L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Plaque of Sekhon’s statue replaced 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
The plaque that had gone missing from the statue of Param Vir Chakra winner Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon recently was replaced on the eve of Vijay Divas here today.
Plaques from the statues of Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon and Major Bhupinder Singh, mentioning the contribution of the martyrs, had gone missing a few days ago.

The Deputy Commissioner had ordered the immediate replacement of the plaques yesterday. He had even directed the district police to conduct an inquiry into the case besides registering a case.

While the plaque on Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon was replaced today, the three plaques missing from Major Bhupinder Singh’s statue were still awaiting replacement.

The new plaques are made of marble, while the earlier ones were made of brass. The administration suspected that the plaques had been stolen as these had a good scrap value.

The plaque replaced today mentions the contribution of Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, who belonged to Issewal village and was decorated with the Param Vir Chakra posthumously.

It mentions that the sublime heroism, supreme gallantry, flying skill and determination and the call of duty displayed by Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon in the face of certain death had set new heights in the Air Force traditions.

He was a pilot of a Gnat detachment based at Srinagar for the air defence of valley against Pakistani air attacks. On December 14, 1971, Srinagar airfield was attacked by Sabre aircraft.

Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon was on readiness duty at that time. Around six enemy aircraft began bombing and strafing the airfield. In spite of the danger of attempting to take off during the attack, he engaged a pair of attacking Sabres. In the fight that ensued, he secured hits on one aircraft and set another on fire.

By this time, other Sabre aircraft came to the aid of their hard-pressed companions and Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon’ Gnat was again outnumbered. This time by four to one.

Despite being alone, the officer engaged the enemy in an unequal combat. In the fight that followed, at treetop height, he almost held his own, but was eventually overcome by the sheer weight of numbers. His aircraft crashed and he was killed.

The day is observed by the district administration every year outside the mini secretariate and the statues of Flt Lt Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon and Major Bhupinder Singh, who lost their lives fighting for the country in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, are garlanded.



CPM rejects Johl panel report
Tribune News Service

Prof Balwant Singh
Prof Balwant Singh

Ludhiana, December 15
The state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today rejected the recommendations of the Johl Committee, set up by the Punjab Government to explore ways for agriculture reforms in the state. The CPM said in case the recommendations of the Johl Committee were implemented, it would lead to a recurring loss of Rs 1,400 crore to farmers every year, besides others.

Addressing a press conference here today, the state secretary of the CPM, Prof Balwant Singh, said the measures suggested by the Johl Committee were not suitable for Punjab. He opposed the concept of contract farming in Punjab, saying that it would harm the interests of farmers.

The CPM leader expressed displeasure over the functioning of the state government, saying that it had gone from bad to worse. He claimed that when the Akali-BJP government, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was voted out, the state had a debt of Rs 30.000 crore, which had now crossed Rs 73,000 crore.

He said the dropout rate in schools in the state was increasing, the condition of hospitals was bad and the agricultural economy was witnessing a downslide. He maintained that the way the water table was going down, most of the land in the state would turn barren in the next 15 years.

The CPM leader said the party would hold a three-day conference from January 24 at Mansuran near here. The conference would be addressed by senior party leaders, including Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Mr Sitaram Yechury and Mr Parkash Karat.



Imagine whose command DMCH employees obey!
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 15
Even the tragic railway accident at Mukerian did not move the striking employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) to join their duties. Despite repeated requests by the management, doctors and even their own leaders, they were not prepared to work thinking it to be the best occasion to strike a bargain. But a warning phone call from a police official did not leave the striking workers with any other option but to join their duties.

Sources in the DMCH said when some officials in the district administration sounded an alert to the hospital authorities to remain prepared in the wake of the probability of some patients being referred to Ludhiana, the employees refused to join duties. With the result that the hospital authorities had to tell the district administration to keep the inflow of accident victims to minimum as the striking employees were not prepared to work.

Ultimately, a local police official reportedly called up a leader of the striking employees and told him in no uncertain terms to ask his colleagues to join duty at such a critical hour. Unconfirmed reports said the leader of the striking employees was even given a veiled threat in that regard.

Although the hospital authorities expressed relief that the employees had joined duties, they regretted that it was someone else and not the hospital officials whom the employees had obeyed.

The faculty of the DMCH wants action against the striking employees. The faculty has passed a resolution to terminate the services of the kingpin of the strike.



23 vehicles being run on domestic LPG challaned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
The district administration today challaned 23 vehicles as these were being run on LPG. Following directions of Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma, a special drive was launched to check illegally plying of vehicles using LPG ment for domestic use.

Owners of vehicles having registration numbers of Ludhiana had also been issued show-cause notices by the District Transport Officer as to why the registration certificates of their vehicles be not suspended, Mr Verma said.

The LPG cylinders being used in these vehicles had been seized, he added.

The owners of these vehicles had been given a week to reply to the show-cause notices. They had been also called upon to provide information in a week as to from whom or from which gas agency did they obtain the LPG cylinders.

If it was found that the gas agency owners knowingly sold the cylinders for use in automobiles, action would be taken against them also, Mr Verma said.

He said the checking was conducted by a joint team of officials of the Transport Department and the Food and Civil Supplies Department.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, District Transport Officer, and Mr Rakesh Bhaskar, District Food Supplies Officer, said using LPG cylinders, which were ment for domestic use, in automobiles was illegal.

However, they clarified that the government had allowed the installation of LPG kits in automobiles, but this permission was valid only on the use of certain kits. The use of domestic cylinders in automobiles was still illegal, they pointed out.

The checking was undertaken in the wake of shortage of domestic LPG.



23 students hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 15
Today, early in the morning a school bus of the local Nankana Sahib Public School carrying about 40 schoolchildren overturned near Gehlewal village, 5 km from here, resulting in 23 children receiving injuries, some simple and some grievous. One seriously injured student was referred to a hospital in Ludhiana.

According to reports, the bus driver had lost control on the vehicle. A milk tanker reached the spot after 25 minutes and its driver brought the students to the local Civil Hospital where they were given first aid.

Dr Satinder Singh and Dr Shashi Kant said the seriously injured student, Shubhpreet Kaur, had been referred to the CMC, Ludhiana.

The injured students are: Harpreet Kaur, Amrinder Singh, Prabhjot Kaur, Devinder Kaur, Shubhpreet Kaur, Gurtej Singh, Amardeep Kaur, Sukhman Singh, Prabhjot Kaur, Shubhpreet Kaur, Paramvir Singh, Gulnar Kaur, Amandeep Singh, Arwinder Kaur, Yaadavinder Singh, Ramandeep Kaur, Sharanjeet Singh, Amrinder Singh, Bhushanpreet Singh, Sarbjot Singh, Kamal Kaur, Avtarpreet Singh and Khushil Kaur.



Tantriks dupe man
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
The lure of a male child after four daughters led a local resident into the trap of two tantriks who duped him of Rs 23,000 in the name of ‘ensuring’ the birth of a son.
The victim, Sucha Singh, has lodged a complaint against tantriks Baby Delhi Wala and Abdul Mazid Kadri of Malerkotla in the Division No 7 police station, charging them with fraud and cheating. He said he gave them his hard-earned money to have a son, but was again blessed with a daughter.

The FIR states that the tantriks had told him that there was some problem in his stars and they had the remedy. He gave the money, but realised later that he was taken for a ride.



Activist’s attempt puts drug peddlers on the run
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 15
The daring attempt by a physically challenged social activist to hold an alleged drug peddler, who tried to supply psychotropic substance to an addict in a private hospital in Ludhiana, has pushed drug traffickers on the run.

Those elements, who had been operating openly in this area for more than six months, have now become passive. Meanwhile, local social organisations have appreciated the role of the activist in fighting with the drug traffickers.

Sources revealed that a large number of youths predominantly from the upper class of the society had fallen prey to drugs and narcotics during the past couple of years. The reported trend of increased involvement of youths further spread the evil among individuals of the lower strata, too.

While some addicts became slave to drugs, others turned to be traffickers and succeeded in getting the patronage of political giants for their protection. Though the police had enough knowledge of the supply of these drugs from certain points in the town and surrounding villages they could not arrest them for the obvious reasons.

Worried over the future of their wards, some parents took the advice of doctors at private hospitals and drug de-addiction centres at premier medical institutes of the state. Victims included a large number of sportspersons of the area and some students of professional colleges.

Though Jaggie Chahal a physically challenged youth of Kanganwal village, had been trying to trace the elements who used to supply drugs to his cousin, he could not catch them. He ultimately nabbed the trafficker who had supplied smack to his cousin at the private hospital.

The police in Basti Jodhewal in Ludhiana caught another smuggler Vicky, but the SHO had allegedly let the youth go free reportedly after taking a written apology and assurance from the accused and his parents.

Meanwhile, the local units of the Kalgidhar Federation, the Subhash Chander Bose Society and the Bharat Vikas Parishad have appreciated the role of the youth in fighting with the elements involved in the illegal trafficking of drugs and narcotics.



Road withers away in 2 months
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
Less than two months after the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation recarpeted a stretch of the Ferozepore road, from the local milk plant to octroi post, it has withered away with patches appearing on it. The repair work is on to cover up these patches.

This puts a question mark on the quality of material used by the contractor while recarpeting the road. The road was reportedly recarpeted in November this year, but the top layer started peeling off after a few days only.

Daily commuters said the material used for recarpeting was of inferior quality. The entire stretch of the road would soon require repairs, they said. They demanded an inquiry into the episode.

A visit to the site revealed that huge patches had appeared on the road with the top layer coming off. The contractor had asked his workers to do the patch work.

His workers claimed they had recarpeted the road on November 2, but the top layer got weakened and started peeling off due to rains that lashed the region soon after.

They added they were told to carry out repairs as the residents had started complaining. They also said that the contractor could not repair the entire road now.

“The condition of the road clearly indicates that the material used for recarpeting was of inferior quality. Why is anybody not looking into the details? After all this is the public money which is being wasted,” said a resident.

Even after the patch work, it is not going to be a smooth ride for commuters, residents said.



Shock and grief expressed on rail accident
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 15
Activists of the Lal Bahadur Shashtri Social Forum today observed a two-minute silence and expressed grief over the loss of human lives in the train accident near Mukerian yesterday.

Mr Sushil Malhotra, president, and Mr Shiv Gupta, secretary general of the forum and member of the Railway Consultative Committee, attended a prayer meeting here.

They demanded strict action against erring Railways officials, including the station masters concerned, for their negligence in giving signal to both trains to run on the same track.

They said it was quite surprising that more than Rs 17,000 crore were spent on railway safety measures every year, yet the number of rail accidents was on the rise. “More than 40 major rail accidents have occurred since 1990, but the Railways authorities have failed to learn a lesson,” they said.

The forum has demanded Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of deceased passengers. It appreciated Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav for offering a job to a member of each victim’s family. It also called for sacking the General Manager, Northern Railway, and the DRM, Ferozepore.

The Moulder and Steel Workers Union, the Hosiery Workers Union, the Mazdoor Union, the Istri Bhalai Sabha and several other trade unions have condoled the death of 37 passengers in the train accident and have prayed for speedy recovery of those injured in the mishap.

In a joint statement issued here today, activists of these unions have demanded adequate compensation for the families of deceased passengers and proper medical care of the injured.



Mistaken identity has kin worried
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
A case of mistaken identity of an injured youth in the Mukerian train accident had sent the family of an electrician in Harbans Pura in a tizzy, with anxious relatives and friends rushing to the accident site, besides visiting various hospitals in Jalandhar and elsewhere in search of missing persons.

Everybody heaved a sigh of relief when the youth, Pawan Kumar, who runs an electric goods repair shop in the colony, returned home safely early this morning with his wife, mother and two children safe and sound.

It turned out that one of his sisters-in-law mistook him as an injured person shown on TV channels and alerted others. Pawan Kumar told Ludhiana Tribune that he and his family members had gone to Vaishno Devi a few days ago and were scheduled to return home by train that leaves Jammu in the afternoon.

He said when he reached home in the wee hours today, he was taken aback at the reaction of his relatives and friends, who were in his house. They told him that they had seen an injured youth who resembled him and were searching for him and the others.



Union gives Rs 51,000 for mishap victims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
Activists of the Revenue Patwar Union, Ludhiana, donated Rs 51,000 for the victims of the Mukerian railway tragedy here today, besides observing silence for the departed souls.

They were observing 19th Sadbhavna Divas here today. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Mr Devinder Pal Singh Rampura, former state president of the union, was honoured for translating Guru Granth Sahib in Urdu.

Around 32 employee leaders, who had to face ‘‘repression’’allegedly at the hands of Akali leaders in June 1999, were honoured on the occasion. The state president of union, Mr Gurmel Singh, addressed the gathering.



PSEB staff to observe strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
Protesting against the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and demanding nullification of the Electricity Act, 2003, around one lakh employees of the board will go on one day strike from midnight today.

Mr Parkash Singh Mann, state general secretary of Electricity Employees Front, said they wanted that the board should not be dissolved.

Instead improvements in terms of production and for employees should be made, he said.

The employees also demanded that Rs 126 crore sanctioned by the government should be released for the APDR scheme to the board.

They stressed on the need to fill vacant posts and implement the new pension scheme.



Peer Bauri Shah mela today
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, December 15
The mela of Baba Peer Bauri Shah will be celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervour on the national highway near the police station at Sahnewal tomorrow.
Thousands of devotees visit the samad of the Peer Baba and get their wishes fulfilled. On every Thursday, the devotees come in large numbers to pay obeisance.

According to Mr Barjinder Singh Dhillon, DSP, Sahnewal, and the president of the Peer Baba Bauri Shah Committee, "Every year, on this day, the fair is celebrated by people of the town as well as villagers of the surrounding villages for whom the Peer Baba's samad is a sacred place to be visited with deep faith."

"Special arrangements have been made. A cultural mela shall specially be organised in which famous qawwals and singers, including Mohammad Sadique, Kuldip Manak, Seema Anjan and Reetu Virk, shall participate, Mr Dilpreet Singh, SHO, Sahnewal police station, who is in the organising committee, informed.

The function is being organised with the joint efforts of the Nagar Panchayat, Sahnewal, and the police department. 



Cookery contest at club
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 15
A cookery contest was organised by Cremica at the Luxmi Ladies Club here today.
The contestants prepared salads, sandwiches, desserts using company’s products. Gift hampers were given to the best entries. Members of the club also enjoyed tombola.

Chef Manoj gave a demonstration of the new product range that Cremica planned to launch on Lohri.

The participants also prepared a variety of Christmas-related dishes.

Ms Meera Dhir won the first prize in the pudding-making contest. Garima Gupta bagged the second prize, while Monica Mittal and Surinder Kaur were the joint winners of the third prize.

Mr Prerna Behl won the first prize in the sandwich-making contest. The second prize winner was Ms Rajni Gupta.

In the salad-making contest, Ms Preeti Chabra won the first prize, Ms Aruna Berry got the second prize and the third prize went to Ms Simran.

Consolation prizes were given to Pawan Sabharwal and Ginni Jindal.

Ms Rajni and Ms Samira Bectar were the judges.



Caroling service in CMCH wards

Ludhiana, December 15
A Christmas ward caroling service was held in the hospital chapel of Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here.
The event was organised by the Fellowship Department under the leadership of Rev John Mall, Chaplin and administrative head of the department.

Members of the CMCH family carried lit candles in their hands. The staff and students, divided in four groups, sang carols and Christmas hymns.

Reverend Mall said Christmas was a special time of the year. “All over the world, people, irrespective of caste, creed and colour, enthusiastically celebrate this great festival,” he said. OC



One more held in abduction case
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 15
While the second accused wanted by the Dehlon police in a case of abduction of a minor girl of Jand village has been arrested the panchayat of the village of the youth has approached senior Congress leaders to impress upon the police to review the case and get the investigation done by an officer not below the rank of the DSP.

Sources at the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagraon, disclosed that Gurdeep Singh of Latala village had been arrested by the Dehlon police, which had earlier booked him, along with Lakhwinder Singh of Guram village and his wife Balbir Kaur, for allegedly abducting a minor girl of Jand village on the pretext of getting her married into a prosperous family.

Manjit Kaur of Jand village had accused the trio of abducting her daughter on December 7 when she was alone at home.

The police had earlier arrested Lakhbir Singh but Balbir Kaur is yet to be arrested.

Meanwhile, the panchayat of Latala village has approached Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura in charge of the Congress Kilaraipur, and asked him to impress upon the Jagraon police to review the case after getting the investigation made by an officer not below the rank of the DSP.

Mr Parminder Singh Latala, president of the Block Congress Committee, claimed that Gurdeep Singh was falsely implicated in the case. 



Money exchanger robbed of Rs 4.81 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
A money exchanger was robbed of Rs 4.81 lakh in Raikot late in the evening today by unidentified robbers, who hit him on the head with an iron rod and ran away with the bag containing the money.

The victim, Sikander Khan, was badly injured in the attack. His uncle, Ishaaq Ali, said Sikander was returning home with the money when the robbers, who had come in a white Maruti car, stopped him near Hari Singh Nalwa Chowk. They struck him with an iron rod and fled in the car after robbing him.

Sikander has been admitted to a hospital. Mr Jaspal Singh Dhanoa, SP, Detective, Jagraon, said they had erected nakkas on various roads and sounded a red alert to nab the robbers. A case has been registered.



Canadian citizen assaulted
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 15
Vinod of Mahavir Colony, along with Raju and Binder, allegedly assaulted Mandip Singh Buttar, a Canadian citizen, with sharp-edged weapons. They were also allegedly having a .12 bore gun.

The incident took place when the NRI parked his new car in front of their PCO in Adda Raikot, Agwar Ladhai.

The accused allegedly snatched 200 Canadian dollars from him and damaged his car since they did not want his car to be parked there.

The police has registered a case under Sections 341, 323, 382, 427 and 34 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

Cash stolen: Jaswinder Singh of Jodhan allegedly broke open the cash box of the local gurdwara and stole Rs 2,000.

The police has registered a case under Section 380 of the IPC on the statement of Amarjit Sigh of the same village. The accused has been arrested and cash recovered.



LPG cylinder stolen from Judge’s house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
A thief stole an LPG cylinder from the house of Additional Sessions Judge Vijay Singh yesterday by befooling one of his servants.
The thief claimed that he had come from a gas agency to replace an empty cylinder.

The servant, Bablu Kumar, gave him the empty cylinder and the man went out to bring the new one from his rehri. However, when he did not return for sometime, the servant went out only to find out that there was no one outside.

The Division No 5 police has registered a case.



Industry points out flaws in VAT
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 15
Industry representatives have pointed out flaws in Punjab's VAT Act stating that “it seems to be the worst of all as it is overwhelmingly a statute of penalties”.
Expressing apprehensions about the misuse of authority, the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Punjab's VAT laws included several penalty clauses which needed to be eliminated.

“The Sales Tax Department has already been collecting sales tax and with VAT it will only mean a change of mode. Officials of the department also have the power of cancelling the registration certificate, and we feel this power can be misused,” Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

He said the laws contained a penalty clause on restriction of the transfer of property. “No person against whom any recovery proceedings under the provisions of this act are pending shall create a change on or part with the possession by way of sale, mortgage, gift,exchange or any other mode of transfer, whatsoever of any of its assets,” he said.

The chamber pointed out and condemned the powers with tax officials to search for cash and other valuable things and seize these.

The rates of tax under the VAT area also very high. “At present the general rate of sales tax is around 8 per cent which has been increased to 12.5 per cent,” said Mr Sharma.

He said such stringent measures and penalties would make it difficult
for the industry to even survive.



Biz Clips

: Sara Lee Household and Body Care India has launched an instant shoeshine sponge, Kiwi Express. The company claims consistent performance from first to the last application. It also has a unique liquid level indicator. Available in black and neutral, Kiwi Express is priced at Rs 40, said a company press note. TNS

G. FASHIONS: G. Fashions has introduced its All-Red Christmas Special range of jackets. Mr Gurinder Sood, proprietor, BMR Enterprises, informed that the new range has 14 designs, seven for men and seven for women, available between Rs 750 and Rs 1,400. TNS

HELMETS: Steelbird has introduced a new range of helmets, SB 13 Classic. According to a press note, the helmet offers world class quality, high safety and innovative features. It uses high-impact helmet grade plastic and high-density thermocol which effectively absorbs impact vibrations, the press note stated. TNS

STATE BANK OF PATIALA: On a call given by the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, the bank employees from the Jalandhar zone (that includes Ludhiana) participated in a dharna at the bank head office in Patiala. TNS


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