L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

NHAI overlooks condition of toll bridge
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
The NHAI, in its decision to shift the toll barrier to the Phillaur bridge, has overlooked the deplorable condition of the bridge, which is not even fit for pedestrians.

The toll bridge, which would start functioning from January 21, has come as a New Year’s present for residents of the city.

However, even as the construction of the toll barrier is in full swing at the new site, the NHAI and the administration have failed to check the condition of the bridge.

Signboards stating “Kindly do not use the footpath” have come up at either side of the bridge, prohibiting pedestrians. But with no safe alternative route provided to those crossing the bridge on foot, pedestrians continue to do so.

Residents of nearby villages and devotees of a Muslim shrine situated near the Punjab Police Academy, often use the bridge.

The volume of pedestrians has further increased with the coming up of a Shani Dev temple near the bridge.

The bridge is dotted with cracks and wide potholes on the footpath pose grave danger to the pedestrians.

Even the boundary walls are badly damaged and barbed wires have been put up.

Gurmit Singh, a local resident said, "It is ironic that we will be charged toll for a crumbling bridge. The bridge which is not fit for pedestrians will be used as a checkpoint now."

“I pay regular obeisance at a temple located near the Phillaur end of the bridge, but reaching there is fraught with danger. Instead of carrying out repair work, the authorities have pitched a signboard to keep away pedestrians from using the bridge,” Sudesh Kumar, a resident of Laddowal, said.



Priceless records rotting in old courts complex
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
Priceless records of old cases, some dating to the pre-Independence days, in the old courts complex of the city continue to lie unattended as the administration is making last-minute clearances at the site for the proposed auction of the prime land.

The administration had earmarked the site for storage of files at the zila parishad complex. The site has been hired on a monthly rent basis

Deputy Commissioner

Shifting of the records has become more important in the context that the entire infrastructure at the venue is being demolished these days.

A sizeable portion of the records that have been bundled up in sacks have begun to rot.

Talking to The Tribune, Sumer Singh Gurjar, deputy commissioner, said the administration had earmarked the site for storage of files at the zila parishad complex. The site has been hired on a monthly rent basis.

Tarsem Singh, a senior citizen, said the records were lying at the site in an unorganised manner. Some case details are in Urdu and belong to very old times. He said: “Besides storing the files, the district authorities should try to tabulate the data of the cases for easy references in case anybody wants to access it.”

Pritam Singh, a retired school teacher, said: “Not just this structure and records, the government is trying very little to preserve the old architecture of the city. The new shopping malls, roads and other constructions have virtually left nothing of the past for the future generations to see. At least a museum should be set up.”



Vigil up for New Year’s eve
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
Security has been beefed up and checkpoints have been put in view of the New Year celebrations. Security has been tightened around all the key areas, including Kipps Market, Sarabha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi and Mall Road.

Special nakas have also been put up at all major malls, cinema houses and clubs in the city. Joint checkpoints with the traffic police have also been laid.

SHOs have been briefed about beefing up security in their respective areas by senior police officials and have been directed to keep round-the-clock vigil.

R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, said the police was not relaxed with the arrest of a terrorist. It would take action against hooligans who try to disrupt the celebrations.



In Basta
After 16 years, KLF militants yet to be booked
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 30
Even 16 years after the Khalistan Liberation Force, a militant outfit, had claimed the responsibility for killing 25 persons at the Kila Raipur railway station and about 10 near the Badowal railway station on June 16, 1991, the authorities are yet to be booked.

However, the survivors, who were never called by the police for inquiry in the case, still get shocked after recollecting the sequence of events on the bloody night.

Though one of the suspects was arrested by the state police three years ago, the railway police, the investigating agency did not bother to interrogate him.

Harnek Singh Bhapp, a hardcore terrorist and self-styled KLF chief, had rather said he was against the killing.

Sources revealed that the train that had left Ludhiana for Dhuri on the night of June 16, 1991, was stopped by a group of militants at the Kilaraipur railway station and at least 25 persons were killed in the indiscriminate firing. Ten more persons lost lives in a similar incident at the Badowal railway station on the same night.

Though the activists of the Khalistan Liberation Front had claimed responsibility for the killings, none of the suspects was ever arrested or tried for the sinful act.

The incident had shocked members of a particular community and those who survived the attack were still shocked to recollect the sequence of events.

The authorities at the Dehlon police station showed ignorance about the progress of the case. But it was told that Harnek Singh Bhapp, the self-styled chief of the outfit, was arrested by the state police in August 2004, was not questioned for the incident, either by the state police or the railway police.

Rajinder Kumar, a municipal council employee, along with his five-year-old daughter, Anju, had boarded the train destined to Ludhiana on the fateful night. “Hardly had we settled on our berths that the train was halted by a group of militants at the Kila Raipur railway station. Though none of them was visible to us, the gun shots and cries were telling the story outside the train. A fruit vendor of the local town had dared to rise and bolt the doors of our compartment that saved us,” narrated Rajinder, adding that one person in the compartment had died when a bullet from a window pierced him.

Rajinder wondered how he could press hard his daughter under a seat in an attempt to save her and his own life.

“With lights off we could only hear the breathing sounds in the compartment. I made all efforts to check my daughter's cry. I was so stunned that I could not feel an injury caused by a splinter on my abdomen until I saw blood on the floor,” continued Rajinder.

The police had arrived after two hours and he had to go to Ahmedgarh to get himself treated. Ashok Kumar, another employee of the council, had saved his life by hiding in a toilet in the same compartment.

Dharam Paul Sharma, Lalit and many others had survived the attack as the militants could not locate them.

The militants had reportedly forced the station master not to give outgoing signal to the train after it arrived on the station. They had later cut the power supply to the various compartments and killed 25 persons belonging to a particular community.



Buffalos’ Death
CM gives Rs 10 lakh as grant
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday presented a cheque for Rs 10 lakh to Ramesh Chand Kaura as financial aid announced by him on the mysterious death of his 108 buffalos on November 29.

Among others who were present at the PAU were Hira Singh Gabria, jails and tourism and cultural affairs minister, Bikram Singh Majithia.



Ludhiana Calling
Stray dogs menace

Authorities and the municipal corporation seem to be less interested in checking the burgeoning population of the stray dogs. In the absence of all these people have been left to fend for themselves. The incidents of dog bite have assumed alarming proportions, and in particular, the children are more vulnerable to attack by dogs in every nook and cranny of the city. Neither the civic body, nor NGOs like People for Animals or organisations seemed to be bothered about such a problem.

Old memories

Besides the raving performance at the Satluj Club, last week, it was also a nostalgic reunion with friends for the famed ghazal singer Jagjit Singh when he visited the city. He spent a number of years on stages in the city during his formative years. Jagjit Singh was in for a big surprise when N.S.Nanda, president of the Dhan-Pothohar Brotherhood, visited him at his hotel a morning after his performance. He was carrying a set of old photographs. Jagjit could not help guffawing when he saw his own pictures in a turban which he ordained then as his regular dress. “It is really great to see how you have preserved the history of our friendship”, he told Nanda. Jagjit Singh was the singer, then. Nanda played mandolin and violin and late S.S Bhogal excelled on flute. Nanda said: “It was a rare meeting and we spent more than an hour discussing our times”.

Erroneous condemnation

A press note issued by the local unit of the Congress, last week, stated “All India Congress Committee secretary Manish Tiwari has strongly flayed the Congress government in Punjab for the deteriorating financial health of the state”. On being called up for a clarification another note followed which read “All India Congress Committee secretary Manish Tiwari has strongly flayed the SAD-BJP government in Punjab for the deteriorating financial health of the state.”

“Thanks for the timely alert”, the spokesperson added.

Traffic chaos

City residents continue to suffer due to the chaotic traffic not only on busy commercial areas in the interior of the town but also in posh and upmarket shopping centres. Adequate parking places not being available for a large number of vehicles, the people have no other choice but to park their vehicles wherever space is available, without bothering whether they are causing obstruction to flow of traffic or other road users. Flagrant violations of traffic rules by the road users and at times, non-functional traffic signal lights further add to the woes of the traffic cops, who, most of the times, find it beyond themselves to come to terms with the situation.



Year Ahead
Retail set to look up
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 30
Having grown accustomed to the mall culture in 2007, the retail sector remains a key area where the industry and residents look forward to major happenings.

More malls and several more national and international brands are what the city is waiting for now.

For the local industry, which began the year with great expectations, it is gearing up to global competition that remains a challenge in the forthcoming year.

Even as the real estate segment, that took a leap in previous year, saw a relative slow down in the last three quarters of 2007, major national and international players have pegged giant hopes on the city “with a high growth potential”. Two more malls have opened shop.

For the local industry that saw a rather happening year with overactive taxation departments conducting high number of raids, Centre's special incentives to neighbouring states, highly condemned by the industry, continue to remain an area where they are looking forward to an action. The industry wants such incentives to be extended to Punjab, though it would be naïve for it to rely on them alone.

Despite clashes with the industry, taxation departments are firm at staying active with their investigations, at least in the first quarter of the forthcoming year.

Troubled by multiplicity of taxes, the industry is now keeping its fingers crossed and hopes there would be no addition to the existing lot in the New Year.

Electroplating units and hand tool manufacturers took initiatives towards adopting environment friendly technologies in 2007, and more will follow suit.

Commodity trading, where the exchanges have set high targets, are expected to attract a large number of investors apart from the ever attractive capital market, which experts are expecting to cross another 5,000 points.



AICC secy
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, December 30
All India Congress Committee secretary, Manish Tiwari, has flayed the Badal government for the deteriorating financial health of the state. In a hard-hitting statement issued here yesterday, Tiwari said, in order to save its government from getting exposed on the economic front, was misleading the masses by making tall claims.

Asserting that the previous Congress government under Capt Amarinder Singh had left Rs 812 crore in the state coffers, he ridiculed Parkash Singh Badal’s statement that Congress left the state treasury empty. He added that the Badal government had made lives of the people miserable due to its anti-people policies.

He also criticised the government’s move on imposing the entry tax on traders and businessmen. The new government’s directive for the advance deposit of the power bills, both by domestic as well as commercial users, was a cruel joke. 



Chemists pledge not to sell intoxicating drugs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 30
Members of the Ludhiana Young Retail Chemists Association claimed today that its members had pledged not to sell intoxicating or addictive substances to drug addicts. The association will take stern action against those violating it, they added.

Addressing a meeting here, Amandeep, president of the body, said the chemists would cooperate with the administration and voluntary organisations in strengthening the mass movement against female foeticide at various levels.

He said like others, the chemists had welcomed the ongoing campaign against adulteration of food items and unregulated sale of drugs, launched by health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla. "We at our own leve shall strive to expose the black sheep and assist the authorities in bringing such anti-social elements to book."

Y.C. Markan, director of health services, Punjab, Balbir Chand Kapila, senior BJP leader, Tikka Dalip Singh and G.S. Chawla, president and secretary, respectively, District Chemists Association, were also present in the meeting.



GR Football Club win soccer tourney
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 30
The GR Football Club, Ghungrali Rajpootan, emerged winners in the first Rajiv-Sanjiv Memorial Football Tournament organised by the R.S. Friends Sports Club at MGMN Senior Secondary School here.

Mandeep Singh of the Desmesh Club, Pallah Aloona, the runners-up team, was declared the best player of the tournament. The final match was decided on the basis of penalty shots.

The concluding session of the three-day tournament was earlier inaugurated by Dr Indu, acting deputy commissioner. Jaspal Singh Jassie, SDM, Malerkotla, presided over the concluding function. Raj Kumar Sharma and Shakuntala Devi, parents of Rajiv gave away the prizes to the winning teams and outstanding players.

According to Davinder Kumar Sharma, the organising secretary, 16 teams of the area had reached the final round of the matches. Earlier, the Sports Club, Gujjarwal, and the Village Sports Club, Bhogiwal, had lost to winner and runners-up clubs in the semifinal. The organizers arranged a ‘bhandara’ after the concluding ceremony today.

Bimal Sharma, Dr Sunit Hind and Inderpal Singh lauded the players for their sportsmenship spirit.



Mehta academy win by solitary goal
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 30
Gurukul Mehta Academy,Doraha, survived numerous anxious moments before romping home victorious by a solitary goal against Amloh in an under-16 year’s Punjab Hockey League match for boys being organised by the Punjab Sports Department at Prithipal Singh Memorial Astroturf Stadium, Punjab Agricultural University, here today.

In the first match of the day, after both teams wasted numerous chances, Baljinder Singh of Gurukul Mehta Academy converted a penalty corner to script win for his team

In the second match (under-16), after trailing by a goal, Moga fought back valinatly to outplay Kurali 2-1.

After the first barren half, Kurali went went ahead in the 33rd minute through a field goal scored by Talwinder Singh. Eleven minutes later, Moga lads restored parity through Amandeep Singh. Mandeep Singh of Moga found the target in the 49th minute which sealed Kurali lads’ fate 2-1.



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