L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ludhiana SAD in deep crisis
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18
The polarisation within the district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal appears to be complete with two groups coming face to face against each other. While the district president, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, maintained a silence on the subject, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, a former minister and Kila Raipur MLA, went on record to denounce his leadership.

Mr Gabria told The Tribune today that he did not want to join issue with Mr Garcha in the media. Exercising utmost restraint, Mr Gabria observed that such issues must not be raised in public. He said, he respected Mr Garcha as a senior leader and legislator of the party. However, he added that he would bring the issue to the notice of the party high command and did not want to go public on the issue.

The district unit is now virtually divided into two groups. While Mr Gabria enjoys the open support of Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, some senior leaders of the party are also supportive of him. The other group is led by Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, a long time aspirant for the post of the district president, who surprisingly ended up being appointed as the president of the SGPC.

He is being supported by party MP from Ludhiana, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, and Punjab Public Service Commission member Amarjit Singh Chawla. Yesterday, prior to Mr Garcha going to the Press, the three had a meeting at the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town. Mr Makkar is the president of the gurdwara. However, he was not present at the meeting. But the venue of the meeting itself holds a lot of significance.

The Makkar group has been stung by the defeat of their candidates in the local gurdwara managing committee elections. Although these elections are not politically significant, these serve as indicators of the support base of a particular group. The strong Akali supporters in the urban areas have obviously sided with Mr Gabria. This would obviously weaken the claims of the Makkar group over the city and will also have a consequent impact on their claims for ticket from here.

Mr Gabria's candidature from Ludhiana Rural is a foregone conclusion. Besides, the resounding victory of the candidates of his group further strengthen his claims. The Makkar group reportedly had an eye on the seat. Moreover, Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, a former president of the Sikh Students' Federation, facing charges for terrorist acts, is also an aspirant for the Ludhiana West assembly segment.

With Mr Gabria consolidating his grip on the urban electorate in the local gurdwara managing committee elections, these leaders have apparently started feeling threatened. As a result they have now been trying to counter his influence. Most of the leaders and workers have been rallying behind Mr Gabria, who enjoys a clean image and has a strong grassroot base.



Political scene hots up
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 18
The political parties in Punjab are trying hard to clear the pitch for the ensuing battle of the ballot. But the political situation remains as confused as ever. No issue is coming to the fore front on which both the parties can go to the polls. The debate on terrorism in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha did not yield any benefit to the two major players. While the Akalis failed to nail the Congress effectively for its failures, the Congress also could in no way prove that the akalis were responsible for violence.

The idea of development debate has just frittered away. Both the Akalis and the Congress have nothing to offer in this regard.

The five years of the akali rule have not at all done much to give better life to the Punjabis.

The Congress has also done little to make improvements in the social sectors. The tirade against corruption could yield little except framing of cases against some akali stalwarts. In fact, the opposition between the two major political parties has degenerated into a personal fight between Captain Amarinder Singh and the Badal Sukhbir due. Both the parties have dissidence within their ranks and cannot claim absolute unity that can lead them to victory in the polls.

As far as the Akalis are concerned, the gurdwara elections to the local committees have shown the effect dissidence.

But still there is no challenge to the authority of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal. Stalwarts like Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi have urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal to give an opportunity to his son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, to lead the party in the state politics.

So far as the Congress is concerned, the dissidence is loud and persistent. But here also the position of Captain Amarinder Singh remains unassailable. Mr Bir Devinder Singh’s tirade against Mr Jagjit Singh local bodies Minister, has affected the image of the Congress and the slogan of clean governance given by the Chief Minister. Mr Bir Devinder Singh is also the lone leader in Punjab who has raised his voice against the passage of the first private university Bill - Lovely University in Punjab. Surprisingly the opposition parties, including the Akali dal, also did not oppose the passage of the Bill for reasons best known to them. Likewise Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar’s repeated assault could not reach Captain Amarinder Singh. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar has again opted to keep himself away from the Lambi rally of the Punjab Congress from where the Chief Minister started his campaign for the next vidhan sabha elections on Saturday. Sections of the Congress have begun to concede that Captain Amarinder Singh is the only leader in the Congress who could fight against the badals effectively. With this background both the parties are preparing for the polls.

Mr. Parkesh Singh Badal has launched his tirade against the Chief Minister and he was waiting for the success and failure of the Lambi rally of the congress.

The congress has successfully organised the Lambi rally and the Chief Minister made scathing attacks on the leadership of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal.

The Chief Minister and the Punjab Pradesh congress chief seem to be satisfied with the out come of the Lambi rally since this was organised in the bastion of the Akali Dal president. The indications are that both the Chief Minister and the Akali supremo and his son would restrict the campaign for the polls to settling personal scores as the have nothing to offer to the people of the state. The fact remains that the electorate is disillusioned with both the parties.

Meanwhile, the smaller parties or dissident akali groups are getting into action to organise much talked about Third Front in Punjab. Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who launched his Lok Bhalai Party on the eve of the last Vidhan Sabha elections, does have some following. But his credentials remain doubtful in the eyes of the people. Similarly, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra who fell out of the Akali Dal, carries a banner in the name of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. But he does not have the capacity to ever become the front rank opposition leader who can challenge the position of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann has not so far shed its ultra colours to become an effective force in the electoral politics.

The talk of alignments with some national parties like Bahujan Samaj Party, CPI and CPM, has rarely borne fruit in Punjab. The BSP itself has many splinter groups and Mr Satnam Singh Kainth offers an effective opposition to the BSP itself. The CPM also remains a divided force. The CPI and BJP have marginal effect in Punjab politics.

A new left party headed by veteran communist leader Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri and ardent critic of Mr Harkishen Singh, Surjeet, has taken off in Punjab. Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, a CPM dissident, has joined this formation. The collective strength of these parties remains too little to affect the major parties. Moreover, under the existing circumstances, they are unlikely to align between themselves.

The present government has been boasting of bringing many economic plans to boost the economy of Punjab. Talk of rebuilding infrastructure, including rural infrastructure has also not produced the desired result.

On the other hand land mafia fremains as active as ever. The concept of malls is not likely to benefit the common man. The private colonisers are grabbing the land at the cost of the poor and the needy. God save Punjab.



Residents fall prey to contaminated water
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 18
Nearly one dozen residents of several colonies in Ward No 5 on the outskirts of the city were reported to be suffering from jaundice and gastric infection and at least two persons, suffering from jaundice and acute gastroenteritis were hospitalised during the past 24 hours.

The victims coming from Kara Bara, Baazigar Colony, Bharti Colony and Gagandeep Colony were from different age groups and they had fallen victim to water-borne diseases allegedly due to consumption of contaminated ground water, which had been polluted by effluent discharge from a large number of dyeing units in the vicinity over a long period.

Officials of the health department here claimed that the outbreak of disease was localised and the infection appeared to be of a mild nature. Attributing the situation to contaminated water supply, they said water samples from different areas in the affected areas had been taken and sent for chemical analysis. Teams of medical and para-medical staff, they added, were conducting a survey of the affected colonies to render medical assistance to the patients.

That the diseases had broken out in predominantly undeclared areas where municipal water supply was not available was confirmed by residents of these colonies themselves. Some of the affected residents said in the absence of water supply from the civic body, majority of the residents were forced to consume water drawn through hand pumps and the ground water, particularly in these colonies with a large number of dyeing units, had long ago been declared as unsafe.



Child kidnapped from Gurgaon rescued
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18
The Ludhiana and Gurgaon police has rescued a seven-year-old boy from the clutches of four persons who had kidnapped him for a ransom of Rs 60,000 from Mulla Hera Gaon colony near Gurgaon on December 15.

The kidnappers had been hiding in this city hoping they would not be caught in the big city. The police, however, worked well in time. tracing phone numbers of a PCO-STD booth in Jawaddi here from where the calls were being made to the child’s parents for the past three days.

Addressing a press conference today, SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh said a team of CIA Wing-I and Model Town swopped on the kidnappers just when they were making a call today afternoon. They have been identified as Mohd Betchu Ali, Sadiq, Shakir and Majib-ul.

The victim, Kamal, a student of Class-I, was still dazed at being kept away from his parents. He did not leave his mother and clunged to her after his release. He is the son of a factory worker in Gurgaon.



Two dead, 3 hurt in road accidents
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 18
Two persons were killed and three injured in two different road accidents that took palace on Saturday night on the G T Road here. The injured were admitted to Civil Hospital, Khanna.

According to information, at about 4 am, an Indica car rammed into a truck from the rear side when the truck driver stopped the truck all of a sudden. All the four passengers in the car received injuries. One-person identified as Parbhakar Damodar died on the spot. Three injured persons, Mr Raj Kumar, Mr Nav Nath and Raju were rushed to Civil Hospital, Khanna, for treatment.

In another accident, a cyclist was killed after being hit by a truck. Eyewitness said the cyclist was going towards Ludhiana near Gurdwara Kalgidhar at about 8 pm.

A truck coming from the rear side hit the bicycle and the cyclist died on the spot. The deceased was identified as Raj Pal, a resident of Peerkhana Road, Khanna.



Christmas procession
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 18
Christians of the city assembled at Sarabha Nagar church here today at 11.30 am. The priest of the Church, Father Daniel Gill, led the peace procession. The procession was taken out to drive home the Christmas message of peace, love and equality.

The processionists carried banners and marched from the Church to Malhar Cinema road and reached Pakhowal Chowk. Then they went on to National Road, Ghumar Mandi, Joginder Pal Pande Marg, Ferozepore Road, Shri Durga Mandir, Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Sutlej Hospital, Railway Crossing, Pakhowal Chowk and finally reached Sacred Heart Convent School, gate No.4.



South African leaders to visit Punjab
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 18
The premier of Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa is visiting Punjab on the invitation of the Punjab Chief Minister from December 19 to 22 and will visit Punjab Agricultural University campus here on December 20.

Kwazulu is the biggest province of South Africa and one million people of the Indian origin live there. The premier is accompanied by his wife and children and Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs and 35 senior officers.

They would be shown the experimental areas of the university and the Vice-Chancellor and the scientists will have interaction with the visitors.



Ludhiana Calling

With the kite-flying season around the corner, colourful ‘dors’ and charkharis are being readied by professionals in the city. The ‘dor’ is made by using ground glass and other ingredients and is so sharp that it can cut a finger also . The season means good business for those making dors and charkharis and kites as price is no issue for die-hard kite fliers. Smaller charkaris are for starters as neither it is veery sharp nor does it have much thread. Prices of charkari vary according to the size and the and length of the thread rolled on to it. Most of the seasoned kite fliers believe that black coloured ‘dor’ is razor sharp. (See picture)

‘Gentlemen’ criminals

Daily crime bulletin of the city police sent to the Punjab Police Headquarters and a copy of it supplied to the crime reporters of various newspapers often has English language mistakes which make it an interesting reading. This week was no different with the person preparing the reports scoring full points in politeness by identifying the accused in a case as ‘‘two Hindu or Sikh gentlemen, or simply two unknown gentlemen’’. Either the person preparing the report did not know that ‘Gentlemen’ could not be criminals and if they were then they were no ‘Gentlemen’.

Avoiding media

‘Avoidance is the best policy’ seems to be the mantra for the local police as whenever there is a spurt in crime in the city or if some case is hogging the headlines for police inaction, the city police officials ‘respond’ by switching off their mobiles or by becoming inaccessible to the media. This happened again when the Vigilance Bureau caught a number of cops in various cases of corruption. The senior police officials remained unavailable for comments on the developments despite all attempts made by mediapersons to contact them.

Law protectors or violators?

With the elections to the District Bar Association just around the corner the law protectors have turned into law violators. The lawyers could have set an example of participating in an election campaign strictly as the per the book but they literally changed the face of the district court complex by pasting posters, banners and pamphlets all over the complex in support of one candidate or the other. And even when the media pointed out the defacement of public property, not even one lawyer was booked for defacing the property.

Missing VIPs

The 25th Asian Cyclists Championship being held at PAU Velodrome not only failed to arouse the interest of the local population but also got a cold-shoulder from the representatives of the Punjab as well as the Union Governments. While Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, did not keep his promise of inaugurating the international championship, Gen S. F Rodrigues (retd) also failed to turn up for the closing ceremony. The organisers had to cut a sorry figure as their names were printed on the invitation cards and had been publicised in the media.

— Sentinel



Villagers force robbers to flee from godown
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 18
Daring confrontation by alert villagers and labourers at a rice sheller, supported by the police, forced a gang of inter-state armed robbers to flee with a small booty of 83 bags of wheat from a state food agency-owned open complex godown, situated at Fauzewal village, near here, yesterday.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, claimed that the police had obtained vital clues about an inter-state gang of robbers that had struck at godowns owned by PUNGRAIN and situated at Fauzewal village yesterday. The alertness of residents of the area forced the robbers to flee with around 83 bags of wheat, whereas they had come with the intention to carry many more bags in four trucks brought by them.

According to the complaint lodged on the statement of Mr Ranjit Singh, one of the watchmen posted at the godowns, more than 15 persons armed with weapons, including pistols and revolvers, struck at the open complex godown yesterday morning and led them to a room at gun-point. The robbers. started loading bags of wheat in the trucks.

To the bad luck of the robbers, labourers at a nearby rice sheller heard the noises made during the operation and raised an alarm that invited the attention of the residents of Fauzewal and surrounding village.

They challenged the robbers and informed the police at Sandaur Chowki and the Sadar police station. The coordinated action by police teams, led by Mr Balwinder Singh SHO Sadar and Mr Inderjit, in charge, Sandaur, forced the robbers to run with the booty of some bags. The number of bags stolen was later told to be 83.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Chahal claimed that an SIT, led by Balwinder Singh, had received vital clues about members of the gang that was found to be an inter-state gang. “We have got some vital clues about the gang and hope to bust it soon. But any disclosure at this stage may affect the progress of investigation,” said Mr Chahal.

He appreciated the role of villagers and labourers in confronting the robbers.

Meanwhile, the authorities at the District Food and Supply Office said that around 1 lakh bags of wheat had been stocked at the open complex godown.

“The losses could have much more had the public and police not coordinated,” said the DSFO, Mr Mann Singh.



Watchmen to be replaced by community police officers
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 18
With an intention to institutionalise an informal system prevalent in this part of Malwa, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, has directed all circle officers and SHOs to mobilise social leaders of their respective areas to replace non-professional and unauthentic watchmen by community police officers (CPOs).

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, Sangrur, directed SHOs and circle officers of the area to institutionalise the system of guarding the property of common people by private watchmen and depute CPOs after imparting them adequate training in the field.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Chahal claimed that the system that had been launched successfully in some cities would reduce the crime rate in a very short period. “As most of the private watchmen hailed from other states, the investigating agencies used to get no or negligible information about the suspects of varied crimes, including burglaries. In a majority of cases, the watchmen were later found to be involved in crime,” said Mr Chahal.

The SSP stated that the police would train private security personnel to replace watchmen. The CPOs would get salary from a central fund created by the residents of the community availing the service. Each household in respective town or city would pay a nominal contribution towards the salary and other supervising expenses.

As the central agency would keep a complete record about the CPOs and the supervising agency if any, the new concept would incorporate the accountability and credibility to their duties which were lacking in case of watchmen, held Mr Chahal.

Referring to information received from various police stations, Mr Chahal said that the earlier practice of deputing watchmen was vulnerable to night crime, as antecedents of these persons were usually not known to either the police or the community. “Interestingly most of the private watchmen used to fix limits of their working area according to their own convenience and even the employers did not know their schedule of working. Instead of being monitored by any agency, they used to work at their will and occasionally hand over their area to anyone they liked,” said the SSP.

Meanwhile, the local municipal council and civic bodies of surrounding villages have assured cooperation to the police in this regard. The assurance was given at a meeting convened by Mr Bahadur Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh, SHOs at local city and sadar police stations, respectively on Saturday.



TV most attractive media for consumers
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, December 18
Television attracts city consumers, the most. A study, ‘Relative impact of advertising media on consumer purchase behaviour’, conducted by Ms Pansy Puneet Kaur, an MBA student of PCTE here, reveals that consumers in the city bought most of the products, whose advertisements were flashed on television repeatedly. Newspapers and magazines remained the second preferred mode of media among city residents.

The perception of respondents also revealed that exactly half of the respondents considered advertisements to be the most interesting part in different media and the other half held an opposite view. The findings indicate that 40 per cent of the respondents look for an opportunity to buy advertised (television) products.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents believed that most advertisements helped people select the best product available, whereas 30 percent of the respondents were of the opinion that advertisements were not helpful in selecting a good product.

Ms Pansy found that more than 60 per cent of respondents frequently got motivated to buy a product after being exposed to the advertisements while around 20 per cent of respondents rarely get any motivation through advertisements. But it was clear that advertisements did generate a positive action oriented response.

It was surprising that in this IT era, Internet came at the last place as still people used internet for checking e-mails and chatting but not really for advertisements. Radio being a less attractive medium had received little attention and the respondents had been spending less time listening to the radio, revealed the study.



BSF Deputy Commandant does city proud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18
A Deputy Commandant of the Border Security Force (BSF), belonging to Ludhiana, has done the city proud after he was awarded President’s Police Medal for Gallantry. A team led by the officer gunned down five militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) in an encounter at Panzu village in the Pulwama sector four years ago.

Mr D.S. Sandhu, Deputy Commandant, displayed conspicuous gallantry, courage and devotion to duty of a high order and was conferred with the medal by Home Minister Shivraj Patil recently.

On September 15, 2001, Mr Sandhu got information about the presence of some dreaded militants of JeM at Panzu village in the Pulwama sector. He left for the village along with his team in the night and cordoned off the village by early morning. At about 6 a.m., militants numbering about five, sensed the presence of the security forces and tried to escape. But Mr Sandhu, who was then briefing outer cordon party, immediately fired at them, forcing the militants to retreat.

He also alerted the cordon parties to ensure that the militants did not escape. The militants made another bid to escape, which was again foiled. Mr Sandhu, after having plugged the escape routes effectively with the available troops, briefed the search parties and the search commenced from one side of the village, keeping in mind the terrain and layout of the village. When the last two houses were about to be searched, a call was given by one of the search party commanders that the militants were present in the last house.

Mr Sandhu immediately rushed to the spot and a strong inner cordon was laid around these houses by a commando platoon, led by him to ensure that the militants remained localised. Sensing danger, the militants opened fire on him and the cordon party. He motivated his men and opened heavy fire on the militants. During this, one of the militants tried to escape form the rear window but was noticed by him.

Mr Sandhu left his position behind the cover and charged at the militant firing heavily, exposing himself to a danger of being killed. He injured the militant critically by his fire and forced him to retreat. Within 10 minutes, an intercept was received at 120 Battalion , BSF headquarters that one militant had died and four others were trapped in the house.

Thereafter, two rockets were fired at the house through RPG but they could not pierce through the walls. The RPG was reset and several rockets were fired form the northern side of the house. One rocket exploded inside the house and caused commotion among the militants. To take advantage of the confusion among them, firing through doors was intensified, causing outbreak of fire on the ground floor.

As the fire spread and flames engulfed the house, three militants jumped out through the front door of the house, firing with their weapons, leaving behind bodies of two of their colleagues, including the one killed by Mr Sandhu himself.

All three militants were killed by the BSF personnel in position while they tried to escape under cover of their own heavy fire. Bodies of five militants were recovered from the debris and immediate vicinity.



Phagwara bypass stone to be laid on Jan 19
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18
In a bid to resolve issues that are long overdue and pending for want of appropriate official decisions in Phagwara, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha, has resolved the issue the of construction of Nawashahr-Phagwara bypass T junction by the National Highway Authority of India.

After a series of meetings in Phagwara and New Delhi with the officials of the (NHAI), the Ministry of Transport, RITES, the Punjab Government and other agencies, Mr Atwal has persuaded the NHAI to construct this bridge. Mr T. R. Balu, Road Transport and Shipping Minister, will lay the foundation stone of the bridge on January 19, 2006, at the T-Junction point.



Bodybuilding meet results
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 18
Around 150 boys took part in the one-day Ludhiana District Bodybuilding Championship organised by the Ludhiana District Bodybuilding Association (LDBA) at the Lions Bhavan, Udham Singh Nagar, here today.

Mr Surinder Dawar, a local MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, and Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, member, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana were the guests at the opening ceremony. Mr Prem Parkash Khullar and Mr Ravi Prashar, president and general secretary, respectively, of the LDBA and its finance secretary, Dr Deepak Kumar, were also present on this occasion.

Mr Parminder Singh, Mr Arvinder Singh, Mr Barjesh Kaushal, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh and Mr Mohd Akhtar were the members of the panel of judges for this meet.

The following were the results: Boys (u-21 years) - below 55 kg - Gautam Sharma 1, Vikas Sharma 2 and Abhishek Dhir 3; 55 to 60 kg - Anil Kumar 1, Bunty 2 and Babbit 3; 60 to 65 kg - Vinay Dumra 1, Naveen Kumar 2 and Sukhjeewan Singh 3; 65 to 70 kg - Sukhwinder Singh 1, Kulwinder Singh 2 and Harvinder Singh 3; 70 to 75 kg - Amandeep Singh 1, Shamsher Singh 2 and Vikramjit Singh 3; above 75 kg - Swraj Sharma 1, Parveen Kumar 2 and Honey 3.

Senior section - below 55 kg - Amit Mehra 1, Vicky 2 and Vikas Sharma 3; 55 to 60 kg - Anil Kumar 1, Randeep Singh 2 and Rajinder Singh 3; 60 to 65 kg - Vinay Dumra 1, Naveen Kumar 2 and Manish Kalra 3; 65 to 70 kg - Vijay Kumar 1, Sukhwinder Singh 2 and Kulwinder Singh 3; 70-75 kg - Kamal Bains 1, Shamsher Singh 2 and Manjinder Singh 3; 75 to 80 kg - Sudesh Kumar 1, Parveen Kumar 2 and Dupinder Singh 3; above 80 kg - Baljinder Singh 1, Micky Sachdeva and Swaraj Sharma 3.



MUL organises Women’s Fun Drive
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 18
Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) organised Women’s Fun Drive, an exclusive womens event here today. Owing to the good response from women drivers, this event has now become an annual feature in the mega city.

Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, and Mr H.S. Brar, Regional Manager, MUL flagged off the rally at 9 a.m from Hotel Park Plaza. The drivers of all participating vehicles had to be women though the navigator could be a male or female. Most participants were accompanied by their friends and family members. The maximum number of occupants in a car were equivalent to the seating capacity of the respective vehicles.

According to mr Brar, the participants were given a navigation chart each, where in the route, directions and driving speed were given. The maximum speed limit was restricted to 40 kmph to ensure safe driving. Adherence to the traffic rules was accorded special emphasis. The navigator had to help the woman driver in chalking out the route and adhering to the speed limits.

He informed that there were eight ‘time control and passage control points’ all along the route, where in the meter reading and timing of each car was noted down. In case the participants missed any time control point, penalty points were awarded. Penalty points were also awarded for not adhering to the speed limits given in the navigation chart. The winners were decided on the basis of least number of penalties accumulated.

The top three contestants of the event were given gift vouchers worth Rs 15,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively.

There were a lot of other consolation prizes for the participants. The ideal time to cover the route spread across nearly 50 km was about 2 hours. Nearly 150 enthusiastic women, along with their friends and family members participated in this fun-filled rally.

The event culminated with a grand prize distribution ceremony, followed by lunch for the participants. Games, music and dance were the other highlights of the event.



Protest march by pensioners
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 18
Pensioners from Sangrur marched through the streets of this town to protest against the alleged indifferent attitudes of the state government. The protest march followed a district level pensioner’s day function organised at Guru Nanak Kanya Mahavidialya Senior Secondary School presided over by Mr Inderpal Sharma.

A large number of agitated pensioners marched through the streets to protest against the alleged indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards the welfare of the former government employees. The activists were raising slogans against the government.

Earlier addressing a mammoth gathering at Guru Nanak Kanya Mahavidyalya Senior Secondary School, various speakers including Mr Inder Pal Sharma, district president, Mr Amrit Pal Sharma president local unit, Mr Ram Rachhpal Singh general secretary, Mr Darshan Pal and Mr Dilbagh Rai Issi blamed the state government for ignoring the interests of a class that had spent golden period of lives in the service of society. The leaders urged the government to implement the long pending demands of pensioners that had earlier been accepted.

Representing Dr Indu, SDM Malerkotla, Mr Mukesh Kumar Sharma Naib Tehsildar assured that demands that came under the purview of the local civil administration would be met soon.

Enhancement of medical allowance, implementation of remaining recommendations of Pay Commission, restoration of DA on family pension, and 15 percent old age allowance on the pattern of MLAs and payment of pension through treasury offices instead of banks were the main demands made on the occasion.

Besides discussing various matters concerning pensioners and their families the organisers felicitated 10 pensioners of the area who had crossed the age of 75.



Postal employees’ strike in Feb
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 18
Postal employees will resort to an indefinite strike in February 2006 if the Union Government continued with its indifferent attitude and the pending demands of the employees are not accepted till that time.

This was announced by Mr H.S. Gularia, assistant general secretary of All-India Postal Employees Union (AIPEU) group C while addressing a meeting of the circle working committee of the Punjab circle of the union at Central Post Office here today. The meeting, presided over by circle president Pardeep Kumar Sharma and attended by all working committee members, branch and divisional secretaries, discussed the problems and genuine demands of the employees.

Other speakers, including Mr Dev Raj, circle secretary and Mr Iqbal Singh Khurmi, divisional secretary of the union, criticised the attitude of the Divisional Superintendents in the Punjab circle. They further demanded that vacant posts of head sorters of group I and II should be immediately filled, sixth Central Pay Commission be set up, interim relief be granted, new contributory pension scheme be scrapped, 50 per cent of DA to Grameen Dak Sewaks be merged with salary and benefits like social security and GPF be granted to postal employees.

Prominent among other speakers at the meeting were Mr S.L. Verma, Mr Kanwar Lal and Mr J.S. Mehta.



Pak minister to attend hoteliers’ meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18
Mr N.S. Nanda, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab, has invited Mian Mohammad Aslam Iqbal, Tourism Minister, West Punjab, as a guest of honour for the annual convention of the association being organised in the last week of January, 2006, in Ludhiana. Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Tourism Minister, Punjab, will be the chief guest.

Mr Nanda disclosed that Mr Aslam Iqbal had accepted the invitation and confirmed his participation in the convention. During the course of discussion with him, Mr Nanda opined that since the Indo-Pak relations were moving in the right direction, it was the right time to exploit huge potential of tourist traffic between both Punjabs for the development of tourism.

He suggested that the visa regime be made easier in order to meet the growing demand of the people to visit each other’s country. The visa should be issued for entire country and not limited to specific cities. The governments of both countries should lay stress on domestic and religious tourism, he observed.

Mr Iqbal, appreciated Mr Nanda’s gesture and highlighted the activities of the Tourism Department of the West Punjab, Pakistan. He said a four-lane highway from Wagah to Lahore was already under construction and a tourist resort consisting of good hotel, restaurant, conference room, fast food counter, coffee bar, banquet hall would be constructed for the convenience of the tourists at the earliest.


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