L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Reality Check
City sits on powder keg
Kolkata fire a big lesson to learn from
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
The Kolkata’s Burra Bazar fire is a wake-up call for many congested markets in the city. The incident has once again brought to fore the ill-preparedness of the authorities concerned in tackling fires in old city markets that have become virtual death traps. The authorities and residents continue to ignore the threat.

Markets like Khud Mohalla, Meena Bazar, Mali Ganj, Dal Bazar, Sarafan Bazar, Mochpura, Unn Bazaar, Bet Ganj, Purana Bazar, Kambal Bazaar, Pindi Gali and Gur Mandi are virtual tinder boxes and the city has no foolproof method to fight any such exigency.

Neither the administration nor the residents are prepared to fight such an incident.

The fact that all these markets are located in congested and narrow lanes, accentuated by haphazard parking of vehicles, it is nearly impossible for fire engines to reach these places and check a major fire.

Residents and owners of these places have not helped the matter as well. In several areas like Mali Ganj, Bet Ganj and Khud Mohalla, hosiery units are being run from houses.

Yarn and hosiery products worth crores are stored in these units. And hundreds of workers work round the clock during peak season.

Khud Mohalla has already suffered a major fire tragedy in 2003 when 12 persons were burnt to death and 85 others were injured.

But no lessons seem to have been learnt and the ground situation remains the same. None of the markets has put up a fire-fighting mechanism.

Akalgarh market, situated right next to the municipal corporation and the fire brigade department, has negligible fire-fighting measures. Around 800 shopkeepers in the market From page 1

are virtually sitting on powder keg. In case of an eventuality in this four-storyed building, property worth lakhs of rupees would be reduced to ashes in few minutes.

Besides, around 2,000 persons, including shoppers, shopkeepers and labourers, are present at any given time in the building. Just a spark can cause a loss of numerous lives and property. Mochpura, Asia’s biggest shawl market and Kambal Bazaar, which stocks blankets worth crores, are yet another congested and fire-prone areas.

Meena Bazaar, infamous for its illegal LPG filling trade and selling of candies and sweets, is another such area.

Here LPG is filled in small cylinders from the larger ones clandestinely. Many small incidents of fire are reported from the area off and on.

Intriguingly, the buildings do not follow a single fire safety measure. These were constructed over 20 years ago, when installation of fire safety measures was not mandatory under the building bylaws.

Neither do shopkeepers bother to follow fire-safety measures, nor do they take up the matter with the owners of the buildings.

According to the National Building Code of India (NBCI), business buildings should have fire fighting installations like house reel, wet riser, down corner, yard hydrant, automatic sprinkler system, manually operated electric fire alarm systems and automatic detection and alarm system.

The NBCI further states that high-rise building should have adequate water supply in case of fire and for ensuring proper water supply. Underground static water storage tank and terrace tank should be constructed with specific water pumping capacity.

Fire officials state that the NBCI was implemented much later, so the buildings constructed before that did not follow the rules.

They expressed their inability to do anything stating that the Fire Act was not implemented in Punjab, citing it as the main reason why they cannot take action on their own.

However, the officials said they often advised the owners of old high-rise building to take necessary fire safety measures. But they could not really do much as far as enforcement was concerned.



Reliance IPO
Investors go gaga on Day 1
Brokers set up special counters
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Thousands of investors rushed to brokers and sub-brokers to apply for the Reliance IPO here today. Making the most of it, several brokers even put up stalls in markets like Feroze Gandhi to facilitate disbursal and deposit of application forms for investors.

Markets were abuzz on account of enthusiastic investor community. People could be seen standing in groups and discussing capital markets and the issue. While hundreds of new demat accounts were also opened, a few leading brokering firms stopped opening accounts due to heavy work load on account of the issue.

The IPO, which according to reports was heavily subscribed on the first day of its offering, is being considered by not only existing but also a large number of new investors.

And as an applicant can exercise the option of making part payment, the response here has been tremendous. Enquires with brokering firms revealed that hundreds of new demat accounts were opened today by people to apply for this public issue.

“It looks as if everybody wants to apply for this issue. There is a mad rush. Around 50 demat accounts are opened on regular days but due to this public issue, we have been receiving around 500 applications every day. Today, we decided not to open more accounts as there is high rush to submit forms too,” said Jaspal Singh from the Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) Securities.

Brokers and sub-brokers said the response to the IPO was at least 50 times higher than any other IPO in recent past.

“We have never seen such a phenomenal response to any IPO. Already, we have sold nearly 1,000 applications and received close to 150. Normally, people submit their forms on the last date but in this case, the first day itself has taken us by surprise,” said Karan Gulati of Sunrise Securities, which has also put up a temporary stall in Feroze Gandhi market.

As an application can be submitted by making only part payment, a large number of investors were exercising the option. “It is possible for an applicant to apply four times the money that he deposits now. Most of the investors are opting for that option,” said Sachin Chadhha, a bank employee.

A large number of investors said they wanted to apply for the IPO as they expected high appreciation of their investment.

However, a section of investors said it was risky as only a short-term gain would be possible.

“From long-term perspective I would not consider it a very good offer. Hence, I have decided to play it safe and wait for the company to perform,” said Puneet Mahajan, an investor.



Police leaves accident victim’s kin at bay
Dilly-dallies on post-mortem examination
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Relatives and friends of an accident victim today had a harrowing time at the hands of a team of the Raikot police, which showing scant sensitivity towards the deceased refused to go for the mandatory post-mortem examination.

Instead, it asked the aggrieving persons to do a Sherlock Holmes and find the accused first.

This was in sharp contrast to the rules and established practice that the police goes in for a post-mortem examination of an accident victim first and investigate it by registering a case against the “unknown” accused.

Majority of accident cases are first registered against unknown persons.

The body of the deceased remained in a car for a couple of hours at the DMC hospital while policemen dilly-dallied on the issue. Later, when a Tribune team reached the place, the policemen agreed to take the body to Sudhar hospital for a post-mortem examination.

However, the policemen led by ASI Pardeep Singh did not reach the hospital, while the family kept waiting there.

The deceased, Hakam Singh, who had recently returned from Dubai, had suffered injuries in a road accident on Lohri in Raikot.

He was riding a scooter when an unidentified person riding a motor cycle on the wrong side of the road hit him head-on. He sped away from the scene.

Raikot DSP Narinder Singh Ruby, when asked about the issue, expressed shock: “It is mandatory for the police to get a post-mortem examination conducted of anyone dying an unnatural death. I would inquire into the matter and take action.”

However, in spite of his intervention, the team of policemen kept delaying the post-mortem examination. They told the relatives that they have “pressure from the top” to “suppress” the issue.

Zameer Hussain, a friend of the deceased, said Hakam Singh died this afternoon. “While we were still grieving, the team of Raikot police kept pressing us not to take the body for a post-mortem examination.”

He said the policemen wanted them to name the accused first: “We have told them about the motor cycle and account of the witnesses. Yet, the police was unwilling to go ahead with a post-mortem examination.”

The relatives and friends of the deceased said had the examination been done in time, the body would have been cremated by now.



Lumberjacks in Kashmir, beggars here
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Driven away from home by snow and unemployment owing to militancy, a number of woodcutters from Poonch and Rajouri areas of Jammu and Kashmir are going door to door here seeking alms these days.

Presenting a sorry picture of their native state, these lumberjacks-turned-beggars first seek employment and when turned away beg for money, clothes and eatables.

Two of them — Mohd Rashid and Mohd Ansari — were found begging in Gurdev Nagar.

“We are not beggars, but as there is no work for us, we seek money, clothes or eatables gracefully,” they said, stressing that they just asked once.

Dressed in their traditional long robe and carrying an axe each on their shoulders, the two said they generally came to the plains during snowfall in Kashmir. “We have been woodcutters for generations. Due to snow, we often come to Punjab seeking job of cutting trees. People often prune trees in winter for getting better sun for crops or houses.”

However, this year, there has been little work. “It seems people have started employing local labourers for pruning work,” said Ansari with Rashid chipping in that there weren’t many trees left in Punjab to be cut.

They rued that people were not giving them employment as they were Kashmiris. “There is so much of mistrust about us. The police often raids our dwelling units here. We are questioned and harassed. Because of all this, no one takes the risk of employing us.”

“Please give us some money,” they said, reasoning that they had a family to feed.



Bomb hoax call causes a flutter

Ludhiana, January 15
Yet another hoax call of a bomb having been planted at the Dhandari and Ludhiana railway stations sent the police in a tizzy this morning. An unidentified person, claiming to be chief of banned terrorist outfit Babbar Khalsa International, called up at the railway landline at 9.15 am saying that bombs had been planted by his men at the Ludhiana and Dhandari railway stations and would go off at 9.20 am. 

Policemen remained on their toes throughout the day and frisked baggages and travellers. All railway buildings and lines were checked.

An anti-sabotage squad of the police along with sniffer dogs was also pressed into service. In the evening, police sources said the caller would soon be identified and arrested.



Machine embroidery a lucrative option: Study
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
According to a recent study on employment and income generating sources in Ludhiana, the potential of machine embroidery as a profession is immense as far as profit-making ventures are concerned.

On an average, the profession provides personal monthly income ranging from Rs 4000 to Rs 6000 and family income ranging from Rs 4000 to Rs 10,000 per month. Since less investment and technical knowledge is needed in machine embroidery, the profession is lucrative for people from all walks of life.

Shefali Massey, a student pursuing masters of science in clothing and textiles, Punjab Agricultural University, under the guidance of Dr Satnam Dhillon, conducted the study on hundreds of machine embroiders from various parts of the city. A major chunk of the respondents were between 20-30 years of age; 39 per cent were matric pass and had received training in machine embroidery for two years.

The initial motivating factors influencing respondents to take up machine embroidery as a profession was the urge to work independently (76.67 per cent), increasing demand for machine embroidered articles, self-motivation and irregular family income. Sixty per cent of the workers spent 8-10 hours on machine embroidery per day. During festival season the hours spent at work increased by around four hours.

Frequently embroidered articles included ladies shirts, dupattas, lehngas, salwars, cushion covers and bed-covers. Cardigans, shawls and trousers are the least embroidered articles. Majority of respondents used embellishments in addition to embroidery. Sequins were most widely used embellishments followed by mirrors, beads, glass-tubes, crystals and stones.

Respondents also produced embroidered articles on order from USA, Canada and England.

It was suggested in the study that if embroiders were given bank loans more persons can enter the profession, especially housewives, since work can be done from homes as well. 



BJP to pursue frauds by Cong men
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 15
Accusing Congress-backed councillors of ignoring development of the local town in the past, local BJP unit president Vijay Kumar Goyal has announced that the alleged misappropriation of funds and grants would be gotten probed by the vigilance department.

Goyal alleged that some councillors, owing alliance to the Congress, had fought over petty issues during their entire term and had ignored development of the area.

Though council chiefs had over the years claimed that grants and funds worth crores had been received at the local municipal council office, pathetic condition of roads and drains suggested that the funds had been misappropriated.

“We have constituted a committee that will prepare a report about the alleged misappropriation of funds and then bring the matter to the notice of the vigilance department of the state government,” said Goyal.

Referring to the outcome of the maiden meeting of the newly constituted executive body of the unit, Goyal claimed that the party would field honest candidates in the forthcoming civic body elections.

Besides ensuring improvement of sanitation and water supply, BJP leaders would impress upon the authorities to expedite work of the proposed grain market, he added.

They would also ensure that all buses plying between Ludhiana and Malerkotla reached the town bus stop instead of dropping passengers at Pohir village, he said.

Former state BJYM president Ashootosh Vinayak, Sandeep Puri, Des Raj Sharma, Yash Pal Goel, Kishori Lal Verma, Ashok Verma and Gora Lal Jain were also present. 



Innovative cosmetic surgery gives 18-yr old new hope
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
Eighteen-year-old Simran (name changed), a resident of Moga town, had a severe deformity of face for around eight years. She was operated upon for “fungal granuloma” at Jalandhar eight years ago but due to complications she was shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Though her life was saved, the treatment left a deformity on her face.

As a result, the life of the girl was wrecked. She used to keep her face covered with a dupatta. She was afraid of moving out and even refused to go to school due to inferiority complex.

Keen to restore her normal looks and provide a normal life to their daughter, her parents approached numerous plastic surgeons in Punjab and also consulted a team of surgeons from the US and Canada that visited Punjab but without much success.

Around a fortnight ago, the patient, along with her parents, approached Dr Wahigurupal Singh Sidhu, a city-based plastic surgeon and medical superintendent at a local hospital here.

After examination, Dr Sidhu suggested three surgical procedures, each with a gap of two months in between, on Simran’s face to reconstruct and restore her face.

“The first operation was performed on January 1 at a local hospital. Both cheeks of the patient were filled with fillers and bone implants. The procedure was successful. Simran feels like a new person now. She no longer feels the need to cover her face anymore.”

With a near-normal face as a results of the first part of phased surgery, Simran now feels more confident and is eager to venture out. Also, her parents and relatives are overjoyed with the success.

According to Dr Sidhu, the next two stages of surgery for minor alterations and cosmetic effects will be performed later.



Protesting teachers burn copies of securities Act
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Members of the PCCTU drawn from various colleges of Ludhiana district staged a dharna outside the office of the deputy commissioner at mini secretariat today to register their protest over the recent amendment to the The Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Securities of Service Act of Employees) Act, 1974. They also burnt copies of the Act.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Rajinder Singh, district president, said as a result of the amendment around 2,000 teachers working on unaided posts had been taken out of the umbrella of the Act, exposing them to the policy of hire and fire, often perused by unscrupulous college managements.

Prof Kamal Sharma, district council secretary, lambasted the state government for not honouring its commitment made with PCCTU leaders on August 31 and October 1 regarding their outstanding demands.

Dr Manjit Singh Komal, PCCTU area secretary, urged the government to rectify the aberration caused in the security of service Act through an ordinance.

Kuldeep Singh, PCCTU general secretary, announced that the executive would court arrest on February 5 if the government failed to honour its commitment regarding the demands of non-government affiliated college teachers.

He added that it would be followed by ceasure of work in all affiliated colleges of the state. He said teachers would not tolerate any dilution of the security of service Act.

The dharna was also addressed by Ranjan Garg, women wing convener, who drew the attention of the administration over nasty developments at Malwa college, Bondli-Samrala, where a section of women teachers were allegedly being harassed, humiliated and maltreated under a design.

Prof Kuldeep Batta of GN College, Narangwal, who is executive committee member, condemned the government over its policy of delay and drift over the teachers’ demands.



15 booked for trespass, assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 15
The Raikot police has booked 15 persons for trespass and armed assault.

According to information, Balraj Singh, Navjot Singh and Harpreet Singh of Barmi along with 12 others allegedly trespassed on to the house of Nirmal Singh of their village and assaulted Kulwant Kaur with sharp-edged weapons.

They also allegedly fired shots in the air. They damaged a motor cycle and other vehicles. The injured has been admitted to the Raikot civil hospital.

A quarrel is stated to be the cause behind the assault. No arrest has been made so far.

A case under Sections 452, 324, 323, 336, 148, 149 and 427, IPC, and Sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered.



Furnishing company launches new brand
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Seasons, a luxury-furnishing brand, launched Waltros and Textures - a new collection of its furnishings - at Naveen Bharat Furnishings here today. 

Waltros offers a wider choice in colours and fabrics. According to company representatives, the texture is superior in quality and the prices are affordable. Rajwant Kaur, from the company, said: "Our brand has seen tremendous growth in past few years not only in metros but mini metros as well. Ludhiana as a market has huge potential and it is emerging as one of the best destination for retailers. The demand for branded home furnishings is rising here. We hope to bring an international shopping experience to Ludhiana." 



Dental camp for jail inmates held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 15
Christian Dental College and Hospital here organised a free dental camp for inmates of women jail yesterday, in which more than 200 inmates were provided free check-up by a team led by Dr N.C. Maan. Medicines were also distributed. 

Jail officials played a proactive role in making the camp a success and Dr Maan shared his views on proper oral hygiene. Jail superintendent Chetan Prakash, deputy superintendent Snehjot and medical officer Dr Sudha were prominent among those present during the camp. 



Jarkhar Sports Festival opened 
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 15
The 22nd edition of Jarkhar Sports Festival kicked off amid much fanfare at Mata Sahib Kaur Sports Stadium at village Jarkhar, around 15 kms from here today. 

Guljar Singh Ranike, sports, animal husbandry, fisheries, dairy development and welfare of SC\BC minister, Punjab, inaugurated the three-day festival. Hira Singh Gabria, jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister, Punjab, presided over the function.

Addressing the function, Ranike said the government in its new policy would ensure excellent facilities, equipments and stadiums for promotion of sports in the state. He added that it has been decided to give jobs, up to DSP levels, and financial assistance ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 1 crore to outstanding players from the state.

To provide international level training facilities, 1600 sports wings were being set up in different parts of the state and budding players would be selected at the school level itself, he added. Continuous coaching would be provided to nurture such talent. Ranike said the government would also make provisions for allotment of plots in government colonies for players winning medals at international competitions.

The minister added that to promote hockey in rural areas laying of an astroturf at Jarkhar would be considered, keeping in mind outstanding achievements of players from the hockey academy being run in the village. He appreciated the contribution of organisers in promoting international level games in rural areas and assured that all kind of assistance would be provided for it. Ranike announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the club.

Speaking on the occasion, Gabria lauded the organisers for their contribution in promoting sports at Jarkhar. The ministers also took the salute at the march past by participating contingents. Jagdeep Singh, captain of the Indian basketball team, brought the flame from the historic Alamgir Sahib gurdwara to the stadium amid an impressive procession of sportspersons. A team of one dozen wresters from Pakistan is also participating in the festival.

Others present on the occasion included Gurmail Singh Sangowal, member SGPC, Narinder Singh Sidhu, Balbir Singh, chairman and president of the sports club respectively, Teja Singh Dhaliwal, Jagroop Singh Jarkhar, Channa Alamgir, Roshan Lal, Gurmail Singh Dhillon, president Dairy Club, Sohan Singh Goga, Harpreet Singh Bedi and Pal Singh Grewal.



4 champion grapplers under one roof! 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Jarkhar, January 15
Four international wrestlers, all brothers, living under one roof sounds unbelievable. But this is true in the case of Mohd Umar, Mohd Usman, Mohd Ali and Mohd Salman, who are all wrestling champions in their respective weight categories. 

Despite all odds, these brothers have managed to continue the over 100-year old family tradition of wrestling.

Their late grandfather Peer Mohammed started the tradition and their father Lala Anwar was known to be one of the best wrestling coach in Gujjrewala. The brothers are carrying it forward; with Umar, Usman and Ali all having won SAF Games gold medals.

Mohammed brothers, as they are fondly known, are part of the eight-member wrestling contingent that is participating in the Jarkhar Rural Sports festival. While Umar has hanged his boots and is now coaching the team, the other three are participating in the event.

Currently serving as an XEN with WAPDA, Mohammed Umar, born on April 30, 1975, has made 25 international appearances. Besides participating in the Asian Games at Hiroshima and Bangkok, he has also taken part in the World Championships where he won gold in the 96 kg category.

"I have wrestled long enough, now it's time for the younger ones to take up the challenge. Now, I am playing the role of a coach. So far, the tour has been good for us as our wrestler Hamid Ali Khan defeated ‘rustam- e -hind’ Rohit Patail in a wrestling match at Pune in December last year,” said Umar. He added that in Pakistan, wrestling is quite popular and Gujjrewala is considered to be its hub. “However, its sad that there are only six international mats for practice in entire Pakistan. India has got far better infrastructure,” rued Umar.

He added that all wrestlers currently being trained at their akhara in Pakistan are under-20 years of age and many of them are national champions. “Training is being provided free of cost. The akhara does not receive any government aid. We are following the tradition. Wrestlers manage their own diet, but are being trained in all modern techniques. Hopefully, we will get encouraging results,” says Umar.



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 |