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Villagers allege bias in supply of power
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
Alleging discrimination by the state government and the PSEB authorities against rural domestic consumers in the supply of power, residents of several villages in the district have warned that they will be forced to start an agitation in case this bias was not redressed.

Leading a delegation of residents from nearby villages, Mr. Kuldip Singh, secretary, MCPI, said they had tried to meet senior functionaries of the zonal board office in the city but had not been allowed to do so on one pretext or the other. When they persisted, they were informed that they would have to go to Patiala and present their case before the Power coordinator or the Chairperson of the board.

"Why is it that the villagers are the first to be targeted whenever power cuts are imposed across the board ? Are villagers second class citizens in their own country or is it that the board officials think that they are made of sterner stuff and the sweltering heat does not have any effect on them and their children," he questioned.

Ms Kamaljit Kaur, block samiti member from Kila Raipur and Ms Mohinder Kaur, a former panch of the same village, said they had not been able to sleep for the past one month. The children and the aged were the worst affected, especially at night. Gensets were a costly proposition and not all households could afford to have one, they lamented.

Contrary to the tall claims by officials that power would be supplied for six hours to the rural domestic consumers, it was never more than two hours a day. The frequent voltage fluctuation rendered the electric appliances useless. The good old handfans were being used to beat the heat, they complained.

Others like Nirmal Singh, Karam Singh and Major Singh were of the same view and said that they had to raise their voice at this discrimination. What was the use of depositing the high charges for ensuring 24 hours uninterrupted supply in the villages. Were the authorities not aware that summer was approaching and adequate measures should be taken to deal with the power shortage?

Moreover, by not supplying power inspite of charging the fees to do amounted to deficiency in services. In case the authorities did not wish to honour their commitment, they should refund the charges, they added.

“We are aware the state is in the grip of a severe power crisis but at least we should be equated with the urban folks and supplied power on par with cities. We too pay our bills and do not wish to have any additional facilities that have not been given to the urban sector,” they pointed out. 

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Prince charming takes his bride in chopper
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
Nineteen-year-old Roopinder Kaur, a daughter of an agriculturist in Kurukshetra, had seen helicopters and planes from the windows of her house. But she had never imagined that her bridegroom would land in a helicopter to take her along on her wedding day.

Today was the special day of her life when she was getting married to a ‘‘jahaaz wala larrha’’, who had become the cynosure of all eyes on the marriage venue chosen on the sprawling three- acre of a local resort. After all he had come in a Trans Bharat chopper from Tashpur village in Kapurthala.

All the children, the womenfolk and men related to the bride in some way or the other, had made special efforts to dress themselves suiting to the ‘‘high profile occasion’’. And when the bridegroom, Harmel Singh Dhillon, arrived on the venue, everybody present in the resorts made themselves comfortable to watch him from a safe distance.

‘‘Nee dekho iss kuri di kismat nu, kadi asan socheya vi nahi si ke isda larrha jahaaz vich aayega’’ (See the fortune of this girl. We had never thought that her groom would come in a chopper), said a woman in an envious tone. Some even went a step further and got themselves photographed with the chopper. Some city residents also made a beeline to see the groom but were discouraged by the security personnel to go near the helicopter.

Seated with his mother on the rear seats of the chopper, Harmel alighted from it after waiting for the barat for around an hour that was to join him after travelling by the road. Those present in the resort kept watching him during this time from all possible places. Some even perched atop rooftops.

Unable to contain her happiness, the bride was seeing him from a distance. Finding it impossible to put a check on her words, the otherwise shy but overjoyed Roopinder was heard telling her friends and cousins, ‘‘Mein tan khushi nal pagal hi ho gayin han. Mein te gharelu jehi kudi han te ajj mein jahaaz wich baith ke jawangi,’’ in chaste Punjabi. Looking like a painted doll, she was seemingly enjoying the publicity she was getting as various media photographers were seen asking her for a picture.

‘‘It was my uncle's wish who has spent a whopping Rs 4.5 lakh on hiring a chopper. He had announced on my engagement that I would be landing in a helicopter and he has kept his word. I am feeling too happy, ’’ said Harmel, a 23-year-old youth.

His father, Mr Sucha Singh, who was accompanying his son in the chopper said that his brother was the owner of 93 petrol pumps in USA. ‘‘For us marriage is a special occasion that is celebrated only once in life. And we can even spend our life saving on this occasion,’’ he said.

The small boys, dressed in their best, were making rounds of a limousine car parked in the compound, which was meant for ferrying the bridegroom for taking him to a gurdwara for the rituals. Marvelling at the long car, the children were touching it again and again.

After the marriage ceremony wa solemnised, the groom and his bride got on the chopper. Even the usual somber mood at the farewell ceremony to the bride was turned into a joyous occasion with the bride visibly happy at being taken into a chopper to her in-laws house.

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Migrant ghettos wreak havoc on sanitation
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 2
The mushrooming growth of labour quarters in the city localities, particularly in colonies on the periphery , are wreaking a havoc on sanitation, public health and hygiene. The residents living in the vicinity of such labour quarters, though facing harassment and running the risk of grave health hazards, are literally feeling helpless with no one to turn towards for help.

If the affected residents are to be believed, the labour quarters, which could be rightfully termed as ghettos of migrant workers, thrive in such unhygienic conditions that have to be seen to be believed.

Having little or no amenities, since the underlying purpose of the owners of such labour quarters is to provide cheap accommodation to workers and ensure regular returns on one time investment without running much recurring expenses, the entire block of labour quarters is provided with one, or at the most two taps, a similar number of toilets without proper disposal and open drains for waste water, which again, may or may not be connected to sewer network.

Residents of several localities like Sherpur, Giaspura, Mundian, Jamalpur, Salem Tabri and Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar, with scores of such labour quarters, complain that in the absence of adequate basic amenities, the residents of these quarters have a tendency to ease themselves in open drains, within or outside the quarters. Without proper disposal, the drains remain clogged with faecal matter and other garbage and even where the sewer system has been laid, the sheer volume of persons living in each block of the quarters, often leads to choking and overflowing of sewers.

Residents of Mohindra Colony in Sherpur rued that residents of the labour quarters in the colony were throwing entire garbage and rubbish out in the streets, making life of other residents miserable. They said the doors of the toilet block on one side of the quarters, opened towards the public street, which again had become a big public nuisance.

It would be worthwhile to mention that in most of the cases, these labour quarters were owned by political functionaries of almost all the major parties. Several councillors, office -bearers of political parties, legislators and a recently elected member of Parliament are learnt to have constructed blocks of labour quarters in different localities.

The property owners, who never forget to collect the monthly rent in the beginning of the month and give nothing much in return in the name of amenities to their tenants, were also alleged to be evading taxes and levies like house tax as well as water and sewerage charges due to their 'high connections'.

The residents of affected colonies feel that existence of such type of affordable accommodation for a large work force of migrants might be a 'necessary evil' in a major industrial town like Ludhiana, but at the same time the property owners should not forget their social commitments and responsibility to the rest of the city population, which had fallen prey to their greed for steady income without significant investment.

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3 crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, July 2
In an accident between a truck and a scooter, near Dholan, about 5 km from here today, father, daughter and grandson were crushed to death.
Mrs Sarabjit Kaur (24), who was married to Lal Singh at Fatehgarh Sivian had come to visit her parents’ house at Dholan with her son Daljit Singh. (3). Kundan Singh, father of Sarabjit Kaur, along with his daughter and grandson, was going on the scooter to leave his daughter to her in-laws’ house. When they reached near the turning of the Jagraon-Raikot road, a truck coming from the Raikot side hit the scooter crushing them to death at the spot. 

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Identify Kesdhari voters, SSF urges gurdwara poll panel
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation (SSF) has urged the Chief Gurdwara Election Commission to depute medical teams to establish the genuineness of Sikh voters as per the declarations filed by them at the time of becoming voters. As per norms, the voters cannot cut their hair.

Mr Paramjit Singh Ranu, national chief of the outfit, said the federation was a duly registered political party with the Election Commission but has been denied registration by the commission to participate in the SGPC elections following a notification by the Union Home Ministry through which the Sehajdhari Sikhs and Sikhs with shorn hairs have been debarred from voting in the SGPC elections.

He said the commission must depute teams of medical officers to examine the voters at every polling booth to authenticate Kesdhari voters,

The federation has already submitted a survey report of 10 villages of the SGPC members, including three former chiefs of the SGPC, the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Kirpal Singh Badungar and Jagdev Singh Talwandi. The survey found that among the 4,077 male Sikh voters enrolled as Kesdhari voters, 2,356 voters were with shorn hairs. This means that 60 percent voters were non-Kesdharis.

To weed out such non -eligible voters, the medical officers deputed at every polling booth should be directed to examine whether the voter has shorn their hair or not. If the voter is found guilty and does not confirm to the declaration, then legal action should be taken against him.

Dr Ranu claimed that if this process was adopted at every booth then a majority of the Akali leaders and voters would abstain from voting with an apprehension of being exposed. 

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Mayors unlikely to yield to party pressure
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
With the countdown for the deadline to prune the ministry having started, there are speculations that mayors of Ludhiana, Patiala and Jalandhar are being replaced by new faces. Two of them by outgoing ministers and one by a fresh face. The party has already sought the resignations of these mayors.

However, party sources said the mayors were quite unlikely to relent. Although they had submitted their resignations to the party, they were reluctant to go further and submit formal resignations, which should go to the Chief Minister through the Department of Local Bodies.

The mayors are reportedly keeping all options open. They continue to be camping in New Delhi, where they are trying to lobby with the party high command and their personal sources of influence. Moreover, they have been maintaining that it would be humiliating and politically fatal for them in case they are asked to leave.

In case the party decides to go ahead with replacing them and in turn they do not relent, it might be difficult for the party to remove them. A mayor can only be removed by the two-thirds majority of the House. In Ludhiana, the Congress does not enjoy this figure. This will mean seeking the support of opposition councillors, who mostly belong to the SAD or the BJP. The two parties are most unlikely to support the Congress, particularly on this issue.

Moreover, BJP councillors have already gone on record that they will be supporting the Mayor on this particular issue although they have political and other differences with him. They have been maintaining that they will not let the Mayor to be removed unceremoniously.

Meanwhile, the local Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, said he would follow the party directive in letter and spirit. Mr Gill is camping in New Delhi where he has sought the support of some leaders in the high command. He felt confident that in all probability he should continue as the party and the Chief Minister were quite happy with the way he worked during the past two years. But, he reiterated, he would abide by the party discipline at all costs as he did not consider himself to be above party. 

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PWD staff hold dharna against Vigilance Bureau
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
On the call of the joint action committee formed to fight the case of 27 government officials arrested by the Vigilance on corruption charges recently, employees of the Public Works Department (PWD) today staged a dharna for over two hours outside their office at Rani Jhansi road here today.

The employees including, engineers, ministerial staff, draftsmen, supervisors, drivers and class IV workers began their indefinite agitation to criticise the government and Vigilance Bureau's alleged high-handedness against the accused officials.

Various speakers condemned the action of the Vigilance Bureau and demanded that all the investigations against engineers should be withdrawn immediately. They claimed that the officials were framed as part of a political conspiracy.

The agitated workers warned that they would intensify the agitation if the government did not accept their demands immediately.

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Canada migrants’ favourite destination
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
“Canada is the most favoured country for migrating abroad among Punjabis, because people of this region have excelled in every sphere there,” says Mr Tej Parkash Singh, a representative of the Indo-Canadian Lawyers Association.

In the recent elections in Canada, as many as eight persons of Punjab origin had been elected as Members of Parliament. Besides, there were several MLAs in various provinces of the country, he said.

He said more than 60 per cent of new immigrants wanted to settle down in Ontario. People were more keen on migrating to Canada than any other country because it provided more facilities and opportunities to its immigrants. Many unscrupulous agents, taking advantage of this desire, were duping innocents by falsely promising them jobs in Canada, he warned.

It had been noticed that many agents were misguiding people by claiming that the Canadian Government would increase the point system before the election date i.e. June 28, 2004 but there were no indications in this context from the government.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh said people should not believe in what agents claimed but should visit the Canadian citizenship and immigration website — www.cic.gc.ca — for any clarifications.

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Readers Write
Public parks in city

In the old city of Ludhiana, many places for conversion into parks were available after Partition. Some of these were converted into parks for the public. These places were indiscreetly utilised for other purposes either with a view to accommodating favourites or for so called revenue earning purpose.

Roshni ground was a specious place for the purpose. It was clandestinely leased out to B L Kapur Memorial hospital. The land leased out to the hospital was far in excess of its requirement. Even after 45 years of its lease, much of its land stands unutilised and is being used for the agricultural purposes just behind the hospital. The hospital authorities raised over 100 shops on the three sides of the hospital earning a huge rental money. When the land was based out for hospital purposes, its use in agriculture and raising shops was highly uncalled for as it had nothing to do with hospital business. The agitation made by the public against the lease were ignored.

The second available ground was Daresi Ground. A well-known Dasehra Mela was held there. Now the ground has been utilised by raising a hospital and mandir. The remaining portion of the ground is full of filth. Pigs and stray animals frequently visit to have a feast over the garbage. Quite nearby is Chhoti Daresi which the corporation intends to develop as a small park. There are four umbrella-type canopies. The very visit of a person reminds him of a cremation ground than of a park.

Before Partition the committee bagh was a fine place for a morning walk. There was only one old municipal building along with a library and a reading room. The Abrari mosque in the end was utilised as a gurdwara and now a big portion of the bagh was given to Master Tara Singh Memorial College. Besides the office of corporation, offices of the Fire Brigade and employees unions have come up. As if this was not enough, a huge car parking complex has been built.

Quite nearby was Bhadaur House. It could nicely be converted into a park. Previously wrestling matches were held there. The authorities, however, thought it best to convert it into shopping complex. This land could be acquired by the Government Municipal Corporation for raising a park. Unfortunately it was not done.

At present the position is that in the old areas of the city there is practically no place where people can enjoy a morning walk. In the new areas coming up in the city, park facilities are available, but in the old areas there have been done with away. Thanks to the far sightedness of the Municipal Corporation. Now the facility available to the populace of the old city is that instead of morning/evening walks, they should better open the house-windows and exhale the polluted air.

Subhash Behl

II

Concession to senior citizens

You may be aware that both MTNL, Delhi, and Bombay are already given 25 per cent concession in monthly rental telephone tariff to their senior citizen subscribers aged 65 years and above. A copy of the letter dated 27.11.2002 from MTNL, Delhi, is enclosed for ready reference.

But the aforesaid reduction in monthly telephone tariff has not so far been extended to senior citizen subscribers served by the BSNL which is inequitable.

You are, therefore requested to allow similar concession to the senior citizens subscribers covered by the system provided by BSNL. This will be doing justice to the senior citizens having telephones in their names from the BSNL.

R.N. Sehgal

III

Pollution and autorickshaws

Ludhiana having become the most populous city is the most polluted city as well in the state. The reason is there is no check on pollution. There are about 25,000 autorickshaws plying in the city. These autowalas have become a great headache for the administration and the general public whose health is at stake. These autos may be a boon for the commuters as one reaches any part of the city with just a five rupee coin, but these are a great hazard.

They are using diesel mixed with kerosene which emits black smoke and other harmful gases. The brunt of the problem is felt by scooterists.

Some time back there was a proposal that some mini buses would ply in the city and autos would be made to ply in the outer areas but this proposal seems to have been shelved.

K.L. Chitkara

IV

Economic reforms

Our country is said to be a poor one but it is not. The problem is that wealth has gone into the hands of 5-10 per cent of the population. That needs drastic reforms to minimise the gap among the poor, common and the rich. Now ours is a democratic setup and the country is ruled with the vote of the poor and common people.

We have five types of people, — 40 per cent poor, 40 per cent middle class, 10 per cent rich and 10 per cent super rich. The poor is worried about two meals a day and shelter. The common man is struggling to eke his sustenance while 20 per cent are enjoying life. The taxes are the same for the rich and poor alike. There is definitely something wrong in out taxation system.

In western countries the indirect taxes are the same for poor, common and rich and only direct taxes effect the super rich.

Whenever there is some allotment... say agencies, plots and other contracts, the condition generally is that the applicant should be tax payers.

Sher Singh
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Rotary Club (North) adjudged best

Ludhiana, July 2
Rotary Club of Ludhiana (North) has been adjudged as the outstanding club among 70 clubs of Rotary district 3070. President Rtn S.P. Singh Dua and secretary Rtn R.S. Behal were awarded outstanding president and secretary awards, respectively. In addition the club was awarded the best governor’s visit awards, second award in pulse-polio immunisation programme in Rotary district and award for adopting a school.

Ten more Rotarians S.S. Johl, Manmohan Singh, M.S. Kalanauri, D.S. Grewal, Charanjeet Singh, T.D. Jaitwani, Gurjeet Singh Bajaj, Mrs Ashamel, Shan Singh and R.N. Sehgal were also given awards for their distinguished humanitarian services. OC

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Industry sore over 2-day power cuts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
The recent power cuts introduced by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has led to widespread resentment among residents. The anger is more in the industry, which has been subjected to 48 hours’ continuous power cut. Protesters maintained while the PSEB was claiming four hours’ cuts, in practice the cuts were being resorted to after every one hour.

A Shiromani Akali Dal councillor accompanied by several supporters today burnt the effigy of the Punjab Government to protest against power shortage.

Reacting sharply to the massive cuts introduced in the industry, Mr G.L. Pahwa, president, and Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, Ludhiana, criticised the PSEB for the two-day weekly off and daily frequent power cuts. They said in view of the already existing insufficient power supply the board should make prior arrangements in this regard.

They stated that unscheduled frequent power cuts and trippings have created an adverse condition. They added that the industry had to pay monthly minimum charges and also bear the salaries of their employees without getting any work done. The board should not charge monthly minimum charges from industrialists for this period due to the weekly off days and frequent power cuts during this critical period, the industrialists added.

Mr Pahwa and Mr Kapoor urged the board to make arrangements to withdraw the weekly off days and daily frequent power cuts to save the industry. They threatened to launch an agitation if their demands were not met.

Mr Narinder Bhamra, president, Fastener Manufacturers Association of India has said the state government was not serious about the problems of the industry. Mr Bhamra urged the government to takle the problem seriously.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, has also criticised the power cuts. Mr Inderjeet Singh Pardhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, said the 48-hour power cut was a further blow to the industry here.

The Chamber cautioned the Punjab government and the PSEB authorities on a statewide agitation. 

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ADC (D) for top priority to RBI targets
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 2
The Additional Deputy Commissioner (D), Mr Sumer Singh Gurjar, has asked all banks in the district to accord top priority to achieving the target of 10 per cent credit advance for weaker sections fixed by the RBI.

He has also asked them to order the officers empowered with loan sanctioning authority to attend the beneficiaries identification camps being organised by the administration to sanction loans on the spot under priority sector schemes, so that the delay in sanctioning the loans could be minimised.

Mr Gurjar was presiding over a quarterly meeting of the district level Review Committee cum-District Credit Committee held at Bachhat Bhavan here today.

While appreciating the performance in achieving 107 per cent of the fixed target of credit deposit ratio during the 2003-04, Mr Gurjar said during the past year, a substantial increase of Rs 1,018 crore in aggregate deposit had been recorded, which enhanced the figure of deposit worth Rs 9,616 crore to 10,634 crore. He said the gross credit in the district stood at Rs 10,703 crore, which shows an increase of Rs 2,783 crore over the previous quarter.

He said under the priority sector schemes against the fixed target of 2,181 cases, 2,338 persons were given loans achieving 107 per cent of the target. He claimed that excellent achievement of 143 per cent was made under small-scale industries sector, where 1,019 cases had been sanctioned against a target of 712 cases . Under the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), the DIC had sponsored 1,491 cases against an annual target of 910 cases. Out of which 912 cases had been sanctioned and 623 got loans.

He said the KVIB had sponsored 82 cases for Rs 661 .69 lakh, out of which 39 cases for Rs 360.89 lakh had been sanctioned. Loans worth Rs 189.44 lakh had been disbursed in 35 cases and four cases were lying pending with the banks, he added.

The ADC said against a target of Rs 38 lakh for fisheries, fish farming agency had sponsored 24 cases involving Rs 59.29 lakh, out of which 16 cases for Rs 43.81 lakh had been sanctioned and eight cases for Rs 15.48 lakh were pending. He said against a total target of 200 cases for Rs 140 lakh, dairy development agency has sponsored 202 cases for Rs 345.60 lakh, out of which 115 cases for Rs 203.60 lakh had been sanctioned and loans worth Rs 16,828 lakh had been disbursed in 102 cases. 

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SBI foundation day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 2
The State Bank of India, Zonal Office, Ludhiana, today celebrated its foundation day. The best branches and the best officials in the Ludhiana module were felicitated for their performance in various activities at a function organised here.

As many as 11 branches in the Chandigarh circle were selected which were rated as A+ for the first time in the Inspection and Audit counducted in the last financial year whereas eight branches under the urban, semi urban and rural categories bagged trophies for excellence in deposit mobilisation. Trophies for NPAs recovery were shared by the Miller Ganj, Ludhiana and Chuhar Chak branches, respectively.

Mr Samir Saran, Deputy General Manager, appreciated the personnel for the good work . He expressed the hope that they would continue to work with same zeal and spirit to take the bank to new heights. Ms Mohini Saran, president, SBI Ladies Club, Ludhiana, Mr S K Jain, Mr Pala Ram, Mr L R Hans, Assistant General Managers of the Ludhiana region III along with other staff members of Ludhiana branches were also present.

Mr Arvind Sharma, manager of S&S Complex, Jalandhar received the best urban branch award while Mr A K Bathla , chief manager of Ferozepore city was given the best semi-urban branch. Mr Rajesh Kumar Bhola of Khosa Pandu branch got the best rural branch prize.

Ms Pushpinder Kaur, Assistant General Manager, NRI branch, Jalandhar bagged the trophy for the cleanest branch and Mr G C Lakhanpal, AGM of Miller Ganj, Ludhiana was named the best branch manager of the Ludhiana modile. The best messengar award went to Mr Avtar Singh of Dugri Road, Ludhiana while the best record keeper award was won by Mr Gurmit Singh of Main Bazar, Moga branch while Mr Gurbachan Singh of Pholariwala was adjudged the best guard.

Other award winners were: best workman- Mr Naresh Kumar of Model Town, Jalandhar; best assistant - Mr Sarwan singh of Treasury branch, Ludhiana; best sweper- Ms Rani Kaur of Mundian Kalan; best assistant- Mr Sarwan Singh of Treasury branch, Ludhiana; best apecial assistant- Ms Chander Kanta of Rurka Kalan; best passing officer- Mr K B Wadhwa of Mansa and best accountant- Mr S J S Ghuman of Miller Ganj, Ludhiana.

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