L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Divali crackers spark fires
Damage worth crores feared
Tribune News Service

A scene of the devastation caused by a fire at Shreyanas Apparels in Ludhiana on Wednesday.
A scene of the devastation caused by a fire at Shreyanas Apparels in Ludhiana on Wednesday. — Photo by IV

Ludhiana, November 2
As many as 33 fire incidents were reported on Divali night in which property worth crores was gutted. There was no loss of human life though a number of persons, including children, suffered burn injuries. Major fire erupted at Shreyanas Apparels and Saluja Enterprises in Industrial Area where property loss was estimated to be over Rs 2 crore.

Mr Raj Jain, owner of Shreyanas Apparels, claimed that the fire broke out at about midnight, allegedly due to firecrackers. Two guards on night duty at the industry spotted the smoke emanating from a room and alerted the fire brigade as well as the owner.

Fire brigade sources said seven fire tenders worked for nearly over six hours to douse the flames. The fire tenders made over 60 rounds to fetch water and foam for fighting the raging flames.

Mr Jain said manufactured stocks apart from raw material and yarn, besides chemicals caught fire easily. They were reduced to ashes.

The fire spread to an adjoining unit, Saluja Enterprises, where televisions and related equipment is manufactured. The monetary loss was being estimated.

Fire brigade sources said a rickshaw-manufacturing unit in Beant Pura had caught fire and the owner suffered losses worth lakhs. Fire tenders were pressed into service which succeeded in controlling the fire after four hours.

A house in Navin Nagar, on the Jassian road also caught fire. Furniture and household items were competely destroyed. Two generators caught fire in Green park colony and at a house near the CMC.



Fireworks cause burns to over 50
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
More than 50 persons, including children, sustained firecracker injuries on Divali night here and many of them were admitted in different local hospitals.

According to doctors at the Christian Medical College and Hospital, 13 cases with eye injuries and another 11 with burn injuries were admitted to the hospital till this morning. Three others with superficial and minor burns were treated in the out-patient department (OPD). Surprisingly, most of the victims were grown up persons, the doctors said.

At the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, two persons with burn injuries on hands were admitted and were responding to the treatment. Some others, who had sustained firecracker-related injuries, were discharged after first-aid in the OPD, according to Dr Sandeep Puri, Medical Superintendent of the DMCH.

Twenty patients with burn injuries had reported to Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, according to Dr R.S. Sodhi, Medical Superintendent. While four of them had to be hospitalised, others with minor burns and scald injuries were given treatment in the OPD and discharged.

At least 12 persons were reported to have sustained injuries while bursting firecrackers in different city localities and were under treatment at other hospitals and private clinics.



Divali fallout: increase in pollution, littered streets
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 2
The atmosphere was hazy this morning due to widespread pollution on account of bursting of crackers on Divali night. This happened despite anti-cracker rallies by students. The orders of the administration regarding timing for bursting of crackers also went up in smoke as the sky witnessed fireworks.

Mr Sher Singh, a resident of BRS Nagar, says,” When will we become civilised? The deafening noise of crackers, for heart patients like me, is bad. I thought I would go crazy. Bolting of doors was of no use. People can use this money for helping out the poor and needy than to burn crackers.”

Ms Rosy said “We are supposed to be pious people and yet we show no sympathy for mute animals. Children tie crackers on the tails of stray dogs and light them up. The poor animals go crazy with fright and it provides a lot of mirth to the children. These days are terrible for the animals. We should not be so selfish and self-centred and think only of our pleasures.”

The littered streets of the city tell the tale of the large amount of crackers that were burst the previous night. Persons suffering from asthma particularly had a tough time. Sanch said,” I had to use my pump to give myself relief from laboured breathing time and again as I felt that the smoke was choking me. Every Divali means that my asthma will aggravate and I will have to increase my medication.”


Divali brings them freedom
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The festival of lights this time was momentous for 25-year-old Jeevan Lal and his family as it brought them freedom from eight months of bonded labour.

Jeevan Lal, along with his wife, child and mother, who were brought from Chorea village in Chattisgarh to Punjab in February this year in lure of a job, had to suffer for eight months as bonded labour with a brickkiln owner in Pathankot till a Phillaur-based non-government organisation helped them get free.

It was the lure of breaking chains of poverty that brought the family to Punjab, only to be caught in another trap. Says Jeevan Lal, “I worked there in fields and the earning was not sufficient to sustain a family. So when one Lambordar, who is a manger with a brickkiln here, told me he would get us a job in Punjab, we came here.”

He says that they were paid an advance of Rs 13,000 to leave their home. “We reached a brickkiln and started working, but did not get a penny for our work that we did all these months,” he alleges, adding, “we were not even given proper food. My old mother and three-year-old child got ill, but they were not given any medical treatment, due to which they remained seriously unwell for quite some time.”

Frustrated with the treatment that they got at the hands of brickkiln owner, Jeevan asked for payment, but never got any. Instead, the owner kept asking them to return the advance they had been paid. “I was told we should either return the money they had paid us or keep working, which is when I told them I wanted to go to my home to fetch money so that I could be free.”

However, the family was not allowed to leave and Jeevan Lal left alone for his home in Chattisgarh. Unable to manage sufficient money to give to the brick kiln owner, he got in touch with an NGO named Lehar there. “They gave me the address of the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan in Phillaur, who I got in touch with.”

On October 30, he contacted the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Adolan, who, along with a warrant officer of the High Court, raided the premises of the brickkiln owner and managed to get the family free.

“Along with the warrant officer appointed by the high Court, we raided the premises of the kiln and found Jeevan Lal’s mother, his wife, three-year-old daughter and a month and a half old son in illegal custody ,” said Mr Harinder Kumar and Ms Sunita Rani, who work with the NGO.

The family is currently staying in the rehabilitation centre of the NGO, which plans to send them to their home town soon.



Pollution rises as ban, pleas go unheard
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Not only the ban orders of the Supreme Court (SC) and District Administration on the bursting of firecrackers but also the pleas of schoolchildren and environmentalists fell on deaf ears as the city residents continued to do so well past midnight as the air pollution touched an all-time high here on the festival of lights.

Consequently, the city was covered with a blanket of haze in the morning and the environmentalists say that due to dipping mercury it will take some time for the air to get clear.

Though till the evening it seemed that Divali was a quieter event compared to last year but soon fireworks covered the city skyline.

Residents flouted the Supreme Court directions, banning the use of firecrackers after 10 pm and those generating noise level exceeding 125db or 145 db, with impunity.

Residents burst firecrackers throughout the night and continued till this afternoon. In fact the celebrations gained momentum only after 10 pm.

The night was totally a noisy affair. Although the Punjab Pollution Control Board is yet to calculate datas of the concentration of various gases present in the air, but the smoke in the air and poor visibility was an evidence enough to say that the environment was a casualty.

As many as 33 fire incidents were reported in the city. In many cases, the fire crackers were the cause of fire. Around 50 persons, including children, reported to various hospitals with burn injuries.

Environmentalists say that it is not a new phenomenon for the city as every year after Divali the pollution levels rise to an alarming high due to the fireworks. And the lowering of temperature in the season results in smog.

The city had been witnessing smog for the past several days. A few days ago also the city had witnessed thick smog when farmers resorted to burning of paddy stubble, despite ban by the district administration. The situation was improving but it worsened after last night. Still some farmers, who got delayed in harvesting of paddy, are resorting to the same process.

As the smog is going to continue for some more days, doctors have advised the parents to take special care of young children and infants as they have smaller respiratory passages and are prone to suffer difficulty in breathing.

They said the smoke, which had resulted in the formation of smog after getting mixed with mist, was dangerous for the asthma patients. They advised the patients to cover their noses with a clean cloth before going out.

A green exception

Even as the city residents burst firecrackers on the Divali night caring little for the environment, a physically challenged youth of the city planted 12 saplings on the day.

Baljit Singh, a 33 -year-old physically challenged, planted saplings in different parts of the city with a message to the residents to keep their environment clean.

With the help of his two nephews, Baljit went around in different parts of the city and planted saplings.

“The 12 saplings planted by me would be able to clean the pollution caused by these firecrackers to some extent. This is a small effort but I am hopeful that more hands will join me and the chain thus formed would carry my message ahead,” said an elated Baljit, after planting a sapling at Cheema Chowk.



Good Samaritan saves girl’s life
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 2
The condition of a nine-year-old girl, undergoing treatment at the local Civil Hospital, became serious last evening. She needed blood transfusion but their was a shortage of her blood group (AB-ve) in the hospital.

The parents and relatives of the girl, belonging to Udhowal Bet, village 10km from here, tried their best to arrange the blood of the specific group, but all in vain.

Dr Tarkjot Singh searched the register of blood donors lying in the record room of the hospital and found that Soni, son of social worker Gurinder Singh Prince, have the same blood group. He approached Mr Prince and requested him to ask his son to donate blood immediately.

Soni, who was celebrating Divali with his friends, immediately went to the hospital and donated blood.

The blood transfusion was done and the girl’s life was saved.



Retain death penalty for terrorists: AIATF
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) today hailed the statement of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice R.C. Lahoti, in which he has voiced his support in favour of retaining death penalty in the country.

In a joint statement here, the state President of the AIATF, Mr Balwinder Singh, and secretary-general, Mr Yogesh Dewan, said till the terrorism had its roots in India, it would be unjustified to even think of abolition of death penalty. They observed that the recent blasts in nation’s Capital had once again brought to fore the inhuman face of terrorism.

The AIATF leaders wondered as to what punishment, other than death penalty, would be befitting for the terrorists, who took the lives of several innocent people, including children.

Welcoming the decision of a Delhi court, in which capital punishment was awarded to Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Mohammad Arif for waging war against the state of India by carrying out an attack on military installations in the Red Fort on the night of December 22, 2000, they demanded from the government that a legislation be brought making the offence of waging war against the state as punishable with death penalty only.

The front leaders asserted that keeping in view the use of terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy by some notorious neighbouring countries, such a step was necessary to safeguard the internal security of the nation. They further said the terrorists, awarded death sentence, should be hanged without delay as their associates might take advantage of postponement by staging a Kandhar-like hijacking or other pressure tactics to make them escape the gallows. 



Cong factionalism comes to fore
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The factionalism in the Congress today came to the fore with Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Education Minister, Harnam Dass Johar, former minister, Tej Parkash, Dakha MLA, Milkiat Singh Dakha and District Congress Committee Ludhiana (Urban) chief, Jagmohan Sharma abstaining from the state-level function organised here by Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Milkiat Singh Birmi and attended among others by Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh himself. Parliamentary Secretary, Surinder Dawer, could not attend any of the functions for personal reasons as his father had expired recently.

Mr Dullo attended two separate functions organised in connection with the Vishwakarma Jayanti here. However, he skipped the main state-level function which was attended by the Chief Minister. While the Chief Minister maintained that he was busy in other functions, sources close to Mr Dullo said he was not happy with the organisers of the function, particularly Mr Birmi, as his name and photographs were missing from the posters pasted across the city. It is learnt that Mr Dullo was not even taken into confidence nor informed in advance by the organisers. The PCC president along with Mr Johar, Mr Dakha, Mr Tej Parkash and Mr Sharma attended a separate function at the Vishwakarma temple in advance.

Mr Birmi appeared to be the lone organiser today as none of the local party leaders was present here. Except for the DCC (Rural) president, Mr Harmohinder Singh Pradhan, and a former MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, no body was present. In fact, the entire front row on the dais was empty as no body, except the Chief Minister and Mr Birmi himself, were sitting there. As other sofa chairs remained vacant, people sitting in the second row were asked to come in the front row.

It was the second function credited to Mr Birmi which was attended by the Chief Minister. Earlier, the Chief Minister had come to the War Museum and that function was also credited to Mr Birmi only. Apparently irked at the growing proximity of Mr Birmi with the Chief Minister, other local legislators and leaders decided to abstain from the function. One of the legislators was quoted having questioned the way Mr Birmi was trying to project himself as the only leader close to the Chief Minister.



At the Crossroads
Amrita Pritam hated deception

Exactly 40 years ago in June, 1965, I met Amrita Pritam at her residence in Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi, for the first time. I had a telephonic appointment with her and reached there on time. When I rang the bell, the door was opened by a lady in a Chinese outfit.

“I have come to meet Amrita Pritam.”

“Please step in — I am Amrita.”

I had seen her photographs many a time but the lady in an exotic costume dazzled my eyes. She took her seat on the sofa in the living room and motioned me to take my seat. Indeed I had been an admirer of her poetry, but at that time I had gone there to discuss her novels. Her novel “Chak Number Chhatti” had raised a storm in the literary circles for its theme of man-woman relationship, described with no holds barred. She was rather annoyed at such a reaction among the Punjabi readers as she had merely presented the aesthetic aspect of this relationship.

Like Virginia Woolf, Amrita Pritam’s novels are as poems. At that time, I had a word of praise for her novel ‘Ik Si Anita’, which revolved around her adolescent longings and their fulfilment, mostly imaginary. She told me that while she was busy writing that novel, she fell seriously ill and prayed to the Almighty for granting her some more days to finish that novel.

Luckily, Amrita Pritam lived for many years thereafter to compose her poems and to write her fictional works. Her death on October 31 has rounded off the career of the maker of Indian literature.

Once I fixed an interview with her at her place. She was in her best form at that time. While I was in the process of framing my questions, her lifelong companion artist Imroz came up with a tea-tray that made the atmosphere more pleasant.

Why do you take recourse to novels and short stories when you can express yourself with felicity in verse, which is your first love?

The creative impulse is the same but the media are different. Recently I have composed a long poem which has seven parts. When an idea grips my mind with intensity, it finds release in a poem but if the idea is suffused and associated with a character, a short-story or novel is the outcome.

Do you take your characters from life or they are the product of your imagination?

I take all characters, except one, from life and that one is the projection of my ownself. It serves as a unifying force in regard to other characters and also enables me to focus my attention on the subject matter. “Jeb Katre” is a story about juvenile delinquents, about whom my son gave me first-hand information when he was staying at Baroda University Hostel. My novel “Bulawa” is about the life of Faiz artist. Still another novel “Yatri” is an excerpt from the life of my father who was a yogi.

Could you give the names of two or three novels which are uppermost in your mind?

Among the early novels— “Pinjar”, then comes “Chak Number Chhatti” and of late “Yatri” and “Terwan Suraj”. Now I am working on a novel “Unanja Din”, based on the Tibetan philosophy that the period between death and rebirth is of 49 days.

What are your views about the present day world?

These days, persons have become non-persons. They are now caught in the rat race. The joys of life have been replaced by mere excitement, which is sadistic by nature. People are now living on a physical plane and have lost the meaning of life and death. Why be afraid of death when it is only a prelude to rebirth?

Your autobiography “Revenue Stamp” has been a much talked about book ever since its publication. In my opinion, you have concealed more than you have revealed. What do you think?

There has been no deliberate attempt to do so. I have talked about certain things or persons for the first time and that too in a free and frank manner. Some persons have felt shocked at my revelations, which are in fact no revelations but a part of my life, its very warp and woof. I hate deception, particularly self-deception.

— N.S. Tasneem



Robbed of belongings, harassed by police
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Sixty-year-old Mohammad Karimalla Ansari is a harassed man. He, who had left his home in Delhi after an altercation with family, is forced to live a shelterless life in the city after he was robbed of his belongings. Running from pillar to post to get a case registered, Ansari alleges neither the Railway Police nor the city police is taking him seriously.

Around eight days ago, Ansari boarded a train from New Delhi to Amritsar. But when he learnt “that Ludhiana was an industrial town with ample job opportunities”, he got down here.

Ansari carried along with him a briefcase that contained his voter’s identity card, Rs 10,000, a watch and clothes. “After I got down here, I met one Mukesh who told me I would not be able to get a job in the city as nobody knew me here. He told me he would get me a job in some village near Phillaur and I went with him,” he narrated.

He says he was asked to milk cattle and since he did not know how to do the job, the person who had brought him there told him that he would drop him back in the city.

“When we came here, he met one Mishra and we went for lunch , where they forced me to have alchohol. I refused but later agreed,” he says.

He says he became unconscious and after he regained consciousness, Mukesh was missing along with the briefcase he was carrying. “But Mishra was there. When I enquired about my bag, he abused me and started hitting me, after which I went to the Railway Police, which told me to get my case registered with the city police.”

However, even here he got disappointment only. “For the past four days I have been going from police post to railway officials, but none is listening to me. All they do is abuse me or laugh at me,” says Ansari, who is illiterate and does not know Punjabi.

While for two days he stayed at the railway station and now, he is staying in a gurdwara, he says.

Shelterless and penniless, all he wants is that a case be registered against the guilty. “I don’t have any money for the ticket. Even if someone helps me, my family would not even believe me. I only pray they register my case.”



Blankets distributed on Divali
Our Correspondent

Amloh, November 2
Divali was celebrated with fervour. The local mandirs, gurdwaras and houses were illuminated with lights. Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Parliamentary Secretary (Home, Justice and PWD), joined the “Aarti” at Shiv Mandir, Ram Baag, here on Tuesday evening.

One hundred needy persons were given woollen blankets by the chief guest, Mr Dharamsot at the function. Dr Swatantar Karhara, state secretary, PPCC, Mr Baldev Sedha, former council chief, Mr Ram Gopal, Dr Shamsher Chand, Mr Kuldeep Modi, Mr Des Raj Nandi also spoke on the occasion. Fireworks were displayed at night.

Mr Dharamsot gave a cheque for Rs 50,000 to the Senior Citizen Welfare Association through Mr Baldev Sedha.



A star-lit night
Vijay Bansal

Jagraon, November 2
Divali was celebrate with fervour in this historic town of Lala Lajpat Rai and its adjoining areas. People from far and near villages thronged to buy sweets and firecrackers. The lumination at night with small sparkles of electric bulbs made it star-lit night. Gifts exchanged hands.

Vishvakarma Day celebrated

Building contractors and other skilled persons on Wednesday gathered in Gurdwara Ramgarhia, Jagraon, to celebrate Vishvakarma Day. Different groups of ragis presented religious recitals in the town. No work was carried out by the labourers, contractors mechanics.

Dug up road dangerous

The work of widening of the GT Road on one side which was started months ago from Mullanpur to Jagraon remains incomplete, an accident hazard for vehicle owners. The road is digged up to one and half feet deep from Sacred Heart School to Aligarh.

About 4 km in length, it has not been filled up with stones and earth. Resentment prevails among residents who have sought immediate action.



10-yr-old hurt

Khanna, November 2
A 10-year-old boy was injured when he fell down from the roof of his house while playing with firecrackers last night.

According to information, Sonu, a resident of local Billan Wali Chhappri, was playing with firecrackers on the roof of his house with another child. After setting a cracker on fire he ran away. In hurry, he failed to see the edge of the wall and fell down. He received serious injuries and was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Khanna. — OC



From Colleges
Students apprised of development trends
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 2
An extension lecture was organised by the Department of Sociology at Guru Nanak Girls College, Model Town, recently. Dr Daisy Aujla, Head of the Department of Sociology, welcomed the resource person Prof S.L. Sharma, from Panjab University, Chandigarh, and mentioned the importance of sociology in India.

Professor Sharma enlightened the students about contemporary trends in development. He talked about the economic growth model, human development index, social development method and the recent sustainable development. He said no model of development could exist in isolation, but there was a need for an integrated approach of development comprising all four models of development.

The President of the college, Mr Gurbir Singh, and Principal, Dr Charanjit Mahal, also graced the occasion. They motivated the faculty members to organize more such lectures for the benefit of the students.

MTSM College wins

Students of Master Tara Singh College for Women performed exceptionally well at the recently concluded Youth and Heritage Festival at Mata Ganga Khalsa college for Girls, Kottan, in Ludhiana recently.

The students clinched seven first positions, five second positions and 10 third positions in various categories (both group and individual). The Principal, Dr Madanjit Kaur Sahota, congratulated the winners and the participants for earning accolades for the institution. She appreciated the concerted and concentrated efforts made by the participants and the faculty members for emerging triumphant in almost all categories. She exhorted them to keep up their commitment and untiring zeal.

Twelve prizes were clinched by the Music Department (vocal and Instrumental ). In the wake of outstanding performance in the youth festival, the college witnessed a celebration time with joy and jubilation writ large everywhere.

Mr Swaran Singh, President of the Managing Committee, expressed his gratification and said the items evoked appreciative response from the audience.

The prize winners would be felicitated by the college.



Teachers given farewell
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
Mr V.P. Singh, a mathematic lecturer, Ms Tripta Kalra, an English lecturer, Mr Hardev Singh, DPE, and Mr Tara Singh, worker Class IV at Govt Senior Secondary (Multipurpose) School, Cinema road, were given a farewell on October 31 by the staff members. Principal Hari Krishan Myer presided over the function and praised them for putting up their best during their services rendered to the school.

Mr Shiv Kumar Saroi, in charge of the Parents Teachers Association, praised the services of these teachers. Mr Bhajan Singh of the Democratic Teachers Front, Mr Prem Krishan Pabby, Mr Krishan Dutt, Ms Neena Jindal, Ms Navdeep Romana, and Mr Khem Singh were present on the occasion.


Divali was celebrated at SKN Model High School on Monday. Many students had participated in rangoli and Divali Poojan competitions and decorated pooja thalis in different styles. Mr K.D. Arora, Principal, distributed prizes to the winners.



Identifying the budding talent
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
To identify a pool of budding entrepreneurs, who have the required mindset to make it big in the corporate sector, Top Careers and You (TCY) will select “Student Entrepreneur of the year-2005” from Ludhiana and Chandigarh region, in the coming months. The event will have four rounds of which three rounds will be conducted at the respective college premises and the fourth will be a region-specific round.

Written test consisting of two sections analytical reasoning and business skills, will be held in first round and group discussion will be part of second round. Students would be ranked accordingly and called for the next round of business plan. All students in this round will write an executive summary of a business plan.

Ten students from the region will be shortlisted for the grand finale. Last round will be held at the regional level. This round will focus on two activities: business situation analysis and business idea competition. In this round, every aspirant will be asked two business situations and they will be evaluated by the panel.



All-India hockey tourney from today
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, November 2
The third All-India Gold Cup Hockey Tournament organised by the Doraha Hawks Club, Doraha, will be held at Mehta Gurukul Public School, Kaddon Road, Doraha, from November 3 to 6.

Mr Amardeep Singh, secretary of the tournament, informed the press that the tournament would start on November 3.

Mr Naunihal Singh, IPS, Khanna, would be the chief guest for the opening ceremony. Mr Bhalinder Singh Canada would be the chief guest on November 4, Mr Bant Singh Daburja, President, All-India Commie Ekta Committee on November 5 morning, Mr Surinder Pal Sood, acting president of the Municipal Council of Doraha, on November 5 evening and Mrs Raj Rani, former president of the Municipal Council of Doraha on November 6.

Mr V.M. Verma IRS, (Custom and Excise) would be the chief guest on the concluding day and perform the prize giving ceremony.

The teams participating in the tournament include B.K.S.B Bangla desh Sai Academy Qrissa , Bhopal, Lucknow, Kurukshetra, All-India Academy, New Delhi, Panjab and Sind Bank, Patiala, Thapar Academy, Sansarpur, Rock Rovers, Chandigarh, and Namdhari Academy, Bhaini Sahib.


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