Tuesday, April 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Total bandh against VAT
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, March 31
Entire business activity came to standstill as all shops and other business establishments remained closed today in response to the nationwide bandh call given by various trade and industrial associations against the introduction of the value added tax (VAT) and the central excise. Some traders also took out processions and burnt effigies of VAT to register their protest. However, big industrial units functioned as usual.

All main markets of the city including the Chaura Bazar, Ghumar Mandi, Mall Road, Cemetery Road, Sarabha Nagar market and Pakhowal road and also in the suburbs wore a deserted look as all shops remained closed. However, liquor vends remained open as it was last day of their contract for the current financial year.

The call for the bandh had been given by the Joint Action Committee of various trade and industrial associations including the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Knitwear Club, Federation of Knitwear, Textile and Allied Industries Associations (FEKTAA), Pradesh Beopar Mandal and some political parties like the Shiv Sena. Chemist shops also remained closed in response to the bandh call.

Interestingly, most of the traders and shopkeepers were not even aware about VAT and they did not know that the Punjab Government had announced that it would not be introduced in the state for the time being. However, everyone of them claimed that this would spell doom for the small traders and small-scale industry. They asserted that it should be withdrawn at all costs.

As the markets wore a deserted look, most of the shopkeepers preferred to play it away in the streets and markets. It was cricket every where in the markets and roads. As all business activity came to a standstill, the banks and other financial institutions also reported very low transactions today. The bandh will continue tomorrow as well.

Later briefing reporters, the general secretary of the Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Mr Sunil Mehra claimed that bandh was total and complete in the entire state including Ludhiana. He maintained that the bandh would continue tomorrow and might even be extended depending on the directions from other organisations across the country.

He asserted that there was complete unity among the trading and business community on the issue and they would not allow the introduction of VAT or central excise at any cost. He claimed that the traders would prefer to shut down their business than accept VAT as it would place them at the mercy of the taxation officials.

Meanwhile, FEKTAA has decided to extend the bandh by five more days against CENVAT (central excise). The decision to this effect was taken at the executive meeting of FEKTAA here yesterday. It appealed to all the units to suspend their operations till April 6 to express their resentment against CENVAT.

Mandi Gobindgarh: All shops and business establishments remained closed today at Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh and Bhadson on a bandh called to express protest and solidarity against the state government’s move to implement value added tax (VAT).

Members of the Small Scale Steel Rerollers Association, the Steel Rerolling Mills Association, the All-India Steel Rerollers Association (local units), the Steel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Karyana Association, the Bhav Nagar Steel Traders Association and the Punjab Beopar Mandal, Mandi Gobindgarh, organised a dharna near highway main chowk.

At Amloh, all bazaars remained closed and a rally was organised in front of the Singh Sabha Gurdwara here today. Mr Raj Paul Garg, president of the local unit of the BJP and Mr Mangat Arora of Beopar Mandal addressed the rally.

At Bhadson village, all shops observed complete bandh and a rally was organised on the Amloh road which was addressed by Mr Krishan Kumar, Mr Suraj Bhan, both presidents of Commission Agents Parallel Associations of Bhadson Mandi, Mr Randhir Singh Bhadon, Mr Sohan Lal Thapar and Mr Balbir Singh addressed the rally and decided to participate in the dharna being staged on April 8 in front of parliament against the implementation of VAT. Later, the protesters presented a memorandum to the Nabha MLA, Mr Randeep Singh, who was the chief guest of Lok Darbar held in Bhadson.

Doraha: All business associations and organisations of Doraha and Sahnewal observed complete bandh today in support of the protest call against the government proposal on VAT.

Leading figures of Doraha and Sahnewal including Mr Tarlok Singh Jaggi, chairman, All-India Retailers Federation, Mr Pritam Singh Jaggi, Chairman, Kiryana Association, Mr Kishan Lal Gupta, president, Readymade Garments Association, Mr Vinod Gupta, Mr Jandeep Kaushal, Mr Rohit Gupta, Mr Rasik Bihari, Mr Bhupinder Singh Oberoi, Mr Ramesh Kumar Pappu, mr Jeevan Kumar Kapila, Mr Om Parkash Goyal, Mr Bakshi Lal Aneja and Mr Kulwant Singh, protested against the proposal on VAT.

They said that the trade and industry would close down if the VAT proposal was implemented and this would result in further loss of economy which was already facing recession. It would give unlimited powers to the tax officials which would lead to more corruption and ultimate loss of revenue, they added.

Various office-bearers asserted that India was not yet prepared for the implementation of such a scheme. The people of the country needed to be educated about such a proposal and if suited to the needs of the majority, only then its implementation should be thought of, they added

FATEHGARH SAHIB: On the call of the Punjab Pardesh Beopar Mandal, a complete bandh was observed in Sirhind on Monday. All traders responded to the call in protest against the introduction of VAT.

Addressing a gathering of the traders, Mr Varinder Rattan, president of the District Beopar Mandal, criticised VAT. He demanded that VAT should not be introduced in the state and warned that if the government did not concede to their demand, they would be forced to continue the struggle. He said the traders would organise a protest rally on Tuesday. Mr Prem Batra, president, Karyana Association, also addressed the traders.


Left parties condemn US war on Iraq
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
Activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today held a demonstration and a rally to protest against the “brutal” war launched on Iraq by the USA and British forces. The protesters, carrying anti-war placards and shouting slogans against the “imperialist forces”, marched from Chatar Singh Park in the Model Town locality to the Mini Secretariat.

Speakers at the rally called upon the US Government to immediately stop the war. They also urged the Indian Government to condemn the attack in no uncertain words. Leaders of the Left parties made an appeal to fellow countrymen to organise protests against the US high-handedness, which, they said, was a blatant violation of the established principles of the UN.

Among those who addressed the rally were the CPI state secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, the district secretary, Mr O. P. Mehta, state secretary CPM, Dr Arun Mitra, Mr Kartar Singh Bowani, Dr Gulzar Goria, Mr Sukhwinder Sekhon, Mr Rachpal Singh, Mr Mewa Singh, Mr Khushi Mohammed, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Mr Bharpur Singh, Mr Kewal Krishan, Mr Jagat Ram and Mr Gurdev Singh.

Meanwhile, the District Congress Doctors Cell, at a meeting held here today, criticised the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, for his inability to prevent the US attack on the innocent people of Iraq. Dr Banarsi Lal Malhotra, president of the cell, said the UN had failed in its duty to prevent war and maintain territorial sovereignty of independent nations.

Meanwhile, the Moulder and Steel Workers Union today extended its support in favour of a newly constituted committee against the US war on Iraq.

In a communique issued here today, the secretary of the union, Mr Mohinder Singh, said the workers would also participate in a protest march scheduled for April 8 at Ludhiana against the Bush-Blair duo. 


Youth’s murder: post-mortem inconclusive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
The post-mortem examination of the body of an unidentified youth, who was found murdered near Kot Mandiala Kalan village in Khanna police district five days ago, remained inconclusive as to whether the youth was tortured before being done to death or his private parts were severed after killing him.

Khanna police sources said the doctors at the local Civil Hospital had sent the viscera for chemical examination and told the police to wait for the report of their findings.

The police also failed to find any clue about the identity of the youth. The police cremated the body at Khanna last evening as no one had come to claim it.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, SSP, Khanna, said he had deputed SP(D) Sudesh Kumar Agnihotri to investigate the case. He said this murder was one of the most macabre ones in recent times.

The youth’s body was found hanging from a goal post in a football ground near the village. He had multiple stab wounds on his body. His private parts had been severed. The body had been hanged with a duppatta. The police later found some bridal dresses in a nearby field. A love affair was suspected to be the reason behind the murder.


Cheap liquor, frenzied buyers
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 31
With the existing liquor vends to make way for the new ones coming into business from April 1, the prices of both the Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) and country liquor have literally fallen during the past few days, making the bacchus lovers the happiest lot.

Those fond of their evening drinks have more reasons to cheer about over the reduced prices of almost all brands of liquor, at least for another day because in all probability the new vends would jack up the prices over those prevailing during the year by around 10 to 15 per cent in proportion to the hike in the amount of auction of vends for the next financial year.

The atmosphere around the liquor vends and drinking places all over the city is almost festive with colourful banners displaying slashed prices having been put up at the liquor shops and some of the enterprising sales staff have engaged trumpeters (dhol walas) to attract the buyers.

Some of the popular brands of the IMFL like McDowell, Signature, McDowell No. 1, Peter Scot, Red Knight, Royal Stag, Whytehall and Royal Challenge were selling at 40 to 50 per cent lower than the old prices, while a bottle of country liquor was being sold at a throwaway price of Rs 25. However, as a result of brisk sale of the IMFL, most of the popular brands were not available and the buyers had no other option but to choose from amongst the available less popular brands.

According to trade circles, although most of the existing liquor contractors would continue to be in business within the city, they would have to shift to other areas due to realignment of groups during the liquor auction. The sale of liquor at reduced rates was an attempt to clear stock to the maximum possible extent, as carrying forward the stock to next year entailed a cumbersome procedure and further affected the quota of liquor for the next year.

The sales staff at some of the liquor vends, especially those manning country liquor vends, hinted at a further decrease in prices as the day progressed and many of them were quite confident that by the closing time tonight they would exhaust whatever little stocks that were still left with them.


Witness in Tangri case goes unheard
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
Even as the district police is leaving no stone unturned to get Jagdish Tangri and his associates convicted on charges of rioting, running a duplicate CD racket and supplying arms to rioters in Gujarat, the police has not entertained the request of a 90-year-old man, who wants to be included as a co-complainant or witness against the accused.

Much before the district police had launched a crackdown against Tangri and closed down his alleged illegal den last year, the old man, Girdhari Lal, who claims to be a former freedom fighter also, was probably the first person to take up cudgels against the Shiv Sena leader.

He used to sell fruits on a rehri near Gur Mandi. His business was closed allegedly by Tangri’s henchmen, who used to charge a hafta from the rehri owners. Tangri and his associates face this charge now. Mr Girdhari Lal claims to be a witness of the murder of a shop owner in Gur Mandi eight years ago. He links the murder with some musclemen of Tangri.

Talking to TNS here today, the old man, who walks with difficulty and is hard of hearing also, said he was virtually running from the pillar to post for the past 13 years to get justice. He said his rehri business was stopped by Tangri as he refused to toe his line. He could not get justice all these years as Tangri used to run a parallel administration in the city.

“When the police nailed him, I was hopeful that my grievance would also be addressed. I want action against Tangri for ruining my business.” He said he was not deterred by any pressure exerted on him by Tangri or his alleged musclemen and kept on fighting all these years.

But contrary to my hopes, the local police has not incorporated my complaint in the case against Tangri, he said, adding that he was fighting a case against the Teh Bazari Department of municipal corporation also, but here, too, no one was solving his case. He alleged that a Sub-Inspector of the traffic police even gagged his voice when he was complaining against municipal corporation officials to a visiting minister.

After writing several letters to local as well as state police officials in vain, Mr Girdhari Lal said he had written letters to the state Governor, Lt-Gen. J.F.R. Jacob (retd). He had listed his grievance and said he was at a loss to understand why he was left out by the police.

A police official concerned with the case said the old man was hard of hearing and his statement was not strong enough. He said his statement was vague also. The official denied that the police had any hidden motive in the case.

When briefed about the police version, Mr Girdhari Lal countered that even though he was old and his memory was losing, yet he was clear about the case. He said his statement could be recorded and read out to him, if someone really wanted to redress his grievance.


Stray animals create nuisance
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 31
Stray cattle can be seen roaming on busy roads, making life difficult for residents and vehicular traffic. Though cows are held sacred, hardly any social organisation in the city has made efforts to provide shelter for them.

Says Sucha Singh of BRS Nagar, who was recently injured in an accident with a stray animal, “A bull hit my scooter and I fell down and broke an ankle. For no fault of mine, I am now incapacitated. I have to walk on crutches and have been advised by my doctor against going for work. I am not getting any salary and have to spend money on my treatment. Will the municipal corporation give me compensation? They can at least make a pound for stray animals to ensure safety for residents, ”

The stray cattle, bewildered by the noise and hustle and bustle of the traffic, move in unpredicted ways, resulting in serious accidents.

For the children of New Model Town, Sarabha Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and Ward 52 and 63 playing in parks is hazardous because of stray cattle.

The biggest nuisance are the pigs inhabiting these colonies. They not only cause accidents, but also create insanitary conditions. Sulaksh of Ward 52 of Tajganj says, “The pigs have ruined my kitchen garden and flowers. We are sick of the stench they leave behind in our garden.”

Some other residents, Bhola, Jagdish and Parwana, also complained of a pack of stray dogs that frequented the locality. They say, “No one is trying to curb the menace of the stray dogs. They have made our lives miserable. and have caused many accidents. Our reminders to the municipal corporation have fallen on deaf ears. What should the poor residents do,” they question.

Sickened by the nuisance of stray animals, the people have now urged the administration to take steps to eradicate the problem.


Remote-controlled’ meter seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
Officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have reportedly seized the meter of a flour mill in Jagraon, around 25 km from here. The ED officials claimed that the meter was being operated and manipulated through a remote.

The Director Enforcement, Mr S.S. Gill, told Ludhiana Tribune that on a specific information, the ED officials conducted a surprise check on the mill. The meter was checked and the seal was found to be tampered with. He said it was in the presence of the consumer, the owner of the mill, that the meter was sealed and packed.

He said the meter was again opened today in the presence of the consumer. The meter has been handed over to the distribution department for further action. The PSEB is likely to file an FIR against the consumer under relevant Sections of the law, as it involves theft of electricity. The officials said the rules were very clear and specific.

It is the first case of its kind to have been detected in Ludhiana, Mr Gill said. He said earlier similar cases had been detected in other parts of the state but never in Ludhiana. Mr Gill said the consumer had reportedly broken the seal of the meter and placed some chip inside it. An electronic remote was used to control the meter reading either by holding the meter reading for as long as required despite the consumption of electricity or by rewinding the reading.

The PSEB has already launched a campaign to detect the theft of electricity in the region. The campaign, according to the officials, has yielded handsome dividends with a number of detection of the power theft. 


Cong upbeat about victory in MC poll
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 31
Mr Tej Parkash Singh Kothi, Transport Minister, Punjab, has said the victory of the Congress is certain in the elections to the Doraha Municipal Council.

Mr Kothi was here to inaugurate the election office of Mr Bant Singh Daburjee, former chairman, Budhewal Sugar Mills, who is a Congress candidate from Ward No. 11 at Lakkar Mandi. Party contestants and Congress workers had assembled at the function in large numbers.

Mr Kothi said they were able to win seats even at the time of the rule of the SAD-BJP alliance. “Now, when we have the Congress rule in our state, we know the tide is in our favour as we have always tried to come up to the expectations of the people of Doraha. Moreover, the candidates chosen by the Congress to fight the elections are well aware of the problems being faced by the people of their wards,” he added. Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, President of the municipal council, said the people of Doraha were aware of the fact that the Congress had always tried to help the people. We shall continue with our efforts to ensure an all-round development of our town.

Mr Gurmit Singh, Congress leader and former political secretary, Mr Vinod Gupta, Mr Krishan Lal Gupta and Mr Arun Bector, among others, were also present. Several Congress candidates opened their election offices today — Mr Jasminder Singh Jassa from Ward No. 5, Mr Surinder Pal Sood from Ward No. 8, Mr Adarsh Pal Bector from Ward No. 3 and Mr Sardara Singh from Ward No. 12, Mrs Priya Sharma from Ward No. 4 will open her office here tomorrow. The Congress are upbeat about their victory in the municipal council poll after recording an impressive victory in the Payal constituency.


8.5 cr for road repair
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 31
Mr Randeep Singh, MLA, Nabha, today announced Rs 8.5 crore under the NABARD scheme for the repair of the road from Bhadson village to Bhawanigarh, via Nabha for which the work would start from April next month. The MLA was addressing a gathering at Lok Darbar organised at Bhadson village near here.

The MLA further said no new road would be laid in the coming fiscal year, but the roads in a dilapidated condition would be repaired. He distributed cheques worth Rs 2.70 lakh of Market Committee, Bhadson, to 11 thresher victims. Three villages Mallewal, Choudhry Majra and Rohti Moraan were declared as model villages.


Army recruitment rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
The Army will be organising a rally for recruitment of soldier general duty, soldier technical and soldier clerk for the candidates of Ludhiana and Ropar districts at Doraha from April 13 to 20. This was stated today by Col. B.S. Bisht, Director Recruiting BRO, Ludhiana, who said that the candidates were required to report on April 13 at Doraha.

Giving the conditions for appearing in the rally, Colonel Bisht said the candidates belonging to the Ropar and Ludhiana districts should have passed Class X examination with 45 per cent marks. He said for soldier general duty the candidates should have passed Class XII examinations in science with physics, chemistry, math/biology and English with minimum 50 per cent marks in aggregate and also have secured minimum 40 per cent marks in each subject specified for the trade for soldier technical and candidates should have passed Class XII examinations from any stream (arts, commerce, science with English) with minimum 50 per cent marks in aggregate and also have secured minimum 40 per cent marks in each subject for soldier clerk.


Musical evening for senior citizens
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
Inmates of the Red Cross Senior Citizens’ Home, Sarabha Nagar, had a pleasant evening yesterday, for a change, listening to melodies of yesteryears. An evening programme ‘Suhani raat dhal chuki’ was organised by members of the Asian Club International.

The club found a novel way to help the senior citizens overcome their boredom and loneliness. In collaboration with the Harmony Club and Asian Advertising Company, the club organised a musical evening of old songs at the senior citizens’ home yesterday. Mr D.K. Sachdeva, art director of the club, said, “We had organised a similar programme earlier on January 26.”

The programme was organised for about 50 senior citizens, who were entertained with old film songs. Mr Lalit Bhatia, ADGP, Vigilance, was the chief guest. The programme was inaugurated by Mr Kamal Kishore Goyal and presided over by Dr Inderjit Kaur Gill Vashisht, Principal, Government College for Women and Dr S.K. Vashisth, Principal, Government College, Malerkotla.


Don’t mix politics with bravery

THE government took a decision in the second week of March that a national war memorial would be set up along Central Vista, New Delhi, to commemorate those gallant soldiers who laid down their lives for the country after Independence in 1947. No doubt, this decision, though much belated, is a welcome one. But what is galling for a soldier is that the government gives political colour even to his bravery.

What a fair-minded politician and his decision-making bureaucrat in the national Capital should not forget is that bravery is bravery, whether it was exhibited in the two World Wars or in our wars after India became independent.

Sadly, an unfair differentiation is not only being made in the pre and post-Independence wars, but even between the Kargil and other wars that the country fought after 1947. In fact, the idea of establishing a national war memorial in New Delhi took birth in the political mind only after the Kargil War.

The government would do well to include the names of the heroes of all wars in the role of honour of the National War Memorial, irrespective of any other considerations so that the high traditions of our Army are upheld

Scholarship for Army schools

The Army Headquarters, New Delhi, has appreciated the initiative of Coca Cola India (CCI) for launching a scholarship programme for senior students in Army schools all over the country. According to this programme, 500 students from Classes X, XI and XII will be given a yearly scholarship of Rs 5,000 each for tuition fee, uniform, books and stationery, etc.

The deserving students will be selected on the basis of “means and merit” by the Adjutant General’s Branch at the Army Headquarters. The schoolchildren of officers, JCOs and other ranks of the regular Army will get this scholarship in the ratio of 15 per cent, 25 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively. Initially the programme is being started from the academic year 2003-04 for a period of three years.

There are 116 Army schools in the country with a total number of students around 1.25 lakh. The standard of education in these schools is considered to be among the best in the country.

14 new schools

The Board of Governors of the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES), at its 23rd annual meeting, chaired by Lt-Gen A. Natarajan, Adjutant General, Army Headquarters, New Delhi, has decided that 14 more schools and two more vocational colleges will be started this year. At present, the AWES is running 116 Army schools and seven vocational institutions for the children of the Army personnel all over the country.

These institutions are for the disciplines such as engineering, MBA, MCA, hotel management and catering technology, law, dental sciences and B.Ed. There are about 2,000 students undergoing training in the AWES vocational institutions at present. The wards of the serving and retired Army personnel were at a great loss with regards to the professional studies before these institutions were started for them.

Information for patients

If a patient is prescribed medicine for 10 days and he recovers from the disease, for which it was prescribed, in seven days, he should not discard three days’ medicine saved by him. All the medicines not required by the patients should be dropped in the box that is specially placed for this purpose near the reception counter at the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir, so that the hospital can keep these medicines for other patients.

In the past, if a patient was prescribed some liquid medicines like cough syrup, he had to produce a bottle for it, which he often did not carry to the hospital. He had either to go without the liquid or procure a bottle from somewhere. To overcome this difficulty, the Command Hospital has started keeping empty bottles for the patients for this purpose.

Pritam Bhullar


Animal welfare camps
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
An animal welfare camp was inaugurated by Dr Kamal Sharma, Senior Veterinary Officer, Jagraon, at Aligarh village. According to Dr Paramjeet Singh, Veterinary Officer, it was sixth such camp at Jagraon sub-division during the year 2002-03 by the Animal Husbandry Department.

The camp was held in association with Canara Bank. Around 150 animals were treated and free medicines were distributed among the owners.

A seminar to educate the farmers was also held. Dr Kamal Sharma advised the farmers to get their animals timely vaccinated. He also gave them tips for increasing milk production. Dr Paramjeet Singh talked about the impact of the WTO on dairy production.

Mr Sudarshan, Manager, Canara Bank, and Mr R.P. Singh, Field Officer, briefed the farmers about different schemes of the bank.

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