L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Customers heave sigh of relief as SBI strike ends
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
Customers heaved a sigh of relief as the week-long strike by employees of the State Bank of India (SBI) was called off today. To accommodate the huge rush and complete pending work, the bank deployed extra staff on counters for public dealing.

"The strike rally put us in trouble as we were not able to withdraw our own money. But I am happy that it finally ended," said Sushil Kumar, a resident. The strike had paralysed business, hit pensioners and salaried employees the most as it was the first week of the month.

Customers in large numbers turned out at the branches soon as the bank opened. Long queues could also be seen outside the bank's ATMs. Despite the huge rush, work was being carried on smoothly and customers said they were happy. The bank also made necessary arrangements to ensure speedy processing.

"The strike was called off late last night. To ensure that work was carried on smoothly, sufficient cash was made available at ATMs and employees dealing with other work were also made to deal with the public," said Mr Vijay Kalia, deputy general secretary, All-India State Bank Officers Association.

"We were quite irritated with the strike as we were helpless. I even thought of closing my account with the bank. But I realise that their demand was genuine and the staff has good customer relations. Today when I have come to the branch, even as there is a huge rush, the staff is working efficiently and treating us well," said Meenu Sharma, another customer of the bank.

Mr Kalia said the branches would continue entertaining customers till they kept coming, irrespective of whether the public dealing time was over or not. "We understand that the customers had to undergo a lot of inconvenience and we will put in all our effort to ensure that they do not have to suffer," he maintained.

He said besides public dealing, a lot of work was pending on account of statements related to income tax, inter- bank transactions etc, for which the employees were quite willing to put in extra hours.

Meanwhile, various associations including the Government Pensioners Association and the business section, expressed happiness that the strike was over. "The settlement is a positive move. We urge the staff to put in extra work for the next few days, including holidays, so as to enable pensioners and salaried persons to withdraw their money," said Mr Yash Paul Ghai, general secretary, Government Pensioners Association.



2 booked in fake caste certificate case
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 10
The Sudhar police has arrested a Nepalese national and a Lambardar of Heran village in Ludhiana district for allegedly preparing a fake caste certificate, in order to avail of special facilities provided by the government to the members of the Scheduled Castes.

Both the persons had been booked under Sections 420, 67, 68 and 71 of the IPC on the directions of Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.

The Deputy Commissioner had directed the police to register a case against Beant Singh, Lambardar of Hera village, and Manjit Singh, son of Rana Singh a Nepalese national, on the basis of an inquiry report submitted by Mr Harphool Singh, Tehsildar, Raikot, who had found the two guilty of conspiring to prepare a bogus Scheduled Caste certificate for the later.

The investigation conducted by Mr Harphool Singh had established the charges levelled by Malkiat Singh, a resident of the same village. The complainant had alleged that Beant Singh had helped Manjit Singh to get a Scheduled Caste certificate prepared even though he did not belong to the said caste.

Investigations revealed that Rana Singh, a Nepalese national, had been working with Beant Singh for a long time. Though the master knew the identity of his worker, the latter posed as a member of the Ramdasia Sikh community.

Manjit Singh, who was born in India, wanted to avail of some facilities provided to the members of the Scheduled Castes by the state government and he conspired with Beant Singh to get the work done.

After receiving report from the investigating officer the Deputy Commissioner directed the police to register a case against Beant Singh and Manjit Singh.

Mr Shawinder Singh Dhillon, SHO, Sudhar police station, said the accused had been arrested yesterday and were produced in court today. As the police was yet to recover the original certificate, the accused were remanded to police custody. 



MC clerk confesses embezzling Rs 20 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
The clerk of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation who was accused of defrauding the local civic body of Rs 20 lakh, collected from parking lots in the Feroze Gandhi market, today confessed to having committed the crime.

Addressing mediapersons at a press conference, Rajinder Kumar, the accused, said he had fallen in a trap due to his habit of buying lotteries. Giving a clean chit to three other employees, who used to collected money with him, the clerk said they had nothing to do with the money.

Accusing the MC indirectly of the fraud, Rajinder Kumar said the civic body had asked him to “keep thousands of rupees at home”. He could not resist the temptation of buying lottery tickets from that money, thinking one ticket would fetch him a much bigger amount.

He further stated that the MC had failed to find a solution to the parking lots controversy and was forced to collect the payments and keep the money at home. ‘‘Seeing so much amount at my place, I could not resist but buy lotteries with it. I had thought I would make enough money and pay back the MC. But this never happened and I could not pay it, he said, adding that his colleagues were being implicated, though there was no fault of theirs.

He also distributed copies of affidavits to support his claims.

Rajinder Kumar was suspended from service after the fraud was detected. After pocketing the money, he had not reported for duty for some days and had given details about the money supposed to be in his custody.

The parking lots in the Feroze Gandhi market were being managed by some employees after a dispute between two contractors over the auction. The lots were auctioned also to a private contractor but he was not able to furnish the money to be paid for the allotment. In the absence of any contract, the MC was managing the lots itself. These employees were assigned to collect the payments and issue parking slips. 



Riot victims express anger, stage protest
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
They lost their near and dear ones and were rendered homeless in the 1984 genocide. When it came to compensating them, the district administration refused their forms, stating that they did not have enough evidence to prove that they were the victims.

This was the grudge of around 1900 families of victims of the 1984 genocide, some of who staged a protest outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner against the rejection of their files for want of proof of residence by the officials concerned.

Staging a ‘‘siapa’’ outside the office, the riot victims said they had provided a number of proofs to the authorities but nobody considered their cases. Raising slogans against the government, the agitators said that it was under a ‘‘conspiracy’’ that they were not being compensated.

Mr Surjit Singh, an office-bearer of the Danga Peerat Welfare Society, threatened that they would sit on a fast outside the residence of Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh if the forms of the victims were not accepted within two days.

Mr Sukhbir Singh, a victim, who was allotted a ration depot by the state government as compensation said his file was not accepted by the district administration. He threatened that he would take a drastic step if he was not compensated.

Bibi Gurdial Kaur, who was widowed during the riots, said her file was also rejected. ‘‘I lost my husband during the riots. He was killed mercilessly and everybody knows about it. But they say I have no proof to say that I am a riot victim, ’’ she said while crying inconsolably.

Mata Harbans Kaur, an 82-year-old-victim, the oldest among them, had lost her husband, son and son-in-law in the riots in 1984 at Delhi. She was forced to leave her house by the people who lived with them like a family.

But she was also not accepted as a victim. ‘‘What shall I do to prove myself. We lost everything and now we are being called liars. This is disgusting,’’ she said.

Rakhi Kaur, another widow, said she had came to Ludhiana 15 years ago after the genocide. But the district administration had refused to consider her a victim as they could not find her residence. ‘‘What can I do. I am living here for so many years and they say I do not have a residence proof. ’’ she rued.



Three kisan unions join hands to fight wheat import
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
In order to oppose the wheat import in the country by the Government of India, three farmers' unions of Punjab today announced the formation of a joint platform. They also demanded a CBI inquiry into the whole issue while asking the need to import wheat when huge stocks were lying in the godowns across the country. They decided to stage a boycott of the state mandis on April 17 and 18 and appealed to all farmers and commission agents to cooperate with them.

The three organisations, including the Bhartiya Kisan Union led by Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) led by Balbir Singh Rajewal and the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) led by Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, regretted that the government had betrayed the farmers.

A joint meeting of the three organisations was held here today. The meeting observed that importing of wheat at Rs 945 per quintal was a betrayal of the farmers of the country. They pointed out that when wheat had already reached the mandis and was continuously arriving, there was no need to import it.They demanded that country's farmers must also be paid a minimum support price of Rs 945 per quintal at a par with the imported wheat.

The kisan organisations reminded the Punjab Government to make the pending payment of the bonus of Rs 20 per quintal to the farmers, which was due for the past couple of years. They said the government had announced a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal a few years ago and had paid Rs 10 per quintal so far.

They also demanded that they should be provided free irrigation. The government was yet to reimburse the electricity tariff of the farmers who had already paid it. The government had later decided to provide free electricity to the farmers.

Appealing to the government to immediately stop the import of wheat, they said it would lead to desperation and frustration among farmers. They warned that it could lead to serious repercussions, as the farmers were already facing "very hard times". The kisan organisations said they would ensure that the farmers' interests were not sabotaged and would go to any extent to expose the persons responsible for the current crisis.



Rs 4.29 cr project launched in Mullanpur Dhaka
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
Local Bodies Minister Chaudhry Jagjit Singh has asserted that in order to improve civic conditions in the urban areas, the state government had set up a Municipal Development Fund of Rs 990 crore, under which complete sewerage, water supply and other facilities would be provided in all cities and towns of the state.

He was addressing a function after formally launching the execution operation of 100 per cent sewerage and water supply project to be completed at a cost of Rs 4.29 crore at Mullanpur Dakha, 20 km from here, today.

Jagjit Singh said plan for each and every city and town in Punjab had been prepared and systematic development would be carried out. He said in order to ensure excellent quality, and timely execution of the work, strict supervision would be maintained and officers had been directed to monitor the progress of projects.

Referring to the achievements of the Congress government, he said all promises made by the party during elections had been fulfilled and the promise of waving off the octroi would also be fulfilled by June, 2006.

He said more than Rs 600 crore was being spent on the implementation of welfare programmes for the Scheduled Castes and those belonging to economically weaker sections and a corpus fund of Rs 450 crore had been set up to ensure regular release of pensions to 11 lakh beneficiaries.

He claimed that as many as Rs 700 crore were being spent under the Punjab Nirman Programme and after the completion of this, the state would be at number one position in the country.

Criticising Mr Badal for abandoning the stipend scheme for Scheduled Castes students, the minister informed that Capt. Amarinder Singh’s government had restored the stipend for all SC students. He claimed that the government had also enhanced the amount of ‘‘shagun scheme’’ to Rs 15,000 .

He said Capt. Amarinder Singh had also decided to provide five marla plots for the construction of houses for homeless Scheduled Caste families and toilets were being constructed in the houses of Dalits at a cost of Rs 60 crore.

Appreciating the efforts of Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, in raising voice in Punjab Vidhan Sabha for the formation of pro-people legislations, Jagjit Singh said he had always been highlighting issues relating to the development and welfare of people. He announced that Mullanpur Municipal Council would be adopted under the second phase of urban development programme and handed over a cheque for Rs 25 lakh for development in Mullanpur city. Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura announced to give Rs 20 lakh for development projects in three wards of Mullanpur falling in Kila Raipur constituency.

On this occasion, the minister honoured councillor Narinder Pal Kaur, who joined the Congress in his presence and assured that a sum of Rs 10 lakh would be spent in her Ward (Number 10) on various development works.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bhani, Chairman, Punjab Tubewell Corporation; Mr Jasbir Singh, Chairman, Punjab Container’s Corporation; Mr Gurkirat Singh, Secretary, PPCC; Mr K . K. Bawa, Chairman, HOUSFED; Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura; Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, MC, Ludhiana; Mr Telu Ram, president, MC, Mullanpur; Mr Manjit Singh Bhrowal, Chairman, Market Committee, Mullanpur, were among those who spoke on the occasion.



Birmi garners support for CM’s rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
The Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, has launched a series of mass conduct meetings in different parts of Ludhiana (Rural) constituency to ensure the maximum mobilisation of the people for a rally to be held on April 16 at New Sabzi Mandi, Salem Tabri.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, would be the chief guest and Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, President, PPCC, would preside over the rally. A number of ministers and other senior leaders would also address the rally.

Speaking at a meeting in Giaspura last evening, Mr Birmi asserted that the rally would be a great success.

Mr Birmi claimed that the government was going to spend almost Rs 6000 crore under various schemes to ensure unmatched development in the state during the current financial year.

Criticising the baseless and false propaganda by the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and other Akali leaders, Mr Birmi said sensing the response of the people towards the polices of the Congress government, these leaders had become desperate.

He said while Mr Badal had completely centralised the system of grant distribution by disbursing small grants in different constituencies himself by organising ‘‘sangat darshan’’ programmes, Capt. Amarinder Singh had empowered all his MLAs to disburse grants worth Rs 7 crore in their constituencies.

He said he had already distributed cheque for Rs 1 crore and a sum of Rs 3 crore would be disbursed in the coming days. He said during the past four years funds worth Rs 50 crore had been spent on the various development projects in the constituency.

Criticising the Akali Councillor of the area for neglecting the colonies of poor people, he said he would personally take up the matter of development in all colonies and would get the sufficient funds released for the purpose.

Mr Birmi announced a grant of Rs 50 lakh for the construction of roads and providing others facilities in the colonies.

Mr Vijay Agnihotri, district president of the All India Hindu Surakhsha Samiti, while speaking on the occasion assured that maximum number of people from colonies would participate in the rally being held on April 16.



Astrology camp evokes huge response
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 10
A large number of city residents from different localities thronged the one-day free astrology camp, organised by the Akhil Bhartiya Jyotish Sangh and the Aryavarta Jyotirvigyan Sanstha jointly at Shree Geeta Mandir in Vikas Nagar on Pakhowal Road here today. As many as 2,500 persons had their horoscopes studied by astrologers attending the camp.

Mr Ramesh Joshi, Director, Punjab Pollution Control Board, lighted the lamp to formally inaugurate the camp.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor Mohan, noted astrologer and Chairman of the sanstha, claimed that astrologers could make accurate forecasts of one's future and also foretell the ups and downs of life provided they were well versed in the subject and had studied astrology thoroughly.

Mr Suresh Attray, while dwelling upon vaastu shastra, made it clear that most of the vaastu discrepancies could be rectified with minor alterations and redesigning. Mr Jagdambay Prasad Gaur focussed on the reasons of the decreasing faith of people in astrology. He said it was regrettable that such astrologers, who had adopted this profession with the motive of making money, had brought a bad name to astrology as such.

Prominent among others present at the camp were Mr Kamal Dev, Mr Joginder, Mr Bhagat Ram Handa, Mr Mangal Nand Joshi, Ms Rachna Sharma, Mr Ram Krishan Saluja, Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, Mr Pradeep Dhall, Mr Rajat Sood, Mr Satish Gupta, Mr Rajan Uppal, Mr Ram Kumar Chhabra, Mr Surinder Gupta, Mr Ashok Gupta and Mr Karam Chand.



‘Declare Parshuram Jayanti as public holiday’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
The Brahmin Samaj, Punjab, has demanded that Parshuram Jayanti which falls on April 30 be declared a public holiday.
Stating that the samaj was perturbed over the step-motherly treatment being meted out to them by the state government, Mr Beharilal Saddi, organising secretary of the Sabha, said for the past five years it had been declared as a public holiday, but Capt Amarinder Singh,Chief Minister, Punjab, declared it as a restricted holiday last year.

He added that on his visit to Samrala a few months ago, the Chief Minister had given an assurance that he would consider the case but to no avail. Now the government has buckled under pressure and declared April 11 and 14 (Mahavir Jayanti and Dr B.R. Ambedkar Jayanti), respectively, as public holidays.

Mr Saddi requested the Chief Minister to reconsider the case and declare Bhagwan Parshuram Jayanti as a public holiday. 



Protest against power cuts

Ludhiana, April 10
BJP activists yesterday burned the effigy of Parliamentary Secretary Surinder Dawar to protest against the long and unscheduled power cuts all over the state. — TNS



Daylight burglary spreads panic
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 10
Panic gripped Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar, Phase-II, here today following daylight burglary in the house of a senior manager of a pharmaceutical company. Mr Brijinder Singh, the house owner, told Ludhiana Tribune that burglars broke the locks of the doors and ransacked the rooms. They also broke the almirahs and decamped with several thousands of rupees apart from some valuables.

The burglary was spotted by his son, Rubbal, at about 1:30 pm when he returned from school.

Gurpreet Singh, a detective, said the burglar could not take much as he seemed to be in a hurry. The burglar had scaled the wall to come into the house. A flower pot kept on the wall had fallen in an adjoining plot suggesting he had entered the house from there.

Residents of the area have expressed concern over the incident. They have urged the police to increase vigil during day time, especially in the forenoon.


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