Thursday, August 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Two decades gone, promised plot still eludes him
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 27
The anti-corruption drive initiated by the newly appointed Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, notwithstanding, it will require more than just grit and determination to bring some semblance of order, transparency and accountability in the organisation, which has virtually become a den of corruption.

It is no secret that employees and officials in the trust, some of whom have been at the same posts for years due to their alleged proximity with the political bigwigs, have vested interests.

Perhaps, this is true in the case of Mr Harbahajan Singh Kalra, a local resident, who was promised a plot in lieu of his land, which was acquired for development of a prime commercial centre in the city.

Speaking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Kalra said a piece of land measuring 7,700 sq yards owned by Mr Gopal Singh and Mr Santokh Singh was acquired under a development scheme, Gian Singh Rarewala Market, near the general bus stand on the Link road in 1978.

The trust had invited applications in 1979 for the allotment of plots under the LDP category from those persons whose land had been acquired. “We had filed an application along with the requisite earnest money for a plot since of the total land acquired our piece of land (7,700 sq yards) was the biggest.”

Mr Kalra, holding a general power of attorney from the owners of the land, had absolutely no idea as to what was in store for him once the allotment of plots and commercial sites commenced. For years he has been making rounds of the trust office but in vain. In the intervening period he was repeatedly approached by several trust employees to either forego his right for a meagre consideration or pay(graft) for securing the allotment of plot.

Claiming that the allotment of plots and commercial sites was not fair and the then officials concerned had committed irregularities, Mr Kalra stated that while genuine claimants were not entertained, several others, who had allegedly obliged the trust employees, were allotted sites in the LDP categories.

In a written representation submitted to the trust Chairman, the aggrieved party has sought the undoing of the grave injustice done to him. 



Steel price hike issue politicised?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 27
The issue of rising steel prices seems to be getting politicised, at least in Punjab, with the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), a leading representative organisations of traders and industrialists, seeking the help of former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo Parkash Singh Badal to raise the issue with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in New Delhi. Mr Badal had led a delegation of CICU that had met the Prime Minister in New Delhi on August 23.

The CICU has been maintaining that the Punjab Government led by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has by and large remained indifferent to the problems of the trade and industry. Not only the CICU, even Mr D.S. Chawla, president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, said to be the largest industrial association in Asia, had recently asked at a press conference why the Chief Minister was maintaining a silence over the rising steel prices?

Mr Chawla pointed out that when the Chief Minister could stage a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi and court arrest to protest against the hike in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy, his silence on the issue of rising steel prices was disappointing for the industry. He clarified that they had nothing against the farmers and they had welcomed the Chief Minister’s gesture towards them, but at the same time they wanted him (the Chief Minister) to come out with a similar support for the industry.

Most of the industry, particularly the CICU, has been feeling that the Chief Minister has remained “cool” towards them. So far the Chief Minister did not have any direct interaction with the industry in Ludhiana. The CICU is sore with the Chief Minister after he cancelled his luncheon meeting with it last year, reportedly at the behest of some local legislators and Congress leaders, who have been maintaining that the CICU was inclined more towards Mr Badal. Even when the Chief Minister visited Ludhiana last week, he did not have any interaction with the industry. He, however, had lunch with the family of Mr Jawahar Oswal, a leading industrialist. But it was only a family get together. However, official sources maintain that the Chief Minister had been meeting the industrialists and traders at his residence in Chandigarh regularly.

The CICU also made it a prestige issue and instead of approaching the Chief Minister, it used the personal influence of Mr Badal to seek an audience with the Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee. The CICU has been claiming that the Prime Minister has assured them that the steel prices would not only be kept under control but would also be reduced. The Prime Minister reportedly also arranged a meeting of the CICU with the Union Minister for Finance and the Union Minister for Steel.

On the face of it the CICU is not prepared to admit any political affiliation or inclination. A senior CICU leader, said, “we have nothing to do with politics and we are only concerned with business and industry”. 



IMA approaches Centre on penicillin shortage
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
Life-saving drug pedicure LA (a special form of penicillin), which is mandatory for patients suffering from rheumatic heart disease, is in acute shortage these days. The drug has to be injected every three weeks and there is a panic among patients as there is no substitute for the drug in the region.

The local unit of the Indian Medical Association, in a letter to the Union Health Minister, has warned that many patients would die or have recurrence of the disease if the drug was not made available at the earliest.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president of the local unit of IMA, said that since the drug was not a profitable venture for the company, it was not interested in making it.

IMA members have urged that more and more companies should be told to make such life-saving drugs as a social obligation to the people.

The members have also appealed that an inquiry be made into the matter and urged doctors to stop prescribing products of the company and meeting its representatives.



Encroachments near Calibre Plaza removed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
The police confiscated some motor cycles and scooters parked in a haphazard way, from outside Calibre Plaza, here today.
Policemen also beat up a street vendor and warned him to vacate the area.

Following today's action, some orderliness was restored to the chaos created by haphazard parking of two-wheelers outside the market.

It may be mentioned that in the past too, the police and the Tehbazari Wing of the municipal corporation have impounded vehicles from the area. Residents are now demanding a permanent solution to the problem in the area.



Privatisation of ITIs resented
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
Members of the Industrial Training Institutes Employees Union held a protest rally here this morning. They were protesting at the privatisation of the ITIs by the government in near future.

Mr Navjot Singh Dhoot , general secretary of the union, said that after Independence these training institutes were set up to train young men and women in some trade so that they were able to stand on their feet.

These Institutes charged Rs 3400 as fee from a trainee for a year but after the privatisation of these institutes, the fees would shoot up to Rs 12,000 per year. The steep rise in the fees will deprive the poor students of chance to study in these institutes.

Mr Dhoot said the state government is selling land and machinery of these institutes at a pittance.This is anti-state and the workers will not be mute spectators to such a sell-out. He added that the employees would sit on a dharna outside the DC's office on August 29. 



Shiv Sainiks burn effigy of LeT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan), led by their general secretary Pawan Sharma and district unit chief Kirishan Sharma held a protest march against bomb blasts in Mumbai and also burnt an effigy of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT) here today.

The protesters assembled at the local railway station and observed two minutes’ silence to pay homage to victims of the blasts.

Then the party workers, shouting slogans and carrying placards, marched towards the Clock Tower chowk where a rally was held and effigy of the Laskar-e-Toiba was burnt.



BSNL mobile services hit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 27
The cellular services of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) remained suspended today as its main server reportedly developed some technical snag. Despite efforts no senior BSNL official could be contacted.

Sources in the BSNL stated that the cellular services were disrupted at around 1 p.m. as the main server went down. The sources added that the services would be restored soon. However, till the filing of the report the services had not been restored.

It was learnt that the problem was confined to those subscribers who were linked with the Ludhiana server. 



Beant’s anniversary: promises unfulfilled
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 27
While the district administration is making preparations for organising the state-level death anniversary function of assassinated Chief Minister Beant Singh, the successive state governments have forgotten the commitments or promises made at the bhog ceremony to keep the memory of his contribution to Punjab alive.

The death anniversary of Mr Beant Singh will be observed at Payal on August 31 where Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, PPCC President H.S. Hanspal and some senior Central Congress leaders will participate and pay their tributes to the slain Chief Minister. It was on August 31, 1995, that Mr Beant Singh was killed by a human bomb while he was coming of the Punjab Civil Secretariat at Chandigarh. The bhog ceremony in connection with the death of Mr Beant Singh was held at Payal on September 9, 1995.

Mr Harcharan Singh Brar who succeeded as Chief Minister to Beant Singh while addressing the gathering at the bhog ceremony had announced that Kotli village where Beant Singh had settled after partition of the country would be named as Beant Singh Nagar. Besides, a life- size statue of Beant Singh would be installed on the National Highway at the entrance to Kadon-Payal road. Kotli village is also situated on this stretch. It was also announced that a polytechnic institute would be set up in his memory.

Bhog ceremony vividly remembers Mr Brar saying: ‘Beant Singh main teri rooh non hazar hazar ho ke Guru Granth Sahib the hazoori which elan karda hann ki main teri soch ke pehradianga’ (Beant Singh I swear by the voice of your conscience and in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib-I will follow your footsteps. Mr Brar never took any steps to fulfill the promises or announcements made at the bhog ceremony. Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhathal, who succeeded Mr Harcharan Singh Brar as Chief Minister could not do much because she was at the helm of affairs of the state for just in three months. In February, 1997, the SAD-BJP Government came into power which ruled the state for five years and there was no question of any steps being taken to implement the announcements of the Congress Government being political rivals.

Although the congress has been organising the death anniversary of Mr Beant Singh since his assassination, the Punjab Government (SAD-BJP) never participated in the same despite the fact that Mr Beant Singh died as Chief Minister while fighting against militancy. It was only in the first year of the SAD-BJP Government (August 31, 1997) that Mr Badal sent Deputy Commissioner Arun Goel to the rally at Payal when newsmen pointed out to Mr Badal who was on tour to Ludhiana districts.

It was Mr Beant Singh who broke the shackles of militancy in Punjab when the state was passing through the height of militancy. Mr Beant Singh immediately after assuming his charge directed the Punjab Police which was then headed by Mr K.P.S. Gill, to finish militancy as he knew if it was not done, the militants would finish his government. The police launched its full force against militancy and many innocent people also became the victims of this drive. It was in the month of June that Ludhiana police gunned down Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala, a dreaded terrorist and self-styled general of Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) in an encounter in the Model Town Extension area.

Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala had rung up the then SSP, Ludhiana, Mr Chatopadhya (now DIG Ludhiana range) and told him that they would blow up his office whatever strong security measures he might take. Only a few days after this threat, Ludhiana police got Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala while he was resting in a house in Model Town Extension area.

After this another major success came in the way of Ludhiana police when it killed Sukhdev Singh Babbar, mukh sewadar of Babba Khalsa International, in an encounter near Sahnewla in Ludhiana district. Mr Chatopadhya was continuing as SSP then too. The third major success of Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur police was the killing of BTFK commander, Rashpal Chhandran, in an encounter on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. Chhandran village is located on Ludhiana-Chandigarh road.

Mrs Harjinder Kaur, daughter-in-law of Mr Beant Singh, said: “No government officials ever visited us. It was only during the annual barsi of Sardarji that leaders of the Congress leaders come to visit us”. Her husband, Mr Sukhwant Singh, is a sarpanch of the village and had always been elected unopposed to this post since 1970. He was also chairman of the zila parishad in 1993.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur wants that the state government should set up a medical college in this area in memory of Mr Beant Singh.

She says that people from the neighbouring village come to their house daily — 200 to 300 in numbers — for their daily routine jobs and her husband and Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, who has been elected from Payal Vidhan sabha segment, listen them. Mr Gurkirat Singh, grandson of Mr Beant Singh, also visits the village and meets the people.

Mr Beant Singh was first elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1969 as Independent with the support of the Congress and Left Parties. He defeated Mr Gian Singh Rarewala who had fought on Akali ticket. 



Beware! Glib-tongued thugs on the prowl
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, August 27
About a year ago, a thug , posing as a Baba, scared a school-going child outside Issa Nagri by telling him that his parents were about to die. But the Baba also gave him a solution. If the child managed to get gold ornaments or cash, the Baba promised to give him a mantra with the help of which he would be able to cast away the shadow of death lurking on his dear parents. The boy was duped and the case was reported to the police.

Yesterday, another child was duped in the same manner by a thug dressed as a Baba. Karan Dabi, a class VI student of Khalsa National Senior Secondary School, was convinced of getting gold jewellery and cash from his house. The matter was reported at the division number 2 police station.

Such incidents are not sporadic. But only when the amount involved is high such cases are reported to the police. A number of organised gangs are operating in various localities of the city targeting schoolchildren and others.

In the recent past, two women were duped of gold by conmen posing as sympathisers. The unsuspecting old women were assured that they would be sanctioned old-age pension. The thugs, on the pretext of taking them to the ‘officer, concerned’ persuaded them to part with their bangles and earrings, saying that if they wore gold jewellery while seeing the officer, he might reject their pension applications.

Several thugs are targeting shopkeepers as well. About a couple of weeks ago, a man came to a shop in Calibre Plaza, dealing in sewing machines and cloth cutters. He said he had come from a hosiery unit which wanted to buy a cutter. The shopkeeper gave him the cutter and sent one of his employees with him to the hosiery unit to get the payment of Rs 15,000.

The man put the cutter on his scooter and asked the employee to follow him. At red light in Basti Jodhewal, the man vanished, along with the cutter. After inquiries were made, it was found that registration number of the scooter actually belonged to a Santro car.

About a week ago, a shopkeeper in Bhadaur House was also duped of his mobile phone by a man posing as an insurance agent.

Apart from these thugs, there are women from the Sansi community who specialise in chain snatching while travelling in autos in the city. Recently, the police nabbed a five-woman gang from Bagrian village on the Malerkotla- Patiala road.

Apart from this, the police has not been able to solve any other such case.



Kehal narrates ‘Ik Pind di Kahani’ 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
“Ik Pind di Kahani”, written by Harkesh Singh Kehal, is a socio- cultural study of life in Sandur village, near Malerkotla. This is the fourth book of Kehal, which was released earlier this week.

Kehal was born in the village and has studied the changes that have occurred in his village over the past 100 years.

“Life in the village has undergone a sea change. It has changed in every respect, be it agriculture, education, governance, transport, communication systems and availability of medical facilities”.

He laments that television has sounded the death-knell of the traditional forms of entertainment in which the villagers used to take part. “Rural festivals and games have faded into oblivion. These ought to be revived as they connect us to our roots,” says Kehal.

The writer has also dealt with social problems like unemployment and drug addiction.

Kehal feels that religion has suffered due to modernisation. “Religion is nowadays a cloak that people wear, professing to be religious but not really following the tenets of religion from the heart. Hence, the social fabric is being destroyed,” he says.

He observes that some superstitions still exist. “On ‘Nag Puja’, a snake is brought as the villagers feel that it would protect them from snake bites Chicken pox and measles are still considered ‘mata ka prakop’,” he says.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune here this afternoon, Kehal said, "Love for folklore was innate in my heart. Right from my schooldays, I was influenced by write-ups in ‘Preet Lari’ magazine on folklore. I started contributing to prestigious magazines published by the Punjabi Languages Department.”

His first two books, “Lok Geet Vich Punjabi Jeewan”, and “Punjabi Lok Virsa” dealt with the importance of folk songs in the lives of Punjabis. His third book, “Yaada da Sama”, is a collection of his old essays, poems, etc.

After his retirement from the post of Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, he wants to continue writing about Punjabi folklore so that the modern generation becomes familiar with its rich heritage and feels pride in its culture. 



CSE has rendered yeoman service

The test report of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which has shown that soft drinks prepared by leading multinational companies contain high levels of toxic pesticide residues, has given a rude shock to the consumers.

The government has now woken up to find that toxic elements are higher in vegetables and drinking water. It is the duty of the government to check the contamination levels of such items but it is seldom done.

The CSE has rendered yeoman service to the people, but it will be advisable for the government to check the sale of synthetic milk, in which urea is being mixed.

Is anyone concerned about the mushrooming of fast-food stalls and tea shops on the roadside in unhygienic conditions ?

Educational institutions, government offices and many others sectors have banned the use of soft drinks. At the same time, the quality of drinking water being supplied to people should also be checked properly and regularly.

It is high time the government, manufacturers and independent watchdog organisations worked in coordination and set the guidelines for determining safety standards and measures.

There is an urgent need to settle the issue of permissible levels of contamination in drinking water, soft drinks and food products once and for all.

Kuldip Singh Kreer

Resume telecast of serial

Doordarshan had been broadcasting the serial “Maharathi Karan” on the national network for the past many months. Regretfully, the telecast of the serial has been stopped for the past two weeks without assigning any reason.

It has become common for the Doordarshan authorities to wind up one serial or the other midway, causing disappointment to viewers. Earlier, “Dishayein” met the same fate.

I believe that the serial was watched by audiences of all age groups. I, therefore, appeal to the authorities to resume its telecast at the earliest.

Ravinder Kumar Jain

Students’ expulsion right step

I welcome the expulsion of some senior students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, who were found guilty of ragging their juniors, one of whom was so affected by the inhuman treatment that he had to seek psychiatric help and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.

Taking suo motu notice of the mild punishment given to the seniors, the Human Resources Development Ministry has done well in directing the IIT authorities to reassess the heinous episode afresh and come out with an exemplary punishment.

It is unfortunate that senior students with perverted minds throw all norms of decency to the winds for satiating their sadistic desires. The exemplary punishment is necessary to act as a deterrent to others.

Dr Iqbal Singh Kalra


Pensioner donates for teachers’ welfare
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
In a noble gesture Mr Yash Pal Ghai, a retired teacher and additional general secretary of the Government Pensioners Association, has contributed Rs 1,000 towards the National Foundation for Teachers’ Welfare set up by the Union Government.

The money has been sent to the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to mark Teachers’ Day on September 5.

Mr Ghai said he had been observing Teachers’ Day every year by donating a part of his salary and now after retirement he donates some amount from his pension.



Need for energy-efficient technologies stressed

Ludhiana, August 27
Participants at a workshop on awareness about energy management today stressed the need for bringing in energy-efficient technologies.

The workshop was organised by the Northern Indian Textile Research Association in collaboration with the Small Industries Service Institute. TNS



Scooterist killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Doraha, August 27
A scooterist was killed in an accident near the Punjab State Electricity Board office at Doraha last night. A tempo hit the scooter of Paramjit Singh of Buani village. The tempo driver succeeded in running away from the site of mishap. He was admitted to Sidhu Hospital, where he was declared dead. A case has been registered.



2 held with stolen scooter
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 27
The Model Town police has registered a case under Section 411 of the IPC on the statement of Chand Kishore, a resident of Field Ganj, against Roop Singh, a resident of Dhandra village, and Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Maksudra village near Payal. The complainant had alleged that the accused had stolen his Bajaj Chetak scooter (PB-10-L 6129) from the Model Town extension on July 7. The police today said that the accused were arrested and the scooter seized from their possession on yesterday.

Schoolboy duped: On the statement of Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of Prem Nagar in Amar Pura, the division number 2 police yesterday registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC against an unknown person, posing as a Baba, who duped his nephew by persuading him to bring gold ornaments and Rs 6,000 from his house. The police is clueless about the crime.

Beaten: The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Sections 323 and 325 of the IPC on the statement of Sukhdev Singh, a conductor in the PRTC, against the conductor of bus number (PB-11-S-5062). The complainant alleged that the accused had assaulted him at the general bus stand on August 23. No arrest has been made so far.

Case registered: The division number 7 police station has registered a case under Sections 451, 324, 427 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Sheetal Chopra, a resident of Sanka Nagar in Mundian Kalan village, against Jaswinder Singh. The complainant alleged that the accused came to his house, assaulted him and damaged his property before running away. No arrest has been made so far.

Booked: The Focal Point police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ajaypal Singh, a resident of Bhupinder Nagar, Civil Lines, Patiala, against the driver of truck number HR37B-2815. The complainant alleged that the accused hit his car with his truck at Sherpur Chowk yesterday and damaged it. No arrest has been made so far.

Satta agent held: The division number 7 police has arrested Shamsher Singh, a resident of Geeta Colony on the Tajpur road, and booked him under the Gambling Act. The police today said that the accused was indulging in booking 'dara' and 'satta' bets and Rs 240, along with some slips, was seized from his possession.



Chemist robbed

Khanna, August 27
Four persons robbed a chemist near A.S.College, Khanna, last night.
According to information, Parmodh Kumar, owner of Simran Medical Hall on the Samrala road, Khanna, was going to Daudpur village after closing his shop. When he reached near the college two youths stopped him and started beating him. Two more persons reached there and snatched his mobile phone, gold chain and some cash. OC



Son booked for attacking father

Doraha, August 27
A case has been registered at Payal police station on the statement of Niranjan Singh of Gurditpura village, who alleged that his son Daljit Singh had attacked him when he asked him to return some money. On this Daljit Singh threatened him and also fired shots in the air. OC


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