L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dalit alleges torture in police custody
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
A Dalit of Bhaura village was allegedly picked up, illegally detained and beaten up by the police just on the basis of an anonymous letter on April 14. The letter allegedly termed him as the man behind the theft of seven buffaloes from Ramgarh village in the Sahnewal police station area a week ago.

Instead of keeping an eye on the activities of the suspect and conducting inquiries, the policemen of the Ramgarh police post picked him up and allegedly used the age-old methods of police investigations.

The victim, Balwinder Singh, alias Teetu, under treatment in the Civil Hospital here alleged that he was tortured in police custody to extract confession in the theft case. The police admitted that the man was called on the basis of an anonymous letter, but denied the third degree method was used to find out his involvement.

Activists of social organisations, the Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission and the Rashtriya Vikas Manch, and relatives of the alleged victim admitted him to the civil hospital today after he complained of aches all over his body, especially in the legs and hip joints.

He was allegedly kept in illegal custody on April 14 and released yesterday at the intervention of his village residents and relatives. Balwinder alleged that his legs were stretched apart and he was dipped in dirty stinking water in order to extract confession from him for stealing the animals.

The SP City-II, Mr Kuldip Singh, told Ludhiana Tribune that he learnt about the allegations from mediapersons and after verifying from the Sahnewal police found that the man was called on the basis of the anonymous letter only. “He was not beaten or tortured and was let off after simple questioning in the case”.

On his directions, the SHO, Sahnewal, visited the Civil Hospital in the evening. The police was waiting for the medical examination report of the alleged victim.

Mr Shiv Ram Saroay, president of the mission, and Mr Gurinder Sood of the manch sought strict action against the guilty in the case. They said they would take up the matter with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the SC-ST Commission of India.



Slum kids study in open — under flyover, near garbage
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

A school for slum children working under a flyover, near the bus stand, in Ludhiana
A school for slum children working under a flyover, near the bus stand, in Ludhiana. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, April 16
The address of a school for slum children in Ludhiana is — under the flyover and near a garbage dump. This apology of an educational institution is located near the bus stand, where children of slum dwellers learn their first alphabet.

While a lot of hullabaloo is being created over the proposed closure of schools running from residential areas, the government itself is running this school under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan where children are exposed to the vagaries of weather.

Nearly 85 children sitting on a rug under the flyover, near Chattar Singh Park, as teachers struggle to draw their attention besides driving away the hooligans, who make a beeline near the school to ogle at them from a distance.

Less than five metres away is a garbage dump. Children keep busy in swatting the flies with a rolled newspaper and keep their noses covered to save themselves from the stench. Their space under the bridge is also shared by some taxi drivers, who park their vehicles near them.

The school was one among a number of schools for slum children inaugurated by the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, recently.

The students come from various slums near the school in the morning. With them they carry rugs for themselves and plastic-moulded chairs for their teachers, which are kept in a shanty nearby after the school is over.

A windy day means a holiday for them as nobody can study when dust fills their eyes. The authority concerned has a number of times assured the students that they would be shifted to a building but to no avail. Of late, the authority said they would get a wall erected on either sides of the flyover.

But till the money for the work arrives, they have to sit under the flyover.

The teachers, who are getting Rs 1,000 per month, refused to speak on the issue.

“After all it would cost us our job. We will wait here only till we are shifted to a safer place,” one of them said.



Expecting price hike, farmers stock wheat
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 16
With private purchase having dominated the procurement of wheat by government agencies, the farmers expecting a further rise in the prices of wheat have started stocking their produce. Meanwhile, individual buyers have reportedly bought wheat for Rs 700 per quintal for their domestic consumption.

Though farmers reported no harassment at the grain markets, lack of transport facilities for proper lifting seemed to have caused congestion in the yards.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, a farmer of Chhanna village, said he had decided to stock a major portion of his produce. “Now when the Chief Minister has declined the request of farmers to give bonus on wheat, there are chances that the rates in private market would raise substantially,” argued Mr Gurbachan Singh.

Mr Janak Raj Sharma, a commission agent of the local town, stated that mill owners had made the maximum purchases. “As floor mill owners are exempted from 2 per cent market fee and an equal amount of the Rural Development Fund, they are offering much higher prices than any other group of buyers,” maintained Mr Sharma.

Mr Baldev Singh Latala and Mr Mohinder Singh Seelon, senior functionaries of the Zamhoori Kisan Sabha, claimed that the bitter experience of the farmers on the hands of officials of the procurement agencies discouraged them from opting for institutionalised procurement. “Though the commission agents are not coming forward against the harassment by the officials of procurement agencies, we have received reports that farmers are being made to pay commission through their respective agents,” alleged the Sabha leaders.

Investigation by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the wheat arrival was slow in the markets.



2,000 patients examined at medical camps
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
More than 1,500 patients were examined and 70 physically challenged were given prosthetics at a free medical camp organised by the Vijay Inderdin Charitable Society at Sardar Atma Singh Public School here today.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Science and Technology, while inaugurating the camp, lauded the initiative taken by the society to help the patients and physically challenged from economically weaker sections.

According to Dr Rakesh Jain, chief coordinator of the camp, free medicines were also distributed among patients.

The team of doctors, comprising Dr Mahesh Gupta, Dr Pran Gupta, Dr Pawan Dhingra, Dr Manav Verma, Dr Prem Singh Chawla and Dr Ram Gupta announced that the poor patients would be treated at subsidised cost.

In another free multi-speciality medical check-up camp, organised with the initiative of the Minister for Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar, today, over 500 patients were examined and free medicines were distributed.

The doctors, including Dr Rajoo Singh Chhina, Dr J.L. Bassi, Dr Parminder Singh, Dr Kulwant Singh, Dr Deepak Gupta, Dr Naresh Bassi, Dr Ajit Singh Khurana, Dr M.P.S. Sidana, Dr Ritesh Chhabra, Dr Sudesh Bassi and Dr Anil Talwar, examined patients. 



Ludhiana Calling

The city has got a new face of administration with the transfers of the Deputy Commissioner, Municipal Commissioner and the SSP. The outgoing officers had a comparatively long tenure in the city. They suffered criticism on their working on many occasions but at their farewell parties, they were all saying good things about the press and the reporting. During their tenure, a couple of those officials were remotely accessible to the media and general public and often complained that the press was indulging in negative reporting. Yet, in their farewell speeches they termed the reporting by the local press during their tenure as an apt example of healthy criticism. It seems the adage -All’s well that ends well still holds true.

Doctor’s coat

Young doctors in the city or para-medical staff are misusing the lab coat of doctors by wearing it while driving two-wheelers or walking on the road. Some even keep the coat loosely on the shoulders or arms. The doctors may be showing their identity, but the coats must be carrying lots of germs and bacteria back to the hospital. Many of them even carry the stethoscope around their neck while driving. May be the senior doctors or the IMA can find out the exact reasons for flaunting the white coat.

Religious encroachers

The city residents leave no chance to criticise the Municipal Corporation or the government for bad roads and lack of civic amenities. But they themselves spoil and damage the concrete roads by digging up holes to erect tents. The tents are mainly erected for religious functions. As an immediate effect, the tents encroach upon the road and cause harassment to the commuters. Later, the dug up holes widen up and turn into potholes and the road is damaged. The residents then blame the government.

VIPs welcome

Come VIPs and the city is all cleaned up to welcome them. It is becoming too obvious with every passing day that the local civic body works for the VIPs alone. The visit of the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, for attending a rally once again brought this fact to the fore. All road berms were painted afresh, roads were lined with lime powder and the garbage was lifted. It has become such a common thing that whenever anybody sees workers painting roads berms, he wonders if the CM could be more frequent to the city.

Unequal rules

Encroaching in its own style, a city MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Surinder Dawar, has put up a board welcoming visitors to his assembly constituency near the Civil Hospital occupying a part of the road. Besides electric poles which pose traffic problems being in the middle of the road, the board compounds the problem. Nobody can however dare to touch it even as the local body do not allow any hoardings or other boards. One wishes if rules were equal for everybody. (see photo)




Probe ‘sacrilege’ incident, say leaders
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 16
Leaders of various Sikh organisations have urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the SGPC President to probe the incident of alleged religious sacrilege during a play staged by the Young Sikh Association in Singapore. The report on the play was highlighted on Thursday by a weekly newspaper published from here.

Terming the publishing of the report as more hurting than the actual incident, the leaders urged Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti to issue directives on reporting sensitive issues in the media.

According to Giani Darshan Singh, chairman, Baba Budha Gurmat Parchar Trust: “Though we do not appreciate the role of organisers who had let artistes allegedly perform vulgar dance by wearing shoes on the same stage where an Anand Karaj ceremony was being dramatized, the publisher should have avoided presenting in a humiliating way.”

Terming the publishing of report as more hurting than the actual incident, he rued that the Editor of the weekly had not highlighted any “positive” experiences of his visit to Singapore.

Mr Jagjit Singh Jajjie, president, Sri Kalgidhar Federation, urged the Jathedar to issue directives regarding publishing material that would hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs.

“Unfortunately, the author has published comments of various religious authorities, criticising the incident but none of them bothered to probe the matter,” rued Mr Jajjie.

Mr Rajesh Kumar Sharma, Editor, on the other hand claimed that his story was based on facts and he had tried to bring the truth before the readers.

“I have spent seven months on contacting office-bearers of various political and religious organisations and showed them video recordings of the whole episode. They were so pained to watch the show that some of them declined to see a complete version of the play,” claimed Mr Sharma.



CM announces Rs 21 lakh for Kalvari Church
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today announced a grant of Rs 21 lakh for the construction of the Kalvari Church near the Christian Medical College and Hospital. The Chief Minister was the chief guest at the Easter celebrations organised in the church today.

He also directed the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, to allot two acres of land for cemetery to the community in Ludhiana.

Addressing the function, he said he was aware of the plight of the Christian families as most of them were living below the poverty line. He said as per the guidelines of the Government of India, based on the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Dalits converted to Christianity were entitled to all benefits under reservation policy for Scheduled Castes in the state, whereas the Christians converted from other castes were not entitled for such benefits.

He said the state government had already taken up the matter with the Government of India to consider them on a par with the Christians converted from Dalits. He assured the community that the demands presented to him in the memorandum would be considered sympathetically.

The Chief Minister seemed to go down the memory lane, recalling his mission school days in Shimla along with his elder sister. He said he had always enjoyed the Christmas and Easter festivals as both these occasions were celebrated with great enthusiasm and gaiety.

On the occasion, the Chief Minister also joined the mass. Rev Ram Lal, Chairman and in charge of Kalvari Church, Ludhiana, presented the Bible to him. He also directed the Mayor of Municipal Corporation Ludhiana to allot two acres of land for the cemetery.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary Housing and Urban Development who is also the local MLA, urged the Chief Minister to concede all their demands. He said the community had always been cooperative with him.

Prominent among others who were present on the occasion included Education Minister. H D Johar, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, DC, Mr Parag Jain, DIG, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, Mr S K Sharma, Commissioner, MC, Mr Sanjay Talwar, Councillor, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, DCC Urban, Rev D.N. Alfred G Singh and Rev Alvin Wilson.



CM tries to mollify Birmi
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today tried to mollify a hurt Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi. Mr Birmi was upset over the cancellation of his rally at the New Grain Market. It was a good consolation and a better attempt to redeem Mr Birmi’s hurt pride as his detractors had sought to play it up saying he had lost the Chief Minister’s confidence.

Mr Birmi had been preparing for today’s rally for the past couple of weeks. He had organised a number of small meetings. However, for some unexplained reasons the rally was cancelled as it was said that the Chief Minister and the Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, were not available.

While Mr Birmi was sulking over the cancellation of his rally, the Chief Minister’s visit to the town the same day and the same time for a different function in a different Assembly segment seemed adding insult to his injuries.

The Chief Minister, however, sought to dispel all notions about any factional reasons for the cancellation of Mr Birmi’s rally. The Chief Minister said he had requested Mr Birmi to postpone the rally to April 30 since Mr Dullo was not available. He said nothing much should be read into it. He said he and Mr Dullo would address the rally on April 30.

Learning that Mr Birmi was quite hurt over the developments, the Chief Minister went straight to his residence at Sarabha Nagar and stayed there for about half an hour. The Chief Minister reportedly clarified to Mr Birmi that he was here to attend the Easter celebrations only since he had committed to it a long time ago. He said it was just a coincidence that the church was in the jurisdiction of the Ludhiana East Assembly segment represented by Mr Surinder Dawer.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Industrial Training, did not attend the function. However, Mr Harnam Dass Johar was present all through the function. He also delivered a speech.



Govt has fulfilled poll promises, claims Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Congress government in Punjab has granted relief and concessions to different sections of society during its tenure and almost all promises made at the time of last Assembly poll have been fulfilled.

Mr Ramesh Joshi, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and director of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, said while addressing a meeting of party workers at the Circuit House here last evening.

He said besides facilitating the growth of trade and industry and paving way for massive infrastructure development in Punjab during the past four years, the government had safeguarded the interests of farmers by adopting a Bill in the state Assembly on the termination of agreements on river waters.

In addition, the government, Mr Joshi maintained, had restored the facility of free power to the agricultural sector, which had resulted in an annual gain of nearly Rs 440 crore to the farmers. 



Pensioners seek hike in medical allowance
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
In a memorandum sent to Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, here today the Government Pensioners Association (regd) has stated that a fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 pm was being paid to Punjab employees and pensioners since January 1, 1998. But this sum is inadequate to meet the ever-increasing cost of medicare, it added.

During past eight years, medicare cost has registered a substantial rise as per the consumer price index and medicare cost data. An increase in medical allowance is overdue.

Moreover, the Congress election manifesto released at the time of Assembly elections in February, 2002, promised an increase in medical allowance. 



Pensioners’ body seeks fair deal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association has urged the state government to pay travel concession to pre-April, 2004, retirees after merging 50 per cent DA with their basic pension, as had been done in the case of post-April, 2004, retirees. They have sent a memorandum to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for the same.

The pensioners’ body opined that creating two categories of pensioners for extending this benefit went against the Supreme Court verdict. They termed it a case of discrimination and anomaly.

They urged the government to end this discrimination by extending the merger benefit to all pensioners irrespective of their date of retirement.



Winner pigeon fetches a fridge
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 16
Heera, a pet pigeon, fetched a refrigerator and a cash prize to its master, a resident of Lehragaga, in a flying competition organised by the Dasmesh Avian Club at Rasulpur village yesterday.

According to Mr Tazwinder Singh Chehal, chairman of the club, more than 60 birds had participated in the competition and Heera was adjudged the best flier.

Rajwinder Singh of Gameewal village inaugurated the competition while Jagga Singh gave away prizes to the winners.



Repair roads, say shopkeepers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The haphazard construction of elevated road has affected the business of shopkeepers near the clock tower here. The traffic in the area have been affected due to the dug-up roads. Due to the chaos, residents do not visit the shops near the construction site which has affected the business of the shopkeepers in the area.

In a press note issued on Friday, Mr Gurinder Sood, president of the Clock Tower Shopkeepers Association, said the construction was causing inconvenience to the general public.



Easter celebrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Easter was celebrated all over the city today. Prayer services were held in all churches and a special mass was said. Colourful Easter eggs were exchanged. People in their Sunday best attended the prayers. Sultan Mashiah conducted a prayer service in The Temple of God in Saleem Tabri, which was attended by the two councillors of the area and prominent members of all communities.
They prayed for everlasting peace. Sultan Mashiah urged the congregation to follow the path shown by Lord Jesus.



Industry suffers as steel prices continue to rise
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Disturbed by the constantly rising steel rices, the local industry has demanded that the export of steel be banned and the government take concrete measures to control the stupendously rising rates. Several industrial units, it is learnt, have reduced their production by 10-30 per cent owing to the rise in steel prices.

Currently prevailing at around Rs 29,000 per tonne for HR coil and Rs 26,500-27,000 per tonne for MS rounds, steel prices have witnessed a rise of more than Rs 5,000 per tonne within the past three months. Steel being a key raw material for light engineering industry, the cost of production has risen substantially. What makes things worse for the industry is that finished products are not able to fetch a good price after the rise in costs due to which business is suffering.

“Despite several representations to the government, main steel producers continue to raise their prices due to which the light engineering and steel consuming industry, including bicycle and bicycle parts, is suffering. The main producers, citing levy of import duty on steel scrap and 4 per cent CVD, are taking advantage of the current market situation, maintaining their profit margins without any consideration for the steel consuming industry,” alleged Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings.

Industry representatives have demanded that the export of HR and CR coils and sheets should be stopped till prices get normal. They also said the incentives, including DEPB, being given to big manufacturers should also be withdrawn so as to set up buffer stock of steel in the country. Besides, an import duty of 5 per cent on steel scrap and 4 per cent CVD, which are a main reason for increase in rates, also be withdrawn, said industry representatives.

Reiterating their demand to set up a regulatory commission to control prices, industrialists said the setting up of a commission to monitor and defuse arbitrary hike in rates by the five big manufacturers in the country, would be of great support to steel consumers.

“Controlling prices has become a must in the prevailing situation where the steel consuming industry is suffering on account of the rapidly rising prices on the one hand and low prices of finished goods on the other. The current situation is rendering the industry uncompetitive and effective measures in the direction are the need of the hour,,” asserted Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Industry sources said they feared prices could continue rising further.



Claims of VAT refunds ring hollow
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 16
Tall claims by Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla that all payments pertaining to the refund of VAT have been made proved misleading as industrialists and businessmen are still clamouring for getting the refunds.

Only Rs 100 crore has been refunded so far while huge arrears worth Rs 700 crore are still pending.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, on Friday alleged the state government was not refunding the money where the C and H forms were unavailable. This was against the promise made by the Finance Minister who had assured all refunds would be made even if the C or H forms were not attached with the refund application, he said.

Chamber leaders said there was shortage of C forms in certain states. In Tamil Nadu, the manufacturers had not received the C form for the past two years.

Industrial production is being hampered by heavy power cuts imposed by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The PSEB has made one weekly off compulsory besides imposing a daily power cut running into a few hours. The chamber has also expressed its concern over the proposed 17 per cent hike in power tariff by the PSEB. Mr Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh said the hike in power tariff would cripple small industries which were already facing a crisis because of steep hike in steel prices.

Steel prices have been hiked by about Rs 50 per tonne as the HR coil was quoted at Rs 27,500 and CR coil at Rs 38,000 per tonne. These prices had touched Rs 30,000 and 39,000 per tonne respectively during the NDA government.

Mr Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh have written to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention and asking for the establishment of a steel price regulatory commission and banning the export of HR coil and CR coil.

They have also expressed their apprehension over the proposed withdrawal of certain exemptions and facilities extended to 54 manufactured items falling under the central excise tariff category, including cycle and cycle parts. They have called upon the Central Government to shelf any such proposal.

Local industrialists have expressed their fears about rumours of benefits being granted to Himachal Pradesh for the establishment of new industries. They have urged the government to shun any such proposal as Punjab has suffered heavily due to them. A number of industrial units from Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Amritsar have moved to Himachal Pradesh to take benefit under these facilities. Many steel furnace units of Mandi Gobindgarh have setup their units in Himachal Pradesh and a number of hosiery units have moved from Ludhiana.



Oswal Mills organises dealers’ meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Oswal Woollen Mills Ltd, a Ludhiana-based company of the Nahar Group of Companies, held a meeting of dealers here today. On this occasion, various types of new hand-knitting yarns like Katrina, Angella, Kareena, Little Star and Glitter developed by the company were displayed. Hand-knitted garments made of such yarns were also displayed.

A large numbers of dealers from all over the country attended the meeting where key officers of the company were present.

Mr Sandeep Jain, Executive Director of the company, announced the sales policy for the year 2006-07 and also announced new wholesale rates. Prizes and shields were given to the high performance dealers of various regions and the best all India dealer award was bagged by M/s J.D.S. Oswal Traders of the city.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jain said that the ISO 9001: 2000 company was manufacturing hand-knitting yarns since 1949 and the quality of their products was the best in the country.



Be cautious while investing, warn experts
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Finance experts have warned investors to remain cautious while putting their money in the capital market. As Sensex crashed by more than 300 points on Wednesday and the downward trend continues, experts said the phenomenon could be the beginning of a much expected correction. In the prevailing circumstances, it is best to re-analyse one’s risk taking ability and act accordingly, preferably through an expert, said advisers.

“We had been expecting a correction for a long time. This could be the beginning and Sensex could dip by another 1,000-2,000 points. People should take this situation seriously,” said Mr H.S. Sidhu, executive director, Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE).

As Sensex touched 10,000 and later 11,000 mark, investor community remained buoyant on investment. The estimated daily trading in the city, that was around Rs 600-700 crore sometime ago, rose to Rs 1,000 crore last month, portraying the widely prevalent bullish sentiment.

However, confusion too prevailed among retail investors as experts had started warning people of a likely correction. The recent downward trend has added to the confusion of investors. While the market remained volatile, trading volumes were relatively stable.

“In case of capital market, it is quite difficult to estimate anything. As the market dipped by over 300 points on Wednesday, I am confused whether I should sell and book profits, that have reduced now, or retain my stocks and wait for the market to show an upward trend again,” said Mr Gurpreet Singh, a bank executive.

Many financial advisors advise people to go in for mutual funds. “In case of mutual funds, experts take investment decisions which is why risk is relatively reduced. However, even the funds market is witnessing a boom and it has become very important to be careful while selecting a fund,” said Mr Ashwani Sharma, a financial adviser.

In case of mutual funds, experts say one should study a company’s past performance, its investment pattern and its rating. They also said that blue chip shares, mutual funds of companies with a good track record are better investments. Besides, a diversified portfolio and spreading one’s investment for a period of atleast one year would reduce risks, they said.


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