L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Part of Sidhwan Canal bridge collapses
Repair work was entangled in red tape
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
One half of a bridge over Sidhwan Canal on the Gill road collapsed this morning, causing traffic problems and threat to the canal upstream. The other half was built a few years ago. The repair and maintenance of the bridge was caught in red tape 
for long.

There was fortunately no loss of life. The old part of the bridge, though blocked by temporary walls at both ends, was being used by pedestrians, children diving into the canal and some rehriwallahs.

Now the remaining half of the bridge would have to carry the burden of traffic till the other part is built afresh entirely. An Irrigation Department official said the water flow could be affected if the slab fallen into the canal was not removed immediately. He, however, added that there was no major threat as the flow was not heavy.

The neglect of the bridge is a typical story of bureaucratic inertia. It was closed to traffic two months ago when media reports pointed out some cracks in its surface and pillars. All that the officials did was block access to the bridge.

No repair work was undertaken even as files moved from one department to another with all shirking responsibility.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune reveal that the municipal corporation has washed its hands of the matter saying that the canal is maintained by the Irrigation Department and hence the bridges should also be maintained by this department or the PWD.

Irrigation Department officials, however, point towards the PWD and the corporation. They argue that the PWD constructs while the corporation maintains. On their part, PWD officials claim it is not their job and the corporation or the Irrigation Department should be asked about the delay in the repair work.

The wrangling had also come up for discussion at a meeting headed by the Deputy Commissioner.



Children of affluent families in drug net
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Children of affluent families of Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and Jalandhar are among the main customers of a gang of drug smugglers that was busted recently by the city police. This has been revealed by the scores of calls received on the mobile phones of the four persons arrested in the case. Many of these customers belong to respected families of the city.

The number of customers and the frequency of the supply can be gauged from the fact that the mobile phones of the accused kept on ringing continuously even after they were arrested. Many callers pleaded for the booty and were willing to pay more and were ready to do anything for the purpose.

Yet, despite ruining the lives of many children and their families, the alleged mafia don Rajindra Sharma pleaded for mercy in the name of his own minor children when the city cops swooped on him in a city hotel a couple of days ago.

The accused, while admitting that he was associated with the racket, requested the cops to show mercy as he was the only bread earner of his family living in Madhya Pradesh. He repeated the same plea to the cops in the presence of a Ludhiana Tribune team today. He, however, had no answer when asked what about the children whose lives he had destroyed?

Taking to Ludhiana Tribune he said his children were studying in school and had never touched drugs even though the narcotics were easily available in MP. When asked why was he selling drugs, Rajindra claimed that everybody in his village was into the profession and he had nothing else to do.

These drug addicts were future criminals, said SSP Narinderpal Singh and SP, Detective, Gurpreet Singh. They said 80 per cent of crime occurring these days was the handiwork of a drug addict in need of fast cash to buy drugs.

The gang headed by Rajindra who was the wholeseller along with Sachin and Gaurav, used to give the supply to the second-tier smugglers like accused women Sona and her sister Jitti. These accused then sold off the drugs in small packets of as less as 1 gram quantity to the customers through the retail smugglers like Baljit Bali and Baljit Gora.

The police has stumbled upon many cases where an addict had even sold off his costly mobile phone to get even a supply of drugs.

The SSP said the parents and school authorities should be more vigilant now than before as these gangs were specifically targeting Punjab. The gangs were getting easy customers as the youths in the state had more money to spend than their counterparts in other states.



Gas pipe block caused blast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
The Khanna police has booked the owner, manager and a labour contractor of a steel factory in Doraha where a massive blast caused the death of a labourer and injuries to two others late last evening.

The police today ruled out the possibility of it being a scrap bomb and claimed that a gas pipe had blown due to some blockage.

Those booked are the owner, Mr Bedi, manager Avinash Chander Bansal and labour contractor Mangal Chand.

SSP Parmod Ban said police investigation had revealed that a gas pipe had exploded. He said a forensic examination of the blast site had found no trace of a scrap bomb.

He said the factory owners and other officials were found negligent in the discharge of their duty and had been booked under Section 304 of the IPC. He said the accused had put the lives of many labourers at risk by their negligence in maintaining the pipes.

Some labourers in the factory had claimed just after the blast that a scrap bomb had exploded when recently imported scrap was being moulded in a furnace.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma said he would issue fresh orders to the police and other departments concerned regarding scrap bombs.

A post-mortem examination of the deceased labourer, Subodh Kumar Gautam, revealed that he died due to burn injuries suffered in the blast. The two injured labourers, Ramesh and Karnail Singh, were stated to be out of danger by the doctors at Sidhu Hospital, Doraha.



A wedding gift of AIDS
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Gurmeet Kaur (not her real name) is suffering from AIDS, but she is blissfully unaware of the affliction. A wedding gift from her husband, a driver, who married her in February knowing well that he was HIV positive, Gurmeet Kaur will permanently remain under the shadow of death cast by the disease.

As World AIDS Day was observed today, thousands of people like Gurmeet Kaur remained ignorant about their condition. This has led to an opinion among the medical fraternity that unlike in the case of other diseases, the names of AIDS patients must be made public.

Gurmeet Kaur was married to the driver in February last. He had already tested HIV positive and knew about it. He probably did not deliberately put his wife at risk: it was his ignorance about the seriousness of the disease. He looked upon HIV infection like any other disease for there were no visible symptoms. His wife has already tested positive. She continues to live in blissful ignorance with her husband like any other newly wed woman.

The case came to light during an Indian Medical Association-instituted inquiry conducted by a team of doctors led by Dr L.S. Chawla, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences. The association was looking into charges against a city doctor that she had transfused HIV-infected blood to a woman without testing it. The blood had been donated by Gurmeet Kaur’s husband.

While the inquiry has established that the woman did get the infection from infected blood, Dr Chawla says other issues also came to light during the inquiry, like Gurmeet Kaur’s husband marrying her without telling her of his HIV infection. Dr Chawla said it was “criminal ignorance” if not criminal negligence. He said the man had wittingly or unwittingly destroyed another life and even the children borne by the couple may have the disease.

Doctors maintain that while awareness about AIDS is increasing, there is also a need to publicise the names of those suffering from the disease. While they admit this may be difficult as HIV still carries a stigma, they say it can be countered by creating awareness that HIV spreads only under exceptional circumstances like blood transfusion or through sexual intercourse. One can safely share food with an AIDS patient.



Garcha offers to quit, several ready to step in
Race for Improvement Trust chairmanship
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
With the Improvement Trust Chairman, Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, once again expressing a desire to relinquish his post, a mad race has started among Congressmen for this coveted chair. Disappointed with the rampant corruption and the sorry state of affairs in the Improvement Trust, Mr Garcha is learnt to have decided to call it a day.

Even before the appointment of Mr Garcha, several Congress leaders were in the race for the post. Mr Garcha’s appointment had come as a surprise. But it was mainly due to his honest image and proximity to the Chief Minister. Since then he tried his best to reform and streamline the functioning of the trust, but was ultimately “disgusted” as the corruption had deep roots into the system.

The main aspirants for the post, include the former District Congress Committee (DCC) rural president, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, Mr Rajinder Singh Basant, Mr Surinderpal Singh Bindra (who happens to be a member of the trust), Mr Sony Galib, son of senior Congress leader and former MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, and Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, grandson of late Beant Singh and son of a former Transport Minister, Mr Tej Prakash. Mr Surinderpal Singh Bindra also considers himself to be the best suited person for the post given his experience with the Improvement Trust.

Mr Gurkirat Singh is considered to be among the favourites particularly after his father Mr Tej Parkash was dropped from the ministry. Ever since the family has been lobbying in New Delhi with the Congress high command for some compensatory appointment. The chairmanship of the Improvement Trust is considered to be the best option available with the party.

But Mr Basant and Mr Lapran are also not leaving anything to chance. Both of them are lobbying hard with the party leadership. Mr Basant has been also using the influence of the Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, with whom he enjoys a good equation. Mr Lapran is being supported by the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill.

However, it is not for the first time that Mr Garcha has expressed his desire to resign from the post. He has done it on earlier occasions as well and later decided to continue.



Rallies mark World AIDS Day
Our Correspondent

An awareness march to observe the World AIDS Day was organised by Dr D.N. Kotnis Health and Education Centre in Ludhiana on Wednesday.
An awareness march to observe the World AIDS Day was organised by Dr D.N. Kotnis Health and Education Centre in Ludhiana on Wednesday. — Tribune photo: Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, December 1
The district Health Department held an awareness rally to observe the World AIDS Day here today. The rally was flagged off by Ms Amrit Gill, SDM, from Ramgarhia Senior Secondary School.

Placards, posters and banners were used to generate awareness about the dreaded disease.

Dr Vijay Kakkar, District Health Officer, stressed that people should voluntarily come forward to curb the AIDS menace. An awareness quiz was held on the occasion and winners were given prizes by the department.

Another awareness march to mark the World AIDS Day was organised by Dr D.N. Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital with the active participation of the Lions Club, Ludhiana Royal, Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women, Bharat Vikas Parishad, Geeta Medicos, Rishi Harmilap Nursing Home, Government High School, Chaawni Mohalla and Government High School, Salem Tabri.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, flagged off the rally. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ladhar said 1 per cent of the total population of Punjab was afflicted with AIDS and the disease was spreading like wild fire.

Mr Iqbal Singh Gill, SP (Vigilance), said AIDS was spreading its wings and the police department will cooperate with acupuncture hospital to curb it. Ms Mandajit Kaur, Principal of Master Tara Singh College for Women, said AIDS could be controlled by making people aware about it.



Police not registering case, says resident
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 1
Vanita Saxena (18), a resident of Jawand Vihar locality, near Gurdwara Akal Mandal, was allegedly assaulted by some of her neighbours on November 23. She claimed that her collarbone was fractured. The next day she got herself examined at the Civil Hospital. But the Haibowal police, ignoring the medical report, has refused to register a case of assault in spite of repeated requests.

Vanita has now approached the higher police authorities to intervene into the matter. Describing her tale of woes, she said on the night of November 23, her neighbours came to her house and demanded Rs 200 for getting a common electricity wire repaired. Since they could not afford to pay the money and expressed their inability to do so, the neighbours, Sonu, Vipan, Subhash and Pamma, allegedly assaulted her and other family members, including her mother, father and brother.

Vanita further said when she, along with other residents, went to the police station to report the matter, one of the cops present there even abused them and threatened them.

She has also forwarded copies of her complaint to the Chief Minister and the human rights commission.



Women empowerment plan drawn up: minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Rural Development, Panchayat, Power and Irrigation Minister Lal Singh has said the state government had chalked out a comprehensive plan for women empowerment so that they could be fully involved in the process of national development and social transformation.

He was speaking at a zonal youth festival being held at the Devki Devi Jain College for Women here yesterday. He claimed that important decisions were taken always during the rule of the Congress government in the country.

He said Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had given rights in parental property to women, Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister had proved the worth of women in politics and administration.

Late Rajiv Gandhi had amended the Constitution to give 33 per cent reservation to women in elected bodies i.e. municipalities and panchayats. He further claimed that Ms Sonia Gandhi, President, AICC, had given maximum representations to women at government and party levels.

The minister said the state government was according top priority to provide vocational education to the students particularly to girls, so that they could compete at the international level to avail of the enormous job opportunities created, as a result of the fast development and information technology.

Appreciating the contribution of privately managed educational institutions, he said these institutions were imparting excellent education to students. He said in the present circumstances, it was not possible for the government alone to provide excellent education and health facilities to all students and called upon the private institutions to keep substantial seats reserved for the students belonging to the poor families, so that they could also avail these facilities.

He said in the field of education, the girls were performing much better than the boys. He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the college.

Mr Surinder Dawer, Parliamentary Secretary, Power, Housing and Urban Development, called upon the teachers to inculcate a spirit of self-confidence and patriotism among the girls, so that they could make contributions in the country’s development and social reforms.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, and Ms Prem Singla, Principal of the college.



90pc BSNL staff vote in union poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Over 90 per cent of the 1,400 BSNL employees cast their votes for the second membership verification of the employees union of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in groups C and D here today.

The counting of votes will take place on December 3. The results will be declared the same day. The polling started at 9 am and continued till 5 pm. It went on peacefully at all eight booths in the Ludhiana, SSA. These included booths at Samrala, Khanna and Jagraon and five local booths.



Power tariff cut lauded
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
The local industry had welcomed the reduction in electricity tariffs by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission. Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a press note today that the regulatory commission had ultimately come to the rescue of power consumers in the state.

“The reduction in tariff is a welcome step. The commission, in fact, has rejected the PSEB’s proposal in entirety,” he said.

Mr Sharma said the PSEB’s proposal of tariff based on KVA would have crippled the consumers.



Girl kidnapped from Vijay Nagar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 1
On a statement of Mr Ram Simran, who lives in Vijay Nagar, the Jodhewal police yesterday registered a case under Sections 363,366-A and 120-B of the IPC against Chander Pal, Ram Saran and Chander Bhan, who hail from UP and live in the same locality.

The complainant stated that the accused had kidnapped his 17-year-old daughter Krishna Rani on November 22 and taken her to an undisclosed place. No arrest has been made so far.

One held

The Sarabha Nagar police yesterday arrested Banarsi, a migrant from UP living in Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar, recovered 58 kg of poppy husk from his possession and booked him under the NDPS Act. The accused was intercepted outside Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, said the police today.

Cases of fraud

The Civil Lines police yesterday registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Kulbhushan Kumar, who lives at Baba Than Singh Chowk against Saktir Chand, who lives in the same area.

The complainant stated that he had purchased a plot from the accused and made payment of Rs 2.5 lakh to him. But the accused refused to get the plot transferred in his name, added the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.

Another case of fraud was registered at the same police station under Sections 406,420 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Mr Neeraj Kapti, Manager of the HDFC Bank branch on the Mall Road, against Prem Kumar , who lives in Model Town and Punam Papneja and Mannu , who live in Model Gram.

The complainant stated that the accused had obtained a bank loan to buy a car. But without paying the instalments of the loan, the accused prepared a forged clearance certificate of the bank and sold the car. The accused had thus committed a fraud on the bank, added the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.

The Shimla Puri police has registered a case of fraud under Section 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jagan Nath, Director General, Farm Trade, Green Field, against Parminder Singh, a resident of Street No. 2 of Dashmesh Nagar along the Gill Road now living in Lal Quarters at Azad Nagar.

The complainant stated that the accused got a payment of Rs 5,91,3823 from his company but did not send the export goods as promised by him. The accused had thus committed a fraud on his company. No arrest has been made so far.

Cases of theft

The Civil Lines police yesterday registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Dawar, who runs a shop in a commercial complex on the Mall Road, against unknown persons who broke open the lock of his shop on the intervening night of November 29-30 and decamped with Rs 5000.

Another case of theft was registered at the same police station under Section 379 of the IPC on the statement of Aman Sharma, who lives at New Lajpat Nagar, against unknown person(s) who stole his silver coloured Tata Indica car from in front of a marriage palace located on the Ferozepore road on the night of November 27. No arrest has been made so far.

Cyclist injured

The Division No. 5 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Happy, a resident of Bains village, against the driver of Tata-407 vehicle who hit him near Saggu Chowk on the Ferozepore road on November 27 and sped away. The complainant, who was riding a cycle, was injured and admitted to Arora Neuro Centre. His cycle was also damaged.

Hooch seized

The Sadar police yesterday arrested Balwinder Singh, a resident of Bonkar Dogra village, seized nine bottles of hooch from his possession and booked him under the Excise Act. The accused was intercepted near the seed farm at Laddowal, added the police.



5 booked for forgery
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 1
Lakhwinder Singh of Kothe Sherjang village, Kulwant Singh of Swaddi Kalan village, Jaswinder Singh of Talwandi Kalan village, Jagrup Singh Sohi of Sohian village and Raviraj Darhoj of Gurra village have been booked on charges of cheating various persons on the pretext of sending them abroad.

A complaint in this regard was sent by Mr P.J. Ram, Assistant Director, Legal Affairs, Vigilance, New Delhi, to the IG (Crime), Punjab. The DSP, Jagraon, is investigating the case. A case has been registered against the accused under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.

Poppy husk seized

Gurbinder Singh of Mand Tihara village was arrested by Mr Gurmeet Singh, SHO, Sidhwan Bet police station, and seized 11 kg of poppy husk from his possession. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered.


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