R E G I O N A L   B R I E F S

Regional potpourri
Rags to schoolbags
Write living
Row, row, row your boat...


Mahashivratri celebrated
: On the occasion of the Mahashivratri celebrations at Mukteshwar Dham at Chahlan village near Samrala, the local branch of PNB announced that bank would adopt the village and start a scheme known as PNB Mitra savings bank account. Under the scheme, an illiterate or a visually impaired person is also eligible to open account with simplified account opening norms. Branch Manager B B Goyal said the account could be opened by just Rs 25.

Pulse Polio: Dr Harwinder Singh, senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Samrala, inaugurated the pulse polio campaign on Sunday. For 100 per cent coverage of the slum areas, and those children who are travelling in buses etc, one mobile team and seven transit teams have been deputed at the various bus stops.



Cow rescued
: A cow fell into a panchayat-owned well at Fatehpur village in Sector 20, here, on Sunday. Villagers in large numbers gathered on the spot. They collected Rs 1000 and hired a JCB to get the cow out of the well but the driver of the JCB expressed his inability to help the villagers maintaining that he had no experience of such kind. Finally, one of the villagers, Maamchand, volunteered to rescue the cow. He tied a rope to his waist and was lowered into the well. He tied the cow with a rope and slowly pushed the cow out of the well.

Mishap: A girl was crushed by an unidentified vehicle at a light point in Mansa Devi Complex, here on Sunday. The victim was rushed to General Hospital, Sector 6, where she is undergoing treatment for wounds on her arms and head. 

Sambar dies: Two sambars - a male and a female - strayed on the national highway near Surajpur, here, on Sunday. While one was killed just after being hit by an unidentified vehicle, another was saved and rescued by the locals who said forest officials reached the spot very late despite repeated calls.



Held for rape: The Khol police on Sunday arrested Thawar Singh (35) of Nimoth village, 28 km from here, allegedly for raping a girl (18) of Lohana village near Nimoth on February 16. The girl told her father about the incident. He complained to the police, which registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC against the accused. Medical examination of the girl at Civil Hospital here conformed the sexual assault.

Balcony caves in: Munda Ram of the Chattarpur area of Rajasthan was injured seriously when balcony of a store collapsed during renovation work of the shop in the Patherghati Bazar here on Saturday. After extrication from the rubble Munda Ram was taken to the Civil Hospital where the doctors refered him to Delhi. Motor cycle parked under the balcony was also smashed. The police registered a case causing life-endangering hurt to the labourer against contractor Bhag Mal.

CONGRESS PADYATRA: Congress activists of the Kosli region began 300 km-long padyatra on Saturday for navyug rally to be held in Sirsa on February 25. Padyatra was flagged off from Kosli by Mr Deepender Singh Hooda, MP and son of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Parlimentary Secretary Rao Dan Singh, two-Congress legislators Mrs Anita Yadav (Salhawas), Mr Naresh Sharma (Badli) and other party leaders were present on the occasion. Mr Om Prakash Bhardwaj, district general secretary of the party leading the padyatra, said passing through Dadri, Bhiwani, Hisar and other areas of the state, it would reach Sirsa on February 25.

THREE SHOPS BURGLED: Three shops Bhatotia Generator Service, Jitender Shoe Palace and Saini Plastics, in the Naya Bazar near Bawal Chowk here, were burgled on Friday night. Thieves reportedly decamped with submersible motors, copper wire, quality shoes, cash etc. worth over Rs 70,000. The police has registered a case.



Rags to schoolbags

Slum children attend a school being run specially for them in Ludhiana
Slum children attend a school being run specially for them in Ludhiana.

The entire world might write them off as children of slum dwellers but these two residents of Ludhiana are committed to chalking out a rags to bags story.

Having opened three schools in different parts of the city, where 104 slum children are learning their first alphabets, Rajendra Sharma, an administrative officer with National Insurance Company, and Anuradha, a retired headmistress from a government school, are setting an example of sorts.

The duo joined hands in April last year and it was only due to their consistent efforts that 104 parents decided to get their children educated, sacrificing their additional monthly income from them.

Having opened three schools in slums near Cheema Chowk, Shimla Puri and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Sharma and Anuradha are happy that their efforts have borne fruits. The children have regularly been attending school for almost a year.

At SBS Nagar, the duo is holding classes at Valmiki Dharamshala, though at the rest of the places there is no building available to them and classes are held in the open.

“It was a task to impress upon their parents to withdraw them from various houses and send them to our school. But with the help of six teachers, whom we are paying from our resources, we have succeeded in our efforts. Still there is need for more, as only 20 per cent of these children attend school. Others still go to their daily chores,’’ says Sharma.

“They may be children of encroachers and we might be looking at them with scorn, but they too deserve something from society. We hope they become respectable citizens in future,’’ he adds.

Write living

Octogenararian Sahi Ram Johar, who joined journalism at a mere 19 years and is still actively engaged in writing and editing, has got the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the field.

The award was presented to Comrade Johar at a convention of the Indian Journalists Union organised at Sirsa recently. Union Minister Shankar Singh Vaghela honoured the Hisar-based veteran journalist with the award in the presence of Press Council of India Chairman, Justice J.N. Rai.

Johar belongs to a family of freedom fighters. His father Udai Ram Johar was a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and his brothers also actively participated in the freedom struggle. He began his career in journalism in 1942 with the “Gram Sevak” paper published by Lala Hardev Sahai of Satrod village in Hisar district.

Johar’s request for starting a Hindi newspaper was turned down in 1946. In a report sent to the British regime, the then District Magistrate of Hisar had stated that the applicant should not be allowed to set up a printing press or start a paper of his own as “he belongs to a family of revolutionaries.”

After Independence, Johar established the Navjeevan Printing Press at Hisar in February, 1949. In 1950, he became the founder Editor of monthly magazine “Amar Jyoti,” published from Hisar. He is also the founder Editor of “Karmyug” and “Haryana Sangh”. The latter, a weekly newspaper, has been in existence for 34 years.

Even at 85, Johar is actively pursuing journalism. He also runs the “Hindi Apnao Andolan”, which he launched in 2002.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev and Sunit Dhawan

Row, row, row your boat...

Boatman Surinder Singh transports a motorcycle on his boat near Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district
Boatman Surinder Singh (right) transports a motorcycle on his boat near Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district. — Photo by S.S. Chopra

He helps hundreds every day to reach their destination but his life moves at a snail’s pace on bedas (boats).

He is Surinder Singh (42), popularly known as Chhinda. He is a boatman whose dawn-to-dusk job is to transport the residents of nearly 15 small villages located on an island near Sulatanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district.

The island has a population of nearly 3,000, and most of the resident have to visit the mainland for day-to-day affairs.

The bamboo pole-propelled boats are the only connection to towns located across the Beas. A visit to the police post or post office across the island almost takes an entire day.

As he takes us to the other bank of the river, Chhinda says: “I have spent my entire life hopping in boats.. I am quite satisfied here as I am living far from the madding crowd. For me this is a Chandigarh of sorts.”

He sees himself as the lifeline that connects the villagers of Baupur Mand, Baupur Jadid, Baupur Kadim, Mohammadabad, Rampur Gora, Kadir Bhaini, Baradpur Bhaini, Mubarakpur, Mand Mubarakpur, Sangri, Bhim Kadim, Mand Gujjarpura, Mand Akalpurukh, Bandu Jadiel, Bandu Kadim and Kishanpur Karka to the rest of the world. He thus has no day off.

“Though the island is fertile, the villagers have to transport their produce to the mandis through my boat,” he claims.

Most of the milk vendors also transport their two-wheelers between the island and the mainland on boats daily. In the absence of boats, they cannot reach the other side.

Interestingly, Chhinda still believes in the barter system. He does not charge any money from the villagers. During the rabi and kharif seasons, every household gives him a share of their produce for his toil. —Vishal Gulati

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