L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Parents cremated; children’s bodies still untraced
Jupinderjit Singh and Gurminder Grewal

Uccha Jattan (Khamano), April 16
Sixty-year-old Kesar Singh, sarpanch of this village, had cremated his daughter-in-law yesterday. Today, he performed the last rites of his son. With his eyes gone dry after crying inconsolably for the past many days, Kesar Singh was blankly staring at the pyre of his son.

As the pyre was lit and the wailing of the relatives, especially women, reached high pitch, Kesar Singh took a deep breath, composed himself for he had more arduous job to do. He has to search for the bodies of his three grandchildren, who had allegedly drowned under mysterious circumstances with his son and daughter-in-law on April 8 in the Bhakhra Canal near Morinda.

While the bodies of his son Gurmeet Singh and daughter-in-law Surinder Kaur have been recovered, there is no trace of the bodies of his granddaughter Simranjit Kaur (5) and grandsons Vipul (3) and Aashu (2). Kesar Singh had been searching for the bodies alongside the Bhakhra Canal from Ropar to Khanauri through Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts since April 8, when all the deceased had gone to his daughter-in-law’s maternal house in Ropar on a motor cycle.

They, however never reached there. Late in the evening, they learnt that the motor cycle was found abandoned near Ropar on the bank of the canal. No one had seen them jumping in the canal nor was there any trace of murder.

Family members and villagers believe it to be a case of suicide. Close family friends reveal in hush tone that there was some minor dispute in the family a day before Gurmeet Singh, his wife and children went missing. “But it was never a big issue to culminate in such a big tragic,” they add.

Kesar Singh ruled out the possibility of murder, “We have no enemies. We do not suspect anyone. It was all God’s wish.” he said resigning to the fate. He, however, did not see any reason for the suicide pact, “God knows what came in the mind of Gurmeet. If only he had told us............!” he leaves the sentence incomplete and excuses himself, “I have to go in search of the bodies of my grandchildren. What was their fault? The flowers had just blossomed. I just hope that we could find someone alive. Who knows some God-sent angel had saved one or all of my grandchildren”.

It is not only the family of Kesar Singh that had plunged in grief over the deaths. The entire village had converged on their house and later attended the funeral procession that was so huge that the traffic on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana road was affected.

More than 50 men from the village have been helping Kesar Singh in searching for the bodies since the day they went missing.

Harbhajan Singh, a neighbour, revealed that Kesar Singh was one of the most respected person in the village. He was elected sarpanch unanimously. He had three sons, including Gurmeet, and four daughters. Three of his daughters were married. He was finalising the marriage of his youngest daughter in her prospective in-laws house when the tragic news reached him.



MC, police, religious places major encroachers
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Even as officials of Ludhiana Improvement Trust, (LIT), claim to wage a war against the encroachers in the city, they seem to be facing an impossible task, if the list of encroachers is any indication.

A big question that haunted the trust was that would it be able to take action against the encroachers including the MC, police and religious places in the city? Would the orders of the High Court to raze all structures to the ground be complied with in toto?

Going by the past experience the answer seemed to be negative. The city was witness to the transfer of a former Commissioner of MC, when he had taken up cudgels to remove encroachment by a religious place near Jagraons bridge a few years ago. At that time, the issue was given a political colour and the official, who had dared to act tough, had to face the most unceremonious exit.

A perusal of a list of encroachments, submitted by the trust to the High Court, revealed that a major chunk of prime land was encroached upon by none other than the municipal corporation, police, religious places, jhuggi dwellers, welfare societies besides many residents who had constructed toilets on the public land.

One could imagine what would happen if action was taken against so many religious places at one go. Then there was the case of a police station in BRS Nagar, which had been functioning from the place for last so many years? Similar was the case of the houses of MC officials.

Some residents said that once again it would be the small fishes that would be bearing the brunt of the situation.

As many as 14,000 square yards of land belonging to LIT had been encroached upon by religious places, including temples and gurdwaras. Another major chunk of land had jhuggies constructed on it in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar area and Model Town Extension.

Interestingly, residences of MC officials in posh Sarabha Nagar and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar area were also ‘encroachments.’

The MC has also encroached upon a piece of land in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar to install tubewell there. Mr Fateh Singh, a well-known politically influential transporter was also accused of encroaching 462 sq yards of trust land in BRS Nagar.

While some religious places, including a temple in Model Town Extension and a hotel on Dugri Road, were involved in a litigation over the issue with the trust, the latter was required to concentrate on other major encroachments.



Woollen mill fire controlled after 36 hours
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The fire in Supreme Woollen Mills in Kanganwal village near here, that had broken out on Thursday evening, was controlled by the Fire Brigade today.
After shouldering for more than 36 hours, the fire was finally doused at 8 a.m. in the morning. A team of Fire Brigade worked round the clock to control it.

Fire officials said the fire could have taken a devastating form had the mill owner not arranged a huge quantity of water. They said he had made arrangements for storing a lot of water which helped the fire fighters, said Mr R.K. Sharma, Senior Fire Officer of the district.

Yarn, a petroleum product, was highly inflammable. This contributed to spread of fire so fast that yarns worth crores were destroyed in it. ‘‘The operation was so difficult that whenever we concentrated on dousing fire in another corner, the smouldering rolls at the earlier place started burning. We were not sure even till the last minute that the fire was completely doused or not. I stood there till 4 p.m. today thinking it might not spread again.’’ said Mr Sharma.

Mr Sharma was also injured in the fire-fighting operation on Thursday. He was taken to the hospital. ‘‘But I wanted to be back and I told doctors that my team needed me. It was a challenge to control the fire. So I rushed to the spot immediately. Now, I will start getting treatment from tomorrow.’’

He added that in his 40 years experience as a fire officer, he had never seen such a fire that was so difficult to contain. ‘‘We thanked God that we saved so many people and nobody was even hurt.’’

To control the fire, the MC had to postpone its demolition drive scheduled to start from Friday. The Joint Commissioner, Dr Jaswant Singh, who had to supervise the anti-encroachment drive remained busy with the Fire Brigade. 



Oswal property auctioned for default in payment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Property belonging to M/s KR Oswal Hosiery was auctioned by Punjab National Bank for default in payment to the tune of Rs 39 lakh late last evening. While the property was sold for Rs 23.30 lakh, the bank will launch proceedings to recover the remaining payment.

Bank officials said that despite a notice of 60 days under the Securitisation Act, the borrower failed to clear its dues, as a result of which the bank had to sell the property.

"The party was given an opportunity to settle its dues amicably and a 30- day notice was served upon the party on December 30, 2004, but the party did not come forward to settle its dues. Despite being given a warning that if they failed to settle their dues within a specified period, the bank would have no other option to recover its dues than by selling the possessed property, the borrower did not pay heed to the final notice," bank officials said.

The property was sold in an open auction after a public notice in news papers by the authorised officer, Mr. Anil Sama, Chief Manager of Zonal Office, Ludhiana. The auction was conducted by Mr B.B. Sharma, advocate.

Mr R.K. Sharma, senior regional manager, Ludhiana, said the bank was giving all opportunities to borrowers to settle their dues amicably.

Mr Sharma informed that 24 properties of different parties with dues to the tune of Rs 460 lakh were in possession of the Ludhiana region which will be sold in near future.

He informed that the Ludhiana region had so far issued notices in 254 accounts amounting to Rs. 3,575 lakh under Securitisation Act-2002, out of which 98 accounts amounting to Rs. 1,180 lakh have been settled amicably.



Hero Cycles management, workers
willing to end strike

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
To resolve the ongoing labour strike at Hero Cycles, a meeting between workers, management and Labour Department Officials was held in Mini secretariat here today. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, sources said.

Officers from the Labour Department who attended the meeting were Labour Officers Mr Amarjit Singh and Mr Satnam Singh, and labour inspector Onkar Chand Saini Mr B.L. Sehgal, senior general manager, Hero Cycles and Mr Satpal Verma were among those who represented the company at the meeting. Workers were represented by CITU general secretary Raghunath, Mr Jatinder Pal and Mr Jagdip Chand.

The workers demanded that the management withdraw cases registered against labourers and cancel chargesheets issued to some workers. They also said that labourers who had been laid off should be taken back by the company.

Workers also raised the issue of increase in wages and bonus of workers in sister concerns of the Hero Group.

The Management, which, according to sources, adopted a soft stand, hopes to resolve the conflict soon.

The next meeting to discuss the matter would be held on April 20. Sources said the matter would be resolved within a day or so.



Passing Thru

Ishar Judge Ahluwalia
Dr Ishar Judge Ahluwalia, Vice Chairperson, Planning Board, Government of Punjab. She is wife of Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India. 

What are the challenges faced by agricultural economy of Punjab?

The farmers of the state need to diversify to compete in the global market. There is no point in producing a huge quantity of grains that have no value in the international market. They should understand that the concept of producing foodgrains to check starvation has changed to producing good quality grains with high nutrition value. This is the mantra for carving out a niche for themselves in the global market.

Are the farmers capable of diversifying on their own?

The farmers should not always look up to the government to tide over any crisis. Besides some help from the government, they should develop entrepreneurship qualities and try to compete with their counterparts at the international level. There are examples in the past that they had helped India usher in the Green Revolution. This time also they should try to change with the changing times and understand the pulse of their possible markets.

What else do we need to do to strengthen our economy?

We should help revive small scale industries so that more and more employment avenues are opened for the youths.

— Kanchan Vasdev



18 lakh bonded labourers in Sindh, says NGO head
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 16
Comrade Ghulam Hussain, an agriculturist and a social activist from Sindh, Pakistan, feels that government, other social organisations and the police were doing nothing for the release of more than 18 lakh bonded labourers in Sindh, Pakistan. Chairman of Himmat group- an NGO fighting for the rights of people, Ghulam Hussain said that these people were kept in chain by their employers and they were not allowed to raise their voice against these atrocities.

Com. Ghulam Hussain and Ms Diep Sayeeda, the two members of the peace-march ‘India Pakistan Padyatra’, were in the city today to meet Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, their counterparts in this country.

In an interview with Ludhiana Tribune, Ghulam Hussain said that the landlords had an upper edge in Pakistan. They forced youngsters, children and even womenfolk to work for them round the clock. The workers were being treated like animals. There was a need for strict enforcement of law, which showed some respite for them." Our organisation will fight to get their secure release”, said Mr Hussain.

He said since India and Pakistan were the two major countries representing Southeast Asia, the two should unite and work together for progress. He said it was unfortunate that both the governments invested heavily on arms and ammunition and the poor man was suffering. “I happen to get the seeds of aloe vera here. I got Rs 20 per kg whereas in Pakistan it is Rs 500 kg. Look at the difference. It is because we get everything through the Dubai route. If such barriers are not there, both the nations would progress”, he said.

As far as the issue of Kashmir was concerned, the bureaucrats of both the countries should not interfere in that and let the Kashmiris decide their own fate, said Ms Diep Sayeeda, a peace activist from Lahore. She said that Britishers and Americans were allowed to visit anywhere in both India and Pakistan." But when we are given visa, we are supposed to visit two or three cities, which is wrong. Why this discrimination? We are not terrorists. Why these visa restrictions are meant for us only? Through this padyatra, we are trying to convey certain messages to both the governments for the betterment of countries”, said Ms Diep Sayeeda.

She was of the view that dialogues should continue like this. “Kashmir always remains the main issue but let the people living there decide their fate. They should not be pressurised by both the governments. It is due to these peaceful dialogue initiations that we are here. Cricket team of Pakistan is here and General Musharraf, himself will be here. These are indications of positive outcomes”, said Ms Diep.



Rise in bronchial cases due to dusty winds
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Sudden rise and fall in the temperature during the past few days, coupled with ongoing harvesting of wheat, has added to the woes of the people. Information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune indicates that a large number of residents were suffering from bronchial asthma, naso-bronchial allergy, flu-like symptoms common cold and cough, fever, bouts of sneezing and watery discharge from eyes.

According to Dr Sandeep Puri, Medical Superintendent, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, here, spurt in the pollen count in the air from wheat chaff and dirt was the main cause of the rise in respiratory and other allergic ailments. General fatigue and feverish feeling was another common problem being faced by the people due to prevailing weather conditions. Dusty winds and occasional chill in the weather had also contributed to the overall unhealthy environment.

He said while it would not be possible to say anything about the duration of the prevailing “unhealthy season”, it would be safe to say that once the aggravating factors like high pollen count and dust particles settled down, the conditions would be back to normal.

Some of the major hospitals in the city had also reported a sudden rise in the number of patients in the medical OPD’s with most of them having allergic cough and cold, congestion and breathlessness.

Meanwhile, due to the non-availability of medical specialists most of the people, particularly those from weaker sections, and living in under-developed localities on the periphery of the mega city, were forced to seek medical assistance from quacks, who were said to be making most of the situation.



Uniform implementation of VAT sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The Federation of Yarn Trade and Industries has demanded uniform implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) throughout the country.
In a letter to the chairman of the VAT Advisory Committee, Mr Asim Dass Gupta, the federation also pointed out the complications in the new system and said there had been no endeavours by the state government to generate awareness on VAT.

“The provisions are highly complicated. Treaders are not even able to cope up with the tedious provisions in the Act,” said Mr Chanana Singh Ahuja, vice-president of the association.

He said tiny and small-scale industries were the worst sufferers on account of the implementation of VAT.

“The government appears to be concerned only about revenue collection. They should pay some heed to the problems being faced by industry as well,” Mr Ahuja said.

The Oil Mill Machinery Manufacturers Association has urged the government to include spare parts in the four per cent category. The association said while mill machinery, being capital goods, was being charged four per cent, spare parts were charged at 12.5 per cent under VAT.

According to the association, items like ball bearings and industrial beltings, all industrial inputs, cycle and cycle spare parts and sewing machine and spare parts were included under the four per cent category.

The association also said small-scale manufacturers had been put into a disadvantageous position as they would be paying 8.5 per cent extra input tax credit than output tax credit. 



Dhoni lookalike surprises cricket lovers
Anil Datt

Ludhiana, April 16
For 22-year-old Ravi Verma, the lady luck could not have smiled in a better way. He resembles the latest cricket sensation, Mohinder Singh Dhoni, Indian wicket keeper who smashed Pakistani bowlers in the second one-day match at Visakhapatnam.

Ravi, a lookalike of Dhoni, is a salesman working with a medical distribution company in the Pindi Street drug market. He admits that he is no cricket fan and has a “least knowledge” of the game or its stars. He has been into body building and small-time modelling. It his hairstyle, face and other features that resemble with Mohinder Dhoni.

Younger of the two brothers, his father is also a salesman working with a silk store. He said he felt taunted a couple of days ago when people would address him as Dhoni. When he talked about it to his cousin, he “solved” the problem by telling him that he “perfectly” resembled the cricket star. Since then, he started carrying cricket kit along with him.

He has started getting phone calls from the newspapers and other media organisations. “I know this is not going to last long, but I take pride in being a lookalike of the star cricketer”, he said. He hopes to further capitalise on his looks in the world of modelling and is pretty confident about that.

Where he goes, he gets compliments for his appearance. The resemblance is so close that people are taken aback by surprise wondering as how Dhoni would roam around in Ludhiana when only a couple of days back he was playing at Visakhapatnam.

He has already started getting invitations from the cricket crazy people. During his visit to a school recently in Ludhiana, he was flocked by students seeking his autographs.

Yesterday, a large number of cricket fans thronged the local Arya College ground where Ravi appeared in a cricket match played between two teams named after India XI and Pakistan XI.



Shobha Yatras mark Navratras
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
A sea of devotees was seen participating in two Shobha Yatras taken out here on the eve of Ramnavami. The Shri Sanatan Dharam Mahotsav Committee took out the 57th shobha Yatra from Daresi Ground here today at 2pm.

A yagna at Sri Sita Mata Mandir , Daresi, was performed and was attended by Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Lala Lajpat Rai, ex -MP and many others.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Stationery, was the chief guest and the Shobha Yatra was led by Mahamandleshwar Sri Swami Ved Bharati and was inaugurated by Mr Anurag Verma , Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.

The flag-hoisting ceremony was performed by Parag Jain, DIG Ludhiana. Bhajan mandlis sang songs in praise of Lord Rama.

The Shobha Yatra passed from Daresi, Pratap Bazaar, Mata Rani Chowk, Clock Tower, Chaura Bazaar, Vaishno Devi Chowk, Division No 3, Kothi Khawja, Sangla wala Shivalaya and culminated at Shi Hardev Temple. The devotees were served langar by market committees and other organisations.

Another Shobha Yatra was organised by the Sri Ram Utsav Committee, MillerGanj. Many social , religious and political organisations participated in it. A yagna at 11am was performed.

The yatra passed through Sangeet Cinema Chowk, Basant Park, Jaimal Singh Road, Janta Nagar Chowk, Gill Road, Cycle Market, Vishwakarma Chowk and returned to Shiv temple.



Canada sets target of immigrant aspirants
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Canada Government has set target for the current year for those who aspire to go there as permanent residents and for other purposes. Giving details of the programme, Mr Joe Volpe, Minsiter for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), said since Canada continued to attract and welcome people from all over the world and it remained a country of immigrants, newcomers that strengthen the fabric of their society, they have set target of inviting more than two lakh persons each year during the next three years.

In his report on plans and priorities, a three-year plan for the period 2005-2008, Mr Volpe said out of this, the maximum number of immigrants consist of economic class which comprise skilled workers, business immigrants, provincial/ territorial nominees and live-in caregivers. 



Residents getting contaminated water

Khanna, April 16
Residents of Bazigar Basti in the Model Town area here have been receiving contaminated water for the past four days. They said the water contained feathers of pigeons and small lizards.

However, following complaints’ the municipal authorities have started plagging leaks in water pipes.

The SDM, Khanna, Mr Jaspal Mittal, said he had issued instructions regarding checking water supply lines in the city.

Residents alleged that the drinking water being supplied by the municipal council was black. The supply to more than 10 houses had been stopped for the past four days. The Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Khanna, Mr Najar Singh, said all lines had been repaired and clean drinking water was being supplied. OC



Apple festival begins
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Ever thought of enjoying the savours of the best apple flavours with a dash of chicken added to it or topping up your meal with mouth-watering desserts on a base of apple rabri? For those who just don’t seem to do without their daily dose of apple, Washington Apples have a delight in store for gourmets this summer.

Starting April 14, Baisakhi festivities just got better with master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor preparing some dishes that combine health with taste-dishes with the “best apple flavours“ in the world. The Washington Apple Festival has been organised by The Washington Apple Commission and will be on till April 30 showcasing recipes from the chef.



Kalyan is dist Cong Legal Cell president
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 16
Mr S.K. Kalyan, advocate, here has been appointed President of the Congress Legal Cell (Youth Rural) of Ludhiana district by Mr Harprit Singh, President of the Youth Congress Legal Cell, Punjab, at a function held here today.

Mr Parminder Singh Gill, General Secretary of the legal cell, Punjab, Mr Harpal Singh Dhillon, Chairman of the Market Committee, Samrala, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, local MLA, Jasbir Singh Dhillon, President of the local Nagar Council, Mr Ram Rattan Singh, Rana Ranjit Singh spoke.


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