L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

A packet of death
Girl dies, 5 kids fall ill after having powder
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Mr Mandeep Singh, SHO of the Division No. 6 police station, said had the time been not lost in shifting children from the CMC to the Civil Hospital or the Sachdeva Hospital, the casualty could have been avoided. The doctors at the CMC did not admit the children because of their poor status despite his personal request, he added.

Ludhiana, February 17
A two-year-old girl died while five children, all aged between 2 and 8 years, were taken ill after they consumed some poisonous substance in Kashmir Nagar, near Shingaar Cinema, this morning.

The children had reportedly found abandoned a packet of a powder-like substance, which they mistook as powder for making soft drink. They consumed it after mixing it in water and fell unconscious.

The police it seemed to be an abandoned packet of some insecticide or pesticide. The sample of the drink was being examined along the viscera of the deceased girl, Nazrana.

The condition of her sister, Rukhsar, 3, was serious. She, along with her cousin, Gulzar, were admitted to the Civil Hospital. Sonu, Shehzad and Aziz, aged 4 to 6 years, had also taken ill after drinking the same mixture. They were under treatment at the Sachdeva Hospital.

The fathers of the children, Mohd Issar and Mohd Nazir, both brothers, had come to the city with their families just 10 days ago from Darbhanga in Bihar. They had come in search of employment and had got job of embroidery workers in a local hosiery unit.

Doctors at the Sachdeva Hospital, Gaushala road, and the Civil Hospital managed to save the lives of the seriously ill, whereas the family and the police team accompanying them had to return disappointed from the CMC Hospital where they could not get treatment due to shortage of money.

The brothers, who were seen requesting people with folded hands to save their children said they had gone to work in the morning and were informed about the tragedy by some labourers who lived in the neighbourhood.

Noorjahan, mother of the deceased girl, said she and her sister-in-law, Asha, worked as domestic helps and the children were alone at home at the time of the tragedy. They also came to know about the tragedy through neighbhours, she said.

The SHO, Division No. 6 police station, Mr Mandeep Singh, said so far there was no evidence to require registration of a case regarding the incident. He said it seemed to be an unfortunate mishap only.

He, however, said the casualty could have been avoided as precious time was lost when the children had to be shifted from the CMC. He said he had personally requested the authorities, but neither the doctors admitted the children because of their poor status nor any NGO came forward to their help.

Dr Subash Sachdeva said the condition of the children was stable in the evening.



Cultural bonanza in the offing for Ludhianvis
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam (LSS) entered its eighth year with three mega programmes — Zila Khan live concert on February 23, Shatranj Ke Mohre, comedy play performed by Rakesh Bedi, Rajeshwari Sachdev (Nach Baliye fame), Anjjan Srivastav, Raman Kumar, Bharat Kapoor and Avtar Gill on March 10, 2007, and thereafter, the biggest programme of LSS, Amjad Ali with Amaan and Ayaan in April, 2007.

Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, president, LSS, today said that Zila Khan's performance will be held at Guru Nanak Bhawan on February 23. Zila Khan, biggest name in India, is now internationally recognised Sufi singer and does concerts globally. She was born in a family where musical heritage was legendary. Her father was the incomparable sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. She was the 7th generation of an unbroken line in what was the oldest school (or Gharana) of sitar and surbahar in India. It was quite a feat for her lineage to have four generations of recorded music that they lived for and lived with.

Zila was the one and only singer in the lmdad Khani Gharana and she was the first woman from the family to have been empowered to sing in public. Her background had enabled her to travel extensively in the music world. She had given highly celebrated concerts and toured throughout the world. "She has successfully established herself in a mould that is independent from that of her celebrated father, the legendary sitar maestro Ustad Vi!ayat Khan", said Mr Munjal.

Apart from having many albums released and some like “Ishq Ki Nayee Bahaar” being on the top of the charts on various music channels, her CD 'ZiIa', another CD called 'Secrets of the Devine', Zila Khan has just released her new album and music video called 'Sar Masti" a Sufi album with lyrics of Hazrat Amir Khusrau and sung in her own versatile way.

Her creativity further expanded when she came up with a mesmerising performance in the lead role for an English musical play called "Gods, Graves and Grandmother". Her role of the central character who went through the cycle of life of a human being, from struggle to survival to success to achievement to 'Ahankaar' and finally "Moksh", the feeling of understanding and peace when one realised that life was just an illusion and that's the time one attained 'Moksh'.

When India brought out a stamp on the 350 years of celebration of "The Taj Mahal" (one of the wonders of the world), the Government of India invited Zila Khan to sing at the launch in the Vigyan Bhawan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented Zila Khan with a 'Roll of Honour'. Zila Khan composed and sang a specially written song to mark the occasion, thus showing her versatility not only in singing but also in composing music. Very rarely but for very special films Zila Khan has sung and given music.

In June, 2006, Zila Khan was invited by the Indian Government's cultural branch, the ICCR, to sing in Kashmir with some Pakistani artistes for a "Sufi festival" to try and bring peace and normalcy in the valley ravaged by terrorism, and despite the on-going militant attacks, she bravely went there to show her solidarity to the people of Kashmir.



Social bodies threaten stir over poll campaign costs
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 17
Accusing Congress and SAD candidates of wooing voters by allegedly “buying” a section of the vernacular Press and electronic media, leaders of various social and political organisations have threatened to launch a movement in case the administration failed to include the expenses incurred on advertisements in expenditure accounts of respective candidates.

As the administration is already learnt to have initiated a process to include expenses of all advertisements in the accounts of candidates, majority of the candidates already under stress with the thoughts of a possible defeat in the elections, might face the Election Commission’s axe on the issue of exceeding the stipulated limit of expenditure on campaigning.

Referring to the outcome of a meeting of office-bearers of the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, Progressive Women Association, Punjab Kisan Union, All-India Central Council of Trade Union and Lal Jhanda Nirman Mazdoor Union, Mr Tarsem Jodhan, former MLA, claimed that the office-bearers of these organsations had threatened to launch a movement against the trend that had gagged the voice of democratic candidates.

The joint front comprising the CPI (ML) Liberation, CPM (Punjab), Forward Block and Revolutionary Socialist Party from Raikot, alleged that candidates of the SAD and Congress had blemished the sanctity of the institute of democracy by misguiding the public through expensive and alluring advertisements and “paid” news reports.

“A cursory look at the newspapers shows that the expenditure limit prescribed by the commission had been overlooked by majority of candidates,” said Mr Jodhan, adding that an equal amount had been spent on other publicity materials, including banners and flags.

Referring to information provided by the office-bearers of these associations, he alleged that officials in the advertisement sections of certain publishing houses concerned had declined to furnish information about advertisement rates in their respective papers. “In case they do not provide the required information, the returning officers should summon the records in this regard and act against the violators before the results are declared,” he added.



Forgery case: Police inaction alleged
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
Seven days after the registration of a fraud case against a former employee of Munjal Gases, the focal police has been unable to arrest the two accused, even though one of them was reportedly handed over to the police by the complainant.

Mr Basant Kumar, manager of the company, alleged that Birinder Kumar Jhaan, an accountant with the company, had stolen three cheques from the office and encashed those by forging the signatures of a partner. He did this in connivance with his brother Ranjit, who was caught and handed over to the police, but was later let off.

The Focal Point police booked the duo for committing a fraud of Rs 60,000 but did not arrest anyone. Ranjit was let off after he gave an assurance that he would return the money or lead the police to the main accused.



Ansal Plaza director, manager booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
Director and the manager of the popular shopping mall, Ansal Plaza have been booked on the charges of allegedly forging a rent-lease agreement document.

The Division No. 5 police today, booked the Director, Parvan Ansal and the manager Deepak Sachdeva under sections 420, 468 of the IPC for allegedly forging the lease agreement of 11 months with the complainant, Major (retd.) Balbir Singh.

SHO Sukhwinder Singh said that the Plaza management had taken a piece of land adjoining the mall on lease from the complainant for 11 months. However, later they added "or more" to the 11 months limit on a photocopy of the agreement for their advantage.

The police official said, a case has been registered after inquiry.

The police was conducting raid to nab the accused.



Children need protection, not exploitation: study
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, February 17
"Child labour is cheap, easily available, passive, can be made to work long hours, has no unions, is unlikely to change jobs. Therefore, millions of children are forced to grow up to be stunted adults suffering from life threatening diseases," says a study on Research on Child Labour in Small Scale Industries in Punjab by Pratibha Goyal, university lecturer at PAU. Inspite of a ruling by the Supreme Court banning child labour, it is rampant as stated above, it is cheap, it is easily available, and stringent action is taken against defaulters employing child labour openly.

Children have been employed in guilds, trade occupations, domestic and non-domestic work, agragarian and non-agragarian sectors, carpet weaving, construction work, scooter and sports industry. India has found itself in a very embarrassing situation when Germany and USA refused to import carpets from Mirzapur as child labour was involved. Similarly, European countries are not accepting the sports goods in which child labour is employed. The government has hardly devised any laws to safeguard the young workers from exploitation and working under hazardous conditions.

Ms Goyal says in her study that 75 per cent of children work as long as 10 hours a day at a meagre salary whereas 50 per cent of the children working overtime in construction industry are supposed to get enhanced salaries. It is the economic necessity which sends the eldest child in a family to work and support the family.

According to this study, "most of the times, the children do not reap the labour of their fruits as their parents take away their salaries. The children are employed in congested, unhygienic, hosiery industries where they have to work on linking machines, folder machines, winding of yarn, thread pulling, embroidery and knitting. In the factories, a lot of pollutants like fibers, dyes, wool, cotton, fluff affects their health. The children do complain of bad eyesight, headaches and their poor health will make them prospective victims of serious diseases like asthma, tuberculosis and poor vision. There are hardly ever any toilet facilities. They are never provided with clean drinking water."

About 32 per cent of the children go to work without breakfast. Thirty per cent of the children are abused, scolded and threatened constantly by their employers, thus making their lives hellish, devoid of any childhood pleasures. It was found that the families of the child workers were above poverty line and without their contribution. The families could not function as 20 per cent of the men in these families are addicted to gambling and drinking and never work. The mothers cannot find employment for they have children to look after. Hence, these young children (can we call them young) whose nimble fingers are used in bidi and other hazardous industry have to sacrifice their childhood to keep the kitchen fires burning.

Since from the tender age, they remain in the company of adults ,they pick up bad habits of smoking, chewing tobacco and eating gutkas. About 48 per cent of them would like to study in non-formal schools and would love to see action-packed movies.

She concludes that the problem of child labour cannot be abolished. The NGOs and the government have to make concerted effort to provide non-formal education with renumeration. The government has to restrict the population and also to regulate the conditions of workplace, provide protection to working children through observance of minimum standards of welfare, safety and health at work place. Gradually the government should plug loopholes and see that no child labour is employed in hazardous industries and rather try that the adults of the family are given those jobs. Children need protection and not exploitation.



At the Crossroads
The charm of snowflakes

Snowfall gladdens many hearts but the icy winds that blow afterwards dampen the spirits. Walking on the road, freshly covered with snow, is like venturing forth to discover a new world. In 1957, I chanced upon visiting Kufri in February to witness winter sports. Two of my friends joined me at Sanjauli and the three of us walked down the road that was under thick layers of snow.

From Sanjauli, hardly 2 km from the Ridge (Shimla), we trudged to Dhalli, after passing through a short tunnel on the way. Thereafter, the journey was arduous as thick snow had settled on the road leading to Kufri.

At Kufri, we were delighted to see the snow-covered slopes. Skiing was in progress as the lovers of winter sports had gathered there in a large number. Far and wide, men, women and children, could be seen frolicking with snowballs. A new world had emerged out of the snow-white sea. To us, at that time, Kufri seemed to be the end of the road. Later, we learnt that it was only a milestone.

Last year, when I went there, I found that Kufri led to three resorts - Shilon, Tushali and Cedar Heights - before one reached Chail. At Chail, one sought the much-needed respite at Palace Hotel, while from its lawns one could have a glimpse of Sanjauli across a vast expanse between the two hills. From Chail to Kandaghat and then again from Kandaghat to Shimla, if one so liked. Otherwise, the downward journey led to Solan and Kalka. The topography indicated a circular movement, leading from one wonder to another.

Heavy snowfall in Shimla during the past three-four days has halted the automobiles on roads and confined the tourists to their rooms at various resorts. At such times, the more it snows, the more miserable one feels behind the glazed corridors. In 1961, again in the month of February, it snowed continually for a fortnight, raising the level of the snow on certain roads to around 10 feet. To cover the road on foot, from Sanjauli to Snowden Hospital and then to the Ridge, was like passing through an uncovered tunnel of snow.

At the Ridge, one could see the light, so to say, at the end of the tunnel.

That was in the past, now the vehicles trample the snow-covered roads in a ruthless manner. The smoke and the fume mingle with the sound of the engine and the noise of horns to rob the scenario of its pristine glory. The attempts to ward off the severity of icy winds with Rum or Vodka are like beating the husk for a few grains. In fact, it is in dreamy wakefulness and aching muscles that one reaps the rich harvest of snowy season.

— N.S. Tasneem



Potato being stored

Ludhiana, February 17
Due to reduction in the prices of potatoes, the farmers are storing their crop in cold storage. Talking to reporters they said, “now we are getting Rs 300 per bag but after one month it is estimated that the price would be double in the market”. A commission agent from Delhi has said that rain in this region will be the cause to hike the prices in the long run. — OC



Diamond jewellery exhibition glitters city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
A two-day diamond jewellery exhibition by Ms Vandana Munjal was inaugurated here yesterday.

The exhibition introduced “Couture Jewels- Spring 07” collection and also an international spring summer collection by Ms Punam Zaveri.

The Mumbai-based entrepreneur said having worked in the corporate world for a decade, she had discovered her passion for working with diamonds and crafting diamond jewellery. After studying diamond grading at the International Gemological Institute (IGI), she began dealing in certified diamonds, sourced from all over the world.

Talking about buyers, she said after market analysis, she realised that an average buyer knew little about diamonds. "Which is why it becomes critical to make the consumer aware of factors he should considering before making this precious purchase."

The exhibition, she added, offers gold, diamonds, pearls and coloured gemstones in intricate designs.

"The classic as well as contemporary diamond collection is merged beautifully with precious gems like emeralds, rubies, onyx, turquoise, corals and pearls carefully selected."

On trends, she said, for this season, the latest was hoops, bigger than ever cocktail rings, champagne diamonds and yellow gold.



Roaming on Hutch sans rental
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
Hutch today announced national roaming without monthly rentals. The mobile phone service provider also announced a drop in national roaming rates by up to 56 per cent. Subscribers will not have to pay any security deposit for national roaming.

Hutch users will now pay only Rs 1.75 for incoming calls which will now save upto 56 percent, depending on the roaming distance. Outgoing local calls will be Rs 1.40 per minute, while STD calls will cost Rs 2.40 per minute. There will be no change in ISD rates and SMS or GPRS usage.

The drop in roaming tariffs is in line with the recent guidelines issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the company said in a press note issued here today. The TRAI said the new tariffs, would be applicable for the dominant GSM network as well as the CDMA platform and the new charges would cut roaming tariffs by 22 to 56 per cent.



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