L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Resentment in Congress
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 11
Strong resentment and dissatisfaction prevails among the local Congress men against the recent reorganisation of the district Congress committee (urban and rural) by the Punjab Pradesh Congress president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. The reorganisation has not brought any enthusiasm among Congress cadres rather a number of Congress men are planning to leave the party.

Some Congress men have planned to organise a function on Sunday where they have invited Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal. They will join the Akali Dal on that day.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president has retained the president of the DCC (Urban) whereas it was expected that young blood would be inducted to rejuvenate the party.

Similarly the PPCC president has brought a new man known as Bhalinder Singh as president of the DCC (Rural ) in place of Mr Harmohinder Singh Pardhan who has been made president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. The new president of the DCC (Rural ) is a non-entity and was allegedly in the Akali Dal (Amritsar) too for sometime. He is labelled as Dullo's favourite in Khanna.

However, the pradesh Congress president has brought in more members from the Beant Singh group.

The reorganisation of the district units has not brought any cohesion among the Congress men. Rather this has resulted in more infighting among the local Congress men. The infighting is not going to be checked in the near future as now the race for procuring the Congress ticket has begun. The aspirants for the Congress ticket are now girding up their loins for the elections.

The Congress has at present eight seats out of 12 in the district and four are with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister in the Amarinder Singh government, is keen to get renomination from Ludhiana north seat from where he has been elected thrice in the past. This constituency was represented by his late father Joginder Paul Pandey who was gunned down by militants. As a matter of fact, he is lucky to be son of Mr Joginder Paul Pandey and he has been winning only because of his father.

Mr Madan Lal Bagga, a Congress councillor, is also aspiring to get the ticket from this seat.

Ludhiana West has at present Mr Harnam Das Johar, Education Minister, and he has again become active. The other aspirants for this seat are Mr Harmohinder Singh Pradhan and Mr K K Bawa. Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, was also a candidate for this seat but he seems to have realised that it is difficult to get a ticket for this seat and he has now started concentrating on Bathinda from where he was elected in 2002. He organised three-day gala celebrations of the birthday of his grandson in Bathinda last week to win over the people who had turned against him. Ludhiana Rural seat has many aspirants. Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi was elected from this seat in 2002 and was inducted as Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the state Cabinet. But he has also earned the wrath of the high command and has been unceremoniously removed from the chief parliamentary secretaryship. Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, who played a major role in the ouster of Mr Birmi is a hot candidate but he will also face opposition. Even otherwise, he is a weak candidate. Moreover, Mr Birmi has not given up his claim on Ludhiana rural seat. Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, son of the late Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, who was elected a Member of Parliament from Ludhiana for five times, is also in the fray for the Congress ticket.

Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura is a very serious contender for the Congress ticket for Kila Raipur seat. Last time his wife had unsuccessfully contested on the Congress ticket. Mr Khangura has worked quite hard and has nursed the constituency during the past five years. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha is the Akali Dal legislator from this seat. Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, sitting MLA, is sure to get the ticket from Samrala. There is no opposition to him and he has already been returned twice from this seat.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh, son of Mr Beant Singh, late Chief Minister, is also certain to get the ticket from Payal. His son, Gurkirat Singh, is now the media adviser to the Punjab Pradesh Congress chief and also works as his political adviser.

Khanna (Reserve) has Mrs Harbans Kaur, wife of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, and the ticket will go to either Mr Dullo himself or to his wife. Kum Kalan (Reserve ) has Mr Ishar Singh Meharban as a strong contender and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, sitting MLA from Dakha may be accommodated again.

Mr Harmohinder Singh Pradhan is also a serious candidate for Congress ticket from Raikot against the Akali Dal's Ranjit Singh Talwandi.

Jagraon seat has many aspirants which include Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib or his son. Mr Paramjit Singh Sibia, Chairman, Ludhiana Improvement Trust, had contested last time and lost his surety on the Congress ticket.

Many candidates are preparing heavy purses to buy the ticket.



Love-lorn youth commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
Bogged down by the alleged barriers of age and caste, a love-smitten 16-year-old youth of Prem Nagar here, allegedly committed suicide after his failure to marry his beau, a 19-year-old Brahmin girl, proved too strong for him to overcome.

Jasbir Singh, died in DMC Hospital today morning after he had allegedly consumed some poisonous substance yesterday afternoon. He was under treatment at the hospital but could not survive.

His aggrieved and furious relatives have held the relatives of the girl responsible for the untimely death. On their complaint, the Division No 5 police has registered a case of abetment to suicide against the girl's father, Mr Rajbir Sharma, and her brothers, Balram Sharma and Omkar Sharma. They are yet to be arrested.

The youth was unemployed and a school dropout. He was helping his father, a scrap dealer. The girl was more educated than him, the police said.

In his complaint to the police, Mr Yashpal, an uncle of the deceased youth, said he used to frequent his relative's house in Haibowal where he met the girl, who lived in the neighbhourhood.

Both were attracted to each other despite the problem of age and caste. They intended to marry but the proposal met with stiff opposition from the families.

Later, he and the girl had gone to Chintpurni too, but were brought back by the parents. The families reached a compromise with the intervention of certain influential elders of the colony.

However, Mr Yashpal alleged the relatives of the girl were threatening to kill the boy and also abused and harassed him. He claimed the youth went into depression at the turn of events and consumed some poisonous substance yesterday afternoon. He was rushed to the hospital but could not survive.

Police sources said the case has been registered on a complaint by the relatives of the deceased only. However, no suicide note has been recovered.



Kidnapped boy makes a daring escape
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
A minor son of the Municipal Councillor of Ward No 49 reportedly made a heroic escape from the clutches of four unidentified persons who kidnapped him outside the Ryan International School today afternoon.

The boy, Lovlesh Prashar, son of Mr Rakesh Prashar, and a Class VII student, jumped out of the red maruti van in which he was allegedly being taken away near Kohara village on Ludhiana-Chandigarh road.

He called up his father, who immediately rushed there with police and other relatives.

The city police officials went into a tizzy with the information about kidnap. They were yet to recover from the shocking kidnapping of Bikramjit Singh, which was still to be solved. A red alert was sounded in the district about the car.

The boy sustained minor injuries in the escape. Mr Pappi Prashar , uncle of the boy is a former general-secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

The Division No 7 police station has registered a case and further investigations were on.



Bank employees protest
Nationwide strike on July 28
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation held a demonstration in support of their demands, including withdrawal of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) recent circular on outsourcing of banking services, at the Clock Tower here today.

The employees said they would participate in the nationwide strike on July 28, a call for which has been given by the All-India Bank Employees Association.

Addressing a rally, Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary of the federation, said the RBI had issued instructions to all banks permitting them to outsource almost all normal banking jobs and services to private agencies on a contract and commission basis. “This would affect the jobs in banks and drastically reduce job opportunities. Besides, outsourcing would jeopardise the interest of public,” he added.

The federation also said the RBI's decision to withdraw itself from clearing operations and outsourcing the entire process to the National Payment Corporation, a private limited company, is unjustified. Even huge and costly assets and machinery would be handed over to the private company at a negligible cost, they alleged.

The employees also condemned withdrawal of amendment to Section 12 (ii) of the banking Regulation Act on removal of ceiling on voting rights in banks. “The government has introduced a Bill in Parliament seeking to delete on Section 12's (ii), which aims at removing the existing cieling of 10 pr cent on voting rights in private banks. Already the RBI has been permitted to allow an FDI upto 74 per cent. With this proposal, there s every possibility of FDI to take over our banks,” the federation said.

Other demands put forward by the federation, including filling up of nearly 1 lakh vacancies through recruitment and expeditious extension of one more option for pension.

Central Bank strike

Work at the Central Bank of India came to a halt as its employees observed strike today in protest against the management's policies.

Employees alleged that the management had failed to accede to their "genuine" demands related to resolving of issues, transfers of office-bearers of the union, benefits under staff welfare schemes, settlement of retirement and terminal dues and recruitment of clerks, sub-staff and watch and ward staff.

Addressing a rally in front of the regional office of the bank, Mr Baljit Singh, assistant general secretary, Central Bank of India Employees Union, said the management had issued transfer orders of union members in violation of settled norms and policies and was not doing anything to ensure speedy settlement in dues.



Polluting unit leaves residents fuming
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The four-year-long struggle of residents of Hira Nagar to get a polluting unit shifted from the residential area has not yielded anything with the former still knocking at various doors, while the owners of the unit are having a field day.

The unit, which recycles tin on Kakowal road, has virtually made the life of residents a hell by causing air and noise pollution. Hammering of tins to straighten them for reuse and cleaning of ghee and oil-laced containers with strong chemicals pollute the environment leaving the residents sick of their surroundings.

The owners heat the chemicals using a furnace. Due to the constant hammering and burning of fuel in the furnace the residents of these colonies said that they were living virtually in a hell. They added that their children could not study due to the sound as if affected concentration.

The residents allege their problems have been accentuated by the fact that the district administration and the Pollution Control Board have, after taking some initial action, turned a deaf ear to their grievances.

Reliable sources in the office of the Pollution Control Board said that some officials of the board had sent notices to this unit some years ago but it could not bear any fruit. The unit continues to flourish in a predominantly residential area.

‘’We are sick of ear-piercing noises, inhaling thick smoke and poisonous fumes caused by chemicals with the air. It makes us so restless that at times we think of closing our ears and nostrils forever,’’ said Mr Ajit Kumar, a resident who lives close to the unit. ‘’My wife had a heart attack last year. Doctor advised her rest and a peaceful environment. Despite my pleas to the owner to create less noise there was no effect on him. I took her medical reports to the then Deputy Commissioner and prayed to him to come to my rescue. But everyone proved to be a paper tiger,’’ he added.

Mr Ajit Kumar added that there were many people like his wife who were also suffering from various diseases but were not able to rest in their houses due to the noise.

Similar problem was quoted by Mr Satnam Verma, whose 9-year-old-daughter contracted eye allergy due to the fumes. ‘’She is always complaining of irritation in her eyes. We have taken her to many doctors, who say that she can feel better if the unit is closed or we move out of the area,’’ he said showing medical reports of her daughter.



DC inspects proposed grain market site
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 11
The final inspection of the proposed grain market at Jagera Road by a high power team of revenue officials, led by Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, renewed hope among residents of this area who had been demanding shifting of the old grain market to a more spacious place for three decades.

The grain market proposed to be constructed at a cost of 25 crore, presently at penultimate stage, would politically benefit Ms Razia Sultana, MLA, who had been working hard for two years to get the project completed.

Earlier incumbents had to face embarrassment on the issue as they had failed to get the market constructed during their tenures.

According to Mr Ladhar, authorities in Colonisation Department had completed all formalities to prepare final plan of the site that spread in area measuring about 25 acres of land situated at local Jagera road.

“We will be sending the final plan to Colonisation Department after doing required adjustments in dimensions of the yard.

“Owners of plots in the proximity of chosen land have been asked to exchange land with the government so that proper dimensions were arrived at according to the need of farmers,” said Mr Ladhar.

The DC interacted with leaders of various political and social organizations and recorded their suggestions.

Mr Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Mr Ravinder , president Local unit of Congress, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, nominee of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP, and Mr Hari Ram Gupta, patron, Gaushala, participated in the discussion.

Meanwhile, Dr Indu, SDM Malerkotla, inspired management of the Gaushala Committee to give their consent to exchange certain piece of land with the government according to the need of the farmers and commission agents.



Panthic panel in the offing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The president of the All India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, said today that the Panthic Coordination Committee (of the splinter panthic groups) was in the offing. He said, various groups were coming together for the same.

Mr Mann told The Tribune that the show of unity demonstrated by the panthic groups at Amritsar on July 8 was a beginning in this direction.

He said the panthic coordination committee would launch a movement for liberating the gurdwaras and other Sikh institutions from the control of the leaders who had no interest in the panth.

The AISAD leader alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal had started a bad precedent by attacking the peaceful workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar.



Woman dies in wall collapse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
A 60-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy were crushed to death when a wall collapsed on a group of labourers and their families in Sunder Nagar on Sunday. Four girls were injured also.

The incident took place when strong winds accompanied with rain lashed the region. The victims were buried under the debris.



2 killed, 7 hurt in road accident
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, July 11
Two persons were killed and seven others injured when a truck hit a tractor trailer last night near chowkiman. The Sidhwanbet police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC.

A tractor trailer full of fodder and nine occupants from Chhokran village was on its way to Sant Darbara Singh Ashram Lopon. When it reached near Chowkiman, a fast moving truck hit behind it and the tractor trailer turned up side down killing Shanty Singh (19) and Harpreet Singh (18) at the spot. The others who were injured in the incident were Harpreet Singh, Karnail Singh, Ranjit Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Harjit Singh, Sohan Singh and Gurpreet Singh. They were brought to the Civil Hospital, Jagraon.

Later Gurpreet Singh was referred to a hospital in Ludhiana. However, the truck driver managed to flee along with the vehicle.



Ex-lover booked for kidnapping woman
Our Correspondent

Khanna, July 11
The Sadar police have booked Harjit Singh of Manupur village under Section 364 of the IPC on the complaint of Mewa Singh of the same village for allegedly kidnapping his wife Karnail Kaur. They were married for the past 27 years and have four children.

According to the statement given to the police, Harjit has stated that his wife left for Morinda to see a relative on July 3, and has not returned so far. A report to this effect had already been lodged with the police.

He has now been informed by Gurnail Singh that he had cited Karnail Kaur with Harjit on July 2 and further that he had spotted them together on a motorcycle the next day.



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