L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


“Abandoned” girls wait for parents
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service


Ludhiana, January 30
Kirpal Nagar residents Tarwinder Verma and his wife Reeta are in a fix. Their former neighbour, who left two children (both girls) with them three days ago, has failed to turn up.

Seven-year-old Pooja and three-year-old Shabnam were left by Sharafil on Friday, says Reeta. “He was our neighbour in Kashmir Nagar before we shifted here. On Friday evening, he came to our house and requested me to look after the two girls for a day as he along with the parents of the girls were going to visit a religious place. Till date he has not turned up,” she said.

The two girls say their mother’s name is Jyoti and Sharafil is their uncle.

The family, sheltering the young girls, says it will not be able to keep them for long as they have four children of their own. “My husband works for a powerloom and I have four kids. Though I have sympathy for the children, we have limited means and cannot look after them any longer,” says Reeta.

Narrating the sequence of events, she says: “He came to our place with the girls and requested me to keep the kids for a day. I was reluctant since my husband was not at home and I wanted to get his permission before I agreed to take the responsibility.

“I asked him to wait so that I could call my husband. Meanwhile, the younger girl started crying and he went out on the pretext of getting some biscuits for her. He handed over a packet of biscuits to a child in the street and did not come to fetch the kids. This aroused suspicion.”

The family says despite repeated attempts, it has not been able to locate the whereabouts of Sharafil and the mother of the girls.

Mohalla residents have asked the family to inform the police.



Sick of second wife, elderly man kills self
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Differences with his second wife forced a 65-year-old man to commit suicide by consuming a poisonous substance at his residence in New Prem Nagar here today.
Bal Kishan, president of Geeta Mandir Dharamshala, was found dead by his son, Narinder Kumar, in the morning. Narinder had gone to check on his father after he did not wake up on his usual time.

According to the police a suicide note was recovered from near the body. In the note the deceased had written that he was tired of his second wife who used to quarrel with him over property issue. She wanted him to divide the property considering the right of her children also.

The police has arrested Reeta Sharma (45),second wife of the deceased. She has been booked for abetment to suicide and a case under Section 306, IPC, has been registered against her. The deceased had married her three years ago after his first wife had died in 1998. Reeta was also a widow and used to live in Haibowal before marrying Bal Kishan.

According to DSP R.K. Bakshi as per the suicide note Bal Kishan had consumed some poisonous substance as his wife had made his life a hell. The police is investigating the matter further. Help of some Forensic experts is being taken to make sure that the note was written by the deceased.

Reeta Sharma has two minor children from her first marriage and they had been staying with the family in Prem Nagar for the past three years. Bal Kishan had three children from his first marriage. His children, including two daughters and a son, are all married and son’s family lived with him only. The father-son duo used to run a spare parts shop in Haibowal. Both used to go for work together in the morning.

According to Bal Kishan’s son his father had slept in his room last night and when he did not wake up in the morning he went to him only to find him dead with froth coming out of his mouth.

The police said the postmortem report would reveal if he had died due to poisoning and viscera report would reveal what kind of poison had been consumed by the deceased.



ESI Hospital staff protest against
change in working hours

Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 30
Led by activists of the Coordination Committee of Para-medical and Health Employees, Punjab, staff members of ESI Model Hospital here protested against the hospital management today for, what they described as, the whimsical decision of changing working hours of both the para-medical as well as the clerical staff.

Addressing the protesting employees, Mr Balbir Singh Kalia, Chairman, Mr Amarjit Singh Pandher, convener of the coordination committee, and other union leaders demanded that the decision of change in timing should be revoked and the hospital should observe the old schedule for the staff as well as patients.

They alleged that in violation of the agreement signed with the staff unions, the hospital authorities had unilaterally changed the working hours of the hospital. Not only this, the clerical staff was also being denied other facilities, including five-day week, to which they were entitled like other state government employees.

Mr Kalia announced that the employees would sport black badges and observe a protest week from today onwards. If the management continued with its adamant attitude and failed to concede the demands of the employees then the employees would be forced to intensify the agitation, he added.

Mr Darshan Singh Bhatti, Mr Subhash Kumar, Mr Jagdish Singh, Mr Tarsem Singh, Mr Rajesh Mishra, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Satish Kumar, Ms Kaushalya Devi, Ms Urmila, Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Paramjit Kaur, Ms Raj Mohini and Ms Darshna Sharma also spoke on the occasion .



Surgical way to lose fat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 30
Kamaljeet (name changed), a 22-year-old city resident with a body weight of 110 kg and height of 5’-5”, overweighs by nearly 45 kg. Carrying the extra body weight and under great mental stress, she tried everything to have that slim-trim figure, but to no avail.

Not that dieting and a strict regimen of exercise did not help. She would lose weight, but again bounce back to gain more weight. This not only had an adverse effect on her body and state of mind, but also exposed her to harbour diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory problems, cardic ailments, which could manifest at a later stage.

Having almost given up, she got in touch with Dr Arindam Ghosh at Satguru Partap Singh Apollo Hospital here after learning that some innovative surgery had been performed to treat obesity.

Giving details in a news conference here, Dr Ghosh informed that after a multi-disciplinary evaluation by physician, endocrinologist, cardiologist and other specialists, she was found to have morbid obesity with body mass index (BMI) of 39.5 against the normal BMI of below 25. At such level, no therapy except surgery could reduce weight and sustain the weight loss for long term, he said.

“We suggested two options for her treatment — a laparoscopic adjustable Swedish gastric banding and laparoscopic gastric bypass. As consensus was in favour of the former, gastric banding was successfully performed and the patient was discharged after a day. She is expected to lose weight gradually and an estimated 65 to 80 per cent of her excess weight will be gone within six to 12 months.”

This was the second surgery (on obese persons) having been performed at Apollo Hospitals. Dr Ghosh and his support team had operated upon a 40-year-old NRI woman settled in Canada who had opted for laparoscopic bypass. Having undergone surgery some six months ago at a body weight of 116 kg, the woman had shed nearly 40 kg in about six months.

Dr Ghosh said obesity and its related complications were a serious health hazard. Being an epidemic in the western countries, India had nearly 2 crore obese population, which was further increasing. Excess body weight posed a grave threat to all, including the exchequer. “Prevention of obesity is the key, but in already obese population, surgery is advisable only in extreme cases which do not respond to any other treatment (for prevention of other diseases due to obesity).”

He disclosed that the improved surgical procedure in obese persons was not performed to cut fat but to alter the digestive route (laparoscopic bypass) or restrict eating (laparoscopic band). These were very effective operations and definitely reduced the extra weight and help maintain long-term weight loss with the help of patient’s compliance. The operation improved body image, self- esteem, reduce obesity- related heart, lung, joints problems and most importantly cured diabetes. The risks of the operations were low and acceptable and the cost negligible. “Keeping in view the latent future problems, it is a good investment indeed,” observed Dr Ghosh.

He said the hospital was setting up a comprehensive obesity clinic which would be fully functional by February 1, 2006.

Besides Mr Jugdeip Singh, Director, Dr G. Avasthi, Medical Director and Dr P.S. Bhatia, Medical Superintendent, SPS Apollo Hospitals, members of the support team - Dr R.P. Singh (cardiology), Dr Gurpreet Singh (endocrinology), Dr Parneet (dietetics) and Dr Gaurav (anaesthesia) were also present on the occasion.



Buffaloes die after consuming
pesticide-laced fodder

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
A farmer of Kotla village in Fatehgarh Sahib got a rude shock when his eight buffaloes died one after another after suspectedly consuming pesticide-laced fodder some days ago.

While the farmer, Mr Puran Singh, is not able to find out what went wrong with his cattle, experts of the Animal Husbandry Department are conducting tests to find out the cause of the animals’ death.

According to Mr Puran Singh, eight out of his nine buffaloes died on January 19 and 20. He said he suffered a major jolt on January 19 when four buffaloes died at 7.40 p.m. They had consumed fodder some time ago and they fell on the ground and died.

Then other buffaloes died at 4 a.m. three of them died by January 20 evening. ‘‘I called for the doctors at night only after my three buffaloes died. Doctors kept on providing treatment to rest of them but only one could survive. It is still under treatment and nobody knows whether it would survive, ’’ said Mr Puran Singh.

He added that it was surprising that the buffaloes did not show any symptoms of any disease. They were fine till the evening. He said the cattle belonging to his neighbour had also consumed fodder from the same field. But there was no effect of any pesticide on them.

Dr Darshan Singh, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Fatehgarh Sahib, said they had gone to the village and experts from the department’s research centre in Jalandhar had also rushed to the village to study whether there was some epidemic. The experts had collected the viscera of the dead animals and blood and milk samples from ailing buffaloes to study the problem. The report of the samples was yet to be submitted.

He said he would be able to make any statement only after the report but preliminary investigations were pointing towards pesticide poisoning only. He added that the chemical poisoning had become a common cause of death for many animals as farmers were not handling the pesticides carefully. They indulged in spraying the fodder crop along with other crops and then fed them with the fodder from the same fields after some hours. The pesticide residue was enough to kill an animal. He said the surviving buffaloes were saved by veterinarians, as they were given treatment.



Russian students on PAU tour
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Under the exchange programme between the Moscow State University of Environmental Engineering and Punjab Agricultural University, the second batch of six students, including two girls, are here for training till February 12. The first batch had undergone training last year.

The visiting students from the College of Mechanisation and the College of Land Reclamation were today welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh. He said such interactions go a long way in strengthening scientific and technical bonds between the universities and the youth of the two countries.

The Head of the International Programmes of Moscow State University, Mr Andrei Sorokin, who is the group leader, introduced the students to the university and appreciated the interest the faculty takes in the training of the students.

The students will be imparted training by Dr P.P.S. Lubana.

The Dean, College of Agricultural Engineering, Dr S.K. Sondhi, briefed the Vice-Chancellor and the students of the training schedule drawn up for them. These students will be imparted hands-on training covering various aspects of environmental engineering, water management, farm machinery and equipment.



Kisan Mela from March 2
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The annual two-day Kisan Mela will be held on the PAU campus on March 2 and 3. This year the theme is: “Save water, save Punjab”.
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, today approved the schedule for holding regional Kisan Melas in March.

The mela is an occasion which reiterates the symbiotic relationship between the PAU and the farmers, who have over the year transformed the socio-economic landscape of Punjab by following recommended practices in respect of agriculture and allied fields.

The mela has acquired an international outlook. It is looked forward to by the farmers from home and other states with keen interest. In the recent past, the melas had attracted delegations from the USA, Russia, African countries and Pakistan. These have either been inaugurated or attended by important dignitaries like the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was the chief guest in 2003.



Sukhbir comes to people’s doorstep
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
In a bid to expand base in urban areas, particularly among traders and industrialists, the Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary and son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhbir Badal, today walked across the city to learn about their problems that had been “ignored” by the Congress government. In the process, he also spelt out his political agenda.

Notwithstanding the claims of today’s march managers that he was here to learn about the traders’ and industrialists’ problems, it was virtually a campaign march among the people who matter in the urban political mathematics. Moreover, this section are potential donors of funds at the time of elections.

Traders and middle-rung industrialists constitute a powerful votebank in Ludhiana and the junior Badal addressed them in particular. He was accompanied by local leaders, including party general secretary Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, local MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, and district Akali Dal president Hira Singh Gabria and several others.

The presence at the meetings of the junior Badal was not impressive. Even at Chaura Bazar, the heart of commercial activity in the city, the presence was modest. The organisers claimed that this was no political show as he (Mr Badal) had only come here to interact with the trading and industrial community to find a way out to their problems.

Most leading industrial and trade organisations were conspicuous by their absence at most venues of his meetings for reasons obvious. Mr Badal is in the Opposition and it is better not to antagonise the government as intelligence sleuths keep a vigil at all meetings the junior Badal addresses.

Except for the announcement that his party would soon be bringing out its economic policy, Mr Sukhbir Badal’s tone was more political than economical. The speeches spit more venom on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, than spelling out real policies that could bring cheer to traders and industrialists.

Talking to reporters during the sidelines of his march, Mr Sukhbir Badal denied that he was chief ministerial candidate. He put to rest all speculation about differences between the SAD and the BJP, maintaining that the alliance would contest the next elections under the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.



Istri Sabha for empowerment of women
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
The Punjab Istri Sabha has said that ensuring 33 per cent reservation for women in decision-making bodies of the country is not charity but their legitimate right, which has been denied to them for ages.

This was stated by Ms Annic Raja, general secretary of the National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW), while inaugurating the district conference of the sabha here today. The theme of the event was “Changing role of women in modern India”. Over 300 women, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, bank employees, hospital employees, manual labourers, house-wives and students, participated in the meet.

Addressing the participants, she said aspiring for participation in all walks of life, women had marched ahead to prove that they were equal partners in nation building. The present-day woman had excelled in every field and had also stormed several male bastions.

Ms Amarjeet Kaur, secretary, AITUC and vice-president, NFIW, in her keynote address, pointed out that rising crime against women was a matter of grave concern. Women were most abused in the event of war and violence. This was witnessed during the communal carnage in Gujarat and other places. Latest incidents of arbitrary decisions by Khap panchayats or fatwas had been against the woman’s decision-making in the matters of marriage and family, she added.

She said the need of the hour was to bring about relevant changes in law with stringent punishment to those resorting to crime against women.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Ms Mohinder Sambar, Ms Jit Kumari, Dr Ravleen Kaur, Ms Shivani, Dr Chanchal Gupta, Ms Manjeet Sodhi, Ms Rajinder Kaur, Dr Bharti Uppal and Ms Avtar Kaur.



Forum to work for Dalit, Muslim uplift
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 30
The All-India Majlis-e-Ahrar has decided to launch a movement to mobilise members of Muslim and Dalit populations to join hands against separatist and anti-national forces.

Mr Mohamad Yaseen, a local councillor and general secretary, state body of the Ahrar, claimed that the organisation that had played an active role in the freedom struggle of the nation was equipped to aid Dalits and members of the lower strata.

“Besides enrolling members from the Muslim community, we would register constituents from Dalits and the downtrodden so that more people are benefited from our association,” claimed Mr Yaseen while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Mr Yaseen said the organisation was against the separatist approach of certain Islamic organisations that were bent upon disrupting the social bonds among members of various communities.

“These institutes claiming to be supporters of Muslims are actually acting on the behest of some foreign powers. Instead of promoting teachings of the Quran, they advocate hatred,” said Mr Yaseen.

Referring to the directions received from Mr Atik-ur-Rehman, national spokesman of the Ahrar, the general secretary maintained that the organisation would focus on keeping the nation free of communalism.

“To offset the adverse impact of the radical organisations, our leaders have directed us to work for universal peace and national integration,” said Mr Yaseen.

He urged office-bearers of various organisations to associate with the projects launched by his organisation.



Tributes paid to Mahatma
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi and other martyrs of the country at a special function organised to commemorate his martyrdom at the Mini Secretariat here today.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function which was attended by the secretariat staff and other people. Those present observed two minutes silence for the peace of the martyrs of the nation.

Addressing the function, the DC said Mahatma Gandhi was a unique personality of the world who brought freedom to the country through peaceful and non-violent means. He said the father of the nation had preached the principles of truth, peace, morality and brotherhood among the countrymen.

He said other uncounted martyrs had also laid down their lives for the freedom for the country and later to safeguard the hard earned freedom.

Others present on the occasion, included Mr Ajmer Singh, ADC, Ms Anupam Kaler, Assistant Commissioner (G), Mr Darshan Singh, District Public Relations Officer, Mr Tarlochan Singh Bhatia, District Treasurer Officer, Mr Yash Pal Mehra, DEO (S), Mr Kashmira Singh, District Information Officer and Ms Harvinder Kaur, DEO (P).

Mandi Ahmedgarh: The constituents of various government and non-government organisations paid tributes to Gandhi at a function organised at Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School here today at 11 am.

After observing complete silence for two minutes, as a token of respect for the great patriot, various speakers, including Mr Mukesh Sharma, Joint Sub-Registrar and Naib Tehsildar, Mr Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Mr G. Singh, Treasury Officer, Mr Bahadur Singh SHO City, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, president, SAD and Ms Kamla Sharma, managing director of the school recollected the contribution and sacrifice of the Mahatma.

The speakers showed concern over the increasing trend of ignoring the sacrifice of martyrs of the nation, including Gandhi.

The speakers called upon the students to follow the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi who had brought freedom through peaceful means.



Employee unions hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 30
Hundreds of members of various employee unions today held a dharna in protest against the economic policies of the Centre and the state government and privatisation.

Addressing the gathering near the local SDM’s office, they demanded increased rate of interest on the EPF, adoption of the old formula for pension and cancellation of the decision on foreign investment in the telecom sector.

Leaders of various unions demanded sixth pay commission. They flayed the “excesses” committed by the local police.

Mr Darshan Singh, leader of the Council of Trade Union, Principal Sarup Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh and Mr Hakam Singh Ghalib declared a two-day strike on February 15 and 16.



Vibhuti Jain brings laurels to city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 30
Vibhuti Jain of the 19 Punjab NCC Battalion, Ludhiana, won the Bronze Medal at the Best Cadet competition at the Republic Day Camp in New Delhi. Vibhuti bagged the third position at the All-India Level in Senior Girls category where cadets from all directorates in the country participated.

She is the only cadet from Punjab to have won an award, said a press note issued by Col S.S. Saini, Commanding Officer, 19 Punjab NCC Battalion, Ludhiana.

Vibhuti, the note said, is a student of plus one of Sacred Heart Convent Senior Secondary School here.

Vibhuti represented Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Chandigarh Directorate.

She now has a bright chance of representing her country in the youth exchange programmes under which selected NCC cadets are sent to friendly countries. Vibhuti wants to join the Army as doctor.



Sehwag’s Favourites restaurant opens
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Cricketer Virender Sehwag would delight Ludhianavi taste-buds now. Sehwag’s Favourites, his first restaurant in Punjab, which is a unit of Creative Stride, opened at Ansals Plaza here today. The restaurant would offer traditional Indian vegetarian cuisine.

Addressing a press conference to announce the opening of the restaurant, Mr Sidhharth Dilawari, director, Creative Stride, said: “Sehwag was keen on reaching out to his fans through his favourite health food and, hence, the joint venture. It would be a part of the food court that would open here.”

Creative Stride, a company that is in the business of food courts, would also open other outlets — Pita on Fire, Tikka Express and Shanghai Express — in the food court that would start shortly in Ansals Plaza.

Mr Dilawari said the menu for Sehwag’s Favourites had been decided by the cricketer himself. He said the first restaurant by the cricketer, started around a month-and-a-half-ago in Delhi, had generated tremendous response. The company plans to open three more restaurants during the current financial year.

He said Creative Stride would have Sehwag’s Favourites in all its food courts.

The restaurant would also have a ‘Souvenirs zone’ that would have Sehwag’s autographed T-shirts, cricket kits and pens.



Residents beeline for sales
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 30
Flat 50 per cent off on woollens, 30-50 per cent off on jackets, cardigans, sale banners are put everywhere in the city and residents make a beeline for it.
Maximum discounts are being offered by the owners dealing with woollens. Besides, 20-40 per cent discounts are being given on shoes, ready-made garments, unstitched ladies suits, sleep wear for men, women and kids, clothing and accessories, etc. The “buy one get one free” offer is also attracting the city residents.

One of the departmental stores at Mall Road even offered a 56 per cent discount on Republic Day. Ms Neera, one of the visitors, said, “You feel great to buy the stuff of your choice at very reasonable rates. I got a long coat, very trendy one for Rs 1,230 whereas the actual price of the same coat was Rs 2,800. The sales are attractive only when you get the genuine stuff.”

The jewellers are also offering discounts on gold and diamond jewellery. A discount of 25 per cent is being offered on diamond products.

Ms Ashita Goel, a homemaker who usually buys things from sales, says, “It would be a good bargain when you get good quality items at nominal prices. This time I have purchased sweaters of almost every colour because these can never be outdated for women of my age.”

A showroom owner at Ghumar Mandi when asked about the genuineness of sales, said, “Today’s consumer is smart. He will not throw money on anything. If he has to purchase a thing, he will think twice before buying the same. The idea behind putting up sales is that the consumer gives us so much profit throughout the year, so they should be given the right to enjoy some benefits. We certainly waive off our margins during the sale period.”

A marketing executive, Mr Ashwini, however believed that this was all a part of marketing strategy. He said, “Fashion keeps changing and new products according to the trends are added everyday. Old products need to be sold at cheaper prices to ensure good clientele. In sales, the products are sold quickly so the businessmen get chance to make quick and easy money.”



Industrialists air grievances
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Disappointed with the government’s functioning, local industrialists are leaving no stone unturned to voice their grievances. A large number of memorandums regarding their demands and problems were submitted to the SAD General Secretary, Mr Sukhbir Badal, during his visit here today.

Mr Badal met various associations in Dugri, Chaura Bazaar and Ramgharia College, near the Jagraon bridge.

“The government is ignoring industry’s problems. The industry, particularly small scale, is going through a tough time with various problems pertaining to power situation, VAT, service tax, etc. Despite being apprised of several times, the government does not appear to be interested at all,” said Mr K.K. Seth, vice-president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU).

The associations blamed the government for giving false promises and painting a rosy picture of new investments ushering in.

“Many units are going sick. The power supply is poor and no concrete measures are taken to tackle it. The government has been announcing that new investments are coming to the state. However, it is forgetting the tough time the existing industry is going through,” said industrialists.

According to the industrialists, despite claims that VAT refunds were being issued, none of them had started getting refunds.

“It is only an announcement. Nothing has been implemented. A huge capital remains blocked, hampering smooth operations of industrial units,” they rued.

The industrialists also demanded that new focal points be set up in the state.

They urged the SAD leader to raise these issues in Parliament.

The associations that met Mr Badal included the CICU, the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, the Janata Nagar Small-Scale Industrial Association, the Focal Point Industries Association, the Ludhiana Tractor Parts Dealers Association, the Ludhiana Traders and Manufacturers Association and the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal.

A few associations, however, did not meet Mr Sukhbir Badal.

“We would put up our demands only with the government. It is true that the industry is facing a tough time but we would discuss these issues with the government,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.


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