Saturday, March 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Court summons SHO, SI
Charged with outraging woman’s modesty
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
Mr Balwinder Kumar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Ludhiana, has summoned Tarlochan Singh, a former SHO of the Division No 4 police station and now posted as SHO of the Division No 2 police station, and Sub-Inspector Sarup Singh on the charges of “outraging the modesty of a woman”, “extortion” and causing injury. The court has ordered to serve the summons upon the accused for May 3, through the SSP, Ludhiana.

“From the evidence on record ... both accused have not only outraged the modesty of the complainant but have also threatened her and mercilessly beaten her up,” observed the judge.

Mr Balwinder Kumar also found evidence on record showing that the “accused, by threatening to implicate the complainant and her family in false cases, received Rs 30,000 from them.’’

Finding sufficient prima-facie evidence against the cops, the court ordered to summon both accused to face charges under Sections 354 (assault or use of criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty), 384 (extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation),323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 34 of the IPC.

The orders have been passed on the complaint of Asha Rani of Chhowni Mohalla. In her written complaint, she alleged that the accused forcibly entered her house in the absence of her husband and outraged her modesty. She was forcibly taken to the police station and kept in illegal custody. At that time there was no woman constable in the police station, the complainant added.

Asha Rani alleged that the accused also threatened to falsely implicate her minor son and her husband Manga Bhagat, who is a sweeper in the fire brigade unit of the municipal corporation, Ludhiana, in criminal cases. The accused demanded Rs 30,000 from her in the presence of the Jagmohan Singh, contractor of the car parking stand of the municipal corporation.

Under compelling circumstances, her husband arranged the money and paid Rs 30,000 to the accused in the presence of the contractor. They moved applications to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of Punjab, The Director of CBI, the DGP, Punjab, the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, and to the SSP, Ludhiana, but no action was taken. She then filed a complaint in the court to get justice. 


Gaiety marks Holi celebrations
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, March 14
Tiny tots of the Strawberry Club celebrated Holi at Sarabha Nagar today. The kids had fun time jumping in water pools filled with coloured water. They put ‘gulal’ on each others faces. They danced to their hearts fill on like song ‘Rang barse’. Some of them used water pistols to splash colours. By the time children left school, they were fully coloured from head to toe in nice rainbow colours.

Meanwhile, the Niharika Ladies Club also organised a function to celebrate “Holi” today. The club President, Ms Neeta Bajaj, extended good wishes to the members on the occasion of Holi. 


Holiday confusion hits office work
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
Official work was hit today as hundreds of Punjab Government and semi-government employees remained absent believing that it was a gazetted holiday on account of Muharram.

While the percentage of absentees in the morning was above 50, it got reduced to 30 by the afternoon when many employees turned up after lunch. Officers of several departments had to personally call up their superintendents and clerks from home, asking them to come to the office. Some of the officers even reportedly warned them to quickly report in the office, failing which action could be taken against them. The employees said the confusion was a result of a misleading news item published in a vernacular paper today stating the announcement of holiday by the Punjab Government.

At Punjab Agricultural University, there was utter confusion today as many employees did not turn up and a majority of them returned back from the gate. Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, had to announce that it was not a holiday. Soon the announcement spread by word of mouth and many faculty members and students started pouring in. By 11 am, the presence rose to more than 60 per cent, informed some students.

Dr H.S. Sekhon, Dean of the College of Agricultural Engineering, confirmed that there had been some confusion, but said it persisted for just two hours. He, however, said that in the processing department, the number of absentees was quite high. He said this might be due to faculty members putting up far off from the university who had problems in coming back to the campus.

Dr Hardeep Singh, president, PCMS, said hundreds of doctors remained absent today due to the confusion. He said due to the same reason, the number of patients who turned up was quite low. Even the number of absentees in the mini-Secretariat was as high as 50 per cent. However, the Department of Education, where the DPI (Secondary) was on a visit, seemed to be having full attendance.


Liquor-vend auction fetches 225 cr
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Liquor-vend auction in the state began on a positive note for the government, with Ludhiana registering a significant increase of Rs 19 crore over the previous year. The liquor vends were sold for Rs 225 crore in the auction held amidst tight security, against Rs 206 crore during the previous year. Mr Ponty Chadha, a leading liquor baron from Uttar Pradesh, in association with the Samrala MLA, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, claimed the lion’s share.

It was a hectic day for officials of the Excise and Taxation Department and liquor contractors. For the first time, the negotiations were deadlocked not on the issue of hike, but over the allocation of particular areas. This led to the auction getting delayed by at least six hours, with rival factions sticking to their guns.

The excise officials had already managed to break the Garcha group, with one of its main partners, Mr Dhillon, siding with Mr Chadha. The officials were reportedly inclined to allocate the entire district to Mr Chadha, who had promised a good hike to the government and due share to other small contractors.

But the contractors wanted to act independently and in the end they managed to claim some share, although not much when compared to that of Mr Chadha. At one stage, some of the liquor contractors also raised slogans demanding transparency in the auction as they had apprehended that officials might allocate the contracts to Mr Chadha only. It was only after prolonged negotiations that excise officials conceded to the demands of small contractors and allocated them their share of vends.

The auction was held for 557 liquor vends. Of these, 342 are of country-made liquor, while 215 are those of Indian-made foreign liquor. There are six measure segments. These include Ferozepore road, which fetched Rs 54.2 crore, Rahon road Rs 85.5 crore, Samrala segment Rs 28.8 crore, Raikote segment Rs 18.75 crore, Jagraon Rs 22.01 crore and Khanna Rs 16.50 crore.

The excise officials hoped that the good beginning in Ludhiana may fetch them handsome revenue in other districts also. Ludhiana is learnt to be the only place which registered profits in the liquor trade during the previous year. That is why the contractors showed so much interest in Ludhiana.


RBI, bank unions head for showdown
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
The instructions of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to all banks directing them to use paper bands instead of stapling wads of currency notes have led to a showdown between the RBI and unions of bank employees.

While the RBI has been repeatedly sending circulars to the banks and inserting advertisements in newspapers for the public regarding the directions of using unstapled notes, bank unions, led by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), have stopped bank employees from implementing the directions. The forum said the orders were anti-employee.

The UFBU has shot off letters to the RBI Governor and chairpersons of all banks that unless certain steps, including safeguarding the employees against loss of currency notes and improving the infrastructure for the paper-band notes, were introduced, the RBI instructions could not be complied with.

“Employees should staple the wads as before, together with their own signature slips” is the order of the forum to the employees regarding the RBI directions. The orders say,” If the management insists on unstapled notes, it must indemnify the employees against any future shortages or fake notes.’’ The management must also ensure that an authorised officer of the bank counts the notes and after being satisfied takes delivery of the wads from clerks.

The RBI had asked the banks to discontinue the old practice of stapling currency notes.

The UFBU said the new procedure, had exposed cashiers, officers and in charge of currency chests to the risk of shortage or fake notes. Even customers were hesitant to receive cash from the banks in paper-band packets, as they found it difficult to count the notes.

The UFBU has demanded that the bank managements should first set up necessary infrastructure at all their branches to ensure that the employees do not suffer financial losses, if any, arising out of the introduction of the new procedure. It has directed the employees not to switch over to the new procedure till the necessary safeguard measures were taken. 


Garbage bins to check bird-hit mishaps
Tribune News Service

Halwara (Ludhiana), March 14
After banning construction activity near the Halwara Air Force Station here for ensuring security and safety of aeroplanes, the Air Force authorities have now put up garbage bins around the station to check bird-hit accidents. People have been directed to throw garbage in these bins. Waste material lying in the open attracts birds that were a major deterrent to smooth and safe flying in the area.

Besides these, the authorities have issued special guidelines to residents of this village, particularly those living in the vicinity of the station, to maintain cleanliness in the area.

The Air Force authorities have taken the help of the panchayat and social workers, and have sent them from house to house in certain places to convince people about the urgency of the problem. Sources said the special cleanliness drive would be enforced round the clock. They said so far no punitive action was recommended against violators.

Action had become necessary owing to serious threat caused to planes by the increasing population of birds in the area. Air Force sources said the number of the birds was on the rise here, as people were throwing garbage, that mainly included left-over food in the open, which attracted birds and caused a major threat to the planes. Fighter aircraft fly at high speed and are prone to accidents in case of a bird-hit.

“A number of such incidents have happened in other airports and Air Force stations in the country, raising the need for protecting the flying machines from the birds,’’ said a senior official at the Air Force Station.

The sources said Air Force officials went around Halwara, Akalgarh and the adjoining villages to convince and educate people regarding the menace of birds.

A Ludhiana Tribune team saw neatly painted garbage bins lined on the road near the Air Force Station. The bins were not open. The bins have been covered from all sides to ensure that birds are not attracted.

Special tractor-trolleys of the station make two rounds daily to clear the bins and throw the garbage in a far-off area. The cleanliness drive follows a recent drive to chop off fruit trees in the vicinity of the station. Birds flocked these trees and cause accidents.

The sources said due to security reasons the number of accidents or the degree of damage to the aircraft could not be disclosed. “But the threat was definitely large, that is why we were undertaking such a drive’’ said an official.

The sources said the authorities had even banned farming in some fields. Seeds sown in the fields again attract birds.

Fighter aircraft fly at a low height in these areas. Routine training sorties are also carried out.


Trust to celebrate Anglo-Sikh war victory
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
While the state government and the Archaeological Survey of India have turned a blind eye towards the commemoration of historical events in the district, residents of a number of villages in and around Baddowal have taken it upon themselves to preserve the memory of the great Sikh victory over British forces in 1846 on their land.

An organisation, the Anglo-Sikh War Memorial Trust, comprising area residents and some NRIs, today announced to celebrate the 157th anniversary of the Baddowal War even as the trust awaits help, both moral and financial, from the state government and political parties.

“Neither the former nor the present government has done anything for the preservation of monuments. Most of the historical places associated with the great victory have gone to the dogs. Some are in the process of being lost. These are the places we aim to save for posterity” said Mr Surat Singh Khalsa, an NRI, chief Sevadar of the trust, while addressing a press conference here today.

The trust has extended invitation to all political parties and is hopeful that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will attend the function on March 30 and help the trust in conservation work. The trust has announced an elaborate plan of Rs 30 crore for constructing a memorial, a gate, an engineering college, a Khalsa college and a Gurdwara on a common piece of land in villages.

The Baddowal Anglo-Sikh war has got laudatory references in books of several historians. It was the greatest victory of the Sikh forces against the British forces, which were gaining ground in Punjab at that time.

The victory would be haunting the British even now as it is a moment of glory for the Punjabis.

Mr Khalsa told mediapersons that residents of Hassanpur, Bhanuar, Dakha, Mullanpur, Munidiani, Pandori, Rurka, Jangpur, Khandur, Ratna, Chokkar, Jodhan, Mansooran, Pamal, Pamali, Lalton Khurd and Lalton Kalan were the brave ones who fought the British.

The Sikh forces had imprisoned 33 British officers in the war, said Mr Khalsa. He, however, rued that vested political interests sabotaged the villagers’ hope of erecting monuments in the region.

Mr Khalsa said the trust would organise the function every year. It is also in the process of compiling a book on the great war. He said though references were available in several books, yet even after more than one-and-a-half centuries, a comprehensive book on the subject was awaited.

Mr Khalsa said the Rs 30 crore project would require help from the state government, social, religious and Sikh organisations. He said a memorandum had been sent to the state government requesting its help.

The trust has also recommended to the state government that the great war should be included in the history syllabus of schools in the state.


Pensioners’ dharna on March 22
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
Pensioners of the Punjab Government, irked by a Finance Department direction for disbursement of pension only through a specified public sector bank, will stage a dharna outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Patiala on March 22 and submit a charter of demands.

Presiding over a meeting of the state executive of the Punjab State Pensioners’ Confederation here, its president, Mr B.R. Kaushal, criticised the Finance Department for denying the facility of getting pension through district treasury offices or sub-treasuries at the subdivisional level.

Mr Kaushal said the confederation would also submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister, calling for fulfilment of poll promises made by the Congress. The pensioners’ body would also press the government for the implementation of recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission for the pensioners, he said.


Protest against privatisation move
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
On a joint call by members of various unions, hundreds of employees of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) sat on a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner's office in protest against the proposed privatisation policy of the government.

Members of various associations, including the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the Technical Service Union (TSU), the Employees Federation, the Workers Federation, INTUC and the Electricity Board Employees Front, gathered outside the mini-secretariat and started raising slogans against the policy.

Stating that the similar experiments had failed miserably in various states, including Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the union leaders said various companies, which were given the contract, fled leaving the government in the lurch. They said the public had to suffer on this account as the power supply became costlier and thousands of workers were not paid salaries for the past many months.

Mr Tejinder Singh Mohi, Mr Dev Raj, Mr Surjeet Singh Goraya, Mr Sarwan Singh and other leaders, while addressing the protesters, warned the government against the privatisation move.

The protesters submitted a memorandum with the Deputy Commissioner and the SDM and marched towards the clock tower. The leaders called upon the members to reach the Legislative Assembly on March 21 and participate in a state-wide strike on March 26.


25,000 illegal immigrants in jails abroad’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
At least 25,000 youths from all over the world are languishing in jails abroad for immigrating illegally to foreign countries.

This was stated today by a former Union Minister and the president of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who has appealed to the state government to initiate strict action against travel agents active in the state.

In a communique issued here today, Mr Ramoowalia stated that travel agents were defrauding gullible people, who were forced to sell their land to pay hefty fees demanded by agents for sending them abroad.

Stating that many youths were leaving the state for greener pastures abroad and some had even lost their lives, Mr Ramoowalia said the travel agents were charging between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15 lakh for sending a person abroad. He said the agents had no power to send anybody abroad or procure a visa to any country.

Mr Ramoowalia said the agents were forcing the youths to smuggle out goods. He said his party had already been instrumental in helping people get their money back, adding that an amount of Rs 80 crore had been returned to various persons who were caught in the agents’ net.

Mr Ramoowalia said his party had sent Mr Ravinder Turna to Thailand for helping the youths languishing in jails. Mr Turna will return after pressing the government for sending these youths back home.


A strategic road in state of neglect
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The stretch of road from Lakshmi Cinema to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH), providing access to one of the premier medical institutions in the mega city, is most strategic but an equally neglected road. Besides CMCH, the road also leads to the Civil Hospital, a church and has two prominent schools located on it.

For the past several years, the entire section of the road has not been properly repaired. The damaged surface, worn down berms, depressions and humps, huge pot holes and shabby patches dot the road, which has been repeatedly dug out for laying telecom cables and sewerage pipes. The condition of the said road speaks volumes about the persistent neglect and indifference of the elected representatives as well as the civic administration.

Falling in Wards No. 50 and 51, presently represented by Deputy Mayor Ms Sushil Gupta, and Mr Sanjeev Talwar respectively, the CMC Road, is likely to be relaid and repaired on priority basis this year because both the councillors belong to the ruling party in the MC, but the past experience of the residents has been quite bitter.

Says Mr Nathaniel Gill, an area resident and president of the Ludhiana Masihi Welfare Society, “The previous councillor from Ward No 50 belonged to the Congress and he completed his term without doing much for the localities in his ward with the excuse that the ruling SAD-BJP alliance did not allocate adequate funds for developmental works. Similarly, the other councillor, representing Ward No. 51 was known for his ever-changing loyalties and had also failed to take up the much needed repair of the road.”

For a large number of people visiting the CMCH for treatment every day, not only from the city and the neighbouring towns and villages but in equal numbers if not more from the adjoining states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, reaching the hospital is nothing less than a nightmare.

Particularly, those bringing serious patients, pregnant women or accident victims to the hospital, who are in dire need of immediate medical aid, find the last part of journey on this road (from Lakshmi Cinema to CMCH) agonising and at times life threatening for the patients.

The residents have made a fervent plea with the councillors concerned, one of whom happens to be the Deputy Mayor, and the MC authorities to take up the work of surfacing and repair of the CMCH Road on priority basis.

They also sought that effective measures be taken to remove temporary and permanent encroachments all along the road to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the larger interest of the city population, the schoolchildren and particularly those seeking medical assistance from CMCH and the Civil Hospital.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune from the MC officials and councillor of Ward No 51, Mr Sanjeev Talwar, revealed that tenders for laying premix on the road at an estimated cost of Rs 22 lakh have already been floated and another project for fixing tiles on footpaths on both sides of the road was also being processed.


Roll back diesel price hike: BKU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
While hailing the decision of the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, to roll back the increase in prices of fertilisers, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has demanded that the increase in diesel price should also be curtailed in favour of the farmers.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Prof Manjit Singh Kadian, president and secretary-general of the BKU, said by raising the price of diesel by Rs 5 per litre the government had burdened the farmers further.

Both leaders demanded that the rise in diesel prices should be slashed at once while demanding further that the minimum support prices of various crops should be fixed in accordance with the Price Index.

Hailing the decision of the government to slash the interest rate on the agriculture loans, Mr Lakhowal said it would, however, not help the farmers much. He said if the government wanted the farmers to pay the loan back in time the interest rate should be reduced to 4 percent annually. 


Lajpat Rai bereaved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Renu, daughter of Mr Prem Chand, younger brother of senior BJP leader and Member of Parliament, Lala Lajpat Rai, expired here last evening. She was 38 and was suffering from lung cancer. She is survived by her husband and two daughters.

Her mortal remains were consigned to flames today. People who attended the funeral expressed their condolences to the bereaved family. 


Small scale industry in dire straits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Around half of the small scale industrial units here have been closed down. While a number of these have been closed for default in payments, others have to close down for an increase in the prices of raw material.

According to Mr Harbans Singh, District Industries Manager, Ludhiana, there are around 2.5 lakh small scale industrial units registered in Ludhiana with an investment of around Rs 1,100 crore. These include units manufacturing cycle parts, machine tools, hosiery, knitwear employing around 70,000 people.

He said, the Industrial Department was trying its level best to provide financial support to the small scale industry and had provided loans worth Rs 8 crore to the industry during the last financial year. He agreed that the industry was passing through a critical stage and several units had been closed down.

Mr Joginder Kumar, president of the Small and Tiny Industries Association, said there were 2.5 lakh registered and an equal number of unregistered small scale industrial units in Ludhiana. Over half of its had been closed down. He pointed out, the extent of the situation could be gauged from the fact that a leading cycle manufacturing unit had to cut down its production by massive proportions. He said, the Ludhiana small scale industry contributed about 40 per cent to the Indian exports, 36 per cent in direct way while 70 per cent in indirect way.

Mr Baldev Singh, who was running an SSI unit till a few years ago had to close down his unit. He said he was employing about 250 persons. After the cost of inputs, including raw material, increased the production became costlier. The finished products could not be sold at a higher price and ultimately he had to wind up the unit.

There were thousands others like him, who could not bear the costs and had to close down their units.

Similarly the hosiery and knitting industry has also witnessed a severe fall. The impact has been such that most of the dyeing units, which wholly depend on the hosiery and knitting units have closed down. Mr T.R. Mishra, chairman of the Federation of the Dyeing Industries, Ludhiana, said there were around 500 dyeing units in Ludhiana and most of them had shut down since they could not find any work.

If one industry gets closed, it has a cascading affect leading to the closure of other related industries and this has precisely happened with the dyeing units, Mr Mishra added.


Chamber interacts with SBI officials
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
An industrial meeting was arranged at the forum of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, here on Wednesday. It was attended by senior officers of the State Bank of India, namely Mr Akhilesh Mohan, Deputy General Manager, SCB of the SBI, and Mr Samir Saran, Deputy General Manager of the bank, Ludhiana.

Mr Inderjit Singh ‘Pardhan’, and Mr Avtar Singh, President and general secretary of the chamber, welcomed the participants. Mr K.K. Seth, patron of the chamber, apprised the bank officers of various banking problems being faced by the industry and sought requisite relief.

The points raised in a memorandum prepared by the chamber were; power of over-drawing to Branch Manager, thresh-hold limit, bank charges, SME limit, outstation cheques, charging of MTL, ECGC cover, Nayak Committee guidelines, payments, cheques representing government/semi-government, DDP charges, at par facility, risk rating by the SBI, need-based enhancement of bank limits.

Mr O.P. Munjal, CMD, Hero Cycles Ltd, Mr M.S. Bhogal of Bhogal Industry, Mr K.K. Seth of Seth Industrial Corporation, Mr Ajit Singh Kular of Kular Cycle Industry also applauded the role of the State Bank of India in boosting industrial growth in the city. They also urged the SBI to be more liberal in lending and financing the industry. Mr Joginder Kumar also requested the government to pay more attention to the tiny sector, which was passing through hard times.

Mr Akhilesh Mohan, and Mr Samir Saran, both DGMs of the SBI, while reacting to the points raised in the memorandum presented by the chamber assured the entrepreneurs of all help and liberal approach by the SBI in redressing their problems.

They further gave a detailed account of services being already rendered by the bank to the industry, which included a countrywide networking of their important branches, internet banking, tele-banking, ATM-cum-Debit Card, State Bank Electronic Payment System (STEPS), SBIFAST — a cash management product (CMP), Swift-based services, Remote Login facilities and other technological solution to match the best in the banking industry.

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