariff jacked up repeatedly much to the annoyance and inconvenience of the consumers.



Cong men prepare to celebrate R-Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
Senior Congress leaders chalked out a programme to celebrate Republic Day at a meeting convened by the District Congress Committee (Rural), here today. The party high command had earlier directed party functionaries to organise a function on the occasion where the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Harwinder Singh Hanspal, would unfurl the National Flag.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, asked party workers to make the celebrations of the days a memorable event. Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, and Mr Jaspinder Singh Jakhar, general secretary of the PPCC also addressed the meeting. They urged the party workers to mobilise the masses through propagation of party policies and programmes. The party functionaries reviewed the arrangements made for the function and assigned specific duties to office-bearers at the district, block and ward levels.

Among those present at the meeting included Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, Mr Malkiat Singh Beermi, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLAs, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, president, DCC (Rural), and Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president, DCC (Urban).



Panthic bodies flay death penalty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 22
Various panthic organisations have condemned the death penalty awarded to Devinderpal Singh, the main accused in the Delhi bomb blast case.
At a meeting held here this noon, Mr Darshan Singh Khalsa, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, and Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, convener of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, said the sentence has alienated the Sikhs further after the recent acquittal of one of the main accused in the 1984 genocide.

They said the accused had been sentenced to death even though no witness had deposed against the accused. The court, on the other hand, had acquitted the accused in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikh youth even as their hapless widows were running from pillar to post to get justice for the past 18 years. This was another deep wound on the psyche of the Sikh community, they asserted.

This was a fresh attempt to rekindle the simmering anger among the Sikh youth, and at this crucial juncture ‘we appeal to other non Sikh organisations to come forward to ensure that the accused was not hanged just because he belonged to a minority community’, they pointed out.



FCI ‘palledar’ union alleges harassment
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 22
The local unit of FCI Punjab Food Agency Workers Palledar Union (Azad) has alleged that the local assistant manager of the FCI, Mr K.L.Verma was discriminating against them.

In a signed press statement issued here today, Mr Karam Deol, president and Mr Shinna Khan, cashier, of the palledar union, alleged that the assistant manager was discriminating against 27 handling and six ancillary workers who were affiliated with the union. Giving an example of the discrimination, the union leaders said they had been paid overtime dues for the months of April and May, 2002 after a deduction of 10 per cent. Against a total amount of Rs. 6,7447, the workers were paid only Rs. 60,747, they said. When they asked the assistant manager, for an explanation, he admitted that he had deducted this amount from the total money. The union leaders further alleged the assistant manager told them that in future too they would have to give 10 per cent of all their overtime dues later, the union at its meeting unanimously rejected this unjust demand.

The union leaders alleged that as they refuse to pay bribe money to the assistant manager, their overtime dues, which had already been paid to the members of the other union known as the Nizam group, were being denied to them. Overtime dues from January 1999 to December 2000 had been paid to the Nizam group while they were being pressurised to part with 10 per cent of their hard-earned money. The union leaders said they had verbally requested the assistant manager several times to have mercy on the labourers and release their overtime dues without imposing any unjust cuts but the assistant manager was firm on his stand, they added.

Alleging that the assistant manager was adopting unfair means to mint money, the union leaders pointed out that when a contractor’s special train is unloaded at the local rail head, the assistant manager was making fictitious entries of 44 workers of their rival union while the work was being done by the contractor’s labour. The FCI Department pays Rs 116 per day to such labour and as such, the assistant manager, was duping the department too, they stated. The workers , who were being favoured by the assistant manager, were also allegedly paying him a handsome cut out of their ‘inflated’ earnings, they alleged further.

The union leaders said they had brought the irregularities, being committed by the assistant manager to the notice of the higher authorities earlier also but having got no positive response, they were now seeking a thorough probe by either the Vigilance Department or the CBI into their allegations do that the guilty was brought to the book.



De-addiction centre celebrates anniversary
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
De-addiction centre being run by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle celebrated its 3rd anniversary here today. The highlights of the programme were passing of a resolution, distribution of prizes and release of a C.D.

A resolution, urging the district administration to disallow khokhas and shops selling tobacco substances such as ‘gutkas’ and ‘zarda’ and alcohol within a radius of 1 km of the academic institutions, was passed. Under the chairmanship of Principal Ram Singh, the resolution was put up by Dr Mandanjit Kaur Sahota, Principal M.T.S.M. College for Women, Ludhiana. She emphasised on the need of saving the younger generation from the menace of drugs and other intoxicants. The resolution was signed by more than 50 local academic institutions. This included the heads of schools and colleges. Prof. Balwinderpal Singh and Prof. Dhodi supported the views expressed in the resolution.

Prizes were awarded to the winners of all-India painting competition which was organised by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle. The theme of the competition was ‘Drug abuse’. Mr Kuldip Singh of GGN Public School, Ms Gurasis Kaur of Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women, Model Town, Ludhiana and Mr Kulbeer Singh of Hira Public School Kanaur (Ropar) bagged the first, second and third prize respectively.

Besides this, 20 other prizes were also awarded along with a certificate to the participating schools and the participants. More than 900 students had taken part in the competition.

A digital CD depicting the prized painting was also released. The CD was prepared by Mr Sarabjit Singh and Mr Jasbir singh. Each school and college was given a copy of the CD.

A drama in the theme ‘family of an addict’ was also staged on the occasion. It depicted how an addict lands his family into trouble. The audience became very emotional on seeing the pitiable condition of the addict’s wife.



Batalvi study circle to launch website
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
The Shiv Kumar Batalvi Study Circle International (SBSCI) at its special meeting held here today discussed the forthcoming literary functions being organised by them at Punjabi Bhawan, Ludhiana, on January 30, 2003.

Mr Joginder Kalsi, a cinematographer and documentary producer of international repute will be the chief guest while Dr Surjit Pattar will preside over the function. Prominent literary celebrities, who participated in the meeting included Ms Manu Sharma Sohal (chief coordinator, SBSCI), Dr Jagtar Dhiman (coordinator, SBSCI), Mr Swaranjit Savi (coordinator, SBSCI), Mr Kulwant Jagraon (a senior journalist and coordinator SBSCI), and a number of journalist from the vernacular and English dailies of the region.

In her welcome address, Ms Manu Sharma Sohal, introduced the house and the participating journalists.

Dr Jagtar Dhiman expressed concern about the constant deterioration on the rich Punjabi culture — taking place at various levels, and desired that all literary, religious and political strata of the society should join hands to curb this menace.

Mr Joginder Kalsi categorically remarked that the Mumbai masala was having an adverse influence on our Punjabi heritage. The undesirable influence of the internet and certain TV channels were also discussed. Although there are a large number of literary organisations claiming to work for the protection of the rich cultural heritage of Punjab yet there has been no tangible outcome of the same.

An appeal was made to the writers and folk singers of Punjab to contribute their bit to protect the culture. Prof Kulwant Jagraon emphasised on the need to create awareness in the public about conserving our culture The rural panchayats could also chip in their bit.

Dr Jagtar Dhiman and Mrs Manu Sharma Sohal said that for the benefit of its members a website of the Shiv Kumar Batalvi Study Circle International will be created.



Inadequate parking facilities

THE growing number of vehicles and inadequate parking spaces are the bane of the city residents with Ghumar Mandi, the biggest and the most prestigious business centre, the worst affected. The number of vehicles swells to an unmanageable limits during peak office and business hours. This overcrowded commercial centre has no parking lots with the result that it is impossible to even pass through, what to talk about leisurely shopping.

During evening hours the law of the jungle is in force. This leads to traffic snarls and also creates a law and order problem. Pick-pockets, chain-snatchers, anti-social elements and eve-teasers exploit the chaos on the roads.

The only solutions to ease the situation lies in providing manned parking facilities in the area.


Dispensing (dis)credit

While the nation’s banks are struggling hard to retrieve their lost money in the form of thousands of crores of non-performing assets (NPAs) from bigwigs, it is quite unfortunate that the loaned amounts have not helped in improving the working conditions of the poor workers, while the defaulters loot the exchequer with impunity and enjoyed all the privileges of a lavish lifestyle, all at the cost of public money.

Certainly, our planners lacked farsightedness since they forgot to ensure accountability and failed to give any meaningful directions at the micro-level to survive in the fast changing competitive market environment. While wilful defaulters have to be dealt with as per laws of the land, the government has to ensure that bank credit reaches the poorest of the poor. I suggest the following strategies:

(A). Post Block Development Officers who are qualified and have thoroughly professional outlook in dealing with the poor ruralities.

(B). Encourage agri-based projects and artisan activities and for this village panchayats have to be thoroughly involved.

(C). Ensure the marketing of artisan products so that they get a realistic price for their products, whereby, middlemen have to be discouraged. NGOs have to play a role here since producing is not difficult, marketing is.

(D). Banks must dispense credit to the poorest of the poor, but this can be possible only if banking is taken to their doorsteps. Let there be mobile banks since we have been unable to open branches in rural areas. A distinct urban bias has to be shed by the officials at the helm of affairs.

(E). Panchayats must be roped in - or made responsible - to ensure regular recovery of bank loans. Further, the banks must fix a longer term for return of the loans, say, from seven to 10 years.

Sympathising with the fate of the poorest of the poor in this era of globalisation, we should work sincerely to bring them into the mainstream to tap their untapped potential in national interest.


A whiff of fresh air

The news item in Ludhiana Tribune dated 11-1-2003, “Blueprint for smooth traffic flow”, has come as a whiff of fresh air and hope for denizens of the city. There is an urgent need of doing something sincerely to regulate and contain the chaotic traffic conditions in this industrial hub to give it some semblance of sanity.

But the moot point is, can it be done without making the city roads navigable and worthy of use by the road users ?. This point has been hammered out on numerous occasions by the people through the media as well as by personal pleas to the concerned MC officials, including the Municipal Commissioner as well as the Mayor, but everything has fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.

The babus neither listen to complaints nor see the deplorable conditions when they themselves travel on such roads. But they have the audacity to claim in the media that they are concerned with the welfare of the public and want to improve the traffic conditions. Now how is that possible without repairing, remetalling and removing encroachments which are the major cause of chaotic traffic amongst other causes like encroachments of the roads and pavements ?

When the money is available with the M.C., as is being asserted time and again, why the same is not being spent on roads remains a paradox.


Violation of building bylaws

There are blatant violations of the building bylaws which seem to have escaped the eyes of the officials concerned. The non-compoundable violations include construction in the house line on front and back for all types of buildings. In residential buildings in Ludhiana (e.g. in B.R.S Nagar, Raj Guru Nagar, etc), the uncovered area at the back of plots of say 250/500 yards is meant for proper air and light to the house or to the next or adjacent houses. It is primarily a garden-area or a piece of land and is generally used as grass lawn as well as for growing flowers, fruits, vegetables, or even water lilies, etc to the delight of the owner.

The majority of owners generally use a part of the area touching the boundary wall for different gardening. On account of these aforementioned reasons, the height of the back boundary wall cannot be more than 5-6 feet. Some owners without civic sense have been raising the backyard boundary wall and combining it with the main construction of residential house, thus violating the building bylaws.

To get light and air, the offenders then often make a gate size opening in the first floor, which is a direct trespass into the open yard of the back house. To clarify this an opening of approximately 4-1/2 feet x 7 feet, as made by the owner of 451 B, BRS Nagar, was shown in the accompanying photo. The said illegal construction cannot even be compounded on any grounds whatsoever.

This is a direct encroachment on the rights of the back house and adjoining house owners. Even the light and air to the violator’s house is greatly diminished. And there would be dampness in the illegal construction or structure due to gardening etc in the house at the back or even the next house.

Such unauthorised constructions on the backyard boundary wall in blatant violation of building bylaws and without due consideration to immediate neighbours are liable to demolition.

Submitted for the rights, interest and awareness of the citizens of Ludhiana.


Set your house in order first

Non-challaning of Sikh ladies for not wearing helmets looks as if it has been suspended for the time being in view of the severe opposition by the Sikh community. But it has snowballed into a controversy. The strong reaction against the law of the court was expected as it has not taken into account the sentiments of a particular minority community.

It is known to everyone that wearing a helmet (iron cap) is strictly prohibited in the Sikhism and it is also against the Sikh ‘rehat’ and ‘maryada’. Knowing all facts to make such a law is a direct attack on their faith and would be a direct violation of Sikh dogmas.

At present compulsions are from both sides i.e. police, administration as well as Sikh brotherhood. If one is bound with law to comply the same strictly, the defiant are also strictly bound by faith and Sikh principles, and to accept it without any hitch and protest means to defy the Sikh ‘rehatmaryada’ and even to loss of identity, which cannot be tolerated by the community, especially by the staunch followers of Sikhism.

I would like to say that first of all, the so-called saviours of Sikh religion, must set their own house in order so that we can raise our voices against such laws.

While making such laws, which may hurt the feelings of any one or community, sentiments of the affected community must be kept in mind. I personally feel that if it is accepted by any Sikh man and woman having full faith in Sikhism, he/she will definitely feel humiliated and degraded.

No doubt, from the security point of view, it is a must for everyone to wear. But forcible application in case of Sikh women, should not be there. Before it becomes a movement against such anti-Sikh laws (as considered and felt by a majority), I suggest the authorities concerned to withdraw it immediately and find out a suitable and acceptable alternative for the same. At the same, this is not the single step which may avoid any untoward incidents. There are many other urgent requirements which are more important than wearing the helmet to minimise the fatal accidents to a great extent i.e. quality roads for smooth flow of traffic, a limit on speed and strict application of traffic rules.

Unfortunately, while we are struggling for Sikh ‘rehat and maryada,’ what are the affected women doing? They are violating the tenets by cutting their hair and eyebrows. What are the SGPC and other religious organisations doing to bring the apostate youngsters — who are cleanshaven and also wear helmets - into the Sikh fold? If all such undesirable acts are acceptable and allowed by the Sikh community, then why a hue and cry for wearing a helmet?




Community centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
An ultra modern community centre, constructed at a cost of Rs 40 lakh at Mandi Gobindgarh was inaugurated by Mr Sukhwinder Singh Bhambri, president, Municipal Council, at a function on Tuesday. The community centre has been named as Nasrali Community Centre after Nasrali village, which being a part of the town now, had donated land worth crores for the project.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhambri focussed on several other ongoing development projects in the industrial township which included a railway overbridge at a cost of Rs 11 crore, a modern truck stand involving an expenditure of Rs 4 crore, a Rs 50 lakh sub-way across GT road, construction of central verge on national highway at a cost of Rs 40 lakh and an ultra modern air-conditioned sports complex, estimated to cost around Rs 5 crore.

Mr Bhambri, while claiming that the MC was one of the richest civic bodies in Punjab, further said that work had already been taken in hand for construction of graveyards for Muslim and Christian communities at a project cost of Rs 20 lakh.

He outlined various other measures being taken by the MC in the public interest. 



Businessman’s wife ‘commits suicide’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
A 28-year-old woman, Monica, wife of a hosiery manufacturer, allegedly committed suicide at her Mandir Wali Gali residence in Taj Ganj mohalla last evening.
According to information, the husband of the deceased was at his factory, while her mother-in-law had gone to visit her doctor when the woman allegedly hanged herself from a hook in the ceiling. When her husband, Mr Rajesh Aggarwal, came back home in the evening he allegedly found the door of his house bolted from inside. He gained entry to the house through a neighbour’s house and raised the alarm after spotting his wife’s body hanging in a room. The neighbours helped Mr Aggarwal take the body down.

Senior police officers who reached the spot have sent the body for an autopsy to the Civil Hospital.

But according to another version, it was the mother-in-law of the deceased who raised the alarm when the door was not answered by Monica after she returned home. A window was reportedly broken to gain entry into the house.

The parents of the deceased, who live in Karnal in Haryana, have been informed and the Division No. 3 police is awaiting their statement before registering any case. However, on the basis of suspicion, the police taken into custody the husband of the deceased. The police also said it would proceed against the persons who allegedly removed the body from its original position and brought it outside the house without waiting for the police to arrive on the scene first. It is learned that the deceased, who had been married around five years ago, had given birth to a second daughter around six weeks ago.

Man dies: Ajay Kumar Chawla (35), a resident of Tilak Nagar, died under mysterious circumstances here yesterday. According to information, the deceased suddenly started vomiting in the afternoon, following which he was taken to the CMC Hospital where he died. His body has been sent for an autopsy. It is being suspected that the man had consumed some poisonous substance.

Fraud alleged: The Division No. 2 police has registered a case of alleged fraud under Sections 419, 420 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Mr Satnam Singh, branch manager, Bank of Hyderabad, Miller Ganj, against Lalit Kumar, owner of a textile firm in Hargobind Nagar. The complainant had alleged that the accused had given him a bank draft for Rs 19,940, which was not honoured by the bank concerned.

Camera thief held: A man was arrested by the police yesterday in Islam Ganj while he was trying to sell the flash of a camera that had been stolen from a marriage function some days ago. According to information, the camera of Mr Devinder Singh, a photographer living in Kidwai Nagar, had been stolen from a marriage function some days ago. A report had also been lodged by him at the Division No. 2 police station. However, the alleged thief was arrested after he tried to sell the flash to a shopkeeper, who informed the police.

Eve-teasers held: The Division Number 4 police has arrested two persons under Section 509 of the IPC on the charge of teasing girls in the area. The alleged eve-teasers were identified as Parvin Kumar, a resident of Dehra Dun and Jaspal Singh, a resident of Sekhewal village.

Gamblers held: The Sarabha Nagar police has arrested five gamblers and recovered Rs 1,200 and a set of playing cards from their possession. The accused, who were apprehended from Sunet village, have been identified as Nasim, Shahid, Shrafat Hussain, Firosh and Mohammad Jacky.

Two booked: The Division Number 7 police has registered a case of alleged beating on the statement of Mr Jaswinder Singh against Kaka and Kuljinder Singh, residents of Khasi Kalan village. The complainant had alleged that the accused accosted him in the Jamalpur area and attacked him with sharp-edged weapons.

Knife seized: The Haibowal police has arrested Mangat Ram, a resident of Jassian Colony, and seized a “kamanidar” knife from his possession. The seizure was made during a special checking. The accused has been booked under the Arms Act.

Bid to snatch bag: Some persons made an attempt to snatch a bag, containing cash, from Vijay Kumar, a resident of Vijay Nagar, after throwing chilly powder in his eyes. The victim raised an alarm, following which they tried to flee, but some residents caught one of them and after thrashing him, handed him over to the police. The accused has been identified as Balbir Singh, a resident of Mai Jeena, Raikot Road, Jagraon.

According to DSP Jasdev Singh Sidhu, the accused is already under trial in two theft cases and during interrogation, also confessed to the involvement of Kulwinder Singh Kala, Jasbir Singh and Kalia in the case. The police has started a search for the other three accused.

Shop burgled: In the early hours today, thieves, after scaling the rear wall of Handa Sweet Shop on Railway Road, entered the shop and took away a cash box, containing about Rs 3300. While fleeing they also had a scuffle with the watchman. Later the police found the broken cash box outside the shop.

Death condoled: The local Bar, in a condolence meeting held here today under the presidentship of Mr M.S. Sehgal, condoled the death of the wife of Mr Mohan Lal Jhanji, a senior advocate of Ludhiana, and struck work as a token of respect to her.

Liquor seized: The police arrested Harjit Singh of Hissowal village and seized nine bottles of country liquor from his possession. He has been booked under Section 61/1/14 of the Punjab Excise Act.



PCR cops nab car thieves
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
Two car thieves — Jaspal Singh Jassa and Kulbir Singh — were nabbed by two PCR policemen after a chase, while they tried to flee in a Maruti car stolen from outside the old courts. According to information, the policemen, Rakesh Kumar and Sukhchain Singh, who were patrolling the Basti Jodhewal area on a motor cycle got a message from the control room that a car had been stolen from outside the old courts. The policemen then set up a roadblock at a square and on noticing the car, signalled the driver to pull over. But the vehicle sped past them. The policemen gave them a chase and arrested the two at Bal Singh Nagar chowk.

During preliminary investigations, the alleged car thieves confessed to having committed similar thefts in Nakodar, Jalandhar and other towns of Punjab.



Steel price hike threatens SSI units
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 22
The small scale industry (SSI) in and around the city was passing through a rough time with yet another hike in the prices of steel by around Rs 200 to Rs 250 per ton during January this year, besides a rise in other input costs. The price hike has pressed a panic button with most industry, especially the small-scale units, finding it virtually impossible to deal with the increased input costs.

Mr Rajinder Jindal, president, and Mr Chaman Lal Tangri, general secretary of the Engineering Exporters Association of India, have pointed out that the exporters of engineering goods from the region were facing a crisis situation owing to this price rise. Besides steel, the prices of HR and CR coils and sheets have gone up by Rs 3,000 per metric ton and prices of MS Round have also gone up by Rs 2,000 per metric ton in the past few months.

“Being the basic raw materials for engineering goods, this has affected more than 20,000 SSI units employing more than three lakh workers. The recent price hike in input costs has pushed many units on the verge of closure. The hardships of exporters have further been aggravated by downward fluctuation of US dollar from Rs 48.40 to Rs 47.70, a downfall of almost 2 per cent”, they said.

With the cost of production of engineering goods going up and the realisation coming down, Mr. Jindal was afraid that the exports of India especially of bicycle and bicycle parts may go down by Rs 100 crore, for the period January to March 2003, if the current phenomenon continues. The exporters who have already booked orders were incurring heavy losses and further bookings have come to standstill because the prices that were being quoted in the international market were not compatible with the cost of production, he said.

The association has sent a representation to the Ministry of Commerce, seeking the reduction in duty on import of HR/CR sheets and coils because the manufacturers of steel in India have increased their domestic prices, while exporting their products on the other hand. It has been further emphasised that the prices of imported scarp have also gone up from $120 per metric ton to $172. Since the custom duty on scrap was higher, the imported scrap is not coming to India, resulting in higher prices of steel in India, while most of it was going to China.

“We have urged to Ministry of Commerce to reduce import duty, so that the mini steel plants can import scrap on cheaper prices and could supply cheaper raw material to engineering goods sector”, the association spokesperson said.

Summing up, the user industry’s predicament, Mr D.S. Chawla, president, United Cycle and Parts Manufactured Association, said against the industry’s profit margins of 2 to 5 per cent, the cost of our inputs had increased up to 15 per cent. Most business associations have suggested the setting up of a price regulatory authority to curb such arbitrary increase in prices of raw material.



‘No hoarding of LPG by distributors’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 22
The Ludhiana LPG Distributors Association had vehemently denied that cooking gas scarcity in the city had been caused by illegal stocks being maintained by the distributors.

Mr Chander Shekhar Azad, president of the association, said in a statement here today that LPG godowns, almost without exception, had the physical capacity to store not more than one and a half day’s requirement. Therefore, even if the LPG distributor desired to maintain excess stock of cylinders, it was physically not possible for them to do so. It should be clearly understood that the LPG distributors were not to be blamed for the LPG scarcity in the city in any manner.

While admitting that the city population had been hit hard due to acute shortage of cooking gas in December, 2002, he attributed the same to shut down at one of the oil refineries. Mr Azad further claimed that at present of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum (HP) were receiving adequate supplies and there was no backlog in supply. However, the LPG supply to the distributors of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) continued to be erratic solely due to bad planning and mismanagement by the officials of the said company.

To substantiate the charge of ill-planned supplies from Lalru LPG Bottling Plant of BPCL, Mr Azad quoted figures taken from planned delivery programme during the month of January to some of the local distributors. It showed that one particular distributor, with a consumer strength of 10,742, would receive 16 truck loads of LPG cylinders while another distributor, with almost an identical consumer base would get 42 truck loads. These supplies work out to availability of 6.35 kg and 15.93 kg of LPG per consumer, respectively, during the month which could not be termed as just and equitable in any way.

The yawning gap between the demand and supply of the LPG in the city would only be plugged after better sense prevailed upon the officials of the BPCL, which had a sizeable consumer base in the city, Mr Azad pointed out.


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