L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Bandh passes off peacefully in city
Tribune Reporters

A BSF man stands guard near Clock Tower during the Punjab bandh in Ludhiana on Tuesday
A BSF man stands guard near Clock Tower during the Punjab bandh in Ludhiana on Tuesday. —Photos by Sayeed Ahmed and Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, May 22
The city virtually resembled a ghost town as people remained indoors in response to the state-wide bandh call given by the Akal Takht jathedar to protest against the anti-panthic activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda.

Essential services functioned normally in the city. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere across the district. Trucks, buses and autorickshaws remained off the roads. Even the roadways buses did not ply on the inter-state routes the entire day.

There were some tense moments in the morning when groups of Sikh youths went around the city brandishing swords and raising slogans against the dera chief. However, saner counsel prevailed with the community elders asking them to either disperse or protest peacefully.
Boys play cricket as markets remained closed due to Punjab bandh in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Boys play cricket as markets remained closed due to Punjab bandh in Ludhiana on Tuesday. —Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

In another incident, agitators tried to stop a train by squatting on the rail tracks near Jagraon bridge but the intervention of senior Akali leaders diffused the situation from turning worse.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh visited many parts of the city and urged the people to remain peaceful and desist from any form of public protest. Hira Singh Gabria, minister for jails and tourism, too was in the city and went around the district asking people to remain peaceful.

The administration too remained on its toes with Deputy Commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar and SSP R.K. Jaiswal touring the district and reviewing the security measures. They also visited the branch of the dera at Gahaur village to access the situation there. A large posse of police has been guarding the dera ever since the protests began.

Business and commercial establishment were not open. Even roadside kiosks and small dhabas remained closed.

Children made the most of the holiday and could be seen playing cricket on the empty roads. Groups of labourers could be seen whiling away their time playing cards at many places in the commercial and industrial belt.

The eerie silence all around was a welcome change for Ludhianvis who live in a noisy and chaotic city. Shed of its hustle and bustle, the city seemed different even to the old timers.

Not taking any chances, the police had made elaborate security arrangements. All the major intersections saw the presence of small parties of police and paramilitary forces. Though they did not stop anyone, but they kept a watch on the movement of people, particularly, the youngsters.

SAD acting chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is abroad, has thanked the people for remaining peaceful. In a communique issued by his political secretary P.S. Sidhwan, he has also appreciated the steps taken by various religious organisations in keeping their followers from taking matters in their own hands.

MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and senior Akali leader Amarjit Singh Chawla have expressed their thanks to people of all sections and religions for observing a completely peaceful bandh.

Similar messages were received from the management of the Jawaddi Taksal and the Urban Estate Ramlila Committee.

Khamano: A complete bandh was observed at Khamano and surrounding areas like Sanghol, Naudh Singh and Barwali on the call given by the Akal Takht jathedar against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his anti-Sikh activities.

The government and private buses remained off roads. The shopkeepers had shut their shops themselves, showing a great respect towards the Akal Takht.

At about 7 am in the morning, a group of 25-30 persons owing allied to a kar sewa group tried to block the traffic at Sanghol and Khant, but later the police dispelled them.

DSP Balwant Singh Khamano said the ban passed of peacefully in and around Khamano subdivision and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

Sahnewal: A complete bandh was observed at Sahnewal and Doraha towns today as per the call given by the Akal Takht in protest against the religious arbitrariness shown by the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda.

All markets of both the towns gave a deserted look as the shops were closed for the whole day. Even the vegetable and fruit vendors preferred staying indoors. Although, all medical and chemist shops were exempted from the bandh, yet Jandeep Kaushal, a chemist of Doraha said as almost negligible patients visited the hospitals, they too had no choice but to put down their shutters.

The All-Traders Association of Doraha had assured SDM Indu Malhotra and the police administration of a peaceful bandh and the same was followed.

At Sahnewal too people kept themselves indoors and gave full support to the bandh call.

The work in the government offices too was nominal, as most of the employees absented themselves mainly due to the apprehensions of any untoward happening.

But all employees, who went out for work, suffered great difficulty in reaching their work places as no buses, excluding the private buses, were plying on the roads. Many of them had to return for the non-availability of the transport.



Dera Controversy
800 undertrials among sufferers
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, May 22
Proceedings in nearly 800 criminal cases has come to a standstill following the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy. The worst sufferers are prosecution witnesses and under-trials lodged in the local central jail.

It has come into light that since the start of the dera controversy, the local police has been unable to produce the undertrials before the courts on the date fixed in their cases. As a result, their cases were being adjourned.

Finding no other alternative, the courts were only passing orders for issuing 'production warrants' of under-trials facing cases.

It is grave injustice to the under-trials as their cases are being delayed for without a fault on their part. Even the prosecution witnesses had to go back after just noting down the next date.

A senior police official told Ludhiana Tribune expressed helplessness over the situation. He said that they were facing acute shortage of police personnel following the dera controversy. To keep the law and order situation under control, a majority of policemen were deployed on duty in the field.

As per the information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune, on an average 50 under-trials were produced daily in the court of the sessions judge, additional sessions judge and fast track courts. In the lower court, an average of 60 under-trials were produced.



Uneasy calm at Gahaur
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Gahaur (Ludhiana), May 22
With a dera of Sacha Sauda sect situated within the boundaries of this village, an uneasy calm prevailed here throughout the day during the bandh call given by the Akal Takht on the ongoing controversy involving the sect.

Residents of the village also distanced themselves from the dera saying they were already following a sort of boycott of the dera and some families who had become ‘premis’ were returning to their original religion.

Being the only dera near the city, all eyes remained on the village as the district administration left nothing to chance to ensure that peace and tranquility of the village were not disturbed.

The dera is under threat with the Akal Takht issuing a deadline for May 27 for the closure of all such deras in the state. Sacha Sauda followers have already left the dera. Cops cooked langar themselves to feed their colleagues on security duty at the dera.

Deputy commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar, SSP R.K. Jaiswal and a battery of other administrative officers were seen personally guarding the entrance to the village.

The village wore a cantonment-like look and the entry point was heavily barricaded. A heavy posse of police and BSF personnel was posted outside the village.

Sources in the police said that their staff, which was posted inside the dera premises, had to prepare food for those on duty. As not even a single eating joint was opened, they had to depend on the dera infrastructure to provide food to the cops posted in the village.

A visit to the village revealed deserted roads though certain elderly persons were seen sitting inside their houses and peeping outside to have a look at the going ons in the village.

“Our village has observed a total bandh. Though we were apprehensive yesterday that some people might try to attack the dera, nothing of the sort happened. Some motor cycle borne youths however made rounds of the village several times but no untoward incident was reported,” said sarpanch Amrik Singh.

He added that the villagers were living in complete harmony with each other. Around 10 families, who were followers of the dera had also sent feelers that they were willing to come back to the “Sikh-fold,” claimed Kartar Singh, former sarpanch and Deputy vice- president of Akali Dal (B).

Dharam Singh, a villager, said that they were following the appeal of Akal Takht in letter and spirit.



65 families desert Sacha Sauda
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Dakha, May 22
As many as 65 families of Dera Sacha Sauda followers joined the Sikh fold today at Mullanpur and Baddowal, becoming the first in the district to officially forsake the dera way of life.

Giani Bhupinder Singh of Gurudwara Sachkhand, Boparai Kalan, a taksali leader, and various heads of religious and social organisations, said about 50 family represented by their heads entered the mainstream of Sikhism after abandoning their faith with Dera Sacha Sauda.

At a religious ceremony, they vowed to abandon the photographs of the dera and other religious items. They were given siropa by Giani Bhupinder Singh at Mata Gujri Gurdwara Mullanpur.

Fifteen families from Baddowal were inducted into the mainstream of Sikhism by SGPC member Surinder Singh Baddowal at Gurdwara Sahib. They were also given siropa by Surinder Singh Baddowal.

The families were given robes of honour. Though they claimed that they had come on their own, sources said they were quite fear stricken of social repraisal or attacks. Some of the followers said they were quite disillusioned with the dera head for his attempt to compare himself with the 10th Sikh Guru.

Meanwhile, Mullanpur remained calm throughout the day. The town situated, 18 km from Ludhiana, is a place of immense interest as a branch of the Dera Sacha Sauda exists near it, while on the other hand, an office of Damdami Taksal, a radical Sikh organisation also exists here.



Bandh: Common man suffers
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Life came to standstill today following the bandh call given by Singh Sahibans of the Akal Takht in connection with the Dera Sacha Sauda row.

The schools, colleges, markets and the industrial units remained closed and the city roads gave a deserted look.

Many people felt that there is a dire need to maintain peace and calm in Punjab, as it had suffered a lot in previous times. Some of the residents had welcomed the bandh call whereas some others felt that common man suffers in such incidents.

Harinder Kaur, a homemaker, said the bandh call was given to express the sentiments. Since it was a sensitive matter, she and her family supported the demand. “We all support the decision taken by the Singh Sahibans. Though the problem can not be solved by disturbing the normal routine, but it shows that we are united,” she said.

A shopkeeper in AC Market, Surjan Singh, said today’s bandh call was completely successful. “Earlier, when there were disturbances in Punjab, they used to open their shops in morning for a few hours. But shops were closed today under pressure,” he added.

Youth in the city felt that the whole incident was politically motivated and common people were made to suffer. Bharat Ahuja, a student, said all decisions in the entire episode were taken by influential people. “Common man has nothing to do with it, still the most affected is the common man. But we should never disturb the peace and harmony because of certain people,” he added.

Alpana Vinayak, a student of XI, said it was their parent-teacher meeting today which had to be postponed. “I had to attend a family function in Delhi on Wednesday but it is not possible as the meeting will be held tomorrow,” she added.



Bandh: Daily wagers to sleep on empty stomachs
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
For some people, it was a victory of sorts to ensure a complete bandh, for others it was total inconvenience. For daily wagers, today meant no fire in their hearths and no food in their stomachs.

While the activists of various parties today bragged about the success of the bandh and many residents complained of inconvenience, there were scores of “lesser mortals” for whom the world came to an end. They had to bear their children crying for food forgetting that they too did not have anything.

Rickshawpullers, roadside vendors, knick-knack sellers and even beggars had a difficult day today as they could not earn a single penny to arrange for their bread and butter throughout the day. There were some others who had saved for a rainy day but could not arrange meals as not even a single outlet was open today.

A total bandh meant sleeping on hungry stomach for scores of such people who would have otherwise earned a few rupees to keep their kitchen fire burning.

“The roads were totally deserted. There was nobody who wanted to ride my rickshaw to reach his destination. I have earned only ten rupees since morning. How will I pay for the rented-out rickshaw in the evening. The owner would not give it to me tomorrow,” said Ram Lal, a rickshaw puller while waiting for somebody to hire his services.

He rued that he had no money to buy milk for his infant son. “What will I buy in ten rupees? I cannot buy even a kilo of flour in this much amount. I tried to work till late night yesterday to earn an extra buck so that I could arrange for square meals today but I was not able to do that. Who cares for a poor man like me he asked.

For Teesta Rani, who runs a paratha outlet near the railway station, the day passed while she lay down under her kiosk as she was told that she would be attacked if she sold parathas. “Many migrants came to me asking for food. But I was too scared to prepare them. I do not know from where would I buy flour and other things tomorrow?” she rued.

Ramesh, a worker at a food stall also did not have anything to eat throughout the day. ‘‘I am given the leftovers by the owner of the stall who pays me Rs 1,500 by the end of the month. But the stall was not opened at all today. From where would I eat? I have made rounds 
of the city since morning. There is not even a banana which is being sold.” 
he said.

A number of beggars who beg to buy food said that there were no people on the traffic chowks today and they could not beg. Even if they found someone to beg, they asked for food items instead of money. ‘‘If I had money there was no place selling food. I looked around thinking I would at least find a loaf of bread. But not even a single shop was open.” said Dulari, a beggar.



Dera Row
Protests staged, effigies burnt
Mahesh Sharma
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 22
The police, who were posted to control the law and order situation, appeared helpless as thousands of activists of various Sikh organisations violated Section 144 of the CrPC by marching through streets and bazaars in the town and surrounding villages.

The demonstrators, which included senior SAD leaders, raised slogans against the state government and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

Despite efforts by the police, activists burnt effigies of the dera chief at many places.

The bandh call received a good response here. Activists of various Sikh organisations started gathering at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Railway Road, in the morning today. Though Mukesh Sharma, duty magistrate, Sukhdev Singh, SHO city and Maghar Singh, SHO Sadar, tried to persuade them to restrict their protest to the premises of the gurdwara, the activists insisted on marching through the streets of the town.

Having no other option, the police escorted the demonstrators, who raised slogans against the state government and the dera chief during the march.

The situation became tense when hardliners among the demonstrators tried to burn an effigy of the dera chief in front of Gurdwara Singh Sabha. Police officials including SHO Maghar Singh had to scuffle with the activists to snatch the effigy from them.

However, they prepared a new effigy and hurriedly set it on fire at the other gate of the gurdwara. Similar incidents took place in adjoining villages also.

Gurpreet Singh, DSP, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said no case had been registered in connection with the violation of law in the area falling under Malerkotla sub-division. Showing ignorance about the violation of Section 144 and the scuffle among activists and police officials, the DSP argued, “As the bandh call has been given in advance, a demonstration by activists of these organisations does not mean a violation of Section 144 of CrPC.”

Ajit Singh Walia, president, Gurdwara Singh Sabha Railway Road, Gurdial Singh Pandher, president, Gurdwara Singh Sabha Bahadurgarh, Daljit Singh Sond, president, Sikh Students Federation, Kuldip Singh Karwal, general secretary, SAD, Jagwant Singh Jaggie, vice-president, SAD district Sangrur, Amar Singh, Bharpur Singh, president, Sri Sukhmani Sahib Sewa Society, Beant Singh, president, Kalgidhar Federation, Jagjit Singh Jajjie and Gurpreet Singh Peer, Budhu Shah Sewa Society, led their respective jathas during the demonstration.

The bandh passed off peacefully in towns and villages falling under Raikot and Payal subdivisions. According to Narinder Pal Singh Rubby, DSP, Raikot, no untoward incident was reported from the area today. “Apprehending a threat to Naam Charcha Ghar at Jalaldiwal village, we had made extra arrangements to safeguard life and property of the followers of the Sacha Sauda,” said Rubby.

Various Sikh organisations led by SAD leaders Mohan Singh Talwandi and Kulwinder Singh Bhatti and SAD (A) office-bearers Ranjodh Singh and Surjit Singh convened meetings at gurdwaras at Tahliaana and surrounding villages.

According to Dr Indu, SDM, Payal, the bandh passed off peacefully in the area falling under her jurisdiction. Appreciating the role of revenue officers and police officials including Manjit Singh, Naib Tehsildar, Malaudh, and Randhir Singh, SHO, Payal, she claimed that the officials had succeeded in persuading office-bearers of various Sikh organisations to restrict their activists and honour the law. She maintained that essential services were provided uninterrupted in the area. Extra force was deployed to safeguard the dera at Jagera village near here.



Singh Sahibans’ decision welcomed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle has welcomed the decision taken by Singh Sahibans at the Akal Takht in connection with the Dera Sacha Sauda episode in a high-level meeting of office-bearers of the circle here yesterday.

Giving details of the meeting, Inderpal Singh, chief spokesperson said that directions had been given to the whole cadre of the study circle to peacefully cooperate with the programme.

On this occasion, chief organiser principal Ram Singh and chief secretary Dr Charan Kamal Singh appreciated the role of Singh Sahibans in tackling this sensitive issue to a logical end.

An appeal was made to the people of the state to implement the programme peacefully as the matter was related to religious sentiments.

Ranjit Singh, DCO finance, Prithi Singh, DCO planning and development, Gurmeet Singh, Jatinderpal Singh, Pratap Singh and Satnam Singh were also present in the meeting.



City Centre Scam
Non-production of original ‘zimni’ irks defence lawyers
Chetan's remand extended till May 24
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, May 22
Defence lawyers today strongly protested against the Vigilance Bureau for not producing the original ‘zimni’ recorded by it during the police remand of Chetan Gupta, who was arrested in the city centre scam, few days ago. The court further remanded the accused to police custody till May 24.

The controversy started during the proceedings in the court of judicial magistrate Kuldeep Singh. Special public prosecutors Ashwani Bedi and M.L. Solanki stressed on for the extension of the police remand of the accused, with the plea that during the remand they had got valuable information which needs to be checked throughly.

The judge asked them to show the ‘zimni’ recorded during the police remand. A member of SIT for this case, SP S.S. Mand produced the police file. After perusing the file, the judge specifically asked, ”Where are the original ‘zimnis’. Why the same have not been produced before the court?”

Replying to the query, special public prosecutors submitted that the same were sent to the Vernacular Record Keeper (VRK) branch in SSP office, as per police rules. However, the carbon copies of the same were on record.

Defence lawyers Trilok Singh Sood, K.S. Ahluwalia and Pawan Ghai strongly objected to it. The prosecution should have produced the same, at the time of seeking extension of police remand on the basis of said ‘zimnis’.

The defence lawyers had shown apprehension of tampering with the ‘zimnis’. They even submitted that it might be possible that the contents of the original ‘zimnis’ may be different than the copies produced in court.

Thereafter, the judge signed all the carbon copies of the ‘zimnis’ produced before him following the persistent request of defence lawyers.



Don’t get provoked, Naxal group issues appeal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
The Communist Party Reorganised Centre, India (M-L), a Naxal group, has appealed to the people not to get provoked and swayed by the communal rhetoric of certain forces who were bent on disturbing the peace in the state.

The handbills circulated by the organisation in the name of Ranbir in Punjabi asked the people to maintain peace at all costs. It said, the hue and cry being raised in the name of religion was bogus, as the real threat was not to religion but to agriculture, land, bread and butter and employment. The organisation appealed to the people not to become tools in the hands of reactionary forces.

It said that democratic, secular and justice-loving people must intervene to challenge these reactionary forces as only their proactive resistance can hold them back.



Head constable found dead
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
A head constable of the Punjab Police allegedly died due to heart attack at his rented house in Ahata Sher Jung near division no 3 police station this morning. He was 48.

His colleague, Tarsem Singh, spotted him dead in the morning when he returned from night duty. Post-mortem examination revealed that he suffered a heart attack.

Meanwhile, police officials were tight-lipped whether he was under some stress due to job.



Six booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 22
In two separate incidents of assault, the local police has booked six persons. In the first incident, Hardeep Singh, Malkit Singh, Balraj Singh and Paramjit Kaur of Kamlapur allegedly assaulted Gurmail Singh of their village.

The police has registered a case under Sections 324, 323, 341 and 34 of the IPC.

In another incident, Manju and Sanju of Jagraon allegedly assaulted Bhajan Partap Singh in Agwar Ladhai area with iron strip and wooden handle.

The local police has booked them under the same offence. Some old enmity is said to be the reason behind both incidents and so far, no arrest has been made.

Man set ablaze

An old enmity led a man set ablaze. He was admitted in civil hospital Jagraon with burn injuries.

According to information, the incident took place when Sikander Singh(45), of Mirpur Hans, was returning to his village at about 8 pm. A grocery shop owner, Mohan Lal, allegedly threw petrol on Sikander and set ablaze.

The victim said Mohan had settled in the village for the last five years.

The sources disclosed that some incident occurred between the duo about a year back and it was the off shoot of the same.

1 held with liquor

Amarjit Singh of Parjian Biharipur has been arrested by the Sidhwan Bet police from the village. The police seized 15180 ml of illicit liquor from his possession. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.

3 injured in mishap

In two separate incidents three persons have been injured.

In the first incident Hardial Singh and Kuldeep Singh of Akharabhola were injured near Aligarh when their scooter was hit by a speedy Santro. Jaswinder Singh of Devi Nagar, Abrama, was allegedly driving the car.

The local police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 427 of the IPS.

Hardial Singh was admitted in the local civil hospital and Kuldeep Singh in DMCH, Ludhiana.

So far, no arrest has been made.

In the other incident Harcharan Singh of Abhor, tempo driver, was injured when a truck hit the tempo. The local police has registered a case against Bhawani Singh of Gumtal, who was allegedly driving the truck.

The injured has been admitted in local civil hospital.

The police and local administration today continued its strict vigil so as to avoid any unwarranted incident. 



3 get 12-yr jail under NDPS Act

Ludhiana, May 22
Additional sessions judge A.K.Mehta has given 12 years’ imprisonment to three persons, who were found dealing with poppy husk. They were also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh each.

The convicts included Jit Singh (37), alias Gholi, of Sattowal village, Kuldip Ram (32) of Thandian village and Sham Singh (37) of Pnadarwal village, Nawanshahr.

Delivering the verdict, the judge said the prosecution had successfully proved the charges levelled against them beyond any doubt. So, they did not deserve any leniency.

The accused were booked under Section 15 of the NDPS Act at the Focal Point police station on July 22, 2004. The prosecution had claimed that a huge quantity of poppy husk was seized from their possession.

As per the prosecution, SHO Focal Point Surinder Mohan along with other police officials were passing through the PUDA colony, Moti Nagar. Two persons, standing outside a quarter, immediately went inside, on seeing the police.

The SHO checked the quarter on suspicion and found five persons sitting on bags, who tried to run away apprehending arrest. The above named three were nabbed there, but their two companions namely Vijay Kumar and Kulbir Singh ran away in a gypsy.

Following the search, 39 bags containing 35 kg of poppy husk, were seized.

The three were arrested and put behind bars. — OC



Youth found dead under mysterious circumstances
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Mystery shrouds the death of a computer designer at a vacant plot on the Bahadar ke road. While a suicide note was recovered from his possession, his family members want the Salem Tabri police to investigate his death 
as a murder.

The victim, Rajkumar Moni, 24, a resident of Chander Nagar, was missing since 7 p.m. last evening. His body was recovered this morning with some injury marks.

The suicide note stated he was dying of his own will and no one should be held responsible for it.

However, his brother Sonu said Raj had no reason to end his life in this manner. He was scheduled to marry in November and was happy with his job.

The Salem Tabri police has conducted proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr Pc. Police sources said the exact cause of the death could not be ascertained in the post-mortem examination. His viscera has been sent for chemical examination.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |