L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Tension over demolitions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Tension prevails in the Kitchlu Nagar market complex area over the demolition of toilets, constructed by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, some days ago.
Shopkeepers of the area alleged that the toilets were demolished at the behest of an influential shopkeeper, who owned a plot in the vicinity of the toilets. The accused, however, claimed that the demolition was undertaken by a team of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation following complaints of area residents.

Meanwhile, improvement trust officials have complained to the SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, to take action against the accused. The officials stated in the complaint that earlier it was believed that the corporation had demolished the toilets but later they came to know that it was the handiwork of a shopkeeper.

Sources in the improvement trust said the Chairman of the trust had written a letter to the corporation authorities, asking them whether they had demolished the complex or not. But the trust had not received any reply till date.

A senior official of the improvement trust said after investigations it was found that the toilets were demolished by the shopkeeper only. In the complaint even the name of the shopkeeper was mentioned. The official said it was up to the police to find out the accused and book him.

Shopkeepers said the toilets were demolished at night and they came to know in the morning. They said they had met the shopkeeper concerned, who promised them to get the toilets constructed in the area.

They said visitors as well as shopkeepers were facing problems after the demolition. The accused shopkeeper, however, denied all charges. He said the toilets were using by anti-social elements. The residents of nearby areas did not like it and they complained about it to the corporation. He, however, could not produce a copy of the residents’ complaint.



No clue to missing businessman
Shivani Bhakoo

Ravinder KumarLudhiana January 15
Ravinder Kumar, a resident of Urban Estate, Jamalpur, who left his house on January 5, 2004, has been missing for the past 10 days. Neither the family members nor the police, has been able to trace him.

His wife Pratima, who is a teacher in BCM Senior School, Chandigarh Road, said her husband was an iron broker and most of his dealings were around Ludhiana, including Gobindgarh and nearby areas. Rarely he used to go to Delhi for business. On January 5 in the evening, Ravinder Kumar told her that he was going to Ambala for work and would return the next day.

"I kept on waiting for him till January 6 evening but when I did not get any information from him I got worried. I tried to contact him on his mobile number 98142-01297, but it was switched off. On January 7, around 4 PM, I got two missed calls from his number. Since I was busy doing some work, I could not answer the calls. I immediately called him back, once I came to know of those missed calls, but at that time also, the mobile was switched off. It's been 10 days now and we have no clue about him”, said Pratima, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today.

The couple has two sons aged 15 years and 12 years, respectively. Pratima said they never had any family problem and were leading a normal and comfortable life. “Neither we faced any financial problem. Since we both are working, we never had any problem. But Ravinder never shared anything about his business with me. The day, he left the house, he parked his scooter at home and said he was going with someone in his (the accompanying person’s) car. I am not sure whether someone came to pick him up or not. To the best of my knowledge, my husband had no personal rivalry", claimed Pratima.

The family of 40 year old Ravinder Kumar, basically hails from Delhi and his wife belongs to Naya Nangal. The worried parents and in-laws of Ravinder Kumar have camped here to know his whereabouts.

An FIR was lodged by the family at Focal Point Police Station on January 12. “Yesterday, the police had come to investigate. A policeman has been sent to the Spice Telecom office to know the details of outgoing and incoming calls made from my husband’s mobile number. I hope he is fine and returns soon”, said Pratima while tears rolled down her cheeks.



Mander sees govt hand in Gujarat riots
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Mr Harsh Mander, who resigned from the Indian Administrative Service in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, believes that the “idea of India” needed to be redefined as the concept of those who fought for the country’s independence seemed to have been long forgotten.

Mr Mander was here to deliver a lecture on ‘Challenges of Securing Social Justice and Secularism in Indian State’ organised by the Media Artists. He maintained that there was a sustained campaign going on against various minorities. “We are creating minorities and manufacturing hatred against them”, he regretted.

Commenting upon the communal situation in the country, the former bureaucrat refused to agree that the incidents like the Gujarat violence, the 1984 Delhi riots or the 1992 Mumbai riots were aberrations. “We will be deceiving ourselves if we believe that these were aberrations,” he asserted, while holding that the communalism had infected “the very soul of the society”.

He recalled from his experience in Gujarat that the participation of Dalits, tribesmen and women in the riots was very disturbing. He stated that he was more pained to see that “everything seemed to be going on in an absolutely normal way” after violence in Gujarat. “There were no regrets seen anywhere, while nearly one lakh people were still living in the relief camps”, he said.

Holding on to his contention that the Gujarat riots had the clear approval of the government, he said, “I believe from my experience that no riots, howsoever serious these may be, cannot continue for more than a few hours if these have not the approval and support of the government”.

Calling for a thorough introspection, Mr Mander said: “We need to think whether we are going to create a ‘Hindu Pakistan’ in India or to realise the ideals visualised by the founding fathers of our Constitution who dreamt of a welfare and secular state with the theme of social justice and equality for all”. He said the nation was at the crossroads and it was necessary for the people to make a careful choice.



PAU gets Rs 5 crore arrears
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 15
The Punjab Government has ordered the release of arrears amounting to Rs 5 crore of Punjab Agricultural University. The amount will be paid with interest.
The order has been issued by the Chief Secretary, Mr J.S. Gill, who presided over a meeting on the request of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, who had sought the release of arrears from the Department of Medical Research and Education. The meeting was attended, among others, by the Secretary, Medical Research and Education, Mr Satish Chander, and the Financial Commissioner, Development, Dr B.C. Gupta, in Chandigarh.

Dr Aulakh said here yesterday that the university had handed over its sugarcane farmland (61 acres) in Jalandhar to the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences and 104 acres to PUDA. The university was promised Rs 15 crore as compensation in lieu of the land and for development of experimental farm at the Central State Seed Farm, Ladowal. The government had paid Rs 10 crore and the remaining amount was not paid for more than two years. On December 2002, Mr Y.S. Ratra, the then Chief Secretary, had ordered the release of Rs 5 crore to PAU with interest. But the payment was delayed.

Dr Aulakh said he had also requested the government to allocate more funds to the university to meet the salary of 179 employees of the seed farm at Ladowal. The annual salary bill of the employees is Rs 1.5 crore. Dr Aulakh has also urged the government to transfer the entire land of the seed farm to PAU for experimentation and multiplication of seeds of various crops. The government has so far given 1,250 acres to PAU out of the 2,750 acres.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university would take up the construction of laboratories and staff quarters at the Ladowal farm.



Man found dead 
Our Correspondent

Doraha, January 15
Jeet Singh (44) of Rampur village was found murdered under mysterious circumstances, early in the morning today. The deceased was a bachelor and resided in a single room outside the village.

According to the brother of the deceased, “Last night, I served him food in his room in the fields and came back. In the morning today, I found him murdered in the room.”

According to sources, Jeet Singh had been struck on the head with a sharp-edged weapon. Personal enmity may have led to the murder since he had no valuables in his possession.

A case has been registered under Sections 302/34 of the IPC at Payal police station and the body recovered by the police for further investigation.



MC Commissioner on World Bank panel
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
The Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Mr S.K. Sharma, has been nominated as one of the panelists on round table on slum improvement in Indian cities and workshop on strategic options for sustainable private financing of community infrastructure projects to be organised jointly by the World Bank and British Department for International Development (DFID) in New Delhi on January 16 and January 17, 2004.

The World Bank and the DFID, on the request of the Government of India, had undertaken the preparation of a policy note on strategic options for increased and sustainable private financing of infrastructure projects for urban and rural poor communities. The preparatory study was based on discussions with senior functionaries of the Union Government, the state governments, financial institutions and micro-finance institutions. Selected case studies of private financing in community infrastructure projects were also carried out.

According to a note received here by Mr Michael F. Carter, Community Director, India, of the World Bank, the workshop in which the Union Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation would also be collaborating, would discuss in details the strategic options suggested by the study before the policy document was forwarded to the Government of India. Among several key issues to be discussed during the two-day meeting are land and slum improvement, state plans and perspectives, scaling up of slum improvement, the proposed approach to sustainable private financing of community infrastructure in India, emerging India Experiences in this field and the way forward.

The honour has been bestowed upon the MC chief. Ludhiana as the city has the distinction of having been selected for a major slum improvement programme through improved access to basic services with the active assistance of Indo-USAID and Cities Alliance and a significant work has already been done to achieve the desired objective.

Giving details of the project, Mr Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that initially 209 low income settlements, providing shelter to a population of 3.5 lakh people, were identified and almost all of these settlements did not have access to basic civic amenities. Under an integrated project, the Indo-USAID and the Cities Alliance, in partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs had launched a programme to provide support to the MC to improve access of services to these low income settlements.

The first phase of the project, that of preparing a database of the settlements, accompanied with ward, zone and city level maps, availability of infrastructure and other facilities, was completed in January 2002, followed by phase II in May 2003 under which establishment of sustainable framework for provision of urban services in these localities was facilitated. After the project was formally launched in May 2002 and there was intensive interaction with stake holders, NGOs, community organizers and civic experts, a programme for community mobilisation was initiated to bring out the potential of the people in dealing with their own problems.

He said the central feature of the project was preparation of community action plans for upgrading the low income settlements in the city. The plans were prepared for 20 settlements in the first phase and development works worth an estimated sum of Rs 2 crore were carried out in these settlement, benefitting about 10 per cent of the urban poor in the city. Besides, about 350 women and 60 men from these colonies had been organised into strong groups who meet twice in a month to discuss local issues and formulate strategies to overcome them.



Resumption of Samjhauta Express to help ease tension
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 15
The resumption of the Samjhauta Express has received mixed response from different sections of the society.
While politicians have termed the resumption as an attempt to boost the recent India-Pakistan peace moves, the common people visualise the train as the only means to keep social ties alive.

Mr Nusrat Akram Khan Bagga, SAD leader and former sports minister, said the resumption would ease the long-prevailing tension among the residents of the two countries, particularly in the border states.

He said, “besides boosting the peace move, this would also give a heeling touch to the Indian Muslims, he added.

Mr Happy Verma, general secretary of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, termed the resumption as the completion of the air, road and rail link.

He said while the proposed talks between India and Pakistan were expected to bring heads together, the resumption of the train would certainly bring bodies closer.

According to Mr Munir Mohammed, president of the Muslim Youth Front, the Samjhauta Express was the only means for the common people to keep social ties alive.

He said though bus and air links had been restored, people preferred to travel by train due to its nominal fares and better facilities. Elderly and sick persons also felt more comfortable while travelling by train. Moreover, travelling by train also increased chances of interaction, he claimed.

Mr Hamid Mohammad Bughar, however, was not much enthusiastic over the resumption of the train.

He said, “Though I have many friends and relatives in Lahore and Karachi, I will like to paddle down to my friends, and that also only when no visa is required.” 



Narrow escape for trader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Mr Mohinder Kumar Chadha, who runs a cycle parts manufacturing unit at Doraha, had a narrow escape yesterday after his Mercedes car was allegedly hit deliberately from the rear by a tempo. Mr Chadha was on his way to the Satluj Club to play badminton in the morning when the incident occurred.

He said when he reached the bridge across the Sidhwan canal near South City, he saw a tempo parked there. Some persons were standing beside it. When he stopped, they directed him to take another route as the road ahead was blocked.

Mr Chadha alleged that when he took a turn, he was tailed by the tempo. After driving for a short distance, his car was hit by the tempo in an alleged attempt to push him into the canal. When he realised that his car was sliding into the canal, he opened its doors and jumped out. By that time the driver of the tempo had fled. He said since it was early morning and the visibility was not good, he could not see the faces of the persons nor note the number of the tempo.

Mr Chadha alleged that this attempt on his life had been made by his business partners, with whom he is fighting a legal battle. He said a few days ago he was assaulted by his rivals and beaten up.

“They left me thinking that I was dead,” he said, adding that one of his friends had seen him and rescued him.

He said the previous day he had been called to Delhi by his lawyer as his rivals had offered a compromise. But when he reached there, nobody turned up. Mr Chadha alleged that he was threatened with dire consequences.



‘Crorepati’ remains down to earth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Mr Vijay Kumar, a hosiery worker living in Sherpur, a suburban area near here, is the lucky winner of the Rs 1.5 crore Lohri Bumper-2004, for which draw was taken out here yesterday.

But Mr Vijay Kumar acts as ordinarily as he used to before he became a crorepati. He did not miss his work even today. While he was talking to this reporter, his mind appeared to be preoccupied with his usual work of cutting patterns for T-shirts.

He, however, regrets that his mother, who expired on December 25 last, did not see the fortune coming to him. His employer, Mr Bhushan Maini, said Vijay had been with him for about 20 years. “He has always been loyal and sincere,” he added.

Thirtyfour-year-old Vijay Kumar belongs to Gurdaspur district. His family moved here in search of work about 20 years ago. He has five brothers and all of them live together. He has five daughters and two sons.

Mr Vijay Kumar does not know what to do with this huge amount. He said he would ensure that his children have good education. He has not decided as yet what to do with the remaining money. “Whatever Babuji (employer) tells me, I will do that”, a modest Vijay says, adding that he would continue to work to earn his livelihood.



Regularisation of colonies sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
The Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association has urged the state government to formulate a comprehensive policy for the regularisation of more than 2000 unauthorised colonies in the state.

Addressing a meeting of the association here last evening, its president, Mr Kultar Singh Jogi, said the residents of such unauthorised colonies in urban areas were in possession of all documents regarding their properties and title deeds, besides holding power connections for years.

The matter for the regularisation of these colonies had been hanging fire since 1995.

He further maintained that in its election manifesto, the ruling state government had assured that it would regularise all such colonies and extend civic amenities to these colonies.

However, no effective steps had been taken in this direction so far since the Congress assumed power in the state.

Mr Jogi pointed out that there would be no financial burden on the government if the proposal was put into effect. On the contrary, the government would be able to earn crores of rupees from the residents of unauthorised colonies by way of development charges.

The association urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take up the matter on top priority.

Among others who attended the meeting were Mr T.R.Tak, Mr Gurmukh Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Bhag Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh.



Blankets distributed among lepers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Officials of the Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd Ludhiana, today distributed blankets among lepers at the Lepers Colony in the Field Ganj area.
A team of officials led by the branch manager, Mr K.N. Singh went to the colony and handed over the blankets to the lepers.

Mr Singh pointed out that lepers were one of the most ignored sections of the society. He said, although the government had taken several measures for ameliorating their lot, yet others should also provide relief and assistance to them.

He maintained that the bank had always stood by the downtrodden and weaker sections of the society. He assured that the bank would always come to the aid of such people. The residents of the colony expressed their gratitude to the bank staff for this noble gesture. 



Railway men stage dharna against VRS
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Employees of the Railways yesterday staged a demonstration against the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) of the government. The demonstration was organised by the Northern Railway Men’s Union (NRMU).

Mr Daljit Singh, assistant divisional secretary, NRMU, said several representations had been made to the authorities, but no action had been taken so far.

He said the recently announced VRS was aimed at forcing the employees to quit. He alleged that the government was taking such steps without realising the ground realities and was blindly following liberalisation policy.



Factory worker killed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
The Sadar police yesterday registered a case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Mohinder Singh, originally hailing from Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and now living in New Kailash Nagar in Basti Jodhewal, against an unknown person who murdered Onkar Singh with the help of a sharp-edged weapon and dumped his body by the road near Gill village. Onkar Singh, who also hailed from Kangra district, was working in a factory manufacturing cycle air-pumps at Gill village. The police said today that investigations were on.

Jail inmates injured: The division number 7 police yesterday registered a case under Section 309 of the IPC on the statement of Head Constable Jeet Ram, head warden of New Jail against Parminder Singh, a resident of Guru Arjan Dev Nagar and Naresh Kumar ,a resident of Shimla Puri. The complainant had stated that the accused, who were lodged in the jail, injured themselves with blades to press for on change of room in the jail.

Murder bid alleged: The Haibowal police registered a case under Sections 307, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC yesterday on the statement of Mr Vijay Kumar, a resident of Rishi Nagar, against Balwinder Singh and his wife, residents of the same locality, Suresh Sehgal, Harpal Singh, Sony, Mangat and some other unknown persons accompanying them. The complainant had stated that the accused tried to kill him by beating him up on the night of January 13 as a result of which he was seriously injured.

Girl kidnapped: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 365 and 366 on the IPC on the statement of Mr Inderjit Singh, a resident of Aman Nagar, against Ravi Kumar, a resident of Delhi. The complainant had alleged that the accused had kidnapped his 17-year-old daughter, Ratna and taken her to an undisclosed place.

Man killed: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Adarsh Kumar, a resident of Pink Vihar on the GT Road, against an unknown driver of a Mohindera pick-up van who knocked down his brother Manoj Kumar while he was returning home on his scooter on Tuesday night and killed him on the spot.

Cases of assault: The division number 2 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323, 452, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr. Ranjiv Kumar, a resident of Ucha Tibba in Islam Ganj, against Surinder Kumar, Monu, Rocky and Krishan Kumar, all resident of Islam Ganj. The complainant had alleged that the accused forced their way into his house and beat him up along with his nephew. The accused also threatened them, added the complainant.

The Shimla Puri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323,341,148 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Mr. Vinod Kumar, a resident of Shimla Puri, against Jeevan Mani, Mohan, Bhinda, Deepi and about five other unknown persons accompanying them. The complainant had alleged that the accused intercepted him on the road, beat him up and injured him. the accused also threatened him before going away, added the complainant.

Gamblers held: The Model Town police yesterday arrested Ramesh, alias Raju, Kuldeep Kumar and Rinku, residents of Ambedkar Nagar while they were gambling in Chattar Singh Park and booked them under the Gambling Act. The police said today that Rs 460 were recovered from them.

Liquor seized: The division number 2 police yesterday arrested Ranju, a resident of Prem Nagar, seized eight bottles of country liquor from him and booked him under the Excise Act.



Pact with Thailand may hit Punjab units
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand is likely to hit the auto part industry of Punjab, as. among the items included in the agreement, auto parts figure prominently. According to FTA, the import duties on the goods included in the agreement is to be reduced to zero per cent from March, 2006.

This move is being opposed by the All-India Auto Parts Manufacturing Association.

Mr P.D. Sharma, the president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the FTA might not prove to be so beneficial. He pointed out that India had FTA with Sri Lanka. Although Indian export to Sri Lanka rose by 46 per cent, the boom in export was mainly due to the export of transport equipment and other such items not included in the agreement.

He said major producers of cars, commercial vehicles and two-wheelers would prefer to get components from Thailand rather than Punjab, as it would be cheaper.

In India, auto parts industry is limited by government regulations. The limit for small scale is just Rs 1 crore and no manufacturer can compete with Thailand within this limit, Mr Sharma said. In the era of stiff competition modern but costly machinery is the only answer to meet the challenge. The limit of small scale on investment should be raised to at least Rs 5 crores, he added.

Mr Sharma alleged that the Union Government had entered into the agreement at the behest of some industrial houses who had their base in Thailand. The Union Government had miscalculated that Indian industry would be able to have its foothold in China and South East Asian countries, he said, adding that FTAs should preferably be signed with rich countries.

Mr Sharma has urged the government to rethink on the issue. If this agreement had to be made, major regulatory measures must be taken, he asserted. These include reducing custom duty on raw materials like steel to 5 per cent and updating the infrastructure.



Birla MF launches asset allocation fund
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Birla Mutual Fund launched the Birla Asset Allocation Fund here today. The subscription for the fund was opened on January 6, 2004, and will close on January 20, 2004. Giving details of the fund, the assistant vice president and head north India, Mr Waqar Naqvi said the fund would allocate assets at multiple levels.

He said the fund had four plans to deal with various risk profiles. These include dynamic debt plan, conservative plan, moderate plan and aggressive plan. He said, the fund would allocate assets at strategic and tactical level.

Briefing about the asset allocation, he said, it basically conducts risk profile to check the appetite for risk, constructs a portfolio that is suitable for the risk profile, continuously rebalances assets to keep the risk of the portfolio constant and carries out change in portfolio if the risk profile is altered.

Mr Waqar maintained that the Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company Ltd was a joint venture between the Aditya Birla Group and Sun Life Financial Services of Canada. With total assets under management of around Rs 9500 crore including two offshore schemes and privileged account service spread across over 4.5 lakh investors, the company had consistently endeavourd to provide investors with superior risk adjusted return in a family of funds.



Malwa Industries celebrates founder’s day
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, January 15
Malwa Industries Limited, a part of Lala Vidya Sagar Oswal Group, yesterday celebrated its founder’s day at its plant at Harian village, near here. A cultural programme was presented by employees and students of Malwa School and nearby schools on the occasion.


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