L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

DFO, 20 others booked
Kidnapping of marriage resort staff
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
The three months old controversy between suspended District Forest Officer (DFO) R.R. Kakkar and BJP leader Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal took an ugly turn today when the Dakha police booked the official, along with five other employees of the forest department for allegedly kidnapping and beating up an employee of a marriage resort.

According to an FIR registered at the Dakha police station, suspended DFO R.R.Kakkar, range officers Harbhajan Rai, Balvir Singh Dhillon, block forest officer Jarnail Singh, guards Tirath Singh and Kulraj Singh have been booked along with 15 others for allegedly kidnapping and beating up Ranjit Kumar, an employee with the Taj Resorts near Mullanpur.

Taj Resorts owner, Atma Singh, had lodged the complaint. He is the father of Varinder Singh, against whom Kakkar had lodged the FIR for allegedly threatening him in his office in November 2007. Varinder had sought clearance from the forest department for accessing the resort from the Ferozepur road. Kakkar had denied citing rules.

BJP leader, Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, had taken up the case of Varinder Singh with Kakkar, but he too had heated exchange with him. Later, the BJP leader and supporters staged a dharna seeking the cancellation of the FIR against Varinder Singh and action against Kakkar.

When Kakkar was finally suspended a few days ago, the forest employees had staged dharna calling it victimization. The lull after the conflict ended today with the registration of the FIR.

Kakkar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. He has been maintaining in previous interviews with journalists that he had done no wrong and was being victimized.

The FIR lodged by Atma Singh narrates how Kakkar along with other accused stormed into the resort on November 15 and kidnapped Ranjit. They took him to an undisclosed location and beat him up. He was forced to sign on blank papers which were later misused.

The case was registered on the direction of the SP (City-III) Sajjan Singh Cheema. The accused have been booked under Sections 365, 323 and 149 of the IPC.



When kite bazaar came alive
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
As the clock struck nine and shopkeepers downed their shutters to end the days’ business last night, a few got more active. For retail and wholesale kite sellers running shops along he boundary of the historic grounds, the night meant time to do brisk business.

Unlike the routine days, the business picks up during the night hours when markets present a ghostly scene at the dead of night with only the sound of the stick wielded by a guard echoing around as he strikes it repeatedly on the street.

To say that the Daresi kite sellers market was humming with activity even past mid night would be an understatement. It was as crowded as a railway station is when a train approaches.

Youngsters and aged alike along with first time teenagers excited at roaming out at that ungodly hour walk briskly from one shop to another to buy dozens of kites of varied size and colours.

The reason for the midnight shopping is simple. The night preceding the Lohri is the last major moment for the kite sellers to sell the product and for the buyers to get good bargain.

While a few shop during the day time as they have been doing for days now after the North-West winds help the art of kite flying, the addicts and masters of the game wait for this night to buy kites in dozens. “After all I would be flying it throughout the day in which I will be losing many and cutting numerous others,” Sahil Chowdhry said adding that he has to settle score with a neighbours who flew far long than he did last year.

Shopkeepers too wait for this night. “We sell more kites this night than in the entire season. This is the last opportunity for us to sell in bulk; hence, the market remains open throughout the night. I went home at 4 am last year. This year, the buyers are still coming thus I would have to stay longer,” Rakesh Kumar, a shopkeeper, said.

The streets gave a look like the busy Feroze Gandhi market. Cars were parked on both sides, with numerous two wheelers and cars whizzing past now and then.

Though the Daresi ground market is most favourite, a few shops near the Dandi Swami Chowk are also trying to catch up with the frenzy by opening past midnight. So is a small market near Division No. 3 police station.



Mild cane charge on migrants
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
The Sherpur police today resorted to a mild lathi charge to shoo away several shopkeepers protesting outside the police post against alleged inaction on a complaint submitted by them yesterday.

Led by councillor of Ward No. 21, Gurpreet Singh, alias Kaka, the migrants, most of them shopkeepers, were demanding action against certain persons who they said had attacked them yesterday. But the police had not registered a case despite repeated complaints.

The councillor and his supporters demanded action against the chowki in charge and threatened that if he was not sent to the Police Lines, they would be forced to intensify their agitation.

Two groups of shopkeepers in Sherpur market were involved in a clash last evening and one group supported by the councillor claimed it was attacked by the other. Chowki in charge Dileep Bedi had asked them to meet them this morning.

‘‘At least 25 persons reached the police post this morning but we were made to wait for two hours before the in charge turned up.Finally, when he did show up, we were shocked to see that the accused, Rajesh Kumar, was made to sit on a chair while we were treated like untouchables, ’’said Kaka.

When they took offence, the angry SHO began to threaten them.

‘‘He said this was not U.P. or Bihar and that we were bullying the police. We came out and sat on a dharna. Soonafter, cops came with batons and started beating us. ,” said the shopkeepers. Later, they sat on dharna in a park near the police post and raised slogans.

DSP Harmohan Singh reached the spot and pacified the protesters. ‘‘He assured us that action would be taken against Bedi for resorting to a lathi charge against the complainants. We were agitating peacefully.

Just because we are migrants, it that does not mean we can be treated with disrespect, ’’said councillor Gurpreet Singh, who has migrated from Bihar and has been elected on the BJP ticket. 



In Basta
Cops yet to crack mystery behind three deaths
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
They lay unusually calm a few feet under the Sidhwan Canal in the Maruti Zen car on July 9, 2005. The way they died is still shrouded in mystery. 

Expression on the motionless faces of the middle-aged woman seated on the drivers seat with seat belt intact and her two teenaged daughters, one seated on the back and the other in the front with head tilted a little towards the rear seat did not reveal any struggle or pain of dying under the water.

Neither they left any clue behind nor has the police been able to crack the mystery even well over two and a half years after their unusual style of death.

On paper woman, Jagjit Kaur, alias Neelam, wife of a model town-based cycle parts manufacturer, Harminder Singh, and daughter of a Patiala-based retired DSP, Joginder Singh Chowdhry, drowned with her daughters on June 26, 2005, in a tragic road accident. But, the theory of death in an accident had not been fully convincing.

It was a hot morning of July 9 when a passers by spotted what looked like the roof of a car in the Sidhwan Canal near South city. The canal water was receding with the irrigation department increasing the flow in other canal as per the rotational system of supplying water to villages in the region.

As cops pulled out the car with the help of a crane, a few hardened cops and crime reporters stepped back on seeing the horrifying sight and the pungent smell. The picture of the badly decomposed bodies of three women was repulsive enough to haunt for many years.

Swift police investigation established their identity. Cops found that the three had been missing since the evening of June 26. They lived in house No. 12-L, Dugri road, here. Her two daughters were 18-year-old, Jaspreet Kaur, and 14-year-old, Navtej Kaur.

The woman had left the house saying she was going to a gurdwara. She took her two daughters but left behind her 10-year-old son. When she did not return till late night, her husband lodged a missing report with the Model Town police. The family had been looking for them at a few places since then.

The police worked on a few theories while mainly stressing that the three could have ended their lives in a suicide pact. But no reason was found. Her husband claimed that it was an accident. Her parents also did not press for further investigation and accepted it to be an accident.

Police officials quoted in the news report said the manner in which the bodies had been found suggested that the three victims did not make much effort to save themselves. This had strengthened the suicide theory. There was also a possibility that they could have been murdered and then the vehicle was rolled into the canal.

Post mortem conducted by a board of three doctors at the Civil Hospital added to the mystery. It said the three had died due to drowning. The board did not find any injury marks on the bodies.

The board, however, did not send the viscera of the deceased for chemical analysis to a laboratory in Patiala, stating that it would be of no use. Viscera examination was customary in such cases. The then SHO of Model Town, Rajesh Kumar, was quoted as saying that he was surprised at this “deviation” from the routine.

A police official attached with the investigation said there was something fishy about the case but investigation did not yield anything. It was surprising that none of the three tried to get out of the car.

SSP R.K. Jaiswal when asked to comment on the case which he investigated once, remembered the incident well, “I was transferred as SSP (Jagraon). The incident was very intriguing. I would summon the files to see of it needs a relook.”

The only clue about some trouble involving the deceased was made by Baljit Kaur, mother-in-law of the woman. News reports quoted her saying, “Neelam was short-tempered”. But added that she knows nothing about the reasons behind her disappearance and alleged suicide, ‘‘I and my husband live on the first floor of the house while my son, Harminder, and his family live on the ground floor. We have a separate kitchen’’ she said.



Nine booked for manhandling councillor
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 13
The police booked nine persons on charges of manhandling ward No. 4 councillor here last night.

According to information, a Lohri party was organised at the residence of Gurpal Singh where councillor Inderjeet Singh Romi was manhandled by Hardeep Singh Happy, Goldy and their accomplices.

Romi alleged that the attackers also fired in the air. The other group however denied the allegations.

On the complaint of Romi, the police has registered a case under the Arms Act against Hardeep Singh Happy and Goldy of Badesh Kalan village and seven other unidentified persons.



Ludhiana Calling

With the sports department and the municipal corporation passing the buck on clearing huge arrears of power bills of Guru Nanak Sports Complex here for quite some time now, the PSEB disconnected the power supply to the stadium, plunging the entire arena into darkness and halting evening sports activity. As sportspersons, after being denied training, raised hue and cry, the “babudom” woke up from its slumber to sort out the modalities for clearance of pending power bills. It took some real hard work for sports officials before part payment was made and the power supply was restored.

Birth & death

The tug-of-war over authority of issuing birth and death certificates by the health department and the civic body within the city limits is on once again. The reason being medical officers serving on deputation to the MC have been repatriated back to their parent department (health) and the top brass in the department challenging the authority of a sanitary supervisor in the MC acting as the local registrar for this purpose. In the process, the work related to issuance of birth and death certificates is piling up and the city residents are made to suffer for no fault of theirs.

Quacks abound

Quackery is thriving right under the nose
 of authorities. Quacks posing as dentists and experts in curing several diseases 
have been thriving in the mini secretariat complex. One wonders why bureaucrats, who sit in the complex, have failed to do anything against the practice. Quacks 
can be seen extracting teeth cleaning 
ears and even providing concoctions 
for various diseases on any given day. 
(see pic)

Holding ground

After the unveiling of Rs 1-lakh Nano car at the Auto Show in New Delhi, the common man here is happy that they will be able to own a car. However, there are several others who do not like the idea as they feel it will compound the traffic problem in the city. An overzealous critic of the car was heard telling another: “When I bought my first small car two decades ago and I was bringing it back from Jammu, it shook so badly on the highway each time a truck passed by that it seemed to be an earthquake. And you can well imagine the fate of the new car.”

Traffic travails

City’s traffic is at its worst whenever a VIP comes calling here — be it chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who recently came to inaugurate the bus stand, or former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who had to come to the city to appear in a court in the infamous city centre scam. Residents had to suffer on both days as the Ferozepore Road was cordoned off for some time on Badal’s visit. And during the Captain’s visit, Feroze Gandhi market and Pakhowal Road were the worst hit as cars of supporters were parked in every nook and cranny of these areas.

Wild-Aroosa chase

During former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s recent visit to the city, all eyes wanted to see his Pakistan journalist friend Aroosa Alam as grapevine had it that she was accompanying him. When she was nowhere to be seen, some overzealous reporters even went to Park Plaza hotel, where Captain rested for a while, to find out if she was there. Everyone seemed to ask: “Has Aroosa come?”

Identity crisis

The other day when a journalist parked his car opposite deputy commissioner’s office at mini secretariat, the man on duty asked him for the ID. After seeing the ID, he retorted: “I have not heard about this paper (The Tribune). Is this new? Anyway you have to pay Rs 10 as parking here is free only for journalists of a particular vernacular daily.”


Taking a dig at the government for levying taxes, a city resident has scribbled a satire on the rear of his car: “Smile as long as this too is taxed.”

— Sentinel



Lohri captivates spirit of one and all
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
A Lohri function was organised at the poolside of Nirvana club here last evening. Celebrations started with jago followed by bhangra, giddha and other theme songs. The venue was converted into small villages to give it a traditional Punjabi look. Cots, pakhis, charkhas, kites etc were tastefully displayed.

Members were served makki ki roti and sarson ka saag. A dance floor was created around the pool and guests moved to Punjabi numbers. Prizes were given for the ‘best couple’, ‘made for each other couple’, ‘best dressed male’, ‘best dressed female’ etc. Children had a lot of fun.

H.S. Sekhon, general secretary of the club, said they was conducting various programmes for the members from time to time and were trying to maintain quality standards.

Nursery school

Lohri was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Everest Play-Way and Nursery School, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Park, here today. Tiny-tots donned colourful dresses and performed dances and skits. A teacher delivered a short story about the importance of Lohri. Children had a gala time dancing around the bonfire and offered their prayers for prosperity of the nation.

Lohri for newborns

Human rights manch Punjab organised a seminar at village Kotla-Badla, near Khamano here yesterday, in which Lohri of 11 newborn girls was celebrated. Baljit Singh Kainth, BDPO, inaugurated the function. Jaswant Singh Khera, Punjab president of the manch, appealed to people to unite and fight against social evils like dowry, female foeticide and drugs. CDPO Khamano Sunita Rani expressed concern over the declining ratio of girls in district Fatehgarh Sahib. Bibi Manjit Kaur, Sanghol chairperson of block Khamano, in her address said men and women are equally responsible for foeticide. School children presented giddha and bhangra. Ranbir Singh, member SGPC, Major Gurjinder Singh Benipal, tehsildar Khamano, Swarn Singh Sanghol and other prominent persons were present on the occasion. 



30 trainees awarded certificates on completion of sewing course
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 13
The health department, in association with Nehru Yuva Kendra, is observing Swami Vivekanand memorial week from January 12 to 19 to mark his birth anniversary. An AIDS awareness programme was organised at Manakwal village in the district today.

Dr Jasbir Singh from the civil hospital, Ludhiana, Dr Harwinder Singh from civil hospital, Khanna, and Dr Sukhbir Kaur, in charge Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre from civil hospital, Samrala, youth coordinator Jagroop Lal Gupta, village sarpanch Balwant Singh and Satish Sachdeva, district mass education and information officer, provided information on awareness and prevention of AIDS.

Thirty girl trainees of the village sewing centre were awarded certificates of completion of training.

According to officials of the health department, rural sports would be organised at Rarra Sahib on January 14 followed by a painting competition for children at Jamalpur on January 15.

An essay competition will be held for girl students at Buttari village on January 17 and an exhibition will be put up by health department an Nehru Yuva Kendra at Daba village on January 18.

At the valedictory function, to be held at Samrala on January 19, certificates and awards will be distributed to youth clubs and participants.

The best youth club will get a cash award of Rs 10,000, while best participants in boys and girls sections will get a cash award each of Rs 5,000.



Chief secys agree on metro rail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Hopes of reviving the mass rapid transport system (MRTS) have were revived yesterday with Haryana and Punjab agreeing to jointly work for the project.

At a meeting attended by the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, secretary in the ministry of surface transport and senior officials of the Chandigarh administration, it was agreed that metro rail was the best option.

A committee of officials from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to work out modalities is expected to be announced soon.

Sources said the report of the 10-member committee submitted by K.C. Sivaramakrishnan, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, was discussed at the meeting. The officials will review the report in respect of population growth, transport needs for current and future populations and integrated traffic and transportation plans for Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali and other neighbouring towns.

In November last year, transport secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were invited to a meeting of the special committee to recommend the best possible mass rapid transport system for the region. 



PAU pensioners to hold protest rally today 
17 trade unions come out in support
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 13
At least 2,600 pensioners of Punjab Agricultural University, who have not been paid pension for the past three months, will hold a massive rally in protest against the callous attitude of the state government and PAU authorities, opposite Thapar Hall tomorrow.

The Joint Council of Trade Unions of Ludhiana (17 trade unions) has decided to support PAU pensioners. D.P.Maur, general secretary, joint council of trade unions, Ludhiana, said employees of the Railways, roadways, PSEB and banks, who met today also decided to support the pensioners. Maur said the government must resolve the present crises by paying dues to retirees.

The pensioners were at the dusk of their lives and a few of them were entirely dependent on the monthly pension to meet even their day-to-day requirements, he added.

R.R.Katyal, a PAU retiree, said he and his wife were suffering from numerous ailments and their medicines were dependent on monthly pension. “But for the past three months, including November, December and January, we have not been paid a single penny by the government. How can we survive in such financial crises? After serving three decades in the university the government, now, has denied our right. Their (government’s) working has never been hampered in absence of funds but if we ask them about our dues, there is always a crisis”, he complained adding that they will plan their line of action after tomorrow’s protest rally.

Besides trade unions, the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers’ Association (PAUTA) has also condemned the government for not releasing the pension to the university retirees. The members said these people had played important role in bringing Green Revolution to the country but now, when their services were no longer required, even the government had washed its hands off now. Mukesh Siag, one of the executive member said they would support the pensioners in time of distress. “The government had promised to take out university from the financial crises, it should keep its word”, he added.



PAU faculty disgruntled by rigidity
Despite severe financial crisis, successive state governments have not helped
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 13
What is the future of Punjab Agricultural University? The answer is bleak. This is the overall feeling prevailing on the campus. 

Faculty and non-teaching employees of the university are not only sore but also agitated over the apathetic attitude of the state government. According to them, instead of helping the university in tiding over the financial crisis and other difficulties, it is rather creating hurdles for the university.

The university has been facing severe financial crisis for the past few years and the successive governments have failed to mitigate the same. Only during the current year, the state government agreed to enhance its annual grant to Rs 100 crore from Rs 80 crore. At the same time, the university depleted its pension fund and approached the government for a monthly grant of Rs 2.70 crore for reimbursing the pension to 2,600 retirees. Despite assurances, the state government has not come to the rescue of the university and employees have not received their pension for the past three months.

The university received a jolt when the state government asked it to vacate its 1,250 acre research station at Ladowal near Ludhiana. The government almost served an ultimatum on the university and the hammer was struck on January 7 when the financial commissioner (Development) raised the issue in the board of management meeting held in Chandigarh. The board was set up for approving the selections and appointments and Ladowal farm was not on its agenda.

The financial commissioner informed members that the land belonged to the government and could be taken away from the university.

The non-official members of the board protested against the financial commissioner’s attitude and sought a formal agenda item for the next meeting. They also alleged that the government had already taken 25 acre from the regional research station at Bathinda but no compensation had been paid to it so far. They demanded that the university must be compensated for the Ladowal land too. But there was no assurance from the state government.

Enquiries have reveled that the CD which the state government sent to the university to select the land in lieu of the one at Ladowal pertains to small pieces in districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur, Mansa and Sangrur. The land is in 25 acre to 50 acres and only a few pieces measuring 200 acre are available in Amritsar district which have illegally been occupied by a few influential persons.

Meanwhile, the state government is pressing authorities to convey its decision regarding transfer of Ladowal land and select a piece of land in lieu of the same within a week. The Chief Minister had on January 8 called the vice-chancellor and told him to vacate the land. The vice-chancellor was asked about the university’s stand. He said the government claimed that the previous vice-chancellor had given a blanket assurance of returning the land to it.

However, Dr K.S.Aulakh, former vice-chancellor of PAU, when contacted denied having given any assurance to the government.

Dr Aulakh further revealed that even though the government had taken over 65 acres of sugarcane farm at Jalandhar during Beant Singh’s tenure, the Cabinet had decided to give 1,000 acres at Ladowal and Rs 15 crores for establishing the research station. The government had allotted 1,250 acres to the university and also gave Rs 10 crores. The remaining Rs 5 crore was received during the tenure of the Amarinder’s government.

An economist of the PAU has estimated that the state government can earn Rs 80,000 crore if both PAU and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University are wound up and the land available with the two is sold on commercial basis. This way the Punjab government can wipe out the fiscal deficit and the loans of Rs 40,000 crore and spend the rest for the development of the state.

Enquiries revealed that the CD which the state government had sent to the university for selecting a piece of land in lieu of the one at Ladowal pertains to small pieces in districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur, Mansa and Sangrur. The land is in 25 acre to 50 acres and only a few pieces measuring 200 acre are available in Amritsar district which have illegally been occupied by influential persons. 



His vision lives on
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 13
Though Jagat Singh (88) is no more, he continues to see the world through the eyes he gifted to two corneal blind persons. Jagat Singh died on January 4 and his family donated his eyes to Punarjot Eye Bank of Punjab as per his wishes.

Dr Ramesh, medical director of the eye bank, made corneal implant on Sadhu Ram, a migrant from Bihar, and Nachhattar Kaur, a resident of Panglian village in this district.

The recipients of cornea were present at the bhog ceremony of Jagat Singh here on January 10 to encourage more and more people to came forward to donate eyes.

Raghbir Singh Behal, an active Rotarian and son of the deceased Jagat Singh, lauding the support lent by families of eye donors, Dr Ramesh said called upon other bodies involved in this noble cause to further strengthen the movement so as to eradicate the curable corneal blindness affecting 30 million persons in the country.

"We have yet to go a long way to promote eye donation, create awareness and dispel myths and beliefs associated with cadaver eye donation so that the blind can see this beautiful world once again," he added.



Check noise pollution

It is a fact that annual examinations of all students are approaching; yet loud speakers at religious places and marriage palaces are blaring ceaselessly.

It is the duty of every civilised person to enjoy his life without disturbing others.

Only a student can tell what problems he or she is facing while preparing for an exam with such loud noise all around.It is really disturbing, to say the least.

Moreover, aged persons and patients also suffer due to the noise.

I request the administration to find a solution to this problem so that neither students nor the elderly face problems due to noise pollution. It is also our moral duty to do so.

Iqbal Singh Khurmi



Seven booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 13
Baldev Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Major Singh, Nirmal Singh, Gurinderjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh, all residents of Bhumal allegedly entered into the house of Sukhveer Singh of the same village and assaulted him and his brother, Manjinder Singh, with sword and other sharp-edged weapons. 

They also broke the windowpanes. The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections 452, 341,450,324,427, 148 and 149 of the IPC. Manjinder has been admitted to the civil hospital at Sidhwan Bet. Dispute over panchyati land is stated to be the reason behind the assault.

4 hurt in mishap

Harpreet Singh, alias Happy of Kaunke colony, Gurpreet Singh, Harjinder Singh, Avdeep Singh were injured in an accident near Kaunke colony when a car hit their moped rickshaw. The police has registered a case under Sections 337, 338, 279 of the IPC in his regard. The injured persons have been admitted to the civil hospital.



ONGC Premier League 
Keen tussle on cards
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 13
Though the last year’s runners-up, JCT are favourites, a keen tussle is on the cards when they take on Kingfisher East Bengal in the 11th round match of the ONGC Indian Premier Football League, slated to be played at Guru Nanak Stadium, here tomorrow.

Earlier, JCT beat East Bengal 3-1 in the second round tie in the current league, played on November 30 at Kolkata. The visitors would go all out to avenge their defeat.

JCT have accumulated 19 points from 10 matches and are placed at second place after the Dempo Sports Club of Goa which have secured 24 points from numerous encounters whereas Kingfisher East Bengal have gathered nine points from 10 outings and are at the eighth spot.

During a practice session at the venue today afternoon, players of both teams sweat it out. JCT coach, Sukwinder Singh, when asked about his team’s strategy against East Bengal, said they did not take them lightly. East Bengal has the potential to beat any side on a given day. We would chalk out our plan for countering our opponents at the filed, tomorrow, Sukhwinder added. 



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