L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Slums stay, courtesy weak-kneed LIT
Demolition drive called off midway under pressure
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Slum-dwellers stop a train in protest against a demolition drive
Slum-dwellers stop a train in protest against a demolition drive; and (below) Wg Cdr Paramji Singh Sibia (retd), Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, listens to their grievances in Ludhiana on Wednesday. — Photos by I.V.
Wg Cdr Paramji Singh Sibia (retd), Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, listens to their grievances in Ludhiana on Wednesday'

Ludhiana, April 26
Amid a “high drama” the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) authorities today stalled a demolition drive against slums in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar midway, buckling under the pressure of slum-dwellers even as the Chairman of the Trust “blamed the wounds” of slum-dwellers by meeting them at the demolition site.

The much-awaited demolition drive proved to be a much ado about nothing, when the Chairman, Wg Cdr Paramjit Singh Sibia (retd), went to the slum-dwellers and assured them that they would be removed only once the Trust was able to rehabilitate them at some other place.

The proceedings of the entire day mocked at the claims of LIT officials that the district police was not providing them with the required security and they were not able to act against the mushrooming slums. The drive, however, exposed the “lack of will” of the LIT officials, who had been claiming that they would remove the jhuggis in a day if police protection was provided to them.

Angry slum-dwellers protested against the demolition drive and stopped the Ludhiana-Ferozepore DMU train for around an hour and a half at SBS Nagar causing inconvenience to hundreds of passengers. The train could leave only after the intervention of an official of the district administration. Trust officials went to the spot in the morning along with a heavy police force. Despite having the required infrastructure, including JCB machines, the drive could not be completed.

However, some jhuggis were removed. Later in the day, other slum-dwellers who had left with their household goods were seen coming back after assurances from the Chairman of the Trust.

None of the officials of the LIT was available for comments at the time of filing of this report as they were stated to be busy in an important meeting.

Earlier in the morning, the slum-dwellers were caught unawares as the squad reached the spot at around 10 am when most of them were away to their respective workplaces and their children had gone to schools. The selection of the time to take up the major demolition drive had ensured half success for the squad.

Some womenfolk, who returned from some houses where they work as domestic help, raised their protest. Some of them used abusive language against officials and cops heading the drive.

Even small children were seen threatening the squad with dire consequences if they continued with their drive. They were seen telling them that they would raise their jhuggis again by tomorrow morning.

“You have dared to come here as our menfolk have gone out. Had you come in the evening, we would have seen you,” said some women and children. Some even said the LIT had not issued them any notices otherwise they would have shifted their goods to safer places.

The demolition drive exposed a number of sharp-edged weapons kept by slum-dwellers in the jhuggis. Some of them had constructed structures required to brew home-made liquor.

The drive was taken up by the LIT after some residents of SBS Nagar had moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission against the Trust for not taking any action. 



Protests, threats leave doctors fuming
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
Resentment and anger is brewing among the medical fraternity in the mega city over increasing incidents of protests against doctors and medical institutions, along with threats and intimidation being handed down to them by certain political leaders on different pretexts.

Of late, there have been several instances when political functionaries have organised demonstrations and dharnas at many local hospitals and nursing homes, charging them with negligence in the treatment of critical patients.

The affected medical professionals and institutions, however, maintain that more often than not, the purpose of such protests is an attempt by family 
members of patients to get hefty concession in the bill, or at times, their intention not to make any payment under the garb of negligence on the part of doctors. Certain self-styled political functionaries come in handy for creating ruckus and embarrassment for doctors.

Reacting to the protest, organised by an Akali Dal councillor and a self-styled Congress functionary against Arora Neuro Centre here a couple of days ago, the district branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) termed the action as motivated and unwarranted. The IMA district president, Dr Gursharan Singh, called upon the district authorities and the police to take suitable action against the persons resorting to such undesirable action.

Dr Gursharan Singh said it was unfortunate that the police had been acting as a mere spectator to these baseless protests, which, if allowed to continue, could have far-reaching repercussions on the overall medical care and the doctor-patient relationship.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr O.P. Arora, director of Arora Neuro Centre, claimed that the institution was a law-abiding and peace-loving medical centre, which was dedicated to the care of suffering humanity. He said the allegations of negligence in treatment of certain patients, as was sought to be made out by the Akali Dal councillor and his supporters, were unfounded.

Coming down heavily upon the “unscrupulous” political leaders for holding a demonstration in front of the institution, he said a preliminary inquiry conducted by the district health administration had cleared the institution while political leaders were indicted for their misconduct.

Dr Arora said Arora Neuro Centre had filed a civil suit for causing damage to the institution and another criminal case for defamation against these two leaders, which had provoked them to hold public protest in a bid to scuttle the legal procedure and to stop the law from taking its proper course.



Sukhbir dares Capt on mega projects
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal general secretary and Member of Parliament, Mr Sukhbir Badal, today claimed that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had created a false euphoria about the “so-called mega projects” in the state. He challenged the Chief Minister to identify one single such mega project which had been set up in Punjab during the past four years of his rule.

Talking to reporters here today, the junior Badal alleged that his party would soon be exploding the myth of these mega projects as these had been sanctioned to benefit a few people only. He claimed that nobody from outside the state or abroad had invested a single penny in Punjab as there was no industry-friendly infrastructure here.

He pointed out that there was no additional generation of power in the state during the past four years. He said the condition of roads was miserable, adding that these two things were important for any industrial investment. He said the power situation was going from bad to worse and the duration of power cuts was increasing with each passing day.

He claimed that even the roads which were being repaired were made “toll roads”. He listed several roads where toll tax would be imposed on passengers. “What is the fun of such development that robs people off their money?” he asked, adding that most of the roads in the state were being handed over to private companies with ulterior motives.

The SAD general secretary alleged that the Punjab Government had provided a stamp duty concession worth Rs 1400 crore to a handful of colonisers. He questioned as to why such a huge concession was given to these colonisers and whether they were going to pass on the benefit to the poor and the needy. “No, not at all; this has been pocketed by a handful of officers and politicians,” he alleged.

The junior Badal said his party would soon come out with a comprehensive vision document which would spell out the party’s programme for the economic, agricultural, social and industrial development of the state.

He denied that Tohra loyalists were being marginalised and asserted that his father, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was keen on taking along those who had made a contribution towards the party. No leader was being ignored or marginalised, not even Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, he claimed. 



Cong men credit CM with bonus
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Senior Congressmen have hailed the wheat bonus of Rs 50 per quintal and have said it was possible due to the efforts of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.
Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, and Mr Surinder Dawar, Mr Tej Prakash Singh and Mr Malkit Dakha, MLAs, said Capt Amarinder Singh had proved to be a real savior for the Punjab farmers who had been at the receiving end during the previous SAD-BJP rule. By ensuring the bonus, the Chief Minister had proved that he believed in producing tangible results instead of making hollow claims and statements.

They pointed out that the Chief Minister had not only ensured the smooth procurement of all crops but was now busy lobbying to get the loans of debt-ridden farmers waived.

Referring to the boom in real estate, the leaders said the steep hike in the prices of agriculture land had proved to be a boon for farmers. During the present regime, the financial condition of an average farmer had significantly improved whereas during the SAD-BJP rule, their anti farming policies had put agriculturists in dire straits.

“During Mr Badal’s rule, the farmers were given interrupted power supply and that too for a few hours in a day, but now they are getting eight hours of uninterrupted power supply,” they added.

Development is the main agenda of the Congress and for this the government has sanctioned funds to tune of Rs 1202.16 crore for development projects in both urban and rural areas this year.

They also thanked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, for acceding to the demands of the Chief Minister, in granting bonus to the farmers. 



Traffic cops to use water barriers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The city has become the first in the country to introduce water-filled road barriers to be used for diversion or police barricades in order to avoid injuries when cars or vehicles crash into iron barricades.

Mr S. K. Sharma, IGP of Patiala Zone, also announced the introduction of special acupressure shoe flappers which were useful in keeping the blood pressure normal.

He said this at a seminar on traffic problems. The plastic barricades were easy to install and shift and if a vehicle hit the barricade, it would not meet with much damage. He thanked Ranjit Avenue for sponsoring the acupressure shoe flappers that had been approved after a study conducted on 20 personnel gave positive results.

A plan to smoothen the traffic and minimising accident deaths in the state had been chalked out and road safety equipment worth Rs 3.5 crore would be purchased for the purpose.

Out of these funds, 20 highway patrol vehicles, 13 recovery vans and other equipment would be bought. These vehicles would be controlled through Community Police Resource Centres (CPRC).

To educate people regarding safety measures and traffic rules, an advertising campaign at a cost of Rs 40 lakh would also be launched through the media.

Referring to the steps being taken to ensure smooth traffic, he said the State Road safety Council had been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister and the Transport Minister would be the Vice-Chairman.

Heads of all 14 departments had been nominated as its members and the traffic police would function as the coordinator.

To check traffic violations, the cooperation of the public was essential, he said.

Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, said with the fast- emerging multiplexes, complexes and other commercial buildings, the problem of parking had become serious and the owners of these buildings were misusing the basements provided as parking places in the sanctioned plans.

He said the administration would involve NGOs and other institutions in creating awareness regarding road safety and would strictly implement traffic rules.

Mr Parag Jain, DIG, said a multi- agency approach was needed to improve the engineering of roads, create awareness and enforce law.

Mr S. K. Sharma, MC Commissioner, said the MC had accorded top priority to smoothen traffic. The MC had identified six more places for parking slots. He said work on a flyover near Dhandari was nearing completion.

Mr Surinder Pal Singh Ahluwalia and Mr Satwinder Singh Chawla were honoured for sponsoring the traffic projects.

Among others who spoke Mr A. S. Rai, SSP, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, and Dr Yashvir Diwan and Ms Anupama Rachna of the CMC.



Govt employees hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
In response to a call given by the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union, government employees from all over the state held a protest rally against the indifferent attitude of the state government towards their pending demands.

Speakers at the rally, including Mr Sukhwinder Singh, president, and Mr Darshan Singh Bajaj, general secretary, respectively, of the union, said repeated pleas made to the Chief Secretary, Finance Minister and other government officials concerned had failed to evoke any positive response towards the pending demands of the employees.

The union leaders alleged that genuine demands like time scale of 4-9-14 years, revision of basic pay scale of clerical staff, upgradation of post of superintendent (grade II) to grade I, creation of new posts of ministerial staff in new districts, filling up of vacant posts, enhancement of house rent allowance, enhancement of fixed medical allowance and setting up of new pay commission were hanging fire for a long time.

They said even after the Finance Minister, in his meeting with the representatives of the union on February 3, having termed the demands as genuine, the government had taken no step to grant any relief to the employees in the state budget for the current financial year.

Addressing the rally, Mr Harnek Singh Mavi, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Chandi, senior vice-presidents, Mr Sukhraj Singh, Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Harwant Singh Mangat exhorted the employees to show unity and solidarity in fighting against the anti-employees policies of the government so that the ongoing agitation could achieve justice for the employees.



At the Crossroads
Teaching her passion

Mita Biswas
Dr Mita Biswas

The other day Dr Mita Biswas paid a hurried visit to her hometown, Ludhiana, but the event turned out to be more of an academic interest than merely a personal one. Last summer I had met her briefly in Shimla at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study where she was engaged as Fellow in her post-doctoral research project , 'The concept of changing culture in Indian English poetry.'

Now I wanted to know more about this scholarly personality who had guided 50 candidates for M Phil degrees and 20 researchers for Ph D degrees over the course of more than two decades. The last in the line of the cavalcade of doctors of philosophy is Prof Bhupinder Parihar of SCD Government College who is seeking her guidance for his doctoral dissertation , "Critical Study of Select Indian English Poets'.

It was in the year 1967 when Mita got married to Dr Anindya Kumar Biswas while she was studying in B Sc Part I (medical group) at the local Government College for Women. Earlier, she had been a student of Kundan Vidya Mandir from where she did her matriculation with distinction. In 1972 Dr A.K. Biswas left his job at SDB College, Shimla, and joined the Department of English at the newly formed Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla. In the meanwhile, Mita had been employed as a teacher at Auckland House when she was still an undergraduate. It was the time when she discovered that teaching was the passion of her life. Thereafter, there was no looking back for this talented woman with strong determination.

Dr Mita Biswas focused her attention at the imagery of William Carlos Williams for her doctoral thesis. This American poet had been influenced in the early years of his life by John Keats, but at the later stage Walt Whitman held sway over his mind. Incidentally, her husband, Dr A.K. Biswas, had done his research work for Ph D degree on the poetry of John Keats, while Dr Som P Ranchan, Head of the Department of English at HP University, Shimla, had been awarded Ph D degree by an American university for his thesis on Walt Whitman. That was the period when the flowering of the genius of Dr Mita Biswas took place and she embarked on the path of guidance of research work in English and American literature at the Himachal university.

Over the years, she has been able to establish an instant rapport with students who have a spark for scholarly pursuits. Apart from the universities in Punjab, she has delivered extension lectures and participated in seminars at Kurukshetra, New Delhi, Pune, Shantiniketan and Kolkata. She speaks highly of the students of English literature at HP University who are not lagging behind in any manner in their quest for knowledge. The response to correspondence courses at this university has been tremendous and she is at present Professor of English, International Department of Distance Education of Languages.

Talking to Dr Mita Biswas is like talking to an erudite personality who knows her mind fully and does not try to mince words. Besides the monumental research work, she has also to her credit some work of literary criticism, such as 'Robert Browning —a Poet', but her creative work is not well known. What has she to say about it?

"Of course, I am not widely known as a poet and a short story writer. During the period from 1992 to 1994, some of my poems and short stories were published in The Tribune. Later, I stopped sending my literary creations to newspapers and journals. The reason being, most of my writings, particularly poems, are expressions of my intimate personal feelings. Maybe I will get these writings published in book forms some years later."

Unfortunately, she lost her husband in 1994 when she was hardly 45 years old. The world of her dreams for the future crashed, leaving a daughter and a son with her. She felt devastated for sometime, but then her responsibilities beckoned her to come into her own.

How does she view the past events?

"Gradually, I immersed myself still more in my teaching work and research projects. It was not an escape from reality, but the acceptance of a challenge to my identity. Now my children are happily married and I feel at peace with the world, so to say. My husband had his roots in Kolkata, so he had purchased a flat at that place as a part of the planning for the future. My elder sister who had maternal feelings for me, as I lost my mother when I was a child, died in Ludhiana last year. Indeed, I have some nostalgic feelings during this visit of mine to the city of my birth. But I have deep associations with Shimla where I have lived for 38 years and I intend to be a part of that milieu in the years to come."

— N.S. Tasneem



INTUC demands holiday on Labour Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has appealed to the Union Labour Minister and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to declare national holiday on International Labour Day on May 1 under the Factories Act and Negotiable Instruments Act.

Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary of INTUC, and Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, chairman of the INTUC, in a joint statement issued here today said so far many governments had not declared holiday on May 1. 



11 booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 26
The Samrala police has booked Jagdip Singh, Jagtar Singh, Nayab Singh and eight others under Sections 307, 324, 323, 148 and 506 of the IPC for allegedly attacking Pritam Singh of Lepon with sharp-edged weapons.

Pritam Singh reportedly used to keep his cattle on the street. Jagdip Singh and other residents objected to it. The village panchayat had also intervened in the matter. Repeated requests from Jagdip Singh not to do so failed to move Pritam. At this, Jagdip Singh, along with others, allegedly attacked him. The severely injured victim has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.



Printing machinery exhibition from April 28
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
An exhibition of the latest printing machinery is being organised by Thashika Expovision at Maharaja Palace from April 28 to May 1.
It is for the first time that such an exhibition is being organised in The city. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Parliamentary Secretary Surinder Dawer.

According to Ms Mira Mathew, CEO of Thashika Expovision, Ludhiana has not experienced a printing, packaging and sign expo. The market research shows that Punjab and the surrounding states have high potential for this industry since Baddi has been declared a D zone or tax incentive area for corporates and entrepreneurs.

Industrial exhibitions provide an ideal platform and a meeting ground for buyers and sellers and new technologies are showcased in such exhibitions.

She pointed out that the demand for printing and packaging is increasing. The quality of reproduction technology is in a constant state of advancement. To achieve the maximum print quality it is imperative that the printers and packagers should have the knowledge of the latest technology and acquire the latest model machineries and equipment available in the world market.

According to Mr D.P. Singh, who has been supervising the arrangements, the expo will have stalls where there will be demonstration of machines from India’s leading offset, packaging machinery manufactures. Digital printing machines and large format printing machines from well-known international manufacturers will be another attraction.


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