L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Rain damages wheat in fields, grain markets
Mahesh Sharma
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 22
Heavy rain, accompanied by winds and mild hailstorm, besides causing loss to standing wheat crop, has harmed the produce lying open in grain markets of the area.

Already slow speed of arrival of wheat in grain markets will further retard as harvesters and other implements would not work in wet fields.

Farmer organisations have sought compensation for standing crops and the produce damaged in markets.

Meanwhile, Dr Indu, SDM, Payal, cautioned the commission agents at grain markets and purchase centres under her jurisdictions to reinforce protective arrangements for sheltering wheat brought by farmers.

“As the weather has been showing irregular trend during past weeks, we directed commission agents to make extra arrangements for the safety of the produce brought by farmers for procurements. I have directed officials of various procurement agencies to expedite purchase so that heaps are lifted as soon as possible,” said Dr Indu, while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune after inspecting arrangements at grain markets at Payal, Doraha and Dhamot villages.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that heavy rains, accompanied by winds and mild hailstorm, caused massive losses to farmers of the area. Farmers were seen busy drying reaped wheat bundles and produce heaped in grain markets today.

According to Sukhdev Singh Chatha, a farmer of Butahri village, peasants of the area had suffered maximum loss due to yesterday’s downpour. “Besides causing damage to standing crops, the downpour damaged wheat lying in yards also. Heaps and bundles that had been spread to evaporate moisture got spoiled with unexpected shower last evening,” Chatha said.

Janak Raj Sharma, a commission agent, apprehended that the produce arriving now would be deficient in certain nutrients and would be prone to the attack of weevil.

Sikander Singh Dhillon, a farmer of Jartoli village, maintained that harvesting process and arrival of wheat in mandis would come to a halt for some days. “As the fields have soaked lot of water due to the downpour, it will not be possible for farmers to reap their crops either with combine harvesters or manually,” claimed Dhillon.

Referring to demands raised by various sister organisations, Baldev Singh Latala, president the Punjab Kisan Union, urged the government to come to the rescue of farmers who had suffered massive losses due to heavy rains, accompanied by winds and hailstorm, in the area during the past few days. “The revenue officials should also consider losses due to damage to heaps lying in grain markets also,” he suggested.



When city MC went ga ga over Sukhbir’s visit
Kanchan Vasdev

Ludhiana, April 22
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation went ga ga over the visit of member parliament and chief minister’s son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, to the city, here, today. A massive cleaning operation was launched on the route that was to be taken by him.

Despite being a Sunday today, the entire manpower of the civic body was on the roads since early morning for a major road cleaning and berm repainting work.

The junior Badal was in the city to meet some local leaders. He stopped at circuit house for some hours. In view of his visit, all senior officials of the MC could be seen on the roads since yesterday. Although many of these officials could not be found on Saturdays and Sundays on normal days. They were on their toes for these two days.

The work of cleaning continued throughout the night also and final touches were being given just a few minutes before his visit. All the berms and railing on the divider was painted fresh.

City residents said that they could understand that city was cleaned during CM’s visit but going ga ga over junior Badal’s visit, who was just a member parliament spoke volumes about the importance of being a CM’s son.

“They crossed all limits of sycophancy. Many MPs keep coming and going. What was the need to waste resources and manpower on doing the same work after every week as they did today?’’ asked Parminder Mehta, secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

He added that he had been taking up the matter of bad roads for last many days but nobody was listening to him. “The MC people said there was a cash crunch and they could not recarpet the roads. Now they had thrown money like water. Every single inch of his route was cleaned and recleaned. But nobody cared for the pleas of a common man, who paid taxes from his pocket .’’ he added.



Man repents his ‘heroic’ deed
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 22
Repenting his decision to chase some car-borne hooligans who had crushed many cycles, rickshaws, other vehicles and pedestrians walking on the busy Pohir road eight days ago, Paviter Singh, a junior engineer in the Punjab State Electricity Board office here, has urged the leaders of various social and political organisations to impress upon the authorities to initiate action against the suspects who had put many lives in danger.

Though, in an effort to nab the suspects he had put his life in danger and was injured after being hit by the car many times, the police allegedly let the culprits go scot free.

Sukhdev Singh, SHO (city), however, claimed that a DDR had been recorded in connection with the incident and further action was staggered as the complainants had entered into a compromise with the owner and driver of the car.

Accusing the local police of inaction in the case, concerned with the safety of public, Paviter Singh alleged that the driver of a Zen car (PB 05 J 8068), later identified as Joraj Singh of Bhaini Arora village, had tried to kill him by crushing him under his vehicle after he (Paviter) tried to stop him after his car hit many people at Raikot bus stand here on April 13.

“When I was returning home after my official duty, I notice the car having crushed many vehicles, including rickshaws and cycles. Besides driving rashly, the occupants were threatening passersby of dire consequences in case they dared to chase them. As a responsible citizen of India, I followed the car and stopped it near Raikot bus stand with the help of other residents,” Paviter Singh said alleging that the driver instead of feeling sorry, tried to kill him with the car thrice. His both legs were broken in the incident.

Though he was shifted to a private hospital by local residents, but the police did not bother to inquire about his health even. He had to spend about Rs 70,000 on the surgery and subsequent treatment.

Accusing the local police of shielding the suspects, Paviter Singh alleged that the officials concerned pressurised victims to compromise with the suspects. “Now when the complainants have compromised with the suspects, nothing is left in your case,” he quoted IO having said to him when he recorded his statement.



2 Congress councillors join SAD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
Two Congress councillors Madan Lal Bagga and Satpal Beri today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of acting party president, Sukhbir Badal. While Bagga’s joining was a forgone conclusion, after he contested as a rebel candidate during the assembly elections from north Ludhiana, Beri's decision came as a surprise.

Sukhbir Badal today visited the residence of Bagga, a Congress councillor to invite him to join the party. Besides, several Congress workers and leaders also announced their decision to join the SAD.

Although, Bagga said there was no commitment made to him, it is learnt that he had been bargaining for the post of the Ludhiana mayor. Even Sukhbir said no commitment had been made to him.

The SAD acting president said more people were likely to join the SAD as they were disillusioned with the Congress. His party had a special plan to develop Ludhiana as a model city, he added.



Bagga proves Pandey right, albeit a little late
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 22
When Shiromani Akali Dal acting president Sukhbir Badal visited the residence of ‘Congress’ councillor Madan Lal Bagga here today, it must have come as a consolatory relief to senior Congress leader and former minister, Rakesh Pandey, as it proved him right, although a little late.

Pandey lost from the Ludhiana North, a Congress stronghold, to the Bhartiya Janata Party’s Harish Bedi, thanks to Bagga only who rebelled and contested as an independent. Although Bagga did not win himself, he polled enough votes to ensure Pandey’s defeat.

Pandey had been crying hoarse from day one that Bagga was being supported by the Akali-BJP alliance, particularly Sukhbir Badal himself. Even when some close associates of Pandey tried to prevail upon him to persuade Bagga to withdraw, he remained firm in not seeking a truce. Because he was convinced that Bagga was not going to withdraw, as he had made commitment to Sukhbir Badal that come what may, he would stay in the contest and facilitate his (Pandey’s) defeat. And things went along the perfect order.

While Bagga has apparently managed some good bargain with Sukhbir, the fate of some of his close associates, including a few councillors like Ashu and Jai Prakash, who stood by him, still hangs in balance. This group of councillors has a distinct identity within the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and is known for striking “right bargain at the right moment”. They had joined the Congress in 2002 prior to the MC elections. They won and enjoyed the power for full five years.

With the change of guard in the state after the SAD-BJP alliance replaced the Congress, these councillors seem to be striking it perfect yet again. If Bagga is basking in the glory of power with no less a person than Sukhbir turning out to be his new found mentor, it is not without the support of his councillor colleagues. So far the group is known to be striking any bargain together. Whether Bagga would manage it this time again remains to be seen.

Because a powerful section among the councillors in SAD is not too happy with the red carpet being extended to Bagga. Obviously for the reasons that he has never stuck to any party for too long. The SAD councillors feel that when the Congress was in power, he enjoyed full power as a ruling party councillor and when SAD is in power, he has deserted Congress and joined the party (SAD).

Irrespective of the reactions within the SAD about his joining the party, Bagga has certainly helped in doing what could not be imagined till recent past. Had he not contested against Pandey, the official Congress candidate, the party (the Congress) would have once again walked away with the seat (Ludhiana North), which was otherwise impregnable for others.



Police team recovers fake currency in UP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
A team of Government Railways Police (GRP) went on a mission to Balia in Uttar Pradesh to stop the functioning of an illegal printing press and recovered Rs 10 lakh fake currency notes from the Gazipur-based house of one of the absconded accused.

The team found notes in the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000, which were meant for circulation in Punjab and other states.

The main motive of the accused was to make quick money by fooling illiterate labourers.

SHO Gurnam Singh said the mission was successful as it enabled the UP police to take the lid off the fake currency racket, running in the state. The Railway and the UP police recovered a printing machine and some CDs from the press. However, after learning about the arrest of his three accomplices in Ludhiana, the main accused absconded from the place.

The UP police has registered a case and detained a woman relative of one of the wanted accused in the case. Further investigation in the matter would be conducted by the Delhi police.

The GRP had nabbed three members of the fake currency gang about 10 days ago along with Rs 1.3 lakh of counterfeit notes. They were bringing the money to the city for distribution to the local carriers of the gang. The carriers then circulated the money among gullible migrant labourers, who couldn’t make out much of a difference between the real and the fake notes.

The three accused nabbed with the fake currency were identified as Swaran Kumar, Babban Paswan and Rajesh Kumar.



Down Under
Life not that green for Indian students
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
Australia is not that green as it seems from a distance. Students going there with high expectations are mostly upset and disappointed. As the long odyssey they take is not that rewarding. Indian students pursuing different courses in various Australian Institutes feel that although the Australian government is generating a good revenue by promoting Australian education, students are not getting adequately compensated.

Many international students, a majority of them Asians, are being attracted to the country to seek a good career. Besides, Australians were getting cheap labour, as students perform odd jobs at odd hours to finance their studies.

Students feel that Australians are getting double benefit from the students from developing countries. While on the one hand they sell their expensive education, on the other , they get cheap labour. They point out, that labour is very expensive in the country, and Australians promote people, mostly students who are young and can work also, from the developing countries to come over there.

They have to pay anything between 20-25 Australian dollars (Rs 35 per dollar) for an hour to the local labour, whereas Indian students do not mind working for them side by side for just 8-10 dollars per hour. They are studying as well as doing jobs of car-washer, cab driver, salesman etc.

Hansmukh Singh Gill, doing masters in accounting at Central Queensland University, Melbourne, Australia, who is in the city for a short break, said getting education in the country was a different experience. He said 80 per cent of the students in the university were Indians and a majority of them were Punjabis and Gujaratis. “Apart from studies, we do odd jobs in the country to lead a comfortable life. Australians, too, prefer us to local labour. I am working as cab driver and am happy with my work. But those keeping high expectations are often disappointed. Students should be ready to do any work there”, said Hansmukh Gill.

As far as cost point of view is related, Australia is much cheaper than the UK and USA. The country is known to be a tolerant one. People from other countries fit in the society easily and face less problems.

“But of late, we have started feeling the heat of racism, too. Local people are reluctant to provide us accommodation. Those working in good companies are not given promotions. At times, we feel as if we are migrant labourers working for them. But they are good pay masters. This is perhaps the only reason we do not want to come back to India. I am being able to earn Rs 1 lakh a month, besides doing diploma in automotive engineering” said Ramandeep Singh, another student of the same university.



Ludhiana Calling

A local lawyer was taken aback to get an international call from an old friend the other day. The motive was not less than to get his servant pardoned for flouting a traffic rule. While the man could have got free by paying a fine of a few hundred rupees, this NRI had something else in his mind. Our lawyer knew a senior traffic police officer, who could get the challan pardoned.

No check

Summers have set in and so have related diseases. But the district administration and the health department are yet to wake up to the reality. Kiosks, selling eatables that spread diseases, are dotting roads and there is no check. Cut fruits, different coloured ice candies and different kinds of drinks are being sold by the roadside. Whether the authorities concerned do something in this regard remains to be seen.

Road rage

A local resident, known for indulging in road rage, was pleasantly surprised when a villager begged his pardon for flouting a traffic rule in his own simple and subtle way. The villager, who was on a scooter, was coming in the wrong direction. This resident had just given him a dirty look that he came out with his ready reply while stopping, ‘‘Oh maaf kar diyo ji. Mainu tan pata nahi si ke iss side ton scooter nahi ja sakde.’’ And the resident decided never to charge at people flouting traffic rules and indulge in road rage.

New government

With new government in the state, mediapersons are dealing with a strange problem arising out of the change. Suddenly, old complainants in various cases have come alive, thinking the former government did not do anything in their case and hoping that the new authorities would listen to them now and get their complaints redressed. Every day media offices are flooded with old complaints written afresh.

Begging continues

Beggars are a common sight in the city. However, a recent manner of begging has made people scared. In areas around Ghumar Mandi, some beggars are being spotted carrying a sleeping child, covered with a cloth and the person carrying them howling. The one who carries the child seeks alms, saying the child is unwell. But the very sight is horrifying, particularly for kids. Probably none in the administration even gets to see them as that precisely could be the reason for this continuing menace.

Attractive schemes, taxes

Inclusion of various services under service tax was resented by those in business. The fact is that the load is ultimately passed on to buyers only. Earlier buyers complained that services in restaurants, beauty parlours etc had become costlier. Another trick being found irksome by city residents is advertisements offering products at attractive rates. Consumers are fooled into going in for such purchases, as a 12.5 per cent tax increases the rate of an item, priced at say Rs 1000, by Rs 125, a fact which the advertiser never mentions!

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev, Jupinderjit Singh and Shveta Pathak



Master plan of development of towns to be prepared: Badal
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 22
The master plan of development of all towns of the state will be prepared and some of its steps will be implemented in the first year and the rest within five years, asserted Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, at a press conference, organised by PAC member Randhir Singh Bhambri and former council chief Sukhwinder Singh Bhambri at the later’s residence today.

In reply to a query pertaining to the demand of local industrialists to reduce VAT from 4 per cent to 2 per cent, Badal assured them of reducing it in case the industry fulfilled its assurance to increase the revenue by 15 per cent.

Badal said he would look into the non-payment of the salary to teachers recruited by zila parishads. He said he would discuss the demand with the union government to bring Mandi Gobindgarh town under SEZ.

Local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia said the corporation elections would be completed till June in the state. Tikshan Sood, minister for medical education, Didar Singh Bhatti, MLA, Sirhind, and Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MP, were present at the press conference.

Thereafter, Badal addressed a maha samellan of the Brahman Sabha, Punjab, to celebrate Bhagwan Parshuram Jyanti at a local temple. He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for a dharamshala and named the post office road after Bhagwan Parshuram. He was honoured with “Sarv Dharam Rakshak” award by the Brahman Sabha.

Devi Dyal Prashar, president, Punjab Brahman Sabha, Swaranjeet Singh Bagli, Anil Joshi and Ram Murti Shastri also spoke.



Warm send-off to Marthoma priest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
Rev Jacob Verghese, Vicar of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Ludhiana, was given a warm send-off at a meeting in Mohar Singh Nagar here this afternoon.

Presiding over the function, Dr John Abraham, Officiating Principal of Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, recalled the priest’s dedicated service to the Marthoma community in the city. He said Rev Jacob Verghese provided active pastoral care to the student community in the CMC.

Rev Jacob Verghese, who served in Ludhiana for two years, has been transferred as in charge of the Mar Thoma Divya Niketan Hospital Guidance and Counselling Centre at Periyaram in Kannur district in Kerala.

Representatives of the parish and its frontal organisations like the Youth League and the Sunday School felicitated the priest and his family. On behalf of the church, Dr John Abraham presented him a memento.

Rev Jacob Verghese thanked the community members for the support they extended to him and his family during their stay in Ludhiana.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Rev Stanley Thomas, Chaplain, CMC, and A.J. Philip, Senior Associate Editor, The Tribune. Parish secretary Dr P.V. Verghese conducted the programme.

Rev Jacob Verghese was also in charge of the Mar Thoma churches at Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Ambala. He will leave for Kerala on Tuesday.



Parshuram Jayanti celebrated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 22
Bhagwan Parshuram Brahaman Sabha, Ludhiana district, organised Parshuram Jayanti here today at Nauria Mal Jain Model Secondary School. Dr Krishan Rai Sharma, president of the Ajar Amar Brahman Sabha, district president of the sabha, Pandit Dharam Pal Sharma, and others addressed the congregation.

Deputy speaker Satpal Gosain hoisted the flag on the occasion. Dr Krishan Sharma said he was extremely happy that in every district of Punjab, Parshuram Jayanti is being celebrated. He further said he was trying his best to bring all Brahmin Sabhas together on one platform.



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