L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Rain spells doom for Baniawal village
Hundred acres under pond water, paddy crop destroyed
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Baniawal (Ludhiana), August 7
Faulty laying of a road connecting Ranka with Baniawal has led to inundation of 100 acres of agricultural land in Baniawal village. Farmers may face losses as the paddy crop has been damaged due to flooding of fields. The fodder crop is already damaged.

Due to laying of the road with a raised plinth level and in the absence of any siphon or pipes to discharge the sewage into a drain nearby, the farmers have been facing damage to their crops for the past five years. Some are reeling under debt worth lakhs of rupees with their crop being damaged every year.

A number of farmers with fields in the vicinity of a village pond are the most suffer. The rainwater that collects in the pond also floods their fields in the absence of an exit. They have been fighting to get a drain dug in their village, connecting the pond with Buddha Nala passing near the village. But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

To pay the debt mounting on them every year, some have sold a part of their land holding, hoping things would change for the better. Following their pleas, to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, referred the case to the BDPO of Sidhwan Bet. The former member of Parliament, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, also released an amount of Rs 1 lakh from the MP’s quota for a drain also but the project did not take off.

“The fodder crop for our cattle has already wilted due to flooding in the fields. Now our paddy crop is facing danger. If water is not siphoned off or some other measure taken, we will suffer losses this year too,” said Mr Sant Singh, lambardar of the village.

He said when the road, which is two feet higher than the plinth level, was being laid by the Mandi Board, the villagers had requested the then Chairman to make arrangements for water drainage, but nothing had been done till date.

Mr Jarnail Singh, another affected farmer, said rains were not welcome in their village. “Whenever clouds appear in the sky, we start cursing God. We get sleepless nights during the monsoons. After all, rains spell doom for us.”

The farmers said their problem could be solved if a small drain connecting the village with Buddha Nala was laid. “They did the same for Chotta Balipur village where an underground drain carried the sewer water to the other drain. Why cannot they do this with our village too’’ asked Mr Beant Singh, another farmer.



Two migrant labourers held in murder case
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 7
The Dehlon police has arrested two migrant labourers who murdered another labourer employed at a local dairy a week ago. The deceased was killed for demanding back a sum of Rs 6,000 that he had sent to his parents through the assailants. He was murdered at a brickkiln, near Latala village on July 30.

According to Mr Rajiv Ahir, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagraon, Arjun Yadav and Bablu Yadav of Hikolava Shankar Pur (Bihar) surrendered before the Dehlon Police through Mr Bhupinder Singh owner of the brickkiln with whom the accused had been working as contract labourers. They confessed to have killed Vikas, alias Mithu, of in Shankar district in Bihar on the night of July 30.

“Immediately after receiving information from the employers of the deceased, an SIT headed by Mr Amarjit Singh Khaira raided the hideouts of the suspects. Two of them surrendered,” Mr Ahir.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused had mixed copper sulphate (blue vitriol) in the food of Vikas, who became unconscious after eating the poison-laced food. The trio murdered him with a spade and dragged his body to nearby fields.

The body of Vikas was spotted by a farm labourer working in the fields of Jagtar Singh after two days. The employer of the deceased, Mr Joginder Pal, identified the body.

The police team found some slips in the pocket of the shirt worn by the deceased that led it to the dairy owner. The police pressed a dog squad into service. The dogs led the police to the brickkiln, but the suspects fled.

On the basis of information provided by Arjun and Bablu, the Dehlon police has sent a party to nab Bachhu Yadav, the third accomplice.



Health employees on warpath, issue stir threat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 7
The Punjab Health Department Subordinate Offices Clerical Association has served a 15-day ultimatum to the directorate for the acceptance of pending demands its employees, failing which the employees would hold district-level demonstrations at offices of civil surgeons followed by gherao of Director and Health and Family Welfare at Chandigarh.

Stating this in a statement here today, the state president of the body, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, alleged that even after explicit directions by the Principal Secretary 10 months ago for the acceptance and implementation of demands for the promotion of certain categories of employees within 15 days, the matter had been hanging fire. The pending demands included the fulfillment of vacant posts of senior assistants, senior scale stenographers, JSA’s, JSN’s and superintendents (through promotions).

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, who was re-elected president of the association at its general body meeting held on July 23 also announced the new state executive in consultation with general secretary Mr Dinesh Kumar and finance secretary Mr Bikramjit Singh. He said efforts had been made to give adequate representation to all districts in the recast state body.

Mr Darshan Singh Latala (Ludhiana), Mr Amarjit Singh (Ropar), Mr Prem Kumar (Bathinda), Mr Satinder Kumar (Amritsar), Mr Ajit Singh Mann (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr Shubh Parkash (Jalandhar), Mr Ram Avtar Kartarpuri and Mr Inderjit Singh (Sangrur) would be senior vice presidents while Mr Mehma Singh (Fathehgarh Sahib), Mr Surinder Singh Kohli (Faridkot), Mr Surinder Kumar Mittal (Bathinda), Mr Baldev Singh Bhatti (Hoshiarpur), Mr Tejinder Singh (Patiala), Mr Rajesh Kumar (Sangrur), Mr Nirmal Singh Nawanshahr and Mr Pritam Singh Nagra (Fatehgarh Sahib) were nominated vice-presidents.

Among other office-bearers, Mr Joginder Pal (Jalandhar) would be additional general secretary, Mr Iqbal Singh (Faridkot), Mr Natha Singh (Bathinda), Mr Jagjit Singh (Moga), Mr Bhagwant Singh (Mansa), Ms Sukhwant Kaur were nominated secretaries, while Mr Mewa Singh (Chandigarh), Mr Naresh Kumar (Sangrur), Mr Manohar Singh (Kapurthala), Ms Harwinder Kaur (Mansa), Mr Kulwinder Singh (Gidderbaha) will be joint secretaries. 



Sarpanch booked for opening fire
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 7
Piara Singh, sarpanch of Gagkalan, Gurmukh Singh, Gurnam Singh, Magh Singh, Pritam Singh and Nirmal Singh of the village, are alleged to have quarrelled with Atma Singh and Piara Singh. The sarpanch allegedly fired two shots from his 12 bore gun during the incident. The Sidhwanbet police has registered a case. No arrest has been made.

Meanwhile, the Sidhwanbet police arrested Karnail Singh of Bhumal in connection with possession of poppy husk. During investigation, it seized 500 gm of opium from his possession. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered. 



Passing Thru

Pranav Tripathi
Pranav Tripathi, theatre artiste

What is your impression about Punjab during your first visit?

I was extremely happy to see lush green fields when I drove from the airport in Chandigarh. The open spaces just delighted me. I think media has caricatured Punjab for it is associated with bhangra, “sarson ka saag” and “makki ki roti”. I expected to see people actually performing bhangra. I find the people of Punjab celebrating life. They are joyous people and I am loving everything about my first visit. We enjoyed the food at a wayside dhaba. It was fresh, warm and delicious.

What kind of theatre do you like?

I have become a co-producer now. Earlier, I was a presenter and had organised poetry recitation “Tarkash” for Javed Akhtar. Hindi theatre is not doing well as it stages very heavy plays like “Tughlaq” and “Julius Ceaser”. People like contemporary themes.

Do you think actors can be trained?

Actors are born. No one can make actors. Either you have acting capabilities inherent in you or you do not have these. Training schools can hone your skills but cannot create it.

— Asha Ahuja



Ludhiana Calling

Life for residents of BRS Nagar is becoming a virtual hell as Air Tel has dug almost all small and big roads here to put in wires. It has dug deep pits, causing great inconvenience. The roads are also narrowed and driving is very difficult. The parking of cars is becoming a major feat. It is time the municipal corporation puts a ban on such activities, especially the rainy season.

Uninvited guests

At a play staged at Guru Nanak Bhavan, recently, the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam had clearly printed on the cards that children under 12 were not allowed inside the hall. Yet this was overlooked by the special dignitaries and invitees who brought their children. As Tulsi and Savita, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law duo of “Kyunki...Saas...” were the chief star cast, a lot of people had come to watch the play. Even the rows marked for the media were occupied by the guests, and mediapersons had to sit on the steps. Had the parents not brought their kids, more seats would have been available. Since the VIP guests were breaking the rules, the general public also got in their children.

Suicide case

Media has invited a lot of criticism for “flaring-up” Dr Vijay Sikri’s suicide case. High-profile of Ludhiana term it as “disgusting”. They feel that family had lost one of its members and media tried to blowup the incident out of proportion. The pictures published in certain section of media were in “bad-taste”. His wife feels it was unfortunate that media worked on its own speculations and no member in the family was taken into confidence. She said it was an outcome of simple depression for more than a year. There was absolutely no financial crunch, differences with sons or downfall at work. People feel journalists should know their limits. Reports of such incidents should be published “cautiously”, keeping in mind the mental state of the family. — Sentinel



Governments ‘ready’ to ban tobacco products
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 7
Acting on a long -pending demand of the local Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle (GGSSC) to ban the sale of tobacco and pan masala in the region, the state governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Chandigarh Administration have given their assent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ban such products.

The chief secretary of the NGO, Dr Charan Kamal Singh, told newspersons here today that it was a major victory for them and like-minded persons who were working to eradicate the use of tobacco and its products from the country. Following directions of the court to the Centre, instructions were issued to the state governments and the Chandigarh authorities that they could initiate steps to ban the sale of tobacco and gutkha in their territories.

He said the court had recommended to the Union Government to ban the manufacture and sale of tobacco products, including gutkha. He said the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle had filed a writ petition in which Punjab and the Union of India had been made parties. The petition included the report of a study that said that school kids had undeterred access to tobacco products and tobacco addiction had assumed alarming proportions in the region.

On the basis of the PIL filed by the GGSSC, the Punjab Government stated in the High Court that it had recommended to the Union Government to ban the manufacture and sale of tobacco products in the state.

During the hearing of the PIL, the Haryana Government also informed a bench headed by Chief Justice D.K. Jain that some samples of gutkha were sent for clinical examination and were found to contain high magnesium content, which is harmful to health.

The petitioner had sought directions to respondents to take immediate steps to ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of gutkha and other chewable tobacco products. It had also sought removal of all tobacco-selling vends and shops near schools and religious places.

The NGO, which is recognised by UNESCO as an international organisation and ambassador of peace, had got the study conducted that said that not only school-going kids but even others were tobacco addicts.

The organisation had also sought directions to make it mandatory for manufacturers and sellers of such products to paste pictures of cancer patients ruined by tobacco products on all tobacco products.

After hearing the counsels, the Bench disposed of the petition with the observation that it hoped and trusted the Union Government to act expeditiously on the recommendation of the state governments, he added.

It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court had directed that only the Central Government had the power and authority to ban gutkha and tobacco products and the state governments could not act independently on the matter. 



Evolution of Consciousness
Patriotism and truth

TWO statements in recent times had led to stormy discussions in public and the media: Advani’s statement on Jinnah’s secularism and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s good word for the British for the benefits conferred on this country by their rule.

The truth of the statements and the sincerity of those who made the statements had been subject to severe scrutiny by supporters and opponents of the views expressed therein. However, the power behind the controversy or its origin has not been touched upon.

Why have the statements invited such attention? Jinnah may have been secular or communal. British rule may have been beneficial or malevolent. These do not matter. But for an Indian to say that the British Empire did some good or for a BJP leader to concede that there was some admirable element in the person of Jinnah militates against the spirit of patriotism.

It is this spirit of patriotism, intolerant of dissent, that is the subject of this column. Patriotism is at the root of all our troubles because the patriotic spirit forbids us from examining every issue impartially. It often militates against the truth.

The question is not whether Advani was sincere in making the statement. Why should anyone object to Advani having a change of heart? Let us face it. The opposition stems from the fact that a BJP loyalist is not expected to say anything good about Pakistan. Why should the Prime Minister be criticised for expressing his views on the British rule? Because patriotism demands that the subject of a former colony is not expected to say anything nice about a colonial power even after a lapse of more than five decades!

Gandhiji is the Father of the Nation and a book that seriously examines some of his failures cannot be expected to click with the masses because its patriotic spirit holds the Father of the Nation incapable of sinning! How patriotism blinds our eyes!!

The book, “Jinnah: a corrective reading of Indian History” shows some of the less palatable aspects of his personality. At a function held in 1915 in Bombay, Gandhi’s suggestion that the function be held in Gujarat embarrassed many participants, particularly Jinnah, who was presiding over the function. The book rightly seeks a corrective reading of history for events and personalities had given unrealistic colours to the past hiding the truth and propagating falsehood.

The power of truth overcame the citadel of patriotism in the Soviet Union when President Gorbachev willingly staked his reputation in opening the floodgates to truth. No doubt the monolith state got disintegrated but people could now breathe freely and enjoy the freedom denied to them for several decades.

Perhaps the formation of regional groupings can be interpreted as the fading away of nationalism and patriotism and the triumph of the call to regard the world as one human family. The ideal of globalisation, though now confined to markets, will slowly erode those walls of prejudices and hatred built amidst nations.

Writing as early as 1890 Tolstoy observed: “The whole path travelled both by individuals and by homogeneous groups (nations) may be represented as a consecutive flight of steps from the lowest, on the level of animal life, to the highest attained by the consciousness of man at a given moment of history”.

“Patriotism”, he wrote, “was a feeling of exclusive love for one’s own people and as a doctrine of the virtue of sacrificing one’s tranquility, one’s property and even one’s life in defense of one’s own people from slaughter and outrage by the enemies, was the highest idea of the period when each nation considered it feasible and just for its own advantage, to subject to slaughter and outrage the people of other nations.”

With the evolution of consciousness, it is no longer fashionable to plunder and conquer. If pride and selfishness are no longer desirable qualities in an individual, today they are equally despicable in nations. Hitler was able to hoodwink a whole nation in the name of German nationalism or Aryan superiority and murdered six million Jews. A corrective reading of history has certainly occurred leading to condemnation of what was once regarded as German heroism!

Recently, there seems to be an evolution of consciousness taking place in respect of India and Pakistan. Besides the general swell of goodwill between the peoples and the civil society in Pakistan, the media in both nations have started acknowledging hard realities as against the chanting of patriotic slogans. Some progress indeed.

The Dawn’s Shahid Javed Burki in an article titled “Cost and Gain of Kashmir,” says; “Keeping the Kashmir issue alive has cost Pakistan considerably more than the social, political and economic costs paid by India.” Burki says that the use of Islamists to foment terror, though it brought tremendous benefits vis a vis India, also laid waste Pakistani society. He adds: “The infrastructure needed to produce Jihadists proved corrosive for Pakistani society. As it turned out, a heavy price was paid for the reliance on groups whose members were deeply committed to Islamic fundamentalism. Often under official patronage, these groups began to penetrate Pakistani society and also its political system.”

— M.P.K. Kutty



Inter-grid transmission of power sought
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 7
The Steel Re-rolling Mills Association of India has pressed upon the Union Government to take steps for the inter-grid transmission of power with minimum losses for the industries for proper industrialisation and increasing employment opportunities in the country.

Mr R.P. Bhatia, zonal chairman of the association, said here today that the demand for power was increasing in all sectors and there was a need for generating maximum power in the country. At the same time, there was a need for making judicious use of the available power in all sectors.

Mr Bhatia said the Nuclear Power Corporation was installing a major nuclear power station in Tamil Nadu with the help of Russians. Punjab also needed a similar nuclear power station to meet its requirements, he demanded.

Mr Bhatia emphasised that the need of the hour was to pool all resources and make power available at generating cost to the arc and induction furnaces with 10 per cent as distribution charges, failing which such bulk power-based industries could not operate economically. Mr Bhatia also stressed the need for the establishment of an industrial and investment commission to promote industries and disinvestment of the industrial units which were facing losses.



Tributes paid to Mukhtiar Singh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 7
Tributes were paid to Mr Mukhtiar Singh Shankar (83), father of the District Public Relations Officer (DPRO), Ludhiana, Mr Darshan Singh, who passed away after a brief illness.

At the bhog of akhand path and ‘shardhanjli samaroh’ held at Shankar village, native village of the deceased, today several political leaders, district officials, panches and sarpanches paid homage to Mr Mukhtiar Singh.

Among others, the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Education Minister Harnam Das Johar, Technical Education Minister Rakesh Pandey, the Parliamentary Secretary (Jails), Mr Malkiat Singh Beermi, deputy commissioner Anurag Verma, the Deputy Director, Local Government, Mr S.R. Kler, SSP (Jagraon) Rajeev Aheer, SDM (East), Ms Amrit Kaur Gill, SDM (West), Mr Malwinder Singh Jaggi, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, MLA, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Ludhiana Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill and Director, Public Relations, Punjab, Mr B.S. Sudan, paid tributes to the soul.

Condolence messages received from PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo and AICC Secretary Manish Tiwari were read out at the occasion.

Prominent among others who attended the prayer meeting were Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, former president, SGPC, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, Mr Harmohinder Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, Lala Lajpat Rai, Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, Mr Mann Singh Garcha, Mr Paramjit Singh Sidhwan, Mr Gurmel Singh Sanghowal, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon and Mr Pawan Diwan.



Tributes paid to former Soil Conservator
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 7
The Soil Conservation Officers’ Association has condoled the death of former Conservator of Soils Gurbachan Singh, who was settled in Canada.
A meeting of the association, presided over by Mr Balwinder Singh Buthari and attended by senior officers of the association here today said that Mr Gurbachan Singh had served the department for almost three decades.

His dedication to the cause of farmers in Punjab would be remembered for long.

A two-minute silence was observed at the meeting to pay homage to the departed soul. Several members of the association talked of their experience of working with the officer.



Pensioners see hope in Dullo’s charge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 7
Pensioners in the state have lauded the statement of the PPCC chief, Mr S.S. Dullo, that all promises made in the Congress election manifesto during the Assembly elections in February, 2002, will be fulfilled. The promises include house rent for pensioners and simplification of the medical re-imbursement procedure.

In a press note issued here, the pensioners said during the past 41 months, the Amarinder Singh regime had taken several anti-employee decisions, which had hit them adversely. They said all these decisions should be withdrawn.

They urged Mr Dullo to advise the Punjab Government to fulfil all demands of the pensioners, which included old-age allowance after 80.



Social activist dead
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 7
Mr Prit Pal Thaman, a social activist of Mansuran village, died due to postoperative complications at a private hospital in Ludhiana. Office-bearers of various political and social organisations of the area have mourned his death.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general secretary SAD (A), Mr Sinder Singh, chairman, Market Committee, Mr Sanjiv Puri, president, Nagar Panchayat, Malaudh, Mr Jatinder Bhola, a former vice-president of the Ahmedgarh Municipal Council, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, president of the local unit of the SAD, Mr Ravinder Kumar, president, city Congress, recollected Mr Thaman’s contribution to society.


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