Wednesday, February 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Rs 8 lakh robbed from bank, guard shot at
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
Three car-borne and gun-wielding youths robbed Rs 8.31 lakh from a branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce at Raikot this afternoon. They shot a security guard of the bank in the leg.

The Jagraon police sounded a red alert after the robbery and the boundaries of the police district have been sealed. There was no trace of the culprits. The police said it could have acted promptly had someone from the bank pressed the alarm button during or even immediately after the robbers had left the bank.

Sources said the robbers, one clean-shaven and the other two Sikhs, came in a white Maruti car at about 12.15 p.m. One of them remained in the car whose engine was running.

The other youths went to the door of the bank and shot at the security guard, Zora Singh. They then took him in and made bank employees follow their orders at gunpoint. The robbers collected the money in a bag and left the place within a few minutes.

The Jagraon SSP, Mr M.S. Chhina, said the police got the news late as no bank employee thought of pressing the alarm button even after the robbers had left the place. He said it was the security guard who reminded them to call the police and even then, a man was sent to a nearby police naka to inform the police instead of making a telephone call.

He said the delay might have made a difference as the police could have nabbed the robbers. The police had not been able to make any breakthrough about the identity of the accused yet. He said the car which was probably stolen could be identified soon. One car had reportedly been missing from Malerkotla yesterday.

The condition of Zora Singh is out of danger. He has been admitted to the Raikot Civil Hospital.

Police sources said the accused had planned the robbery meticulously. A police team visits the bank at 11a.m. daily. It had visited the bank today also and an entry had been made in the register.

Mr Chhina said it was not possible for the police to post security guards at all banks. He said there were over 100 banks in the police district and the banks were supposed to provide at least two security guards.



DC extends school admission fee deadline
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 11
Coming to the aid of worried parents, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner today passed an order to all local schools to extend their date of accepting admission fee for Nursery and KG classes till February 20.

The order came following a demand from the parents who were getting upset with the hectic admission schedule in schools. While the sought-after schools are still conducting interviews, the others had already started accepting the fee. The schools managements had declared that non-refundable fee should be paid within a day or two, otherwise the seats would be passed on to other candidates. Under such circumstances, the parents had to first pay nearly Rs 10,000 in one school and then again shell out an even higher amount in another school if the child got selected there as well.

Currently, the interviews are on at Kundan Vidya Mandir and Sacred Heart Convent Senior Secondary School, Sarabha Nagar. At BCM Arya Senior Model School, DAV Public School and Sacred Heart Senior Secondary at BRS Nagar interviews are over but the list of selected candidates would be displayed on February 12, 14 and 15, respectively. The date of payment of fee would also be announced. Other schools, including Guru Nanak Public School, GMT Public School and Alpine International School, have already started taking the fee.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, former Deputy Commissioner, during his tenure had announced that all schools would come up with their lists of selected candidates on the same day and keep a gap of three days for the payment of fee, making it easier for the parents.

Ms Archana Grewal, a parent, said the order had come as a relief. She said she had applied at three schools for the admission of her daughter. ‘‘While the result of one of the schools was out and the last date of payment of non-refundable fee was fixed for tomorrow, the other two schools had decided to declare the result by the weekend,” she said.



Youths return with tale of deceit, despair
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Rohira, February 11
Four youths of this village, who had been incarcerated in Sudan, an African country, for over a month for allegedly immigrating illegally, just managed to return to the country after their dreams of a great future abroad were shattered. They hope to get their land and other valuables, mortgaged to a local arhtiya, back.

They were part of a group of about 150 Indians, who were duped by a Mumbai-based agent through his sub-agents active in different parts of the country, and forced to live like animals in the alien land.

But about 30 others Indians are not as lucky. If the youths are to be believed then these Indians are still trapped in Sudan for want of tickets to return to their homeland.

The youths narrated their tale of woe to TNS at the village.

“We are not sure about the identity of the youths still trapped in Sudan. There is a great possibility that none of them is a Punjabi but we had not seen them “ said Harpreet Singh, one of the duped youths.

The four youths, Azhar Khan, Bittu, Harpreet Singh, and Sudagar Bagga, had left the village, about 40 days ago. All, except Harpreet Singh, are labourers. Harpreet is a farmer. Their families had given Rs 1 lakh each to the travel agent, besides incurring other additional expenses.

Found travelling on fake documents in Sudan, the youths were held captive by the authorities there. Back home, the father of Harpreet Singh died of shock on hearing the news. At least five members of the families of the three other youths suffered serious injuries in an accident while travelling to Delhi to get the travel agent arrested and get help from Indian Embassy officials for rescuing the youths.

Harpreet Singh disclosed that the Mumbai-based agent had arranged to send them abroad through a woman agent in New Delhi. However, when they reached Sudan, no one came to receive them and they were treated as illegal immigrants.

“Our papers were legal. If they were illegal, then airport officials in Delhi and Mumbai should be caught as they let us pass through,” he said.

The youths said they were promised a job of clearing a forest and a five-star accommodation with salary in several thousands of the Indian currency. They also signed job contracts before leaving the country.

However, when they reached Sudan they were taken into custody as illegal migrants. They were kept in a dingy room and were made to starve for several days. It was only at the intervention of some local Indians that they were released and given food. They sat outside the Indian Embassy in that country and had to wait for weeks to get the return tickets.

The fate of some other youths from Andhra Pradesh was worse. They were left with no money and had to work as labourers and forced to clean toilets.

The parents of the youths are so scared of the travel agent that they declined to give any details against her. 



Big cup, big screens, big bucks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
Cricket fever has gripped the city so strongly that you can feel its presence everywhere — at hotels, business establishments or places of recreation. Even those who are not cricket fans seem to be getting hooked on to the game.

The Satluj Club, the Majestic Park Plaza, Hotel Nanda and such happening places of the city are in the grip of the fever. Businessmen have installed big screens in their shops to attract customers.

The cricket craze has caught on in Park Plaza, lone five-star hotel in the city. According to the General Manager of the hotel, Mr Nipun Vig, the hotel has redesigned the interiors of its bar, The Champs, to suit the occasion. The bar will remain open from 11 am to 11 pm each day.

The hotel seems to have created a cricket ambience inside. The corridor leading to The Champs has been decked up with various pictures of Dazzler, in cricket poses. The wickets, the pitch and the other cricket paraphernalia, together with the flags of the participating countries, add to the ambience.

A giant screen installed in the bar brings the action live to guzzlers. Mr Vig says: “This transports cricket fans to forward short leg on the field, within sniffing distance of the batsman.”

The Satluj Club has also installed special screens for its members to enjoy the exciting moments of the World Cup. The general secretary of the club, Mr Sunil Jain, said: “The lounge has been specially refurbished to present an elegant and delightful ambience. Since the club is the most happening place in the city, it could not ignore the mega event.”

While the cricket fever continues, some matches will attract more interest than the others. The most awaited match will be played between India and Pakistan on March 1. Victory in that match is considered an alternative World Cup in both nations. No wonder, then, that a number of hotels and bars here have started making bookings for that day much in advance.



Punters stumped
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
The surprise result of the first match between the West Indies and South Africa in the ICC World Cup on Sunday has left hundreds of punters poorer by lakhs of rupees.

The game started with South Africans as the favourites. Besides playing on the home ground, Africans were placed far ahead of West Indies, who were ranked even below India and Sri Lanka.




Two events are currently taking place. One being the Cricket World Cup and the other Valentine’s Day. Both seem to have been spurred much by the media. While the hype created about the World Cup is understandable for the immense interest of the people in the game, the too much euphoria and excitement about Valentine’s Day seems unprecedented. The markets have been decorated as if everyone is waiting for Valentine’s Day. Maybe a number of youths would be too much involved with the event for the thrill and excitement it offers, but it is not as big an event as it is made out to be. The ambience created around makes it appear as if it is another national or religious festival like Independence Day, Divali or Holi. While everyone is free to celebrate the festival as he likes, it raises several questions about the sense of belonging of the youth with their roots. Even in the West, the fervour created about Valentine’s Day may not be as much as it is in Ludhiana. Ludhianvis are not at all crazy!

Great dreams

Ludhiana police has a great dream of evolving world class standards as standard as in Washington and New York. And it is best to dream a great dream. But the dreams should not collapse like in reality. Whosoever has conceptualised this dream deserves to be praised. But one wonders whether this dream will materialise or not. The cynicism has its roots in the past experience. Although the role of the motorcycle-borne PCR personnel is commendable, there is a great scope for improvement. Setting the standards is not difficult, but achieving them certainly is. One can only wish the Ludhiana police good luck and best wishes to materialise its dream, with a pinch of salt.


The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), Ludhiana, is deemed to be an apex representative body of industrialists and traders. Over a period of over four decades the chamber has performed an outstanding role in watching the interests of the industry. And it has always remained close to corridors of power. However, of late the chamber seems to have lost its sheen with most of the young entrepreneurs restricting themselves to their own business. Recently, at an interactive session with the Chief Commissioner of the Income Tax, there were only a few elderly industrialists attending the meet. It would be better if the chamber revives its glory and attracts the young talent. Otherwise, it is proving to be a great non-performing asset.

No Basanti colours

The festival of Basant has come and gone but hardly anyone took note of the day that marks the advent of the spring season. Gone are the days when the girls went to lalaris (dyers) to get their dupattas dyed yellow colour to don on Basant and the festival invoked passion even in the hearts of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh who also sang out passionately Mai mera rang de basanti chola. This Basant hardly anyone wore yellow or basanti colour to mark festivals. We are really getting away from our traditional festivals and on the other hand embracing the festival of the West with great enthusiasm.


Cricket is a passion with Indians but one feels that we take it to extremes. One channel is telecasting cricket in the mould of our famous epic Mahabharat. It starts with Samay telling about the time never being still and always on the move. Cut the shot. In the next shot all the rishis dressed in white robes, stroking their white beards, discuss with great solemnity the pros and cons of the team that will do well in the World Cup. Cut the scenes again. The anchor says that the cricket will be played on its Karambhoomi. Isn’t it stretching cricket mania over the limit?

Interaction at last

After a gap of over an year, a first ever police-media interaction programme was organised at Police Training School this week. Relationship between the police and media had touched the lowest ebb in the last two years. So much so that several journalists have alleged undue and unprovoked harassment by the local police. If one is remembering correctly, only three press conferences were held by the district police in this period. Under this backdrop, the interaction meet was a welcome step. It was heartening to hear from several police officers that the job of the media and the police was aimed at one goal — welfare of the people. One only hopes that the interaction may not limit to one day. The much-needed transparency in police working was the need of the hour.

Police speed

The Samrala police was recent in news for wrong reasons. An attack on a family of a Ludhiana Xen with the PWD by a 20-member gang of liquor mafia exposed the police failure to curb their activities. But one of the cops in the Samrala police did not lose an opportunity to improve the police’s image at least among the mediapersons. It so happened that one journalist in that town lost his mobile. He informed a cop doing duty at a road crossing. The cop immediately launched a search operation. Resultantly, the mobile phone was traced and returned to the owner in less than half an hour.

Free registration of FIR

The district police is following the policy of immediate registration of an FIR. But the policy was strangely called ‘ Free Registration of FIR’.The word, Free, when associated with a police work gives the sense that the work would be done without any cost. On reading news regarding the success of such a scheme, a man from a village called up The Tribune office to ask whether free registration meant that people would not be paying anything as the common practice was. When told the true meaning, the man said the cops may be calling it an immediate registration of a complaint but for all practical purposes, the FIR written would be definitely without any charges (bribe), if , he added, the policy was followed in letter and spirit.

Academic hypocrisy

After booking the 16 boys in the sexual harassment case in the Government College for Boys, the police had done a commendable job. But it had to receive brickbats from the teachers’ association of the college concerned which accused the local police of not doing its job properly. Interestingly in a press release signed by various “academicians”, it was claimed that by registering a case against 16 students the police was leaving a permanent mark on the psyche of the young teacher.

Students honoured

The 41st prize distribution function of Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, was held recently. In all, 340 prizes were given away to students for their excellence in academics, sports and cultural activities. The students of the college received their prizes in a disciplined manner which was a pleasure to watch. Mandeep of BA II has brought laurels to the college by being declared the ‘strongest woman of India’. Another special prize was awarded to Harleen Kaur Kalsi of B.Sc. III for winning the gold medal in paragliding in 2002. She has the distinction of presenting a bouquet to the Prime Minister on Republic Day, 2003, after alighting from her microlite craft.

Other way round

Are the MC garbage carriers meant for lifting the garbage or for littering it all the more ? One such MC truck was recently seen spreading the garbage. It had just loaded garbage from a city colony on Sunday morning. But the closing door at the rear side of the truck was missing. As a result, the garbage was falling all over the road as the vehicle was moving. Some concerned residents were seen shouting at the truck driver but he went on. Insiders said several other trucks of the MC were without such doors. Some were eaten by junk as the vehicles were old and ill-maintained. Some doors were just stolen. Whatever may be the cause, the very purpose of the garbage carrier to keep the city clean was defeated with it littering on the roads.

Slip of tongue

At a recent function in GGN College, the audience had ample chance to burst into laughter, thanks to several instances of slip of the tongue by the announcers. The height of the comic situation came when a senior employee of the college also faltered while making some announcements. Instead of saying a 100 metres race, the employee repeatedly said 100 km. The employee changed all metres into kilometres and going by the timing in which an athlete covered this distance, it was a world record, impossible to break.




SGPC chief flays varsity move on Punjabi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, chief of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has opposed the relaxations given by Punjabi University in the proficiency-in-Punjabi clause while appointing teachers. At a press conference organised here today, he said the move was in violation of the Punjabi University Act and it would do an irreparable damage to the future of the language.

The Punjab Languages Department had, earlier, criticised the move. Its Director, Mr Madan Lal Hasija, had said the teachers had been given this relaxation, so that, they could learn Punjabi within a year of joining.

The SGPC chief said Capt Amarinder Singh had told him that he knew nothing about the move when he had rang him up the day the Syndicate had approved the relaxations at Patiala. “So far, the Chief Minister has not made the state’s position clear on this sensitive issue. I have written to him that the mistake should be undone at the next meeting of the Syndicate. Punjabi University is the only other varsity in the world, besides Hebrew University, that has been set up to promote the language of the people,” he said.

“The submission that the university will not be able to attract the best talent if the relaxations are not allowed is flawed. It means that the persons who have been teaching in the state universities, so far, are not good enough or the education system has failed to produce good teachers,” he said.

“The other decisions, too, taken by the university have hurt the sentiments of Punjabis. One such decision is to allow students of postgraduate course in Punjabi to learn the language in the Devanagri script. How can the university justify this decision, when no such provision exists in any other university in the country,” he said. Mr Badungar said such “faulty experiments” would prove to be a major setback to the aspirations of qualified unemployed youth. It is hard to understand why we are recruiting outsiders who are alien to our language and culture, while our youth is not getting employment elsewhere in the country,” he said.

He said, in the case of research students, the university had also done away with the previous norm of passing the language test by the time of the submitting the thesis. “Science, technology and pharmacy undergraduates, too, will now have to clear the test just once — a relaxation given on the pretext of heavy workload. This means that the students who passed the test earlier were below standard,” he said.

He said: “Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, grandfather of Capt Amarinder Singh, had ordered all state work to be carried out in Punjabi, a principle he himself had followed scrupulously.”



Kanwaljit for court probe into firing
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 11
Former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh today demanded a judicial inquiry into the firing incident at Zirkpur yesterday during ‘rasta roko’ by the SAD.
He said he suspected a conspiracy behind the incident as all senior officials were conspicuous by their absence at the site.

Only a Sub-Tehsildar, a known supporter of the Congress, was present.

The Youth wing of the SAD has threatened to launch an agitation if the government fails to order a judiciary inquiry into this incident within a week.

Captain Kanwaljit was here to address a function of the Punjab State Karamchari Dal organised at the local PWD Rest House here today.

The function was also addressed by Mr Hari Singh Tohra, president, and Mr Pritam Singh, president, Khanna unit.



NRI booked for fraud

Ludhiana, February 11
The local police, on a complaint of Sarbjit Kaur of Agwar Lopo has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420, IPC, against Gurdev Singh, his mother Satwant Kaur and his sister Mohinder Kaur of Kaunke Kalan village for cheating Jaswinder Kaur, daughter of the complainant. Gurdev Singh had presented himself as a bachelor and a permanent citizen of Germany and offered to marry Jaswinder Kaur whose husband had been murdered.

Gurdev Singh, however, demanded Rs 5 lakh out of which the complainant paid Rs 1 lakh to the accused at Malsihan village where Sarbjit Kaur performed a shagan ceremony. According to information, it has been alleged by the complainant that Gurdev Singh was not a bachelor but had already married several girls for money. The police is looking for the accused who are reportedly at large. OC



Liquor bottles seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
The Division No 3 police today recovered a huge quantity of smuggled liquor from an Esteem car in the area. The bottles were being smuggled into the city from Chandigarh, where cheap liquor is available.

As many as 144 whiskey bottles of different brands and 60 pouches of liquor were being brought into the city by two smugglers in the car. The police got information about it and intercepted the vehicle at a naka. It recovered the bottles, but the accused ran away.


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