L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bureaucratic reshuffle on cards 
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
There may be a major shake-up in the district and police administration in Ludhiana in the coming weeks. If the bureaucratic grapevine is to be believed, the district is likely to have a new team of officers, including the Deputy Commissioner, Senior Superintendent of Police and the Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

Besides, the second rung and other junior-level officers are also likely to be transferred. This has led to an atmosphere of uncertainty in the administration here.

Interestingly, most of the officers have had a brilliant and non-controversial stint in the district and have also had a long stay. Since the administrative reshuffle remains overdue, most of them are learnt to have reconciled with the idea of transfer and are preparing for the exit.

Some of the officers enjoying good influence with the government are reported to have opted themselves for the transfer. Otherwise, they may be transferred at the time of elections. The Election Commission directive makes it mandatory that all those officials who have stayed at a place for over three years must be transferred out at the time of elections.

Given their proximity with the Chief Minister’s office, most of the officers are likely to be accommodated on equally important positions or better ones elsewhere in the state. While the SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, is awaiting promotion to the post of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma is understood to have been shortlisted for the important post of the Regional Manager of the Food Corporation of India. The Commissioner, MC, Ludhiana, is also likely to get some key assignment.

Sources revealed that in all probability the transfer process would be completed by the end of this month. The entire state was likely to have a major shake-up, with the state government making all appointments with an eye on the Assembly elections, which were less than a year away.

While on the one hand, lobbying has already started for the prize postings in Ludhiana district, wild guesses and speculations are doing the rounds with regard to various posts.

It is learnt that against the tradition of this government, this time the local legislators and ministers are also likely to be taken into confidence before making the important appointments. 



PCMS doctors’ rally on March 17
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
In continuation of the statewide “protest week” being observed by the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA), the district unit of the association will organise a protest rally in front of the Civil Surgeon’s office here on March 17.

The PCMSA is agitating against the recent decision of the state government to downsize the existing cadre of PCMS doctors and para-medics by handing over 1,310 health dispensaries in Punjab to zila parishads, while at the same time forcibly shifting regular doctors and supporting staff which were being replaced by contractual staff.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Balwinder Kumar, district general secretary of the PCMSA, said a meeting of the district body was convened at ESI Hospital under the presidentship of Dr Hardeep Singh.

At this meeting, the association condemned the “anti-employee, un-planned and hasty move” of the government in downsizing the PCMS cadre by handing over subsidiary health centres (SHSs) of the Health Department to zila parishads and shifting regular doctors, nursing and para-medical staff posted at these institutions.

The meeting was of the view that contract-based recruitment was a step towards privatisation of health services and in pursuing such policy, the government was shedding its responsibility of providing health care to the common man. It said uprooting of regular doctors and staff would create chaos in department.

“Before implementing this anti-employee move, the government should upgrade rural primary health centres (PHCs) for every 40,000 population for effective utilisation of health manpower and infrastructure without downsizing. At the same time, the number of available indoor hospitals in the rural areas should be increased to ensure adequate health cover for the rural population.”

While vowing to continue its fight against the “ill-conceived” move of the government, the PCMSA demanded to halt this unplanned downsizing and uprooting of doctors and supporting staff. It threatened to intensify the struggle if the government continued with its policies of indiscriminate transfers and handing over health infrastructure to zila parishads.



The British saluted it, we failed to preserve it
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Aliwal, March 13
Bowled over by the bravery of the Sikh warriors, who routed the British Army during the Anglo-Sikh War, the Britishers erected a memorial to salute the heroism of the enemy. But we have failed to preserve it.

Standing erect as a testimony to the Punjabi valour, the condition of the memorial is deteriorating, thanks to the government’s apathy and weather onslaught. Around 160 years old and popularly known as the Flame of Memory, the memorial, situated on the outskirts of Gora Hoor village near Aliwal, is being used as a chaff dump by some villagers, unmindful of its importance.

Two years ago, the government had released Rs 80,000 for its upkeep but the condition of the monument speaks volumes about the “misutilisation of money” released for the purpose.

The government did its bit and declared it a protected monument in 1964 under the Punjab Ancient, Historical Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. But like scores of other memorials, it stands abandoned for want of proper care by the state Department of Archaeology and Conservation.

While erecting the memorial in 1846, the Britishers had tried to pay respect to over 400 of its soldiers who had died fighting the Sikhs. But the memorial was also dedicated to the chivalry of the Sikhs, as per the Ludhiana gazetteer.

Villagers said the Archaeology Department had posted a guard at the site some years ago. Later, he was transferred and nobody was posted in his place.

In absence of a caretaker, the structure is crumbling at certain places. Only a notice board of the Department of Conservation put up at the entry gate of the monument hints at the historical significance of the place. The board, however, only says that the monument is protected and anyone found fiddling with it is liable to punishment with imprisonment or fine.

A small reference about the monument in the Ludhiana gazetteer throws ample light on its history. It says that after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839, the Sikh forces got divided. The Britishers sensing a golden chance began marching towards the erstwhile Punjab to wrest the territory and complete their dominance.

They were, however, not aware of the might of the Sikh forces, who under the spirited guidance of several generals held the territory as long as they could. One such General was Ranjodh Singh Majithia who led his forces at Baddowal to defeat the Britishers comprehensively in January, 1846.

Later, Ranjodh Singh moved to Bhundri near the Sutlej . He raised the strength of his army to 15,000. While he was gaining strength here the Britishers under the command of General Harry Smith, who had tasted defeat at the hands of the Sikhs in Baddowal, were also reinforcing.

On January 28 the Britishers moved to capture Aliwal. Held by inferior troops a spirited fight could not put up. But near Bhundri village, the Khalsa troops made a most determined stand. The most gallant part of the action was the charge by the 16th Lancers of the Sikh Infantry. Three times the Sikhs were ridden over, but they rejoined on each occasion. It was not till the whole strength of the British army was brought to fight the Sikhs that the latter were defeated.



BKU for probe into wheat stocks lying with FCI
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has called for a high-level inquiry, preferably by the CBI, into the wheat stocks lying with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). It also wanted action against officials who provided incorrect information to the government, which led to the decision of 5 lakh tonnes of wheat being imported.

The BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, said in a statement here today that the FCI in one of its earlier reports had stated that a buffer stock of around 47 lakh tonnes of wheat was available, which was sufficient to meet the requirement for at least four months.

Moreover, the fresh crop of wheat was also due to arrive in the market in April and hence the country would not face any crisis of wheat shortage, he added.

However, some senior officials of the FCI, apparently at the behest of certain vested interests, submitted erroneous report of wheat stocks to the government, which led to the government giving its nod to the import of wheat. Those responsible for misguiding the government should be made to face criminal charges, Mr Lakhowal demanded.

The BKU chief further claimed that the FCI officials had not only become a party to the conspiracy for creating a “non-existent” wheat shortage but attempts were also reportedly being made to show good quality of wheat as damaged and unfit for consumption so that it could be sold at throwaway prices to make money.

He said the government ought to order immediate inspection of the wheat stocks lying with FCI. He further said the proposed kisan panchayat in Delhi on Marcg 21 would discuss this issue in detail and chalk out a suitable course of action in this regard.



Man, 2 sons booked
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 13
The Machhiwara police has booked Hazara Singh and his sons Sukhvinder Singh and Gurtej Singh under Sections 307, 323, 506 and 34 on a complaint of Baldev Singh of Manewal village.

Baldev said he was walking near the haveli of Hazara Singh when Sukhvinder Singh, who was in a Maruti car, hit him. He was taken to the Civil Hospital, Machhiwara, where he was referred to Ludhiana.



Visually challenged rally behind Sarbjit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
Under the banner of the Vishwa Guru Ravidass Mission, the physically and visually challenged took out a peace march seeking the release of Sarbjit Singh, an Indian prisoner in Pakistan.

Led by Mr Shiv Ram Saroye, the rally started from Borreh, near Koomkalan village, and culminated at Basti Jodhewal here.

The physically and visually challenged said Sarbjit’s family was struggling and they were expressing their solidarity with them.

Mr Saroye said Sarbjit’s daughter and sister were fighting for months but in vain. He said the state government should intervene to get him released. 



Aulakh is Lekhak sabha chief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
The election results of the Kendriya Lekhak Sabha have been declared. The elections for various posts were held at Punjabi Bhavan yesterday. Prof Ajmer Singh Aulakh has been elected president. He polled 481 votes and defeated Mr Anup Singh Virak by 99 votes.

Ms Gurcharan Kaur who stood for the post of vice-president got the maximum number of votes totalling 517.

For the post of senior vice-president, Mr Karnail Singh was declared elected by defeating his rival Mr Mitter Sen Meet by 68 votes. The other four vice-presidents are Mr Shabdish, Mr Sulabhan Sarhaddi, Mr Talwinder Singh and Mr Karam Singh.

Mr Harmeet Vidyarthi has been elected general secretary. He polled 443 votes.

For the posts of secretary, Mr Sushil Dosanj, Mr Tarlochan and Mr Desraj Kali were elected.



Grahak panchayat convention concludes
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
The national convention of the Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat (ABGP) concluded today. Dr Bajrang Lal Gupt, economist and patron of the ABGP said the new national president and patron were Raja Bhatti Pophali and Bindu Madhav Joshi, respectively.

Bindu Joshi emphasised the importance of "arthik samrasta abhiyan." Mr Vinayak Rao of the ABGP spoke about the WTO conference held in Hong Kong in December.

Regarding the activities of the panchayat, a souvenir was released by Dr Mohan Bhagwat, general secretary of the RSS.



Second wife poisoned, man booked
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 13
The Sadar police has booked Raju, husband of complainant Kirna Devi, and four others for making her drink poisoned tea. They left her in a village without informing her parents. She was taken to the civil hospital, Bhadson, who referred her to Rajindera Hospital, Patiala.

According to information, she was married to Raju of Alour village about a year ago. She came to know that Raju's first wife Seema was also living there and they had a son. Her in-laws allegedly started harassing her and finally turned her out of their house.

Kirna filed a complaint with the Khanna police and its women cell managed a compromise between the victim and her in-laws that they would not harass her and that Seema would not stay there.

After the agreement was signed, she lived with her in-laws for four days but she was pressured to sign a fresh agreement, accepting Seema in the house, which she refused. On March 10, the accused reportedly made her drink tea laced with some poisonous substance. When her condition started deteriorating, they dumped her in her village without informing her parents.

No arrest has been made so far.



Three trader brothers booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
Three brothers, all prominent businessmen of the city, have been booked in a fraud case for allegedly cheating another trader by selling the same piece of land,worth crores, to two persons.

According to an FIR registered at the Sarabha Nagar police station, accused Sunil Kumar Jain, Ashok Kumar Jain and Arun Kumar Jain, sons of Kapur Chand Jain of the Reta Foundries Ltd, have been booked for cheating Bindra and Company and M/s M S Bindra Ltd.

The accused had entered into a land deal with the victims for sale of 8 acres on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. The deal was struck at over Rs 1 crore. However, the accused sold off a part of the land to another person even after taking over Rs 35 lakh from Bindra and Company and M/s M S Bindra Ltd.

The victims — Prithipal Singh Bindra, Ajit Singh Bindra and Happy Bindra — said the police registered the case after an inquiry into the matter was conducted by the Economic Offences Wing of the city police. They said though the FIR was registered, no one was arrested.



IT surveys irk industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
Industry representatives here have blamed the IT Department for carrying out surveys on industry, only to meet its targets as the financial year is coming to a close.

Peeved over the department's claim of high income rise in Ludhiana, the industry has claimed the contrary. The representatives have also written to the government in this regard.

Various associations claimed that the department here had increased its target for collection by more than 40 per cent whereas the national average was only 30 per cent. "There is no basis for an increase in targets. As a result of such a high increase in collection targets, it is the industry that is suffering," the representatives said.

They have also urged the government not to detain industrialists at night when the surveys are conducted. "Industrialists are treated as criminals. The department should not detain them throughout night. It can continue surveys during the day, too, if it is not completed in a day," they said.


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