L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Property worth lakhs destroyed in two major fires
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Property worth lakhs was gutted in two major fires that broke out in a car accessory shop on Dugri road and another in a wollen mill near Samrala chowk this morning. The cause of fire in both the incidents could not be ascertained so far.

Fire Department officials have termed today's incidents as beginning of the season of fire and called the public to take preventive measures.

No loss of life has been reported but firemen had to fight for hours to douse the flames. As many as 15 fire tenders had to refill water tanks thrice each to douse the flames in the Abhishek Wollen Mills. This was the second major fire incident within three months in the factory.

The fire broke out in the wee hours today and was controlled by 11 am. Apart from raw material stored in the premises, huge quantity of finished product was also burnt to ashes.

Nearly 10 fire tenders were used to control the raging flames in the car accessory shop on Dugri road to prevent the fire from spreading in the entire market. The fire took place at about 1 pm and was controlled after an hour.

Firemen were seen throwing off some goods from the shop to save as much as they can.

Divisional Fire Officer R K Sharma said the cause of the fire was under investigation in both the cases.

He said the summer season was the season of fire for the department as the hot temperature felicitates breaking out of fire.

He has urged the public in helping the Fire Department to prevent or control the incidents by keeping fire extinguisher, water buckets in house or shops and business establishments.

He said analysis of the fires that had taken place so far point out that apart from short circuit, incense sticks or lamps lighted have caused the fires. He advised that the shopkeepers and factory workers that they should ensure that the incense sticks were burnt out when they close doors.

He also advised that while closing shops, factories, the main switch should be switched off.



MC’s apathy leaves paralytic fuming
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The failure of the local Municipal Corporation (MC) to file a reply to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC) in Rakesh Talwar’s case has left him fuming. Rakesh, who had become paralysed after falling in an open manhole in 1998, claims that he had been fighting for justice for the past seven years and this would further delay his case.

His case had come up for hearing on April 18, but there was no MC representative present, he claimed. The PHRC had directed the MC to file a reply in this case after the district administration had held the civic body responsible for the accident involving this 50-year-old man.

An inquiry report submitted by the district administration to the PHRC had stated that it was due to the “carelessness of MC employees” that the manhole was left open after a rainy day and Rakesh had fallen in it and hurt himself.

Accepting the report prima facie, the PHRC had issued notice to the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, under Section 16 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, asking him to produce the defence, if any.

A resident of Anand Nagar in Haibowal Kalan, Rakesh was rendered physically challenged on July 7, 1998, when he had fallen in an open manhole that was uncovered on a rainy day. Since then he had been fighting his battle alone, but failed to move the authorities, which refused to compensate him.

He had been claiming that he was driving his scooter through a flooded street in the Dhobi Ghat area the day of incident. He was not able to anticipate the open manhole and his scooter had got stuck in it. He fell on the road and the cover of the manhole hit his head badly. He was injured in his head and the right side of his body was totally paralysed.

Recalling the fateful day that left him crippled for life, Rakesh said the injury was so serious that he remained in coma for a year. He did not know who had taken him to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, where he remained admit for a year and the family spent all its resources on his treatment.

It took him almost a year to regain consciousness. But that too was not a very good day for him. He discovered that he was unable to move both his legs and they were paralysed. His right arm was also not properly functioning. His jawbone and his right eye had also borne the brunt of debilitating injury.



Industrial workers observe strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Thousands of workers today participated in the strike observed on a call given by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) here today.

The workers from cycle, cycle parts manufacturing, hosiery and brick kiln industry also held a rally at Chhatar Singh Park in support of their demands, which included increase in minimum wages, abolition of contractual system and withdrawal of “false” police cases against workers.

Addressing the workers, Mr Balwant Singh, president, CITU (Punjab), said: “The government increases allowances and emoluments of senior officers time to time but no measures have been taken to raise minimum wages of workers, which are among the least in the country. It is a gross injustice”.

The union leaders also alleged that the industry was violating labour laws and “innocent workers were being subject to exploitation”.

“Even as workers have been struggling for a long time no concrete measures have been taken to accept their demands”, rued Mr Jagdish Chand, joint secretary, CITU, Punjab.

Calling upon the workers to intensify the struggle, the leaders threatened to launch statewide agitation next month to “defend trade union rights of the working class”.

Police personnel in large numbers could be seen deputed near the venue of the rally. Industry, however, expressed its dissatisfaction and emphasised that the police should not have allowed the rally to take place at all.

“Last time the police took action and workers could not hold protest rally. A full-day strike means a major loss to the industry and it should have been averted. We expected the police to take action, but the strike was observed, which is disappointing”, said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

The industrialists said the increasing number of rallies on a large scale by workers was not a healthy trend and it could have a bearing on the industry in the state in the long run.



Dera head held in sex racket
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
A dera near Laddowal here, which claimed to take care of mentally challenged children and poor patients, allegedly turned out to be the scene of immoral activities of the dera head and his brother. The duo used to exploit women and mentally challenged minor girls, the police said last evening.

It was the son of an allegedly exploited woman, who exposed the activities by filming the dera head in explicit scenes with a 13-year-old mentally challenged girl. Shocked at the recording shown by the youth, the police raided the dera and arrested the head Balwant Singh. His brother Jaswant Singh was absconding.

SHO Sandeep Sharma said the brothers exploited several women too. The police stressed the busting of the racket had saved other girls in the dera, who could have been exploited in the near future.

The police has sought the help of social organisations for the rehabilitation of the children.



Girl killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 20
Radhika Kapoor was killed on the spot while Nishi Kaushal was injured when a bus hit their moped on the main crossing of the National Highway here today. Nisha was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The body of Radhika was sent to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination. Both girls were the students of BA final of the local Gobindgarh Public College. They were going to the college on the moped when the accident occurred.



Family in land dispute provided security 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Providing the much-awaited relief to the family members of Jhande village, who had been running from pillar to post fearing a threat to their lives, the Home Affairs Department and Justice of the Punjab Government has directed Additional Director-General of Police (Security) to ensure safety to the family.

Owing to a land dispute with his son, Mr Amrik Singh had sent letters to the President of India’s Office and other senior officers demanding a CBI inquiry in this case as his family members feared a threat to their lives.

Recently, the Department of Home Affairs and Justice (Home I Branch) sent a letter to the ADGP (Security), Punjab, asking him to take necessary action and ensure safety to the lives of complainant Amrik Singh of Jhande village and his family.

The victim had filed an application against the former SSP, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, and the then SP, City- II, Mr Pritam Singh, and had urged the government to get this case investigated from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Mr Amrik Singh had demanded security of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as he feared threat to his life and the lives of his son Jatinder Singh and his wife.

It took a year for Amrik Singh to finally get this respite. He had sent this application to the President of India’s office last year in January. The President’s office referred this application to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, who referred it to the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary forwarded this application to the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner.

Former Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma in February had sent recommendations to the Principal Secretary for appropriate orders on the application of Amrik Singh on the basis of a report of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) (Development). The ADC (D) in his report to the DC had said that he had received missed calls and an SMS on his mobile phone from Amrik Singh’s son Jatinder Singh, saying that they feared threat to their lives.

Despite the directions to the local administration, Mr Amrik Singh and his son Jatinder Singh said they were still feeling threatened but there was no security provided to them. 



Govt’s apathy to farmers’ suicides decried
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
An emergency meeting of senior functionaries of the Shiromani Khalsa Dal (SKD) was held here today to take stock of the situation arising out of the increasing cases of suicides by farmers due to the unbearable burden of debt and humiliation at the hands of moneylenders.

Mr Major Singh Khalsa, spokesperson of the outfit, said the party is concerned about the plight of farmers and agitated at the apathy of the state government to ground realities. Everyday, farmers are committing suicides because farming has ceased to be a viable proposition.

The government over the years has only paid lip service to the cause of farmers. It has remained a mute spectator as commission agents and money lenders continue to loot farmers since the former form an important vote bank on account of their money power, he pointed out.

Now instead of pulling out farmers from the abyss, the government is busy developing and implementing five star culture in the state by creating shopping malls and constructing megaplexes. The government’s claim that these projects will create new job opportunities are also hollow, he added.

The SKD was shocked to note that civil servants have hoodwinked the Chief Minister by not putting the painful aspect of suicides in the right perspective. He said that without going into the actual difficulties faced by the farming community, the government is harping on the need to break out of the wheat - rice monoculture, he added.

Mr Khalsa said the government should come out with a practical plan to help the farming community. The meeting was attended by Mr Surinderpal Singh Tharua, Mr Gurbir Singh, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Surinder Singh Kishanpura.



Heavy traffic irks villagers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The toll barrier at the Doraha canal has provided revenue to the Centre, but is a source of irritation for residents of villages near the toll barrier, especially Rampur. Hundreds of vehicles, mainly heavy vehicles, pass through the village to evade toll. The traffic is heavy in the daytime and heavier at night.

Two youths have died after being crushed under vehicles. A house had been damaged when a truck rammed into it last year.

The village panchayat and the PWD had spent lakhs to repair or reconstruct 10 bridges over small drains under the road, but six of those bridges had developed cracks and could cave in any time.

A weak layer of tar had been spread over crushed stones and the road was not smooth.

The district administration had failed to solve the problems of residents for the past four years. Villagers were now looking to newly appointed Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta for relief.

Representations of the village panchayat and residents to the district administration, seeking a stop to vehicle movement, had piled up in the office.

The villagers had last pleaded that the administration should allow them to erect poles to stop heavy vehicles, but no decision had been taken.

They had blocked the entry of vehicles, only to be reprimanded by the district administration.

They had staged dharnas and delegations of residents had met officials and elected representatives, but to no avail.

Officials had been telling them that the toll barrier would be shifted or lifted, but that had not happened.

The residents had started collecting Rs 10 per vehicle to arrange money for the repair of the road passing through the village, but they were told to stop this.

The ring road of the village had been damaged within two months of the opening of the toll barrier four years back. The two main routes to reach Ludhiana by avoiding the toll barrier were the Kanech-Rampur-Doraha road and the Doraha-Rajgarh road.

There were two routes in the vicinity of the toll barrier, but drivers preferred the Doraha-Rajgarh route as it was shorter and had no railway crossings.



NOC to petrol pumps: BJP leader alleges scam
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Speaker of the state Assembly, Mr Satpal Gosain, has alleged a scam in the issuance of no objection certificates (NOCs) to the petrol pumps in the city. He has demanded a thorough probe into the matter.

Talking to reporters here yesterday, the leader pointed out that there were a number of petrol pumps running in the city which did not fulfil the mandatory requirements. “All those who have been involved in issuing NOCs to these filling stations should be questioned”, he observed while alleging involvement of a senior Congress leader.

Mr Gosain said there were clear specifications by the petroleum companies about the allotment of the filling stations. There were some which were only meant for two or three wheelers since they did not have the required space. But these stations flout the norms and even fill petrol to the four wheelers, he said. The leader claimed that at least 20 filling stations had managed to get NOC by illegal means. He said he was hopeful that a thorough probe would be ordered into the matter.

The issue came into the limelight after the Additional Deputy Commissioner (general), Ludhiana, was booked by the Vigilance Bureau. He was accused of having issued the NOCs without ensuring that the norms were fulfilled.



J&K urged to lift ban on entry of birds
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The Chairperson of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), Ms Anuradha J. Desai, has appealed to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister to lift the ban on the entry of birds into the state.

In a statement here today, she said following reports of bird flu, several state governments had imposed a ban on the entry of birds into their states. However, in keeping with the advice of the Ministry of Agriculture, all states except Jammu and Kashmir had lifted the ban.

She said that due to the ban, the movement of birds from Punjab and Haryana into Jammu and Kashmir had stopped entirely. As a result, layer birds, which had outlived their productivity, were accumulating in farms.

Farmers were facing a tough situation in which they were being forced to feed the birds despite no significant production of eggs and at the same time were unable to replace the flocks, as older flocks had not moved out.

This was adversely affecting the farmers' economy and soon these cull birds might starve to death as farmers were no longer in a position to feed them. At the same time, there was an acute shortage of chicken in Jammu and Kashmir and the chicken prices had skyrocketed to Rs 300 per kg, she pointed out.

While the poultry farmers of Punjab and Haryana were facing heavy losses, consumers in Jammu and Kashmir had to pay an unduly high price for chicken every day, she added.



Seminars to mark centenary of Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
While the Shiromini Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress are gearing up for the February 2007 Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections, the Sikhs find themselves in a moribund situation due to the attitude adopted by the two major religious institutions – the SGPC and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. They have all the resources at their command. But the SGPC is in the hands of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his Akali Dal whereas the DSGMC is with the Delhi state Akali Dal headed by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna.

The relations between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna deteriorated when the SAD tried to stab the Sarna-led Delhi state Akali Dal when Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna and his younger brother Harvinder Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had reached Pakistan heading the procession carrying the golden Palki for Gurdwara Janamsthan, Nankana Sahib. The procession was received by the Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, and on the Indo-Pak border at Wagah, it was welcomed by Mr Parvez Ilahi, Chief Minister of West Punjab, Pakistan.

The importance of this procession lies in the fact that it was the first-ever such procession organised since 1947. Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna rushed back to undertake the damage-control exercise. For a while it seemed that the situation had deteriorated because the offices of the DSGMC were sealed. Following this, the DSGMC chose to view with the SGPC in formulating programmes for the three holy centenaries falling in 2006. The main shrine commemorating the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, fifth guru of Sikhs, is situated at Lahore and every year jathas visit this place. This year, it is expected that there will be a big congregation.

Guru Arjan Dev was accused of having helped Khusro, son of Mughal emperor Jahangir, and had attracted a large number of Hindus and Muslims towards the Sikh faith. The guru was arrested and incarcerated on the orders of Jahangir at Lahore and was tortured to death in June 1606.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) plans to have its own programme on this occasion. The SGPC claims to be the central body of the Sikhs and will lead the celebration. The exchange of unsavoury statements between Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna has created an unbecoming situation.

The DSGMC plans to hold an international seminar in Delhi with the cooperation of some national-level scholars and educationists and has approached the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to inaugurate it some time in July. Some notable Sikh scholars have opted to extend their cooperation to the DSGMC.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta an experienced hand at celebrations of such occasions is actively associated with all these programmes. He maintains that he is doing this for the Khalsa Panth and “we should not see any group affiliations through such celebrations.”

The SGPC has also held two meetings of the Shatabdi Committee regarding the organisation of seminars and publication of the souvenir. Sikh scholars have advised the SGPC president to cooperate with the DSGMC and refrain from creating any situation which brings a bad name to the Khalsa Panth. But both are going ahead with their separate programmes.

According to Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, they plan to organise five seminars in foreign countries, including the USA, Australia, Canada, West Asia and Europe. He is proceeding on a foreign tour in connection with these seminars.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee proposes to lead a nagar kirtan from Delhi to Lahore from June 10. The DSGMC is keen to avoid any confrontation with the SGPC and has changed the route of the nagar kirtan.

Will the Sikh leadership learn some lesson from these celebrations and follow an honest attitude to lead the Sikh quam? This remains a question mark.



A novel way to preserve environment
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 20
The Eco Club here launched a narrative move to preserve the environment by presenting a novel gift consisting of saplings of five fruiting trees to a girl on the occasion of her marriage today.

Club functionaries declared that they would be presenting saplings to all girls of the town and surrounding villages on the occasion of their marriage, so that the message of environment protection spread far and wide.

After formally launching the move, Dr Indu, SDM, said the initiative taken by the NGO would have positive effects. “Though it seems to be a small effort, benefits of the idea could not be gauged by a simple method. Besides tangible benefits of providing fruits and shade, the plants so grown would spread message of saving the planet by innovative method,” expressed Dr Indu.

Mr Dharam Pal Sharma and Mr Bimal Sharma, president and general secretary of the club, respectively, Mr Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Mr Mukesh Sharma, Executive Magistrate, Ms Chiter Rekha, councilor, were also present on the occasion.



Temple plans celebrations
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The Durga Mata Mandir Trust is planning anniversary celebrations of the temple on April 26. Celebrations will be preceded by religious and cultural progammes and conclude with a ‘mahayajna’ on April 26.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, former MP Lajpat Rai, Mr Purshotam Mittal, Mr Balwinder Kumar Goyal and other members of the trust said religious congregations would be held from April 23 to 26.

The temple was given its modern shape in 1951 and the golden jubilee celebrations were held in 2001.



Canara Bank to hike home loan rates
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Canara Bank is planning to increase its interest rates on home loans shortly. The Chairman and Managing Director of the bank, Mr M.B.N. Rao, while talking to reporters here today said that following the recent credit policy of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), rates could firm up further.

“An increase of around 50 basis points could happen on loans over Rs 20 lakh,” he said. The bank, he said, would soon come out with its decision on this matter.

Mr Rao said that continuing with its expansion plan, Canara Bank would open two branches, one in Amritsar and another in Hisar, by September. The bank plans to increase the number of its branches from the existing 181 to 200 in the Chandigarh circle in the near future.

He said the bank aimed to reach a larger customer base and would continue to lay emphasis on building stronger customer relations.

Talking about financing, he said agriculture and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would remain the key focus. “The total amount of financing to the agricultural sector in the last financial year was Rs 3,200 crore in this circle, which was an increase of 32 per cent. This year, we expect a growth of another 25-30 per cent, which means an increase of another Rs 1,000 crore,” he said.

On SMEs, he said the bank attained 30 per cent increase in financing and would strive to continue with such a growth.



Cotton in vogue this summer
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
If the variety of cottons displayed at showrooms, boutiques and tailors’ shops is any indication, then cotton is really in this summer. No doubt, chiffon, crepe and georgette remain all-time favourites but most fashion savvy women in the city feel that these fabrics render a formal look while cottons could be worn both formally and informally.

Ms Roma of Sai Creations, who has recently opened her boutique on Pakhowal Road, claimed that she had bought a new variety of cotton from Delhi and South India. “The stuff is called lol, which is pure cotton. Embroidery and different kinds of hand work can easily be highlighted on the stuff. What is more convenient is that it can be dyed easily. The price is reasonable, too. The women in Ludhiana have liked the stuff very much. We have got huge order of suits of the stuff,” she said.

Mr Lalit, a salesman working at one of the showrooms in Ghumar Mandi, said that every season, something or the other is introduced. He added, “This season, we have added a variety of cottons. It would be wrong to say that only middle class women prefer cotton. The ‘la creme’ also ask for the fine and pure cotton only. Pure georgettes, crepes or chiffons could be upto Rs 300 per metre but good quality cotton (chikankari) is available for Rs 400-Rs 450 per metre.”

Majority of women prefer cotton because it absorbs sweat easily. “Otherwise, wearing synthetic clothes in this scorching heat is very difficult. Varieties like voile, Rubia 2x2, chanderi cotton, south cotton, paper cotton are also much in vogue among women. You can wear cotton suits for one season only but the intricate work done on cotton gives a very graceful look,” said Meenu, a housewife, who loves to purchase a lot of suits every season.

Cottons are available in pastel and even dark shades. Intricate mirror work, pitta work, ribbon (tissue) work, sequence work, tilla work, gotapatti work etc done on cotton suits give a very formal look. The suits were available in markets and boutiques between a price tag of Rs 1000-Rs 3000.


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