L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Noida Killings
Shock, disbelief at Pandher’s native place
Mahesh Sharma
Our Correspondent

Lohatbaddi, December 31
Residents of this village, situated on Raikot-Malerkotla road near Ahmedgarh, feel ashamed that the locality, which is remembered as the birth place of freedom fighter Harnam Singh Chamak and 'karambhumi' of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha and his contemporaries, would now be looked down upon for producing and nursing Mohinder Singh Pandher, main suspect in the gruesome serial killing of several children in Noida.

The native house of the Pandher family has been placed under surveillance by the Jagraon police chief lest some vital clues if any might be tempered by accomplice of the suspect.

However, Pandher’s relatives disbelieved the police theory and maintained that he had been framed in the case.

Shocked over reports of gruesome serial exploitation and killing of several children at the hands of son of a renowned family of the village, the residents lead by Mr Manjit Singh, sarpanch, said: "It is really a matter of shame for the whole area, as the allegations, if true, will not only nullify sacrifice of forefathers, but will remain a blot on us for decades to come."

However, none of the residents acknowledged having interacted with Mohinder Singh Pandher during past years. "We saw him at Chandigarh, on the occasion of bhog ceremony of Sampuran Singh, Mohinder's father in May 2006 only," they said adding the suspect used to visit his native home rarely.

Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, of Kamalpur village, a close relative of Mohinder Singh, who had been looking after property and business of the family in Punjab, however, maintained that he had been framed by the police.

"I fail to understand how could a learned person, having all resources at his disposal, think of committing such an unnatural sin, and that also at the age of 51," reacted Mr Dhillon when told that the Delhi Police had registered a case against him.

Mr Dhillon further said Mohinder Singh Pandher, one of the two sons of Sampuran Singh, a transporter, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

"He was so confident of his competence in transport business that he decided not to appear for interview after clearing IAS. He considered salary of a commissioner as meager and preferred to remain in family business," claimed Mr Dhilon.

Interestingly, Pandher was once rusticated for raising slogans in college campus to impress upon the authorities to declare holiday on eve of birth day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

"We have placed the paternal house of Mohinder Singh Pandher under surveillance," said Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon.



Assault: Police groping for accused
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 31
The Sadar police has failed to nab any of the 12 miscreants, who had been booked under Sections 307, 341, 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of IPC, for allegedly attempting to murder a local youth and injuring two journalists three days ago.

The police on the other hand claimed that various parties had been sent in search of the suspects who were reportedly absconding from their houses.

The FIR, registered on the complaint of Mandeep Singh, a shopkeeper of Gaushala Road area, says that Sandeep Singh alias Seepa of Rajgarh village, Jagga Singh and Palwinder Singh of Dango village and a group of 10 other miscreants had assaulted Mandeep Singh with an intention to kill him on Thursday.

The alleged assault happened when the complainant and some other persons had asked them not to create nuisance at a reception party at Kapila Palace.

Ravinder Puri, president of the Journalist Union, and Mahesh Sharma, a Tribune reporter, who tried to intervene, were also attacked.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Sandeep Singh Seepa, main accused, an organiser of a cultural group and Mr Jassa of Pohir, who had been engaged to perform function at the reception party of marriage of a local Bhangra coach, Rimpy, had developed some differences over the booking of the programme.

As performance of the Jassa group was appreciated highly by the guests, Sandip wanted to disturb the programme. When complainant and some other persons, including the groom, tried to stop him, he got agitated and assaulted them when they were leaving the palace.

"When Seepa ignored appeals made by the groom on public announcement system, I, alongwith senior members of the society, asked him to let the programme run. He instead of mending his ways threatened to kill me and my associates.

“Later when we were leaving the palace, about 12 miscreants led by Seepa and wielding swords, axes and rods attacked us," reported Mandip Singh to the police.

Profusely bleeding Mandip Singh, Ravinder Puri and Mahesh Sharma were shifted to the Civil Hospital. Mr Darshan Singh, SHO, Sadar, said Mr Puri and Mr Sharma were declared not fit to make statement.



Badal keeps the guessing game on
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 31
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has kept everybody guessing about four Assembly segments in the Ludhiana district.

Of the 10 segments (two are with the Bharatiya Janata Party in seat sharing arrangement), Mr Badal announced candidates for six only.

They include Mr Hira Singh Gabria from Ludhiana-Rural, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda from Ludhiana West, Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal from Koom Kalan (sitting), Mr Ranjit Talwandi from Raikote (sitting), Mr Jagdish Garcha from Kila Raipur (sitting) and Mr Jagjivan Singh Khirnia from Samrala.

While candidates for Dakha, Payal and Khanna segments were expected to be announced late because of several potential aspirants, keeping on hold, the Jagraon segment has surprised everybody.

Jagraon is being represented by Mr Bhag Singh Mallah for two consecutive terms. Mr Mallah has been a staunch Badal loyalist. Although he did not have any significant opposition, but the ten year representation might have led to some anti incumbency sentiment against him.

More than that it is the probability of senior leader and two time Ludhiana member parliament, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, as a possible candidate from there that has created doubts.

It is learnt, when Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon was allotted party ticket from Ludhiana Parliamentary constituency, Mr Aliwal had been assured proper rehabilitation in the Assembly elections. Last time, in 2002, he had unsuccessfully contested from Ludhiana Rural Assembly segment.

The district party president, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, has already been nominated from there by the party. There is all probability that Mr Aliwal might get the nomination from Jagraon this time.



New Year revelry mocks at their pain, poverty

Ludhiana, December 31
While the entire city is going gaga over the New Year celebrations that last well past midnight, it means just another day for the poor children. They feel disappointed that they were born to poor parents and for them celebrations are just a dream.

For the poor parents, who are forced to spend the chilly New Year night BY the roadsides, at the railway station or under the bridges, the day does not make any difference. They watch helplessly while their children think one day they could be a part of the celebrations that sound a like a cruel joke to them today.

‘‘Is anybody assuring us that we will get two square meals a day in the New Year? Our struggle has to remain. These celebrations ridicule our poverty,’’ says Leela Wanti, a woman who makes a living by selling knick-knacks on the roadside.

‘‘I will be cleaning utensils at my employer's house who is holding a party tonight. This is how I will enter the new year, ’’ said Ram Ratti, a domestic help.

The stories of her counterparts working at various places are quite similar. ‘‘We will have to go to construction sight and do our daily labour and then only we will be able to cook our meals. By the time we will come in the evening we will be tired. We would not have good night sleep as cars would be zooming past our shelter till the morning,” said Suresh and his wife.

They work at a house being constructed in Urban Estate and are employed on daily basis. — TNS



Ludhiana Calling

Every dog has its day

The prevalent cold wave in the region has made even animals search for warm shelters. Not many animals were seen around as they were caught lazing in the sun. Just like the mongrel who made himself comfortable on the bonnet of a car parked in the sun outside the Congress Bhawan. It was a rare sight and passers-by were stopping to have a second look at the dog. But nobody dared disturb him!

First food, then business

Punjabis' love for food is known to all. A recent press conference confirmed the same. Unlike routine conferences where organisers take a long time detailing their profiles and accomplishments, this one began by serving soup to all present. Interestingly, those on the dais were the last ones to finish it and when a reporter pointed out that they were delaying the conference, they quickly added, "the conference won’t be long, we will serve you lunch in no time".

2007: year of ‘masti’

Among interesting text messages circulating this New Year, this one stand out: “The year starts with a Monday and ends on a Monday, it has no public holidays on Sundays and a large numbers of Saturdays and Sundays. Enjoy the least working year in your life,” the text reads.

Routine parties a bore

A large number of city residents appear smitten by routine dance parties. Most of these parties have nothing new-a celebrity who entertains, dance and loud music. This absence of novelty is the reason many people prefer welcoming this New Year at their own homes, surrounded by friends and family.

Taking media for a ride

The desire for publicity, for some people, is so strong that they do not mind taking the media for a ride. A recent example is that of a public relations agency, which issued a press note announcing winners of a certain contest without mentioning the date. When asked about the date of the event, the PR representative was initially reluctant, but later disclosed that the date when the event occurred was more than a month ago. No wonder such unprofessional people mar the image of their industry.

SMSing in advance

Unlike earlier years, when people sent SMSs conveying New Year wishes on the first day of the year only to find out that network jamming had resulted in the delay or failure of the messages, this year they have emerged wiser. Most mobile users have started SMSing their greetings more than a week in advance. Now can that be called “getting used to technological blues”?

Low profile

After being severely condemned by the media for its apparent inability to take a firm stand on any issue, local industries has been maintaining a low profile. Industry associations, that had made it a routine to send several press notes every day, appear to have realised they cannot take the media for a ride. The result is that past 10 days or so has witnessed a significant reduction in the number of press releases being issued by them.

Bad weather spoiling fun

Poor visibility has been acting as a spoilt sport for those planning holidays in the hills. Not only are trains carrying a long waiting list, frequent delays are adding to the misery. Many residents have thus found a wiser way: enjoying cosy winters at home. Cheaper and hassle free, but not as thrilling, one must say!

All for Salman Khan?

News-paper offices receive several invitation letters to cover political events, meetings, seminars, cultural programs, etc, daily. This invite was surely different from the others. The invite asked The Bureau Chief of The Tribune Ludhiana to depute an "efficient" reporter and a photographer to cover the birthday celebrations of Bollywood actor Salman Khan near the bus stand on December 27. The letter said that the day was celebrated every year with great "pump" and show by the residents and so it needed to be properly covered and highlighted!

"Talk to our Boss"

At times, those delivering press-notes at newspaper offices give a tough time to reporters. They stress that the news has to be published in next day's edition, even if it had taken place a week ago. They then want the receiver's signature on a plain paper to ensure that the press-note was "safely" delivered. As if it is not enough, they keep on saying several times 'Khabar lagwa dena' or 'tussi sanu akhbar vich jaga nahin dinde, sade saab kehnde ne'. After getting satisfactory assurance, they leave the office to return again with a mobile on hold, saying, "talk to our boss and tell him that you got the press-note".

December joys

For the employees of government jobs, December is that time of the year when they can have the time of their lives. As most of them want to avail of their casual leaves during the last month of the year, public work suffers. People have to make several rounds to offices to get their work done as all the officials; from the senior-most to a junior employee; most are reported to be on leave. One wonders if the government should make a policy on availing casual leaves with uniformity so that people do not suffer.

Contributed by: Shveta Pathak, Kanchan Vasdev, Shivani Bhakoo and Jupinderjit Singh



Payal constituency
Ticket battle: Aspirants up the ante
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 31
Supporters of aspirants for SAD ticket from Payal constituency were left in the lurch after the party high command postponed the decision on the matter. They have once again started shoring up recommendations within the party for their respective aspirants.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, having been nominated for the Kilaraipur constituency, Junior Garcha, known for his proximity to the party president, is the strongest contestant among four leading aspirants, including Mr Jagjiwan Pal Gill, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, former minister, and Mr Kuldeep Singh Mangewal.

Supporters of Mann Singh Garcha claim that it was due to efforts of Mr Garcha that the party had revived its position in the area after three decades.

"While our party failed to gather enough support for its party candidates in civic body elections after 1967, today all six members of Malaudh Land Mortgage Bank and 8 out of 11 members of Nagar Panchayat are Akalis," said Mr Bhupinder Singh Cheema, state general secretary of youth wing of the party, adding that Mr Sanjiv Puri, president, Nagar Panchayat, Mr Sukhwant Tillu, Chairman, Land Mortgage Bank, and Ms Inderjit Kaur, member, Zila Parishad, achieved their positions due to efforts of Mr Garcha.

Mr Cheema claimed that more than 80 per cent office-bearers had demanded ticket for Mr Garcha. They include sarpanches, former sarpanches, members of societies and party organisers. As Mr Garcha had got about 50 of his loyalists in the organisational set-up, they would also vouch for him in case of any tie.

Jagjiwan Pal Singh, a close relative of Captain Kanwaljit Singh, stakes his claim on his locality. Contradicting opponent's criticism regarding inability to capture power in SUGARFED, MILKFED and Doraha and Payal civic bodies, supporters of Mr Gill claim that he should be given a chance in Assembly elections.

They maintain that failure to achieve power in certain bodies was due to impact of Opposition party rule at the Centre and the sate.

Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, though a strong contender within the party, is considered to arrive late in constituency. In case the party decides to leave the seat for Tohra loyalists, he is sure to win the ticket.

Enthusiasts of Kuldeep Singh Mangewal on the other hand claim that he will be able to encroach upon vote bank of the Congress party as his family had been actively involved in development projects undertaken during previous governments.



Dhanda is the SAD-BJP candidate from Ludhiana West
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, December 31
The announcement of the ticket to the Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal’s Legal Wing, Punjab, from the Ludhiana West Assembly segment has brought cheers to his supporters and party workers. They assembled at his house to congratulate him.

The Legal Wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal has hailed the decision of Mr Parkash Singh Badal for giving ticket to Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, former chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, as Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP nominee from the Ludhiana West Assembly constituency.

Presently, the constituency is being represented by Mr Harnam Dass Johar, a Cabinet minister in the ruling Congress Government. He had won by defeating the SAD-BJP nominee, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar. Mr Dhanda had also contested the last Assembly elections as an independent candidate.

Hailing the decision of the Akali Dal supremo, Mr Iqbal Singh, secretary of the Legal Wing,Mr Parminder Singh-vice president, Mr Naginder Singh-finance secretary, Mr Rajesh Rai-joint secretary and Mr Ajay Chopra said t Mr Dhanda was a right candidate from the Ludhiana West Assembly constituency, who had the potential to defeat any Congress nominee.

Mr Ramjit Singh Ratol, convenor, and Mr Jagdev Singh Virk, president of the local unit of the wing said Mr Dhanda had represented the District Bar Association as its president for the record seven times and enjoyed good reputation amongst the legal fraternity. He was a strong candidate and the legal wing would support his candidature wholeheartedly to ensure his victory.

The former Bar president, Mr Naval Kishore Chhibber, termed it as a right step taken by the Shiromani Akali Dal, terming Mr Dhanda a strong candidate. He had actively participated in several agitation and raised voice against the wrong policies of the state government and was having good base in the public, added Mr Chhibber.



A home away from home
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 31
With its total commitment to serve those in distress, Guru Amar Das Apahaj Ashram here, has taken upon itself the responsibility of caring for critically ill persons, destitute people, those with leprosy, AIDS patients, those with complete paralysis, physically and mentally disabled individuals, orphans, and the elderly.

Even with scarce financial resources and virtually no infrastructure or support from the government or any other agency, this ashram, with sheer grit and determination lends a helping hand to those in need.

"These people are also human beings like the rest of us. While many of us live in air-conditioned palatial houses and move around in luxury cars, it is not the fault of these people that they have to live like this ?" says Dr Naurang Singh Mangat, a former scientist of the Punjab Agricultural University, and the founder of the ashram.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Mangat, who has also served in the University of Windsor(Canada) and Morrison Scientific Inc., Calgary (Canada), says that the foundation of the Trust was laid way back in 1998, when he personally started sponsoring extremely needy orphans.

"Realising that what I was doing was not enough, I decided to widen the scope of the charity. With six other like-minded persons who volunteered to join hands in this noble task, this charitable, non-profitable, and non-political trust was formed and registered," he says. From then on there was no looking back for Dr Mangat. Most of the time he pedals his way to labour colonies and slum areas to find those in need of shelter, treatment, food or any other help.

Focusing on general activities of the trust, he says that those in need are provided tricycles, wheel-chairs, sewing machines, crutches, blankets, clothes, shoes, etc. Moreover, the education of some students is being supported on a regular basis.

According to the ideals of the ashram, the main thrust is to help those who are bed-ridden or critically ill and have no means to support themselves or have no one to look after them. Some under permanent care of the ashram are Dinesh (14), Sonu (15), Paramjit Kaur (35), Harpreet Kaur (25) and Harpreet Singh (25). All are completely paralysed and immobile. They can not express themselves, cannot eat or drink unassisted."

Dr Mangat further adds that another person under the care of the trust is Buta Singh who was born without legs. Similarly, two girls; Bateri (13) and Sunita (5); both cousins, are unable to stand and walk. Jatinder Kumar(11) is mentally retarded and also deaf and dumb. Even though determined to keep up the good work in the midst of odds, Dr Mangat looks a bit disillusioned over the lack of institutional or government support, and the indifference of the society in general.

A major task ahead is to provide shelter, free board and lodging, including free medical treatment. Such a massive task can only be accomplished with generosity and mass support. The government ought to extend a helping hand to enable the trust to meet its objectives," he remarked.

For more information, interested persons can log on to www.destitutecentre.cjb.net  or contact Dr Mangat at : 99152-88035. He can also be mailed at: [email protected] , [email protected] 



National interests being ignored, says RSS leader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 31
Mr Brij Bhjushan Singh Bedi, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Punjab, today said the teachings of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, also known as Guru Ji among the Sangh Parivar, were more relevant today as the country was being threatened by the sectarian and divisive forces.

Presiding over a public function organised in connection with the birth centenary celebrations of Golwalkar, Mr Bedi pointed out that due to the terror threat, it was of paramount importance that the spirit of nationalism was imbibed among the youth and children.

He regretted that the vote-bank politics was still being played while the national interest was being ignored, adding that such policies had led the country to this situation.

Mr Bedi said it was the need of the hour to firm up the resolve against the enemies of the country.

Senior BJP leader and former legislator Laxmi Kanta Chawla said Guru Ji had guided the country in crucial phases and it was the duty of every nationalist to spread his teachings.



Dhami awards distributed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
The distribution ceremony of Prof Puran Singh Dhami Annual Award, of the Alag Shabad Yug International Charitable Trust, Ludhiana, dedicated to the 4th martyrdom centenary of Sri Guru Arjan Devji, was held in Panjabi Bhawan with grace and gaiety, here today.

Dr Sarup Singh Alag, Chairman of the trust highlighted the services rendered by Guru Arjan Dev to humanity and mentioned the works of the trust, especially the distribution of Gurmat literature free of cost.

Mr Raja Singh of Texla TV, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Dr Inderjit Kaur, Dr Raghbir Bains, and Jaswinder Chahal were awarded the 'Shan-e-Panjab International Award’. Ten other personalities, namely Dr Nirmal Jaura, Harmeet Kaur, Surinder Singh Jagraon, Gurinder Singh, Correspondent Ajit, Parmeshar Singh of Panjabi Tribune, Amarjit Singh Nankana Sahib, G.K.Itten, Bhai Har Iqbal Singh Amritsar, Avtar Singh Deepak Amritsar and Biba Jasleen Kaur, were honoured with the prestigous Prof Puran Singh Dhami Memorial Award which carries Rs 5100 in cash, a shawl, saropa, citation, a silver medal, a memento, a souvenir, a set of books and other sponsored gifts.



40 needy women get ration
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 31
The Brotherhood Social Welfare Society distributed ration at Ram Piyari Temple here today. The ration was distributed to 40 needy women.

Mr Sharanjit Dhillon, Akali MP, presided over the function. He appreciated the efforts of the society.



Yet another fraud-by-travel agents story
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
Search for greener pastures abroad proved costly for a city resident when two travel agents allegedly duped him of Rs 70,000 on the pretext of sending him to Kuwait.

Mr Mohan Singh, a resident of Khajanchian Mohalla Purana Bazaar, said Navjot Singh and Santosh Bala, alias Sonia, who had been running a company named Continental Consultants and giving advertisements regarding immigration in newspapers, had defrauded him.

The FIR said the accused had lured the complainant to send him to Kuwait promising that he would work as a labourer with an attractive remuneration of Rs 75,000 per month.

The complainant was unemployed so he easily fell into the net of travel agents in June this year.

Mr Mohan Singh claimed that he paid Rs 40, 000 to them in June. The accused promised that they would get the passport arranged and took Rs 3,000 and his signatures on the passport form.

He further claimed that the accused promised him that they would send him to Kuwait within two months. But one of the accused came to his house after 15 days and took Rs 25,000 stating that his flight was ready and he would fly to Kuwait within a fortnight.

‘‘But till date they have not kept their promise. I checked up with them in September. They refused to pay back my money and rather threatened me of dire consequences. They also threatened me of implicating me in false cases if I went to them again,’’ alleged Mr Mohan Singh.

The division number-4 police had registered a case against the accused under Sections 420 and 120-B of IPC. Further investigations were on in the case.

The complainant said Navjot Singh had been running immigration offices in Ludhiana, Jagraon and Chandigarh with Sonia, a resident of Urban Estate, working as his sub agent.



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