Monday, February 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Armed men attack XEN, family
Involvement of liquor mafia suspected
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
The family of a PWD XEN posted at Ludhiana was attacked by members of a liquor mafia who reportedly mistook them to be members of the rival group, at Samrala main market late last night. The family was chased for a distance of over 15 km by about 20 armed assailants till Neelon. Their car was badly smashed and several gunshots were fired at the car, one of which punctured a front wheel.

Three members of the family, including the officer, Devinder Pal Singh Virk, suffered injuries in the brutal attack. It was only the alertness shown by their son Arshdeep Singh, who kept on driving the car despite a flat tyre and smashed doors and windows, that saved the family from a certain death.

The attackers, allegedly belonging to a liquor mafia headed by a political leader of the area, were travelling in two jeeps. The chase started from Samrala and ended at Neelon where the assailants finally caught up with the family. They, however, let them off saying ‘‘ Oh , my God, these are not those persons’’.

Arshdeep Singh Virk, who is a college student, said the assailants had searched the car also and went away saying they had made a mistake as no ‘goods’ were found, as had been reported to them , in the car.

The Samrala police has registered a case of attempt to murder against the assailants. At least three of them have been identified as Tejpal Singh, Bahadur Singh and Pappu. The FIR said at least 17 other unknown persons were involved in the attack. The family was travelling in a white Contessa car (no. HR-13-0001).

The police has impounded a Jeep(no PB-10-AX-6874). The car belongs to a political leader of the area. The identified assailants were also working with the political leader.

Police sources said the attack was a part of a series of such incidents witnessed in the recent past. Liquor groups in the area have been at loggerheads with each other over the issue of smuggling of cheap liquor from Chandigarh to Ludhiana-via-Samrala. With police failing to plug the smuggling, the liquor groups have been maintaining their own ‘army’.

Narrating the entire sequence, Arshdeep Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that he along with his father, Devinder Pal Singh Virk and mother, Inderjit Kaur was returning from Chandigarh, when suddenly in the main market of Samrala town, a man armed with a long stick hit the car.

While he was still trying to figure out what happened when a jeep blocked their way from the front and another from the rear. At least 20 youths brandishing guns, swords, hockey sticks, baseball bats and lathis came out and started striking at the car madly. He said he, somehow, managed to clear the way by hitting his car into the jeep blocking the front way.

‘‘We thought they were robbers and their madness scared us, ’’ he said. Arshdeep drove as fast as he could but was hit constantly by the two jeeps from both sides of the car. He said they kept on shouting why they were being attacked and the persons only responded with abuses and orders to stop the car.

‘‘When they failed to stop us, they began firing at the car. One of the shots hit the right front wheel but still I managed to bring the car upto Neelon, where the assailants finally caught us’’.

He said when the assailants came near us they realised their mistake and ran away leaving behind one of their jeeps. The police has impounded it. None of the assailants has been arrested so far, police sources said.



Planning Commission lauds MC
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 2
Placing on record the achievements of the Municipal Corporation Ludhiana (MCL), the Planning Commission of India has recommended that the successful experiment needed to be replicated in other parts of the country also.

In a communication to the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, the Director, State Plans, Planning Commission Mr C. Laldinliana, observed that the MCL was dedicated to improve the quality of life of the community by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal governance.

The appreciation came in the backdrop of some ambitious projects of the MC, including supply of potable water to 100 per cent of the city population, setting up the first bio-medical waste disposal plant in Northern India, financial revamping of the civic body, evolving integrated approach for development of slums and several other people oriented development schemes.

In a special document - 'Successful Governance, Initiative and Best Practices - Experience from States,' brought out by the Planning Commission of India in association with the Human Development Resource Centre of the United Nations Development Programme, it was observed, "there is a transparency of public purpose and no room for partisan politics and corrupt practices." It further stated, ‘‘this successful restructuring of MCL merits replication in municipal organisations across the country.’’ The document made specific mention of the MC Commissioner, Mr Sharma, for further references.

The Planning Commission had noted with appreciation - by striving to undertake continuous policy and operations reform, the MCL has emerged as an organisation that aspires for better, cheaper and more effective systems to deliver services and to bridge the gap between prevailing delivery systems and citizens’ expectations. It further remarked that in a scenario of increasing demands and shrinking government grants, the MCL had to face challenges of rapid urbanisation, haphazard development, political interference, poor work culture, eroding accountability and a declining public image due to the increasing gap between service delivery and public expectations.

Lauding the total revamping of the MCL, the Planning Commission document pointed out that in order to revamp the derelict system, the civic body had initiated various reforms related to managerial capacity building and community participation. The reform measures included privatisation, asset management, monthly appraisals, organisational restructuring, human resource development, management of information system and financial overhauling.

It also placed on record the focus on increasing work accountability and transparency by using innovative e-governance techniques, implementing zero expenditure budgeting, promoting confidence building with stake holders and cutting down establishment expenditure’’. As a result, the MCL has become a more efficient and clarified organisation. Further, by pruning administrative expenditure and using innovative methods to generate additional financial resources, the income of the civic body has increased manifold’’.



Endless wait for a revenue record
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
Even as two persons were killed and several others were injured in a dispute over a piece of agricultural land in Dhandra village just two months ago , the controversy over possession of land has failed to die down.

As a claimant of the land, Mr Bhajan Singh, a 66-year old resident of Santokh Nagar in Ganesh Puri, alleged that the land actually belonged to him and he could not prove so as the revenue officials were not providing him with a copy of the ‘‘farad’’ of the land.

He added that he had been moving from pillar to post to get a copy of land ‘farad’ from the patwari concerned but even after two years of his struggle he is not able to get the same.

Many years ago, when Mr Bhajan Singh asked for a ‘farad’ for his agricultural land in Dhandra village, he was asked to grease the palm of a revenue officer by paying Rs 2,000 to get the same. But he could not pay the money due to financial constraints. Consequently, even after many years the man doesn’t have the document despite various orders from the officials to the employees concerned.

He had even appeared before the former Deputy Commissioner in a sangat darshan also. The former Deputy Commissioner had even ordered the patwari concerned to provide him the documents, but till date he is waiting for the same.

Having failed to obtain the simple copy of ‘farad’ even after orders of the district administration, he also visited the sangat darshan programme held by the former Chief Minister in the city. The Chief Minister had also directed the officials concerned to expedite the matter.

In an affidavit furnished to the officials concerned, a copy of which is with the Ludhiana Tribune also, Mr Bhajan Singh has claimed that as per the revenue records while Intakaal (number 219) of agricultural land in Dhandra village is in the name of Jaswant Kaur, Angrez Kaur, Naginder Kaur, Ram Singh and Chhinder Kaur, the owners of the land in a copy of ‘farad’ given to him are different. In the affidavit he has claimed that the farad says that the owners of the land are Ram Singh and Gurvinder Singh.

Some revenue officials, on the condition of anonymity, said there was no mention of his possession in the revenue records and whenever they provided him with a copy he refused to take it stating that it was a fudged document and not the original one. The officials further claimed that he said so because it did not bear his name.

Mr Bhajan Singh, who had also received injuries during the recent clash at Dhandrahad claimed that he was a victim in the clash even as he was not involved in the altercations.

The police had registered a case against his opponents under Sections 302, 307, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC against many persons.

The complainant in the case also claimed that the land was listed as ‘common’ land in revenue records. It had several partners who owned parts of land and the power of attorney was with Bhajan Singh.



RMP shot dead by landlord
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
An old dispute between a landlord and a tenant at Rattna village near Jodhan took a tragic turn when Ranjit Singh, the landlord, allegedly shot dead the Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP), the tenant at point-blank range after a heated argument late yesterday night.

The RMP, Mr Ravinder Kumar, was not vacating the house for the past several months and the relationship between the two got sour due to this. Complaints had been lodged with the Jodhan police earlier also.

According to the police, yesterday at 8 pm, the accused, Ranjit Singh Kala had gone to the RMP’s house to talk about the dispute but was allegedly attacked. He had to run away from the tenant’s house to save himself.

When he reached home, he allegedly picked up his double-barrelled gun and went back to the tenant’s house, and shot him dead.

The Sudhar police has registered a case of murder against the accused, who is reportedly absconding. The police has allegedly picked up several relatives of the accused to put pressure on him to surrender. Police sources said raids were being conducted to arrest him. Meanwhile, as a mark of protest over the incident, shopkeepers of the main Jodhan market downed their shutters.

The market situated along the Ludhiana-Pakhowal road wore a deserted look today. The shopkeepers’ union condemned the incident and demanded immediate arrest of the accused.



Implement labour laws, says Cong leader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (Labour and Employment Cell) Chairman, Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, today demanded the closure of the state’s Labour Department since it had failed to achieve its objectives and added that such a move would also save crores of rupees of the cash-starved state.

He said the department had failed to secure the rights of the labourers. Thousands of labourers working in private factories were leading a miserable life and were not being paid as per the Minimum Wages Act. Some factory owners simply do not maintain muster rolls thus, conveniently escape all responsibilities in case of any eventuality.

The migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and many other states are contributing towards increasing the production in factories. During the past 20-30 years, the industrialists have become prosperous, whereas the labourers are becoming poorer with each passing day. They are living in slums under most unhygienic conditions. No medical facilities are available for them. In case of any accident or death, they are not paid any compensation or pension, he alleged.

Besides him, other trade union leaders have also appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Labour Minister, Chaudhry Jagjit Singh, to ensure the implementation of labour laws in the private factories in Punjab.

The INTUC general secretary, Dr Shiv Gupta lashed out at the working of the Labour Department of the state, which he alleged, had become the handmaiden of the industrialists. Instead of safeguarding the rights of the labourers, the Labour Inspectors and other officials were allegedly hand in glove with the entrepreneurs. They overlook the blatant violations and do not inspect any factory in their jurisdiction, he added.

Hundreds of factories are not implementing labour laws. Factories which employ 10 or more workers — whether on fixed wages or on contract system — the ESI Act and the Provident Fund is liable to be implemented, so that workers get timely medical treatment in case of any injury, accident, death and are also paid family pension.

Similarly, the provisions of the Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Bonus Act, Gratuity Act, Maternity Act must be strictly implemented by the Labour Department, otherwise it should be disbanded, he pointed out.



Kalpana’s death mourned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 2
Kalpana Chawla’s sudden demise has left everyone stunned. The Human Touch Association has mourned the tragic end of the Indian born, NASA ‘Space Girl’, Kalpana Chawla, who was among the seven brilliant space astronauts and scientists aboard the ill-fated shuttle Columbia. After 16 days of successful space voyage, Columbia it was to land barely minutes before it crashed.

The brilliant girl got place in NASA by her hard work and was a role model for the young. Teachers often quoted her example and asked the girls to emulate her example. The organising secretary of the association, Mr B.B. Goyal, has urged that a suitable award should be instituted in her name in India which may be given to the innovative and an inspiring young achiever. 


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