L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


DMC faculty up in arms against
proposed police post

Police denies any such move
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Ending all confusion about its stand on the proposed construction of a police post in the DMC premises, the DMC faculty has launched a signature campaign opposing the move.

The opposition has been further strengthened with the residents’ association of colonies situated close to the DMC holding meetings with SP, City, I.R.K. Jaiswal, to oppose the propose move of setting up a police post.

Mr Jaiswal said the residents had met him and the police would take a decision after taking into consideration all viewpoints over the issue.

Mr Jaiswal also sought to clarify that there was no move to set up a police station there so far.

"We require space for a police post and there is no proposal yet to construct a police station," he said.

The signature campaign had been launched after a number of faculty members and office bearers of the newly-elected association of doctors moving a resolution at the meeting in which the new office bearers were announced.

The association would now move a formal resolution in this regard and for this purpose the signature campaign has been started.

A police post was already functioning from a room of the Human Resources Department building at the entry gate of the DMC.

The Faculty was opposing the move to construct a police station proposed to come up near the boy's hostel.

Dr Daljit Singh, Principal of the DMC, who had denied in earlier news reports that the faculty had never opposed the setting up of a police post in a meeting with him, had already clarified to the faculty through a circular issued by him that he was misquoted over the issue.

The DMC hospital sources said the faculty had always been opposing the move giving a permanent space to the police in the hospital premises.

A doctor, who was also a prominent office-bearer in the previous association and holds an important position in the newly-elected association, claimed that the DMC management was giving prime land worth several lakhs to the police for construction of the police post.

‘‘The faculty would not allow setting up a police station or a police post at any cost," he said.

The faculty understands the need of posting a couple of Head Constables or an ASI for medico-legal purposes but there was no room for a complete police set-up which would have lockup rooms and place for parking the impounded vehicles or those recovered as case properties.

Inquiries have revealed that the proposed site for the purpose was near the boy's hostel and a residential colony towards the Hero-DMC Heart hospital.

Mr Micky Gupta, spokesman for an association of the area residents, told the Ludhiana Tribune that a police post existed in the nearby Kitchlu Nagar in the west and a police station, Division No 8, exists in not- so -far Prem Nagar towards the east.

The residents did not feel there was any need for a new police post due to the proximity to the existing police posts.



205 retrenched staff starving for jobs
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The proposed setting up of an airport near Laddowal village has spelt doom for 205 employees of Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation (PAIC) who were issued retrenchment notices soon after they were transferred to the corporation after fighting a long battle with the state government.

The development has affected their families, who are virtually facing starvation after the state government had proposed to give away 1,550 acres for setting up an airport in Ludhiana.

This has happened to them for the third time in past four years. For them the job has a jinx attached to it. Everytime they fight asking for their right and manage to get employment, they are shown the door soon thereafter.

In 2001 it was the closing down of the Central Seed Farm that had rendered them jobless. After fighting for a year they were somehow absorbed in the PLDRC, which suffered losses and was dissolved. They were jobless once again and were transferred to PAIC last year after the state government transferred 1,550 acres to the corporation.

Thinking that PAIC had given them a new lease of life, the employees had joined their new department only to be face disappointment after two months when they were shown the door once again. The corporation is yet to pay them two months’ salaries. They were retrenched in November last year and are again fighting to be absorbed.

“We have given 25-30 years of our life to this department. Now when we are in the twilight of our lives and they are making us run from pillar to pillar,” said a retrenched employee.

These employees faced crisis in 2001 after the 20-year-old lease of the Central State Farm to the Central Government expired and over 2,700 acres of land were returned to the state government.

The state government had in turn distributed the land between Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), PLDRC and Punjab Police, while retaining some of it with itself. The university got 1,250 acres, while the PLDRC and police got 1,550 and 50 acres, respectively.

As per an agreement between the state and the Central governments the liability of these workers rested with the state government, which had in turn passed it on to PAU and the PLDRC, who got major chunks of the farmland. The government had given the responsibility of 183 employees to PAU and of 205 employees to the PLDRC, whose fate hang in balance.

For three times, the employees were not absorbed for a long time. During this time three persons had committed suicide and the state government had then woken out of slumber and absorbed the employees. “Is the government waiting for us to follow the same path?” asked Mr Dalip Singh, a retrenched employee.

He added that Sunita, a 35-year-old senior clerk died of heart attack two years ago after she was retrenched. Another employee Bhajan Singh breathed his last in a hospital due to stroke.



Chemists give one month to govt on VAT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 19
With the state government responding in a positive manner to the issues related to value added tax (VAT) on medicines, chemists in the state have decided to give a month’s time to the government before resuming the agitation and stopping purchase of medicines as a measure of protest.

More than 35,000 retail and wholesale chemists in the state had threatened to discontinue the purchase of medicines. The Punjab Chemists Association (PCA) was pressing for the imposition of VAT on maximum retail price (MRP) of medicines at the first point of purchase in the state and further wanted tax exemption on life-saving drugs.

The PCA president, Mr Surjit Mehta, told the Ludhiana Tribune on telephone that a delegation of the association which met the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, in Chandigarh today was given an assurance that the government had agreed in principle to the demand of charging VAT on the basis of MRP of medicines and that too at the first point of purchase in the state.

The Finance Minister had told the PCA delegation that the issue would be raised at the next meeting of the empowered committee of the state finance ministers on VAT in Delhi on April 26.

Meanwhile, officials of the Excise and Taxation Department were skeptical about the demand of charging tax on MRP of medicines, saying that in such case monitoring would not be possible and by raising such impractical demand the chemists wanted to create confusion and did not want to pay tax on medicines.

A senior official of the department stated that the medicines were shifted from tax bracket of 8.8 per cent to 4 per cent and logically the traders should have readily switched over to the new tax regime.



Sevadar charged with paedophalia; arrested
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 19
The Khanna police has arrested Sher Singh, a sevadar at a religious place, for allegedly sodomising an 11-year-old deaf and dumb boy in Azad Nagar here.
On Monday evening Sher Singh had sodomised the boy who had come to the religious place to pay obeisance. The victim was taken to the Civil Hospital, Khanna.

The mother of the victim said her son on returning narrated the incident through signs and identified the sevadar.

A case under Section 377 was registered against the accused at Sadar police station.

The police has taken the boy’s clothes in the possession for medical examination.

The police would produce Sher Singh in court tomorrow.



Passing Thru

R.S. Mongia
Justice R.S. Mongia, president of the state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commision, Chandigarh.

What about the pendency of appeals before the state redress commission?

A large number of appeals are pending with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission as the post of president remained vacant for about six months. After assuming the charge of the commission, all out efforts are being made to streamline the working of the commission and to reduce the pendency.

What is your assessment about the role of Lok Adalats in consumer cases?

The cases pertaining to consumers were placed in the national level Lok Adalat held in Ludhiana on April 10 and it was a great success. Now we are planning to make it a regular feature by holding Lok Adalats exclusively for the consumer cases.

What about the awareness among consumers about their rights?

The consumers are getting more aware of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act. Awareness is gradually percolating to the rural population. In Ludhiana, at present about 1,200 cases are pending. Every month around 90 to 100 cases are disposed of but new cases are filed every month.

— Rajneesh Lakhanpal



Missing officer’s kin ask Pervez to end their agony
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Hoping against hope for the release of Flight-Lieut Gurdev Singh Rai of Chak Sarwan Nath village, allegedly held captive as a Prisoner of War (POW) by Pakistan in 1971, his relatives have made an earnest appeal to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to end their misery by telling them whether he was ever held captive or not.

After consuming all sorts of news about the POWs for the last three decades, the three brothers of Vir Chakra awardee, Flight-Lieut Rai have appealed to the President, who was visiting India recently, to make the family aware of the fate of Indian pilot, who had gone missing in action during 1971 war.

“For the last so many years we have been bombarded with all kinds of information about our brother.

Although the Pakistan Government has been claiming that there was no POW there, the representatives of Mardana Trust, who had recently visited Pak, had claimed that there were many POWs, who had lost their mental balance.

Then there were reports that last remains of some were awaiting to be claimed. Whom should we believe now?” asked Mr Sukh Kanwar Singh, his brother.

“Now we want that our case should be taken up sympathetically and we should be made aware about whatever happened to him, whether he is dead or alive.

We have been hoping all these years that one day he would be back. But it has not happened,” he added.

The family said the claims of the Pakistan Government had been disturbing them but they were still hopeful.

A number of Indian spies, who had returned to the country after spending several years in Pakistan jails, had claimed in many media interviews that they had seen Flight-Lieut Rai in a Pakistan jail, the family argued.

Proudly narrating the contribution of his valiant brother in the war, Mr Sukh Kanwar Singh said he had fought gallantly in 1965 but his heroism was recognised in 1971, when he was assigned the task of destroying several strategically placed radars of the Pakistan Army.

On December 4, 1971, he commanded a fleet of hunter planes to destroy certain radars in Sakesar near Mianwali in Pakistan and inflicted major loss to the enemy station.

The next day, he again led an attack at the same place and completely destroyed the radars. However, he did not return and has been missing since then.

The Indian government awarded him Vir Chakra ‘posthumously’ later but in the accompanying citation mentioned the government had not received any information about his where abouts after December 5, 1971.

His family members did not forget to quote Mr M.K. Pal, a Rajkot based social worker, who had devoted his life to the cause of the missing Indian POW’s.

He had claimed that the missing Air Force officer was still alive in Pakistan.



Subordinate services employees decry privatisation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 19
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation held a protest march in favour of their demands at the mini secretariate here today. Members also came in support of the electricity board employees by wearing black badges. The rally was organised against the governments’ decision to privatise various departments.

The leaders said it was the government’s duty to provide education to children between the age group of 6 and 14, instead the education was being given in private hands so that poor could never afford education. The members alleged that the Central Government had provided a grant of Rs 6. 9 crore under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan to the state government but the state government had urged the managements of private schools to take over government schools.

The government had decided to privatise 29 government departments, including education, hospitals, dispensaries, electricity board, transport, ITI, polytechnic college, boards and corporations. The Congress government had failed to fulfil pre-poll promises, they alleged.

They decided to intensify their agitation by announcing a state-level rally in Chandigarh on May 12.



Councillors end fast on assurance
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 19
A relay fast, started by opposition Councillors of the Khanna Municipal Council against the poor sewerage system in the city, was ended today after getting an assurance of the Superintending Engineer, Sewerage Board, that the work of disposal of the sewer would be completed within six months.

Some opposition Councillors had started the fast against the Municipal Council authorities on April 4. On the 15th day of the fast, the Executive Officer of the council, Mr Najar Singh, called the councillors and told them that the Superintending Engineer had given an assurance that the work would be complete within six months after they would receive Rs 1.40 crore and appealed that them to end the fast. The written assurance was handed over to the Councillors.

Devinder Singh Khattra, Mr Mohinderpal Jassal, Dinkar Kalia, Rajinderjit Singh, Surjan Singh, Gurdeep Singh Deepa, Sarv deep Singh Kalirao and many other leaders and workers of opposition parties were present on the occasion.



Demolition of green belt wall irks traders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Demolition of a wall lining a green belt in the Feroze Gandhi market has evoked protests from office-bearers of the Traders and Property Owners Association, who alleged that it was the handiwork of car dealers, who wanted more parking space.

The wall was demolished late last evening and shopkeepers came to know about it in the morning only.

Claiming that they were maintaining the green belt from the association’s resources, Mr S.S. Ghuman, president of association, shot off complaints to the Deputy the Commissioner, the SSP, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, and the Chairman of the Improvement Trust asking them to initiate action against the elements responsible for it.

He alleged that the green belt was provided in the master plan of the market and they had erected a wall around it fearing that it would be encroached upon and misused. But some unscrupulous elements had removed the wall. They were eyeing the place to park the vehicles that came to car bazaar for sale.

Mr Ghuman said earlier also such green belts were encroached upon and now nobody knews where these existed. 



Missing teacher’s body found from canal
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 19
The body of a schoolteacher who had been missing for the past some days was found from a canal near Khanauri in Sangrur district today.
According to the information, Harmanjit Singh (30), resident of Uttam Nagar working as a teacher in Khalsa School, Khanna, had gone to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Kalgidhar on April 13 but did not return.

His scooter was found lying at the bank of Bhakra canal near floating restaurant, Sirhind, the next day. Family members of the deceased enquired but failed to get any clue about him.

His body was found from the Bhakra branch canal near Khanauri.

The family members of the deceased identified the body. The body was brought to the Civil Hospital, Khanna, for postmortem examination but doctors sent the body to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. The Rajindera Hospital authorities handed over the body to the family members of the deceased after conducting post-mortem.



Woman dies as stove bursts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
A 32-year-old woman, Anima, was blown to pieces when a stove exploded under mysterious circumstances in her house in New Janta Nagar last night.
The police is investigating if it was an accident or result of some foul play. So far the police has got evidence that it was an accident. The woman is survived by her husband and a two-year-old son.



Woman tortured, thrown out of house over dowry
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 19
A girl belonging to the town was thrown out from her husband’s house, as her widow mother could not fulfil the demands of her in-laws which included a car.
The police has booked five persons under the anti-dowry act for allegedly harassing the girl to bring more dowry from her mother.

In a communication to Mr H.S. Chahal, Senior Superintendent of police at Sangrur, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, resident of local Jagera Road, had accused Amandeep Singh of Banbhaura village in district Sangrur (husband), Sukhdev Kaur (mother), Raman Kaur, Dheer Singh and Mohinder Singh of harassing her for dowry.

Mr Kulwinder Kaur was married to Amandeep in December 2002 and her widow mother had spent a huge amount on her marriage.

“Besides spending Rs 90,000 on the reception of ‘Baraat’ jewellery and clothes worth Rs 1.32 lakh were also given to the family of the bridegroom who demanded Rs 30,000 for buying a motorcycle at the time of marriage,” reads the complaint sent to SSP. Contrary to the expectations of Kulwinder Kaur, the members of the groom’s family started taunting her for bringing less dowry. She was tortured, both physically and mentally by her husband, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and other relatives, including Dhir Singh and Mohinder Singh.

After around six months of her marriage, Mohinder Singh came to her-in-laws and asked her to bring Rs 50,000 from her mother.

“After borrowing Rs 30,000 from her relatives my mother accompanied me to Banbhaura and requested my husband and his relatives to accommodate me in the family. Instead of understanding our problems, they humiliated us and forcibly threw us out from the house,” narrated Ms Kulwinder Kaur in the complaint.

Finding a prima facie case, Mr Chahal directed Mr Harinder Singh, SHO Sadar, to register an FIR.



Unauthorised colony carved, one booked
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 19
Surinder Singh of Raikot without seeking permission from PUDA has carved a colony on his land. The police has registered a case under Sections 2 (1) 3, 5, 21, 36 of the PAPR Act on the complaint of Mr Narinder Singh, Assistant Engineer Office, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Ludhiana. The police has initiated investigation but no arrest has been made so far.

Liqour seized: Sadhu Singh of Seelo Kalan has been arrested by the police from his village while carrying nine bottles of country made liquor. A case under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act has been registered at the police station, Dehlon.



3-year-old crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
A three-year-old boy who was crushed under a Tata-407 truck succumbed to his injuries at hospital today.
The boy, Jaskaran Singh was crossing the road with his grandmother when the truck ran over the child. The truck driver has been arrested.



Industrialists for stronger Indo-Pak trade ties
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Improving trade ties might not be on top of the priority list for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, but industrialists in Punjab are hopeful that the issue would be taken up for “strong trade ties could better relations between the two nations”.

“There is more than merely an economic aspect to improving the bilateral trade. Goods made in India available in Pakistan and vice-versa would do more than just contribute towards exchequers,” feels Mr R.S. Sachdeva, co-chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab.

Industry feels the bilateral trade of US $ 300-400 million is much below the potential which could cross the one billion mark within four to five years.

“Though both countries would benefit in terms of huge savings, in the longer run, Pakistan stands to gain a lot more,” opines Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, former chairman, CII, Northern Region, who was also a part of the Indian delegation that accompanied Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to Pakistan.

He added, “Opening up of trade would throw open a market of 100 crore people to Pakistan whereas for India it would be only 17 crore.”

While the issue of MFN status to India by Pakistan remains critical, industrialists feel various other measures can be undertaken to allay the fears of industry in Pakistan about Indian products wiping away their local markets.

“They can sort out the issue of granting an MFN status to India later on, but to begin with, they can adopt measures like opening up selected items which Pakistan is importing at very high costs from other countries,” suggests Mr Mittal.

Another recommendations in the direction includes fixing the volume of imports from India. Industry also recommended setting up a warehouse on both sides from where goods after security checks can be sent to the other country.

Apart from advocating an immediate expansion of the list of items that are traded between the two countries, the industrialists feel measures like an easy visa regime to promote tourism, opening of road route for trade, removing problems in trading via rail route and initiatives like bilateral trade shows would also go a long way in improving trade relations.

While industry has identified items like engineering goods, industrial gases, computer hardware and software as some of the items that Indian can export to Pakistan, importing cotton and textiles from Pakistan would be beneficial for India.

“There are enormous opportunities for joint ventures and tie ups in areas of agriculture produce, food processing and packaging, dairy, fruits and vegetables and post-harvest technologies”.

The CII recommended setting up of business information centre, opening up trade through the Wagah border with a view to boost trade between East and West Punjab, which, the confederation feels, has the potential to increase manifold.

“What matters is initiative. Once we begin, we are certain both countries would explore even more avenues,” Mr Mittal emphasised, adding, “The one billion mark in bilateral trade would then not take more than 2-3 years.”

Echoing industry’s sentiments, Mr Sachdeva said, “We are hoping that Mr Musharraf will consider trade as one of the key priority areas and a beginning would be made in the direction.”



Textile industry needs to gear up
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Globalisation and the post Multi Fiber Agreement (MFA) regime have brought new opportunities and the textile industry must gear up to take advantage of these opportunities resolutely.

This was stated by Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles, on the occasions of a seminar on ‘Post MFA:

New opportunities in Textile and Apparel Business’ was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Punjab State Council, in association with the Pearl Academy of Fashion, here today.

Mr Oswal said the watchword for survival was cost control, productivity, and quality for competitiveness. The challenges are on all fronts — technology, marketing and management, he added.

Mr S.B. Mohapatra, Former Secretary, Textiles, Government of India, while delivering the keynote address, mentioned that one of the reasons the textile and garment industry was far behind the target of $ 50 billion set forth by the Union Government was lack of strong investment base. 


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