L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Three siblings die in hut fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Tragedy struck a migrant labourer's family in Bholla Colony, near Central Jail, today when three of its six children were burnt alive in an alleged accidental fire that broke out in their hut, located on the outskirts of the city, in the wee hours.

The victims, including two boys and a girl, were all minors. The migrant couple not only lost their children in the raging fire but also a sum of Rs 10,000 that they claimed had been saved for the marriage of their eldest daughter, besides some of her wedding clothes.

Though the eldest daughter, Chuniya, is just 16, the parents had made preparations for her marriage, as per the custom of the community.

The real cause of the fire has not been ascertained officially, but it is suspected to have been caused by a burning candle.

The factor of the loss of money, however, has raised suspicion of some foul play.

Heena, mother of the victims, told the police that she had left home early to answer the nature's call with three of her children, while the other three were asleep in their thatched hut. She said she had left a candle burning in the hut as usual. Her husband, Prahlad, had also gone out for the day’s work.

She had gone just a few hundred yards from the hut when she saw the hut on fire.

She ran toward the hut to save the children, who were crying for help from inside, but by the time she reached there it was reduced to ashes.

The charred remains of the three children - Mukesh (10), Rishi (9) and Sonia (6) - were later found from the scene.

The roof made of bamboo and dry grass gave way as the fire raged. The bodies of the victims were so badly burnt that the mother had a hard time identifying them.

It took the fire tenders a couple of hours to reach the scene.

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LMC messes up death certificate
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Showing absolute carelessness, the Death and Birth Registration Department of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) has registered the date of death of a city resident when she was alive.

Bimla Devi, a city resident, had died on November 8 but when her family members, after numerous visits to the office, managed to get her death registration certificate they were shocked to read the date as October 8.

Flustered with the callousness of the department, deceased's nephew K.K. Verma said: "Obtaining the certificate itself proved to be an arduous task. Only after numerous visits could we managed to obtain one. We were quite shocked to see that the date of my aunt's death was mentioned wrong. She died on November 8, while the certificate shows her to have died on October 8. I wonder if getting a certificate was so difficult how easy would it be to get a fresh certificate with the correct date."

"Death itself has left the family upset. Such long procedures with careless officials are only adding to our woe," her family members rued.

Mr Verma, who is a resident of Durga Puri in Haibowal Kalan, added that he needed five copies of the death certificate for which he had to visit the registration office almost 10 times. He also pointed out that officials there charged Rs 10 from him as fee for obtaining a single copy, even though no such information was put up on the department’s notice board.

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1st thread facelift procedure in city
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 1
In what could be termed as a path-breaking step, a contour-thread facelift procedure, claimed to be the first of its kind in northern India, was performed by a visiting US surgeon, Dr Kulwant Singh Bhangoo, in the Department of Plastic Surgery at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here.

Dr Bhangoo is a world renowned practising cosmetic and plastic surgeon from the USA, and also a visiting professor in plastic surgery at the CMCH.

Explaining the innovative procedure, Dr Bhangoo informed that the regular facelift was a major operation and involved a lot of cutting of tissues and suturing. "But in this case, the facelift is performed using threads with barbs which pull up the sagging tissues. This particular procedure for facelift has been made available in the US since last year."

He mentioned that this operative procedure could also be used to achieve improvement in cases of facial palsy.

Dr Vijay Obed, Professor and Head, Department of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery, CMCH, is also trained for cosmetic surgery and holds a fellowship in cosmetic surgery from Buffalo, USA. Dr Obed stated that this contour-thread facelift was a simple procedure and just needed a few minutes to perform. The patient could go home the same day and the results were dramatic and immediate.

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‘Gandhigiri’ at PUDA office
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Following in the footsteps of Munna Bhai in his latest flick “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti today organised a protest in the “Gandhigiri” style by handing over bouquets to senior officials of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development (PUDA) urging them to shun their lackadaisical approach toward their work and allot plots to some farmers in lieu of the land acquired from them 32 years ago.

Rajeev Tandon, Parminder Singh Bajwa and other activists handed over bouquets to PUDA’s Chief Administrator A.S. Chhatwal, who was on a visit to the local office from Chandigarh, to impress upon him and his staff to redress the grievances of people.

The farmers said their farming land at Jamalpur was acquired by PUDA 32 years ago and they had been fighting all these years to get plots in lieu of the acquisition ever since, but to no avail.

They added that thanks to bureaucratic wrangling, a complete generation of farmers had been fighting for their rights without any success. They said the land was acquired in 1976. In spite of promises, the farmers got nothing in return.

Mr Chhatwal, after hearing their grievances, said the issue would be sorted out soon as they had already ordered the possession of plots to those farmers.

The samiti members said the Chief Administrator had in a “sangat darshan” programme, organised two years ago, announced that the plots would finally be given to the farmers.

The matter was still in files when the then ACA, PUDA, following an anonymous complaint stayed the allotment of plots.

The activists demanded the state government to take serious action against PUDA officials responsible for harassing the farmers for the past so many years.

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Now Merc gets popular in rural areas
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
Real estate boom has shown its impact in the form of an increased sale of luxury cars in rural areas too. Mercedes-Benz, luxury car that has so far been capturing the urban elite, has record takers from rural belts in the state.

According to company officials, property boom has resulted in a rise in the demand. "We have sold five cars in the Bathinda belt in the past one year. The demand from rural areas is now roughly 10-15 per cent. It is in the post-real estate boom that the scenario has witnessed a change," Mr Manjit Singh Bala, Managing Director, Tai Pan Traders,authorised dealer for Mercedes Benz, told the Ludhiana Tribune here today.

Mr Bala said Bathinda is a new market that has emerged after the property boom. "Earlier,the profile of customers from rural areas was different. Now even farmers are opting for this luxury car."

While the state has a total of roughly 1,400 Mercedes, Ludhiana tops the list with 450,while this number in Jalandhar is around 200. Another fast-emerging trend, he said, was an increasing number of households going in for more than one Mercedes.

To cater to a vast segment of customers keen on purchasing a pre-owned Merc, Mr Bala said the company would come up with a separate facility offering refurbished cars by April 2007.

He said,"As the trend of going in for more than one Mercedes is catching up fast in the state, the pre-owned car is being looked at as a highly attractive option. We are planning to set up a separate facility that will be functional by April next year.So if you have longed to own a Mercedes and have not been able to do so for the luxurious price tag the car carries, your dream is not far from realisation. That is on account of the price range of pre-owned Mercedes which begins from Rs 6 lakh and goes up to Rs 35 lakh.

"The starting range is quite affordable considering the fact that most mid-level cars carry a similar price tag. A separate facility to refurbish cars will mean that existing consumers can simply walk in and hand over the old car to us and walk out with a new Mercedes. Besides, the pre-owned car will be refurbished and offered for sale and carry warranty etc.” The company also expects to retain is existing customer base as a result of this move.

Mr Bala was in the city in connection with the launch of new E-Class Mercedes Benz under Daimler Chrysler. Mr Sanjeev Sehajwala, Director, Marketing, Daimler Chrysler, said the new E-Class Mercedes Benz, priced in the range of Rs 35 lakh to Rs 45 lakh, features about 2,000 parts that are new or have further developments from its predecessor. “It is the safest car in its category across the world,” he claimed.

Ludhiana, which owns the highest number of Mercedes in Punjab and is the third biggest market after Delhi and Mumbai, is also recording a stupendous growth in the number of Mercedes owners.

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Deputy Mayor crticises Baba Ramdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 1
The Deputy Mayor, Ms Sushil Gupta, has criticised Baba Ramdev for his ‘‘unwarranted remarks’’ on Mahatma Gandhi.

In a signed statement, Ms Gupta said Baba was held in high esteem by the masses of India, but that did not give him a licence to criticise everybody. It was highly objectionable that he had cast aspersions on none other than the Father of the Nation.

She said Mahatma Gandhi had sacrificed his personal comforts, worn a dhoti to represent the poor Indians and made a unique contribution in the freedom struggle of the nation. ‘‘We condemn Baba Ramdev for his undue, ill-grounded and unwarranted criticism of the Father of the Nation. It is a matter of shame that Baba Ramdev is stooping to cheap tactics by criticising cricketers, politicians and artistes.’’

‘‘Baba Ramdev should concentrate on yoga than on making comments about leaders. The Income Tax Department should raid the premises of his centres to take stock of his wealth. I request the CBI to enquire thoroughly into the assets and properties of Baba Ramdev.’’ she added. 

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80-plus pensioners’ 20-yr wait for concessions
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 1
Almost two decades ago, the Third Pay Commission had recommended some concessions for octogenarian pensioners.

These pensioners are sore that these concessions have not still been given to them. In a communique sent to Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, yesterday they have urged him to accept their demands as these involve negligible financial implications because hardly 5 per cent of the pensioners survive after the age of 80 years.

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