L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

New twist to minor girl’s case
I am not held captive, he is my husband, says girl
  Alleges that her parents wanted her to dance for money
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
The minor girl of Jwaddi village, who her parents alleged, had been held captive by a local youth, today said that she had married him and wished to spend her life with him.

She said her parents wanted her to dance for money and were levelling allegations against her husband as she failed to fulfil their wishes.

Mandeep Kaur, the minor girl, was produced before the SDM, Amrit Kaur Gill, here today following a news item carried in these columns today.

Her parents had reported that she was in the captivity of a youth, Vipin Khurana, who used to work with her. They said she was not able to walk and she needed urgent medical attention.

High drama was witnessed in the mini secretariat here today, when the youth Vipin carried her in his arms and both gave their statements to the SDM.

Mandeep told the SDM that she had married Vipin in the presence of her parents seven months ago and was very happy with him. In a written statement, Vipin said they had got married as her passport stated that she was 26 years old at the time of marriage.

He said earlier her parents had no problem as he used to send them money but as soon as he stopped doing that, they started levelling all kinds of allegations. He added that they had misled the police and the SDM also by saying that he had kidnapped her although they had got married in their presence and both the parents could be seen in the pictures clicked at that time.

Talking to The Tribune outside the SDM's court, Mandeep said she was happy with the youth but her parents wanted her to dance and give money to them.

‘‘Though he was already married and divorced, it is our personal matter. All that makes me happy is that now I do not have to dance to earn my bread and butter as I have been doing for past many years. It was humiliating and my husband does not want me to do so,’’ she said. She added that her parents should be happy that a youth had married a girl whom nobody had considered for marriage.

Vipin alleged that all was going well till the last two months when he stopped giving money to her parents, Sinder Kaur and Kashmir Singh.

‘‘They even took her to Jwaddi in March and told me that she had gone missing. Later, I came to know that she was kept with her aunt. A relative told me and I went to her aunt and brought her back. ’’

He also alleged that Mandeep told him that she was tortured by a tantrik, whose services were hired by her parents at that time as they were thinking that the girl was possessed because she was not willing to leave her husband.

‘‘They even pierced her forehead. She started having fits and when she came to my house, her left foot was paralysed. Now I am showing her to a doctor who says she would recover within two months. We have got all her tests done and she is being given nerve tonics,’’ he added.



Govt unlikely to reopen PAU 'seed scam'
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
The state government is learnt to have given up the idea of reopening the 'Nabha Seed Scam' lest it be construed a step in vindictiveness, besides landing itself into further embarrassment.

Certain sections within the government were believed to be in favour of reopening the case after K.S.Aulakh tendered his resignation as the Vice- Chancellor of the PAU in protest against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's directive to open a university gate closed for the past six years.

The 'scam' relates to alleged bungling in the PAU seed farm, Nabha.

This follows the opinion from certain legal quarters, which suggested that there was nothing much left in the case, particularly after it had already been investigated by different agencies and nothing had been found out of it.

Every inquiry had found the university officials, including Aulakh, innocent.

The alleged 'Nabha Seed Scam' was investigated following the complaint by one Balwant Singh to the senior superintendent of police, Patiala, on March 1, 2003, that there was a scam in the university seed farm, Nabha, that led to losses to the PAU.

The SSP, Patiala, marked the inquiry to the DSP, Nabha, who found all accused, including the then vice- chancellor, K.S. Aulakh, innocent and recommended the filing of the case. In fact the inquiry officer had concluded that the complaint had been filed with mischievous and malicious intent.

Following this, the complainant Balwant Singh moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the DSP’s clean chit to the accused. The High Court directed the Additional Director General of Police (crime), Punjab, to get the matter inquired. The ADGP marked the inquiry to the Inspector General of Police (Zonal), Patiala. The IGP submitted his report to the ADGP on August 2, 2004, concluding that the allegations were found not to be true.

Even the then SSP vigilance Ludhiana had also conducted a separate inquiry into the alleged scam and found that the allegations were motivated and baseless and the case had been filed.

Meanwhile, Aulakh, when contacted, said he had nothing to conceal or be afraid of and he was prepared for everything. He said several inquiries had already been conducted into the alleged scam and in each and every inquiry he and other senior officials of the university had been found innocent. Moreover, he added that he had taken all decisions in the interest of the university in the most transparent manner.

He disclosed that the same complainant had approached the Punjab Lok Pal in 2002 against the appointment of his daughter-in-law in the PAU. The Lok Pal had also dismissed the complaint and given him clean chit after finding out that she had a good academic record. 



Sandhu joins as officiating VC of PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
Gurinderjeet Singh Sandhu, financial commissioner, development, today took over as the officiating vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

He was appointed the officiating VC by the PAU board of management, which accepted the resignation of K.S.Aulakh at its meeting held in Mohali on April 6.

At his inaugural meeting with scientists and officers of the PAU, he emphasised the need to focus on teaching in addition to agricultural research and extension.

He was interacting with the deans and directors of the university after assuming the charge.

He said the government was seriously considering the ways and means to ensure that the PAU got adequate funds for research and extension, besides teaching.

Pointing towards the financial crunch being faced by the PAU, Sandhu said the Punjab Government was considering the matter seriously. He suggested working out a feasibility plan for close collaboration with international research organisations.

B.S.Dhillon, director of research, informed Sandhu that the grant of Rs 100 crore from the Centre would contribute to PAU’s research work, but regular financial support was desired for a continuous research plan.



9 years gone, memorial still not complete
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 9
Nine years after Parkash Singh Badal, the then Punjab Chief Minister, announced to construct a memorial to Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha on the pattern of Jaillianwala Bagh at the cost of Rs 1.25 crore, the monument stands uncomplete as the work started on it during the pre-election period has come to a halt again.

The Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Memorial Committee has urged Jagdish Singh Garcha, former minister and MLA from the Kilaraipur constituency, to impress upon Badal to get the memorial completed before the next birth anniversary of the youngest martyr of the region.

Garcha claimed that he had already taken up the matter with Badal and the authorities concerned and the construction work would be resumed soon.

Accusing the last Congress government of allegedly interrupting the construction work started during the SAD regime, Gurdev Singh, an office-bearer of the committee, said the residents of the village were fooled by starting work on the memorial prior to assembly elections.

“It was just to camouflage their failure to get the work completed earlier that they got the work restarted. The contractor, acting on instance of senior Congress leaders, stopped the construction work immediately after the election process was completed,” alleged Gurdev Singh.

“However we expect that local SAD leaders will impress upon Badal to get the work restarted and completed before the next birth anniversary that falls on May 24,” said Gurdev Singh.

The mammoth memorial and ancestral house of the martyr have always been in the news due to the slow pace of work on them.

A cousin of the martyr, Jagdish Kaur, died in June, 2005, without seeing her dream come true. She had been agitating against the respective state governments demanding the completion of work on the memorial.

The work on the memorial was started by the Akali government in 2000 after a lot of agitation by Jagdish Kaur. A grant of Rs 1.01 crore was announced for the same and Rs 40 lakh were released in three instalments. Later, not even a single penny was released.

The archaeological department of Punjab had also declared the house of the martyr a protected monument in 1998, after which it remained abandoned for want of repair. When the idea for the memorial came up, the then government asked the relatives of the martyr to make available certain memorabilia for it.

On November 16, 1999, Parkash Singh Badal, then Chief Minister, had announced that a memorial on the pattern of Jallianwala Bagh would be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.25 crore on a two-acre plot in memory of Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha at his native village.

The ancestral house of the martyr was also declared to be preserved as a national monument so that future generations could get inspiration from him.



BJP workers burn Mulayam's effigy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party led by their district president Subash Verma today burnt an effigy of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to protest against the registration of an FIR against party president Rajnath Singh on the issue of a controversial CD which was released during the UP elections and was attributed to the BJP.

The BJP workers alleged that Mulayam Singh and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, were panicky about the sweeping victory of the party in different parts of the country.

They claimed it was deliberately done in view of the ongoing elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The party workers warned that the issue would not be taken lying down and the protest would soon spread to other parts of the country.

They asserted that the party leaders would not let anyone implicate their leader and said the protests would continue till the FIR was not cancelled.



BJP to protest if road not recarpeted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
BJP leader and former councillor of the city Pran Nath Bhatia today threatened that the BJP would be forced to protest if the Pakhowal road was not recarpeted by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

In a statement to the press, the former councillor said that despite being a very busy road, the Pakhowal road was in a bad shape and no efforts were being done to repair it.

He added that commuters, especially on two-wheelers, were a harassed lot, as their vehicles were developing snags due to one reason or the other. But this did not bother the MC.

The BJP leader threatened that if the road was not repaired within 10 days, it would be forced to come out on the streets and hold dharnas against the MC's inaction.

‘‘When people pay heavy taxes to the local body, they expect good roads at least the major ones. But if the MC continues with this kind of attitude, it would surely offend the residents.’’

Not only the Pakhowal road but many other roads in the city continue to be in a bad shape. The local body has started operation patch work in different areas amidst allegations that poor quality material was being used and the local body was doing a shoddy job.

‘‘If we do not pay bills on time, they levy interest on us. If we do not pay house tax then our houses are auctioned. And when they do not provide us services, what should be done about them? Shockingly the public servants are not answerable to anyone, rued a resident.

With every passing day, the hopes of recarpeting roads are diminishing as local body elections are likely to be held in the last week of May. If Model Code of Conduct is implemented, all works would be put on hold.



Sukhjit declared ‘Mr Singh’
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 9
Sukhjit Singh Khera, a journalist, was declared “Mr Singh” at a function organised by the local unit of the SAD (Youth Wing) at Pohir village, near here, yesterday.

Randhir Singh Pohir, Rajvir Singh Jand and Zora Singh bagged the first prizes in turban competitions in their respective categories. More than 200 Sikh youths participated in various contests.

During his presidential address, Harpreet Singh Garcha, member of the SGPC, called upon religious and social organisations of the area to inspire youths to adopt tenets of Sikhism in their lives.

Terming deviation from Sikh principles as the root cause of flourishing menace of drug addiction, Garcha claimed that the adoption of traditional dress and lifestyle of a Sikh would save youths from falling prey to addiction and other social evils.

According to Jagdev Singh Ghaloti, general secretary, Sri Sukhmani Sahib Sewa Society, Ajit Singh and Sikander Singh were declared the first and second runners-up in the “Mr Singh” competition. Jaspreet Singh Lakha, Navkaran Singh and Amrinder Singh Latala were adjudged second in turban competitions in their respective categories. Lakhpreet Singh Dehlon, Navdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh Dulman bagged the third prizes in these categories.

Dr K.C. Goel, district health officer, Sangrur, Gurpreet Singh Khanna, president, Students Organisation of India, Jagwant Singh Jaggie, district general secretary, SAD, and Sukhsagar Sagar Singh Sodhi spoke on the occasion.



Pak delegation arrives for alumni meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
A 10-member delegation from Pakistan has arrived at Punjab Agricultural University here to participate in the two-day international meet of the alumni association of College of Agriculture beginning tomorrow.

According to dean, College of Agriculture, Dr G.S. Chahal, many alumni of the college are coming from various parts of the world to attend the meet. The delegation from Pakistan include eminent economist and dean of economics faculty Dr Mohammad Azgar Cheema.

Other eminent scientists in this delegation are: Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, Dr Aslam Pravez, Dr Zahid Cheema, Prof Abdul Gafoor, Dr Abdul Salam, Dr Zia-ul-Rehman, Dr Jalal, Dr Mohammad Iqbal and Dr Abdul Kyum.

The college’s parent institute is the College of Agriculture, Lyallpur, which is now known as Faislabad.

Dr Chahal said the oldest alumnus participating in the meet will be invited to inaugurate the meet tomorrow at the Pal auditorium at 10 am.



False hope on reviving dead child
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 9
Blind faith made a migrant family dig out their dead child out of the grave where was buried four days earlier.

The child was taken to a doctor who after examining declared him brought dead.

According to information, Sham (10), a class III student, suffered from dysentery and vomiting after consuming some poisonous substance by mistake. When his condition deteriorated, his father Sompal, a gardener, got him admitted in a private hospital where he died on April 5.

The parents buried him in a burial ground.

However, later Om Parkash, uncle of Sham, was allegedly told by somebody that his nephew was alive. As a result, members of the family dug the body out and called a vaid who applied some medicine on the body of the child to extract the poison. He told the family that the child was in a coma and would regain consciousness.

But when crowds of people started gathering, both of them slipped way.

Later, the body was subjected to medical examination in the local civil hospital by Dr Harinder Sharma but it was found that there was no sign of life.

The body was then buried again. 



H.L.Takoo is head of Kashmiri society
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
H.L.Takoo has been elected the president of the Kashmiri Welfare Society, Ludhiana. The elections were held at the annual general meeting of the society at Vishwanath Mandir, Jamalpur, here yesterday.

Earlier, the outgoing president, Sanjay Khar, thanked the members for their support and cooperation during his term, while Rakesh Raina, general secretary, presented the annual report and the details of the income and expenditure.

The other office-bearers include A.K. Pandita, Rakesh Raina, Ravi Peshin, Sunil Pandita and Jaya Razdan as vice president, general secretary, finance secretary, joint secretary and social secretary, respectively.



Tributes paid to Bankim Chander Chatterjee

Ludhiana, April 9
Lord's Divine International School, Noorwala Road, Ludhiana, held a function to pay tributes to Bankim Chander Chatterjee on his death anniversary.

The function was presided over by the principal H.C. Gupta. More than 100 students attended the function. The captains of all four houses Newton, Einstein, Galileo and Aryabhata paid tributes by offering flowers at the portrait of Bankim Chancier Chatterjee. An inter-house declamation contest on the life and works of Bankim Chatterjee was held. The stage secretary was Mehak and Kavita was the coordinator. The results were as follows:

Sarabjit Singh, first, Sachin , second and Vishal Yadav third . They belonged to Newton, Aryabhatha and Galilio House, respectively.

Principal H.C. Gupta highlighted a brief lifesketch of Chatterjee. He said that Chatterjee was not only interested in sports and literature but he also studied law and became a magistrate at the age of 20. Chatterjee was the writer of the national song Vande Matram. — OC



Akhand path organised
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 9
Students of the RIMT-IMCT organised an akhand path of Shri Guru Granth Sahib on its local campus.

The students and staff member of the RIMT group of institutes listened to the Gurbani kirtan and katha.

Chairman of the RIMT Educational Group Hukam Chand Bansal asked the students to follow the path shown by the great Gurus.

Prayers were held for the peace of the departed souls of three students - Parminder Singh, Bikramjeet Singh and Mun Mun. At the end, langar was served.



17 booked in two cases of assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 9
In two separate incidents, the Humbran and Sidhwan Bet police have booked 17 persons on charges of assault.

In the first case, Jarnail Singh, Kaka, Jagpal Singh, Inderjit Singh of Ramdasia village; Mohinder Singh, Nirmal Singh of Isewal village; Jassa Singh, Tarsem Singh of Mashike village, along with eight other unknown persons allegedly entered the house of Mukhtiar Kaur and Gurmail Kaur at Isewal village, and assaulted them with swords and sticks, damaging their room.

Injured Mukhtiar and Gurmail Kaur have been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana.

The Humbran police has registered a case under Sections 452, 342, 323, 324, 427, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC. A land dispute is stated to be the reason behind the assault.

In another incident, Jasbir Singh of Bar Patti Galib Kalan allegedly stopped Gurdeep Kaur of the same village and assaulted her. The injured has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections 323 and 341 of the IPC. No arrests have been made so far. 



Wheat chaff price hike is the cause
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 9
The hike in prices of wheat chaff due to the increased demand in paper industry and the flourishing dairy industry, has resulted in the restoration of manual harvesting and use of thrashers and haranba.

Unlike the earlier years, farmers now converge on railway stations and bus stands to engage migrant labourers instead of ringing up owners of combine harvesters.

Fear of weather adversity seems to have forced the farmers to employ more men at work than which was usually required.

The owners of combine harvesters, feeling deserted, have started cutting residual stubble on the promise of keeping three-fourths of the chaff with them.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune have revealed that manual harvesting of wheat crop had been adopted by a majority of farmers in this part of Malwa.

While the owners of combine harvesters were frustrated due to lesser demand by the farmers, agricultural labourers were better bargainers this year.

“Contrary to the earlier trend, owners of combine harvesters are calling us daily to fix-up dates of our choice, we have to go in search of migrant labourers at railway stations and bus stops,” said Gurdial Singh, a farmer of Chhapar village, adding the situation had arisen due to the unprecedented rise in price of the wheat chaff.

Increased consumption of chaff in the manufacture of paper, flourishing dairy farms and burning of residual stubble during the past years were cited to be the main reasons for this spurt in the price of dry fodder.

Bir Singh, a farmer of Rachhin village, said he had given harvesting job on contract on the condition, that the labour contractor would employ at least ten people in his fields. “Though we want to get our crop harvested manually with sickles, we cannot risk loosing quantity or quality due to the hostile weather in the days to come,” he said.

Tirath Singh of Jhammat village, who had got the crop reaped with a combine harvester, had employed another harvester for getting the stubble cut to prepare the chaff. 



Hotel industry forms panel
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
In a first of its kind initiative, the local hotel industry has formed an eight-member committee that would to put forth its problems with the state government. The committee will hold regular meetings with the government, said representatives.

Among the issues high on priority are house tax and value-added tax (VAT) which industry representatives are hopeful of getting resolved soon.

"The tourism minister and local bodies minister asked us to form a committee as was promised by the Akalis before elections. It is for the first time that we have formed such kind of a body and are quite hopeful of getting our problems resolved," said Amarvir Singh, general secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Association, Ludhiana.

Industry representatives said that contribution of Ludhiana's hotel industry in tax revenues was quite high but measures to give a fillip to this industry had been lacking so far.

"The revenues we generate are next to what textile industry does. But there is a need to take steps that give a boost to this industry. For instance, despite having been given an industry status we are being charged with house tax. Besides, VAT on food and beverages in Punjab is 12.5 per cent unlike states like Himachal Pradesh where it is only 4 per cent. Such differences make us weak in competition. These are the first issues we would take up with the government in a meeting that is expected to be held next week."

The industry is also planning to serve a notice to the Punjab State Electricity Board for imposing commercial tarrifs for the last more than a decade.



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