L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Pak SAFMA team arriving tomorrow
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 2
A 54-member delegation of the Pakistan chapter of the South-Asian Free Media Association will be arriving in Ludhiana on Saturday. The delegation is being led by Mr Ishaq Khan, Minister of State for Railways in the Pakistan Government.

The delegation will have detailed discussions with representatives of the media, farmers and industry during its one-day stay in Ludhiana. Addressing a joint press conference here today, the president of the Press Club of Punjab, Mr Pramod Batish, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman, Ex-Servicemen's League, Lt Col CS Dhillon, and Mr DS Chawla disclosed that the SAFMA delegates would have thorough interaction with a cross section of the people here.

Mr Batish said the SAFMA delegates would have exchange of views with their counterparts in this part of Punjab. He pointed out that Ludhiana being one of the most important places in Punjab held added interest for the SAFMA delegates. He maintained that the SAFMA delegation would include a number of leading journalists from Pakistan. They would be made to speak about their experiences there and the expectations from the media in this part.

Mr Lakhowal pointed out that there was a lot in common on the agriculture front between Pakistan Punjab and this part of Punjab. He said, "we want to share their experiences and expertise on various issues facing agriculture". He added, "we will be mutually benefited and it will be in the long-term interest of the two countries".

Mr DS Chawla, a former president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers' Association, said there could be mutual exchange of engineering and industrial products between the two countries. He advocated a liberal visa regime between the two countries and added, it would be most helpful for Punjab. He said, "let's try to ease out the visa regime so that we are able to interact with each other regularly as it would be in the interest of the people of both the countries".

Mr CS Dhillon of the Ex-Servicemen's League was also of the opinion that for improved relations there should be a relaxed visa regime between the two countries. He said peace between India and Pakistan would be in the long-term interest of the two countries as their energies were otherwise being diverted to other purposes instead of growth and development.



More support for Swami Ramdev
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, January 5
The International Council of Ayurveda (ICA) has come out in support of Swami Ramdev, terming the “false propaganda” against him by CPM activist Brinda Karat as motivated by multinational companies.

The ICA chairman, Dr B.K. Dutt, said in a statement here today that the vilification campaign seemed to be a well-thoughtout conspiracy by vested interests to defame the ayurvedic system of medicine and the ancient science of yoga which had brought relief to millions of Indian through the efforts of Swami Ramdev to revive the indigenous and vedic systems.

Dr Dutt pointed out that the tests conducted by the health authorities on the samples provided by Ms Karat were in gross violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act under which a proper procedure and modalities had been laid down for collection of samples and carrying out laboratory tests on the same.

He was of the view that it was the responsibility of the licensing authorities of the state concerned to determine and take action under the relevant law if any violations were committed in the manufacture of ayurvedic medicines, labelling or packaging. “A political leader or for that matter even an MP has no right to collect samples of medicines and get these tested at the laboratory.”

Asking the media to observe restraint with respect to the entire controversy, Dr Dutt maintained that as far as the composition of different ayurvedic medicines was concerned, these should be examined on the basis of ayurvedic formulatory or the relevant vedas and not in the light of baseless allegations.

Meanwhile, members of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front today took out a procession in support of Swami Ramdev. They condemned the “wilful and malicious campaign” Ms Karat against Swami Ramdev.

The protesters were carrying banners and placards in support of the Swami.



BSNL unions defer strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
The indefinite fast launched by the National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE) against alleged arbitrary transfers of the union activists by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) authorities here has been called off while the proposed one-day strike to be observed by the BSNL Employees Union today was deferred. According to Mr Mohinder Prasad, district secretary, NFTE, a meeting was convened by the General Manager, Ludhiana Telecom, yesterday in which it was assured that all transfers would be effected on the basis of laid down criteria without any pick and choose policy and the transfer orders already issued would be reviewed to rectify irregularities, if any.

The BSNL further assured the union functionaries that a combined seniority list of senior TOA cadres would be prepared for the purpose of transfers, all compassionate cases of transfers would be considered on merit and there would be no victimisation on account of the agitation by the NFTE on the issue of transfers.

The meeting was attended by Mr G.S. Julka, General Manager, and Mr S.K. Jain, Deputy General Manager (Administration) of BSNL while NFTE was represented by Mr Dwarika Prasad, Mr Harish Khanna, Mr Sarbjit Singh, Mr Pritam Chand and Mr Prem Singh.

Meanwhile, the proposed strike by the BSNL Employees Union in response to a call given by central unions, was deferred after a written agreement with the Department of Telecommunication. The call for strike was given to protest against proposed disinvestment in BSNL and press for several other demands.The circle secretary of BSNLEU, Mr Balbir Singh, claimed here today that the Secretary, DOT, had informed the union functionaries in a written communication about there being no proposal for disinvestment in BSNL before the government. Further, the department had stated that local loop and BSNL infrastructure would not be opened to private telecom operators and steps were being initiated to accord ‘Navratna’ status to the BSNL. According to Mr Balbir Singh, the DOT had also assured the BSNL unions that they would be taken into confidence over the new telecom policy for the current year. While hailing the positive move of the government, the unions have, however, asked the BSNL employees to remain prepared for any struggle which might have to be launched at a later stage to safeguard the interests of the employees.



Why are cops keeping Taari away from the media?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
Transparency in the working of the city police has touched its nadir with the police keeping the arrest of an allegedly notorious criminal cum police informer, Avtar Singh Taari, a close guarded secret.

Taari, who had shot into limelight after Micky jain, the main accused in the Reema Jain murder case, had named him as the contract killer of the business woman, was quietly arrested in a theft case and sent to Central Jail in judicial custody a week ago. He was presented before a Duty Magistrate in a clandestine manner yesterday and again sent to jail.

The entire process of keeping Taari away from the media and the knowledge of the general public has put a question mark on the working of the city police. It was quite strange as the city police, which takes pride in parading juvenile offenders, petty criminals before the media at every given opportunity , has chosen to protect an accused in high-profile murder case from grilling by the media?

Cops right from the lowest to the highest rank in the city have been vehemently denying the arrest of the accused for the past one week. So forceful has been the denial that the city crime reporters chose to believe the officials. However, despite newspaper reports, exposing the blatant lie behind the denials, he cops have again gone into their cocoon and opted not to respond.

SP (detective) Gurpreet Singh, who liaisons with the media on the behalf of the city SSP continues to feign ignorance about his case. SSP Narinderpal Singh was not available for comments despite repeated attempts. His telephone operators have been notiing down the numbers of journalists calling up at his office or residence. But still there was no word from him.

Taari was secretly questioned by the city police last month in the Reema Jain murder case. His detention and arrest was, however, not made public. He put the police in quite an embarrassing condition by maintaining he was not involved in the case. The city police even brought Micky Jain on production warrant for further questioning but could not establish any involvement of Taari.

Then Taari was secretly sent to Central Jail in another case and this too was kept a secret.



VAT non-refund: industry gears up for stir
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The declaration regarding boycott of the state government by the local industry due to non-refund of VAT having little effect, industry associations have now decided to chalk out a strategy to lodge a protest.

A meeting of over 25 industry associations will be held here to discuss the issue on January 9.

“The state government appears to have least interest in giving refund of VAT, which is causing a lot of harassment to industry. Industry has its capital blocked due to non-refund and functioning is hampered,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Sore over non-refund, the association, along with the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), declared last month that it would neither welcome ministers or government officers at any function nor participate in government functions themselves , till the government issued a notification pertaining to VAT refund. However, the industry’s threats had little effect and there has been no communication from the government’s side, leaving industry even more agitated.

“The government should at least send some communication. Industry is suffering heavily and this cannot be accepted for long.”

Industrialists say when VAT was implemented, the government assured them that refunds would be made within three months. However, even after nine months of implementation, industry is yet to get its refunds.

Industry associations say that over Rs 400 crore worth VAT-refund was pending whereas the government was grossly understating the figure at Rs 33 crore.

Industry also alleges that the CM is avoiding meetings on the issue.

Over 25 associations, including CICU,. Ludhiana Cycle Parts, Knitwear Club and Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will participate in the meeting on January 9 to discuss the matter, said Mr Kapoor.



Man electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 5
A person of the nearby Sidhupur Kalan village died due to an electric shock at his tubewell.

Harjinder Singh (40) had gone to his field with his brother. When he pressed the button of the electric motor, he got a shock. He was taken to a hospital at Morinda, but died there. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. 



Kanika Soni wins Mrs Ludhiana title
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 5
Kanika Soni (25), the newly crowned Mrs Ludhiana 2005, is a perfect example of beauty with brains. She won the title here last evening after defeating more than 20 other contestants in a glittering function at the Lakshmi Ladies Club.

“The contest was both good fun and good grooming. Meeting so many new people was a wonderful experience. I personally feel that women should come out of their hesitations, believe in themselves and show their calibre to society”, she said.

After completing her English Honours, Kanika did her MBA from Delhi. Presently, she is pursuing diploma in Human Resource Development. She said: “I used to work with Bharti Telecom before marriage. After marriage also, I did not restrain myself. I am an active member of the Lakshmi Ladies Club. I take part in lot of dance and music events organised by the club. I had no intention of taking part in this contest. It was only because of support by my in-laws and husband that I won the title”, Kanika said.

She said she was surprised to see the lukewarm response by club members when the organisers invited names for the competition a few days ago. “Out of 2,500 members, only 4-5 members came forward. Many women felt that they may have to wear swimsuits etc. But there was nothing like that. I feel young women should bring forth their hidden talent”, she said.

On asking her idea of beauty during the question-answer round last evening, she replied that it was reflection of inner-self but one should also have a pleasing personality.

Shweta Soni was the first runner-up while Sheba Batta was the second runner-up. The title of best smile was given to Kanika Soni while Shweta won the best bride award. Sheba was announced “Ms Photogenic”. The title of Ms Catwalk was won by Shalini Aggarwal and Ms Personality title was bagged by Romila Walia.



Teachers to honour Data Ram posthumously
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 5
Recognising his contributions to the field of education and organised struggle for service security of employees of private-aided schools of the state, leaders of various teachers' unions have decided to honour Data Ram Sharma posthumously. His bhog ceremony would be held at Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School here tomorrow.

Referring to the decision taken at a joint meeting of various organisations, Ravinder Puri, president, Journalists Association, said it had been decided to institute a Data Ram Memorial Running Gold Trophy. He would be remembered for spreading education in the rural areas and promotion of talent.

"Talent hunt programmes would be launched to fulfill his dreams. Workshops would also be held to inspire others to come forward," he said.

Mr Dharam Pal Sharma said Data Ram had lain prostrate at the gate of Central Jail Nabha during a struggle by private teachers in 1968. He had threatened to end his life in case the demands of the teachers, including service security, were not met. Mr Abha Ram Premi, a Naxalite union leader, had appreciated his stand and the government had to succumb to the pressure of the union.

Mr Sikander Singh Jartoli (Government Teachers Union), Mr Ram Singh Dehliz (SCBC Teachers Union) and Mr Jagmit Singh (Democratic Teachers Front) have endorsed the proposal of the local organisations to recognise the contributions of Data Ram. 



Gurpurb celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 5
The birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated today in the town and surrounding villages. The main function was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Railway Road. Akhand Path, and Kirtan was organised in different gurdwaras in the area. Langar was also served to devotees.

Kirtan, recitation of poems, and lectures on the life and the philosophy of Guru Gobind Singh marked the occasion. The organisers, including The Kalgidhar Federation, Sukhmani Seva Society and Baba Budha Parchar Trust organised shabad contests for school children and felicitated the winners.

The anniversary was also celebrated at Gurdwara Bhagat Ravidass, Gurdwara Baba Namdev and Gurdwara Damdama Sahib Jandali.

Besides illuminating the religious places, the devotees also illuminated their houses and commercial organisations.



CAs’ conference begins tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The Ludhiana branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India will conduct a two-day state-level conference of chartered accountants on January 7 and 8. Mr P.C. Gupta, Minister of State for Company Law Affairs, will be the chief guest.

The theme of the conference is “Professional enrichment and excellence — challenges of change”, said Deepak Gupta, at a press conference here today.

He said over 1,000 CAs from across the state were expected to participate in the conference.

Mr Kamlesh S. Vikamsey, president of the institute, would lay the foundation stone of the new building of the Ludhiana branch on January 8.



Rupan Deol has done us proud, say villagers
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 5
Residents of Dangon village in Ludhiana district are delighted that a daughter of their village, Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, has been recommended for Padma Shri by the government.

Ms Bajaj, who superannuated on December 31 as Financial Commissioner, Revenue, is the granddaughter of Arjun Singh Deol, the first Deputy Director, Agriculture in the then British government.

She would be felicitated and given a farewell party by the Punjab Naib Tehsildar Association at a function in Ludhiana tomorrow.

The villagers are more delighted since the village had been known by the name of Munshi Dangon Da, a notorious character, and would now be remembered for having produced bureaucrats and a probable Padma Shri awardee.

According to Mr Gurpreet Singh and Mr Mukesh Sharma, president and vice-president of the state body of the association, respectively, the honour was being accorded to recognise her concern for the lowest rung of revenue officers.

"Had she not stood by certain revenue officers, including Naib Tehsildars, we could have failed to save the dignity of our profession," claimed office-bearers of the association.

The association welcomed the decision of the Union Ministry of Social Security for Women and Children to recommend her name for Padma Shri in recognition of her 17-year legal battle against former Punjab DGP, Mr K.P.S. Gill.

"We had been feeling secure ever since she took over as the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, as we knew that a woman officer who had fought her own case single handedly against the "supercop", would never let her juniors suffer at the hands of politicians," commented Mr Mukesh Sharma.

Ms Bajaj, a 1969 IAS officer, had served at various prestigious posts before retiring as FCR, a post considered equivalent to the Chief Secretary.

"My maternal grandfather advocated female literacy to the extent that five of her nine daughters were postgraduates. The fact that I had been brought up in a highly educated family enabled me to achieve my target," she said while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.



Religious books’ exhibition elicits good response
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle arranged an exhibition of religious books including 'gutkas', calendars at 10 gurdwaras of the city on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday which elicited good response.

The Press Secretary, Ms Amarjit Kaur talking to Ludhiana Tribune said,"The response was excellent and all the books got sold out. In fact, we had to order books from Sikh Study Centre, our publishing house.

The calendars that are connected with our campaign of 'safegaurding one's hair' were in great demand.

Rather the people told us to offer gutkas , and other books on sale every day instead of Gurpurbs only, as these books help children in knowing more about Sikh religion."



Traffic police presents reflectors
Tribune Reporters

Jagraon, January 5
The local traffic police, during the road safety week from January 2, provided reflectors to tractor-trailers, scooters and other vehicles to avoid accidents at night.

It also held a free pollution check-up camp and organised deliberations to make people aware of traffic rules.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal, SP(H), Mr Gurjit Singh Remana DSP (City), Mr Amarjit Singh, inspector in charge traffic, and Mr Gagandip Singh, SI, participated.

Khanna: Vikas Club organised a reflector-fitting camp here in association with the Khanna police on Thursday.

The DSP, Mr Balwant Singh, was the chief guest while Mr S. K. Khanna, Chairman of the club, inaugurated the camp.

Reflectors were fitted on tractors, trailers, trucks and other vehicles free of cost.

Mr Bansi Lal Tandan, president of the club, said Lohri of girls would be celebrated at Government Girls School on January 13 by the club.



Motorcyclist killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 5
Gurmeet Singh of Rajoana was allegedly killed when a Tata Sumo driven by Soni hit his motorcycle. The Talwandi Raikot police has registered a case under Sections 279, 427 and 304-A, IPC, against Soni on the statement of Surjit Singh of Bassian. No arrest has been made so far.

8 booked for assault

Mithoo, Sonu, Vicky Fauji, Swaran Singh and Kala Singh of Pammal reportedly assaulted Amarjit Singh of their village with sharp-edged weapons while he was going to his fields.

The Dakha police has registered a case under Sections 324, 327, 506, 148 and 149, IPC. The injured has been admitted to the civil hospital, Ludhiana.

In another incident, the police booked Baljit Singh, Shamsher Singh and Kulwant Singh of Kot Umra under Sections 323 and 452, IPC, for allegedly assaulting Manjit Kaur of their village after entering her house. No arrest has been made so far.

TV stolen

Satish Kumar of Gure allegedly stole a colour TV set belonging to Kulwant Singh of Barsal village. The Sidhwanbet police has registered a case under Section 380, IPC. No arrest has been made yet.



Robbers strike at house, injure 3
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 5
At about 1 am today, some armed persons robbed a house in Mohalla Daharmpura Estate and injured three persons of the family. The police had started investigations and two suspects have been detained.

According to information, eight persons entered the house of Yadavansh Yaday. Five of them entered the room of Kamal, son of Yadav, and attacked him with iron rods and water pump handles. After injuring him, they locked his room from outside and entered another room where Prabha Devi and Suman, wife and daughter of Yadav, respectively, were sleeping. They were also beaten up and were asked for keys of the almirah.

The robbers broke a trunk and an almirah and decamped with Rs 12,500 and gold ornaments.

A dog squad and fingerprint experts were pressed for service. The police detained a youth from a house where the dog squad hinted. It also detained a tenant of the victim.



Gold loses lustre; investors turn
to commodity trading
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
As the beginning of this year witnessed another phase of rise in gold prices, investor community is getting active in trading for the yellow metal in commodities market. City jewellers, on the other hand, after recording an all time low demand for gold have now pinned their hops on the forthcoming marriage season that re begins from January 17.

"Gold prices have been witnessing sharp fluctuations in the last couple of months. After touching a high of Rs 8,100 per 10 gram for 24-carat, a little decline was witnessed in December. However, the new year has witnessed a rebound and prices have increased by atleast Rs 200 per 10 gram in the last 3-4 days itself. Though this has failed to encourage buyers, investors are considering it a good opportunity and are getting active in commodity trading for the yellow metal," said Mr H.S. Sidhu, Executive Director, Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) Securities.

Commodity trading has become more attractive as investors can trade by putting in only margin money, which is a fraction of the sum one would pay if one went in for actual purchase of gold, said Mr Sidhu.

The prevailing price of gold today was around Rs 7,850 per 10 grams for 24-carat and around Rs 7,500 for 22-carat here.

High prices dampened the spirits of buyers and in turn of jewellers, who recorded a decline of over 50 per cent in demand this time. "The festive season was quite bad and demand was at all time low. Even those who bought jewellery for marriage purposes, restricted spending. Unlike earlier trend when people had started giving light gold jewellery as gift, this time there was no such trend," said Mr Anand Prakash Sikri, president, Ludhiana Jewellers Association.

A trend reversal was witnessed this time as instead of buying, people started selling gold. "The return that gold gave this time was the highest in comparison to other forms of investment which is why intelligent investors did not miss the opportunity and many gained a lot by selling. The months of October-November only witnessed an increase of more than Rs 1,600 per 10 grams, which was a handsome return," said Mr Ashwani Sharma, an investment adviser.

Investment experts say prices are likely to rise further and may go up to even Rs 9,000 per 10 grams.

Some jewellers said diamond sale also picked up as many kept postponing gold purchases. However, this increase was not substantial.

"Though it is only a selected few who opt for diamonds, an increase has certainly been there. THese are the customers who buy jewellery not only for marriage purposes. Due to an increase in gold rates, such customers were deterred from buying gold," said Mr Vinit Dhanda of Prem Jewellers, adding, "We are expecting the market to pick up again when marriage season restarts later this month. That remains our only hope for this festive season."

Not only gold, but mutual funds (commodity funds), which have a major investment in gold, are attracting many investors. "For instance, if gold gives a return of 10-12 per cent during this period, mutual fund would give almost double the return as funds outperform other investment options, since a fund manager invest in various areas," another investment expert said.



Chemist assn elections on January 14
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
The general election of the Wholesale Chemists Association will be held on January 14.

According to a circular, the nominations for the posts of president, general secretary and finance secretary will be received in the office of the returning officer at Goel Medicos, Manmohan Market, Pindi Street, from January 6 to 
January 9.

The scrutiny of papers would be conducted on January 10 and the withdrawal of papers would be allowed till 5 pm on the same day.

The elections will be held at the Ranjit Complex.

According to Mr R.M. Goel, returning officer, all eligible members would be allowed to vote on the production of a no-due slip from the finance secretary and production of proof of identity.



Bumper draw results
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
Majestic Park Plaza held its ‘Christmas Bonanza Bumper Draw’ here today. The mega prize was a return ticket to Singapore, which was won by Mr Sarabjit Walia. The refrigerator was won by Mr Vinay Marwaha, DVD player by Mr Ravinderpal Singh, Washing Machine by Mr M.S.Chawla, colour TV by Mr Arvinderpal Singh. Microwave Oven by Mr Vikas Marwaha, Music system by Mr H.S.Bawa and air conditioner by Mr Abhishek Soin.

Mr P.S.Bawa won another DVD player while Mr Pritpal Singh won a washing machine.


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