L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Lightning leaves behind trail of destruction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Lightning left behind a trail of destruction in Sarabha Nagar Extension on the Pakhowal road here last night when rain, accompanied with strong winds, lashed the region.

Though no loss or injury to human or animal life has been reported so far, the lightning strike was so strong that it made holes on roof tops and walls. It also damaged about 60 television sets, electronic goods and caused blasts in the main power supply points and meters, besides burning street-light wires and lamps.

It was a night of terror for the residents of the colony, who heard a loud noise caused by a lightning strike at about 10 p.m. and witnessed jumping and dancing lightning waves over street-light poles.

The residents rushed into their houses, only to hear another massive blast nearby when lightning struck at the house of Mr G.R.Grover and Mr Devinder Singh Arora. The lightning was attracted to an angle-iron, used for supporting clothes-line. It twisted a pole attached to it and caused a large hole in the roof and a wall.

A long and wide crack also developed in the side-wall. Inside the house, the colour television of Mr Grover was burnt. The main power supply box also exploded, causing a dent in a Maruti car parked under the porch. The night lamps over the gate also exploded and their parts were found several feet away.

When a Tribune team reached the colony this morning, scared residents were going from door to door, asking about well-being of everybody. Mr Grover, Mr Arora and another resident, Mr Atamjit Singh, revealed that nearly 60 television sets had been burnt apart from other electronic goods. They were of the view that lightning had passed through the wire of the Cable TV network. It was the only common source in all houses.

A team of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was replacing the badly burnt pipes. Several street-lights were also severely damaged.

Mr Devinder Singh Arora, a medicine trader, said they had gone out in the evening. ‘‘ When we returned at about 10:30 p.m., we were shocked to find the burnt power supply meter. In the morning, we noticed that the TV was burnt and several bulb sockets were hanging out from the roof.’’

Mr Grover and Mr Arora estimated the loss to be over Rs 50,000-60,000 each. The internal wiring of both houses was completely burnt. The residents were in a fix on whom to blame for this. ‘‘We believe it is the fault of the private electrician, who had fitted the wires. He should have given protection from lightning. We also suspect that the street-light poles or the PSEB wires could also have attracted the lightning.’’



Residents of Housefed flats a disappointed lot
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Residents of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar Housefed Complex, who had bought Super Deluxe flats in the hope to live in a posh area are a disappointed lot now. Claiming that poor quality construction material had been used for the construction of the flats, the residents said the Housefed had not even provided them with promised amenities.

Sick of fighting for their rights at various levels, the residents feel cheated. The cement layer outside the flats is falling apart with major peels falling on the ground floor injuring passersby a number of times.

Moreover, there was no provision for rainwater drainage at the top of the building. The rainwater collected at the rooftop had seeped into the building.

House owners claim that they were promised that the complex would have a proper boundary wall but even after so many years of the completion of the construction the temporary wall had not been replaced. The wall was very low and posed a threat to the security of the residents.

The fact that a slum had mushroomed adjacent to their building had made the residents all the more jittery. They claimed that they were having sleepless nights as there was no security system.

They said they were already fighting a battle of sorts for getting the jhuggis in their neighbourhood removed. Sometime back they had even given a representation to the Chairman of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission asking him to intervene.

Residents claimed that the slum dwellers used filthy language and fought with each other every now and then.

‘‘The occupants of jhuggis use the entire area as an open toilet. It causes nuisance and emits foul smell all around. We have told them several times to mend their but they do not listen to us, ’’ said the residents.

The house owners claimed that when they were allotted the flats, they were told that the jhuggis would be removed soon. But even after so many years, nothing had been done rather the number of jhuggis was increasing every day. 



Bhattal grants Rs 1 cr for Urdu academy
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 26
Laying of foundation stone of the Punjab Urdu Academy by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, at nearby Malerkotla town on Saturday, fulfilled the long-pending demand of people of this erstwhile princely state.

Besides initiating the process of the establishment of the academy, Ms Bhattal announced a grant of Rs 1 crore for its development and providing infrastructure. ‘‘The state government would provide all help to the academy so that cultural heritage of Muslims was preserved,’’ claimed Ms Bhattal.

Ms Bhattal said it would be wrong to say that Urdu was the language of a particular religious sect. ‘‘Guru Gobind Singh, Maharaj Ranjit Singh and our freedom fighters had accorded due respect to this language and it had been used as official language for a long time,’’ maintained Ms Bhattal.

Ms Razia Sultana, MLA and Chairperson of the Punjab Waqf Board claimed that Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Bhattal had kept their promise to implement certain declarations, including the opening of the Urdu academy and transforming the status of institutes being run by the Waqf Board.

According to Prof Mohd Hayat Khan, Honorary Secretary of the academy, people of this Muslim-dominated area had been urging the successive governments to open an Urdu Academy but their efforts bore no fruit.

Though the academy has been opened in an old building of the Hostel of Government College Malerkotla, it would be shifted to a more spacious building soon, claimed the organisers. 



Farewell parties a hollow affair 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 26
The Ides of March brings in its wake a host of farewell parties in all city colleges. Each college wants to be the first with a farewell party and outdo the other. In fact, these days each department in a college arranges a separte farewell party.

An invitation is sent to the media which ensures that four to five farewell parties of various departments, being held on the same day, get full coverage. But originality is something which these parties woefully lack and are just a repetition of each other.

The day of saying ‘goodbye’ should be meaningful and leave a deep impression on the minds of students and equip them to live up to the values imparted in the college. So armed with a set of values and knowledge gained in the college, students should be ready to step into life with confidence.

Instead, the farewell parties are just an occasion to dress up and put on a lot of makeup.

Then an excited bunch of girls walk down the ramp trying to imitate the gait of models. A host of judges formed from the fraternity of a college selects Ms Farewell, first and second runners-up.

The titles of Ms Beautiful Smile, Ms Beautiful Hair and Ms Personality are also bestowed upon which cause a quite a lot of heartache to those who feel that they deserved the titles.

A Principal then utters a few motivating words to the outgoing students and so ends a farewell party.

If you have been to one farewell party, you have been to all. The girls as well as boys concentrate more on superficial beauty than on real values and skills.

One of the parents, Ms Sushila Jhaver, said, “I am quite tired of these farewell parties. A week before the farewell, my daughter’s classmates used to come to our house regularly and tried draping sarees.

“Every day they would pester their mothers to give them different sarees to try on.

“The girls would apply garish make-up on each other and burst into tears when instead of looking pretty, they looked frightful.

“Finally, the gruesome week was over. But my relief was short lived as the disgruntled girls complained of wrong judgement, favouritism etc.”

No one prepares an original skit or choreography with a message. “Movies are the bane of all choreographies and all masala songs,” said retired Prof M.S. Cheema.

The big question is that why have Ms Farewell contests? They depict beauty in a completely superficial manner.



Goods worth crores gutted in fire in woollen mill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Property worth crores was gutted in a massive fire in a furnace factory and woollen mill at Kanganwal village last night. The fire brigade was trying to douse the flames till reports last came in today.

The fire broke out at about 2 am in the Garg Furnace-cum-Woollen Mills. The exact cause of the fire is not known but the fire brigade officials were suspecting that a short-circuit could have caused sparks to ignite the fire.

The fire was so massive that 12 fire tenders made at least eight to 10 rounds each to refill the water and foam supply from the main fire station.

Mr R.K Sharma said the fire started in the furnace and then spread to a godown in which raw material and yarn for the woollen mill unit, situated on the furnace factory premises only, was stored.

The fire spread quickly. Fortunately, there were no workers in the factory at that time. A night watchman on duty noticed the flames called the factory owner, Mr Rajiv Garg, and the fire brigade.



Ludhiana Calling

When poultry farmers felt the government was forgetting the issue of bird flu, they decided to stop trains as a mark of protest. Farmers from different states, though not in very large numbers, gathered in the city to stop a train. Mediapersons were told that passengers would be distributed eggs. However, much to the disappointment of farmers and also the industry, no train arrived. The farmers had to remain contend by stopping only a light engine for around 20 minutes and posed in front of the engine with banners. Later, they urged media persons to ‘‘ignore this fact’’.

Self publicity?

A section of city residents look for an occasion to organise a function. So it seemed on the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The day was marked by a series of functions, with a lot of pictures of organisers clicked near the statues of martyrs in the city. What made the entire thing look like a publicity exercise only was that most of the people did not even take off their shoes while stepping near the statues of the martyrs. And then there was an organisation, which wrote in its invitation that it was celebrating the birthday of the martyrs.

Sacrifice supreme

The Congressmen in the city did not leave any stone unturned to glorify the ‘‘sacrifice’’ made by AICC supremo, Sonia Gandhi, who resigned from the Lok Sabha recently. Even the small time workers, who are often seen switching loyalties went all out to issue a statement hailing her move. Some said she had become a ‘‘heroine’’ and some called her move ‘‘sacrifice supreme.’’ One wondered from where the workers got the terms to name laud her resignation.

‘‘House gods’’

Following his deep desire to own a house, a tenant went to a local astrologer. After sifting through his kundli, the astrologer suggested him to keep three black dogs as pets and he would soon have a house of his own. Hoping that the simple solution would help him to possess a house in Ludhiana, where property prices are skyrocketing, the man picked up three mongrel pups from various places in the city but in less than a fortnight, his landlord, got sick of the pups and gave him a notice to vacate the house within next 15 days.

Printer’s devil

A social organisation evoked quite an interest among media circles here when it sent invitation cards for a function organised for the welfare of financially challenged girls. The NGO got several un-precedent calls from journalists who were curious about the victims. The reason the invitation cards had misprint the term and wrote it financially-challaned girls. Mediapersons thought it could be some girls ‘challaned’ heavily by cops.

No simple life this

Most of us do not miss a chance to complain about the hurdles we face in life. Only a little consideration and attention to the hardships being faced by a large section of our society would be enough to make us realise that we are among the privileged lot. At the age of enjoyment and carefree days, this child in the picture has to perform dangerous stunts to earn a livelihood.


The Sutlej Club is the premier social club of the city. The members claim to be epitomes of civilised society. But not much of the virtue was displayed in the run up to the annual elections. Brawls among drunkard supporters of different candidates were quite common. Abuses were hurled freely at each other. It hurt more as the members could have set a good example of violence and booze free elections.


There is no dearth of incidences of the civic body’s apathy to public complaints. In Ghumar Mandi, near Arti Chowk, a couple of shopkeepers have been complaining for more than two months about non-functional streetlights. The shopkeepers say despite several complaints, they are told by the MC employees that they have no time to repair these. As a result the shopkeepers face theft threat everyday and are now looking for a ‘sifarish’ to get their work done, ‘‘even if it takes time’’.

Graduate vendor

Unemployment has left some educated youths so helpless that they do not mind taking up even menial jobs to earn their livelihood. The scenario seems to be shocking, seeing a vegetable vendor in the city, who is a graduate and sells vegetables door-to-door everyday. But a strong believer in the dignity of labour, he has no qualms about it. ‘‘My father had started with this business. He died and we had nobody to look after it. I took up this work and am doing it now. Every work is dignified as long as it is lawful.’’ he says. A golden piece of advice for unemployed indeed.

Card craft

Be careful before circulating your visiting cards if you are a journalist or a politician. For, several ‘enterprising’ persons use them as their identity cards. One such person pasted his picture behind the card. He claimed he was known to the journalist or the politician whose card it was. The man, a farm labourer, surprised a city journalist by showing the card to a colleague. Needless to say, the card was immediately snatched and the man was told it was wrong for him to misuse the card.

Funny names

A number of police posts in the city have quite funny names. These are Sawa- Chhe (six and a quarter past six) chowki, Sadhe-Chhe (Six and a half) chowki and Paune-Sat (Quarter to Seven) chowki. All these police posts fall in the Division No. 6 police station. One other police post falling in the area of Division No. 2 police has been named dhai no. chowki (Two and a half ). One wonders how the posts got such amusing names.

Booze and chicken

With the financial year coming to a close, the wine guzzlers had a gala time this month. Thanks to the discounts given by various liquor shops to finish the quota. To add to their merry making were the chicken prices that had come down post bird flu scare. After a great session of booze and chicken delicacies, a city resident could not resist saying, ‘‘Now when there is a discount on both the things, a city cardiologist should also organise a free check up camp near the shops selling this stuff. ’’


Defacement of the city walls, monuments, buildings, notice boards and foundation stones continues unabated. The district administration and the Municipal Corporation have seemed to have turned a blind eye to the problem. The defacement occurs when unions paste their pamphlets or notices or the advertisers use the open space.

Mobile pitfall

Mobile phones may be useful but they have been found wanting when it comes to making emergency calls. Despite several reminders through media or representations by the members of the public, the mobile companies have not provided the facility to the subscriber to dial 100 or 101 or other helpline numbers when in distress. This proves costly when a stranger is caught in some problem in the city. He has no option but to call at these numbers if he is left stranded on the road with no PCO near by and no one in the city to call upon.

Tail piece

Scribbled on the rear of a big car, ‘‘Please God give me patience to drive on city roads.’’




BJP’s trade cell to launch agitation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
In a bid to focus on the “plight” of trade and industry in Punjab and the “indifferent” attitude of the state government, the trade and industry cell of the BJP will launch a mass agitation in May. Party activists will hold district-level rallies and demonstrations, followed by a state-level convention here to “expose” the government policies that were not only “proving detrimental to the growth of trade and industry, but were threatening their survival”.

Presiding over the meeting of the cell here today, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, president of the Trade and Industry Cell and former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, expressed his serious concern over the deteriorating economy of the state in the face of deep power crisis, imposition of VAT and rising prices of essential commodities.

The most unfortunate part, he lamented, was the total indifference of the government towards genuine problems of trade and industry, which had led to a sense of despair among the affected sections. Focusing on the dismal scenario of power situation in the state, Mr Gosain said extended power cuts, ranging between 10 to 14 hours, had pushed the industry, particularly the small and tiny sector, towards ruination. While the government had failed to tackle the power shortage, the tariff had been repeatedly jacked up to add to the woes of the trade and industry.

Other party functionaries, including Mr Shakti Sharma, vice president of the cell, Mr Prashant Arora, organising secretary, Mr Anil Sareen, state secretary and Mr Ashok Juneja, state finance secretary of BJP, charged the Congress government with misleading the public by false and inflated claims. The promises of simplification of VAT and abolition of octroi had remained unfulfilled and the government continued to lend a deaf ear to the problems of trade and industry.

"Even after the government has admitted that tax collection under the VAT regime has gone up by Rs 1000 crore, attempts are being made to impose yet another tax to make up the revenue loss as a result of the abolition of octroi.

When the revenue has already gone up and the government is not facing any financial crunch, as claimed by it, where is the justification to put more financial burden on trade and industry, which ultimately will have to be borne by the people ?" the speakers at the meeting wondered.

The meeting also castigated the government for the non-payment of subsidies to the industrial units for the past many years.

Among others, Mr P.C. Garg, Mr Harish Bedi, Mr Bhupesh Aggarwal, Mr Parshottam Mittal, Mr Arun Katyal, Mr Sunil Mehra and Mr Avinash Sharma also addressed the meeting.



Marriages of 6 poor girls performed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
The marriage ceremony of six needy girls was performed during a function organised by the Maa Bhagwati Club in association with Hanumant Sewa Samiti (Sangeet Parivaar) at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Deep Sabha, Civil Lines, today.

According to Mr Avinash Sikka, president, Maa Bhagwati Club, they have been organising such functions for some time now and have been receiving donations for the purpose.

Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, District Congress Committee (Urban) and Mr Raju Thapar, Councillor, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, attended the function and blessed the newly weds.

Mr Sikka expressed gratitude towards Mr Harbhajan Singh, president, Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Head Granthi Sarabjit Singh, members of the raagi jatha and donors who helped the club in organising the function.

Vimal Chhabra, Randhir Sharma, Narinder Bangia, Bharat Bhushan Johar, Dimpy Makkar, Harish Goyal, Vinay Dhir, Chander Mohan, Pawan Kumar, Dr Jagmohan Chopra, Manju Sikka also helped during the function.



Hindi evening daily launched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Media is playing an effective role in providing fast information regarding the major day-to-day events to the people and was instrumental in highlighting public welfare activities of the government and problems of the people.

This was stated by Mr B.I.S Chahal, Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister, after the launch of a daily Hindi evening newspaper, ‘Ludhiana Ki Awaj’, near Samrala Chowk, here today.

He said in this era of modernised information technology, the society has become fully dependent on the current information regarding the international and national events and happenings given by the media and use it in running their vocations.

To fulfill the needs of the fast changing of society, the local newspapers focusing on city level were very useful for each section of society i.e. trade, education, industry, social and cultural activities etc. are becoming the part and parcel of their disciplines, he added.

Appreciating the purposeful efforts of the management of the newspaper for giving an evening newspaper to the city residents, Mr Chahal hoped that ‘Ludhiana Ki Awaj’ would proved to be a milestone in the progress of the city and would also help in providing a useful forum to the people to convey their problems to the authorities for settlement.

Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, while addressing the function said a daily evening newspaper was urgently required in the city.

Mayor Nahar Singh, Mr Sunil Bedi, MD, JMD Promoters, and Mr Darshan Singh, DPRO, also spoke on the occasion.

Dr G.P Singh, on behalf of the management, informed that the paper would be an eight page coloured evening newspaper.

Others present on the occasion included Mr S.K Sharma, Commissioner, MC, Mr R.K Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, Mr Ajmer Singh, ADC, Mr Ramesh Joshi, Director, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr K.K Bawa, Chairman, Housefed, Mr Parmajit Singh Sibia, Chairman, Improvement Trust and Mr Jagmohan Sharma, President, DCC (U).



Pensioners body flays govt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Members of the Government Pensioners Association today flayed the state government for not redressing their problems. At a meeting held here today, they pointed out that during its 48-month rule and after having presented five budgets, the government had failed to fulfill even a single promise contained in the Congress manifesto on the eve of Assembly elections in February, 2002.

The pensioners complained that a fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month was being paid to them for over eight years was inadequate to meet the medicare cost now and that a substantial raise was overdue.

They pointed out that old-age allowance at the age of 80 years was allowed to MLA-pensioners in Punjab. However, this small benefit was denied to them despite the recommendations made by the Third Pay Commission's 18 years ago.

The meeting urged the government to pay travel concession to pre-April 2004 retirees after merging 50 per cent D.A. in their basic pension as it had been done in the case of post-April 2004 retirees.

The pensioners hailed the Union Governments' announcement to set up the Sixth Central Pay Commission for its staff.

Meanwhile, they urged the Punjab Government to set up the Fifth Punjab Pay Panel, the pay-scales recommended by the previous Punjab Pay Panel and implemented w.e.f January, 1996 had become irrelevant and outdated in view of the price rise and various other factors.

The Forth Punjab Pay Panel had also recommended next pay revision after 10 years which was now due from January, 2006. They also demanded another installment of D.A., wef, January 1, 2006, on the central pattern. 



Electricity body holds 13th delegate conference
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The 13th delegate conference of the All-India Federation of Electricity Employees began at the Bhagwan Singh Ankhi Hall in S.C. Krishnan Nagar here today. As many as 753 delegates from various states took part in the deliberations. In context of the implementation of the Electricity Act, 2003, and the stance taken by their respective unions vis a vis the power boards and the power sector explained the ground position in different states.

Mr Amrik Singh Masitan, general secretary of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Federation, said a resolution on implementation of the commitment of the UPA government in the common minimum programme (CMP) was adopted in which it was demanded that the power policy be reviewed, as committed in the CMP, because even after two years nothing had been done in this direction.

Power workers from various trade unions of Orissa, Goa, UP, Uttranchal, Karnatka, Bihar, Assam, Meghalaya, Calcutta, west Bengal, Chhatisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, will be participating in the ongoing sessions.

The delegates who spoke, resented against the attitude of the UPA government to dismantle the boards in order to get them privatised as desired by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and pressurised by the American imperialist forces.

The delegates stressed the need to organise the power of workers the employees, farmers and depressed people so that they could continue their agitation against the government to scrap the present Electricity Act, 2003.



Workshop on child development
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, here conducting a five-day “art excel workshop” for primary kids in collaboration with The Art of Living. It concluded on Friday. Ms Pooja Mordani from Mumbai conducted the programme. With the help of group activities, dynamics, stretches, creative exercises, breathing exercises, children were taught the value of health and proper channelisation of the energy within.

The workshop focussed on the growth of children on mental, physical and emotional levels. An interaction session was held with the parents. They were informed about the details and were also urged to bring out the creativity of the child by providing a healthy and stress-free environment.

Principal of the school S.C. Saxena and in charge of the primary wing Kavita Wadhwa made the workshop a success.



Function remembers sacrifices of martyrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The Shaheed Sukhdev branch of the Bharat Vikas Parishad organised a function to commemorate the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev at Devki Devi Jain College, Kidwai Nagar here today.

Mr R K Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, was the chief guest on the occasion. The function was presided over by Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, Chairman, Punjab and Haryana Bar Council. The chief speaker was Ms Laxmikanta Chawla, former MLA, Amritsar. Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Ludhiana, was the guest of honour.

Glimpses from the lives of the martyrs were shown on the TV screen. Ms Chawla highlighted the sacrifices of the martyrs in general and martyr Sukhdev in particular.

The function ended with vote of thanks and singing of the National Anthem. 



Biz Clips

Women’s brand
W, a contemporary women’s wear brand, has unveiled its spring collection. A company press note said the two prominent collections for the season were ''Bliss'' and ''Exotic''. — TNS

Outlet opens 
Maspar has opened its home furnishings retail outlet at the Pakhowal Road here. This is the fourth outlet by the company in the country. Rajesh Mahajan, Managing Director, said the  company offered the finest designs and  product quality and adhered to stringent  quality controls. The product range included products for bedroom, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, etc.

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