L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Facing harsh weather, callous society
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, December 24
Chandu, a tramp, collects waste papers, cardboard boxes and other such material and sells these to earn some money. Since it can barely give him a square meal, it is unthinkable for him to have a roof over his head. Homeless, he used to sleep in one of the corridors of the market. Some protection at least. But the police chased him out and now he sleeps in the open. Chandu and his ilk, migrants from several states, penniless, homeless and defenceless against extreme cold, have no other option but to sleep in the open despite mercury dipping to extremely low temperatures.

Chandu and thousands like him have not been able to sleep this December as their frail frames and very few woollen clothes are inadequate for them to face the cold, icy winds and low temperatures. They shiver as if suffering from ague, collect all that they can burn to get a few minutes of respite from cold that chills their bones right through.

Most of these people have migrated from states like Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh looking for jobs. But, in spite of their best efforts, they have not been able to find permanent jobs. Ill-equipped to face the wrath of harsh weather and the equally harsh police, which does not allow them to sleep in the vacant market places, they are forced to spend long anguish-filled nights, waiting how long it will take before they become the latest figures in statistics that have died in the cold.

Titu, Kamal, Raghu, all from Bihar, are losing their energy facing harsh weather. They cannot go back as they have no money. They say,” There are no night shelters for people like us. The police drives us away from railway platforms, market places and bus stops. Where shall we keep our meagre bedding? We have to find a place to answer the call of nature. During night, we make a bonfire of waste material to keep ourselves warm.”

People talk of power cuts, cold weather, change in school timings, but no one talks of these homeless people. “Why does the government spend money on useless things? Why can’t it build night shelters for such people. But who cares? They do not bother the conscience of politicians. Even the NGOs are not bothered. They can spend a lot of money on making arches for various processions, but will not do anything for such homeless people who are living under extremely trying conditions,” lamented Prof Zafar.



Man held by Mayor let off
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 24
The drama relating to the nabbing of an unidentified man by city Mayor Nahar Singh Gill yesterday during his khula darbar for overcharging for driving licence forms has proved to be eye wash only as the man was released by the police without any offence made out against him.

The authorities concerned passed the buck about the reason of releasing him as confusion prevailed about the identity of the man and to which department he belonged to. The Mayor claimed that he was an employee of the District Transport Office, the DTO, Mr Kuldip Singh, said that the man did not belong to his office.

He said that he was private person and had nothing to do with him. He added that he had taken up the matter with the Mayor also.

Police officials also refused to divulge details about the case. SHO, Focal Point, Surinder Mohan said that he knew that a man was handed over to them but he had to release him as there was no written complaint against him.

He directed The Tribune to speak to Additional SHO, Dalip Kumar Bedi, who also refused to comment saying that he had to appear in a city court yesterday and the man was let off by the evening when he reached there.

Police sources, however, revealed that the man, whose picture was carried by Ludhiana Tribune in these columns today, was actually a Congress worker. There was a pressure from a political leader who wanted the police to release the man.

The man handed over to Focal Point police by Mayor, Nahar Singh Gill, after he was caught selling forms at a higher price yesterday.

Much to the chagrin of residents, who had paid him as much as Rs 50 for a licence form, no case was registered against him by the police.

The Mayor himself caught hold of him and handed over to Additional Station House Officer, Focal Point, Dalip Kumar Bedi.

He was whisked away in full pubic view from Sherpur Kalan Government School.

Mr Gill, maintained that the man was an employee of the DTO office. He added that he was charging Rs 20 as entry fee for registration in the DTO office from the residents. “I was told by the police that this is the matter. If there is some hanky-panky, I am not in the know how,” said the Mayor.

The DTO said that no such fee was supposed to the be deposited for getting the registration. He added that a form was available for Rs 7 at the counter.

Yesterday, the Mayor was very enthusiastic about the recovery of the poor residents money and had even asked the people to get their names listed with his workers so that their money could be returned to them.



Court orders reprieve for 9 Trust officials
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
As a reprieve for Improvement Trust Officials in Model Town Extension Club case, Additional District and Sessions Judge D.R. Arora today stayed the orders passed by the lower court, for sending them judicial custody for a week.

Arora held, “Since the impugned order is to be reconsidered by the Court in appeal, it is ordered that the operation of the same shall remain suspended till disposal of the appeal. Now the file of the trial court be requestioned for January 19, 2005.’’

Earlier, Ms Ravi Inder Kaur — Civil Judge, had ordered to detain nine officials including Executive Officer — Avtar Singh Azad, in civil prison and also passed orders to attach their properties for disobeying the orders of the court. The orders were passed while disposing of the application filed by the Model Town Extension Club. At the disputed site “Marriot Hotel” exists now.

In appeal the Trust, submitted that the orders were based on wrong facts. It was also pleaded that the orders were not sustainable in the eyes of law. So, the order be stayed. The trust officials had filed the appeal after a delay of one day after the expiry of period of limitation.

Counsel for the Trust pleaded that they come to know about the said orders after publication of a news item. The Ludhiana Tribune had carried a story regarding the conviction of nine Trust officials. Since then they were unaware of the court orders. Thereafter, they applied for a certified copy of the orders and filed the appeal.



Court holidays from today
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
The courts here will remain closed from December 25 to December 31, 2004. Mr Harbans Lal, District and Sessions Judge, has made arrangements for entertaining urgent matters during vacations.

For urgent matters like bail applications, injunction/ stay matters falling within the jurisdiction of Sessions Court, Mr Inderjit Kaushik, Additional District and Sessions Judge, will be available on December 25.

While Mr J. S. Bhatia, Additional Sessions Judge, on December 26, Mr Baldev Singh Sodhi, Additional Sessions Judge on December 27 and 28, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Khaira, Additional Sessions Judge on December 29 and 30 and Mr D.R. Arora on December 31 would be available for disposing of urgent matters.

Chief Judicial Magistrate- S.S. Dhaliwal will entertain urgent civil and criminal matters pertaining to jurisdiction of lower courts on December 25 and 26, Mr Jaspal Verma, JMIC, on 27 and 28, Mr Sangeet Pal Singh (JMIC) from 29 to 31.



Bail plea of Duggals adjourned till Jan 4
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Inderjit Kausik, today adjourned the bail applications filed by directors of the Duggal Group of Companies — Subash Duggal and Sunil Duggal — till January 4. The judge also ordered the prosecution to bring the relevant record.

The duo were accused of duping the government by wrongly taking ‘drawback’ in crores in export transactions. They were arrested on December 16 by officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. Earlier, their bail applications were dismissed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr S.S. Dhaliwal. The accused claimed themselves to be innocent. 



Youth giving up Sikh way of life: Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 24
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti said that educational institutions could play a major role in educating students about glorious past of the community and bring them back to the Sikh way of life.

He was addressing students at Ramgarhia Girls College at Miller Ganj here today. Ms Harmeet Kaur, principal of the college welcomed him.

He said it was a matter of shame that the community was getting apostate as the new generation was brought up in an atmosphere where the Sikh way of life was not followed.

The Jathedar said most of the youngsters do not even know the names of the 10 Sikh Masters. They do not know about of the sacrifices made by martyrs to uphold the honour of the Panth.

Blaming growing westernisation among masses for the decline in values, he said anyone who follows the Sikh way of life is today considered backward while the apostates are considered progressive.

He said educational institutions can play a great role in shaping impressionable minds to adopt Sikh tenets.

The Jathedar also said youngsters should take active part in religious activities.



CPI concern over poor law and order
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 24
The executive committee of the Communist Party of India, Ludhiana, District at a meeting expressed grave concern at the deteriorating law and order situation in the district. In a statement Kartar Singh Bowani- district secretary, Dr Arun Mitra- assistant secretary and Mrs O.P. Mehta, city secretary said that the party felt that the police had utterly failed in checking lawlessness.

They pointed out, on the one hand public is suffering, robberies/dacoities are occurring and innocent people are getting killed, on the other hand large number of police personnel are deployed for the VIP securities. Now when terrorism in Punjab has ended, what is the logic behind security to the VIPs? Party demanded withdrawal of such unwanted security of the VIPs and deployment of this manpower for public security. Patrolling should be increased and police personnel should be imparted people oriented training.



Expansion of Antodaya Anna Yojna
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 24
As the civil administration has initiated the process for the expansion of the Antodaya Anna Yojna here, the municipal councillors have been asked to recommend two to three families of their areas to be included in the scheme.

The limit on the number of recommendations has made the task difficult for the councillors as every area has a big number of such families which want their names included in the list.

The perusal of the guidelines showed that the district administration had been asked to compile lists of the beneficiaries to be brought under the expansion of the scheme in line with the National Common Minimum Programme of the UPA. According to the current Union Budget it has been decided to continue and expand the Antyodaya Anna Yojna to cover an additional 50-lakh Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

Landless agricultural labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans such as potters, tanners, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, slum dwellers, coolies, rickshaw pullers, handcart pullers, fruit and flower sellers, snake charmers, rag pickers, cobblers, etc, have been mentioned as the beneficiaries.

Households headed by widows or terminally ill or disabled persons with no assured means of subsistence and persons with no family or societal support can also be recommended for inclusion in the extended lists.



40,000 challaned for violating traffic rules
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 24
Getting tough with traffic rules offenders, the police challaned more than 40,000 violators this year with special focus on black filming, redlight jumping, without number plate driving in year 2004.

The police focused on vehicles causing pollution, wrong parking and even challaned those who overtook others from the wrong side or were caught in the wrong lane.

The police set new records in challaning men driving two-wheelers without helmets but a similar action against women was found wanting. Against over 8500 men drivers challaned in this category only 9 women drivers were brought to the book.

SP- Traffic Gurdial Singh explained that this was mainly because of two reasons. One- because of the controversy surrounding the Sikh woman drivers and secondly the traffic police had decided to spread education and awareness in this regard this year.

The year witnessed more presence of traffic cops on the roads as compared to previous years. The police also started a new traffic helpline with its exclusive telephone number where people can contact in case of accident or traffic jams. The police was harsh on people arguing with each other after an accident on the road and thus blocking traffic to the inconvenience of others. Such persons were booked for causing jams. This acted as deterrent for others.

The police set up new canopies on road crossings for the benefit of the traffic cops. The police also started special drive against drivers talking over mobile phones. Over 600 persons were challaned for using mobile phones and endangering the life of others.

The police however could not succeed in modernising the traffic wing. The cops on duty at road crossings, red lights were yet to be empowered with wireless sets at which they could catch more traffic violators.

A much-publicised scheme of installing video cameras at main road intersections pending for the last several years still remained on paper only.

The vehicle wise challan figures state that nearly 16,000 scooter, motorcycles figured in the statistics apart from 5268 cars, 436 buses, 1231 trucks, 313 tractor trolleys and as many as 3000 three wheelers.

The police earned revenue of over Rs 70 lakh through challaning this year.

The scheme of installing video cameras at main road intersections pending for several years still remained on papers only. The vehiclewise challan figures show that nearly 16,000 scooters and motorcycles figured in the statistics apart from 5268 cars, 436 buses, 1231 trucks, 313 tractor-trolleys and as many as 3000 three wheelers.



Agitation by IT staff a boon for tax evaders
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
The refusal of income tax employees and officers to perform certain administrative work to go out on field duty for survey during the ongoing agitation, has come as a boon for the business community as no survey or inspection could be carried out during this month to check concealed income.

The department, however, has asserted that the agitation has not been affecting routine tax collection and as far as surveys and checkings were concerned, there was no particular time of the year for this task and these could be conducted at a later date also.

According to Mr Raj Kumar Walia, secretary of the Income Tax Employees Federation (ITEF), the employees and the gazetted officers all over the country had decided to observe “work to rule” during which periodical statements would not be prepared and the staff would not go out on field duty. In support of their pending demands, the ITEF, along with the Income Tax Gazetted Officers Association, had gone on strike on December 14.

The demands include filling of vacant posts, opening promotion to the cadre of Assistant Commissioner and Joint Commissioner, revision of pay scales of ITO’s and inspectors, modification in duty list and promotion of group D employees, besides the withdrawal of the move to bifurcate vacancies of Assistant Commissioners.

The charter of demands had been submitted by the central leadership of the two unions to the Union Finance Ministry.

The Commissioner of Income Tax, Mr Sat Pal, said the agitation was going on at the national level. Admitting that the staff was sticking to its decision of not preparing periodical statements, he said a large chunk of tax collection was automatic.

The collection of advance tax and TDS was on the expected level.

He said there was no particular season for conducting surveys and inspections as these were an ongoing process. “We can initiate action to unearth concealed income at any time of the year,” he added.



Objectionable ads continue to appear in media
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 24
Objectionable advertisements are being placed both in the print and the electronic media with impunity, without attracting any penal action from the health administration which is the enforcement agency in this case. Advertisers have been taking advantage of the “slackness” of the regulatory mechanism to flout law.

As far as unlawful claims are concerned, makers of the so-called wonder drugs and therapies top the list. From obesity, diabetes, heart trouble, sterility, short stature, cancer, epilepsy, leucoderma, and AIDs, these persons have a cure for all ailments. In the process, the relevant provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, are being given a go-by.

Even some reputed health institutions and qualified doctors have also joined the rat race. Unlike the Health Department which has been watching these developments like a mute spectator, the Punjab Medical Council has come down heavily upon the defaulters, even suspending the registration of some medical practitioners and serving show-cause notices on several others. Quacks and other outfits claiming magic cure, however, are still sitting easy.

Going by the advertisement for wonder cure, the legislation enacted with the intention of saving people from such “cheats,” has been rendered worthless.

Under Section 2(c) of the Act, magic remedy has been defined as one including talisman, mantra, ‘kavacha’ and any other charm alleged to possess miraculous powers for diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in humans or animals or for affecting or influencing the structure or the organic function of the body.

It carries provisions which provide for powers of entry, search and seizure of publicity material under Section 8 while Section 9-A of the Act says that the offences, punishable under the Act, would be cognizable. Under Section 7, contravention of any of the provisions of the Act are punishable, in the case of first conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine or with both and in the case of subsequent conviction, with imprisonment which may extend to a year, or with fine, or both.

Even after directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the enforcement agency has not initiated measures in this regard.

The Civil Surgeon Dr Rajinder Kaur, agreed that objectionable advertisements were being published or telecast in violation of the law and the situation needed to be dealt with effectively. She was critical of the role of the police. She said some of the cases were registered more than three years ago but were yet to be decided while some others had been dismissed by court due to poor follow up by the prosecuting agency.



Christmas cards by underprivileged kids in demand
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
Though millions of cards are exchanged as Christmas and New Year greetings every year in the city, the cards designed with creativity and colourful touch, much in demand these days, are the ones made by underprivileged children. The sale of these cards is up and more and more people prefer to buy these for the welfare of these children. Catchy line printed on cards says “I love, feel and cry, and I, too, have dreams”.

These cards have been made by the children of weaker section of society. These talented kids have made beautiful flowers, birds, animals, fruits, sceneries and candles on the cards. On some of these cards, poems have been written by the children themselves. Many cards have specially been made for the Christmas season.

These greeting cards are apparently the same as compared to those available in the markets. The size, shape, the material used is perhaps much better than those being sold at hefty prices in leading stores. One card approximately costs around Rs 8. On the back of the cards, it is printed that “The funds generated by the sale of these cards will help create a better tomorrow for these children with special needs”.

Mr Abhijeet Kumar, owner of a shop in Ghumar Mandi said,”Frankly speaking such cards are bought only by the educated customers who want to help the needy. The teenagers prefer to buy cards which have catchy lines, the musical cards and the scented ones”.

Some of these children are physically challenged, some have a locomotor disability while some are hard of hearing and can not speak. There are others who are blind but give valuable ideas to the colleagues.

Ms Samira Bector of ‘Ek Prayas’ — a school for under-privileged children, who also make such greeting cards, when contacted said majority of the sale of the cards was through contacts. The cards were sent to the District Administration Officials, the members of various clubs, the industrialists, factory owners etc in order to raise funds.



PSSF convention on Dec 30
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) will hold a convention here on December 30 to focus on demands of government employees and to prepare course of action for these demands. Among other trade union leaders, the state president of the federation Mr Mahan Singh Rori will address the convention.

This was stated by Mr Amarjit Singh Pandher, district president of the coordination committee of para-medical and health employees while presiding over a meeting of the association here recently. He called upon the employees to remain prepared for a struggle against anti-employees policies of the government like privatisation of government departments and public sector undertakings, abolition of vacant posts and discrimination in grant of house rent allowance.

Prominent among others present in the meeting were Mr Himmat Singh, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Manjit Singh, Mr Ram Singh, Mr Pal Din, Mr Balvir Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Ajit Singh and Mr Kamikkar Singh.



Pattar now on Net
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
Noted Punjabi poet and president of the Punjabi Sahit Academi Surjit Pattar, who recently returned form his Canadian tour, will talk to lovers of poetry across the globe on www.newpunjab.net chat room. For the first time, a Punjabi poet will be talking to readers on the Internet. Pattar will appear on the website on December 27, 2004 at 6.30pm (Indian time). Since long, Pattar’s readers from foreign universities and colleges were demanding him talk online.

Mr Pattar told that it would be a new experience for him and he would love to answer all questions. Apart form it, he would be able to reach his faraway students winners of the Sahitya Akademi Award.

The Director of Radiosabrang from Denmark, Mr Chahl and Shukla said they were happy to know that persons like Pattar would be able to chat with Punjabi lovers via the Internet.



Udham Singh’s birth anniversary function
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 24
The 105th birth anniversary of revolutionary, Shaheed Udham Singh will be celebrated on December 26, at 10.30 am at the Pensioners’ Bhavan, Mini Secretariat (near SSP Office), Ludhiana by the Shaheed Udham Singh Memorial Trust.

Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP (Lok Sabha) will be the chief guest and Lieut-Col Chanan Singh Dhillon, President of the ex-servicemen League of Punjab and Chandigarh will be the guest of honour.

Secretary-general of the Trust, Dr Jaswant Singh Chamak and the chief organiser of the function, Mr Jagir Singh Rattanpal said that members of the Punjab State and Central Governments Pensioners’ Association of District Ludhiana have also been invited to participate in this function. A declamation contest and a poetry contest for students of different schools (senior/junior/primary sections) on the life of martyr will also be held.



Smack smugglers target youth
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 24
Like lakhs of other migrant labourers who have been streaming to Ludhiana Sachin also came here in search of livelihood. Within a few years only he amassed a fortune. Mr Michael Joseph, psycho-analyst and criminologist noted with surprise as how he went unnoticed and in the process won over the confidence of a family he was living with. Not just that he also managed to involve family members in his trade of smuggling.

Mr Joseph pointed out if there was a demand, the supply was bound to be there. But sometimes the demand was artificially created and subsequently exploited. That was what smack smugglers did with thousands of youths in the city. “They are trapped and never let to go”, he regretted, while urging parents to keep a strict vigil on their children and wards.

Sachin has established a network of clients (for smack). He reportedly started with the supply of poppy husk in Ludhiana suburbs. It was found that he had managed accommodation with a migrant family which was living in an unfinished structure in a farm belonging to a family on the Pakhowal Road. This has raised yet another question as how people can allow “anybody” to stay in their premises without verifying their credentials.

By now his trade was flourishing. However, his smack worth a few lakhs was snatched at gun point by his partners whom he knew too well. He then left for Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and sent a fax to the Ludhiana police giving graphic details of his friends turned foes.

Little did he know that the trap he had laid for his rivals would end at him only. He is already in the police net along with his younger brother Gaurav and the family he was living with as all of them had allegedly joined his trade. He has been brought to Ludhiana on a transit remand as he was arrested in an Arms Act case there.

Mr Joseph warned that smack smugglers were targeting people at a tender age and later it was difficult to come out of it. 



Dry weather may hit economy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
Continued dry weather may have a drastic effect on the economy of the state. While it might hamper agricultural yield this might also leave to the shortfall in power generation as well. Weather experts have also been maintaining that the weather is likely to remain dry for another week which does not augur well for state’s economy which is already under pressure.

According to Dr L.S Brar, Head of the Department of Agronomy and Agromet, the Punjab Agricultural University weather in all probability will remain dry. He said, the western disturbances had caused rain in the hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Himachal Pradesh. But these are not going to have any impact on this part of the region. He said, although a good rain would have been very good for the crops as it would add to the production, but there will not be any harm if there are no rains.

In absence of rain farmers have to use the motors thus consuming a good number of power units and when power is not available they have to depend on generators.

Again this has been putting additional burden on the farmers, as the supply of electricity go down further. 



Biz Clips

Bank branches:
Indian Overseas Bank opened two new branches in Mandi Gobindgarh and Fategarh Sahib. Mr A.R. Nagappan, executive director, PNB, inaugurated both the branches.

Exhibition: Siddhi Jewellers will organise an exhibition of gold jewellery here. The six-day exhibition that started on Friday showcases jewellery made in copper and silver with gold plating, said.

Hutch: Hutch launched its countrywide roaming e Top-Up facility in Punjab and Haryana on Friday. The service enables Hutch users to recharge their pre-paid accounts, by paying cash or through credit card, at any of the 30,000 Hutch outlets in the country.

Ebony: Ebony Retail Holdings has launched 'Studio Ivory', which incorporates range from designers like Raghuvendra Rathore, RohitBal, Payal Jain and Monisha Bajaj, Prices of designer wear apparel and accessories start from Rs 1,200.

Apex Chamber: Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry Friday said that the Merchant Shipping amendment bill would increase the burden of freight on exporters. Mr P.D.Sharma, president of the chamber, said the bill will enable implementation of international security charges for security of ships but at very high cost to the exporters. 


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