L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Residents foil bid to kidnap child
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Residents of Kochar Market colony foiled an alleged kidnapping bid of a six-year-old girl by a migrant labourer in the area today.
The incident took place near Gurcharan Park in the afternoon when a migrant labourer, Beeru, allegedly tried to kidnap Shivani. He managed to take her away, but was caught after some chase by alert residents.

According to Shivani’s elder sister, Aditi, 10, and her father, Rajesh Kumar, the accused had been sitting in the park for long staring at children. He spotted Shivani and got friendly with her. He gave her a chocolate and promised to buy her more from a shop.

He succeeded in luring the child and took her out of the park. Aditi, who was watching everything, become panicky when the labourer went almost out of her sight. Shivani, too, had started crying.

Aditi raised an alarm and a number of area residents, passers-by ran in the direction in which the labourer had gone.

They, however, could not spot him. The accused had sneaked into a crowd at a ‘chhabeel’ near the market. He could have gone away with the child had the victim not started crying again.

Seeing persons getting suspicious, the accused again tried to run away. However, he was caught. By that time, other persons searching for him also reached there and the accused was given a beating. He was later handed over to the police.

Mr Anil Joshi, SHO, Division No. 5 police station, said the accused had been booked for kidnapping.



Rice mill owner dupes Markfed, bank of crores
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, July 4
A rice scam running into crores of rupees committed by a rice mill owner allegedly in connivance will Markfed officials has been unearthed. Some Markfed officials have been chargesheeted and a case is being registered against them. However, the mill owner and his manager have already been booked on May 21. The bank from where the owner had got CC limit had also recommended registration of an FIR against the rice mill owner for defrauding the bank. It is said that the rice mill owner had failed to return the milled rice of thirty-six wagons given by Markfed to the rice mill for milling.

According to information, in the last paddy season Markfed, a state procurement agency, had sent purchased paddy to various rice mills for milling. About 60,000 quintals of paddy was sent to Badinpur Rice and General Mills in Badinpur village in Fatehgarh Sahib district. A complaint was lodged against the rice mill owner at Mandi Gobindgarh police station that the mill had failed to return the rice to Markfed. On verification it was found that the paddy was missing from the mill. It also came to light that the mill owner had sold the land of the mill to Ms Surinder Kaur and Mr Tejinder Singh without taking any permission from the bank from where he had got the CC limit.

The sources said Markfed was defrauded by the mill owner in connivance with the officials of the Markfed. They alleged that the paddy was delivered to the rice mill only on paper and there was no physical delivery of 36 wagons of paddy to rice mill. Sources said when the time came to deliver the rice to the FCI, the mill owner and his accomplices made a new plan. They prepared a weight check memo and presented it to Markfed. But later it was confirmed that the memos were forged. No official of FCI was available for comment.

Mr Netar Singh, local Manager of Markfed, has denied any involvement of officials of Markfed in the scam. District Manager of Markfed said the PRO of Markfed would reply. She also refused to comment on the issue.

Mr S.S. Channi, Managing Director of Markfed, said the mill owner and its Manager had already been booked. Two officials of Markfed had been chargesheeted and registration of a case against the officials involved in the scam had been recommended.

The SHO of Mandi Gobindgarh said all accused had got stay orders from the court so no arrest had been made till now. The mill owner was not available for comment.



Industry resents PSIEC notices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
There is widespread resentment among the industry over the reported show-cause notices to industrial plot holders by the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) seeking to cancel the allotment of their plots.

A meeting of members of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association was held here yesterday under the chairmanship of its president, Mr G.L. Pahwa. Mr Ajit Singh Kular, Mr M.S. Bhogal, Mr Charanjit Singh Vishkarma, Mr Manmohan Singh Ubhi, Mr Inderjit Singh Navyug and Mr Varinder Kapoor attended the meeting.

The members expressed concern over the show-cause notices by the PSIEC to the industrial plot holders of Phase I to VIII in Ludhiana for cancellation of their allotments of plots on flimsy grounds. The members asserted that the basic amenities like water, sewerage and regular power supply were necessary for any industry for its day to day routine work.

They pointed out that the PSIEC had not been able to provide the water facilities to its plot holders of Phase I to VIII in Ludhiana. As such the industrialists had made their own arrangements by installing submersible water pumps and other equipment for meeting their requirement of water and run their units smoothly.

The association demanded that the PSIEC should withdraw the notices being issued on one pretext or the other and let the industrialists run their units peacefully as they were already facing difficulties on account of hike in steel prices and frequent power cuts.

It regretted that many of the small units in Ludhiana had already closed down or become sick due to various unfavourable circumstances.



Canal water theft cases on the rise
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
With their paddy fields crying for water, farmers of the canal-fed belt have taken it upon themselves to guard all the minors and distributaries against the rising incidents of theft by farmers upstream.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the local Irrigation Department has also sounded a high alert to check the incidence a theft following a steep rise in such cases along the Sidhwan canal and the Rajasthan feeder which supply irrigation water to various villages in the district,

Several groups of youths armed with guns, lathis and swords are seen patrolling the canal or drains originating from it at the dead of night everyday. The night patrolling in the villages getting the water supply from canal is against fellow farmers only, who indulge in theft of water from the canal.

Ever since the Irrigation Department released water in the Sidhwan Canal on June 7 to provide water for paddy transplantation, as many as 217 cases of water theft have been registered against various farmers. Sources said the manner in which the number of complaints was rising indicates that this year there might be a record. Past year about 250 complaints were registered with the department and this year 217 cases have already been registered.

Irrigation department sources said the theft of water from the canal not only was a headache for the department but also a source of tension in the villages. With power supply remaining erratic or inadequate and owing to the fall in water level, farmers rely on canal water to irrigate the fields. The need increases manifold during paddy season, when crops require more water.

These farmers either put up pipes in the canal or drains and pull water through motors or breach the banks of the drains and the sub-drains. This lowers the pressure of water flow at the tail end.

The farmers who suffer because of this then go on their own to check the pilferage or complain to the Irrigation department. If farmers go on their own it causes fights and even violence. Irrigation officials said when they receive the complaints, they take the help of the police to arrest the accused and remove the pipes and the motor or proceed on their own and impose a heavy penalty on the farmers.

They also tamper with the outlets made in the distributaries or the minors. This is a major headache as tampering may result in a major breach. Some farmers have devised a novel method to hoodwink the irrigation authorities. They dig up a small channel under the bank of the canal, fit a pipe draw the water.

This kind of theft becomes very difficult to detect. Mr Rajinder Singh, XEN of the Irrigation department said the theft of water causes fluctuation in the supply and the tail end of the canal gets dried up. Thus a large number of farmers do not get the required supply of water.

He said the department detected the theft by either catching the farmer red-handed or by judging from the pipes or the tampering of the outlets present the next day. The department has given a standing order to all its employees to damage the pipes or other material. This causes immediate financial loss to the farmer.

He added that the theft was shocking as the farmers have to pay a small amount of Rs 40 per acre annually to the department. However, if they are found indulging in theft, the farmer is fined at the rate of Rs 1000 per acre. 



DMCH newsletter released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 4
To highlight its achievement and contribution, the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) released the first issue of its periodic newsletter “DMC Scan” here yesterday. It was released by Mr Brij Mohan Munjal, president, managing society of the hospital, in the presence of members of the management and faculty.

Mr Munjal appreciated the efforts of members of the editorial board, comprising Dr Daljit Singh, Dr Tej K. Kaul, Dr A.P.S. Narang, Dr Dinesh Garg, Dr Rajoo Singh Chhina, Dr Praveen Sobti, Dr Poonam Singh, Dr Navkiran Mahajan and Ms Gagan Watika, in bringing out the newsletter.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, DMCH and Editor-in-Chief of the newsletter, said the reverence that this prestigious institution commanded today was the result of years of toil and endeavour of the entire DMCH team towards excellence in medical education and patient care. All this had happened with the selfless dedication and sincerity of all members of the DMCH family.

“This newsletter is an effort to give a panoramic view of this dynamic, progressive medical college, its contributions and to strengthen the communication bridge with public.”



Ministers, legislators eye Mayor’s post
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 4
With the process of downsizing of the state Cabinet about to be finalised any moment now, and the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh having secured resignations from all four Mayors of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, along with all members of the Council of Ministers, chairmen of all state boards and corporations and improvement trusts, a couple of ministers and legislators from the city are understood to have started lobbying with senior party leaders for the post of the city Mayor.

According to sources, the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, along with other mayors, was not only told to put in his papers to facilitate the process of pruning the Cabinet in accordance with the 97th Constitutional amendment, but was also told to prepare the ground among the party councillors to accept the change of leadership, if it became inevitable.

Though the mayors, duly elected under the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, do not fall in the category of members of the state Cabinet, parliamentary secretaries, chairpersons of boards, corporations or improvement trusts, who hold their offices at the pleasure of the Chief Minister, yet the high command of the party in power, can always exercise its prerogative to bring about a change of leadership by asking its party councillors to do so.

In case of the Mayor refusing to oblige the party leadership by voluntarily quitting, two-third majority in the House is needed under the relevant law to remove the incumbent. But the Congress do not have that strength in the present House.

While it will be premature to assume that mayors will be shown the door, it is reliably learnt that sensing the political upheaval that the downsizing will create, the Chief Minister is toying with the idea of ‘adjusting’ some of the dropped ministers at the posts of mayors and chairpersons of improvement trusts.

However, in case of municipal corporations, the government will have to amend the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, before an MLA can get elected as Mayor because Section 35 of the Act provides that only an elected member of the municipal corporation can occupy the post.

Under the prevailing provisions of the Act, the legislators, though ex officio members of the general House of the MC, are treated as associate councillors, not eligible to contest elections to House committees and posts of Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor or Deputy Mayor.

As far as downsizing process of the Cabinet is concerned, the Chief Minister needs to drop eight ministers. In all probability, the axe will fall on representatives from Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

Having read the writing on the wall, at least two ministers from the city have already started lobbying and extended interaction with Congress councillors. In this regard, a series of meetings have been convened by these ministers with the councillors, whom they consider close to them and in each of such meetings, a significant number of councillors were present.

The city Mayor, as must be the case with his counterparts in other major towns, is learnt to be desperately cultivating his sources close to senior party leaders and, at the same time, knocking at the doors of the “Delhi Darbar” to save his head from the chopping block.



Bhai Ranjit Singh flays order on SGPC voters’ list
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Panthic Morcha chief Bhai Ranjit Singh has said that the order of the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, staying the publication of the second list of voters for the SGPC polls was unfortunate and not in the interests of democracy.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, who is actively canvassing for candidates of the morcha, said they were dismayed at the decision which smacks of favouritism. The decision has only strengthened the impression among the people that all the orders of the commission are being issued from the residence of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, he alleged.

He said it was for the first time that Sehajdharis had been barred from voting and only Keshadhari Sikhs were entitled to vote. The procedure to make new votes is foolproof as all the applicants have to appear before the Deputy Commissioners or the officer concerned before the vote is okayed.

This has sent a positive signal among the community and more and more people were lining up to make their votes. This move rattled the Badal group as they saw new voters as a threat to their stronghold on the cash rich SGPC. As the SAD (B) was convinced that they would not make inroads among the new voters, they connived with the Commissioner and got the new list stalled, he alleged.

The silence of Mr Badal on the issue is proof that he has something to hide. This is also borne out by the demands from him and his party leaders to allow the Sehajdharis to vote.

The former Akal Takht jathedar termed the order as a direct attack on the rights of the minority community which would deprive thousands of people from having a say in the management of their shrines.

He said the present elections were also being fought as a last ditch effort to oust those who had misused the money offered by devotees for their personal use and for furthering their political aspirations. The verdict would also determine what action would be taken against the committee members who were guilty of denigrating Sikh maryada and institutions.

Bhai Ranjit Singh also added that whenever Mr Badal is cornered on issues concerning the Panth he always tried to sidetrack the burning issues by labelling his detractors as Congress agents.



Groupism brings disrepute to Civil Defence
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Groupism and bitter struggle for one-upmanship is bringing disrepute to the ‘selfless’ Civil Defence movement in the city as two rival groups of volunteers have openly charged each other with cheating, financial frauds and impropriety.

Just a day after a group of volunteers levelled charges of fraud and flouting of rules by the group led by Chief Divisional Warden H.S. Rana, Mr Rana today lined up members and office-bearers of various divisions claiming that the charges were baseless and levelled just out of frustration.

He said some volunteers, led by Mr Satpreet Singh Saini, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Prince Sharma and Mr Ravinder Singh among others, were levelling false allegations because of a reorganisation of the Civil Defence unit. The Union Home Ministry has in a recent order directed the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Civil Defence, Ludhiana, to make eight Civil Defence divisions out of the existing 15.

Mr Rana said a number of volunteers, whose work was not up to the mark, were set to lose key positions due to the reorganisation. This has led to a heartburn and subsequent allegations aimed at browbeating Mr Rana and the district administration for not removing them.

Mr Satpreet Saini and others were spearheading an anti-corruption campaign against Mr Rana for the past few weeks. They had shot off letters to the Prime Minister, the President, the Chief Minister and the local administration. Three inquiries, one by ADGP-cum-Civil Defence Director P. Lal, the second by SP (City I) Mandeep Singh and the third by District Grievances Redressal Officer Ajay Sood, have been ordered by different authorities on the letters.

The alleged scandal came to light when DIG Darshan Singh Maini, deputed by Mr P. Lal, visited the city on Friday for the inquiry. With both groups going public about the alleged fraud and flouting of rules, all eyes are focussed on the outcome of the inquiry reports to determine who was at fault.

Mr Rana and his associates have been accused of collecting Rs 300-500 from nearly 1,800 members of the organisation for issuing identity cards although there is no such provision under the Civil Defence rules. They have also been charged with collecting more money on the pretext of organising get-togethers, parties or other social activities. Another major allegation was of giving a ‘compulsory’ AirTel connection to all members for Rs 540 each.

Refuting the allegations, Mr Rana and his supporters said they had taken all these decisions at a meeting of representatives of volunteers. They also accused the complainants of forgery by overwriting names and ranks on the receipts issued by Mr Rana.

Mr Rana said his group was on the offensive and had sought removal of persons levelling false allegations. They had also decided to file a defamation suit against the complainants, he added.



At the Crossroads
Nostalgic moments at Shimla

Visiting Shimla after some years is like meeting an old friend. Such meetings need no introduction, nor is there any need of formalities. One can dig easily into the past but not for long. The unfolding scene catches the eye and the mind contemplates on beauty in all things. Nothing seems to be too mean to add to the superb panorama of benign nature. There is no consciousness of the loss of time as the moving steps cover up the gaps of the years gone by. The present seems to be the only reality as it holds the promise of augmenting nostalgic memories.

The hurried visit to Himachal Pradesh University at Summer Hill, where Dr. V.P. Sharma is the Chairman of the Department of English, was rewarding in more ways than one. He was going through a Ph.D. thesis wherein the cultural and racial elements in the novels of Arun Joshi had been traced diligently. The scholar, sitting beside the guide, was drawn into discussion with me during the short tea-break. She had come all the way from a remote place in Haryana where she was a college lecturer. Soon the talk centred around The Last Labyrinth, the magnum opus of the novelist. To me the time seemed to have stood still during that crowded spell.

My old resort, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, beckoned me as I retraced my steps from the university. I climbed up the hill opposite, with my two friends to reach Rashtrapati Nivas where IIAS is ensconced. There again the atmosphere was exhilarating but at the same time it was heavy with the aroma of research work going on there. My meeting with Dr. Ameeta Biswas, the renowned Professor of English, was strangely like the coming together of two Fellows of the Institute, although I was meeting her for the first time. Interestingly the friends with me at that time brightened up the academic environment as Dr. Som P. Rancham, the eminent litterateur, was her teacher at the H.P. University a long time ago. Prof. Bhupinder Parihar, on his part, was doing research for his doctorate on Indian English poets under her guidance.

My walks on the hilly tracks, during my short stay at this hill station was unfaltered, although in Ludhiana my knee-joints sometimes remind me of my advancing age. I could withstand the onslaught of 53 years on my consciousness, since I came there in the early fifties at the age of 22. My stay in Shimla at that time for a decade had inculcated in me the sense of beauty, coupled with intellectual curiosity, that resulted in my deep involvement with this queen of hill-stations. Even now nothing escaped my memory, yet still I did not find myself circumscribed to its glorious past.

The foolhardiness at a crucial period of one’s life sometimes yields good results. The realisation of having basked in the sun too long, after facing the chilly winds of many a winter, prompted me to seek the pastures new. The initial shock of having walked into the marshy land unwittingly was counter-balanced by the rewarding academic pursuits. The other advantage that ensued was the escape from the little knowledge that could prove to be a dangerous thing in the long run. At last the quest for knowledge, without any expectation of wisdom, proved to be eternal. The illusion was after all more alluring than the reality. So the sequence of life at last was nothing short of moving from illusion to illusion.

At the time of bidding adieu to Shimla on Wednesday last, I viewed the clouds, settled at the Jakhu Hill, from The Ridge where the library and the church exist side by side.

— N.S. Tasneem



Giani Bhagat Singh remembered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 4
Tributes were paid to former president of the Ramgarhia Educational Council and SGPC member Giani Bhagat Singh on his first death anniversary at a function held in Gurmukh Singh Hall of Ramgarhia Girls College here today.

Mr Ranjodh Singh, president of the Ramgarhia Education Foundation, released a CD based on the lives of Giani Gurmukh Singh, Giani Bhagat Singh and Jagat Singh on the occasion. He also announced the formation of Giani Bhagat Singh Heritage Foundation. It would compile a book on Giani Bhagat Singh.

Paying tributes to Giani Bhagat Singh, an educationist and reformer, the Principal of Ramgarhia Girls College, Ms Harmeet Kaur, said he personally supervised creation of each and every item of infrastructure in the institution.

Economist and former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University Dr S.S. Johl described Giani Bhagat Singh as a person who devoted his life to public service.

Among others, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, former legislator, Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, member of the Punjab Public Services Commission, Mr Ajit Singh Kular, Mr Gurpargat Singh Kahlon and Mr Charan Singh Kohli payed tributes to Giani Bhagat Singh.

A ‘ragi jatha’ of Ramgarhia Gurdwara and students of Ramgarhia Girls College and Kirtan Vidyalaya recited Gurbani on the occasion.



Widow’s plea to PSEB
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 4
A widow of an employee of the PSEB has urged the higher authorities to expedite the release of financial aid out of the employees’ welfare scheme.
Ms Manjit Kaur, a resident of nearby Dhaler village, said his husband, Bhupinder Singh, assistant lineman at the local office, died in a road accident while returning from his duty on March 7.

She had completed formalities to receive the financial help of Rs 20,000 out of the welfare scheme. “Despite my repeated requests, the Chief Engineer, North, who is ex officio chairman of the scheme, did not bother to communicate me in this regard.”

Officials at the local office said the case had already been sent to the chairman of the scheme. The union would take up the matter with the authorities concerned soon, said Mr Kuldeep Singh, a local leader of the Technical Services Union.



Rise in sale of ACs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
The sale of Airconditioners has registered a phenomenal rise during this summer. Since there is no provision for regulating the sale of ACs, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is finding it difficult to cope up with the situation as it severely effects the consumption of electricity.

After the massive fall in prices of ACs and easy availability of finances, there is an AC in almost every household in the city. Some households have multiple AC units which are used simultaneously thus putting extra load on the system.

The PSEB authorities are finding it difficult to restrain the use of the ACs at least during the peak hours. In most of the cases they find themselves helpless as the AC load consumption is found within the permissible limits. The PSEB authorities have been attributing the abrupt power shortage to the increase in consumption which to a great extent is blamed on the use of ACs.

A senior official pointed out that everything seemed to be going on well till the last week. When the humidity and the heat intensity started rising people switched on their ACs which put extra load on the system. The PSEB has been estimating an abrupt increase of about 15 per cent in the consumption of electricity during the last one week, while the supply has remained the same.

The experts have been maintaining that only rain could help at this stage. Rain they pointed out, would serve a dual purpose. First it will lead to reduction in the consumption as there would be lesser load and secondly there will be an increase in the water level which will lead to production of more electricity. Till then the present situation is likely to continue.

Meanwhile, the PSEB officials have been appealing to people to ensure judicious use of electricity. They have also been urging people not to keep their ACs on for longer durations. Even if the ACs are needed to be used these should be used periodically. This, the officials maintained, will reduce the pressure a great deal.

The PSEB has also been claiming that the power situation has improved to some extent since yesterday. The frequent powerbreak downs have stopped and the power cuts are resorted to according to the predecided schedule only.


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