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Anti-quota stir paralyses medical services
Traffic on NH-1 blocked for four hours
Tribune Reporters

Medical students and members of several other organisations stage a dharna and block traffic at Samrala Chowk in Ludhiana on Thursday
Medical students and members of several other organisations stage a dharna and block traffic at Samrala Chowk in Ludhiana on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, May 25
The call for medical bandh against reservation policy of the government evoked a huge response here today with the entire medical fraternity responding overwhelmingly and hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and even a large number of medicine shops in the city remained closed.

Activists of the Joint Medicos Front, Youth for Equality and the Indian Medical Association claimed that bandh was complete and except for medical emergencies, which were exempted from the strike, medical services came to a total halt in the city today.

The protesters blocked traffic for nearly four hours on the National Highway 1 at Samrala Chowk by staging a sit in dharna which led to serpentine queues of vehicles on both sides of the intersection.

Braving the scorching heat, the medical students and other demonstrators kept sitting on the road. Three girl students fainted due to heat and had to be hospitalised. The IMA leaders had to persuade the students for a considerable time before the blockade was lifted.

The agitating medical students, faculty members of medical, nursing and para-medical institutions, along with doctors, held a massive rally at Samrala Chowk. Speaking on the occasion, leaders of the agitating bodies of medicos, the DMC Teachers Association, IMA and several other organisations lambasted the politically motivated policy of reservation while demanding merit-based admission to higher education, particularly the professional courses. They maintained that the Congress-led coalition government in the Centre was out to divide the nation on the basis of caste for its vote bank politics.

The out patient departments in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital, Dr B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital and Krishna Charitable Hospital remained closed. The staff and students of the Guru Teg Bahadur Nursing College also joined the anti-quota protest. The protesting doctors maintained that the reservation policy was unjust, biased and spelled doom for the country’s future.

The IMA announced that it would start an akhand path from tomorrow at IMA Bhavan in the city . The ‘path’ would culminate on Sunday.

Members of the Ludhiana Medical Practitioners' Association, led by Dr Narotam Dewan, patron, Dr A.Dhawan, chairman, Dr S. Lakhotra, president and Dr P. Arneja, secretary, led a march to Mini Secretariat here and submitted a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ajmer Singh, demanding complete abolition of all kinds of reservation in professional institutions. They called for admission to all professional courses on the basis of merit alone and demanded that all overt and covert means of admission on other considerations be closed permanently.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Tax Bar Association (PBTA) has asked the government to amicably settle the reservation issue while taking care that merit of the students was not ignored. Mr B.R Kaushal, vice-president and Mr Lalit Takyar, secretary general of PBTA, said in a joint statement here on Thursday that rather than adopting repressive measures against the agitating medical students, the government should open a dialogue to evolve such a policy that safeguarded the interests of the students as also of the economically weaker sections.

Mr Ashok Juneja, chairman and Mr Sudarhshan Kapoor, president of PBTA, stressed that social justice was the need of the hour and all those belonging to economically weaker sections of society should have the benefit of reservation policy which ought not be cast based.

Mandi Gobindgarh: The Indian Medical Association, Mandi Gobindgarh branch in its emergency meeting held on Thursday at Kaushal Nursing Home, condemned government’s quota policy and observed a strike. The doctors kept their clinics and nursing homes closed. The meeting was presided over by Dr Manmohan Kaushal, President of the local unit of the Indian Medical Association. Members also submitted a memorandum to SDM, Amloh, on this issue.

Amloh: In response to a call for strike given by the Indian Medical Association against the medical fraternity in a meeting presided over by Dr Raghbir Shukla, state member of the National Integrated Medical Association supported the protest. Mr Shukla said the government should ensure work for all but caste or economic conditions should not be made base for reservation at the cost of merit.

Mandi Ahmedgarh: Medical services remained paralysed in the town and surrounding villages as most of the doctors suspended their OPDs irrespective of their registration with local branch of IMA. Owners of drug stores also lowered shutters to show their solidarity with the protesting medicos.

The local unit of IMA condemned the unilateral declaration of 27 per cent quota for OBCs in higher education institutes by the union government.

Hospitals, clinics and nursing homes managed by doctors, not registered by IMA also suspended OPDs, to show solidarity with striking medicos. 



Scorched at school
120-odd students take lessons under a tree
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
In this sweltering heat which is making everyone look for cover, 120 odd children of a school in Rishi Nagar just have the shade of a tree as a feeble protection against the May heat.

The students of the school sit on a sizzling footpath, to attend classes. Ironically the school had been opened under the much hyped drive of Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar to provide education to slum children

While other schoolchildren are comfortably enjoying the cool environs of their houses following the orders of the Education Minister announcing holidays in view of scorching heat, these children and their three teachers have to brave the scorching sun everyday in the hometown of the Education Minister himself.

With their faces turned red due to exposure to direct sun till 12 noon everyday, the children learn to scribble alphabets under conditions completely averse to a learning environment.

‘‘Everyday somebody or the other student returns home complaining of symptoms of sunstroke but there seems to be no respite for them,’’ says Mr Gurinder Singh, president of Rishi Nagar slum area.

‘‘We have requested Mr Johar a number of times to at least get a shed erected for these children. He had promised that he would send 14 asbestos sheets but those never arrived,’’ he added.

The slum dwellers even requested the officials of District Education Office, who visit there every month to disburse salaries to teachers. ‘‘They told us that they could not do anything except giving the money to teachers only.’’

Disappointed from all quarters, the slum dwellers had themselves put up a tarpaulin sheet to protect the children from the direct sun but it was blown off when a squall hit the city some days ago.

‘‘It is not possible to raise a shanty for 120 students. We can raise a similar structure for around five persons successfully. Otherwise it is a failure. That day also the rugs got spoilt due to rains and we had to dry them for two-three days. This is the condition of this school,’’ said the slum dwellers.

‘‘We challenge that if any official comes and is able to even stand here for more than 10 minutes. They should know how these little children spend their day here,’’ said a parent angrily.

The school had been running from this place for the past seven months. In winters also there was a similar problem when children use to fall sick due to fog and extreme cold. 



10 injured as bus overturns
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh May 25
About 10 persons were injured when a mini-bus bound for Chhappa village overturned due to a technical snag in the bus near Rachhin village this evening.
While four injured were admitted to the local Hind Hospital, others took medical assistance at various clinics in the area.

Medical assistance was reportedly delayed due to the nationwide strike of medicos. One of the injured was shifted to a multispeciality hospital at Ludhiana.

The mini-bus (PB-13M-2469) overturned near Rachhin village when it was on its way to Chhapa village in the afternoon today. Ten out of around 25 passengers received injuries.

While Hardeep Singh of Bapla, Darshan Singh of Dasaundha Singh Wala, Tarsem Singh and Jugraj Singh (an employee of a bus company) were admitted in the local Hind Hospital, others were told to have medical assistance on their own.

The bus had recently also met with an accident. Two motorcyclists had been run over by the bus and it was its first trip after repairs today.

Bhola Singh, the driver, said he had brought the vehicle from the workshop today. "Though we had taken a test drive before allowing the passengers to sit in, the tie-rod broke near Rachhin village and it fell in the fields," said Bhola. He claimed that the loss could have more had he not applied the emergency brakes.

The staff of the bus had informed the Latala police but it was yet to initiate action. 



Man sets self on fire in front of in-laws’ house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
A 29-year-old man, who had set himself on fire in front of his in-laws’ house in Subash Nagar late last night, is fighting for life at CMC hospital with 80 per cent burn injuries.

Domestic disharmony was the reason that moved the man to take this extreme step. His wife had reportedly left him five days ago after some difference of opinion. Unable to woo her back, Pawan Kumar, who had made a desperate attempt to convince her last night, set himself on fire in front of his in-laws’ house.

The couple had been married a few years ago and had a one-year-old son. Pawan Kumar lived near Neem Wala Chowk in Khud Mohalla.

Basti Jodhewal SHO Jaswinder Singh Mangat said the family members of the victim and his in-laws had not revealed the cause of the domestic dispute and were just stressing that it was a minor misunderstanding only.

According to the SHO the man was not in a state to make a statement. A case would be registered only on the basis of the statement of the victim.



Garbage outside politician’s house irks residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Heaps of garbage opposite the house of a senior BJP leader and former member of Rajya Sabha, Lala Lajpat Rai, has irked residents of the Cemetery Road.
Residents claim that it has become a garbage dump over the years.

They complain that they are sick of making representations to the Municipal Corporation to shift the dump from there but to no avail.

‘‘The garbage is not lifted for days together. It keeps piling up here. Swarms of flies and other insects breed on this dump. The stench emanating makes it difficult for us to breathe, ’’ said a resident, who added that there was a Jain Temple situated near the dump.

The temple administration had also written to the MC a number of times to respect the religious place and shift the garbage dump. 



Relocation of jhuggi dwellers begins
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 25
The rehabilitation of jhuggi-dwellers who had illegally encroached land in Industrial Area, Phase VIII B, and Amb Sahib Colony, Sector 48-C, started here yesterday.
Four teams of PUDA officials had been set up to facilitate the rehabilitation work. While the Estate Officer supervised operation at the encroached sites, a Superintending Engineer monitored the work at the site where slum-dwellers were being rehabilitated at Jagatpura village.

Additional Chief Administrator M.S. Narang said 200 persons from Phase VIII had shifted to the new area. He added that slips prepared on the basis of a survey carried out earlier were distributed among the encroachers today so that they could get units allotted at the new site.

He said applications bearing photographs of family members had been collected from slum-dwellers sometime ago.

Mr Narang said streetlights were made functional at the Jagatpura colony last night. Drinking water had also been provided for the convenience of the dwellers.

Trucks had been hired for the transportation of the belongings of the slum-dwellers.

Chief Administrator Som Parkash said 950 units had been developed for temporary rehabilitation on the land identified for the purpose. 



No IT refunds without bank account numbers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
The Income Tax Department will not issue pending or new refunds to those assessees who fail to mention details of their bank account number along with the BSR code on their income tax returns.

Stating this here today, Mr Ashok Juneja, president, Taxation Bar Association (TBA), and Mr Subhash Jain, president, District Taxation Bar Association (DTBA), said a meeting of office-bearers and executive members of both bar associations was convened today to discuss the matter of issuing refunds speedily. The meeting was attended by senior officers of the Income Tax Department and officials of leading banks.

Addressing the meeting, Mr M.N.A. Chaudhary and Mr A.K. Mehrish, Commissioners of Income Tax, said the Central Board of Direct Taxes had made it compulsory and mandatory that the assessees were required to mention their bank account number on their income tax returns and the computer systems will not generate any refunds in the absence of particulars of bank accounts.

Mr Sandeep Dahija, Mr Deepak Kapoor, Mr Himanshu Shekhar Sinha and Mr Rajeshwar Yadav, Additional and Joint Commissioners of Income Tax, while interacting with members of the bar, informed that the department had evolved a foolproof system to effectively check all kinds of wrong credit and fraud by any person.

They further said that individuals and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) should provide details of their respective savings account numbers along with name of branch, BSR Code, whereas the firms, companies, trust and other assessees should mention their current account number or cash credit account number as applicable.

The bar functionaries said that this amended procedure had taken effect from January 2, 2006, and thus those assessees whose refunds were still pending should contact the officials concerned and submit their account numbers. Otherwise, their refunds were likely to remain pending without any further action being taken in this context.



Hike in liquor prices despite new excise policy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
The Bacchus lovers' revelry at low rates of liquor, compared to last year, has proved short-lived with liquor contractors effecting a steep hike in select brands after allegedly forming a cartel.

The low rates had been brought about just a month after the new excise policy came into effect. The new excise policy had sought to break monoplistic trade and promised to provide relief to tipplers. But the formation of the alleged cartel seem to have defeated the very purpose of the new policy, informed sources said.

Taking up the issue, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee legal cell has condemned the decision of wine shop owners to increase the price of each liquor bottle upto Rs 100.

A market survey reveals that the rates of standard brands like Peter Scotch and Royal Challange have been enhanced from Rs 290 to Rs 390. Whereas the medium liquor will cost Rs 50 more in comparison to previous rates. The rates of desi daru have been increased in the range of Rs 10 to 30.

Chairman of the District Congress legal cell Dharamjit Singh Khera has termed it to be a conspiracy hatched by certain Ludhiana-based wine contractors belonging to the Shrimoni Akali Dal to tarnish the image of Cheif Minister Amrinder Singh, whose efforts were lauded by the people for introducing the new excise policy.

Mr Khera has urged the Deputy Commissioner to take stern action against such wine shop owners fleecing the customers by making a cartel.

He has also appealed to Congressmen owning wine shops not to fall prey to the evil designs of other political parties. Simultaneously, he has urged the consumers to form an 'anti price hike' front and not to purchase liquor for at least one week. 



Initiate action against police, says PMO
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 25
The Prime Minister Office has forwarded a complaint received from Mohan Singh, a labourer of Bhatiras village in Patiala district, to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, for initiating action against the police official who had allegedly harassed and tortured him for extorting money. The complainant has accused the Banur police of infringing his human rights by subjecting him to third degree torture.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has shown inclination to take cognizance of the complaint.

Perusal of an order of a court showed that Mohan Singh had been given a benefit of doubt at the time of acquittal in connection with cases registered against him during period of terrorism in the state.

“As the recovery of the gun is not proved by the prosecution so both the accused are given benefit of doubt and they are acquitted of charges framed against them,” read orders passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Rajpura, in one of the cases registered against Mohan Singh and Surinder Kumar of Samana.

According to the complaints made to the Prime Minister, the PSHRC and the DGP, Mohan Singh had allegedly been tortured by certain police officials, including the SHO, Banur police station, and the SHO, CIA, Patiala.

“After picking me from my residence on March 29, they subjected me to varied types of third degree methods to extort Rs 1 lakh that I could not pay. They thrashed me till I became unconscious,” narrated Mohan Singh, showing copies of letters received from various offices as acknowledgment of his complaint.



Notices to 13 block heads

Ludhiana, May 25
The District Congress Committee, Ludhiana, (urban) president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, is learnt to have issued show cause notices to 13 of the 15 block presidents of the party in the city. These block presidents are said to had abstained from a few party functions recently.

Party sources revealed that Mr Sharma had issued the notices to the block presidents at the instructions of the Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. Mr Dullo had reportedly taken strong exception to their absence from the death anniversary function of late Rajiv Gandhi recently.

Mr Sharma has been maintaining there was nothing sensational about issuing notices to the block presidents. He said it was the internal matter of the party and would be resolved in a cordial manner while at the same time asserting that discipline had to be maintained at all costs. TNS



Forest officials not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Samrala, May 25
About 25 workers of the Forest Department, Samrala, have not received their salaries since March 1, said Divisional president Bahadur Singh here today.
In this connection, a meeting of the workers was held here today under the presidentship of Mr Gulzar Singh, vice-president of the Forest Workers Union.

They decided to hold protest rallies in front of the office of Divisional Forest Officer, Ludhiana, if their salaries were not received before May 31.

At the meeting, Mr Budh Singh, chief advisor, Kamaljit Singh, cashier, also spoke. Meanwhile, Mr Padha, Range Officer, Samrala, admitted that the salaries had not been received from the Divisional Office till now despite his repeated requests to the higher authorities. 



Protest march against PSEB's decision
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 25
Activists of the Joint Struggle Committee and Technical Service Union called upon leaders of all democratic organisations of the area to join hands to stagger government's decision to implement policies that were sure to be against the interests of common people.

Addressing a rally organised at local Pohir Road on Wednesday, the trade union leaders alleged that the management of PSEB was bent upon disrupting the organisational set-up of the board and getting the work done through out-sourcing, including hired non-technical workmen. 



Rs 75,000 stolen from parked car
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 25
In a case of daylight theft outside a branch of the UTI Bank in Sector 10, here, yesterday, thieves allegedly removed a portion of window pane of a car, belonging to a poultry farmer, and decamped with a bag containing Rs 75,000.

According to the car owner, Mr Sanjay Sahani, he withdrew Rs 1.75 lakh from HDFC Bank in Sector 11 in the morning and made a payment of Rs 76,000 at Taj Poultry Farm. After keeping Rs 24,000 in his pocket, he packed the balance Rs 75,000 in a bag and put it under the seat of his car. He later went to the UTI Bank for depositing some cheques.

Mr Sahani then left for Sector 3 to make some payments at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, but was shocked when found the bag missing.

He informed the police and a case has been registered on his complaint. The police has started investigating the matter.



Booked for harassing girl
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 25
Kuldeep Singh of Ramgarh Bhullar village has been booked by the Sidhwanbet police under Sections 341 and 354, IPC, on charges of harassing a girl of his village.
Kuldeep Singh passed indecent remarks against the girl. The police has started investigation but the accused is at large.



Plan to construct mega mall with 5 floors
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
JMD Promoters are planning to come up with a mega mall at JMD Govardhan City Centre, near Laxmi Cinema here. Proposed to come up with an investment of around Rs 100 crore, the mall would be spread in an area of 2 acres and have five floors dedicated to shopping area and four multiples theaters.

“We have started the construction and it would be ready in the coming two years,” said Mr Satish Khosla, project incharge. He said the mall would enjoy locational advantage and as it would include multiples theatres, city residents would be able to shop as well as entertain themselves.

The company, that has completed more than a dozen projects related to malls and corporate complexes, promises to provide infrastructure and facilities on a par with international standards in the mall. “Our projects like the JMD Regent Square, JMD Pacific Square and JMD Regent Mall are successfully functioning. Prior experience would help us provide the best to people here.”

Mr Khosla said special emphasis has been laid on parking, which has become a problem in most shopping areas here. “The mall would have two basement parkings and also an open parking.”

On the company’s decision to develop a mall in the city, Mr Khosla said disposable income being high, such projects were the need of the hour for the city. “People here have to go to cities like Delhi and even abroad for shopping. Such a mall would cater to their needs, which assures us of its success,” he maintained.

While the company has tied up with M2K for multiplexes, it has forged ties with several leading brands that will open their outlets in the mall.

The company, he disclosed, will soon begin two more projects, including a JMD Regent Mall 3 in the city.


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