Tuesday, March 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Irate rail commuters squat on tracks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
Hundreds of harassed passengers of the Amritsar-bound 1AJL passenger train today staged a dharna at the railway station here for more than an hour. They were protesting against the daily delay in departure of the train.

Daily commuters on the train, which starts from Ambala and reaches Amritsar everyday, raised slogans against the officials of the local railway station. They squatted on the tracks for more than an hour.

Situation became quite tense at the station and was controlled only after the Railway Police officials and the Deputy Superintendent of the Station, Mr Jaswant Singh, intervened.

Talking to TNS, on the spot, the passengers said that they were quite upset with the station officials who did not pay any heed to their complaints. They added that the train reached at Ludhiana station at around 8 am everyday but it moved from here at around 11 a.m. after a halt of three to four hours as the other trains were allowed to pass first from the same track.

They added that it was a train of poor people who boarded the train everyday to reach either Amritsar or Jalandhar as they worked in both the cities. Passengers also said that they reached the station before 8 am everyday hoping that they would be able to reach destination in time but their hopes fell flat as soon as other trains like Brauni Express, Swaraj Express or Dhanbad Express reached the station and these passengers were delayed to give a pass to them.

Mr Rajesh Chawla, who boards the train everyday, said that he was exasperated of the attitude of the railway authorities who delayed the train deliberately and gave a pass to even a goods train while passengers were kept waiting all the time.

Another passenger, Mr Kamal Malhotra, who has to reach Jalandhar by 10.30 a.m. everyday said that he was sick of complaining to the authorities. He added that he had complained against the delay in writing but nothing happened.

“Hundreds of passengers travel in this train everyday but it is always late. They come to station and stand here for long hours waiting for it to move. What if it is a passenger train and only poor men travel in it. Has the time of a poor man got no value? They should at least bother about us who have no other means to reach our work place.”

Some passengers said that after waiting continuously for hours for the departure of the train they preferred catching a bus to reach their destination. They alleged that whenever they went to meet the station authorities for the same they were never available to them.



Congress to march in plains after victory in hills
Our Correspondent

A veteran freedom fighter and president of the All-India Freedom Fighters Association, Dewan Jagdish Chander
A veteran freedom fighter and president of the All-India Freedom Fighters Association, Dewan Jagdish Chander, addresses a Congress workers’ meeting in Ludhiana on Monday. — IV

Ludhiana, March 3
The District Congress Committee (Urban) will hold a ‘pragti march’ in the city here on March 8 as a part of the celebrations over the victory in Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh. This was decided in a well-attended meeting of the district unit of the party here today. Besides Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, President, DCC (U), the meeting was attended by party legislators Mr Surinder Dawar and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha.

Talking about the Congress victory in the neighbouring state, both Mr Dakha and Mr Dawar termed it as a victory for secular and nationalist forces. While mandate in favour of Congress had boosted the morale of the party cadres all over, Himachal Pradesh would also enter in a new era of all-round development and transparent governance.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Bawa said that the ‘pragti march’ would be taken around a number of residential localities and commercial centres in the city and would mark triumph of the party in Himachal Assembly elections as well as successful completion of one year of Congress rule in Punjab. He said the government, headed by the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, had launched various developmental plans and welfare schemes during last one year.

He said the intensive anti-corruption drive launched by the Congress government in Punjab had exposed the misdeeds of the previous government and it was due to relentless battle against corruption that the political system had been cleaned to a great extent. The victory in Himachal Pradesh could also be attributed to a commitment for clean and transparent governance by the party functionaries.

Dewan Jagdish Chander, a veteran freedom fighter and president of All-India Freedom Fighters Association also addressed the meeting.

Sweets were distributed among party workers at this occasion. Prominent among others present in the meeting were Mr Ashok Makkar, Dr Rajinder Pal Bairagi, Ms Usha Malhotra, Dr Parshottam Lal Verma, Mr Amarjit Singh Oberoi, Mr Varinder Kumar, Mr Satinder Singh Jawaddi, Mr Mohammed Naseem Ansari, Mr Shaukat Ali, Mr Rajinder Singh Madan, Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh Arora, Mr Gurwinder Singh Lalli, Mr Ravinder Kumar Sharma, Mr Prem Kumar Bawa, Mr Happy Chopra and Mr Ram Lubhaya.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey and the senior vice-president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, have hailed the Congress victory in Himachal Pradesh and congratulated the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for taking the lead against corruption in that state.

In separate statements, Mr Pandey and Mr Tikka pointed out, it was the vigorous anti-corruption campaign launched by Capt Amarinder Singh which made the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) to take a defensive posture. Despite the desperate bid by the BJP to raise the Hindutva issue and the baseless allegations against the Congress leaders, it could not influence the voters to change the mind.

Mr Pandey pointed out, the BJP leaders stooped too low to the extent not hesitating from resorting to vicious character assassination. ‘‘And the BJP has duly been taught a good lesson by the people of the hill state,’’ he observed, while pointing out, the people were not going to tolerate corruption anywhere anymore.

The Minister disclosed that during the campaign, the Congress leaders and workers from the state had made great contribution towards the party’s victory in Himachal Pradesh and it was being duly acknowledged by the people over there. He observed, the corruption issue still concerned and touched the masses.

Mr Tikka observed that the Himachal victory was yet another feather in the crown of Ms Sonia Gandhi, who has given a new direction to the party. He said, it was under her leadership that the Congress has been sweeping the states and countering the vicious propaganda of the Hindutva brigade.

Meanwhile, the District Congress Committee (Urban) has expressed jubilation over the thumping victory of the party in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

The DCC (U) president, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, said in a statement here yesterday that the electorate in Himachal Pradesh had given a clear mandate against the BJP misrule. The election results were a clear pointer that the voters could not be misled by rousing communal passions and making false promises. The party in power had to deliver or perish, he said.

Mr Bawa said Congress functionaries from Punjab, headed by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had played a crucial role in the elections in the neighbouring state by exposing misdeeds of the BJP leaders and running an intensive campaign for corruption-free and transparent governance. He said the district unit of the party would soon celebrate the party victory in Himachal Pradesh and successful completion of one-year rule by the Congress in Punjab.

In a separate statement, a former vice-president of the DCC, Mr Pardeep Malhotra, welcomed the verdict given by the people of Himachal Pradesh in favour of the Congress. He said the clear mandate in favour of the Congress showed that the people were fed up with the misrule of the BJP.

“The BJP government in the state did not try to tackle the problem of unemployment and it proved to be one of the major causes of its routing,” he said. He said the election results projected Ms Sonia Gandhi as leader of masses and the policies of the BJP, led by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, stood rejected.



Fresh probe in financial scam
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
A financial scam of over Rs 20 crore allegedly committed by a financier, who had turned insolvent running an unauthorised financial market in the city, today witnessed a surprise development, when a DSP from the Punjab Police Crime Wing visited the city in connection with an inquiry into the case.

Interestingly, the inquiry was being conducted on a complaint by Sandeep, alias Vicky Dhir, against whom a number of cases had been registered in different police stations of the district for allegedly duping several city residents of crores of rupees.

The DSP’s visit followed a series of messages sent by a senior official of the crime wing. The visit stirred up another controversy regarding the scandal as one of the alleged victims had accused a senior police official of the crime wing of striking a deal with the accused in the case.

DSP Mohan Lal, while talking to TNS, said he could not give much details about the purpose of his visit. He only admitted that Sandeep Dhir had filed a complaint before the senior police officers , who had marked an inquiry.

The DSP recorded statement of Mr Naresh Bhalla, a resident of Rishi Nagar, who was one of the several complainants, against Sandeep Dhir. Mr Bhalla gave a statement regarding the financial scandal.

Mr Bhalla, has, meanwhile sent letters to Mr L.K. Advani, Deputy Prime Minister, the Governor, Punjab, the Chief Minister Punjab and the State DGP, regarding the alleged sheltering of the accused by the police department.

He had alleged that he was receiving threats from some police official for striking a compromise. He demanded action against the police officers for causing him undue harassment.

The sensational case came to light in December last year and shook the unauthorised financial market. A city financier owing liabilities worth over Rs 20 crore declared himself insolvent, leaving many people in lurch. The financier had been claiming that he had himself been duped by the people as he had further invested the money in the market which could not be recovered. One of his creditors was reported to have already taken away his house and got it registered in his own name allegedly by using the name of a senior police official he claimed to be friendly with.

The sensational development had shaken the city’s unauthorised financial market which does business in hundreds of crores of rupees. None of the transactions is brought on record and everything goes on trust. Moreover, most of the money invested in the market is unaccounted for. The creditors are finding it difficult to make any claims lest they may themselves fall in the income tax net and invite more trouble and penalties.

The financier, who had a phenomenal rise within a short span, started from a scratch and within a span of only one decade accumulated assets worth crores of rupees. These included a palatial house in the posh BRS Nagar and two farm houses, one situated in Jamalpur area and the other on the Humbran Road. He organised lavish parties regularly in these farm houses. Only a few months ago, he had hosted a few months ago, he had hosted a party in honour of a senior Punjab Police officer. The party was also attended by Kapil Dev.

Over a period, the financier won over the trust and confidence of most of the leading financiers and businessmen who would unhesitatingly come forward with money. While he would take money on lesser interest he would lend it further on a higher rate of interest. The chain kept on growing and for some time the financial business seemed to go on well. But for some time only. However, everything started collapsing as the financial chain got broken. He found it difficult, rather impossible, to maintain the circulation of money and ultimately had to declare himself bankrupt.



Gangrene in the arm
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
A 20-year-old woman belonging to Mullanpur Dakha has developed gangrene allegedly after being given an injection by a doctor at Machhiwara.
Ms Jagti Rani gave birth to a girl and her father-in-law took her to a doctor at Machhiwara for an anti-tetanus vaccine. The doctor gave her a shot in the left arm. Her arm has developed gangrene.

Her father, Mr Bhuwaneshwar, has lodged a complaint with the Mullanpur Dakha police. He has alleged that the doctor had given her some a spurious injection, causing gangrene in her arm.

He added that he had married his daughter to a polio victim at Machhiwara two years ago. She had given birth to a baby a few days ago and she was taken by her father-in-law to a Machhiwara-based doctor for an injection, but soon after she developed pain at the spot.

When she went to the doctor again, complaining about the pain, he refused to attend to her. The pain continued and pus started oozing. Infection swelled in two months.

Mr Mohan Singh, an activist of the Sahara Club, which was started to help her, said they were short of funds for getting her treated.



Bhullar issue taken up in Canadian Parliament
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 3
The issue of the death sentence given to Prof Devinderpaul Singh Bhullar in the case of the bomb blast targeting Maninderjit Singh Bitta has been taken up in the Canadian Parliament by Mr Svvend Robinson.

Mr Robinson moved a motion in the House of Commons on February 3, urging the Canadian Government to take up the case of Professor Bhullar with the Government of India. The motion reads, “This House calls upon the government to urge the Government of India to commute the death sentence imposed by a majority vote of the Supreme Court of India on Professor Bhullar after the illegal rejection of Bhullar’s asylum request in Germany and urges that he be given a fair and open trial in accordance with international judicial norms.”

Mr Robinson, a human rights activist, had visited India in 1993 with a Canadian parliamentary delegation to Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. He had submitted his report to the Canadian Parliament, indicting the Government of India on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and in Punjab.

According to information received by Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Robinson also raised the issue of Professor Bhullar in the Canadian Parliament through a question moved on January 30, in which he had mentioned, “A Sikh, Prof Devinderpaul Singh Bhullar, faces execution in India on a bombing charge after having been illegally deported from Germany and tried under the draconian TADA. His wife is a Canadian citizen. The Amnesty International, Sikh groups and other organisations are calling upon the Indian Government to commute the death sentence and order a new fair trial for Professor Bhullar.”

Mr David Kilgour (Secretary of State for Asia Pacific) replied that Mrs Bhullar had also met him and he had assured her that they were taking up the matter seriously and we would do our best. The matter was later taken up in the sub-committee on international trade, trade disputes and investment exchange with the Secretary of State for Asia Pacific by Mr Robinson and other members. According to Prof Jagmohan Singh, the Secretary of State for Asia Pacific had also discussed the matter with the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Mr Tripathi.

Mr Jagmohan Singh said Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and he had visited Canada sometime back and had met a number of Canadian MPs and apprised them of the circumstances under which Professor Bhullar had been convicted and sentenced. They had urged the Canadian authorities to exert pressure on the Government of India to commute the death sentence on Professor Bhullar, he said.

Prof Jagmohan Singh said Sikhs and other groups in Germany had also taken up the matter of Professor Bhullar with the German President, who would visit India within a week. He added that the German President has assured the people in Germany that he would take up the matter with the Indian Government during his visit. Mr Mann would try to meet the German President during his visit to India. He had written to the Germany Embassy in India in this regard.

Senior Akali leaders — Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann — had met Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Law Minister Arun Jaitley and pressed upon them to commute the death sentence on Professor Bhullar. Mr Ram Jethmalani had filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court against the conviction of Professor Bhullar.



Canadian MP on cultural tour of Punjab
Tribune News Service

Hissowal (Halwara), March 3
A Canadian Member of Parliament, Mr Jim Karygiannis, is currently in Punjab to learn about the culture and life style of Punjabis.
“My constituency comprises 75 per cent ethnic groups, many of them Punjabis, so I am here to understand their cultural and social backgrounds,” said Mr Karygiannis, who represents the Scarborough-Agincourt constituency in the Canadian Federal Parliament.

Accompanied by his wife, the Canadian MP has been participating in social functions, such as marriages ceremonies and engagements of family members of his constituency voters throughout the state. He also visited the Golden Temple at Amritsar. “This is a private visit, my eighth in the past 15 years to educate myself in order to participate in important events in the lives of my constituency voters,” he told reporters at Hissowal village, near the Halwara Air Force station where he went to attend the engagement ceremony of a resident, Mr Rajwinder Singh.

Mr Karygiannis said that he would soon meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to find out about facilities that the Punjab Government would provide to NRIs based in his constituency if they decided to invest in Punjab. “Many people of Indian origin in my constituency want to invest in the country of their origin, but do not know how to go about it. I am therefore trying to talk to the Chief minister, so that I can go back and help my supporters,” he said.

Though on a private visit, the Canadian MP has been invited by the Tamil Nadu Government to visit the state and see for himself the kind of facilities that state offers to the NRIs wanting to do business with Tamil Nadu. Mr Karygiannis is also scheduled to deliver a lecture later this week at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on ‘Indians in Canada’.

Later, a function held after the ceremony was widely attended by villagers from the neighbouring areas. Many of the people wanted to know from the Canadian MP how could they go to Canada. The MP appraised them of the new Canadian immigration policy. He said that the Punjabis in Canada were doing very well due to the hard work they had put in.

He said that the Canadian government promoted multi-culturalism and encouraged immigrants to maintain their culture and traditions in their new homeland. It was in this regard that his visit to Punjab would help him help immigrants remain united to their cultural roots.

The crowd listened attentively to the MP even though he was speaking in English. The Canadian MP drew applause from the crowd when he stated that he had won the elections in Canada mainly because of support from the Punjabis.

Among those who were present on the occasion to honour the Canadian MP included senior Akali leaders Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Mr Jagjit Singh Khungrana, Mr Sharanjit Singh Gill, besides local leaders.



Experts suggest 3-tier healthcare system
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
“Health should not be limited to physical and mental aspects only but also include the spiritual dimension. We can say that our health is influenced by numerous factors, including social, economic, political, environmental and cultural, says Dr Swaraj Singh, who is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice.

He was in the city to participate in a seminar organised by the Anti -Drugs Society here today. Others who were present included society chairperson Jagdev Singh Jassowal, who said it was a matter of grave concern that Punjab topped the drug abusers' list.

Dr Swaraj Singh said it was obvious that health and healthcare were declining in Punjab. Healthcare and education were two basic pillars of any society. After the three most basic needs of a human being, i.e. food, clothing and shelter, comes healthcare and education, which actually makes us a part of the civilized human society.

Several factors are responsible for the declining healthcare in the state. Some of these can be attributed to globalisation. Although means of transportation and communication have transformed us into a global community but we lack a global perspective. Western culture is being thrust upon us which is eroding our cultural values. The process of globalisation in the state started with the Green Revolution, he added.

Dr Swaraj Singh claimed that after the Green Revolution the growth and development in Punjab were mostly imposed rather than evolved, which led to the destabilisation and erosion of the social and cultural values. It affected the pattern of migration, large-scale inward migration of labour from UP and Bihar and outward migration of Punjabis.

The cheap source of labour adversely affected the work ethic and culture of Punjabis. These factors led to social destabilisation and erosion of cultural values. The large-scale abuse of pesticides and chemical fertilisers led to environmental pollution. Bringing large areas under paddy cultivation has led to the lowering of the water table.

What are the manifestations of declining health? There is a visible increase in the incidence of diseases such as heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Alcoholism has become not only prevalent but has also socially acceptable. Drug addiction is widespread. Some studies are showing that about 67per cent of boys between the age of 13 and 25 are using drugs and the figure for girls in this group is about 15 percent.

“Contrary to the official version, AIDs is spreading widely. There is more of premarital and extra-marital sex. For example, some of the college professors I talked to feel that more than 50 per cent of college-going girls are indulging in pre-marital sex, ”he revealed.

He said healthcare should be made more affordable and available. “We should try to learn from the healthcare systems of other countries. In the USA more than 40 million persons, who do not fall into various categories, have no coverage. Many countries in Europe and Canada are doing a better job at providing universal health coverage. Americans who can afford private insurance receive much better healthcare than in Europe and Canada, he said.

An ideal model for India would be to emulate China which has a two-tier system. In urban areas western medicine is practiced, while in the villages, traditional healthcare is easily available. Thus the whole population is covered. India should follow a three-tier system. The first for the rich and the upper-middle class, which should be expensive. The second for the middle class, which should be relatively expensive. The third for the lower middle class and the poor, which should be inexpensive. Profits generated by the first two categories should be used to subsidise the third, he opined. 



DYC for civic amenities to all
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 3
The District Youth Congress has reiterated the party’s commitment to the urban population for providing civic amenities to everyone in cities and towns and maintained that the party would safeguard the interests of the weaker sections of society and the working classes.

Addressing a public meeting here today, DYC president Parminder Mehta said the civic body had launched a project for providing potable water to the entire population. Stressing the need for public utilities in different areas of the city, he said the party had taken up the matter with the Mayor.

Mr Mehta expressed concern over the mushrooming of unauthorised colonies on the periphery of the city and called for strict measures to check the menace. He said the unsuspecting people were being duped by colonisers and developers since those inhabiting such colonies were deprived of the development works and basic civic amenities. The settlements also created a host of problems for the government, local bodies and the administration, he added.

Referring to the problem of kundi connections, the DYC chief urged the PSEB management to simplify the procedure for grant of power connections to the weaker sections. A provision should be made to provide temporary meters in areas where problems existed, he stated.



Shiva family idols consecrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 3
Shri Bhagwan Giri ji Maharaj ashram, founded by Shri Bhupinder Giri Ji Maharaj at Pritam Nagar, Civil Lines, here celebrated Shivratri. Idols of Shiva, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Shivlinga were consecrated. A shobha yatra was also taken out. Devotees from Dehriwala, Amritsar, Delhi and Rishikesh attended the function.

A jagran followed the Shivratri celebrations. Priests from Rishikesh performed the consecration ceremony. The whole night Shiv Bhakts sang bhajans of Shiva. At break of dawn the Puja was over and prasad was distributed.

Yesterday, a langar was served at the Ashram.



Rotaracts hold conference
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 3
Ms Rajat Deep Kaur of the Government College for Women was elected district Rotaract representative for 2003-04 at the Rotaract District Conference of the Rotaract International District 3070 here today.

The conference — ‘Raaz- Secret of Success’ was inaugurated by district governor Mohan Singh Sachdeva.

The conference was attended by delegates from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Mr G.S. Bawa, district governor-elect, and Dr Beena Mishra, district governor-nominee, were guests of honour.



Chet Ram Dangal on March 16
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 3
The Mistri Chet Ram Dangal committee and Shamashpur Panchayat have decided to hold a wrestling competition on March 16. Various committees have been formed. According to a press note released by Surinder Singh, wrestlers of reputed Akharas from Doomchheri, Alamgir, Malakpur, Rauni, Malerkotla, Mohali and Fategarh Sahib have confirmed their participation. There are cash prizes of Rs 8,100 and Rs 7,000 for the first and second positions besides cash prizes for other positions.



Burglary at two places of worship
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 3
More than 10 armed persons looted Dera Baba Bhagti Nath and Mandir Brahm Shivala on the Ropar road, here in the early hours of today morning. They looted thousands of rupees.

A person at Dera Baba Bhagti Nath, Baba Shukar Nath, said that the dacoits had asked him to open the doors of the dera, claiming that they were policemen who had come to the dera for a search. As he opened the door, they tied his arms and of his pupil and took away an amount of about Rs 10,000 from the room. The dacoits, then entered the Brahm Shivala Mandir which is next to the dera, after locking the dera from outside.

They knocked at the door of the room of the mandir priest, Mr Vishnu Prasad, but he refused to open the door. Afterwards the dacoits went inside the pooja sathan of the temple and looted thousands of rupees which had been offered on the day of Shivratri.

SCOOTER STOLEN: Kawaljit Singh of Shimlapuri, Ludhiana, has complained to the Sahnewal police that his scooter was stolen by two boys when he was going from Kohara to Samrala. He said due to a drizzle he stopped his scooter at Bhaini Sahib chowk and while he was putting on his rain coat the two boys took away his scooter.
A case has been registered.

MAN BEATEN UP: Sohan Singh Sohna of Budhewal village has alleged that he was attacked by Jagtar Singh of Paharowal village along with one of his relatives while he was on his tractor near Budhewal Sugar Mills on Sunday.

The two, he said, beat him up for not letting them pass him. He added that the two were drunk and manhandled him. He said he was saved by Jagtar Singh of Budhewal village when he called for help.

A case has been registered against the alleged accused under Sections 323, 341, 506 and 34 of the IPC.



Seminar on Budget tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 3
The LMA will organise a seminar to discuss the implications of the Union Budget at Hotel Majestic Park Plaza on Wednesday. This was stated by Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary, and Mr Rajinder Gupta, president of the LMA, in a press note here today.

“Mr K.K. Kapila, Director-General, Income Tax (Investigations), will be the chief guest and Mr H.K. Mittal, Commissioner, Central Excise, Ludhiana, will be the guest of honour,” Mr Goyal said. He added, “The meeting aims to provide members with an opportunity to share opinions and ideas with eminent personalities from the field of direct and indirect taxes vis a vis the Union Budget.”

Explaining the importance of the Budget, he said, “The Union Budget, which includes the estimates of the anticipated income and expenditure, including a plan of operation based on such estimates, has got its own strategic importance for the nation’s economy. 


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