L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Dera row
No clashes as police alert
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 27
The possibility of violence between Dera Sacha Sauda supporters and Sikh organisations, here, kept the police on its toes today. This part of Malwa has a sizeable population of both Dera Sacha Sauda and activists of several radical Sikh organisations.

As two of the four naam charcha ghars in the area are situated on link roads leading to Sangrur, the venue of the bhog function of Kanwaljit Singh, the victim of violence at Sunam; the police had to deploy extra force to avoid any possible violence.

Notwithstanding the promulgation of Section 144 in the state, a large number of activists of various Sikh organisations going to attend Bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh had succeeded in carrying sharp-edged weapons including swords and axes. But the police officials persuaded them to leave the weapons and take them on their return.

Investigation by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that various police parties had been active in trying to control the law and order situation in their respective areas. The situation was more difficult near Dera Sacha Sauda Jagera situated on Ludhiana- Malerkotla road and dera located at Jalaldiwal village on Raikot- Barnala road as thousands of Sikh activists had to travel to Sangrur via these roads.

DSP Payal Rattan Singh Brar and SHO Randhir Singh monitored security arrangements at Jagera today. Daljit Singh Bittu, a hardliner Sikh leader and Baba Ram Singh, chief of Damdami Taksal Jatha Bhinderan were among those whose companions carried some weapons.

As the spot is the main entry point into Sangrur district the police had to search all vehicles to avoid any untoward incident.

The police did not stop dera activists from entering the premises. However, they were not allowed to carry anything that could be used as a weapon. "When we have deputed sufficient force for their protection why should they carry weapons. Similarly, security of the passersby was also ensured," said Brar while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune.

DSP Raikot Narinder Singh Ruby said the security had been beefed up at the dera at Jalaldiwal village on the Raikot-Barnala road yesterday.

Besides searching all vehicles passing through Barnala chowk the police conducted random checking at places in the vicinity of the town.

As senior office-bearers of various radical Sikh organisations including Damdami Taksal had been active at religious places situated at Lamma Jattpura and Bopa Rai Kalan the police had taken extra precautions to handle the situation.

Uneasy calm prevailed at the dera in Gahaur and its surroundings. Though the police had not prohibited dera activists from coming to the dera, premis preferred to stay away from it today also. Moreover, it did not attract Sikh activists as it is situated away from the main roads.

The Ludhiana district police had also made extra arrangements to control traffic problems arising from the influx of large number of vehicles carrying Sikh activists from Amritsar, Jalandhar and Moga-Ferozepur sides to Sangrur on account of bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh.

"We had deputed special teams at entry points and chowks of the city to check carrying of lethal weapons in vehicles," claimed SSP Ludhiana R K Jaiswal while talking to this correspondent. He claimed that no untoward incident regarding dera controversy had been reported from areas falling under his jurisdiction during the past 24 hours.

According to SHO Khanna Sadar Gurcharan Singh situation remained peaceful at the dera in Malikpur village today. Heavy police had been deployed to protect the property of the dera. 

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SAD enters fray to maintain peace
Holds meetings at gurdwaras
Vimal Sumbly/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana May 27
At last, the Shiromani Akali Dal seems to be trying to wrest the initiative from the radicals by organising special peace meets at various local gurdwaras. Since most of the local gurdwaras are managed and controlled by the SAD only, it was not difficult to hold these meetings appealing to people to maintain peace.

The peace meetings were held in different gurdwaras of the city and the suburbs. The speakers recalled the sacrifices of the Sikh gurus. They said, it was ridiculous to imagine that anybody can imitate Guru Gobind Singh. They pointed out, the Guru had sacrificed everything he had, including his children.

The speakers said, if anybody wanted to imitate the Guru, it should be through sacrifice and renunciation as preached and practised by the Guru. The Guru, they said, never sought refuge in the five star guffas and luxuries of life.

Appealing to the people to ensure peace at all costs, they said, whenever there is a call to struggle and sacrifice, nobody should hold himself back. They said, the need of the hour was to maintain peace and not allow the vested interests to exploit the situation to their advantage.

It is learnt that the SAD leadership had directed the organising of peace meets to checkmate the radical organisations' agenda.

The meetings were addressed by the religious and political leaders at all the places. The reports said, this was the first attempt to organise the moderate elements against the radicals. Over a hundred such meetings were organised by various Singh Sabhas in the city and other areas.

Senior Akali leader and the Minister for Jails, Tourism and Culture, Hira Singh Gabria is personally monitoring these meetings. He said, this was being done to ensure that no vested elements tried to misuse the situation. He said, in the past some anti-social elements had even tried to damage the birs in various gurdwaras to provoke people.

Gabria disclosed, to preempt such situations, the Singh Sabhas were told to ensure that the Gurdwaras and the birs were guarded round the clock. Besides, the people were asked to remain calm and peaceful and in case of any emergency follow the directives issued from the gurdwaras only. 

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SAD leaders red-faced
Dhillon kin made plant chief with Cong backing
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 27
Senior SAD leaders of Kilaraipur and Payal assembly constituencies of the district were shocked when Ajmer Singh Dhillon, a brother of party MP and Youth Wing president Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, managed to garner the support of the Congress directors to get elected as chairman of the Milk Plant, Ludhiana.

Hundreds of members of the cooperative run the plant and the keenly contested elections are seen as a steeping stone for future political gains.

This development is also being viewed as a snub to Raghbir Singh Saharanmajra, member, SGPC, whose supporters were preparing for his election. The winning candidate had sought the support of the Congress for his victory while leaving the vice-chairmanship to Avtar Singh of Burj Hari village in Raikot constituency, who was the party candidate.

Though Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Jagdish Singh Garcha had paid a heavy price by losing Assembly election at Payal and Kila Raipur constituencies due to the treachery of party leaders, they seemed hesitant in protesting against the move that resuscitated the otherwise sluggish Congress leaders.

However, Jagdish Singh Garcha, while accusing the elected chairman of winning over two ex-officio directors, demanded action against the officers who had broken the precedence of not participating in the election. "Though five directors, including one owing alliance to the Congress had abstained from the election meeting two ex-officio directors, in an effort to please Ajmer Singh Dhillon (now chairman) and Avtar Singh Congress nominee for the post of vice-chairman; participated in a meeting to complete the quorum," said Garcha.

Referring to information received from Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP Garcha claimed that he (Sharanjit Dhillon) was not interested in getting his brother elected chairman like this.

"Though he knew about the sequence of events leading to the present situation, he played no significant role in setting aside decision taken by SAD leaders of the area. Rather his brother and parents managed the things on their own," said Garcha.

Investigation by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that senior party leaders of Ludhiana district had unanimously short-listed names of Raghbir Singh Saharnmajra, member, SGPC, and Ajmer Singh Dhillon, a brother of Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, for the posts of chairman and vice-chairman of the Milk Plant, respectively.

Instead of honouring the decision of party leaders Ajmer Singh Dhilllon reportedly started political bargaining with senior Congress leaders of the district. Paramjit Singh Ghabaddi, a confidant of former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is known to have played a significant role in the sequence of events that resulted in crowning of Dhillon as chairman of the prestigious institute with the post of vice-chairman going to Congress nominee Avtar Singh of Buraj Hari Singh village in Raikot constituency.

Factionalism among SAD leaders had resulted in the defeat of strong leaders like Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Ranjit Singh Talwandi.

Interestingly, the three leaders have been enjoying strong following in wide areas covering these constituencies. Political experts feel that little coordination and understanding among supporters of the three could have changed the outcome of the last Assembly election.

After the constitution of the present Badal government this is first time that SAD leadership has faced such embarrassment.

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Malerkotla: Too few govt officials here
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 27
Notwithstanding the emotionally charged atmosphere due to ongoing conflict between Sikh organisations and Sacha Sauda sect, the Punjab government failed to fill up posts of officers who were supposed to coordinate with the police in maintaining law and order.

On the last day of the deadline for getting deras vacated thousands of activists of protesting organisations were to pass through Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, a major link between northwestern part of the state and Sangrur city where bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh was scheduled to take place.

About a dozen posts of revenue and administrative officials had fallen vacant after recent transfers. Leave alone routine public dealing, there was no one to take up responsibility of duty magistrate at sensitive points, including naam charcha ghar at Jagera in Payal subdivision near here.

Those who have been transferred, without providing substitutes include former SDM Payal Dr Indu, tehsildar Bhupinder Singh and naib tehsildar Ravinder Singh. Similarly tehsildar of Malerkotla, and naib tehsildars of Malerkotla, Ahmedgarh and Amargarh have been transferred without anyone replacing them.

Sources in administration apprehend that Malerkotla subdivision will be known as the first and only subdivision in India to be governed solely by an SDM. "In case the officials receiving transfer orders on Saturday are relieved immediately there will be no tehsildar or naib tehsildar to implement and execute orders of Malerkotla SDM Jaspal Singh Jassie. He (the SDM) will have to be present simultaneously at Malerkotla, Amargarh and Ahmedgarh to cater to those who want to get deeds registered and get other documents including affidavits prepared," said an official at SDM's office at Malerkotla.

President and vice-president of a local Municipal Council, Jatinder Bhola and Jagwant Singh Jaggie, have urged the SDM to not relieve naib tehsildar Mukesh Sharma till another official was deputed here.

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Ludhiana Calling

The fear of peace being sacrificed in the confrontation between Dera Sacha Sauda and Akal Takht notwithstanding, the people in the state in general and those in Ludhiana showed exceptional resolve and restraint. While the protests were organised everywhere, it was ensured that the peace was not compromised. Especially in a city like Ludhiana, which is driven by the industry and business, the fears were too serious. The business had already suffered and the industry had started feeling the pinch as migrant labourers were trying to return to their homes. As of now peace has prevailed over the provocations and it is the people who deserve all praise for it. Officers and other officials in the district and police administration also deserve due credit.

Street food

The recent order of the Delhi High Court clamping a ban on street food vendors has come as a major shock to people and vendors alike. While street and corner food joints are an integral part of life in every city of the country, in Punjab particularly their popularity is much more. While the Delhi High Court orders will have no impact on the sale of street food in Punjab, apprehensions have started growing in the minds of people and the vendors alike, lest they be asked to close down their business under similar circumstances. The spicy and tangy aloo tikki, choley-samosa, choley-bhature, golgappa and even Chinese noodles have become a habit and necessity as well. One can only hope that the street vendors in Punjab in general and Ludhiana in particular are not made to shut shop much to the dismay of people who love to have a bite.

Clumsy claims

Tall claims made by business organisations are not always true. A bank customer was quite irritated when even after several days of having asked for a certain facility from his bank by using the phone banking service, nothing was done. Much to his dismay, when he placed the order using online banking service too, nothing happened. All he could say was ,"they still have a long way to go".

Lucrative holidays

Validating their spirit of enterprise without fail, coaching centres and those providing hobby courses are engaged in vigorous activity these days with exams getting over and college students getting into holiday mood. The result is not only added revenue inflow for training providers but also for those indirectly related to the service like advertisers. Students find this the best time to improve their skills and have fun at the same time.

Heat chills business

Summer is in full glory and business is relatively mild in the city. As most residents prefer staying indoors to venturing out in sun, shopkeepers have no option but to wait for the prized customers. Another reason for reduced business is the Dera controversy due to which hotels, restaurants etc have recorded a steep decline in the number of visitors. Those in trade are only praying for better days ahead.

Gifts galore

Cash rich Ludhainavis do not miss a chance to maximise their joy by spending more. These days it is the students , whose results have just been declared, who are benefiting. For, parents are showering expensive gifts ranging from laptops, to cameras, expensive dresses and even buying holiday packages to reward their children who have scored well. It is celebration time indeed!

Mirror moves

A health freak city resident was in for a shock on viewing her image in the mirror installed in the gym she visited. The image was much broader than the reality. However, when she looked in the other one, she was in for a pleasant surprise as it showed a narrower image of hers. When queried, the gym owner had an interesting reply: The mirror that showed broader images was for men who wanted to build muscle and appear broad while the one that contracted image was for women who loved to see a slimmer image.

Pool passion

Play schools have always been organising pool parties for kids. But now the rich and famous have started hosting these in their own huge lawns. Recently, a pool party was organised for kids and moms were requested to send Rs 250 along with swimming pools, if available with them. The kids danced to the tunes of Hindi and English numbers and when they returned home in the evening, the eager moms asked what did they have in lunch? They replied a burger and a coke each!

Contributed by Vimal Sumbly, Shveta Pathak, Shivani Bhakoo

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Yuva Morcha to take up civic cause
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 27
The district unit of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha has launched a move to make basic amenities of life available to the residents of the area by impressing upon the authorities to get the needful done. The district chief called upon the constituents of the local unit to act as a bridge between public and the administration.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune after convening a meeting of the activists of the organisations, Surjit Gogna claimed that he had asked office-bearers and activists of various units to apprise leadership of the situation of basic amenities being provided by the civic bodies of their respective areas. "Once these problems are brought to our notice we will impress upon the officers concerned to expedite the process to provide these facilities to the public," claimed Gogna. He added that the local leaders had been asked to act as bridge between the public and the administration.

He appealed the constituents of the organisation not to fall prey to religious fanatics who were bent on disrupting peace of the region. "Instead of exploiting the situation, we should help in resolving the Dera controversy sincerly," said Gogna.

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March staged to spread message of peace
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 27
Activists of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) staged a peace march urging the people to maintain harmony and peace in the state in wake of the Sacha Sauda controversy.

Carrying placards and flags the activists marched from Punjabi Bhawan to Jagraon bridge. At the end of the march they paid tributes to martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

Leaders of the outfit appealed to all the religious groups to settle the differences by dialogue instead of inciting the masses to violence.

General secretary AFDR Prof Jagmohan Singh said that the people of the state had expressed their wish through the electoral process for greater development in the state after bypassing all the religious and sectarian issues. Therefore, to obtain this objective, he said, it is of utmost importance that peace be maintained in the state.

He said this can only be achieved if the political and radical groups are not allowed to play on this emotional issue. Peace can only be ensured if confrontation on emotional lines is not allowed. Political parties, which are trying to take advantage of the situation must be condemned because this is a golden opportunity for them to shirk electoral obligations they have for the masses, he pointed out.

He said it is a matter of great concern that illiteracy, deteriorating economic conditions and social backwardness push people towards deras as a place of seeking solace and refuge. For the growth of society it is essential that the causes of the problems are addressed and resolved, all of which will require all round development of Punjab.

The organisations which participated in the march include Tarksheel Society, Lok Morcha, Nau Jawan Bharat Sabha, Inqualabi Kendar, Moulder and Steel Workers Union, Bigal Majdoor Dasta, CITU and many others.

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  Tributes paid to Nehru on 44th death anniversary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 27
Glowing tributes were paid to country’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru on his 44th death anniversary here today.

A function was organised by the local party office, which was presided over by the District Congress Committee, Ludhiana (urban), head Jagmohan Sharma. A number of party leaders and workers attended the function.

Addressing the function speakers recalled the immense contribution made by Nehru to put India on the path of progress.

They pointed out, it was his secular, modern and progressive vision that helped India to achieve great success within a short span of time.

Speakers said the teachings of Nehru were more relevant in today's world ridden with hatred and violence.

Appealing to the people the state to maintain peace in the current circumstances, they said, Nehru had a special love for Punjab and he got Punjab the Bakhra Dam which led to industrial and agricultural development of the state.

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Trusts asked to seek registration for IT exemption
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 27
"Registration under Section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, is a precondition for availing exemption of income under Sections 11 and 12 of the Act by a charitable or religious trust or institution. For obtaining such registration, the trust or institution has to make an application in Form No.10-A to the commissioner of income tax within one year from the date of its creation or establishment."

This was stated by additional commissioner of income tax J.R. Kajla in a press release here yesterday. He said where such application was made after the expiry of one year, the commissioner might condone such delay, if he was satisfied that the delay was for valid and sufficient reasons. In such cases, the exemption under Sections 11 and 12 will be available from the date of creation or establishment of the trust or institution. Otherwise, it will be available only from the financial year in which the application for registration was made.

In a significant amendment, the Finance Act, 2007 had removed the requirement of filing the application within one year of the creation or establishment of the trust or institution. Similarly, the power vested with the commissioner for condonation of the delay also stood withdrawn with the stipulation that for any application made on or after the first day of June, 2007, registration will only be granted from the financial year in which the application was made.

Therefore, added Kajla, in order to avail of the benefit of condonation of delay for earlier years, any trust or institution which had not filed its application within one year of its creation or establishment, may file such application before the June 1, 2007. For such applications, filed on or after the stipulated date, the trusts or institutions concerned would be entitled to claim exemption of income from the financial year in which the application was made and not for earlier years.

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Ludhianvis pack prudence in travel plans
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana May 27
Ludhianvis, known for their lavish lifestyles otherwise, don’t seem to think twice if given an opportunity to save money. This is evident from the fact that a majority of city residents making travel plans this summer have opted for destinations that offer either off season discount or other economical packages.

Goa, however, remains an all-time favourite destination within India because of heavy discounts available in hotels and air-fare and Europe and Nepal are the preferred choices of those planning a long summer break.

The vacation time is on as most of the city schools have either already closed or are going to be closed for the summer break by this week. Rajiv, one of the tours and travel operators informed that many bookings had been finalised much in advance by city residents. He said since heavy discounts were being offered on Goa and Nepal packages, people preferred these destinations. He said a package to Nepal for three nights and four days, including breakfast and a meal, cost around Rs 40,000 per family (a family of four). The stay was in a five star hotel.

“Nepal always attracts visitors, who want to try their luck in casinos. You purchase coupons for just Rs 500 and you will be served whatever you want (except hard drinks) throughout the day. Like this, one can save money on meals. Otherwise there is hardly much sightseeing in the country”, said Varinder, a local industrialist who is a frequent visitor to Nepal.

Goa has been a favourite with city residents this time mainly because discounts being offered by hotels are up to 50 per cent. Though Goa promises no respite from blistering summer sun, still these prudent travellers feel that one could always enjoy beaches during evenings this time of the year.

Rupjit Saggar of Saggarsons Tours and Travels said the la'creme of the city had booked for Europe packages. The reason for this being the lucrative packages offered by different airlines. He said these tours cost Rs 1 lakh plus per family.

"Otherwise, Ludhianvis have no dearth of money but when packages are customer friendly, everyone wants to grab the opportunity. We have heavy bookings till the first week of July. Those eager to get respite from scorching heat prefer to go to places like Kasauli, Chail, Nainital and Manali”, said Saggar.

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