L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Section 144 imposed
Carrying of weapons, protests banned
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Taking a tough stand against protesters and demonstrators in the ongoing Sacha Sauda controversy, the district magistrate today banned the carrying of firearms and other lethal weapons till May 29 even as the police took a number of persons under preventive arrest to maintain pace and harmony in the region.

Business took place as usual in the city for the second consecutive day today, with no single protest or demonstration reported from any place. The police has announced zero tolerance of any kind of protest in the area.

District magistrate Sumer Singh Gurjar prohibited the carrying of firearms or any lethal weapons, including gandases, takwas, trishul, chhavi, daggers, swords and lathis or explosive substances, acid and any inflammable articles capable of causing annoyance or injury to general public or endangering human life or disturbing public tranquility under Section 144 of the CrPC.

The ban covers Ludhiana revenue district in which three police districts of Ludhiana Urban, Rural and Khanna fall.

SSP R. K. Jaiswal said persons taken into preventive custody could have disrupted peace and law and order in the region. He said the police would not allow any unruly demonstration or protest as per the orders of the district magistrate. He said Khalsa Panchayat chief Charanjit Singh Channy had been taken into preventive custody.

With these orders, rallies and protests over the Sacha Sauda Dera row would come to an end. Activists of various Sikh organisations have been staging demonstrations, brandishing swords and other sharp-edged weapons openly.

Though no clash or violence had taken place due to the demonstrations, the rallies did cause immense tension among the residents, especially the business community. Two days ago, Old City had remained closed with a bandh-like situation prevailing after forcible closure of markets by the demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the police has increased vigil around vital installations and PCR cops have been deputed at banks, financial institutions, plazas, crowded places, railway station and bus stands to avoid any untoward situation.

Flag marches by the para-military forces continued today also.



Streetlights on during daytime
MC wastes power as crisis looms
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Various appeals by the Punjab State Electricity Board to save power notwithstanding, the Municipal Corporation does not bother to switch off streetlights during the daytime and these are switched on much before the sunset in the entire city.

As the paddy transplantation season is approaching, the city might face power situation crisis but the appeals to conserve power have no effect on the MC.

Every year, the PSEB appeals to the residents in general and government agencies in particular to save power. It specifically directs the MC that the streetlights should not be switched on before 8 pm and be switched off after 6 am.

But the MC does not listen. It switches on the lights when there is no need and sunlight is enough to light up the roads. Lights at certain roads, specifically at the elevated road, are switched on during the day hours.

‘‘This is really sad that when we can conserve electricity without much effort, the LMC is wasting it like this. The only thing they have to do is to change the timings in summers. As days are longer in this weather we actually require lighting for the shorter period. But who cares?’’ said an official of PSEB on the condition of anonymity.

‘‘When a government department is not respecting the appeal then how do we expect general public to do so. All it takes is a small effort and we are shocked that they are not bothered about it. It is sheer wastage,’’ he added.

An MC official, however, said the lights were switched on during the day only when some repair work was being carried out.

However, contrary to the claims, the lights were switched on at around 6.30 pm even yesterday. In the morning hours today, all lights on the elevated road were on.

Residents said it was sad that they had to suffer heat during the peak hours due to power cuts and MC was wasting power like that. ‘‘They just have to change the timings. Why cannot they do something about it?’’ asks Manjot Singh, a resident.



Polio drops drive dropped; parents return dejected
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 20
The postponement of the polio vaccine programme by the state health authorities caused inconvenience to many parents of the children aged up to five, who had to go home disappointed.

The district health authorities maintained that officials had been directed to convey the message to the public, but inconvenience could not be avoided, as the decision to postpone the programme was taken on Friday, and it was too late to inform the people.

Interestingly, voluntary organisations were also not informed about the change. Satish Kumar Jain, an office-bearer of the local unit of the Rotary Club, said the authorities had given no formal information about the rescheduling of the programme.

Though no reason was assigned for the postponement of the programme, it is presumed that the decision was taken in view of the turbulence on account of conflict between activists of Sikh organisations and activists of Sacha Sauda Dera.

DHO Sangrur stated that information about the cancellation had been received on Friday. “Though we had made all arrangements for the administration of the polio vaccine, we were asked to direct our staff to cancel the programme,” said the DHO, adding that the new dates would be announced later.



Cracks appear on newly carpeted NH
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, May 20
Only a fortnight after the recarpeting of the national highway at Doraha, cracks have started appearing on the road.

The appearance of these cracks has raised many eyebrows about the authenticity of the repairs and the construction work initiated by the NHAI.

"Such is the condition of the re-carpeted national highway even after paying such an exorbitant toll," rued a commuter.

"We have been paying toll for the past four years and this is what we are getting in return."

For us there is no difference between a toll-road and a road without toll. Iran-railings are yet to be fixed throughout the road, the absence of which gives a free run to stray animals and poses a great risk to speeding vehicles, said another commuter.

The commuters demanded an independent probe regarding the quality of matter used in the road-carpeting, for they allege that the quality of material in no way matches the exorbitant fee being charged from the road users.



Boy dies after playing cricket
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The dreams of a tea stall owner's family that their younger son would have some future by playing the game of cricket fell flat today when their 14-year-old son, died under mysterious circumstances while playing cricket at Rakh Bagh this morning.

Munish, the younger of the two sons of a tea stall owner running the shop from Neem Wala Chowk, had left his home at 5:30 a.m. with his friends. He first played cricket in Daresi grounds and then at Rakh Bagh.

After the second game, when the players were resting, he complained of chest pain and collapsed without anyone able to comprehend his problem. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, but was declared brought dead.

The exact cause of the death remained unknown, as the parents of the boy declined post-mortem examination. It was suspected that the boy either died of dehydration or a piece of raw mangoes could have choked him. Some players had earlier reportedly eaten raw mangoes, plucked from a tree in Rakh Bagh.

A few raw mangoes were recovered from the pocket of the deceased also. There was also speculation that mangoes could have had a layer of insecticides on them, as spraying such chemicals is quite common. Most of the other players were yet to take a bite.

The boy’s father Sudhir Sharma said he and his wife were eagerly waiting for their son to come home and narrate tales of his exploits on the cricket field today."He does this every week while his mother feeds him breakfast after the tiring morning he had on the field."

The family, though in deep grief, is not suspecting any foul play and did not made any allegation against any co-player or friend of the boy.



Property registration a herculean task
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Getting a property registered in one's name is proving to be a herculean task for people. Besides the cumbersome process, it is getting delayed by days, as the registration authority (tehsildars) remain absent for days together. With no advance intimation to the people, they have to wait for an uncertain period of time and return home disappointed. And that too in this scorching season.

Not surprisingly many complaints that come for hearing during the weekly sangat darshan progammes at the mini-secretariat relate to registration only. "Paying extra money for getting properties registered has not become acceptable, but the harassment that we are made to face is too intolerable," remarked Zora Singh, who told The Tribune that he had been making rounds of the registration authority in Transport Nagar for so many days.

Although the complainants come with problems of domestic violence, seeking financial assistance, pollution, harassment by government officials, delay in settlement of property disputes, those frequenting the registration offices seem to be the worst affected, as tehsildars on duty remain absent for days altogether.

The sangat darshan programme organised by the district administration every Tuesday for more than a month is becoming popular, with a plenty of new complaints pouring every week. Though the deputy commissioner and his team present at the programme claim to try to solve the problems of the complainants on a priority basis, still a number of people have to return disappointed, thus underlining the urgency for streamlining the whole system.

A lot of hue and cry was raised by people at the Registration Office at Transport Nagar recently as the work suffered because of the non-availability of the officials concerned. In this scorching heat, people were made to sit for hours and at the end of the day, they had to return empty-handed.

Jathedar Kultar Singh Jogi, president, Punjab Colonizers and Property Dealers Association, here said that for the past two days, he was making rounds of the office but to no avail. He said being in this business he knew that it was a time-consuming job, but for people coming from far-off villages, it was a torture. "Something should be done for smooth functioning of these offices," he said.

Kamlesh Saggar, another local resident, said since her son and daughter-in-law were working, she had to seek favour of neighbours to look after the grandchildren. "Today is my third day here but I doubt whether my property will be registered", she wondered.



Dera, Sikh bodies in conciliatory mood
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 20
The conflict between activists of Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh organisations of the local town and surrounding villages subsided in the area. However, dera followers, known as “premis,” have started declaring their loyalty to the Sikh panth.

Office-bearers of the local unit of Dera Sacha Sauda, however, maintained that persons expressing rejoining of Sikh religion had separated themselves from the sect about six months ago and they were holding no office in the organisation.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that certain Sikh leaders had started persuading activists of the dera to shun their present devotion to the dera chief and join mainstream Sikh religion.

Office-bearers of the Sri Sukhmani Sewa Society and Gurdwara Bahadurgarh organised a function to welcome those who had sought blessings of Guru Granth Sahib after leaving the Sacha Sauda sect.

According to Jagdev Singh Jaggu, Avtar Singh Jassal, Bhajangi Dass, Jasbir Singh and Kuldip Singh Garcha, former activists of the dera, were felicitated on the occasion.

Baba Nand Singh of the Gurmat Parchar Committee, Ghalib, Kalan also persuaded many activists of the dera to readopt Sikhism as their religion.



Airtel customer faces harassment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The claims of network guarantee by Bharti Airtel Limited notwithstanding, Viney Mohindra, a subscriber of Bhandari Street, Civil Lines, Ludhiana has knocked at every door to correct the reception problem of the mobile services at his home.

An agitated Mohindra told the Tribune that he must have tried at least a hundred time on '121', the customer care number, to get the error rectified. But he hardly got any response. He said he ultimately sent several mails to the company's appellate authority. But those mails also got bounced back

He had contacted some official also on mail. He got a response mail but without any solution to his problem. He pointed out that in every communication with him, the Airtel has been asserting 'network guarantee'. However, when it came to his house in the Civil Line area, the mobile services do not work. He said he has to come out in the street to take the call. The same happens to every Airtel subscriber.

Mohindra disclosed that instead of finding a solution, the company officials have been trying to convince him that it might be a momentary problem. He regretted that despite the company's claims of the best services, he was made to suffer. He said, "There is nothing unusual in having a problem, but they must accept it and come out with some solution and denying the problem is no solution".



Tributes paid to Rajiv Gandhi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Glowing tributes were paid to former Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi, on his sixteenth death anniversary here today. A number of functions were organised in the city where Congressmen resolved to realise the dream of Rajiv of a united and powerful India.

Speaking at a function, senior Congress leader and chairman, Punjab Housefed, K.K. Bawa, recalled the great sacrifice of Rajiv. He pointed out that the family had a tradition of sacrifice as his mother had also laid down her life for safeguarding the unity and integrity of the country.

Bawa maintained that the country needed to recall and remember the sacrifice of the great leader, particularly at a time when divisive and sectarian forces were trying to raise their ugly head. He said only the Congress could provided a secular and progressive leadership to the state.



Artificial limb distribution camp held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 20
More than 55 physically challenged persons were provided artificial limbs, callipers free of cost at a camp held today by the Bharat Vikas Parishad Charitable Trust, Punjab.

S.D. Chhabra, chief executive of Ludhiana Beverages Pvt Ltd, was the chief guest.

  Pawan Aggarwal, secretary, Bharat Vikas Parishad, informed the gathering that this was the 753th camp in the state of Punjab where free artificial limbs, callipers, tricycles and wheelchairs were distributed to the needy.

Hearing aids were given to more than 26,000 persons during these camps. He said the trust was running Viklang Swarojgar and Punarvas Kender, where more than 16,500 physically challenged persons were rehabilitated by imparting training in computers, repair of TV, refrigerators, radio, chair caning, carry bag manufacturing,candle and chalk making.

The trust was also running a charitable polyclinic.

Chhabra had sponsored the camp and appreciated the social work being done by the organisation. He assured to extend all cooperation for organising such camps in future also.

Members of Bharat Vikas Parishad, J.P. Gupta, president, Neelam Gupta, Sangeeta Soni, Rajinder Sharma and R.P. Gupta were present.



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