L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Mayor listed as encroacher by MC
Orders demolition of illegal structure
Tribune News Service

The Mayor refuted the allegations that he was an encroacher and claimed that he had got the land registered in his name in 1976. At that time there was no demarcation of land. He had got a room constructed and by “mistake” more than 10 square yards of MC land were covered.

“This mistake came to my knowledge some days ago and when I learnt about it, I gave a contract for the demolition of the room”.

Ludhiana, July 29
The city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, took the oath to wage a war against encroachments in the city during the General House of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) a week ago. Ironically he is himself an encroacher, if a list of encroachments submitted by the council to the Punjab and Haryana High Court is any indication.

Mr Nahar Singh is alleged to have usurped 1,088 square yards worth crores on the Chandigarh road in Mundian Kalan falling within the municipal limits of the city.

The alleged encroachment is in the form of a pucca room on this plot which is located next to a petrol station. As per the list of encroachments, a copy of which is in possession of The Tribune, the encroached area falls in khasra number 1220/326, as mentioned on page 223 (serial number-203).

Interestingly, while the MC alleges he is an encroacher, he had taken oath in the last meeting of the General House that he would remove all encroachments in the city. He was forced to announce this when a councillor raised a question on encroachments during zero hour.

Although, following the directions of High Court, the MC claims to have removed all encroachments in a recent drive, the Mayor’s encroachment was not touched. There was a feeling of resentment among poor residents who had to face the wrath of the demolition squad.

They claimed that while the poor and non-influential were made to suffer for small encroachments, the Mayor had been spared although he had usurped a big piece of council land in a commercial area.

Following attempts by a Tribune team to get pictures of the encroachment, the Mayor began demolition work through some workers. 



Suicide in police custody
Judicial probe ordered
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 29
The Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, has ordered a magisterial inquiry into an incident in which a detainee committed suicide in police custody at Chowki Malaudh near here today afternoon.

Surinder Kumar, a resident of ward number 5 of Malaudh town, committed suicide by piercing his chest with a piece of glass in presence of a large number of persons who had come to the chowki in connection with a dispute.

The SSP Khanna, when contacted, declined to comment on the subject, as he was yet to receive the details of the incident.

Mr Anurag Verma, DC, Ludhiana said, the DSP (H) had informed him that Surinder Kumar had committed suicide in the police custody at chowki Malaudh today afternoon. “Sensing the importance of the incident, I deputed Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, Payal, to conduct an inquiry and submit his report within a stipulated period,” said Mr Verma.

Sources revealed that Surinder Kumar had been rounded up by the police on a complaint lodged by residents of ward number 5, who had said that Surinder Kumar was creating nuisance in the area and was abusing them. Mr Sanjiv Puri, president, nagar Panchayat and former sarpanch Pirthi Chand were also among the complainants.

The complainants had informed the police that Surinder Kumar had earlier been arrested for allegedly posing threat to the peace of the area. He was released on bail by SDM Payal then.

Sources in the neighbourhood of Surinder Kumar revealed that a police party had come to take him yesterday but he resisted their attempt to do so. He was called to chowki at around 10 am today. He reportedly committed suicide by piercing his chest with a piece of glass at around 2 pm.

Sources at the local Civil Hospital informed that profusely bleeding Surinder Kumar was brought there by a police party in the afternoon. He died shortly after being brought there. His body, however, kept lying at the civil hospital for hours, as none of his relatives reached either to lodge a complaint or claim the body.

Though the incident took place in the presence of a large number of persons who had come to the chowki in connection with a dispute, the police officials remained tight-lipped about the sequence of events leading to the suicide. While the NGOs present on the spot said the SSP would give information to the media, Mr Naunihal Singh SSP Khanna declined to comment and said he was yet to receive the detailed information.

Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, said he had collected preliminary information about the incident and would be submitting his interim report to DC Ludhiana shortly. The final report would be sent only after receiving medical report, he said. 



Thieves strike at NRI’s house
Decamp with gold, cash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 29
Thieves broke into the house of a non-resident Indian in Amarpura Mohalla and fled with gold and cash worth Rs 2.5 lakh.
Mr Naresh Kumar, a Dubai-based NRI, came to know about the theft today when he arrived from his maternal parents house in Nawanshahr. When he opened the lock on his main gate, he found that the gate was bolted from inside.

He climbed up the terrace of his neighbour and found that locks on his rooms were broken and the house was ransacked. He informed Division No. II police. The police sealed the house.

The NRI said he came to India on July 10 and remained in the house till July 20. He and his family members went to Nawanshahr on July 20. His neighbours knew that they would return today. The family was preparing for the wedding of his sister and had kept 260 gm gold in the house. Cash worth Rs 30,000 was also lying there.

The gold, cash, two wristwatches and some imported items were missing from the house. The SHO, Division No-II, Mr Gurpreet Singh, said they were investigating the matter.

The NRI’s house is located in a congested area and it is difficult for anybody to break into anyone’s house easily.



Passing Thru

Anju Sharma
Ms Anju Sharma, Joint Secretary, High Court Bar Association, Chandigarh

Do you think that the dowry Act is being misused?

This Act has been blatantly misused in a number of cases. Though it does not mean that women do not face physical and mental harassment at the hands of greedy in-laws. Generally, it is seen that the problem rests between the couple but the family is falsely implicated. The prosecuting agency should be more cautious in handling family disputes.

What is the reason for the increasing number of divorce cases?

Ego clash between the husband and wife is the main reason. Lack of patience is another. Generally, it is seen when parents of a girl back her blindly, the problem is aggravated.

— Rajneesh Lakhanpal



Traffic lights out of order for months
Our Correspondent

Doraha, July 29
Road Safety Week seems to have no meaning here. The authorities, in spite of repeated reminders, have failed to restore traffic lights at the deadly Kaddon Chowk, even after a year.

Kaddon Chowk of Doraha has till date swallowed hundreds of lives. The entire traffic from Doraha and surrounding villages on one side and villages falling under the jurisdiction of Payal on the other side, along with the traffic on the Grand Trunk road, all converge to create a mess at Kaddon Chowk, making the place more prone to accidents than any other.

It was on repeated pleas and regular reminders by the public that the traffic lights were installed at Kaddon Chowk on May 5, 2003. These remained functional for six months.

A student of Guru Nanak National College was killed at this chowk and in yet another accident, two cyclists were seriously injured after a Sumo hit them at this chowk. Had the traffic lights been in working condition, these accidents and a number of others could have been averted.

Road safety norms here are being thrown to the winds as drivers of private buses, crossing the busiest railway road of Doraha, seldom slow down, threatening the lives of those on two-wheelers and pedestrians.

Traffic cops employed at the place are only seen challaning vehicles or stopping college students on their way to the college.

To make matters worse, the bus stand of Doraha presents a picture of chaos. The residents demand a subway or a flyover or at least a zebra-crossing at the place so that lives may not be lost and accidents averted.



INTUC condemns police attack
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Punjab, and the labour and employment cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee have condemned the brutal police attack on agitating workers of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter Company at Gurgaon.

In a joint statement here today, Mr Shiv Kumar Gupta, general secretary, and Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, chairman of the two bodies, respectively, said the Haryana Government had taken a step in the right direction by ordering a judicial inquiry into the police high-handedness.

In separate memoranda, submitted to Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Union Labour Minister, the INTUC and PPCC cell further demanded that arrested workers should be released forthwith and false cases registered against them be withdrawn.

The government should also take necessary steps to pay compensation to the victims of police attack.

Meanwhile, the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital Employees Union castigated the Haryana Government and the district and police administration of Gurgaon for use of brute force against Honda employees, who were agitating to achieve their just demands.

Ms Rajwant Kaur Randhawa and Mr Harjinder Puri, president and secretary, respectively, of the union said the repression let loose by the police against the workers, at the instance of the owners of the company, was a direct attack on the democratic rights of the workers. They said the government should effectively intervene for the withdrawal of criminal cases against the workers and their reinstatement by the Honda management.



Drug addiction rife in rural Punjab
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 29
The drug addiction among the rural youth has assumed alarming proportions. Various non-governmental organisations and doctors who have been coming face to face with the problem maintain that on an average every third youth in most villages in Punjab is hooked to drugs. The range of drugs is varied depending upon the spending power of the addict.

The NGOs blamed the “acceptability” of the use of opium and poppy husk in the countryside as an established practice. The NGOs have found that the youth pick up the habit from their elders. Although the elders do not approve of it, but over a due course of time the addiction is accepted to be normal. And one addict youth in a group spread it further.

Representatives of two Delhi-based NGOs, who have conducted research in the rural areas of Ludhiana, Moga, Ferozepur, Faridkot and Muktsar districts, held that the onus of the menace lies on village elders.

After sometime, the addicts switch to the cheaper alternatives i.e. allopathic medicines. That is why a number of medical shops have mushroomed in the villages. The representatives found that even in small villages there were about four to five medical shops. In some villages there are as many as 20 such shops and each one of these doing a brisk business.

The representatives say that the local police is also found to be indifferent towards the problem. The police officials even when they seize huge quantity of opium or poppy husk, usually show small seizures which do not invite much punishment. With the result the trade thrives on and so does the addiction, they add.

Interestingly, youth belonging to different social or economic backgrounds are hooked to the addiction alike. It is very difficult to categorise the addicts in a particular social or economic segment, the representatives say.



No shine in their life
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, July 29
For 16-year-old Rajesh, life is a constant struggle for survival. He gets up early in the morning to leave his house in Dhakka Colony at Dugri and reach Bhadaur House well in time to catch early morning customers who need a shoe-shine before venturing out of various hotels in the area.

He has never been to a school, nor any of his two elder brothers, who are also shoeshine boys. He has no ambitious plans to change the course of his life. For, it does not matter to him much. He says there is nothing bad in pursuing the profession of his father.

Rajesh is one of the 20-odd shoeshine boys who move around City Heart hotel, cajoling passers-by and customers at a nearby tea shop for shoe shine for anything between Rs 3 and 5. They mend shoes as well. They are also illiterate like Rajesh and following in the footsteps of their fathers.

Just as this bunch of shoe shine boys leave the place in the late afternoon, another bunch of teenaged boys from the Qilla Mohalla take over. These boys may be poor and ill-treated but they have plenty of self-respect. They are proud of themselves that they are not engaged in any unlawful activity to earn their livelihood.

But it was rather sad to know that a majority of these boys indulged in gambling whenever they could afford to do so. However, no NGO working for the welfare of children had paid any heed to these children. What matters the most is that they are taking on the hard life as it comes to them. And there is always a hope that one day a miracle would happen and it would be all sunshine and no shoeshine.



Snakebite victim gets new lease of life
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
Babu Lal (40), a migrant worker from Bihar, was bitten by a snake on his left hand while sleeping on the floor in his jhuggi on July 16 here. There was severe pain all over his hand and arm which kept on increasing and soon the whole limb swelled. The victim was taken to a private nursing home where he developed paralysis of his upper eyelids and had difficulty in breathing.

On being referred to Deepak Hospital for treatment, he was found to have fang marks on his hand, which was in pain and swollen. He had developed weakness of respiratory muscles as a result of envenomation (snake poison).

A team of doctors, led by Dr (Brig) V.P. Dhand, revived the patient by giving electric shocks and artificial respiration. He was put on a ventilator and anti-snake venom serum, along with other supportive measures. Babu Lal gradually recovered without any residual neurological defects and was discharged from the hospital on July 25.

According to Dr Dhand, the victim had to be given 27 vials of anti-snake venom, each costing Rs 320 and the total hospital expenditure was around Rs 20,000. Since the patient could not afford to pay, the entire bill was waived off by the hospital authorities. Dr Dhand, who has a vast experience of treating snakebite victims, observed that snakebites were particularly common during the rainy season and people should remain very careful and avoid sleeping on the floor.



Pensioners hail Cabinet decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
Mr B.R. Kaushal, chairman, Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, and member, Punjab State Advisory Board, in a statement released to the press today, hailed the decision taken by the Punjab Cabinet in which approval has been given to rationalise the pension/family pension of employees who retired before January 1, 1996 with those who retired after January 1, 1996.

According to this decision, the Pre-January 1996 pensioners have been brought on a par with post -January pensioners by revising their pension up to 50 per cent of the last post held by them at the time of retirement and that of family pensioners equal to 30 per cent effective from January 1,1996.

This decision is in consonance with the Punjab Fourth Pay Commission report. Under this decision, a sizeable number of pensioners and family pensioners would be benefited.

Mr Yashpaul Ghai of the Government Pensioners Association (Regd), in a press note, has hailed the Punjab Government’s decision to rationalise pensions and family pensions of the pre 96-retirees.

Meanwhile, the association expressed its resentment over the non-fulfillment of the promise contained in the election manifesto on the eve of the Punjab Assembly elections in February 2002. The promises included a raise in medical allowance, house rent for pensioners and simplification of the medical re-imbursement procedure.



Hamrahi’s death mourned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
The Shiv Batalvi Yadgari Foundation held a meeting today to mourn the death of Dr Atam Hamrahi, an intellectual, thinker and Punjabi writer.
Mr Surinder Khanna, president of the foundation, said Hamrahi’s death had created a void in the field of Punjabi literature.

The Punjabi Sahit Akademi , Ludhiana, also held a meeting under the presidentship of Dr Surjit Patar to mourn the death of Dr Hamrahi. Mr Ravinder Bhattal, general secretary of the Akademi, said Dr Hamrahi started his career as a school teacher and by the time he retired he was a senior lecturer. He led a life of struggle. He was born in an ordinary family, and he had to face economic struggle yet he created literary masterpieces. Dr Hamrahi was a state awardee and was honoured with the Kartar Singh Dhaliwal award for excellence in literature.

Prof Gurbhajan Gill, senior vice-president and Dr Surjit Patar, president of the Akademi, also spoke on the occasion.



‘Tulsi’ to visit city

Ludhiana, July 29
If you have missed out on the famed Saas-Bahu pair on the television, do not despair. Apara Mehta (Savita Virani) and Smriti Irani (Tulsi Virani), the stars who portray the two roles in the soap opened “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”, are coming to the city on the invitation of Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam to perform in “Kuchh Tum Kaho, Kuchh Hum Kahen”, a social comedy. The play will be staged on August 6 at Guru Nanak Bhavan, Ferozepore road.
Apart from Apara Mehta and Samriti Irani, the cast includes actors such as Feroze Bhagat, Nirmit Vaishnav, Amish Tanna and Pranav Tripathi. TNS



Medical practitioner booked, denies charges
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 29
A medical practitioner of the local Railway Road has denied being registered with the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani System of Medicine during investigation conducted by the police in connection with a complaint lodged by a social activist. The doctor has been booked under Section 420 of the IPC for allegedly misleading people by posing as a qualified doctor and playing with their lives.

Mr Sukhdev Batra, the accused, however, denied the charges and maintained that he had been falsely implicated in the case.

Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, after finding a prima facie case in the complaint lodged by Mr Roshan Lal Malhotra, a social activist, around seven months ago, directed Mr Harinder Singh, SHO, to continue investigations into other allegations levelled in the complaint.

The DSP had conducted an inquiry during which it was found that Mr Batra did not have the degrees mentioned by him on the board displayed in front of his clinic. However, the certificates issued by Ayurveda Vidyapeetham, Delhi, were found to be genuine.

The accused had displayed on the board that he was “B.Sc.-I Med, DIMS and ex-Professor, Medical College,” but he could not produce documents to establish his claim. The complainant alleged that the doctor had been practising the English system of medicine also.


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