L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Gastroenteritis strikes; two dead
Health officials blame it on contaminated water
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 8
Several localities with a predominant migrant population are once again under the attack of gastroenteritis. About two dozen persons have complained of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Mayor visits Sherpur

Mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura and commissioner, Vikas Pratap, visited the Sherpur area to take stock of the situation

During the past 24 hours, a girl Renu and a middle-aged woman, Vrinda Devi, have reportedly died due to severe dehydration.

Several cases of gastroenteritis were reported last evening from Street No. 1 in Sherpur Kalan and those afflicted with diarrhoea and vomiting were admitted to private clinics and nursing homes in the area.

Some patients with mild diarrhoea were reported today from Kirpal Nagar where water from choked sewers was flowing in Street Nos 1 and 4.

Health officials, however, contested the reports of the outbreak of gastroenteritis, claiming that insanitary conditions prevailing in these areas and suspected mixing of sewage and drinking water had led to some persons developing the symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Civil surgeon S.P. Sharma said medical teams and supporting staff had been sent to the affected areas. The patients were being given treatment and people were being educated about preventive measures. The department, he said, had asked the civic authorities to check the sewer and drinking water lines in these colonies.

The district epidemiologist, Dr Sanjeev Hans, said a medical camp was organised at Sherpur Kalan and two patients with diarrhoea were referred to the civil hospital for further investigation and treatment.

A medical camp was also held at Kirpal Nagar gurdwara where some patients were examined and put under treatment.

According to Hans, a patient suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting was admitted to hospital and three others were being treated in private nursing homes. However, unofficial reports put the number of hospitalised persons at around 20.

The field staff of the health department had covered 2,000 houses in a door-to-door survey in the affected colony and held group meetings, besides distributing ORS packets and chlorine tablets.



There’s pea in your pista “burfi”
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The city is the industrial and financial capital of Punjab and is usually known for duplicate goods. And halwais seem to be the latest in the race.

It is learnt that some halwais have started using green peas in place of pistachio for sweets, particularly “burfi” and “pinni”. The reasons are obvious.

Pistachio sells for about Rs 350 or more a kg while peas are available for about Rs 50 a kg and even less if bought in bulk. With the festival season round the corner, there is already a huge demand for sweets and the halwais have started using this novel method to make profits.

While no leading halwai was prepared to admit it, some small-time sweet makers said it was a harmless practice. They claimed that using peas instead of pista did not make much difference.

“A small piece of pista is placed on the sweets and nobody can make out the exact taste,” a sweet seller said on condition of anonymity.

The only consolation is that peas are not harmful to health.

He claimed that big halwais, whose turnover ran into crores, particularly during the festival season like Diwali, also indulged in this practice.

The manager of a leading halwai shop while refuting such reports said, “How much pistachio do you think is used...even by big halwais, not more than 100 kg. Do you think that for people having a turnover worth crores, it would be advisable?”

If small sweet sellers are to be believed, such claims have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

During the festival season, such practices are not uncommon, particularly when the orders are too huge. Some halwais send sweets to far-off places and some get orders from the defence forces.

It becomes difficult for the authorities to monitor the manufacture of sweets. 



Mind Your Pocket
Cosying up for theft
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
If a young well-dressed girl “cozies” up to you in a jampacked auto-rickshaw or brushes against you at the slightest jolt, then beware! For she may be a member of a gang of girls from Madhya Pradesh who are on a stealing spree, depriving auto-rickshaw passengers of their valuables, in the city.

Dozens of city residents, including women, have lodged complaints in various police stations across the city about the manner in which they have been robbed of their valuables by the sleight of hand of these girls.

The police learned about the presence of the gang after the Kotwali police arrested one of its members, Namita, in August.

She belonged to Rajgarh district of MP and was caught red-handed while removing a purse of a woman who was riding along with her in an auto-rickshaw.

She gave the details of the gang to the police, which gave the police leads into a flurry of strikes in auto-rickshaws.

Police sources said the number of incidents could be much higher than what the records suggested as very few victims actually complained to the police.

The sources said besides Namita, three other girls were caught on same charges in different parts of the city.

However, there has been no respite in the crime, as complaints continue to pour in.

“The girls don’t mind huddling close to men, who too lower the guard against the possibility of a theft. They realise that their watch, mobile phone or wallet is missing only after they have left the vehicle.”

The police official said in case of women, girls keep falling in the lap of the victims or a group engages the victim in an animated discussion, while one of them deftly removes valuables.

The police has asked commuters to be more alert to check the activity of the gang.

It has advised them to take precaution and report the matter to the police about suspicious persons.

The gang is the latest headache for the police. Gangs of teenagers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who have come in batches of 40 each, have been troubling it for some time.

Of these, the Mordabadi gang is the worst. It specialises in theft in public transport vehicles and crowded places, and snatching.



Six shops burgled at one go
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Burglars struck in the Jaitwani market, near Cheema chowk, at midnight and broke into six shops selling machine spare parts and dyeing chemicals and decamped with cash and valuables worth lakhs.

All shops were located on the first floor of the market. The incident came to light in the wee hours of today when some residents found that the shutters of the shops were open.

Shopkeepers have lodged a complaint with the police. They have questioned the police claims of efficient night patrolling. Night guards employed by the market management were also missing.

The shops that were burgled include Bombay Trading Company, Abhey Trading Company, Fusion Trading Company, SG Textiles, and MC Gill Telecom and CCTVs.

Fusion Trading Company reportedly suffered the maximum loss of over Rs 1 lakh. The shopowner had kept the cash in the shop. The owner, Amarjit Singh, said he lived in Jalandhar and commuted daily. He usually kept the cash in the shop and some insider must have leaked the information to the burglars.

The police has shortlisted some suspects. No one has, however, been detained yet.



Body found on rail track
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
A middle-aged woman was stoned to death near Railway Engine shed, Jagraon bridge this morning.

The woman, identified as Tara Bai on the basis of the name tattoed on one of her arms, could have been murdered elsewhere and the body dumped here. The police was suspecting some illicit relationship behind the murder.

There were no other wounds on the body other than the injuries on the head. The body was spotted in the morning but the cops kept it at the crime site asking residents from nearby areas to see it and provide some clue.

SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh said the name on the arm is so far the identity of the deceased but it could be misleading also. No area resident recognized the woman.

The clothes worn by the woman did not suggest rape. The woman seems to be of Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.



Residents protest against MC’s tow away drive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The tow away drive of the MC in Feroze Gandhi Market today evoked protests from shopkeepers and residents who claimed that they had no parking space left in the market and the civic body was harassing them.

The traders and property owners association alleged that the MC vans were towing away two wheelers parked on the roadsides even though the car bazaar dealers continued to park their cars in the parking lots.

K.S. Monga, an office bearer of association, said the market was the financial hub of the city and hundreds of people were bound to visit the area everyday. There were parking lots which were being used by the car dealers to display their second hand cars.

“The car dealers are misusing the parking lots and the common man was suffering. So many two wheelers were confiscated today for wrong parking,” said Monga.

He added that the parking lots were being managed by MC now as the earlier contract was cancelled due to non payment of instalment by the contractor. The MC had advertised about the re-auction of lots today. 



Suwidha centre at mini secretariat defies its purpose
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
The suwidha centre set up by the government at the mini secretariat here hardly seems to serve any purpose. Rather, it leads to harassment and delay in getting the routine works done. To top it all, the people pay for it.

The suvidha centres were set up to provide single window service to the people coming to the secretariat for various works like issue of passport, arms licences, revenue records or preparation of the affidavits. In order to make the scheme sustain itself, the government had prescribed different fees for different works.

For a while the scheme seemed to work well. But with due course of time, the euphoria fizzled out and the suvidha centre turned out to be another government department with officials either inaccessible or with the same laid back attitude.

On an average all the work was to be completed between one to two weeks. But people, like Jassa Singh, who had applied for the renewal of his licence have been making rounds for more than two months. There are others who even after depositing the requisite fee do not get the service.

There are seven computers at the centre for issuing of the affidavits with pictures. But hardly three or four computers are in order.

Moreover, the fees charged for the photographs is also too exorbitant. While the face value of the stamp paper on which affidavit is filed is Rs 15, Rs 5 are charged extra. Besides, Rs 20 are charged for the computerised photograph, which is too unjustified.



Shahi Imam crowns Sukhbir as ‘heir’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
It may take some more time for Sukhbir Badal, the acting president of Shiormani Akali Dal, to ascend the throne, but the Muslims of Punjab have already “crowned” him as the heir apparent to his father and the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a grand function, Iftar Party, here yesterday. The Iftar (when Muslims break their day long fast) was hosted by Sukhbir Badal himself.

Leading a gathering of thousands of Muslims who had come to join the Iftar party, the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Sani Ludhianvi said, “Sukhbir was the natural ‘wali ahad’ (the heir apparent) to Badal and there was nothing wrong in it”. He declared him as the heir apparent while thousands of Muslims shouted, not Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal, but Allah-hu-Akbar.

The Shahi Imam thanked Badal for this grand gesture, which he said had been held for the first time in the history of the country that common people had been invited to the Iftar party.

Acknowledging his gesture, Shahi Imam assured Badal that each and every Muslim in the state will support the Shiromani Akali Dal for all the times to come.

Addressing the function, Badal said, it was his heartfelt desire to be among the common people. He said, he would be holding similar functions during the Christmas celebrations.

As the Iftar was announced, Badal offered a date to the Shahi Imam for breaking his fast. Badal was also presented a green colour Islamic rumal (scarf) as a mark of respect.

Prominent among those present included Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Hira Singh Gabria and Harish Rai Dhanda.



Bring down all posters in city: Mayor
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Posters, bills, placards, banners, bunting and streamers splashed all along the roads, streets, thoroughfares and roundabout continue to be a harsh reality in the Manchester of India.

A number of walls can be seen painted almost black. Posters of movies, particularly Bhojpuri, continue to stare at commuters at various places.

The city authorities accept the problem but are “helpless” in the face of politicians and certain organisations of the city who have been violating advertisement display norms.

A senior official of the MC said the situation was a tightrope walk and could not be “achieved without the involvement of councillors and residents”. In the past, an organisation had raised objections to the way its posters were placed in the godown of the MC after they had been removed.

Allegations of communal disparity were made following which the MC authorities have been very careful.

It has been pointed out that the matter will be placed in the forthcoming house meeting of the MC and efforts will be made to get an opinion from political, business, social and religious organisations to implement a uniform policy.

Hakam Singh Giaspuri, mayor, said: “I have asked the authorities to remove all the posters, including those of my party, which were splashed all over the city recently. The matter needs a detailed discussion before any final decision. The issue will be brought before the house very soon.”



City haven for high class gamblers
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Though the festival of lights is a month away, yet for people trying their luck in gambling, it’s Diwali everyday. Be it prestigious clubs, hotels, private parties or family get togethers, gambling has already gripped Ludhianvis. Gambling lovers, like Mumbai and Delhi culture, take pride in transacting lakhs of rupees in one sitting over their favourite game rummy.

While on average, up to Rs 10 lakh may be changing hands every night these days, the stakes are multiplied several times (up to 50-60 lakh) during Diwali days. It is not just the men, who put their stakes but the women as well. There are fixed tables for fixed people for the rummy in each club.

The cards are played in groups in elite clubs, including Sutlej Club, Lodhi Club, Ludhiana Club and Lakshmi Ladies Club where hundreds of people try their luck to get "Goddess of wealth".

In ladies club, the game is limited up to Rs 3,000 but in family clubs, it goes high up to lakhs. The men, women have found interest in gambling. Since gambling in Diwali days is accepted as a routine affair, even the administration appears to be taking a lenient view.

One of the top officials disclosed that they knew about these high stakes but could not do much to put an end to it. "They are not ordinary people but big shots, who are well connected. Secondly, the transaction of money is not done publicly", he added.

A leading industrialist of the city for whom these are the real "business" days, said he did not mind exchanging lakhs of rupees during the Diwali season. "I am playing cards for the past 10 years and it is my favourite pastime. Last year, I won about Rs 30 lakh, no other business can provide you huge gains in such a limited time", he said.

It is learnt that people make groups with 5-6 members and take "kitties". Starting from a few thousands, several lakhs of rupees are pooled in each kitty, depending on the status of the player.

Although gambling is a criminal offense, the police also is believed to go soft during the festival days.

This is not necessarily due to any connivance but an understanding that the gambling during the festival days has become a part of the celebrations. However, the public gambling is not allowed at any cost anywhere in the city.



ATM machines churn soiled notes, banks unmoved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Increasing incidences of ATM machines churning out soiled currency notes is causing undue harassment to city residents. The problem is more frequent in case of private sector banks, most of whom are outsourcing the work of putting notes in the machine to private parties.

For bank customers, a soiled note from an ATM machine is useless and in case where the amount is withdrawn from an offsite machine, the difficulty is much more as chances of getting the note replaced are minimised.

Suggestion books kept by several banks inside the ATM premises are a telltale of the problem to which banks are not paying much attention.

As most banks these days discourage customers from visiting the branch for their routine transactions, usage of ATMs is constantly rising.

While in case of public sector banks the responsibility of checking the notes before they go into the ATM machines lies with the staff itself, in case of most private banks this work is outsourced.

“The work to check the currency notes and put them in the ATM machine involves high degree of responsibility and no bank, private or public sector should get it outsources,” said Naresh Gaur of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation.



Raikot resident wins Rs 2 lakh prize
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Sunderlal Madaan of Raikot, Ludhiana, has won Rs 2 lakh in the Airtel bumper contest. A cheque for the prize money was presented to him by Rohit Tandon, general manager (marketing), Airtel Punjab circle yesterday.

The contest was held for all postpaid and prepaid customers of Punjab circle.

A retired employee of the Punjab government, Madaan said he would use the prize money to buy a car.



Woman sets husband afire
Tribune News Service

Khanna, October 8
A woman in her mid-30 set her husband on fire after pouring kerosene on him at Iklaha village, here late last night.

According to police sources, Karamjit Kaur has been booked under various Sections for setting her husband, Nirmal Singh, ablaze.

It was alleged that Karamjit Kaur had had illicit relations with Kuku, son of Shamsher Singh of the same village, for some time.

As his husband learned about this, he confronted Karamjit last night, following which the two had a heated argument.

Karamjit decanted kerosene on him as he slept and set him on fire.

In an attempt to save himself, Nirmal raised the alarm and ran towards the village canal before jumping into it.

He, however, sustained serve burns. Villagers came to his rescue and took him to the local Civil Hospital. He was later referred to the Rajindra Hospital in Patiala.

Karamjit and Nirmal had been married for 14 years and had four children.



Migrant labourer held for drug peddling
Tribune Reporters

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 8
The Dehlon police has booked a migrant labourer under sections 20,61 and 85 of the NDPS Act for allegedly carrying and supplying drugs and narcotics. Caras, weighing 290 grams, was seized from his possession.

Jagjiwan, son of Chotte Lal of Pachrana village in Chandoli district (U.P), was nabbed from Kalahar village near here by a police party led by Prem Singh and Swaran Singh yesterday.

According to Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Ludhiana (rural), the accused was apprehended during a routine patrolling. The contraband was wrapped in a plastic bag and the accused had tried to hide him in a paddy field on seeing the police party. However he was apprehended after a brief chase.


The Model Town police has booked a punjabi singer, her husband and a local doctor on the charge of duping a youth from Barnala of Rs 1.48 lakhs on the pretext of sending him abroad.

The accused Balwinder Kaur Bawa and Jasvir Singh both residents Mata Nagar and Dr.Ravi Kumar resident of Kailash Cinema Chowk have been booked on the complaint of Naibhai Singh, a resident of village Lohar Garh of District Barnala abroad.

The accused have been booked under section 406, 420 and 120B of the IPC for committing fraud and Criminal breach of trust. Inspector Jaswinder Singh was investigating the case. No arrest has been made so far.

Attacked:The Division No. 5 has today booked Satwinder Singh, a resident of Chowni Mohalla, and three unknown persons for allegedly attacking and grievously injuring Amarjit Singh in his house in Model Gram on October 6 midnight.

The accused barged into the house, beat up and stab the victim besides snatching his gold chain. The accused have been booked under sections 382, 324, and 452 of the IPC for causing grievous injuries, stabbing and house- trespassing. ASI Swarn Singh is investigating the case. No arrest has been made so far.

Opium seized The Division No.5 police has booked Roop lal, a migrant labourer from Rajasthan on the charges of drug smuggling. The police has claimed to recover 500 gm opium from him.

According to Sub- inspector Gurwinder Singh, in-charge Special Operation Group-II, the accused was caught from near Public Dharam kanda in Sham Nagar.

Stolen: The Division No.8 police has booked Parminder Singh, a resident of Chander Nagar for stealing a Bajaj Chetak Scooter No. PB-10 AJ 3342. The complainant Chander Parkesh, a resident of Kundan Puri alleged that the accused lifted his scooter on the evening of September 27 outside his house.


In two separate incidents Sidhwan Bet police has registered cases for committing theft. In the first, Rajan of Raipur (U.P) who was employed as servant by Pritam Singh of Barsal, allegedly decamped with cash Rs. 32,000, motorcycle No. PB-25C-6963 alongwith two cell phones. The loss is estimated worth Rs. 60,000. A case under Section 381 IPC has been registered. No arrest has been made so far. In the other incident, some unknown persons illegally trespassed into the house of Surjit Singh of Kot Maan and allegedly stolen SBBL gun No. 35357/71 alongwith 25 alive cartridges and gold ornaments weighing 30 gm. Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Section 457, 380 IPC at the instance of Surjit Singh. No arrest has been made.

BOOKED: Gurdail Singh of Shankar has been booked for cheating under section 420 IPC by the Dehlon police. According to information, Gurdail Singh agreed to sell his land to Chamkaur Singh of Dadd on January 27 last year. But later sold the same to some other person and did not retune the amount.

ASSAULT: Mohan Singh, Hakam Singh, Surjit Singh, Nila Singh, Satnam Singh and Kuldip Singh of Litter allegedly assaulted Kuldip Singh of their village with gandasi and sticks. Raikot police has registered a case under section 324, 148, 149 IPC. The injured has been admitted in the civil hospital Ludhiana. Some dispute over water is said to be the cause. No arrest has been made so far.

ARRESTED: Kamaljit Singh and Jogga Singh of Raikot were apprehended by the Sudhar police from village Halwara and recovered 500 gm of opium from their possession. Case under section NDPS Act has been registered.

HELD: Bhurpoor Singh of Patiala was arrested by the local police from village Lakha and recovered .12 bore pistol alongwith 2 alive cartridges from his possession. Case under Section 25,54, 59 of Arms Act has been registered.

CHARAS: Jagjiwan of Pachrawa (U.P) was arrested by the Dehlon police from village Shankar and recovered 290 gm of charas from his possession. Case under NDPS Act has been registered.

HELD FOR THEFT: Jagsir Singh alias Jagga of Bhaini Arayian was arrested by the Sidhwan Bet police from his village and the police recovered stolen iron girder from his possession. Case under section 379, 411 IPC has been registered.

LIQUOR SEIZED: Sandip Singh alias Kala of Kothe Rahlan was arrested by the local police from village Kothe Athwale and recovered 9375 ml of illicit liquor from his possession. Case under Excise Act has been registered.



Man held with 70 kg poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 8
The Payal police yesterday arrested a drug peddler from the GT road area and seized 70 kg poppy husk from his truck.

Iqbal Singh of Saifabad village was arrested by a police team led by the Payal SHO. Two bags of poppy husk were seized from the truck (WB 33 8885).

According to the Payal DSP, the accused was arrested during a routine checking. The accused had camouflaged two bags of the contraband in other goods.

Iqbal had brought the contraband from Rajasthan and was going to supply it Phillaur town.



Furnace business no more lucrative
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 8
Steep decline in margins and a bleak future has forced those in the induction furnace industry to look for other business avenues. Information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that owners of these industrial units were opting for textiles, garment manufacturing and engineering. A few of them are even shifting their base to states like Gujarat and Orissa.

Production in the induction furnace industry, that has over 150 units in the state, including 50 in Ludhiana and 80 units in Mandi Gobindgarh, has recorded almost one-third reduction during 2006. As problems related to taxation and poor power supply remain unresolved, industrialists are left with no alternative other than looking for other business avenues.

“I have opened a garment showroom and many others in our industry too are working towards creating other business avenues due to the bleak future of the furnace industry. It is unlikely that this industry would continue to survive. I am unable to get a regular income from my furnace unit I have to work to get my bread and butter from some other source. Besides, no concrete steps are being taken by the government to save this segment,” said K.K. Garg of Sharoo Steels.

For manufacturers, decades of their efforts in running their units are yielding results no more. Heavy taxes and insufficient power and raw material, have rendered units uncompetitive in comparison to other states. Besides, generation of scrap from engineering, cycle and cycle parts manufacturing units is also declining due to reduced production and raw material costs have increased manifold.

The state being located quite far from other steel consuming places, locational disadvantage has been adding to the woes of this segment, which is catering to demand of entire local steel consuming industry. A few manufacturers have set up units in other states and are gradually shifting there. For those who do not want to shift their base to other states, it is a different industry that they are entering into.

“We have been running our induction furnace for over 30 years but it is no longer viable so I have set up a spinning unit. We are also entering into forging. We have to look for other options as the industry is performing very badly,” said Sanjeev Garg of Garg Furnace.

Industrialists warned that if production continued to decline and units started closing, the phenomenon would hit cycle manufacturers, cycle parts producers and engineering industry too badly.



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