L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Chopra couple had agents all over region: police
Influential persons in prostitution racket
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The prostitution racket busted by the Division No. 7 (Vardhman) police yesterday was not just a local gang but an inter-state one having its branches active in north India.

Latest police investigations have found that the Chopra couple, allegedly the kingpin of the gang, had its agents spread all over the region and had several influential persons, including politicians and industrialists on its regular customer list. Not only this but the gang has emerged as the most proficient one in the last few years and a number of local gangs had merged into it.

‘Delivery within half an hour at any time any place’ was the business theme for the gang. Police sources claimed to have found that the accused used to deliver girls to the regular customers at any place they were in north India.

The alleged main suppliers Parveen Kumar Chopra and his wife Ritu were remanded to one-day police custody by a local court while the other four accused were sent to judicial custody.

Inquiries about their past by Ludhiana Tribune from the police investigating officers has revealed that their case was surely of a marriage of convenience. Both were married on paper only. They allegedly used to run their separate rackets but had decided to run the operation jointly about 5 years ago. They got married for the convenience of taking houses on rent.

Inspector Gurpreet Singh, SHO, Division No. 7 told Ludhiana Tribune that the racket has come out to be much bigger than what they had thought. He said he was hopeful that the accused couple would provide them more details on the one-day police remand.

He said the couple admits several VIPs were on its customer list but does not remember the addresses and identity. He said the Immoral Trafficking Act required formalities and it was not easy to nail everyone. He said the police was taking advice of DA-Legal in some crucial information supplied by the couple.

During the raid, the police had also caught two women, middle aged Balwinder Kaur of Kidwai Nagar here and her 18-year-old daughter Amandeep Kaur. Sources revealed that Balwinder Kaur came into the racket after she became a widow. She told the police that she was not very educated and could not find a job to make both ends meet. She only hangs her head down when asked how shameful it was for her to put her own daughter in the trade.

Two persons Avtar Singh of Jagirpur village and Balraj Singh of Gehelwala village were caught red-handed with the two women yesterday were also sent to judicial custody.

All these six persons have been booked under Section 3,4,5 and 6 of the Immoral Trafficking Act 1956. A red Zen car PB-10-AT-0008 used to transport the girls has also been recovered.


Gurdwara priest comes to poor child’s rescue
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, December 27
Never in his wildest dreams, five-year old Shivam would have imagined that his desire for picking up a 2-rupee coin from near a bridegroom's car would land him in serious trouble. His fault was that when the bridegroom’s family was throwing coins while the doli was on its way, he jumped near one of the cars to pick up coins but got a kick in his stomach from one of the agitated drivers accompanying the baraat. He was rushed to one of the hospitals in a serious condition.

Mr Sapinder Singh, a priest at a gurdwara in Gurdev Nagar, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said that around 15 days ago, a marriage was solemnised at the gurdwara. “Shivam, the youngest son of a migrant labourer, fell unconscious when a driver hit him in his stomach. By the time, I reached near the gate at gurdwara, the baraat had already left. I took the boy to a nearby nursing home. His parents, who live near the gurdwara also reached the nursing home. He was given first-aid by doctor and stayed there for one day, but was not relieved and his condition deteriorated”, said the priest.

Mr Sapinder Singh left the place and thought that since the boy was at the nursing home, he would be alright. But Shivam’s parents came to him next day and informed him about his serious condition. Mr Singh got worried and asked the parents to maintain calm. He asked the head priest what to do. He was suggested that the boy should be admitted to some other hospital. The family and the priest got Shivam shifted to Sigma Heart Institute.

According to Dr Amardeep Singh, the attending doctor, “It was a timely decision taken by Mr Sapinder Singh. Shivam was brought in a very critical condition. His intestines were totally ruptured and a lot of blood had been lost. I told the family that the surgery would cost at least Rs 60,000. The parents said that they were unable to bear the expenses but the priest assured them that he would collect the money and the boy should not die”, said Dr Amardeep Singh.

A surgery was performed on Shivam immediately which lasted for more than six hours. Even the doctors were not sure whether the child could be saved. “But the child was very cooperative and he recovered very fast. After staying in the hospital for 15 days, the boy was discharged yesterday. He would lead a normal life now and was absolutely out of danger”, claimed Dr Amardeep Singh.

With the efforts of Mr Sapinder Singh, Rs 35,000 were collected from philanthropists in the city for the boy’s surgery. “The boy is lucky. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims — all came forward to help this small child whose parents had not even a single penny for treating him. By the grace of God, the child is well. People are so generous, some come and give him milk, while others come to provide him food. We are thankful to the hospital authorities that they never demanded more money. Whatever we had collected, the doctors accepted happily”, said Mr Sapinder Singh.


Dhindsa for dissolution of Assembly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and the Secretary General of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today sought the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly. Mr Dhindsa, who was here to enquire about the health of Ms Sukhdev Kaur, the mother of SAD General Secretary, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, at the Hero DMC Heart Centre, said the political crisis within the Congress had led to anarchy, as there was no “functional” government in the state.

In an informal conversation with reporters, Mr Dhindsa pointed out that since the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had lost the confidence of his own party legislators, he had lost all constitutional and moral authority to continue in the office. He observed that with the two factions in the Congress refusing to budge from their respective positions, dissolution of the Assembly appeared to be the only solution. Indecisiveness on part of the Congress had led to a constitutional crisis in the state, which needed to be resolved, he added.

Mr Dhindsa revealed that the SAD would wait for the Congress impasse to resolve by December 31. If the situation continues, the SAD would step in. However, he refused to elaborate the party strategy, maintaining that SAD was already seeking the opinion of constitutional and legal-experts. He maintained that SAD had an important role to perform under these circumstances, as there was no government worth its name in the state. “We cannot watch the situation as silent spectators, we will definitely step in to avoid the constitutional crisis getting precipitated”, he said.

The Union Minister observed that the Governor could step in under the present circumstances. As a guardian of the Constitution, he can intervene since the state was facing a constitutional crisis. He did not, however, mention the role of the Governor, as Capt Amarinder was the unanimously elected leader of the Congress legislature party in Punjab.

Asked why the SAD was not seeking the convening of the Assembly, and bringing in a vote of no confidence, Mr Dhindsa said the party was already exploring various options and would act as the situation would demand.


NSS volunteers display handicraft
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Minister for Chemical and Fertiliser was the chief guest on the concluding day of a National Integration Camp.

Mr Swaran Singh, President, College Management Committee, welcomed the chief guest, Principal Madanjit Kaur Sahota, apprised the audience of the main activities held during the camp that included a rally, visit to Golden Temple and the Wagah Border. Cultural performances highlighting the uniqueness of all states were also held.

A fair was held on the college campus where NSS volunteers exhibited the handicraft made during the camp. The handicraft were highly appreciated by all. Mr S.K. Sahni, Deputy Programme Officer, and Mr S.M. Kant, Sate Liaison Officer, NSS, appreciated Dr Sahota’s efforts to hold such camp in MTSM College.

An essay-writing competition on ‘Your expenses during camp’ was held and when asked they all expressed that such a camp must be held atleast for a month and not for seven days only.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa gave away prizes to the winners of different competitions held during the camp.

The Principal, Dr Madanjit Kaur Sahota, presented mementoes to the chief guest and thanked them for gracing the occasion.


I dream of style, says Valaya
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, December 27
“I dream of style,” says J.J. Valaya , leading fashion designer. “While conceiving a design my emphasis is on individuality and glamour. Very male, a definite sense of adventure with a touch of panache is how I like to see the men dressed up in the clothes designed by me,” he says. Described by critics as high priest of fashion, J.J. Valaya was in the city to inaugurate the Valaya collection. A much cheaper than brand J.J. Valayas.

Addressing the media this afternoon at the newly inaugurated Bombay Store on Mall Road that is housing Valaya’s collection he talking of his clothes line in the city,” I have a number of clients coming from Ludhiana. So I thought of bringing my clothes here so that people and NRIs coming here can have wider choice. I design clothes only for men . My range comprises of formal and semi-formal clothes. The mantra of fusion is the flavour of the day. The Indian look is going global.

He further said men’s wardrobes should have neutral colours though the accessories should have lots of colour. “My clothes have lot of colours like in cuff links, embroidery. It is fun with colours as colour is the essence of fun and fashion. I generally use man made fabrics, but these days blended fabrics are very good as far as their resistance to crease and durability is concerned. Men of today are metro sexual and like wearing embellished clothes with intricate designs. Indianness is coming to main stream. Men like wearing sherwanis. Their pricing starts from Rs 15,000 and goes up to lakhs” Asked how they coped with duplicating of their design which happen within two months, Valaya said:” duplicating is integral part of the fashion world. We take it as a challenge and change the design after every two months.”

Since Valaya has an Army background and has travelled widely, Royalty in general has been inspiration for him. The colours, the period, craftsmanship, the weaves, the jewel tones- emerald greens, ruby reds, pearl whites oxidised coppers all fire his imagination.

Valaya said he deigns signature tapestries with inspirations from around the world but in limited editions. He, however, will not be bringing them to Ludhiana.


Hit by train engine and still alive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A middle-aged man had a providential escape when he was hit by an engine of a train while crossing the railway track near the railway station here today. Even though he remained unconscious for more than an hour on the track, he survived the accident and did not receive any bruise on any body part.

Mr Nand Lal, a cart driver, of Kailash Nagar was crossing the railway track in the morning and he could not see an approaching train. He was hit by the engine from behind. As the engine hit him, he fell down and became unconscious. The train driver applied the brakes and got down. Presuming that he was dead, the driver informed the Railway authorities.

RPF and GRP personnel took him to a hospital where he regained consciousness. Later, he was sent home by the hospital authorities.


‘Register migrant labourers’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The state unit BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khurana, has favoured the registration of migrant labourers in Punjab to solve the problem of their “illegal registration as voters in Punjab in addition to their parent states”.

Participating in a Lashkara TV channels programme to be telecast on Sunday, the state BJP chief, however, denied that influx of migrant labourers in Punjab was politically benefiting his party. He claimed that none of the programmes of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat had hurt the feeling of the Sikhs. However, BJP state unit president parried the question about Rashtria Sikh Sangat’s possibility of contesting the coming SGPC elections.


Residents shiver as cold wave persists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Throwing normal life out of gear, a dense fog engulfed the entire region last evening and continued throughout the day leaving the visibility to a minimum. Traffic moved at a snail’s pace causing inconvenience to hundreds of commuters travelling on the roads. The trains and buses were also delayed. Fortunately, no major accident took place on the highways.

The sun remained elusive for the last two days and the district was covered under thick fog. Vehicles were moving with their headlights or foglights on. Traffic was mainly affected on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana, Ferozepore-Ludhiana and the GT road.

Last evening, in the city’s periphery and rural areas the visibility was reduced to two or three metres only. Those travelling long distances had a problem in anticipating the way. ‘‘I had to come back home from Khanna and it took me two hours to reach the city. The fog was so dense that even the road berms were not visible. The vehicle drivers were travelling in a convoy to make their journey easier.’’ said Mr Rupinder Singh , a local resident.

People continued to shiver due to the cold wave as the temperatures dropped considerably. The fog was thickest in areas nearing the canal. The people preferred remaining indoors amidst the cosy environs. The minimum temperature as recorded by the Punjab Agricultural University meteorological lab was 6.4°C and the maximum was recorded at 13.6°C. The moisture content was 100 per cent in the air.

The fog remained throughout the day in all city areas as the sun remained elusive. Agriculture experts said the fog, though causes inconvenience to people, was very good for the crops. They, however, added that if it continued for long, it can have adverse affects. Weather experts have forecasted more fog-engulfed days in future.

The fog failed to dampen the spirits of the villagers putting up langars on roadsides in view of the martyrdom day of the two Sahibzadaas of Guru Gobind Singh. The villagers continued serving bread pakorras, prashad, jalebis and other eatables and hot tea to the passers-by.

As the cold conditions brought cheers to the hosiery manufacturers, those living below the poverty line in the city are having a bad time. They were seen shivering on the roadsides with a single worn-out blanket. Some were sitting near the campfires on the roadsides even during the daytime. 


Shifting of taxi stand sought
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 27
Many unauthorised encroachments have come up on the GT Road at Samrala including the main bazar. Several shopkeepers and rehriwalas have encroached the public place. Many accidents have occurred in the city and some of them have proved fatal. No wonder many pedestrians fear to move around.

At a meeting of citizens, panches and sarpanches held at the local police station under the chairmanship of Mr Jasveer Singh, DSP Samrala, last week, the newly joined SHO Sarbjeet Singh had given an assurance that unauthorised encroachments would be removed within a week, but till date no action has been taken by the administration or the municipal committee authorities.

The president of the Anti-corruption Front, Mr Rashpal Singh, noted writer Prof Hamdardvir Nausheharvi, Mr Mehma Singh Kang, Jathedar Joginder Singh Seh have pointed out that an unauthorised taxi stand was functioning near, the old chowk in front of the local telephone exchange office. Due to this passengers and local resident have to face a lot of inconvenience. The telephone exchange authorities are keen to develop a park in front their office.

Jathedar Jagjeewan Singh Kheernian, Mr Raj Thapar, Mr Harpal Singh Dhillon and Mr Krishan Bharti and many other prominent personalities have urged the local SDM, Mr Jaspal Singh Jassi, to allot a new site for the taxi stand on the premises of the local bus stand.


Flashback ’03 Politics
Ludhiana remains hub of Congress dissidence
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Ludhiana is said to be the financial and industrial capital of Punjab and also the deemed political capital. Given the economic and financial prosperity and the locational proximity with the state capital, Chandigarh, Ludhiana has always remain vibrant and eventful.

Ludhiana is the largest city and probably the biggest district of the state. It sends 12 legislators to the assembly. Congress has eight, while the Akalis have four elected members from the district. Obviously it has remained to be a strong base for the Congress. It has sent two Chief Ministers, Justice Gurnam Singh and Mr Beant Singh.

Currently Ludhiana happens to be the main problem for the Congress government as seven of the eight party legislators are believed to have rebelled against the Chief Minister. In fact the rebellion was sparked off from Ludhiana only, with a senior leader and the Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, initiating the move and complaining to the high command seeking change of the leadership in the state.

This was followed by the perceived grievances of the Beant Singh family. Despite having a Cabinet minister, one legislator and the Cabinet minister’s status for the wife of the slain leader, the family still had some other grievances that made it to side with the rebel camp. The belief that in the event of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal being rejected for the chief ministership, Mr Tej Prakash could make a consensus choice, the family became more vocal in the rebellion.

Mr Harnam Dass Johar happens to be another aspirant for the chief ministership. It is learnt that with the reported differences within the dissident camp over the choice of a leader, Mr Johar considers himself to be the best choice since he happens to be one of the seniormost ministers in the government. Moreover, it is he who has raised the banner of revolt against the Chief Minister that ultimately threatens to rock his chair.

It is not just the Congress, even for the Shiromani Akali Dal has also remained a vibrant station. While for the Congress it is the dissidence and rebellion that sprouted from Ludhiana, for the SAD it was the other way round. The unity between the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his estranged colleague, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, was also cemented from here. Senior Akali leader and party general secretary Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal played a pivotal role in the unity.

With the political uncertainty continuing and the Lok Sabha elections expected to be held anytime next year, 2004 is likely to be an eventful year for Ludhiana and the political theatre seems to remain active with so many performers ready to play their role on the stage.


Flashback ’03
An eventful year for Improvement Trust
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 27
The year 2003 proved to be an eventful year for Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) as the autonomous body witnessed a change of guard for almost half a dozen times. The issue of corruption at all levels continued to hog the limelight to the extent that the then Administrator, Mr Raminder Singh, an IAS officer, wrote an official note to the Local Government Department for shifting of several employees and officers at different levels, who had stayed put for a decade or even more at their posts.

After the new government had assumed office and the improvement trusts all over the state were dissolved, the top post in the LIT here had virtually turned into a game of musical chairs. As Mr Raminder Singh was transferred in the first quarter of the year, Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Mr M.S. Jaggi, Assistant Commissioner, were given the charge for a few days each before Ms Rakhi Gupta Bhandari was appointed as administrator.

Even Ms Bhandari had a short tenure and was replaced by a political nominee Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, as the new chairman, Mr Garcha took off from where Mr Raminder Singh had left and continued to wage a war against the corruption in the LIT, albeit without much impact. He announced various measures to streamline the working, cut down public dealing by clerical and supervisory staff to check corruption and even introduced a system of job number for each public dealing work so that there was no favouritism and each work was accorded due priority.

However, the well entrenched nexus of certain employees and property dealers ultimately prevailed and everything was back to square one. In the process, the chairman had to eat the humble pie and many of the so called reformatory steps had to be reversed.

During the year, a prestigious project of the LIT, the city centre, proposed to be constructed in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar on Pakhowal Road was announced with much fanfare during the tenure of Ms Bhandari but after Mr Garcha took over, he put the project on the hold. Another ambitious commercial project on Maharani Jhansi Road also fell behind schedule and was yet to be completed.

The widespread corruption in the trust attracted a series of inquiries from internal Vigilance of the Local Self Government and the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab Police. In different cases, almost one dozen employees of the LIT were nabbed by vigilance and some of them were even booked on criminal charges. In a comical turn of events, a team of vigilance officials caught an inspector and class IV employee while taking bribe from a person during the staff members were holding a dharna against arrest of some of their colleagues in corruption cases.

Gross financial irregularities and over-payment to contractors for construction of flats in Rajguru Nagar and Rishi Balmiki Nagar with the connivance of higher officials remained in the news during the last few months. Interestingly, the LIT chairman went on record to admit that he was aware of the shady deals but no worthwhile action was apparently taken to check the siphoning off public funds or to bring the guilty officers to book.


Residents experience Goan culture
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The Department of Tourism, Government of Goa, in order to promote its culture, organised a function at Park Plaza yesterday. The traditional Goan ambience was created by the organisers to give the residents a feel of Goa.

Mr N.Suryanayana, Director of Tourism, Government of Goa, said Goa was marching ahead being declared as number one state in various counts such as education, health, infrastructure and now as the best tourism marketing strategy state. In the recently concluded surveys, Goa had been declared the best state in all these spheres.

It had also been declared as the best domestic destination. “Goa is the real unwinding and relaxing place on this earth. Leave behind your mobile phone before you set off for Goa. It has something to show you 365 days a year”, said the director.

Traditional konkani songs were presented on occasion by the ‘Benny Bush Band’ and people were served with typical Goan sea food. Prawns, lobsters, crabs and jumbo pomfrets were prepared in the traditional Goan style. A lot more dishes were arranged for the vegetarians also by the organisers. The Kokum curry remained the hot favourite among the visitors.


Safir Rammah honoured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The Punjabi Culture Study Circle International (PCSCI) and the Punjabi Majlis International (PMI) organised a literary programme at the Punjabi Bhavan to felicitate Safir Rammah, coordinator of an America-based company in North America. Safir Rammah was honoured with “Virsay da Wasi” award. Mohtarma Aisha from the USA, Jaswant Zaffar and Principal Prem Singh Bajaj were also awarded with “Sarghi di Loe”, “Kaav Deep” and “Sahit Sagar” awards, respectively, in recognition of their contribution towards the promotion of Punjabi, Punjabi poetry, conservation of literary collections and maintenance of reference library at the Punjabi Bhavan.

Safir Rammah is a known international figure for his outstanding efforts in promoting Punjabi and Punjabiat across the borders through the academy of the Punjab in North America (APNA).


New customer centre opened
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The General Manager (Telecom), here, Mr G.S. Julka, opened a customer service centre at Sunder Nagar Exchange, 48th in Ludhiana SSA, under the jurisdiction of Deputy GM (North) Mohan Lal.

This centre would help the customers to deposit their telephone bills, Cell One bills and WLL (Tarang) bills besides meeting their day to day demands. At this centre, different facilities like ITC cards, Excel cards etc. would also be available. The people can also go for booking new telephone connections. The facilities to open Internet and other value-added facilities would also be available.

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