Tuesday, February 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Mild cane charge on SAD activists
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, February 10
The police had to resort to a mild cane-charge to disperse agitating workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal during the statewide ‘rasta roko’ stir today. Turbans got knocked off and clothes were torn in the melee when the police swooped in to remove the squatting activists from the national highway near Samrala Chowk. Commuters got stranded on both sides of the highway before the authorities moved in to restore traffic.

In this regard, the police has registered a case under Sections 384, 341, 148, 149 and 188 of the IPC against senior vice-president of the SAD, Amarjit Singh Bhatia; senior vice-president of the district unit of the party, Avtar Singh Makkar; a former MP, A.S. Aliwal; and the SAD youth wing chief, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, besides other party workers.

While the administration said the stir was peaceful and traffic had remained disrupted for not more than 20 minutes, leaders of the SAD said the stir had been a success. They said the police had roughed up, abused and mistreated the agitators. Several workers were, reportedly, missing till late today after the police action.

The police, however, said three policemen had been admitted to Civil Hospital here with minor injuries sustained while removing the blockade. The protesters were mainly concentrated at Mullanpur, Dehlon and Khanna.

The statewide protest was against the policies of the Amarinder government. In the city, the call evoked a “limited” response, since the SAD workers, who had arrived in batches at the Samrala Chowk bypass, were whisked away by the police to various unknown destinations.

The protesters, who included a large number of women, raised pro-Badal and anti-Congress slogans before performing mock last rites of the Chief Minister. The batch led by the SAD vice-president, Amarjit Singh Bhatia, was the first one to arrive at Samrala Chowk. It raised slogans and squatted on the highway, resulting in the disruption of traffic, before it was removed forcibly by the police. The protesters were pushed into trucks and taken away.

Soon after traffic was restored, another batch led by Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president of the All-India Youth Akali Dal, and Avtar Singh Makkar, acting president of the city unit of the SAD, reached the spot and resumed the sit-in. This batch, too, was removed after some time.

Protesters continued to pour in for more than an hour afterwards, only to be taken away. The police had a tough time controlling the protesters. In the ensuing scuffles, many workers were dragged down the road and pushed in waiting trucks, during which, their clothes got torn and the turbans came off. The disruption of traffic continued till noon.

Meanwhile, the Transport Minister of Punjab, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, said the much-publicised stir of the SAD had been a failure in the absence of public support. He said traffic in the district had remained unaffected, since commuters had lent no support to the disruptive activities.

The minister criticised the SAD leaders for stirring up pubic emotions. He said, everytime the SAD lost power, it resorted to such publicity stunts. He said the public supported the anti-corruption campaign of the government.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, MP, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Surinder Dawar, both MLAs, and Mr Nahar Singh Gill, city Mayor, also said the traffic blockade had been a flop show. They said the people were committed to preserving peace in Punjab. They said the people of Punjab had voted out Mr Badal because of the “selfish policies” of his government.

AMLOH: At least 100 activists of the SAD unit of Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh circles staged a dharna on the Haripur Minor Bridge, near the grain market here and blocked traffic on the Amloh-Nabha road from 12 noon to 2 pm, which had to be diverted through the grain market and Mangarh bypass. Cyclists, scooterists and pedestrians were not allowed to cross the bridge. Even a patient who was being taken to Patiala had to return back for diversion of the route.

The police was posted at the Mandi Gobindgarh chowk, Amloh, to divert the traffic. Mr Hari Singh Virk and Mr Hari Chand Mittal, presidents of the SAD, Amloh, rural and urban circles, respectively, Mr Mohan Singh Chatarpura, president of SAD unit Mandi Gobindgarh circle, Mr Kishmira Singh Shahpur and Mr Harminder Singh (both district general secretaries), Zora Singh, Political Secretary of former Finance Minister, Mr Hari Singh Shamashpur district senior vice-president, among the sarpanches Mr Baljeet Singh, Machrai Kalan, Mr Balwinder Singh Tibbi, Mr Kesar Singh Majri, Mr Davinder Singh Bhambri, Mr Balwant Singh Nambardar, Mr Navtej Singh Bugga Kalan, Mr Ranjeet Singh Bhola, Mr Randhir Singh Bhambri and Mr Gurjeet Singh Ladha, president of the Kiryana Merchants Association, Amloh, were among those who sat on dharna.

DORAHA: At least 150 SAD workers from Payal, Doraha, Bija and the surrounding areas blocked traffic on the national highway from 11a.m. to 2p.m., at Kottan, near Gurdwara Manji Sahib.

KHANNA: Traffic was blocked in front of Gurdwara Manji Sahib Kotan by the workers of Khanna circle of the SAD. At least 250 workers of the SAD unit gathered in front of Gurdwara Manji Sahib Kotan. Police force was deputed to avoid any untoward incident. Earlier, the police did not allow the workers to come on the GT Road but later they succeeded in blocking traffic on a part of the road.

Mr Swaran Singh Sandhu, Mr Iqbal Singh and Bibi Mohinder Kaur, Akali workers, were arrested but released after two hours. Mr Baldev Singh Khattra, Akali worker, was arrested from the gurdwara while he was participating in the protest. He was released later.

SAMRALA: Workers of the Akali Dal under the leadership of Youth Akali leader Jathedar Jeewan Singh Kheernian jammed traffic at the main chowk here in front of the Gurdwara and later held a rally.

Mr Inder Iqbal Singh, MLA, along with senior Akali leader Kirpal Singh Kheernian, SGPC member, were detained. Also senior Akali leader Joginder Singh Seh along with his five companions were kept in custody at the Mehdoodan police post.



Policing with a difference
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
With the aim to provide better services to the public, the district police has launched a series of welfare schemes under the community policing system. A-single window clearance scheme, providing an FIR copy to the complainant by post and the periodical action taken report and, above all, a compensation scheme to the victims in untraced accident cases have been initiated.

Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, SSP, said here today that the plan was part of victim-oriented policing aimed at the welfare of the victim in a crime case.

People needing police assistance for any purpose may no longer have to make rounds of the police station or other offices of the department as a single-window clearance plan is all set to be initiated from next week. A special building for this purpose has been constructed adjacent to the CIA building in the mini secretariat.

People will also have no problems in getting a copy of an FIR lodged by them. The local police has started a scheme for sending such documents by post to the persons concerned. Apart from the copy of the FIR, the police has made arrangements for sending postcards periodically to the complainants, informing them about the status of their case.

This scheme began on February 1. As many as 426 postcards have been dispatched. The district police is the first in the state to announce implementation of the Solatium Fund Scheme for victims of untraced accident cases. The provision was in the police rules, but it was not being implemented.

The district police will give Rs 25,000 as compensation to the relatives of a deceased and Rs 12,500 to the victims injured.

Elaborating on the single-window clearance programme, SSP Sidhu said the police equated a victim to a customer and modern police system required that the victim reposed his trust in the police department.

There will be special windows for persons seeking to lodge a complaint with some police station. They will have to file their complaint in one of the windows and the police will provide him with the action taken report within a week. The complainant will be given a “unique” number for all correspondence. The police hopes that this will end the menace of touts or middle-men.

There will be a special window for foreigners who have to register their arrival in the district with the police administration. These will be special window for police verification, arms licence or any other police assistance.

The city has a flourishing business in the sale and purchase of second-hand cars. A number of times, a buyer is duped by ‘criminals’ who sell them stolen cars. The police has now set up a special window for this purpose. It has made arrangements with the National Crime Record Bureau, which provides details of all vehicles. A prospective buyer can verify the record of a vehicle using this service.



Man travels 1,000 km to take revenge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
A man travelled for more than a thousand km and worked as a labourer in a dairy after sleeping over an empty stomach for several days to avenge the murder of a forefather committed over three decades ago.

Raju, a 20-year-old youth from Balrampur city in Uttar Pradesh, killed Bulai (22) with a spade this morning at a dairy in Shankar Nagar of the Shivpuri area to settle an old score. Both belonged to the same village. Before committing the murder, Raju had befriended the victim and worked with him as a labourer in the dairy owned by a local Congress leader.

The accused did not run away after the scene of crime and surrendered before the police. Police sources said Raju stated that his family had old enmity with the victim’s family as one of his forefathers had been allegedly murdered by them.

He said he wanted to avenge the crime but the family had run away from the village. He came to the city in their search and found them after a long struggle. Belonging to a comparatively well-off family, he worked as a labourer. He did not disclose his identity to the victim and even shared a room with him and other labourers.

The police said this morning Raju got a chance when Bulai was sleeping alone and the other labourers had gone out. He picked up a spade and killed him. Raju said before the murder he shouted at the victim that he had to die.

The police sources said Angad Kumar, brother-in-law of the victim, also stayed in the same room and worked in the dairy. He said he saw Raju hitting the victim with a spade and said Raju was mad with vengeance and kept abusing the victim’s family.



Wear helmets, cops tell women
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
Girls, beware of flouting any traffic laws, lest the traffic cops should get you. The fair sex no longer gets impunity from being challaned by the traffic cops. Although the traffic police has been maintaining that it is a routine checking, yet the girls remain to be the main target of the cops and getting challans now a days.

A senior traffic police official said those were routine checks only. He said that was more of an educative campaign than a punitive one. He said it was important that the girls were educated about the necessity of wearing helmets. “It is for them only that we are taking these measures”, he pointed out.

The campaign has yielded good results as a number of girls have started wearing helmets. The campaign is not restricted to helmets only, but the use of safety belts is also being checked. “We are trying to do our maximum to ensure that people obey traffic rules and we are getting good cooperation”, he said, adding that the purpose of the traffic police was not to fine people, but to educate them.

Ritu Bhalla, a student of Khalsa College for Women, said, “It is very irritating when the cops suddenly stop you on roads, but is a good exercise. Helmets are meant for our safety. Last month, one of my friends met with an accident and she received a serious head injury. If she had worn helmet that time, she could have been saved”.

Sukhmeet Brar, a college student said, “I always thought that these rules were meant for boys only, but now I realise that I should always carry my driving licence with me as the traffic cops can stop me anywhere. They have become more vigilant now”.

It may be mentioned that the traffic police has requested the principals of various colleges in the city to educate students about the merits of wearing helmets.

A cop said, “It is not that we harass girls but we try to educate them regarding the advantages of wearing helmets. But it is unfortunate that many of them continue to have a casual attitude towards it. It is very difficult for us to make women understand as they start arguing with us”.



Chastise errant conductor, demands resident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
A local resident has alleged misbehaviour by a conductor of a private bus. Mr Harnek Singh, a resident of Model Town Extension-II, in a complaint to the Sandeep Bus Private Limited has alleged that he was thrown out of the bus at Dehlon village by the conductor while travelling.

He said he had boarded the bus from Dugri bridge on a rainy and cold day and wanted to reach Alamgir. When the bus reached Dehlon, he asked the conductor for a ticket.

“The conductor refused to give me any ticket and said the bus would not stop at Alamgir. He even said that I was a foolish man and did not know where the bus stopped. He used many objectionable words against me in front of passengers. I felt insulted. The situation became unbearable for me when the conductor stopped the bus at Dehlon village and pushed me out,” said Mr Harnek Singh.

“This despite the fact that the bus a stopped at all small places on the way. But the conductor wanted to insult me by pushing me out. It would not have mattered had he told me to disboard politely.”

He said even more than a month after the complained to the bus company, the Deputy Commissioner and the Transport Minister, no action had been taken against the conductor.



Havildar dies in blast
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 10
An explosion in S.K. Range, Sodhiawala, near Sidhwan Bet, killed Havildar K.D. Divedi and injured two labourers.
According to information, a team from the Army station at Baddowal came for destroying old explosives. They were placing the old explosive after digging out earth, when all of a sudden it exploded, killing the havildar. It also caused injuries to Sarup Singh and Shakti Prasad, two labourers.



Rs 2.5 lakh stolen from temple
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
Some burglars broke into a temple in Choti Haibowal last night and decamped with cash and jewellery worth Rs 2.5 lakh. The burglars took away the jewellery donned by the idols.
A case has been registered.


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