L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Two Avon units close down today
300 workers to be rendered jobless
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
There was a flurry of activity at Avon Bicycle Components Private Limited today as two units of the company would be closed down from tomorrow. Anticipating violence by the employees’ union, police personnel were deployed at the factory on the Gill road here.

The union, on the other hand, persisted with its demand of withdrawal of the closure orders and termed the deployment of the police as unwarranted and a move to “tarnish the image of workers and to scare them”.

“Despite getting permission for the closure, the chances of violence are high and to tackle the situation we have sought the police help,” said company’s legal adviser D.B. Arora.

Reacting to the same, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) joint secretary Jagdish Chand said: “Workers have never resorted to violence. Management is unduly trying to scare them and portraying a false image of workers.”

More than 100 police personnel were present inside and outside the factory premises. While union leaders maintained they would not accept closure, the company claimed that 26 workers had already accepted compensation.

The closure of the handle and pedal units of Avon Bicycle Components was permitted by the Secretary, Labour Department, recently on grounds of continued losses and indiscipline cited by the management.

As the closure comes to effect from tomorrow, more than 300 workers would be rendered jobless. Reacting to the order, workers filed a review application, the hearing of which took place on September 5 at Chandigarh. “No stay order has been passed and we expect the review application to be cancelled,” Mr Arora said.

Workers, who are upset with the closure order, said in case their review application did not evoke any positive response, they would not hesitate from moving the court. “The reasons cited for the closure are false. If they go ahead with it, we would move the court,” said Mr Chand.

While he alleged that the management’s offer for compensation did not include retrenchment benefit, Mr Arora denied the same and said, “It includes, among other things, retrenchment compensation and gratuity.” He said 26 workers had already taken compensation. A total of Rs 1.07 crore would be given to workers rendered jobless on account of the closure of units, he added.



Schools ignore directive on Vande Mataram
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, September 7
Most of the private schools ignored the directive of the Central Government to sing the National Song to mark its centenary today. Only a few government schools and others, reportedly being run by the RSS, observed the directions in Ludhiana.

The Muslim community, led by its religious head Maulana Atiq-u-Rehman, brother of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam, refrained from singing song. He said although he and his community had full respect for the National Song, there were certain words and phrases in the song that went against the tenets of Islam.

The Maulana is also the president of the minority wing of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. He said Muslims were as staunch nationalists as anybody else.

“But”, he said, “it should be the discretion of an individual to sing or not to sing the song. The Muslims have contributed a lot towards the freedom struggle and they have sacrificed their lives to safeguard the unity and integrity of the country. Singing or not singing the national song does not necessarily determine your nationalism. That is why Muslims students did not participate in the recitation of the National Song.”

“At the same time”, he added, “we have no objection to singing the National Anthem or “Sare jahan say achha, Hindustan hamara”.

The Principal of a leading school in the city said it was unfortunate that certain people and parties were trying to politicise and communalise the issue. “Such things must not be imposed on unwilling people as these could lead to bitterness and alienation only. A few parties were imposing such things to get political mileage only,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Bharat Vikas Parishad, Shivaji branch, today celebrated centenary of “Vande Mataram” at Shanti Niketan Adarsh Vidyalaya. The president of the parishad, Mr Randhir Sharma, told the students the role of “Vande Mataram” in the freedom struggle. Books relating to “Vande Mataram” were also distributed among students.

More than 100 youths took part in a function organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra at the Dairy Development Department. The youths pledged to strengthen the unity and integrity of the country.

Students of Government Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar, observed the day by singing the song. Anita, a student of class IX said, “We really feel proud today. The song reminds us of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters of our country.”

Meanwhile, activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha took out a march to mark the 100 years of the National Song. The procession, led by its president, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, passed through different areas and concluded at Samrala Chowk, where they sang the National Song.

The local unit of the Congress Sewa Dal also organised a function to mark the occasion.



Highway robber dares cops with strikes 
Victim doctor turns investigator
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
In a shocking incident of police apathy, a middle-aged highway robber is daringly striking at one victim after another on the National Highway No. 1 stretch from New Delhi to Ludhiana with the police unable to track him for the past 10 days.

While the Delhi, Haryana and Punjab police pass the buck at each other and even refuse to register of the FIR, a Ludhiana-based ayurvedic doctor, Ravinder Chopra, who had become one of his victims had to turn investigator to trace the car owner and gather the exploits of the accused.

He was allegedly looted by the accused on September 3 between Ambala and Basantpura near Sirhind but till date no police station officials were willing to register his case.

The unidentified man offers lift to commuters in the late evening hours and then robs them at pistol-point at different isolated places where he beats those trying to resist him. The robber moves around in the Indica car, which belongs to a Sangrur-based ex-serviceman.

The police knows that the car is stolen as an FIR was lodged by the ex-serviceman in Muruthal police station on September 1. Yet, the accused is not only using the same car but even getting toll tax receipts at various barriers on the stretch.

Narrating his tale of woes, Dr Chopra, employed with Mata Vaishno Devi Charitable Hospital here told The Tribune that on September 3 late night, he was returning from his in-laws’ house in Ambala. He wanted to board a bus but a white salwar-kameej clad person driving an Indica offered him lift.

He took the car and both exchanged pleasantries. However, after crossing Rajpura, the driver took out a loaded pistol and snatched Rs 3700 and a mobile phone from the doctor. The victim was left stranded on the road.

He travelled by foot for nearly 7-8 km to approach the Basantpoura police station.

However, the cops refused to help him, saying that the case would be registered at Ambala as he was ‘‘kidnapped’’ from there as per their interpretation of the events.

The Ambala police, however, said the crime took place between Rajpura and Basantpura and hence the FIR should be registered there.

The harassed doctor said he had noted the car number. With the help of some friends he tracked down the owner, “I was shocked that the accused had not changed the car number and seemed to have no fear of the law.’’

The doctor was excited to find the car owner hoping to catch him, “But the owner Mr Jagjit Singh was literally in tears.’’ He told the doctor that an accused with same description had snatched his car near Muruthal. Since then, every other day he gets queries from the cops.



MC orders probe into pool scam
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation today ordered an inquiry into the alleged swimming pool scam following allegations that some local body employees had pocketed public money paid by residents to become members.

Mr Vikas Partap, Commissioner, MC, said he had asked Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner, to look into the allegations and submit a report.

He said he would not spare any employee found guilty. The allegations of embezzlement came to light yesterday when some members of the pool said they paid membership fee to employees but were not issued identity cards required for entering the pool area.

The matter was exposed when a new coach was appointed recently. He did not allow the members in question to enter the pool compound without an ID card. The members then realised that they were fleeced, allegedly by the employees who did not issue them the requisite ID cards.

They submitted their complaint to Mr Partap yesterday. The complaints had been appended with copies of receipts, without any membership numbers, besides the address of the holder.

The MC swimming pool has been in the thick of controversy for quite some time now due to these employees.

Some women members of the pool had complained that they were “peeping Toms” and at times misbehaved with them. Many residents, who had taken life membership, had stopped visiting the place due to the misbehaviour of these employees.

The issue was highlighted by the local media and the authorities banned the entry of these employees in the pool compound.



Pool closed, to be filled afresh

The MC closed the swimming pool for some days today to launch a cleanliness drive in the pool following reports that the water was not fit for swimming.

The Commissioner directed the pool authorities to discharge the water and fill it afresh so that it does not pose a health hazard to swimmers.

Mr Sarabjit Singh Khangura, swimming coach, said the pool would remain closed till next Wednesday as it would take around two days to get the water discharged. It would be filled with fresh water for two days. “By all means, it would be opened for the public by Thursday,” said the coach.

He said in view the inconvenience to the public, the required repairs would be carried out after the season was over by mid-October. 



Of vanishing tribe of folk singers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Chhapar (Ludhiana), September 7
The number of visitors to the annual Chhapar Mela in this district may be increasing every year, but the traditional folk singers, who used to entertain the visitors there, seem to be vanishing. So are the listeners who would sit through the nights to listen to them. The melodious voice of the folk singers seems to have been lost in the din of conferences at the mela.

The mela is considered to be one of the important cultural festivals of Punjab. Old timers, like Karam Singh Dhillon of Detwal village recall that the mela would spread to hundreds of acres of the vacant land about four decades ago. Since the paddy was not grown during those days in Punjab, there was abundant land available. People would sit over sand dunes under the moonlight to listen to the traditional folk singers.

Mr Dhillon said there would be scores of folk singers surrounded by a big audience. This remained to be the prime attraction at the mela.

However, with the passage of time, the space for the mela had shrunk as people started growing paddy. As if that was not enough, the political parties had further added to the space problems as most of those set up their stages to address for conferences.

Besides, there was no restriction on the number of loudspeakers the parties install, thus adding to the chaos and confusion, Mr Dhillon said.

The folk singers also regret the loss of cool atmosphere of the mela. They would not use any mikes or loudspeakers. They did not use it even now. However, their voice got lost in the sound of loudspeakers. Now, they searched for the isolated corners to hold their shows.

One such group was performing at the nearby crematorium. However, very few diehard admirers listen to them, he added.

The singers said every year the number of folk singers coming to the mela was declining. So was the number of listeners. They said, the time was not that far when there would be no traditional folk singers singing the songs at a major cultural festival.

They suggested that the government must earmark a particular space for them at the mela.



2 women end life

Ludhiana, September 7
Two women reportedly committed suicide in separate incidents in the city in the last 24 hours.
Mamta (30), a resident of Gagan Nagar, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her house today afternoon by her husband.

Sunita, another married woman, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her house in Kabir Nagar. She was suffering from depression due to some domestic dispute. The police is investigating the case. — TNS



Damaged Bhakra canal wall gives villagers sleepless nights
Our Correspondent

Khamano, September 7
Residents of around 12 villages adjoining Thablan village, situated on the banks of the Bhakra canal, are in a state of panic as concrete surface has come off at around 10 places on about 2 km stretch of the canal wall.

Some farmers, working in their fields nearby the canal, said water might breach the canal at those damaged points anytime, inundating their fields. They had informed the canal authorities many times, but in vain.

According to reliable sources, huge funds reach canal officials every year for carrying out repair work, but they pay no attention towards its condition, resulting in widening of the damaged patches with the each passing day. The water level is increasing in the canal because of heavy rain in the catchment areas.

The Bhakra Dam authorities have already alerted the villagers that more water could be released in the canal.

Residents of Thablan, Wazidpur, Gandhuan, Bhirchi, Nogawan, Shadipur, Panjkoha and Fatehpur Jattan and some other villages and leaders of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Kuldip Singh Bharmajra, Bhinder Singh ranwan, Amarpreet Singh Panjkoha and Lachman Singh Manderan have demanded immediate repair of the canal to save crops and lives in the area.

The district authorities and officials of the Canal Department had assured the villagers that all arrangements to tackle floods had been completed, but the poor shape of the canal tells another story.

The Xen and the SDO of the department in Patiala told this correspondent on the phone that repair work on the canal could not be completed for the shortage of funds. They said it would start very soon.

However, the Canal Department authorities have been trying to save the canal by filling the damaged patches with bags of sand, which, it seems, not going to serve the purpose.



Ganesh idols immersed in canal
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 7
Various local religious organisations celebrated Ganesh Mahotsav and immersed idols of their deity amidst drumbeats and chants of “Ganpati Bappa Moriya” in the Sirhind Canal, near here, yesterday.

As the 10-day Ganesh festival drew to a close, idols of the God of Wisdom, were taken to the nearby Sirhind Canal under the banners of the Bhartia Mahabir Dal, Ganpati Seva Sangh, Shri Ram Mandir, Shri Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Har Har Maha Dev, and Bajrang Dal for “visarjan.”

According to Mr Bimal Kumar Sharma, Mr Yogesh Goyal and Mr Deepak Sharma, office-bearers of various organisations, puja was performed at various temples during the past 10 days. Men, women and children joined the puja and procession yesterday.

Keeping in view the need to avoid water pollution in the canal, small idols were made, claimed the organisers.



MLA lays stone for sewer line
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
To meet the needs of all areas in the city, the government is laying a sewerage at a cost of Rs 190 crore with help from HUDCO. This was stated by Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, while addressing people at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a stretch of the sewer line on Gill Road here recently. Mayor Nahar Singh Gill was also present on the occasion.

He said a sewer line would be laid from Lohara village and would pass through various parts of the city and would discharge effluents into a sewerage treatment plant at Balloke village.

Mr Dakha said the money for the project had been arranged and work was expected to start in a week’s time. The work would be completed in four months. Residents of Baba Deep Singh Colony, Guru Nanak Colony, Bhai Himmat Singh Nagar, Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar and others in their vicinity would benefit from the project.

He added that the long-pending demand for metalled roads in all these colonies would also be fulfilled once the sewer line was in place.

The broken bridge on Gill Road would be constructed while the new bridge under construction would be completed in time since the sanctioned amount for both these projects had been deposited with the Irrigation Department.

The MLA said he would take up the case of the shifting of the railway crossing on the Dhuri line near Canal Road with the Chief Minister following a hue and cry raised by residents of the area. If need be, the matter would also be taken up with Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, he added.

The Mayor said a sum of Rs 280 crore would be spent on the overall development of the city this year. Of this, Rs 75 crore would be spent to strengthen the existing sewerage, Rs 46 crore on the construction of a flyover at Bhai Bala Chowk, Rs 32 crore on recarpeting roads, Rs 17 crore on bricking pavements in various undeveloped areas of the city, Rs 10 crore on increasing the number of streetlights and Rs 8 crore on providing utilities in colonies, he added.

He revealed that soon he would move a resolution in the House to bring Gill village and other villages within the municipal limits so that additional facilities could be provided.

Others present on the occasion included Palvinder Singh Taggar and Rajinder Singh Bajwa (both councillors), Mr Lal Singh, Mr Kulvinder Singh and Mr Rakesh Kumar, all sarpanches. 



Taxation Bar members rue harassment at barriers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
All bonafide registered dealers could obtain Central Sales Tax form C in desired quantity provided they appended the list of used C forms with their applications. The Excise and Taxation Department was maintaining sufficient stock of C forms and the dealers would have no problem, whatsoever in this respect.

The demand for extension of last date for filing the annual statement by registered dealers from November 20, 2006 to March 31, 2007 was also under consideration in view of the complaints that C forms in short supply in several states.

This assurance was given by Mr D.P. Reddy, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, while presiding over a meeting organised by Punjab Tax Bar Association (PTBA) here today. Mr Neelkanth, Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Jarnail Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC), Mr T.L. Jindal, DETC, Mr Jaspal Garg and Mr D.K.Verma, both Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioners, along with all Excise and Taxation Officers and office-bearers of PTBA from all over the state, attended the meeting.

Focusing on the problems being faced by members of taxation bar at different places in Punjab, Mr Ashok Juneja, chairman and Mr Lalit Takyar, secretary-general of the association, urged the department to transfer all relevant records pertaining to detention of vehicle at state barriers to the respective district headquarters where the dealers concerned were registered, for final disposal of the cases. This step would save both the dealers and the Bar members from running to the tax barriers time and again.

The PTBA functionaries stressed that vehicles should not be detained for suspected under-valuation, clerical or technical omissions or other minor mistakes. They further wanted that no penalty should be imposed at the barriers if there were no attempts to evade tax.

Mr Juneja urged the senior taxation officials to evolve a mechanism under which the cases of detained vehicles were decided on the same day or at the most on next working days since prolonged detention of vehicles and goods caused huge losses to the dealers and transporters.

Taking part in the deliberations, Mr Rajiv Johar, president and Mr Varinder Sharma, secretary of District Taxation Bar Association (Sales Tax), pointed out the need for suitable increase in the staff strength in the sales tax office and streamlining the computer systems at district headquarters of Excise and Taxation Department.

Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, chairman, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, asked that the need for certificate contained in rules form 20 Part B of VAT Act and Rules be dispensed with. Echoing these views, Mr B.R. Kaushal, general secretary of PTBA, said that if at all this certificate was required, the same may be allowed to be issued by the chartered accountants, advocates or income tax practitioners.



Conferences galore
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 7
Thousands of devotees thronged the biggest rural fair of North India, Chhapar Mela, to pay obeisance to Guga, the embodiment of “nag devta”, on the second day of the mega event near here today. Local leaders of various political parties addressed their conferences though they had to take the help of singers and “dhadis” to attract gathering.

The owner of a large number of fun-rides, including merry-go-rounds, swings, etc, were doing brisk business. Though usually only men come to the mela on second and subsequent days, a large number of women accompanied their families. Local leaders of various political parties, including the Congress, the SAD, the SAD (A) and the Lok Bhalai Party addressed their respective conferences. Whereas the Congress leaders recounted the achievements of the Union and state governments, the Opposition leaders termed the government as a complete failure.

Mr Bal Anand, former Ambassador, Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura, Mr Jasbir Singh Khangura, Mr Sukhdev Singh Walia, Mr Dharam Singh Khera (Congress), Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Mann Singh Garcha, Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhala, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie and Mr Kuljit Singh Boparai (SAD), Mr Kuldeep Singh Karwal, Mr Darshan Singh Nathumajra, all SAD (A) leaders, and Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, Lok Bhalai Party, addressed the gatherings.



Son, daughter-in-law cut man’s beard, hair
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, September 7
The police has booked son and daughter-in-law of Amar Singh of Powat village for cutting his beard and hair.
Amar Singh said his son, Balwinder Singh, alias Bobby, and his second son Nachhattar Singh’s wife, Surjit Kaur, used to quarrel with him. “Surjit Kaur used to cast aspersions on my character,” he added.

On 5 September, he had just returned from the residence of one Kuldip Singh Grewal when Bobby started quarrelling with him and cut his beard and hair with the help of Surjit Kaur. They did so after tying him to a bed.

On the other hand, Nachhattar Singh and Bobby alleged that their father used to misbehave with his daughters-in-law after getting drunk.

The police has rested bobby.



Robbery bid at Chhapar Mela
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 7
Four members of a family, including three children, were drugged by some miscreants whose robbery attempt failed as incidentally some members of the family did not consume a drug-laced ladoo offered by them.

Meanwhile, Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, has appealed to devotees to beware of pickpockets and miscreants who might be try to swindle them in the guise of beggars or followers of Guga.

“Though we have deputed a special force to keep a watch on miscreants at the mela site, devotees should avoid taking eatables from strangers. They should also beware of pickpockets in the guise of beggars and followers of Guga,” said Mr Jaiswal.

According to Mr Ved Parkash, a resident of Ghari Tarkhana near Machhiwara, Sandeep Singh, alias Shanti (8), Jagjot Singh (10), Rajwinder Kaur Rodi (12), his grandchildren, and Harmesh Lal, his son, got disoriented after consuming a ladoo that was offered by three persons at Guga Mari yesterday.

“Now I understand that the trio wanted to rob me of my golden ring and ‘kara’ as they mistook me as having come alone to the mela. Soon after my grandchildren and son ate the ladoo, they become disoriented and started talking in an abnormal way,” said Mr Ved Parkash, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune at Hind Hospital today. However, a robbery was averted as three members of the family had not consumed the ladoo. Though the victims were said to be out of danger, they were not declared fit for making a statement yet.

At least four similar incidents were reported from the mela site last year. Some victims were deprived of their valuables, including jewellery.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |