L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


BJP protests against power, water shortage
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
Activists of the BJP, led by the district president of the party, Dr Subhash Verma, today held a demonstration and burnt the effigy of the Chief Minister here in protest against the acute shortage of power and water in the city.

Addressing party workers, Dr Verma and other party leaders made scathing attacks against the Congress government for the imposition of power cuts on urban feeders despite tall claims that the water level was sufficient in all reservoirs and the generation of power at all hydel plants was normal. It said the government was trying to mislead people.

Charging the government with failure on the development front, the BJP leaders maintained that no new power project had been launched during the present regime. People from all walks of life, including the industrial sector, were being made to suffer due to the erratic supply and unscheduled power cuts.

The shortage of drinking water in several localities, either due to power failure or electrical and mechanical defects in tubewells, also came in for criticism at the rally. The BJP leaders said it was unfortunate that while the people were reeling under power and water crisis, the Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and the Mayor were enjoying foreign joints.

The party threatened to launch an agitation if the government and the civic authorities failed to tackle the problem in the next 15 days.

Prominent among those present at the rally were Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Kamal Chatley, Mr Ashok Loomba, Mr Subhash Bhatia, Mr O.P. Bhardwaj, Mr Uma Dutt Sharma, Mr Rajinder Khatri, Mr Parveen Bansal, Mr Gurdip Singh Neetu, Mr Surinder Sharma, Mr Rajeev Katna, Mr Satish Nagar, Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, Mr Sunil Mehra, Ms Santosh Kalra, Ms Renu Thapar, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Mr Balbir Chand Kapila and Mr Rakesh Gautam.



PAP team takes away bomb from Dad village
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Residents of Dad village heaved a sigh of relief today when a bomb disposal squad of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) Jalandhar defused a live but badly rusted bomb that was found in the village pond about four days ago.

The recovery of the bomb has negated the claims of the district administration and the dry port authorities that strict checking was being done while unloading scrap that is imported in the city for remoulding by industrialists.

These scrap bombs have consumed several lives in the past. The industrialists or scrap dealers have confounded the matter by dumping the bombs in village ponds or abandoned places. The administration had warned last year that such people would be booked but the recovery of the bomb suggests that people were not afraid of the law in this regard.

The residents of the village have been panic-stricken ever since the recovery of the bomb which came out while the desilting of the pond was under process. The police had put sandbags around the bomb to minimise the damage if the bomb exploded. A police guard had been deployed round the clock near the site to prevent anybody from fiddling with the explosive.

The villagers had been making a beeline to the site. People from surrounding villages were also visiting the village to see the bomb. The police was having a hard time keeping onlookers at bay.

The SHO, Sadar, Mr Sandeep Sharma, said the police had requested a team from the bomb disposal squad which arrived today and took away the explosive.

The villagers have demanded a probe into the matter and strict action against the scrap dealer or the industrialist involved in the incident. No case has been registered so far.



Small savings agents go on indefinite strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
Small saving agents of the Ludhiana division suspended their work indefinitely and held a demonstration at the office of the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices (SSPO) here today against the alleged arbitrary policies of senior officials in respect of payment of their commission and deduction of income tax at source.

On the other hand, senior officials of the Department of Posts, terming the protest as unwarranted, claimed that the system of payment of commission and tax deduction had been changed on the directions of the circle office of the department to overcome certain procedural difficulties.

Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, president, National Saving Agents Welfare Association, alleged that the department had done away with the system of daily payment of commission which would now be paid on monthly basis. Not only this, the commission bills of the agents till the year ending March 31, 2005, were not being verified by the sub-post offices concerned and the agents were being asked to approach the head post office for this purpose.

He pointed out that the payment of incentive, payable to the agents by the state government for mobilising small savings, had also been held up. They said that the SSPO had refused to meet them.

Ms Manisha Bansal Badal, SSPO, said in a press note that the system for the payment of commission had been revised from June 1, 2005, to avoid complications arising between the Department of Posts and the Department of Income Tax over tax deduction at source.

“Earlier, the agents were given commission on a daily basis which led to discrepancies in TDS. With effect from June 1, the commission will be paid on a monthly basis by the head post office so that tax deductions can be made properly,” she said.



5 remanded in police custody
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 1
Five persons accused of attempting to launch a murderous attack on a man for allegedly taking forcible possession of a shop in the Ghumar Mandi were remanded in police custody till June 4 by a local court here today.

A large number of shopkeepers of the Ghumar Mandi raised slogans against these persons on courts complex.

It may be recalled that Surinder Singh, Parminder Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Avtar Singh and Jaswinder Singh were apprehended by the public, when they were allegedly fleeing after damaging and throwing articles out of a shop.

As the police failed to reach the spot in time, the accused were given sound beatings by the people yesterday. Resentment was visible amongst shopkeepers over the alleged police inaction and thereafter lathicharge on the shopkeepers, who were teaching ‘lesson’ to the assailants.

The assailants had tried to evict, Mr Satish Arora, president of the Ghumar Mandi Shopkeepers Association. They have been booked under Sections 307 of the IPC at the Division No 5 police station.



Delhi blast similar to ’95 explosion
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 1
The blast which shook Delhi’s cinema houses had a similarity with the blast which had taken place in Ludhiana in 1995.

It was on August 24, 1995 that Mr Beant Singh, then Chief Minister of Punjab, addressed a meeting of the local industrialists in Embassy Palace and left for Sahnewal airport. On the way when the cavalcade of Mr Beant Singh was passing through Dholewal overbridge on G T Road there was a blast which failed to cause any damage to the cavalcade. Mr Beant Singh was assassinated on August 31 after one week when he was coming down from the Punjab Civil Secretariat on Chandigarh in a bomb blast. The blast had been carried out by the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).

After the blast which took place at Ludhiana on August 24, 1995, the police arrested one youth from the spot whose shoes (action shoes ) got torn with the impact. As no damage was caused by the blast, there were no signs of the blast overground except that the youth’s shoes got torn and his body had burns. The youth was admitted to the Dayanand Hospital for a few days and the doctors were also perplexed how the blast had taken place and how the shoes of the youth got torn from the heel.

This reporter had seen the youth with the torn shoes and burns on his body.

The Delhi police has claimed that the explosive material was kept in the shoes and the same was tied with the underwear of the person who triggered the blast. So the Delhi blast has similarity with the blast which took place in Ludhiana in August 1995.

Meanwhile, the Punjab police has also collected information about the whereabouts of the militants belonging to the various outfits and other anti-social elements and all the district police chiefs have been alerted and directed to be vigilant.

This information was collected by the Punjab police authorities immediately after Parbir, son of a rich rice miller of Amritsar, was kidnapped. The police has also collected information about the militants who have undergone imprisonment and had been on bail besides collecting information about the dismissed police constables and SPOS. The police has already arrested some persons in connection with the kidnapping of Parbir, including one militant.

After the Delhi blast, the Punjab police has been asked to be more vigilant.



Patwar Union’s dharna
Our Correspondent

Samrala, June 1
The local Revenue Patwar Union staged a dharna in front of the local SDMs office in support of their long standing demands.

The speakers of the Patwar Union, namely Mr Sukhdev Singh Chauhan, vice-president of the Punjab Patwar Union, Mr Budh Singh, president, and Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the Samrala Tehsil Patwar Union, raised slogans against privatisation of all departments.

Later a big rally was held in which speakers of the PSEB Employees Union, spoke.



Patwaris protest against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 1
Protesting against the state government’s “privatisation” policies, the Revenue Patwar Union held organised a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today.

The union condemned the government’s decision to unbundle the Land Record Society.

Addressing the protesting patwaris, Mr Balvir Singh Kharike, district secretary of the union, said if the government did not stop privatisation, the employees would intensify their stir.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Mr Kuldip Singh mann, Mr Sukhminder Singh Virk, Mr Ajit Singh Dehlo and Mr Vinod Kumar, said Mr Darshan Kumar, general secretary of the union.



Opium seized; 2 held
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 1
The Khanna police has arrested two smugglers and recovered 2 kg of opium from their possession on Tuesday.

S S P Khanna said in a press note here today that under a special drive launched against drug addiction special nakas were laid and near Rajgarh A S I Darshan Singh stopped two persons coming on a motor cycle. During search the police recovered 2 kg and 270 grams of opium from their possession. The accused were identified as Balwinder Singh, son of Mr Naurang Singh, a resident of Rahaun in Khanna Subdivision, and Satinder Singh, son of Mr Gurdial Singh, a resident of Amloh. The police has registered a case under N D P C Act.



Industry grappling with labour problems
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June1
Increasing labour unrest is giving sleepless nights to local industry, which is suffering in terms of loss of production and profit.

The last few months have been witness to incidents of strikes by workers and also violence.

While last month it was Rockman Cycles, a sister concern of Hero Cycles, in April there was a strike at Hero Cycles. At present, it is KW Rims India , KW Engineering Works and Wasan Engineering Corporation, cycle and cycle parts manufactures, where workers and management are at loggerheads. Avon Cycles, Highway Cycle Industries and Ralson India, too, were affected by labour problems in the last few months. While industry blames “increasing unionism” , workers condemn managements for not considering their interest.

“Certain unions like CITU want their feet firm in this region which is why they are provoking workers. It is their own interest which ultimately not just harms industry, but also goes against workers,” says Mr B.D. Arora, who is a legal representative for a majority of industrial units in the city.

Industrialists have also been expressing their concern towards “increasing lawlessness and failure of the government and police to curb labour unrest” and have been holding meetings with various government officials and politicians in this regard.

“Labour unrest cripples industry. Production hits rock bottom, and we have to devote a lot of time towards conducting negotiations et al, which would ultimately have a bearing on the economy’s health,” an industrialist expressed concern.

Representatives of workers unions, on the other hand, blame managements for not considering their interest. “If they want to blame CITU for voicing labour problems, we are not bothered. They do not pay due emoluments to workers and try to extract much more work from a worker in comparison to what they pay him.

The fact is that they just want workers to work as per their whims, caring a little about the welfare aspect,” a representative of CITU said. Industry refutes these allegations and says it is paying more than minimum wages and is also giving other benefits as per law.

While allegations and counter allegations continue, it is labour reforms, which experts feel, would provide a solution. “The ultimate solution to these problems is labour reforms, which have been long pending. It is high time the government goes through these else, industry is bound to die,” said Mr Arora.


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