L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Staff shortage hits police functioning
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

SGPC poll officials with election material at Government College for Women where final round of preparations for the polls
SGPC poll officials with election material at Government College for Women where final round of preparations for the polls was held on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, July 10
City residents will have to take care of themselves over the next two days as the police force is busy with the smooth conduct of the SGPC elections.
The 15 police stations and over 20 police posts in the city are wearing a deserted look as more than two-third of the total strength has been sent out of the city for election duty. The staff left yesterday morning and will return on Monday or Tuesday.

Though police sources stressed that the reserve force in the police lines had been kept on alert for meeting any eventuality, senior officials confided that they were hoping nothing bad happens. The officials also opined that reserve battalions or PAP battalions should be entrusted with the job of election duty.

This means that in case there is another robbery or snatching case, the police will not be able to put up nakkas and sound a red alert to nab the criminals or chase them. The police will be relying mainly on the PCR cops if any check point is to be set up but that too cannot be done all over the city.

Not only the vigil or surveillance part even routine investigation work of the police is suffering since yesterday owing to the shortage of staff. All kinds of inquiries are at a standstill. There was not much follow up on the crime committed yesterday or the day before.

The worst is the case of the Government Railway Police Station where only three cops were left for duty while 30 others were deployed for the elections. Sources said among those present was a Munshi who had to remain in the police station only. This means there would only be the SHO himself and another junior ranked officer to maintain vigil in the area and conduct necessary work at a crime spot or anywhere else where police help is required.

The Division No 1 police station has five cops on duty but all drivers were on election duty. At Sarabha Nagar police station there are about eight odd cops. The story is the same in all the police stations of the city. At certain police posts, there is only one cop present while the in charge does patrol duty all alone.

A Munshi of a police station took a lot of time in answering a phone call by this correspondent. When he finally picked up, he said: “Aj tan santri vee mein te mantri vi mein”.

All the cops contacted just wished that the two days pass off peacefully and they don’t have to deal with a crisis situation. A senior official said the police was used to such emergencies.



Dowry victim admitted to PGI with burns
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, July 10
Manjit Kaur (25) a fatherless girl was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh today when her in-laws allegedly set her ablaze. Pregnant for six months, she reportedly received 80 per cent burns. Her brother, Prem Singh, and a social worker Darshan Lal brought her to the local Indira Colony of Machhiwara. She was brought here after being discharged from Government Hospital, Sangrur.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune here, her brother, Prem Singh, said he had brought his sister from Sangrur to get her admitted to CMC, Ludhiana for proper treatment. He further said that he had been left with no alternative when the doctors of CMC asked him to deposit Rs 40,000 in advance. “Due to poverty and helplessness I decided to get her admitted to Civil Hospital Machhiwara, he added. After a thorough examination, Dr Shashi Kiran Singh found her in a serious condition and advised him to take her to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Mr Rupinder Singh Benipal, general secretary Youth Akali Dal, send the girl to the PGI.

According to Prem, his sister was married a few years ago in Munshiwal village falling under Dirba police station of Sangrur. But her in-laws started troubling her after a few days for more dowry. Prem said he arranged goods worth Rs 30,000 two months ago to please the in-laws of his sister.

Terribly horrified, Manjit Kaur holds her brother-in-law, mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law responsible for the incident. Till today, no improvement in her condition was reported. Representatives of various social organisations have strongly condemned the incident and have sought stern action against the culprits.



Daughters light mother’s funeral pyre
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July10
Group Capt Dr Hemraj Garg (Retd) recently set an example when he asserted that his daughters alone should perform the last rites of his wife, Rani, who died recently. This was despite the strong opposition and resistance from the priests who argued that only a male member of the family could perform these rites.

Dr Garg said, this was done only to assert that there was no difference between a son and a daughter. He told The Tribune, “I did all this with a purpose and strong belief...at a time when the girls are not allowed to take birth, I wanted to set an example that the daughters are as good as sons and there is no difference between the two”.

Dr Garg, who retired as a Group Captain from the Indian Air Force has four daughters. He ensured that his daughters did not at any stage got any impression that they were less important than the boys. Dr Garg also ensured that all his daughters remained attached to the armed forces, also considered to be a male bastion.

He married off his first two daughters to Army officers. Unfortunately one of his daughters Sonika lost her husband, who was a Major in an accident in February 1998, just after four years of marriage. Dr Garg said, although she was inclined to marry again, but her only condition was that she would marry a person from the defence forces only.

His two other daughters Sarika and Madhulika are also in the Army. Both of them are serving as Captains. He said when his wife died, he made up his mind to give his daughters the due place they deserved. He pointed out that lighting the funeral pyre of parents was considered to be the greatest prerogative of a son. And in case a son is not there, it is some other male member. “But I wanted to change this medieval mindset that is threatening the gender balance in our society”, Dr Garg said, while pointing out that the gender ratio was alarmingly declining in Punjab.

The former Air Force officer asserted that unless the mindset towards the daughters was not changed, the gender ratio would continue to be disturbed. There will be chaos in the society. “We need to demolish all those myths that seek to deny existence to daughters”, he asserted, while adding remorsefully, even education and economic well being does not guarantee equal respect and acceptance to the girls.



Minor girl kidnapped
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, July 10
A minor was allegedly kidnapped from Jandiali village near here while she was going to a tailoring centre located in the village gurdwara on Tuesday. But the case regarding this was registered at Sahnewal police station late last evening.

Parkash Singh of Jandiali village in his complaint has alleged that his daughter, Manpreet Kaur Babbu, (16), has been kidnapped by Gagandeep Singh, Jagroop Singh and Gurdial Singh of the same village.He added in his complaint to the police that his daughter had gone out of the house at 10am on July 6 but had never returned. She had joined a tailoring centre at the village gurdwara.

The parents waited for her till the evening but when she did not turn, they searched for her. But when they did not find her, they contacted the police last evening. A case has been registered under Sections 363, 366 of IPC. No arrest has been made.



BKU enrolling volunteers to stop SYL digging
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
The Bharti Kisan Union has decided to expedite the process of enrolling volunteers to stop the digging the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal. This was resolved during the meeting the union held with its president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal in the chair here today.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesari, general secretary, informed after the meeting that all the district units of the union had been told to send final lists of the volunteers to the head office, at Ludhiana by August 10. The union criticised the Central government’s move to allot the contract of digging the canal to CPWD. The union termed it as rubbing salt on the wounds of Punjabis.

In another resolution, the union decided to hold demonstrations at different places to register their protest against the state government’s approach towards power and canal water supply, Mr Singh said. Giving details of the programme, he said on July 14 dharnas would be organised in front of the office of the Chief Engineer, PSEB at Jalandhar, on July 15 at Ferozepore, Ropar and Tarn Taran. On July 16, a demonstration would be held at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa and the Punjab State Electricity Board office, Patiala. Mr Bhupinder Singh further said that dates of demonstration at other places would be announced later.

Similarly, the union passed a resolution urging the state government to scrap Article 78 and 79 which they said were anti-Punjab and forward the same to the Central government. It said that as the industrialists were free to charge their products, similarly the farmers would be allowed to fix the rates of the produce.

Among others who attended the meeting were Mr Shamsher Singh Khangura, Mr Puran Singh Shahkot, Mr Sukhminder Singh Kadian, Mr Preetam Singh, Mr Amrik Singh Mawi and Mr Ajmer Singh Mehlon.



Budget misleading, says BKU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
Reacting to the general Budget, the Bharti Kisan Union today said the Budget was misleading as it was totally silent about improving economic well-being of the farmers.

The president of the union, Mr. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, and the general secretary, Mr. Manjit Singh Kadian, said though the Budget had references to boost the agricultural sector, serious matters such as reduction of interest rates on farming loans or linking of the farm produce prices with the general price index, have not been touched upon in the Budget.

The leaders said the farmers would benefit little from lowering of the agricultural machinery costs. The farmers are charged according to the whims of the dealers.

The union leaders further stated that the union had been demanding for a long time that the interest on farming loans should be reduced to 4 per cent and the existing loans of all farmers should be written off . But the Budget was silent on these issues.

The union leaders lamented that mere reduction in duty on farm machinery would not benefit the farming community in any way. They said the Budget was silent about lending any financial assistance to the families of farmers who committed suicide.

The leaders urged the Prime Minister to meet the farmers in Punjab. They said the need of the hour was to support the farmers whole-heartedly and not to mislead them. They also urged the Prime Minister to waive the existing loans and reduce the interest rate 4 per cent. A meeting would be held in the near future to chalk out the next plan of action.



Residents stage dharna against non-availability of potable water
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
Residents of Shiv Puri colony today staged protest against the local Municipal Corporation for not supplying potable water to their area for the last three months. They were carrying empty buckets to show their protest. Many residents, including women, sat on a dharna and blocked traffic on Shiv Puri road for an hour. Claiming that the tubewell supplying potable water to their area had developed a snag for the last three months, the residents said that it had not been despite various complaints.

Peeved at the shortage of water in the hot and sultry weather, the residents had earlier staged a dharna 10 days ago and asked the authorities to get the fault repaired but no action was taken. They claimed that nobody bothered to restore the water supply to their locality. They said that the water tanker supplying water in the area was supplying unclean water. Showing sand particles and insects in a bottle of water drawn from tanker, they said that the water was not fit for drinking. They added that they had met various officials of the MC but all of them sent them back by making empty promises.

The residents added that when there was a threat of gastric diseases looming large over the city, they were being forced to drink dirty water. The residents have threatened the MC authorities that if their tubewell was not repaired and made functional by Tuesday they would sit on a hunger strike and gherao the officials concerned.

They also said that from Tuesday onwards five persons from the area would be sitting on hunger strike everyday till the tubewell was repaired. ‘‘We were sitting there for two hours and none of the officials turned up to pacify us. This is the attitude of the officials, ’’ said a resident as another added that a submersible pump had been installed in the place but that too was not working due to the non-availability of a small pipe. ‘‘We spoke to the official concerned who told us that they cannot buy a small pipe unless the purchase was cleared by a senior official,’’ the residents added.



Generators add to pollution
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
With the rains eluding the city residents and power situation worsening day by day, the indiscriminate use of diesel-run generators is posing a threat to the already polluted environment of the city. As the unscheduled power cuts keep giving the city residents sleepless nights, they switch over to thick smoke yielding gen-sets caring little about the environmental hazards caused by the smoke machines.

But the authorities prefer to be mum on the issue. The officials concerned are yet to wake up to the dangerous situation in the city, which incidentally tops the list of most, polluted cities in India. Being an industrial town, the city has already witnessed ever-increasing pollution levels crossing alarming concentrations. But there seems to be no hope. Not only the ever-increasing number of vehicles and industries contribute to the problem, the gen-sets working for more than 8 hours a day add to it.

‘‘The summers had never been so bad. We are using more than five litres of diesel a day. What can we do? It is so hot that we cannot survive without a fan, if not the air conditioner,’’ said a resident.

The gen-sets emanate thick smoke and it is impossible to breathe near them. Whenever there is a power cut one can witness black clouds of the smoke, thanks to the callous residents who have devised novel means to install their generators away from their living space.

All this goes on unabatedly as the Punjab Pollution Control Board employees sleep. They are yet to take any action or even formulate a policy on checking the pollution caused by gen-sets. Some residents demand that there should be a policy by the state government that no diesel-run generators would be allowed.

‘‘Why can’t we be little environment conscious and make an extra effort to install gas-run generators?’’ asked Mr Siddharth Singh, a resident. Rough estimates say that every household has a generator. The residents have installed these on their roofs with the long exhaust pipes discharging poisonous gases up in the air thinking it won’t pollute their immediate surroundings but realising little that the environment in general has become polluted.’’

According to the official figures on pollution, the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the city is between 500 to 600 microgram while the permissible limit is only 200 microgram. These are the startling revelations of the Punjab Pollution Control Board. Environmentalists say that on any given day during summers, the SPM might be increasing manifold, but nobody checks. 



A life of penury and torture
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, July 10
The hot and humid weather takes its toll on every body. But the destitutes living without a roof are worst sufferers.
A migrant couple with two grandchildren are living in penury , homeless. Shifting from one place to another where it is reasonably quieter, this migrant couple from Bihar with their son and wife left their village near Patna to dream a life of relative comfort, but the change of place has not brought any welcome change in their fortune though.

Crippled due ill health, the lack of food and no job has driven them to stage where they just sit and wait for their son and daughter-in-law to bring some food to them. Sometimes they get labourers’ job and can buy some cheap food for them. They have no household goods, no clothes, no utensils to cook. The family is the ‘true ‘.picture of Indian poverty.

The grandparents though crippled take care of their grandchildren. The poverty has left them incapacitated and have not left them with any strength to move around. The man at times walks slowly to the nearest gurdwara or temple near to the place where they are staying temporarily and get some ‘langar’.

Their story is not much different from hundreds of migrants who are forced by circumstances to move out from their native land to greener pastures. Shambhu and his wife and their son worked as landless labourers in Bihar, but when they were not needed, they were fired. After that they could not find any jobs. Then their relatives asked them to shift to Ludhiana with them. After buying tickets , a meagre amount was left which barely sustained them for one month.

Meanwhile, since the son was a stranger in the city, he could not find any job. So like many other migrants , he worked as a daily labourer in the fields. Since the income is not regular, their financial condition has worsened. When will good luck smile on them, only God knows.



Rotary celebrates literary month
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
To celebrate the ‘literacy month’ on the Rotary International’s calendar, Rotary Club of Ludhiana Midtown, organised a talk by the visiting students from the Yale University.

The students discussed about the projects they doing in Ludhiana. One group, working with the CMC, explained the statistical analysis about the findings in heart diseases, HIV etc.

The other group, lead by Shailaja, was working on public health. The third project undertaken by Ms Ellena in an Indian newspaper was about reporting and editorial aspects of a newspaper.



Six booked for attempt to murder
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
The Sadar police yesterday registered a case of attempt to murder under Sections 307,323,341,148,149,506 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr. Amandeep Singh, who lives in Lohara village falling under the jurisdiction of Shimlapuri police station, against Jindu, Gosa, Bhinder, Shindi and Sonu, residents of Gill village and Kaka, who lives in Phullanwal village.

The complainant had stated that he, along with his friend Jatinder Singh, who also lives in Lohara village, and Mr Ravi Inder Singh, were going in a Gypsy towards the village. When the reached Issar Nagar at Gill village , the accused, who were armed with various weapons, intercepted the Gypsy and attacked them with iron rods and baseball bats. One of the accused, Jindu, hit him in the head with a kirpan with the intention to kill him as a result of which he was seriously injured and admitted to Civil Hospital. No arrest has been made so far.

Two killed in accidents: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Mr Sunil Kumar, a resident of the area, against the driver of an unknown vehicle which hit his brother Yogesh Kumar near a petrol station on the Jalandhar bypass and sped away. Yogesh Kumar died on the spot, added the complainant. The police said there was no clue yet to the identity of either the vehicle or the driver so far.

The focal point police registered a case under sections 279, 304-A and 327 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Labh Singh, who lives in street number 5 of Beant Pura along the Chandigarh Road, against an unknown truck driver.

The complainant had stated that while was going on a scooter with his relative Baljit Singh, the accused hit the scooter near the Cancer Hospital chowk as a result of which Baljit Singh died on the spot. No arrest has been made so far.

Chain snatcher held: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under section 382 of the IPC on the statement of Mr. Sunil Kumar, who hails from Jawalaji in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and is employed at the Dada Motors, against Shiv Kumar, who lives in Mundian Kalan village.

The complainant had stated that the accused had snatched his cash bag containing Rs 13,000 at knife point at the Dada Motors petrol station at the Jalandhar bypass but was overpowered after a brief chase.

Opium seized: The focal point police yesterday registered a case under Sections 18,61 and 85 of the NDPS Act against Sabodh Giri, who lives in Inder Bihar in Chander Nagar.

The police said today that 220 gm of contraband opium was seized from his possession.



Robbery bid foiled by alert residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
Residents of the Salem Tabri area foiled a robbery bid by a youth, who had tried to snatch a bag of currency on a knife-point from an employee of a petrol filling station here late last night.

According to Mr Sunil Kumar, an employee of Dada Petrol Station, he was standing at the petrol station when suddenly a 30-32-year-old man entered the petrol station on a scooter.

The man threatened him with a knife and asked him to hand over the bag containing Rs 13,000. While he was trying to flee from the spot, Sunil raised an alarm and residents of the area gathered there and nabbed him. 



TVs recovered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
The Basti Jodhewal police yesterday arrested Rakesh Kumar, who lives in Sat Kartar Nagar, Lucky Mehra, a Bihari migrant living in Inderjit Singh Da Vehra and registered a case under sections 379 and 411 of the IPC against them.

The police said today that the accused were arrested from Puneet nagar and two stolen colour TVs were recovered from their possession.



Woman beaten up

LUDHIANA: On the statement of Ms Manju Bhandari, who lives in street number 1 of Dashmesh Nagar mohalla, the Division Number 4 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323, 341, 294, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Raj Kumar and Gaurav , both of Sant Jewellers in Meena Bazar. OC



Industry relieved over cut in customs duty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 10
Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab, has welcomed the reduction of 5 per cent customs duty on the import of steel. It said, “though it is not enough but it is sufficient to put pressure on steel producers to maintain competitive pricing”. Mr P.D. Sharma, president, of the chamber said that the rates of steel in the international market were soft and were getting further softened. Steel producers would not be able to raise the prices but in fact they will have to reduce the prices.

He said here today that the international prices for billets and other intermediates were Rs 16,000 to 17,000 per MT. Customs duty of 10 per cent would bring imported steel which was much cheaper than domestic steel. The steel producers are raising a voice against the reduction of customs duty as it had affected their monopolistic posture.

Mr Sharma said, the Chamber had urged the government not to allow export of steel. The Budget has obliged on this count also.

According to Mr Sharma, there is some anomaly in the central excise on steel. The previous government reduced the excise duty on steel from 16 to 8 per cent to give immediate relief. The reduction in central excise on steel gave relief to steel consumers who were not covered under central excise. However, it was a loss to the steel consumers which were covered under central excise because Modvat was just half than the excise duty paid on the finished products. Now central excise on steel has been raised to 12 per cent

He observed that the consumers not covered under central excise were put to loss and those covered under central excise got compensation half way through. The chamber has recommended to the government that reduction in central excise duty on steel should be matched with duty on steel finished products so that no consumer suffers. Mr Sharma further observed that it was rather unfortunate that the Steel Minister remained silent on the issue of bringing down steel prices. This was clear from his statement that the Steel Ministry did not send recommendations to the Finance Ministry on steel.

The other budget proposals would affect the business adversely. The 10 per cent service tax on transport was a big drain on Punjab’s industry. Punjab’s industry has to bear freight on incoming and outgoing journey of goods.



Flower shop
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 10
“With changing lifestyles and aspirations, people are finding new and creative ways of expressing their feelings. In consonance with this trend, awareness about is rising day-by-day and its impact is manifest on the Indian floriculture industry, which is growing at the rate of 25 per cent.

Keeping this in mind, Fern ‘N’ Petals has brought its 32nd store in a chain of its retail stores in Ludhiana,” said Mr Vikas Gutgutia at a press conference held here. The store would open on July 11.


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