L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


NRI girl kidnapped a day before marriage
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 15
The Dehlon police has registered an FIR under Sections 366, 452, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Arms Act against at least seven persons for allegedly kidnapping an NRI girl of Narangwal village. The persons allegedly forcibly entered the house of the girl while the ‘‘ladies sangeet’’ ceremony was in progress. The girl’s marriage was scheduled to be solemnised today.

Sources in Dehlon police revealed that though a case of abduction had been registered but the police would also explore the possibility of elopement.

According to Jasbir Singh, son of Bhagwant Singh of Narangwal village, a group of at least seven armed persons had allegedly kidnapped his daughter Gagandeep Kaur who was to be married today.

‘‘Jasbir Singh, Inderjit Singh and Lalli, sons of Bhajan Singh of Sehbaz village, along with at least four more persons entered my house forcibly last night, when the ‘ladies sangeet’ was in progress. They took away my daughter Gagandeep Kaur after injuring some of my relatives who tried to stop them,’’ reported Mr Jasbir Singh to the police.

The intruders, wielding rifles, pistols and swords had come in a silver-coloured Tata Safari, the number of which could not be noted down due to darkness. They injured Manraj, a relative of the complainant, before leaving the place.

The complainant had arranged his daughter’s marriage with Laddi of Pandori village. The NRI bride had reached home only a couple of days ago and was sitting with her friends and members of family, including her father and mother Bharpur Kaur.

The police was informed late as the family tried to look for the girl on its own. The Dehlon police has registered a case and started investigations in this regard but no arrest has been made as yet.



Tension in Heeran village over land dispute
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Heeran (Ludhiana), February 15
Tension engulfed this village located near Kohara on Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway, due to confrontation between members of Dalit Baazigar community and the alleged musclemen of an industrialist over a land dispute.

Timely intervention by the Ludhiana Police, however, prevented the situation from taking a grim turn. The police has succeeded in restraining both the parties till Friday, when a fresh measurement of the disputed land would be undertaken with the help of the revenue department officials.

Allegations and counter allegations over the ownership of a piece of land and the use of physical force by members of both the parties led to tension in the village today in spite of the deployment of police personnel in the village since 11 am.

The two parties were at loggerheads over the ownership of a land basically belonging to the Wakf Board but given on 90-year lease to an industrialist, Mr Devinder Singh Bhasin.

Employees of the industrialist have been at loggerheads with the Dalits, who they allege have been encroaching upon the leased out land. The Dalits, however, claim that they were living near the land and were not encroaching upon it.

Mr Ramesh Kaushal, manager of the industrialist, claimed that a guard looking after the land informed him today morning that a Dalit family was constructing a wall on the land owned by the industrialist. And when he went to look into the matter he was beaten up and some cash was also stolen from him.

After this he called the police but did not use any force. He vehemently denied the allegations that he took some musclemen with him.

However, the Dalits narrated a different story. They said Mr Kaushal had come to the village with about 50 men in the morning. They had an argument with Amarnath who maintained that he was constructing a wall on his piece of land. However, the alleged musclemen vent their ire on the entire village and broke several doors, damaged some equipment and assaulted the residents.

Amar Kaur, a widow and mother of five daughters, has alleged that the assailants demolished wall of her house too. Harbans Kaur, a patient of bone TB, claims to have suffered injuries when she was thrown off a cot in her house by the assailants. Her husband Prithi Raj claims his only bicycle was broken. Mohinder Singh and Rattan Singh have alleged that the doors of their houses were broken and a TV set was also damaged.

SP, Detective, Gurpreet Singh, who is officiating as SP City-II, told Ludhiana Tribune that the situation was under control, ‘‘Both the parties have agreed to resolve the issue amicably.’’ He said a lot of exaggerated allegations had been levelled in the case.

He said the parties had agreed to get the disputed piece of land measured again. He insisted that no villager had filed any complaint of attacks in their houses by the alleged musclemen.



PCMSA seeks creation of new posts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
Sore over the apathetic attitude of the state government towards the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) cadre, the PCMS Association has demanded that inertia in its promotion chances should be ended.

The members have also demanded the creation of 1352 new posts of Senior Medical Officers in the district, sub-divisional hospitals, rural hospitals, new decentralised administrative block PHCs and existing CHC Hospitals. Besides, they want the re-designation of existing functional SMO as ‘‘Deputy Civil Surgeon’’.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Hardeep Singh, state president and Dr Balwinder Kumar, Registrar of PCMS Association, said in August 2003, the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, had constituted a high power committee headed by the Health Minister, Mr R.C Dogra, to work out a plan for restructuring state health services and to make it more effective for public and to decentralise administrative supervision network involving more number of PCMS officers in higher posts.

‘‘Under the proposal, we want the creation of 1352 new posts of SMOs. In de-centralised planning at smaller new health administrative PHC blocks, new posts of SMOs should be created at district, sub-divisional and rural hospitals, proposed PHCs and CHC hospitals. The final proposals of this committee are yet to be implemented for the benefit of common man and for the standardisation of health services in the districts’’, said Dr Hardeep Singh.

The members have demanded that existing posts of all ‘‘District Programme Officers’’ at district headquarters should be re-designated as ‘‘Additional Civil Surgeon’’ with the rank of joint director. Posts of Civil Surgeon/Deputy Director should be given the rank of ‘‘Additional Director’’ and one authoritative post of ‘‘Director General Health Services’’ should be created.

He further added that the implementation of the proposals would provide a chance of promotion to the PCMS cadre. ‘‘Otherwise, the promotional chances are very less. Even after putting 25 years in service, we hardly get any promotions. If government wants to keep a check on absenteeism or improve the standard of health services in the state then cadres should be given suitable designations’’, said Dr Hardeep Singh.



1,182 riot victims apply for compensation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
All the four camps, set up to receive applications from the 1984 riot victims for financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh to each family announced by the government, started functioning smoothly from today.

As many as 1182 applications have been received on the first day. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, along with other officers visited all the camps and reviewed functioning of all the counters in the camps.

He also discussed the performance of the camps with the representatives of different associations of riot victims. He informed that as per the clarification from the state government, the application of those riot victims whose red cards have been issued from other districts but are residing in Ludhiana district, would be received at the counters in the camps, but these cards would be got verified from the Deputy Commissioners of those districts from where the cards had been issued.

Mr Verma informed that in cases where the head of the family is not alive, the grant shall be payable to the next eligible legal heir alive.

Giving details of the functioning of the camps, Mr Verma informed that in the early hours, the turnover of the applicants was quite high. The representatives of the riot victims associations expressed their full satisfaction over the functioning of the camps and appreciated the elaborate arrangements made by the administration.

He said that the officers of the rank of Executive Magistrates deputed to supervise each camp are properly guiding the applicants in filling their applications.

He said the Notaries have also set up their counters at all camps to attest the documents at the site. In addition to these camps, the counters have started receiving applications at the offices of SDMs at Samrala, Payal, Khanna, Raikot and Jagraon.

The DC appealed to the riot victims, in case of any problem, they should be brought in the notice of the in-charge officers, who would redress the same without any delay.

He said that the camps would be functional till February 22. He informed that the riot victims are required to submit a notarised copy of the red card along with their proof of residence that they are still residing in Punjab.

Any one of the following documents will be considered as a proof of residence — copy of ration card, copy of voter identity card, copy of water/electricity bill. Applicant should also bring along the original copies of these documents. The water/ electricity bill should be preferably after April 1, 2005.

The applications received would be computerised daily and would be verified by the concerned officers before forwarding to the state level committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Financial Commissioner, Revenue.



CPM protest against rising unemployment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Activists of the CPM today staged a demonstration and courted arrest against the rising unemployment and communalisation of politics in the state. The activists took out a procession starting from Chatter Singh Park to the Mini-Secretariat where they courted arrest.

Today was the third and final phase of the statewide demonstration of the party. The party leaders claimed that 20,000 activists had so far courted arrest through out the state.

The activists raised anti-government slogans, alleging that it had failed on all fronts. The state secretary, Mr Balwant Singh, alleged that the state government was resorting to communal politics which could have dangerous consequences. He pointed out the late Giani Zail Singh and the late Indira Gandhi had also fiddled with communal politics which had led to the state going into communal frenzy. Mr Balwant Singh warned the Chief Minister to desist from resorting to such politics for short-term gains.

The CPM leader said the state had failed to guarantee employment to the youth. He said the indiscriminate and widespread privatisation would not help the state in any way. He demanded that the government should take safeguards against the exploitation of the workers. The industrial houses were retrenching workers arbitrary and some had even locked out. He asserted that all these units must be made to resume work and the workers also reinstated.

Later talking to mediapersons, the CPM state secretary ruled out any electoral alliance with the Congress in the state. He said the party would try to work for the third front in the state to provide a better alternative to the people of the state. He said the Congress had failed on all fronts and people were feeling alienated.



BJP strengthening base in Ludhiana
State of political parties

KS Chawla

Ludhiana, February 15
The Bharatiya Janata Party is making all-out efforts to strengthen its Ludhiana unit and is busy in organising a rally here on February 19. The rally would be addressed among others by Mr Shanta Kumar, former Central minister, and Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, from Amritsar. Mr Sidhu is the latest attraction of the people in Punjab and he musters good crowds at the rallies.

Ludhiana unit of the BJP has also remained in a disarray and the organisational wing has been afflicted with the differences among the local leaders. But they are now trying to come to grips with the situation in view of the approaching Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. The BJP failed to win any Vidhan Sabha seat in the 2002 Vidhan Sabha elections. The BJP has been capturing two seats at least for the Vidhan Sabha from Ludhiana town.

Mr Ashok Loomba, general secretary of the Ludhiana unit of the BJP, claims that the BJP has been strengthened in the labour section and because of this reason, the rally is also being organised in the industrial area. Janakpuri, the venue of the BJP rally, is the central hub of the industrial workers.

The BJP at present has comparatively younger leadership although stalwarts like Lala Lajpatrai, former Rajya Sabha member, and Mr Sat Paul Gosain are considered the backbone of the party in the industrial town.

The BJP has its claim on two Ludhiana urban Vidhan Sabha seats--- Ludhiana north and Ludhiana east. The BJP has been contesting the Ludhiana west Vidhan Sabha seat too, but in 1997, this seat was given to the Akali Dal and since then this seat is being left for the Shiromani Akali Dal. Ludhiana east has returned Mr Satpaul Gosain twice in 1992 and 1997.Mr Gosain also served as Deputy Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha during the SAD-BJP coalition. Mr Gosain was defeated in 2002 by the Congress nominee, Mr Surinder Dawar. Besides, Mr Gosain, Mr Parveen Bansal, Mr Uma Dutt Sharma, Mr Rajinder Jain, Mr Subhash Verma, local unit president, and Mr Ashok Loomba are in the fray for the BJP ticket. For the Ludhiana north-seat, Mr Sunil Mehra and Prof Rajinder Bhandari, state general secretary, are the main contenders for the BJP ticket. Prof Bhandari had contested against the Congress nominee, Mr Rakesh Pandey, and was defeated. Mr Sunil Mehra is active in the trade and industry sector. Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, former leader of the BJP, in the Municipal Corporation, is also a hot candidate for the BJP ticket.

The BJP may stake its claim for the Ludhiana west seat too. But chances are the same may be left for the Akali Dal.

The BJP has never won any Vidhan Sabha seat in the rural areas. In the semi-urban Vidhan Sabha segments like Jagraon, Payal, Samrala and Khanna, the BJP will extend support to the SAD candidates.

The Left parties---CPI and CPM---do not have much strength in the district although here are certain pockets where the two parties command some influence. It was only in 1972 that Mr Dya Singh was elected on CPI ticket from Ludhiana rural segment and later he joined the Congress.



DC sanctions Rs 20,000 for child's treatment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Taking a sympathetic view of a news-item appearing in a section of media regarding urgent financial help to save Sarwan, an injured 6-year-old son of a poor labourer admitted in the CMC, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today sanctioned Rs 20,000 for the child's treatment.

After going through the news-item, Mr Verma enquired from the doctors attending on Sarwan about the condition of the child and the expenditure to be incurred on his treatment. He told the doctors to give proper attention for the treatment of the child and expressed his sympathy with the parents of the child and wished him a speedy recovery.

On the directions of the DC, the secretary, Red Cross, handed over a cheque of Rs 20,000 to the father of the child in the hospital at noon today.



Cong to address workers’ grievances
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Mr Manish Tewari, Secretary, All-India Congress Committee, said the government would ensure that the administration was responsive towards the expectations of the workers and party leaders.

Referring to the disillusionment among the party workers in the state, particularly in Ludhiana, he claimed: “There was no disillusionment or alienation as such but the workers had certainly more expectations from the administration.”

Mr Tewari, who arrived here on Monday, said a number of delegations of the party leaders and workers had met him. He said there was lot of enthusiasm among the workers. He admitted that there were certain problems as the workers had “higher expectations” from the government and the local administration. He observed that there might be some communication gap between the party leaders and the administration which is being regularly sorted out.

The AICC secretary said he was in regular touch with the people in the administration and also brought to the notice of the higher authorities the problems of the workers.

Mr Tewari refused to divulge whether the party workers had complained to him or not. “By and large they do not have many complaints, even if they had any they aired these in party fora,” he said.



Online Cyber Olympiad on Feb 19
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
India’s first online olympiad— Cyber Olympiad— will be held on February 19. The event is being organised by the Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF) in association with LG Electronics and Reliance Infocomm.

As many as 5000 students selected from 1800 schools will participate in the first ever computer Olympiad for Indian schools. Indian students studying in Gulf, Singapore, Nepal and Andaman will also be able to participate in the online contest.

Bright students from Ludhiana who had participated in second level Olympiad and had secured high ranks on all-India level will also be participating in this Olympiad. Raghav Chaudhry of BCM Arya Model School had secured 18th rank in the contest. Students of almost all prestigious city schools had participated and had done well in the contest. ‘‘This contest will work as a catalyst to bridge the digital divide in India. This project will act as a model for corporate partnership with NGOs to deliver projects with national level impact’’ opines Mr Vikas K. Sharma, National Coordinator, Science Olympiad Foundation.

National Cyber Olympiad has been organised by SOF every year since 2000.



PFA to start sterilisation of dogs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
The People for Animals (PFA), an NGO, is all set to start the animal birth control and anti-rabies vaccination programme in association with various mohalla committees and panchayats in the district.

Dr Sandeep Jain, president, PFA, said many mohalla committees and councillors had approached Jeev Kalyan Kendra and Bhagwan Mahavir Abhayshala (PFA’s animals and birds hospital) to start the programme in their respective areas as the Municipal Corporation had failed to do anything in this regard.

He said the drive would start from Meharban village. He said in 2004 it was decided at a meeting of representatives of the Local Bodies, the Animal Husbandry Department and animal welfare organisations that the corporation should sterlise or get sterlised at least 250 dogs per month.

Many small towns like Raikot, Mullanpur and Samrala started work in this direction but the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had not bothered to start the drive, he claimed. Even a resolution was passed and the budget was approved by the corporation about two years ago.



PSEB staff hold protest
Our Correspondent

Khamano, February 15
A protest was observed at the office of the electricity board here under the leadership of Mr Mahesh Kumar. The call for the protest was given by the state joint action committee.

Speakers at the protest demanded the termination of the electricity Bill and to stop privatisation of the board. The divisional secretary, Mr Sangat Singh, appealed to the employees to unite to get their demands accepted.

The rally was also addressed, among others, by Mr Mahesh Kumar, block president, Mr Prem Singh, secretary, Mr Baldev Singh, vice-president, Mr Netar Singh, Mr Balvir Singh and Mr Satwinder Singh.



BJYM dharna against rising prices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Activists of the Bharitya Yuva Janata Morcha, led by its district president, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, today staged a demonstration against the rising prices in the state. They also burnt an effigy of the government.

The protesters shouted slogans against the government, alleging that it had failed to keep its promises. Mr Kapoor claimed that there was widespread unemployment across the state and the government was not taking any measures.



Fast by rail employees enters 5th day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
The fast by the Railways employees in support of their demands entered the fifth day here today. The employees have been demanding that vacant posts should be filled and the duty of parcel clerks be implemented as per the terms of employment.

Mr Raman Malhotra, branch secretary, Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union, said: "The administration has paid no heed to our demands even as the union has been observing fast for five days now. But we have decided not to relent and would continue with our struggle."

Eleven members of the union sat observed fast today.



Cellphone snatched; 4 booked
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 15
Four miscreants have snatched a cellphone, cash and ornaments from a Saholi resident. The Sudhar police has registered a case under Sections 341, 382, 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC.

Gurvinder Pal Singh was returning to his village from Ludhiana on his motor cycle when the miscreants stopped him near Khandoor village. They snatched Rs 500, the cellphone and the ornaments and assaulted him. He was admitted to the Mullanpur Civil Hospital.

Liquor seized: The police has arrested Kartar Singh of Derka village and seized illicit liquor from his possession. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.



Will mall culture catch on?
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
That the industrial town would be home to at least 15 malls in the next two to three years has been well publicised by mall promoters. While each mall promises a “unique” experience, city residents and even market experts have started expressing their doubts regarding success of these malls.

What is surprising is the fact that even mall developers agree that it would be difficult for the city to accommodate a large number of malls. Adding to it is the tag of catering to only the upper middle class and higher income groups attached with malls that discourages customers.

“There might be 15 or 20 malls coming up, only four or five would be successful,” said Mr Ajay Nayar, director, FMI Limited, which is investing Rs 100 crore in a mall on the Ferozepore Road. “They will have to evolve ways to make people get used to them,” he added.

One of the studies conducted by a mall developer predicted that retail expenses are set to rise by more than Rs 2,000 crore within the next five years. The company said at least 9 lakh persons are expected to be added every five years in this city as the current population of 1.6 million would increase by 16 per cent every five years, which it says would provide sufficient clientele to outlets in malls.

Whether the city would be able to accommodate so many malls is not the only factor that raises doubts about the success of malls. High pricing is a key issue that, market observers point out, the mall developers would have to deal with in the future.

“They say that branded items are priced same and could not be higher priced in malls. According to mall developers, people find branded products highly priced because they are not yet used to these. However, the fact is that outlets in malls do not offer only branded products. Other products too carry a price tag that is several times higher than what one would get in the other bazaars,” said Mr Ashwani Kalia, a finance professional.

According to experts, mall developers should formulate strategies for cheaper pricing.

“The mall culture is a gift from the West where shopping can fetch you items on heavy discounts. Unless customers are offered that kind of an attraction, malls would not be able to gel with the culture.”

Given the retail boom and government’s policies regarding the retail sector, the observers say retail chains would be able to offer goods, particularly garments at cheaper prices if they start manufacturing in bulk.


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