R E G I O N A L   B R I E F S

Regional potpourri
Hukkah goes hi-tech
Dress obsession


Three honoured
: Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, honoured three local residents, Jyoti Bhatia, Col Ranbir and Sarabjit Singh, who had helped in arresting certain robbers at a police-public meeting held in the Gawal Mandi area here on Saturday. The SSP asked people to help the police in eradicating drug addiction and controlling crime in the city.

Fake currency seized
: A man was arrested and fake currency worth Rs 18,000 was seized from him here on Sunday. The accused, Ram Prakash, hailing from Bihar, has now been booked under Section 489 of the IPC. According to Mr Gurmeet Singh, SHO of Division No. 6, the accused was arrested from the Kapurthala counter at the bus stand and 18 fake currency notes of 500 denominations were seized.

Two hurt in mishap
: Two persons were seriously injured in a road accident near here on Saturday. According to information, Banta Singh and Joginder Singh were coming from Sandaour village on their motor cycle when a mini bus hit them. They were admitted to a local hospital where their condition is stated to be serious.

Water shortage: Hundreds of local residents demonstrated outside the local municipal council office on Saturday to protest against the non-availability of drinking water in the town. They also gave a memorandum to the local SDM in this regard.

Lok suvidha camp
: Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Cooperation Minister, inaugurated a lok suvidha camp at Government Senior Secondary School, Saroya, on Saturday for villages falling under the Saroya, Sahiba and Bhaddi Kanugo circles. As many as 101 saplings were planted on the occasion. As many as 305 driving licences, 97 ration cards, 428 medical certificates, 21 birth and death certificates and 93 SC/BC certificates were issued.

Loan disbursement: Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, presided over a meeting of the District Consultative Committee and the District Review Committee convened by Punjab National Bank here at Dilbagh Hall on Saturday. He said a target of disbursing loans amounting to Rs 711.83 crore under the annual credit plan had been fixed. Out of it, Rs 496.88 crore had been earmarked for the agriculture sector.


: Two scooter-borne unidentified youths snatched a purse containing Rs 900 in cash, a mobile phone and house keys from a woman as she was purchasing vegetables from the Sarai Road market on Sunday evening.

3 supari killers held: The police headed by DSP Gursharandeep Singh Grewal, claimed to have nabbed three members of a supari killer gang. They have been identified as Gurdip Singh, Gurjit Singh and Manjit Singh. They had allegedly taken a supari of Rs 4.5 lakh from an NRI, Jaswant Singh, to kill his brother, Kuldip Singh, also an NRI. The two brothers had a property dispute. The DSP said Jaswant Singh had allegedly given Rs 75,000 as advance to them.

Plea on deported terrorists: All India Anti-Terrorists Front President Maninderjit Singh Bitta has urged the Union Government to set up a high-level team to monitor the cases of terrorists deported from abroad. Addressing a press conference at a rest house here on Saturday, Mr Bitta described the decision of the extradition of dreaded terrorist wrong. He expressed the fear that Bira could be acquitted by the court due to lack of evidence as the police was not working sincerely on the case.





Hukkah goes hi-tech

Photo by Vicky GharuAfter hundreds of years, hukkah, the first love of rural Haryanvi men, is in for modernisation. Prem Jangra, a Khalasi working in the Meham Cooperative Sugar Mills in Rohtak district, has designed a “chillum” which does not require smouldering cow dung cakes to be placed in the “chillum” to heat the tobacco.

He has fitted the “chillum” with an electrical contraption that does away with fire. He has fitted an 80w electrical element in the “chillum” and covered it with a layer of plaster of Paris (PoP). The element’s two ends have been taken out of the “chillum” by drilling a hole through the terracotta “chillum”. These have been connected to a bed switch. The switch is connected to a 220-v transformer, which brings down the household electricity output to a mere 40 volt, which is enough to heat the element inside the “chillum”. A small iron bowl is placed above the PoP layer to heat the tobacco.

Prem Jangra has specially designed this “chillum” for his friend Sant Ram Prajapat of Meham. Says Prajapat: “I did not want my grandchildren or my daughters-in-law to keep reheating the ‘chillum’ every now and then. Besides, I was worried about the pollution caused by the constant burning of cow dung cakes in the courtyard. So, I asked Prem to do something about it and he came up with the idea of fitting an electrical element. It’s working fine and the tobacco flavour is as good as the traditional ‘chillum’ ”. Prem Jangra says the “chillum” works for about 30 minutes after switching off power. During power cuts, the modernised version of the “chillum” can be used by loading cow dung cakes. He now wants to improve upon the contraption by fitting a regulator to control the heat in much the same manner as the cow dung cakes. 

Dress obsession

Balkaur Singh Gill
Balkaur Singh Gill

In an age when traditional dresses have been reduced to be showcased in museums, this Excise and Taxation Officer has virtually been wearing the cultural dress of the Malwa region of Punjab, “kurta” and “chadra” , throughout his life.

Mr Balkaur Singh Gill, posted with the Excise and Taxation Office, Ludhiana, takes pride in his unique identification in the city — the man clad in “kurta” and “chadra”.

Be it his office, a party or any other function, he is seen donning his dress along with his turban with total confidence.

“At times, people make nasty comments on my dress, but it does not deter my spirit. Earlier I used to get angry at such people but now I smile at them,” he says.

His father tried to make him wear a pair of trousers when Mr Gill joined college, but the trousers did not fit him properly and he was not comfortable in the pair. He decided that he would continue with “kurta” and “chadra” throughout his life.

The determination did not die even when he joined the Department of English at Panjab University, Chandigarh, for pursuing post-graduate degree. Though it was known as the department of “modern people”, my teachers never disliked my wearing this dress, he said recalling his university days of 1971-72.

“I respect other cultures but I love my own. My first identification is my dress,” he says, adding that he felt sad that only Punjabis were against his wearing the dress.

“Mostly Punjabis only pester me to change my dress code. Otherwise, if go down South, people really love me for doing so. They compliment me for my originality,” he says, adding that even his department never asked him to change his dress.

Using postcard to fight foeticide

The women’s wing of the Nawanshahr district-level NGOs Coordination Society, UPKAR, has come out with a unique idea to fight the menace of female foeticide. It is using one of the oldest and cheapest modes of communications — postcard — to bring about a change in the mindset of society, especially womenfolk. Besides, the society is also organising “nukkad” meetings in villages in this regard.

Ms Sarita, wife of Deputy Commissioner Krishan Kumar, has motivated the women activists of UPKAR to actively participate in the drive launched to eradicate this social evil. Leading by example, she has launched a programme to mobilise women panches, sarpanches, municipal councillors and teachers etc to participate in this movement. Ms Sarita herself learnt Punjabi, and accompanied by women activists, has started writing postcards to them. Hundreds of postcards signed by her are being sent to women opinion-makers to help change the attitude of the people. In her communication with women through postcards or speeches at “nukkad” meetings, she also tells villagers that foeticide is against the teachings of the Sikh Gurus.

Contributed by Raman Mohan, Kanchan Vasdev and Parmod Bharti


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