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FCI staff charge BJP leaders with blackmail
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 5
Reacting to allegations of irregularities and damaged stocks of rice with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in general and its food storage depot (FSD) at Doraha in particular, FCI employees have charged former members of the Regional Advisory Committee and BJP functionaries with harassment and blackmailing of the staff for ulterior motives.

In a communication to the FCI headquarters, the president of the FCI Quality Control Staff Welfare Association, Mr Brij Mohan Parashar, while challenging the right of the members of the advisory committee to conduct inspection of the foodgrain stocks without the assistance of any experts, alleged that all through their stay at the FSD, Doraha, the three members of the “now defunct” advisory committee threatened the staff members, holding them responsible for procurement of sub-standard rice and using inferior quality of gunny bags for storage.

Three functionaries of the BJP— Mr Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, Mr B.C. Kapila and Mr Shakti Sharma —had claimed conducting a surprise check at the Doraha depot of the FCI, where stocks of rice were found damaged and unfit for human consumption.

He said the staff of the Doraha depot had raised objection to the haughty attitude of the BJP leaders and the District Manager of the FCI here was intimated, who in turn had apprised the regional office in Chandigarh.

Mr Parashar maintained that on the date of the so-called checking at the Doraha depot, the BJP functionaries were no longer members of the advisory committee because the committee, being political in nature, was supposed to have been dissolved with the dissolution of Parliament and announcement of elections.

Even though the members of the committee had conducted the inspection on March 18, yet their “arbitrary” findings were released to the Press only on March 31.

“During the intervening period, the BJP functionaries had been sending messages to officers and staff members to fulfil their demands, failing which they would go to the public with their findings and allegations of massive irregularities. Since the staff refused to bow before them and pay heed to their demands, they released their so-called inspection report to the media after a gap of two weeks.”

The association chief maintained that the rice stocks at the Doraha depot were strictly in accordance with the specifications and conformed to the Pure Food Act.

The stocks were not only in perfectly healthy condition and fit for human consumption but were also worthy of being exported.

The gunny bags used for storage of rice were of ‘A’ quality. Both the stocks and the gunny bags were constantly being checked by squads of district and regional offices of the FCI, who had never pointed out any discrepancy or deficiency in the quality of the rice or the gunny bags.

Making it clear that the staff members would not buckle under pressure of such unscrupulous elements, Mr Parashar urged the FCI management, both at the headquarters and the regional office in Chandigarh, to take such remedial measures that would effectively check recurrence of such incidents and to enable the staff to perform their duty without any fear or outside pressure.



High temperature forces early harvesting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
Even as the wheat procurement is yet to start officially in the state, harvesting is in full swing in the district due to sudden rise in temperature.
Generally, the harvesting begins after April 13. This year the substantial rise in day temperature has forced many farmers to start harvesting in advance. Some farmers have even started carrying their produce to the mandis.

A visit to villages in the Pakhowal belt revealed that farmers were busy harvesting at Pakhowal, Bhaini Rora, Leelan and Sarabha.

Farmers said they had to resort to early harvesting as the crop had matured and waiting for another week could create problems in selling it. They said the farmers who had sown late varieties would need to wait for another 10 days.

Experts in Punjab Agricultural University said though the temperature recorded this month was much higher than that of the last year, there was no need for panic. They said at this point in time they were not able to say anything whether the yield would be affected.

They said the crop harvested at this time would be fit for marketing as the moisture content was not more than the permissible limit. They said the hot weather might affect the late-sown crop, but this year only 5 per cent of farmers had gone for late crop. An expert said in late-sown varieties the shrivelling of crop might occur.



Committee to probe death of infant
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 5
The Civil Surgeon, Dr S.N.Tiwari, has constituted a three-member committee to investigate the case of the death of an infant due to the alleged negligence by a local doctor couple. Dr Tiwari has asked the committee members, comprising Dr P.S. Brar, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Dr Manorama, District Family Welfare Officer, and Dr Vinod Gagneja, child specialist, to submit their report within 15 days.

The committee has been constituted on a complaint filed by Mr Sukhdev Singh, who had alleged that his infant (male) died due to negligence of Dr S.S.Arora and his wife Dr Satinder Arora of Preet Nursing Home on March 7, 2004.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, in an affidavit, has sought justice from the authorities concerned by punishing the “guilty” doctor couple responsible for the death of his child and for causing harassment to his family. He has also demanded the resignation of the president of the local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for giving a “clean chit” to the doctors without investigating the case. Mr Sukhdev Singh alleged that IMA members, rather than listening to his woes, levelled baseless allegations against him of “blackmailing the doctors”.

According to Mr Sukhdev Singh, his wife Dhanwant Kaur gave birth to twins (one male and the other female) on March 2 at Preet Nursing Home through a caesarean section after six years of their marriage. The female infant weighed 2.5 kg, while the male weighed 1.2 kg.

“In the fifth month of pregnancy, an ultrasound scan was conducted and the doctors said there was a single foetus, but in the seventh month they were told that there were twins. But the doctors assured that everything was fine and there was no cause for worry,” said Mr Sukhdev Singh.

He further added that when the babies were born, he had asked the doctors if there was a need to consult some child specialist, as his babies were born prematurely. The doctors gave him assurance that his underweight child was being given best treatment and there was no need to consult any other doctor. “My male infant started bleeding from mouth but the doctors said he was alright and there was no need to panic. But suddenly they announced that I had lost my child,” alleged Sukhdev Singh.

He further added that he had paid Rs 10,000 (as delivery charges) to the doctor for which he was given no receipt. “Dr Arora also claimed that my daughter was healthy and normal, thus both my wife and daughter were discharged from the nursing home. But for the past 25 days, my daughter has been admitted to Handa Nursing Home here. She had developed acute infection during delivery. Doctors are struggling to save her life. I have already sold my auto-rickshaw to meet the hospital expenses. But an association like the IMA is leveling allegations against me that I was demanding Rs 1 lakh from the doctor to hush up the case. I had met IMA members personally, who said they would shield the doctor and I could do anything I wanted to. I am a shattered man. I do not want a single penny from anyone except for justice,” said Sukhdev Singh.



Cong has mass base, says Tiwari
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
Congress candidate from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, Mr Manish Tiwari, said today that only the Congress could ameliorate the sufferings of the common people as it was rooted among the common masses. He was addressing a workers’ meeting after inaugurating the election office in Block 9 in the Ludhiana (Rural) assembly segment.

Mr Tiwari ridiculed the ‘feel good’ campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party while pointing out that it was “only the feeling and nothing on the ground”. He warned that in case the National Democratic Alliance Government was returned to power again, it will spell doom for the masses and the prices of essential commodities will go up.

The Minister of State for Jails and Urban Development, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, who represents the Ludhiana Rural assembly segment, thanked the party high command for fielding Mr Tiwari from Ludhiana. Mr Birmi observed that Mr Tiwari could articulate the problems in Parliament better than anyone else. He appealed people to vote for Mr Tiwari to ensure that they are represented properly in the parliament.

The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, lauded the sacrifices of Mr Tiwari and his family for the party and the country. He assured that Mr Tiwari would be made to win by a record margin from Ludhiana.

Prominent among those present at today’s meeting included Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Pawan Dewan, Mr Mahesh Inder Pappi, Capt Bikramjit Singh and others.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana (East) MLA, Mr Surinder Dawer, held a meeting of prominent workers, office-bearers and councillors of the constituency to chalk out the strategy for campaigning. Mr Dawer stressed upon the workers to ensure that Mr Tiwari gets a maximum lead from Ludhiana east segment.



BJP to observe workers’ day on April 6
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 5
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will observe its foundation day as workers’ day here on April 6. The decision was taken at a party meeting held on Sunday under the presidentship of its district chief, Dr Subhash Verma.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Verma said tomorrow party workers, would gather at Samiti Kendra for interaction with the senior leaders of the party. The strategy planning between the workers and party leaders would also provide an opportunity to take stock of the preparations for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

He said the party would set up 150 shakti kendras in all 70 wards of the city to ensure a victory for the SAD-BJP combine candidate, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. The wards with more than 10 polling booths would have two such shakti kendras while others would have one each. While office-bearers of the respective wards would head these kendras, they would remain in direct contact with the ward president, who would further report to mandal chief of the party.

According to Dr Verma, the underlying purpose of the shakti kendras was to strengthen and make more effective the grassroot units of the party. Workers had also been directed to commence “parbhat pheris” in their respective areas to propagate the achievements of the NDA government.

Prominent among others present in the meeting were Mr Ashok Loomba, Mr Rajinder Kahtri, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr O.P. Bhardwaj, Mr Kamal Chatley, Mr Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, Mr Mehnga Singh Khaira, Mr Jitendra Mittal, Mr Ruldu Ram Garg, Mr Shakti Kumar, Mr Balraj Singh, Mr Jagjiwan Sood, Mr Parveen Bansal, Ms Rita Dhawan and Mr Rajinder Ahuja.



DC directs cinema owners to remove obscene posters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
Finally taking a serious view of the obscene posters of films pasted at various places in the city, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, today asked the cinema owners to remove these within a week or face action.

The warning was issued during a meeting of the cinema owners with the Deputy Commissioner called today in the wake of protests by a political organisation here yesterday. In the meeting, the DC expressed his concern that some of the cinema owners were pasting indecent and obscene posters, ignoring their social responsibility and this was spoiling the atmosphere in the city.

Mr Verma gave a deadline to the cinema owners to remove all the indecent and obscene posters by April 12, 2004, failing which strict action can be taken against him, including the cancellation of licences. He added that no such posters should be allowed to remain pasted near the educational institutions, especially those exclusively for girls. After the expiry of this deadline, if any indecent or obscene poster was found pasted anywhere outside a cinema in the city, strict action would be taken against the owner of the cinema under the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act.

The DC said that under this Act, there is a provision of punishment of imprisonment up to a term of six months. Action would also be contemplated under Section 292 of Indian Penal Code, which prohibits circulation of pamphlets etc, which tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely to read them. Mr Verma added that in such cases, suspension and cancellation of licence of the cinemas would also be considered.

Mr Verma appealed to the general public to bring to the notice of the Sub Divisional Magistrate concerned if they found any obscene or indecent posters after April 13. He also directed the Sub Divisional Magistrates that they should conduct surprise checking in the various areas of the city after the expiry of this deadline. This checking should also be done by the Executive Magistrates concerned.

Mr Ajmer Singh, Additional District Magistrate, Mr Prem Chand, Sub Divisional Magistrate, (East) and Mr M.S. Jaggi, Sub Divisional Magistrate, (West) also attended the meeting. Mr Abnash Singh, vice president, and Mr Jasbir Singh Nalua, secretary of Ludhiana Exhibitors Association, assured the Deputy Commissioner that they will prevail upon all their members and ensure that all the obscene posters are removed before the deadline given by him.



Movies can’t damage moral fabric, say youth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
With so much hue and cry being raised over some latest movies being screened in the city these days, a cross-section of people feels that the protests were unjustified and uncalled for. They observed that such protests were being staged only for the cheap publicity.

The two most talked about movies, “Hawas” and “Murder”, raised some eyebrows for the bold portrayal of the female characters. The story of both the movies runs along similar lines. The critics of these movies have been maintaining that it will set wrong trends in the society.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office-bearer, while strongly opposing the portrayal of such characters felt that these could encourage people to commit adultery. He justified the protests by the Shiv Sena against the screening of these movies. He pointed out that the cinema was the reflection of society. Such movies could harm the moral fabric of society, he observed.

However, the younger generation believes that there was nothing wrong in such movies. Aruna Gupta, a PhD scholar in Panjab University felt that it was wrong to impose “cultural imperialism”. She pointed out that the Censor Board already take care of various aspects. The moral policeing should be left to the Censor Board.

Similar views were expressed by Mr Rajmeet Shergil, a masters student of English. He said, one or a couple of films cannot damage the social fabric. Everybody was wise enough to make a right decision. But as far as the movies like “Hawas” and “Murder” are concerned these were not at all vulgar. He wondered as why a country like India which is the home to erotic art of Ajanta and Ellora could grow less tolerant just because a work of art sought to articulate the passion of a person.

The cinema owners running the two movies (“Murder” in Aarti Theatre and “Hawas” in the Orient) revealed that they were running full houses and there were advance bookings also. There is an element of curiosity among the viewers and everyone wanted to see as why such hue and cry was being raised about these movies.

Mr Vivek Sehgal, a postgraduate student of Fine Arts probably put it in a better way. “Art is for entertainment. And pure art should entertain only and if cinema is trying to entertain people what is wrong in it”, he said, while adding that “but everything should remain within the limits of decency”. Moreover, he pointed out, it was only because people liked these movies that the theatres were running houseful.



MC employees’ ultimatum to authorities
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 5
The Sangharsh Committee of employees of the local municipal corporation here has served a 24-hour ultimatum to the authorities to accept their demands, failing which they would launch an agitation.

Functionaries of the sangharsh committee, in a memorandum submitted to the City Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, lamented that the state government, and the corporation administration had not responded in a positive manner to their charters of demands, presented on January 29, March 10, March 25 and April 1.

Addressing a protest rally at the MC headquarters, activists of the sangharsh committee, including Mr Hans Raj Gagat, expressed their resentment against the government for adopting delaying tactics. He said it was regrettable that despite repeated assurances given to the employees, their demands were not being accepted. The employees had postponed their proposed agitation several times but the promises and assurances turned out to be time gaining tactics.

The first and foremost demand of the agitating workers was starting recruitment on compassionate ground for one eligible family member of the employees who died while in service.

Other demands listed in the memorandum included the regularisation of services of daily wagers, filling of vacant posts of sanitary supervisors, promotion of eligible safai sewaks to the posts of sanitary supervisors and sanitary supervisors to sanitary inspectors, insurance cover for safai workers, and filling up vacant posts of clerical staff.

The sangharsh committee of the employees further called to scrap the system of area sanitation committees and deployment of permanent employees for this job, grant of arrears of bonus, dearness allowance and other allowances, settlement of pending cases of insurance claims of deceased employees and completion of backlog in all departments through due promotions or recruitment.

Expressing their concern over the delay in payment of service benefits, accrued provident fund and other dues to the retired employees of the corporation, the employees demanded that the process of obtaining clearance certificate from different departments should be set in motion at least three months in advance so as to ensure that the retiring employee was handed over the cheque on the day of retirement. 



With summer, come umbrellas
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 5
The mercury has been rising steadily over the past few days. Lasses and women, fearing suntan, wear a lot of sunblocker but sunrays relentlessly tear the so-called “protection” offered by these sunblockers. Hence umbrellas are becoming popular with the fair sex. Umbrella sellers can be seen on the streets of the city — be it Model Town, Sarabha Nagar, Kitclu Nagar, or the new old courts — these days.

Raghvan (in the picture) says: “We get these umbrellas from the India-Nepal border through an agent. At the outset of summer, we actively engage ourselves in pushing our sales up. The gaily coloured umbrellas tempt children too, and since these are easily available on the streets at reasonable prizes, the mothers too buy them. Moreover, they are light in weight. Even if they last one season, they have served their worth.”

He said a lot of persons were involved in the sale of not only umbrellas but also mosquito nets for infants. Mosquitoes are found in plenty, and in order to offer protection to their little ones, the mothers readily purchase these nets. These can be easily folded and kept aside when not in use.

He said though he and his ilk suffered from great hardship selling their ware on the roadside, they were happy that they offered some respite from sun to residents. He said: “We are happy that through this temporary job of selling umbrellas we earn sufficiently to make the two ends meet. But the poisonous fumes of vehicles take a toll on our health, which keeps us from getting a sound sleep. We cannot afford to spend money on medicines, so we use traditional ways, like chewing ‘malathi’ and drinking herbal tea.”



Slash defence budgets, India, Pak told
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
Improved Indo-Pakistan relations are very beneficial for the Pakistani Punjab as well as Indian Punjab. Panjabis are now witnessing the most peaceful period in history, said Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, President, Youth Akali Dal and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from the Ludhiana parliamentary seat.

He said the sea change was only possible due to the policies of the National Democratic Alliance government led by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His gestures had been reciprocated by General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. He said all Panjabis, cutting across party lines, are indebted to the government of both countries for this.

Mr Dhillon expressed these views while receiving Mr Rai Aziz Ullah Khan, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and a delegation of MLAs and other prominent personalities from Pakistan at Shingaar Cinema, near Samrala Chowk, late last night.

Although the delegation reached very late but the large gathering awaited patiently for the dignitaries almost till midnight. The delegation had first gone to Raikot as the forefathers of Rai Aziz Ullah Khan were the Nawabs of the area. The family is also the custodian of the metal pitcher which was gifted to the family by Guru Gobind Singh.

He emphasised that the Hussaniwala border should also be opened for trade and traffic. He said both countries should think of ways to slash their defence expenditure and plough the funds to social welfare and poverty eradication programmes.

The SAD leader honoured Rai Aziz Ullah by presenting him a shawl. All members in the delegation were also presented siropas. 



Pak delegation in city with peace message
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
The peoples of India and Pakistan have already wrested the peace initiative from their rulers and it will be difficult for anyone to reverse this (peace) process. The people-to-people contact programme initiated about a year ago is picking up fast and everyday scores of people from both sides cross the Wagah border to interact. Peoples on both sides seem to have resolved that “there should not and will not” be a war anymore.

Mr Arif Chaudhary, a leading lawyer and former vice-chairman of the Lahore Bar Council, who is currently leading a 90-member delegation of lawyers and journalists from Pakistan, and Mehmood Zaman, Lahore-based Special Correspondent of Dawn, said there was an undying urge among people in Pakistan to break the barriers. They pointed out that the peoples of two Punjabs had a common language, culture, common history, traditions and much more, and there was no reason to keep them apart. The delegation also included several women, who said, they felt overwhelmed by the warmth of people in India.

Zaman disclosed that people in Pakistan appreciated the positive approach of the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He revealed that people over there wanted Mr Vajpayee to return to power to consolidate the peace process. Zaman pointed out that opinion polls indicated that the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government was likely to return to power and this could be credited to his peace initiative with Pakistan, which was on top of the NDA agenda.

Mr Chaudhary maintained that the people-to-people contact between the two countries was increasing and they had started understanding each other. He said the overwhelming warmth shown by the people of Pakistan to visiting Indian cricket fans stood testimony to the changed scenario. Moreover, he added that the way people cheered the Indian cricket team and Virender Sehwag after his triple century spoke volumes about the growing love and respect for each other. Zaman said Pakistani Punjab could learn a lot from the agricultural success on this side.



Officers to train patwaris on use of EVMS
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 5
The SDM here Mr Jaspal Mittal today appealed to voters falls under the constituency number 64 to acquaint themselves with the use of electric voting machines in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Mittal, in a press note said, officers had been appointed to inform the public about the use of these machines. He said village chowkidars, patwaris and kanoungo would train villagers.

Kulwant Singh BDPO has been appointed at Booth No. 3, Mr O.P. Prashar Sub-Divisional Engineer at booth no. 11 to 13, C.S. Bains, Sub Divisional Engineer, at booth no. 19, D.S. Cheema at booth no. 26, NPS Boparai at booth no. 43 and 35, Najar Singh executive officer, Municipal Council at booth no. 47 to 49, G.S. Malik, General Manager Markfed at booth no. 38 and 39, Jang Singh Mundi, SDO, PSEB at booth no. 71 and 73, Raj Kumar, EO, Improvement Trust, at booth no. 56 and 57, D.S. Tiwana, DFSO, at booth no. 83, Balwinder Singh, GM, cattlefeed A Plant at booth no. 93 to 95 and Sunita Rani, CDPO, has been appointed at booth no. 112.



Patar re-elected Punjabi Sahitya Akademi chief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 5
Eminent poet Surjit Patar has been re-elected president of the Punjabi Sahitya Akademi for a second term. The poll was held at Punjabi Bhavan here yesterday. Patar polled 334 votes while his opponent, S.S. Noor, got 224 votes. Gurbhajan Gill was re-elected senior vice-president.

Three office-bearers had been elected unanimously a few days also. They include Sukhdev Singh Sirsa, vice-president (from outside Punjab), and Sudershan Gaso, executive member of the Interim Board (from outside Punjab).

Four persons elected as vice-presidents are Prem Singh Bajaj, who polled the highest number of 442 votes, Labh Singh Kheeva (317), Guriqbal Singh (274) and Kirpal Singh Kasel (383). Gulzar Sandhu, a former Editor of Punjabi Tribune, secured only 267 votes and lost the poll for the vice-president's post.

Five executive members elected are Omninder Singh Johal (329), Swaranjeet Kaur (290), Daleep Singh Naamdhari (257), Ram Lal Premi (241) and Suhinder Bir (226).

Nine executive members are old-timers, among whom Janmeja Johal got the highest number of 394 votes The others are Kulwant Jagraon, J.S. Nirala, Surindrejeet Kaur, Inderjeet Hassan Puri, Sharanjeet Kaur, Sarabjeet Singh, S.S. Alag and Gulzar Singh Pandher


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