Monday, May 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


2 hurt, house damaged in LPG cylinder blast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
Two persons of a family were injured and a double-storeyed house was damaged when an LPG cylinder exploded in a house at street No. 1 in Preet Nagar early today. The blast was so powerful that the walls of a number of adjoining houses developed cracks.

It, however, remains a mystery how did the cylinder explode at about 4 a.m. when no one was working in the kitchen. There was also no evidence of any electric spark or fire in the kitchen before this.

The blast took place in the house of Mr Sarain Singh (65), a trader in tractor spare parts. His son Parwinder Singh (40), and grand-daughter, Prabhjit Kaur (18), suffered injuries on the head and other parts of the body. Parwinder Singh, his wife and two daughters were sleeping in the two rooms that bore the brunt of the blast.

The blast was so powerful that huge cracks developed in several adjoining houses of the colony. At a couple of such houses, walls had to be provided with support. It seems some of these structures will have to be demolished and constructed afresh.

The debris of the house was seen scattered on the road. Most of the belongings of the victim’s family were also seen splattered all around.

Mr Sarain Singh said they did not know how the blast took place. A loud noise woke them from sleep and he found debris strewn all around him. Half of the room in which he was sleeping had fallen and the entire portion of the remaining house had been gutted. He said he and other family members helped each other in removing the debris and rescuing the trapped ones.

Panic gripped the area as soon as the loud explosion occurred. People ran out of their houses fearing that some bomb blast had taken place or some plane had crashed in the residential area.

The police from Division No. 2 police station and a Fire Brigade team rushed to the area. They helped in the rescue operation. Police sources said they did not see any reason for the registration of a case.



Labourers freed from bondage
Tell a tale of exploitation
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 4
The Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan, an NGO based in Phillaur, claims to have freed three bonded labourers from the yoke of bondage. They share a similar tale of exploitation by their employers for a small sum of money which they borrowed from them and hence forced to work in bondage when they could not repay the debt.

Mangal Singh, one of the freed labourers, narrated his harrowing tale to Ludhiana Tribune. He got courage to face the press as he was accompanied by Mr Jai Singh, president of the NGO.

Mangal Singh said he and his wife Sukhminder Kaur of Talwandi Village worked as bonded labourers at the farm of Surjit Singh Gholiyawala. Their fault was they had borrowed a sum of Rs 10,000 from Surjit Singh for buying a house built by the government. After working for five years without wages, Surjit Singh pressurised them to return his Rs 10,000. Seeing no other way out , they had to do 'distress selling ' of their house which fetched them only Rs 5000 which they returned to Surjit Singh. But the man was not satisfied and demanded balance of Rs 5000.When they expressed their inability to return the sum, Surjit Singh got the husband, Mangal Singh, arrested by the police in Zira by Major Singh, SHO of Zira Police Station.

The desperate wife ran away and with great difficulty reached two BSP leaders, Balkar Singh and Sewak Singh of Talwandi. They have sent her case of bondage for appraisal to Chairman of SC/ST Commissioner, Dr Vijay Sonlkar Shastri, and finally she is out of clutches by the efforts of the NGO.

The scene shifts, but the underlying story is the same. Barkat Singh, aged 45, of Dastar Sahib Dumniwala village, Ferozepore borrowed Rs 5000 from Chindha Singh, his employer. He had borrowed the money for his daughter's marriage. After toiling for three years in his farms, Chindha never left him in peace. He heaped insults on him as he belonged to the SC. Unable to bear insults, he ran away. But fate had worse things in store for him. Barkat Singh’s complaint went to Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan in Phillaur and he sent a complaint of ill-treatment to DC, Ferozepore, too. In retaliation, Chinda forcibly took away his young son, Sucha Singh, aged 12 years He shackled him in iron chains and freed him only when he wanted him to work.

Barkat Singh could not tolerate this and surrendered himself to Chinda Singh owns a cycle stand in Ferozepore cantonment. He chained Barkat Singh and made him cut receipts for the cycles. Finally, he sent a writ petition to the High Court and it directed him to contact SSP, Ferozepore on April 28. His complaint was taken up by SC/ST Commission and he was also freed by the NGO at Phillaur.

Chotta Singh of Basat village had borrowed a sum of Rs 30,000 from his landlord, Gurchez Singh for a period of two years. He and his wife worked for three years at a daily wage of Rs 30 per day. In case of absence from work, a sum of Rs 200 was deducted. According to Gurchez's calculations after working for three years, Chotta Singh owed him Rs 51,000. He forced the couple to work or return the money. The couple protested. He ran away from such a demonic employer.

Karnail Singh, Head Constable, Sadar Police Station, Patiala came with 7 persons and threw their household goods out and filled the entire house with straw. He misbehaved with the wife and tore away her clothes. She also has been finally freed by the efforts of SC/ST Commission and the NGO.



Farmers’ killing: cops accused of partisan role
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The role of the police in the killing of two farmers in a clash over the ownership rights of crop at Haldiwal village under Koom Kalan police station a few days ago has come under criticism with the family of a farmer alleging that the police was not registering a case against the rival party.

In an affidavit, Ms Karamjit Kaur, daughter-in-law of Puran Singh, who died on the spot, and sister-in-law of Mr Paramjit Singh, who received injuries in the clash, accused the police of partisanship on the plea that while it had booked her family members, no action was taken against the rival group.

She said her father-in-law and another farmer of the rival group, Gurmukh Singh, had died on the spot but the police had registered case against her family only, adding her brother-in-law, Mr Paramjit Singh, was also injured in the clash and was an eyewitness to what had happened on the spot. But the police had not recorded his statement.

Police investigation had, however, found that the group headed by Puran Singh was allegedly responsible for the clash.

The two groups of farmers — one led by Gurmukh Singh and the other by Puran Singh — had clashed over the ownership of wheat crop standing in a few acres of land at Haldiwal village situated on the bank of the Sutlej under Koom Kalan police station. Both Gurmukh Singh and Puran Singh were killed in the clash.

A case against Puran Singh, Gurjit Singh, Paramjit Singh and Charanjit Singh had been registered at Koom Kalan police station.

While Ms Karamjit Kaur has, in her affidavit, claimed that the farmers of the opposite group had actually attacked Puran Singh’s family, the police claimed that Puran Singh and his supporters had attacked the other group.



Police beat boxes remain a distant dream
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
More than six months after the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had announced setting up of about 300 beat boxes all over the city to assist the beat officers of the Police Department, the plan still exists on paper only.

The city police and the local municipal corporation were supposed to work together to complete the project as per the direction of the Chief Minister made at a function in the Police Lines here in October. Both the departments, however, accuse each other for the inordinate delay of the project that would have brought policing at the doorstep of the residents.

But due to the delay, the residents of a beat area have to go to the police station to contact the particular beat officer. Whereas, if the beat box was constructed as per the plan in the beat area, the accessibility of the beat officer would have been just at an arm’s length.

Ludhiana Tribune investigations have revealed that not even the architectural plan of the beat boxes has been prepared so far. The Police Department sources said the MC had been entrusted the duty of the construction of the boxes but the MC said they were awaiting the plan, which was to be submitted by the Police Department.

Non-availability of space for the construction of the boxes at several places is being tipped as the second factor for the delay of the project. The Police Department said the MC had been directed by the Chief Minister to make all arrangements. But the MC said it was helpless in several areas.

Capt Aamrinder Singh had directed the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to give Rs 50 lakh to the Police Department for construction of beat boxes. He had also directed the MC chief, Mr S.K. Sharma, to provide land for the purpose to the Police Department.

However, the plan witnessed first change when the MC aired its inability to give money because of shortage of funds. After much deliberations, the MC agreed but said it would construct the boxes and give it to the Police Department. Expressing his views on the issue, MC Commisioner S.K. Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that they had proposed this as the MC was in the job of constructions and instead of giving money, they can construct the boxes and gift them to the Police Department.

Mr Arunpal Singh, SP (Headquarters), said the MC had taken the responsibility of constructing the boxes. He said several architectural plans of the beat boxes had been discussed but none has been approved so far by the MC.



Death of Balwant Gargi condoled
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
A meeting of Rangmanch Sansthan, Ludhiana, was held at Punjabi Bhavan last evening. A large number of theatre workers assembled there to pay tributes to Balwant Gargi.

Speaking on the occasion, the Sansthan President, Dr S.N. Sewak, pointed out that Balwant Gargi had brought glory to Punjabi drama at the national and international levels. He was an eminent Punjabi playwright, an accomplished theatre director and a great exponent of Indian theatre. With his profound knowledge of Western and Indian drama, he brought recognition to Punjabi drama in India and abroad. He produced his “Kanak di Balli” and “The Mango Tree” in the UK and “Dhooni di Ag” as “The Dark Ritual” in the USA.

Besides a number of original Punjabi plays, he produced the adaptations of many Western plays in Punjabi. His “Balde Tibbe”, an adaptation of O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms”, was a unique experiment in Punjabi theatre. Mr Kulwant Jagaron highlighted the contribution of Balwant Gargi to Punjabi prose, fiction, and drama. He could write with the same ease in Punjabi and English and was a fearless writer who dealt with basic human passions. Mr Vipan Sharma recalled his production of “Balde Tibbe” and offered to do it in Ludhiana in the coming months.

Mr Trilochan Panesar called for the establishment of Balwant Gargi ChaIr in one of the universities of Punjab. Mr Swapan Channa, Mr Manish Bassi, Mr Parshotam Lal, and many other theatre enthusiastics paid rich tributes to Balwant Gargi. Miss Nirmal Rishi, a well-known theatre artiste of Ludhiana, was made senior vice-president of the Sansthan. The members observed a two-minute silence in memory of Balwant Gargi.



Plea to observe ‘legal day’ on May 6
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
The legal cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPSC) has demanded that Pt Motilal Nehru’s birth anniversary should be celebrated as “legal day” across the country.

Addressing a press conference here today, the chairman of PPCC legal cell, Mr S.K. Pipat, and Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, MP, regretted that only the Congress celebrated the birth anniversary of Pt Nehru though he was a national leader.

Mr Pipat informed that on the birth anniversary of Pt Nehru, a state-level lawyers’ conference would be organised on May 6. He said it would be attended by former Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, who is also the Chairman of the All-India Congress Legal Cell and Mr H.S. Hanspal, the PPCC president.



Parshuram Jayanti celebrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
Bhagwan Parshuram Jayanti was celebrated at Nauria Mal Jain School today by the district Bhagwan Parshuram Sabha. The chief guest was Mr Rakesh Pandey, Printing and Stationery Minister, Punjab.

Dr Shanti Swaroop Sharma, president of the Brahmin Sabha, Punjab, attended the function. Dr Krishan Sharma, president of the local Brahmin Sabha, said the presidents of different districts were honoured on the occasion.

Fatehgarh Sahib: Bhagwan Parshuram Jayanti was celebrated in the district. A function was organised by the Brahmin Sabha, Sirhind, at Vishal Karma Bhavan today. A sobha yatra was held by the sabha and the bhog of the Ramayana was performed followed by havan.

Addressing the function, Mr R.N. Sharma, president of the sabha, called upon the people to follow the teachings of our great Gurus. 



Cop caught with 2 kg opium
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The Jagraon police says that it has arrested a Head Constable posted at Ludhiana on the charge of smuggling opium in Sidhwan Bet here today.

Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, Senior Superintendent of Police at Jagraon, said here today that Head Constable Kuldip Singh had been caught carrying about 2 kg of opium near Jandi bridge. The SHO Sadar, Mr Arvind Puri, had laid a trap for him.


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