L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


NRI, kin booked for fake marriage
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
In a bizarre incident, an NRI from Bathinda solemnised two marriages — one with an NRI girl as well as with the daughter of a farmer of Agwar Dalla village, near here, who promised to pay Rs 30 lakh.

The Jagraon police on receiving information, registered a case under Sections 420, 494 and 120-B of the IPC against three NRIs, including the brother-in-law of the bride who reportedly was the mediator in the deal.

According to the FIR, Sukhpal Singh, an NRI from Canada, along with his parents and ‘hired’ baraatis, came to Jagraon to marry Rajpreet Kaur, daughter of Bhupinder Singh of Agwar Dalla village, on Sunday.

The Jagraon police chief, Mr R.K. Jaiswal, received information that the marriage being solemnised was a fake one and the groom had already married a girl of Bathinda a fortnight ago.

Acting on the directions of the SSP, the DSP, Jagraon, Mr Gurjit Singh Romana, constituted a special investigation team, including Mr Dharam Pal, SHO, Sadar, Mr Gagan Singh Ghuman, SHO (City), and Gurdev Singh, SHO, Sidhwan, to raid the premises of the marriage palace where the marriage was being ceremonised.

The groom and his relatives were away to a religious place for sanctification of marriage at the time of the raid. Members of marriage party, a majority of whom seemed to be ‘hired’, vanished from the scene, but the police got enough information that suggested that the marriage deal had been struck by Mr Kuljit Singh Canadian, son of Mr Gurdeep Singh of Kutba village, son-in-law of Mr Bhupinder Singh.

Further investigation revealed that Sukhpal Singh had earlier married Veerpal, an NRI from Bathinda, on January 15.

“As Veerpal Kaur was herself an NRI she did not need sponsorship by her husband for reaching Canada, the duo entered into a conspiracy with Kuljit Singh, another NRI, and struck a deal for Rs 30 lakh for taking Rajpreet Kaur to Canada on the pretext of marriage,” observed the police.

The Jagraon police has initiated investigations into the matter after registering a case against Sukhpal Singh, Veerpal Kaur and Kuljit Singh for forgery and conspiracy to felicitate second marriage. No arrest has been made so far. 



CITU highlights workers’ demands
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Hundreds of workers from across the state participated in a rally organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) held here today.
The rally was part of the nationwide campaign on the implementation of labour laws by the CITU.

Addressing the rally, Mr Raghunath Singh, general secretary, Punjab, said: “If industrialists think they can get away by exploiting workers, we want to tell them that they are mistaken. We would continue to fight for the rights of the workers.”

Mr Raghunath Singh said CITU would intensify its struggle if the government did not ensure the fulfilment of workers’ demands pertaining to the implementation of labour laws.

The union demanded that minimum wages be ensured and workers should be made to work for eight hours. The union also discussed the closure of various units. “Closure renders workers jobless. The government should work in a direction to generate employment and not to render people jobless. Besides, they seem to be against the basic idea of the formation of unions.”

Alleging that the labour department was helping industry in violating the labour laws, he said the industry was not able to come to terms with the fact that the workers had finally become aware of their rights and that CITU was fighting for them.

Mr Vijay Mishra, working president of the union, demanded that cycle divisions of Rockman and Highway , that had been closed be re-started immediately. “Over 1,500 workers were rendered jobless. The cycle wings should be restarted so that workers get employment.”

He also demanded that “false” cases against workers’ leaders should be withdrawn. “Misuse of Section 144 against peaceful demonstrations by workers should also be prevented,” he added.

Mr Jagdish Chand, joint secretary, CITU, Punjab, and Mr Jatinder Pal, vice-president, CITU, Punjab, urged workers to unite for the struggle. They asked workers to participate in such rallies along with their families as their problems affected their families also.

Workers from the cycle industry, hosiery industry, brick kilns, aanganwadi workers and from various other industries across the state participated in the rally.



Chaos back on city roads
342 school vehicles challaned
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Hundreds of schoolchildren were left stranded on city roads today following a drive launched by the traffic police again. As many as 342 vehicles carrying children of various schools were challaned.

While the children had to walk to schools carrying heavy bags, their parents spent the afternoon worrying as they did not reach home in time.

School bus drivers either did not turn up or left them on roads only to escape the cops on challaning spree. The parents had to pick up their wards themselves.

The police again launched the drive after a gap of 10 days. Earlier, the cops had challaned hundreds of vehicles. But as the cops got busy in preparing for the state-level function of Republic Day, the drive had to be put on hold.

The drivers were caught unaware today when the cops put up “nakkas” at different places and challaned the vehicles on the Chandigarh road, the PAU road and Sarabha Nagar.

The drivers were challaned either for not wearing uniform or displaying school’s nameplate on the vehicle or for overloading.

The students suffered on account of the failure of the drivers to comply with the orders of the District Magistrate, who had issued instructions and given them 15 days’ time to follow these.

In the entire process the students and the parents were harassed a lot. In the morning the students missed their assembly and in the afternoon parents went on the lookout for their children as they reached home late by two hours. Some of them even kept on sitting in their vehicles parked on various roads, waiting for the somebody to come to their rescue.

Mr Sandeep Sharma, a resident of Model Town Extension, said his two children, who study in KVM School, Civil Lines, did not come home till 5pm.

“We kept waiting for the children. The school management kept telling us that all children had gone home. We were scared, thinking something wrong went with them. Then I visited their school following the bus route. When I reached the school I found the children sitting in the bus,” he said, adding that he called up a number of other parents also after seeing the children harassed.

A queue of vehicles was seen on the road as the drivers were waiting for the cops to go. Parents said there was nobody to look after them and they were running here and there on the busy roads.

Meanwhile, Mr Sadhu Singh, SHO, Traffic, said 146 buses and 196 autorickshaws were challaned. 



Myths on food continue among farm women
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
A sample study of farm women belonging to three categories — marginal, small and large — has shown that farm women not only have low level of knowledge about nutritional food but they lead a cloistered life due to perceived myths about food.

The study by Rukhsana, a postgraduate student of PAU’s Home Science Extension Education, was intended to determine “nutritional knowledge and food myths” amongst farm women of Punjab.

Two villages, Beela in Ludhiana district and Alfuke in Ferozepore district, were selected for this purpose. At least 75 families from each village were selected for the study.

The study has shown that the farm women believed that papaya and banana caused abortion, while fatty foods, during the last months of pregnancy, facilitated delivery.

Interestingly, the women had their own whims about certain food items as “hot”, “cold” or ones that produced “gas” in the tummy. In “hot” items were maize, Bengal gram, black gram, meat, eggs and dry-fruits, while “cold” food items were rice, wheat, green gram, curd, lassi, radish, cucumber and onion. And what filled the tummy with gas were black gram, curd, lassi, cauliflower and mustard.

These women, surprisingly, also felt that milk should be avoided after consuming meat or fish and water after munching groundnut. Also, curd and lassi consumption should be avoided at night and infants should not be fed on these two milk products, whereas to increase milk secretion, garlic and cumin seeds should be given to lactating mothers.

The study also revealed that half of the respondents were aware that pregnant and lactating mothers needed extra food and a combination of cereals and pulses which was more nutritious than cereals alone. Quite a number of them, however, lacked knowledge about supplementing their daily diet intake with vitamins proteins and minerals.

Rukhsana also observed that women had faint idea about nutrition and its importance in balanced diet. The majority of the respondents were aware of the need for daily intake of a mix of cereals, pulses and fat. However, they were surprisingly much less aware that minimum daily intake of vegetables and milk was equally important.

These farm women coming from the grass-roots strata of the two villages were religiously following the need to take care of food needs of their spouses, elders, sick and, of course, their children. However, what shocked the research worker was that these farm women often intended to ignore themselves.



Councillors donate salary for community policing 
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 31
All 27 councillors of the Khanna Municipal Council donated their one-month salary during a meeting organised by the SSP Khanna, Mr Naunihal Singh, at the Police Lines here today for the community policing resource centre. Municipal Council president handed over a cheque for Rs 27,000 to the SSP in the presence of more than 15 councillors.

While addressing the councillors and journalists the SSP said in order to provide better security arrangements to the residents of six towns of Khanna police district, a plan had been chalked out to get information about the antecedents of team and persons working as domestic employees, in factories, and shops.

The SSP also started the free distribution of 80,000 forms meant, to gather information, in this regard.

He said besides these forms the police would distribute 30,000 stickers having telephone numbers of 10 police and civil officials.

The Municipal Council president said councillors had donated their one month’s salary to be a part of the development of the community policing resource centre. He said the council had allocated a sum of Rs 35 lakh for the installation of new traffic lights. He said the old lighting system would be changed and new traffic light system would be installed near Gurdwara Kalgidhar. He said blinkers would also be installed at six important points in Khanna police district.

Dilbagh Singh, SP (D), Balwant Singh, DSP (D) and Najar Singh, Executive Officer Municipal Council, Khanna, were also present on the occasion. 



Pb Roadways buses to halt at local bus stand
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 31
The PRTC authorities assured the representatives of various organisations of the area that all bus plying on Ludhiana-Malerkotla road would be coming to the local bus stand as demanded by them earlier.

Meanwhile, the leaders of various organisations have taken a serious notice of indifference attitude of the Punjab Roadways and the State Transport Authorities towards the genuine demand of residents of the area.

Mr R.S. Bal and Mr S.S. Mander, the general managers of Ludhiana and Sangrur depots of the PRTC respectively assured that all buses plying on this route would be following rules prescribed by the state transport authorities. The officers maintained that the staff of the contractor collecting adda fee would be asked to ensure that drivers of only the PRTC would be issued receipt for entry fee that enter the bus stand.

“We will depute our officials at Pohir Chowk, who would ensure that all bus reach the bus stop irrespective of the route,” assured Mr Bal talking on behalf of the corporation.

Meanwhile, the leaders of various organisations led by Mr Jatinder Bhola, president Municipal Council have taken a serious notice of alleged indifferent attitude of the Punjab Roadway authorities towards the demand of the residents.

In a joint representation addressed to higher authorities of the state transport department, the leaders demanded that the Punjab Roadways and private operators should be made to take buses to the local bus stand.

The activists had blocked vehicular traffic at Pohir Chowk on Monday evening. The blockade was lifted after an assurance by the concerned authorities.



Violator goes unpunished
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 30
Residents of Malerkotla House are up in arms against the Municipal Corporation authorities as they claim that the latter is not taking action against a building who had allegedly encroached upon a part of the road.

The residents claim that they had written to not only the local authorities, but also senior officials at Chandigarh, exposing the violation, but nobody had bothered to redress their grievances.

According to Mr Ravi Sharma, a resident, the owner of a corner house, No 616, had extended his house by 3 sq feet on the road, narrowing it on both the sides. Despite the fact that the violation could be seen clearly, no action had been taken to correct it.

He alleged that the house was recently sold and the new owner had got the old building demolished to construct a new one but he had not razed the wall that was extended on to the road.

He claimed that the MC authorities had not sanctioned his plan earlier, but the owner claimed that he had got the plan sanctioned from the MC.

Mr Sharma said they had been demanding that the MC should remove the encroachment first and then allow new construction. ‘‘Corporation officials are shielding and helping the offender in retaining the encroachment and the construction is going on unabated, ’’ he said.

He said they had been corresponding with the authorities since last year, but nobody had paid any heed to their complaint. “A number of MC officials make rounds of the area everyday, but it is surprising that nobody has found the encroachment”, he said.

‘‘We started complaining against it when the construction had just started. Now a full-fledged building has come up at the place, but nobody listens, ’’ he added.



Community policing scheme brings down crime rate
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 31
The District police of Indore has started following the community policing system adopted by the Khanna Police, said the SSP Khanna here. He said seven districts of Punjab had also started this scheme.

The SSP, Mr Naunihal Singh, said with the help of the general public the scheme of security Committees had been largely welcomed. He said that the work of the CPOs scheme had entered in the last stage. He said that with an aim to bringing the crime graph down community police officers (CPOs) were deputed in Khanna Police district. He claimed that in a short period after the CPOs were disputed there was a satisfactory decrease in the crime rate.

He said that in six towns of Khanna Police district 370 CPOs had been deputed and other 500 CPOs would be recruited in the coming days.

The SSP said that beside this scheme the district police had planned a new project to verify the security arrangements for the public. He said under this project nine different programmes had been chalked out. He said the police would also verify the past, identity and character of the private employees working in houses and commercials establishments. He said police would supply a form to each establishment and house to be filled by them. He said information received through these forms would help the police to trace crimes.

He said due to increasing incidents of looting and kidnapping indents the police has chalked out a paln to create awareness among children.

He said that some CPOs would also honoured who have done excellent job to check crimes at times even putting their lives in danger.



DC finds DTO staff absent
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Surprise check of departments at the civil secretariat by the Deputy Commissioner Mr Anurag Verma here found many officials either absent or reported late.
There had been reports and complaints from people that officers were reporting late for work and were seldom seen in their seats. This was causing harassment to people, especially women and senior citizens, who visited the secretariat from far-off places.

The DC noticed that only a few staff members were present in most of the departments even at 9. 30 a.m. The offices open at 9 a.m. The offices he inspected include the District Transport Office, the offices of the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC)-I, II and III, Tehsildar (East), Sub Registrar (East), Tehsildar (West) and Sub Registrar (West).

The staff members who were present surprised to find the DC walking, unannounced into their departments and were seen calling their colleagues on cellphones to rush to office.

Mr Verma started the inspection from the District Transport Officer’s office at 9.15 a.m, where neither the District Transport Officer nor any of the two ADTOs were present. Of the total strength of 19 employees only five class III and IV employees were present.

The DC then inspected the offices of AETC-I, II, III at 9.30 a.m. where out of the 39 ETOs and 30 Inspectors posted in these offices, only nine ETOs and five Inspectors were present.

In the office of AETC-I, out of 62 class III and class IV employees, only 30 were present. Similarly, in the office of AETC-II, out of the 59 class III and class IV employees, 16 were absent. In the office of AETC-III, out of total 58 employees only 35 were present. The DC was also told that all three AETCs were on training.

However, all staff in the offices of Tehsildar (East), Sub Registrar (East) and Sub Registrar (West) were found present at 9.50 a.m.

Taking a serious note of absenteeism, Mr Verma has requested Mr A.R. Talwar, Secretary, Transport, to take strict action against the officers found late or absent in the DTO’s office. 



Rs 1,350 cr plan for city’s development
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Rakesh Panday, said a new programme, Punjab Nirman, has been launched for improving the standard of living of people in rural and urban areas and to address their developmental needs at the cost of Rs 400 crore.

He was addressing a meeting of the party workers in Tagore Nagar, here today.

Elaborating on the programme, Mr Panday informed that under this programme projects relating to sanitation, providing houses to the homeless, drinking water facilities, toilets and additional rooms and waiting rooms etc. in government schools and hospitals/ dispensaries, repair/construction of community centers etc. would be undertaken.

The minister said the state government had also decided to provide basic facilities to everyone in 133 towns of the state at the cost of Rs 991 crore, and claimed that with the execution of these projects living conditions in the urban areas would be improved substantially.

He said the state government had also launched the National Slum Development Programme with 100 per cent Additional Central Assistance in 23 towns of the state with an outlay of Rs 20.10 crore.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, has given special attention to the development of Ludhiana city and had cleared the prestigious project of the construction a Ring Road around Ludhiana city at the cost of Rs 1,100 crore on BOT basis, Government of India had agreed to provide viability gap funding for this project.

Mr Panday further informed that the Prime Minister had selected Ludhiana for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission under which City Development Plan, for the integrated development of civic infrastructure in Ludhiana, would be implemented at the cost of around Rs 1350 crore.

Mr Pandey said in Ludhiana North Constituency, funds amounting to more than Rs 20 crore had been spent on development projects. 



Kisan Club meet on Feb 2
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The Punjab Kisan Club is poised to play a catalytic role in transforming agriculture in the state to increase production, diversify and accrue profitability to farmers, particularly small and marginal.

This enterprising organisation of young farmers has struck roots in all 17 districts of Punjab. They are playing the role of opinion leaders to create awareness among rural youth not only to wean them away from alcohol and intoxicants but also to educate their fellow farmers in obtaining new cost-effective technologies to boost production and increase profitability.

Punjab Kisan Club President Pavittar Pal Singh Pangli and Secretary Hardev Singh Kanaur today said the club’s annual meet will be held at PAU’s Kairon Kisan Ghar on February 2. Approximately 2,000 club members are expected to participate.

PAU’s Vice-Chancellor Dr K.S. Aulakh in his message to the club has said the farmers were the “eyes and ears” of the university, who have, over the decades, developed deep and abiding confidence in scientists, teachers and extension workers.



Ludhianvis hail Lakhanpal’s elevation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The elevation of Mr K.R. Lakhanpal as new Chief Secretary of Punjab has been hailed by residents of the city.
Mr Lakhanpal spent quite some time of his career in Ludhiana and served as Deputy Commissioner for a few years. This was during the peak of militancy. Most people recall his tenure here with a deep sense of nostalgia and strong sense of belongingness.

Mr Lakhanpal is also being credited for his efficient handling of the problem of refugees who migrated to the city from different parts of the country in the aftermath of the assassination of the late Indira Gandhi.

A senior physician and friend of Mr Lakhanpal said he always loved Ludhiana and Ludhianvis. His social circle cut across all political or other groups and he is liked for his honesty, integrity and no non-sense approach.

It is believed that even the gulf between the government and the industry (as most of the industry is based in Ludhiana only) would also be bridged up after he took over as the Chief Secretary. Mr Lakhanpal knows many such people personally. He can act as an effective link between the government and the industry at a time when the industry is in desperate need of being heard.

Several leading industrialists also welcomed his elevation as Chief Secretary. One of them pointed out that nobody could question his integrity and ability and his elevation would always be received with joy and jubilation.



Function in memory of Kalpana Chawla
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
Punjabi Sabhyachar Academy, Ludhiana, and Apna Punjab Publications, New York, in collaboration with the Young Writers’ Association, PAU, will organise a special function to pay tributes to Kalpana Chawla here tomorrow at Students’ Home, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

Renowned NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla had perished in space on February 1, 2003. On the occasion, Mr Gurdeep Pandher, author of “Among the Stars,” is based on the life of Kalpana Chawla, will give a visual presentation, highlighting the glorious achievements of Kalpana Chawla. Dr V.K. Sharma, Register of the university, will preside.

Born on July 1, 1961 in Karnal, Kalpana completed her schooling at Tagore Bal Niketan and obtained a degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. In 1984, she finished her post-graduation from the University of Texas at Arlington.

She completed her Ph.D. in 1988 from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Soon after, she started work at the NASA Research Centre.

In 1993 she joined overset Methods Inc., Los Altos, California, as vice-president and research scientist, selected by NASA in December 1994, the reported to the Johnson Space Centre, Houston.

After the success of her first space flight in Columbia in 1997, she was hailed as the proud daughter of India. Her second flight ended on February 1,2003, when the space shuttle, Columbia, and her crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing.

Kalpana’s achievements attracted worldwide attention. She often said, “I was not born for one corner, the whole universe is my native land.”



Pensioners’ rally on Feb 6
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
On the call of the Punjab Government Pensioners’ Joint Front, pensioners of the Punjab Government, have decided to organise a district-level rally on February 6 at the mini secretariat here to protest against the non-acceptance of the just and genuine demands of pensioners.

Mr B.R. Kaushal, member, in a statement said here today these long-pending demands were of the pre-poll manifesto released by the Pradesh Congress Party in February, 2002.

A large number of pensioners will hold the rally in support of their demands, said Mr Kaushal.



‘Industry violating laws’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
In a move that could give sleepless nights to the industry, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), that has been leading the trade union movement in the state, today declared that it would continue working with “equal fervour in Punjab and intensify its movement of the need arises”.

All-India general secretary Tapan Sen said that CITU had been active in the state for several years. “Its activities are coming to light now as violation of laws by the industry is on its peak. We will continue to raise our voice for the workers as and when the need arises.”

Mr Sen said the condition of workers in Ludhiana exemplified the scenario prevailing across the country. “It is ridiculous that in a civilised society organised labour has to ask for implementation of labour laws, something that the government should ensure on its own.”

He said workers were being deprived of minimum wages. “The minimum wage, in many units, is paid for 12 hours, whereas as per the law, the minimum wage specified is for eight hours. There is no check on such harassment and the private sector is flouting laws with impunity.”

On industry’s allegations that increased trade union activity was resulting in labour unrest, he termed the allegation baseless. “How can they expect workers not to react if they are exploited? Trade union provides a platform to workers to raise their voice. Industry probably wants workers to work in the manner desired by them, whether it means depriving them of basic wages or putting in extra hours of work without any compensation.”

He also alleged that the 1,500 workers rendered jobless following the closure of Rockman and Highway Cycles were not paid salaries for the month of October.

“Those who flout laws should be jailed, but in Punjab, the situation is the reverse where the enforcement agency (government) is only promoting interests of violators (industry),” said Mr Sen.


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