L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


2 more die of diarrhoea
MC washes its hands of blame
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Even as the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and the district Health Department have claimed that there are no cases of diarrhoea in Jawahar Nagar and Labour Colony, residents of the area claim that two more children died of the disease in these colonies here yesterday.

Meenu, a seven-year-old girl of Gali No. 7 in Labour Colony, died last night while her brother Rajesh Kumar is still suffering from diarrhoea. He is admitted to Chawla Nursing Home in Ghumar Mandi. Raja, a nine-year-old boy, also died yesterday morning after showing similar symptoms in Gali No. 12 of Jawahar Nagar.

His sister, Geeta, is also down with the disease. The eldest sister of these children said Raja was vomiting for the past five days. He was too weak to fight the disease and succumbed while his sister Geeta is battling the disease. She is getting treatment at Krishna Hospital.

A Tribune team went to Meenu’s house late last evening soon after her death. Her father Lal Chand said she had started vomiting last morning and was being given medicines. His son was already admitted to Chawla Hospital. When her condition deteriorated, he rushed her there but she died before she could be administered any treatment.

Interestingly, while the MC had been denying reports of dirty water, a water tanker was sent to this street after the news of the death of this girl spread like wild fire. Another two-year-old boy, Krishna, was rushed to the DMC after he suffered from diarrhoea. His father, Mr Pawan Kumar, a grocer, was attending to him at the hospital.

Dr Ajit Singh Chawla of Chawla Nursing Home said Meenu either had infective diarrhoea or cholera as he could not get time to investigate her disease. He added that Rajesh was suffering from infective diarrhoea and his condition was also critical when he was rushed to his hospital. Now he was recovering.

He added that as both children suffered from the same disease, there was a common cause of infection. In every probability, their was a water-borne disease. He suggested that as there were reports of many people suffering, water samples should be tested so as to save others from the disease.

“In their case, I cannot say that these people are suffering because of eating cut fruit as they are poor people and cannot afford fruits. This is mainly because of contaminated water only,” added Dr Chawla.

Dr A.S. Chawla, District Epidemiologist, Health Department, said they had collected water samples from the area and they would soon get the results. He, however, said there were no cases of diarrhoea in the colony. “A team of doctors from the Health Department had gone to the area which did not find a single case of diarrhoea.” He added that the two deaths were due to different reasons.

Meanwhile, MC officials, in a two-page denial to newspaper offices, said the MC was not responsible for the deaths that were caused due to diarrhoea. In a signed statement by Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner, the cause of diarrhoea was not only consumption of contaminated water but this could develop due to many other reasons such as insanitary conditions, consumption of rotten or unripe fruits, naked and cut fruit and other contaminated eatables.

“The water supplied by the MC is duly chlorinated; therefore, a similar quality is supplied to the entire city. Other members of the victims’ family were consuming the same water and are hale and hearty,’’ he claimed. 



Con man dupes car driver of Rs 1.10 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Tight police security in the city in view of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit could not deter a con man from stealing a bag containing Rs 1.10 lakh belonging to a New Delhi-based cloth merchant outside a bank in Feroze Gandhi market this afternoon.

Apart from striking on the day when the police was on heightened alert throughout the city, the modus operandi of the con man was also a cause for alarm for people.

The con man tricked the driver of the car, Kishan, by drawing his attention to currency notes of Rs 20 and Rs 50 denomination lying on the road.

As soon as the driver stepped out of the car to pick the notes, the con man made good his escape with the bag, which was lying in the car.

The middle-aged man apparently escaped on a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler that had been waiting for him. The driver of the car tried to search for the man but in vain.

The Rs 150 that the driver pocketed from the road cost his employer Rs 1.10 lakh.

A crowd assembled at the scene and tried to console the cloth merchant, Sanjay Gupta. Teams from the Division No. 5 police station and from Kochar Market also reached the spot.

The driver had to bear the brunt of criticism as DSP R.K. Bakshi reprimanded him for his negligence.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the DSP said it was impossible to deploy policemen all over the city. “The driver should have ensured the safety of the bag of his employer.”

The police recorded the statement of the driver and merchant. The driver claimed that he had seen just one person when the incident happened.

Police sources said the sequence of events suggested that more than one person was involved in the crime. The other person apparently had facilitated the escape of the con man who had duped the driver.

It was after a gap of several months that such an incident had happened in the city. A gang had earlier fleeced several city residents and traders in the same manner.

Some common methods used by tricksters included telling the victim that there was a stain on the back of his shirt and snatching the bag from the victim, and hitting the victim’s car in the rear and pulling the bag out as soon as the victim stepped out of his car to assess the damage.



Pressure mounts for action against quacks
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 23
Even as functionaries of the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trading charges over the death of three children in the Prem Nagar locality near Islam Ganj in the city earlier this week, city residents are demanding, in one voice, stringent action against quacks and curbs on unlawful medical practice.

Almost without exception, people from different walks of life strongly feel that the menace of quackery, which has now taken deep roots in every nook and corner of the city and elsewhere in the district, has assumed colossal proportions partly due to vested interests among political functionaries, community leaders and even officials of the Health Department, for whom the fraternity of these self-styled medical practitioners turn out to be a milch cow.

Residents in quite a few colonies in the city alleged that quacks carrying out medical practice in slums or on the periphery of the city, along with those running laboratories without having qualified and competent persons, were paying regular hush money to certain officers of the Health Department and the police to continue in business. These “patrons” of the quacks were known to reciprocate by way of sounding an alert message to them whenever any action by the departments was proposed or carried out.

Prof Yash Pal, a retired lecturer, viewed the thriving quackery as a grave health hazard to the city population. He said it was unfortunate that the authorities woke up from their slumber only when a tragedy struck the people and soon thereafter the situation was back to square one.

A senior medical consultant, requesting not to be identified, said it was shocking that even such persons, who could not properly read or write, were rendering medical treatment for complex problems to the poor segment of the city population. He blamed it on apathy and indifference of the health authorities.

“Had the administration been sincere in dealing with the problem (of quackery), it should have taken action long ago when the Punjab and Haryana HC had issued directions while disposing of a public interest litigation.

Mr Kartar Singh, a resident of the affected colony Prem Nagar, said the action initiated by the Health Department in sealing a few clinics and dispensaries in the area on Wednesday was “too late and too little” and appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction after the death of three children.

Meanwhile, BJP activists were alleging that the post-mortem of the deceased children was not performed at the instance of Mr Dawer, Congress leaders maintained that Mr Jasbir Singh Kalra, a key functionary of the club running the charitable dispensary, was a close associate of a former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sat Gosain, who had lost the Assembly election to Mr Dawer. 



When VVIP sister came calling
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, September 23
A tight security cordon was thrown all around the house of Mr M.S. Sabharwal in Maya Nagar here today as his sister-in-law, Ms Gursharan Kaur, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s wife, came to meet her two elder sisters, Ms Thanter Kaur and Ms Sawinder Kaur, in the evening.

As soon as she arrived in an Ambassador car with all her Z-plus security cover, the family comprising elders, youngsters and children, gathered at the gate to receive their VVIP relative.

The sisters hugged each other while nephews touched her feet and nieces wished her “Sat Sri Akal”.

Ms Sawinder Kaur, the elder sister, said it was the first visit of her sister to their place after Dr Manmohan Singh took over as the Prime Minister.

“But she is the same — simple, affectionate and caring. We came to know about the visit yesterday. We informed all near and dear ones in the family. The youngsters are very excited and have been waiting for their aunt since morning. She is four years younger to me,” said remarked as she tried to control her emotions.

Jasmine, one of her grand-daughters studying at DD Jain College here, said it was a private visit and only close relatives were invited.

She said her aunt was concerned about the well-being of each and every relative. “She is really sweet. She brought a huge box of apples for us. Earlier, she had come here to attend the wedding of her niece, Gunpreet. My elder sister is getting married in January and my aunt has promised us all that she will attend it,” she remarked.

During her 55-minute stay, the roads leading to the house were blocked for security reasons.

The VVIP guest was served tea with light snacks. “She had instructed us all to be informal. She said she wanted to spend a few peaceful minutes with relatives. She just had a few cookies with tea but chatted with all of us for almost an hour,” said Mr Inderjit Singh Bhasin, her sister’s son-in-law from Khanna.

When mediapersons tried to pose some questions, she politely declined by saying that it was a personal visit and she would not like to speak anything on politics.

It was not totally unlike Ms Gursharan Kaur since she has been keeping a low profile barring once when she observed that any hike in the rates of cooking gas would upset her household budget.



PM’s food habits no chef’s delight

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is not a fussy eater. Both he and his wife Gursharan Kaur have spartan eating habits. So it seems from the eating habits of the Prime Minister that have been conveyed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to the Chandigarh Administration and Punjab Raj Bhavan that will host him during his overnight stay in the city.

The Prime Minister relishes vegetarian food with light spices and practically no oil. He does not have a sweet tooth, and is very fond of fruits, especially bananas. Though, he savours chicken and fish delicacies occasionally, his staple diet is dal, roti, vegetables and rice. He doesn’t mind soup but it has to be clear. He has become careful about his food, especially after he underwent a bypass surgery prior to the last Lok Sabha elections.

The Prime Minister is a tea and not a coffee drinker. He prefers tea with milk and Marie Gold biscuits. His wife, too, has similar eating habits.

At Raj Bhavan, Chandigarh, he will be served an upma, papaya, cereals and a toast with unsalted cheese. The egg would be served without yolk. Raj Bhavan has been alerted about the long walks the Prime Minister likes to take at night and early morning.



Bomb scare

Ludhiana, September 23
An unclaimed briefcase found abandoned in a car parking of the Feroze Gandhi market caused quite a scare with fears that it could be a bomb. The recovery startled the security agencies with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting the city in the evening. The briefcase, however, contained some clothes only, but there was no clue about its owner.

Rumours about some bomb in the briefcase spread like wildfire and people abandoned the parking lot. However, the parking contractor seeing his business face loss, took the ‘ risk’ of opening the briefcase and found the clothes.

The police has taken the briefcase into custody and further investigations are on. TNS



Passing Thru

Pargat Singh
Padma Shri awardee, former captain of the national hockey team and Director, Sports, Punjab, Pargat Singh

What ails the game of hockey in our country and what measures should be taken to improve it ?

We are witnessing a downtrend in hockey as the game has not been properly taken care of at the grass-root level. We should take measures by organising tournaments at the sub- junior and junior levels so that the players can be trained early and made fit for future tournaments. By encouraging the game at the school and college levels, we can get the readymade 'stuff ' which is required for international meets.

How do you plan to handle the situation following the transfer of certain Sports Authority of India coaches who had been with the Punjab Sports Department for the past so many years?

With the transfer of these coaches, the centres run by the Punjab Sports Department will certainly be disturbed and I am examining why such a large number of coaches have been transferred and what can be done in this regard.

What do you think can be done to tap NRIs in the promotion of sports in the state ?

Punjabis settled abroad have been extending financial assistance to promote certain games in the state. I think they can be involved more in this endeavour as fame or glory brought by the Indians, particularly players from the state, will be a matter of pride for the us.

— Anil Datt



SAD-BJP men hold meeting
Our Correspondent

Amloh, September 23
After elections to 13 wards of the Amloh Municipal Council, the race for the post of president has gained momentum. Keeping in view the coming Vidhan Sabha elections, political parties have intensified their efforts to bring councillors under their umbrella.

Senior vice-president, Karmchari Dal, Karamjit Singh Bhagrana and his wife Paramjit Kaur, former chairperson, Market Committee, organised a meeting of SAD and BJP activists at their residence yesterday.

Former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh was the chief guest. He held a separate meeting with six newly elected councillors — Bajinder Singh, husband of Jaspreet Kaur; SAD (urban) chief Hari Chand Mittal on behalf of his wife Kamlesh Mittal; Sohan Singh for his wife Parkash Kaur; Paramjit Singh Rupal and Jatinder Singh.

SAD working committee member Zora Singh Haripur, Randhir Singh Bhambri, District Youth Wing chief Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, Devinder Singh Bhambri, District BJP chief Dharam Pal, Amloh unit chief Raj Pal Garg, former council chief Tejwant Singh, All-India Youth Akali Dal general secretary Tejinder Singh Salana and state chief of the Bazigar Dal Makhan Singh Lalka addressed the meeting.

Later talking to mediapersons, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the policies of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had proved to be the undoing of the Congress, which was evident from the results of municipal council elections.

The Congress government had imposed a ban on appointment of teachers and doctors at the cost of education of poor students and health care in the rural areas. He alleged that the government had stopped old-age pensions, shagan schemes, etc. launched by the former Akali government for the welfare of people.

He alleged that Chandigarh was being secretly handed over to the Centre under a deep-rooted conspiracy to separate it from Punjab. He said his party would not allow this to happen.



Faith moves him to arduous paths
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, September 23
Looking at a shirt frail, Rajinder Gupta , one would not believe that he cycles 60-70 km a day to go to shrines and temples. He has vowed to visit Vaishno Devi shrine and various other religious places on his bicycle. So he started his lone journey on August 27 this year, from Bhatinda, where he lives.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he said he had already cycled 1,520 km since he visited Baba Ramdev in Jaiselmer. He went via Bikaner. In all these days, he spent only Rs 700 as he does not work and gets monetary help from his brother and a few other people of Bhatinda.

He said, “I have no fear of travelling by myself, but the only problem is that of dogs. Sometimes they chase for a long time and once or twice I have fallen. I am not married so I have no worldly attachments. My only desire is to go to Vaishno Devi, Chintpurni and Jawalaji and pray for the well being of everyone. I have yet to travel 2,100 km and I hope will reach my destination."



IT, Bar officials dwell on legal aspects
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 23
“During search and seizure operations, all officials of the Income Tax Department will work with humane approach, sympathetic behaviour and friendly attitude so that there is no harassment or undue pressure on the assessee concerned. At the same time, the department will also make sure that revenue or taxes that are due towards the persons being searched are legally determined and recovered.”

These observations were made by Director General Income Tax (Investigation Wing) Sudha Sharma while presiding over a joint meeting of office-bearers and executive members of bar associations here on Wednesday evening. The meeting was attended by senior IT officials, including Directors of Investigation Mohinder Singh and P.C. Modi.

Giving details of the deliberations, president, Taxation Bar Association (TBA), Ashok Juneja and president, District Taxation Bar Association (DTBA), L.C. Gupta said the DG of the investigation wing dwelt on how the rights of persons being raided by IT officials could legally be safeguarded and how the raiding party was to act within the parameters of legal provisions of the Income Tax Act.

While discussing the legal provisions of Section 132-B of the Income Tax Act, Ms Sharma said applications for release of seized or requisitioned assets had to be filed within 30 days before the assessing office working under the charge of respective Chief Commissioner or Commissioner of the department and not before the officials of investigation wing.

There was general consensus between the officials and bar members on not seizing explained assets, which were from the disclosed sources, during search operations.

The DG further impressed upon the officers to show search warrants to persons raided and explain their rights during search.

She said while making seizure of jewellery during search operations, the officials needed to scrupulously act according to the directions of Central Board of Direct Taxes, which exempts seizure of gold jewelry and ornaments up to 500 gram per married woman, 250 gram per unmarried woman and 100 gram per male member of the family.

Ms Sharma further assured that the department would act speedily and justly in preparing appraisal reports and do its best in other matters so that proceedings were finalised within time as envisaged under the provisions of the IT Act. Mr B.R. Kaushal, convener, Study Circle (TBA), Mr Sudhir Sehgal, Mr Ravinder Garg, Mr Ajay Pal Singh, Mr P.C. Goyal, Mr Sushil Bhakoo and Mr Anup Jain also expressed their views.



Disconnection of telephones resented
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 23
Resentment prevails among residents of Rajguru Nagar Colony against the contractor of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust who has been given the contract for repair work of the roads in the area.

While digging the roads the workers of the contractor have allegedly cut telephone cables and water and sewerage pipes. This has resulted into disconnection of a large number of telephone connections and affected water supply to some of the houses.

Prof Gurcharan Singh, general secretary and Mr A.R. Gupta, executive member of the Peoples Awareness Forum, in a press statement assailed the functioning of the contractor and urged the improvement trust authorities to ensure that no inconvenience was caused to the residents.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sibia, Chairman, Ludhiana Improvement Trust, visited the colony and issued orders for removing wild growth in the area. He said the patch work on the roads would be completed within a fortnight.



BSNL rebukes propaganda by private players
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 23
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has sought to set the record straight over pulse rate of local and other calls in the face of what it terms as a misleading campaign launched by private telecom operators in the region.

In a statement here today, Mr G.S. Julka, General Manager, Ludhiana telecom circle, said the pulse rate of three minute for landlines of the BSNL stood unchanged.

Similarly, there was no change in the pulse rate for making calls to private mobile network from BSNL landlines.

The BSNL has only altered the pulse rate for landline phone calls to other private landline networks, which has been reduced to 45 seconds.

Mr Julka further asserted that the propaganda by private telecom companies that pulse rates for all type of calls from BSNL lines had been reduced to 45 seconds was totally wrong and misleading. He urged BSNL subscribers not to fall prey to such misinformation drive, aimed at eroding the subscriber base of the telecom giant.

The General Manager also clarified that the prevailing practice by private telecom companies to allow the use of fixed wireless telephones (FWT) as mobiles within the city was violative of the guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which barred FWTs’ operation in roaming mode.


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