L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Morning jolts cause panic
Buildings develop cracks; shocked schoolchildren collapse 
Tribune Reporters

The cracks that have developed in the house of Ajaib Singh, following an earthquake on Saturday morning

The cracks that have developed in the house of Ajaib Singh, a resident of Gurdev Nagar, Ludhiana, following  an earthquake on Saturday morning. - Photos by Inderjeet Verma

The cracks that have developed in the house of Ajaib Singh

Ludhiana, October 8
Panic gripped residents in the district today following an earthquake, measuring around 7 on Richter scale, rocked the region in the morning. Fresh tremors, though of minor intensity, were felt later in the evening.

Such was the intensity of the earthquake that many children fell unconscious in schools, a girl broke her arm, a woman fractured her arm after falling from stairs, many residents reported with palpitations, houses developed cracks, and old buildings and a wall of a school collapsed. But no student was injured in the incident.

Shashkarna, a 28-year-old woman of Prem Nagar, broke her arm while climbing stairs. She lost her balance after the earth shook and was taken to the local Civil Hospital.

A girl student of Shishu Model School broke her arm after falling from the stairs. She was also taken to the hospital.

Ganga, an 11-year-old student of SDP Bapu School in Sunder Nagar, had to be hospitalised with symptoms of shock. She was taken to USPC Jain Charitable Hospital where her condition was stated to be out of danger.

Dr Yogesh Bali said she panicked due to the quake and was in a state of shock when she was brought to the hospital. He said she was given sedatives and would be discharged by the evening.

Many other students from various schools were also taken to hospitals when they started showing panic reactions.

A wall of Dhir School collapsed and many houses developed cracks.

The worst hit were the old structures. A portion of an old building in Pindi Street collapsed, while the remaining portion was threatening passersby in the area. Chemists there have urged the civic body to demolish the remaining portion.

As soon as the first jolts were felt around 9.25 am, residents ran outdoors looking for safer places. The earth shook for some time, however, no loss of life was reported from the city. Scared residents did not return to their houses for more than an hour. Once they returned they sat glued to the TV sets.

“I was sitting in my house when I felt the earth shake. I thought I had not taken my medication for hypertension. I told my wife to bring medicines for me. But soon after, my neighbours started ringing door bells and called us out,” said Ajaib Singh, a resident of Gurdev Nagar.

He said on returning home, he saw cracks all over his house. Not only did the old portion but the new construction also suffer damage in his house.

“We were so scared that we did not feel like going inside even after two hours. Thank God! we were saved. Anything could have happened.”

He said he had never seen doors and windowpanes rattle so bad. Even ceiling fans swayed violently. With the state government announcing holiday in schools, all schools were closed by the respective managements as a precautionary measure.

Telephone lines jammed soon after the quake as residents started calling up friends and residents to enquire about their welfare. It was a tough time for teachers of nursery classes in controlling terrified children. In most of the schools, teachers tried to rush children outdoors.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma said no loss of life and property was reported in the city. He said he had visited some houses that had developed cracks and his representatives visited some injured in the hospitals.

Mandi Ahmedgarh: Normal life was thrown out of gear for hours after the area trembled due to earthquake this morning.

Authorities at educational institutes of the town and surrounding villages shifted students to open spaces.

The administration claimed that it had focussed on the safety of the students who were either in multistorey or old buildings. No loss of life or property was reported from the area.

Anxious parents came to schools and colleges to take their wards home. Others preferred to enquire about the well-being of their wards on the telephone.

The tremors were so big and prolonged that it took people some time to understand what had happened.

“Having felt my chair shake, I gripped it tightly. But when the tremors did not stop I hurried to drink water as I thought I was unwell,” said Rajesh Gupta, a schoolteacher.

Pardeep Sharda and Data Ram Sharma, Principals of MGMN Senior Secondary School and Sanatan Vidya Mandir, respectively, said they shifted students from rooms to open spaces.

Other schools, including Anand Isher Senior School, GHG Khalsa Senior School, Guru Nanak Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Janta College for Women, Government Senior Secondary School, Kanganwal, and Government Senior Secondary School, Latala, also took similar steps.

Dr Indu, SDM Malerkotla, said no loss of life or property was reported from the area.

Khanna: Three students of various schools fell unconscious and a woman suffered a fracture in her backbone after falling from a staircase during the tremors today. Some houses developed cracks as well.

Nirmala Khanna, a resident, broke her back when she was climbing up a wooden staircase. Doctors attending to her said she had broken her spine and the injury was serious.

Two students of AS Modern School and another of Radha Vatika School fell unconscious after feeling the tremors. A building in Guru Amar Dass Market developed cracks.

After feeling the tremors, people came out of their houses and deserted their shops.

Samrala: Panic prevailed in the town after the earthquake rocked the region. People came out of their houses and shops and ran towards open spaces.

According to reports from various schools, announcements were made on the premises asking children to be rushed out of the buildings.

Residents said they had never felt such strong tremors in their life. Scare continued to grip them throughout the day.

No loss of life or property was reported in the town.

Mandi Gobindgarh: Intense tremors in this town also caused panic among residents who rushed outdoors to escape from any eventuality. No loss of life or property was reported from here also.

Students were asked to come out of their classrooms in schools. Shopkeepers also rushed outside their shops.



Services of PAU accounts officer terminated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has ordered the termination of services of accounts officer Sat Pal Sharma with immediate effect for misconduct and breach of discipline.

Sat Pal Sharma and Assistant Administration Officer R. Sarora had gone on fast unto death in protest against the alleged vindictive attitude of the Vice-Chancellor. They had ended their fast following intervention by BJP leader Satpaul Gosain, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The termination orders were issued yesterday. The seven-page order issued by the Registrar of the PAU has given details about the gross misconduct and indiscipline of Sat Pal Sharma.

The Vice-Chancellor had appointed Dr S.K. Sondhi, Dean, College of Agricultural Engineering, as the inquiry officer to hold probe against Sat Pal Sharma since he was avoiding taking delivery of documents/ letters on one pretext or the other in spite of publication of notice in newspaper.

Sat Pal Sharma did not appear before the inquiry officer. The inquiry officer had concluded in his report that “in view of rules 8 and 9 of the PAU conduct rules, 1967, (Chapter XLVI), Sat Pal Sharma had violated the conduct rules, thus the charges levelled against him vide memorandum No 435-37 dated January 7 for casting aspersions on the PAU authorities through false and baseless allegations and investigating the PAU employee by issuing press statements stand proved”.

In his reply to the show-cause notice issued by the PAU authorities, Sat Pal Sharma had on September 26 denied the allegations. 



Passing Thru

Prabhleen Sandhu
Prabhleen Sandhu, budding actress.

How did you begin acting?

I was always inclined towards acting. It still fascinates me. Somebody saw me at one of the functions, proposed my name to the director of Punjabi movie ‘Ik Jind Ik Jaan’. I got selected after the auditions. I play the role of a sister of Aryan Vaid and Raj Babbar.

How do you feel working with such renowned actors?

I was on top of the world. Neither had I joined any acting school nor had somebody trained me. It is just inborn. By the grace of Almighty, I never felt insecure while working with such big names. I have been appreciated by my director and producer. Everybody in the unit is supporting; they do not let you feel that you are a newcomer.

Is acting not going to affect your studies?

Presently I am doing my masters in English. It is not that throughout the year one has to study. I am quite good at studies. My principal and faculty members have been very supportive and my family is encouraging. I think I will be able to manage well both in studies and in acting. Not only this, I will continue with acting in future, too.

— Shivani Bhakoo



Illegal sand mining posing threat to canal
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 8
A nexus among officials in the Irrigation Department, mining contractors and transporters has added to the woes of residents of villages located along the banks of Sirhind branch of the Bathinda canal where alleged illegal sand mining has been going on unabated for decades leading to the weakening of embankments on both sides.

A visit to the canal near Karamsar revealed that labourers engaged by mining contractors had been removing sand using tractors, thus violating the rules of the Irrigation Department.

Besides violating the rules by removing sand from the canal, the contractors had accumulated huge mounds of sand at many places along the banks. The illegal activity has reportedly been supported by a group of transporters who have been buying sand at hefty rates from the contractors.

Interestingly, a large number of officers from the civil, police and Irrigation Department pass through the area but instead of taking note of the unlawful activity, they have remained mute spectators. Even complaints made by members of public have gone unheard.

Ludhiana Tribune had earlier published reports regarding callous attitude of the Irrigation Department towards the threat of flood when breaches had appeared at several places in the canal.

Instead of initiating action, the authorities had maintained that there was no threat to the embankment.

There were many weak points on the canal embankment that threatened to give way any time. These points will become even more vulnerable if earth is continued to be removed from there.

Villagers apprehend that water may overflow from these places, which have been used as entry points for tractors.

The northern embankment of the canal is the worst hit. People apprehend that its condition could deteriorate further if earth was continued to be removed from the exterior and sand from the interior.

Those in the trade said a group of persons from the area was taking away sand by paying a hefty amount to the contractors, who were hand in glove with the authorities.



SAD(A) flays pardon to 2 cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has condemned the decision of the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), of granting pardon to two Punjab police officers, Jaspal Singh and Charan Dass, who had been convicted of various crimes. The party regretted that even though the conviction rate among those responsible for various crimes against innocent people was very low, the government was even letting those off the hook, who had been convicted.

Addressing a press conference here today, the party president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, and Prof Jagmohan Singh regretted that the Punjab Governor had granted pardon to the two police officers on the recommendations of the Punjab Government.

They observed that it would amount to rubbing salt into the wounds of the victims who had suffered at the hands of the two police officers. The SAD(A) leaders said they would file a petition against the pardon order of the Governor in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Mann alleged that this was aimed at humiliating the Sikhs. He claimed that the Sikhs were still being treated like “slaves”. Asked whether he could meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in connection with various demands of Punjab, Mr Mann said, “Slaves are never heard and they (the Government of India) only listen to violence”. He pointed out, the government did not have any objection in talking to Naga militants, Naxals, the ULFA or Kashmiri militants, but was not prepared to listen to the genuine demands of the Sikhs.



Gujaratis set to celebrate Navratras
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
Shri Gujarati Samaj Ludhiana is all prepared to celebrate the Navratras in traditional fervour here from tonight. Living far from their homes Gujratis here try to get together on this occasion and celebrate the festival with enthusiasm and charm. The four-day celebrations would start from tonight at Laxmi Narayan Temple, BRS Nagar.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Raj Thakur, president of Shri Gujrati Samaj said that the samaj had 80 active members with more than 100 members on rolls. “Throughout the year, we are busy with our work but during this festival we miss our home, family and friends very much. To celebrate the festival, we try to get together during Navratras. We will be offering prayers to Ma Jagdamba during the Navratras. Garba and dandiya will be the main attractions of the celebrations”, he said.

Mr Thakur said that Gujrati men and women would perform both dandiya and garba in traditional way. Dances would be performed on both folk and religious songs. “This is the time to pray to the Goddess. We avoid playing Hindi songs or remixes. Aradhna (prayer) should offered in true sense”, said Mr Bharat Shah, secretary of the samaj.

The temple has been tastefully decorated by the members and they expect a huge gathering during the celebrations. “It is not that only Gujrati community would celebrate it, we have invited our Punjabi friends, too, to get a feel of our culture,” said Mr Thakur. He said dandiya was performed by both men and women with sticks while garba was presented without sticks. 



Pilot, controller work in tandem
Mahesh Sharma

Halwara Air Force Station, October 8
A fighter pilot and air traffic controller (ATC) are complimentary to each other when it comes to the safety of the Air Force personnel and the people of the nation.This was claimed by top-rung authorities at the biggest air base of the North India here.

While the former is about the safe recovery of the aircraft and the pilot, the latter has to think ahead of all watches of the world to avoid any unfortunate incident. Though each constituent of the force contributes his own part in all flying operations, be a training flying, operational or a routine air maintenance flying, the role of the ATC was anticipatory as he had to prepare ground for these exercises.

“An ATC has to start before the first ray of the sun when air field safety operators team reports to him. He has to look after all operations, from the starting of the aircraft engine to its switching off,” said Wg Cdr Bachan Singh, Sqn Cdr, Air Traffic Control.

Besides inspecting the serviceability of all communications, radars and safety devices, he has to brief the pilots also. When the pilot gets airborne, it becomes the responsibility of the ATC to help him conduct different exercises, cloud flying, vertical and horizontal separation and safe landing of the aircraft.

According to Air Officer Commodore Anil Chopra, the operations coordinated by an ATC were closely watched by the Chief Operations Officer, Group Capt Rakesh Marwaha. “Close harmony, considerate interaction and interdependence between the pilot and the ATC are the most significant part of offensives and defensive flying. At times the ATCs are called to regulate the working of civil airports.

The role of a fighter pilot is that of an actual performer whereas that of an ATC is that of a director. Being a cutting edge of the Air Force, the pilot is at maximum risk when his aircraft leaves the runway.

“Months of preparation, judgement of nano seconds and making use of the rarest opportunity that one gets in a combat is what makes an ace out of the fighter pilots,” commented Air Commodore Chopra.

The squadron at this station is a fighting unit and must necessarily be infused with an offensive spirit. Contrary to the other forces, the fighter pilot jumps into the airfield of the enemy all alone, in his cockpit. He has to exploit his own reserve of dexterity, valour and fortitude forged in peace time by rigorous training and guidance.

Sqn Ldr Piyush Dhawan, a fighter pilot, contradicts the common notion that his role is the most vital in manoeuvering an aircraft over the air field of the enemy. “Everybody in the Air Force is equally important when it comes to the question of pride of the nation. Even the person who handles the ladder to help me reach my cockpit, plays his own role in preparing me for a daring flight,” comments Squadron Leader Dhawan.

On the question of a war Squadron Leader Dhawan says, “Our pilots, like me, pray that there should be no war.But if a battle is thrust on us, we are ready to teach our enemy a lesson any time.”



Coming of age of Halwara air base
Mahesh Sharma

Halwara Air Force Station, October 8
With the coveted Battle Honours being conferred by the President of India on one of the squadrons located here for Operation Safed Sagar, the air base stands elevated in the air defence chain of the country.

Best Hospital Trophy and runners-up trophy in Ex-Vayu Spardha-2004 for Air Traffic Services Squadron are the other feathers that have been added to the cap of the squadron.

Officers at the base said after its inception in 1950, the air base received a squadron of Spitfires —taking shelter under canvas sheds.

Tempests, Harvards, Jets and French Ourogons moved in during the juvenile stages of the base.

Gnats, MiGs and Sukoi-7s, which flew from the base, wreaked havoc on the Pakistan Air Force bases during 1965 and 1971 wars.

At present, MiG 23 BN are stationed here to meet any challenge from the enemy.

SAM-III (Pechora), surface-to-air missiles, and S-24 became vital components of the air defense wall during transitional phase in 80s.

Though Ferozepore airfield, spread in 965 acres of land, had remained in disuse, Sidhwan Khas Range, an Off-Base unit, spread in more than 35,000 acres, has been used for air-to-ground weapon training of pilots of all air bases of the Western Air Command.

Dignitaries had appreciated the suitability of the range in 1989 when biggest-ever firepower demonstration of the IAF was held here.

The air base acquires extra significance due to ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

The HAF station came as a strong component of chain of air bases opened to strengthen the northern and western borders.

The abandoned air strip used for shifting 306 Wing, AF Palam, has now become a permanent station and houses ATC building, igloo hangers, operational readiness platforms, aircrew rest rooms, wings operational room complex, medium receiving stations and blast pens.

Air Force Dental Centre and AF Hospital cater to the needs of more than 2,000 Air Force personnel.

Passing through various phases, the command has been controlled by Air Commodore Anil Chopra since January 3, 2005.



11-year-old rescued from employer’s clutches
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Residents of Naveen Nagar here and a team of the Haibowal police rescued an 11-year-old boy, Desh Raj, from the custody of his employer who had allegedly kept him in shackles for the past five days.

He allegedly used to force him work without food and wages. The boy said his employer, Amandeep Singh, underfed him and made him work like animals. He had been kept in chains for the past five days. After the area residents took up the matter with the police and mediapersons, a police team raided the house and found the boy chained. He was released and provided food.

Amandeep Singh has been arrested. He has been booked under Sections 342 and 343 of the IPC and under various section of the Bonded Labour Act.



Cong leader visits rape victim in hospital
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Youth Congress leader and member District Grievances Committee Ajay Johar today visited an alleged rape victim who has been admitted to the Civil Hospital. Condemning the barbarous act he demanded strict action against the accused.

The Congress leader observed that it was a matter of shame that no action had been taken so far. He said had it been the daughter of some influential person many heads would have rolled, since she happened to belong to a poor family, nobody appeared to be bothered about it.

Mr Johar also inquired about the condition of the victim at the Hospital. He also provided some financial help to the victim’s family and urged the administration to provide for her treatment. He said the girl was in trauma and her parents were quite scared. He assured the victim’s family that all help would be provided to them and the guilty would be brought to the book.



‘Directionless youth’ discussed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
A panel discussion on “Directionless youth and its plight” was organised on the second day of the 33rd annual function of the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle here today. Dignitaries who participated in the discussion included Prof Manjit Singh, Dr Sardara Singh Johl, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Dr Harkesh Sidhu and Prof Manjit Singh Calcutta.

Mr Inderpal Singh, deputy chief organiser, said the study circle had always worked for the betterment and progress of the youth. He condemned the exploitation of youth by certain sections. Prof Manjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, said it was unfortunate that youngsters had forgotten their traditions. Not only parents, but the public was also responsible for this unwanted behaviour. Secondly, the privatisation move by the state government would ruin the future of the youth, he added.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister, stressed that over-population in the country was also responsible for the plight of today’s youth. He asked the government to withdraw the move on privatisation of education for the welfare of youngsters.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former secretary of the Shiromani committee, said unemployment was dragging the youth towards drug-addiction. Government agencies, NGOs and responsible citizens should educate the youth to channel their energies in the right direction.

Appreciating the efforts of the study circle, Mr Harkesh Sidhu said it was doing very well for the welfare of the youth. Mr S.S.Johl said western society had added to the woes of youngsters. They were going far from reality. There was a need to show the right path, to the youth, said Dr Johl.



Institutional arbitration emphasised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 8
A conference on “Dispute prevention and resolution” was organised by the India Council of Arbitration (ICA) here. Various speakers laid emphasis on adopting “Institutional arbitration” for resolving disputes between business houses.

Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, a judge of the Supreme Court, inaugurated the conference. He shared his views on advantages and disadvantages of arbitration.

The Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice D.K. Jain, said arbitration could go a long way in dispute prevention and resolution.

Institutional arbitration was gaining ground worldwide, he said. Mr Justice A.K. Sikri, a judge of the Delhi High Court also shared his view with the audience.

Mr G.K. Kwatra, executive director, ICA, Mr P.C. Markanda, member, ICA governing body, Mr S.R. Mittal, Mr Balwinder Goel, president of the District Bar Association, Mr Piyush Kant Jain, Mr Stevon Soni (advocates) also spoke on the occasion.



Marriages of 13 girls solemnised

Khanna, October 8
The Sri Guru Har Gobind Social Welfare Society, Khanna, and residents of Ikolaha village organised a mass marriages function at a marriage palace here today.
Thirteen girls from poor families were married off at the ceremony. The articles of daily use like sewing machines, beds, cloths and utensils were given to each girl by the society. OC



Rs 2.5 lakh missing from car
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 8
In a complaint to the local police Om Parkash, a brick kiln owner, has complained of disappearance of Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from his car and accused his driver of theft.
In his statement, Om Parkash said he had come to the town with his driver Surinder Singh, who lives on the Malerkotla road, Khanna, on Thursday evening.

Around 7 pm, he got off the car to collect some cash from a cloth shop, near the Lalheri road chowk, and sent the driver to his house directing him to hand over two bags containing the cash to his wife.

Om Parkash said he telephoned his wife to get the bags from the driver. But after a few minutes, his wife called him back telling him that the driver had claimed that there were no bags in the car.

He went to the house and inquired from the driver but the driver expressed his ignorance about the whereabouts of the bags. However, the driver admitted that he had placed the bags in the car, Om Parkash said.



Two held for default

Khanna, October 8
Recovery officers of the Cooperative Department had arrested two persons for default of payment of loan taken by them.
According to Bikram Jit Singh, manager of Ludhiana Central Cooperative Bank, Khanna, two firms — Pammi Music House and Vaishali Motors — had taken loan from the branch but the owners of the firms had not paid off the amount.

After the completion of the formalities, the DC, Ludhiana, issued warrants against both defaulters. Recovery officers Nachhatar Singh and Shamsher arrested the two accused. OC



Youth’s body found
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 8
The body of an unidentified youth was found lying in the bushes near Bahomajra village on Thursday evening. According to the police, Jang Singh, watchman of the village, noticed the body in the bushes.

He informed the police, which reached the spot and recovered the body. The body was sent to the local Civil Hospital.

As the body was badly mutilated, the doctor said the post-mortem examination would be held at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. However, the body would kept at the Civil Hospital for identification.



‘Land constraint for SEZ’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Mr S.C.Aggarwal, today said that with a view to tapping the huge potential of the IT sector, the government was planning to allot 1,500 acres in this sector in the state.
He said the sector held immense potential in terms of employment too.

Mr Aggarwal was here to address a workshop conducted by the Textile Committee in collaboration with the UNCTAD and industry associations on the implications of the new EU-GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) today.

Talking to reporters, he said availability of land was a constraint towards developing the special economic zone in Amritsar. So far, only one developer had shown interest in the project.

The government might even consider re-inviting expression of interest and the SEZ was not likely to accommodate multiple products, he said. Industrialists discussed implications of the new EU-GSP on the Indian textile and clothing sector.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |