Monday, September 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Farmers pay the price for being early birds 
Low procurement prices force them to take back paddy 
from mandis
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Dakha, September 28
Unwilling to bow under the pressure exerted by commission agents to sell their paddy at throwaway prices, farmers of the district have started taking their produce back home and try their luck after October 1, when the procurement will start officially.

With proper price not being offered to them and the cost of keeping the produce in mandis proving to be a major burden, a large number of farmers were seen reloading grains in tractor-trailers in the grain market of Mullanpur Dakha here today.

“The commission agent was offering me an amount of Rs 525 per quintal. I can sell my produce at the most at Rs 570 and not less than that. After all, we have worked very hard for a good crop. It is just a question of three-four days when the procurement agencies will come to the market. I will sell it them,” said Mr Gurmeet Singh, a farmer of Mohi village, who was carrying his produce back home.

“I will spread it on the terrace of my house. The remaining moisture content will also go. The only fear I had is of rains, but the sky is quite clear now. I will wait for some time till I get a good price,” said Mr Sohan Singh, another farmer, who was sitting with his produce in the mandi since September 25. Seeing others going back, he had also decided to follow suit.

Many farmers, who had harvested the crop early seeing the easy availability of combines and fearing from the weathers gods, had rushed to the mandis all over the district. They had not realised that their problems were far from over even after harvesting.

While some farmers were resorting to distress sale, fearing glut in the market after the start of paddy procurement by government agencies, sheller owners and commission agents were making a fast buck by buying the produce from the farmers at below the MSP announced by the government. While the official rate was Rs 580 per quintal, the farmers were being paid between Rs 530 to 550 per quintal only.

Some farmers were even selling their good quality paddy (like PR 116) for as low as Rs 525 per quintal. In some mandis, the commission agents had refused to buy the produce saying that they would transact only through state agencies.

Many farmers, however, claimed that they preferred to sell at the price offered to them than wait for the next four to five days.

Another factor weighing heavy on the minds of the farmers is the chances of the rain gods playing spoilsport, as has been the case for the past two years.

Farmers are also wary of keeping their produce in the mandis due to lack of facilities. A few showers can damage their produce. It may be recalled here that during the last paddy season also, paddy worth lakhs was damaged due to rain.

Mahesh Sharma adds from Mandi Ahmedgarh: The government purchase for paddy is yet to begin in three yards of the local grain market, while the associated purchase centres have already exhausted their capacities. Though the market committee claims to have completed all arrangements for paddy procurement, the farmers are complaining of inadequate facilities.

A quick survey of the local grain market and purchase centres at Kanganwal, Jhaner, Lohat baddi, Mohali Kalan and Maherna, revealed that farmers had started bringing their produce since last week. While the number of arrivals at the centres was not high, the main yard of the grain market was overflowing with fresh arrivals.

“If lifting does not start immediately on the first day of government purchase, roads and lanes surrounding the market will be overflowing, leading to traffic chaos,” said Mr Abhay Kumar Jain, a local leader.

Mr Jaswant Singh, a farmer and a transporter, said farmers had to sell their produce to private buyers, including sheller owners. Against the government rate of Rs 580 per quintal, they could get only up to Rs 525 per quintal for superfine quality of PR 106 or PUSA 44 varieties.

Punjgrain, Punsup, Panjab Agro Industries, Panjab Warehousing Corporation and Markfed are expected to start purchases from October 1, but the commission agents are yet to receive their allocations.

Main yard being inadequate, most farmers have been asked to unload their produce at ‘katcha’ yard situated along the Jagera road. In case of adverse weather, heaps of paddy lying here will suffer the maximum degradation.

No senior official was available for comments.



Need for another vehicle registration office in city
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 28
The District Transport Office here is one of the most overburdened government offices in Ludhiana. With just 15 regular employees, the office has to cope up with massive crowd every day. On an average 3,000 vehicles are registered here every month. Besides, an equal number of driving licences are also issued every month. With the office remaining closed on Saturday and Sunday, there are only five working days in a week, making it 20 days a month. Even if there are no other holidays, on an average about 150 vehicles are registered here daily.

Way back in 1993-94, a committee headed by a senior IAS officer had recommended the bifurcation of the DTO office as the volume of work was too much. Ten years have passed since then and the volume of work has increased manifold, but nothing has been done in this regard. At that time the committee had also recommended appointment of at least 60 officials, but the staff strength remains the same.

The Ludhiana DTO office is said to be the third in the country after Kolkata and Delhi in terms of the volume of registrations of vehicles in a single city and issuing of licences. However, in Kolkata and Delhi, the registration offices have been separated in various zones. This makes the Ludhiana office as one of the most overburdened offices in the country.

On an average 1,000 people visit the office daily. There are 15 employees in the office. Some of them are assigned duties in the court, some go for checking and the effective strength comes to only half of the total strength.

Some senior officials in the district have also reportedly favoured the bifurcation of work. In Ludhiana, there should at least be two offices for vehicle registration and issuing of driving licences, they say.



Innovative burglars!
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, September 28
As the menace of ‘kale-kachhewale’ has suddenly reappeared in the countryside around the city, thieves and thugs operating in the city itself are also getting bolder with each passing day. And innovative too.

Only a couple of days ago, two youths decamped with Rs 10,000 and about 250 gm of gold jewellery from a house in Salem Tabri in broad daylight. Burglars approached the housewife, who was alone in the house, and told her that her husband had got injured in a brawl and they had come to take her to the hospital. She locked the house and went to her husband’s shop on the Gill Road only to find that she had been tricked. When the couple rushed back home, they found the house ransacked. The burglars, however, could not take away the TV, printer and a stereo which they had wrapped up. The police is still clueless about the theft.

Another gang, comprising two men and two women, used chloroform to make two sisters and their father in their Chhawni Mohalla house unconscious and decamped with a mobile phone, Rs 12,000 and 200 gm gold ornaments. The gang arrived at their house at night and asked one of the two sisters to do the ‘make-up on one of the women. When they declined to do so at such an odd hour, the robbers tied them up and made them inhale something and they fell unconscious.

In spite of more than 100 PCR motor cycles, which are supposed to patrol the city limits round-the-clock in three shifts of eight hours each, such incidents go unabated.

While the city is literally being held to ransom by these petty criminals, who even turn murderers sometimes, the PCR cops, who were told to stop strangers on the road and write down about their whereabouts and so on under the Stranger Roll Scheme, introduced by Mr Narinderpal Singh after taking over as the SSP, are not showing much enthusiasm. Even if strangers, particularly the migrants from Bihar and UP, on the road are stopped and questioned and data collected, there is hardly any follow-up. Attempts have been made by some former SSPs to check criminal elements in the migrant population of the city. House-owners were asked to submit details of their tenants, particularly migrants. The orders were passed by Mr Kuldeep Singh in the wake of the murder of a four-year-old boy who had been kidnapped from his Model Town Extension house by a former servant.

Meanwhile, the city police has launched an onslaught against the migrant population of the city. A number of migrants were roughed up during questioning in Dhandari, Focal Point and Gias Pura.



Dasehra mela begins
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 28
Rajguru Nagar, located on Ferozepore Road, is all set to hold its maiden Dasehra following the formation of a Dasehra committee by the area residents. A “Ganesh poojan” ceremony was held today to mark the beginning of a Dasehra mela.

The mela would conclude on October 5 with the burning of effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath.

A meeting of the Rajguru Nagar Dasehra Committee was held here last evening to finalise the preparations for the celebrations. The meeting was attended, among others, by Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, former MP, Mr Sandeep Vadehra, SHO, Sarabha Nagar police station, Mr Ashok Goyal, president, Mr Sharad Aggarwal, general secretary, Mr Dinesh Gupta, secretary, and Mr Satish Gupta, press secretary of the newly formed Dasehra committee. It was decided to take out a shobha yatra of Lord Rama in Rajguru Nagar on October 1 in which tableaux would be on display.

Shobha yatra: The Urban Estate Ram Lila Dussehra Committee, Dugri, organised a “shobha yatra” on the eve of “Sita Swayamber”, which was led by Mr Raj Garg and Dr Shiv Gupta.

The yatra, which started from Shiv Mandir in the CRPF Colony, was inaugurated by Mr Sat Pal Gosain, former Deputy Speaker. A “Jyoti puja” was performed by the president of the BJP’s local unit, Mr Subhash Verma. The Dussehra Committee also honoured the chief guests, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Subhash Verma, Director of the Lav Kush Dramatic Club, and Mr Sudhir Sood, by presenting them “siropas” and awards of honour. 



Begging menace irritates residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 28
A few months after the district police had launched a crackdown on beggars in the city to clean the place of the problem, the latter are back in business. They have swarmed city roads with policemen remaining mute spectators.

The police had arrested around 300 beggars from different places of the city in December last year and had booked them under the Prevention of Begging Act, 1971. The police had also claimed that it would root out the problem in a few days only.

However, beggars have started reappearing on the city roads, especially at traffic lights in various places. Some of them sell wares to commuters waiting on the traffic lights by pestering them.

Beggars, some of whom are blind, carry small children in their laps. Many carry rags to clean windscreens of cars to seek alms. They even keep pestering people in front of cops.

A quick survey by Ludhiana Tribune today revealed that beggars are seen in large numbers outside all religious places, bus stand, railway station and busy areas, including Bharat Nagar Chowk, Mall Road, Bhai Wala Chowk, Ghumar Mandi and Pakhowal Road. They are also spotted in Bhadaur House and outside the Municipal Corporation office.

A young boy, who was begging on Bhai Wala Chowk, said after police action, beggars go in hiding for a few days and reappear.

Meanwhile, a recent crackdown on beggars was a shocking revelation. While generally it was believed that Sikhs or Punjabis did not beg, the identity of several beggars had put a question mark on this proud claim. Several of those arrested were identified as Sikhs. Police sources said it was yet to be seen whether they were converts. Interestingly, more than 90 per cent of the nabbed persons belonged to either Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. The remaining had residential addresses in Punjab only.

The menace has invited severe criticism from city residents time and again. They say that it gives an ugly look to the industrial city. Residents have complained of thefts committed by beggars from cars, besides some snatching incidents.



Park named after Bhagat Singh
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, September 28
“We should always remember the sacrifices made by our martyrs to attain freedom and should strive towards making our country prosperous,” said the Municipal Council Chief, Mr Joginder Pal Singla. He was addressing a function organised by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Club to celebrate the 96th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at municipal park, Model Town, here today.

Mr Joginder Pal Singla, who was the chief guest, named the park after Shaheed Bhagat Singh, as demanded by the club in a memorandum presented to him today. Mr Singla also promised to provide adequate facilities in the Municipal Library of Model Town. He also announced a grant of Rs 10,000 from the municipal funds for the club.

Mr Singla distributed prizes and mementos among students, who had won distinctions in sports and studies, and guests. The function was presided over by Mr Harinder Singh Bhambri, member PPCC. He announced a sum of Rs 5,100 for the club. Students from the local schools presented skits, giddha and bhangra. A magic show was also held by the Tark Sheel Society.

The guest of honour, Mr Seth Kanahaya Lal, a social worker, talked about the freedom struggle. Mr Shahbaj Singh Dhillon was the stage secretary.

Mr Rajinder Bittu, president of the club, presented a vote of thanks. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhaliwal, president Block Congress Gobindgarh, Mr J.P. Sharma, president Steel Chamber, Mr Ravi Jassar, Sarpanch, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Bhambri, former council chief, Mr Rajiv Sood, councillor, Mr Harchand Singh Nasrali, Mr Chanan Singh Matharu, vice-president Steel Rolling Mills Association, and Mr Bhushan Rana also spoke.



Workers’ strike ends

Ludhiana, September 28
The 14-day-long strike by workers of Hero Cycles was called off today following an agreement between striking workers and the management. The management had earlier suspended 15 workers for alleged indiscipline and striking workers were demanding their reinstatement.

According to Mr B.D. Arora, legal adviser, Hero Cycles, under the agreement the management has decided to revoke the suspension of eight employees, while the chargesheet of seven others will continue and their case will be investigated. The workers decided to resume the work unconditionally. — TNS



Inter-state gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 28
The Division No. 6 police has busted an inter-state gang of robbers by arresting its six members.
Police sources said the gang was active in the region and had stolen or highjacked a large number of vehicles besides committing robberies all over the state. Three members of the gang were from Amritsar district, two from Bihar and another from West Bengal.

Sources said the composition of the gang reflected a disturbing trend of merger of local gangs with the gangs of other states.

As for the modus operandi, the gang members used to stay in a city for few months and then change the area of operation to the other state, where one of the members was conversant with the local area.

According to Mr Mukhwinder Singh, SHO, Division No. 6 police station, the accused had highjacked a truck (HR-38D-7858) from Pathankot. They had parked the truck at Transport Nagar here and were planning to rob a petrol station when some persons overheard their conversation. The accused were caught in a raid by the police.

The police has recovered a truck, a scooter, a moped, two pistols, two knives and some iron rods from these persons. Further interrogation was on. The police said it was hopeful of getting some clue to the persons responsible for the recent robbery incidents in the city.

The interrogation of the accused revealed that despite the police crackdown at railway station here, the place was still popular with anti-social elements as rendezvous point.

A large number of criminals have been caught from the railway station itself. Prominent among those was Ahmed, a militant with the Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, which was responsible for the Doraha train bomb blast.



Man, wife murdered
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 28
Madan (35), a resident of Raipur-Araian village, and his wife Rajee were reportedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons by another villager Makhan and his accomplices at the village on the Phillaur-Nawanshahr road yesterday afternoon, according to a report received here.

The police said Madan was going to lodge a complaint with the police against Makhan for allegedly attacking and wounding his two buffaloes that had strayed into Makhan’s fields. Makhan along with his friends intercepted Madan on the way to the police chowki and attacked him. When Madan’s wife tried to rescue here husband, she was also attacked with sharp-edged weapons. They both died on the spot.

Meanwhile, residents of the village raised slogans and demonstrated against the Phillaur police, which reached the spot more than one hour after the incident took place. The villagers blocked vehicular traffic on the Phillaur-Nawanshahr road. Later, the assailant, Makhan, surrendered before the police.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302, 148 and 149 of the IPC. The bodies have been sent to Phillaur.



Cop booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 28
Constable Jora Singh, attached with Mr Harnam Das Johar, Minister for Higher Education, was booked under Sections 341, 323 and 506 of the IPC by the Model Town police yesterday.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Samrala, complained that the constable beat him up after his protest against the cop’s unruly behaviour. The complainant, who had parked his car near the minister’s residence yesterday, stated that when he came back to drive away his vehicle, the constable resorted to an unruly behaviour and started slapping him. The constable also threatened him. The police said today that the constable was arrested and released on bail.

Assault cases: The police has registered a case under Sections 342, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act against Bhupinder Singh Chadha, Rajinder Sharma and three others on the statement of Mr Jeet Lal.

The complainant alleged that the accused beat him up on Saturday and confined him in their factory in New Tagore Nagar at gunpoint.

The Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Daljit Kumar against Bahadur. The complainant alleged that the accused intercepted him and beat him up.

Boy booked: The police on Saturday booked a 10-year-old boy Sonu on charges of kidnapping a girl. He was booked under Sections 363 and 361 of the IPC. The mother of the girl alleged that the accused had taken away the girl when no elder member of the family was present in the house.

Fraud cases: The Haibowal police has registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Amarjit Singh against Jagdish Parshad, Maheshwari, Deepak Kumar and Anil Kumar, all residents of Deepak Nagar. The complainant stated that the accused, who were running a lucky scheme in the area, had duped him and several others of money.

The Sahnewal police registered a case on Saturday under Sections 406 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Kesar Singh, a resident of Umedpur village, against Super Kohli Fabrics at Pawa village.

The complainant alleged that the accused had sold his vehicle without his permission.

Booked for obscenity: The Division No. 6 police on Saturday registered a case under Sections 188 and 294 of the IPC against Ashok Kumar, a migrant from UP now living in Harkrishan Colony. The police said the accused was arrested form Industrial Area-A, where he was staging a dance show. The accused was later bailed out.

Injured: The Sahnewal police on Saturday registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Surinder Singh, a resident of Bhaini Sahib village, against Sudagar Singh, a resident of Darbara village. The complainant stated that the accused, who was driving a tractor-trailer, hit his son’s moped on the Bhaini Sahib road on Saturday. His son, Gurmit Singh, was injured.

In another case, the Civil Lines police registered a case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC on the statement of Ms Kirti Bansal, a resident of Aggar Nagar, against S. Mohanpal, a bus driver. The complainant stated that on September 20 when she was alighting from the bus, the driver started moving the vehicle as a result of which she suffered injuries.

Knife seized: The police on Saturday arrested Kamal Kumar, a resident of Satkar Nagar, and recovered a knife from his possession and booked him under the Arms Act.



Traders to burn effigy of exim forms
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 28
Members of trade and industry would burn an effigy of exim forms on Dasehra to mark their defiance of the alleged ill-conceived decision. The protest would mark the commencement of a ‘decisive and extended’ battle against the alleged anti-trade policies of the government. On October 11, traders will hold a state-level rally and dharna to mobilise people for agitation.

Addressing a meeting of the representatives of more than 100 trade and industrial associations here today, the state general-secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM), Mr Sunil Mehra, said traders had had enough of the adamant policies of the government and they would no longer take the highhandedness lying down. He said the trading community, which had played a significant role in bringing the Congress back to power, was being betrayed.

The government was threatening the Central Government with launching an agitation in support of the farmers, but the trade and industry were being ignored, he said. The ruling party had gone back on its poll promises like abolition of octroi, simplification of sales tax structure and an end to inspector raj. As if to add insult to injury, power tariff had been raised and sales tax on petrol jacked up to put additional burden on the trade and industry, he said.

Mr Kasturi Lal Mittal, who presided over the meeting, said as a result of the policies of the government, the trade and industry were facing severe recession. To make the matters worse, the introduction of exim form had literally brought the working of hosiery and other sectors of industry to a standstill. In the absence of immediate remedial measures, the state would soon have to face massive unemployment among industrial workers, he said.

Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, general secretary of the district unit of the mandal, asked the Chief Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet to wake up from their slumber, lest it should be too late for them to salvage the situation. The policy of turning a blind eye to the problems being faced by the trade and industry would not pay off for long and in any case the impending agitation would make the government see reason and act in a responsible manner. “The traders are all set to come out on the roads and make it clear to the government that in the fight for justice, they will go to any length,” he said.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |