L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Third robbery in month at Haibowal
Role of gang specialising in opening door locks suspected
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
A gang specialising in breaking open spring locks for quick entry into houses struck for the third time in a month in the Haibowal area last night, causing panic among residents.

Though the police is linking the three burglaries to this gang, it has failed to achieve any breakthrough in checking its activities.

The police has failed to gather much evidence against the gang, as no fingerprints or other clues have been left by the gang for it to work on.

Ashok Kumar, a rice trader who lives near Durga Puri in Haibowal and runs a shop in Butte Shah Mandi, is the latest victim of the gang. He lost over 15 tolas of gold jewellery, several silver coins and Rs 10,000 in cash.

In his complaint to the police, the trader stated that his house was locked last night as his family had gone to attend a function at a relative’s house.

When they returned in the morning today, they were shocked to find the door lock broken. The bedrooms and a store had been ransacked.

The burglars seemed to have kept an eye on the movement of the family. With its mastery over locks, the gang sneaked into the house without much effort.

Usually, burglars use a pry or screw drivers to break the lock or door. Such methods are risky as these can alarm neighbours or passersby.

The Haibowal police has registered a case under Sections 380 and 457 of the IPC.

SHO Gurpreet Singh claimed that the police would soon crack the case.

On December 27, burglars had struck at the house of a computer engineer, Adarsh Kumar, and decamped with Rs 2.5 lakh.

Also on December 16, cloth merchant Hardeep Singh lost over Rs 1 lakh in a similar burglary. In both cases, the burglars had gained access into the houses by opening the spring locks.



Teachers to protest on January 29 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
Members of the Government School Teachers' Union, Ludhiana district, held a meeting at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar here today. The meeting was held under the presidentship of Mr Jagmail Singh. It was decided that the teachers would continue its struggle. The teachers decided that they would go to Patiala on January 29 and participate in a state-level protest by the teachers.

The teachers said Capt Amarinder Singh had made a statement that 10,000 teachers would be recruited. However, notification had not been issued in this regard. They said vacancies under panchayti raaj were not acceptable to them.

Moreover, the teachers said notification regarding promotion scale of teachers had not been issued.

The meeting was attended by Mr Charan Singh Sarabha, Mr Parveen Kumar, Mtr Saudagar Singh Sarabha, Balwinder Singh, Mr Sikander Singh, Mr Johra Singh, Mr Darshan Singh and Kairon Singh.

Computer Teachers of Punjab working in government schools have formed a union. Mr Vishal and Mr Arvinder Singh of the union said teachers condemned the recruitment policies of teachers on contract basis. They demand employment on regular basis. The union will hold a protest rally against DEO's office here on January 29.



IOC-dealer impasse: fall in 40 pc supply
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
As the matter pertaining to transportation of petroleum products between dealers and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) remains unsolved, dealers say supply of petroleum products by the company in the past five to seven days has gone down by at least 40 per cent, resulting in a major loss to trade and inconvenience to customers.

“In the past week, ever since company has been using its own vehicles for supply, several filling stations across the state have gone dry. Supply has declined by at least 40 per cent, hitting trade and causing inconvenience to our customers,” said general secretary, Ludhiana Petroleum Dealers Association, Ashok Sachdeva. Of the 70 petrol stations in the city, the IOC has 30. The company has over 650 stations across the state.

While the company wanted transportation of petroleum products to be handled by a private transporter, dealers opposed the same and for the past one week petrol and diesel were being transported through IOC vehicles.

The company and dealers would meet tomorrow to discuss the matter and dealers had threatened an agitation if their demand was not acceded.

The problem between dealers and the IOC began around 15 days ago when the company said it wanted a private transporter to handle supply of its products.

Dealers across the state went on a strike on January 1. The company agreed to permit dealers to use their own tankers to get petrol and diesel, but stopped them again on January 4 following which they did not lift petroleum products from IOC godowns.

A few days after that, both parties agreed that IOC vehicles would be used for supply to dealers across the state till the matter was resolved.

“The company has been using its vehicles for the past over a week. But the matter needs to be solved immediately as trade has got a major setback due to this,” asserted Mr Sachdeva. Dealers, meanwhile, have threatened to launch a statewide agitation if the company does not agree to permit them to use their vehicles.

“We had been using our tankers to get petrol and diesel from the IOC. However, recently, the company gave the contract of transporting petroleum products to a private company to decrease the cost of transportation, which we will not agree to as we fear a private transporter could indulge in adulteration,” say dealers.

They said their fear regarding adulteration was not unfounded as earlier too the decision that dealers, not transportation companies, would do this job was taken due to incidences of adulteration.

“If a dealer gets an adulterated product, it would be his licence that would be cancelled. We do not want to take such a risk,” said Mr Sachdeva.

Both parties would have a meeting in Chandigarh tomorrow to discuss the issue. “If the company does not agree, we will launch a statewide agitation,” he said.



Road poses threat to commuters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Posing a threat to hundreds of commuters on the old GT Road everyday, the road covering the old nullah has caved in and shopkeepers on the road are demanding that it should be repaired.

The shopkeepers say that many commuters on the road were inconvenienced due to the damage to the nullah.

“The other day, an autorickshaw carrying schoolchildren turned turtle. The children started raising a hue and cry and we somehow managed to rescue them.” said a shopkeeper.

They added that MC employees had put asbestos sheets at the place to warn the commuters but sometimes these were displaced by fast-moving vehicles.

“If the road further caves in, someone may fall inside the nullah. Maybe, only then the authorities will wake up from their slumber.” said a shopkeeper.



Poppy husk smugglers arrested
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January15
The anti-narcotic cell here has busted a gang of poppy husk smugglers with the arrest of four persons. According to information, Sub-Inspector Jangjit Singh, in charge of the cell, during a naka at Kaind bridge canal intercepted a truck and seized a large quantity of poppy husk.

Those arrested are Kuldip Singh, Pawan Kumar, and his brother Subhash Chander and Ranbir Singh.

Preliminary investigation revealed that they used to bring narcotics from Srinagar side and used to sell them in Punjab. 



Passing Thru

Monish Gujral
Monish Gujral, Managing Director, Moti Mahal

What made you open your first restaurant in this city in Punjab?

High income and spending levels and people’s love for food has brought us here. The city is also home to the first mall in the region, which we feel would give us a good foot-hold. Of the existing 21 restaurants that we have across the country, 17 are in malls.

Does that mean you prefer opening outlets in malls?

Yes. Even the 10 new restaurants that we plan to come up with during this financial year, would be in malls. The main reason is that one does not have to worry about infrastructural support like electricity and, cleanliness.

Tell us about the food that Moti Mahal offers.

It is essentially north Indian food. Almost 90 per cent of the food items on our menu are standardised, which means the recipes used across the country are similar. The remaining 10 per cent varies according to the location. Customers also have the option of ordering customised food like items that are low on oil. Apart from food, we lay an equal focus on catering. We would start a catering unit separately in Ludhiana.

— Shveta Pathak



Ludhiana Calling

Virtues like honesty may be rare but are not non-existent. A Tribune staffer recently lost his mobile phone. With almost no hope left to get the mobile back, he thought of making a call on his number. Much to his surprise, the call was taken and the person on the other side told him that he had the mobile and was looking for its owner. The person actually came to return the handset, restoring the belief that honest people have not vanished.

"Wire-less" cops

The police forces have gone hi-tech every where but the Ludhiana traffic police hasn't changed. Any traffic offender can whiz past a traffic cop without fear. The cop does not have any wireless to alert cop down the street to catch the offender. Also, there are no PCR cops. All he can do is blow the whistle louder.

Killer kites

The lack of open space and non-availability of a clear skyline due to wires running over rooftops have made kite-flying a risky business. Sentinel spotted several children flying kites on railway tracks. Two children actually lost their lives along the Dhurri line while flying a kite or chasing a falling one. Parents and the railway authorities should become more alert.

Sorry, VIP case

While the municipal corporation has earned the dubious distinction of catering to the needs of VIPs only, the police has its own method of serving them. It is reflected in the manner in which the cops either hastily claim solving a case or keep it unsolved due to the alleged involvement of VIPs. An apt example is the case of Reema Jain, a businesswoman who was allegedly kidnapped and murdered six months ago.

The police announced the case was solved but neither the killer was arrested nor her body recovered. On the other hand, the murder case of another important businessman remains unsolved because of the alleged involvement of some VIPs.

Lucky city

The city seems to be acquiring popularity on one more front. It is being considered lucky by those fond of buying lottery tickets. A couple of months ago, a state lottery winner attributed his victory to the fact that he bought his ticket from Ludhiana. This time, it was a resident of Mukerian who won the Rs 2 crore Divali bumper. He said he and his friends specially came to Ludhiana to buy lottery tickets.

Gender bias

Parties organised for journalists in the city smack of gender bias. This is true in case of certain Ludhianvis who achieve some success in their respective fields and share their joy with journalists by throwing parties, mostly male journalists. Some politely seek excuse from female journalists, saying that the party would continue till late in the night. Others simply ignore the women in the media.

National spirit

With Republic day approaching, miniature Tricolours are selling like hot cakes in shops and traffic chowks. The flags can be seen on dashboards of cars and on tabletops of many officials. Not to be spared by this frenzy, owners of two bullock carts had Tricolours fixed on their carts. Cheers to their national spirit! 

Snow in Ludhiana?

Ever heard of snow in Ludhiana? That is what villagers took the frost to be during the past many days when the temperature touched an all-time low. A very fine layer of frost was visible in fields. Scientists contributed the formation of this layer to the excessively cold weather accompanied by fog. Though the frost amused city residents, the farmers were crying hoarse as their crops suffered damage.

Threats bear no fruit

Industry associations have a habit of sending repeated reminders of their demands, followed by threats of agitation to the government. However, the government is not in a mood to please always. The industry was sore at the non-refund of VAT and several associations declared to boycott the government. It neither welcomed any ministers or government officials nor attended their functions. Much to their chagrin, the government did not even bother to communicate with the industry on this matter.

No discount

Demand for woollens reached its peak as temperatures dipped. The result is happy industrialists. However, sellers stopped giving heavy discounts and continued with routine reduction because they did not need to put their products on sale. "Why should we give heavy discounts when people are already buying?" a retailer asked. This has left the buyers unhappy.

Polluted vegetables

With city residents getting aware of the vegetables that come from fields alongside the buddha nullah, vendors in apni mandis are finding it difficult to convince people to buy their produce. Buyers are seen asking the vendors about the location of their village. A seller was disappointed that his radish was not finding takers as he had come from a village on the bank of the nullah. ‘‘The nullah water has not entered the radish. See these are as white as snow,’’ he was found convincing a woman. But the poor man did not know that the traces of pollutants had already been found in the veggies.

— Sentinel



Wedding season starts, so does pollution
Marriage palaces don’t care two hoots about SC order
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
After having had a respite from noise pollution for a month, city residents were woken up from their sleep last night when marriage functions started with the beginning of the new month of the Indian calendar and music systems blared well past midnight throwing the directive of Supreme Court to the winds.

Those having their houses in the vicinity of marriage palaces were having “comfortable nights’’ as no function was organised during the last month of the Indian calendar, considered inauspicious by most people.

Howevere, as the sun set yesterday and the deadline for the SC direction arrived, marriage parties started bursting noisy firecrackers and danced to the tunes of loud music, not caring two hoots for the inconvenience caused to thousands of city residents.

This despite the fact that the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Verma, had also banned the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am in the district following the SC ruling on December 30 last year.

As the direction was being thrown to the winds, none of the enforcement agency tried to stop the nuisance. The music and sound of firecrackers continued well past midnight. The noise was coming from all directions, including from marriage palaces on Ferozepur Road, Pakhowal Road and Daad village.

Mr Jagir Singh, a resident of Hassanpur village, in a written complaint to The Tribune, said he suffered on account of three marriage palaces near his house which were booked by VIPs and rich people.

‘‘The VIPs do not care about any complaints and the government machinery also fails to act against them,’’ he said, adding that some days ago, village panchayats were instructed by the district administration to control the noise pollution and the SC decision was announced in every village. ‘‘For some time even religious places had started following the directions. However, later on everything was taken lightly.’’

‘‘I was happy that there was no noise at nights for the past some days. I thought the administration was prevailing on the palace owners and was not allowing them to disobey the orders. However, last night I was shaken out of my illusion. I found that the marriage season had started and the violators were having a field day,’’ said Mr Mandeep Kumar, a city resident, adding that he had been calling up at 100 for two hours last night about it but nobody listened to him. The cops kept telling him that they were doing something but nobody came to his family’s rescue.

The District Magistrate, while passing orders under Section 144 of the CrPC to check noise pollution, had directed that the noise level at the boundary of a public place, where loudspeaker or the public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75dB(A) whichever is lower and no one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night (between 10 pm and 6 am) except in public emergencies.

Mr Verma had also directed that the peripheral noise level of privately-owned sound system shall not exceed by more than 5dB (A) than the ambient air quality standard specified for the area in which it is used, at the boundary of the private place and there shall be a complete ban on bursting sound-emitting firecrackers between 10 pm to 6 am.

These restrictions would not apply on bursting of colour/light-emitting firecrackers. No horn should be allowed to be used at night in residential areas. If any violation of the order is made, then the sound instrument making such noise shall be confiscated, he had said, adding that the order would remain in force till January 31.



Sukhbir Badal lambasts Cong
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 15
The Punjab Chief Minister has declared 2006 as development year. He would be providing Rs 5 crore to each MLA to “bribe” voters of their respective constituencies, alleged Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD general secretary, at a press conference at Bhadson village, 8 km from here, today.

Lashing out at the performance of the government, he said people were dissatisfied with the government.

The announcement of two MLAs who had joined the Congress was not the result of Congress policies but they were fearing refusal of SAD ticket in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections.

Former SGPC Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mr Nirmal Singh, MLA, Mr Ramesh Singla, member SAD advisory committee, Raja Narinder Singh former Minister, Mr Rameshwar Dass Puri Bhadson sarpanch, Mr Gurbachan Singh Nanoki, senior Akali leader and Mr Subha Singh Jatiwal, among others, were present.

Later, Mr Badal addressed a function “Preetan-Da-Vanjara 2006”, organised by the Pendhu Sabhya Chark Manch Bhadson at Government Secondary School, Bhadson. The function was presided over by Raja Narinder Singh.

Sarbjeet Cheema, Faquir Chand Patanga, Suchet Bala, Jaspal Jassi, Sukhi Sidhu, Bhajna Amli and Santi enthralled the audience.



Teenagers falling in technology trap
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, January 15
Teenagers today are net surfing, messaging, playing online games and chatting. Their leisure time is spent on these activities but experts say that excess of such activities could be unhealthy.

Teenagers are also using technology to assist them in project works. Fifteen-year-old Tina used the Internet for her project. While surfing, she chanced upon some objectionable sites. After initial hesitation, she started visiting the sites everyday and wasted a lot of her time. Her behaviour changed and her marks dropped. Later she was caught watching the sites and was taken to a counsellor.

Another student Reena says, “I go to learn computers thrice a week. I love chatting and get to chat with very interesting people and I have made loads of friends.” However, she could get into trouble with her “new found friends”.

Television programmes also induce people to send messages. Most programmes urge viewers to SMS and teenagers do so eagerly.

Sachin and Meena, both classmates, love SMSing to each other and often get reprimanded from their parents for spending money, time and effort needlessly.

Teenagers experience physical, mental and emotional changes and are curious to find answers to things that are usually taboo. Where on the one hand technology can help them, on the other hand it could also harm them by giving knowledge in a warped manner, more so about sex, specialists feel.

Ms Santosh, a parent, feels that both teachers and parents should know what sites children surf on the Internet. The parents could also block undesirable sites.

MMS scandals have proved mobiles can be dangerous in the hands of students. Most of the principals have banned the use of mobiles in schools but parents insist that children should be allowed to carry mobiles should an emergency arise. Since the incidences of kidnappings are on the rise, they want to be in touch with their children.

Ms Khanna, a child psychologist, says, “There are two aspects of modern technology. No doubt the child learns a lot, but children keep sitting in front of a computer to gain knowledge and become couch potatoes. They become victims of obesity and other diseases. Online games do not help them to develop sportsman spirit. The children do not know what it is to really lose or win. With teenagers, there is a fear of them getting addicted to pornography sites. Technology is good but in small doses only.”



A saint and businessman
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
It may sound unreal but Satyanand Munjal, the eldest of the Munjal brothers of the Hero Group, is a saint and a businessman. No wonder, this enterprising scion of the Munjal family, which takes pride in being the producer of largest number of bicycles in the world, was honoured with the title of “mahatma” by the Akhil Bhartiya Sanyasi Mandal at its annual congregation in 2000.

Today, a congregation of hundreds of people gathered at the Swami Dayanand Hall of the BCM School, here to felicitate the “mahatma” for his untiring and outstanding contribution towards the Arya Samaj and for propagating the philosophy of Maharishi Dayanand.

Even at the age of 88 (he turns 89 on May 24), he remains busy with the work of the samaj.

The citation read out on the occasion of his felicitation stated: “He has made the 10 principles of the Arya Samaj, as spelt out by Swami Dayanand, as the way of his life.” In fact he has been living those principles everyday.

One of his contributions has been the setting up of the Arya Kanya Gurukul in 1999, where the girl students from across the country are taught vedic traditions along with modern education.

It is a residential school and students are imparted education free of cost. Besides, he has set up Arya Samaj offices at various places.

At a time when the Arya Samaj movement was facing an uncertain future, with factionalism and continuous power struggle going on for controlling the huge assets, Satyanand Munjal provided it with a fresh hope. A number of people from different walks of life had gathered together to honour him. Prominent among them included Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar, president of the Tankara Trust (found in memory of the birth place of Maharishi Dayanand), Ramnath Sehgal, Dandi Swami Nigambodh Sarswati, Om Prakash Munjal and other people.



An epitome of honesty
Mahesh Sharma

Mukesh Sharma
Mukesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 15
An appreciation letter by the outgoing Financial Commissioner Revenue has encouraged Mr Mukesh Sharma, a naib tehsildar at the local sub-registrar office, to continue his commitment to his profession.

Perusal of the letter written by Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, on her last working day in the office of the FCR says that she had observed the kind of reputation for honesty which Mr Sharma had and it was a matter of great pride for the Department of Revenue.

“I have observed that wherever you have been posted throughout your career to date, you have been assessed as having performed your duties in an honest, efficient and dedicated manner and the people who came in your contact are all praise of your work and simple style of living,” the letter reads. The officer observed that the face of the government was reflected in the attitude of officers like Mr Sharma.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Sharma said the letter had acted as a booster for him. “Besides encouraging me to continue my commitment towards my ideals, it will inspire other officials to resist external pressure,” he said.

Mr Sharma, besides being felicitated by social organisations of the area, had been conferred with President of India’s bronze medal for his outstanding performance during the Census in Khanna subdivision in 1991. The revenue officer’s team in Ludhiana district was adjudged the best in 1991.



Nanda re-elected Dhan Pothohar Brotherhood chief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Mr N.S. Nanda was re-elected president of the Dhan Pothohar Brotherhood Punjab for the seventh consecutive term here Mr Nanda thanked members for re-electing him and assured members that he would try to raise the status of the Brotherhood.

He said an international cultural conference of the Brotherhood would be held in March, which would be dedicated to Amrita Pritam, Punjabi poet. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, who belonged to Dhan Pothohar was being requested to be the chief guest and Mr l.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister, would be the guest of honour.

Ten prominent dignitaries, including one each from the USA, UK and Pakistan, would be honoured. A food festival would also be organised, in which food delicacies of Pothohar province would be presented. An exhibition of phulkari, baag, books and other Pothohari articles would also be held.

He said a delegation would go to Pakistan to collect information and photographs of heritage from there to publish in Dhan Pothohar Kosh to be released on Baisakhi.

He urged the government to set up Master Tara Singh Chair in Panjab University to carry out research on Pothoher philosophy.

Among those who spoke on the occasion included M.S. Suri, D.S. Parwana, Arvinder Singh Gujral, Pritpal Singh Vij, Sohan Singh Nanda, Gurvinder Singh Jolly, Tarlochan Singh Jaggi and Surjit Singh Lamba.



Re-rolling mills body condemns power tariff hike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Condemning the proposed changes in the fixed charges by the PSEB, the Ludhiana Re-Rolling Mills Association has written to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), urging it to turn down the electricity board’s proposal.

“The PSEB has tried to befool consumers. If calculated, the proposed fixed charges would result in an increase in charges from Rs 3.72 to Rs 5.90- Rs 7. To add to it are electricity duty and octroi,” said Mr Raj Jain of the association.

He said the proposed hike would adversely affect re-rolling mills and “it is an indication to the industrialists to close down as they would have to incur heavy losses”.



Misleading milestones
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 15
Milestones indicating the distance from the Sherpura chowk to Jagraon and the G T Road are misleading. The milestone bearing number 42 at the Sherpura crossing shows Jagraon to be 5 km but another milestone bearing No 41 at a distance of 60 yards from the roundabout which leads to Ludhiana-Sidhwanbet shows Jagraon to be 4 km away. The department concerned has so far not bothered to correct the error.



Motor cycle stolen from outside gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
A motor cycle of a son of Mr Karam Singh, Chief Photographer, The Tribune, was stolen from outside a gurdwara near the Sahnewal police station on January 13 evening.

In an FIR lodged with the Sahnewal police station, Mr Sanjay Kumar, son of Mr Karam Singh and Senior Relationship Executive with ICICI Bank here, complained that the motor cycle, black Bajaj Pulsar — CH-03 K 8297 — was parked outside the religious place where he had gone to pay obeisance.


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