L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


3 cops booked on bribe charge
Rs 1.8 lakh allegedly taken from drug smuggler’s kin
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
The drive launched by the Jagraon police against smugglers of narcotics ran into a major controversy here today when a case was registered against three police officers of Jagraon under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the directions of DIG Ludhiana Range Dinkar Gupta.

Interestingly, the case has been registered on the complaint of the family members of an alleged notorious smuggler, Harchand Singh, alias Chandi, of Kullan village, Jagraon. The accused police officers are Inspector Mukhwinder Singh, CIA in charge, Jagraon; Harjinder Singh and Nidhan Singh, both ASIs.

According to the FIR lodged at the Division No. 8 police station, Ludhiana, the accused had taken Rs 1.80 lakh from the smuggler’s family to help him in a case registered against him in Jagraon recently. It was also alleged that the Jagraon police was pressuring the smuggler and his family to resume smuggling in the region, which they had stopped several months ago.

The case has been registered on the orders of the DIG, who claims to have conducted a preliminary inquiry into the allegations and found them strong enough for further probe. SP(D) Ludhiana Mandeep Singh is the investigating officer of the case. A woman relative of the alleged smuggler and other relatives had given affidavits to the DIG regarding the allegations.

Mr Gupta told Ludhiana Tribune that after conducting investigation into the allegations, they found that the family had withdrawn money from the bank and also sold a land, as claimed, to Billu of their village. “I have ordered the registration of a case on the basis of prima facie evidence and ordered an investigation. If the accused police officers are innocent, the investigation will exonerate them.”

SSP Jagraon H.S. Bhullar, while defending the accused police officers, said: “They have done a good job against smuggling of narcotics and I don’t believe the allegations are true. The investigation will find them innocent.”

Inspector Mukhwinder Singh said he was shocked at the allegations, as he had arrested the smuggler and had been instrumental in making one of the richest hauls of narcotics in Jagraon in the recent years. “I would have let him off had I taken the money,” he argued. The other accused could not be contacted.

According to police records, Harchand Singh was caught by Inspector Mukhwinder Singh on April 13 and a case was registered against him at the Dakha police station. He is facing charges in 15 cases of smuggling registered in several parts of the state, besides one in Madhya Pradesh.

Harchand Singh is currently in the custody of Patiala police, which had taken him on production remand for interrogation in a narcotic smuggling case registered there. His sons, Amolak Singh, alias Kallu, and Sattu, were also wanted by the police in smuggling cases.

According to police sources, a massive crackdown was launched on narcotic smugglers in the region some time back. The police had made rich hauls of poppy husk and opium during the past two years.



Candidates remove posters on DC’s ultimatum
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
Thanks to the ultimatum served on the contesting candidates by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, a “cleanliness drive” has been launched by various political parties in the city. After the DC took serious note of the defacing of the public property by different political parties and served ultimatum on the candidates, most of the posters on the public walls and buildings were removed overnight.

The DC had yesterday convened a meeting of all the contesting candidates. The candidates had assured that they would abide by the Election Commission directive and ensured that all posters would be removed from the public places at the earliest. They also asserted that they would ensure that there would to clean campaigning in the city.

At most of the places in the city today, the workers of different political parties were seen removing the posters. A labourer hired by a candidate said it was difficult to remove the posters than pasting them. The labourers had a tough time to ensure that the posters were completely removed. They had been told to ensure that there was no trace of the poster. Or at least they should ensure that nobody could make out as whose poster it was.

Earlier some candidates belonging to the opposition parties had alleged that the administration was biased against them. They even alleged that the administration was not taking any note of the violations by the ruling party. However, after yesterday’s meeting, which was attended by all political parties and representatives of the candidates, these doubts were removed.

Probably it was the supporters of the Congress candidate, Mr Munish Tiwari, who launched the cleanliness drive on a large scale. Since it was his posters only that had been pasted almost everywhere, the workers had a difficult time to move from place to place to ensure compliance with the Election Commission directive.

The representatives of all political parties in the fray admitted that the administration was getting tough with everyone as far as the Election Commission guidelines were concerned. They said that they hoped that the administration would continue to remain impartial like that. A local BJP leader disclosed that while earlier it appeared the administration was partial now they (the officials) were treating everybody at a par.

The common people have hailed the initiative of the DC hoping that the elections would not lead to the defacement of the public property. Mr Vipin Kumar said the administration should also issue warnings to the candidates not to deface the private property of people. He pointed out that all candidates were pasting posters on private buildings.

An official disclosed that the private property owners could always complain against any candidate who was found responsible for defacing the property. Action could be initiated against such violators and penalty imposed on them, the official said.



Poll duty may hamper varsity exams
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, April 25
Employees of both government and private-aided colleges of the district have received orders by the Election Commission for performing election duties and attending rehearsals, which they contend is bound to affect the smooth conduct of university examinations.

With the arrival of the orders from the electoral office regarding the employment of the staff (teaching and non-teaching) on election duty colleges seem to be caught in a fix as most of these employees have been assigned duties of centre superintendent, assistant supervisor and clerks in various examination centres.

While colleges, including Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana, SD Kamla Lohtia College, Ludhiana have already received the orders, others are expected to receive these in a day or two. Besides, five teachers of the SCD Government College for Boys, six of Sanatan Dharam Kamla Lohtia College and five of Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, the non-teaching staff and class IV employees have also been assigned election duties.

According to Mr Jaswant Singh Gill, Principal, Guru Nanak National College, Doraha: “All our male staff (teaching and non-teaching have been put on election duty. In such a situation it is next to impossible to conduct university examinations smoothly as almost the same staff have already been assigned duties at various examination centres. “I have talked to the Controller of Examinations at Panjab University, Chandigarh, and informed him about the shortage of staff, he added.

Similarly, Prof Jaipal Singh, general secretary of the Punjab Government College Teacher’s Association, when contacted said,: “It would become difficult to perform two duties simultaneously. The election duties are going to disturb the entire process of conduct, evaluation and the subsequent declaration of results.”

Expressing his point of view, Prof Parminder Singh, district president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teacher’s Union, said legally the college teachers were not bound to perform the election duty. He showed the ruling of the Supreme Court in this direction, which read: “The services of employees of nationalised banks, life insurance companies, other general insurance companies, government-aided schools, colleges like central schools and public sector undertakings of the Central and state governments cannot be requisitioned for election work under Section 26 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Accordingly, they should not be put on election duty.”



Wave in favour of combine, claims BJP leader
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
The state secretary and media in charge of the BJP, Mr Anil Sareen, has claimed that the wave was in the favour of the SAD-BJP combine and the coalition would make a clean sweep in Punjab and Chandigarh during the Lok Sabha poll.

Mr Sareen chided the statement of the Punjab Congress President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, about abolition of octroi and free water and power to rural population, saying that the Chief Minister thought otherwise on these issues and perhaps the ruling party President had not consulted the CM before making these remarks. Firing more salvos at the Congress, he said the party had always betrayed the masses. “At the time of Assembly elections, the Congress had gained power by making tall promises to the electorate but once assuming control, the party had not only made a volte-face but scrapped several welfare schemes launched by the previous government.”

Terming the Congress as the one based on lies and deceit, he said it was a group of “robbers and self-seekers”. He appealed voters to cast their vote in favour of the SAD-BJP nominees so that Mr Vajpayee could head yet another stable government at the Centre.

Wooing voters in Payal, the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, described the Congress government in the state as the worst the state had ever had. He said the SAD-BJP alliance stood for communal harmony, development, peace and prosperity. He maintained that successive Congress governments at the Centre had discriminated against the state and its people and the party had been creating a rift between two communities for its political gains.

The District Auto Rickshaw Mazdoor Dal, at a meeting held here today, announced its support to Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. Charging the Congress government in the state with letting loose police repression and other excesses against auto-drivers, the union threatened to launch an agitation to seek justice.

The Congress nominee, Mr Manish Tiwari, meanwhile, also carried out his electioneering at a feverish pitch. Addressing a election meeting, organised by a party councillor, Ms Santosh Mehra, in the Jawahar Nagar area, he said the BJP-led NDA government had failed miserably in providing relief to the common man, students, lower and middle class and small-scale industry. The Union Government had only served the cause of multinational companies, to whom big and even profit-making public sector companies had been sold at throwaway prices.

Similarly, he said, the previous SAD-BJP government in the state had failed to promote investment and all the while colleagues and family members of the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, amassed crores of rupees through corrupt means. Mr Tiwari assured that the city would be his “karam bhumi” and he would endeavour for its rapid development by investment in industry, which in turn, would generate employment for the local youth. He cautioned the electorate not to be misled by the so-called “feel good” factor, which was a total farce and a mere election gimmick.

Prominent speakers were Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Minister for Jails, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, City Mayor, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, and Ms Sushil Gupta, Deputy Mayor.

Mr Rakesh Prashar, Mr Sanjay Talwar, Mr Gurmel Singh Mela, all councillors, Mr Sushil Malhotra, Mr Tarsem Lal Adya, Mr Hans Raj Gagat, Mr Dharam Veer, Mr Ravinder Syan, Mr Sham Sunder Malhotra, Dr S.K. Gupta, Ms Durga Devi, Ms Shakuntla Devi and Ms Darshna Devi were also present. A Congress workers’ meeting was organised in Ward No 39, Gandhi Colony, near Kochar Market, here today by Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education, to mobilise support for the party candidate. He asked party workers to motivate voters in support of Mr Tiwari and also assigned duties.

A joint meeting of labour organizations held at Kanganwal under the chairmanship of Mr A.N. Mishra, Chairman, Labour Cell of the District Youth Congress, pledged its support to the Congress-Left front candidate. Trade union leaders and representatives of different bodies said the Congress nominee could provide right kind of leadership to migrants. Mr Mishra exhorted the workers and trade union activists to work unitedly.



SAD youth leader joins Congress
Our Correspondent

Amloh, April 25
The election campaign of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Congress nominee from the Ropar (Reserved) parliamentary constituency, got a boost when Mr Jaswant Singh Jassu state vice-president, SAD (Youth Wing), announced to relinquish his post and join the Congress along with his supporters at an election rally at Mazri Kishnewali village, near here, on Friday.

His entry into the Congress was welcomed by Mr Dullo, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA, Dr Sawtantra Singh Karkara state secretary, PPCC, and the Block Congress Chief, Mr Shingara Singh.

Addressing the rally, Mr Dullo spoke on the poor performance of the Akali government on all fronts during its five-year tenure.



Environment goes up in smoke 
as administration sleeps 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
While farmers of the district are burning wheat straw, posing a threat to the environment and soil health, the district administration is yet to ban the practice this year.
The fires send up in smoke all advice of agricultural experts to the contrary, who have been educating the farmers on the issue. Farmers resort to this practice to prepare their fields quickly for the next crop.

A visit to villages on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore highway revealed that the menace was wide spread. This was despite the fact that most farmers were aware of the environmental hazard in the form of the harm the fires do to the soil as well as friendly insects and worms.

A farmer who had set the wheat stubble ablaze said he knew that he was not supposed to do so, but he could not wait for long since he had to prepare his fields for the next crop. “Other farmers have already prepared the fields for paddy nurseries and some have even sown them. It gives me sleepless nights when I think that my work is being delayed,” he said.

When countered with the fact that the fires caused respiratory problems to many and affected soil health, he said: “We provide people with food. Can’t they suffer for 15 days for the sake of crops?” As for the soil, urea would make up for the loss, he said.

According to agricultural experts, the level of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising constantly, as a result of which temperatures also rise.

Dr B.S. Sidhu, Professor of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, said crop residue was mistakenly considered waste, it was actually a natural resource. By burning paddy and wheat straw farmers lost over 1 lakh tons of nitrogen every year, which amounted to a loss of Rs 90 crore, he said.



Brick-kilns feel the heat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
More than 2,500 brick-kilns in Punjab will be forced to close down on April 30 for an indefinite period if the state government fails to take timely measures and solve the crisis gripping the industry due to various reasons. Besides affecting a workforce of over five lakh, the closure will adversely affect the building industry in Punjab.

Stating this, Mr Sarbjit Singh Makkar, president, Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners Association, said a meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been fixed tentatively for April 26, where a final decision would be taken.

Addressing a meeting of the association here yesterday, Mr Makkar observed that highhandedness of Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials, erratic marketing policies of Coal India Ltd and repressive laws imposed by the departments of Industries and Civil Supplies had created a situation in which the brick-kilns were finding it increasingly difficult to continue.

Mr Makkar claimed that around 30 per cent of the brick-kilns had already succumbed while another 30 per cent had been forced to slash their production.

The president of the association said they were being forced by the PPCB to make use of ash from thermal power plants in making bricks, which was not feasible since no technology was available for this purpose.



Pilgrims left in the lurch
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
Members of the Vishav Guru Ravidas Mission have alleged harassment at the hands of the railway authorities. They have alleged that the railway authorities had failed to provide pilgrims of their mission with coaches, for which they had made payment in advance.

They said they had arranged a tour to Varanasi from the city to enable pilgrims to visit the birth place of Guru Ravidas. Mr Ram Saroay, president of the mission, said 200 pilgrims were scheduled to leave for the destination on April 18 by 3050 DN Express. An advance security fee of Rs 30,000 (vide receipt No. 215329 on April 1, 2004) was deposited with the railway authorities here.

But much to the surprise of the pilgrims, they were left stranded on the Ludhiana railway station with their baggage on the scheduled day of departure as the railway authorities failed to provide them with three 72-sleeper coaches.


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