L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Family’s fight for justice pays off
Honour comes from Radio Canada, gurdwara bodies
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
In a rare international recognition for a local family to take on the might of a strong police officials’ lobby and winning a six-year struggle for justice against a police-cat- turned-cop, Radio Canada and some gurdwara organisations of Canada have chosen to honour the family.

It would honour the head of the family, Amrik Singh, tomorrow in Canada.

Amrik Singh is the father of Avtar Singh, alias Gola, who was killed by Gurmeet Singh Pinki, a Punjab Police inspector in January 2001 and convicted for the murder in September last year. He is in Canada on a special invitation.

Though the organisation wanted to honour his entire family, especially the three sisters of the deceased who braved all kind of threats and lure of money, nearly Rs 2 crore, the Canadian Embassy gave visa to Amrik Singh only.

Gupreet Singh, a former journalist of The Tribune and now associated with Radio Canada at Toronto, told Ludhiana Tribune, in a release, that the family's determined fight for struggle was a rare successful achievement in bringing the powerful guilty to book.

Kamaljeet Kaur, a sister of the murdered youth, said the family was thankful for the honour.

"Our struggle was the symbolic struggle of commoners against strong forces who had both money and police power, besides political support to claim immunity against any kind of atrocities and misuse of power."

The sisters of the murdered youth have bore the brunt of the murder. Kamaljeet Kaur was pursuing higher secondary education when her brother was killed.

Now, she runs a grocery shop. The fight for justice forced her to abandon studies so that she could help her ageing parents for funding the education of the younger sister. She, too, could have been pursuing MBA degree like her sister, Simran, if her brother had been alive today.

The family was now hoping that there would be no threat to them.

We used to have midnight knocks on our gates and crank calls issuing life threats. We just hope the accused would understand we would not surrender to any tactics, reminisces Kamaljeet Kaur.



A breather for city gardens
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
All major gardens in the city will get a breather with the city Municipal Corporation deciding to give a facelift to Rose Garden, Mini Rose Garden and Rakh Bagh.

The fountains of these gardens are being renovated, garden lamp-posts are being put afresh, speakers are being installed for playing soft music for the morning walkers and even the children have something to rejoice. All these parks would have playstations where swings and other playthings would be installed.

Commissioner, MC, Vikas Partap, said the civic body was giving the parks a facelift as it was a long-pending demand of the city residents.

He added that the work would be completed within a few days and the residents would enjoy their morning walk amidst soft music, new lights and new fountains.

For this work, the MC has not roped in any private company but it is being done by the civic body itself. ‘‘The work would be completed within a few days and the residents would be able to enjoy new environs,’’ said Partap, who had taken the decision to this effect after inspecting the state of gardens a few days ago.

The announcement would come as a whiff of fresh air for the residents who had been complaining against bad state of gardens and parks in the city.

Residents, especially senior citizens, have been complaining that there were no lights in the gardens where they went for a morning walk especially before sun rise. They had been saying that they could not see anything as certain lamp-posts had developed snags and were not rectified.

While there was a ray of hope for these gardens, the MC is yet to make an announcement for the parks in various parts of the city.

Recently, a senior citizen and crusader for greenery in the city, S.S. Chana, had moved the high court asking for a directive for the upkeep of parks. Chana said after the direction by the HC he was hopeful that something would come up for the parks in residential areas also.

‘‘We are thankful to the MC for giving a facelift to the major gardens. But we want the officials to pay little attention towards other parks also,’’ said Chana. 



Dera row impacts industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
The local industry continues to bear the brunt of disturbance on account of the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy and fears the affect could last much longer than the problem itself. A large number of migrant labourers, who went to their homes, have postponed coming back to work on account of the situation, said entrepreneurs. Currently, a shortage of 50 per cent to 60 per cent is estimated.

"The situation has portrayed a very negative picture of the state in their minds. When we contacted several labourers who went home, they refused to come back as they fear violence. The result is reduced production and losses for industry and impact could last longer," said Vinod K. Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

Industrialists said that on account of shortage of labour, they were able to utilise only 20 per cent to 30 per cent of their total capacity. For an industrial unit to be cost-effective, 65 per cent to 75 per cent of capacity utilisation is considered essential.

However, for Ludhiana's industry, that relies heavily on migrant labour, smoothening of operations appears to be a tough task as not many Punjabis are willing to do manual work.

Several factors like paddy season, better minimum wages in Haryana and coming up of industrial units in other states have been causing work force shortage in recent months. The recent controversy only worsened matters.

Not only domestic demand, industrialists feel export orders too could be badly hit as a result.

"At this time of the year production should not get slowed down in this manner. To compete globally we have to be cost effective and also meet orders on time. If such a situation continues we would not remain competitive,” said Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

He said stiff competition from China had already reduced orders. Whatever orders the industry was getting if it is not able to meet them on time, it would have a bearing on its credibility.

To meet the shortage, some industrial units have also contacted polytechnics and industrial training institutes to send their students for training.

"We hope it helps us control some shortage though for manual labour we have to rely on migrant workers," said Thapar.

A large number of units, particularly in textile sector, are also relying on computerised machines. Industrialists said Punjabi labourers are being put on operating these computerised machines. The problem of manual labour, however, remains.

Earlier industrialists were hoping that the situation would normalise by June 15 or so, but now they think the impact would mean it continues for longer.



Fear of reprisal
Activists desert deras
Mahesh Sharma

Ashok Bath, SP, Jagraon, supervises security at Dera Jaladiwal near Raikot
Ashok Bath, SP, Jagraon, supervises security at Dera Jaladiwal near Raikot. —Photo by Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 23
With the SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar reiterating Singh Sahiban's stand to get the Sacha Sauda Deras in the state vacated by May 27, activists and office-bearers of the sect, apprehending offensive mood of Sikh activists, have reportedly started deserting various deras.

The administration, on the other hand, claimed to have made sufficient security arrangements to protect the life and property of the occupants at these deras.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the deras at Jalaldiwal and Gahaur had virtually turned into cantonments. Residents of villages surrounding these centres, who at one time had been causal visitors for partaking langar, not only distanced themselves from the deras, they persuaded premis to join Sikh fold or their basic Hindu religion. While some activists and Bhangi Dasses used to visit these deras last week, no visitor was seen coming to these two deras, obviously for the fear of social boycott or physical harassment by hardliners of Sikh organisations.

Narinder Pal Singh Rubby, DSP, Raikot, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, claimed that a large number of police and BSF cops had been camping at the Naam Charcha Ghar at Jaladiwal.

"Though we have not stopped any of the activists of the Sacha Sauda Dera, they have stopped coming here on their own," said Mr Rubbya, adding that the police was deputed to avoid any untoward incident. Similar situation was observed at Dera Gahaur, where a large number of cops had been deputed to guard the dera round the clock.

The situation was different at dera at Jagera village falling under the Payal subdivision near here. Though the administration had got the dera vacated, the premis were allowed to visit the dera as usual.

A visit to the dera revealed that a large number of sacha sauda activists had been coming to the dera daily. Though the senior functionaries hesitated to issue any statement, they divulged that community prayers were held in the morning and evening daily. The activists have grown green vegetables in kitchen garden and these were being taken care of as usual.

Community langar was also prepared and served to cops on duty also.




Upcoming mall crumbles buildings
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
The raising of a mall in Gurdev Nagar by a Mumbai-based company is making some residents see red, who are claiming that many buildings in its neighbourhood have crumbled due to deep digging.

The Mall, Silver Arch, is threatening more buildings, and the affected residents say that the problem is that it is coming up in a residential area, and surprisingly the authorities concerned have even given permission to the owners.

The issue came up in today's sangat darshan, organised by the municipal corporation in Zone D when residents complained to the commissioner Vikas Partap and MLA Harish Rai Dhanda. The authorities assured them of action.

Rajdeep Singh, owner of a factory that was damaged due to deep digging, said that many residents had moved court also. He added that the owner of the mall was sending them feelers to effect a compromise, but they were not willing to do so on his terms and conditions.

‘‘He has told us that he would get a building constructed in place of the damaged building. Why should we allow him to do that? Can he compensate us for the loss of the work that we suffered for the last three months? ’’ he asked.

He added that when they were not willing to compromise they were getting threats that they would lose the entire building and they would not give a single penny to the sufferers.

The work on the mall had, however, stopped two months ago, but again some machines were parked inside the Mall premises. Residents said that this was an indication that digging would start soon.

They added that they had even knocked at the doors of a local court and the judge had even constituted a commission to inspect the site and submit its report by March 19. The commission had gone to the site a day before the deadline also.

Rajdeep Singh, owner of the factory, said that first cracks had started appearing in the factory and later the entire building had come crashing down. Though the mall owner had done piling on all sides, but this was not able to protect the buildings in the neighbourhood.

Earlier, a spokesperson of the owner had said that they would compensate the residents after the construction. Sukh Sagar Bhatia had said that if the mall damaged buildings, it would be penalised. According to him, an owner is supposed to construct a building by leaving 15 feet space on either sides so that it does not threaten any other building.



4 labourers hurt in factory mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
Four labourers were injured when the long and heavy hot iron bars they were carrying overhead fell on them in Rico Industries, focal point, this morning.

The injured labourers, Dwarka Prasad, Chander, Jawahar Prasad and Om Parkash, were admitted to the ESI hospital.

Sources said it was a freak incident and no one could be blamed for the mishap.

The labourers were reported to be recovering.



Akali leader’s kin holds DTO to ransom
Demand special numbers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
In a brazen show of power, one Jassa Singh, claiming to be a close relative of an Akali leader, along with some supporters, today held the district transport officer (DTO) to ransom for about an hour, as the DTO could not allot two special numbers to him.

Jassa Singh not only allegedly threatened to get him transferred but also told him that he would submit an affidavit to the vigilance department, complaining against him that he (the DTO) had demanded Rs 20000 from him. In fact, Jassa got an affidavit written against him on his table itself and signed it with his (DTO's) pen only.

For a while, Jassa Singh, accompanied by some of his supporters and carrying a letter supposedly written by a senior Akali leader recommending special numbers, held the entire DTO office to ransom. A meek DTO was made to submit to all his demands.

Jassa Singh alleged that he had been assured by the DTO Chander Gaind that he would be allotted twos special numbers on the recommendation of the Akali leader. However, as he came to the office today, he was told that these had been cancelled by the state transport commissioner. This infuriated Jassa and he asked the DTO to give him in writing that he did not honour the Akali leader's letter.

The DTO said he tried to tell him politely that he certainly had all respect for the particular leader. But he was helpless, as the number series between 1 to 20 is allotted by the STC only and he had no say. The DTO said he made him to talk to the STC also. Even that did not convince Jassa Singh.

In the meantime, he asked one of his supporters to get an affidavit listing complaints and corruption charges against the DTO. He did it in front of everybody, including the DTO himself. As he was not carrying a pen, he asked the DTO to give him the pen so that he could sign the affidavit against him. Having virtually been held hostage, the DTO offered him the pen. In fact, he even offered him and his supporters cold drinks as well, which they accepted willingly.

This created some panic in and around the office of the DTO, as Jassa's supporters had virtually sealed the officer's cabin. The officials had no option but to exercise restraint and submit to whatever they were told. Jassa reportedly went to the vigilance office to submit the affidavit against the DTO, “listing several charges of corruption against him”.

There was a strong sense of resentment among the officers and the staff in the DTO and other offices. They condemned the act of hooliganism in the name of some Akali leader. They have also demanded adequate security for all the officials working there as Jassa and his supporters stopped just short of manhandling everybody who came their way.

The DTO is learnt to have submitted a complaint to the senior superintendent of police, Ludhiana, also demanding action against Jassa Singh and his supporters. 



City Centre Scam
Rajesh finally appears before VB
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, May 23
Rajesh Singh, the only conduit named in the FIR for arranging deal among politicians, chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust Paramjit Singh Sibia and Today Homes Company, today appeared before the Vigilance Bureau for joining investigation as per the directions of the high court.

He has been named in the FIR as 'Capt Rajesh' and was granted interim bail by the high court. However, he was not successful in joining the investigation, as the case file was presented in the high court today and senior officials had gone there.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today, Rajesh Singh claimed that he was innocent and falsely implicated in the case. He said Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed him to join the investigation on May 22, but he could not come to Ludhiana yesterday due to Punjab bandh. He was allegedly stopped near Kharar by some bandh supporters. Then he had sent a telegram to the Vigilance Bureau.

The name of Rajesh Singh had figured in the city centre project, when Ashok Singh Garcha had suspended the city centre project. Later he had resigned from the chairmanship. He had claimed in a press conference that one Capt Rajesh had called him on telephone and demanded Rs 100 crore.

Garcha had stated that Capt Rajesh told him that Rs 100 crore were required by the AICC and the city centre project had been identified as one of the projects to source this amount.

The Vigilance Bureau had claimed in FIR that it had recorded the statement of former chairman Garcha, who had specifically said that he was acquainted with Capt Rajesh since he had met him in the office of the AICC, New Delhi, PPCC, Chandigarh, and at the official residence of Capt Amrinder Singh, the then Chief Minister, at Chandigarh. 



Physically challenged want greater role in society
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
The physically challenged community in the city feels that though in recent years the viewpoint of general population towards them has changed for good, the change was negligible.

They said since the disabled were an important part of society, they expected a balanced and empathetic attitude. There was a need to protect and identify their rights, interests and welfare by state government.

The disabled, particularly the visually impaired, have urged the government to form an integral society providing equal opportunities (of participation) to them.

Sangeeta Kapoor, general secretary, Maa Saraswati Cultural Society (for the Blind) and Rashtriya Netraheen Sangharsh Samiti, talking to Ludhiana Tribune said they should be provided opportunities for equal participation in all co-curricular activities. This would help change the mindset of society. The government should regularly organise state and national-level annual competitions for them.

The eligible among the disabled should be given jobs, suitable to them. "This will certainly help hundreds of disabled persons to get employment, to be secure and independent. Slowly, they can become a part of main stream of society," said Kapoor.

Ragini, a visually impaired graduate, feels that the government, semi-government and private organisations working for the noble cause (of the disabled) should be provided with efficient staff, organisers and grants etc. She said for the effective working, government needed to monitor its schemes on a regular basis.

"Though the change will be gradual, the disabled persons will become a part of general the population," said Ragini.

The Government Institute for the Blind at Jamalpur had recently been upgraded to senior secondary level, but it is suffering in the absence of proper teaching faculty and other staff.

Kapoor said such institutes should be provided with all facilities and support to give benefit of education to the visually impaired.

The disabled stressed that joint efforts should be made by all sections of society for their uplift. The Technical Education Department, Social Security Wing, Women and Child Development Department must do collective efforts so that they become independent, both psychologically and financially.



Tubewell inauguration: Ex-MLA has upper hand over sitting MLA
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
Inauguration of a tubewell in Madhopuri became a bone of contention between the sitting BJP MLA of Ludhiana North and former Congress MLA of the area, who wanted to formally dedicate the project to the public today.

The tubewell, in street number 18 of the area, was finally inaugurated by former MLA Rakesh Pandey and councillor of ward no. 60 Kala Navkar Jain, after a two-day long drama and a hot exchange of words between them and BJP MLA Harish Bedi. Eventually, Bedi chose to remain away from the function.

Pandey claimed that he had the right to inaugurate the tubewell, as it was installed with the money sanctioned during the Congress government’s regime.

He, however, alleged that the tubewell was to become functional two days ago but the sitting MLA was annoyed with the councillor and asked the authorities concerned to cancel the power supply connection to the tubewell.

“He called up Jain two days ago and asked him to invite Bedi to the function. Jain informed him that the tubewell was installed with my funds and I had to right to do so. This angered the MLA, who threatened that he would not let it operate,’’ said Pandey.

He also alleged that earlier, Bedi had expressed his displeasure over a road carpeting project and the work was delayed.

Supporting his claims, Jain said he had received feelers from Bedi that he wanted to inaugurate the tubewell. “I told him that I can send an invite to him also but it will be dedicated to the public by Pandey and he will remain the chief guest on the occasion. This made him angry and he started threatening him,” alleged Jain.

Bedi feigned ignorance, when asked about the issue. He said he was away to a religious place in Himachal Pradesh today.



15 booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 23
Jaswinder Nooran, Babra Teli of Khanjarwal and Kamlesh of Mullanpur alongwith 12 unknown persons allegedly entered into the house of Amarjit Kaur of Malak and assaulted her with dangs. They also sexually harassed her.

According to information, the accused struck a deal with Amarjit Kaur to send her son aboard and in lieu received Rs 3,00,000. Since then Amarjit Kaur’s son was neither sent abroad nor the money was returned.

A case under Sections 452, 323, 354, 406, 420, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered. So far, no arrest has been made.

5 booked for assault

In two separate incidents, the Sudhar and Jagraon police has booked five persons on the charge of assault.

In the first incident, Mohan Singh of Hans Kalan alongwith one unknown person allegedly stopped Jasvir Singh of Heran and assaulted him with dah and sword.

The Sudhar police has registered a case under Sections 341, 326, 506 and 34 of the IPC.

The injured has been admitted in Satluj Hospital, Ludhiana.

In another incident, Ranjit Singh, his brother Amna Singh and Jeeta Pandit of Rasulpur allegedly stopped Suminder Singh of their village and assaulted him with dang, kahi and khanda. The police has registered a case.

The injured has been admitted in the local civil hospital. So far, no arrest has been made in both the cases. 



Old C forms a cause of worry for industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
Even as C forms have been phased out, the problem of old C forms continues to trouble the industry. There are a large number of cases where C forms for last year’s assessment are yet to be submitted. Due to their shortage, industrialists have expressed their inability to furnish them.

"We want that in case of old cases too some other option should be given and these cases be considered deemed assessed as industrialists are not able to submit C forms," said Vinod K Thapar, president, Knitwear Club, which has also written to the financial commissioner taxation on the issue.

According to industrialists ,getting C forms is a tough task due to shortage. "Most of our sales are inter state. However, customers express inability to remit C forms. This has resulted in piling up of cases of old C forms which should be cleared."

In their letter, members of the Knitwear Club said they had submitted several representations but nothing was done in the direction.

"If an option is given, the department would get to earn revenues and industry would get free from the worry to submit these forms," the club added.





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