L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Inferno razes yarn factory
Property worth crores destroyed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Yarn and property worth crores of rupees were destroyed when a fire broke out in Supreme Woolen Mills located in Kanganwal village, near here, late last evening. It took at least 18 hours and 26 fire engines from Ludhiana and outside to quell the raging flames. Yarn rolls were still smouldering till this evening.

The fire broke out in the yarn factory late last evening and continued till 3.30 pm today. As many as 26 fire engines were pressed into service to douse the inferno.

The factory was destroyed and almost all yarn rolls, weighing 3.5 quintal each, were turned into ashes.

The factory owner claimed a loss of crores of rupees in the fire. However, no loss of life was reported in the incident, as many workers, including women, working on the premises were rescued by the police and fire officials.

Fire officials said sparks caused by welding in the factory led to the fire. The sparks fell on rolls of yarn stored nearby and in a short while thousands of rolls caught fire.

The local administration summoned the employees and officials of the Fire Department, who fought round the clock to contain the fire.

Mr R.K. Sharma, a senior fire officer who was supervising the operation, was injured in the incident. He, however, continued to accompany the fire fighting squad till this evening.

Factory workers alleged that the fire fighters were slow to respond to the alert and reached the scene late. They claimed that they were called up in the evening but they did not show up right away.

Fire officials, however, maintained that the delay was caused by a closed level crossing on the way and that they had left as soon as they the alert was sounded.

The Fire Department had to requisition fire engines from Baddowal, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh and even Jalandhar, when 21 engines from the local station besides water from tubewells in the adjacent villages seemed insufficient.

The fire fighters had to break the walls of the factory to enter the premises. The building was completely destroyed with iron rods used in construction melting away due to intense fire.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma visited the scene along with an ADC and the SDM.

MC Joint Commissioner Jaswant Singh supervised the fire fighting operation.



Crop worth lakhs destroyed in fire
Tribune News Service

Lalton (Ludhiana), April 15
The villagers of this small village along the Pakhowal Road are living in fear of fire. Already four fire incidents have happened. In these incidents of fire, caused allegedly by the sparking in the high-tension electric lines running above the fields, the standing wheat crop worth lakhs of rupees had already been destroyed.

But the worst is that the village does not have any fire fighting equipment. For that matter no village of the state has any such equipment. With the canals also going dry during this period, the villagers have nothing to fight the fire but their wits. They just run a tractor around the burning field ploughing it from all sides. But this is done to prevent the fire from spreading to other fields and minimise the damage to a certain level.

Devinder Singh of the Lalton village said that about five acres of land were damaged in the fire that engulfed his fields at around 2 a.m last night. He said announcement about the fire was made from the gurdwara. Although villagers did come out, but they could not prevent the damage to his fields which ran into lakhs of rupees.

Similar losses were suffered by some other villagers in three other fire incidents during the last 24 hours. The villagers claimed that they had brought the issue to the notice of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials much before the crop started maturing, but no heed was paid to their request. The lines running above the fields are quite loose and these touch each other even if there is a mild breeze which results in sparking causing fire in the fields.

The villagers have now decided to keep a round-the-clock watch around the fields under the electric wires. “Anything can happen anytime”, said one of the members of a group assigned with the job (to keep the watch). The villagers take turns in taking rounds around the fields. “We do not have any other option till the crop is harvested”, they said. If the fire is noticed instantly it can be controlled at that moment. Later on it is too late, they added.

The villagers said that they had brought the incidents of fire to the notice of the district administration also. They have been demanding compensation for the damaged crops. They pointed out that it was none of their fault and the PSEB must pay them for the damages.



Tribune Impact
PMC takes note of doctor’s ad
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 15
Taking a serious note of a news report published in Ludhiaina Tribune today, the Punjab Medical Council (PMC) has decided to issue a show-cause notice to a doctor for advertising in newspapers through handbills.

The chairman of the disciplinary action committee of the PMC, Dr Gursharan, has already written to the PMC chairman about the advertisement by the doctor concerned. The PMC had earlier also taken a serious note of advertisements by doctors. It had cancelled the licence of two doctors — Dr Sumit Sofat and Dr Sumita Sofat — for the same reason. However, later the PMC took a lenient view and doctors were let off with a warning.

PMC sources disclosed that action would be initiated against the doctor for flouting the norms, particularly when it (the PMC) had issued strict guidelines against advertisement by doctors. The doctor had placed pamphlets in newspapers giving details of various facilities available in his hospital along with the rates, which, the PMC maintains is against the law.

Reacting to the doctor’s claims that he was not aware of any MCI or PMC guidelines against advertising by doctors, the PMC sources observed that it was difficult to believe that a qualified doctor would be ignorant of the guidelines. Moreover, the sources pointed out, “Ignorance of law is neither an excuse nor can it be a defence”.

The sources added that there could not be different yardsticks for different doctors. Any violation in any form by anybody would be seriously taken up by the council. “Otherwise some vested interests among doctors would again start their advertisement campaigns and mislead people”, the PMC sources asserted.



8-year-old boy drowns
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 15
An eight-year-old boy drowned in Budda Nullah near the Peeru Banda colony in Salem Tabri after falling into it today.
Satish was playing near the nullah with a friend when he slipped and fell into.

His friend tried to catch hold of him but in vain. He raised the alarm following which labourers and residents came for help, but it was too late. Satish lived here with his uncle Lal Babu while his parents were in Bihar. Babu also reached the spot and rushed the child to hospital, where he was declared brought dead.



Improvement Trust sits on encroachments
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Even as the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is bearing the brunt of the situation arising out of removal of encroachments, the Improvement Trust is sitting pretty over hundreds of encroachments, though the latter was directed by the high court to clear the illegal constructions.

While the local civic body is made to face the criticism for not being able to remove the illegal constructions, the Improvement Trust, which had submitted a list of 355 encroachments to the HC, has not taken any action against a single defaulter. It is now blaming the non-availability of police force for its inaction.

The MC was recently directed by the HC to act against ‘‘big fish’’ in the city, after it was being alleged that the former was carrying on with the anti-encroachment drive half-heartedly and was targeting the poor only. It had to face a lot of criticism at the hands of local residents on the plea that the body was indulging in “operation cover-up” rather than clearing the public land honestly.

In the list submitted by the LIT to the HC in compliance with the court order dated May 29, 2003, it had shown some rich and influential persons in the city, religious places, schools and welfare societies among others as encroachers. The public land was shown to be encroached upon in almost all parts of the city. However, no action has been taken against anyone till date though the court had directed it to do so almost two years ago.

LIT officials claim that there is no problem for them as far as clearing encroachments is concerned, but it can do little if the demolition squad is not provided with a police force.

They claimed that they had written to the Deputy Commissioner a number of times asking for the police force but there were some hiccups for providing the security as was cited by the district police. Policemen were said to be busy in some project or the other.

Mr D.C. Garg, executive officer of the LIT, said with the focus of the MC on the removal of encroachments, they too had written to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, for providing them with a police force a week ago. The matter was discussed at a meeting specially convened to discuss the encroachment issue last week, claimed Mr Garg.

He added that earlier also they had written to the DC, who had directed a Magistrate to provide the security. The Magistrate had, in turn, written to a Naib Tehsildar to do so. However, the latter had refused stating that providing security was not under his purview and it was the Magistrate who was supposed to do so, added Mr Garg.

He, however, said the Trust would start its demolition drive within a week as it had already asked for the police force.



Passing Thru

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What rating does ETC enjoy?

ETC enjoys top rating among Punjabi channels. We are always trying and evolving new programmes that keeps us ahead. As far as National channels are concerned, after Star Plus ours is the second most popular channel.

— Asha Ahuja



PSHRC recommends prosecution of cops for rights violation 
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Coming down heavily against a DSP and a Sub-Inspector of Punjab Police in a much-publicised two-year-old case of police harassment and human rights violation, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission(PSHRC) has recommended to the state government for prosecuting both the officers for illegal restraining, confining, torturing a local businessman and his family members and extorting money from them through misuse of power.

The cops allegedly stripped one of the victims naked and forced them to drink urine. A bench of the PSHRC comprising Justice R L Anand and B C Rajput has in a strongly worded order recommended prosecution of DSP Gurjit Singh, SI Devinder Kumar and a local trader Narinder Kapoor under Sections 220, 341,342,385,386,34 and 120-B of the IPC for abusing their authority as public servants in order to cause wrongful loss to local businessman Shammi Kapoor and his family members. The commission has also recommended departmental action against the cops also.

The IPC sections mean the cops could be prosecuted for wrongfully restraining and confining the victims, extorting money by putting the victims in fear of injury, grievous hurt or death and acting contrary to the law, besides hatching a criminal conspiracy.

The PSHRC has given the state government time till May 24 to file action taken report on the recommendations.

The orders included serious statements against the cops for involvement in the case. It said:‘‘The human rights of the victims have been seriously violated by the public servants, namely DSP Gurjeet Singh and SI Devinder Kumar, who are considered to be the custodians of law and protectors of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Therefore, their conduct is condemnable writ large, and all this has been done to accommodate Narinder Kapoor. No reasonable care or good faith is discernible from the action of these two officers.’’

‘‘Therefore, in the opinion of the commission, a recommendation should be made to the state government for the prosecution of DSP Gurjeet Singh, SI Devinder Kumar and Narinder Kapoor for those offences which had been committed by them in excess of their power and jurisdiction. We also recommend to the state government to initiate departmental disciplinary action against DSP Gurjeet Singh and SI Devinder Kumar for abusing their authority as public servants, in order to cause wrongful loss to Shammi Kapoor and his family members and to cause wrongful gain to Narinder Kapoor.’’

The orders were made largely on the basis of the arguments and evidence put before the commission and an inquiry submitted by a former Additional and Sessions Judge, who was appointed the inquiry officer by the commission two years ago.

Giving details about the case, the orders state that a careful perusal of the evidence recorded in this case revealed that there was a dispute regarding Rs 38, 80,000, which were allegedly to be paid by Mr Narender Kapoor to Shammi Kapoor and his family firm. Cases were pending in the court. It appears that with a view to causing wrongful loss to the complainants, Mr Narender Kapoor connived with Gurjeet Singh, DSP, City III, and Devinder Kumar, SHO, police station, Division No.8, Ludhiana, and case FIR No. 75 was registered on April 24, 2003, in police station, Division No.8, under the orders of the DSP. ’’

‘‘At midnight on the same night, the police party consisting of SI Devinder Kumar, SHO, ASI Ajaib Singh, along with Narender Kapoor, Surinder Kapoor, Sachin Kapoor and Nitin Kapoor went to the house of the complainant situated in Kitchlu Nagar, Ludhiana, where they abused the family members. On the intervention of mohalla people the police could take only Dalip Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor to the police station. Gurjeet Singh and Narender Kapoor were present there when Devinder Kumar was committing excesses on Dalip Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor at their instance. Devinder Kumar made Dalip Kapoor drink urine and when he refused to do so, he was beaten by him and threatened that they will kill his son also if he does not comply with their orders. Dalip Kapoor was forced to remove his clothes. Narender Kapoor and his party were laughing and telling the police to make him a 'murga' otherwise he will not give the money. He was kept in custody and tortured throughout the night. Sometimes water was thrown on him.Other cops came and kicked him and they all were drinking in the police station, along with Narinder Kapoor and his party, and due to pressure from Devinder Kumar, SHO, and DSP Gurjeet Singh, the complainant and his family members were forced to pay Rs 46 lakh to Narender Kapoor and also forced them to sign a 'compromise' letter under the pressure of the police. The version given in defence appears to be totally false and an afterthought. All the allegations mentioned in the complaint, therefore, stand fully proved from the oral and documentary evidence produced by the complainant. "



Nishan-e-Sikhi Award for Dr Alag
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
A Sikh scholar and writer, Dr Sarup Singh Alag, chairman of the Alag Shabad Yug International Charitable Trust, Ludhiana, will be decorated with the prestigious Nishan-e-Sikhi award by the Guru Angad Dev Shatabdi Committee on April 17 of a function to be held in connection with the 501st birthday of Guru Angad Dev Ji at Khadpur Sahib.

The award is being given to Dr Alag in recognition to his selfless services to the Panth and humanity.

Dr Alag, an author of 55 publications in English, Punjabi and Hindi, is doing services to humanity by distributing the “Gurmet” literature free of cost throughout the world.

Dr Alag will leave for Europe and America after receiving the award to participate at meetings and seminars to be conducted in connection with two centenaries concerning the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib.



Markfed vanaspati GM, 2 officers suspended
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 15
Three high-rank officials, including a General Manager, of Markfed vanaspati unit here have been suspended on the charges of corruption.
According to information the suspended officers are General Manager C.M. Malik , Commercial Manager Vinod Kumar and Deputy Chief Accounts Officer M.R. Singla.

Sources said the officials had been suspended on the charges of concealing the loss suffered by the unit from the authorities.

It is said the vanaspati unit of Marked, has suffered a loss of about 7 or 8 crore but the officials have not sent any report to the headquarters. The sources said orders of their suspension were signed on Monday by Managing Director S.S. Channy.

The Managing Director was not available for comments while the Chief Manager (Personnel) was on leave.

Mr A.S. Sekhon had replaced Mr Malik as new General Manager of the vanaspati unit.



DCC reshuffle in offing?

Ludhiana, April 15
The District Congress Committee (DCC), Ludhiana, is all set for a major reshuffle. With indications of a probable change of guard at the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters, there is all likelihood that the DCC, Ludhiana, may also be revamped.

It is learnt that during the past two years the functioning of the party has not been that impressive. After Mr HS Hanspal took over as president of the PCC, he appointed Mr Jagmohan Sharma as district president. Despite having swept all four urban seats of the district, the party functioning came to a standstill. Party sources disclosed that the party high command was interested in inducting some fresh and younger face. TNS



Akali Dal members to give memo to CM

Samrala, April 15
A meeting of local Akali Dal workers was held under the chairmanship of member SGPC Kirpal Singh Kheernian here today.
The members decided to give a charter of demands to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who would visit the town on Monday to honour heart surgeon and Padam Bhushan awardee Dr T.S. Kaler at a function organised by the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal).

Talking to mediapersons, general secretary Tehal Singh Dhande said their chief demand was to upgrade the sub-division to district headquarters. OC



Brick-kiln workers observe strike
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 15
Demanding implementation of labour laws for workers at brick-kilns, the Lal Jhanda Punjab Brick Kiln Labourers Union observed a one-day strike today.
“We want labour laws to be implemented here. Workers in brick kilns are not being provided proper working environment,” said Mr Tarsem Jodhan, general secretary of the union.

He said workers should be given due wage benefits like PF as well.

He said that brick kiln labourers would observe strike on April 19 to raise their demands.



Shopkeeper held, released
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 15
More than 150 goldsmiths closed shops in protest against the detention of a shopkeeper by the Khanna police on Thursday. They also took out a procession in the city and reached city police station to register protest.

According to them, the police reached the market in the morning in a car and detained shopkeeper Manoj Kumar on a wrong information given by a thief. Mr Roop Chand Sedha, president of the Sawarankar Sangh, Khanna, said the shopkeeper had urged the police to allow him to talk to the president of the market before they took him to the police station.

Mr Sedha alleged that the police had irked on it and misbehaved with the shopkeeper and used abusing language against the president. Taking a serious note of the police behaviour the shopkeepers closed down shops and took out a procession against the police.

Later, a delegation of the shopkeepers met SHO Wajir Singh and got the shopkeeper released. Mr Sedha had demanded an inquiry into the matter and also demanded to take action against the guilty police officials.

Mr Wajir Singh said the shopkeeper was called on information given by a thief. The police had done its duty. He said if any policeman found guilty, he would be punished.



Cash, jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 15
Burglars stole cash and jewellery worth over Rs 2 lakh from a house on the college road here.
According to a press note by SSP Rajiv Ahir today, the occupants of the house were away to Rishikesh. On return, they found their house burgled with around Rs 50,000 in cash and jewellery worth over Rs 1.5 lakh stolen. The house belonged to Bhushan Dev Goel.

The local police has registered a case under Section 380 of the IPC. The burglars scaled the rear wall and broke into the house, the police said.

Poppy husk seized: Jarnail Singh of Shah Talwara was arrested from Andloo village by the Raikot police with 105 kg of poppy husk from his possession. A case under Section 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered.



71 quintals of poppy husk destroyed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
The Jagraon police on Wednesday destroyed over 71 quintals of poppy husk recovered from narcotic smugglers and kept as case property in police and judicial malkhanas.

Poppy husk bags were burnt at the bank of the Sutluj river near Khaira Bet and Sidhwan Bet today afternoon in the presence of DIG Ludhiana Range Parag Jain and Jagraon SSP Rajiv Ahir.



Hero Cycles strike: management, workers blame each other
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
While the Hero Cycles management today blamed “anti-social” elements for creating problems, workers on protest alleged that it was the management that was indulging in violence and attacked a worker today.

“We have been fighting for our rights, but their main problem is that they do not want us to form a union due to which they are resorting to all these measures,” alleged a worker.

Mr Jatinder Pal Singh of the CITU said the management should take back workers it had laid off. They alleged that one of the protesting workers today suffered injuries as he was mahandled by “persons hired by the management”.

Addressing a press conference here today, Managing Director of Hero Cycles S.K.Rai said it was only a section of workers who had stopped working whereas the remaining were performing their regular duties.

“Of the total 3,000 workers, more than 2,000 are working. We did witness a major decline in production yesterday, but today this decline has reduced and is nearly 50 per cent,” he said.

Mr O.P. Munjal, Co-Chairman, Hero Cycles, said the company had always treated workers as their own family and was among the highest pay-masters in the region. “We are strictly against lawlessness and violence which certain people have resorted to,” he said.

He also said the company was giving due benefits to workers. “For over 20 years now, we have remained the largest manufacturers of bicycles and this is all due to cordial working environment prevalent here,” he said.

Mr Rai said migrant labourers were creating problems.

Mr Suresh Munjal, MD, Domestic Marketing, and Mr Vijay Munjal, MD, International Marketing, Hero Cycles were also present.


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