L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Post-blast: Over 15 youths still missing
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Twenty hours after a bomb blast in Shingar cinema rocked the city, several youths are still missing although various hospitals have released lists of all injured and the dead have been sent to mortuary.

Friends of several youths have been running around here and there since last night claiming that many youths had left their homes, claiming that they were going to watch a Bhojpuri movie in the cinema.

A Surjapuri organisation, the Surjapuri Naujvan Committee has already taken up the matter with the SP (D) and submitted him a list of these youths who could not be found anywhere.

Activists of this organisation checked up with the list of injured in all hospitals but were disappointed as they could not locate anybody except one youth.

Organisation president Afroz Seth said 10 youths from Meharban village, who were working in Bhandari Hosiery, had gone to watch the movie but they did not come back. Their friends searched for them everywhere but they were nowhere.

The missing youths include Mushtaq (22), Rasheed (24), Mehroz (18), Feroze (24), Afzal(24), Ahmed (24), Nauroze (21) and Jaool (21), all from Meharban and Azam (24) from Ganesh Nagar and Basheer (31) from Basti Jodhewal.

Earlier, Seth had met a Tribune team outside the Civil Hospital mortuary and was looking for five other youths, including Alamgeer (17), Babar (18), Kallu (15), Aljar (15), Mithu (14), from Shivaji Nagar and Dhoka Colony. He stated that they had also left for watching a Bhojpuri movie but they were not sure whether they went to Shingar or not. But they did not return home.

Later in the evening, he said Alamgeer had called up and he was somewhere in Dhandari. Safdar Alam, a hosiery worker said that seven of his companions were missing since last night.

Mohammad Zamil-ul-Akhtar and Gulab-ud-din, two migrants said that they were also looking for their men -Ram Prakash, Rakesh, Kallu, Manzar who went to watch a Bhojpuri movie.

''We are still looking for them every where but could not find them any where as yet, "said Mohd. Zamil- ul- Akhtar.

While search is on for all these youths, police sources said they had detained 22 youths for questioning. 



Two victims fight for life
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 15
Two persons, of those injured in the bomb blast in Shingar Cinema here last night, were battling for life in a critical condition in the ICU and recovery ward, respectively, at Christian Medical College and Hospital.

Mohammed Imtiaz (25), a resident of Madhopuri, who have had his upper limbs amputated due to extensive injuries, was still under observation in the ICU where he was expected to remain for at least next 24 hours. Another victim Pawan Kumar (20), a resident of Dhokan Mohalla, though shifted to recovery ward after amputation of both legs, was yet to stabilise, the attending doctors said.

According to Dr Rajesh Paul, medical superintendent of CMCH, 24 victims of the bomb blast were under treatment in the hospital. Eleven of them had multiple fractures, including eight with lower limb fractures, one each with broken arms, rib fracture and frontal bone fracture.

Others had sustained multiple injuries with burns of varying degrees, vascular injuries, lacerations and soft tissue damage.

"Ten of those injured in the explosion are in high dependency ward, three are being treated under plastic surgery, one each under general surgery and neurosurgery and rest of them in the orthopedic department," Dr Paul informed.



Medical Care
VIPs come in the way
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
After spending a night in uncertainty following news of a bomb blast in Shingar cinema, relatives of victims had a harder day today in store as the visits of VIPs made them wait in hospital premises to see their loved ones.

Numerous such people, who found names of their relatives and friends on the list of injured at CMC in the morning, were pushed and asked to stay away as security staff of various leaders, who visited the hospital, remained busy in clearing way for the leaders to meet the injured.

VIP menace quite lived up to its notoriety as various leaders made rounds of hospitals and the concerned relatives kept waiting for hours.

After every few minutes, a VIP or another came calling sending the local police, hospital authorities and relatives of injured in a tizzy. On one hand, they were supposed to make the arrangements for the injured and their relatives, besides handling the rush of people identifying the bodies, and on the other, they had to make all arrangements for the visit of the VVIPs.

CMC saw the visit of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal where the hospital staff and the police authorities remained on their tenterhooks to provide him secure environment. Much to the nightmare of patients in ward number 4 where most of the injured were kept, a dog squad was pressed into service a few minutes prior to the CMs visit.

Relatives of the injured did not know why were they being pushed into corners and were seen asking the media why this treatment was being meted out to them.

Akhtar Alam, a resident of Ganesh Nagar, said his brother Mohammad Aseem had received injuries in the blast and was admitted to CMC. He said he searched for him last night but could not find him. He was told only this morning that he was there and now nobody was allowing him to meet the kin.

During the past few hours, the city saw the visit of various ministers, including local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla and many Congress leaders, who had come to meet the injured. Along with them, came a horde of supporters, who entered the wards giving the doctors a tough time. As if it was not enough, various local leaders also thronged the wards.

A senior doctor expressed displeasure at the visits of VIPs. He said he was shocked to see that numerous members of VIPs entourage entered the special wards, along with their leaders, to get their pictures clicked. 



Two girls walk from school to mortuary
Kanchan Vasdev

Ludhiana, October 15
Two minor girls sat outside the mortuary of the Civil Hospital.

They identified themselves as Jyoti and Shelly. The two kept sitting outside the mortuary, even as the visitors urged them to go home as it was not a place for children.

The elder one, Jyoti, said they were residents of Kashmir Nagar near the Shingar cinema and wanted to see the bodies of bomb blast victims. She said the city was taking about the bodies and they had walked down from school to visit the hospital.

Shelly was in school uniform. It seemed they had skipped school. Some elderly persons were seen asking them to leave, saying their tender minds would not be able to bear the sight of mutilated bodies.

The advice proved futile and the girls kept hanging around.



Several blastssince 1995
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, October 15
Although the Punjab police claims to have curbed militancy, sporadic incidents have continued since the assassination of Beant Singh on August 31,1995.

Several blasts have taken place from 2000 to 2005. In a blast in Punjab roadways bus near Dasuya nine persons were killed. Before that an explosion occurred in a bus at Pathankot. Similarly, blasts have been reported at Jalandhar bus stand in which four persons were killed.

In 2002, a blast took place in a train near Doraha in Ludhiana district in which a number of passengers were killed.

The police could not catch hold of the culprits. These blasts allegedly took place with the involvement of a militant outfit of Ranjit Singh, alias Neeta, of the Khalistan Zindaband force.The involvement of Kashmiri militants was also suspect. 



Thread Of Life
Embroidery work hit
Artisans among victims of blast
Mohit Khanna

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Manual embroidery work in the city has suffered with most of the dead and the victims in the blast yesterday being embroidery workers in different hosiery factories in the city. Their friends, relatives and workmates also did not report for work today. They were busy tending to the injured or searching for the missing persons.

Most of the victims are residents of Dharam Pura , Kashmir Nagar and Dhoka Mohalla, dominated largely by manual embroidery workers. Most of the workers associated with this trade are Muslims.

The blast had an immediate effect on the Manchester of India as the hosiery business suffered a jolt due to abandonment of work by the manual embroidery workers. Factory owners conceded the work was hit by more than 50 per cent.

The migrant labourers from Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh were busy looking for their relatives who went missing after the blast.

"How can we think of work as we are still looking for our relatives since last night . Some people have gone to see them in CMC, while others have gone looking for them in the local Civil Hospital. There are anxious relatives who keep on calling from home, so I have decided to not to report for work today. Our first priority is to find people who went missing since last night," said Gullab-ud-din, an embroidery worker.

Young embroidery workers from Bengal are waiting anxiously for their friends, Manzar and Kallu, both 15 years old, as they did not return home last night.

"We are too small to look for them in this big city. The elders are searching for them. We may not be able to resume work for some days," said an embroidery worker Mastkeem.

It was a tough day for hosiery owners. Due to Navratras, the work is in full swing and the blast has disrupted work. One of the hosiery owners, Abhishek Kumar, said, "Many workers did not turn up. We had no option but to show solidarity to them and give monetary assistance as well."



Fear wont drive them away
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Earning two square meals makes their fear and insecurity secondary for them. For lakhs of migrant industrial workers here, last evening's blast has come as a shock. The thought of leaving Punjab for their homes in Bihar, UP does come to their mind but it is soon overpowered by their need to earn their living.

"I am too shocked and am still searching for a couple of my companions. I am unable to locate them as I do not know who to go to. I hope for the best and wish I was with my family. But I will not leave Ludhiana as this is my home now. It provides me with my livelihood," a young Safdar Alam, a hosiery worker, says.

The shock is more pervasive among migrant workers as the area where the blast took place, near Samrala Chowk, has heavy concentration of migrant labourers. Post-terrorism days, the state has had a peaceful working environment.

"It is a rich state and peaceful too. I came here over 15 years ago and my entire family in Bihar relies on my income alone. This is like my second home. I have friends here and plan to get my wife, too, with me. The bomb blast has left us all scared but I am sure that this is the end of it," hopes Ram Kumar, another worker.

For them, meeting the family is restricted to a yearly visit which happens around the festive season. Jobs are not much of a problem and since they are willing to work hard, they manage to earn much more than what they would do in their home place. Many even have houses here, a fact that signifies the intention of settling down in this state.

"Out here, we do not have to worry much about getting a job. To me, be it Punjab or my own Bihar, I am happy as both are a part of my country. I do not wish to go from here but I hope that things remain peaceful," said Sham, another labourer.



Industry feels the blast heat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Industry leaders here said last evening's blast would have long-term repercussions on industrial environment in the state.

Investment would be hit as no new units would want to set up base in the place that was not peaceful, said representatives of the industry.

Condemning the incident, Joginder Kumar of JK Cycles said, "The blast has left everybody shocked. We are worried about the future of the industry in the state. A peaceful environment is a must for growth of the industry and if it is disturbed, the industry cannot progress. The blast has revived the scare of terrorism days."

Industrial leaders said any disturbance should be taken as a warning and the government should get even more careful. "It is highly condemnable and not only the existing industry but also new ones will hesitate to establish unit here. Stringent laws need to be framed and security at all vulnerable places be beefed up. All efforts should be taken to ensure that terrorism is not revived in the state," said P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He added that the government had to be vigilant and effective to nip this evil in the bud. Already industry is unhappy as neighbouring states are offering concessions.

A segment of industrialists felt that the industry should avoid undue panic. "The incident certainly should not have happened. But it should act wise and not panic as that can send a wrong message," said Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma of Vishwakarma Industries.



Trade unions seek Rs 10 lakh relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Condemning the blast incident that took place at Shringar Cinema here last evening, trade unions here said that the compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of those who lost their lives in the blast was insufficient.

Demanding that at least Rs 10 lakh be given to families of victims, leaders of trade unions said the loss of life could not be compensated and even this amount would only be a means to help them survive.

"The government has announced Rs 2 lakh for families of victims which is negligible considering the loss they have suffered. For these families it not only emotional loss, but also the ones who died were a source of income. A meagre compensation will ruin the families," said Harjinder Singh of Moulder and Steel Workers Union.

The union leaders, who also met the injured at hospitals, said the attack should not be seen merely as a physical attack at one place. "It was done with an intention to create a rift between Punjabi and migrant workers. They want to drive away migrant labourers from this industrial town."

Indian National Trade Union Congress president Balwant Rai Kapoor said the government should pay a compensation of at least Rs 10 lakh and also give a government job to the dependents of those who lost their lives.

The union said the entire cost of treatment of the injured should be borne by the government and sufficient compensation be granted to their families as well.



Low turnout at cinema halls
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 15
Low turnout of viewers in cinema halls marked the day after the night of terror at Shingar Cinema. Despite the increased police vigil, viewers were still seen carrying bags inside the cinema hall.

The percentage of viewers was down by more than 50 per cent with the presence at highly secured PVR and Waves cinemas also affected after the incident.

The police carried out a massive search operation of all cinema halls and passed strict instructions for security arrangements. The police feels the old cinema halls would have to take leaf from the modern multiplexes where multi-check points were made to prevent such incidents.

Cinema hall owners have expressed financial limitations for such high security vigil.

The Ludhiana Exhibitors Association (LEA) has expressed concern about the security of the cinema hall. The owners held a meeting at local Naulakha cinema to ducuss their future course of action.

LEA vice-president Abnish Singh said, "We have beefed up the security. We are taking constant vigil on the suspected persons. But we need government support as well. We have limited manpower and people do not listen to private security people."

They feel the cinemas alone should not targeted for secuirty by the police.

Sanjay Kumar, a labour from Uttar Pradesh, said, "It's better not to watch a movie. As it is a death trap. I preferred to play lottery rather than visiting a cinema."

Employee of Rakhi cinema Ashok was disappointed over the low turnout, "A few people came to see the movie today. We are scared if this will go like this we will have to face heavy losses."



In mortuary: Shock for some, relief for others

Ludhiana, October 15
Hundreds thronged the mortuary at the Civil Hospital today. Some returned shocked after identifying the bodies of their kin while some were relieved. But all felt nauseated at the sight of mutilated bodies.

There were some who had come looking for missing youths. On not find them there, they left with mixed feelings, knowing well that their search had not ended.

Rama Devi, a woman had come looking for her son, Rupesh Kumar, who had left the house after quarreling with her. She let out a sigh of relief after she did not find her son among the victims.

She took a few minutes to get over the nausea. I am happy that he is not among the victims, she said.

Several were there out of mere curiosity. Many stood at a distance from the mortuary, just to have a look at what was going on.

Some leaders made sure they were noticed by the media.

List of dead

Imtiaz Alam(19) and Sonu Kumar Sharma (18), Bandhan Kumar(15), Mohammad Shahenshah (23) and Hari Pal (24). One body is yet to be identified.

Injured in CMC

Pawan Kumar (20),Ram Baran (21), Mehra (14), Mohammad Imtiaz (25), Lalan Prasad (25), Jatinder Kumar (25), Harikesh (20),Vinod Kumar (48), Kamlesh Kumar (18), Saroj (20),Tahir (17), Santosh Kumar (20), Madan(22), Parmod (30), Jatinder Kumar(28), Ravi Kumar (27), Aaseen (20), Ram Vijay (25), Vijay Kumar (27), Shiv Shankar (23), Noorshad (28), Ganesh (26), Kitab-ud-din (22), Hira Lal (22).

Injured in Civil Hospital

Ajay Sahni (27), Radhey Sham(21), Naseerudin (25), Noor Sayed(25), Arun Kumar(21), Rakesh (18), Jasjeet Singh (22), Ram Bhan (18), Mohammad d Utfal (22), Sarwan Alam (26).



Protest against N-policy
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 15
Terming the Indo-US nuclear policy as fatal for survival of the Indians, national body of the CITU has called upon residents of the state to join hands with the activists of the trade union and its allies and participate in rallies and protest marches scheduled to be organised in the state from October 22 and October 29.

According to Cmdr Raghu Nath, vice president of the national committee, and Cmdr Jatinder Pal Bassian ,vice president state committee, these rallies and marches are being held to protest against the alleged anti-people decisions taken by the Congress led UPA government.



Lottery tickets now available in post offices
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 15
Lottery tickets are now available in local post offices.For the first time in Punjab; post offices would sell tickets for the Mahalakshmi Bumper.

This means easy availability of tickets to those who are keen on trying their luck, it would be an additional source of revenue for the department. The department has entered into an agreement with the Director Punjab State Lotteries for the purpose.

The process begins with the Mahalakshmi Bumper; post offices would also sell tickets for three other bumper draws by the state lotteries department if the exercise turns out to be successful.



Commission agent dupes farmers
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 15
With the Raikot police, yet to catch, the commission agent who had fled allegedly after duping farmers of Tazpur and surrounding villages in Ludhiana district, more farmers who had deposited their savings with other traders or arthtyes have become suspicious about their credibility. Citing one or the other reason they have started asking their agents to repay their deposit. The trend will favour banks and other financial organisations which accept money on very nominal interest rates.

Meanwhile the Raikot police has sought advice of DA (legal) of the Ludhiana (Rural) police in connection with the complaints received from a number of farmers a few days ago.

Ludhiana Tribune revealed that a large number of farmers had started approaching their commission agents for realisation of funds due to them, either deposited earlier or due to yield sold this year. The producers became panicky about security of their hard earned money that they had saved for their bright future. In some case the farmers deposited money with their commission agent with an intention to supplement their income.

The DSP Raikot, Narinder Pal Singh Ruby, has started investigation into allegations levelled by a number of farmers. Kulwinder Singh, Ranjit Singh, Surain Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Sikander Singh, Lakhbir Singh and Zora Singh of Tazpur village were among others who had alleged that Kewal Krishan, a commission agent of the town had fled after duping them of huge amounts.

Investigations had revealed that the commission agent belonged to Tazpur village. Farmers of the village irrespective of their alliance with any political party posed more faith in him than other commission agent. Though total turn over of the agent was assessed to be around 10 crore he seemed to have invested little in fixed assets in the area.



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