L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Vedanti to mediate in sacrilege issue
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana/Siahar, January 25
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti has agreed to step in to resolve the long-pending issue of Nanaksar Ashram Thath at Siahar regarding the control of the religious place, provided both factions agree to accept his arbitration. Else he would confine the investigations to the sacrilege that took place on October 11, when the sanctity of akhand path was violated in the thath.

Jathedar Vedanti, talking to The Tribune over the phone today, said he had agreed to intervene in the matter after he was approached by both factions.

He said he was looking into the matter and had constituted a committee to prepare a detailed report on the chronology of events after talking to leaders of the factions and villagers.

He said he was not satisfied with the report submitted by an SGPC team as it lacked some information.

The Jathedar said both factions had approached him and presented their cases regarding the sequence of events at Nanaksar Thath. He said an inquiry had already been started but Akal Takht would take notice of only those events that concerned religious matters. “We would take action against those persons only whose actions led to the disrespect of Guru Granth Sahib by violating the sanctity of akhand path at Darbar Sahib on October 11, when violence took place at the Thath, leaving a villager dead and several injured,” he said.

He said he had already received a report from the SGPC, which had since been returned for further investigation. “We have asked them to prepare a detailed report as the first one could not answer many questions. We don’t want to jump to conclusions at this stage and compound the matter. If the report contains minute details, its easier to know the reality, he said.”

Jathedar Vedanti stated that the matter regarding the chairmanship of the trust running the affairs of all Thaths in India and abroad would be taken up only if both factions accepted his arbitration in writing. “Otherwise we have no interest in interfering in the matters of the trust,” he added.

Mr Jagdev Singh Andloo, spokesperson of the faction led by Baba Harnek Singh, said they had approached Akal Takht. ‘‘We have submitted our case with the highest religious body along with documentary evidence which proved that the faction led by Baba Mann Singh had exhausted all constitutional measures.’’ He claimed that the Trust led by Baba Harnek Singh had won various court cases in India and abroad and Baba Harnek Singh was the rightful president of the trust.

Regarding the acceptance of the arbitration of Akal Takht in the matter of the chairmanship of the Trust, Mr Andloo said the decision would be taken up by Baba Harnek Singh. He said they were not in a position to take any decision in this regard. Baba Harnek Singh would be meeting Jathedar Vedanti when he would visit England in the near future.

A spokesperson of the Baba Mann Singh faction said they had sought the Jathedar’s intervention with regard to the sacrilege. He said the matter of the chairmanship would be decided by the court. He said a team of representatives of the SGPC had visited the village some days ago and had spoken to the villagers as well as Baba Mann Singh.



Good scope for trade in Iraq, says expert
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
“Iraq is a wealthy nation having vast resources of oil, gas and minerals. The quality of its petrol is exceptionally good and the cost of extraction is also the minimum among oil-producing countries,” said Mr R.S. Kalha, Member, National Human Rights Commission, while delivering a talk on “Iraq after war and opportunities for Indian business”. The talk was organised by the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) here last evening.

He said according to a study conducted in the USA, Iraq’s oil reserves were going to last for almost 600 years as compared to 100 years in other Arab countries.

He said Iraq’s oil reserves were over 112 billion barrels, the second largest in the world, and gas reserves of 110 trillion cubic feet, the 10th largest.

Mr Kalha said the prime motive behind the US attack on Iraq was to take control of energy reserves, rather than to find weapons of mass destruction. He described the events leading to the US intervention in Iraq and the prevailing poor security situation in that country, where bloody clashes were taking place almost on a daily basis. He said in spite of the concern expressed by NGOs and leading human rights activists, no meaningful efforts had been made by the “invading” forces to redress these grievances.

Mr Kalha, a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, was also India’s Ambassador to Iraq from 1992 to 1994. He also informed members of the business community about trade and business opportunities that were likely to open up once the security situation stabilised in Iraq.

He said Indian businessmen should not miss these opportunities.

He remarked that India had traditionally enjoyed very cordial and friendly relations with Iraq. “Indians have been involved in the building of a modern Iraq in civil construction, roads, railways, power generation and distribution, telecommunication, health care and other economic and social activities. During the Gulf War, there were more than 60,000 Indians in Iraq.

The Indian community carried on despite UN sanctions and supported Iraq by participating in the ‘Oil for Food’ programme. We have been supplying food items, life-saving medicines, textiles and spares for the oil industry,” he said.

Earlier, introducing the topic, Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary, LMA, said Iraq was in a shambles, thanks to Saddam Hussein and the attack on Iraq by US-led forces. “For the past 13 years, since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, businesses around the world have been precluded from conducting transactions with Iraq,” he stated.

“Today, when the war is over and Saddam has been captured, the reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as one of the most urgent challenges facing the international community. But Indian businessmen find that it is largely the prerogative of American and British companies to do business in Iraq. Moreover, India’s diplomatic stand on the Iraq war has alienated the USA.

The fact that nothing came India’s way in the rebuilding of Afghanistan reinforces the pessimistic stand of the Indian corporate sector with regard to war-ravaged Iraq,” Mr Goyal said.

He stated that although the USA had said that Indian businessmen were in a position to benefit from opportunities in Iraq because of India’s long-standing ties with that nation, it remained to be seen how much opportunity Indian business would get in rebuilding Iraq’s economy.

Mr Manjit Singh, president, LMA, in his presidential address, stated that Iraq had started a new chapter of its history with the fall of a dictatorship. However, a tragic cycle of disorder and violence had been set in motion. He said creating conditions for stability in Iraq was an issue that needed immediate international attention.



BKU state-level dharna tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) will hold a state-level dharna at the PSEB headquarters in Patiala on January 27 in protest against the erratic power supply to the farm sector. Farmers in large numbers are expected to take part in the dharna from all over the state.

This was stated by BKU president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and general secretary Manjit Singh Kadian while talking to mediapersons here today. They said during a whirlwind tour of several districts, including Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepore, they had received a good response to the proposed dharna.

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian said the government had reimposed power bills on the farmers with the promise to provide adequate and uninterrupted power supply. However, the farmers were getting power for not more than two to three hours and that too during the night. “Even this meagre power supply is marred by frequent tripping,” they said.

They said the PSEB had also failed to provide new power connections for agricultural purposes for years together, making it difficult for the farmers. There were more than 50,000 farmers, who had submitted test reports and deposited the requisite amount for tubewell connections but the PSEB as well as the government had done nothing in this regard. The PSEB had even stopped accepting the test reports on the plea that the transmission system was overloaded, they said.

Charging the PSEB with discrimination against the rural population, the BKU activists alleged that there was a world of difference between the power supply to the urban sector and villages.

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian said that the BKU would press upon the PSEB to supply power for a minimum of 10 hours without interruption four days in a week to enable the farmers to sow and irrigate crops.

The BKU would serve a 15-day notice on the PSEB in this regard. The situation would be reviewed and further course of action would be finalised at the state committee meeting of the BKU here on February 10.



1 pc freight subsidy for exporters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The state Industries Department has issued a notification for submitting applications for availing 1 per cent freight subsidy by exporters from April 1, 2003, to December 31, 2003. Those desirous of getting the relief should sent their applications by January 31.

According to Mr Paramjit Singh Shad, president of the Ludhiana Productivity Council, the application form had also been revised. As per the changed format, only the shipping bill was required and self- attested documents were to be submitted. Subsidy to merchant exports and indirect exports had been allowed. The copy of the new notification is available at the council office.



Lonely but patriotic at 94
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, January 25
Major Surat Singh, a war hero who feels patriotic even in the 94th year of his life, is leading a desolate life at Nandpur village. His contributions to the freedom struggle have gone unacknowledged.

Born in Sialkot in 1912, he graduated from Government College, Pasroor. In 1943, he joined the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose. He fought along the Burma border where an explosion rendered him partially blind. During the war, he was imprisoned in Malaysia. The rumour that he had died, took the life of his father Shamsher Singh.

At the time of Partition, his wife and son also died. He was oblivious to what had happened to his family during his absence. When he returned home, he was shattered to find everyone gone. Only one of his daughters, Parkash Kaur, had survived and had been married. At present, she is living in Jalandhar.

Major Surat Singh is a lonely man with only a dog for company. No government has rewarded him for his sacrifices but he has no complaints. He is dedicated to the country with the same spirit and expects no rewards in return. He rejoices in the fact that he sacrificed his family to save the honour of his land. He is proud to have contributed his bit for the cause of the freedom movement. “I have no regrets.

The only thing that pains me is the lack of fellow feeling and brotherhood among the people. I feel distressed to find that there is so much of hate born out of selfish motives and narrow- minded attitude of the present generation,” he says.

This old patriot is braving the winter of his life by fighting his loneliness and harbours no grudges.

The administration must reward such unsung heroes and bring their achievements to the fore.



Special kids celebrate Republic Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The students and staff of Ek Prayaas, an institute for special children, located on Ferozepore Road here, organised a programme in connection with the Republic Day celebrations yesterday.

The Principal, Mrs N. Mannan, welcomed the guests, including Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, DMCH. The rich culture of the country was reflected in a fancy dress show depicting people from different states. Some children also dressed up as different national and political leaders. Children also recited “Sare Jahan Se Achha..” and presented a vibrant Punjabi folk dance.

Dr Daljit Singh appreciated the efforts of the staff members and assured them of all possible help and guidance. Mrs Lalita Mittal, a guest, was highly impressed with the performance of the children. She said that serving these children was equivalent to serving God. Mrs Samira Bector thanked the guests, teachers and voluntary workers at the institute.



Students celebrate R-Day, Basant Panchami
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Spring Dale Senior Secondary Public School celebrated Republic Day and Basant Panchmi with fun and fervour here today. Students delivered speeches and recited poems on the occasion.

Sayuj Kaul recited a poem on Republic Day, while Archit, Madhulika, Surat, Harkiran, Akshey sang “Hamara Tiranga Kabhi Na Jhukey.”

Vikas spoke about the importance of Basant Panchmi, while Pritpal Singh and Manjit Singh delivered a speech on Republic Day.

Nidhi Singh also spoke on the importance of the day. Munish and Pawanpreet Kaur recited a poem. Ms Avinash Kaur Walia, Director and founder Principal, gave away the prizes to the participating students.



Painting contest marks Basant Panchami celebrations
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
Love Dale Club celebrated Basant Panchami and Republic Day by organising a function here today. Lectures were organised to highlight the importance of Republic Day.

To mark the importance of colour during Basant Panchami, a drawing and painting competition was held on the club premises.

Art teachers, including Ms Parvinder Toor from Sarabha Nagar Convent and Ms Tripta Arora from Malwa Khalsa College, were invited as judges.



Drive against encroachment a damp squib
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 25
Launched with much hype amidst high expectations, the campaign to remove more than 9000 encroachments on municipal and government land in the city has virtually fizzled out.
This can be attributed to political interference, particularly due to the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

The Municipal Corporation had taken up the task of clearing encroachments on public places, parks, roads and streets in the city on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

But political leaders of all hues started interfering at various levels, even as the campaign was gaining momentum and many unlawful occupants had started removing encroachments on their own.

With the top government functionaries and ruling party leaders wanting the MC to go slow and not to create resentment against the Congress Government by indiscriminate demolitions, the gigantic task of clearing thousands of encroachments, had become difficult for the administration.

A senior Cabinet minister had gone on record to oppose the campaign against encroachments, though being fully aware that it was being carried out on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The minister had even claimed that he had taken up the matter with the Chief Minister and it was at his instance that the drive (against encroachments) had been put on the hold for the time being.

Political leaders belonging to the opposition parties were lending overt or covert support to the unlawful occupants. Even some ruling party leaders had chosen to take up the cause of the defaulters. Quite a few councillors belonging to one ruling party were upset over the manner the corporation had executed some demolitions.

With the elections to the Lok Sabha expected to be announced anytime the general feeling among top functionaries of the ruling Congress is also against the execution of any such drive.



Labourers not satisfied with pact, says union
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The local Moulder and Steel Workers Union has said there was unrest among the labour unions in the city since most of their grievances had not been redressed.
Mr Mahendra Singh, the secretary of the union, said though the administration had managed to have a truce between the labour unions and the managements of various establishments, the labourers were not satisfied with the agreement as the problems which led to the strike remained unaddressed.

He said hundreds of employees of Ralson (India) were trying to secure the release of their arrested colleagues and get their demands met.

Employee leaders and activists were being terrorised by the police and the management, he added.

This was discussed at a meeting of the workers held at Giaspura last evening, he said.

The union leader alleged that despite enhanced productivity, benefits had been given to them.

Mr Singh said copies of the agreement had been sent to various factories so that the workers there could send in their suggestions which would be incorporated in the memorandum to be submitted to the Labour Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner and other officials concerned.



Merger of DA with pension sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Government Pensioners’ Association today urged the Prime Minister and the Union Finance Minister to merge 50 per cent DA with the basic pay/pension in line with the recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission.

It was observed at a meeting of the association held today that the commission had recommended that DA should be merged with basic pay after it crossed the 50 per cent mark of the basis pay/pension. It crossed the mark on July 1, 2002, when DA became payable at the rate of 52 per cent. The meeting observed that since then employees and pensioners had been demanding its merger. Currently, 59 per cent DA is being paid to them.

Mr Yash Pal Ghai, additional general secretary of the association, said in a press note issued here today that the merger meant an increase in various allowances such as HRA, CCA, NPA for doctors and post-retirement benefits. He said the merger would benefit more than one crore Central Government employees, including defence personnel and pensioners.

The meeting passed a resolution urging the Finance Minister to release the DA instalment due since January this year.



J&K Govt’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) took out a protest march and burnt the effigy of the Jammu and Kashmir Government. They were protesting against arrest of party functionaries at Lakhanpur barrier in Jammu and Kashmir. The party members who have been arrested were leading a “rath yatra” to Srinagar.

Party leaders, Anil Singla and Krishan Bansal said the “rath yatra” was meant to be a symbolic protest against the militant outfits in Srinagar. The party leaders threatened to intensify their agitation if the arrested functionaries were not released.

Earlier, the party workers took out a protest march from the Clock Tower chowk to Chaura Bazaar raising slogans against the Jammu and Kashmir Government, militant groups and Pakistan rulers supporting cross-border terrorism.



MLA inaugurates water supply scheme
Our Correspondent

Congress MLA Surinder Dawar inaugurates a water supply project at Issa Nagri
Congress MLA Surinder Dawar inaugurates a water supply project at Issa Nagri in Ludhiana on Saturday. — Photo by IV

Ludhiana, January 25
The Congress MLA, Mr Surinder Dawar, initiated a drinking water supply scheme in Issa Nagri and surrounding localities of Ward No. 51 here yesterday. The project will cost Rs 3.5 lakh approximately.

Mr Dawar said on the occasion that with the water supply network being strengthened and the old pipes being replaced, there would be no shortage of water during summer. He said after the laying of water supply pipes was completed, all streets in the area would be resurfaced.

The area councillor, Mr Sanjay Talwar, detailed about various ongoing development projects and those in different stages of planning and approval.



Youth wing’s plea to SAD leaders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The state unit of the youth wing of the SAD has urged party leaders to consider the candidature of its chief, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.
Senior office-bearers, including Mr Inderpreet Singh Bhattal, Mr Sarabjit Singh Chapa, Mr Manpreet Singh Deol, Mr Parvinder Singh Happy and Dr Jaspal Singh Gill, in a statement, said workers were unanimous in their belief that Mr Dhillon was the right choice for the parliamentary seat.

They said a proposal in this regard would be placed before Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal at the state-level convention of the wing to be held at Bhanohr village on February 16.



Three thieves held, ornaments recovered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The police today claimed to have solved several theft cases with the arrest of three members of a gang involved in stealing ornaments from religious places. Vijay Kumar and Krishan Kumar, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, and Shankar Singh of Bihar, were arrested and stolen ornaments and cash seized from their possession.

The division No. 3 police claimed that it had solved the theft case in which the gang members had stolen silver ornaments and cash from Shiv Mandir in Sunder Nagar area recently. A case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC has been registered against the trio.

Cases of thefts at Istri Satsang Sabha, Mishra Chowk, from where gold ornaments were stolen, besides those at Gurdev Ashram, Gandhi Nagar, and Gullchaman Gali mosque were solved.

Inspector Harjinder Singh, Station House Officer of Division No. 3 police station, said the thieves used to work at night and break into religious places. They had come to Ludhiana to become rich overnight as their counterparts here had told them that it was a prosperous city.

The police also arrested Shamshudin, alias Raju, a migrant and seized a country-made .32- bore pistol and two cartridges from his possession. A case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered against him.

Raju was called from Uttar Pradesh by some persons in the city, who wanted him to kill a lottery seller named Tony.

They had asked him to bring a countrymade pistol. During questioning, Raju told the police that he had told Tony about the plot and took Rs 3,000 from him. He had promised Tony that he would arrange a meeting with the persons and was to accept another Rs 2,000 from him. However, he was nabbed by the police.



Four booked on dowry charge
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 25
The police has registered a case against four residents of Jalandhar on the charges of demanding dowry. The case has been registered on the complaint of Jaskiran Kaur.

Jaskiran Kaur, a resident of Samrala, was married to Amit Kumar of Jalandhar in 2001. The complainant alleged that only after two months of the marriage, her in-laws started harassing her for dowry, she alleged. She was forced to leave her in-laws’ house. Some relatives assured her that it would not happen again. She alleged that harassment was not stopped and she was again forced to live at her parent’s house in Samrala. She has lodged a complaint at the Samrala police station under Section 498-A, IPC, against her husband Amit Kumar and three others.

Maruti car stolen: A Maruti car was stolen from a parking place here on Sunday. According to information, a farmer of Bahgaur village came to Khanna to purchase some articles. He parked his car which he had taken from his friend and went shopping. When he came back, the car was missing. The police has recorded the statement of the complainant.


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