L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Goods worth lakhs gutted in hosiery unit
Short-circuit believed to be cause of fire
Tribune News

Ludhiana, October 26
Property worth lakhs was gutted in a major fire that broke out in a three-storeyed building housing a hosiery near New Kidwai Nagar here. Sources said the fire was caused due to short-circuit and no fire cracker was responsible for it.

Seven fire-tenders were pressed into service for over two hours to control the raging flames. Sources estimated that goods worth more than Rs 15 lakh were destroyed in the incident.

A visibly upset Mr Gurdev Singh, the owner of the hosiery, said finished products ready to be sold in the winter season were completely burnt in the fire. He said his only consolation was that the fire broke out on Sunday and none of his employee and labourers was present. He said it would have a major tragedy as more than 100 labourers are present in the hosiery at any given time.

Fire fighters had a tough time as they had to protect themselves from the gases emanating form the hosiery products and raw material. The fire-fighters did an arduous job by first removing some tins containing highly combustible chemicals besides some gas cylinders.

Meanwhile, firemen were kept busy throughout the Divali night due to 36 fire incidents that took place in different parts of the city. Most of those places were houses where one or the other type of fire crackers caused fire. About 30 persons reported with burn injuries at different hospitals. No casualty was reported from any part of the city.

“Divali is a festival of joy but for us it is a major headache. We were kept on our toes. There was not a minute of rest. All staff was on duty,” said a fire officer.

Sources said the causes of fire were mainly negligence in handling fire-crackers. A majority of these were caused by ‘rockets’ that fell on houses.

Hospital sources said injuries were caused mainly on hands, arms and feet. They said despite warning, people tried to light crackers in their hands but could not throw them in time. Some were injured when “chakris” or “anaars” exploded.

Only patients with serious burn injuries reported at hospitals. All city hospitals mainly DMC, CMC, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Oswal Cancer, ESI and Pahwa Hospital had made special arrangements to meet any eventuality on the Divali night.

Eleven patients reported at the DMCH, three in the CMC and remaining in other hospitals of the city.



CM assures comprehensive relief to industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 26
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today gave a categorical assurance to the industrialists and traders that the government would find a way out to make sure that they did not face any difficulty relating to exim forms.

Presiding over the state-level function to observe Vishvakarma Day at the auditorium of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association here, he made a commitment that the government would simplify all taxation laws; do away with the discrimination between existing and new industrial units by way of providing speedy clearance; initiate steps for land use change for the small and tiny units located in residential areas; and scrap all cumbersome procedural wrangles in the way of industrial development.

The Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of a Rs 1.5-crore research and development centre to be set up by the association. He announced a grant of Rs 25 lakh for the centre.

He also conceded the demand for providing a piece of land on reserve price for the construction of Vishvakarma Bhavan in the city and issued instructions to the district administration to identify a suitable site for this purpose.

Claiming that Punjab had once again become the destination for giant industries, corporate sector and multinational companies, the Chief Minister said an investment of Rs 3,000 crore had been committed for the proposed IT park being set up in Ropar district. Besides a host of IT units, the centre would have a tractor unit by a German firm and several other industrial units with a collective employment potential of nearly 1 lakh persons.

Expressing his concern over the mounting unemployment among educated youth, he said every year almost 3.25 lakh students were turning out of colleges and not more than 40 per cent of them were technically or vocationally trained. “We have to lay emphasis on making the students computer literate and creating infrastructure in government schools for computer education to minimise the gap in level of education in government and private schools.”

Capt Amarinder Singh stated that multinational companies like Del Corporation and Microsoft were eyeing Punjab for entry in the field of setting up IT facilities and education in a big way. The Bill Gate Foundation had made an offer to provide the entire hardware free of cost for starting computer education in government schools. The government was aware that the next generation had not only to be made computer literate but also had to be comprehensively prepared to face stiff challenges in a global scenario.

He said ever since the Congress government took over, the Ludhiana civic body had spent Rs 90 crore for sewerage and drainage projects and another Rs 20 crore were proposed to be spent for development of all major roads in the city by the end of this financial year. Lauding the financial turnaround of the corporation, he remarked that as a result of deft financial management, it had become a cash surplus body to the extent that a few months back the government had temporarily borrowed funds from the corporation.

Making a fervent plea for payment of taxes to the trade and industry, he said revenue had to be generated both at the local and the state level for creation of infrastructure. “Our schools are ill equipped and under staffed and more than 14,000 teachers have to be recruited on contract basis. Similarly, the hospitals need more doctors, equipment and para medical staff to cater to the needs of the sick. Roads and bridges have to be constructed.”

Among others present on the occasion were Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC; Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister; Mr Harnam Das Johar, Higher Education Minister; Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Printing and Stationery; Mr Surinder Dawar and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, both MLAs; Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner; Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation; Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor; Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, DCC (Urban); Mr Harmohinder Singh, president, DCC (Rural); Mr Pawan Diwan, vice-president, Punjab Youth Congress; Mr Ramesh Joshi, secretary, PPCC; Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa; Mr Rajinder Singh Basant; Mr Darshan Singh Brar; and Mr Isher Singh.



Siahar villagers observe black Divali
Jupinderjit Singh and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Siahar, October 26
Residents of Siahar village observed black Divali to mourn the death of Ajit Singh, a victim of violence involving rival groups at Nanaksar Ashram Thath on the night of October 11. The deceased breathed his last in a hospital at Ludhiana on Saturday. His body was cremated here today.

Belying all hopes that the controversy had died down following a compromise between the rival groups, the group favouring Baba Harnek Singh has demanded the arrest of the sons of Late Bhai Meehan Singh, founder of the dera, for causing violence. On the other hand, on the complaint of the sons of Bhai Meehan Singh, the police has started an inquiry into the case.

As villagers observed black Divali, a heavy police arrangement was made in the village.

According to Mr Mukhtiar Singh, a former panch of the village panchayat, Ajit Singh, had received bullet injuries in the abdomen in the firing incident. Narrating the sequence of events, he said supporters of Baba Harnek Singh had attacked the devotees and Ajit Singh was one of the injured.

He said, “When I was about to leave the religious place after finishing my turn to recite Gurbani, I heard Swami Kanwaljit, Fauji Avtar Singh, Charan Singh Mistry, Manmohan Singh and Granthi Gurcharan Singh asking someone to close the main gate and ‘teach a lesson’ to those present inside.” Later, it was learnt that Ajit Singh had received bullet injuries.”

Ajit Singh (45) is survived by wife, Sukhwinder Kaur, and sons, Kulwant and Jitender.

Mr Achhra Ram, another injured, said he was doing ‘sewa’ along with other devotees on October 11, when they were attacked by supporters of Baba Harnek Singh. They were armed with sharp-edged weapons and fire arms. He had become unconscious and had to be taken to a hospital.

Members and activists of various organisations, who were present at the time of cremation of Ajit Singh condemned the law enforcing agency and alleged the police was trying to shield the culprits.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA and senior SAD leader, demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident. He criticised the police and the government for allegedly shielding the culprits and booking the innocent devotees.

The Pendu Vikas Te Mulazim Bhalai Sanstha, the Meeri Peeri Youth Club and the Sanjha Pyar Dian Sabhyacharik Manch, led by Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Jagdeep Singh and Mr Avtar Singh, respectively, have demanded an inquiry and immediate arrest of the accused. Ms Balwinder Kaur, sarpanch, Mr Chamkaur Singh, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Shingara Singh, Mr Budh Singh, Mr Sandeep Kumar (all panches) and Mr Malkiat Singh, chairman, said an action committee would be constituted to impress upon the government to initiate an inquiry into the case.

The police, however, maintained that it had been trying its best to maintain law and order at thath and the village. Mr S.K. Agnihotri, Superintendent of Police (Detective), and Mr Ajmer Singh, Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), Khanna, said the two cases booked under Section 307 of the IPC had been converted into cases under Section 302 of the IPC. One of the accused, Avtar Singh Fauji, had already been arrested. Gurcharan Singh Granthi and Charan Singh Mistry, other accused named by deceased, were still at large. The weapons used for killing Ajit Singh were yet to be recovered.



A day of pujas
Tribune Reporters

Industrial workers offer prayers on Vishvakarma Day in Ludhiana on Sunday
Industrial workers offer prayers on Vishvakarma Day in Ludhiana on Sunday.
— Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Ludhiana, October 26
Three ‘pujas’ were performed by city residents here today.
All workers offered prayers to Vishvakarma, the supreme architect and astrisan. They worshipped their tools.

Govardhan puja was also performed with fervour. Mr Surinder Gambhir, a cow worshipper, said, On this day, cows and calves are worshipped. After applying ‘tilaks’ on the foreheads of cows and calves, devotees perform ‘aartis’. Later, these animals are given sweets. Lord Krishna used to worship these, so we follow the tradition”.

Aankut was also celebrated today. After prayers, langar was served to the people. The Shri Mahavir Mandir Trust, Gurmandi, celebrated the festival with fervour. Maharaj O.P. Tripathi of the trust said the festival was started by Lord Krishna. “On this day, farmers offer a part of their crop to gods”, he said.

The president of the trust, Mr Pawan Sharma, and Mr Vipin Thapar honoured Ms Suman, leader of the group that performs satsang every Tuesday. Langar was served in other temples also.

MANDI AHMEDGARH: Divali was celebrated with fervour in the town and surrounding villages. Ms Razia Sultana, MLA, Mr Mohammand Mustafa, IG, Railway Police, and Mr Rajneesh Sharma Guddu, president, municipal council, visited houses of various office-bearers and workers of the Congress to greet them on the occasion. Prominent among others who accompanied them were Mr Ravinder Kumar, president, city Congress, Mr Sham Sundar, Mr Jitender Bhola, Ms Chiter Rekha, Ms Santosh Rani, Ms Ramanjit Kaur, Ms Yaseen, Mr Jaswinder Lalli (all councillors), Naresh Bhutta, Pawan Sharma and Tarsem Sharma.

Though civil administration had banned the sale of crackers in the market and fixed places behind MGMN Senior Secondary School and Tubewell No. 3 for sale of crackers, fireworks worth around Rs 2crore were sold from open market and no seller turned up at places meant for the purpose.

Vishavkarma Day was celebrated at the local Vishavkarama Mandir on Sunday. The function was presided over by Mr Balwant Singh Lotey and Mr Surinder Singh Hunjan was the chief guest. Sant Baba Balbir Singh hoisted the flag and jatha led by Sardar Malkiat Singh recited shabads.

JAGRAON: Residents celebrated Divali enthusiasm turning the town into a day during night hours with thousands of earthen lamps lit and twinkling electric lights in different styles. The trend of the people purchasing gifts was a bit changed as they were buying dry fruits rather than sweets.



Now crackers smoke engulfs city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 26
The joy of Divali was limited to a few hours only, but its effects will take quite sometime to subside. After the havoc created by the burning of paddy stubble in the district, more damage was done by the crackers.
This morning a thick layer of smog engulfed the sky. Despite the directions of the Supreme Court regarding banning the use of crackers after 10 pm, residents flouted these with impunity.

The residents burst the crackers throughout the night and continued till this afternoon. The pollution level had witnessed a certain rise as the visibility was very poor.

Dr Paramjit Singh Sehra, Associate Professor, Department of Agrometerology, said it was not a new phenomenon for the city as every year after Divali the pollution levels rose to an alarming high. A few days ago the city had witnessed thick smog when the farmers burnt stubble. The situation was improving for the last some days, but it worsened after Divali.

Highways connecting the city were seen under a blanket of haze today. A city-based doctor has advised the residents to stay indoors, especially in the evening. He said the situation would continue during the next few days as the smog would take sometime to settle down. Meanwhile, thirty-two fire incidents were reported in the city.



VIP sons vs police controversy
CM sides with minister, suspends SHO
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 26
Although a judicial probe into the ‘VIP’ sons versus police’ controversy, involving a Congress Minister, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi and a former SHO of Sarabha Nagar,Mr Sandeep Wadehra, is yet to be finalised, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has taken an open stand in favour of the minister, holding the SHO wrong.

He said the SHO had misbehaved with the minister when he had called him up to sort out the matter involving his son and his friends. Mr M. S. Jaggi, judicial officer, was yet to submit his inquiry report into the episode.

The Cheif Minister has suspended the SHO. ‘‘ I have suspended him for being indisciplined and discourteous to Mr Birmi, an elected representative of the people,’’ he said when asked to comment on the alleged political interference in police functioning.

The views of the Chief Minister are being viewed as a clear support to Mr Birmi and Mr K. L. Chabra, municipal councillor. The sons of both of these were involved in the incident.

The Chief Minister used the opportunity to warn the state police for remaining disciplined and courteous to the people, especially the elected representatives. He said any indiscipline would be intolerable.

Meanwhile, about 25 witnesses are learnt to have deposed before the judicial officer in the case. Both parties had produced almost equal number of witnesses in the case.

Mr Jaggi had also recorded the statements of some shopkeepers of Sarabha Nagar main market. He, however, refused to divulge any details and said he would be submitting the report soon.



VHP condemns imposition of Section 144
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, October 26
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has taken a serious view of the orders of the SDM, Samrala, Mr Jaspaul Singh Jassi, imposing Section 144 in some localities of Machhiwara and Samrala on the eve of Divali.

In the press note, Mr Swami Surya Partap Singh, member of the Kendriya Marg Darshak Mandal, and Swami Basant Brahmchari, co-convener of the Marg Darshak Mandal, Punjab, have expressed surprise over the decision of the SDM. They have questioned the need of imposing Section 144 claiming that the people of the area have never created any trouble whatsoever.

“Such dictatorial decisions can hurt religious sentiments of the people,” Swami Basant Brahmchari added.

The SDM, however, said he did not do it with the intention of hurting the religious sentiments of any community. The section was imposed just to ban the sale and storage of crackers, he added. He said a similar ban was imposed in Khanna and Jagraon also. The idea was just to ensure safety of the people in congested areas of Samrala and Machhiwara, he added.



Landline subscribers a neglected lot

Prior to August 15, 1998, the telephone rentals were charged on the basis of capacity of the Telephone Exchange but in order to charge hefty rentals the Department of Telecommunications revised the policy with effect from August 15, 1998 to charge rentals on the basis of capacities of the Short Distance Charging Areas (SDCAs). After the corporatisation of the Telcom Department, the successive taking over company the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) that now has almost a monopoly of landline telephones has been pursuing the policy of charging rentals on the basis of capacities of the SDAs. This policy of charging high rate of rentals is not in the knowledge of the telephone subscribers. They simply know that the charges have been increased.

The basic telephone operators are in the habit of increasing telephone tariff every now and then without bothering about the impact of these hikes on the common man. It is all the more painful to know that the government too in shielding the operators. Firstly, the government fooled the people by charging rentals on the basis of capacities of the SDAs and thereafter the successive private operators continued this policy.

In the era of cellular phones there is cut-throat competition among various operators. But nobody seems to be bothered about the cause of the landline telephone subscribers.

The service tax on telephone bills has since been increased from 5 to 8 per cent and furthermore 12.5 per cent tax of the Punjab Government is in the offing. The tall claims of the Central Government to provide telephones at affordable rates have thus been belied. The Central Government should wake up and intervene to see that telephone rent in charged as per the capacities of the telephone exchanges to give a fair deal to the subscribers.

D.P. Jindal, Mandi Gobindgarh.

Harassment by Postal Department

The main post office at Mandi Gobindgarh makes cash payments up to Rs 19,999 of small saving scheme deposits and fixed deposits. For the payment of Rs 20,000 and above it asks the depositors to get the same either by transferring the amount into their savings accounts or through cheques which are issued by the Head Office, Rajpura. The realisation of the cheques cost the depositors additional burden of bank collection charges besides the wastage of time in the process. There is resentment among the depositors over this. This undue harassment discourages many from investing in the small saving schemes of the government.

However, the post office at the nearby town of Amloh makes such payments in cash up to Rs 20,000 and insists on the above mentioned procedure for amounts exceeding this limit. The post office at the adjoining city of Khanna makes payments in cash for any amount and doesn't insist on any other mode of payment.

Why different yardsticks are being applied for making payments in the same department at different stations? The authorities concerned should look into the anomaly and issue directions in this regard to maintain a uniform procedure all over. If the government sincerely wants to promote procedure the small saving scheme then it must make the payment hassle free.

D.P. Jindal, Mandi Gobindgarh.



One held with opium
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 26
Vijay Kumar, a migrant from UP now living in Vishvakarma Colony, was arrested from near the T-point in Transport Nagar on Friday while he was allegedly carrying 500 gm of contraband opium. A case under Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act was registered against him at the Division No. 6 police station.

Man dies in mishap: The Jodhewal police registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Mr Bhupinder Singh, who lives on the Noorwala road, against an unknown driver of a tempo (PB-32A-0150), who hit his father Mr Jarnail Singh near Sujatwal village on Friday morning and killed him on the spot.

Assault cases: The Sadar police, on the statement of Mr Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Bermi village falling under the Hambran police station, yesterday registered a case under Sections 324, 323, 356 and 34 of the IPC, against Bachittar Singh and Sony, both residents of Malikpur Bet village. The complainant had stated that the accused came to his land on a tractor on Thursday morning. The accused, who were armed with sticks and swords, beat him up and injured him after which the accused ran away from the spot, added the complainant.

The Sarabha Nagar police registered a case under Sections 382, 511 and 323 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Vijay Kumar, a resident of Ghulabi Hotel, Phillaur, currently living on the Gill road and running a business there, against two unknown persons travelling by a Maruti Esteem car. The complainant had stated that the accused hit his scooter, snatched his cash-bag from him and beat him up near Satluj Hospital on Friday. No arrest has been made so far.

Fraud alleged: The Division No. 8 police registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC yesterday on the statement of Mr Saleem Sharma, Senior Manager, Baidyanath Bhavan, Baddi, in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, against Parvinder Singh, partner in a city-based agency dealing in medicines. The complainant had alleged that he had sold some medicines to the accused on credit but the accused had refused to make any payment for the same. No arrest has been made so far.

Gamblers held: The Division No. 3 police on Friday night arrested Onkar Singh, a  resident of Mohalla Fateh Ganj, Arjan Kumar, a resident of Islam Ganj, Kuldeep Singh and Inderjeet Singh, residents of Amar Pura, while they were gambling at a public place and booked them under the Gambling Act. The police said today that a sum of Rs 2,330 and a deck of playing cards were recovered from their possession.

Gamblers booked: On specific tip-offs, some alleged gamblers were booked separately in two cases under the Gambling Act at the Division No. 4 police station yesterday. Those booked in the first case were identified as Tarsem Lal, Amrik Singh, Surinder Singh and Pinky, all residents of Qilla Mohalla. Those booked in the other case are Rinku, a resident of Qilla Mohalla, Deepu and Yadwinder, residents of Chhawni Mohalla.

The Civil Lines police registered a case under the Gambling Act yesterday against Balwinder Singh, Amarjit Singh, Jaswant Singh and Harish Kumar, all resident of Manjeet Nagar.

The Jodhewal police also registered a case against some gamblers on recovering specific tip-off that they were gambling at a certain place. Those booked under the Gambling Act have been identified as Mukesh Kumar, a resident of Tower Lines, Sat Pal, Sham Lal, a resident of Garewal Colony, and Chaman Lal, a resident of New Subhash Nagar.

No arrest has been made in any of these cases.

Liquor seized: The Sadar police arrested Gurdial Singh, a migrant from Bihar now living in EWS Colony near the Vardhman Mill, seized 24 bottles of illicit liquor from his possession and booked him under the Excise Act yesterday.

The Division No. 6 police arrested Kishan Lal, a resident of Mohalla Ram Vihar, Jodhewal, and seized 11 bottles of illicit liquor from his possession and booked him under the Excise Act, the police said here today.


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