L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

4 members of highway robbers’ gang held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
The city police today announced the arrest of four members of a gang of highway robbers. The members of the gang did not hesitate even in looting their own relatives or killing an accomplice when they required money. The police has claimed that the gang had committed 27 robberies, including three murders, in various districts of Punjab.

The activities of the gang had become so daring that the gang members had attacked and injured a police party in Majitha last year to rescue a nabbed gang member Harpal Singh, alias Pala.

A team of Salem Tabri police led by SHO G.S Bains had nabbed four members of the gang in a raid in a forest near Qadian village late last night.

With this arrest the Salem Tabri police sought to remove the stigma of a raid by a Warrant Officer on the police station to ‘‘rescue’’ two youths allegedly in illegal custody of the police.

SHO Salem Tabri had maintained in reply to the High Court that the two youths ‘‘released’’ by the Warrant Officer were being interrogated in a case about the highway robbers’ gang only.

Addressing a media conference here today, SSP A S Rai, SP City-II Kuldeep Singh and DSP, Rural Manjit Singh Dhesi, said the highway robbers were ruthless and believed in killing or seriously injuring the persons while snatching their vehicles, cash or valuables.

The arrested members of the gang have been identified as Harbhajan Singh, who was the kingpin, Narinder Singh (both residents of Jahangir village in Amritsar district), Sucha Ram, a resident of Hazoori Bagh colony in Salem Tabri and Manjit Singh, resident of Jaiswal Avenue in Basti Jodhewal.

Parvesh Kumar, a resident of Chitti Colony here had managed to escape arrest in the raid. SSP Rai said the police had seized one pistol with two cartridges, one kirpan and two knives from the arrested gang members.

On April 19 this year, the gang members had killed their own accomplice Ranjit Singh, alias Mithu , in order to pocket his share in a loot. They had later dumped his body near Jain hospital in Basti Jodhewal.

On February 29 this year the accused had killed Satnam Singh in Kalla village in Tarn Taran at the behest of a gang member Narinder Singh. The latter had planned the murder for robbery.

The police officials claimed that the gang members had confessed having committed eight snatching in Ludhiana, five in Majitha, four in Amritsar, two in Phillaur, three in Khanna, three in Phagwara, one each in Tarn Taran and Pinjore.



2 maids ‘rescued’ from doctor’s house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
A team of District Administration today raided the premises of a local doctor’s residence and rescued two tribal girls, who were working as domestic helps and had not been paid wages for the past two years.

Munni Barla (18) and Sarika Kerketta (25), belonging to Assam and Jharkhand, respectively, were finally released and sent to a tribal family living in the city.

Following a complaint by President of Pendu Mazdoor Union, Jalandhar, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, directed SDM (W) to raid the house and get the girls released.

Led by SDM M.S. Jaggi, a team of officials went to the doctor’s house in the morning and recorded the statements of girls and their employer.

In her written statement, Munni Barla stated that she had been sent to the doctor’s house two years ago. ‘‘The doctor did not pay me any wages but gave some pocket money from time to time. That amounted to around Rs 6,800 only. The doctor promised me that he would open an account in the bank but he did not do so,’’ she claimed.

She further alleged that she was beaten up by the doctor also and she had to flee to the house of someone known to her in the city. After the intervention of police she was allegedly sent back to the doctor’s house.

Sarika also gave a similar statement stating that she had not been paid wages for the past two years except for some pocket money. She was not allowed to leave the house or to go on leave to meet her parents, she alleged.

Both the girls alleged that they had contacted different placement agencies, who had offered them jobs with good wages. They worked at Hyderabad, Delhi and Punjab but never received remuneration as per the rules.

The Pendu Mazdoor Union President, Mr Tarsem Peter, has demanded that the total wages of the girls should be paid to them, and their employer should be booked under the Atrocities to SC/ST Act and Bonded Labour Act.

Meanwhile SDM Jaggi said ‘‘after listening to both the parties, the prima facie evidence does not make it a case of illegal confinement. Though there was a dispute of payment of wages’’.

He added that he had sent the matter to D.A (legal) for his opinion and no action had been taken against the doctor as yet.



A ray of hope for ’84 riot victims
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
Even after 22 painful years after the 1984 riots wherein innocent persons were massacred across the country, families of more than 300 serving soldiers, who were killed during that period, have been waging a losing battle to get their dues and bring the perpetrators of the crime to book.

Now there is a ray of hope for such families as the ex-servicemen wing of the SAD is trying to locate such families across the country.

In Punjab alone, 50 families have been identified, who have relocated after losing family members. The families identified so far included those of Capt S.S. Gill (Chandigarh), Capt I.P.S. Bindra (Amritsar), Hav Nirmal Singh (Mukerian), Naik Balbir Singh (Talwandi Sabo), Rifleman Avtar Singh (Lehragagga), Naik Nidhan Singh (Patiala), Sepoys Pritam Singh (Ferozepore) and Amar Singh (Malerkotla) and Recruit Sukhwinder Singh (Pahuwind).

Col Pratap Inder Singh Phulka (retd), general secretary of the wing, said a separate commission should be set up to identify the perpetrators.

“I have written to the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Railways, the Railway Protection Force and other agencies to provide me with information about the personnel killed at various places, but to no avail,” he said.

“It is criminal on the part of the government to remain silent all these years. All commissions appointed to go into the tragedy have failed to even mention the brave souls who were murdered,” he pointed out.

Citing the instance of Lance Dafedar Harmit Singh of 5 Armoured Regiment, whose wife was presented before mediapersons here today, he said Harmit was presumed dead by the Army authorities as he was travelling by train from his unit in Jodhpur to Sirhind. Till date, his body has not been found and the family is yet to be rehabilitated. The family was traced from Bhagwanpura village, near Samrala, he said.

The work of the wing members is tough as most of the families have left their native villages and are residing elsewhere.

Most of them are so dejected that they are not coming out in view of their bitter experiences with the authorities in the past. The families only want that their kin should be accorded the status of a martyr, be compensated adequately and the guilty brought to book, he said.

Col Phulka also demanded the date of awarding compensation to the victims by state governments by May 14 was unrealistic and should be extended.

He has appealed to the people to provide them any information which would enable them to locate such families and ensure that justice was done.



New national farm policy on anvil
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
A nationwide exercise is underway to place ‘‘faces before figures’’ under the National Policy for Farmers, aimed at focusing on the problems of farming families as ‘‘human beings’’ feeding the nation.

Prepared by the National Commission on Farmers, the policy draft 'serving farmers and saving farming' has been circulated by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences to stakeholders for comments. It is to be submitted to the Union Ministry of Agriculture in October for adoption by the nation on August 15, 2007, when India celebrates 60 years of its Independence.

At Punjab Agricultural University a 10-member 'steering committee' comprising of directors of research and extension and deans of constituent colleges is engaged in framing an 'action plan' for the 'year of agricultural renewal' based on the three reports of the National Commission on Farmers. PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr K S Aulakh is chairperson of the steering committee.

On the one hand, the draft policy for farmers paints a grim agricultural scenario and expresses concerns over suicides by farmers because of indebtedness. On the other hand, it offers a ray of hope to reverse the existing trends. The policy refers to the Media estimates of suicides by farmers believed to be around 30,000 in six states. The listed disturbing trends in agriculture are decelerated growth in farm sector, decline in real per capita income, dwindling investment in agricultural infrastructure, poor health and nutrition status of men, women and children in villages etc.

The mission statement of the proposed policy document proposes to "mainstream human dimension in farm policies with focus on farm women, end the era of farmers' suicides and restore pride and confidence in India's agricultural capabilities, enhance income, livelihood, nutrition and health security of farming families, reinforce packages of technologies, techno-infrastructure, services and public policies, protect and preserve land, water, biodiversity, reorient research in consonance with changes in climate and take measures to attract youth in agriculture etc".

It also suggests change in the name of the Union Ministry of Agriculture adding the suffix "farmers' welfare".



Labourers’ bodies recovered
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 24
The bodies of two labourers, who died yesterday while digging a well at Gopalpur village, were retrieved last night and handed over to family members after the postmortem.

Meanwhile, the Dehlon police has registered an FIR under Sections 304-A and 188, IPC.

According to Mr Harjit Singh Brar, DSP, Dakha, Jagdish Singh of Gopalpur was booked for allegedly causing death of Santokh Singh and Aladatta and violating prohibitory orders of the district administration.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Jagdish Singh, the farmer, had not adopted proper procedure for getting the well deepened.



Lawyers stage dharna against quota
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 24
To express solidarity with the agitating medical students and doctors against the new proposed reservation policy of the government, members of the Organisation of Young Lawyers today staged a dharna at the District Courts complex.

The dharna was staged under the leadership of Mr Sandeep Kapoor, Chairman and Mr Rohit Thapar, General Secretary of the association. They stressed that the reservation should be given only on the basis of social and economic status of the person rather than the caste basis.

Mr Balwinder Goel, Member, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr Chaman Lal Vashisht, President Labour Court Bar Association, Mr Jagjit Singh Gill, Mr Rakesh Bhatia, Ms Neelam Pathak addressed the gathering and expressed concern over the on-going agitation of the medicos.

These leaders called upon the government to settle the matter amicably, keeping in view the larger interest of the nation instead of petty politics of vote bank. It was stressed that the intelligent students should not be made suffer due to vote politics. Such type of reservation policy in the higher education and that too in medical profession would dishearten the intelligent students.

The Organisation of Young Lawyers also announced to join the agitation of doctors tommorrow at Samrala Chowk, Ludhiana. Mr Nitin Kapila, Mr Rana Harjasdeep Singh, former DBA Secretary, Mr Malwinder Ghumman, Mr Gaurav Maini, Mr Kamaldeep Singh, Mr Satinder Sehgal, Mr Rajiv Saggar, Mr Singhal also joined the dharna.



Proposed medical bandh garners widespread support
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 24
The unilateral declaration of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in higher educational institutions by the UPA government and the Left Front gathered more flak as the anti-reservation movement by medical fraternity here gained momentum with many NGOs and other organisations pledged support to the agitation.

The bodies coming out in the open against the quota regime included theNational Integrated Medical Forum, the Punjab Medical Representatives Association, along with many other associations of traders and shopkeepers in the city.

The call given by the national body of theIndian Medical Association (IMA) for a 'medical bandh' on May 25 all over the country had also received an overwhelming response. According to activists of IMA and the Joint Medical Front, all medical institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and private clinics in the region would remain closed from 6 am to 6 pmduring the bandh while the emergency services had been exempted.

Addressing an anti-reservation rally at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here today, functionaries of both the Joint Medical Front and Youth for Equality claimed that medical bandh will be total in the city while many other business establishments, employees associations, as well as social organisations would also observe strike as a token of solidarity with the agitating medicos. The opponents of quota regime will also hold a rally at Samrala Chowk here against the unjust reservation policy of the government.

The protesters appeared to have gone in to an aggressive mood as they felt that peaceful protests like chain fast and rallies will not serve the desired purpose and the government was apparently bent upon making the mockery of the system. ‘‘Since the peaceful modes of protest have failed to yield results, the situation calls for a change in the strategy to make the deaf politicians understand the language which they are used to,’’ said the agitating medical students.



Doraha, Sahnewal to support IMA bandh call
Our Correspondent

Doraha, May 24
All hospitals and nursing homes at Sahnewal and Doraha will remain closed in support of the bandh call given by the Punjab IMA, tomorrow.

Dr Jagmohan Singh, president, Doraha-Sahnewal Association told media persons that their association fully supported the bandh call given in favour of the students and residents against the reservation policy.



BKU opposes giving land to Reliance
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
The Bhartiya Kisan Union has finally broken its silence on the Reliance land deal. The union which had so far maintained an ambiguous stand on the issue, today asked the government not to hand over the farmers' precious land to the Reliance.

In its plenary session held at the Gurdwara Alamgir near here today, the BKU said the 20 acres of prime land in Mohali was acquired from the farmers and given to the Punjab Mandi Board for the setting up a grain market. The BKU said, since the government had now decided not to set up a grain market there, the land should be returned to the farmers. It regretted that the precious land of farmers was given to the corporates on a platter.

The union has also decided to call for a statewide strike on July 10 in case the farmers' demands were not met by then.

'It also sought to learn from the government as what was the "public interest" in giving prime land to the corporate houses at throw away prices. It pointed out, the Land Acquisition Act clearly spells out that the land can only be acquired in public interest. "What is the public interest in giving land to private corporate house?", it asked, adding, the government should explain and justify the public interest in the deal.

On the issue of 'shamlat' land of the panchayats being proposed to be given to the Reliance in villages, the BKU maintained that land was maintained for common use of the village farmers for their common interests. Again, it asserted, by handing over the land to the corporates no public interest is visible.

The BKU also demanded the complete waiver of Rs 12000 crore loan amount pending against the farmers. It said, the Rs 383 crore waiver of the cooperative loans was too little.



Mayor’s assurance on road
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 24
Ludhiana Mayor Nahar Singh Gill has assured the industrial houses along the Kali Sarak near the Jalandhar bypass that the road would be metalled immediately.

The Mayor who visited the area yesterday was talking to the members of the industry there.


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