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Residents welcome New Year with dance, music
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 1
Residents here welcomed 2004 with music, dance and masti last night at Sutlej club. The club was tastefully decorated right from the entrance with balloons, flowers, tissue hanging, stars and other decorative items.

Thousands of New Year revellers gathered outside the club much before the time given by the organisers. Even the chilly winds could not dampen the spirits of enthusiastic crowds. The crowd, including women, men, youngsters and children, was especially dressed for the occasion. Some of the women were even carrying small babies in their arms, caring little for cold weather.

Ms Neeta, holding her six-month old daughter said since her baby was very small, she could not take her to any hill-station. "But I am enjoying here very much and thank God that Sana (the baby) is very quiet and not troubling me", she said.

The parking place outside the club was jampacked with four-wheelers. The long queues of vehicles could be witnessed on both sides of the Mall Road. The organisers had arranged several bonfires to relieve the crowd from chilling winter air.

The party-goers welcomed the Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu, who sang various hit numbers on public demand. His dance troupe also entertained the audience. Bollywood babe Pooja Batra performed very well on her hit dance numbers. Sanobar Kabir was another attraction of the show. The crowd also danced to the favourite tunes with their Bollywood stars. At 12 o'clock, almost all people could be seen sending messages to their loved ones on the mobile phones.

This time, the organisers had arranged for various delicious eatables. The non-vegetarians as well as the vegetarians had lot of variety to eat. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, and his wife were the chief guests on the occasion. At midnight, fireworks were displayed in the club, which the children enjoyed the most.

Meanwhile, several hotels and restaurants witnessed heavy rush of New Year revellers. The couples along with their families and friends cheerfully welcomed the new year with loud music and masti. Main roads leading to hotels and other eating joints were jampacked with vehicles parked haphazardly along the roads. Several young boys were seen dancing on the roads on the beats of dhol. They were greeting the passers-by saying 'Happy New Year'. The policemen, PCR people and others on duty were at full alert till the wee hours in the morning to avoid any unpleasant incident.

The rickshaw pullers, the homeless people who did not have roof on their heads, also celebrated the new year eve quietly. Several bon-fires could be seen on roadsides around which people sat with their small children to get relief from chilling wind. They enjoyed the taste of gachhak and peanuts. 



TV channels disappoint 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, January 1
New Year Eve programmes on TV channels last night were disappointing. Hindi or Punjabi channels, the main ingredient of entertainment seemed to be scantily clad girls and some well known actresses, gyrating to popular tunes. In any case, most of the channels air the same songs throughout the year. The only concession was that lighting arrangements and costumes were better.

“There was no originality in the programmes. On every channel, there were song and dance sequences, but no comedy. No imagination was used in any of the programme Whichever channel we switched on, girls dancing in vulgar costumes could be see. It was just disgusting,” said Amar Rana and his wife Sudesh Rana.

Rohit, Shaila and Payal questioned, “What has happened to our directors. Sony was telecasting programmes of 2002. Alpha tried to bring in some fun in its programme, but is dancing the only way of entertainment. We were absolutely bored. Every year the programmes are getting more and more boring. Cold weather prevented us from going out. Promos of New Year Eve programmes looked quite good, but in reality, they were quite uninteresting.”

“Star Plus was the most disgusting. They carried on telecasting usual serials. They thought that they were being very funny by letting the Parikh family of “Khichdi” stray into other serials. Their appearance in one serial was funny, but repetitive visits did not amuse us,” said Gupta family.

“News was more entertaining. At least they were showing glimpses of people having fun in different places. A man from Nagpur, who has entered in the Guinness Book of World Records as he can shake candles placed on his big moustache, was a treat to watch. Fire eaters dance in Goa, the acrobatic skills of dancers in Delhi and other such scenes on different news channels proved not only enlightening but also entertaining.”

“Shekhar Suman's programme on SABe TV, “Carry on Shekhar”, on the New Year Eve was good. We like his suave looks, the ambiance on the sets and his guests,” said Sushila, Raju and their friends.

On the whole, Lashkara made a decent effort. But by far and large, the programmes were a let down, felt the public.



New Year ushered in new way
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January1
No dance, no music and no party on the New Year Eve on a college campus. The Principal of Kamla Lohtia Santan Dharam College, Mr B.D. Budhiraja, wanted students to celebrate the event as per traditions. To remember God and thank him for the year gone by and pray for the coming year.

The college management invited Babbli Sharma and bhajan mandali for sankirtan, courtesy Mr R.D. Singhal, Manager of the trust. Students came in full strength and actively participated in the kirtan. The kirtan was followed by “raslila” by a troupe from Gaziabad. The troupe performed scenes from Lord Krishna's life, portraying the divine love between Radha and Krishna.

Mr Budhiraja said they were trying to bring students closer to traditional Indian culture. The function was attended by members of the Santan Dharam Sabha and the College Management Committee, including Mr Jagmohan Gupta and Mr Naveen Mittal.



Civil defence officers have a gala time
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
Civil defence officers organised a function in Lodhi Club to usher in the New Year last evening. The host of the evening was Dr Kirpal Singh, also known as Kaka Lishkarawala.

Renowned TV and film artistes performed on the occasion. The main objective of organisers was to promote Punjabi cultural traditions and combat the increasing vulgarity in music videos and songs.



Politicians play spoilsport in 
drive against encroachments
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 1
As the Municipal Corporation has taken up the task of clearing thousands of encroachments on public places, parks, roads and public streets in the city, acting on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, political leaders of all hues have started interfering at various levels. As such the already difficult job, needing tactful handling and a diplomatic mix of persuasion, motivation, pressure and threats, has become all the more tough for the civic administration.

Only yesterday, when a team of MC officials, leading the demolition squad of men and machines, arrived at Sangeet Cinema Chowk to clear the extended portion of more than three dozen shops towards the main road, a senior Akali Dal leader and a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, along with his son Mr Rajinder Singh Bhatia, who is also the area councillor, intervened and disrupted the demolition operation.

According to eyewitnesses, when the MC officials pleaded with the Akali leaders to stay away and let them get on with their job in view of the High Court orders, the Akali Dal activists refused to oblige and even threatened to lie down in front of the bulldozers. The MC team was left with no alternative than to call off the operation for the time being, that is, after the Akali leaders gave an assurance that the shopkeepers would remove the encroachments on their own.

It is not only political leaders belonging to the Opposition who are lending overt or covert support to the unlawful occupants even the ruling Congress functionaries are doing no better. Rather than providing moral support to the district and civic authorities to carry out the assigned task of clearing encroachments, certain ruling party leaders have chosen to take up the cause of defaulters.

One of the senior local Congress functionaries and a member of the state Cabinet, at a meeting held at his residence last Sunday, was said to have pleaded the cause of jhuggi dwellers with the top brass of the MC, also present at the meeting. Though fully aware of the time- bound directions of the High Court to clear encroachments from all roads, streets and public places, the minister, apparently with his eyes on the vote bank, went to the extent of claiming that he had taken up with the Chief Minister the matter of regularisation of encroachments on government land against payment of marginal cost of the encroached land.

In his zeal to pay lip service to the unlawful occupants on public places, the minister had conveniently forgotten that the erstwhile SAD-BJP government did formulate such a policy to give ownership rights to the unlawful settlers but before the said policy could be given effect, it was struck down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In continuing the relentless drive against encroachments, the MC administration has to withstand pressure from various fronts and the political leaders, particularly those belonging to the ruling party, being the strongest of them all, would have to be handled in such a manner that the campaign could achieve the desired progress and the political functionaries acted as allies of the civic body rather than its adversaries.



Revelry claims two lives
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
The New Year could not have brought worse news for two Jagraon-based families which lost their young sons in an accident last night. Their three other friends are convalescing in the intensive care unit of a local hospital after the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree late last night.

According to reports, while two youths died on the spot, three were admitted to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in a serious condition. The accident took place near Kothari Resorts, on the Ferozepore road. around 1 am.

According to security personnel at the resort, the youths seemed to be in an inebriated condition. The car hit the tree when the driver lost the control of the vehicle. “There was no traffic on the road. We were told by a passerby that an Esteem car had met with an accident. Two boys were in a serious condition and three others were conscious,” they said.

The five friends were returning to Jagraon after attending a New Year Eve party in Ludhiana in their car (PB 25B-4427) when the accident took place. Sunny Katyal (21) and Gaurav Sharma (21) were reportedly brought dead to the hospital. The three injured have been identified as Satyam (34), Navi (19) and Navdeep (23).

Doctors at the DMCH said the condition of Navi was serious. He had suffered chest and head injuries, besides a fracture. Satyam had been operated upon and was recovering in the surgical ward. Navdeep was out of danger as he had suffered minor injuries. The injured were brought to the hospital by the police after being informed by the security personnel.

A hospital spokesperson feigned ignorance about the details of the accident, but confirmed that three persons were admitted to the hospital in the wee hours today.The families of the victims and the injured have been informed.

Meanwhile, minor accidents, involving party revellers returning home in inebriated condition, were reported from different parts of the city. However none of these resulted in serious injuries to those involved or damage to their vehicles.



Trader found murdered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
Mystery shrouds the murder of a middle-aged trader, Ashok Kumar of Janakpuri, whose naked body was found on Humbran Road, near here, today.
The trader used to run a cloth shop in the Janakpuri area. The market in Janakpuri remained closed today, with shopkeepers demanding a probe into the incident.

The police has registered a case of murder. It was learnt that Ashok Kumar had left his shop last evening and had gone along with some people apparently to celebrate New Year Eve.

However, nobody has so far given information about the people who were along with the trader.

The body bore injury marks on the head and the throat, caused by some sharp-edged weapon. The police has sent the body for a post-mortem to the Civil Hospital.

A pall of gloom descended on the area as the news of the murder spread. Shopkeepers downed their shutters . They said Ashok Kumar was an affable person.

A shopkeeper said Ashok Kumar had cordial relations with everyone in the area and was unlikely to have enemies. The shopkeepers demanded a thorough inquiry into the case and said the culprits should be brought to book.



Private hands at work in govt offices
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
It may take many years for the government to privatise public utility services it runs, but officials in various departments have already taken the lead on their own. This has been helping them to offload their “extra” work. At the same time public also feels benefited as the work is done on time.

Some offices in Ludhiana, including that of the District Transport Officer (DTO) and the Registrar are the cases which show how privatisation can be effected in government offices, particularly at public dealing ones.

About 50 persons have been “employed” in the DTO’s office, while about 20 are working in the Registrar’s office in Ludhiana. Their services have off the record and the salary is paid by the officials who hire them. The practice has been going on unnoticed for years.

No senior official was prepared to come on record on the issue. However, everyone agreed that the practice was “a routine matter”. Some officials even claimed that certain senior officers in the bureaucracy knew about this. Since the government is not in a position to recruit more people owing to the financial crunch, the officials seem to be “recruiting” people on their own.

For example the DTO’s office in Ludhiana on an average handles 1,000 persons daily. The total staff strength of the DTO’s office is 15, including the DTO himself and some peons. The strength of the dealing staff comes only to six as some go for checking while others attend courts in connection with various litigations.

On an average the DTO’s office issues about 150 licences and an equal number of registration certificates of vehicles daily. Besides, the officials have to attend to people who have to pay penalties and settle other disputes related to traffic rules violation. An official posted there pointed out, “It is not possible for the limited staff to handle the rush”. The official disclosed that 10 years ago a committee headed by a senior IAS officer had recommended enhancing of the staff strength at the DTO’s office to at least 60. But not a single employee was added to the existing strength. This is despite the manifold increase in the volume of work. With the result the regular staff at the office sublets work and pays from its pockets to the hired ones.

Similar is the situation at the Registrar’s office. The officials there, including the patwaris, hire staff at a handsome salary. Even the services of retired revenue officials are utilised.

However, the question remains as how the staff manages to hire the employees for a job they are supposed to do. It is alleged that rates are fixed for the registration of sale deeds of land. Same is the case at the DTO’s office where the rates are fixed for issuance of licences and registration certificates for the vehicles. The additional staff hired by the employees is reportedly paid from the money ‘earned’ from sale deeds and issuing of licences.

In case any action is initiated against the staff it is work which will suffer as it is not possible for the limited staff to dispose of the massive volume of work

Senior officers are in a dilemma over how to handle the issue. It is a clear case of use of corrupt practices. But if it is handled like this then work will come to a standstill. “What is of prime importance is that the people have not to wait for the getting their work done”, a senior officer said. 



Youth Cong hails Birmi's return to CM’s fold
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 1
The senior vice president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, has hailed the return of Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi and Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lali to the Chief Minister's fold. Mr Grewal hoped that this would set the trend for other dissidents to give up the path of confrontation.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Grewal maintained that the current crisis was seriously hitting the Congress and it could have serious repercussions for the party prospects in the coming Lok Sabha elections. He hoped the crisis would be resolved soon and everything would be resolved amicably. The youth Congress leader observed that this was high time that the party was united to fight the communal and divisive forces represented by the Akali Dal and the BJP.

In a separate statement another senior vice president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Pawan Dewan, pointed out that the return of Mr Birmi and Mr Lali into the Chief Minister's camps had clearly indicated that the dissidents wanted to return to the official camp.

Appreciating the measures taken by the Chief Minister in instituting a judicial probe into the allegations against his own son, Mr Dewan maintained that the dissidents were left with no issue. He hoped that better sense would prevail among them and they would start responding to the positive gestures of the Chief Minister. 



On the prowl in fog
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 1
While people in the urban and rural areas are cursing the chilly weather for obvious reasons, criminals and robbers are trying to make the most of the prevailing foggy conditions.

The robbery at the Allahabad Bank branch on the Ferozepore road on Tuesday night supports the above observation.

Police officials, who are investigating the case, believe that the robbers were helped by the dense fog since a PCR team which passed by the bank building twice in three hours did not find anything suspicious.

The robbers were able to transport the gas cylinder used in cutting the iron grills to the site of the crime in a four-wheeler without being noticed by any neighbours.

Apart from this, petty thieves took advantage of the foggy night on Tuesday to decamp with stereos, credit cards,driving licences and other important documents from five cars from Sandip Nagar, Harpal Nagar and Sita Nagar, falling under the jurisdiction of the Civil Lines police station.

The burgled cars were parked outside the houses.

The police officials said even if the criminals are spotted by a PCR team or alert neighbours fog makes it easier for them to escape



Clock Tower traders a harassed lot 

Ludhiana, January 1
Traders around the commercial area near the Clock Tower in the city are a harassed lot. As a result of the ongoing construction work on the elevated road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema over Old G.T. Road and poor maintenance of the area by the Municipal Corporation, the entire stretch has virtually become a living example of hell on the earth.

Claiming this in a news conference here today, the functionaries of the Clock Tower Traders' Association served an ultimatum on the authorities for addressing their problems on a priority basis, failing which they would be forced to resort to an agitation.

The traders alleged that due to unplanned and haphazard work on the construction of the elevated road, sewer lines and underground telephone cables were broken. Flowing slush and sewage on this section of the road had become a daily routine which had caused extensive damage to the surface of the road. To add to the misery of the residents and traders, there was no traffic regulation worth the name and people had to suffer in extended traffic jams almost throughout the day.

In the prevailing situation, the traders at this commercial centre were the worst sufferers as due to difficult access even for people on foot, buyers were avoiding visiting the area and had shifted to other markets.

The functionaries of the association lamented that repeated representations to the civic administration and other district and police officials had yielded no worthwhile results so far and the trading community was left to fend for itself. The traders, it was announced, had formed an action committee, which would soon meet the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, the SP (Traffic) and the Deputy Commissioner to impress upon them the need for immediate remedial measures. Depending upon the response of the authorities, the next course of action would be decided by the traders, the functionaries of the association maintained.



Readers Write
Cong dissidents playing foul game

This is a fact that every one desires for a higher portfolio (of CM) but it should be at the correct time. Dissidents have started their activities at a time when the party has been rejected in three states in the Assembly elections. The administration seems to have come to a standstill due to the uncertainty of the next CM. Mrs Bhattal is in a foul mood ever since the installion of Captain Amarinder Singh as CM.The Captain is rightly taking steps to eliminate corruption from the political life, and it was his party manifesto. Mrs Bhattal should boldly fight in the court of law the case of embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh instead splitting the party and bringing a bad name to the Congress. Further, the family of the late Mr Beant Singh wants a reward for the sacrifice he made. If seen in a mature manner, had the Akalis not boycotted the 1992 elections, the chances of Mr Beant Singh becoming CM were very remote. Moreover, his death was a security lapse and not sacrifice. Most of the Sikh organisations, including the Akalis,alleged that instead of finding a political solution of the Punjab problem, he eliminated thousands of youths. The name of Kotli village has been changed to Beant Singh Wala. His son has been given a powerful portfolio in the Cabinet and Mrs Beant Singh has been given Cabinet Minister status. This is enough for the family and the Congress won the Punjab elections under the stalwartship of the Captain. The Congressmen should down sensibly and sort out any differences with the CM and the High Command so that the image of the party is not spoiled for the next Lok Sabha elections.

Sher Singh, Ludhiana

Traffic police should be strict

We are tired of driving through the most indisciplined traffic of the city. No one seems to be bothered about the unruly traffic. The residents are oblivious of the traffic jams they cause by parking their cars haphazardly in all busy roads, including Ghumar Mandi, CMC Road and every other part. We are tired of saving our new vehicles from getting hit and scratched by the other careless drivers. It causes us a lot of stress. We urge the traffic police not to allow the people to park their cars at their whims and fancies and cause misery to other commuters. Such careless drivers should be heavily fined or their cars should be lifted by cranes as in metros. Even cyclists and rickshaw-pullers should be challaned by the traffic police if they do not have reflectors fixed. They pose a grave danger as during night they are hardly visible.

Varun, Ludhiana

Make death penalty permanent law

The law awarding capital punishment to the manufacturers of fake/spurious medicines passed by Parliament is a good and timely step which the Central Government has taken. It would definitely help in curbing the untimely deaths of innocent people. We have seen that people in India die due to the use of spurious drugs which are being manufactured in this country. The death penalty for such inhuman activities may be late in implementation but it is a right action which should have been taken be taken much earlier. The President of India should give his consent to make it a permanent law.

But it should not be confined to fake medicines only. Such harsh punishments should also be awarded to adulterers of food and petroleum items, who also are playing foul with the lives of poor people. Not only this, many electrical and other goods are often marked with the ISI stamp. Stringent action should be taken in this regard.

Sorry to say that we are dreaming to be a world power, but our inhuman attitude and activities, especially in manufacturing fake and spurious medicines, food articles, cheating in quality, weights and measures are the main hindrances in our way to convert our dreams into reality.

Let us take an oath and hope at the dawn of the New Year - 2004 to shun all such inhuman activities for making India a global power.

Kuldip Singh Kreer, Ludhiana



Amrit Lal nominated to Aggarsen Foundation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 1
Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, President, Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan, has been nominated member of the central executive of Shri Aggarsen Foundation. Set up by the Akhil Bharatiya Aggarwal Sammelan, the foundation would work to promote education, health care facilities and employment opportunities in the society, particularly among the weaker sections.

Mr Aggarwal said Shri Aggarsen Foundation had taken up an ambitious project for setting up a befitting memorial in Agroha in Haryana for which financial assistance was being sought from each and every family of the Aggarwal community. The foundation would also set up an elaborate and well- equipped 'yoga' institute and Mr Jagdish Prasad Saraf had been nominated convener of the project.



PFA rescues owl
Our Correspondent

The injured owl after being treated
The injured owl after being treated. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, January 1
An employee of the People for Animals, Ludhiana, noticed some people attacking a bird yesterday. The bird was rescued, put in a cage and provided treatment at the PFA’s hospital at Rahon Road, Ludhiana.

The nocturnal bird, a “golden owl”, is known as a friend of farmers as it consumes rodents and pests.

It is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act— 1972.

Dr Sandeep Jain of the PFA said the bird would be handed over to the Wildlife Department.


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