L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Drowning incident: one body recovered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The body of 21-year-old Pankaj Sharma who had drowned last evening in the Sidhwan Canal near Bapu Asa Ram Ashram was recovered after a search by private divers employed by the local police this evening at about 200 yards down the canal from the ashram.

However, the body of the 10-year-old boy, identified as Kala of Chet Nagar, here, could not be traced till the evening. He had also drowned at the same spot. The child was the first to be swept away by the fast currents of the canal.

Pankaj, a resident of Block-J, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, had jumped in to save him. However, both drowned.

The SHO of Sahnewal, Mr Sakattar Singh, who was supervising the search operation since last evening told Ludhiana Tribune that private divers from Doraha were searching the bodies since last evening and had succeeded in fishing out one today.

Kala was an inmate of the ashram. His father runs a karyana shop in Chet Nagar. The boy was identified today when he was found missing.

The family members of Kala were seen camping at various bridges over the canal, in the hope of spotting the body. His maternal uncle Asrani and other relatives were camping at South City bridge where the bodies drowned upstream are normally recovered.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding last evening’s tragedy, a large number of persons, a majority of them minors, were seen swimming and playing water games in the canal. The police was seen trying to educate them about the impending danger. The youths went away when a police party arrived but returned as soon as the cops turned their back.



Allotted plot not given even after 20 years
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
Around 20 years after a physically challenged senior citizen of the city was allotted a plot under a scheme of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, he is yet to get possession of the 100-square yard area.

After a struggle of all these years, which includes fighting a case in the Consumer Redressal Forum, Mr Gian Singh (67) has been told by employees of the LIT that the plot (D-288) does not exist on the map of the area. They claim that the number of the plot was missing in the series.

Not only this, the LIT imposed a huge penalty on him for not paying the final instalment, which was to be paid at the time of getting the possession. He even went ahead and paid the final instalment and penalty, but was not given possession of the land.

Unable to walk properly due to a congenital problem in his hip bone, Mr Gian Singh said he has been moving from pillar to post to get possession of the plot. But he has been told that there was a technical snag in the demarcating the plots and his plot was missing in the master plan of the area.

Mr Gian Singh, who is suffering from urinary tract infection for the past four months, said his infection was not responding to antibiotics. ‘‘If I die what is the use of this plot? I have been duped by the trust. They were supposed to give me the plot but even after having paid more than Rs 30,000 I have not received it.”

He added that earlier he had filed a case in the Consumer Court in 2002 ,where the LIT officials had sent a letter to him to take the possession of a plot. Following the promise, he had withdrawn the case. But to his disappointment, the authorities did not listen to his pleas after the withdrawal of the case.

‘‘This is the condition of this department. They have even made me pay penalty for no fault of mine. Still I paid it thinking that they would at least give me the plot. But to no avail. I have knocked at various doors, sent written requests to the chairmen, one after the other but there is nobody to get me justice,’’ rues Mr Gian Singh.

He added that had they given him the plot at the proper time, he would have constructed his house by now. ‘‘Now they should pay me a compensation for the delay as the construction charges have multiplied over the years.” 



Officials deny outbreak of gastroenteritis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 13
Amid reports of gastroenteritis having hit Vijay Nagar and Amarpura localities of the city and contaminated water supply being blamed for it, the district officials and local hospitals have denied that the disease had spread in an epidemic form.

City Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, Municipal Commissioner S.K. Sharma and Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma, who visited both localities, maintained that they did not come across any case of gastroenteritis that needed hospitalisation.

Ms Malkiat Kaur, the Municipal Councillor from the Vijay Nagar locality, denied that contaminated water was being supplied.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune from the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) and the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) revealed that the reports of outbreak of gastroenteritis were exaggerated.

While the CMCH confirmed having admitting five children suffering from gastroenteritis, sources in both hospitals said five to 10 patients of diarrhoea and vomiting were visiting the OPD daily, which was normal in this weather.

Dr Raju Singh Chhina, a gastroenterologist and Medical Superintendent at the DMCH, stressed that maintaining personal hygiene and consuming clean food and boiled water could help in keeping the disease at bay.

Meanwhile, Health Department officials took some water samples from the localities where people were suffering from stomach ailments. The water samples have been sent for chemical analysis and the reports would be available after a week, the officials stated. 



Shuttler’s death: destiny snatches 
years of father’s labour
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The untimely death of ace shuttler Harish Kumar in a road accident in Kolkata yesterday has not only deprived the city of a talented badminton player but also pushed back the progress of the family of Babu Lal, who had come here as a migrant labourer three decades ago and had risen to the Class III post of a caretaker of Lal Bahadur Shastri Badminton Hall here.

Harish was the eldest son of Babu Lal. His daughter and another son have also achieved a major success in badminton. Babu Lal's hopes that the financial position of the family would improve with Harish getting a job in the Department of Railways came crashing down with the tragic incident.

Not many people in the city are aware that these talented players could come this far only because of the hard work and struggle of Babu Lal. A frail, chiseled-face man , he had come to Punjab 30 years ago as a migrant labourer, and for nearly seven to eight years worked as a labourer carrying bricks and other construction materials on his head.

The saga of struggle for survival, let alone talents like these, remain relatively unheard in this cricket-crazy nation. The tale of Irfan Pathan, who rose from the streets has been wired across the globe, but that of people like Babu Lal and his children remain unsung. They are still living in a one room house even as the number of family members are increasing.

Watching his 12-year-old son, Raj Kumar, fiercely fighting it out with an opponent in a court and encouraging the playful Neha, Babu Lal had in an earlier interview with Ludhiana Tribune recounted his journey from a life of hardships to the proud father and grandfather of talented badminton players. His sunken eyes, hid under the tanned face owing to years of working under the Sun, lit up, as he recounts how destiny brought him here.

After coming to Punjab from Faislabad in Uttar Pradesh he began working as a labourer for several years, then as daily wager in some offices, an ad hoc peon with the Municipal Corporation (then committee), then as a regular peon and finally to a Class-III post of the caretaker of the Shastri hall.

His life changed when he got the job a peon, on daily wage, in the Shastri hall. He got one-room accommodation in the hall and was finally able to give his wife a roof to live in. His elder son Harish Kumar, daughter Sona, and another son Raj Kumar, helped him in taking care of the four courts as well as the seats.

The children started playing when no one was in the court, “then senior badminton coach Gian Inder Singh came to our help. He saw my children playing and encouraged them.” Babu Lal too started playing and in the words of the coach was a gifted player with a strong backhand and smash.

Harish Kumar, soon became the district champion and went on to play for the country in the World Badminton Championship organised in Hong Kong. He had already pocketed several coveted badminton championships at the national level. He was soon picked by the Indian Railways and won the Inter-Railway Championship. Before his death Harish was working as a junior clerk in the South-Eastern Railways in Kolkatta.

Babu Lal's second son, Raj Kumar, has recently become National doubles champion in under-13 category. In singles, he stood fourth. The cruel stroke of destiny has snatched away years of labour of Babu Lal.



Badminton player cremated
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, June 13
Heart rending scenes were witnessed at the Civil Lines cremation ground as the mortal remains of the badminton player, Harish Chander, fondly called "Lallu" were consigned to flames this evening. Harish, son of Babu Lal, caretaker of the Shastri Badminton Hall at the local Guru Nanak Sports Complex died in a road accident in Kolkata on Friday.

Raj Kumar, younger brother of Harish Chander, who is also an up-and-coming shuttler lit the pyre.

Large number of people from all walks of life, besides players, representatives of sports organisations and promoters, present at the cremation ground, extended their sympathies towards the bereaved family. People were seen consoling Babu Lal, his wife and Harish's widow Rachna.

Meanwhile, different sports associations have condoled the untimely death of Harish Chander. Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill, President, Basketball Federation of India, and Mr Teja Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary, Punjab Basketball Association, have expressed grief over the sad demise of the talented player.

Mr S. S. Channi, president, Punjab Handball Association, in his message to the family said he was shocked to learn about the death of Harish in an accident.

He prayed to the God to give courage to the bereaved family to bear the shock. Others who condoled the death include, Mr Rajinder Nath Mahajan, president, Ludhiana District Cricket Association, Mr S. L. Lotey, District Sports Officer, Mr Shivtar Singh Bajwa, president, Ludhiana Football Association, Mr Balraj Sharma, general secretary, Punjab Swimming Association, Mr H.S. Bhullar, senior hockey coach, Punjab Agricultural University, and Ms Surinder Dhir, former Deputy Director of Sports, Punjab.

The Ludhiana District Badminton Association (LDBA) in a meeting held this afternoon passed a resolution condoling the death of Harish Chander. Mr Chand Kapoor and Mr R.S.Behal, president, and general secreatry of the LDBA, respectively, along with Mr S. P. Malik and Mr Ashok Aggarwal, office- bearers of the association, and Mr Gian Inder Singh, senior badminton coach, were among those who attended the meeting.

After the meeting, Mr Behal said the association had received condolence messages from former international shuttlers like Madhu Mitta, Devinder Ahuja, Kultej Singh, Vijay Deep Singh and Vinod Vatrana.

A number of national and international players visited the family of the deceased and condoled the shuttler's death.

Meanwhile, the Shastri Badminton Club that comprises 100 former players of the city has decided to extend monetary as well as material help to the aggrieved family. Arun Dhand, a former world veteran champion, Ravi Jain and Anupam Kumaria, members of the club, said all sorts of help would be provided to Harish's family in addition to regular monthly financial assistance. 



‘Withdraw hike in steel prices’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association has demanded that the price rise of Rs 5400 per metric tonne affected from May 13, 2004 by the two public sector undertakings like Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Rashtriya
Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) be rolled back.

In a memorandum submitted to the Union Steel Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, the president of the federation, Mr VP Chopra said, the prices of iron ore to be exported had already come down from $80 to $30 per tonne. He said, there was no reason as to why the public sector steel manufacturers should hike the price in such a massive proportion for the domestic consumers.

The federation brought to the notice of the Steel Minister the fact that the prices of steel during the past one year had risen by over 100 per cent which had hit the small scale industry very badly. It said, the hike was “absolutely unjustified and uncalled for as there is absolutely no upward rise in consumable inputs”.

Mr Chopra demanded that the custom duty on import of iron and steel material be reduced to ten per cent as suggested by the Kelkar Committee as it is to be done by 2005 under the World Trade Regime Organisation (WTO) obligations. He demanded that the custom duty on import of iron scrap be abolished.

The federation revealed that the central excise duty at the rate of 16 per cent levied recently on the ship breaking was against the Central Excise Act itself. It pointed out that the central excise duty can be realised only on the manufacturing, while ship breaking is not a manufacturing process. Hence, it demanded that the duty should be withdrawn on ship breaking. The federation observed that this will enable the secondary producers of steel to make available the iron and steel products at a lesser cost in the country and that too in abundance. The federation has demanded the setting up of the Steel Regulatory Commission to regulate the whole system including the fluctuation (read continuous rise) in the prices.



Land dispute leads to murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
An alleged land dispute led to the murder of shopkeeper Sewa Singh at Dalla village in Jagraon late last night. He was allegedly shot dead by three assailants when he was returning home from Badni village where he used to sell pesticides.

The Jagraon police has booked three persons identified by his father Jagsir Singh who claimed to be a witness to the crime. According to him the three assailants had shot his son dead at pointblank range. The accused are Hardev Singh, Lember Singh and Jasbir Singh. The victim had recently won a land dispute case against the three.

Sewa Singh was returning on his motor cycle when the three accused, armed with pistols and rods, attacked him. The victim was shot in the abdomen and head.



Tewari assures residents of his services
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The former Indian Youth Congress President, Mr Manish Tewari, who unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections, today thanked voters of the Ludhiana north constituency for providing him a good lead and reposing faith in him.

Addressing a well-attended public meeting, Mr Tewari said he would always remain accessible to the people of Ludhiana who had bestowed a lot of love on him. He declared that he would be visiting Ludhiana every week.



Kulwant Jagraon’s ‘Sooha Gulab’ released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 13
Prof Kulwant Jagraon’s “Sooha Gulab” was released at a function organised at the Punjabi Bhavan here today by the Alag Shabad Yag International Charitable Trust. The book contains 309 poems on diverse subjects, including social awareness, love relationships, Punjab problems and universal brotherhood.

The chief guest, Dr Amarjit Singh Dua, Dean, Guru Nanak Dev University, said Prof Jagraon’s poems were touching. He said some of the poems were capable of inspiring the downtrodden.

Dr Sharanjit Kaur, who was the guest of honour on the occasion, said Prof Jagraon’s poetry spread the fragrance of love and universal peace and brotherhood.

Dr Surjit Patar, the president of the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, said the poet had penned his experiences in the poems that would show the path of honesty to the younger generation. The first copy of the book was presented to the author’s wife, Mrs Mohinder Kaur Jagraon.

Prof Niranjan Tasneem, Prof Mohinder Singh Cheema, Dr Gur Iqbal Singh Toor and Dr Sukhdev Singh also appreciated the book. On this occasion, Prof Jagraon was presented with a memento and a shawl.

In the second part of the function, several poets and poetesses recited their latest compositions. A langar was also served after the seminar.



Newly-weds suffer burn injuries
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 13
A newly married couple received serious burn injuries in a fire incident at Mohalla Anand Pur here on Friday evening. They have been admitted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

According to the neighbours, the woman, Farzana, was cooking meals when her clothes caught fire. Her husband, Julfkar, tried to put out the fire. In the process, he also received burn injuries.

7 arrested: The local police has arrested seven persons and seized 15 bags of poppy husk from their possession on Friday night. The police also impounded two vehicles carrying poppy husk.

The police had laid nakas at two places Lalheri village following a tip-off. The SHO of Sadar police station stopped a Tata Sumo near the bus stand of the village. During its search, five bags of poppy husk were found and three persons, including a woman, were arrested. Meanwhile, four persons travelling in a mini-truck were arrested and 10 bags of poppy husk was seized from them.



Cyclist crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, June 13
A cyclist was crushed to death by a tempo driver near Chandaran village on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road late last night.
Saudagar Singh lodged a complaint with the Sahnewal police that a cyclist, Mukand Singh, son of Kaka Singh of Chandaran village,was crushed to death by the tempo. The tempo driver is absconding.

The cyclist was admitted to Sidhu Hospital at Doraha from where he was referred to a hospital in the city. He breathed his last near Sahnewal. Mukand Singh was coming on his cycle after finishing his duty from a factory situated at Jhabewal village when the accident took place. The Sahnewal police today registered a case.



Proposed ‘policing’ by PSEB worries industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 13
The industry has come out openly against the PSEB proposal to set up its own police stations to deal with the theft of power and material, while asking the government to put its foot down against the move. The Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association (LMPMA) executive committee which met here today condemned the proposal which was earlier mooted in 2000 but was not approved by the state government.

In a joint statement, Mr G.S. Kahlon and Mr Charan Singh Kohli, president and general secretary, respectively of the LMPMA observed that the PSEB already wielded vast powers and ways to deal with such theft cases. It was a common feeling that all legislations and regulations were loaded against consumers and even in cases of frivolous technical discrepancies, the consumers were harassed and heavy penalties imposed. In most of such cases, power connection of the consumers were disconnected. Under such circumstances, the defaulters were penalised much more than their offence.

They pointed out that in the eventuality of the proposed police stations being set up by the PSEB, the officials would gather more powers which could often be misutilised by corrupt elements to harass the consumers. Perhaps, this was the main reason that the government had not yet given a nod to the PSEB.

Maintaining that the proposal to set up special police stations had an ulterior motive behind it, Mr Kahlon said under Section 135 of the Indian Electricity Act 2003, PSEB officials already had powers to enter, inspect, break open and search any place or premises which might provide them with sufficient reason to make offence against the power users. Further, separate police station to deal with power theft cases might come handy for settlement of theft cases behind the back of PSEB, which could give rise to more corruption and more theft of power, thereby defeating the entire purpose of the exercise.

The LMPMA functionaries apprehended that such a move (of setting up separate police stations) could seriously disturb the relations between industry, other big users and the PSEB and the government ought to outrightly reject the proposal in the wake of widespread resentment among all categories of consumers. They further demanded that Indian Electricity Act 2003, should also be reviewed in consultation with the industry representatives.

Claiming that the power tariff was already on a very high side, they asked the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission not to accept the proposal of the PSEB for a 9 per cent to 25 per cent hike in domestic and commercial power rates.


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