L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Drug cartels operate under police nose!
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, January 31
The city continues to be in the grip of various drug cartels, claims of the local police to the contrary notwithstanding. Recently, the city police nabbed a couple of smack dealers who used to target schoolchildren belonging to affluent families. The arrested drug peddlers were paraded before mediapersons and it was claimed that the city had been freed of drug peddlers.

But investigations by Ludhiana Tribune has revealed that drug trade in the city is an organised crime with a number of drug cartels operating from different parts of the city.

According to the police and sources, a drug cartel dealing in opium is active in the jurisdiction of Division No. 4 police station.

This cartel employs young girls as couriers to deliver opium packets, weighing 50 gm or more, to its regular customers. The cartel has been in the business for years.

Similarly, a number of drug peddlers selling charas are also active throughout the old city. At least two charas retailers are already undergoing trial under the NDPS Act.

The oldest charas outlet of the city, located along the Ludhiana-Delhi railway line in the Islam Ganj area, is functioning as usual even though it is located close to a police station.

Chhawni Mohalla, which earned notoriety for its charas trade in the 80s, stopped dealing in drugs after a crackdown by Inspector Shankar Dass, the then in charge of Division No. 4 police station. But the locality is again teeming with a number of small-time charas peddlers.

Even the nearby Salem Tabri has its share of drug peddlers who continue to change their place of work to evade detection.

According to the sources, a den retailing smack is operating from J Block of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, a posh area of the outer city.

Another outlet is operating from near the Nim Wala chowk in the old city.

The Focal Point and Sherpur areas, which have the maximum concentration of migrant labourers in the city, are teeming with migrants selling ganja.

Because they sell the contraband to their migrant fellows only, these peddlers go unnoticed.

Though every now and then, the Focal Point police comes across a migrant labourer carrying ganja, seldom has it busted a retailing outlet.

Sources further reveal that charas is brought into the city by a host of couriers who make frequent trips to Chamba and Bharmour.

A Chamba-based charas wholesaler, “DM”, is quite well known to the local police and the mafia alike.

A number of city youths, who had gone to Chamba to buy charas, were arrested by the Chamba police last year. Some of them are languishing in Himachal Pradesh jails, add the sources.



MC contractor accused of overcharging
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
A local industrialist has accused octroi contractors at Municipal Council, Bhawanigarh, of harassing and overcharging people by dictating arbitrary rules to council employees. The authorities at the office, on the other hand, maintained that every effort was made to safeguard the interest of traders and all the grievances lodged within a week of irregularity were redressed.

Mr Sanjiv Kumar Singla, a pipe manufacturer and general secretary of the Hume Pipes Manufacturers, alleged that the octroi contractors at Bhawanigarh Municipal Council were harassing and duping the traders by implementing their rules forcibly.

Narrating one of the recent incidents Mr Singla alleged that a driver of Super Jatindra Pipes was made to pay eight times the amount as octroi on a truck load of hume pipes which the manufacturer had delivered to BSNL at Bhawanigarh on Saturday.

Mr Surjit Singh, the driver of truck, had stopped at the octroi post and paid Rs 76 as octroi calculated by the staff at the rate of 0.25 per cent as per the instruction. Some persons in the town, who claimed to be staff of the contractor and octroi inspectors, later stopped him.

They threatened him of dire consequences and drove his truck to the same octroi post. The driver had to get down to the post and was made to pay Rs 5,000 as “compromise fee” as according to them he had committed a theft. He was, however, given receipt number 188 for Rs 527.

Earlier, the staff had harassed local resident Tarsem Lal Garg on the occasion of Divali festival. Employees of contractors had ignored the state toll pass issued by the local council. An inquiry into the complaint made by Mr Garg was still pending with the higher authorities.

Mr Ranvir Singh, Executive Officer, at MC Bhawanigarh, admitted that octroi on hume pipe was chargeable at the rate of 0.25 per cent. He, however, showed ignorance about the incident and maintained that the refund would be given to the party, if lodged within a week of the incident.



Watch out! Chicken soup lovers
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Before you savour a hot and spicy chicken soup in a local eatery, beware! For it may carry pork instead of chicken and be served to gullible consumers who cannot differentiate between the taste of the two meats.

Inquiries by Ludhiana Tribune reveal that most of the eateries, including some reputed hotels and restaurants, serve pork soup instead of chicken, taking innocent consumers for a ride.

As pig muscles contain head of tapeworm, pork can cause cysticercosis and neurocysticercosis, which affect brain, leading to death in some cases.

Since tapeworm’s head can survive cooking, it can lead to a permanent deformity of some organs if infected meat is consumed.

Sources said an outlet near Aarti Cinema here was supplying pork to most of the eateries in the city.

Hotel and restaurant owners preferred pork as it cost Rs 30 per kg, compared to chicken, which could cost Rs 90.

“It is obviously a cheaper alternative to chicken. That is why hoteliers go for it. I being a veterinarian can tell the difference between the two meats. But not many people consume pork in the city and quintals of it is sold in the city. Where does all the pork go?” asks Dr Harbans Dhalla, an office-bearer of the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association.

“The other day my servant had a seizure and fell on the ground. I took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis. He then revealed that he used to have chicken soup from various kiosks and had never had pork,” adds Dr Dhalla.

Small-time sellers of chicken soup, who sell a bowl for Rs 10 to Rs 20 in many areas, were also found serving pork instead of chicken.

According to a local physician, the eggs of tapeworm hatch in the human’s small intestine. The larvae penetrate the lining of the small intestine and enter the blood stream. From there they can be distributed to any organ of the body. They then grow into the a cysticercus.

“Even a few cysticercus, if located in a particularly sensitive area of the body, can result in an irreparable damage. A cysticercus in the eye can lead to blindness, in the spinal cord can cause paralysis and in the brain can lead to traumatic neurological damage.”

The physician said another big problem was that the diagnosis of cysticercosis was difficult. He advised the residents against having non-vegetarian food from outside.



Sacked DMC employees in search of support
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The sacked employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital have failed to get the support of the Left parties on the issue of their joining duty.

They had tried to seek an audience with the CPM general secretary, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, and the politburo member, Mr Prakash Karat in this regard. However, both senior leaders reportedly declined to meet them. Instead they asked them to make their representation which would be considered on merit.

The sacked employees had also gone to Mansuran at the state conference of the CPM in connection with their grievance.

The employees had also tried to approach the secretary, All-India Congress Committee (AICC), Mr Munish Tewari.

The employees are reportedly pleading that they are prepared to work in a disciplined manner and are ready to give an undertaking that they will not resort to strike in future.

But the management is not prepared to buy the argument as the faculty and other officers in the hospital are apprehensive that they might resort to their older habits once they are taken back.

The faculty has reportedly stressed upon the management to ensure that the “hard-earned peace” in the hospital is not again forfeited to the same elements who had held the entire hospital administration to ransom. 



No funds, no Ludhiana-Khanori road repair: PWD
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
The Department of Public Works, Bridges and Roads has shown its inability to repair or reconstruct the span of the Ludhiana-Khanori road joining the town with Sangrur, Dhuri, Malerkotla and Dehlon reportedly due to paucity of funds.

It has further claimed that the condition of the road, which was stated to be a “death trap”, was “not so bad”.

Mr C.J. Lal, Superintending Engineer, PWD (B&R), in a statement in the court of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Sangrur, stated that the repairs of the span between Sangrur and Ludhiana could not be undertaken, as the Union Government had not sent the requisitioned grants sought from time to time.

The officer submitted the statement in a suit filed by Mr Mohamad Gulzar and Mr Rohit Jain, advocates and social activist of the area.

The suit had been filed for mandatory injunction directing the authorities concerned to construct the stretch to make the ride comfortable for motorists.

The notices were served on the Punjab Government through District Collector, Sangrur, Superintending Engineer PWD (B&R), Ludhiana and Sangrur, Department of Public Works (B&R), Punjab, and the Union Government through Secretary, Department of Building and Roads, New Delhi.

Though the other defendants were yet to submit their replies, the Superintending Engineer, Sangrur, submitted in the court that some portion of the road needed special repair.

However, the condition of the road was no so bad that it might cause accidents.

The office maintained that despite their frequent requests, the Union Government had not sent the required grants for the construction of the road.

The department also denied charges levelled by the petitioner that the repair had been delayed to benefit toll tax contractors at Ludhiana, Ambala and Delhi.

The engineer further assured the court that the road would be repaired within three months of receiving the grant from the Union Government.



MC looks at SDMs to facilitate laying of sewerage
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
The local Municipal Council has sought the intervention of the SDM (Rural), Ludhiana, and the SDM, Malerkotla, to facilitate the laying of rising disposal line for sewage through areas falling under Chhapar and Hargobind Pura villages.

The panchayats of these villages had objected to the project of laying the line up to Maherna drain.

Mr V.P. Jindal, executive officer, said the project to lay the line up to Maherna drain had already been cleared but its execution was delayed due to alleged lack of cooperation of civic bodies of the neighboring villages — Hargobind Pura and Chhapar.

The sarpanch of Chhapar village had sent a notice to the local authorities not to start work on the project without the permission of the panchayat.

Though the council invited Sarpanch Ajaib Singh to visit the local office for discussions on the issue, the latter declined the invitation.

The council has now sought the intervention of the SDM (Rural), Ludhiana, and the SDM, Malerkotla, to intervene in the matter.

It has sent notices to panchayats of the two villages to stop contaminating their drain. Copies of the notices have been sent to the BDPO and the SHO, Dehlon, for further action.

Dr Indu Malhotra, SDM Malerkotla, said she would take up the matter with her counterpart so that the work could be started soon.

Earlier, the Water and Sewerage Board authorities had apprehended that the level of water in disposal tanks might rise beyond critical level if the disposal pumps failed to pump out water.

Meanwhile, representatives of various trade and political organizations staged a dharna in protest against unhygienic conditions prevailing in the Bhagat Singh chowk area on Saturday.

They asked the authorities to make arrangements for providing basic amenities to residents.

Mr Ramesh Chand Ghaie, president, BJP’s local unit, alleged that the council authorities had been ignoring the interests of local residents. He said residents of the Bhagat Singh chowk area were being deprived of basic amenities.

“Amidst stinking drains and garbage on the roads, our lives have virtually turned into a hell. But the council chief has paid no heed to our demands,” said Mr Ghaie.

Mr Sandeep Puri, district vice-president, Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, apprehended that an epidemic might break out in the area. Mr Sham Sunder, councillor, assured protesters of taking up the matter with higher authorities.

Mr Ajay Malhotra, convener, Bajrang Dal, Mr Palwinder Singh Bitta, former panch, Hargobind Pura, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Krishan Kumar, Mr Kake Khan and Mr Darshan Singh also addressed the gathering.



Intkals to be attested till Feb 15
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 31
On the direction of the Punjab Government, an intkal fortnight will be organised from February 1 to 15. During this period, the pending intkals will be attested at different patwar areas. Mr Jaspal Mittal, SDM, Khanna, said in press note here today.

According to the press note, Sukhjinder Singh Tiwana, tehsildar, would attest intkals on February 10 in Lalheri village, on February 9 in Khanna and Khanna Khurd, on February 11 in Isru and Nasrali, On February 12 in Rajewal, Naraingarh, on February 14 in Ikolaha, Chakohi and Kauri and on February 15 in Jalazan, Hol and Taunsa.

Naib tehsildar Chetan Bangar will attest intkals on February 1 in Goa, February 2 in Bhadla, February 3 in Boothgarh, February 4 in Rahon, February 5 in Rasulra, February UN Bija, February 8 in Raipur, February 9 in Jaspalon, February 10 in Jatana, February 11 in Bhamadi, on February 12 in Ghungrali and on February 14 in Dehru.



Protest makes DTO see sense
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Activists of the Transporters Association today protested against the staff of the local District Transport Office (DTO) for not accepting road tax from transporters.
The transporters claimed that the last date was January 30, but it being a Sunday the office should have accepted the tax today.

They staged a dharna and raised slogans against the staff. Later, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, resolved the matter and the tax was accepted.

Mr Tara Singh, an office-bearer of the association, said a delegation would meet the Transport Minister with regard to the attitude of DTO office staff in the state.



MCPI assails Punjab Govt for following Centre policies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The state secretariat of the Punjab MCPI met today to discuss the latest political and economic situation in the state. Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary, said the members were of the view that the Punjab Government was blindly pursuing “anti-people” policies of the Central Government led by Dr Manmohan Singh.

He said the government was actively pursuing the agenda of imperialist globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation under the dictates of the World Bank, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the WTO.

A Presidential Ordinance had been issued without even discussing the matter in the Parliament, he said.

The state unit took a serious note of the CPM leadership’s role in adopting a self-contradictory stance of supporting the Central Government.

The secretariat was of the opinion that the policies of the state and Central Governments could not be separated when pro-capitalists and the Congress was ruling at the Centre as well as in the state.

It urged the CPM leadership to stop supporting the Congress and come out openly to strengthen the independent revolutionary democratic movement in India, he added.

They opposed the move to privatise three sugar mills of the state and disintegrate the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) into three segments.

The MCPI supported the cause of agitating employees and engineers in this regard. The unit also supported the cause of peasants and farmers who were fighting for the acceptance of their demands.

The members expressed their concern over the rising prices of daily commodities, particularly sugar, which have hit the poor and middle class hard.

The MCPI expressed its concern over the power crises in the state and demanded regular power supply farmers. The party also condemned the lathicharge on ETT teachers at Patiala.

Those present on the occasion were J.S. Lyallpuri, P.S. Bhangu, P.S. Nanwa, Kiranjeet Sekhon, Mangat Ram Longowal and Lakhwinder Singh Boani.



Sidhu to take up Gurpurb holiday issue with Modi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Test cricketer-turned MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu said today that he would take up issue of the holiday on the birthday of Guru Nanak Ji with the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narinder Modi. He maintained that the Gujarat government should respect the sentiments of the people and declare Gurpurb as a gazetted holiday.

Without making any comments on the issue, he hoped once he meets Mr Modi the issue would be sorted out.

Mr Sidhu hit out at the Punjab Government, alleging that it was shielding the corrupt. He observed that the government had proved to be “all-round failure” as it had belied the expectations of people. It appeared to be in a deep slumber.

In an informal conversation with reporters after presiding over a sports meet organised by the Kundan Vidya Mandir chain of schools, Mr Sidhu pointed out that the common man was feeling betrayed. He alleged that the state government during the past three years had not performed any activity except for witch hunting.

Referring to the allegations against the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Mr Sidhu observed that it was a fit case for a CBI inquiry. He observed that the integrity and fair play of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would be put to test here as everybody would see how he would deal with the case. Because, he pointed out, Mr Sodhi was considered to be very close to the Chief Minister.

The BJP MP condemned the state government for withdrawing the security of former Deputy Speaker and senior party leader Mr Satpal Gosain. He regretted that the government was trying to settle personal scores with senior leaders of the Opposition. Mr Sidhu warned that the responsibility of Mr Gosain’s security would be that of the state government as he happened to be a senior leader having occupied the important post of the Deputy Speaker in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Mr Sidhu predicted a good performance by the BJP in the neighbouring Haryana where elections would be held. He observed that there was a “strong anti Chautala wave” across the state and it would benefit both the BJP and the Congress. He maintained that people had accepted the BJP as a force to reckon with in Haryana and it was likely to play a decisive role in the post election scenario.

Earlier, Mr Sidhu was presented a memento by the Chairman of the KVM Trust and senior BJP leader Lala Lajpat Rai.



BJP plans mass agitation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The BJP is all set to launch a mass agitation against the “misgovernance” in the state. Besides, the party will also take up the issue of service tax and value added-tax during its agitational plan.

BJP sources disclosed that the party would take up the issues of public interest and also those of the trade and industry. For this reason only it has decided to take up the issue of VAT and service tax. The party will hold demonstration against both taxes, apparently in a bid to woo the traders and the business community. The party will also focus on the “failures” and “omissions and commissions” of the state government.



NRI’s bit for her roots
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Philanthropic Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are more than keen to contribute their bit towards social projects like education and health. However, the government needs to make procedures speedier and systems more efficient to invite contribution from Indians abroad, feels Ms Sukhi Turner, the first woman to be elected mayor of Dunedin, New Zealand.

Ms Turner, wife of New Zealand former cricketer Glenn Turner, is herself contributing towards a cleanliness project in Duneke village in Moga.

“A lot of projects where NRIs are adopting their villages are being undertaken. Since cleanliness is the basic requirement, we decided to go in for this project, for which we have to collect around Rs 70 lakh,” said Ms Turner.

While it was way back in 1973 that she went to New Zealand after her marriage, her heart still beats for India.

She came here to attend the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas held recently in Mumbai.

Platforms like Pravasi Bhartiya Divas provide a lots of networking opportunities to NRIs, she feels.



Shiv Sena memo to Deputy Commissioner against quacks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Shiv Sena activists led by district president Dharmendra Khera and vice-president Sanjeev Ghai today submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, urging him to take action against quacks practising in different parts of the city, particularly the suburbs.

The memorandum alleged that with the Health Department overlooking their activities, the quacks were having a field day. With the result a number of people lost their lives because of their negligence while the Health Department watched silently. Besides, these quacks had been harming people as their medicines caused a lot of side effects.

The Deputy Commissioner was urged to take a strong action against the quacks.

The Deputy Commissioner assured the delegation that all necessary action would be taken against the quacks and health officials would be asked to maintain a strict vigil against them so that they did not play with the health of the people.



Pensioners demand pay commission
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
At a joint meeting held here yesterday the Punjab Government Employees and Pensioners, urged the Punjab Government to announce the setting up of the fifth Punjab Pay Commission while presenting the annual Budget for 2005-06 in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. They argued that in view of prices, piralling, inflationary trends and various other factors, the setting up of another pay panel has become inevitable. They pointed out that the fourth Pay Commission had also recommended the next pay revision after 10 years which is due form January.

They further pointed out that if the government sets up a pay commission now then it may take two to three years in finalising its report.

Through other resolutions they demanded a raise in medical and house rent allowances for pensioners as promised in the Congress manifesto, restoration of house rent allowance facility if both husband and wife are employees and restoration of old pension communication formula.



Neelam Dhanda City boutique gets international award
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Neelam’s, a city-based designer wear outlet, has been selected by international selection committee of Business Initiative Directions, Spain, for the Arch of Europe for Quality and Technology award in the gold category.

The award, which will be presented at the International Arch of Europe Award convention at Frankfurt on February 28, is being given to Neelam’s for “commitment to quality”. 



4 pc VAT on imports opposed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
Industrialists have expressed their opposition on the proposal of 4 per cent VAT on all imports, and Punjab will be hard hit by it. Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab , Mr K.K. Seth, Mr Rajnish Ahuja, President, Focal Point Association, and Mr G.S. Kahlon of the Ludhiana Motor Parts Association said here today that the benefit of 4 per cent VAT would go to those states where such imported goods arrive and cleared.

Further the levy of 4 per cent tax on imports would further make the products costlier.

The industrialists further pointed out that the Punjab Government under its VAT Act had made some stringent provisions which would harass the dealers. For selling or mortgaging the property was not possible without getting the no-objection certificate from the Sales Tax Department. They demanded that the industries which had been given exemption from the sales tax should be given the benefit of demand credit under VAT.



Biz Clips

Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council has selected Bharti Teletech for the award of Excellence in Exports in Telecommunication Equipments for 2002-03 under the non-SSI category. A company press note said today that it was the second consecutive year the company was receiving this award. Mr M.L.Chopra, deputy general manger (works), said Bharti Teletech had emerged the single largest exporter of telephone instruments in India.The award will be presented on February 10 by the Minister for Communications and Information Technology.

ASSOCIATION: Ms Sukhi Turner, first woman mayor of Dunedin, New Zealand and wife of cricketer Glenn Turner, will address a seminar to be conducted by the Ludhiana Management Association on February 1. The seminar would invite participation from leading industrialists, said a press note.


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