L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Five members of Bangalle gang held
40 robberies, 20 murders attributed to them
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
The city police today claimed to have nabbed five members of a notorious gang of the Bangalle tribe who have been held responsible for committing 20 murders and 40 robberies in various parts of the state.

One of the prominent members arrested was Ashok Kumar, alias Jhanda, who was eluding arrest for nearly 15 years. Terming him as a major catch, SSP Narinderpal Singh said Ashok was on the hit list of the cops of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.

The police was on the lookout for his wife, who is one of the few literate women of the families of the gangsters. She is charged with arranging and supervising all deals of selling stolen valuables, especially gold.

The SSP said with the arrest of these five persons, the city police had succeeded in arresting 28 members of the highly active 40-member gang of the tribe, stated to be indulging in this mode of life for generations.

However, a few sections of the tribesmen living mainly in Kulu district of Himachal Pradesh are still following the same life whereas several persons of the tribe have progressed after attaining education.

The SSP said the team was led by SP (Detective) Gurpreet Singh.

These gangsters had been moving around and staying temporarily in Hardwar, Dehra Dun, Aligarh and JhunJhunu-Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan.

Over 200 crime incidents, including dacoities, robberies and murders, taking place in North India have been attributed to them.

The other nabbed gang members were Umni, Dharamvir, Sunil, alias Veeru, and Shinda. Their prominent strikes in Ludhiana district include the murder of a man in Star City colony, Basti Jodhewal, here and a dacoity at his house, another intrusion at a house in Banda Bahadur colony, Tobba Road, where they could not take away much, and a dacoity at another house on Tibba Road.

The gang members were part of a group of 10-12 persons or five-six persons who had struck at those places, apart from over 35 other incidents in the state.

Despite the arrest of 23 members of the Bangalle tribe early this year, a number of dacoity and robbery incidents were taking place in the state.

SP (Detective) Gurpreet Singh who has done a research on the life of these tribesmen was on their trail for a long time, the SSP said.

The police had studied the style of robberies taking place in Phillaur, Rahon and Garshankar with that of Ludhiana and found that these incidents along with those committed in the city had the same modus operandi.

The SSP said Inspector Sandeep Wadhera and SI Arvind Puri along with the CIA in charge, Inspector Mukhtiar Singh, had played a key role in the investigation and arrest of the accused.

The police found that the accused used to splurge money on vehicles and house-hold items.



Rockman workers’ life jammed in cycle spokes
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Surinder Pal and Remesh Chander, both visually impaired, who worked at Rockman Cycles
Surinder Pal and Remesh Chander, both visually impaired, who worked at Rockman Cycles. — Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, November 4
When visually impaired Surinder Pal came to Ludhiana and joined the blind school here around 10 years ago, he had a hope. He equipped himself with work skills and got a job with Rockman Cycles. Life would be better, he had thought and it did get better as he became financially independent.

All these years, with the help of his stick, he would come to the factory, which had become another home to him. But the morning of November 3 came as a rude shock. He was not allowed to enter the factory and life came to a sudden halt.

He is not able to accept the news that his factory would no longer be operational and that the only source of income that his family, including two children, were dependant upon had ended.

“Where would I go now,” he wept. He rules out the possibility of going back to Bihar saying there is no job back home too. Worse is that he has no hope of getting a job anywhere else either.

The situation of Bihari Lal, who has been with the factory for almost a decade now, is no better. “I lost my right hand while working in this factory. My hand had got stuck between a chain and a drum. They did not compensate me for it. However, I kept patience as my job remained even after that accident. With only my left hand, it is now impossible for me to get employed anywhere else.”

To Ram Khilavan, who joined Rockman in 1976 at a salary of Rs 185, the closure of this factory has come as a bolt from the blue. He says he was on duty when he lost one finger around three years ago and another finger two years back. This 48-year-old labourer today finds himself at the end of nowhere after giving almost 30 years of his life to Rockman.

“It is very common for workers to lose their hands and fingers while working on machines. At least 150 workers here have either lost their forefingers, fingers or hands on duty,” said Jagdish Chaudhary, president, Lal Jhanda Rockman Cycle Mazdoor Union.

“The plight of these workers,” he said, “is even worse than able-bodied ones as not only were they not adequately compensated for loss of limbs, but their chances of getting employment anywhere else also are almost negligible.”

“We are emotionally attached to the factory and we want to work. We are feeling cheated. During all these years, we have not only worked hard for this company, we have seen it grow by leaps and bounds. Now they tell us they are suffering losses and closing down. Our only demand is that they restart operations otherwise many would die,” said 30-year-old Ramesh Chander, who is visually impaired.



Rockman workers continue protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
Workers of Rockman Cycle Industries at Focal Point here and Highway Industries in Sahnewal continued their dharnas against the closure of the cycle components manufacturing divisions of the two factories on the second day of the closure today.

Due to holiday on account of Id-ul-Fitr, no further communication between the workers and the management took place today.

The workers, who are demanding the closed divisions to be restarted blamed the management and said they would continue with their protest till the factories started re-functioning.

“Nobody from the company talked to us today. But we would continue with out dharna till they restart operations,” said Mr Jagdish Chand, joint secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Punjab.

The management, meanwhile, maintained that the closure was in accordance with the law and that the cycle components manufacturing divisions were permanently closed.



Muslims, others celebrate Id
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, November 4
Thousands of Muslims, who had converged on Jama Masjid here today, condemned the western media from identifying Islam with terrorism and branding Muslims as terrorists. The Muslims, who observed simple Id as a mark of respect to those killed in recent bomb blasts in New Delhi, said the Islam had always preached peace and brotherhood and those who were maligning its image needed to be exposed.

Addressing the Id congregation at the historic Jama Masjid in Field Ganj, the Shahi Imam, Maulana Habib-u-Rehman Sanvi Ludhianvi, alleged that there was concerted campaign in the western media to paint a negative picture of the Islam. He said Muslims also needed a thorough introspection and they must expose those elements who were trying to defame them.

The Id celebrations were marked by the spirit of brotherhood with members of the non-Muslim communities coming to Jama Masjid at Field Ganj, where the Id prayers are offered every year, to greet their Muslim brethren. The Muslims as well as non Muslims who addressed the Id congregation emphasised the need for communal brotherhood among people. They pointed out that all religions, including Islam, preach mutual brotherhood and said, “Let us resolve it today that we will always live in peace with each other”.

Prominent leaders who participated in the function to congratulate the Muslims on the special occasion of Id included Mr Manish Tiwari, secretary, All-India Congress Committee, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, Punjab, Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, and Mr K.K. Bawa, Chairman, HOUSEFED.

Addressing the function, Mr Manish Tiwari congratulated the Muslims participating in the Namaz of Id-ul-Fitr and said the joint celebration of the functions of each religion help in further strengthening the mutual brotherhood among various communities and peace in the country.

He said the Muslims community was a patriotic community, which had made substantial sacrifices during the freedom struggle of the country along with the other communities.

Addressing the function, Mr Harnam Dass Johar said as per our Constitution, India was the biggest secular democracy of the world where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were enjoying equal opportunities to flourish and living in a peaceful environment.

He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the council. Later, Muslims in thousands participated in the Namaz.

MANDI AHMEDGARH: Id was celebrated with fervour in the town and surrounding villages. Leaders of various Hindu and Sikh organisations greeted their Muslim brethren on the occasion.

Clad in ceremonial attire, Muslims thronged Idgahs at the local Dehliz road, Rohira, Kanganwal, Akbarpur Chhanna, Kanganwal, Dehliz and Kup villages. After prayers they embraced each other.

Ms Razia Sultana, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Mohamad Mustafa, IGP, Mr Nusrat Akram Khan Bagga, former SAD minister, Mr Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Mr Ravinder Kumar, president, city Congress, Mr Mohammad Yaseen, councillor, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, president, SAD, Mr Munir Mohammad, president, Muslim Youth Front, Mr Vijay Dhand and Mr Sinder Singh, chairman, Market Committee were prominent among those who greeted Muslims on the occasion.



Film time for young Id revelers
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, November 4
It was a train trip they had been looking forward to eagerly. Soon after paying their Id Namaz in the morning today, hundreds of gaily-dressed Muslim youths from Malerkotla and Ahmedgarh towns embarked upon the Jakhal-Ludhiana passengers train, which leaves Malerkotla at around 11 am and Ahmedgarh about half an hour later.

Twenty-year-old Imran, alias Jimmy, who was part of a group of Muslim youngsters from Ahmedgarh, told Ludhiana Tribune that he was going with his friends to Ludhiana to watch one of the latest releases which hit the cinemas today.

But the group was yet to arrive at a consensus on the film which it wanted to see. While some of the youths were favouring “Garam Masala”, others were inclined towards “Shaadi Number One”.

They were thankful that the train was on time, reaching Ludhiana at 12.25 pm, giving them ample time to reach the cinema hall of their choice well before the matinee show started at 1 pm.

Javed, who was part of a group of Id revelers from Malerkotla, said watching a movie in Ludhiana on the occasion of Id was a ritual for him and his friends. Though Malerkotla also abounded in cinema halls, they preferred to visit Ludhiana as the city offered them an opportunity to watch the latest release. 



Ban on paddy stubble burning goes up in smoke
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Mahitpur (Ludhiana), November 4
Despite warnings by environmentalists and farm scientists against the burning of paddy stubble, the ban imposed by the district administration is going up in smoke as the farmers continue to set the crop residue afire thereby remaining unconcerned with the deteriorating environment and soil health.

Even though the region has already started witnessing the effects of air pollution caused by stubble burning, the farmers, though well aware of the problem, are not paying any heed to the warnings. All villages in the district are witnessing clouds of smoke as the farmers remain insensitive to the problem.

A survey of some villages by Ludhiana Tribune, including Mahitpur, Sidhwan Bet, Kishanpura, Gaur Sianh Karim Bakht, Salempur, Bhundri, Hambran, Issewal, Birmi and Jhammat revealed that almost all farmers had either already burnt the stubble or were doing so to prepare their fields for the next crop.

All fields lining the Ludhiana-Mahitpur road were almost black after burning of the crop residue. In others thick smoke was billowing out as burning was in process. It was almost impossible for anybody to breathe in the air on the road.

Although most of them, Ludhiana Tribune spoke to very well knew that the burning of stubble affected health of the soil and caused pollution, they said they would think about the solution to this perennial problem next year. This year they had already got late to sow the next crop.

Mr Ajit Singh, a farmer said: “We have been putting our fields on fire every year. We should have been told that it will affect the health of our soil and is causing pollution we are helpless. It will take a few hours for us to get rid of the stubborn stubble by burning it otherwise. We really have to make an effort to clean the fields,’’ he said adding that all the farmers in the neighbourhood were resorting to this practice. Stopping him alone would not serve any purpose, he said.

Another farmer said that if they go by the advice of the scientists to incorporate the stubble into fields by chopping it would lead to severe pest attack in the next season. They said the only successful way was to pull every root out and dispose it but it took a lot of time. They said that with the fire the pests were destroyed and the fields were free of stubble.

Coming with their solution to the problem once again, PAU scientists said the farmers should dispose the stubble by any other manner rather than burning. They said that the burning in the fields caused loss of micronutrients present in the top layer of soil, death of microorganisms and other organisms, which were friendly to the farmers besides causing environmental pollution.

By resorting to burning of the straw equal to 19.6 million tonnes every year, the farmers were wasting rich organic matter. As per the estimates paddy straw worth crores of rupees was burnt every year and 38.5 lakh tonnes of organic carbon, 59000 tonnes of nitrogen, 2000 tonnes of phosphorous and 34,000 tonnes of potassium were lost, said the PAU scientists.



BJP leader hails Punjab Govt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 4
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Member Parliament, Lala Lajpat Rai today hailed the setting up of various development funds by the Punjab Government. He said the step was a right move on the part of the government provided these funds were utilised for the development purposes only and were not politicised.

Talking to reporters at his residence here today, Mr Rai, who has otherwise been critical of the government, said such decisions were the need of the hour. He appreciated the efforts of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for conceptualising such funds for the proper development. The BJP leader, however, sounded a note of caution that these funds not be politicised and used for political ends.

Referring to the issue of the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, Mr Rai said the Congress must act boldly without any delay. He said the ideal way for Mr Natwar Singh was to resign. He pointed out that the Congress had resorted to the delaying tactics in case of the Bihar Governor, Mr Buta Singh, also who had been indicted by the Supreme Court of India for his “uncostitutional” act.



A man with an amazing memory
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 4
He is a sprightly sixty. Nothing unusual about it. What is unusual about Bashisth Narayan Mishra is that at the drop of a hat, he can name all 609 districts of the country in less than four and a half minutes, tell the names of all SAARC countries, the full and complete list of Nobel Prize winners and Bharat Ratna winners and many more such statistics.

Mr Mishra is a resident of Darbhanga Bhuskaul and is visting Ludhiana for the first time to pay condolences to the bereaved family of his friend who passed away a few days ago. A retired official of Eastern Coalfields Limited, Mr Mishra is even now busy sharpening his memory for the “test of all tests” by memorising whole chapters of textbooks, down to the last comma. His unmatched feat has naturally given the lie to the biologically proven “aging memory” syndrome, which affects most people who cross 50 years of age.

He told the Ludhiana Tribune that he started memorising as he was taunted at a job interview. He said, “It was the jeers of a screening committee I faced while being interviewed for a job a decade and a half back, that told me to go and eat crow when I failed to name 10 districts of the state. This brought home to me the importance of memory and ability to store facts and figures for all times.”

He further said he had applied for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for exceptional feat of memory for a person as old as him. Hailing from Bihar’s Darbhanga district, Mr Mishra, had always been an outstanding student in school. His knack for memorising and recalling facts and figures was a gift that his parents too acknowledged, goaded him on to even greater feats of memory.

His outstanding achievments has been recognised by many a VIP, Madhya Pradesh Governor Rameshwar Thakur included, who encouraged him to start a centre for the improvement of memory skills amongst schoolchildren. At Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh, South Eastern Coalfields Limited honoured him for his unmatched skills of memory.

How can one improve one’s memory? He said the best way is to copy the passage to be memorised two times. Read it several times and write it down. One would have learnt 25 per cent at the first attempt. After two times, make an accumulated effort and write again. This way one can start power learning.

Talking about his singular achievements, Mr Mishra recalls that the slight he suffered while being interviewed made him determined to possess a good memory. He said, “My life certainly has not been a bed of roses. I started as a general labourer in 1962 in Mahavir Colliery, Raniganj. Thereafter, I did graduation and post-graduation in sociology. I also obtained a diploma in management from IGNOU. After departmental promotions, I retired as personnel manager from Eastern Coalfield.”

He is writing a book on ‘Disciplinary Action’ that would deal in detail all things required from issuing a charge sheet to the end. He is also engaged in research work on coal mines and its benefit pensions. He says there are many discrepancies in issuance of these pensions which he wants to remove.

The Guinness Book of Records has asked him to send feats of his amazing memory all recorded in a CD in presence of a District Magistrate. The DM has given him an appointment on November 23 after Bihar elections are over. Then he hopes that his name would enter in the prestigious book. 



Workshop on women empowerment
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 4
Dr Ishar Judge Ahluwalia, Vice-Chairperson, Punjab Planning Board, feels that women should not under-estimate their abilities, but need to nurture themselves well if they want to prove their worth. Dr Ahluwalia was at Master Tara Singh College for Women here today to attend a UGC-sponsored workshop on “Economic Empowerment of Women.”

She said she had faced a lot of problems while choosing her educational institutes, but she was adamant and knew that she had made a right decision. She said though she was not an expert on the topic, still she was working towards it.

Talking particularly about Punjab, she said people here were enterprising, literate and warm-hearted, but the condition of women in the state was miserable. There was a need to change the mindset of Punjabis, she said, adding that they need to equip women in such a manner that they realise their own potentials.

“With this, our social structure would come on a fast track. Woman bridges the gap between two generations. She brings up her children and looks after the older ones in the family.

If she is thoroughly educated and economically independent, she would pass on the heritage and moral values to her children. And can bring social transformation,” Dr Ahluwalia said.

She further stated that economic independence did not mean that she started thinking herself superior to her male counterparts. Education was must to keep the minds of young women in focus. In states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where emphasis was laid on the education of women, the birth rate had reduced. Better nutrition and education was provided to the children in these states. Dr Ahluwalia added that women needed to be given flexible hours at work so as to maintain a balance between family and career.

Amongst others who spoke on the topic include Ms Swaranjit Mehta and Dr H.S. Mehta. Ms Mehta said women should come forward and accept the challenges. Her participation in every field was must.

“Woman has the capacity to make bold decisions, she must not feel shy. And her social recognition is also important at the same time,” said Ms Mehta.

Dr (Ms) Madanjit Kaur Sahota presented a vote of thanks and hoped that such workshops would boost the morale of women in the country.



NRIs’ gratitude to alma mater
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 4
Two brothers, Mr Harwant Singh Gill and Mr Narinder Singh Gill, presently living in London, have come to their native town Mullanpur on their regular visit. They found that Government Primary School, Mullanpur, where they studied long time ago was in a state of neglect.

Wanting to help out, they thought that they would donate money to set up a dispensary. However, they were told that a dispensary already existed there. The next best thing was to change the roof of the school. Its corrugated roof leaked during rains and the students had a bad time studying. So they thought to put a roof over the heads of school children so that they could study comfortably. The total cost of the lentil roof came to Rs 2 lakh, which the two brothers gave happily.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Harwant Gill said, “Next, we propose to provide benches and tables and other amenities to the students. A function was arranged in Mullanpur on October 29, which was attended by Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi and we were honoured. We come back to our roots quite often. We are in business and feel we ought to do something for our native land.

Asked which are the most striking differences between the two countries, he replied," Back in England everything is so regular and orderly. We are really amazed at the extent of corruption in India. Here right from the lowest to the highest officer or person authority is corrupt. Then we have to hold our heads in shame when people outside condemn us Indians for killing brides for dowry. This is a blot on our society, which we cannot defend. We feel that women must get educated as only knowledge can give power. Wherever we go we tell women to get educated.

In England, Indian women are getting more liberated . They will not tolerate domestic violence. If the husband comes drunk, they call the police. We like everything except corruption and injustice towards women in India.”



Action sought against gas agency
Our Correspondent

Khanna, November 4
Joga Singh, a resident of Barwali Kalan, village has lodged a complaint against a local gas agency M/s Sumitra Gas Agency to the District Food Supply Officer, Khanna, that the agency owner is selling cylinders through its agents at a higher price than the control prices. The A.F.S.O, Khanna, Mr Sham Lal, had started an inquiry into the matter.

Joga Singh had alleged in his complaint that he had a gas connection with Sumitra Gas agency, wide consumer no. 618297. He had booked a gas cylinder on 22- 1- 2005. When he went to the agency to get cylinder refilled on 23-10-2005, the attendant of the agency refused to deliver it. He said he would deliver gas only on Computerised booking slip. However, the slip was given by the agency.

He alleged that an agent of the agency was selling gas cylinders in the villages at Rs 400 per cylinder. Joga Singh said the owner had sent many persons to reach on the compromise after he had complained against the agency.

The A F. S. O. said he had recorded the statement of both complainant and owner of the gas agency. He would submit a report to the DFSO on Monday.



Vedanti, Badal to attend kirtan darbar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 4
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, SAD, and Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti Jathedar, Akal Takht, will attend a kirtan darbar at the open grounds of Urban Estate, Dugri, from 6 pm to 1 am on November 6, according to Mr Manmohan Singh, general secretary, Danga Peerat Welfare Society, Punjab.

The kirtan darbar is being held in memory of those martyrs who were killed in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Mr Manmohan Singh, in a press release here today, said several ‘raagi’ jathas would perform at the kirtan darbar.

Meanwhile, an akhand path in memory of the 1984 martyrs was held today which would conclude on Sunday, he added.



Amrita Pritam’s death condoled
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 4
A meeting was convened by the Punjabi Lekhak Manch, Samrala, to condole the death of Amrita Pritam. Prof Hamdaradvir Naushahirvi, Gulzar Mohd Gorai, Lal Singh Dil, Mehma Singh Kang, Prof Parminder Singh, Narinder Manku, Joginder Singh Josh, Baldev Singh Dhaliwal and other literary figures were present at the meeting. 



Hosiery goods: sales tax evasion continues
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 4
While the sales tax authorities here have achieved a limited success in booking of hosiery goods at the local railway station without proper documents and payment of due taxes, the powerful ‘peti mafia’ has changed its tactics to continue with its assigned task of booking packages containing hosiery articles for destinations outside the state.

As the interstate trade of hosiery items is at its peak and hundreds of packages have to be booked every day, most of them without proper documentation, officials of Excise and Taxation Department are laying a virtual siege at the railway parcel booking office in the city to check the evasion of tax.

To regulate access to the parcel office and curb the movement of variety of vehicles deployed by the operators for the transportation of packages, the sales tax officials, with the help of the railway police, has also put up barricades on the main entry to the railway booking office so that each and every package meant for booking can be checked for documentation and only then allowed to proceed further.

Sources maintain that after the ‘peti mafia’ found the situation at the local railway station getting hotter with each day, they have changed their modus operandi so that their lucrative operation continues uninterrupted. Rather than booking the hosiery packages at the local railway station, the operators have shifted their base to some small railway stations like Mullanpur, Kila Raipur and Baddowal, located at a little distance from the city.

“Once the packages are booked for different destinations from any of these railway stations, the sales tax officials can not verify the invoices and payment of taxes even if the goods are re-routed through Ludhiana in transit,” the sources pointed out.

It is learnt that certain officials of the Sales Tax Department are also in collusion with the ‘peti mafia’ and it is only with their active connivance that the hosiery trade has been able to outmanoeuvre the enforcement staff. That the patronising officials are amply rewarded by the booking operators is a foregone conclusion. In the wake of these dubious dealings, the government exchequer is losing a massive revenue which it ought to collect from the sale of hosiery goods worth hundreds of crores during the season.

Meanwhile, the well-connected ‘peti mafia’ has also been able to influence a section of railway officials as well as the railway police which is said to have made a strong case for the removal of the barricades put up at the instance of the sales tax officials. The plea made out against the barricades is that these create hindrance in the way of the movement of the vehicles. However, no final decision has been taken in this regard till now.


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