L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Thousands hit as farmers block trains
Commuters stranded from 1 pm to 3 pm; Kisan sabha
wants loan waiver
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
Thousands of passengers were stranded today for more than two hours at various railway stations and on the tracks as activists of the Punjab Kisan Sabha blocked rail traffic as part of their ‘rail roko aandolan’ in pursuance of their various demands from 1 pm to 3 pm.

The sabha activists were demanding that the outstanding loans of farmers be waived. Besides, they said, the repeated protests, appeals and representations to the governments at the Centre and in the state had fallen on deaf years. They claimed that they were forced to adopt the agitational path which included the stopping of the trains. They said in case their demands were not met, they would further intensify their agitation.

On the other hand, the stranded passengers rued the attitude of those blocking the train traffic. A number of passengers of the Dadar Express, plying between Mumbai and Amritsar, who were held up at the Ludhiana Railway Station for about two hours, expressed their disgust over the approach of the protesting farmers. Suman Rana, a student from Amritsar who is studying in Mumbai, said, “May be the farmers’ demands are genuine, but why to make others suffer?” She said she had come on a brief vacation and when she was about to reach home, she was stuck for two hours.

Another passenger Kulwant Singh, who was travelling along with his family and was to get down at Jalandhar, said, “It is torturous to be held up for no particular reason after such a long journey. We hoped that we would have our lunch at home, but for the blockade.” He said it was quite unfortunate that people were holding others to ransom for their own demands.

The general secretary of the sabha, Mr Lehmbhar Singh Taggar, claimed that the protest was successful. He disclosed that everywhere the “blockade was successful” as train traffic had been brought to a halt for full two hours. Not a single train moved during this time.

The Ludhiana Railway Station, from where at least 20 passenger and goods trains pass from 1 pm to 3 pm wore a deserted look. The only exception was the stranded Dadar Express and its helpless passengers. The train had been stopped here as the other group of Kisan Sabha activists was holding the dharna at Philaur.

The Ludhiana Area Traffic Manager of the Railways, Mr NS Mann, said normal train traffic was restored at 3 pm. He said a number of trains were stopped at the railway stations only to avoid more inconvenience to the passengers on the isolated spots and also to prevent any untoward incident.



Man bludgeons estranged wife to death
Tribune News Service

The accused Gurbachan Singh in police custody
The accused Gurbachan Singh in police custody. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, September 24
A man brutally bludgeoned his estranged wife to death with a cricket stump on a street near New Madhopuri Chowk early this morning. Despite living separately from the woman, he was allegedly trying to dictate terms to her and crushed her head when she continued to resist him.

The accused Gurbachan Singh, aged about 35, stopped the woman, Anju, at about 6:45 a.m. when she was on her way to the office of a private company. The accused was, apparently, waiting for her in the street with a cricket stump.

After a few minutes of heated arguments, he pounced on the woman and smashed her head into pieces by hitting her repeatedly with the stump.

SHO, Basti Jodhewal, Inspector Gurbans Singh Bains told Ludhiana Tribune that the man was later arrested from a garbage dump near Tibba road. He claimed the accused confessed to committing the crime in a fit of rage, as he suspected his estranged wife of infidelity.

The couple have two sons, aged nine and six.

The police said the accused was doing odd jobs, after the factory in which he used to work closed down recently.

They had been filing complaints against each other in the Basti Jodhewal police station on one issue or the other since 2000.

Meanwhile, heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the residence of the woman in New Moti Nagar. Her elder brother Ashwani Kumar said the accused had made the life of his sister a hell. However, they had not even thought in their wildest dreams that the relationship would end in such a ghastly manner.



9 SSPs to man city for PM’s security
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
The city wears a police cantonment like look with thousands of cops headed by nine SSPs being deployed at various places under the supervision of an IG and two DIGs for ensuring foolproof security for the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the city on September 27.

The state government is not taking chances about the security in the wake of the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that terrorist can strike again anywhere in the country. To ensure that, the government is relying directly on the SSPs. It is perhaps a record of sorts for the city that it would be manned by nine SSPs for a few days.

The IG, Mr H S Dhillon, who is heading the security arrangements carried out a rehearsal this evening from Halwara to Laddowal to check and finetune the arrangements. Each SSP has been provided the task of ensuring problem-free visit of the PM. Two DIGs would coordinate and superivise the work of the SSPs.

The rehearsal concentrated on the possibility that the PM would have to take the land route to Ludhiana after landing at Halwara. He is scheduled to fly in a chopper from Halwara to the city but in case of weather problem he would have to take the land route to Guru Nanak Stadium and later to Laddowal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, has directed all officers of the different departments to make foolproof arrangements at all venues concerning their department for the proper conduct of the visit.

These directions were given by the Deputy Commissioner in a special meeting held under his chairmanship to review the progress of arrangements at Guru Nank Stadium, here last evening.

He said the Prime Minister would launch three important projects — lay the foundation stone of Dedicated Freight Corridor (Eastern) Project, remote inauguration of the Chandigarh-Morinda Rail Line and remote flagging off the Amritsar-Hardwar Jan Shatabadi Express. He said would also address a public rally organised by the Government of Punjab in the stadium. Mr Lalu Parsad, Union Minister for Railways, andCapt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab would also address the rally. After this the Prime Minister would inaugurate Field Fresh Agri Centre of Excellence at Ladowal.

Reviewing the arrangements, Mr. Gupta asked the officers of Municipal Corporation to ensure the proper cleanliness in the city and to ensure the sufficient number of fire tenders around the venues of the functions.

He also asked the civil Surgeon to depute required number of medical teams fully equipped with life saving medicines at all the venues. One Duty Magistrate and one senior police officer have been deputed at all venues.

The Deputy Commissioner also directed the officers to ensure the full safety of the synthetic track in Guru Nanak Stadium while making the arrangements.

Mr. A S Rai SSP Ludhiana while addressing the meeting said that for the smooth conduct of the visit of the Prime Minister elaborate security arrangement were being made inside and out side the venues and in other parts of the city. He said that to facilitate the smooth visit, the traffic plan was being prepared for diverting the traffic from some routes to the others. He said that the traffic plan would be got published in the newspapers and telecasted through the cable net work for the convenience of the public. 



Will the PM announce a new package for Punjab?
Most of the earlier promised projects still pending 
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 24
Will Prime Minister Manmohan Singh give any new package to Punjab during his two-day visit to the state on September 27 and 28 in the wake of the failure of the Punjab Government to implement any of the projects announced by him during his visit to Amritsar during the 400th anniversary celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib on September 30 last year.

The Prime Minister in Amritsar had announced the establishment of a Guru Granth Sahib Institute of Advanced Studies at Amritsar, slum development project and completion of Galiara project around Harmandar Sahib, handing over Gobind Singh fort to the Punjab Government and sewerage for the Holy City.

Inquiries show that none of these four major projects have been implemented by the Punjab Government despite a number of meetings held between the officials of the government and the Prime Minister’s Office. These projects have not taken off despite the keenness of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The Guru Granth Sahib Institute of Advanced Studies was approved by the University Grants Commission to be set up on the campus of Guru Nanak Dev University. But this was taken over later by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. It planned an autonomous institute and the same has been approved by the Planning Commission, according to information available with this reporter. The Finance and Expenditure Committee of the HRD Ministry is yet to clear this project now.

Inquiries show that an office of the institute was opened on the campus of the GND University and some appointments of non-teaching staff were also made. But this office has now been wound up.

Regarding the handing over of the Gobind Singh Fort, the Defence Ministry had sought 10 acres of land and Rs 40 crore in lieu of the handing over of the fort to the state government. But the Punjab Government expressed its inability to make the payment and arrange for the land. The state government has sought the transfer of the fort without any condition.

The Galiara scheme around Harmandar Sahib has also not taken off so far. Nor the slum development and water and sewerage projects have been taken up. The city development plan for Amritsar has been lately cleared with a sum of Rs 200 crore under the Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewable Programme.

During his last visit to Amritsar in the month of January at the time of flagging off the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service, the Prime Minister did not make any announcement of any package in view of the failure of the state government to implement any of the projects announced earlier.

The state government had appointed Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, as its coordinator to monitor the developments in the implementation of the projects announced by the Prime Minister.

Now when the Prime Minister is visiting Punjab again on September 27 and 28, the Punjab Government is hoping that he would announce some sops for the state. It has already submitted projects for the farmers of Punjab pertaining to the suicides by farmers and their indebtedness. The Prime Minister has already granted a huge financial assistance to the Vidharbha farmers where the number of suicide deaths of farmers was quite alarming. Punjab has also witnessed quite a large number of suicides of farmers and has sought financial help on the pattern of Vidharbha.

Dr Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Ludhiana at the time of inauguration of Satguru Pratap Singh Apollo Hospital, had declared that Ludhiana would be made a model city and would be covered under the city development of Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewable Yojna. The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation submitted a project worth about Rs 4000 crore which has not been approved and was sent back to the state for further appraisal. The city plan did not include action plan for the cleaning of the Budha nullah. The Municipal Corporation is busy in redesigning the project report.

Punjab industries have suffered due to militancy in the first instant and grant of incentives to hill states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttranchal by the NDA government. These benefits have been further extended to these states till 2010. The grant of benefits of exemption of central excise duty, income tax and other state taxes has resulted in the shifting of some of the industrial units from Punjab to these states.

The Punjab Government has been pressing for the grant of some package to Punjab since the Beant Singh government, but the Centre has not agreed to extend any of these benefits. There is a lot of resentment among the traders and the industrialists over the apathy of the Centre.

Punjab’s loan of Rs 3700 crore which was granted to fight militancy has not been waived so far. The then Prime Minister late PV Narasimha Rao made an announcement in Ludhiana in April 1994 that the loan would be waived. Then Mr Inder Kumar Gujral also announced that the loan of Punjab had been waived. Only two instalments have been waived and the loan is still standing against Punjab.

Meanwhile, final touches are being given to the visit of the Prime Minister to Ludhiana on September 27.



PM to address public meeting at stadium
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh will inaugurate three projects at Guru Nanak Stadium during his visit to the city on September 27. Besides, he will inaugurate a chain of cold storages of Fieldfresh Foods Pvt Ltd owned by Bharti Enterprises.

The Prime Minister will also address the people there and it would be an official public rally of the government and not of the Congress.

The Prime Minister after arriving at Guru Nanak Stadium will not move out anywhere. He will inaugurate all three projects from the stadium. These include the inauguration of the North-East Railway Freight Corridor, the Morinda-Chandigarh railway line and the special Amritsar Delhi-Shatabdi Express.

The Minister for Rural Development, Mr Lal Singh, said here yesterday that there was a slight change in the programme of the Prime Minister. Instead of addressing a political rally, he would be addressing an official function which would also be open to the general public.

Elaborating, he said, the programme would be that of the government and not of the Congress party. He said the Prime Minister would visit the state once again to address a Congress rally.



Ex-wrestler’s treatment of cancer floored
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 24
Bashir Mohammad, a resident of the local Batta Bagg, who once used to floor wrestlers in the blink of an eye, is feeling helpless, as his family had to discontinue his treatment of oral cancer for want of money.

Members of his family, who have already spent more than Rs 3 lakh on his treatment for three months, are finding it difficult to take the wrestler for the required irradiation to a hospital in Ludhiana daily.

The family has now sought the help of NGOs of the area in this regard.

According to Kaka Khan, son of Bashir Mohammad, “we have exhausted all our savings. My father can be saved if some philanthropist or NGO comes to our rescue and sponsor the further treatment that needs daily irradiation at Cancer Hospital in Ludhiana.”

Bashir Khan had been doing manual labour to make ends meet. He later turned into a vegetable vendor. 



Ludhiana calling

Photo by Sayeed AhmedJournalists have a brief of remaining objective while covering an incident. But sometimes one group becomes so oppressive on the other that the journos have to step in. If not to attack, then at least to defend. This is exactly what two journalists did by saving girls from police batons on the PAU campus the other day. The journos drew huge applause all around for their bravery.

Value time, please

Punctuality is one thing that is a biggest casualty in the various functions organised in the city. The invitations sent by the organisers mention the time of the function but unfortunately even after half an hour of the proposed time nobody is seen at the venue. The other day a function was to start at 8.30 pm but even at 10 pm it was not started. One wonders when will Ludhianvis start valuing time.

Thanks PM

The visit of a VIP to the city comes as a whiff of fresh air if the massive cleaning operation is any indication. And if the person is not other than the Prime Minister himself the zeal behind the cleaning spree can be well understood. Residents are hoping that on the penultimate day of his visit, the roads from where his cavalcade would pass would be cleaned. The garbage would be lifted and wild growth of vegetation along the roadside would be removed. Encroachers would be forced to hibernate along with their paraphernalia. Footpaths would get a new lease of life. And so on. There is a lot to thank him!

Bin Laden

The news of Osama bin Laden’s death left many people curious about him. Whether he was dead or alive was the million dollar question making rounds in the city. Some people were so curious that they even called up newspaper offices to find out whether he was actually dead or not.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev and Jupinderjit Singh



Drive to check issuing of voter cards
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, yesterday launched a special drive to check the ongoing process of issuing new voter identity cards (VIC) to the remaining voters and to make required corrections in the already issued VICs in the district. The drive was launched at Daipee village in Kila Raipur Vidhan Sabha constituency.

Mr Gupta said as per the directions of the Election Commission of India, the administration had launched a special drive to issue voter identity cards to each and every voter and made it clear that in the coming elections no voter could cast his vote without presenting the identity card.

He said during this drive, officials would prepare new voter identity cards in place of earlier incorrect cards free of cost. They would also prepare new card who had lost their VIC by charging Rs 25 each. Mr Gupta said forms were also being filled for making corrections in the voter lists, if any.

He said in all 12 Vidhan Sabha segments in the district would be covered under this drive being conducted from September 21 to November 20.

In the first round, four constituencies, including Kila Raipur, Ludhiana North, Ludhiana East and Ludhiana West have been taken up and after completing the first round, the work will be started in other constituencies by deputing two teams for photography in each constituency.

He said in Ludhiana district there were total 19,76,964 voters out of which 9,31,162 had already been provided with VICs and remaining 10,45, 802 would be covered during this drive.

Mr Gupta directed all Electoral Officers and Supervisory staff to accord top priority to this drive and ensure 100 per cent corrections of the voter lists during this drive.

He said on the first day of the drive, 900 voters without VIC had turned up for photography in Sahauli village.

Mr Gupta also cleared that in future these VICs would be considered as an authentic document for identification of the person.

Giving the constituency wise schedule of the special drive, Mr Gupta informed that the photography would be conducted in Kila Raipur constituency from 21.9.06 to 5.11.06, in Ludhiana North from 25.9.06 to 5.11.06, Ludhiana West from 25.9.06 to 5.11.06, Ludhiana East 25.9.06 to 5.11.06, Jagroan from 10.11.06 to 20.11.06, Raikot from 10.11.06 to 20.11.06, Dakha 10.11.06 to 20.11.06, Ludhiana Rural from 10.11.06 to 20.11.06, Payal from 10.11.06 to 20.11.06 and in Khanna from 10.11.06 to 20.11.06.

Mrs Amrita Gill, SDM Ludhiana (East) and Electoral Officer 56- Kila Raipur constituency, who is supervising the drive, said in all 128 polling booths in the Kila Raipur constituency, the photography for VIC and work for other corrections would be completed by 5.11.2006, for which two separate teams of photographers had been deputed. 



Vendor caught diluting milk with water 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 24
A milk vendor was caught mixing water in milk containers at Pakhowal Road here yesterday by the Civil Surgeon, Dr Yash Pal Singla, who called health officials to collect samples.

As the vendor and some of his supporters made an attempt to obstruct the process of collecting samples, Dr Singla called the police.

The Civil Surgeon told mediapersons that during his morning walk he happened to see a milkman adding water to the milk.

“I challenged the milk vendor and at the same time summoned health officials,” he said.

Dr Singla said he intimated the SSP, Mr Amarjit Singh Rai, about the incident and a PCR motor cycle arrived on the spot.

The Kochhar market police post, however, failed to move and throughout the 
day no one from the police post approached the Civil Surgeon so that the accused, who was taken in to custody, could be booked.

Inquiries with police revealed that the matter was being investigated.

Police sources said the Civil Surgeon had not lodged a formal complaint with the police and as soon as a complaint was received, a case would be registered against the milk vendor.

Dr Singla made it clear that adulteration of milk or other food items would not be allowed at any cost and defaulters would be sternly dealt with.



Sarabha's statue to be shifted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 24
Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the municipal corporation to shift the statue of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha on a priority basis.
Earlier, Mr Parminder Mehta, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, had urged the district administration to shift the statue to some suitable place to maintain the respect and dignity of the great martyr.

In a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mehta had pointed out that with the construction of the elevated road from the Jagraon bridge to the Chand cinema, the statue at Clock Tower had come under the bridge and was being ignored by the authorities. In order to pay respect to the great martyr, and keeping in view the sentiments of the people, the statue should be shifted from the present site before the opening of the elevated road to vehicular traffic, he had demanded.



Terrorist victim’s kin claims job under quota
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 24
Ms Ramandeep Sharma, whose father was killed by militants at Bassian village, near Raikot, 14 years ago, has sought intervention of the higher authorities, including the Chief Minister, in getting job under the category reserved for terrorist victim families. She had applied for the post of primary teacher in Sangrur district but the authorities showed ignorance about such reservation.

Talking at Jhaner village, near here, she accused the authorities of showing indifference towards her claim for a reserved seat of teacher. As she was brought up by her maternal uncle at Jhaner and was later married at Dhuri, she had applied for the post in this district. She supported with requisite documents and death certificate of her father, who was shot dead along with six others on July 13, 1992.

“Instead of listening to me sympathetically, they asked me to produce copies of rules entitling me reservation. What pains more is that they went to the extent of humiliating me by telling that the terrorist victims had been killed due to their faults,” she rued. 



Gates put up for security reasons, say residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
Residents of Kitchlu Nagar today said they had erected gates in their colony only to protect themselves from chain snatchers and thieves. Addressing mediapersons, the residents showed documents pertaining to the decision taken by all of them to put up gates in the colony.

They said it was only after taking approval from all residents that they had decided to go ahead with installing gates. Moreover, resident contributed by paying Rs 5,000 each for their safety.

They added that some residents were opposing the move. They had made it a prestige issue.

‘‘We want that the gates are retained so that anti-social elements can be kept at bay. We met the Commissioner of MC in this connection. How can anybody say that we have some vested interests in putting up gates? ’’ they asked. 



Married woman succumbs to burn injuries
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 24
Maninder Kaur, a married woman of local ward number 7, who was admitted to a private hospital in a badly burnt state 12 days ago, succumbed to her burns and her body was cremated at Ludhiana yesterday evening.

The police has amended the case earlier registered against five persons of her in-laws' family under Sections 498-A, 307 and 120-B of the IPC for allegedly harassing her for more dowry and attempting to murder her.

According to Satnam Singh, maternal uncle of the deceased, Maninder had been set on fire by her in-laws on September 11, and she had accused five members of the family of harassing her for more dowry and attempting to murder her by setting her on fire.

According to the FIR, lodged on the complaint of Maninder Kaur, five members of her in-laws, including Rakesh Kumar (husband), Sunita Rani (mother-in-law), Paramjit Kaur (sister-in-law), Jiwan Lal (brother-in-law) and Jasbir Singh (mediator), had tried to kill her by setting her afire on September 11.

In her statement, a badly burnt Maninder had told the police that she had married Rakesh Kumar about two years ago. She had alleged that the accused had been harassing her for bringing inadequate dowry and giving birth to a female child.

"Though my parents had shown their inability to fulfill their demands, they continued harassing me and ultimately tried to kill me. Besides abusing and thrashing me, they set me afire when I was sitting alone in my room on the first floor of the house," Maninder had told the police and the doctors attending her at Ludhiana.

Maninder had suffered 95 per cent burns and was initially shifted to a local private hospital. Later, she was shifted to a multi-speciality hospital in Ludhiana. Though Satnam Singh had accused the police of inaction, Gurdeep Singh, SHO City, said Rakesh Kumar, the main accused, had been arrested and the police was conducting raids to nab the other accused. 



9 years after murder, SI chargesheeted
Vijay Bansal

Jagraon, September 24
A sub-inspector has been chargesheeted after nine years for kidnapping, murdering and causing disappearance of evidence. The victim, Gurcharan Singh, was kidnapped from here.

According to Ranjit Kaur, ASI Amrik Singh, who is now posted in the CIA wing, Ludhiana, had allegedly picked up her husband. On the next day when she inquired from CIA staff, Jagraon, about her husband, she was astonished to know that no person by that name was posted there.

Ranjit Kaur later moved the high court. Subsequently, a case under Section 364 of the IPC was registered against the ASI on May 15, 1999.

In 2005, the arrest warrants against the ASI were issued by a local court. The case was later committed to the Sessions Court. After hearing, the court of Mr Gurbir Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana, has chargesheeted the cop for kidnapping and murdering Gurcharan Singh and causing disappearance of evidence under Sections 364, 302 and 201 of the IPC. 



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