L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


12 years on, militant held, but terror remains
Jupinderjit Singh and Mahesh Sharma

Ghaloti (Mandi Ahemdgarh) August 16
The recent arrest of a dreaded terrorist, accused of killing 50 persons during the terrorism era, by the Fathehgarh Sahib police after 12 years has once again highlighted the sense of loss, fear and helplessness of two of his victims’ families in Ghaloti and Kalihans villages.

While one family refused to talk to TNS, the other was more forthcoming but questioned the delay in the arrest.

The accused, Harnek Singh, alias Bhapp, was one of the prominent activists of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) and was arrested on Saturday, almost 12 years after the gory incident in which four members of two families of these villages were shot dead by two armed groups of the outfit. Their fault was that they had dared to participate in the elections in the state, much to the chagrin of the militants.

While they are happy that the accused has been finally arrested, they fear that some of his accomplices, who are still at large, might harm them. Family members are also apprehensive about police harassment and the rounds of courts they will have to make now for pursuing the case.

On December 30, 1992, Surjit Singh Ghaloti, a former Sarpanch of Ghaloti village, Balwinder Singh, the then Sarpanch of Kilahans village, his brother Rajpaul Singh, a Food and Supplies Inspector, and their father Surjeet Singh, were gunned down by a militant group allegedly headed by Bhapp.

Bhapp had allegedly formed two parties to strike at the same time in two villages. The families had actively participated in the elections and were helping the late Beant Singh.

However, 12 years on, the fear of militants has not gone. Relatives of the three persons killed in Kilahans village were not willing to comment on the arrest of the accused. “We have suffered a lot. Stay away. We don't want more trouble,” said Jagwinder Singh, a relative of the three victims.

Rajinder Kaur, aged widow of another victim, Surjit Singh, a former sarpanch of Ghaloti village, was forthcoming in sharing her feelings. Demanding stringent punishment for the accused, she revealed the sequence of events.

She said on December 30, 1992, four militants had come to their home at around 6.30 pm and two of them insisted on seeing her husband Surjit Singh, who was in his room. When she insisted to accompany them, they pushed her out. Immediately afterwards, she heard bullet shots and the militants fled. She rushed in to see her husband lying in a pool of blood.

The tragedy was not over. A few minutes later, she received a telephone call from her relatives in Kilahans village that militants had killed Balwinder, Rajpaul and Surjit. Bhapp claimed the next day that he had gunned them down to teach anti-militants a lesson.

The Ghaloti family was offered the party ticket for the Assembly elections, but it refused. One of Ghaloti’s sons, Kulwinder Singh, was appointed as an ASI in the Punjab police. However, tragedy again struck three years ago when he lost both his legs in an accident and is confined to bed since then. Another son, Paramjit, died three months earlier and Surjit's father, Sadhu Singh, who was elected Sarpanch, died nine months ago.

Rajinder Kaur is passing her days taking care of her aged mother-in-law, Darbar Kaur, who is still shell-shocked and rarely speaks to anyone.

‘‘No punishment to the killers will bring the happy times back’’ says Rajinder Kaur. She resents that the Congress did not take care of both the families after the death of Beant Singh. ‘‘No one has bothered for us,’’ she said, urging the party high command to do something for them.

She said the Kilahans family, which had paid the heaviest price for its friendship with the late Beant Singh, should have been compensated. Even the widow of Rajpal Singh was not given a job on compassionate grounds.



Semi-nude dances on I-Day irk residents
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 16
Tall claims of patriotism by political parties, notwithstanding, the trend of dances by scantily clad females at functions organised by them on all occasions still continues. And Independence Day celebrated in the city yesterday was no exception.

Cutting across the party lines, all major political parties, including the ruling Congress and the BJP, were organising such shows. At several places, hip-swinging female dancers and singers were engaged by the political parties to pull the crowd and made them sit through at Independence Day functions till party leaders, scheduled to unfurl the national flag and participate in the function, arrived.

In the true 'independent' spirit, the stage artistes, oblivious of the sanctity of the occasion, indulged in provocative body movements and performed dances on such songs that exposed vulgarity, claimed some upset residents, who were present at these shows.

A former office-bearer of Sutlej Club, Ms Manjula Jain, said she was angry and upset over such a stage show which was a part of a function organised by the BJP in the city.

"Clips of the function shown in the local news by an electronic channel in the evening yesterday depicted a half-naked dancer performing on the stage with a lighted cigarette in her mouth."

She said the mockery of the national occasion, like Independence Day, made by the political party, which professed itself to be the champion of nationalism and old values, had pained her so much that she had lodged a protest with the district president and the state chief of the party on the telephone today.

Ms Jain, while impressing upon the residents not to tolerate such insult to an event of national importance and debasement of the women as a whole, also called upon the administration to come down heavily upon such vulgar and obscene performances by politicians. She also demanded a public apology from the party concerned.

Several other residents, Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, a businessman, Mr Yash Pal, an academician, Mr Roshan Lal, a senior citizen and freedom fighter and Ms Savita, a working woman, also deplored the political parties indulging in such undesirable or rather immoral activities on the occasion of a function of national importance.

They were of the view that if the political parties needed half-dressed female singers and dancers to pull crowd at such functions, they might discontinue celebrations of national festivals like Independence Day and Republic Day.



Freedom fighters feel insulted
Our Correspondent 

Ludhiana, August 16
Even as Independence Day was being celebrated on the campus of Government Senior Secondary School, Jagraon, where Dr Harbans Lal, Parliamentary Secretary, unfurled the National Flag and appreciated the role of freedom fighters, some of them had to face insult as they were first allowed to occupy seats on the stage but were later asked to vacate these for political leaders by the local administration.

Feeling insulted, they tried to lodge their protest with Dr Harbans Lal, but were pushed away by police personnel and not allowed to meet him.

However, later they unfurled the Tricolour in the local municipal council.

There is resentment among people on the treatment meted out to the freedom fighters. Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, senior vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress and Director, Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation, Ludhiana, said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister.



Uneasy calm in Punjab
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 16
There is uneasy calm in Punjab and all the political parties seem to have gone dormant. After the passage of the Termination of Water Sharing Agreements-2004, Capt Amarinder Singh is feeling upbeat that he has been able to tide over the crisis created by the order of the Supreme Court on the construction of the SYL Canal for the time being.

In the process he has put the Congress high command in the moribund situation. Although in Rajasthan, the Congress has nothing to do since the elections to the Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha are five years away but the situation in Haryana has put the Congress in a very difficult situation. Mr Om Parkash Chautala can use the action of Capt Amarinder Singh as a stick to beat the Congress. But the fact remains that he is not able to cash in on his success in getting a verdict from the Supreme Court in Haryana for the construction of the SYL Canal. The Congress in Haryana is divided into factions and it might not have been able to get the full benefits of the failings of the Chautala Government.

In Punjab, dissidents have chosen to remain silent on the issue. There are very few vocal supporters of the Chief Minister on the same. But farmers’ organisations of the state have supported Chief Minister Amarinder Singh vigorously. Even the Akali groups have gone out of the way to lend support to the actions of the Chief Minister. The core group of Sikh intellectuals of Chandigarh have also supported the Chief Minister.

Although Mr Parkash Singh Badal supported the passage of the Termination of Waters Agreements Act in the Vidhan Sabha, he is feeling that Capt Amarinder Singh has overtaken him on this vital issue. His proximity to Mr Chautala is also proving to be an embarrassment to him.

But the silence within the Congress and the dissident front may not last long as has been proved by a statement by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. Akalis on their part are busy wrestling among themselves to fill the vacuum caused by the death of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Everything remains directionless in the SGPC- the parliament of the Sikhs. The preparations for celebrations of centenaries have been derailed because the whole system created by Jathedar Tohra has been punctured by the working president. Mr Badal is trying to catch up. But how far he will succeed only time will tell. At best the Akalis might be able to present their best game of long marches, big processions and kirtan diwans of the devotees. Will that be of any use or will it succeed in generating enthusiasm among the Sikh youth ? The fact remains that it is hard to identify a few people among the Sikhs who are dedicated only to the cause of religion and who have no political axe to grind.

The Punjab Government has also planned to join the centenary celebrations of installation of Guru Granth Sahib. The Punjab Government is planning to have a seminar at Guru Nanak Dev University at Amritsar and invite the President and the Prime Minister on the occasion. Interestingly both the Punjab Government and the Shiromani Akali Dal have invited the President and Prime Minister for the celebrations on September 1.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal on his own is finding it difficult to cope with the pressure of Sikh politics at the moment. He has to choose an SGPC president who can step into the big shoes of Jathedar Tohra and can also control the damage to the reputation of the SGPC. The exit of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta is also taking its toll. Mr Badal has done a good deal to placate Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta but is reluctant to project him as a replacement of Jathedar Tohra lest he should become a centre of power like him (Tohra). All this is keeping Mr Badal too busy to attend to waters issue and Chandigarh. Capt Amarinder Singh has been quick to take benefit of the same.



Normal train traffic resumes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
Normal train traffic on the Ambala-Ludhiana railway line resumed after about two weeks with all trains running according to the schedule today. Barring a few most of the trains (up and down) passing through Ludhiana were on time.

The Area Traffic Manager, Mr N.S. Mann, disclosed that the normal train traffic was restored after the damaged railway track near Rajpura was fully repaired.

Railway officials said over 100 passenger trains and an equal number of goods trains pass through Ludhiana everyday.

More than 50 per cent trains were cancelled during the past two weeks as the railway track near Rajpura was damaged due to heavy rains and floods.

The officials maintained that the passenger rush had also eased with it. The officials disclosed that there was no waiting list for most of the trains, except for some long-distance trains. The rush was likely to ease further in the coming days.

The Railways suffered huge losses during these days on two counts. First, it had to refund the tickets of the trains cancelled. Second, the Railways was not making fresh bookings as it was not sure as when the trains would resume.



Neha has no regrets about ‘Julie’
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
Film star Neha Dhupia, known for her role in “Julie”, says she has no regrets for acting in the movie. She says there is nothing unusual in her role in the film and all the hue and cry raised about the movie is not justified. She says her role perfectly fitted into the script and the theme of the story. Neha was here as the brand ambassador of the LG Electronics.

She observed that the stereotype role of the traditional Indian heroine had seen a metamorphosis over the years. She said there were so many bold movies doing pretty well at the box office.

Neha reiterated that she was quite at ease with her role in the film. She said there was a perfect theme, story and most of all a social message in “Julie”, which should not be overlooked at any cost. She agreed that the movie was different and in a sense bold as compared to other movies, but, she thought, the time of such movies had come and these were doing quite well.

Neha maintained that although she did not mind doing such roles in future, but it would not be always that she do such type of roles only. She would be doing entirely different roles in her forthcoming movies like “Rakt”.

She said the Indian audience was mature enough to understand the message in “Julie”. She said since the movie had been rated for adults, it would be better if children were not allowed to watch the movie.

She was accompanying the LG ICC Champions Trophy 2004, which was taken to various parts of the city. She said cricket was her favourite game and she loved it very much. She went around the city to three LG showrooms in the Ghumar Mandi, Model Town and Pakhowal Road markets.



Govt examining legal aspects of IPS-PPS row
Tribune News Service

Isru (Ludhiana), August 16
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said yesterday that the government was examining various legal aspects of the IPS-PPS row. He said the government wanted an amicable solution to the issue which would be acceptable to everybody concerned.

The Chief Minister maintained that the state government could move the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Supreme Court or the Home Ministry.

"We will examine and explore all available options to reach an amicable solution mutually acceptable to everybody", the Chief Minister told mediapersons after addressing the Shahidi conference.

Earlier, the Chief Minister announced that his government had embarked upon the developmental plan for the state.

He said the focus of his government would now remain on the development of infrastructure like roads and availability of power.

He declared that the government was working on the gas-based power plant with a capacity of 1000 MWs at Doraha. He said the plan had already been finalised.

The Chief Minister said the power situation was likely to improve in the state after the power generation resumes in Lehra Mohabbat phase two. He said the Shahpur Kandi power project would also start soon. Moreover, the Punjab State Electricity Board, he said, had started making profits. Against about Rs 1,800 crore losses about two years ago, the board was making a profit of Rs 175 crore annually, the Chief Minister stated.

In a question on corruption, Capt Amarinder Singh agreed jokingly with a scribe who said the corruption still continued at the lower ranks.

The Chief Minister said: "Even I know that corruption is still there and I cannot wipe it out completely". But, he added, a sense of fear had been created among the corrupt.

Clarifying the doubts about the death anniversary function of Beant Singh, the Chief Minister said the government would organise two functions, one in Chandigarh in the morning and the another at Kotli, the ancestral village of Beant Singh.

He said he as the PCC chief for four years and now during the past two and a half years of chief ministership had always ensured that Beant Singh got the full honour he deserved.

He pointed out Beant Singh's sacrifice was unparalled and it was because of his sacrifice that peace returned to Punjab.



Transporters seek mini-bus policy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
The Punjab Mini Bus Operators Association has urged the government to come to its rescue in view of the problems being faced by the sector.
A meeting of executive members and office-bearers of the association from the state deliberated on the various issues plaguing them at Leisure Valley, Sarabha Nagar, here today.

Mr Harinder Sharma, president of the association, informed all members about future problems and said they should urge the state government to solve their problems at the earliest.

He said the grant of mini-bus permits under a liberal policy had led to saturation on various routes while the manifold rise in diesel prices had brought mini-bus operation to a standstill.

Mr Charan Singh, chief patron, demanded that a solid mini-bus policy should be framed and permits under the liberal policy beyond 25 km must be stopped. He demanded that bus fare should be increased and SRT and token tax be decreased. Adda fee, too, should be abolished.

Mr Charanjit Singh Gill, general secretary, said they would meet Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee and hand over a memorandum of their demands to him and brief him about the problems being faced by them.

In case nothing concrete was done by the government, they would be forced to start an agitation, he stressed

Those present also stressed that the traffic police should control traffic and not challan the vehicles indiscriminately. Bus passes issued to students should not be applicable to mini buses.

A solid mini-bus policy must be framed and representatives should be taken on various advisory committees of the Punjab Transport Department so that their problems were highlighted.

They also said if no solution was in sight they would take out a rally of mini buses to Delhi and meet the Congress President.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Surinder Singh Goraya, Mr Hardip Singh Gill, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Lakha Singh, Mr Ashok Kumar, Mr Jagjit Singh Dhillon, Mr Kuldip Singh Moga and Mr Surjit Singh.

The next meeting of the executive members and other representatives of the district units has been fixed for September 5 at Jalandhar. 



Probe sought into bungling in PSTC office
Our correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
A former associate of a contractor working with the PSTC has sought a high-level inquiry and appropriate action against erring officials in an office of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation (PSTC) here for a large-scale bungling and financial irregularities.

In a written complaint to the Managing Director of the PSTC, Mr Gurbaksh Singh, a resident of New Sham Nagar locality, has alleged that Kulwant Kaur, a junior draughtperson in subdivision No 17, was involved in the large-scale financial irregularities while supervisory officers, including the Subdivisional Officer (SDO), were conniving with her.

The complainant maintained that the subdivision office was set up in the building owned by Ms Kulwant Kaur and the PSTC had paid several lakhs of rupees as rent to its own employee in violation of the rules.

Moreover, husband of the employee Kulwinder Singh was working as a contractor with the PSTC which again was against the standing orders of the government that no blood relation of the employee could be enlisted as a contractor in the department, board, corporation or the local body.

Mr Gurbaksh Singh has further charged that Ms Kulwant Kaur did not fulfil the basic requirement for recruitment as a draughtperson and was employed in violation of the rules by her close relative, who was a Superintending Engineer with the PSTC.

He said the SDO was hand in glove with Kulwinder Singh, who had been allocated works of the corporation during 1987-2000.

Even the posting of Kulwant Kaur in the office was fraudulent, according to the complainant, who claimed that no post of junior draughtman existed in this.

Ms Kulwant Kaur had been continuing in the office for the past several years in gross violation of the rules and financial implications.

The complainant said that the Vigilance Bureau had initiated a probe into the irregularities of the subdivisional office but it achieved little progress in the face of alleged attempts by the SDO and other officers to scuttle the move. 



Drain diverted, villagers heave a sigh of relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
Residents of Jangpur village in the Kila Raipur Assembly segment are feeling relieved after the Punjab Mandi Board decided to divert the route of the drain bypassing the village. The villagers thanked a senior Congress leader of the area, Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura, for raising the issue with the authorities.

A meeting of prominent residents of the village was held today at Jangpur, where they thanked Mr Khangura for taking up the issue with the authorities and getting the route of the drain diverted. Mr Khangura had raised the issue with Mandi Board officials. The drain was being dug along the outer wall of Government High School and it could have threatened the school building.

Mr Khangura thanked the Mandi Board officials for diverting the route of the drain. He said development was welcome but not at the cost of people. He suggested that the authorities should ensure that it did not lead to harassment people. 



Sehaj Path contests from August 22
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
The Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle here will organise competitions in connection with the coming celebrations of the fourth centenary of the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, scheduled to be observed on September 1, 2004.

At a state-level meeting of the Punjab State Council of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Inderpal Singh, it was decided to spread the message of Guru Granth Sahib and “Sehaj Path”.

More than 13,000 students, who were enrolled for Sehaj Path, will be awarded prizes worth more than Rs 5 lakh.

The zone-wise schedule of Sehaj Path competitions has been approved. Accordingly, the Ludhiana zone competition will be held on August 22 at Gurdwara E-Block, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar here.

Dates for competitions for other zones in the state were: August 26 - Gurdwara Thara Sahib, Samana (Patiala), August 28 - Gurdwara Sacha Dhan, 3-B-I Mohali (Chandigarh-Ropar), August 29 - Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Zira (Ferozepur-Moga), August 31 - Gurdwara Mittha Tiwana, Near Bus stand, Hoshiarpur, September 3 - Academy of Sikh Religion, Patiala, September 5 - State Gurdwara, Kapurthala (Jalandhar-Kapurthala), September 12 - Gurdwara Gur Sagar, Mastuana Shaib (Sangrur-Mansa), September 19 - Gurdwara Bibeksar Sahib, Amritsar (Amritsar-Gurdaspur), September 25 - Sri Darbar Sahib, Mukatsar (Faridkot-Mukatsar-Bathinda).

The participants will have to bring Sehaj Path diaries and quotation note books for on the spot evaluation.

Among others present at the state council meeting were Dr C.K. Singh, chief secretary, Mr Prithi Singh, state secretary, Mr Avininderpal Singh, Mr Pritam Sngh, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Mr Narinderpal Singh, Mr Surinderpal Singh Sidhki, Mr Parwinder Singh and Mr Tejinder Singh.



Kirtan darbars to mark 'Parkash Utsav' of Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
Several kirtan darbars and samagams began at various gurdwaras of the city yesterday in connection with the celebrations of the 400th “Parkash Utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib.

The Dashmesh Seva Society and management of Gurdwara Shri Dashmesh Singh Sabha in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar jointly organised a kirtan darbar in the dewan hall of the gurdwara from 5 pm to midnight last night. Ragis like Bhai Sucha Singh from Amritsar, Bhai Jagjit Singh Komal, Bhai Manjit Singh from Mumbai, Bhai Jasbir Singh, Bhai Hardev Singh from Una, Bhai Subeg Singh and Bibi Ranjit Kaur Khalsa recited shabads.

Members of the Nishkam Seva Society, Khalsa Naujawan Front, Manav Kalyan Samiti and Tonk Khatri Sabha attended the kirtan darbar.

Langar was served to the gathering and a free medical check-up camp was organised.

A kirtan samagam was also held at Gurdwara Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji Singh Sabha in the I-block of the same locality. Mr Bhupinder Singh Bedi, Bibi Harkirat Kaur, Mr Arshdeep Singh and Mr Balpreet Singh recited shabads.

A slide show depicting Sikh history was held at Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha in the E-block of the same locality. The show was organised by Shri Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Model Town.



Religious meeting at Police Lines
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 16
A special meeting was organised in the Police Lines here for its employees in which Jain Vishav Bharti of Lalru (Rajasthan) preached about the true science of life.

According to a pressnote issued by Mr Rajiv Dhir, SSP, Maharaj Astha Pragya and Maharaj Dr Subh Pragya apprised the police about how to get out of mental stress and to control their health.

About 100 police personnel participated in this programme. According to the pressnote it was also decided to arrange such programme on the subdivisional level in future.



Club celebrates I-Day, Teej festival
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
Members of the Gayatri Ladies Club held a function here today to celebrate Janamashatmi, the Independence Day and Teej.

Songs and dances were presented by various club members. The highlights of the function included an item on Kargil which was presented by Ravneet and Lovely Chadha. Shelley and Rimpy performed a dance depicting Yashoda and Kanahya.

In the Teej section, a group dance was performed by Guneeta, Gurpreet, Ravneet, Rimpy and Shelley. The club president, Ms Surinder Dhiman, thanked the participants.



Driver killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana , August 16
The Sahnewal police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337 and 427 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Joga Singh, a resident of Pakka Balibeg Mohalla at Machhiwara village, against an unknown driver of a truck ( DL-IG-1994).

The complainant had stated that he was going in a Tata cargo vehicle along with driver Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Giddri village, to Machhiwara village on Saturday night. When they reached Laton Dana village on the way, the suspect rammed the truck into their vehicle as a result of which driver Jaswinder Singh died on the spot while he was injured.

Shop burgled: The Basti Jodhewal police yesterday registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Tejinderpal Singh, a resident of Khud Mohalla, against unknown person(s) who pried open the shutter of his shop in Grewal Market on Tibba Road on the night of August 14 and decamped with Rs 11,000, four sets of Nokia mobile phones, six sets of Samsung mobile phones and several new connection bucks.

Assault: On a statement of Mr Bhupinder Singh, who lives in Chet Singh Nagar Mohalla, the Shimla Puri police registered a case under Sections 323 and 324 of the IPC against Kuljit Singh, who lives in the same locality.

The complainant had stated that the suspect, because of a monetary dispute, had beaten him outside his house on Saturday and injured him.

No arrest has been made so far. The Koom Kalan police yesterday registered a case under Sections 341, 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Satnam Singh, a resident of Khassi Khurd village, against Ranjit Singh and Bunty, residents of the same village, and Gurdeep Singh, Rajvir Singh and Teji, residents of Khassi Kalan village.

The complainant had stated that the suspects intercepted him on the road on Saturday evening over a minor issue and beat him up.

The suspects also threatened him before going away. No arrest has been made so far.


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