L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Old couple done to death in rice mill
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, December 3
The murder of an old couple caused sensation in the area this morning. The police found the bodies in a pool of blood after getting information from Ali Hussain, a milkman of nearby Bhattian village who used to collect milk from the couple daily.

He told the police that they had asked him to come after December 1 as they had to attend a marriage on Saturday.

Today when he knocked at the main gate of the rice mill where they stayed, no one responded. When he peeped through the gate, he was shocked to see the body of the old man lying on the floor of the veranda. He rushed back to the village and informed Manjeet Singh, former sarpanch. They then went to the police station.

Mr Darshan Singh Mann, SP(H), and Mr Sushil Kumar, SP(D), along with Samrala DSP Mukhwinder Singh Bhullar and Machhiwara SHO Parkash Singh visited the spot. A dog squad was also pressed into service.

Mr Amarjeet Singh Samrala, owner of the rice mill that is not in working condition, said the couple had been working as chowkidar in the mill for the past three years. He said the old woman was a widow and was living with the old man since 1999.

Both bodies had head injuries and the woman was semi-clad. A case has been registered.



Non-banking finance companies losing out to banks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
Non-banking finance companies are losing out to banking finance companies. Aggregate public deposits of these companies have gone down from 3.4 per cent of aggregate deposits of commercial banks in 1998-99 to 1.5 per cent in 2005. The major reasons for the decline were stringent RBI control and stiff competition by the banking sector (which has been opened up to private players).

A recent study conducted by a professor of Commerce Department of SCD Government College finds that in 2003-04 the total premium underwritten by life insurance companies was Rs 18,66,939.69 lakh towards 286.26 lakh policies, recording a growth in premiums and policies of 10.24 per cent and 12.83 per cent, respectively, over the previous year.

The non-life insurance market grew by about Rs 1,820 crore (13 per cent) to record a premium of Rs 16,130 crore, a lot of which was because of the Rs 1,700 crore (17 per cent) growth in the miscellaneous business such as motor, health, liability and aviation.

Regarding the mutual funds segment, the analysis revealed that by 2014 the size of Indian mutual fund industry was estimated to go up to over Rs 1,65,000 crore. Presently there were 613 schemes (both open and close ended) and Rs 14,1924 crore had been invested in various schemes.

In 1997-98 387 housing finance companies were in business, which came down to 343 in 2003-04 . Similarly, their share in the total disbursements had also come down to 38.41 per cent in 2003-04 from 68.58 per cent in 1996-97. The cooperative sector share had also come down to 1.26 per cent in 2003-04 from 4.66 per cent in 1996-97.

The analysis suggested development of more specific and tailor-made financial schemes for the lower strata of the population without income proof.



False alarm: MUV recovered from complainant
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
A resident of Dangian village has been arrested for filing a false complaint that his multi utility vehicle (MUV) had been stolen by some armed persons on the night intervening August 27-28.

The police recovered the MUV from him during a naka laid to nab him late last evening.

Dakha SHO Navreet Singh Virk said he got a tip-off that the stolen vehicle was seen plying in the Bet area. A police party laid a special naka on the bridge of Bassian Bet at 6 pm. At around 7 pm, a Rhino MUV was seen approaching the bridge but it had a different registration number.

Its occupants got panicky on seeing the naka and tried to reverse the vehicle but the driver lost control and it collided with a tree. The occupants were pulled out of the vehicle and these were the same persons who had lodged the complaint.

On verification, the engine and chassis numbers were found to be that of the original vehicle. Amarjit Singh of Dangian, Satpal Singh of Kaunke Kalan and Inderjit Singh of Jodhan have been arrested in this regard.

Amarjit Singh, a taxi operator, confessed that the motive was not to pay the instalments of the vehicle which was fault-prone. On account of this, he had suffered financial loss and decided to lodge a false complaint.



Row over boundary wall
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 3
Who is raising this boundary wall already existing around the park in Block B of the Rajguru Nagar residential colony? This mystery is not being solved by the authorities concerned.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak University, and Prof Gurcharan Singh, president and general secretary of the Peoples’ Awareness Forum, said in a statement today that there was no need for raising the already existing wall around the park. The Ludhiana Improvement Trust had leased out a piece of land from this park to the Rotary Club North and the same had been challenged in court.

Prof Kapoor and Prof Gurcharan Singh alleged that it seemed that the officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust were providing a cover to the club by constructing and raising the boundary wall.

They said that there was no need for the establishment of an old people’s home in this colony and the club had taken land with the help of a serious member of the club who held an important position in the Punjab Government. The club was planning to have a commercial venture and the residents were already opposing such a venture.

The residents of the Rajguru Nagar are intrigued at the lukewarm attitude of the office-bearers of the Rajguru Nagar Welfare Society which had been a silent spectator to all the happenings during the past six months.

The office-bearers at the general body meeting on November 26 declared that they had adopted a neutral attitude on the issue of setting of old-age home and the construction of a gurdwara. The residents were not satisfied with the explanation given by the society office-bearers and the meeting was poorly attended. A strong resentment is brewing against the office-bearers who are not ready to take up the issues of the residential colony and advised the residents to approach their 'influential friends' to get their issues settled.



Ludhiana Calling

It is impossible to meet officers of the Division Forest Office here for their version in any complaint relating to the depleting forest cover. Calls made to the office are met with one reply: the DFO is busy at meetings or is not available. Calls made on mobile phones also go unanswered. It seems the government has not only the forest cover to save, but also make these officers more accessible.

Nursery is no fun

Admissions to nursery classes have begun. Even as the city is home to numerous schools, it is the select few that invite heavy rush of applicants. What pains one is that most of the schools do not pay attention to aspects like student-teacher ratio and also burden little ones by giving them lots of homework.

Wake up, BSNL

Even after numerous complaints by subscribers, the BSNL has failed to provide timely bills in many cases. Worse is that telephone bills, which at times reach even after the due date, carry a penalty and it is the subscriber who has to bear it for no fault of his. It seems as if competition has done little to improve the BSNL's services.

Mini secretariat blues

The city administration recently carried a massive anti-encroachment drive in the mini secretariat. The plea was that illegally parked hand-cart vendors were giving a bad look to the premises. Yet, no thought has been given to the general cleanliness of the building. Litter is strewn around and lawns are not maintained. The walls are defaced with posters.

Wrong TIN

Tax evasion is perceived to be a loss to the government's revenue but the recent case of evasion, wherein an agency used a wrong tax identification number (TIN), has caused panic in the industry. Such an agency uses a TIN number of a company which is actually not sending the goods. Besides the IT Department, business houses must also remain alert.

Publicity stunt?

Budda Nullah pollution gets worse with each passing day but nothing is done. Many organisations and religious heads claim they would get it cleaned. The claims end up as hollow promises. Another claim made by a group would be tested next week when the genuineness of such claims would be known.

Narrow bridges

With the city expanding towards the west, more and more colonies are coming up across the Sidhwan canal. The pressure of population is increasing so rapidly that all old bridges seem narrow. There is no plan so far to widen the bridges or construct news ones to accommodate traffic. With elections around the corner, residents may have to make this an election issue.

“Chipko” as saviour

All playing grounds in the city, including Guru Nanak Stadium, are “vandalised” regularly due to the holding of various functions, other than tournaments. Only a movement like “chipko” by players can save the playing arenas. Players have tried protests, media exposure and given representations to the administration but in vain.

Traffic rules

There are times when the traffic police suddenly launches a drive to nab those flouting rules. It is for this reason that traffic violations are frequent and it is common to find a vast majority of two-wheeler drivers riding without helmets. It would take a long time for the residents to realise that following rules would only ensure their own safety.

Multiple Mercedes

The city boasts of the maximum number of Mercedes and is also recording a high growth rate. People are now going in for more than one Mercedes. The company says the city is among the best performing markets and leads in such trends. Even the customer profile has changed and an increasing number of youngsters are going 
in for luxury cars.

Power cuts in winter

The region had good monsoon and reservoirs were filled to the brim. The government went on to announce that there would be minimal power cuts next summer. But power cuts are being enforced in winter, too. Residents wonder what would happen in summer.

Innovative begging

The city is home to a large number of beggars. What surprises one is the innovative ways they employ. Earlier, they would beg for alms but now there are various reasons like going to a religious place, need for medicines or even cremation.

Lakkar bridge

The Lakkar bridge connecting the old court complex to the Chaurra bazaar was a historical monument but it was brought down by the government in the name of constructing a flyover in its place. Work on the flyover has not begun even after several years. People have to travel a long distance now. Those who earned their livelihood by taking heavy bags, cycles and other goods across the bridge, have also been affected.

Sham sales

Hosiery season is on. Manufacturers are putting up their special outlets while retailers have started putting up sales at the beginning of the season to combat competition. But the sales are sham. The prices after the discount are even higher than what one would get at the peak of the season. The residents, however, are not queuing up at the outlets.

Photo crazy

Publicity-crazy leaders and organisations claiming selfless deeds reveal their true side when they focus on their pictures in newspapers. While addressing reporters, they sit in a large queue and order for more chairs for accommodating members who keep pouring in. The scene changes the moment the lensman points a camera at them. They then huddle close to come into the frame!

— Sentinel



Aspirants for the Akali ticket
Like Congress, SAD also divided
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 3
Just like the Congress, the Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal is also a divided house here.

The city Akali unit is headed by Mr Hira Singh Gabria, who is a Tohra loyalist and he is being opposed by supporters of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA.

At one time, Mr Gabria and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, President of the SGPC, were together. There is another group which is headed by Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, who is also opposing Mr Gabria.

Mr Gabria is a hot contender for the Akali ticket from the Ludhiana rural segment of the vidhan sabha. Mr Badal has already addressed a number of rallies organised by him in this segment. But his candidature is being opposed by Mr Garcha and Mr Simranjit Singh Bains.

Mr Bains is himself an aspirant for the Akali ticket. But Mr Gabria is most likely to be nominated for the Ludhiana rural seat.

Ludhiana west is a purely urban seat with a sizeable Sikh vote. Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal was elected from this seat in 1997 and was also inducted as a minister in the Badal government. But in 2002, he contested on the Panthic morcha ticket from Kila Raipur and lost. Mr Grewal is also a Tohra loyalist and is quite popular with the local population, being an advocate and belonging to a family of nationalists.

The candidature of Mr Grewal is being opposed by Mr Harishrai Dhanda, former president of the District Bar Association and in charge of the legal cell of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Mr Dhanda had contested as an Independent candidate when Mr Badal denied him ticket in 2002 from this segment against Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, who was an official Akali Dal nominee.

Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, who recently retired as member of the Punjab Public Service Commission, is also a serious contender for the Akali ticket from this seat.

Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, a former Mayor of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, is also seeking the Akali ticket on the basis of the work done by him for the welfare of the town. The BJP is also staking its claim on Ludhiana West seat and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, former minister, is seeking the BJP ticket from this seat.

There is a third Tohra loyalist who is seeking ticket from Dakha (Reserve), Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, who had won this seat in 1997 on the Akali ticket. Mr Bikramjit Singh is opposed by Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik on this seat and Mr Shivalik has the support of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Political observers are of the view that all three Tohra loyalists should be accommodated on their old seats as they will make a good combination and will have better coordination. All three seats have urban and rural votes. The Dakha constituency, too, has sizeable urban votes. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha who has been returned to the vidhan sabha twice from Kila Raipur is likely to be nominated again from there.

The Jagraon seat has two main aspirants -Mr Bhag Singh Mallah, sitting Akali MLA, and Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, former MP. Mr Aliwal is also the general secretary of the Akali Dal and is close to Mr Parkash Singh Badal. His candidature is being opposed by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi, son Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who is sitting MLA from Raikot, will have no problem in getting the ticket this time. Mr Ranjit Singh and his father are looking after the constituency well.

The Samrala seat witnessed infighting when four rallies were organised in the area by four aspirants and all four were addressed by Mr Badal. No effort was made to bring them together at one platform.

Mr Satpaul Gosain, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, is sure to be the candidate for the Ludhiana east constituency as the BJP nominee. He has already represented this seat two times.

The BJP faces difficulty in finding a suitable candidate for the Ludhiana north segment. Prof Rajinder Bhandari, who contested in 2002, is the most suitable candidate of the party on this seat. Mr Anil Sareen, general secretary of the state BJP, is also a candidate for this seat.



Shambu takes RJD route to politics
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The controversial trade union leader, Shambu Kumar Singh, today organised a public rally under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Purvanchal Vikas Parishad to assert his influence in the city.

The parishad formally aligned with the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) in the presence of several RJD leaders, including two Members of Parliament, Mr Alok Kumar Mehta, Mr Vijay Krishen, general secretary Kanwar Aalam, youth RJD leader Prahlad Singh and Mr Qayoom Ansari. He had earlier been associated with the Congress. However, he parted ways with the party after being “ignored” by the party leaders during difficult times.

The rally was also marred by the reports of a clash between RJD supporters and the activists of the Hindu Surakhsha Samiti. The incident occurred at Gayaspura on the Delhi Road, while the rally was being organised a few kilometers away at Sherpur Chowk, thus averting a major clash.

The RJD supporters alleged that the samiti leader, Mr Rajiv Tandon, and his supporters had intercepted the car of their leaders at Gayaspura. They alleged that the samiti supporters stoned the vehicles and tried to manhandle the RJD leaders who had come all the way from Bihar.

However, Mr Tandon claimed that he wanted to meet the RJD leaders in a peaceful manner. He said he and his supporters wanted to present a memorandum to RJD leaders to protest against their support to Shambu, who they alleged, was resorting to criminal activities and also exploiting the migrant labourers.

The RJD supporters accused Mr Tandon of deliberately trying to sabotage a good show. They alleged that some people who were against Shambu Singh's influence among the working classes and the people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh had deliberately made Mr Tandon create confusion and lead to violence. They said, however, thousands of RJD supporters exercised utmost restraint and did not retaliate as they did not want to spoil their own show.

At the rally, however, the RJD leaders tried to play down the incident. Instead, they focussed on the uplift and welfare of the people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They said these people had made immense contribution towards the development of Punjab after leaving their home and hearth. They said while Punjab offered greener pastures to the people from Purvanchal, their contribution at the same time could not be underestimated.

Asserting that the RJD would play a decisive role in several assembly segments in Punjab, they said the party would field its own candidates. They said although the party was not averse to making alliance and adjustments with like-minded parties in the state, so far it was prepared to go of its own.

For Shambu Kumar Singh, who is facing a number of criminal charges in various cases, there could be no better show of strength. His supporters said he was feeling hurt and humiliated after being ignored by all local leaders despite having mobilised a lot of support for them. They said he wanted to prove to everybody that he was genuinely being supported by the people and was their "undisputed leader".

Meanwhile, the police officials said they were yet to receive any complaint from the Hindu Surakhsha Samiti leaders, who alleged assault by the RJD workers.



Bajwa to lay stone for Dugri-Narangwal road
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
The construction of the 22-km Justice Gurnam Singh Marg from Dugri to Narangwal via Jassowal and Alamgir will lead to greater development and prosperity of this belt.

PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa will lay the foundation stone of the project near Dhandra octroi post tomorrow.

Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, a former MLA and political secretary to Justice Gurnam Singh, a former Punjab Chief Minister, said the project was a fitting tribute to a mass leader who was a towering personality and had diligently worked for greater development of the state.

Incidentally, Justice Gurnam Singh has the unique distinction of being the only member of the higher judiciary to head an elected government in India.

The late Chief Minister made a significant contribution to the polity and rural development in India. He was the first leader to visualise a major role for regional parties in national politics. He along with Mr M. Karunanidhi took up the issue of devolution of power from the Centre to the states. The present concept of multiparty coalition governments with diverse ideologies started with the formation of the United Front Government in Punjab, which was led by him, Mr Jassowal added.

Above all, he was a leading figure in giving Sikh polity a broad secular form. It was a tribute to his statesmanship that the secular fabric in Punjab had withstood great challenges of the time and communal harmony prevailed in the state, he pointed out.

The development projects he initiated for rural electrification, rural link roads and the establishment of Guru Nanak Thermal Plant at Bathinda transformed the rural economy of the state making it one of most prosperous in the country.

He was the founder of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and the inspiration behind setting up 24 colleges in the name of Guru Nanak Dev in the state. He also had a keen interest in the development, infrastructure, beautification and cultural activities of the cities in Punjab and Ludhiana City in particular. He sanctioned the setting up of the present Mini Secretariat and the judicial complex in Ludhiana.

He was instrumental in starting Guru Nanak Girls College in Model Town and Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar.

As a High Court Judge, he had advised Master Tara Singh to start the Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana. He also remained Chairman of its Managing Committee till his death in a plane crash in 1973, he added.

Justice Gurnam Singh was born in a prominent family of Ludhiana district on February 25, 1899. He graduated from Forman Christian College, Lahore, and was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple, London.

He was a brilliant sportsman who captained the Panjab University Hockey Team and represented India in lnternational matches in England in 1928.



Drug menace: Girl wants students to unite
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 3
Calling for strict regulations against violators in educational institutes, a girl of Kila Hans village, near here, has urged fellow students to launch a drive against addiction among students.

Perturbed over the increasing use of drugs and narcotics among teenagers in schools, Kamal Deep, a student of local Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, has called upon her fellow students to lunch a crusade in this regard. She urged policy makers to draft strict regulations and provide more powers to teachers.

Kamal Deep expressed concern over the increasing number of students falling prey to addiction of various kinds. "I feel helpless when I see students dressed in uniforms and smoking and chewing tobacco freely. Though the government claims to have banned the sale of tobacco products in the vicinity of educational institutes, the ground situation was different," Kamal said.

The menace was spreading fast as students were least afraid of teachers and fellow students. She cited many cases where teachers, trying to mend such students, had been put in an embarrassing position. "The parents instead of showing gratitude towards the teachers, sided with their wards. This created an impression among students that the teachers were not authorised to interfere in their life outside school. 



Study highlights problems of aged rural women
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
There has been an increasing degree of carelessness among the younger generation towards the aged women in rural Punjab. The aged women feel that difference over ideas and values with other members of the family, old-age worries, emotional instability, lack of respect and adjustment with sons and daughters in-law were the major problems they faced.

A study on the social and psychological problems of the aged women in rural Punjab was recently conducted by Ms Renu Bala of Home Science College of Punjab Agricultural University under the guidance of Dr A.K.Gupta.

Hundreds of uneducated rural women in the age group of 65-70 years were considered for the study. The women belonged to various districts of the state. More than half of the respondents were married i.e. their spouses were alive.

However, 47.50 per cent respondents were widows, staying in joint families. These respondents had a family income of Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 per month. Almost all respondents suffered from social and psychological problems.

Some of the suggestions given by the respondents were that the elders must be given due respect, decisions of elderly should be taken care of, they should have a positive attitude towards life and try to spend more time with their age mates. The study suggested that the aged should be flexible to adapt to the changing circumstances.



Plywood and plyboard prices go up
Industry seeks relief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 3
The prices of plywood and plyboard in Punjab have been increased by 8 per cent with immediate effect. The step, according to the manufacturers, was necessitated to save the industry from closure and constant losses.

The Punjab Plywood Manufacturers Association claimed here today that the plywood and plyboard industry in Haryana, which was the largest manufacturer in India, had already jacked up the prices ranging between 15 and 20 per cent in the past six months. In other plywood manufacturing states, the prices had gone up by around 15 per cent during the same period. The main reason of increase in the prices was the sharp and persistent rise in the prices of chemicals, wood and other raw material and inputs, used in the manufacturing of plywood and plyboard.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sohal, president, Mr Ashok Juneja, secretary-general, and Mr Naresh Tiwari, general secretary of the association, maintained that in the past about 6 months, prices of phenol, formaldehyde and face veneer had shown an upward trend, registering a hike of nearly 20 per cent. At the same time, the prices of agro -wood such as poplar and eucalyptus had gone up by 25 to 30 per cent during this period.

While justifying the price hike simply to keep the manufacturing units afloat, the association functionaries also indicated that they would also prevail upon all manufacturing units in Northern India to stop dealing and supplying goods to those parties or dealers who were bad pay masters and else withholding payments against supply of material with malafide intentions.

The plywood and plyboard manufacturers made a fervent plea with the state government to reduce the rate of value added tax (VAT) on these products from the prevailing 12.5 to 4 per cent as a measure of relief to the crisis-ridden industry.

In addition to giving much-needed boost to manufacturing units, the step will also go down well with furniture industry which used plywood and plyboard as its basic raw material. The reduction in VAT would be in keeping with the government assurance to tax the raw material and inputs at 4 per cent. The association further pleaded for slashing the rate of excise duty which, coupled with reduction in VAT, would help bring down the prices of plywood and plyboard.

According to Mr Sohal, a committee comprising Mr Naresh Tiwari, Mr Harmit Singh, Mr Avinash Singla, Mr Subhash Sethi and Mr Anup Chhabra had been set up to appropriately take up the matter of reduction in VAT and excise duty with the government. The committee would meet the Punjab Chief Minister, the Excise and Taxation Minister, the Financial Commissioner (Taxation), and also the Union Government to put before them a strong case in favour of lower rate of VAT and excise duty.



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