L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Migrant women turn paddy ‘thieves’
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Migrant women have reportedly been stealing paddy from mandis. This disturbing aspect came to the fore during a Tribune survey of mandis in the district. Farmers, especially the older ones, are unanimous that something has to be done to counter this menace which they are reluctant to air openly and cited ridicule by villagers about being “taken in by women.” An insult that most of the farmers are unable to digest.

The farmers said the stolen paddy is sold for Rs 3- 4 per kilo to buyers in makeshift tents outside the mandis.

Octogenarian Bachan Singh of Boparai village said, “I have been left by my sons to guard our produce along with a servant before the stocks are auctioned. I have to camp in the open and by evening my energy is sapped. The servant, too, is tired and after midnight it is impossible to keep awake due to the cold. It is when these women, accompanied by children, descend on the mandi and target older farmers. The day before several quintals of my produce was lifted by 15 - 20 women and children while I chased a small group which was a diversionary tactic,” he pointed out.

This is not an isolated case and he called out to other farmers who too were victims of this band of women. This gang seemingly operates between 11 am and 3 am when most of the farmers are sleeping and there are no market committee employees around.

Another elderly farmer, Jagir Singh of Pamal village, too echoed the grievance. “I was sleeping the other day at 2 a.m. when this horde attacked my mound. I managed to hobble after some of the women but in the meantime another group — which had been lying in wait nearby — rushed in to fill gunny sacks and winnows before running away. By the time I reached back, nearly half of the mound was gone, he lamented.

Coming down heavily on their own families, some of them said it was not the job of elderly men to do what should be done by younger men. “But we are told that you have to sit at home only, so you might as well do something fruitful. The morning tea and meals are brought to us but we are left to fend for ourselves. We do not report most of the thefts since it will not only invite the wrath of our families but also ridicule of villagers of being fooled by women. In a village, such gossip is hard to counter,” narrated a farmer.

Other farmers said they had brought it to the notice of the authorities, but to no avail. A villager said although the market committee was charging Rs 40 as market fees, but no security arrangements had been made.

“During the night time, the mandi is wide open and anyone is free to do what they please. At that hour most of the farmers are fast asleep and awake in the morning to see a major part of the produce has gone. Those fortunate are woken up by neighbours. Now some farmers come together and take turns to guard their produce round the clock,” they pointed out.

Market committee officials were tightlipped about the issue, but added that they were aware of some incidents and would look into the matter.



Daily wage workers not paid for six months
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
As many as 54 daily wage workers of the Municipal Corporation here today claimed that they were not paid salaries for the past six months. In a written statement, Mr Kala Singh, Propaganda Secretary of the Daily Wage Workers Union said that these 54 workers were transferred from Punjab Urban and Development Authority (PUDA) in 2001 to the MC and they were not taken as permanent employees.

He claimed that when they had taken up the issue with the state government, the MC stopped paying them salaries since April 1. He also claimed that all the workers had been working regularly with PUDA for past 15 to 20 years and their 911 counterparts were already regularised by the authorities.

Mr Kala Singh said that they were finding it hard to manage homes and their children were thrown out of schools as they had no money to pay fee. He also said that they were feeling cheated as their juniors were regularised after 240 days of service by PUDA but there was not consideration for their years' work.

Stating that many of the workers had started suffering from mental ailments for not being able to feed their children, the union leader said that they would be forced to agitate of their demands were not met with immediately.

Inquiries revealed that these workers were declared surplus by PUDA three years ago and were then shifted to MC for working as daily wagers. Since then they had been drawing their salaries from MC only. They had filed a court case also as the MC had offered them to regularise their services from the day they joined the MC.

The daily wagers had refused to accept the terms as they had put in 15 years to 20 years of work and their juniors were given appointment in the back date. Since then their case is going on in the court. 



Administration asks LPG consumers not to panic
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 15
The administration has urged the people not to panic and hoard gas cylinders after the owner of the lone gas agency in the town was convicted and put behind bars in a criminal case a few days ago. Since then there has been panic buying as the people felt that it will take sometime before adequate measures were taken to resume supply.

The proprietors of Raj Gas Agency, Dehlon, which has been entrusted with the task of supplying gas to the residents here claims to have made all arrangements for providing uninterrupted supply of gas to around 19,500 consumers of the town and surrounding villages.

The civil administration has assured the local leaders, who had been raising the issue, that supply would be entrusted to the Department of Food Supply if the agency owner did not make enough arrangements for the home delivery.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, a councillor, said the working of the lone gas agency in the town had been paralysed after its owner was sentenced by a court. Now, Bharat Petroleum had entrusted Raj Gas Company, Dehlon, the responsibility of supplying gas to the consumers of the area. This agency could not streamline the supply in the past 15 days, he alleged.

He added that the consumers had to queue up for long time whereas the consumers used to get the commodity at their doorstep earlier.

Ms Anu Kapoor, owner of the agency, admitted that they had faced problems at an initial stage but the things were normal now. She alleged that the employees of the local gas agency had not cooperated.

"But now we have managed our own staff for supplying the gas to the consumers registered with local agency. We have also been assured more supplies by the company officials," she pointed out.

She alleged that the staff of the local agency had not provided them the addresses of the consumers which hindered the home delivery.

The Dehlon agency has now started supply of the refills at the grain market and Hargobindpur colony and home delivery would be resumed soon, she added.

The LPG gas consumers had been facing shortage for around 10 years due to a dispute going on between the owner and another claimant. With a total registration of 19,477 consumers the local agency on an average needed a supply ranging between 600 to 900 refills daily. The supplies to the local agency were abruptly stopped on October 1, as its owner had been sentenced by a court of law.

The Bharat Petroleum Gas company officials then asked the Raj Gas Agency Dehlon to undertake supplies at local town and surrounding villages besides catering to their own around consumers numbering around 2,500. The situation had created a fear among consumers due to ensuing festival season and a section of society had started hoarding gas cylinders.

Meanwhile, the administration took the notice of the reports of short supplies. Dr Indu Malhotra, SDM, Malerkotla, assured a delegation of the consumers that Food and Supplies Department would be asked to undertake the job if the Dehlon agency failed to come up to the expectation of the consumers.



Mixed response to cancellation of Sofats’ registration 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
The cancellation of registration of two doctors running the Sofat Infertility and Women Care Centre on the College Road and the Hira Singh Road by the Punjab Medical Council (PMC) over the issue of the publication of objectionable advertisements has evoked a strong reaction from the medical fraternity of the city. Many have condemned the move by the PMC. But a large number of doctors have hailed the move against Dr Sumit Sofat and Dr (Mrs) Sumita Sofat saying all doctors commercialising the medical profession should be penalised.

The two doctors have already made a representation before the PMC, but at the same time the clinics run by them functioned normally. Nearly 50 other doctors of the state have been issued show-cause notice asking them why their registrations should not be cancelled for issuing objectionable advertisements. Most of these advertisements pertain to the PNDT Act and other sex-related issues and infertility.

Vice-President of the Indian Medical Council (IMA), Punjab, Dr Dinesh Trehan, said that the IMA was concerned over the developments, but it would not interfere in the normal functioning of the PMC or the law of the land.

After failure to comply with a warning from the IMA, Punjab, asking the two doctors not to issue advertisements, the Punjab Chapter of the IMA wrote to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and it had in turn referred the case to the PMC. The PMC has now debarred the two doctors from practising.

Several doctors have now stood united against what they term as malpractice by physicians and surgeons who they accuse of indulging in practices like seeking kickback from clinical laboratories.

The doctors say many physicians and doctors have employed Public Relation Officer (PRO) whose objective is to settle deals with nurses, RMPs, GAMS, homoeopaths and even quacks who refer patients to these doctors and in turn receive massive referral fee.

In fact, many doctors now suggest that there should be a law similar to the PNDT Act that prohibits commissions and middlemen in the medical profession. Many doctors want the PMC to actively intervene and cleanse the medical system. As many doctors have to shell out massive commission, they shirk from heavy investment in good equipment with modern technology.



Dhaba owner jailed for selling narcotics
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 15
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Baldev Singh Sodhi, has sentenced Ranjit Singh of Ramgarh village to 10 years imprisonment on the charge of possessing poppy husk. A fine of Rs 1 lakh has also been imposed upon him.

According to the prosecution, on October 1, 2002, a police party was patrolling near the Kohara chowk.

When it received information that Ranjit Singh was running a dhaba at Ramgarh village on the Chandigarh road and was involved in selling narcotics.

The police raided the dhaba and seized seven bags of poppy husk.

However, the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed false implication. He stated that he was not the owner of the Dhaba and was working there as a helper.



DC’s order to check dengue
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma by an order passed has made it compulsory for all students of all schools in the district to wear dresses which cover legs and arms.

These orders have been passed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to save the children from dengue fever through mosquito bites. The order will take effect from October 21. The DC has fixed the responsibility of DEO (S) and DEO (P) for the implementation in the secondary and primary schools in the district.



Conference of Dalits’ bodies on December 5
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 15
December 5 is the International Day of Dalit Struggle — the World Dignity Day. Hopes and struggles of Indian Dalits, and dignity as a universal human concern, are the axis on which Dalits, Adivasis, unorganised workers, minorities, other marginalized and their organisations have come together for the first time in the recent past. Social movement groups and organisations led by the National Conference of Dalit Organisations have decided to organise a Peoples’ Dignity Rally on December 5 at Ram Lila Grounds in Delhi.

Dalits of all religions and sub-caste backgrounds, minorities, forest people, unorganised workers and women from Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi in Northern India; Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in Southern India: Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand in Eastern India; and Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharasthtra in western and central India will participate in this rally.

The Rally seeks the right to reservation in the private sector, comprehensive legislation to protect the interests of unorganised workers and artisans, especially the weavers, and the implementation of comprehensive land agrarian reforms. The rally also demands that the State and the governments stop the eviction of the forest people form the forestlands, and slum dwellers from their habitations, and accord a Scheduled Caste status to the Dalits among the Muslims and the Christians. The sufferings and miseries of farmers, artisans, weavers, displaced people, unemployed youth and victims of communal riots and sectarian violence must be urgently addressed. 



Badal condemns misuse of state machinery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Former Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal has said that display of muscle power, money power, misuse of official machinery and bullying tactics had become a regular feature of the present day elections. But it was unfortunate that most people were turning a blind eye to this malady.

Mr Badal said that despite all under hand means by the Congress the Akali-BJP alliance candidates will still emerge victorious from both the Kapurthala and Garshankar seats in Punjab. He said that it was high time that political parties and thinkers to sat together and devised ways and means to put a step to such practices. The institutions of democracy, former Chief Minister said was in danger. The conspicuous fall in poll percentage was clearly indicative the fact that a peace loving voter is hesitating of going to the polling booth for fear any violence or disturbance by the political hoodlums. The gross violation of code and conduct and the throwing of al norms to the winds in the recent by -elections to Punjab was an eye opener in this regard, he added. May be it was the result of a panic reaction by Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh at the prospect of his losing post.



Animals treated free of cost

Ludhiana, October 15
The local chapter of the People for Animals (PFA) organised an animal welfare camp on the occasion of World Animal Rights Day today at Vishwakarma Chowk here today.

Besides providing treatment free of cost to sick animals, the organisers also checked the overloading of horses, mules and bullocks.

Owners of the pets were also provided with information regarding rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Pamphlets in Hindi, Punjabi and English were also distributed.

Dr Sandeep K. Jain, president of the organisation, urged the District Magistrate, Ludhiana, to issue orders to check overloading and cruelty to animals. TNS



Scooterist hit by car, injured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
A local resident here has alleged that he was hit by a car while he was driving a scooter near Circuit house on October 6 but the police has not taken any action against the accused.

Mr Kiran Syal of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar said that he was going on an Activa scooter near the circuit house on Wednesday and a Maruti Zen Car (no. RJ-19-0066) being driven by a youth hit him. He received an injury in the head and got stitches besides damaging his scooter, mobile phone and wrist watch.


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