L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Jhuggis return after demolition drive
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
Cocking a snook at the demolition drive carried out by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust at SBS Nagar yesterday, slum dwellers erected a number of razed structures and the constructions continued throughout the day today.

A demolition squad had razed some structures yesterday. The drive had to be stopped midway following pressure by the slum dwellers.

Only last night a major reconstruction operation started and those slum dwellers who had shifted their goods to other places came back to stake their claim on the prime land.

As the Trust authorities buckled under pressure, it became easier for them to return with a newer strength to take on the law.

The reconstruction was going on throughout the day. Entire families of slum dwellers were busy in reconstruction. Kundi connections are also back in place.

In protest against the demolition drive, a delegation of around 200 slum dwellers took out a procession and staged a dharna outside the office of the Improvement Trust. Raising slogans against the action, they demanded that they should be compensated with a plot of 40 square yards each.

The Chairman of LIT, Wing Cdr Paramjit Singh Sibia (retd), came out of his office and addressed them. He invited 10 slum dwellers to hold talks with him and reach a consensus. But the closed door meeting could not yield anything as the slum dwellers, led by their leader Shri Chand, came out of his office raising slogans against the Chairman. Talking to The Tribune, he said Wing Cdr Sibia had failed to commit anything to them.

“He told us that he was not in a position to say anything now but he is working on some plan. We want an assurance right now otherwise we would not sit here and listen to anybody. We would not even participate in the electoral process and then we will see how these leaders come to us asking for votes,” he said.

He demanded that they should be compensated for their shanties and household goods. He also claimed that legs of two children were fractured during the drive and demanded that action should be taken against employees who caused them injuries. He sought compensation for their families, too.



LIC showcases 50-year history
Kuldip Bhatia

A view of the exhibits on the Zindagi Express, which arrived in Ludhiana
A view of the exhibits on the Zindagi Express, which arrived in Ludhiana on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, April 27
The public sector insurance sector giant — the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) — has embarked on an epic voyage on rails to celebrate its golden jubilee year.

In a bid to showcase its 50 years of glorious history through rare photographs and models, the LIC has put up a mobile exhibition in seven coaches of a specially designed orange train, named Zindagi Express, which arrived at the railway station here today.

The exhibition-on-rails, which was flagged off by the Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal from the Safdarjung railway station in New Delhi yesterday, was thrown open to the public by Mr Sat Pal, Marketing Manager, Ludhiana Division. It will remain on view till Friday evening.

The Zindagi Express has some historical exhibits like the first policy issued by the LIC, pictures of the first board meeting and inaugural issue of the corporation’s home journal “Yogakshema”. Apart from this, a model of the central office of the LIC and models of several other projects, funded by the LIC, are on display. The visitors to the exhibition will also have the opportunity to see other high-tech products like touch-screen kiosks, premium calculators and plasma screens for audio-visual advertisements.

A successful attempt has been made to chronicle the LIC’s journey in the IT field with important milestones. While many of the products like Jeevan Anurag, Jeevan Nidhi, Future Plus, Jeevan Plus, Jeevan Saral and Jeevan Anand have been attractively displayed, one coach has been earmarked for the general health check-up of the visitors.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sat Pal elaborated on the “exceptional” performance of the LIC during the golden jubilee year. In the financial year 2005-06, the LIC had crossed the three crore mark for the first time with 3.17 crore policies. Of these, over one crore policies were of Bima Gold, its golden jubilee product.

The first premium income had increased by 48 per cent, crossing Rs 18,000 crore while the total assets were pegged at Rs 5 lakh crore.

The exhibition will move on to Chandigarh and 36 other stations before culminating its journey in New Delhi on July 17.



Vet varsity building jinxed!
Tribune News Service

The building proposed to house the administrative block of a new veterinary university
The building proposed to house the administrative block of a new veterinary university. — Photo by I.V.

Ludhiana, April 27
This building appears to be jinxed! It has been awaiting its occupants for the past 20 years. During the past one year, it was refurbished twice and the inauguration was cancelled on both occasions. Now, the building is being redone once again to house the administrative complex of a veterinary university.

The building was originally planned for the development of the centre for tick-borne diseases. It was conceptualised by the then Dean of the College of Veterinary Sciences, Dr Bakshish Singh. He had raised funds from private sources, the Centre and state governments. However, the centre was shifted to Baghpat after Mr Ajit Singh became the Union Agriculture Minister during P.V. Narsimha Rao’s regime.

The management of Veterinary University is learnt to be still reluctant to announce a fresh date of the inauguration since the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association plans to move the Supreme Court against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court giving the go-ahead to the setting up of a separate veterinary university. 



Clash in rubber factory
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
Heavy police force remained stationed at Gobind Rubbers Factory, Kanganwal, following a clash between labourers and management of the factory today. An official car of a manager of the factory was damaged besides his office when a group of labourers allegedly got angry after the manager roughed up a labourer. However, police intervention prevented the situation from going out of control.

Later, a proactive police managed to bring the warring groups to a compromise and no complaint was lodged.

SP city-II Kuldip Singh said the production work resumed at the factory in the afternoon. Police force would remain deployed at the factory for some more time as a precautionary measure, he added.

The situation was quite tense in the morning when the labourers complained that a manager of the factory had slapped one of their colleagues. The labourers went berserk after a heated argument with the manager.

However, the management sources maintained that no labourer was slapped. The police said there was no need of registering a case as both parties agreed for compromise. 



Highway robbers active
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
A gang of robbers posing as truck union members or leaders are giving sleepless night to transporters and industrialists by looting their goods in one manner or another.

But even as incidents like these are occurring repeatedly on the National Highway No 1 stretch in the state, especially on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road, the police of the different districts, through which the road runs, and the National Highway Authority have remained a mute spectator so far.

The latest victim of the gang is a city-based industrialist, Mr Sumeet Singh. He has alleged that trucks transporting his goods from Pathankot have been stopped and looted by robbers who claim to be unionists.

The robbers stop trucks claiming that they want to check if the vehicles have been overloaded. Then they force the drivers to offload major part of the goods, which they later sell on their own.

Most of the robbers stop trucks near Phillaur, Phagwara or on the outskirts of the city. Many a times they stop drivers claiming that a certain union had gone on a strike and there is a “chakka jam” at night. The unassuming drivers line up only to be fleeced or looted.

Mr Sumeet Singh, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said the recent Supreme Court order advising commercial vehicles to carry material up to the permissible load is a good step for the development of the nation and maintenance of roads. “But some gangs of criminals exploit it and have become active in the name of unions in various cities and villages in Ludhiana.”

“My trolleys take aggregates from Pathankot to Ludhiana up to permissible limits i.e the weight is not more than Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). But in the recent few weeks various persons acting as union leaders and moving in cars at night stop vehicles at various places like Phillaur, Phagwara and Jalandhar. 



Stay put, Dullo tells slum-dwellers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, visited the slums in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar this evening and asked the dwellers to stay put till they were allotted some place to shift.

Mr Dullo met leaders of the slum- dwellers and assured them justice. After listening to their demand of rehabilitation, he said they would be allotted 40 sq yards each and would only be moved from this place after the allotment.

Later, talking to TNS, he justified his action stating that the slum-dwellers were staying in this area for years together.

He added that the authorities did not say anything to the buildings of the rich and mighty but was removing poor slum-dwellers. “If they want to remove them, action should be initiated against owners of big buildings , which have come up in violation of the rules,” he asserted.

Raising slogans in favour of Mr Dullo, the slum-dwellers said they had got the green signal from him and would not move from there now.

“Punjab ke Congress pardhan ne humko idhar rehne ko keh diya hai. Ab koi hame yahan se nahin hila sakta (Punjab Congress president has asked us to continue staying here. Now, nobody can touch us),” said Shri Chand, a leader of the slum-dwellers.



PAU library to digitise research papers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
Dr M.S. Randhawa Library of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has decided to digitise all available data in dissertations abstracts, research reports and articles to make it available to the readers on the CD archive. The digital data will also be available online.

The university librarian, Dr S.S. Chahal, said a new digitisation cell had been created in the library. A high-end flat bed scanner has been specially purchased for this purpose. The entire process of digitization would be completed in six months.

The library has the largest collection of agricultural books and periodicals numbering over three lakhs in the region. It is providing information services like CD-ROM databases, ICRISAT library database and J-gate online services which provides access to 7,500 journals for its readers.



Shamsher Dullo to attend April 29 rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 27
The PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, today said that he would be attending the April 29 rally organised by Chief Parliamentary Secretary Milkiat Singh Birmi.

Reacting to a question about the complaint by Mr Birmi that the district president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, and the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, were not cooperating with him in ensuring the success of the rally, Mr Dullo suggested that he (Mr Birmi) should also try to take everybody along.

He pointed out that it was not anybody's personal rally but that of the party. He said Mr Birmi's constituency fell in both the rural as well as the urban segments and he should take both of them into confidence.

When pointed out that the Mayor was being accused of not cooperating since he was also keen to contest from the same constituency, Mr Dullo said seeking a ticket was no crime. Every worker had a right to ask for ticket. Ticket would be allotted to those who were being supported by workers and nobody was going to come from the top.

When asked why was the April 16 rally cancelled, Mr Dullo said he was not taken into confidence earlier and he had fixed a programme to mark the birth anniversary celebrations of Dr Ambedkar. “This time I would be attending the rally as I have planned my programmes accordingly,” he said.

The PPCC president favoured that the special Rs 50 bonus per quintal of wheat should be given to all farmers irrespective of the fact whether they sold it to private or government agencies. He would be taking up the matter with the government.

He also reiterated his demand for reserving 70 per cent jobs in various mega projects in Punjab for Punjabis. Even when the Chief Minister rejected the demand recently, Mr Dullo has been consistent on his stand about the special legislative provision for the reservation of jobs for Punjabis in these projects.

Mr Dullo denied any difference of opinion with the Chief Minister. He maintained that he was heading the party and Capt Amarinder Singh the government. “We are working together and working successfully, so where is the question of discord?” he asked. 



Spreading Sikhism, the American way
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 27
Tall, handsome and well-built, three handsome American Sikhs Harmanjot Singh; Sadasatsimran Singh Khalsa and Mr Jagatguru Singh Khalsa have adopted Sikhism and are spreading the message of Gurus through kirtan. Presently, they are in Amritsar learning several things at the Miri Piri Academy. They had sung kirtan using correct nuances of Punjabi at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town Extension, Ludhiana, on Baisakhi Day.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, they said, “We have done kirtan seva in more than 60 countries. We are staying in Amritsar and learning more about gurmat sangeet. We are taking training from Ustad Narinder Singh Sandhu of Amritsar and are learning several things at the Miri Piri Academy under the guidance of experts.

They said, they were the second generation American Sikhs as their parents had adopted Sikhism after getting inspired by late Harbhajan Singh Yogi. “Both our parents and we think that Sikhism is one of the best religions in the world.”

These American Sikhs are attired in Khalsa “banha”. Bhai Harmenderjot Singh Khalsa said, “My parents were born Christians but embraced Sikhism. For the past 35 years we have been followers of Sikhism. Many Americans have been attracted to Sikhism inspired by the talks of Harbhajan Singh Yogi. We all love doing kirtan.”

Jathedar Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, is impressed with the sincerity of these young Sikhs. He said, “It is ironic that our own youngsters are moving away from the religion, are getting their hair cut and getting addicted to drugs , while young men from foreign shores are showing us the true path to Sikhism.”

These young Sikhs are adept in playing gatka. They are learning different instruments like harmonium, tabla and tanti saaz. Asked if they have been around India and which place they liked the best, they replied that they have been all over India and their favourite place is Amritsar.

They have performed kirtan at the sanctum sanctorium of Harmander Sahib and at the house of the Prime Minister.

They added that they often go to Mexico to participate in 3HO (Happy, Healthy, Holy Pogramme). They are working overseas in de-addiction programmes run by this body. Prof Davinder Singh Chhina of Punjab Cultural and Promotion Council has honoured this jatha and presented them portraits of the Sahibzadas. 



Tomato still dear
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 27
The local crop of tomatoes gets ready by April and hence there is a normally a glut of tomatoes. Women look forward to this season, as they can make sauce, puree and tomato juice that are cheap.

This year the prices of tomato are around Rs 10 in most markets. If one buys in the evening, the prices fall to Rs 6.

Mr Amarvir Singh of Aditya Association says that tomatoes are selling for Rs 4 a kg in the mandi. In Patiala, tomatoes are selling for Rs 1 due to the glut.

According to him, peas are for Rs 22, cauliflower for Rs 4-5 and French beans for Rs 12 but garlic and ginger are selling for Rs 20.

Many outsiders get their produce at apni mandis and hence farmers and customers do not benefit much.



Ex-servicemen seek hike in assistance
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 27
The Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, today held its meeting under the presidentship of Col Bhag Singh ,VSM. The league flayed the state government for making a false promise of increasing assistance to the former soldiers who took part in the World War II from Rs 300 to Rs 500 and fixing the limit from Rs 2,5000 to Rs 50,000 as the same had not been fulfilled till date. The league had earlier submitted a memorandum to the state government.



1 held for black marketing kerosene
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 27
The local police has booked two persons under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act for allegedly black marketing kerosene in villages. According to sources at Sadar police station, a police party, led by Mr Balwinder Singh, SHO, caught Gurmeet Singh of Sahnewal village and Satbir Singh, alias Raja, of Ballowal village, when they were transferring kerosene from one tanker to another.

While Gurmeet Singh, driver of the vehicle, was arrested on the spot, the owner of the kerosene, Satbir Singh, alias Raja, of Ballowal village, fled from the scene.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused used to sell kerosene oil at a premium price to farmers and agricultural labourer.



Biz Clip

Country Inn & Suites
: Country Inn & Suites, a leading hospitality chain, on Thursday initiated an exciting scheme for students in the city in partnership with Coca-Cola. The month-long programme will honour students who have performed well in their final-year exam. Announcing it, Mr Jayesh Cholera, general manager, Country Inn & Suites, said on the basis of their results a discount of 50 per cent would be offered to them on the aggregate percentage scored. Students can also bring six other friends or family members for this exclusive treat at Mosaic, a multi- cuisine restaurant. TNS


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