Wednesday, May 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Children booked ‘for playing in park’
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Parents beware! Playing in a public park can land your children at police station, if a case registered against four teenagers at the behest of the Sarabha Nagar Municipal Councillor late last night is any indication. The policemen, reportedly under pressure of the councillor, booked the youngsters for trespassing, making obscene gestures, causing hurt, manhandling, threatening and abusing. Inquiries revealed that all of them enjoyed a clean reputation in their localities and schools.

The Municipal Councillor, Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, allegedly did not like children playing volleyball in the park located opposite her house in J-block of Sarabha Nagar. The children had reportedly been warned of dire consequences if they persisted in playing in the park. However, most of the residents of the locality had no objections to children playing in the park.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune outside Sarabha Nagar police station late last night, the shocked parents said they could not believe that the police had actually registered a case. The four children, two of them studying in Class X and two in XII, were allegedly beaten up by the Rampals before being handed over to the police. The children were detained for four hours before being handed over to their parents. They were released following the intervention of a SP level officer, who reportedly pulled up the cops for acting on a “frivolous” complaint.

The dazed teenagers said that they had gone to request the councillor to allow them to play since this was the nearest park for them. The request was turned down and the couple reportedly abused them and said they would put an end to this “daily nuisance”. They allegedly took them inside the house and started slapping them while one of them called the cops.

Alarmed by their shrieks for help, neighbours rushed in to inquire what was going on. One of the neighbours said they were surprised that the issue had been blown out of proportion and that the police had been called in. The couple could have informed the children’s parents to sort out the matter.

Mr B.K.Rampal, the councillor’s husband, said the children were mischievous and were causing disturbance to colony residents. He said the boys were hooligans and played in the park till midnight, causing nuisance. Denying that he had exerted any pressure on the police, Mr Rampal said he had requested the children to play elsewhere several times, but to no avail. He said he had to take legal course when the youngsters attacked his house.

Tension gripped the area because of the dispute last night. Anxious parents of the detained children camped till 2 a.m. in front of Sarabha Nagar police, demanding the release of their wards. It was only after the intervention of the senior officers that the children were released.



City parks soft targets for grabbers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 6
The row between residents and a councillor over the use of a park in block J of the Sarabha nagar locality in the city, which took an ugly turn last night, is not a solitary example of misuse of the parks and green belts but a manifestation of a deep rooted malaise, which is the direct result of persistent neglect of city parks by the civic administration.

With land prices touching a new high in the industrial hub of the state, more than 500 municipal parks in different localities and stretches of green belts in newly developed colonies have become soft targets for unscrupulous elements, who are always on the look out to occupy vacant pieces of land or even parks and green belts where there was least resistance.

The task of encroaching upon parks and green belts has become still easier in the city with more than 100 park management committees (PMCs) going defunct and the Municipal Corporation literally washing its hands off the responsibility of maintaining parks. A few of the citizens concerned, who dare to raise a voice of protest against encroachments over the public parks and common facilities, created for the area residents, are silenced by the unlawful occupants through coercion and intimidation.

Many of the affected residents in colonies, where parks or green belts were being misused for various commercial or other purposes complained that the offenders enjoyed proximity to the political functionaries and often, those, who objected to their unlawful activities, were threatened with dire consequences, if they did not keep their mouths shut.

In the case of the park in Sarabha Nagar, the residents and the councillor, Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal are at loggerheads over the right to the use of park. While the residents maintain that their children had every right to play games in the park, adjoining a government school and being used as a playground by the school children for the past many years, the councillor does not seem to agree with them. She alleged that outsiders and even anti-social elements frequented the park and created nuisance. However, in view of the fact that she, too, is guilty of “misusing” of the park by stacking building material for her house there, the allegations do not hold much water.

One of the boys, who has been playing volleyball in the park for more than a year, said the boys had been playing there in the evening with the permission of the school authorities. “The councillor is trying to retain exclusive use of the park and her charges against the boys are unprovoked and motivated,” he said.

While the incident of encroachment on the Sarabha Nagar park came into limelight only because the neighbour had come out in the open against the intimidating tactics of the councillor and the police action against the boys. There are hundreds of other parks in the city, where the situation is much the same.



Amritsar police books Ludhiana cop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The Amritsar police has booked a Head Constable of the Ludhiana police, posted with Kotwali police station here, on the charges of involvement in an immigration racket in which several residents of Amritsar had been duped of lakhs of rupees.

Head Constable Ajit Singh was picked up by a team of CIA staff, Amritsar, on April 28 in a raid at the Kotwali police station here. The police had caught him after quite a struggle, including chasing him in a crowded market. The cop had jumped from the first floor of the police station in order to escape, but was eventually caught.

Mr Narinderpal Singh, SSP, Amritsar, confirmed that he was a member of a gang of nine persons, belonging to different parts of the state, who were involved in an immigration racket. They had duped several youths and amassed lakhs of rupees. They promised the youths an easy immigration to Canada and also assured them a lucrative career.

A case was registered against the nine members of the alleged gang on April 8 last year on the complaint of seven residents of Amritsar. Ajit Singh is being accused of helping the gang members whenever they were in some trouble with the Police Department. He also helped some of the gang members in escaping arrest in the past.

Mr Narinderpal Singh said the role of the cop was significant in the racket and further investigations were on to ascertain how wide the racket was. Mr Makhan Singh, SP (Detective), Amritsar, was heading the investigation.

The accused arrested in the case, registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC, were Kartar Singh, Rupinder Kaur Bawa, Harbans Kaur, Manjit Kaur, Balwinder Singh, Piara Singh, Raman, Roopinder Kaur and Ajit Singh.

The police was suspecting that they might have duped several other persons across the state. Sources said the details of the gang had been dispatched to all police districts so that any complaint registered against them could be taken up.



PSEB staff strike hits power services
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Services in the district were affected on day one of the two-day strike by Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees. The agitators are up in arms against privatising the board by the state government and implementing the recommendations of the Haldia committee.

Hundreds of employees boycotted work from midnight affecting power services in the district. All bill collection centres, consumer complaint centres and other public dealing offices remained closed. The employees staged dharnas in front of their respective offices and raised anti -government slogans demanding initiation of measures to bring the board out of the red.

The workers underlined the fact that privatisation of state electricity boards in other states had failed. The need of the hour was to pump in more resources to improve the functioning of the board and not shut it. Rallies were held at various places in the city and elsewhere in the district.

The workers were demanding an inquiry into all the large-scale purchases made during the past decade so that the officers, who allegedly placed orders for equipment at exorbitant rates, could be punished and the money recovered from them. They also stressed that the state government should initiate measures to bring the board out of the red.

The employees said the government had been blaming free power to the agriculture sector for the losses suffered by the board but this has been exposed by the over 95 per cent bill realisation from farmers by the board. Another reason was the low tariff which too had been hiked recently. Then what was ailing the board ?, he questioned.

The protesters alleged that the wrong policies and purchases made by the top brass over the years were alone responsible for the mess the board finds itself in.

AHMEDGARH: Employees of all local offices of the PSEB observed a strike on Tuesday to protest against the government’s move to privatise the board. Work was suspended at local administrative office, complaint office and 66 kv grid substation of the PSEB. A rally was held in front of the main office.

Addressing the protesters, leaders of various union claimed that power tariff had gone up in the states in which the boards had been privatised.

Samrala: On a call given by the Punjab State Electricity Board Struggle Committee, the PSEB employees observed a full-day strike here today. The employees held a big rally in front of the local complaint office which was led by the committee head, Mr Jaswant Singh. The circle president, Mr Sikander Singh, the divisional secretary of the body, Mr Sangat Singh; and Cashier Mr Amrik Singh Mushkabad, also participated.

According to the leaders of the PSEB employees, the strike in the circle was near total. Due to the strike, the cash counter remained closed and the persons who had come there to deposit bills faced inconvenience.



Gesture of medics saves boy’s eye
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
It was a difficult moment for Nachhattar Singh, a poor labourer of Pipli village in Mansa district, when he came to know that his only child, 13-year-old Makhan Singh, was likely to lose his eyesight due to a big tumour in the nose that was pressing the nerves of the eyes. The tumour occupying half the eye region had pushed the eyes outward. Makhan Singh had a blurred vision, which was increasing, and the tumour used to bleed often through the nose.

The child was referred to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital for a specialised rare surgical procedure, but, due to financial constraints, Nachhatar Singh was hesitant in taking his son for surgery, in spite of knowing what he may lose.

Medical students, interns and postgraduates of the ENT Department of the DMCH set an example by voluntarily contributing Rs 17,000 from their pockets for the surgery and medicines. Kapil Dua, senior resident ENT, and Rupinderjit Kaur Klair, intern, motivated their fellow colleagues and MBBS students to come forward for this cause.

The surgery was successfully performed by Dr Manish Munjal, Reader in the Department of the ENT, and anaesthesia was given by Dr Anju Grewal. The huge tumour was removed endoscopically from the optic nerve area, which preserved the vision of the patient with minimal blood loss.

In a letter to the institution, Nachhatar Singh thanked the medical students for coming to his assistance and saving the eyesight of his only child. Dr S.C. Ahuja, Principal of the DMCH, has appreciated the initiative taken by the medical students. The child is fit and has been discharged from the hospital.




PERIOD ending March is a tough time for most salaried people who have to meet their tax liability. The Income Tax Department in the city has been most thoughtful and has started dispatching cheques of tax refund for the last financial year. Initially the cheques were being mailed, but keeping in mind the need for money in April and May, the department put its own men at work who are doing a commendable job. But what has surprised many is the manner in which some unscrupulous persons are blatantly asking for “baksheesh” for handing over the cheque. “After all you are getting back something that you did not expect”, is the logic.

Clever vendors

For those returning to Ludhiana from Phillaur side, heaps of watermelons lined along the road is a tempting sight. If you happen to stop for a few kilos of water melon, just do not go by mere looks or the export quality stickers stuck on the melons. These are only marketing gimmicks; the fruit vendors too are beginning to learn the trick of the business. Have a careful look or else you reach home with a melon that has a beautiful sticker on top and rotten pulp inside.

Power blues

Who says power cuts in summer affect only people sitting inside under the fan or in front of the air-conditioners? Well that may have been true of the past when an ordinary home turned into a hell with a power failure. But today things are quite different. Most houses either have a generator or an inverter. The same holds true of business establishments. Guess who is most effected by a power failure in Ludhiana? The man on the road. All traffic lights go dead and its free for all. Despite trying his best, the constable on duty is almost helpless in this situation given the temperature from direct sunlight. Perhaps the Punjab Energy Development Authorities (PEDA) can help?

Cellphone tariff

Cellphones, which were once flaunted openly have now been confined to the pockets with the owners taking them out to see whether they had missed a call. Call it a reflex action but after a couple of years of actively using the phone, they now feel restless if they don’t receive a call after every few minutes. This flashy commodity has suddenly been turned useless, thanks to the steep hike in inter-connectivity fares. The worst hit are the love-birds, who had specially bought cellphones to keep in touch with their beloved. Sentinel witnessed a girl calling her boy-friend from a PCO on his mobile. When she finished the call, meter showed a bill of Rs 32. Shocked at the bill, the girl started accusing the PCO owner of overcharging only to be politely informed that the calls had gone costlier. Disappointed, the girl left the PCO saying that each and every force was working against her ‘‘friendship’’ be it society or the Telecom Department.

‘Press’ misusers

In Ludhiana it has become a very common sight to witness various vehicles with ‘‘Press’’ scribbled on them in bold letters. Most of these vehicles do not belong to the mediapersons and the name is misused by certain people who want the traffic police to spare them on the road. One such person had painted the five letter word, representing the Fourth Estate bigger than the registration number. (see pic)

Good idea

IGNOU has come with a novel idea to lure students and others keen to study. It has put up a colourful stall opposite the Khalsa College for Women. On display are number of latest courses offered by IGNOU. Representatives of Indira Gandhi National Open University are explaining patiently the required qualifications of the courses to be taken. The stall is attracting a lot of students as the students after their examinations have to make choices which courses to opt for in future.




SSF dharna against casinos
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Activists of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today in protest against the decision of the government to start casinos in Punjab.

Carrying posters and banners, the protesters raised slogans against the decision which would encourage people to gamble away their hard earned money. This would also rip the social fabric of society as more and more households would be ruined.

Addressing the agitators, Mr G.S. Grewal, the unit chief said on the one hand the government was urging the youngsters to shun drugs and intoxicants, but on the other hand it had drawn an elaborate policy to open casinos in the state which would encourage youngsters to gamble. He said the government’s contention that such a move would attract tourists besides earning valuable revenue was erroneous.

Other leaders recalled the glorious traditions of the Congress during the freedom struggle and said it was ironical that a party which had been committed to eradicating all social evils from society was today itself opening casinos. They said the morcha was committed to saving the youth and would oppose all such moves.

A delegation of senior party leaders later on submitted a memorandum to the Governor through the Deputy Commissioner.



Sale deed still elusive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
A senior citizen of Kitchlu Nagar has charged the Improvement Trust with delaying the execution of a sale deed in her favour in spite of repeated requests.
Ms Krishna Katyal, who has not been keeping good health for the past many years, told reporters here today that Flat 266-G under the Improvement Trust Scheme had been transferred to her in April 2002, after which, she had applied for the registration of the sale deed (on April 25, 2002, vide receipt No 844). She said, in spite of various reminders to the trust, the sale deed had not been executed till date.

Her husband, who retired from Punjab Agricultural University here, had been moving from pillar to post to obtain the registration, but to no avail.

Ms Katyal also said her husband had even deposited a Rs 18,000 computation penalty for adding a bathroom as per a resolution passed by the Trust.

She had explained her case to Ms Mukesh Puri, a vigilance official, who had assured her of help, but nothing had been done, so far.



A ‘garden’ colony only in name
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, May 6
Visit Jugiana, a village situated 3 km from Sahnewal town towards Ludhiana, and you will find that nothing can be more hellish than this “neglected” village. Designated as a garden colony, it is filled with filth and squalor.

With the extension of octroi limits, the village which was earlier under a panchayat is now under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation of Ludhiana. In order to increase its income, the corporation has been taxing villagers but till date they haven’t got a single facility which the corporation is supposed to provide in lieu of the taxes. Even the basic requirements like cleanliness and potable water is missing here.

The villagers say, “the situation is so grim that for the past two months not even a single sweeper has entered the village as a result of which the centrally situated pond has been filled to the brim with foul smelling waste material.” About 20 to 25 sweepers had been employed at the place but none of them had bothered to sweep the village for days together and the municipal corporation seemed to be least concerned, they added.

The danger of an epidemic haunts the villagers. To make matters worse, 80 per cent of the village is inhabited by migrant labourers who are careless about health and hygiene. The overuse of plastic bags and their unchecked disposal has blocked passages, resulting in sewage all around.

According to a villager, “No higher official has visited the place and we are at the mercy of fate.” A angry villager asked, “what are we getting in return for taxes? Polluted foul-smelling water on our doorsteps, with no outlet from the village pond which has outlived its capacity to absorb any more waste.”

The acute shortage of drinking water has also become a matter of concern. As the municipal corporation has failed to provide water to this village, the villagers have to depend on the water supply coming from Nandpur village which sometimes fails in summer.

The release of dying textile and chemical waste by industrial units in the area have rendered even the sub-soil water unfit for consumption. People have to fetch water from distant tubewells. As the rural water supply often fails, the villagers are left with no choice but to drink contaminated water.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bulara, former MP and resident of the village, has urged the municipal authorities to do something about it.



PSIEC staff hold gate meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
A gate meeting of employees of the PSIEC posted in various offices situated in Ludhiana was held today at the Punjab Trade Centre building. This meeting was organised as part of the ongoing education campaign launched by the PSIEC staff association throughout the state against the “anti employee attitude of the management and anti-public sector policies of the Union and state government”.

They alleged that the management of the PSIEC had adopted indifferent attitude towards the genuine demands of the employees which included filling of vacant posts by promotion, regularisation of daily wage and work charge employees, release of ex-gratia for the year 2001-02 which has already been released to other PSUs and transfer of focal points to local bodies. The meeting was addressed by Mr G.S. Oberoi, chairman, Mr Dalbir Singh president, Mr Gurmail Singh, senior vice-president, Mr N. Marwari general secretary, Mr Gurbachan Singh, additional general secretary and many local leaders.

The leaders condemned the privatisation policy of the government which was being pursued on the directions of the IMF and the World Bank and declared to participated in the nationwide strike to be held on May 21.



‘Make Amritsar no-tobacco city’

Ludhiana, May 6
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, National President, Akali Dal (Amritsar), said here today that his party would soon commence free rural mobile medical care units. Launched at Raikot, such units would gradually reach every doorstep of every village of his constituency.

Speaking at Raikot, 20 km from Jagraon, Mr Mann said Sikhs had always supported Hindus in seeking a ban on cow slaughter. It was banned in Hardwar, Kurukshetra and other Hindu holy cities. He urged the Union Government to ban tobacco use as it was against the religious sentiments of the Sikhs. The sale of tobacco products should be strictly prohibited within 100 metres of any gurdwara. He also demanded to declare the holy city of Amritsar as “no tobaco-city” immediately. Mr Mann said his party would continue its endeavour against addiction and other social evils. He urged the government to set up more de-addiction centres in Punjab. OC



Govt “committed to Dalits’ welfare”
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 6
The Punjab Minister for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey has reiterated the commitment of the Congress government in Punjab to the welfare of the weaker sections and Dalits. Addressing a function after laying the foundation stone of a hall in Sri Guru Ravi Dass Dharamshala at Basti Jodhewal here, he claimed that the government had initiated various measures to provide better facilities in the fields of health and education to the poor.

Mr Pandey said the development of under-developed colonies in the city would be taken up on a priority basis and the residents in these areas would be provided civic amenities.

Earlier, functionaries of the managing committee of Sri Guru Ravi Das Dharamshala, including Mr Sohan Lal, Mr Zoravar Singh Johl, Mr Pritam Chand, Mr Banarsi Das, Mr Amrik Chand and Mr Paramjit, welcomed the minister.

Mr Pandey announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh from his discretionary fund for the construction work at the dharamshala and assured of further financial assistance in future.



Process to recruit panchayat secys begins
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The process to recruit panchayat secretaries to fill 67 vacant posts in the district has been started according to Deputy Commissioner Anurag Agarwal.
Giving details, he said the minimum qualification for these posts would be matric and the selected candidates would be paid a fixed amount of Rs 3,000 a month. He informed that the desirous candidates could submit applications along with the copies of the supporting documents in the office of Deputy Commissioner or the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) up to May 9.

He called upon the desirous eligible candidates to submit their applications complete in all respect for these posts before May 9.



Congmen object to MP’s remarks

Ludhiana, May 6
Local Congressmen have taken exception to BJP MP Lala Lajpat Rai’s allegations regarding the starting of LL.B course at Panjab University’s Regional Centre in Ludhiana.

Mr Rai had claimed that he had provided a grant for starting the course from his fund and Mr Johar had not initiated the move on the course. TNS



Pooni honoured

Ludhiana, May 6
Punjabi poet and a former Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Amrik Singh Pooni, was honoured with a fellowship worth Rs 21,000 by the Punjabi Sahit Akademi.

Dr Surjit Singh Pattar and Mr Gurbhajan Singh Gill, president and senior vice-president of the akademi, respectively, hailed the decision to award the fellowship to him. TNS



Two held for guards’ murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The sensational double murder case of two guards at Vijay Anand Diagnostic Centre was allegedly the handiwork of a relative of another guard and a son of a priest of a nearby Jain temple. The police had claimed that the two accused had committed the murders to hide a theft in the temple.

Both accused, Vikram Singh, alias Vicky and Rajni Kant, son of the temple priest, have been arrested. The district police has recommended awards for Mr Ravinder Bakshi, DSP and Mr Anil Joshi, SHO, Division No. 5 police station, for solving the case.


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