L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Vote for Vajpayee, says Badal
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Dehlon (Ludhiana), April 29
It was a political rally that set an altogether different tone on the eve of parliamentary elections in the state. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sought votes in the name of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Akali bastion of the Kila Raipur Assembly segment in the Ludhiana parliamentary constituency. “You have committed a mistake by voting for the Congress, so you have to suffer this government. Do not commit the same mistake by not voting for the NDA this time,” Mr Badal told a gathering here today.

“I am not seeking votes for my party nominee, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, but I want you to vote for him so that he can in turn help Mr Vajpayee form the next government. If you commit the mistake you committed in Punjab, you will have to suffer atrocities of the Central Government similar to those unleashed by Capt Amarinder Singh on those opposed to the Congress in Punjab,” he said.

Boosting the Akali Dal campaign and setting the pace for the final show of strength between various parties, Mr Badal said only the NDA under the leadership of Mr Vajpayee could take India ahead.

“What can you expect from a lady like Mrs Sonia Gandhi, born and bred in Italy, in terms of running administration of a vast country like India?” he asked.

Taking a dig at the Congress, he said the party did not even know whether it would be Mrs Gandhi, Mr Sharad Pawar, Mr Laloo Yadav, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav or Mr Jyoti Basu who would succeed in persuading others to accept him or her as the prime ministerial candidate.

Lashing out at the Lok Bhalai Party candidate, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Mr Badal said Mr Ramoowalia was a very ungrateful person as he had been nominated as a Rajya Sabha member by the Akali Dal three times, but he chose to stab the party in the back and fielded himself against the Akali Dal candidate. “Don’t even think of voting for him. As a loner in Parliament, you don’t even get time to speak,” he said.

About the Congress nominee, Mr Manish Tewari, Mr Badal said, “I do not know anything about him, but the less said about the Congress, the better.”

Political observers said Mr Badal had specifically asked for votes in the name of Mr Vajpayee as Akali workers in the area were divided in their loyalties between the party nominee and former Akali minister Jagdish Singh Garcha. In the Kila Raipur segment, many people consider Mr Dhillon a threat to Mr Garcha due to his closeness to Mr Sukhbir Badal, while the Garchas are close to the elder Badal.

On the occasion, former Congress MP Jagir Singh Dard and Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Jagpal Singh Gorkha joined the Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Badal welcomed them into the party.

The Akali nominee, Mr Dhillon, issued a threat to the police personnel in the parliamentary constituency, accusing them of letting loose a reign of terror on Akali workers. “We will get even after May 13. Don’t think that governments stay in power forever. We know that the DGP, Punjab, was issuing orders under the directions of the Chief Minister to remove posters, banners and flags of Akalis from their vehicles and rooftops,” he said.

He said if police personnel did not stop partisan behaviour, the Akalis would teach them a lesson once voted to power. The rally, that attracted villagers from Dehlon, Batari, Siar, Kularh, Jager, Mini Chappar, etc., was affected due to rain.


Rain brings cheer

Ludhiana, April 29
Brief spells of rain last night and today morning brought a welcome relief from the heat wave for the city residents. The day time temperatures fell appreciably today.

Cool winds from the east and overcast sky lifted spirits of people, particularly of the poll campaigners. OC


Debunks exit poll results

Khanna, April 29
The exit poll results announced by the media are not reliable and some media groups have made this some kind of a business. This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, at a press conference held at King Hotel in Guru Amar Dass Market before addressing a rally organised in favour of SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Libra here today. Mr Badal claimed that the BJP and SAD alliance win all 13 seats. OC


Man held for tearing posters
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 29
The city police yesterday arrested a man for tearing posters of a Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, even as three other cases under the Prevention of Public Property Defacement Act were registered at various police stations against unknown persons for pasting posters of election candidates on walls of government buildings.

On the statement of Mr Nirmal Singh, a resident of Jujhar Nagar, the Shimla Puri police registered a case under Sections 451, 323, 427, 506, 509 and 171 of the IPC against Prem Sagar Jain, a resident of Guru Angad Dev Colony in Shimla Puri.

Meanwhile, the Kotwali police registered a case against unknown persons for pasting posters of Lok Bhalai Party president Balwant Singh Ramoowalia on a wall of the telegraph office in Bhadaur House.

The Division No. 2 police registered a case against unknown persons for pasting posters of Congress candidate Manish Tiwari on a wall of the Civil Hospital.


Aggarwal sammelan to support Cong candidate
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 29
The Shiromani Youth Akali Dal has predicted a massive win for the SAD-BJP joint candidate from Ludhiana Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, and claimed that the voters would reject the Congress nominee due to the ‘misrule’ by the Congress government in the state during the past two years.

Addressing an election rally of Mr Dhillon at Ghumar Mandi here today, the SYAD general secretary, Mr Balbir Singh Khalsa, maintained that the Congress, which had always discriminated against Punjab and Punjabis, would lose in the Lok Sabha poll. He asked the voters to choose a local person like Mr Dhillon as their representative, as he would always be accessible to them and would be available for the redressal of their problems.

Ms Pawandeep Kaur and Mr Simranjeet Singh Dhillon, wife and son of Mr Dhillon, while speaking at the rally, vowed that Mr Dhillon would take up the problems of Ludhianvis on priority basis at the appropriate level. Solving the issues related to trade and industry as well as the farmers would be his foremost task, they assured.

Prominent among others present at the occasion were Mr Munish Kumar, Mr Bintu Kumar, Mr Surjit Singh Sidhu, Mr Shavinder Singh Sandhu, Mr Kanoj Parkash and Mr Tejinder Singh Samundari.

Meanwhile giving a big boost to the campaign of the Congress the Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan announced its support to Mr Manish Tiwari in the Lok Sabha elections. Addressing a news conference here last evening, Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, president of the sammelan, said in the presence of Mr Ajay Tiwari, brother of the Congress nominee that functionaries of the body would do door-to-door campaigning for Mr Tiwari. He claimed that with a sizeable membership of more than 6,000 persons and an almost 30 per cent share among voters in Ludhiana, the Aggarwal community could play a decisive role in the elections.

According to Mr Aggarwal, the entire machinery of the sammelan would seek votes for Mr Tiwari. The Congress candidate, he added, had promised to work for a conducive atmosphere for trade and industry and welfare of other sections.

Mr Manish Tiwari, in the meanwhile, continued intensive campaigning in Kila Raipur Assembly segment, covering around 40 villages and almost an equal number of villages in the Dakha assembly segment. He was accompanied by a number of prominent party leaders during the election tour and was weighed against coins at several places. Later in the day, addressing a number of election meetings in city localities, Mr Tiwari maintained that the Congress government in Punjab had fulfilled its promise of providing a clean governance and curbing corruption at all levels of administration and corridors of power.

The city committee of the CPI, which met under the presidentship of Dr Arun Mitra here today, decided to take active part in the election campaign of Congress candidate Mr Manish Tiwari so that the communal NDA coalition could be routed from the Centre. Speaking on the occasion, district secretary Kartar Singh Boani and Mr Om Parkash Mehta exhorted the workers to hold meetings in their respective areas and also to impress upon the voters to cast their votes in favour of the Congress nominee.

In related developments, the senior vice-president of the All-India Safai Mazdoor Congress, Mr Kala Hans, the Sports and Cultural Activities Cell of District Congress Committee and Captain Brigade, Punjab, pledged their support to Mr Manish Tiwari and organised election meetings.

Mr Rachpal Singh Gill and Dr Satnam Singh, both independents, also continued with their respective election campaigns in rural and urban areas of the constituency.


Women spared poll duty, men cry foul
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, April 29
The decision of the electoral staff to exempt women teachers of government and aided schools of the state from election duty may have brought cheer to most of them, but at the same time it has put pressure on boys’ schools, from where almost the entire male staff have been deputed.

The principals of the boys’ schools say that it is very difficult for them to ensure proper functioning on rehearsal days and many of them per force have to close the schools. They even tried clubbing various classes together, but it did not work out as teachers find it difficult to handle a class of more than 100 students.

The principals have even condemned the decision taken by the electoral office in exempting women teachers from poll duty. As much as 90 per cent of the staff in boys’ schools have been assigned duties, say the principals. Had the duties been assigned according to the norms followed in the previous elections, the boys’ schools would not have been hit so hard.

In view of the rehearsal for poll duties, Arya Senior Secondary School for Boys was closed on April 27. The school principal has also declared May 3 a holiday for the second round of rehearsal as 90 per cent of the staff have been called. The school is also likely to remain closed on May 8 on account of election duty; May 9 is Sunday and May 10 has already been declared a holiday by the state government.

At Ramgarhia Senior Secondary School for Boys, Millerganj, 16 out of 35 teachers have been assigned poll duties. The principal says that it is very difficult to manage the school under such circumstances. He has decided not to close the school on such days and club different classes to ensure that students do not suffer. He is also taking the help of laboratory assistants, who are being told to take science classes of the junior section.

Male teachers from such schools complain that it is gender bias on the part of the authorities to have taken a decision in favour of female staff. They say that since majority of the government teachers are women, men are under intense pressure to accept the duties. Besides, they allege that they are being deputed at far-off places and will have to put up at those locations for three days starting from May 8.

Mr Avinash Chander Sethi, District Education Officer (Secondary), when contacted, said the decision to exempt women from poll duty had come from the electoral office as it was felt that it would difficult to send them to other districts for three days. He said that to ensure sufficient strength for poll duty, there was no other way than to depute the entire male staff.


Purvanchal Vikas Party claims Galib’s support
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
If the claims of the Purvanchal Vikas Party (PVP) are to be believed, the outgoing Congress MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, is helping Dr Janardhan Prashad Singh, a rival of Congress nominee Manish Tiwari, on the one hand and canvassing for the Congress nominee on the other. The PVP has released pictures of Mr Galib and Dr Janardhan Singh that establish that the two have met in a cordial atmosphere.

PVP spokesperson Anil Jha has said that Mr Galib has “extended his blessings to Dr Janardhan Singh”. Mr Galib decided to help Dr Janardhan Singh after he met him at the former’s residence last evening. Mr Jha said the outgoing MP had promised that he would help him wholeheartedly.


City industrialist denied bail
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
In one of the unique cases of its kind, an industrialist of Ludhiana was denied bail by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in a case of fraudulently claiming CENVAT credit. Identified as Navneet Aggarwal, one of the Directors of M/S Annapurna Impex (P) Ltd, of the Industrial Area and also the proprietor of M/S ATCO Products, Sambha, Jammu in J&K had been arrested by the officers of the Central Excise Commissionerate, Ludhiana on April 22 for fraudulently availing CENVAT credit to the tune of Rs 73.73 lakh on the basis of fake invoices. The invoices were in the name of M/S Annapurna Impex (P) Ltd.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had already rejected the anticipatory bail application of Aggarwal. The application for his bail came up for hearing in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Ludhiana, yesterday. He has been remanded to judicial custody till May 8, 2004.

The Central Excise officials disclosed that Navneet Aggarwal was also the over all in charge and was looking after the day to day business of M/S Classic Alloys (Registered Dealer), Doraha, against which investigations were also being conducted by the Central Excise Commissionerate, Ludhiana, for passing on inadmissible Cenvat Credit of Rs 245.91 lakh to M/S Annapurna Impex (P) Ltd, Ludhiana without any supply of goods.

The Central Excise Commissionerate officials hinted that there were several other cases which had come to their notice and legal action was being initiated against them. It is learnt that in Ludhiana a number of companies have availed huge CENVAT credit on fake invoices, thus defaulting the government of lakhs of rupees.

The recent case has caused panic in the industry as the Central Excise Commissionerate goes on cracking down on the defaulters. However, the officials clarified that the action was initiated only after a thorough investigation and foolproof evidence against the defaulters.


MC safai mazdoor unions flay Dawar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 29
The Municipal Safai Mazdoor Unions have criticised the Congress legislator, Mr Surinder Dawar, for what they described as betrayal of the employees protesting against the non-payment of salaries to 169 safai workers in the MC here for the past three months.

A joint meeting of the unions, held here today observed that the agitating employees had called off the chain fast on April 7 on the assurance of Mr Dawar that pending salaries would be paid within three days failing which he would himself lead the chain fast in front of the MC Headquarters. But no action had been taken to grant justice to the safai workers for the past three weeks.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Khelar Chand Gupta, general secretary of safai mazdoor union, asked the Congress legislator to see that the outstanding salaries were immediately disbursed to the safai workers or else he should sit on a chain fast to keep the word given to the employees. The trade union activists further threatened that the Congress would be taught a lesson in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the wake of indifferent attitude of the state government and the MC administration. Prominent among others present at the meeting were Mr Lovely Pal Disawar, Mr Balwant Rai Mattu and Mr Jaggu Ram.


Residents suffer as files pile up in trust office
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
A non-resident Indian had purchased a plot in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar under a Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) scheme three years ago. After all these years, he is yet to get a registry in his name, thanks to the slow pace of work at the trust office. On top of this, non-construction charges have been levied on him by the trust.

A resident of Canada, he has visited the LIT office in Feroze Gandhi Nagar a number of times. Each time he is told to fill a job form afresh, which is cited to be the reason for the delay in his work. His case is a typical example of the way things move at the LIT.

The problem was compounded after the Chairman of the trust, Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, went on long leave. In addition, the Executive Officer of the trust retired on March 31, leaving the residents in a quandary.

They complain that for the past more than one month nobody has attended to their problems.

“I don’t even remember the number of times I have filled the job form. It was way back in 1982 when the plot was purchased by my father. I completed the formalities and the sale agreement is already in my name. But the plot is yet to be registered in my name,” says another client of the LIT.

Sources in the trust reveal that office functioning is suffering due to acute shortage of staff. They say that the trustees have written to the Local Bodies Department for filling the vacant posts but there has been no response in view of the elections.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Basant, a trustee, says they are aware of the problem, but things would improve soon. He appealed to the public to bear with them in this period of crisis.


City residents becoming chic
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 29
The fashion scene in the city is witnessing a major transformation. The bespectacled “darzi” and tailoring shops no longer satisfy discerning fashion-conscious people. Imported makeup is no longer sought eagerly from relatives and friends coming from abroad. From foundations to face scrubs, eye shadows and lipliners, a wide range of branded makeup articles are easily available in the city.

Fashion-struck men and women do not mind spending a small fortune on makeup and branded clothes. They make fashion statements with their trendy clothes, well-made-up faces and coiffured hair. Parveen, a small-time model says, “Our faces are our fortune. So we have to get the best stuff available to keep our skins glowing and our hair flowing. Obviously, we have to wear latest clothes to stay in the fashion business.”

Seventy-year-old Parvati, a retired college lecturer, says, "The way dresses are getting skimpier, it appears that the ‘moralistic overtones’ which were worrying people of my age have just gone with the wind. Thank God that such clothes are confined to the ramp and girls have not become so bold as to wear bustiers and walk on the roads.”

According to Dr Chandresh, the fashion scene has changed in another way too. “Indian woman have well-developed figures but according to the latest fashion yardstick, women have to look boyish. The result — we have anoerexic females starving themselves to fit in clothes made for slim figures. Check any store, the clothes are designed for very lean frames. The maximum variety is in the ‘S’ size. Some girls ask me to prescribe medicines so that they can become slim. I have a tough time assuring them that they are just fine.”

“Hairstyles are also changing. Film stars set trends, like Aamir Khan in ‘Dil Chahta Hai.’ Razor cut is popular. Streaking of hair is in fashion. To get straight hair, girls are literally ironing their tresses and a variety of gadgets for the purpose are available,” says Rippi Chatwal, who runs a parlour.

City residents are more fashionable, more conscious of style, have more money to spend. It is not surprising that showrooms of top cars, expensive watches and quality fabrics have opened their outlets in the city.

Nail art, mixed nail polishes, false nails, false eyelashes — all are being used by college girls. Jewellery has become trendy too. Out are those heavy sets that adorned brides a few years ago. More wearable jewellery and coloured stones with diamonds to match the ensemble are in.


Function wreaks havoc on park
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 29
In utter disregard to the convenience of fellow residents and prescribed norms against misuse of municipal parks and other public places, a resident of Model Town Extension part B (mis)used a park for a private function, and in the process wreaked havoc on the landscaping, flower beds, plants and other infrastructure like benches and fencing of the park.

Even as five days have elapsed after the function held on last Sunday, the entire park lies in such a pathetic state that the residents, including children, who used to frequent the park for playing or a walk in the morning or evening, are still shying away.

Some of the residents of the area informed that to their shock, they found the entire stretch of the park littered with peels of fruits and vegetables, empty pet bottles, bricks and stones, ash, dirty paper napkins and leftover of food on Monday morning. Not only this, the park was dug up at various places to erect iron pipes for the ‘shamiana’ which had caused extensive damage to landscaping in general and the plants, flower beds and other fixtures like benches and fencing in particular.

A resident of a nearby house, Ms Kamaldeep, was both upset and agitated. She said she was a regular visitor to the park where she took her little daughter along every evening to have some fresh air and a walk. “The state the park was in on Monday evening made me almost sick and my daughter insisted on leaving immediately.” She said in the first place the use of park for a private function was absolutely uncalled for and if for pressing reasons, somebody had utilised the public place for a private purpose, it was the moral duty of the same people to not only restore the park back to its original condition but also to bear the expenditure for repair and restoration of the damage caused to the infrastructure in the park.

According to area residents, the maintenance of the park was being done by the Residents Welfare Society but major financial contribution came from the Khuranas, residing in an adjoining house. Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune from the members of Khurana family revealed that the concerned resident, who celebrated ‘chath’ (house warming) of their new house did not take any permission from the Welfare Society to hold the function in the park.

It was further learnt that it was only after a lot of pressure asserted by the functionaries of the Welfare Society that the defaulting resident had arranged for some cleaning up of the park on Thursday. “In any case, the restoration of the park to its original condition and repair to the damage caused to landscaping and fixtures is going to take some more time,” remarked ruefully another senior citizen and a regular to the park.


Tiny tots impress at talent contest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 29
Children aged between two to five years dressed up as Santa, Tarzan, jungle boys, Radha captured many a heart at Toddler's Talent and Fancy Dress Competition organised by VLCC here yesterday evening.

Tushar dressed as doctor from Hollyhock School bagged first prize in the under three year category in the fancy dress competition. The second and third prizes were won by Harnoor (grandmother) of Pumpkin School and Khushi (Son Pari) of Hollyhock School.

In the above three year category the first prize was won by Ronak, while Nitika and Diksha won the second and third prizes, respectively. All of them are students of Love Dale School.

In the Talent Show prizes were bagged by Sifat of Pumpkin, Ronak of Love Dale and Akriti and Pranav of Giggles School. Ms Shewta Verma , wife of the Deputy Commissioner, was the chief guest.

Ms Kalia from the Department of Child Development, PAU, appreciated the efforts of VLCC to give a chance to the kids to showcase their talent.


Jassowal’s 70th birthday today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 29
Jagdev Jassowal is being felicitated on his 70th birthday at Basant Resorts here tomorrow by his friends and admirers. Jassowal is lovingly called “Baba Bohar of melas”. He has worked for promoting Punjabi and its culture. The credit for spreading mela culture in rural areas goes to him.

He has promoted Punjabi culture in several official capacities as president of Vishav Sabhyacharak Academy, president of Punjabi Kala Manch and Chairman of Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation and Lok Sabhyacharak Manch, Chandigarh.


Three duping case accused surrender in court
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
More than seven years after three persons duped a large number of city residents of Rs 2 crore, the Kotwali police today finally succeeded in making the accused surrender in a city court.

The accused, known as Jot brothers — Manjot Singh, Prabhjot Singh and Harjot Singh — had fled the city in 1997 with Rs 2 crore allegedly belonging to city residents who had invested the money in kitties run by the accused. The three persons also used to run a chemist shop in Pindi Market here.

According to Mr Vinod Jain, one of the complainants, the accused had been declared proclaimed offenders also but could not be arrested till now. He had lodged an FIR against the accused at the Kotwali police station. He said they had duped him of Rs 4 lakh.

The SHO, Kotwali police station, Sub-Inspector Sandeep Sharma, said the police was seeking more remand of the accused to recover the amount from them.

He said the accused were doing business in Gwalior all these years. The police learnt about their whereabouts and conducted several raids, which forced the accused to surrender.


Bank celebrates Foundation Day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
Thirtysixth Foundation Day of the Bank of Baroda, Industrial Area ‘B’ branch, Ludhiana, was celebrated here yesterday.

The function was presided over by Dr J K Jain, AGM, Chandigarh Region.

Welcoming the customers, the Chief Manager, Mr K.S. Chauhan, apprised them about the progress of the branch since its inception and informed about various products and retail lending schemes of the bank.

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