Monday, August 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Cong Panchayati Raj convention a disaster
CM leaves midway, delegates follow suit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
The state-level Panchayati Raj convention organised jointly by the rural and urban units of the District Congress Committee here today proved to be a chaotic affair. The chairman of the political training department of the Congress, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, who delivered the keynote address, described it as the “worst convention on Panchayati Raj” he had ever attended.

Mr Aiyar said this in reply to individual queries from members who had met him after the chaotic conclusion of the convention. He was to answer these questions after his keynote address, but he had hardly finished it when most members started leaving.

Everything was well till the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was on the dais. He left when Mr Aiyar began his address, which made Mr Hanspal announce that the CM would soon be back. That was the beginning of the end.

Half the members left the hall with the Chief Minister when Mr Aiyar was reading out from the text on Panchayati Raj prepared especially for the Congress workers. He was visibly upset. Mr Hanspal again approached the mike and told the gathering in a “threatening way” that he would report everything to Ms Sonia Gandhi.

As Mr Aiyar resumed his address, the delegates moved out for lunch. Soon, it was the turn of former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to speak. Ms Bhattal, who is Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, found the hall almost empty as she started to speak, and by the time she finished, the Minister for Local Bodies, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, who was next, had been left with no one to address. Ms Bhattal did not hide her displeasure at the Chief Minister leaving the convention midway.

Earlier, Mr Aiyar, while recalling an amusing anecdote from his days of Doon School (where he was senior to Capt Amarinder Singh by two years), had said: “He was a naughty child in school.” Ms Bhattal retorted: “You have rightly said that Capt Amarinder is naughty; look, he has left it for me to handle the function.”

While she praised Mr Hanspal and Mr Aiyar for their speeches, she said nothing about the CM’s speech in which he had declared that the Panchayati Raj Act would be implemented in the state from October 2.

The convention brought to the fore differences within the DCC with senior leaders like the local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, and the Transport Minister, Mr Tej Prakash, abstaining. Even Mr Surinder Dawer and Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, hurried out with the Chief Minister.

A former DCC president alleged that he had deliberately been ignored and not been extended a formal invitation. He also alleged that even banners carrying his name had been removed.



Real Khud Mohalla heroes ignored, allege kin
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
The awarding of residents by the district police for showing courage during the devastating Khud Mohalla fire has run into a controversy as a number of awards were allegedly fudged and most of the real heroes were ignored.

Twentyfour civilians were awarded by the district police recently and the Inspector-General of Police (Jalandhar range), Mr J.P. Virdi, had given away commendation certificates to them. But the widows of the real heroes who had sacrificed their lives while saving others are sore with the police for not even recognising the sacrifice of their husbands.

They have claimed that while their husbands jumped into fire and saved many lives, awards were given to some undeserving persons close to some well-connected persons of the area.

Widows of two deceased, Ms Jasbir Kaur and Ms Devinder Kaur, have even shot off letters to the DGP, Punjab, asking him to conduct an inquiry into the selection of awardees. They have claimed that the list of awardees was prepared by a senior police official who had not identified the real heroes.

Ms Jasbir Kaur, widow of Kartar Singh, alias Lucky who had sacrificed his life while saving several persons, said she was exasperated to know that many such persons who were not near the incident scene were called for the function.

She said it was ironical that despite the fact that her husband was being regarded as a hero in the area and tales of his sacrifice had been published in various newspapers, the police officials did not even know his name.

“When I was told about the function, I was hurt. I spoke to another widow, Devinder Kaur, whose husband had also died while saving others. She also said she did not know anything about the function. I have lost all faith in the system,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Ms Devinder Kaur, widow of Jaspal Singh, owner of Pappu Karyana Store. She said she was pained at the authorities’ attitude after her husband’s heroic death.

Ms Chander Kanta, widow of Raj Mohan who had also lost his life during the inferno, said she was shocked that her brother-in-law, who had also died while saving others, had been awarded at the function, but not her husband.

All three deceased were the sole breadwinners of their families. Now these widows have been left with the responsibility of their children.

The district administration had, after the incident, promised a job to each one of them as a reward for their husbands’ bravery. But nothing has been done in this regard so far.

Ms Jasbir kaur had even written a letter to the Chief Minister regarding the matter, but to no avail. 



Doctors to intensify agitation from tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
Reacting to the refusal of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to resume the non-practising allowance (NPA), the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association has decided to step up its agitation to get it back.

The PCMS doctors contested the relief amount in the budget after the NPA cut, calculated by the bureaucrats to be Rs 80 crore per year, and claimed that Rs 88 crore was paid in salaries to the PCMS doctors by the state government. The Chief Minister, they said, should review the miscalculation and roll back the decision, which would otherwise affect basic health services in the state with doctors launching the second phase of their agitation on August 5 in Chandigarh.

Dr Hardeep Singh, president of the PCMSA, said here today that with doctors being paid Rs 88 crore by Punjab and Rs 20 crore by the Centre, the budget for disbursing the NPA could not be just Rs 80 crore.

The amount paid as the NPA is only Rs 10.9 crore per year, out of which, Rs 3.2 crore is paid back in the form of income tax. The actual benefit after the abolition of the NPA would be Rs 7.6 crore per year only.

“The association has told the Chief Minister that saving on this meagre amount is not more precious than the Constitutional responsibility of the state towards the masses, who could not afford to pay the amount from their pocket,” Dr Hardeep Singh said.

The only ones to benefit from this decision would be the upper class, who only could afford the huge fees of doctors who had already established illegal private practice. The poor man dependent on government health services and honest doctors would be the real sufferer. Few patients admitted to government hospitals would be able to pay the doctor for his or her services in the evening.

A major cause of absenteeism among doctors was their indulgence in illegal private practice, and if the Punjab Government could not check it, and it had shown its inability to enforce discipline. The victims of this decision would not be the few absentee doctors, but the honest ones.

If the absentee doctors were to be condemned for neglecting health centres, the government, too, could get no appreciation from the masses for the same neglect. The association praised the Himachal Pradesh Government for taking a clear stand on the issue by neither abolishing the NPA nor removing the ban on private practice.

The association has submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and briefed him on the post NPA scenario. Similar memorandums have been submitted to the new Chief Secretary and senior ministers in the state. The body has also called upon social organisations to come forward in its defence.



Cane growers await payment of dues
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, August 3
Nearly 500 farmers of over 100 surrounding villages are being sheer exploitated by the government and the management of a sugarmill, which has not paid their dues. The victims have been moving from pillar to post for the past four months for the redressal of their grievances but to no avail.

Farmers of almost all villages covering Samrala, Rara Sahib, Khamano, Katahri, Batari, Machhiwara, Gurditpura, Chankirn, Shahpur, Jaipura, Kaddon, Maksoodran, Bhattal, Landa, Buani, Bilaspur, Gidri, Daburji, Raul, Jahangir, Khangas, Lapran narrated their tale of woes to this correspondent.

According to the farmers, most of whom have shifted to the growing of sugarcane as per the direction of the Punjab government said, “The Budhewal Sugar Mill was supposed to pay the full rates fixed by the government agencies for our produce. But till date the management of the mill has paid only 70 per cent of the total amount on the pretext that the rest of the amount will be paid when the mill closes, as in the month of April every year. The amount receipt we got from the mill is the 100 per cent payment for our produce but actually we were paid 30 per cent less than the actual amount.”

Since the mill had already closed down for the season on April 13 this year, four months had passed but we were not paid our dues. All the time we had been pleading our case to the mill owners but had met with disappointment at every stage, said an agitated farmer.

Mr Bharpoor Singh Buani, a sugarcane producer said, “My total amount due towards the mill is Rs 1,92,000. If an average amount of Rs 1.50 lakh is calculated to be pending for a single farmer, it amounts to more than Rs 7 crore for approximately 500 farmers of the villages giving their produce to this sugar mill.”

Another sugarcane producer, Mr Gurmail Singh of Daburjee village, said, “A total of 15 per cent interest is incurred on the loan we take from the mill for the purpose of plantation or buying pesticides or insecticides but on the other hand our amount, due towards their side, goes without interest for months together. We are not even able to pay our original debts.”

Mr Avtar Singh Lapran, another farmer, contended, “The voice of the government is crop diversification. We were growing paddy earlier but now we have started growing surgarcane. If we are to face harassment at the hands of the government and the management of sugar mills even after abiding by their policies, we shall be left with no other option but to starve. After a four-month-long dilly-dallying, there is no ray of hope. We are now starting to think on the old lines of growing paddy again.”

Mr Tarlochan Singh, a farmer of Lapran village, said, “To make matters worse, the time of our next agreement with the mill management has already arrived. We are at our wits end as to what should be our final decision.”

The farmers have threatened the government and management of Budhewal Sugar Mills that if the payment is delayed further, they would be forced to come out on the streets and launch a an agitation against them.

The Managing Director of the Budhewal Sugar Mills, Mr Kulwant Singh Randhawa, when contacted said, “This is nor our case alone. All cooperative sugar mills are paying 70 per cent and keeping 30 per cent with them that is to be paid in due time. As the rates of sugar had decreased, the mill was facing acute shortage of funds. Moreover, the monthly quota is to be released by the Central Government and we are helpless in this regard. But now the rates of sugar have increased by approximately Rs 150 per quintal, a few days before, the position shall improve within a month and we shall be able to make the pending payments as soon as possible.



Hosiery unit gutted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Property worth lakhs was gutted in a major fire that broke out in a hosiery factory at Madhopuri this afternoon. Though no loss of life was reported, a huge quantity of yarn and other goods were destroyed.

The fire broke out at the third floor of the New Narsingh Hosiery factory around 12.30 p.m. Today being a Sunday, there were not many workers in the factory. Though the exact cause of the fire could not be ascertained, firemen suspected that short-circuit was a possible reason.

Five fire-engines were used by the local Fire Department to douse the flames that threatened to engulf the colony. Panic-stricken residents living in the vicinity of the factory moved out of their houses. Overcast sky and a slight drizzle prevented the flames from spreading.

The fire was brought under control within an hour. There was only one approach street to the factory and it was only six-feet wide.

The fire-engines could not reach near the building because of the narrow path. This caused a considerable delay in the operation.



Non-issuance of passport shatters dream of 
going abroad
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 3
Though passport offices claim to issue a fresh passport within 35 days of depositing a fee of Rs 1,000, a resident of Jhamal village has lost the hope to receiving one , even after four months of submitting complete application.

Mr Major Singh said his son Gurpinder had submitted an application at the District Passport Collection Centre, Ludhiana, on March 31, vide file No. CHDZ 062767. A draft No. 369517 drawn at a SBI branch worth Rs 1,000 was also enclosed with forms, which entitled him receive the passport within 35 days of submission of the application. Mr Major Singh and his son Gurpinder approached the Regional Passport Officer to enquire about the fate of their application after the expiry of the stipulated period. Entries on acknowledgement-cum-fee receipt showed that they had gone to the Regional Passport Office on May 20, May 25, June 18, June 20, July 4 and August 1. Mr Major Singh said “every time we approached the officials concerned, we were asked to come after a couple of days. On June 18 we were assured by the RPO, that the passport would be sent by post within a couple of days.” On June 20 they claimed to have dispatched it whereas no such document had been received by the applicant till today.

Gurpinder Singh, the applicant and his father Mr Major Singh again approached the RPO on July 30. The RPO further told them that their file No. was Z-62768 for which process was yet to start as nobody had enquired about the file.” Whereas the Khanna district police had sent a personal particular verification vide letter No. 2227 on June 5, the RPO said it had not been received as yet. He gave this in writing also. But persual of records revealed that the report had been received by the office at RC No. 39 and its receipt has been initiated as AS.”

Frustrated by the treatment received, Mr Major Singh alleged that the staff harasses the applicants just to pocket some amount from unauthorised agents who get the passport made by charging extra amount. “It was our folly to try to get it done directly. Had we paid a few hundred bucks extra to an agent we could have save thousands which we spent on visiting Chandigarh. Moreover my son could have gone abroad by now,” he added.

Gurpinder Singh on the other hand said, “It is all due to my father’s idealism we have suffered, otherwise I could have ‘managed’ the things through an agent and joined my course in some foreign country by now.”



Roadside stalls removed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
Roadside stalls selling juice and other eatables in Guru Tegh Bahadur market have been removed.
Attempts had been made by the former MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, to restore order in the market. However, after his departure things were back to square one. The encroachers even put chairs and tables along the road, leaving no space for pedestrians .

The police launched the clean-up operation in view of the security measured for Independence Day.

In the wake of the Khud Mohalla fire, the district administration had promised to remove all bottlenecks in the city by holding shopkeepers responsible for rehris in front of their shops. Several shopkeepers “let out” the area in lieu of money. However, things are back to how they were with the administration becoming lax.



Karandeep PCC organising secretary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Mr Karandeep Singh Kairon has been appointed organising secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. An appointment letter to this effect was received by Mr Kairon here yesterday.

Mr Kairon is one of the youngest organising secretaries of the PCC. He has earlier served as the vice president of the Pradesh Youth Congress and also as the vice president district youth Congress. He is also the chairman of the Industrialist Welfare Association.



Field workers to stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
The Panjab Field and Workshop Workers’ Union will stage a day-long dharna and protest rally on August 6, outside the local PUDA office to press their demand for getting 156 senior employees regularised.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr S.P. Singh, president of the union, said a meeting of the union was organised in Sector 32-A of the PUDA urban estate on the Chandigarh Road yesterday in this connection. The meeting was presided over by Mr Chhinderpal Singh Billa and attended among others by Mr Sukhdev Singh Saini, state general secretary of the union.



Bid to abduct woman, two booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case in the robbery-cum-abduction case involving a 30-year-old-woman of BRS Nagar here, who was allegedly pushed into a car by two youths on Friday evening.

Earlier the police was saying that the statement of the woman was incoherent so it would not register a case. The youths were finally booked under Sections 365 and 382, IPC, for abduction and robbing her of jewellery and cash. The woman, Harpal Kaur, was drugged, and robbed by the car-borne youths outside Raghunath Hospital in Aggar Nagar.

No arrest has been made so far. Harpal Kaur saved herself by jumped from the car. The car used in the crime has been traced by the police. 



Policeman beaten up, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
The Jodhewal police yesterday registered a case under Sections 307, 353, 186, 332, 224, 323 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Balvir Singh, ASI, Jodhewal police station, against Ashok Kumar and his son Sunil Kumar, residents of New Shakti Nagar.

The complainant had alleged that the accused had beaten a policeman, Balwant Rai, who had taken Ashok Kumar to Kapurthala in connection with a court case and back to Ludhiana on August 1. When Mr. Balwant Rai returned with Ashok Kumar at night, his son Sunil Kumar was waiting for them at Subhash Nagar.

The accused allegedly hit him in the head with a brick and tried to run away. The policeman was seriously injured, added the complainant . The police said that both the accused were arrested.

Beaten up: The Division No. 2 police registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Harmin Singh, a resident of Sukhram Nagar,, against Sant Ram, Devi Chand Sharma, Rajan Sharma, Sajan Sharma, Neeraj Sharma and Parmod Sharma, residents of Panjab Machinery Store near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib.

The complainant had alleged that the accused intercepted him on the Machinery road on August 1, beat him up and also threatened him. No arrest has been made so far in this case.

The Haibowal police , on the statement of Ms Surinderpal Kaur, a resident of Rishi Nagar, registered a case under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the IPC against Amarjit Singh, a resident of the same locality. The woman had alleged that the accused stopped her on the road on the night of July 27 when she was passing through Income Tax Colony, beat her up and also threatened her. No arrest has been made so far in this case.

Another case under the same sections of the IPC was registered by the Haibowal police on the statement of Ms Vijay Lakshmi, a resident of Rishi Nagar against Gopal Dass, a resident of Haibowal Khurd.

The complainant said the accused, who was her land-lord, beat her up and threatened her on Friday night. No arrest has been made so far in this case.

Eve-teaser booked: The Division No. 4 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323, 341, 506, 293, 509 and 351 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Dinesh Kumar, a resident of Saban Wali Gali in Mohala Saidan, against Gurpreet Singh, a resident of Sardar Nagar falling under the Jodhewal police station.

The complainant had alleged that the accused stopped his sister on the road, teased her and kissed her forcibly and also beat him up on Saturday afternoon at Malli Ganj chowk. No arrest has been made so far in this case.

Assaulted: The Model Town police registered a case under Sections 451, 427, 380, 323, 506, 120-B, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Davinder Singh, councillor of ward No. 40, a resident of Urban Estate, Phase-I, Dugri, against Mohinder Singh Bhatti, Bablu and Deepa along with some other unknown persons accompanying them.

The complainant had alleged that the accused entered his house on Saturday morning , beat him up and threatened him before walking away with his Nokia mobile phone. No arrest has been made so far.

Car damaged: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Sharad Sharma, a resident of Lal Bagh, Patiala, against Jarnail Singh whose whereabouts were not known.

The complainant had stated that when he was going in his car near Shiv Puri chowk, the accused, who was driving a truck, hit his car and damaged it. No arrest has been made so far in this case.

Liquor seized: The Division No. 3 police arrested Sohan Lal, a resident of Rishi Nagar, Haibowal, from near the Shamshan Ghat on Saturday evening and seized six bottles of illicit liquor from his possession.

The Division No. 4 police arrested Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Dhai Marla Colony, from Shiv Puri last night and seized nine bottles of IMFL from his possession.

The Division No. 6 police arrested Gurwinder Singh, a resident of Islam Ganj and recovered nine bottles of IMFL liquor from his possession.

The Division No. 7 police arrested Ram Rattan, a resident of Wakilan Wali Gali in Mohalla Puneet Nagar, falling under the Jodhewal police station, and seized nine bottles of country-made liquor from his possession. All the accused were booked under the Excise Act.

Knife seized: The Sarabha Nagar police last night arrested Khushal Singh, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, and allegedly recovered a kamanidar knife from his possession and booked him under the Arms Act.



Ex-servicemen, farmers duped
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
Brar Sales Corporation Jagraon, has duped hundreds of ex-servicemen and farmers of Kamalpura, Nathowal, Chhajjawal, Chak Bhaike, Dhoorkot village. Gurbhag Singh Brar and his son Surinder Singh alias Bunti, owners, of the company allegedly promised jobs to the ex-servicemen and had farmers in their new cattle feed company and had collected about Rs 1 crore from them. They had, promised to pay interest to them but later on mortgaged their land with the Bank of Punjab and raised further loan thereon. The owner sent his son and daughter-in-law abroad by spending Rs 70 lakh to start their business abroad.



CM ‘indifferent’ to plight of trade, industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
The President of the Punjab Beopar Mandal Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani has expressed unhappiness over the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, towards the plight of the trade and industry in the state. Mr Jaitwani said here yesterday that traders and industrialists were frustrated because of the unsympathetic attitude of the Chief Minister. ‘ I have sent a number of letters to the Chief Minister during the past 18 months but he has not acknowledged even a single letter, Mr Jaitwani added and said what relief trade and industry could expect from him under such a situation.’

In a separate statement Mr Jaitwani while appreciating the tirade against corruption by the Chief Minister said there was no denying the fact that the drive was hailed by the masses, small-scale industrialists, traders and other non-governmental agencies. Even now the crusade against corruption was going on. But corruption should not be the only subject before the state as developmental works seems to have taken a back seat. ‘It is height of misfortune that the people in general and the trade and industry in particular are in the grip of frustration. These are not good signs for a state like Punjab,’ he said.

Mr Jaitwani has urged the chief Minister to devote his full energy for the development of the state and also remove the frustration of the trade and industry.

He has listed 11-point programme for the Chief Minister and has urged him to pay his maximum attention to the same.

Mr Jaitwani has also urged the Chief Minister to spell out the steps being taken for the welfare of the people of the state. Steps must be taken to make number 1 state of Punjab in trade and industry, transport and agriculture. Policy of revenge and retaliation should end and atmosphere against corruption must accelerate, he emphasised.

He further stressed that the Chief Minister must invite experts from various fields to frame a new taxation and economic policy for the state. There was an urgent need for overhauling the existing systems in the field of industry, agriculture transport and medical services. Trade and industry should be taken into confidence before introducing any new reforms.


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