Tuesday, May 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Probe ordered into illegal confinement
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
The district police has ordered an inquiry into the alleged illegal confinement and ill-treatment for about 17 hours of a city resident by Sunder Nagar police post officials.

Sources said SP City-II Pritam Singh had marked the inquiry in the case to DSP Manjit Singh Dhesi on an official complaint made by the victim, Mr Sushil Kumar.

The victim has named the officials of the Sunder Nagar police post who allegedly kept him in illegal custody on Friday in order to pressurise him to present his son, Sandeep Kumar, an accused in a dowry case.

The Tribune had highlighted the plight of the victim yesterday in these columns. In his complaint to the police, Mr Sushil Kumar alleged that Sunder Nagar police officials had been harassing him for the past seven-eight months regarding the dowry case registered against his son.

He alleged that he was picked up from his house in Issa Nagar on Friday at 6:30 a.m. and released at 11:30 p.m.. He was not given any food or drinks. The police officials did not beat him but pressurised him to disclose the whereabouts of his son. He said he repeatedly stated that he had disowned his son long ago but the police officials did not listen to him.

The charges of dowry harassment against Sushil Kumar have already been found false in detailed inquiries conducted by the Matrimonial Disputes Cell, Police Lines, and DSP (Headquarters) P.S. Pawar.

He has also sent complaint letters to the state Governor, Chief Minister and Punjab State Human Rights Commission.



Fire in factory, major tragedy averted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
A fire broke out in a dyeing unit near Bhamian Kalan village late last night. Prompt measures by the Fire Brigade, however, averted a major tragedy.
Hundreds of residents fled their houses when they saw the fire in the nearby premises of M.K. Finishing Dyeing Unit at about 10.30 p.m.

It took nearly four hours for the Fire Brigade to put out the flames. The cause of the fire was not known. Fortunately the unit was closed and there were no workers inside the premises. Huge property was destroyed in the fire.



Reserved seats to be finalised by May 25
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
The process of finalising reserved seats for the posts of sarpanch and panch under a new system for the panchayat poll to be held on June 30 is likely to be completed by May 25.

The last panchayat elections were held in June 1998 during the tenure of the Shiromani Akali Dal when many villages were, reportedly, declared reserved or unreserved without following a set procedure. A large number of complaints were received by the authorities and many affected parties moved court.

Unlike earlier, the officials concerned this time are facing no pressures to reserve or de-reserve constituencies as per the political compulsions of the elected representatives and politicians.

According to sources, this time, the government does not want to invite criticism from the people and has directed the Village Development and Panchayat Department to work out a new procedure for reserving and dereserving seats in panchayats and ensure that the mandatory representation to women and Scheduled Castes was given.

At a meeting of senior officials and field staff, it was suggested that a register should be prepared in which a break down of the population (general and Scheduled Castes, men and women) would be listed in addition to the status of the village in the previous elections to know whether the seat for sarpanch was in the reserved category or not.

The sources said, as per the new procedure, the reservation of the posts of sarpanch in the districts would be done as per the total rural population and the Scheduled Caste population figures give in the 1991 Census. One-third of the seats in the reserved category would be further reserved for Scheduled Caste women candidates. In addition to this, one-third of the seats for sarpanch, including those already reserved for Scheduled Caste women, will be for women candidates.

They said the seats would be reserved in rotation and, in this context, an alphabetical system has been adopted this time. The villages in each block will be listed as per their names in the alphabetic order. First, the seats for candidates of the Scheduled Castes would be notified. Then, the seats for Scheduled Caste women will be reserved, again in the alphabetic order. The seats in the women’s (general) category would be fixed at the end and the remaining seats will be arranged in the same order.

After this, the department will also prepare a register where the panchayat seats reserved in the previous elections will be listed. The register will also list villages where panchayat seats will be reserved in the coming elections.



Protest against hike in sewerage charges
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 19
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal today criticised the Congress government in the state for its decision to jack up water-supply and sewerage charges and bring manifold increase in fee structure for higher education.

The parties organised a protest march from various points in the city to Mini Secretariat here and also submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor through the district administration. Mr Harbans Lal Sethi and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, district presidents of the BJP and the SAD, respectively, led the protest march.

The BJP and the SAD leaders said the drastic increase in civic charges was a shameful act on part of the ruling party that had come to power on the basis of its poll promise to give facilities like water supply and sewerage free of cost to the people and ensure education for all. They further said the Congress government had brought a phased annual increase in water and sewerage charges till 2008, whereas, the term of the present government was only till 2007. “Since the water charges will be based on consumption, citizens will be forced to install their own water meters and, in case of non-availability, will have to face penal action, which in turn would breed corruption.”

The memorandum said the massive hike in the fee structure for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses and a similar increase in other charges would make it difficult for the persons of lower and middle income groups to educate their children.

Demanding an immediate rollback of the increase in water and sewerage charges and fee hike for college education, the BJP and the SAD also threatened to launch a statewide stir, if the government went ahead with the implementation of its decision.



Miss India Asia-Pacific floors NIFD students
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 19
The tall and slim, winner of the Miss India Asia Pacific 2003 title, Parmita Katkar, was in the city. She is a popular model, who got inspired to participate in the Miss India Contest by her seniors in Mount Caramel College of Bangalore. Lara Dutta, Sandya and many others from that college have won several Miss India Contests over the years. Parmita will participate in the Miss Asia Pacific Contest to be held in Manila in October.

Presently, she is the brand ambassador of the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD). Parmita Katkar visited the NIFD, Ludhiana, today to launch an industry-relevant course in garment manufacturing, management and technology as well as the new admission session at the institute.

The institute was abuzz with activity, as students were getting an opportunity to interact with gorgeous Parmita Katkar. The students had a good time on the dance floor of Las Vegas discotheque with this beauty. In a perfect environment at Hotel Imperial Executive, Parmita interacted with mediapersons.

Parmita has also acted in movies like ‘Bas Yun Hi’ with Nandita Das, ‘Inteqam’ with Manoj Bajpai and Isha Kopirikar and ‘Supari’ with Uday Chopra. The star of Jazzy B’s latest music video, ‘Tera Roop’, she also has to her credit the title of Miss Perfect 10-2002.

About her future plans, she said she wanted to write a sports column, as she was a good swimmer with deep interest in sporting activities. Asked if she would anchor some sports show, she said: “Yes, I would love to, but not if it is a cricket show. Cricket is not the only game. People do a lot of effort in other games, too.”

“The course in garment manufacturing, management and technology has been designed as Ludhiana garments have to compete in international markets. Technologically, Ludhiana has made a lot of progress, but, as far as management is concerned, there is no professionalism, so, the course is needed,” said Mr Ramesh Likhi, one of the programme designers.

Mr Arvind Gupta, Director of the NIFD, introduced Parmita and thanked the guests.



New DC takes over
Tribune News Service

Anurag VermaLudhiana, May 19
Mr Anurag Verma, took over as the Deputy Commissioner, here today. He succeeded Mr Anurag Agarwal, who swapped places with Mr Verma, former Deputy Commissioner of Bhatinda.

He took the charge at around 3 p.m. and immediately left for C M C and D M C Hospitals to inquire about the wellbeing of the injured of recent Frontier Mail Train tragedy and discuss with doctors regarding the treatment being given to them.

Mr Anurag Verma belongs to 1993 batch of Indian Administrative Services. He did his B Tech in electronics from Thapar College of Engineering, Patiala. Prior to his posting as Deputy Commissioner of Bhatinda in March, 2002, he had worked on a large number of important assignments in the state.

Initially, he worked as SDM at Baba Bakala and Kapurthala. He has also served as Additional Deputy Commissioner at Ferozepore, Additional Secretary, Planning, Chandigarh, ADC(D), Amritsar, Additional Secretary, Revenue-cum-Additional Secretary, Housing, Punjab, Chandigarh, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA (Policy), Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner Punjab at Patiala.



Agarwal given farewell
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
A farewell was given to Mr Anurag Agarwal by the officers and employees of all offices in the mini-secretariat here today.

Addressing the officers and other staff members, Mr Agarwal expressed his gratitude to all of them for their cooperation in implementing the programmes and policies of the government during his stay in Ludhiana as the Deputy Commissioner.

Welcoming the new Deputy Commissioner, Mr Agarwal asked the employees and officers to extend their cooperation to him in solving the problems of the people and implementing the policies of the government.



Cong leaders hail DC's transfer
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
Transfer of the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Agarwal, has come as a shot in the arm for the local Congress leaders including some MLAs and the district presidents of urban and rural units of the party. For quite some time they had been demanding his transfer.

The local legislators had made it a prestige issue particularly after the reports started circulating that they had been ignored by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue. Of late Mr Agarwal had been quoted having said he had been given green signal to continue, much to the embarrassment of the Congress leaders.

The Congress leaders had been maintaining that the DC was relatively less accessible and would invariably ignore them. It was only on May 11, when the Chief Minister visited Ludhiana following a fire tragedy in Khud Mohalla that the local leaders once again brought to his notice the issue his transfer.

Although Mr Agarwal's brief stint of over one year as the Deputy Commissioner in Ludhiana, mostly remained uneventful with reports of his being inaccessible, he certainly enjoyed a clean image and he did not associate or identify with any individual or institution here.

However, the issue of the removal of the general secretary of the Satluj Club and some allegations by a local businessman that he was being harassed by the DC at the behest of the latter's relatives was the only controversy the DC was linked to. In the latter case (the alleged harassment of a businessman), Mr Agarwal is facing an inquiry by the Punjab Human Rights Commission.

Ludhiana considered to be the financial and political capital of the state always remains a prestigious posting, particularly when it come to occupy the top most job in the district.

The only consolation for Mr Agarwal remains that he will continue to remain as the DC, albeit of a smaller and less significant district, Bathinda. 



125 cr to be spent on roads’ upgradation
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 19
The financial condition of Punjab farmers has been deteriorating to the extent that farmers especially in Mansa and Bathinda districts have committed suicides, said Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister of Sttae for Public Health yesterday.

Mr Randhawa was addressing a function after bhog of akhand path at the house of Karam Singh at Bhambri village, 3 km from here, started. The government had stated various schemes for the uplift of farmers which included diversification of crops and contract farming which would fetch more earnings and guaranteed marketing.

The Punjab Government had adopted 2003-2004 as development year. Special attention would be paid to provide potable water in the villages, payment of old-age pensions and improvement in the infrastructure of schools. The Congress would win the panchayat election in June due to the pro-people policies of the state government, the minister maintained.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP from Ropar, said the effort for unity among Akali Dals was a futile exercise which would not affect the election results. The Congress would win the assembly elections in all four states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Delhi, he said.

The MP said he had distributed between Rs 60 lakh and Rs 65 lakh out of his Local Area Development Fund (LAD) in each of the nine assembly constituencies which fell in the Ropar parliamentary constituency. In this development year the state government would spend Rs 125 crore to strengthen the roads. The government had, brought in a revolutionary change in the existing educational system. Special attention had been paid for the involvement of rural people in village education, by forming development committees and formation of elementary schools, he asserted. 



Changing trends at weddings
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 19
Melodious sounds of bells of temple, conch shells and chanting of Vedic mantras greet the guests at the weddings in the city. People get bored with the songs that were played at the arrival of the bridegroom like ‘Baharon phul barsaon, mera mehboob aaya hai’, etc.

This trend of playing traditional music started in Delhi a couple of months ago. Somebody hit a jackpot when he released CD having sounds of temple bells, conch shells and mantras in most melodious voices that would usher change as well as lend sanctity to the wedding. A nine-track CD called ‘wedding mantras’ have specific mantras. There is a special mantra when the bride enters the wedding ‘pandal’. Another one when the couple exchange ‘jaimala’ and the best is reserved when the bride and the groom sit under the ‘mandap’ for the ‘pheras’.

Even the pandals are done up in traditional rich fabrics like gold and silver tissues , brocades, sacred red thread called ‘mauli’ and bunches of exotic flowers like orchids of vivid colours specially flown from Bangalore.

‘Chants of India’ by Ravishankar with mesmerising playing of sitar by the maestro and vocals are also very much played at the ‘havans’, ‘shaguns’ to give a ‘temple ‘ kind of ambiance to the marriage hall.

Special singers who sing ‘bhadai sings’ are specially invited from Delhi. The ‘mantra’ is go back to our roots. They are bringing back the songs that were passed from one generation to the next by the word of mouth.

Another thing making a come back is convential departure of the bride in ‘palaki’or ‘doli’. So far one has seen brides leaving in ‘dolis’ in the movies but now the brides instead of going by richly decorated Mercs prefer to go in ‘palkis’ decorated with ‘phulkaris’.



Casablanca blast condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
The local unit of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front has condemned the terrorist incident in Casablanca, Morocco’s economic centre, in which about 40 people lost their lives.

Mr Yogesh Dewan, general secretary of the front, said terrorists were enemies of humanity and were hell-bent on creating terror among people belonging to non-Islamic states. This is the worst type of crisis being faced by the world community.

He said the United States, which had assumed the duty of countering terrorism throughout the world, was busy in satisfying its expansionist desires by attacking countries like Iraq, whereas it has made Pakistan its partner in fight against terrorism, little realising that the country was mother of all terrorist activities. Pakistan was using terrorism as a state policy to grab Kashmir and establish its supremacy among Islamic countries.

The USA should awake from its slumber and realise that terrorism in India, Russia, Israel, and other parts of world was no different from terrorism in the US every time there was loss of humanity. But it doesn’t seem that the USA would give up its agenda in the interest of global community.

He said at this stage the Indian leadership should make wholehearted efforts to unite countries like France, Russia, Israel, U.K, Japan, and Germany on the issue. In the case of Kashmir, India should deal determinedly with Pakistan and if need arises should take the battle into Pakistan’s territory.



Street vendors hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 19
At a massive public meeting, street vendors were addressed by their national and city leaders in the Field Ganj here two days ago. “Can one imagine a city in India without vendors selling fruits and vegetables on streets? Have the vendors ever told the government to generate employment for them?” The coordinator of NASVI north India, Mr Vighnesh Jha, said at the gathering.

The Delhi coordinators for Sewa-Bharat (an Ahmedabad-based organisation which is among the oldest and most powerful organisations in India run on the Gandhian philosophy) has put pressure on the government to preserve the Constitutional and legal rights of self-employed persons of the unorganised sector and ensure participation of women at a mass level.

A public meeting under a ‘Jagriti Abhiyan’ was organised by the Rehri-phari Union of Punjab and other sister union’s of Ludhiana and its outskirts under the leadership of Mr Bal Krishna ‘Pappy’.

Major speakers were Mr Gokul Parasad of the Lucknow Vendors Union, Mr Suresh Kori and Mr Nizamuddin Khan of the Ghaziabad (UP) Vendors Union and Mr Sanjay Kumar from Patna.

In his address Mr Jha told participants that the “vendors movement” had started since the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Sodan Singh (a vendor) vs the New Delhi Municipal Corporation case in March 1992. Mr Prasad talked about an amendment in law, according to which, without a prior notice of 15 days and making alternative arrangement for job, administration cannot penalise vendors.

The major demands that local vendors have put before the Ludhiana administration are comprehensive policies for street vendors, legal access to use appropriate available space in urban areas, arrangement of licences and hawking zones, arrangements to save vendors from penalties and bribes, regular communication between vendors (by setting up committees and local authorities), eradication of contradictory approaches by authorities, loans and credit facilities by banks, and establishment of support services at local level.



Flesh trade racket busted
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, May 19
The CIA staff, Ludhiana, on a tip-off raided Zimindara Hotel at Pawa Khagat village yesterday and arrested six persons for their alleged involvement in flesh trade.
A case under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Immoral Trafficking Act, 1956, has been registered at Sahnewal police station.

The police arrested three girls, two belonging to Delhi and one from Sangrur along with Sunil Kumar and Kulvir Singh of Ludhiana and Ranjit Singh of a nearby Jugiana village. Two managers, Paramjit Singh of Ghawaddi village and Bramdev of Bihar were also arrested. The owner of the hotel, Jaswinder Singh, however, escaped.



Industry resents furnace oil price hike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 19
Widespread resentment prevails among members of industry over hike in prices of furnace oil and indications of yet another increase in power tariff.
A meeting of the Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India along with representatives of other affiliated associations, held here yesterday with Mr Joginder Kumar in the chair, discussed the situation arising out of skyrocketing prices of inputs like power and furnace oil.

Among others Mr Harminder Singh, general secretary, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr O.P. Jindal, president, Mr Vinod Dhall, general secretary, Focal Point Association, Mr Rajan Gupta, Mr Ashok Kumar, Mr Daljit Singh Sohanpal, Mr Manmohan Singh Ubhi, Mr Brij Mohan Sareen, Mr Jaswant Singh Birdi and Mr Roshan Lal Singla attended the meeting.

While welcoming the reduction in prices of petrol and diesel by the government and public sector oil companies in the wake of downward trend in the global oil market, he ridiculed the hike in furnace oil by 40 paise per litre. “Furnace oil, a basic raw material for forging and rolling industry, is a petroleum product and the price should have been proportionately reduced.” He said the hike had come as a shock because the industry was looking forward to the price being slashed on the basis of reduced prices of crude oil in international market.

Mr Kumar further observed that even otherwise the prices of furnace oil were to be reviewed. However, the government and oil companies had decided otherwise and the hopes of the industry for a relief had been dashed. “The industry is reeling under the recessionary trend and is not in a position to absorb the burden of increased price,” he said.

The FTSII president and other speakers also flayed the steep rise in prices of raw material like HR coils, CR coils and MS rounds, effected by the main producers. As a result, small and tiny units had been pushed to the verge of closure.

The meeting, taking a serious note of indication of another increase in power tariff by the Punjab State Electricity Board with the approval of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, asked the government to intervene and save the industry from virtual ruination. “Even the prevailing power tariff is much more than the actual cost per unit and any further hike will be completely unjustified.” The federation further called upon the respective ministries of petroleum and steel to effectively curb the spiralling prices of basic raw material.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) president, Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, and general secretary, Mr Avtar Singh, in a statement said even in the face of reduction in prices of crude oil in the global market, the price of furnace oil had been increased. They said during the past one year the price of furnace oil had gone up from Rs 11.88 to Rs 16 per litre, thereby creating crisis for bicycle, auto parts and other light engineering units. They asked the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, to provide relief to the industry.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has said that there was a virtual panic among members of industry. Mr Jagtar Singh Bhambra, finance secretary of the association, said the small-scale sector of industry was faced with recession due to various factors and any further burden would not only hamper the further growth of industry but result in closure of the existing units.



Industry rues hike in raw material prices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 19
Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has expressed grave concern about the ever-increasing prices of essential products being consumed by the industrial sector.

The association pointed out that under these circumstances it was difficult for the industry to survive.

The association noted with concern that continuous rise in the prices of various items by the state government like power, industrial oil, furnace oil and steel would ultimately compel entrepreneurs in Punjab to either close their units or to hand over the keys of their factories to the state government.

In a joint statement Mr Jagat Singh, president, and Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary, criticised the indifferent attitude of the state government towards the issue.

The association leaders apprehended that the industry might have to shut down thanks to the wrong policies of the government.


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