L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Lambardar on land grabbing spree
Revenue department in dark
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 17
A poor Dalit family of Togarh village, near Mattewal, is moving from pillar to post to stake a claim on a piece of agricultural land (5 kanal and 6 marlas) that they claim was originally allotted to them but changed many owners in the revenue records allegedly at the behest of a lambardar.

The claims of the family pointed toward a scandal in the Revenue Department as the land was originally in the name of Surat Singh till 1987 but later they did not know, how it was transferred to the Drainage Department. Then it was transferred in the name of Lakha Singh, a brother of lambardar, and finally Jeet Singh in 1997.

Buta Singh, son of Surat Singh, claimed that the land was allotted to a village Dalit and his father bought the piece from him way back in 1960s and he remained a tiller-cum-owner of the land till 1987. Suddenly, Jeet Singh’s family, whose father was also a lambardar, raised an objection stating that the land could not be transferred by the original allottee as it was sanctioned under a Dalit welfare scheme. After the objections, it was transferred in the name of the Drainage Department in 1987-88.

The family accepted the verdict of the Revenue Department at that time. But suddenly Surat Singh came across the jamabandi after 10 years and was shocked to find that the land was shown to be tilled by Lakha Singh.

‘‘Then I found out that the lambardar was eyeing that land and he wanted it in his brother’s name.And it was shown to be belonging to the Drainage Department also. Now, we are fighting but nobody is listening, ’’ said Buta Singh.

He added that they were shocked that the lambardar misused his authority to possess that land. ‘‘We are now left to knock at various platforms. We do not care if the land is not to be given to us. But then it should be in the possession of the Drainage Department. Why a man is allowed to misuse his authority?’’ asked Buta Singh.

Not only Buta Singh’s family but Chinta Singh’s family is also fighting a similar battle, who had been tilling a piece of land, which was also transferred in the name of Ajmer Singh, another brother of lambardar. ‘‘Over the years, the lambardar transferred different pieces of land in his brothers’ names. They are out to befool the people as well as the Revenue Department. Is anybody listening?’’ he asked angrily. 

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Reminder of 1857 War of Independence
Daresi Ground turns 150
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 17
The historic Daresi ground in the old city turned 150 years old this week. A reminder of the city's participation in the 1857 revolt and the subsequent punishment by the British, the ground awaits official recognition as a place of historic significance.

Even as the nation celebrates this year as the 150th year of the First War of Independence amidst heated debate on the contribution of Punjab, Daresi Ground, which owed its origin to the revolt, stands a mute witness to the changes around it ever since it came into being.

A number of historical writers and the Ludhiana Gazeteer agreed that the revolt in Ludhiana took place on June 8 and 9, 1857. It was for these two days only that the residents here did not have any ruler for them. By June 10, British troops had reinforced and turned the tables on the local rulers.

As an immediate security measure around the Lodhi fort, where British troops were based and had converted it into a garrison, nearly 300 houses were razed within a week of the revolt. The British feared revolutionaries could be hiding in the houses or may attack their garrison at an opportune time. Dr R.Vatsayan, who researches on historical aspects of the city, states that the word “Daresi” means levelling a ground. After the houses were razed, Britsh troops could see far-off places. Later, with the passage of time, houses came up on the razed ground. But a large ground was retained for the drills of the forces and for functions.

The ground was used immensely by freedom fighters later for organising rallies. Even after Independence, rallies, political and other functions of the government, including those of Prime Minister were held here.

Eminent writers like Kaye and Malleson, Aziz-u-Rehman, V.D.Savarkar, besides reports of the then Ludhiana deputy commissioner G.H.M. Ricketts, Punjab Government Records and the Ludhiana Gazetteer give details of the mood of the people and conditions prevailing in 1857. It said a fierce encounter followed between the mutineers entering the city from Jalandhar and the British. In spite of being in small numbers, the rebels outwitted the British in all departments and killed many.

“Then, the mutinous regiments, no longer obstructed or opposed, swept on to Ludhiana on June 9, 1857”, records the Ludhiana Gazetteer. On their entrance into the city, the native soldiers, formerly fighting for the British, joined them. Soon local citizens, Kashmiris , Gujjars, Syuds, Mohammadens and Kabulis, joined the revolt. Several British officers and their families were killed. The mutineers were in total control of the district.

The excitement and celebrations, however, could last for 48 hours only. In their haste to leave Jalandhar, the mutineers had taken more blank cartridges with them instead of the balled cartridges. Whatever fit ammunition they had was soon used and thus in the absence of proper planning, the mutineers were rendered helpless to save themselves.

According to the book, “History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58”, written by Kaye and Malleson, the strategic mistakes of the mutineers of facing shortage of ammunition and then proceeding to Delhi, instead of trying to regroup and re-equip, brought their downfall. He said from the British point of view the damage suffered was small in comparison to the possible danger they had escaped.

The success of the mutineers here could well have changed the course of the revolt. The book says that the loss of this important city lying on the strategic high road from Punjab to Delhi would indeed have been a heavy blow. It says that the success of the mutineers could have ruined the British hopes of recapturing Delhi.

V.D.Savarkar argues that had the mutineers managed to hold the Ludhiana fort, it would have been a great strategic and moral advantage. “The fort was the key to Punjab and Ludhiana and had already been established as centre of revolution in North India. “

He adds that the order issued from the revolutionary headquarters in the Red Fort at Delhi to Maulana Shah Abdul Qadir to reach along with the troops to Delhi immediately also was a strategic mistake.

The British forces that had begun collecting fast cashed on these mistakes and plundered the city and killed anyone raising banner against it.

“It was now necessary to make a severe example of all who had aided and abetted the mutinoius sipahis,” states historian Malleson. The city was fined Rs 55, 295. The idea to levy fine was of the DC Ricketts. It quieted not only Ludhiana but also the six market towns of the district. Compensation was given to British soldiers.

The British even razed to the ground all native houses within 300 yards of the Lodhi Fort in order to ensure safety of the fort in future. The Daresi ground, meaning a plain land, still exists there, reminiscent of the clearing of the area.

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Poor civic amenities bane of town
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 17
Notwithstanding regular official and personal visits of senior SAD leaders and administrative officers, officials of the local civic body office have shown no concern about cleanliness at venues of specified functions.

Jatinder Bhola, president, municipal council, alleged that the condition of the roads had deteriorated, as the authorities had failed to stop owners of private plots to raise the level of ground near their boundary walls above the level of the metalled roads.

Recently, a number of senior administrative officers and political leaders, including two MPs, had to wade through muddy roads. What to talk of making special arrangements, the officials failed to remove stagnant water from the vicinity of the entrance of Mohinder Nagar, where Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa was scheduled to unveil the foundation stone for the colony being constructed in memory of the founder of the town.

Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and Jagdish Singh Garcha, a former minister, who visited the town, could not locate the civic body authorities so that they could get the grievances of the public redressed.

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Competition leads to lowest liquor prices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 17
Owing to the competition between two leading liquor contractor groups, one led by Mann Singh Garcha and another by Ponty Chadha, the liquor prices have touched an all-time low in Ludhiana. Liquor is currently selling at the minimum retail price fixed by the government.Interestingly, while for all other commodities the MRP means maximum retail price, for liquor it means the opposite, the minimum retail price, below which nobody can sell it.

Since there is a fierce competition between the rival groups, the contractors do not mind selling the liquor at low prices even if it means suffering huge losses. Usually, the liquor contractors pool together for pricing and arrive at an agreement to ensure that liquor is not sold below a particular price. However, due to strong rivalry between the Garcha and Chadha groups, no compromise could be reached and the contractors are selling the liquor at the minimum retail price only.

According to Raju Sharma, a leading liquor contractor, this has been the worst time for the liquor trade. While on the one hand they have to keep the prices under control, on the other hand they have been made to pay an average cess of about Rs 10 per litre.A Rs 6 per litre cess had been imposed by the government while formulating the policy. Later, it imposed an additional cess of Rs 3 per litre for the subsidised 'atta-daal' scheme.

The Chadha group, which owns most of the 183 liquor vends in Ludhiana city, had initiated the process to enhance the prices of liquor. This would have benefited everybody with maximum profits going to the Chadha group only. However, the Garcha group resisted any attempt to enhance the prices as it has limited number of vends in the city. Although the group is itself suffering the losses, but these are substantially low as compared to those suffered by the Chadha group, which owns about 125 vends against about less than 20 owned by the Garcha group.

In order to ensure price stability, the liquor contractors usually reach a compromise. However, this time, the Garchas have ensured that no such compromise is reached with the obvious reason that it is their rivals who will suffer huge losses.

One important factor that has come to the Garchas’ advantage is that anybody can open a vend anywhere in the city.

The licences are not issued against specific places. The Garchas’ may not have a large number of vends to operate, but these are sufficient enough to give tough competition to the rivals.

Liquor is selling at relatively lesser rates as compared to the last year. For example, a one litre Royal Challenge bottle is selling between Rs 290 to Rs 300 against Rs 350 it was selling last year. Same is the case with all other brands.This year, the government had slashed the number of vends from 233 to 183. For 11 months, each vend is supposed to pay a duty of about Rs 78 lakh irrespective of the quantity of liquor it sells during this time. 

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Ludhiana Calling

BIS Chahal, former media adviser to ex-Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, seems to remain as high profile out of power as he used to be when in power, although for different reasons. For one week, he dominated the news headlines. And as long as he remained in the custody of the police, everybody in the hierarchy was not comfortable. While he was himself keen on getting rid of the police remand, the police was more than keen to see him off to the central jail in view of judicial remand for obvious reasons. And in central jail, the inmates were reported to be too keen and curious to see Chahal with them.

Unkept promises

Mohan Dhai Cancer Hospital in Ludhiana was set up with a lot of promises that it would provide specialised care to the unfortunate people suffering from the deadly disease. However, over a period of time the hospital has seen a progressive decline in services. The equipment there is said to be obsolete. Even the hospital has not managed to attract or retain the best talent. Surprisingly, the hospital has the powerful name 'Oswal' attached to it. But regetfully it has not lived up to that expectations. Oswals might be creating business empires and huge wealth in the industry, but they seem to have forgotten a noble mission that the cancer hospital aimed at. Only if they could spare a thought and a few bucks for this noble mission.

Welcome rain

After days of scorching heat, the recent showers were welcomed by the residents as the mercury dropped by at least 20 degrees celsius. Though the rain brought with it a plethora of problems that stare in the face of the civic and health administration, the positive side was that pressure on power and water eased considerably. (see pic)

Power situation

The power situation has been fairly good in the city at least till the time being. Though there has been a lot of load on the resources, there were very few unscheduled power cuts. Residents are keeping their fingers crossed and hope that the scenario remains the same throughout the paddy transplantation time.

Summer camps

The summer camps organised by private organisations, schools and clubs have always offered many activities for students these days. More than children, the summer camp culture has been encouraged by moms. The reason: "They learn a lot of activities during summer vacations. But I send my naughty son to attend these classes so that I can spend some time peacefully at home," said 
a mom.

Tailpiece

Two residents heard discussing during a party in the city. “If Pratibha Patil is elected the next President, will she be addressed as Rashtrapati?”

Sentinel

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Freedom fighter cremated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 17
Rich tributes were paid to freedom fighter Niranjan Singh Brahampur who died here yesterday.

The body of the deceased was cremated with state honours today.

Recalling his contribution, various personalities, including Dr Indu, ADC, Sangrur, and Jaspal Singh Jassie, SDM of Malerkotla, said he had dedicated his life to the cause of the nation,the downtrodden and members of the weaker sections.

"Even after being confined to bed due to amputation, he continued serving people by acting as a bridge between them and the administration, "added Dr Indu.

Though a large number of officials and leaders came to pay tributes, officials of the local civic body were conspicuous by their absence. Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, Jagwant Singh Jaggie, vice-president,Manjit Singh, executive magistrate, Maghar Singh, SHO, Sadar, and Sukhdev Singh,SHO, City, placed wreaths on the body. 

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Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 17
The martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev was commemorated at Guru Gobind Singh Public School with devotion yesterday. The shabads were recited on the occasion. The students of the school told the congregation about the importance of Guru’s martyrdom in changing the course of the Sikhs and its culmination to Khalsa.

Chairman of the school, Avtar Singh also sent his blessings to the students on the occasion.

Vocational course

Dayalbagh Educational Institute is running one-year vocational course for car mechanics at three places: Ludhiana, Melathiruvenkatanatha-Puram (TN) and Timarni (MP), under distance education programme.

These programmes are targeted at remote areas of the country with a view to provide vocational training course with certification in vocations that can provide them immediate employment, said Gurcharan Singh, incharge of the centre, today.

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Punjabi Welfare Sabha seeks land for bhavan
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 17
Members of the Punjabi Welfare Sabha recommitted themselves to the cause of Punjabis and announced its agenda for the year at a press conference here yesterday.

President S.K. Nayar and secretary-general Ravinder Rawal said the sabha would approach Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and ask him for a piece of land for a Punjabi bhavan.

“Though the land was promised to us many years back, it did not materialise because the Congress was out of power. Now, we have started afresh and have met Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan.

He has assured us that the matter would be pursued. At our level, we are seeking an appointment with the CM and hopefully we will also be allotted land on the lines of allotments made to other communities,” Nayar said.

Stating that Punjabis formed nearly 70 per cent of the population, Rawal said the sabha had redefined its objectives and would work towards encouraging members of the community to come forward and help those in need.

“We plan to organise scholarships to encourage meritorious students, work on tackling the menace of drug abuse and create awareness about the evils of dowry,” Nayar said.

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15 trucks with ration flagged off
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 17
Raj Kumar Sharma, president of the Har Har Mahadev Sewa Dal, Budhladha, flagged off 15 trucks carrying ration for langar to be organised at Bal Tal, a pilgrimage spot in Jammu and 
Kashmir.

Volunteers of the local unit of the Bhartiya Maha Dal and the Shri Ram Mandir Committee were acting under the supervision of Bimal Sharma, a social activist, who monitored the collection of foodgrains and other eatables from the town.

Tarsem Garg, chairman of the organisation, claimed that the association had been organising langar for pilgrims during the Amarnath Yatra for the past 11 years. “Besides arranging eatables, blankets and medicines, we have arranged equipments for providing oxygen to those pilgrims who feel breathlessness at high attitude,” informed Garg, adding that warm water would also be supplied during morning hours. 

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Art of Living workshop for children
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 17
About 400 students in the age group 14-l8 and 150 students in the age group eight-l3 participated in the 'Yes!' workshop, conducted by the Art of Living Foundation here.

The foundation claimed that most of the children reported change in their viewpoint towards life and stated that this six-day workshop had increased their level of concentration, confidence, tolerance, clarity, and reduced violent tendencies in them.

They also said that the workshop also helped them to de-stress, and life had become a celebration for them.

Many students witnessed Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing technique.

Sumit Mahajan, a faculty member of the foundation, said that the root cause of all problems among youth is the increased level of stress and lack of knowledge of handling their negative emotions.

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NCC training camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Artistes perform at the concluding function of the camp in Ahmedgarh on Saturday.
Artistes perform at the concluding function of the camp in Ahmedgarh on Saturday.

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 17
The combined annual NCC training camp under the aegis of senior officials of the 19 Punjab Battalion, Ludhiana, concluded at Anand Isher Senior Secondary School here yesterday.

The cadets presented a cultural programme.The concluding session was presided over by Balwant Singh, managing director, Pioneer Group of Educational Institutes, and Jajitnder Bhola, president, Municipal Council, was the chief guest.

Outstanding cadets in various categories were felicitated at the function. A preliminary list of short-listed cadets for participation in the Republic Day parade next year was also prepared before the conclusion of the camp.

In his presidential address, Balwant Singh called upon the cadets to utilise knowledge acquired during the camp for the welfare of the society.He pointed out that the NCC had been contributing a significant share in the Indian forces. "And we must remember that economy of a nation depended upon the strength of forces guarding our borders," he said.

In his camp report, Col S.S. Saini, Group Commandant, claimed that more than 530 uniformed paramilitary boys and girls from 51 schools and colleges from Ludhiana, Moga, Ferozepore, Fatehgarh Sahib, Samrala, Abohar, Fazilka, Malerkotla and Sangrur gave excellent performance in various fields.

Besides routine activities, the cadets were given an opportunity to learn the use of weapons, including machine gun, self-loading rifles and Sten gun.

Experts on various subjects enlightened cadets about AIDS, environmental pollution, leprosy, vector- borne diseases and moral values.

Col S K Vermi, Col Avtar Singh , Capt Ravinder Singh, Dr Gurjit Singh and Kartar Singh, principal, spoke on the occasion.

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Tips for safe driving

The most basic factor contributing towards good and safe driving, as with most things in life, is attitude. Attitude consists of:

  • Being sensitive to the needs of other road users. Be positive and treat others, be they pedestrians, cyclists or other drivers, as you would wish to be treated.
  • Ensuring at all times that you are maintaining the correct separation from other vehicles and not following too closely. Close driving can feel threatening to the driver in front.
  • Understanding that everybody else may not have as clear an idea of priority of vehicles on the road as yourself. So be aware that all rules on priority won’t always be followed by other road users. Be calm and tolerant when other drivers break rules.

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