L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Four arrested in couple murder case
Girl’s father pleads innocence
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
Four relatives of the deceased woman in the alleged honour killing case of a couple have been arrested by the city police, which seems convinced about the theory that the couple was killed for daring to marry outside their caste.

The police has announced the arrest of B.S. Randhawa (over 70-year-old maternal grandfather of the victim Amandeep Kaur) and her three fraternal uncles — Kulwant Singh, Tejinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh. They have been booked on the statement of Parkash Singh, father of the deceased man, Harpreet Singh and general secretary of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The police is also investigating if the accused had murdered the couple themselves or hired killers for the job.

Meanwhile, the prime accused in the alleged honour killing case of a couple has claimed that he was being falsely framed for the macabre murders and would return to the country soon to prove his innocence.

Amrik Singh, father of the deceased woman, Amandeep Kaur, in a telephonic conversation with a couple of mediapersons, said that though he and his other relatives were strongly unhappy with the out-of-caste marriage, they could not take it too far by killing them.

Peeved at the registration of a murder case against him and his other relatives, Amrik Singh claimed he was so shocked at the news of the brutal killing that he had to be hospitalised. He claimed he was calling from the hospital bed only.

He said he was in Australia for the past four weeks or so and would return after a week and join the investigation. His return was till now being considered a remote possibility with speculation that he would not return and the extradition process was almost impossible.

Turning the tables on some relatives of the deceased Harpreet Singh (husband of Amandeep Kaur), he claimed that both were being harassed by some relatives of the boy for varied reasons. He claimed he had not run away to Australia but had gone there to attend a function in which his son was awarded a prestigious degree.

When asked why no one from the girl’s side had condoled the deaths, attended the cremation or reached the crime site, he said they had done so to avoid confrontation, as the boy’s relatives had complained against them.

“We had lots of reservations about the marriage. But after some months we reconciled and organised a grand reception for the couple, welcoming them back in the family fold in Amritsar some months ago. We had given a lot of jewellery to the girl and in-laws also,” he said.

He expressed strong displeasure at the city police for painting them as murderers just on the complaint of the boy’s family, “The police is wasting its time and energy on us, while the real murderers must be living comfortably.” He also alleged that the police had kept many of his elderly relatives in illegal custody and was harassing them.

Police sources have, however, admitted to questioning some of the relatives but denied anyone was being illegally detained. Sources said the relatives of the girl had, during their questioning, admitted their bitterness at the inter-caste marriage.

All investigation in the case depended on the return of Amrik Singh with the police failing to get any major clue about the identity of the killers. Sources said the investigators had only found that the assailants were turbaned youths.

The police has also found that Amrik Singh would have to return soon as he had gone to Australia for a month’s leave only and was not an NRI as stated earlier.

Mr Amrik Singh, Manager with a branch of Punjab and Sind Bank in Amritsar, has not extended his leave so far. All his dues and service benefits were with the bank only.



100 students, no teacher
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Bhaini Darerran (Ludhiana), January 11
A government-run primary school having more than 100 students, mostly belonging to poor families in this village, is functioning without a teacher while the Education Department is a mute spectator. Ironically, this ‘‘teacherless school’’ epitomises the state of primary education in the state as the school falls in the home district of Punjab Education Minister, Harnam Dass Johar.

Members of the gram panchayat have taken up cudgels to provide education to the students by employing a matriculate to tide over the examination time which is around the corner.

While the Education Department has sent a teacher from a school in Aandloo village on deputation, she is apprehensive that she would be able to continue as she has her own class to look after. She, a class teacher of class V in Aandloo school, said her students would also suffer in the exam.

While the poor students are made to pay the salary of the private teacher, the Education Department tells the panchayat to suggest the names of government teachers who are willing to be transferred to the school on permanent basis. Even if a government teacher is appointed, the question is if he would be able to attend to 110 students at any given day.

A visit to the school by Ludhiana Tribune team today revealed that all students were made to sit in the open as a single teacher could not move from one room to another to look after their needs. So she decided to make them all sit in the playground of the school.

‘‘I am concentrating on only class V students. Others are only assigned homeworks. What can I do? If I concentrate on one class others start creating ruckus. They start fighting and then shouting at the pitch of their voice.” said Ms Inderjit Kaur, a teacher, who has been appointed by the panchayat.

Mr Kuldip Singh, a member panchayat and husband of village Sarpanch, Ms Paramjit Kaur, said the panchayat had met the District Education Officer yesterday. ‘‘We were told to suggest the names of teachers who were willing to be transferred to school. This is not our job. What can we say about it? They should issue orders and send a teacher there. This is the reason why parents are preferring private schools now.’’ he said.

Mr Hardev Singh, another member panchayat, said the students were paying Rs 10 per month to pay salary to the new teacher. He added that there were some parents who were not willing to pay so the panchayat did not pressurise anyone. The teacher was paid around Rs 500 per month. ‘‘If they have to pay while studying in a government school why would they come here? They would go to public schools. ’’

There were three vacancies in the school presently. The last teacher had retired from the school last month. The panchayat had demanded at least three teachers in the school so that it can function properly.



Acute shortage of urea
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
There is acute shortage of urea in and around Ludhiana. Farmers are learnt to be buying urea on the black as the dealers have allegedly started hoarding stocks. However, the Chief Agricultural Officer, Ludhiana, Mr Rajinder Singh Pandher, said the additional supply of urea had already started and there was no longer shortage of the fertiliser in the district.

Reports from various parts of the district said the farmers were forced to purchase the fertiliser at extra cost as the dealers were trying to exploit the situation. Right now the farmers needed urea for the wheat, potatoe and cotton crops. The farmers alleged that the dealers charged between Rs 20 and Rs 50 extra over the normal price. The farmers did not have any choice since there was not much time left as they had to administer another dose of fertilisers to the crops now.

Ludhiana is one of the major consumers of urea with a demand of about 1 lakh tonnes. It is learnt that so far there has been the supply of 70,000 tonnes only. This has made farmers resort to panic buying.

Some farmers alleged that besides the extra money being charged from them, the dealers were also making them purchase a particular brand of insecticides along with urea.

The Chief Agricultural Officer, Ludhiana, Mr RS Pandher admitted that there was some shortage of urea in the past. But the stocks have already been replenished. 



Providential escape for 8-year-old boy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 11
When he went to the top of the four-storeyed building near the Police Lines on Sunday to fly a kite, Jaskaran (8), son of head constable Harwinder Singh did not know what fate had in store for him.

He was on the rooftop only for a few minutes and while going after a falling kite he simply forgot that the roof did not have a parapet. While walking backwards with his eyes on the kite, he fell from the roof. Jaskaran was taken to hospital in the vicinity by neighbours. On arrival at the hospital, the boy was not breathing. His heart beat had stopped and his body had turned blue.

Dr Narottam Diwan, chief surgeon of the hospital, gave mouth to mouth breathing to the boy and managed to revive the heart by repeatedly pressing the chest. After a few anxious moments, Jaskaran started breathing on his own and his heart beat also became regular. The boy was referred for a scan after which, except for a few external injuries, he was declared out of danger.

Terming Jaskaran’s escape as miraculous, Dr Diwan said people must have parapets of reasonable height to avoid such mishaps.



Body of missing postman found
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
The body of a middle-aged postman, missing since last evening from Chak Sarwan Nath village, was found from the village pond today.

The floating body of Ravindra Nath was spotted by some villagers who informed the Sahnewal police. The police has registered a case. The police sources said the deceased could have fallen accidentally in the pond and drowned. They have, however, not ruled out any foul play.

He belonged to Chhandra village and is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. The postmortem examination of the body would take place tomorrow.



Ludhiana Calling

No sport is as popular as cricket in the country. Ludhianvis are no exception in this regard. However, the absence of grounds or open spaces is forcing them to play in the parking lots, rooftops or even markets. Since this often causes confrontation as the cricket ball damages windowpanes or hurts passersby, the shopkeepers have devised a novel way to play the game without causing any injuries or damage. They have made a special ball of polythene bags. The ball bounces enough from the concrete road to enjoy the game and safe for the window panes of the neighbourhood houses.

Religious cops!

Sing tones, the latest fad offered by the mobile companies, has caught people’s fancy and the cops are no exception. Ring up any city cop and instead of the long and boring ‘tring-tring’, one hears a religious tune. It is either Satnam Waheguru, or Hey Ram or Jai Santoshi Maa. But the irony is, once the cop comes on line the religious mood evaporates as the caller often gets to hear a curt or rude reply.

Eco messages in prints

It seems people are becoming aware of the dangers of ecological imbalances. It is about time too. For, the mindless killings of different animal species have already led to the extinction of many beautiful animal species. This is where the education of saving animals has a role to play. And it is best if children are taught in this regard. A number of publication houses have started contributing in their own way. The cover of the notebooks, which earlier had the name of the printer, has now beautiful pictures of animals with some thought-provoking messages that they needed to be saved. The covers imbibe the spirit of saving animals among the children.

Secretive cops

It is normal for cops to hide their investigation for the fear of leak or alert to the suspects. It is also a routine exercise to call a suspect to the police station and then arrest him or call him at some other place on an excuse and then nail him. The cops play such games with journalists too. Every second day the journalists receive calls form the control room that some press conferences would be organised at such and such a place. As nobody reveals the subject, one has no option but to go to find out. Many a times it is just about a mundane thief. However, the limit was crossed when a call about such a press conference came this week. The subject turned out to be the organization of a art competition.

Non-cooperative residents

It is easy for the residents to blame the cops for crime incidents. But when it comes to their own duty for the prevention of crime, the residents are found wanting. Despite a campaign by the city police and the media, only a few hundred people have come forward to submit details about their tenants or servants. Whenever a criminal is arrested, a fresh appeal is made. But the residents have turned a deaf ear towards such notices.

Old habits die hard

The saying that old habits die hard aptly fits the working pattern of the district public relations office. To keep up with the hi-tech world, the office sends their press notes through e-mail. But it never fails to fax the same copy and then to make it sure, send it once again through a messenger. This amounts to sheer wastage of time and energy as well as government money.

Stapled notes

The city banks and the residents continue to staple wads of currency notes or write something on the notes in violation of the orders of the Reserve Bank of India. The staples damage the notes while people discolour them by marking them with pen. This causes loss. However, people do not seem to care two hoots about it.

Token currency

Shortage of change has forced a number of shopkeepers in the city to start issuing tokens with value of Re 1 to Rs 5 to customers. Shopkeepers earlier used to give sweets or toffees to customers in lieu of change. However, when a number of people started refusing the sweets, they invented the tokens. Not only it counters the problem, it has a fringe benefit too. It ensures that the customer would come back for some more shopping.

Dwarfing clock tower

Development is always welcome but it comes for a price too. Clock Tower, the landmark of the city, is all set to be dwarfed by the elevated road, being constructed over the GT road. The landmark, which was seen from far, would be blocked by the elevated road. The road would prove the last straw in fading the historical building into oblivion. Already a number of mobile towers and high rising buildings have disturbed the ambience.




Two tsunami-hit villages adopted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
Coming to the aid of the tsunami-hit people, the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle here has adopted two villages in Tamil Nadu. Dr Charan Kamal Singh, chief secretary of the organisation, said that they had set up a calamity relief fund for collecting donations for the tsunami-affected people. The donations collected at various centres of the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle across the country and abroad would be used for providing relief to the tsunami victims at Tamil Nadu and Port Blair.

In order to coordinate the relief operations, two villages — Mulukkuthurai and Mudasal Odal MGR Thittu — have been adopted in collaboration with the Khalsa Aid, a US-based organisation, and a Chennai gurdwara. These villages are situated in Cuddalore district, 200 km from Chennai.

Dr Charan Singh said that the study circle was taking up the repair work of badly damaged houses and the construction of houses. Other rehabilitation works in consultation with the villagers too would be undertaken, he added.

Mr Jasbir Singh, Director of social and health services of the study circle, said that they were in constant touch with Mr Gagandeep Singh Bedi, District Collector of Cuddalore district.

Mr Ram Singh, chief organiser of the outfit, said that the relief operations in Tamil Nadu and Port Blair were being led by Mr Kulwant Singh, member, supreme council of the study circle. He appealed to the people to contribute in cash or kind for the cause.

Mr Satnam Singh, Director, youth services, said that student delegations of the study circle were distributing pamphlets in all universities of Punjab and other states requesting faculty members and students to contribute to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

Meanwhile, the management, Principal, staff and students of the Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women organised path of Sukhmani Sahib, followed by kirtan and ardas as a mark of respect for the tsunami victims and speedy rehabilitation of the homeless in the college campus here today.

The Principal, Dr Madanjit Kaur Sahota, contributed one-day salary to Ms Amrit Kaur Gill, SDM (East).Dr Sahota extended her heart-felt condolences to the victims who had suffered unimaginable havoc in the ruthless and catastrophic tsunami tidal waves. She also made a fervent appeal to the staff and students to donate generously and provide succour to the afflicted families.

Ms Gill, Mr Swaran Singh, Mr Ranbir Singh and Mr Kanwal Inder Singh expressed their sympathies and urged the staff and students to rise to the occasion and contribute to mitigate the sufferings of the afflicted families.

Dr Sahota also paid tributes to late Surjan Singh Thekedar and exhorted the staff and students to keep the torch of knowledge aloft.



Call for gender equality at Lohri Mela
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
The 12th Lohri Mela, which concluded here today, ended with an appeal to people to accept and adopt the female child. The mela was organised by the Malwa Sabyacharak Manch in the open theatre at the Punjabi Bhawan here for two days. Thousands of people participated in the mela and resolved to spread the message of gender equality in socity. Amidst fun and frolic a two-minute silence was also observed in the memory of those killed by tsunami across Asia.

Ten prominent Punjabis, who have made contribution in different walks of life were also honoured today. They include gynaecologist Dr Iqbal (Dr Edith Brown Memorial Award), singer Harjit Harman (Lal Chand Yamla Jat memorial award), music director Kuljit (Hans Raj Behal Memorial Award), poet Shamsher Sandhu (Dr Vishwanath Tiwari Memorial Award), lyricist Tejpaul Kaur (Nargis Dutt Memorial Award), agriculturist Lakhwinder Kaur (Dr MS Randhawa Memorial Award), Mr SS Channi (PN Thapar ICS Memorial Award), Kabbadi player Devi Dayal (Dalip Singh Olympian Memorial Award), Neelam Khosala (Malika Pukhraj Memorial Award) and noted film director Iqbal Dhillon (Prithviraj Raj Kapoor award). Dr Ramanpal Singh of the Sigma Heart Institute was presented a special award for showing bravery during the recent fire incident in which he risked his life to save many precious lives.

Addressing the function, Mr Sardul Singh said that imbalance in sex ratio in Punjab was a major cause of concern. He exhorted all voluntary, social and cultural organisations to come forward to create awareness among people against female foeticide.

A senior Congress leader and secretary of the AICC, Mr Manish Tiwari, who is also the chief patron of the manch, called upon the youth to shoulder the responsibility for mobilising people against female foeticide.

Mr Pawan Dewan, president of the manch highlighted the purpose of the mela for mobilising public opinion against female foeticide.

Among others who were present on the occasion included Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, and Mr K.K. Bawa.



Lawyers celebrate Lohri
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 11
Lohri atmosphere prevailed in the courts premises. Interacting in an informal manner, the members of judiciary and lawyers shared jokes and recited couplets on the occasion.

The District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, also took part in the celebrations and shared his experiences with the lawyers. Mr Balwinder Goel, the Bar president and Mr Rana Harjasdeep Singh, secretary of District Bar Association, felicitated everyone on the forthcoming Lohri.

Mr Kirpal Singh Kalra, Mr Jagpal Singh Dara, Mr Darshan Singh Rai, Mr S.S.Cheema sang songs, cracked jokes and recited couplets, which were appreciated by all. 



Completion of bus stand sought
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 11
The construction work for a bus stand here started on September 8, 2000. The work was to be completed by March 31,2002 by PUDA in 4.13 acres at a budget of Rs 342 lakh. However, the work remains incomplete as only 75 per cent of the building is completed and an amount of Rs 218 lakh has been spent so far.

The foundation stone of the bus stand was laid during the regime of the Akali-BJP govt, when the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had claimed to provide a beautiful bus stand in Punjab with full amenities for the employees and the public.

The incomplete bus stand is a haven for gamblers. Animals litter the place and public uses it as an open toilet.

Mr Harnek Singh, General Manager of the Punjab Roadways, Jagraon depot, said every day a collection of Rs 8000 from various buses which pass through Jagraon is made as “adda fees” but nothing is done to provide any facility to passengers. The buses are to be parked on the roadside and the passengers are to board and alight there, resulting in accidents due to heavy traffic. Mr Harnek Singh said that their demand for allowing the use of open floor to save passengers from accidents has not been accepted.

People of the city, including Mr Amrik Singh, president of the PRTC Union, have also demanded the early completion of the bus stand.



Aggarwal Sammelan felicitates LIT chairman
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 11
The newly appointed Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), Wg Cdr Paramjit Singh Sibia, said the LIT would formulate development policies keeping in view the needs of the city population. He was speaking at a musical evening-cum-felicitation function organised by the Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan at Aggar Nagar here last evening.

Speaking at the occasion, state president of the Aggarwal Sammelan, Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, expressed confidence that with Mr Sibia at the helm of affairs, the LIT would once again become a development oriented body with launching more and more commercial and residential schemes in the city.

In the ghazal and antakshari evening that ensued, first runner-up of Sansui Antakshari from the city, Ms Neelam Khosla, Ms Neha Bansal and Mr Sunil Jindal (Johny) enthralled the audience for several hours. Mr Sibia also rendered a few ghazals and film songs.

Mr Aggarwal later presented mementoes to Mr Sibia, Mr Joginder Pal Singla, president, municipal council, Mandi Gobindgarh, and Mr Jiwan Lal Singla, district president of Aggarwal Sammelan from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Among others, Mr Balraj Bhasin, president, SDP Sabha, Dr S.N. Khosla, Mr Om Parkash Malhotra, Mr Sudhir Sehgal, advocate and Mr Arun Goyal, president, Raghunath Hospital were also present at the function.



‘Bir’, Palki Sahib destroyed in fire
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 11
A “Bir” of Guru Granth Sahib and a Palki Sahib were destroyed, in a fire at Gurdwara Sahib Shree Ravidas Sahib in ward no. 7 here. According to information, on Gurpurb some children noticed smoke coming out from the gurdwara. Soon residents of the ward and the Gurdwara Committee members entered the gurdwara and found fire around Palki Sahib and a “bir”. They brought the fire under control in half an hour. The cause of the fire seemed to be short circuit as wires were also burnt.

The committee members of the gurdwara informed the Khamano police and the SGPC about the matter. Today villagers and members of the committee, including president Harbans Singh, Labh Singh and Kuldip Singh took the “bir” and Palki Sahib to Goindwal Sahib, where they will be immersed as per the directives of the SGPC.



LIC to observe Jan as claims clearance month
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 11
The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) will observe January as claims clearance month. During this month, the corporation will create special help desks at all branch offices and divisional offices to guide the claimants in completing their claim requirements.

Mr D.K. Bhagat, Senior Divisional Manager, Ludhiana, said field staff would be deputed to contact the claimants to facilitate the expeditious settlement of claims.

He said outstanding claims in the Ludhiana division were nil. The division settled 37,762 maturity claims, amounting to Rs 83 crore and 1,061 death claims amounting to Rs 12 crore as on November 30, 2004, he added.


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