L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Pankaj Kapur attends alma mater function
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 18
The management, staff, students and alumni of Kundan Vidya Mandir (KVM) here will perhaps never forget the memorable moments they spent with Bollywood actors Pankaj Kapur and his wife Supriya Pathak last evening. The occasion was Founder’s Day celebrations of the school.

In a brief and exclusive conversation with Ludhiana Tribune, Pankaj said that he felt great as he met with some of his batch mates after decades. An alumni of KVM, Pankaj studied here from VII standard to XI standard.

Seeing the development of the school, Pankaj said, “Hats off to everyone. The school has progressed so much. I am amazed to see the development of my school. This is possible because of untiring efforts of school management, Principal and staff. I am touched by the warm hospitality given to me on this occasion,” he said.

His forthcoming films going to be released soon include “Dharam” and “Blue Umbrella.” On asked about his intentions of doing any Punjabi movie, Pankaj said he had great love for Punjab as he was born and brought up here in this industrial town.

“If I get some good script, I will definitely do one,” he said. The actor added that his all-time hit television serial “Karamchand” would be revived soon on the small screen.

Commenting on the popularity of his actor son Shahid, Pankaj said, “Any father would feel good to see the progress of his child. I am happy that he has created a niche for himself in the Bollywood Industry where competition is so tough.”

Meanwhile, the Founder's Day of KVM was celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. Mr Parag Jain, DIG (Police), was the chief guest. The guard of honour was presented by the Iron Eagle Club of the school.

The function started with “Navgrah Aradhna,”a splendid performance of worshipping nine planets to enjoy their bliss.

School Principal S.C.Saxena welcomed the distinguished guests.

A mime, “Female Foeticide,” was presented by Vishwas and Vidushi presented “Rasa-Anubhuti”.

Choreography “Heritage of India” expressing unity in diversity in India , a Rajasthani dance and classical dance were acclaimed by all.



Avtar’s family to celebrate Divali after 5 years
Jubilation over Pinki’s conviction
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
The house of Avtar Singh, alias Gola, who was brutally murdered by police cat-turned-cop Gurmeet Singh Pinki on January 7, 2001, had remained dark and silent for the past five Divali festivals. But this time the mood is different.

After remaining in deep sorrow, the family, consisting of his aged parents and three sisters, will finally decorate the house with lights and burst the loudest of crackers to express joy on getting the main accused Pinky convicted for life after a long legal, emotional and physical struggle.

For this family had not only refused to budge under the pressure of any threat to their lives and property, but had even turned down offers as high as Rs 2 crore, allegedly made by the accused to compromise the case. Besides, there were offers of government jobs for the two daughters and bearing expenses of their marriage and a kothi at Kitchlu Nagar for the aged parents.

Though the loss of their only son was unbearable and he cannot return to the family by any judgement, his parents, Amrik Singh, said they would celebrate Divali as a victory of good over evil.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune at their residence, Amrik Singh and his daughters Kamal Preet Kaur and Simran recalled their ordeal for justice in the case.

The family said they would still endeavour to seek capital punishment for the accused, ‘‘ We have huge level of satisfaction with the judgement but we would strive to see the accused hanged for the cold blooded murder of our young son,’’ said Amrik Singh.

The family had to sell off all the valuables to arrange money for fighting the case. It had to spend around Rs 9 lakh for it even though the advocates fought the case free of cost.

The family faced some emotional conflicts too. The wife and father-in-law of the Gurmeet Singh Pinky had visited the family twice begging for mercy in the case, ‘‘We were disturbed at their plight but we could not forgive Pinky for ruining our family.’’ he reminsced.

The sisters of the murdered youth have bore the brunt of the murder. Kamaljeet Kaur was happily pursuing higher secondary education when her brother was killed.

She runs a karyana shop after the murder and subsequent fight for justice forced her to abandon studies so that she could help her ageing parents for funding the education of the younger sister.

The family was now hoping that there would be no threat to them., ‘‘ We used to have midnight knocks on our gates and crank calls issuing life threats. We just hope the accused would understand we would not surrender to any tactics’’, says Kamaljeet Kaur.



Ex-media lensman held for blackmailing Mayor
2 women accomplices also arrested
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Sending shock waves in the region, especially in the media fraternity, the city police today announced the arrest of a former press photographer Amrik Singh Saggu, alias Prince, and his two women accomplices for allegedly attempting to blackmail city Mayor and senior Congress leader Nahar Singh Gill on the pretext of catching the leader on camera with some women in a compromising position.

Addressing a press conference here late this evening, city SSP A S Rai said the accused had never made any such CD but was demanding lakhs of rupees from the Mayor. The accused had also allegedly extorted money from another city industrialist . The police said it had recovered Rs 4.5 lakh from the accused. The three accused have also been charged with indulging in flesh trade.

The press conference was the culmination of a day-long drama about the case. Senior police officials of SP rank and above had to take Prince and the two women accomplices to a rest house near Kohara where they were questioned. This was allegedly done to question the accused in peace.

The accused has been booked under Sections 394 and 387 of the IPC, besides the relevant section of the Immoral Trafficking Act.

The accused presented before the mediapersons claimed he had been framed by the Mayor. He said he had some serious evidence against the Congress leaders and had thus been put behind bars to silence him.

The SSP did not divulge the name of the women accomplices. He said the names cannot be disclosed as the women were booked for involvement in flesh trade.



Rural doctors on the warpath
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 18
Rural medical service providers from nine districts of the state today came together on the platform of Rural Service Providers Association, Punjab, to launch an agitation against what they termed as gross discrimination, denial of facilities and undue interference in their day-to-day work.

Medical service providers from Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali joined the protest.

The agitating doctors, employed by zila parishads of the respective districts on a contract basis, took out a protest march from Bharat Nagar Chowk to the Mini-Secretariat where a rally was held and a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner. The protesters formed a human chain before commencement of the march and blocked vehicular traffic on the busy intersection for some time before they were persuaded to disperse.

Dr Aslam Parvez, state president of the association, alleged that qualified doctors, though on par with other PCMS doctors, were being discriminated against in the matter of salaries, service conditions and other benefits.

Making a strong case for regularisation of these doctors without any hike in pay, he also demanded restoration of the facility of maternity leave for female doctors, as also stopping undue pressure and interference by local politicians, sarpanches, panches and the zila parishad authorities.

Dr Parvez asserted that the contract system, adopted by the state government for rural medical services, was responsible for the conflict between doctors and villagers while apprehending that the existing conflict would further rise in the future as a result of faulty government policies towards the health sector.

Dr Sarotam Singh, district president of the association, maintained that rural dispensaries had been handed over to panchayats and zila parishads, which were unable to understand the problems of doctors.



Hoarding poses accident threat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
A huge hoarding erected by the supporters of Sant Baba Jaspal Singh on the Ferozepore road at Badhowal has people up in arms as this poses an accident threat.

The hoarding with photographs of the Baba announcing the holding of an all-religion congregation on October 28 and 29 and mass marriage of 1,100 girls was erected three days ago, about a fortnight ahead of the programme.

The people of the surrounding areas today told Ludhiana Tribune that the hoarding had been erected on the road itself with two pillars dug along the berms.

According to Master Bhajan Singh, Ludhiana district president of the Democratic Teachers Front, the erecting of hoardings on the roads should be banned. In most of the cases, such hoardings were erected a day or two ahead of the programme, but the Baba’s supporters, he said, had done it a fortnight in advance in this case.

He said the hoarding had been put up in clear violation of the high court orders. The possibility of accident increases during the night when drivers tend to drive along the berm, he added. As the pillars of the hoardings do not have any reflectors, these are not clearly visible from distance during the night, thus a potential cause for accidents.

Mr Bhajan Singh said the hoarding had been erected on one of the busiest roads. If the Baba wanted to do something good, his supporters should not do anything that would inconvenience others, he argued.

He regretted that the highway patrol officials had not taken any note of the hoarding. Similar was the case with officials of the Public Works Department, which has a separate anti-encroachment wing.



Prof Mohan Singh Mela starts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
The Prof Mohan Singh Mela started in the city here today. Members of Bhai Mohan Singh International Foundation, led by its Chairman Jagdev Singh Jassowal, took out a procession from the house of the late Prof Mohan Singh at Maharaj Nagar.

A large number of admirers of the great Punjabi writer joined the procession to pay homage to him. A statue of Prof Mohan Singh at Aarti Chowk on Ferozepore Road was garlanded profusely.

Mr Jagdev Singh said as per its tradition the actual mela would be held in Moga and start on October 20. But garlanding of the statue was done at Ludhiana to signify that the mela had formally begun.

There would be poetry recitation competitions among college students. Dhadhi and folk singers would entertain the crowds. The poems of Prof Mohan Singh would be read out and a few eminent personalities from all walks of life would also be honoured.



Special project to provide water to 124 towns
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Parliamentary Secretary for Power, Labour and Employment Surinder Dawar has said that the government had implemented a special programme to provide water supply and sewerage facilities to the population in 124 towns of the state and asserted that these projects would be completed by March, 2007.

Mr Dawar was addressing a function after listening to the complaints of the people at his office Cheema Chowk here yesterday.

He informed that to provide excellent basic amenities in the urban areas, plans of each and every city and town have been prepared and systematic development would be carried out. He said that to ensure the excellent quality of works and the timely execution, strict supervision would be exercised and all the officers have been directed to monitor the projects.

The state government had set up a Municipal Development Fund of Rs 990 crore for executing the water supply and other facilities in the towns. The government had also launched National Slum Development Programme with 100 per cent additional Central assistance in 23 towns of the state with an outlay of Rs 20.10 crore, he added.

He said that the bill of water supply and sewerage of the families living in the houses built in the plots measuring up to 5 marlas had been abolished and said that this would benefit the poor people living in urban areas by Rs 195 crore.

Mr Dawar said that all the promises made during the elections had been fulfilled and funds amounting to more than Rs 800 crore were being spent under Punjab Nirman Programme to execute various development projects in all parts of the state. He said that grants amounting to Rs 1 crore in each constituency were being released specifically for the repair of the Scheduled Caste dharamshalas.

He claimed that more than Rs. 100 crore had been so far been spent on various development projects in Ludhiana east constituency

Others present on the occasion included Mr Ramesh Joshi, Director, PPC Board, Mr Sanjay Talwar, Mr Rakesh Prashar (both councillors) and Mr Suba Singh.



Finding Mr Right not easy: Vandana
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 18
“It is not easy to find an eligible bachelor,” feels Vandana Wadehra, who sings item songs.

This was her response when asked about her marriage plans. She said she would definitely get married once she found her Mr Right. She is in the city for the inauguration of a private club, Nirvana.

Vandana has just cut a new album titled “Vandy”. She said her album’s title song was “Pyar do pyar lo”. “I have redone this album in a way that I have picked up songs from Sridevi’s movies like ‘Sadma’, ‘Mr India’, ‘Nakabandi’ and ‘Chaalbaaz’ and sung them in my style. I have also added ‘My heart is beating’, a song from ‘Julie’ which is picturized on Sridevi when she was a child star.”

Vandana is an extremely versatile person. Besides being a singer, she is also a lyricist. Her burning desire is to direct the music of movies.

She plans to start her fashion line. She is an alumnus of the NIFT (Delhi) and worked as a faculty in the institute for a couple of years before switching into singing. “One of my classmates is already into it and I plan to join him. We plan to start our fashion line in a big way,” she says.

Vandana says she is looking for someone who can give her lessons in vocal music. “My voice is more suited for item numbers, but I want to sing serious songs and hence want to train in classical music. I am a lawyer too. When I find any of my colleagues in trouble, I guide them to move the consumer court to get justice.”

“I consider myself fortunate that I have been invited abroad. I was the only Indian invited to the prestigious Eastern Eye Business Award ceremony held in London. The chief guests were Prince Charles and Mr Tony Blair’s wife. Lord Swaraj Paul and Mr Lakshmi Niwas Mittal were among the illustrious guests. My European tour was extremely successful,” said Vandana.



Labour exodus on Divali eve
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
As the festival of lights approaches, migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have started leaving for their homes. Prevalence of dengue fever has added to their numbers.

At least 30 per cent of the industrial town’s population, primarily engaged in light engineering, plastic goods and other manufacturing units except hosiery, is expected to leave. While in case of the hosiery industry, not many workers are leaving on account of peak season time, for other industries it is time for production to come to a standstill and these have already begun facing labour shortage.

The exodus will continue till Divali and workers are expected to come back nearly 10 days after the festival.

“We are going for 15 days as we work in a limited firm from where we don’t get many holidays,” said Shyam Sunder, who left for his native place in Gonda today. Without reservations, these migrants seem to be little bothered about the inconvenience of traveling for even more than 24 hours in jam-packed general compartments. Many workers travel standing only due to heavy rush these days.

“We travel in groups and in general compartments. Every year it is like this and we are quite used to it,” said Niwas Singh who works in a soap factory. As the train arrived over an hour late today, a heavy rush of workers was seen, some of whom even used emergency windows for entry.

Each worker leaves for an average span of 15 days, which can extend up to two-three months in cases like household help. “We have already begun facing a shortage as workers have started leaving. It will only be around 10 days after Divali that work will resume normalcy,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Industrialists, traders and households, who employ them, say they get the return tickets of their workers also booked so as to ensure their return.

“Before they leave, we talk to them to ensure that they return,” said Mr Kapoor, adding that “though cases of workers not returning are very less, we do not want to take any risk.”

In case of households, this risk is higher. “I bought the return ticket for my domestic help so that he comes back, that too on time. After all, we are dependent on them and it is almost impossible to do without them,” said Mr Ajay Chaudhary, an advocate in Sarabha Nagar.

The risk of labourers not returning remains as this time they leave after taking their bonus and due payments, say industrialists. “It is due to such problems only that we have reduced the number of migrant labourers in our industry,” Mr Kapoor added.

Not only does production get affected when workers leave, industrialists say that even after they come back, it takes time to get back to the previous tempo of working. “It happens every season and we have no other option than to get prepared for stagnancy in production,” another industrialist said.

In case of the hosiery industry, however, not many workers are leaving due to a heavy workload. Workers in this industry leave for their homes in around December.

Many workers have also been leaving on account of dengue fever. “We do have a lot of workers who are leaving due to ill health — dengue or even other fever. They feel they will be able to recover better if they get care at home. This time dengue has scared workers, and even those who have other fever are leaving,” said Subhash Singh, another worker from UP.

“I had a few of my workers telling me that they wanted to leave now because of dengue. Though we are educating them, they are very scared. In the hosiery industry, not many workers leave during Divali, but this time the fever has created panic,” said Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club. 



Pleasing officials on Divali
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 18
With Divali around the corner, the gift culture has gripped the city again. People are busy exchanging gifts among family members and friends and obliging officials.

Gift purchases worth lakhs are being made daily. Those dealing in electronics, crockery, gift items, woollens, jewellery, designer watches etc are having a field day.

The festival of lights adds more brightness to the festivities at the homes of bank officials, bureaucrats, excise and taxation officers, politicians as they generally receive expensive gifts on the occasion. Industrialists spare no effort to oblige the “big shots”.

An industrialist dealing in hosiery products at Focal Point here said this was the time when they could “please” the officials. “Throughout the year, we seek favours from these officials. We do not mind spending a few lakhs on obliging them and their wives on this day. Only a few officers return your gift. Most of them like to be pampered on the occasion,” he said.

One of the businessmen dealing in electronics said last year he had to exchange five television sets presented to a local officer. “His wife came along with her husband’s gunmen and requested to exchange TVs with other items. She said she had just three bedrooms and did not require more TVs,” he said.

But this time, trend seems to have changed. People are buying gold to please the people on higher positions. Even officials preferred gold as it could be easily kept at safer places, added another businessman. “We have bought 10-gm gold coins to present to bank officials. But for bureaucrats in Chandigarh and Ludhiana, we have purchased diamond pendent,” he added.

Crockery seems to be the favourite among the middle-class city residents. “We like to exchange crockery items. These are not very expensive and are used in every home. We have decided to spend Rs 500 on one gift,” said Seerat, a homemaker.



17 booked in assault cases
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
Seventeen persons were booked in three incidents.

In the first incident, the Jagraon police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC against Nirmala Devi, Amarjit Kaur, alias Jeeti, Rajinder Singh, alias Jinder, Rajwinder Singh, Rekha of Sandhu Patti, Barnala and four unknown persons on the charge of assaulting Satpal of Jandi in the Agwar Ladhia area, Jagraon. A family dispute was said to be the reason behind the assault. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Jagaron.

In another incident, the Dehlon police booked Mandeep Singh, alias Sonu, Maddi, Rajdip, Jatinder, alias Pandhi, Deepi and Rinku of Mehma Singh Wala on the charge of assaulting Kamal Jit Singh, alias Kaka, and Gurdev Singh of Lohgarh with sticks and iron near Lohgarh village. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Pakhowal.

A case has been registered under Sections 341, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

The Sudhar police registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Harbans Kaur and unknown persons of Rajoana Khurd on the charge of assaulting Amarjit Kaur of their village with a kirpan and sticks recently. Some petty dispute of street quarrel was said to be the reason behind the attack.

The injured woman was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sudhar.



Man held with poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
The Sidhwan Bet police arrested Sona Singh of Pirjian Biharipur from the Kanian Hussaini area on Tuesday and seized 10 kg of poppy husk. A case has been registered under Sections 15, 60, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

One held with liquor

The Sidhwan Bet police arrested Lakhwant Singh, alias Lakha, of Bhaini Gujjran from near Salempura village and seized 15,180 ml of illicit liquor. A case has been registered under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.



Biz Brief

Lloyd Shoes: Lloyd Shoes, Germany, a strategic retail marketing venture of Tata International Limited and Europe’s top lifestyle footwear brand, will now be available at popular retail boutique for footwear , Inc.5, on Mall Road here. A spokesperson for the company said here on Sunday that priced between Rs 8,900 and 18,000, Lloyd Shoes range would showcase normal, casual and semi-formal products. OC



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