L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Family of four set ablaze in sleep
Aman Nagar residents in a state of shock
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Women console Sukhdev’s mother outside the house
Women console Sukhdev’s mother outside the house. — Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, February 2
Four members of a family, including two children and a woman, met a gory death when they were allegedly set ablaze while they were asleep under mysterious circumstances in Peer Wali Gali, Aman Nagar, early today. They could not escape as the doors of their two-room house were bolted from outside.

The deceased have been identified as Sukhdev Singh (45), his wife Kuldeep Kaur (40) their sons, Davinder Singh (14) and Jatin alias Sachin (5). While Sukhdev Singh's burnt body could be recognised as he had tried to escape, his wife and children were charred beyond recognition.

The Salem Tabri police has registered a case of murder under Section 302, IPC, against unidentified persons. Though they are working on several other theories also, said SSP A.S. Rai.

Two neighbours of the family, Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Surjit Singh, said that they had spotted smoke billowing out of Sukhdev Singh's rented house at around 7: 30 a.m. When they came out they saw the main gate of house was locked from outside. They scaled the boundary wall and went inside only to find that the doors of both the rooms were bolted from inside.

They opened the doors only to find charred bodies of woman and children lying on a double bed and Sukhdev's body near the door of the other room.

He was also sleeping on another bed near his family. The position of his body suggested that he had tried to escape but could not as he could not open the door. The neighbours said they did not hear any cries.

The scene of the tragedy presented a ghastly site with bodies lying amidst ash and stench of smoke mixed with blood. All the household items, including beds, a TV set, clothes and other furniture, were reduced to ashes. A semi-burnt school bag was also lying in one of the rooms.

The neighbours said that the debt-ridden family had rented this house in November after selling their house in Bharti Colony.

When the bodies were being taken for a postmortem at Civil Hospital, even the hardest of hearts would have shed tears. The womenfolk who had gathered around the scene said that they would not like to cook today as they were shaken to their bones after the incident.

Sukhdev's mother, Ms Surjit Kaur, and his maternal uncle, Mr Ravinder Singh, reached the spot from Ganna village near Phillaur. Her behaviour left the investigators suspicious as she said she did not know about her son's job.‘‘He used to visit me once in six months. So I do not know actually what he did to keep his kitchen fire burning,’’she said.

DSP Jagjit Singh, who had investigated the spot, said that the fire could have broken out at 6 a.m. or even later. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained. The gas cylinder and burners were intact till the fire fighters came. An empty bottle of petrol was found in a partially burnt condition. He said forensic experts had collected samples from the scene but they had not succeeded in getting any finger prints.



Drive to foil attempts on liquor supply to voters
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 2
Calling upon leaders of various social and religious organisations to join hands against the menace of drug addiction, the Crime Prevention Society, Sayan Kalan, has launched a move to foil attempts by certain political leaders to woo voters by supplying liquor and poppy husk.

According to Mr Balwant Singh of Rania village, an office-bearer of the society, the organisation had launched a move to make villagers aware of hazardous affects of drugs and narcotics on their health and family life. The seminars held at Rania, Sayan, Dehlon and Hargobindpura were chaired by Mr Mehar Singh Cheema, chairman of the district unit of the society.

Various speakers, including Mr Cheema, Mr Bhupinder Singh Preet, vice-governor, Dr Jagjit Singh, Branch Manager, and Mr Daljit Singh Jawanda, secretary, maintained that the addiction of any kind served as a broth for other sins. Moreover, the quality of liquor and intoxicants was so inferior that it could prove fatal also.

The society aims to discourage social evils like illiteracy, dowry, female infanticide and atrocities on women. A documentary would be prepared on these evils, said the office- bearers.

Mr Kulpareet Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Manjit Singh, Mr Charanjit Singh, and Mr Gurpreet Singh Nangla also spoke during the seminars.



Parties’ claims on Ludhiana’s development stand exposed
KS Chawala

Ludhiana, February 2
Both the Akali Dal and the Congress are making tall claims of development in the state in their election campaign for the Vidhan Sabha poll. These tall claims notwithstanding, the failure of the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to complete the projects started more than five years ago is a classic example and speaks of the interest taken by the sitting Congress legislators and the counsellors of the Opposition parties.

As soon as the Congress Government was formed in Punjab in 2002 under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr S K Sharma, then a PCS officer, was appointed as Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. Mr Sharma who remained the most favourite officer of the government. He was later elevated to the IAS under political pressure.

The Chief Minister and his supporters continued to extend all support to Mr Sharma.

The Ludhianvis are now posing some serious questions to the Congress and Opposition candidates in the election fray in the four Vidhan Sabha segments of Ludhiana town since they were at the helm of affairs five years ago. The Congressmen in particular were part and parcel to the doings of the former Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation.

The Ludhianvis want to know why the prestigious projects started by Dr S S Sandhu, former Commissioner, during the tenure of the SAD-BJP combine were not completed on time and why there was delay in the same. There are some projects like the construction of the flyover over the lakkar da pull and Dhandari railway crossing, which have not been completed as yet. The Lakkar da pull on the Ludhiana-Amritsar track which was nearly one hundred years old was a link between the walled city and the new city and was demolished before the actual work was started on the flyover. This has resulted in great inconvenience to the residents who now have to cross the railway track at the risk of their life. A number of deaths have occurred while crossing the railway track. Even after five years, there does not seem to be any possibility of this project being completed in the near future.

The much talked elevated road has been completed from Jagraon bridge to Chand cinema after great hue and cry and with inflated cost of construction. But what is the use of this 'elephant' which has helped in the increase in the incidence of thefts and burgalaries instead of providing any relief to the town. The approaches to the elevated road have not been constructed and the Congress is making tall claims of constructing a prestigious project.

The Congress legislators, Congress counsellors and the Opposition counsellors never bothered about the cleaning of the Budha Nullah which has become a big environmental problem for the town.

For five years, the political leadership never thought of taking steps to set up the solid waste plants or completing the Satluge action plan to lessen the burden of carrying the sewage and sullage of this town in the Budha Nullah. The municipal authorities were never serious about the cleaning of the nullah. This resulted in the spread of gastroenteritis, Malaria and typhoid and other stomach ailments.



Woo voters by your deeds, not money
Centenarian’s advice to political leaders
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, 1 February
Claiming to have used their voting right without any consideration and influence for their whole life, Kartar Singh (115) of Tungaheri village in the Kilaripur Assembly segment and his wife, Barzi Devi, have called upon political leaders to shun use of money, liquor and drugs to woo voters.

Abstinence from addiction and contentment enabled Kartar Singh manage agriculture in 120 bighas of land all alone during his youth. “It is mockery of the institute of democracy that the people have started auctioning their right to vote. We should realise that the process is meant to select constituents of the government. If we collect the price of our votes from them, they would not bother about our needs,” said Kartar Singh. Ideology of the party and merits of the candidates should be kept in mind at the time of voting, he added. On his part, as a Sikh, he has remained loyal to Akalis for his entire life.

Although he lost the fingers of his right hand in an accident, Kartar Singh still goes to his fields twice everyday even now. He cuts fodder for cattle and performs other chores like weeding, adding fertilisers and spraying insecticides as usual.

Though Barzi Devi is confined to the bed these days after a fall, the couple is determined to cast their votes even this time. However, they will not use vehicle sent by supporters of any of the candidates. “I will walk down to the polling booth with the help of walker and my husband and grandchildren will help me,” Barzi said confidently.

Surjit Singh (70) and Nazar Singh (58), sons of Kartar Singh said, ideals imbibed from their parents have enabled them enhance their profits from agriculture.

“When we recollect that our father had been managing to plough 120 bighas of land with a pair of bullocks, we realise that working on tractor should not be considered difficult. It encourages our children also,” said Nazar Singh.



No end to unsolicited calls for residents
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
City residents are a harried lot with no end to unsolicited calls from companies selling insurance policies and other financial products. Despite a clear court directive prohibiting such unsought calls to customers executives of companies continue making phone calls to people.

"When we learnt of the court directive for stopping such calls, we were quite relieved. However, there is no end to such calls. It has become a headache as even if you refuse they start giving details of some other product. In our busy schedule it is not only disturbing but also a big time waster. The system to put an end to this practice needs to be implemented more effectively," said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Residents complain that they get calls on their mobile phones as well as landline telephones from executives of companies who begin describing their products the moment one picks up the phone. Products could range from medical policies, life insurance, some investment plan , mutual funds etc.

Based on the data of subscribers to mobile phones or people holding bank accounts these executives keep making unsolicited phone calls. "At times you get a call for the same product from two-three different people which is quite irksome.

Being rude not only spoils your own day but even that does not seem to help much. If you decide not to pick the phone, in case you have received a call from that number earlier, they do not mind making endless calls," says Ms Balwinder Kaur, a home maker.

And not just calls, there is no dearth of cases where people are sent SMS on details of some product. "Surprisingly, there are products, which television advertisements claim can be ordered only by phone, which you are persuaded to buy. The text message gives a certain contact number where you are asked to call and place your order. Why should product sellers bother us like this," questions Suprit Sharma, another resident.

With easy access to most products, entry of a large number of companies in the business of selling financial products and retail segment, tele calling is found irksome by residents. "I know I have got a lot of options. If I am interested I can quite easily access them. Why should such people bother us? There is a dire need to get strict on this issue," another resident added.



Beas firing: MCPI-U for action against culprits

Ludhiana, February 2
The Marxist Communist Party of India - United (MCPI-U) while strongly condemning the firing incident in Beas which claimed the life of an Akali Dal activist, has called for immediate arrest of the culprits named in the FIR.

Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, general secretary, and Mr Kuldip Singh, a member of the Politburo of the party, termed the Beas violence as an act of ‘goondaism and hooliganism’ aimed at terrorising the voters in general and supporters of Shiromani Akali Dal in particular.

The MCPI-U functionaries, at the same time, urged the Election Commission of India to take cognisance of matter and proceed against the Congress candidate, whose kin and supporters had allegedly indulged in violence and violation of election code.

They said that the Akali Dal candidate had earlier apprehended danger to his life which had turned out to be true.

The party called upon the Election Commission, as also the state administration to immediately intervene to ensure peaceful atmosphere during the elections and security of the voters and candidates. — OC



Guru Ravidas Jayanti celebrated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 2
Guru Ravidas jayanti was celebrated in the town and surrounding villages here today. The main function was held at Gurdwara Bhagat Ravidas, Jandali road. Akhand path and kirtan was organised in different gurdwaras in the area. Langars were also organised.

Kirtan, recitation of poems and lectures on the life and the philosophy of Guru Ravidas marked the occasion. Shabad gayan contests were also held for schoolchildren and the winners were felicitated.

Functions were also held in Jagera road, Amarpura, Pohir road, Jandali, Chhanna, Maherna, Dehliz and Kanganwal areas.

Addressing gatherings at various functions Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, MC president, Dr Kuldip Singh Bhullar, patron of Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Mr Kuldip Karwal and Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie called upon members of all sections of society to follow teachings of Guru Ravidas and shun discrimination on the basis of caste.

LUDHIANA: The Dharmik Ekta Welfare Club celebrated Guru Ravidas jayanti with religious fervour here today.

A programme was organised on the occasion under the presidentship of Mr Ajay Kumar Sidhu. Mr Ashok Tiwari of the Congress was the chief guest. A large number of people participated in the function. A pooja was performed on the occasion and ladoos were distributed among the devotees.



At the Crossroads
Hankering after votes

Enticing people with promises of round-the-clock water and power supply for securing votes is nothing short of bartering ballots with some utility items. This reminds me of a poem by Christopher Marlowe wherein the lover tries to win over the love of his beloved by promising her all material comforts. He is forthright, like a good politician, in expressing his views:

A gown made of the finest wool,

Which from our pretty lambs we pull,

Fair linéd slippers for the cold,

With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy buds

With coral claps and amber studs :

And if these pleasures may thee move,

Come live with me and by my Love.

The poem ends without any response to the appeal of the Passionate Shepherd. Perhaps the beloved saw through the jugglery of words. She could fathom the depth of his love, which was superficial. Matter can move the spirit, but not the soul. When the search is for a soul mate, material comforts and luxurious living are no substitutes. It is always “the desire of the moth for the star, of the night for the morrow”.

Even Lady Gregory in her Irish play “The Londonderry Air” created suchlike tempting situation. The maidservant in the play was going to be married to the son of the mistress of the house. The girl was not sure of the boy's love for her as that seemed to be the marriage of convenience. Before long she left the house with a pedlar who promised her all good things of life after their marriage - “All the stars, all the roses and all the winds of the four sides will be yours, while we dream together among haystacks”.

In this age of marriages of convenience, particularly by political parties, there is no use specifying such items as can relieve the distress of the people. Marlowe's shepherd could not get the desired response from his beloved as she could know instinctively that the person was trying to hoodwink her.

Lady Gregory's pedlar, on the contrary, was wise enough not to be specific about the material gifts he would offer her after their marriage. He left it to the imagination of the poor girl to conjure up heavenly images to soothe her mind, if not her body. Among the haystacks, she could have plenty of time for dreaming.

The political parties, during the election days, should talk not about water and electricity, but about floods and lightning. In fact the starving people, with ballot papers in their hands, can dream of only these things under the canopy of the blue sky. Such a device has been tested, time and again, on the anvil of time.

— N.S. Tasneem



4 held for youth’s murder
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 2
Intensive investigation and coordination by the local police and the Bahadurgarh CIA staff enabled the Sangrur police arrest four persons who had allegedly killed a youth of Jhaner village and looted Rs 4.37 lakh from his master, owner of a petrol station, at Jitwal level-crossing around 32 months ago.

The case could have remained untraced, had the accused not used mobile phone of the owner of the petrol station, which they had taken away from him along with cash.

Rachhpal Singh of Faizgarh village, near Malerkotla, Kuldip Singh of Dudhal village, near Malaudh, Parminder Singh, alias Teeta, of Mangewal village and Sat Pal Singh of Ber Khurad, who had allegedly killed Sukhjiwan Singh of Jhaner village on the night of May 8, 2004, were arrested by a team led by Mr Gurmit Singh, in charge, CIA, Bahadurgarh yesterday. The police also recovered the weapon and the vehicle used in the incident.

According to Mr B. Chander Shekhar, SSP, Sangrur, Sukhjiwan Singh was shot dead by the accused with a .30 mm pistol when he tried to resist their attempt to rob his master, Harvinder Singh, at a level-crossing near Jitwal village around 9 pm on that day. The miscreants (then reported to be five in number) had absconded with Rs 4.37 lakh and other valuables, including a mobile phone, after deflating the tyre of the car.

The case remained unsolved for a long time and the parents of the deceased had started complaining of inaction on behalf of the police.

Meanwhile a special team was constituted under the supervision of Mr Paramvir Singh Gill, SP(D), Sangrur. The team succeeded in identifying the gang on the basis of IMEI number of a mobile phone used by Sandeep Singh (cousin of Rachhpal Singh). The phone turned out to be one that was snatched from Harvinder Singh. Sandip told the police that the phone was given to him by Racchpal Singh.

The preliminary investigations revealed that the miscreants had conspired to exploit prediction about enhancement of rates of diesel and petrol during the first week of May 2004. “As a steep rise in rates was apprehended then, the accused expected huge collections at petrol stations in the area. They targeted the owner of petrol station at Sehora as he used to carry collection daily to Jhaner village. They intercepted them near the level-crossing and committed the crime,” said Mr Shekhar.

Sukhjiwan, who was waiting for his class XII result, had joined the job only one day prior to the incident. Though Harvinder Singh was carrying a revolver, he did not dare to use it once Sukhjiwan was shot.



SBI holds seminar for industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
State Bank of India (SBI) conducted a seminar for industry here on Wednesday.

Mr S.S. Sharma, General Manager, SBI, gave details about the bank’s schemes for industry in general and jewellers in particular.

A presentation on 'Futures in Gold' was also made on the occasion. Mr Sharma said the bank was lending gold to jewellers at a nominal interest rate and repayment of the same was allowed within 90 days.

Mr R. Karthikey, DGM, was among others present on the occasion.



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