L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Petrol station vandalised, tanks dug out
Seven-year-long feud over ownership
Tribune News Service

The petrol station that was vandalised by some unidentified men in Pakhowal
The petrol station that was vandalised by some unidentified men in Pakhowal on Tuesday. — Photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Pakhowal, September 7
Around 35 unidentified armed persons damaged a petrol station by removing pumps and digging out oil tanks in a night-long operation scripted allegedly in order to distort the nature of a seven-year-long dispute over the ownership of the station.

While the parties involved in the dispute made conflicting statements about the identity of the accused, the immediate sufferers were the residents of this and surrounding villages. As the only petrol pump ceased to work, residents gave as much as Rs 60 per for a litre of petrol to certain shopkeepers, who sold petrol illegally. The shopkeepers made most of it by buying petrol from other petrol stations and selling it in bottles.

The petrol station, M/s Bhgirath Auto Service Centre, was the only one catering to the needs of the area residents. It was a retail outlet of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and was run by Sukhdev Singh. The petrol station is caught in a long legal battle between some claimants and a serving DSP of the Punjab Police, who is the relative of a former DGP and a former party in the case.

Surprisingly, neither has a complaint been lodged with the Jagraon police nor has the police taken action on its own. Officials of the district office of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd visited the spot late in the afternoon after learning about the incident. Sources confirmed that the corporation had neither ordered the closure of the petrol station nor did they have any information about its closure.

Sources said the removal of pumps and oil tanks was illegal and the company would take legal recourse after inquiry into the matter.

Rajinder Kumar, one of the claimants of the petrol station, claimed that the station was allotted to him and his mother in the late 90s but it was forcibly possessed by a senior Punjab Police officer. Rajinder Kumar had a 16 per cent share in the petrol station, while his mother had 84 per cent share. After the death of his mother, a family dispute broke over her share. He claimed that a Punjab Police officer forcibly took the power of attorney from his two brothers.

He claimed that his brothers later on stated that they were forced to sign on power of attorney papers. The case is pending in the court.

His brother Vijay Kumar who lives in Patiala corroborated the claims. They both alleged that it was an attempt to change the ground situation in the disputed property case to suit the other party in the court.



Janmashtami celebrated with zeal 
Tribune reporters

Ludhiana, September 7
The birth of Lord Krishna was celebrated with usual zeal and fervour all over the city last night. Just as the clock struck 12 midnight, several temples witnessed the ringing of bells and blowing of conchs as devotees went ahead with performing an aarti of Lord Krishna. At several temples, beautiful tableaux depicting scenes from the life and times of Lord Krishna were put up for the benefit of the devotees who thronged the temples all through the day in large numbers.

Shri Krishna Mandir in Model Town extension made special arrangements for devotees to have a hassle-free glimpse of the newly born Lord. Mr Surinder Dawar also inaugurated a free medical camp on the occasion.

A special cradle was put up at Shri Durga Mata Mandir near the Jagraon bridge in which devotees rocked the Kanha. Tableaux depicting national integration were also put up at the temple in addition to the usual fare. The tableaux were thrown open for the public by Mahamandleshwar Ved Bharti. Among others present on the occasion were Deputy Mayor Sushila Gupta and SP R.K. Jaiswal.

At Shri Navdurga Mandir and Bal Shiksha Kendra in Sham Nagar, electronic tableaux were inaugurated by Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation. The flag-hoisting ceremony was performed by the Deputy Mayor, Mr Prem Mittal.

At Shri Durga Mandir in Urban Estate, Dugri, a special programme of sankirtan was held by Swami Nirdosh. At midnight, the Lord was offered a variety of sweetmeats.

A Raaslila was enacted at Sanatan Dharam Mandir on the Pakhowal Road and beautiful tableaux attracted crowds at Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir in Haibowal Kalan.

At Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, students of DAV School performed a variety of cultural programmes based on the life and times of Lord Krishna.

A beautifully decorated cradle carrying the Lord was put up at Shri Baba Lal Dyal Mandir in New Shivaji Nagar where a sankirtan was also held.

Beautiful tableaux depicting Lord Vasudev, Radha-Krishna and Lord Shiva were put up at New Shiv Shakti Mandir in New Kitchlu Nagar.

At Krishna Mandir in Model Town, Mr Dawar inaugurated electrically-operated tableaux. A Raaslila was enacted at Mata Vaishno Devi Mandir in Swatantar Nagar.

At Shri Gyan Sthal Mandir, near Subhani Building, the centre of attraction was the artificial garden of fruits created by the organisers.

Janmashtami was celebrated with the same fervour at Shri Sanatan Dharam Mandir in New Model Town where electrically-operated tableaux attracted children.

Similar functions were held at Draupdi Mandir in Madho Puri, Shri Ram Bhakat Hanuman Mandir, new Madho Puri, Shri Durga Mata Mandir, Durga Puri, Haibowal Kalan, Shiv Mandir, Gau Ghat, and Vaishno Devi Mandir, Division No. 3 chowk.

The Aastha Sewa Sangh organised a langar in Mochpura Bazaar. Among the schools which celebrated the day were Shefally Public School, SDP Model Senior Secondary School, Wizkid Playway School, Blue Bells and Little Blossom.

Janmashtami was celebrated at Amloh, Bhadson and Mandi Gobindgarh. Sant Lachhman Chetanji Maharaj from Maharashtra recited a “katha” at Hari Har Mandir, Bhadson.



ISP indifferent as subscribers cry foul
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
If you think getting an Internet connection nowadays is a hassle-free job, ask Mr Satinder Singh of Momentum InfoTech, a city-based IT company that exports software worth over $ 10,000 every month. After a smooth initial operation, the company realised that the Internet service provider (ISP) had started billing it for services in violation of the contract.

The ISP in question, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), formerly Dishnet DSL, says the consumer ought to have gone through the fine print before creating a ruckus.

Irrespective of who is to blame, software exports from the company are suffering and the ISP, which has now become VSNL Tata Indicom following a takeover by the Tata group, says, “Company policy is something that every client has to adhere to.”

However, when contacted, the ISP did not have any satisfactory answer to other serious allegations levelled against the it by its clients. For example, Momentum Info Tech officials allege that although the VSNL Tata Indicom (Dishnet) has a total installed capacity of only 8 MB bandwidth for the city, it has sold more than 20MB bandwidth to city residents making their connectivity sluggish and unresponsive.

This, Mr Satinder Singh says, amounts to cheating as you are selling something that you do not have. The company, however, refutes this and says, “We sell only what we are authorised to”. It did not, however, give any further details.

Another grouse of the subscribers is that the VSNL Tata Indicom is charging its broadband subscribers Rs 30,000 (Rs 500 chargeable for 60 months) for a modem that is available in the open market for Rs 1,500. Mr Singh has demanded that this overpricing should be investigated into. He says if no suo motu action is taken, he will have no choice but to approach the consumer court.

He says there are several other clients like him who are being made to suffer despite their having paid annual service charges in advance.

Giving details of his case, he says, “In January, Dishnet DSL submitted a quotation for providing lease-line service. Momentum Info Tech accepted their quote the same day and entered into an annual contract for which the payment was made and the connection activated.

Dishnet provided services for a few months as per contract and after that it started raising invoices and demanded Rs 500 per month extra towards rent of the modem. “It is in violation of the contract as we have already paid for one year in advance as per the quotation provided to us,” he says.

“Without giving any notice, the ISP disconnected the Internet service to Momentum Info Tech, a 100 per cent export-oriented company. As our entire work is done through communication over the Internet, it caused a huge loss to the company,” he adds.

When contacted, a VSNL representative from the Customer Care cell, Mr Pritpal Singh, admitted the connection had been disconnected. “As per the company’s policy, we made three phone calls to the subscriber before disconnection. However, no written notice was served on the company,” he adds.

Mr Inderjit Singh, another subscriber, said the company was offering 100-hour free connection with a 100-hour dialup connection, but the Internet connectivity was very poor. The company spokesperson, however, refuted all allegations.



Youths seek action against placement agency
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 7
Even after 10 months of the registration of an FIR under against the owners of a placement agency, two youths of nearby Bapla village are making rounds of various offices to get the inquiry completed and the challan presented in the court.

While these youths have sought justice from the Chief Minister, the mother of one of the accused has claimed that her son is innocent and she has reportedly, through the State Congress Bhavan, demanded an inquiry into the said case registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.

According to the FIR registered at the Model Town police station, Ludhiana, on October 28, 2003, Sarabjit Singh and Sukhbir Singh of Bapla village were allegedly duped of Rs 7 lakh by Gurpreet Singh Sakhi and Captain Laddi, office-bearers of a placement agency of Chandigarh.

Sarabjit, a mechanical engineer landed in the Tihar Jail after the placement agency hoodwinked him by sending him for an interview to the Canadian Embassy with forged papers after taking Rs 4 lakh from him. The youth, who has done BE (Mechanical), has not only lost Rs 4 lakh in the bargain, but also faces a bleak future due to the registration of a case of cheating against him on the complaint of the Canadian Embassy.

His friend, Sukhbir Singh, also of the same village, was a bit lucky. He has also paid Rs 3 lakh to the Chandigarh-based agency and was waiting for his turn at for an interview at the embassy. Following the controversy over his friend’s papers, he made good his escape and was saved. It was on his complaint that an FIR was lodged against two office-bearers of the placement agency on October 28 last year.

The two youths are disappointed over the role of the police. Though prima facie findings revealed that the office-bearers were involved in preparing fake documents for getting them jobs in Canada, the police has not presented a challan in this respect in the court. Instead, it has been pressing them to compromise with the accused.

The mother of one of the accused has recently approached the investigating agency through the office of the Congress Bhavan at Chandigarh for getting the case cancelled.

She, however, has put up a contrasting story before the police. Pleading innocence of her son, Ms Sukhjit Kaur has accused the Ludhiana police of having registered a false case at the instance of a senior police official, who is reportedly related to Sarabjit and Sukhbir. Though she has denied that papers were prepared by her son, counsel for the placement agency had earlier contended in the court that those had been prepared by Mr Gurpreet Singh on the behalf of his associate.

The youths have once again urged the higher authorities, to order a probe into the matter.



Unemployed teachers meet Johar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, DIET Students Welfare Union, Newly Appointed Elementary Teachers Union staged a joint protest march in support of their demands here today. A deputation later met Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar who assured them that their demands would be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, president of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, said that they were protesting against the contract policy being followed in the recruitment of teachers. Thousands of posts of regular teachers were not being filled since the government wanted to employ teachers on contract. This has put a question mark on the job security of thousands of teachers.

Sensing a law and order problem the police made elaborate security arrangements and asked the agitators not to march to the resident of the Education Minister. The minister, who was away to Chandigarh, was contacted. He agreed to come to Ludhiana and meet the deputation of the union.

The deputation met him on his arrival. Mr Johar assured them that he would discuss the matter with the Chief Minister. He urged the agitators to desist from pursuing an agitational path. Such issues can only be solved through a dialogue, he stressed.

Earlier, hundreds of protesters, including women, from various parts of the state assembled at the Grain market on the Gill road and raised slogans against the government. They later on marched to the park and patiently awaited for the outcome of the talks with the Education Minister which went on till late in the evening.



Ludhiana Calling

A common saying here goes that servants are necessary evils. Every household here has at least one servant. Though they are occasionally associated with crime, no household can do without them. If not criminals, they are the sure ones to spread infections in various houses. Most of them live in slums, where infectious diseases are commonly reported. They catch infection and then visit houses every day, thus passing infection on to the others. So whenever a member of your family is down with infection, be it a viral fever, eye flu or any other contagious disease, you think of your servant as the carrier.

Colour yourself

Some journalists who spent hours in the scorching sun to cover the ninth death anniversary of former Chief Minister Beant Singh at Payal last week were a disappointed lot as politicians did not say anything worth taking note of, besides top leadership being in Amritsar to participate in the quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib where President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was in attendance. As if a tiring day was not enough, most scribes returned with red colour on the back of their shirts from the chairs of the tent house. Journalism is after all not as glamorous a profession as some feel.

What comfort?

The Government of India is making an all-out attempt to provide facilities to senior citizens, but the Treasury Office here continues to be a pensioner’s nightmare. Every month hundreds of old people, some accompanied by their grandchildren, line up at the office in Mini Secretariat only to be pushed and jostled around to get what is rightfully theirs. They have to walk a long distance to the pension window, as the building also houses the SSP Office and no vehicle is allowed near the building. Also, there are no seating or drinking water arrangements. Totally ill equipped to handle the growing rush, the official machinery completely collapses for at least the first week of the month when the rush for pension is at its peak. Many people now prefer to go for their pension after the first week.

Road kings

City roads are abounding with stray cattle, many of which cause serious accidents. All that victims can do is nothing but blame their fate for something that civic authorities can easily prevent. The situation is so bad that it is no longer cows and buffalos that occupy the roads, bulls too sit in the middle of busy roads such as one in front of Deepak Theatre. At the local Civil Hospital, patients are not greeted by doctors but by canine friends, who are not always in an obliging mood. Many lives can be saved if voluntary organisations come up with a method to remove these unwanted animals from city roads.


Markets of the town, which had been wearing a deserted look lately, have suddenly become alive, thanks to festival season, which started with Raksha Bandhan. Several business houses, reputed or otherwise, have put up huge sales offering as much as 50 per cent discount on select items. Others who have not put up sales so far are likely to follow suit in the days to come. Because this is a city where no one wants to miss the bandwagon.

Cops vs ruffians

The city has become an ideal hunting ground for thieves, burglars, tricksters and gangsters. The police, which is ridden with corruption and lack of discipline, is not getting the respect it should otherwise get from these unsocial elements. To top that, these ruffians are feeling bold enough to beat up a cop or two every now and then. Only a couple of days ago, men working for the rail-parcel “mafia” attacked a PCR policeman and tore his uniform. Another cop was pushed aside when he tried to intercept a carrier with hosiery bundles stacked on it. The vehicle was bound for the railway station where goods are still being booked without proper billing to evade sales tax.

Clever advertisers

An advertising agency tried to pull a fast one on the Municipal Corporation here and succeeded also, albeit for a short while. Ads of different companies were splashed on quite a few canopies (traffic umbrellas) at important intersections in the city without any permission. The “enterprising” ad agency took advantage of the lack of coordination between the city traffic police and the MC administration as both were being told that the other had approved of the project. After much ado, the civic body ordered removal of ads and dismantling of canopies. The agency felt the slippery ground under its feet and agreed to pay up.

Festival spirit

It was a day of festival spirit all around the city on the occasion of Janmashtmi when people from all walks of life made a beeline to temples to pay their obeisance to Lord Krishna. They utilised all kinds of resources available to reach temples. A family of a rickshaw-puller was seen going to one with the man pulling his children and wife seated on the rickshaw with a small umbrella to escape the hot sun. Even if they did not have the luxury of a car, the spirit of the festival was writ large on their faces.

Hardly a Captain!

Industrialists were in for disappointment when Capt Amarinder Singh failed to turn up for an interaction with them last week. Industrialists had been looking forward to soothe themselves by narrating their woes in this meeting with the Captain, who remained occupied with his meetings in Delhi and later Chandigarh. So much was the disappointment that industrialists dubbed his meeting with Minister of Finance and Planning, Punjab, Surinder Singla fruitless. While Principal Secretary Industry and Commerce S.C. Agrawal made unsuccessful attempt to pacify them, one of the industrialists did not hesitate in saying: “Captain sahib kol taan sadde layi time hi nahin, uh taan Dilli hi bhajjey rehndey han” (Captain does not have time for us, he prefers visiting Delhi). While the Finance and Planning Minister did came out with a number of promises to comfort them, his offers, it seemed, did not work enough. — Sentinel



Free liquor and that too as ‘prasad’
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Kounke Kalan (Jagraon), September 7
Bacchus lovers have never had it so good — thanks to a Muslim seer, Baba Roodu Shah, whose dargah attracts thousands of devotees who offer liquor as a sign of their gratitude after their wishes have been fulfilled. Men, women and children from all parts of the state and neighbouring regions converge, here to offer liquor and take the same back in the form of “prasad”.

The one-day annual fair is held close to the Nanaksar Kaleeran Gurdwara on the Ludhiana-Moga road, 54 km from Ludhiana. Devotees as a ritual bring liquor. It is then mixed with other brands of liquor brought as offerings and given to devotees as “prasad”.

Most people come here for thanksgiving while many come to enjoy the free booze distributed from chabeels. All this happens every year under the vigil of the Jagraon police. It is estimated that 10,000 bottles of liquor are offered at the fair.

Mr Pritam Singh, president of the Samadhi Management Committee, said, “The fair is not just about offering and drinking liquor, we offer prayers too. People come here with devotion. There is nothing wrong with the tradition that has been going on for 40 years”.

People believe that Baba Roodu Shah underwent austere penance and was blessed with mystical powers. People believe that childless couples offering liquor at the samadh are blessed with children. According to Sukhdev Singh, there is a popular belief that 180 years ago a disciple of Baba Roodu Shah offered him 1,25,000 bottles of liquor although he, himself was a teetotaller. He distributed the same among his devotees thereby starting the tradition of offering liquor at the samadh.

Police officials who did not wish to be quoted said no formal permission was given for holding the fair but the administration allowed as it did not want to hurt the sentiments of the people.



Doctor’s arrest decried
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
Over 35 local doctors have expressed their anguish at the arrest and registration of a criminal case under Section 304 of the IPC against Dr Harjit Singh of Oswal Hospital in connection with the death of a patient allegedly due to administration of a wrong injection.

In a signed statement issued here today they said it was unfortunate and shocking that the doctor had been booked in a case of murder (culpable homicide) where a motive or conspiracy has to be one of the factors, which was not there in this case.

Moreover, the Supreme Court of India had in a recent judgement ruled that doctors could not be booked under Section 304, holding them responsible for death due to negligence.

“The police has ignored this judgement of the apex court and chosen to proceed against the doctor in contravention of the ruling for reasons best known to them.”

The doctors further apprehended that the case had been registered under duress and political pressure and the arbitrary action of the police had created a panic among the medical fraternity, which could also have a demoralising effect and hamper their services to the suffering humanity.

They accepted that any wilful negligence by medical personnel needed to be dealt with as per the provisions of the law in the interest of both the medical profession and members of public. But the steps, which were otherwise in violation of the legal provisions, would bring alienation and widen the gap between medical professionals and people. Such a development could have an adverse impact on providing health services to the patients.

The doctors have asked the SSP to amend the FIR in the case so as to remove the Section 304 of the IPC from the case and to hold a thorough inquiry conducted into the facts of the case before proceeding further in the matter.



Security beefed up at Maksoodra village

Doraha, September 7
Security has been tightened at Maksoodra village in the wake of the “barsi” of Sidh Baba Nanu Shah and the ongoing tension between two groups over the Dhakki Sahib issue.

The Bhog of Sri Akhand Path will be performed tomorrow in memory of Sidh Baba. However, one of the groups, people of Guria Patti, is planning to organise Taraksheel Mela at the disputed land, which has been opposed by the followers of Darshan Singh i.e. people of Channo Patti. Tension between the two groups has been prevalent for the past many years now, but the situation becomes sensitive especially during “barsi”.

Police officials, including DSP and SHO, Payal, as well as SDM reportedly visited the spot and made efforts to relieve tension. They reportedly convinced people of Guria Patti to change the venue of their Taraksheel Mela so that it could be conducted peacefully.

Although tension seems to have subsided for the time being with the change of the venue, the security of the place has been tightened as a precautionary measure. OC



Vishvakarma road in bad state
Our Correspondent

Doraha, September 7
The Vishvakarma Road here is in bad condition as the entire stretch is full of potholes that cause inconvenience to not only the passers-by, but also residents whose houses are situated along the road.

According to daily commuters, the road is in the need of immediate repairs. But the municipal authorities seem completely oblivious to the situation. At some places, it appears as if no road ever existed there.

The irony of the situation is that the committee office is situated along the same road and the officials concerned themselves have to face problems due to the bad condition of the road.

The potholes are growing in size day by day and in the rainy season, when these will get filled with water, these will pose a danger to the lives of passers-by.



Tax Bar’s pen-down strike today
Our Correspondent 

Mandi Gobindgarh, September 7
The Tax Bar Association of Fatehgarh Sahib district at a meeting held here yesterday condemned the police action against advocates at Lucknow. The meeting was presided over by its President, Mr Ashwani Abrol. The association demanded strict action against the police officials responsible for the brutal action. It was also decided to observe a pen-down strike tomorrow to express solidarity with the advocates of Lucknow. A dharna will also be organised.



Power staff to hold dharna tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, September 7
Mr Jaswant Singh, circle president of TRW Electricity Board, Jagraon, Mr Bhupinder Singh, President Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Amrik Singh, President, Punjab Roadways Department, Mr Sucha Singh President, Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Paramjit Singh, President of the Repair workshop union, Punjab Roadways have given a call to its members to participate in a dharna to be held on September 9 in front of the office of the local SDM. It is being held to press the government to issue 7.5 per cent house rent allowance instead of 5 per cent in view of the government notification dated January 9, 1998 as the population of this town has crossed to 60,080 as per 2003 census, which is more than 50,000.



Man held with illicit methanol
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
The Division No. 6 police yesterday arrested Manmohan Seth, a resident of Transport Nagar, and seized 80 drums of methanol.
The complainant, Mr Roop Singh, Assistant Food and Supply Officer, had stated to the police that the accused had been hoarding and selling the petrochemical without obtaining the required permission from the Civil Food and Supply Officer.

A case under various Sections of the Petroleum Act and Section 285 of the IPC has been registered against him.

Auto-rickshaw stolen: On the statement of Mr Avtar Singh, a resident of Friends Colony, the Salem Tabri police yesterday booked unknown person(s) for stealing his auto-rickshaw from Jassian village on Sunday evening.

The police said it was clueless about the theft. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Copyright violation: The Division No. 2 police yesterday registered a case under various Sections of the Copyright Act and Section 292 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Kalsian Wali Gali in Murad Pura, against Shekhar Gupta, who lives on the Kalgidhar Road.

The complainant had stated that the accused used to prepare duplicate and pornographic CDs and sell these in the market opposite the local bus stand. No arrest has been made so far.

Knife seized: The Division No. 2 police yesterday arrested Baljinder Singh, a resident of street No. 5 of Guru Arjan Dev Nagar, and seized a flick knife from his possession and booked him under the Arms Act.

Hooch seized: The Civil Lines police yesterday arrested Kishan Dev, a resident of street No. 2 of Chaman Nagar, and seized nine bottles of hooch from his possession and registered a case under the Excise Act against him. The accused was nabbed near the “dharam kanda” in Shekh Nagar, the police said today.



  Head Constable killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Khanna, September 7
Lajwant Singh, a Head Constable of the Punjab Police was killed and his associate, Swarn Singh, was injured when their scooter was hit by a truck near Jarg village, 15 km from here today.

The truck driver was caught by some passers-by and handed over to the police. The police had registered a case.

In another incident one person was killed when he was hit by an overspeeding vehicle near Alaur village on the G T road today. The body was sent to Civil Hospital for post-mortem.


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