L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Three of family hurt in firing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Three members of a family belonging to Gill village suffered gunshot injuries when members of a family living near Nankana Sahib School, on Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, opened fire at them today morning.

However, there was confusion about the exact sequence of events preceding the firing incident with the injured and the alleged assailants giving different versions of the incident.

The police, too, has decided to register cases under different sections of the IPC against both the parties as per the complaints made by them. The SHO of Sadar police station, Inspector Sandeep Sharma, said a subsequent investigation would reveal the truth.

The injured, including 40-year-old Kulbir Singh, and his sons Manveer Singh (19) and Paramjit Singh (24) have stated that their political rivals Jasbir Singh and his family members had shot at them.

Kulbir Singh told reporters that he and the accused Jasbir Singh were supporting rival candidates in the ensuing local gurdwara prabhandak committee elections. Giving details of the incident he said, ‘‘Today morning when I was going to Ludhiana along with my two sons in our TATA-407 pick up truck, Jasbir Singh and a couple of other persons, stopped us. He asked me to stop working against his candidate. When I refused, then a person who was accompanying Jasbir Singh hit my son Manvir with the butt of his gun, and then started firing indiscriminately.’’

While a bullet hit Paramjit’s, his father and brother suffered pellet injuries. Paramjit was admitted to CMC hospital and the other two were admitted to the civil hospital here.

However, the accused Jasbir Singh gave a different account of the incident to the police. He said the gurdwara elections had nothing to do with the firing incident. He stated that he and Manvir had quarreled some days ago while working out in a gym.

The gym manager had changed their timings but today morning they came face to face at the place again. They had a bitter argument after which Manvir and his family members attacked his house and they had to fire in air to scare them. But when the three did not stop then they shot at their legs in self-defence.

SHO Sandeep Sharma said on the basis of a complaint registered by Jasbir Singh, they have booked the three injured persons Kulbir Singh, Manvir Singh and Paramjit Singh under Sections 452, 506 , 323 and 148 of the IPC.

He said Jasbir Singh and some of his family members were being booked under Section 307 of the IPC.



DA hike for Home Guard jawans
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, today announced that with a view to further strengthening the Civil Defence and Home Guards in the state the government decided to enhance the daily allowance of Home Guard jawans from Rs 90 to Rs 150 per day.

Mr Johar was addressing the Home Guard jawans at the 45th raising day function organised at Arya College here today after taking salute from an impressive march past organised on the occasion.

The Education Minister appreciated the contribution of Home Guard Jawans during the fight against terrorists. He said the brave jawans had fully cooperated with the Punjab police to fight terrorism.

Stressing upon the need of further improvement in the role of the Civil Defence in tackling natural calamities and other emergencies, Mr Johar said this civil force could play a vital role in imparting training to people to fight exigencies like fire break outs, accidents etc.

Mr Johar called upon the officers of the Civil Defence to organise maximum number of training courses for citizens to create a strong mass support in case of any calamity.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr K.S. Ghuman, DIG, Civil Defence and Home Guards, Patiala Range, highlighted various activities of the Civil Defence and Home Guard jawans during peace and disturbed periods to help public.

Mr Gurcharn Singh Raikot, Chief Warden, Civil Defence, elaborated on the contribution of the local people in civil defence activities and appealed to the people to get training in civil defence.

Those present on the occasion included Mr Dimle Rana, president, District Youth Congress, Mr T.S. Shergill, district commander, home guards, Mr Ajay Johar, Mr R.S. Bhinder, Assitant Commander, Home Guards, Mr Gurbax Singh, former District Commander, Home Guards, Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Bhart Bhushan Ashu (both councillors) and Mr Jagdish Marwaha.



Right to information still an uphill task
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Obdurate babus still find it tough to provide access to documents and information to the common man under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Resurgence India, a local NGO dedicated to the empowerment of the people, is of the view that mental and physical barriers are abundantly visible in the state government offices regarding the implementation of the Act. The actions as well as the inaction of the Punjab Government so far point towards its unwillingness to provide information to public.

The Punjab RTI Rules, 2005, is one such retrograde step of the government. Not only that unwarranted formalities have been prescribed in the rules but the fee has also been hiked by 200 per cent to 800 per cent vis-a-vis the Central Government fee. The whole effort has been to deter the citizens from seeking information.

Mr Hitender Jain, general secretary of the outfit, said despite these barriers if one attempts to obtain information under the Act, the mental blockade of the public information officers is creating a big hindrance. Activists of the NGO personally experienced the bottlenecks created by the public information officers.

Citing an instance, he said: “We wanted a copy of the order under the authority of which the offices under the control of the DC, like DTO, police stations etc stipulate that all affidavits submitted to them are attested only by Executive Magistrate and not by notary public. The DCs office made every possible attempt not to receive the application by shuttling the applicant from one officer to the other. Our representative was made to visit the DC’s office five times on the plea of seeking instructions.”

“We were also asked to approach other offices for the requisite information though it was their duty under Section 6 (3) of the Act to transfer the application in case information was available with some other department. It was only after the authorities were confronted with the Act and rules that they finally gave in.”

He said the matter did not end there. The staff had no instructions regarding the head of account in which the fee was to be received, and the name of the payee in whose favour the cheque was to be drawn. The applicant was ultimately asked to give a blank cheque.

Similarly, we wanted from the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, a copy of the order under the authority of which police stations in Ludhiana police district refuse to register a complaint of pick pocketing or loss of driving license/purse/mobile phone etc without an affidavit. The application could be filed with the SSP only in the third attempt.” The SSPs office refused to accept the application in the first two attempts on the plea of lack of instructions, he pointed out.

Further, the PIO is required to issue form ‘B’ regarding additional fee required to be deposited within seven days of the receipt of application but neither the SSP’s office nor the DC’s office have issued form ‘B’ to the applicant till November 29 even after 15 days and 12 days, respectively.

Though the authorities are required to widely disseminate the general information under Section 4(1)(b) through noticeboards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, Internet etc, no such dissemination is visible on the noticeboards in the offices of the SSP and DC, Ludhiana or on the website of the Ludhiana administration.

In these offices, neither any information counter has been set up nor have signboards been placed outside the offices of PIO and APIO to facilitate access to the public and create awareness about their right. The usual bureaucratic hurdles and attitude is visible though the Act imposes responsibility on individual officers i.e. PIO and APIO and there is no scope for interference and dily dallying by intermediaries and clerical staff.



MC removes encroachments
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
An anti-encroachment squad of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) today demolished six residential and commercial encroachments along the railway track in Indira Colony in Industrial Area-A amidst protests by the residents.

A team of MC officials comprising the Joint Commissioner, Dr Jaswant Singh and the Senior Town Planner, Mr Balkar Singh Brar, MC police and many employees along with two bulldozers reached Cheema Chowk in the morning today and completed the work till 2.30pm. Later the team visited Shimla Puri and Haibowal areas also to raze illegal structures.

The squad was faced with a difficulty when womenfolk of a house staged a dharna outside their house and started showing receipts of house tax, water supply and sewerage bills and said if they had encroached upon government land, then why was the MC accepting all kinds of bills from them.

The women sat on the road and did not allow the team to enter the house. So the officials decided to remove only a small portion of a wall and left the place after that only. Other residents, who had to face the demolition squad said they were staging a dharna in the area for the past 40 to 50 years. They said they had left 30 feet space on both sides of the railway track and were not encroaching upon the railway land.

‘‘Why should they come and demolish the houses of poor people that too on a land that is useless. We are not sitting on road like many rich industrialists of the city. Why do they bother us just to show that they are doing something for the encroachments?’’ asked an affected resident.



Accident victim dead
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 6
Darshan Singh (57) of Sarbha village, who along with another person of the same village were injured seriously in a road accident, succumbed to his injuries at a private hospital at Ludhiana. The police has added Section 304 A to a case registered earlier under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 427 of IPC. The accused has not been traced yet.

Sources at Jodhan police chowki revealed that Darshan Singh, who was injured seriously in a road accident on the night of November 25, succumbed to his injuries at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital today.

Gurpreet Singh, a close relative of the deceased, had informed the police that some unknown vehicle had hit the scooter Chamkaur Singh and Darshan Singh were riding near Dhaipaie Bridge on Ludhiana-Raikot road on the November 25 night.

Gurpreet had seen the accident taking place as he was following them. “But the driver of the vehicle that hit the scooter succeeded in running away while I was busy in handling the injured,” Gurpreet had told the police.



Badal has no moral right to lead Sikhs: Sarna
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 6
Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, (DSGMC) does not feel threatened by the notice of the meeting of the executive to elect new office-bearers on December 19.

Mr Sarna claimed that this meeting was unconstitutional and illegal and had no locus standi. "The general secretary of the DSGMC has never convened a meeting of the executive without the consent of the president and the meeting convened by the general secretary was to divert the attention of the 'sangat' from the success of the nagar kirtan taken out in conection with the golden palki from Bangla Sahib to Nankana Sahib," he asserted.

Mr Sarna told The Tribune here yesterday that the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) president Parkash Singh Badal had no moral right to lead the Sikhs as his call for boycott of the nagar kirtan had been rejected by the Sikhs as a whole. The nagar kirtan had generated enthusiasm among Sikhs and Mr Badal could not digest the unprecedented response to the nagar kirtan by the Sikhs. Followng this massive response, Mr Badal "conspired to convene the meeting of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Commttee executive."

He said they were ready for any trial of strength, including the elections. When supporters of Mr Badal were in office in the DSGMC, they never held elections on schedule. Where was Mr Badal then, he asked. Why did Mr Badal and his cronies not issue the notice for the meeting on November 26 when he was in Delhi and why did they do so in his absence. This also spoke of the mentality of the SAD leader, he said.

Mr Sarna suggested to Mr Badal to go to Nankana Sahib with his family members to seek forgiveness for his sins with which he had caused a lot of harm to the Sikh community.

Mr Sarna claimed that during his tenure, election of office-bearers was always held on time.

Mr Sarna said efforts for visa-free visits to Sikh shrines in Pakistan were continuing and he held a meeting with the authorities concerned on Saturday in Islamabad in this regard. He refused to give further details.

Mr Sarna said Sikhs would be allowed to construct their houses in Nankana Sahib by the Pakistan Government

Regarding convening of the Sarbat Khalsa by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Sarna said he had told leaders of the Pakistan gurdwara commitee that they could not convene the Sarbat Khalsa. Only Akal Takht could organise the Sarbat Khalsa, he added.

Mr Sarna said the Sikh sangat had assigned him the job of presenting the golden palki at Nankana Sahib and he had done his duty as a humble Sikh. "We have no political designs nor de we believe in caste-based politics," he said.

Mr Sarna was also critical of the role of the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, and alleged that the nagar kirtan passed by his house and he did not pay his obeisance to Guru Granth Sahib. Whatn could Sikhs expect from him as president of the SGPC, he said.

Mr Sarna returned from Pakistan yesterday and stopped at Ludhiana for a brief period on his way to Delhi.



SGPC to repair gurdwaras in Afghanistan
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
The SGPC will carry out repair, renovation or reconstruction of gurdwara buildings which suffered damage during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

This decision was taken at a meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee held at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, today under the presidentship of committee chief Avtar Singh. It was also decided to send a team to Afghanistan to carry out a survey of the damage and suggest steps needed to spruce up the buildings and their surroundings.

The members also decided to observe the 400th year of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh master, and the 300th year of compilation of Guru Granth Sahib in 2006 with great respect, devotion and in accordance with glorious Sikh traditions.

It was also decided to intensify the dharam parchar campaign to acquaint the new generation of their rich heritage.

A target of administering amrit to 1.25 lakh persons during the year 2006 was also fixed. One big function will be organised in each district every month to administer amrit to 10,000 persons. This programme will be launched from Muktsar during the annual Maghi fair on January 11.



Residents resent shoddy work on road
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Residents of H-block of BRS Nagar today alleged that the contractor had used inferior quality material in the recarpeting of roads in their area. They alleged that the recarpeting work was peeling away within a week only.

In a representation to the Superintending Engineer (B&R) of MC, a number of residents claimed that the road had withered at places in the area within 24 hours of being repaired and they had brought it to the notice of the contractor but to no avail.

Dr B.S. Thind, a retired professor from PAU, said the contractor had got the road dug around two months ago and when he got it recarpeted, the top layer started withering as the work was taken up in the evening and due to cold weather the bitumen did not get spread properly.

He added that the roller that was used by the contractor had damaged some water supply pipes and the leaking water had damaged the road within 24 hours. ‘‘The workers could have ensured that they did not damage anything while recarpeting. Otherwise what is the fun in repairing one thing by damaging another?’’ he asked.

The residents also said a manhole had been left uncovered by the workers and it was posing a threat to the roadusers for over a week.

Residents demanded that the payment to the contractor should be stopped till he repaired the road fully. They also said he had got the gate ramps of some residents removed while some were allowed to retain those. They also said a park in the area was in a bad condition and the MC was not paying heed to their repeated complaints in that regard. 



Cycle divisions “closed for good”
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Even as workers, who were rendered jobless, following the closure of cycle divisions of Highway Industries and Rockman Cycle Industries persist with their demand of reopening of the closed division, the first hearing following the review petition pertaining to the closure only diminished any such chances as the management said Rs 4 crore had already been disbursed as compensation among employees.

Representatives of the workers and of the management met the Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr J.R. Kondal, in Chandigarh today. This was the first hearing after the workers applied for the review of the decision of partial closure that took place on November 3.

The workers, in their review petition, refuted the managements’ claims that the cycle divisions were running into losses. However, in response to the petition, the representative of the managements said they were complying with the process of closure and compensation had already been given to workers.

“We told the Financial Commissioner that 247 workers of Rockman Cycle Industries have been given compensation worth Rs 2.73 crore and 126 workers of Highway have been given Rs 1.25 crore as compensation,” said Mr B.D. Arora, legal adviser of the companies.

While 1,100 workers are yet to accept the compensation offered by the companies following the closure, Mr Arora said the process of closure was being followed by the companies in accordance with the rules.

Ruling out any chances of restarting work, he said the companies were willing to give compensation to all workers and the closure was permanent.

Workers, on the other hand, continued with their stance. “Our only demand is that they restart work. They cannot ignore the fact that 1,500 persons are jobless due to the closure. The reasons given for closure are all wrong,” alleged Mr Jagdish Chand, joint secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Punjab.

He said the management had applied for closure on the ground that the cycle divisions were running into losses, which was false.

“If there have been any losses even in the cycle divisions, it is misrepresentation of facts. They are including expenses of the auto division also in the cycle division. Besides, workers are not responsible for decline in production. It occurred as the strength of workers reduced,” he said.

On the compensation, he said workers were determined not to accept compensation. Meanwhile, both the parties would present their sides further on December 8.



Factory workers hold protest

Ludhiana, December 6
Workers of Javandh Sons, a hosiery factory unit, held a protest demonstration against the company’s management.

Alleging “illegal retrenchment” by the company, the workers said the unit was flouting labour laws.

Mr Mahinder Singh, secretary of the Moulder and Steel Workers Union, said, “The management never even paid workers according to what they were told at the time of appointment.”

According to the workers, they were retrenched when they asked for their rights. “When we asked them to pay us according to what they had told us earlier, they even stopped our entry,” a worker alleged. The workers, who also lodged a complaint with the Labour Department over a week ago, submitted memorandums to the Deputy Director, Factories, and to the district administration.

An official of the Labour Department, meanwhile, said the tiff between the workers and the factory management had occurred due to disagreement on piece wage rates. “The workers are demanding Rs 3.75 per piece whereas the management, which says outsourcing is much cheaper, is willing to pay Rs 3.25”.

He said a meeting of the workers and the management in the factory was conducted by the Labour Department officials. TNS



Telecom staff charge BSNL with victimisation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 6
The National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE) has decided to launch a struggle against the local administration of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for its “vindictive attitude” and “step-motherly treatment” with functionaries of the body.

A meeting of the district executive of the NFTE, held at Rishi Balmiki Nagar Exchange here today, with Mr Prem Singh, district president, in the chair, expressed resentment over the selective transfers of the NFTE workers “at the behest of the other union”. The functionaries of the body were of the view that such a step would hinder development and affect the work atmosphere. A better course for the management would have been to invite options from the employees for transfers.

The NFTE activists were also critical of marketing policies of the BSNL management, “which were pushing the consumer away from the public sector company”. Subscribers were surrendering BSNL phones in a big way, which, in turn, was breeding corruption.

Meanwhile, the BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) celebrated its first year of recognition by distributing sweets here today. The union was granted recognition as the only representative union in the BSNL all over India on December 6, 2004.

According to Mr Balwinder Singh, district secretary of the BSNLEU, the union had achieved a lot for the employees. He said the facilities which the union had been able to get for the BSNL employees included rent-free telephone to the direct recruits, 400 bi-monthly free calls to existing employees, transport allowance of Rs 200 and Rs 300 according to the classification of the city, supplementary diet allowance of Rs 225 per month, festival advance from Rs 1500 to Rs 5000, retirement gift from Rs 1001 to Rs 2001, insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh in case of normal death and Rs 2 lakh under accidental death, bonus up to Rs 10,000 first time and implementation of promotion policies.

Both Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary, and Mr Balwinder Singh, district secretary, called on the employees to strengthen the union, as the BSNL was passing through a tough time. They further stated that the joint platform of all unions in the BSNL, including executive wing, would organise a struggle against the disinvestment of the BSNL and unbundling of the local loop of the BSNL.

The unions will organise a big lunch-hour demonstration in front of the GMT offices all over Punjab on December 8, followed by day-long dharna on December 21 and a one-day total strike on January 5, 2006, to press their other pending demands.



Move to give control of jails to IPS cadre resented
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
The reported move of the state government to handover the jail administration in Punjab to IPS cadre officers is a conspiracy against the state and a cause of worry.

Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, president of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal, said the Congress and the Akalis were often harping on more autonomy to the states but practically the governments of these parties had always surrendered the rights of the state.

During their rule, the Akalis appointed an IPS officer as the ADGP of jails and now the Congress was moving in the same direction and was planning to install IPS officers as jail superintendents. All Punjabis should oppose this move, he added.

He said if the jails were brought under the administrative control of IPS officers then the constitutional difference between a police station and jails would vanish and police culture would be imposed in the jails a t will.

Also, there would be no difference between police custody and judicial custody. He further said that the change was brought on the alibi of removing corruption. The move of the government would increase the difficulties of prisoners and police brutality in the jails would increase.

This move lends credence to the rumours that the government was under pressure from the police for the said changes so that police employees and senior officials undergoing imprisonment in different Punjab jails were given more comforts and facilities presently denied to them, he said.

He said that the move of the Punjab Government was a step towards the implementation of the new Police Bill, which is draconian in nature.



Selling peacock feathers for Rs 3
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, December 6
For 65-year-old Ramesh, a native of Agra, it is just like any other profession. Roaming around the busy Ghanta Ghar and selling real peacock feathers for a song. One full feather of the national bird of India, already endangered, is being sold for just Rs 3 by this businessman from Uttar Pradesh.

In a chat with Ludhiana Tribune, the man revealed that he had been coming to the city every year on the trot for the past more than 15 years to sell these feathers. Does he come alone? No, he has several members of his large family, who, like him, are also doing rounds of the city in various areas. Every year, Ramesh and his relatives put up at a charitable dharamshala being run by a religious society in an old city area, where they could prepare their own food as well.

The old man is happy with the business and is hopeful that he will be back in Agra by the year-end. Asked if he will come back with more feathers to sell next time round, the old man from UP grins as he replies in the affirmative. Why not, for me the city has become a second home, he says.



Haphazard debris dumping has residents fuming
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Residents of nearly 30 flats in the posh Sarabha Nagar area are having a tough time due to encroachments and dumping of garbage and debris on the approach road to their houses.

Thanks to hotel owners and other shopkeepers, who use this lane to dump waste and construction material, life of residents and students of a nearby school has become miserable. Various requests to the Municipal Corporation authorities to check the menace have fallen on deaf ears.

It is very difficult for the residents to reach their houses through this road, which is the only access. Car owners are the most harassed lot as the road has shrunk to such a degree that even a two-wheeler cannot be driven easily.

The residents said they had approached the corporation, health officers and the police to help the encroachment but nothing had been done.

A visit to the place revealed that debris was blocking almost two-third of the road and garbage generated by hotels and restaurants was littered here and there. Besides emanating foul smell, the garbage was a perfect breeding ground for various germs.

The residents said their health was at stake and as danger of spread of disease was always looming large over them. Some restaurant owners had dug illegal pits on the road itself. These pits were covered with pieces of plywood only. There was danger of accidents as anyone could fall in the pits.

Mr Dev Datta Sharma, an elderly resident, said he had written a number of letters to the authorities. He added that they had requested the shopkeepers and restaurant owners not to litter on the road but nobody listened.

“I had even written to the Chief Minister and sent a copy to the Deputy Commissioner to take some action. It is shocking that the restaurants are dumping waste and garbage in their backyards and putting the residents’ health at risk,” he added.



Motor cycle stolen
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 6
Some unidentified persons reportedly stole a Boxer motor cycle from the area of Agwar Gujran Jagraon. The local police has registered a case under Section 379, IPC, at the instance of Avtar Singh of Gaurahoor. Employee assaulted: Mr Ram Ashish, a liquor vend employee of tehsil road, was allegedly assaulted by unidentified persons when he refused to open the vend at their instance. The local police has registered a case under Section 323, 324, 34 IPC. The injured has been admitted to DMC Hospital at Ludhiana. No arrest has been made so far.



Industry flays move on tax in lieu of octroi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Industry associations here have condemned the Punjab Government’s decision to impose alternate tax in lieu of octroi.

The Knitwear Club, in a memorandum to the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said an alternate tax would only put additional burden on industry. “At the time of imposition of VAT, it was promised that no additional taxes would be imposed on industry and octroi, too, would be abolished. Imposing any new tax only puts a question mark on the credibility of the government,” said Mr Vinod K. Thapar, president of the club, in the memorandum.

He said the government should not ignore industry’s contribution towards the economy and reconsider the decision to impose any alternate tax.

Industry associations said the government, instead of imposing new taxes, should reduce its own wasteful expenditures. They said the industry would not be able to take the additional burden and will have no other option than to shift to other states or to close operations.

Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India threatened to resort to an agitation if a local business tax is imposed. Mr Joginder Kumar, president of the association, said: “Instead of burdening people, the government needs to avoid other wasteful expenditure. We strongly oppose any new tax. The industry would resort to agitation if any such step is taken.”


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