Friday, June 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


‘Free’ liquor claims one life, four end up in hospital
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The free flow of liquor in the run-up to the panchayat elections in the state allegedly claimed its first victim here when a resident of Rurke village died and four others were admitted in a serious condition to a private hospital in Ahmedgarh after they consumed liquor at one such panchayat poll ‘party’ in Ghungrana village last night.

The body of the deceased Baldev Singh was found from a well near Ghungrana village today morning while four other persons belonging to Dhurkot village were found lying unconscious near the well.

The police was working on different theories but said it had no doubt that excessive liquor or adulterated liquor (hooch) intake was the main reason behind the incident.

The police was conducting investigations under Section 174, CrPC.

Though the police was claiming on the basis of its preliminary investigations that the man could have died after falling in the well due to excessive liquor intake, it was also not ruling out the possibility of his murder keeping in mind the intense rivalry between supporters of different parties at village-level politics.

Relatives of the deceased man had taken his body home in the morning but they returned after two hours claiming that he was murdered. Police sources said they had sent the body for post-mortem in the afternoon, as the family suspected that the man was first killed and then thrown into the well.

The recovery of the four other persons, lying unconscious near the well, however, pointed out to the possibility that they had either consumed adulterated liquor or had consumed liquor in excess. The four persons were still unconscious even more than 20 hours after consuming liquor. They have been identified as Bahadur Singh and Puran Singh of Dhurkot village, Gurdev Singh and Baljit Singh whose residential addresses were not known.

According to police sources, the five were seen taking liquor at a gathering organised for the campaigning about a candidate in the forthcoming panchayat elections. They left the place together and it was only today morning that the news of the death of one of them spread in the area.

Police sources said there were several injury marks on the deceased’s body. Though it seemed that the injuries might have been inflicted due to his falling in the well, there were some injuries which seemed to have been inflicted before he fell into the well.

The Dehlon police was questioning the villagers about the sequence of events. Sources said the post-mortem examination would pinpoint the actual cause of death. Sources said the police had already started raiding some places in the area where liquor was stored.

There has been a free flow of liquor in the run-up to the panchayat elections. Ludhiana Tribune had recently reported how huge quantity of liquor was being supplied in the villages these days. A survey conducted by Ludhiana Tribune had revealed that the candidates were competing with each other in supplying liquor. Some of these were using smuggled liquor.

This was proved after the seizure of 1200 pouches of liquor being smuggled into the district from Chandigarh.



2 brothers held for killing aunt, uncle
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 19
The Jagraon Police has arrested two brothers of Saholi village, near here, for allegedly murdering their maternal aunt and her husband at Akalgarh village on Saturday night. The complaint in this regard was lodged with the SHO at police station Sudhar by Ms Surinder Kaur, a former BPEO and sister of deceased woman.

Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chinna, Senior Superintendent of Police, and Mr J.S. Dhanoa, SP (Detective), said the accused, Gurdeep Singh, alias Babbi and Pritpal, alias Gogi, both brothers, reportedly murdered Sharan Jit Kaur and Charanjit Chana, their maternal aunt and her husband, for giving a piece of land measuring 4.5 acres on contract to someone outside family for cultivation.

He said the accused were seen roaming in the village armed with a rifle and sharp-edged weapons. The brothers confessed that they had initially planned to murder Surinder Kaur also. The weapons had been recovered from their possession, he said.

Mr Chinna said the Sudhar police had received a complaint from Mr Surinder Kaur, a former BPEO, alleging that Gurdeep, alias Babbi and Pritpal, alias Gogi, her nephews, had attacked her sister Sharanjit and brother-in-law Charanjit Chana. While Chana died on the spot, Sharanjit succumbed to head injuries at a private hospital in Ludhiana.

The assailants had scaled the boundary wall of a house where both the deceased were sleeping. The accused reportedly attacked them with axes and caused fatal injuries to the victims. Though the couple had sensed danger to their lives, they could not call for any help as the assailants had disconnected their telephone before attacking them.

The SSP said that a joint police party from Jagraon, including CIA staff and the in charge Sudhar police, Mr Jaswinder Singh, was constituted to nab the culprits who had escaped under the cover of darkness. The police arrested the accused following investigations by Mr Jaspal Singh Dhanoa, SP (Detective), and Mr Hardeep Singh Brar, DSP, Raikot.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused had murdered the couple to take revenge for giving a piece of land measuring 4.5 acres for cultivation to someone outside the family. Darshan Singh, father of the accused, Ms Surinder Kaur, complainant and Sharanjit Kaur, the deceased, had inherited around 8.5 acres of land from their father Master Ujjagar Singh who died 10 years ago. Sharanjit lived with her husband at Akalgarh and Surinder Kaur, an issueless divorcee, lived at Saholi.

Gurdeep Babbi used to look after the land at Saholi belonging to both her aunts, besides cultivating his land from his own share. He reportedly started keeping bad company and became a drug addict. All efforts made by his aunts to reform him went in vain and they gave the land of their own share to Karnail Singh for cultivation on contract.

This reportedly irritated the accused who decided to take revenge and reportedly killed the couple on Saturday night. 



Police rescues kidnapped man
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The tussle between political rivals seeking to field separate candidates in the ensuing panchayat elections in Bhaini Sahib village in this district took a violent turn today when some persons forcibly picked up a man from the Mini Secretariat complex where he had come to file nomination papers. The village is the home town of Mr H S Hanspal, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPSC).

The victim, Sukhdev Singh, was later rescued by a police party from Jamalpur. He had recently defected from the congress and had come to the Mini Secretariat with his wife Sukhminder Kaur to file her nomination papers for contesting the panchayat elections from Bhaini Sahib village. Both the accused and the victim belong to the Namdhari sect. The village seat is reserved for woman candidate.

The police said six persons were involved in the kidnapping. Two of these have been identified as Jagtar Singh and Sukhdev Singh, while others remain unidentified. Unconfirmed reports said the kidnappers have been arrested but the police was not confirming the arrests. The police did not confirm the place from which the victim was recovered.

A case has been registered against the accused, who belonged to the Congress. The victim and his wife filed the nomination papers late in the evening.

According to sources, Sukhdev Singh and Sukhminder Kaur had recently defected from the Congress and wanted to contest the elections independently. They were, however, allegedly facing threats from some Congress leaders, including allegedly some senior congress leaders.

According to Sukhwinder Kaur, they came to the Mini secretariat in late afternoon and the two identified accused and some others confronted them. They were stopped from filing the nomination papers. Their papers were torn and they were pushed around. The accused then threw Sukhdev Singh in a car and whisked him away. The hapless women rushed to the office of an ADC who called the police. She said she could not identify the car as she was not aware of the model.

Sources said the police recovered the man late in the evening and on his complaint booked the accused persons.

The incident created quite a furore in the Mini Secretariat with anti-Congress candidates grouping together to raise the issue. Sources said the village was witnessing intense political battle in the run up to the panchayat elections. The congress party had lot on stake in the village as it belonged to the PPCC President H S Hanspal.

Police sources denied there was hand of any senior Congress leader in the unsavoury incident.



Boy killed in freak incident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
A minor dispute between two groups of children playing in a street in Maharaj Nagar behind Circuit House allegedly turned into a major tragedy when a 14-year-old child died while being beaten up by a 12-year-old child.

The freak incident took place at about 6 p.m. here when the children were playing hide and seek in the colony. Some dispute took place and two children, Rajesh and Aman, started fighting. Aman hit Rajesh on the temple and he collapsed on the spot.

The terrified children called the parents. Rajesh was rushed to DMC Hospital but was declared brought dead. The news caused quite a tension in the area as people siding with both the families gathered there in large numbers. DSP R S Bakhsi was supervising the case. The police has booked Aman under Section 304 IPC. The police was not confirming if he was arrested or not.



Encroachments continue unabated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
The drive by the civic administration to clear encroachments and to check the violation of building bylaws in the city notwithstanding, encroachments on government land and construction of unlawful buildings, both residential and commercial, continues in the city unabated. Ironically, in almost all such cases, complicity of the MC building staff with offenders, at one level or the other, is either alleged or in some cases confirmed.

In a classic case, which speaks volumes about the slack, or rather nil enforcement, involving blatant encroachment on government land, an unlawful occupant has recently completed the construction of a commercial building on Dugri Road on a piece of land owned by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and later transferred to the municipal corporation. This despite the fact that Ludhiana Tribune had carried a detailed story in its issue dated May 23, when the construction was in progress.

Residents of the area had also lodged repeated complaints that not only was the building coming up on government land, but the unlawful occupant had also blocked a part of the common passage to the adjoining colony. The defaulter, a dairy owner, has gone on record to admit that he had not purchased the land. He is reported to have said that he was occupying the piece of land for quite some time and since no one challenged his occupancy, he had gone ahead with the construction. What he did not say in public was that the building staff concerned had been taken ‘good care of’, as alleged by the residents of the locality.

In cases of similar nature in prime commercial areas of Chaura Bazar and the books market, the role of the building inspector concerned has come under cloud, with complainants in both cases charging the official with dubious dealings to favour the offenders.

In a complaint forwarded by the Additional Deputy Commissioner to the MC for conducting an inquiry and taking action, a shopkeeper, Mr Rajan Singh, had alleged that a person, holding the roof rights of his readymade garments shop, was constructing a three-storeyed building without any approved building plan, thereby rendering the old building on the ground floor unsafe. The complainant had further brought to the notice of the authorities that the construction work was done during night and the front portion of the building was kept covered during the day.

Interestingly, the building inspector of the area was a frequent visitor to the site, according to shopkeepers of the area. It is learnt that the defaulting builder claimed proximity to certain politicians and was putting pressure on MC officials to keep mum. The municipal Town Planner, Mr P.K. Garg, however, claimed that a challan had been issued for violation of building bylaws and demolition orders had also been issued for the top floor of the shop.

In yet another case, a three-storeyed commercial complex had been constructed by a group of persons on municipal land along a covered nullah near the garbage dump in the books market and allegedly sold for Rs 1.25 crore without evoking any action from the MC despite written complaints. Emboldened by the lucrative deal, the offenders were now out to construct shops on the rest of the vacant land, allegedly under the direct patronage of certain officials of the building and drawing branch. Obviously, the entire building activity for the earlier complex and the ongoing market was carried out without any approval or sanctioned building plans. According to shopkeepers in the books market, the colluding persons behind the encroachment and unlawful building activity included those with political clout and a priest.

Officials in the building branch of the MC feigned ignorance about the shops being constructed along the nullah in books market, adding that the matter would be probed and suitable action taken on receipt of complaint.



Pace of development works slow, allege councillors
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
The elaborate exercise initiated by the Municipal Corporation to review development works in the city on the completion of one year of the elected representatives, seems to have left an unsavoury taste going by the deliberations of the four review meetings for each of the four zones of the city.

During the interaction, which lasted for two days, councillors belonging to opposition parties alleged discrimination and tardy progress of development works. Some of the Congress councillors also joined the chorus. They complained of being ignored and alleged that the lion’s share of funds was being diverted to the select few ruling party councillors. That all was not well within the ruling group in the corporation here was evident when a few Congress councillors criticised Mayor Nahar Singh Gill and the top brass in the civic administration.

Many of the councillors, including group leader of the BJP councillors, Mr Parveen Bansal, said the review was being done to appease councillors and have a trouble-free general house meeting so that nothing worthwhile came out of it. In particular, councillors of Zone B decided to keep their mouths shut at the meeting yesterday, as a result the meeting was over in just 30 minutes.

In contrast, the meeting of Zone A councillors, held earlier in the day, lasted for about four hours which witnessed heated exchanges. The meetings of Zone C and Zone D held today, however, turned out to be relatively smooth affairs.

The corporation, however, did not give much credence to the hue and cry raised by the councillors, terming it as motivated. The Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, said charges of discrimination were unfounded and baseless.

Sources said political dissensions and groupism in the local Congress circles also played a crucial role in the ongoing controversy.

The ruling party councillors were divided and owed allegiance to different local leaders, which included ministers and legislators. The criticism MC administration and the Mayor could be an outcome of political compulsions, they said.

Going by the mood of councillors, both from the ruling party and the Opposition, it looks certain that the next meeting of the general house, expected to be held in the next couple of days, would be stormy and critics of the administration would, in all probability, hold the centre-stage.



Historic village on its last legs
Jupinderjit Singh

HISTORIC places always attract curiosity. They act as a potential magnet for tourists. Sunet, a village now surrounded by Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, a posh colony of the city, is one such place. It had first hogged limelight in the early 1980s when thousands of coins and sealings dating as old as first century AD were found during excavations carried out by the National Department of Archaeology, Punjab.

Sunet village comprising of ancient mounds, some of which were excavated, is, sadly, passing into oblivion. Apathetic attitude of the residents and continuous ignorance of the place by the Department of Archaeology and Conservation, Punjab, has left it look like an eyesore to the surroundings.

Only a junk-eaten board of the department around a large mound behind a gurdwara in BRS Nagar declares it as a protected monument and a barbed wire has been laid around the mound to protect it ! People throw garbage and litter over the barbed wire and pay tributes to the rich past of the abandoned place!

Vigorous digging carried out by the archaeologists in early 1980s brought out a large number of seals and thousands of coin moulds of the Yaudheeys, coins of Hermaeus, Gondopharnes, of Chandragupta and Samudragupta, thus throwing light on the pre-Harappan and late Harappan period. The excavations also assumed significance as it answered several pertinent questions regarding the dark ages from the 3rd century to the 8th century.

According to later books published by the department, the place used to be a mint (taksal) and thus a number of coins were found at the place. The digging revealed that Sunet was inhabited in correct sequence of history. It had signs of Harappan civilisation from Ramayan and Mahabharat kal, Kushana kal and Arya kal and even Gupt kal.

According to Gen Alexandera Cunningham, a British historian, Sunet also went through the epic glory of the Buddhist period. It came in the limelight in the Kushan age when the ethical, political and cultural impact was at its zenith in Afghanistan and beyond. This region had spells of Rajput feudal regimes. Sunet gained prominence as later researches in archaeology confirmed this fact. Sunet was the central link between Kabul and Mathura of Kushan time.

He visited Ludhiana during the years 1878 and 1879. He studied bricks, a few sculptures and a number of coins. His research forms an important part of his monumental research work, ‘Archaeological Survey of India’.

About the age of Sunet, he writes, ‘’The town Sunet was in existence before the Christian era, as evidenced by the coins of Uttamadatta and Amoghabhuti’’.

‘’It continued to flourish during the dominion of Indo-Scythians and of their successors who used Sassanian types down to the time of Samanta Deva, the Brahman Shahi King of Kabul and Punjab,’’ he writes.

It may be relevant to recall that the rulers of Kabul and Zabul in and around Afghanistan were also known as Hindu Shahi. Kushans were perhaps the ancestors of the vast tribe of Jatts or Jats of Sind, Rajasthan, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh. Sunet provides a crossroad linking residues of Indus-valley, Indo-Scythians and Aryans. Kushans also had urban culture.

Gen Cunnigham also wrote about the destruction of Sunet village. He writes: ‘’From the total absence of coins of the Tomar Rajas of Delhi, as well as different Mohammadan dynasties, it appears that Sunet must have been destroyed during one of the invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni and thereafter it must have remained unoccupied for many centuries.’’

T.W. Tolbort, another historian, writes in the proceedings of Asiatic Society, Bengal (1869-70), the possibility of its destruction due to an earthquake. He wrote, ‘’It is likely that Sunet was the headquarters of some Hindu kingdom, small or great and we can deduce safely that Mahmud had looted and devastated Sunet.’’

He records about Sunet: ‘’It is in ruins in the district of Ludhiana, Punjab, situated three miles south-west of Ludhiana.’’ Time has changed, Sunet was away, now Ludhiana has taken it over and expanded beyond! A few baked clay seals bearing the legends ‘Yau Dhayaganasya Jaya’ or ‘Yaudheyanam, Jaya Mantra Dharanam’ were studied by eminent scholar, Alterkar, who thought the legend pointed to celebration of victory over Kushans. The town in the time of Samudra Gupta (4 AD) was a flourishing one. During the Rajput feudal period it existed till the Turkish invasion. Turks dealt it a destructive blow. Though ruined, mound stands as a tableu of the past.

The digging at Sunet coincided with a similar excavation exercise carried out in Sanghol village on Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway, which later assumed limelight throughout the world as several nude statues and structures were found from the village.

However, Sunet could not get that recognition even though the excavations found here are treated as significant by archaeologists. While Sanghol was earmarked as a tourist site, Sunet awaits even a befitting memorial.

The present sorry state of the site, whose ruins attracted film- makers from Bombay and Punjab, is a sad climax of a glorious beginning.

A visit to the site revealed that the place which had become world famous is lying forgotten. Youngsters quizzed about the place where excavations were found denied any knowledge of it. Only some old people remembered the time when teams of archaeologists not only from India but from abroad frequented the place.

According to the area residents, the place was no longer frequented by people. He said people who were constructing houses even now find strange coins and other utensils which are mostly broken due to careless digging.

Village elders said people had been finding such coins from time to time but the Department of Archaeology has ceased to show any interest. They said the department might have some reason for stopping the work but they could protect the mounds so that they were available for future digging purpose.

Sources in the department said the mounds were protected in case of need for future digging but now they were lying abandoned because of shortage of funds to develop it as a tourism policy. Further, there were no plans to excavate the site. Sources revealed that the authorities had been apprised of the encroachments and the lack of preservation done at the site but nothing had been done in this regard.

According to an official of the state Archaeology Department, who was a member of the team which carried out the excavations, the digging was stopped as the immediate aim of finding the inhabitants as suggested by history was found. He said there was, thus, no need for further digging. However, the Central Government had declared the mounds as protective monuments to preserve them in need of further excavations. 



Bhavan dedicated to city pensioners
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The first pensioner’s bhavan in the country, constructed at a cost of Rs 16 lakh, was dedicated to the pensioners of the state here today. Out of the total amount, Rs 10 lakh were provided by the district administration and Rs 6 lakh was sanctioned by MP Gurcharan Singh Ghalib out of his local area development fund. While the MP inaugurated the complex, DC Anurag Verma presided over the function.

Addressing those present, the MP said that with the completion of this prestigious project with the joint efforts of the administration and the Ludhiana Pensioners Association, senior citizens, who retired from government service, would be able to contribute in an effective manner for the service to society.

He said that in the present time, the employees retired at the age of 58 and had enough energy and experience to render valuable service to the needy people and they should come forward through his forum for the service to society. He said that it was the responsibility of the society to accord due respect to the senior citizens, who had dedicatedly served the nation.

Referring to the commitment of the Congress government for providing transparent and responsive governance, Mr Galib claimed that Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had taken effective steps to punish the corrupt politicians and government servants and to eradicate the corruption to the lower level.

He said that whenever a non-Congress government came into power, the process of development had been completely paralysed and the financial condition ruined. He said in the recent past, the SAD-BJP government had completely damaged the financial condition of the state and increased the loan against the government to Rs 54, 000 crore, but the government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, by taking strong remedial measures, has been successful in substantially improving the financial position and now the state was in a position to further accelerate the process of development.

He said that during this year, Rs 1,500 crore were being spent to carry out prestigious development projects in Punjab, and funds amounting to more than Rs 1,000 crore have been earmarked for the welfare of different sections of society. He assured more financial assistance required to bring about further improvement in the bhavan.

Mr Anurag Verma, DC, appreciated the efforts of the pensioners of the district to manage to construct this unique bhawan with the assistance from administration and the MP. He said that the retired employees should not be treated as retired from the life, but they were full of energy and experience, which can be used for the betterment of society, if properly channelised.

He exhorted the pensioners to work in different social and voluntary organisations for the welfare of the needy people, which was real service to the society and they could be able to make the maximum use of their potential for the noble service. The Deputy Commissioner assured the pensioners all kind of assistance from the administration in settling their genuine problems.

On this occasion Mr B. R. Kaushal, president, Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, was presented an award of honour by Mr Galib and Mr Verma. Dr Ramesh Sobti presented a set of his newly authored books for the newly set up library.

Mr Kaushal, while welcoming the MP and the Deputy Commissioner, thanked them for providing liberal financial assistance in completing the project. He informed that the bhavan comprised a spacious hall, an office, library and a TV with extra large screen, coolers etc.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dhillon, convener of the association, Professor Mohinder Singh Cheema and Dr S. D. Joshi, a retired principal, also spoke. Among others present on the occasion included Mr Rahul Bhandari, ADC(G), Mr Vinay Bablani, Assistant Commissioner, Col H S Kahlon, Chief Coordinator, Pensioner’s Association and Mr S. N. Vanaik.



Nepalese community organises religious meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The Pravasi Nepali Dharmik Sanstha Samiti organised a religious meet at Krishna Mandir here last night. Hundreds of members of the Nepalese community participated in the congregation. A cultural programme was also organised to mark the occasion.

Addressing the function, president of the sanstha Ganshyam Kishan thanked the community members for participating in the meet. He urged them to regularly interact with each other and to work together. There is a considerable number of Nepalese people living in the city, most of whom work as domestic helps. Some of them are also working in factories and security services. Mr Ganshyam said such programmes would be organised regularly to provide a forum to Nepalese people for exchange of views.

Noted singer Tilak Raj also presented several bhajans on the occasion. 



Club members hail decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
Sutlej Club is once again abuzz with activity. With the declaration of elections to the post of the general secretary, the club has once again become the scene for hectic activities and lobbying. Members of the club have welcomed the decision of the president of the club to hold elections, for the post of general secretary, which was rendered vacant after Mr Sunil Jain had resigned amidst a lot of controversy and the vice-president of the club, Mr Yuvraj Dada, was nominated to fill the slot. A majority of the members feel that an elected person should be allowed to hold this key post.

Meanwhile, there was some confusion among members that the nominated candidate could not be replaced till the whole term was finished. Mr Anurag Verma, when contacted, said as per the provisions of the rule 24 (b) of the constitution of the club, re-election for the post could be held within three months and Mr Jain’s resignation was accepted on April 24, 2003.



Teenager drowned

Ludhiana, June 19
A 16-year-old child was drowned while he was taking a bath in the Sidhwan canal, near Leisure Valley, this afternoon. The deceased, identified as Mohan Lal, alias Lucky, was the son of a drycleaner, Lal Chand. He was a resident of Gurcharan Park in Gandhi Colony. The boy had come to the canal for the first time and did not know how to swim. TNS



Two die in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 19
Two persons, including one woman, were crushed to death in two different incidents today.
An unidentified middle-aged woman was crushed under a train while she was crossing railway track near Chawa village.

In an other incident, a man fell down from a train and died. he has been identified as a resident of Chuni Machhali village. His family was informed by the police.

The bodies were sent to Civil Hospital, Khanna, for postmortem examination.

ONE ARRESTED: A man accused of attempt to rape with a minor girl was arrested by the Khanna police yesterday. He was produced at a Ludhiana court today.

A few days back, Rajinder Singh, a resident of Goh village, made an attempt to rape an eight-year-old girl of the same village. The accused managed to escape. A case was registered against him.


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