Sunday, March 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Security beefed up at railway station
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Following a bomb blast in a local train in Mumbai and the recovery of six crude bombs from the New Delhi railway station, security has been beefed up at the local railway station and around the tracks in the region.

Mr Surinder Singh Sidhu, SP ( Government RailwayPolice) Jalandhar Zone, along with an anti-sabotage team and a dog squad, visited the railway station here to step up the security arrangements. Two sniffer dogs have been kept on a round- the- clock duty at the station to sniff any explosive material.

While the GRP was on alert in the area ever since a bomb blast took place in a train near the Doraha railway station, the security has been put in top gear following the sabotage incidents in Delhi and Mumbai.

Mr Sidhu said the GRP had sent circulars to all GRP stations in the state following the two incidents.

In view of the enormity of the task of keeping strict vigilance at the railway station, the GRP had arranged with the local police and with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to conduct surprise checking.

The different police forces were working in shifts. The shifts were mainly divided between the GRP and the Punjab Police. The help of the RPF was being taken occasionally.

Mr Sidhu said he was conducting surprise inspection of the stations to see how alert the staff was. He said he was pleased to observe that the local police team, led by SHO Darshan Singh, was searching the bags of commuters. Mr Sidhu also checked trains.

He said the sniffer dog was the most important component of the search exercise . Checking the commuters and their luggage was important. An ISI agent, who was found involved in the Doraha bomb blast case, used to live as a beggar at the railway station.

‘‘ Beggars and vagabonds are a big problem. We have chased them out several times but they still keep pouring in ’’ said Mr Sidhu.

The railway police team was seen frisking people at all entrance points. A number of teams were formed for different tasks. While the cops with the dog squad were searching the luggage, other teams were searching the trains.

Mr Sidhu said the GRP had issued special instructions to police personnel for stepping up night vigil around the tracks. 



Traders protest against VAT
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Hundreds of hosiery and textile dealers, including manufacturers and traders, today held a demonstration against the implementation of VAT (value added tax) and the Central excise in the state. Most hosiery markets, including Dal Bazar, Hindi Bazar, Bajwa Nagar and others, observed complete bandh today.

While VAT was scheduled to be introduced in Punjab from April 1, now its implementation has been deferred by three months.

Traders and industrialists have been opposing VAT apprehending that it will put additional burden on them. Besides, they feel it will give unbridled powers to officials and lead to ‘inspector raj’.

There are about 110 associations representing about 15,000 small hosiery and textile manufacturing units in Ludhiana, besides about 3,000 retail outlets.

These associations have formed a joint action committee to fight against implementation of VAT and the excise duty.

The traders have been maintaining that VAT will not generate any additional revenues for the government, but will only hamper the free flow of trade in the state.

They say it will give unbridled powers to excise and sales tax officials who may even misuse their powers.

Reacting to the claims of the government that introduction of VAT will prevent tax evasion, traders say tax evasion will go on even then. Those who have to evade tax will find new ways to do so and innocent traders, industrialists and businessmen will be the harassed lot after the implementation of VAT, they maintain.

However, certain sections in the industry maintain the opposition to VAT was the outcome of the old mindset. There is nothing in it to fear from.

It will ensure more transparency. “Those evading duties and other taxes will find it difficult after the introduction of VAT,” said a leading business executive.



PHRC summons PFA, MC authorities
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Taking up a petition against the roadside meat shops filed by the local chapter of the People For Animals, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission(PHRC) has summoned officials concerned of the local Municipal Corporation and the PFA for hearing the matter in person.

The need to call them arose as the PFA had charged the MC with negligence and the latter submitted a reply in contrast claiming that the corporation was doing its work efficiently. Both parties had been told to appear before the commission on May 7.

The PFA had, in its complaint to the PHRC, stated that the MC had failed to check mushrooming of illegal slaughter houses in the city. It had further said all main areas in the city had roadside meat shops, which are near schools, hospitals and religious places. Quoting instances, it had said the meat shops were situated near Sacred Heart Convent School, BRS Nagar, Basti Jodhewal, Meherban, CMC Hospital, Haibowal, Aggar Nagar, Shimla Puri, Tajpur Road, Sherpur, Kashmir Nagar and many other places.

The animals were slaughtered in the open thus hurting the sentiments of people, the PFA stated. Many social and religious organisations and individuals had been demanding the closure of such shops.

The PFA quoting the Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, said all provisions under the section were flouted by the owners of these shops. So it had prayed before the commission in the interest of common public and poor animals to stop the slaughtering of animals in the open and without checking them up completely of any infections.

The MC in its reply to the PHRC had submitted that the charge of negligence levelled against it was exaggerated as the provisions of Section 167 of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, were not applicable to the local MC. In order to check the unlawful slaughtering of animals and regulate the sale of poultry, the provisions of Sections 333 and 341 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, were applicable.

The MC had stated that it had constructed an ultra-modern slaughter house in the Haibowal Dairy complex. Any animal brought for slaughter there was first medically examined by the veterinary surgeon and only after it was declared medically fit, it was put to sword.

It further submitted that the authorities had challaned 272 such offenders as well as destroyed 1,037kg of unhygienic meat. 



Court stays orders on Gurdev
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
The Special Judge, Ludhiana, Mr Inderjit Kaushik, has stayed the implementation of previous orders vide which a former Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Badal, accused of amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, was allowed to participate in the Budget session of the Punjab Assembly. The judge has stayed the previous orders till March 20.

On March 13, the court had allowed the former minister to attend the Budget session, subject to the condition that ''if doctors at the PGI, Chandigarh, declare him fit'' and ''the authorities concerned of the PGI allow him''. The accused had sought interim bail on the plea that being an elected member of the Assembly, he wanted to discharge his duties. Today, the prosecution filed an application in the court, seeking a review of the earlier orders.

Highly-placed sources in the Vigilance Bureau claimed that they submitted before the judge that the accused could flee, since police officials were not allowed to go inside the Assembly along with the accused.

Acting on the application of the prosecution, the court asked the counsel of the accused to file reply on March 20 and passed orders to the effect that till then the previous orders shall remain stayed.



Life term for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
Mr Baldev Singh, Sessions Judge, Ludhiana, has sentenced Nirmal Singh of Ram Nagar, Dholewal, to rigorous life imprisonment for killing his wife by inflicting ‘toka’ blows on September 30, 1999, on the railway lines, near Lakkar Bridge. The accused used to suspect his wife of infidelity.

Mr Baldev Singh said the prosecution had proved beyond any doubt that the accused had killed his wife, Kuldeep Kaur. The judge declined the plea of leniency raised by the accused and awarded him severe punishment. The murder was witnessed by a constable and a head constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), who nabbed the accused immediately and lodged a FIR.

According to the prosecution, Head Constable Des Raj, along with Constable Jagroop Singh, was on patrolling on the railway lines at that time. They saw the accused and his wife coming from the old courts side. They were quarrelling. Suddenly, the accused took out a ‘toka’ from his bag and started inflicting blows upon her wife. They immediately rushed to the spot, but by then the accused had killed his wife. The accused disclosed his identity to the cops and claimed that her wife was not a women of good character and that’s why he had killed her. However, the accused claimed in the court that he was being falsely implicated in the case. But after analysing the evidence, the judge found him guilty of murdering his wife and awarded him life imprisonment.



Tohra to appear at Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, will appear at Akal Takht on March 23 to partake ‘amrit’ afresh.
Jathedar Tohra, who underwent a bypass surgery two months ago, feels his appearance at Akal Takht and partaking ‘amrit’ afresh is necessary as a measure of atonement, because his body hair was cut during the operation.

He will also organise ‘akhand path’ at Akal Takht on March 24 and the bhog of the same will be performed on March 26.



New transport system for city recommended
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
With a population of around 20 lakh and almost four lakh vehicles plying on the city roads, coupled with phenomenal growth foreseen in the future, a rail-based mass transport system seems to be the only viable alternative to meet the increasing long-term needs of the city population over a period of next 20 years.

This is the recommendation by the Rail India Technological and Economic Services (RITES), which was assigned the task of conducting a survey of traffic pattern, infrastructure and increasing transport demand in Ludhiana by the municipal corporation. The organisation has formulated a multi-model public transport plan for the city.

On the basis of these recommendations, the Department of Local Bodies, Punjab, has already taken up the case of providing the city with ‘Light Rail Transport System’ (LRTS) through the Punjab State Infrastructure Board. The project recently received a shot in the arm with the Government of Japan giving a nod to a proposal by the Indo-Japan Infrastructure Working Group for intra-city metro rail project in three Indian cities, including Ludhiana.

For obvious reasons, the government will opt for the Japan-sponsored project for setting up the rail transport system in Ludhiana and elsewhere, because the proposal envisages technological support and parts funding by the Japan Government under a programme of Indo-Japan economic cooperation, according to sources in the municipal corporation here. In any case, the funds for the project have to be out-sourced because even the first phase of the plan, targeted for completion in about eight years from the date of commencement, will require Rs 1,555 crore. About Rs 34 crore will be required for maintenance during the first year of operation.

The proposed mass transport system, to be run on elevated tracks, with an exclusive right of way in a network of 31.30 km, will cover almost all major commercial, industrial and residential areas. It will carry 4.89 lakh passengers daily on the completion of the second phase, whereas, in the first phase, it will have a capacity of 3.91 lakh passengers.

After intensive study of the pattern and volume of vehicular traffic in different parts of the city, the consultants have come out with a network for the proposed LRTS which will have six sections — circular corridor following Budha Nullah, Shingar Cinema and Transport Nagar; Ferozepore Road from Jagraon Bridge to Punjab Agricultural University; Chandigarh Road from Shingar Cinema to Jamalpur, Malerkotla Road from Dashmesh Nagar to Engineering College, Rahon Road from Police Division No 3 to Vikram Colony and Haibowal Road from Old Courts to Dairy Complex. The three sections of Budha Nullah corridor, Ferozepore Road and Chandigarh Road are envisaged to be completed in the first phase of the LRTS project, while the rest will be covered in the second phase, the study says.



Liquor barons take a leaf out of politicians’ book
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
While politics is said to make strange bedfellows, liquor trade seems to make stranger. That is precisely what happened during the auction of liquor vends here yesterday. Leading liquor contractors did not take much time to cross the fence, leaving their associates in the lurch. Interestingly, Mr Man Singh Garcha, who dominated the liquor trade during the time of Mr Parkash Singh Badal was not seen anywhere yesterday.

His associate and also a relative, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, Congress legislator from Samrala, who himself is a leading liquor contractor had already mended fence with Mr Ponty Chadha, a leading liquor baron of the northern India. Interestingly, Mr Chadha and Mr Garcha were on the opposite sides and Mr Dhillon was sharing trade with Mr Garcha.

While many of the associates of Mr Garcha were aware of the fact that he would be ousted from the trade this time, they had pinned their hopes on Mr Dhillon. Mr Dhillon had assured his associates that he would stand by them, come what may. However, yesterday, much to their shock and surprise Mr Dhillon had already struck a deal and sided with Mr Chadha.

After seeing the Garchas out of reckoning, and with the Congress government in power, it is learnt that Mr Chadha wanted to take over the entire liquor business in Ludhiana district. He hoped it might not be too difficult, since he had already won the confidence and support of Mr Dhillon, while the Garchas did not mean anything this time. For a while, he looked perfectly in control of the situation.

Last year, Mr Chadha had reached a compromise with the Garchas as the government wanted to increase revenue without disturbing the existing (at that time) arrangement. The two had almost equally shared the trade in Ludhiana last year. Both the groups consist of small contractors, who put their share in the trade.

Faced with an over riding pressure from Chadha, who did not face any resistance this time and reportedly subtle support from the officials, the associates of Garchas were left in the lurch. They tried to put up, some resistance that they could, resulting in delay in the auction.

Mr Chadha was keen to take over the entire trade but the small contractors insisted on their independent share, the negotiations got prolonged and the compromise was reached late in the afternoon. Only then the auction could start, with Mr Chadha again walking over with the lion’s share.



Faith cured him of cancer
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 15
Do you believe in miracles? If not, meet 60-year-old Vasu Bhardwaj, who was suffering from bone cancer two years ago and doctors had shown their helplessness to cure him. Today he is a fit man. There is no sign of malignancy in his body. Various tests to detect cancer have proved this point.

Thanks to his incessant faith in God, this Special Correspondent of Gujarati Mitr, a daily published from Surat, has survived one of the killer diseases. “God is the ultimate healer. He knows your problems and if you have faith in Him, He will definitely come to your rescue”, says Vasu Bhardwaj, who got rid of bone cancer last year through faith healing.

Vasu is in the city to participate in a five-day “faith-healing” camp, which is under way at Model Town and is being organised by the Sarb Rog Ka Aukhad Naam mission, an organisation which claims to cure fatal diseases through faith healing. Hundreds of patients from all over the country are attending the camp to get rid of their diseases.

The story of Vasu, who is perhaps the happiest man on earth after he was cured of the dreaded cancer, is no less than a miracle. It was around four years ago that he started having a hearing problem in his right ear. “I was not comfortable as I could not hear anything from my right ear.” said Vasu, adding that his problem could not be diagnosed initially for months.

“After a few months, following a test, I came to know that I was suffering from bone cancer. As I belong to a family of doctors, with my wife also being a doctor, I was advised to take injections and medicine regularly. I underwent a lot of chemotherapy sessions during this time. I had hair loss also. I used to feel depressed but could not do anything”, said Vasu.

In April, 2002, doctors warned him that it was his last stage. Somebody suggested to him to visit the Golden Temple once and pray for himself. “He was a Sikh friend of mine. He asked me to organise an Akhand Path of 48 hours at the Golden Temple. I knew nothing about religion but had faith in my mind and reached Amritsar. The path began on May 3, 2002, at the Golden Temple. During those hours, I was praying for my life. I did not have anything for two days. I had gone to the temple on a stretcher. When the path concluded, my condition had miraculously improved. And I came out of the temple without a stretcher. I had guru ka langar and went to see the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar the same day”, said Vasu.

Vasu claimed that on May 25, 2002, electro-phoresis and bone marrow tests were conducted and he was astonished when both reports came out to be negative. “I am leading a normal life now and am not taking even a single medicine. This is because of faith healing. I did not know anything about Gurbani but had faith in God. After every two months, I go to the Golden Temple”, said Vasu.

He was invited to attend the camp by Dr Balwant, local organiser. Thousands of patients from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states are participating in the camp to get themselves treated for fatal diseases like cancer and tuberculosis and neurological problems. The camp will conclude on March 16.

“It’s not that people should have faith in one particular religion. They should have faith in God, Who’s there to cure them”, said Vasu.



Consumers unaware of rights
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
Has consumerism come of age? Are consumers aware of their rights and responsibilities? It does not seem to be the case as Ludhiana Tribune found out that a majority of them did not know about the rights guaranteed to them against unfair trade practices adopted by sellers.

Today is the World Consumer Rights Day. The consumers are not aware that they have certain rights and if these are violated they can get compensation. Moreover, if certain things bought by them are defective or lack quality, which they claim to possess, the seller can be taken to consumer courts.

“I have read somewhere a few days ago that a popular bread company had sold loaves of bread dated a day ahead of the sale date. It had raised a furore but nothing happened. At least I check the date of manufacture on every thing. But in most of the things like paneer, ghee and certain creams, there is a blank usually after the date of manufacture and except for a few alert customers no one cares. Even if they find the items defective, most know that rights are on paper. In reality , people like me, think, it will be a waste of time," said Ms Manju Rastogi, an entrepreneur, who makes pickles, jams at home and is conscious of quality.

But generally the consumers are neither careful to read ‘when best to use before date’ instruction nor they know that there are rules to safeguard their rights.

A consumer has the right to know about the quality, quantity and price of goods and/ or services being paid for, so that he is not cheated by unfair trade practices. A consumer has the right to be heard and be assured that his interest will receive due consideration at the appropriate forum.

The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002 (62 of 2002), has been brought into force by the Central Government from today.

A consumer not only enjoys some rights, but also has some responsibilities. He should obtain full information regarding the quality and price of an item. In case he gets cheated, he must approach the District Forum, the State Commission or National Commission for redressal of consumer grievances.

A special programme of 15 minutes “Jago Grahak Jago” on consumer awareness is also aired. 



The spirit of progress

Ludhiana, March 15
Riches or poverty are not destined. Man makes, some others break. The secret of progress lies in imaginative planning, seeking of material means. Also, continuing the process of dreaming and raising. Man watched animals running fast, developed means of transport. Observed sea-life, built ships and ports. Looked at the birds in flight, took to making of aeroplanes. A strong combination of physical labour and mental power laid the foundations of civilisation. Making use of material means, built the proverbial Grand Trunk Road of progress, advancement. Labour generated money. Money generated power leading to capital. Markets needed stock. From stock, man raised stock-exchange. The city has one.

The economy of a state can be judged from the health of its stock exchange. Tokyo to Hong Kong, Singapore to Bombay, Paris to London, beyond to New York, the sun in the commercial capitals never sets. It is heartening to note the activity of Ludhiana stock exchange. The heartbeat of Delhi in stocks is as good as that of Mumbai. Nothing works isolatedly. It is a link-up. The E.C.G. is objectification of one’s heartbeat and the working of the nervous system. The market capitalisation is sensitive to any change, anywhere. War and peace, politics and economics, trade and commerce, climate or calamity, instantly disturb the super-sensitive balance. Ludhiana has direct links with Delhi. Despite odds, Punjabis have kept up the spirit of progress.

Recently, a list of 25 richest persons of Delhi was published. They head well- known groups. The striking feature is that more than 10 hail from the Punjab families who migrated at Partition. They include M & S. Singh (Ranbaxy), B.M. Munjal (Hero Group), A.K. Puri (Mohan Exports), Deepak Puri (Moser Baer), Aroon Purie (ITG, Aaj Tak), Lalit Suri (Bharat Hotels), O.S. Kanwar (Appollo Tyres), Rajan Nanda (Escorts), Analjit Singh (max India) and Sushil Suri (Morepen). The success story validates the Punjabi spirit of workculture, faith in future, with proper input, besides self-reliance.

O.P. Jindal (Jindal Steel) and B.C. Jindal (Jindal Polyester) prove that persons having sense of business intuitively discover the time of rising tide. The list particularly does the city proud. Three Ludhianvis appear in the list. Mr Sunil Mittal (Bharti Telecom) with market capital Rs 1859 crore, having Rs 1716 crore (networth). No comparison needed, Bharti and Reliance are pioneers of contemporary telecommunications. Sunil Mittal is a genius.

Mr B.M. Munjal (Hero Group) is shown to manage Rs 1694 crore (market cap) with Rs 522 crore (networth). To the credit of the Munjals goes the fact that they arrived as refugees, but rose despite losing ancestral assets at Kamalia (Lyallpur). They prove the spirit of man which tames and rides the restive horse. Appears along with the name of a person having deep roots and historic links with Ludhiana. He is Mr L.M. Thapar heading the Ballarpur (Ind.-Group) having Rs 186 - crore (market capital) with Rs 278 crore (networth).

Mr Thapar hails from the noted family of Lala Karam Chand Thapar, pioneer of banking and commerce, paper and sugar industries. His house still stands in original form at the entry -point of Nonghara, the collective residential site of Kabuli Thapars. Martyr Sukhdev is ancestral house is a hundred yards away. It is a story pf human will to do. Capitally speaking, Ludhiana and Delhi are linked with this capital express! (M.S. Cheema)



Tantrik caught by residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Residents of the Shiv Puri area, along with a councillor, caught an alleged tantrik from the colony late last night. The tantrik allegedly used to blackmail shopkeepers, claiming that he was close to several councillors and bureaucrats in the city. Visiting cards of some of these persons were found from his possession

Mr Satpal Puri, councillor, who was instrumental in catching the tantrik, Gazal, told Ludhiana Tribune that there were more than 200 tantriks in the city.

He said the tantrik was living in a cremation ground and claimed that he had helped several councillors and bureaucrats with black magic. The tantrik was handed over to the Salem Tabri police station.



Doctor held on graft charge

Ludhiana, March 15
The local Vigilance Bureau today arrested a senior doctor posted at the Civil Hospital. The doctor has been accused of accepting graft to prepare a medico-legal report. Mr K.S. Sidhu, SP (Vigilance), said Ravi Kumar Bahri, a resident of Nirankari Colony, Miller Gunj, had complained that Dr Sharma had demanded Rs 1,500 for preparing a medico-legal report. TNS


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