L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


BSNL staff protest against disinvestment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 21
Activists of the BSNL Employees Union, the Sanchar Nigam Executive Association, the All India BSNL Executive Association and the National Federation of Telecom Employees sat on a day-long dharna and held a massive lunch-hour demonstration against the proposed disinvestment. The employees from all the divisions, including Jagroan, Khanna, Samrala and Machiwara attended the protest.

Addressing the protesting employees, Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary of BSNLEU, Punjab, said that the entire workers of BSNL, along with the officers were on the path of agitation against the proposed disinvestment of BSNL and unbundling of local loop of BSNL.

He lamented that the TRAI, the Department of Telecom and the Union Ministry of Communication were pursuing such a policies that would ruin the BSNL. Under the telecom policy, 2005, the government was about to introduce ‘One Nation One Rate’ of calls which was bound to affect the BSNL badly and the telecom PSU would lose a staggering amount of Rs 11,000 crore.

Mr Inderjit Singh, national vice-president of SNEA, said that the proposed reduction in ADC charges will further weaken the BSNL by causing a loss of around Rs 5000 crore and the hike in FDI will further create an unhealthy competition. As a result of hike in the FDI in telecom sector, the government had opened the doors for world telecom giants and multinational companies to capture the Indian telecom industry.

Hailing the timely action for unity among the employees, initiated by the central leadership of telecom unions, Mr Ashok Kumar Khanna, circle secretary, All India BSNLEA, called upon the workers to gear up for a decisive a struggle against the government policies of disinvestment. He stressed that without unity among different factions of trade unions, the future of over 3.47 lakh BSNL employees was in peril.



Progressive farmers rue early paddy sowing
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Progressive farmers of Punjab today unanimously resolved that the Punjab Government take legislative measures to preserve and protect the state’s natural resources like water, and consider the early sowing of paddy as “criminal act”.

With one voice, the farmers from all 17 districts of the state also called for legislative measures to deal with dealers and retailers indulging in the sale of spurious seed, fertiliser and plant protection chemicals.

The occasion was an interface between progressive farmers and scientists of Punjab Agricultural University.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, presided over the meeting and appreciated the concerns expressed by the farmers about dwindling returns from agriculture and depleting resources. Dr Aulakh, articulating the sentiments of the farmers, said the top priority was to recharge subsoil water to check the steep fall of underground water reservoir going down at the rate of two and a half feet per year.

This had resulted in farmers switching over to installation of submersible pumps which consumed more power. Paddy, he stressed, was eroding Punjab farmers’ economy and income.

Dr Aulakh recalled how three decades ago cotton was a flourishing crop in Patti and Ludhiana and how with the passage of time, paddy had replaced it.

However, with the intervention of Bt cotton, hopes of cotton farmers have been rekindled in these areas and farmers have netted a saving of Rs 14000 per acre after meeting all expenses and also saved water.

Farmer Bogh Singh from Mansa wanted state intervention to direct tractor manufacturers to add tyres to discs to save costly machinery. Naked discs also damaged roads. Progressive farmer Jagjit Singh from Gurdaspur stressed on recharging ground water by releasing river water into the canal system during the lean period. Farmers from Patti wanted the State Agriculture Department to deal strictly with unscrupulous traders selling spurious Bt cotton seed.

An Amritsar farmer Prabpal Singh Kasel said those farmers, who opted for early planting of paddy, were harming fellow farmers, who sowed paddy as per the recommendations of the PAU because pests and diseases that attacked early sown paddy feasted on late sown paddy.

Responding to the farmers’ suggestions, Dr Aulakh said the PAU was making use of biotechnology to raise crop, fruit and vegetable varieties that were resistant to diseases and pests and were high yielders. But biotechnology is a high-cost proposition.

The Director of Extension Education, Dr S.S. Gill, who gave a synopsis of the action taken on the previous meeting of farmers, committee held in February last, said participating farmers that their suggestions and problems will be considered expeditiously by the departments concerned.

He said farmers should come forward to band themselves together and impress upon the government to take care of stray cattle and other animals that were a nuisance, as much to agriculture as human beings.

Dr Gill also asked the Punjab Mandi Board to intervene and stop fleecing of vegetable and fruit growers to the Delhi market.

The farmers demanded that the names of absentee government departments, who were directed by the Chief Minister to be present in such meetings, should be brought to the CM’s notice for necessary action.



Token strike by PRTC staff
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Nearly 400 employees of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation observed a token strike outside the office of the PRTC near Bus Stand here today. The two-hour strike was observed in support of their demands, said Mr Suresh Sood, general secretary, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC). The employees also threatened to observe a full-day strike on January 17, 2006, in case their demands remained unfulfilled.

Mr Sood said the employees’ demand, pertaining to 4 per cent dearness allowance and overtime, has been pending for quite some time. “ The PRTC’s income has been rising. The Ludhiana depot’s income between January 2005 and November 2005 was Rs 15.49 crore in comparison to Rs 14.15 crore in the corresponding period last year. Despite an increase of Rs 1.34 crore, employees were being deprived of DA and overtime,” he alleged.

The employees alleged that the government was not taking measures to curb unnecessary expenditure on areas like hired buses, which were causing revenue loss to the corporation.

The token strike was held subsequently at the other eight PRTC depots in the state too.

The rally was also addressed by Mr Sudesh Kumar Sharma, president, AITUC, Mr Sukhdev Singh, president, Karam-chari Dal, Mr Jivan Kyumkumar Sharma, president, INTUC, Gurmeet Singh, CITU, Mr Avtar Sharma, president, CTU.



Suicide by clerk; Principal booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
The Division No. 7 police has booked a school Principal for allegedly abetting the suicide of a clerk employed with the school, who had left a suicide note holding the Principal responsible for his decision to end his life.

Arun Jain, a 52-year-old clerk with the Sanatan Dharam Parcharak (SDP) School allegedly took celphos tablets today morning. He was rushed to the CMC Hospital where he was declared brought dead. Later, his wife handed over a suicide note she had found in his room to the police.

The suicide note stated that the school Principal, Mr R.C. Kalia, was harassing him on one pretext or the another. He said he could not take the tension any more and had decided to end his life.

While Mr Kalia could not be contacted, Mr Balraj Bhasin, a member of the managing committee of the school, said the management had the knowledge of the entire case and does not think the Principal was harassing the deceased.

He claimed that the clerk was on bail in an embezzlement case involving two other persons also. He said the Principal had only issued a show cause notice to Arun Jain seeking his explanation about the improper maintenance of the school cash book.

Mr Bhasin said the notice also sought a reply on why the clerk was seen working more for a shop owned by the family instead of the school work. The notice issued last week had given 10-days time to the clerk for submitting his reply. The clerk ended his life without replying to the notice.

The family members of the deceased maintained that he was innocent and wrongly implicated in a case of fraud. Mr Munish, a son of the deceased, said his father was on bail in the case and it would be wrong to say that he had committed some fraud. He stated to the police that his father often shared with the family how the school authorities especially the Principal was harassing him.

He said his father was already under lot of mental stress because of the false case and then the Principal was unnecessarily troubling him more.

The accused Principal was yet to be arrested. He was scheduled to retire within six months.



Passing Thru

Ms Preety Kaur, Chief General Manager, Precious Metals Division, MMTC Limited
Ms Preety Kaur, Chief General Manager, Precious Metals Division, MMTC Limited

Q: What is MMTC’s aim behind conducting Gold Festivals?

A: Through Gold Festivals, we bring jewellery designed by artisans from all across the country under one roof. Besides, people can purchase gold bars, coins and medallions too, and all these are hallmarked.

Q: Why should people buy hallmarked jewellery?

A: Hallmarked jewellery bears with it proof of purity, which means a customer is not cheated and gets value for money. Though a very small proportion of jewellers across the country offer hallmarked jewellery, it is getting popular as customers are growing aware. People no longer hesitate paying extra for hallmarking.

Q: How attractive is gold as an investment?

A: Once again gold has picked up and is being preferred by people as an investment option. An increasing number of people are buying TT-bars, coins and medallions unlike earlier where gold jewellery was considered as the only option. Considering the rise in gold prices, which is likely to continue, the returns that the yellow metal offered were higher in comparison to most of the other investment options.

— Shveta Pathak



Special children celebrate
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 21
To bring smile on the faces of children with special needs, the fashion savvy students of the JD Institute of Fashion Designing celebrated Christmas in a unique manner by sharing some memorable moments with the former at Arya Samaj grounds, Agar Nagar here today.

As many as 100 students from different schools participated in various competitions like singing, dances, candle-making, painting, elocution etc. The participating students were from Deaf and Dumb school, Nirdosh, Ek Prayas and Ashirwaad. This was for the first time that a private institute had taken up a venture to bring hidden talent of the mentally/physically challenged students. The students put forward a spectacular show over-powering all reservations and disabilities imbibed in their lives by fate.

“These students need not be looked at with pitiable eyes or a feeling of sympathy, but those of being equal and respected for what they are”, said Ms Pragati Taneja, the centre director.

The young, talented students painted beautiful pictures of Santa Claus, Christmas tree and other festivities. Students from Ashirwad and Ek Prayas School had the audience’s feet tapping on the tune of their melodious songs. Confidence and creativity were seen coming out of these bright children. The whole atmosphere was filled with a spirit to create, to achieve and to celebrate. The enthusiasm, energy levels in the children were worth seeing and appreciating.

The main attraction for the children besides the competitions was the adorable Santa Claus whom they hugged and even played games with. The JD staff, management and students tried to bring these children, at par with others by boosting their morale.

The results of the competitions were as follow: Singing and Recitation: First prize was bagged by Manjit from Ashirwad, Tushar from Ashirwad got the second prize while Chintu from Ek Prayas got the third prize. Group Dance winners were students from Deaf and Dumb school and the runners-up were Nirdosh students. Special children celebrate Aman Goyal from Deaf and Dumb School got the first prize in Painting contest. Esha from Nirdosh came second while Manish from Ek Prayas got the third prize. In art and craft Esha from Nirdosh won the first prize, Harleen, Rupinder and Kiran from Deaf and Dumb school got the second prize and Manish from Ek Prayas bagged the third prize.



Parents of dowry victim not happy with police probe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
With the Ropar police dropping the charges of dowry demand against the Mohali-based in-laws of a local woman, who was allegedly killed for dowry, the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO and the parents of the deceased have expressed dissatisfaction at the investigations conducted by the police into the case.

Amandeep Kaur, daughter of a PAU Professor, Dr B.S. Joia, who was working as a lecturer in an Education College near Mohali was allegedly poisoned to death on November 5.

In an update to Punjab State Women Commission, which had asked for the recent developments in the case, the IHRO and Dr Joia have expressed their shock at the fact that the challan was presented under Section 306, (abetment to suicide) instead of 304 B of the IPC under which an FIR was registered, thereby absolving all the accused of the charge of dowry.

In their letter they stated that the police even went to extent of absolving the two accused of the crime that they committed. Now the police, in its charge-sheet put forth in the court, has comforted Charanjit Singh Bhangu, father-in-law and Jyoti, sister-in-law, of the deceased, by keeping them out of the charge-sheet.

IHRO Chairperson, Mr D.S. Gill, while talking to The Tribune today said the deceased woman’s father had been writing them letters for the past many years that their daughter was being subjected to harassment and cruelty as her in-laws wanted more dowry.

He added that he had received a letter in May 2003 by Dr Joia which had stated that his son-in-law used to ask his daughter that he should be given a Scorpio car. She was regularly taunted for bringing less dowry. She was also beaten up frequently by them, especially by her husband and his sister. When her father-in-law, Mr Charanjit Singh and his wife Harinder Kaur, were requested to stop ill-treating his daughter, they expressed their helplessness, alleged Mr Gill.

Amandeep’s marriage was solemnised with Ajit Pal Singh (aka Jiwan) of Mohali on February 18, 2002. Apart from other usual items, a Santro LE car registered in his name with registration No PB 10 AV 2681 was also given as demanded by them.

After looking into the allegations, the IHRO constituted a team of women activists, comprising of Inderjit Kaur, Harminder Kaur Jassal and Sarbjot Kaur to monitor proceedings of the case. The team observed some connivance of the police with the accused. The arrests of the two accused out of the four proved this observation, said Mr Gill.

He also said at that time Amandeep was facing rough weather at the hands of her in-laws and husband. Even the Sarabha Nagar police and Mohali police had to intervene to broker peace. Later on, after detailed discussion with Dr Joia and his daughter, Amandeep Kaur, Mr Gill had asked Charanjit Singh Bhangu, along with his family members, to visit his Ludhiana office to have detailed discussion on the matter.

“He, his wife and son visited the office. They admitted almost all allegations mentioned in the complaint, of course, on the condition that there would be no case of dowry etc against them, if all went well. On this, the other party agreed and decided to send back Amandeep to her in-laws house. But, after some time, the same trouble began which resulted in Amandeep’s death on November 5, 2005, at her in-laws house under mysterious circumstances,” alleged Mr Gill.

“The police, after registering the case under Section 304 B (dowry death) of the IPC, seems to have connived with the accused and benefited them violating the norms and principles laid down by the Supreme Court of India. In these circumstances, the victims cannot get justice especially when the police and the accused are one on certain matters. Hence, it is a denial of justice and it would certainly encourage crimes against women,” he said.



Indian Govt more open than Pak towards media: Prof
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 21
Journalists of Indian Punjab nurtured the readers of their respective newspapers more boldly than their counterparts in Pakistan Punjab, claimed Dr Harjinder Pal Singh Walia, head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, who returned recently after visiting institutes related with media there. The attitude of the two governments towards the promotion of the subject was also unlike, Indian government being more concerned, he pointed out.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Walia said readers in the Indian Punjab availed better material, both in quality and quantity than those in Pakistan. Punjabi journalism was near missing in that country with only two Punjabi newspapers, Khabran and Bhulekha, having readership that could be termed significant.

Referring to interaction held during a seminar on media studies conducted by Punjab University, Lahore, Dr Walia pointed out that in contrast to bottom less rates of newspapers in India, the papers were available at prices ranging between Rs 5 and 15. Three leading English dailies in Pakistan are priced at Rs 13 and their Sunday editions cost Rs 15. The Urdu newspaper Jang is priced at Rs 7, he said.

Dr Walia further claimed that Indian media produced more at lower cost, both for their masters and readers. “Moreover organisers of the Pakistani media have also adopted an indifferent attitude towards their rural constituents and when it came to coverage, the urban people enjoyed the lion’s share,” stated Dr Walia.

Only one Punjabi TV channel caters to the needs of a population exceeding 3.5 crore. “Kaun Banega Crorepati” and “Kasauti Zindagi Ki” were very popular and eagerly awaited by the viewers there.

Appreciating the contributions of the Journalism Department of Punjab University, Lahore, Dr Walia said, “The university has been a pioneer in the field of media studies. The Journalism Department of the university has its own radio station and a TV studio.”

Dr Walia recollected that journalism students were operating a radio station from a tent in Muzaffarabad for the benefit of the earthquake victims in PoK. He suggested that diplomatic efforts, made at the ministerial level, should be supplemented by the media on both sides of the border.

Dr Walia interacted with various authorities in journalism in Pakistan including Lt-Gen Arshad Mehmood (retd), Vice-Chancellor, and Dr Mogees-ud-din Sheikh, head, Department of Journalism, Punjab University, Lahore. They like many other authorities, said that Kashmir issue could be resolved only through dialogue.



Santa goes the Chinese way
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 21
Like Divali Christmas, too, has been totally hi-jacked by the Chinese. Santa Clause has neither come from the country of its origin nor has it been made by the Indian companies , but the Chinese have mass produced it and exported it to India.

Thus one can buy the Santa Clause at a very affordable prices. Mr Gangwani one of the owners of Archies Stores said, “Santas are a big hit this year. Schools are buying big sized Santas as they need to put it up on the stage for X-mas functions. Even Christmas trees that come from China are available at a very competitive price. They are well made. Moreover, the decorations like stars, coloured balls, and other knick knack to decorate the X-mas tree are also made in China. And who can forget the different shaped beautiful rows of multi-coloured lights available during Divali, these lights are back and go around the X-mas tree making it look as pretty as a picture.”

Not only do these Santas look nice standing still, but some Santas have coloured lights in the eyes which blink making them very attractive. Some Santas also sing merry Christmas. Lights blink in their entire body and children find them very appealing and are buying them.

Mr Rajdeep, a shopkeeper in BRS Nagar said,” Earlier we used to sell Santas but in limited numbers. But schools have popularised Christmas functions. The children are buying these trees and the Chinese decorations that go with it. The stories of Santa appearing on the night before X-mas and leaving gifts has tickled their fancy and has endeared Santa to their hearts. Thus due to globalisation, the culture of the west is rubbing shoulders with our culture and is getting popular by the day.”



Office bearers of Rotary Club

Ludhiana, December 21
The nomination committee of Rotary Club, met here to elect office bearers and directors for the year 2006-07. The meeting was attended by PDG Rtn JK Sethi, PDG Rtn Suresh Choudhry, 15 past presidents, current president, Rtn Dr AS Bindra, president elect, Rtn Sarbjit Singh and two observer Rotarians. The following were unanimously elected. President-Rtn Sarbjit Singh, president elect- Rtn BD Sharma, vice president-Rtn SP Karkara, secretary -Rtn Kanti Behal, joint secretary-Rtn Vijay Bhandari, treasurer-Rtn Maj SS Khosla, sgt-At-Arms— Rtn Balbir Singh . Directors- Rtns Dr AS Bindra, Dr KP Singh, Dr Prabhjot Kaur, Ramesh Sood, Mr MN Sharma and Ms Aditya Soni.



Three held for luring woman
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 21
The Sudhar police on the complaint of the father of a woman has registered a case under Sections 363, 366, 376, 511, 342, 506, 120 B of the IPC against a couple and their one relative who are now under judicial custody.

According to the information Manjit Kaur (name changed) a resident of Halwara village was lured by Ranjinder Singh Soni, his wife Rani Kaur and Jagjit Singh Brother-in-law of Rajinder Singh. They had promised to get her married in a family of high status at Malerkotla. Jagjit Singh and Manjit Kaur were made to exchange garlands there. Later Jagjit Singh allegedly took her to Naushehra P.S. Malerkotla and tried to rape her. However, the parents of Manjit Kaur reached there and recovered their daughter. The accused has been arrested.

Truck stolen: Some unidentified person is alleged to have stolen truck No. PB-O5C-9900 from the area of Kothe, Sherganj, and the local police on the complaint of Bhupinder Singh has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC after six days of theft.


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