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Massive fire at dyeing unit
Brought under control in over nine hours
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
It took almost nine hours and over 600 water tankers for the fire department to control a fire that broke out at a dyeing unit here last night at around 8 pm.

Material worth lakhs was gutted in the fire. Firefighters were dousing the embers till the filing of this report at 5 pm this evening. The yarn stored in the factory was inflammable.

Talking to The Tribune, fire officials said even a spark could cause the yarn to light up. “We are separating yarn ashes and still finding small flames,” they said, revealing that the burnt part of the roof collapsed at 2.30 pm and the firefighters had a narrow escape.

The fire department had engaged a JCB machine to remove the debris and break the walls as the building had only one entrance and fire engines were still being pressed into service. The officials said the building was burned so badly that it could collapse any time.

Firefighter Surjeet Singh, who was injured while fighting the fire, said: “We were able to control the fire by 5 am and more than 600 fire engines were pressed into service. Some were called from Mandi Ahmadgarh, Halwara, Gobindgarh, Phagwara, Jalandhar and Khanna. I returned at 9 am in the morning as I was tired fighting the fire all night.”

Another firefighter Vijay Kumar, who also sustained burns, said, “Being Sunday, it was a holiday. The major problem we faced was entering the building as it had only one entrance. Since we could not enter from the front gate, it took hours for us to enter the building to carry out the operation. It would take almost 24 hours for the fire to die out completely.”

They suspect that the fire was caused due to a short circuit.

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Staff Crunch
Firefighters on 12-hr duty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Yesterday’s fire incident has again brought to the fore the apathy of the local bodies department towards the genuine demands of the fire department here.

The fire department has been facing a staff crunch which has nearly “paralysed” it. And this was evident from the fire at the dyeing unit. The firefighters did not have the latest fire-fighting equipment and the biggest obstacle that they faced yesterday was the absence of hydraulic stair.

The fire department only has manual ladders and it is not possible for the firefighters to put off the flames unless the ladder is erected against a wall. For an industrial town like Ludhiana, hydraulic stair is still a distant dream.

Even the fire engines are old. According to experts, the life of a fire engine is only 10 years and the fire department is still working with models of 1980s. Though there are 32 fire engines, including 10 models of 2002, the staff crunch is hampering work.

At present, every firefighter is on 12-hour duty without any holiday, due to which the staff has been under pressure for the past two years.

A senior official said the firefighters were stressed and had no family life. Above all, no safety equipment has been given to the staff. Though smoke is more dangerous than fire, the firefighters don’t have mouth masks to protect them. They also don’t have any special fire-fighting cylinders that could be refilled.

Though the MC has written to the local bodies department several times, but to no avail.

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No lab to test specific TB samples
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
With no laboratory in the state to determine multiple drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) cases of tuberculosis, the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) has become inconsequential. The MDR and XDR suspects are sent to Lala Ram Sarup Institute in New Delhi for detection.

Camps, training programmes and seminars to be held on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day tomorrow is pointless in the absence of these facilities.

District TB officer, Dr Ashish Chawla, stated that an approximate 28,000 patients had been registered under the directly observed treatment (DOT) programme since December 2002, being undertaken at 648 centres at government and private hospitals in the district.

Sputum examination was undertaken at 48 microscopic centres, he added. But the non-observance of medicine under DOT, mandatory under the RNTCP, has resulted in increase of MDR-TB and XDR-TB cases.

DOT providers have to administer medicine to TB patients in front of them and have to follow it up so that patients do not leave the treatment half way, which results in MDR and XDR.

On the one hand, the department of health and family welfare has warned government doctors of departmental action if they fail to adhere to the DOT programme, and on the other hand, there is no authority to govern private doctors in this regard.

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Banks get notices for delay in duty list 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Acting tough against several banks that defaulted on sending lists of employees as sought by the district election department for poll duties, the latter has issued notices seeking the lists soon.

Several branches of banks like the State Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala and Oriental Bank of Commerce have been issued notices under Section 134 of the Representation of People Act for wilful obstruction in the preparation for elections.

The banks have been asked to explain in writing immediately. A senior official in the election office said while 95 per cent public sector offices and institutes had submitted the list of employees who could be put on poll duty, these branches had not submitted the lists.

“This is a serious matter. We have sent them notices. All banks have now replied in the affirmative. A few sent the lists immediately and the rest have said the direction would be followed,” the official said, adding that if the lists would not be received by the office soon, the banks would be issued another notice.

“We want to be through with the duties. At later stages, people turn up to get themselves exempted on the basis of medical and other genuine reasons. At least for the time being, all this would be over,” he said.

The Indian National Bank Employees Congress has urged the Election Commission to exempt bank employees from election duty on the plea that it resulted in disruption of customer services.

Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary, said during the last Assembly elections, several branches of banks had to be closed as employees were on poll duty.

“An entire army of public sector employees is available for poll duty. There is no justification for bank staff to be put on duty,” he said, adding that they had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Election Commission, Punjab, and New Delhi to consider their case since they were providing public utility services.

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Migrant vote divided
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 23
The 3.5 lakh-odd vote bank of migrants here seems to be divided. Unlike in the past, the migrant votes might witness a vertical split this time depending on the influence wielded by their respective leaders.

The newly formed All India Poorvanchal Sangharsh Morcha convened a mahapanchayat under the chairmanship of Ram Lagan here yesterday, in which Prem Pandey and AN Mishra were nominated president and general secretary, respectively.

In his scathing attack on certain “self styled” leaders of migrants, Pandey said in each election, these leaders virtually “sold off” the interests of the migrants and denied them any worthwhile representation in the political set-up.

Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Poorvanchal Vikas Manch led by TR Mishra charged the morcha with creating differences within the migrant population. Denying any split, he said certain disgruntled elements had broken away and were trying to create confusion among migrants.

Considered to be close to the SAD-BJP alliance, Mishra said the manch was committed to safeguarding the interests of the migrants.

Pandey and Mishra made it clear that the migrants were not wedded to any particular political party. “We are fighting for our dignity and self respect. Even though the morcha itself is in no position to put up a candidate right now, we shall extend support only to candidates who commit to solve the problems being faced by the migrants and represent them in Parliament.”

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Fraud
Former rly board member nabbed 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
A former member of the Railway Advisory Board was nabbed by the Economic Offences wing on the charges of fraud here today.

Nattha Singh, an accused, who happens to be the former member of the Railway Advisory Board, his wife Kailash Kaur and his two sons, Manpreet Singh and Harpreet Singh, respectively, were remanded in one-day police custody by the local court.

According to the police, Nattha Singh had taken Rs 1 lakh from Kehar Singh on the pretext of recruiting him in the Railways but failed to keep his promise.

The complainant alleged that the entire family was into the business of usurping the hard-earned money of innocent people.

Similar cases were registered against Nattha Singh in Kapurthala and Amritsar in 2005 also. 

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Bid to take over trust land
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 23
Intervention of residents and timely action by officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) along with the police foiled the attempt by some persons to take forcible possession of a piece of land worth nearly Rs 1 crore at Model Town Extension here.

Claiming that the plot measuring around 300 sq yards was owned by him, Naresh Dhingan had begun construction on the land on Friday, but residents objected to it saying that it was under the possession of the LIT.

They also alleged that the title deed was forged. Before the situation could take an ugly turn, the police was called in and LIT officials also reached the spot. Trust officials said they would verify the documents of the property and submit their report and until then no construction could be undertaken.

LIT engineer Pramod Sharma told The Tribune today that the report was submitted by the land acquisition branch yesterday and a copy had been submitted to the police. The report maintained that the plot was under the possession of the trust since 1979.

According to Sharma, the conveyance deed of the plot, registered early this year, prima facie, appeared to be fake as the boundaries were incorrect. Moreover, as per the revenue record available with the LIT, khasra number (608) of the property was also wrong since it was scattered and comprised a water channel.

Meanwhile, Dhingan and Vicky Chhabra, a resident of the area who had led the protest against the possession of land, have filed complaints with the police against each other. Dhingan has alleged that Chhabra made casteist remarks against him while Chhabra charged Dhingan with threatening him with dire consequences.

The SHO of the Model Town police station said the matter was being investigated and the police needed some clarification on the LIT report. No case had been registered until now, he added.

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Man killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Raikot, March 23
A man was killed after he was hit by a vehicle when he was returning home here today. The deceased has been identified as Joginder Singh (48). 

He had come to the market at Jalaldiwal when he was hit by a Bolero jeep coming from the wrong side. The driver absconded.

The victim was brought to the Civil Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

On the statement of Sikander Singh, brother of the deceased, a case has been registered against the unidentified driver under Sections 279 and 304-A of 
the IPC.

No arrest has been made so far.

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Attempt to loot bank
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
The bid to rob the Focal Point branch of the State Bank of India here today has been foiled. The incident came to light this morning when the accounts manager of the bank, Bakhtawar Singh, reached the bank and found it ransacked.

According to bank employees, the robbers may have entered the bank in the intervening night of Saturday or Sunday.

The police said the robbers entered the bank by cutting the grills of a window, but were unable to open the strongroom. They opened the cash drawer and almirah, but found nothing in it and left empty-handed. 

No CCTVs and alarm system had been installed at the bank. Sources in the bank said around Rs 2 lakh were lying in the bank when the thieves struck.

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Customer, bank staff cross swords
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
A customer and authorities of HDFC bank had a verbal showdown with the two sides levelling allegations of breach of trust against each other here today.

The incident took place this morning when Kuljit Singh, a resident of Flower Enclave, reached HDFC Bank, Mall Road, to pay his monthly installment.

Kuljit Singh got agitated when the bank staff told him that his gold ornaments had been sold by the bank as he had failed to pay his regular installment.

Kuljit Singh claimed that he had taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh from HDFC Bank against gold ornaments weighing 180 gm as collateral.

Kuljit Singh called his relatives to the bank after the authorities refused to entertain him.

Kuljit along with his relatives sat on a dharna outside the bank. After some time, both parties started hurling abuses at each other.

A local television journalist covering the scene was allegedly manhandled by the bank staff. Witnessing the chaos, a huge rush gathered outside the bank.

Finally, both sides approached the police even as the journalist alleged manhandling by bank employees.

A bank employee said Kuljit Singh had failed to submit his installment in spite of several reminders by the bank employees. The bank had no option but to sell his gold ornaments, he added. Kuljit, on the other hand, denied receiving any such letters.

Both sides submitted their complaints to the police.

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Dress Restriction
Choice of clothes ‘students’ prerogative’
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
The idea of imposing restrictions on girl students wearing western dresses in certain colleges here has not gone down well with the former. Terming the decision unjustified, youngsters feel they live in 21st century and such restrictions are uncalled for.

A majority of girls and boys think the choice of clothes should be left to students as strikes were a possible outcome of such edicts.

Recently, it was alleged that the management of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College here “discouraged” its girl students from wearing jeans and other western outfits.

For the management of the college, it was not their culture to promote “westernisation”. Talking to The Tribune, college principal Dr MS Saini said it was a baseless allegation.

He said several girl students, day scholars and hostellers, wore jeans on a regular basis as there was nothing wrong in it. “We have not issued any directive - verbal or written - in this regard,” he claimed.

One of the girl students of the college said it was a liberal society. “We are not wearing revealing dresses. Wearing jeans with T-shirt should not become an issue at all. We are grown-ups and know what is good or bad for us,” she said.

Mamta Sharma, a student of Government College for Women, here said it was wrong to judge a person from his/her dresses. “We are living in a modern society. We have to go with trends and see our comfort. Even if we attract somebody, I do not feel anyone should raise hue and cry over it as long as our outfits are decent and we do not cross our limits,” she added.

The principal of Guru Nanak Girls College here, Dr Charanjit Kaur Mahal, said their management had never put such restrictions on students.

She added that even faculty members were allowed to wear jeans or decent western dresses. “You have to permit them. Restrictions cannot solve the problems. What is needed is proper guidance. Parents, teachers and college management should keep guiding students for their welfare,” she said.

A few years ago, a women’s college in Ghumar Mandi had imposed certain restrictions on dresses of girl students and students had gone on protests till the issue was resolved in their (students) favour.

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RIMT students shine in inter-college fest
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 23
Students of the RIMT Campus of Management and Computer Studies excelled in the inter-college festival, organised by Shree Atam Vallabh Jain College.

The students participated in all 12 events and secured positions in seven of them.

The results are: Three-legged race: Hitesh and Manoj 1; sack race: Rinky 1; collage making: Gaurav and Hitesh 1; quiz: Hitesh and Ravi Sharma 1; chess: Ravi Sharma 1; carom: Kamaljeet Kaur 1, Jaspreet Kaur 3; mehndi: Gaurav Prashar 1, Meenakshi 3; paper presentation: Deeksha and Monica 2.

The students who won in the inter-college cultural and technical festival are: Bhangra: Pushinder and group 1; duet song: Sandeep Singh and Ishaan 1; extempore: Rahul Sharma 1; group discussion: Harmeet Singh 1; debugging: Janu Gandhi and Shivani Vohra 1; ethical hacking: Janu Gandhi 1; devil operating system: Shivani Vohra 1; t-shirt painting: Preeti Walia 2; solo song: Priya 2; rock-n-roll: Preeti Walia 2.

Chairman of the RIMT group Hukam Chand Bansal congratulated the winners.

The chief director general of the institutes, SK Ahluwalia, and the director general of the institutes, Dr BS Bhatia, committed to offer more facilities to students to showcase their talent.

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Musical by CMC students
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Students of the medical, dental and nursing colleges presented a dance musical, “The little mermaid”, in aid of the leukaemia patients under the guidance of Dr Dhruv Ghosh, Dr Vinay Gaikwad and Bassist Anand Peacock.

The music and theatre workshop was initiated by the students of Christian Medical College (CMC), in 1993. The workshop was an effort to channel the musical and dramatic talent of students into professionally organised productions.

The production of “The Little Mermaid” (written by the famous Danish fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen in 1200 AD), was managed by students of the three colleges with support from faculty and encouragement from director Dr Abraham G Thomas.

This year the musical had special significance, as the proceeds from the production went towards helping poor patients suffering from leukaemia (blood cancer).

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United effort needed to fight TB: Health official
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Satish Chandra, managing director of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)-cum-secretary health, Punjab, has called upon doctors and people to unite hands against eradication of tuberculosis from India, which has 1/3rd of the total TB patients of the world.

Chandra was addressing a state-level function organised on the eve of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, at Shimlapuri today.

He said it was important for people to come out of the social stigma attached to the TB as it was curable, adding that Punjab had a success rate of 85 per cent in curing TB cases.

The treatment for tuberculosis was being carried out at government hospitals and authorised centres under the DOT (directly observed treatment) prescribed under revised national tuberculosis control program (RNTCP).

Chandra added that tuberculosis could only be controlled through extended support of private doctors who should follow DOT.

There were 286 microscopy centres for free test and 13,788 DOT centres for treatment all over the state.

He added that private practitioners were giving free treatment to TB patients under a programme initiated by the IMA — public private mix (PPM).

Dr SPS Sohal, director health, Punjab, in his address stated that people were being facilitated for a treatment near to their homes under PPM.

He added that 20 health societies in different districts were sensitising people thereby making them aware of the disease and its prescribed treatment.

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Awareness week focuses on detection, treatment 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 23
As part of the World TB Day on March 24 this year, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) is observing a tuberculosis (TB) awareness week from March 19 to March 24 here.

During the week-long awareness programmes, a series of lectures, seminars and workshops were held to focus on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB with main thrust on creating awareness among the masses.

According to Dr J Whig, chairman, RNTCP, and vice-principal-cum-head of pulmonary medicine at DMCH, said tuberculosis was a major public health problem in India.

It killed more adults in the country than any other disease. Therefore, awareness about the disease and its management must be spread among the masses.

Dr Daljit Singh, principal and chairman of core committee (DOTS) at DMCH, said proper identification and treatment of infectious cases could prevent childhood TB.

Children could catch TB at any age but a majority of cases were found in children between one and four years and efforts made under the RNTCP would decrease tuberculosis morbidity and mortality occurring in infants and children in the community.

Dr Whig said to make the public aware of DOTS on daily basis, a scroller was being installed at DOTS OPD displaying the message in three languages —- Hindi, English and Punjabi. It will be inaugurated by secretary, DMCH managing society, Prem Gupta on World TB Day.

The activities to be undertaken during the week included a lecture on MDR tuberculosis at IMA House on March 25 by Dr Rajesh Mahajan, professor of medicine; a TB awareness camp for employees of Hero Cycle by Dr Anil Kashyap on March 24; a CME in the department of medicine; lectures by Dr Anil and Dr Vineet on DOTS and MDR tuberculosis the same day.

The Punjab state task force operational research committee with Dr J Whig, Dr Raj Kumar and Dr Gautam Ahluwalia as members from DMCH has been involved in promoting tuberculosis related research.

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Lecture on tuberculosis
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
Hundred workers of the Lucky Hosiery Unit attended a public awareness lecture on tuberculosis organised by the NIMA, Ludhiana.

Dr Surinder Gupta , president, Aasha TB Project, and secretary, NIMA, said workers were told about the symptoms and treatment of the TB.

He further said prevention and treatment of tuberculosis was high on the agenda of the Indian government and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).

The RNTPC (Revised National Tuberculosis Programme Centre) has been drafted in such a manner that medicines are available at the nearby DOT (Directly Observed Treatment) Centre.

He said symptoms of TB were low-grade fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and persistent cough, while in latent TB, a person has a significant reaction to the Mantoux skin test with no symptoms of tuberculosis, and no TB organisms found in the sputum.

The disease is contagious and an untreated person may become severely ill or even die. To prevent the spread of tuberculosis, one should get his/her sputum tested, which is free of cost.

Once the disease is detected, free DOT’s treatment ensures the permanent cure. The DOT’s medicine is free of cost and available everywhere in India.

A member of the organisation said the Aasha TB Project was organising more events to educate young students and social workers, more than 2,000 people with tuberculosis had been given treatment by the organisation even before the introduction of DOT therapy,he added.

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Martyrs remembered only for tributes 
No announcement made for upkeep of Sukhdev’s house
Tribune News Service

A youth with the tattoo of
RANG DE BASANTI: A youth with the tattoo of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in Ludhiana on Monday. A Tribune photograph 

Ludhiana, March 23
“Mera rang de basanti chola, maai rang de basanti chola....” When one hears these lines, the one name that comes to everyone's mind is that of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. On the fateful day of March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh was hanged in Lahore, with fellow revolutionaries Rajguru and Sukhdev.

Those who believed in "Inquilab Zindabad", and gave the slogan "Long live the revolution" were remembered today. These martyrs who should have been the source of inspiration for today's youth are hardly remembered by the youngsters today, giving clear picture of total ignorance.

The day has been restricted to few organisations and political parties who observe the day but the real spirit goes missing somewhere. It is only on this day that the three statues standing tall at the Jagraon Bridge attract people’s attention.

"The trio, despite coming from entirely different backgrounds, believed in the same ideology and shared the same mission. Bhagat Singh was the main brain, who grew up in a much politicised family. They sacrificed their lives for the country but the sad part is that they are hardly”, says Lakhbir Singh, a senior citizen.

"The Indians glorified them as martyrs and were inspired by their defiance and reckless bravery. Even today, the heroic spirit of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru is an outstanding source of inspiration for all.

Their courage, spirit of adventure and patriotism is unmatchable. But our heroes have been lost in the oblivion. Paying floral tributes on their martyrdom day is all government is doing," adds Richie, a postgraduate student.

When power is misused, it translates into violence; but when it is used for achieving one’s righteous goals, it amounts to justice. This revolutionary ideology was stated by great revolutionary Bhagat Singh. "Any sacrifice will be inadequate to accomplish the greatest aim of freeing the motherland," was the opinion of the trio.

“Today was the day when these three great revolutionaries laid down their lives in their effort of achieving their goal! O People! Don’t be ungrateful to revolutionaries by forgetting them," pleaded Sant Ram, standing outside the ancestral house of Sukhdev at Nauh Ghara.

Only a few political parties and few organisations observed the day. Havan was organised at the ancestral house of Sukhdev at Nauh Ghara. Glowing tributes were paid to the martyr. The CPI organised a rally at Jagraon Bridge to pay homage and garlanded the statues.

The District Congress Committee (U), Block Congress Committee and the District Congress (I) Sewa Dal Ludhiana (U) also observed the day at their party office. Speaking on the occasion leaders exhorted the youth to follow the path shown by the revolutionaries. 

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Triangular contest to be tough
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 23
Although Manish Tewari, official spokesperson of the All-India Congress Committee, was already campaigning in this Lok Sabha segments, but with the official announcement of his candidature, the electioneering will pick up now. The SAD has already announced the candidature of Gurcharan Singh Galib, two times Congress MP, who has defected from the Congress and joined the SAD. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has also announced Kehar Singh Ramgarhia as its candidate from this Lok Sabha seat.

Manish Tewari had unsuccessfully contested 2004 Lok Sabha elections from the Ludhiana Parliamentary seat and was defeated by SAD candidate Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who had secured 329,234 votes against the Congress nominee 299,694.

The third candidate in the fray in 2004 was Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, who had bagged 187,787 votes. The Lok Bhalai Party has not yet put up any candidate so far.

No doubt that the Congress is divided into many groups and its candidate will have to work hard to persuade them to join his campaigning. He will not face much opposition from the party being its official spokesperson. Tewari has the advantage that no Congress leader or worker would openly oppose him irrespective of the fact whether they like him or not.

So far as the SAD candidate is concerned, he knows it that the Akali leaders are also divided into different groups and he has already started working on them. Galib has already sought the help of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in this connection. Galib is trying to make contacts with the Akali workers.

Ludhiana is set to witness a tough fight and no party can claim to have a cakewalk. Tewari no doubt contested the elections in 2004 and remained in contact with the city people. But he still faces the label of being an ‘outsider’. Tewari has received support from the business community and some leading businessmen met him last week where he was assured all help and offered financial help too.

Gurcharan Singh Galib being a man from Ludhiana district and twice MP has local connections as well. He may not have taken active part in the Lok Sabha deliberations, but he has not created any controversy during his two terms as MP. He was elected MLA from Jagraon in 1967 as his village falls in that segment. He still holds his contacts in the Jagraon area, which is a part of the Ludhiana Parliamentary constituency.

Balwant Singh Ramoowalia had done quite a major damage to the Congress candidate in the last Lok Sabha elections. Ramoowalia was pressurised to withdraw from the contest and offered the Rajya Sabha seat in lieu of that but he declined the offer.

The BJP has two MLAs from the city. Both are opposed to each other. The BJP leadership of Ludhiana is yet to declare its support for the Akali candidate.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat has become more urban dominated after the delimitation of constituencies. Out of nine Vidhan Sabha segments seven are almost urban dominated and the number of villages in the constituency has also come down to little over 200 against 900 earlier. 

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Preneet addresses rally at Bhadson
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 23
Preneet Kaur, MP and the Lok Sabha Candidate from Patiala, after addressing meetings in about six villages of the Bhadson area near Amloh urged people to vote for a secular party. She said this while addressing a meeting of Congress workers at Bhadson village today.

Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA, questioned the SAD-BJP’s claim for developing the state. He said the party had even failed to failed to maintain proper power supply for industry and the agriculture sector.

Nabha MLA Randeep Singh criticised the government for victimisation and harassment of the Congress workers and framing sarpanches in false cases.

Former MLA Ramesh Singla, former market committee chairman Jathedar Rajinder Singh Tohra, block samiti member Dharshan Kaura and former block samiti chairman Mahant Harwinder Singh Khanaura and sarpanch Bhagwant Singh were present on the occasion. 

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Lok Adalat
Stress on pre-litigation compromises
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, March 22
Pre-litigation compromises dominated the lok adalats held at judicial complex here on Saturday. Three lok adalat courts were held by Judges Mandeep Kaur Bedi, Ranjeev Kumar Vashist and Ravinder Pal Singh.

It was the first day of Judge Ravinder Pal Singh at Jagraon Courts.

In the three lok adalats, at least 73 cases of Negotiable Instruments Act, Hindu Marriage Act, criminal cases and divorce cases were taken up, of which 56 were disposed of.

Puja Jain and Shewta Dhand from GHG College of Law for Women, Sidhwan Khurd, were also part of the lok adalat panel.

Judge Bedi said litigants of mutual divorce were the main beneficiary as at the lok adalats a time period of six months could be condoned in case all other litigations within the parties of divorce suits were settled.

She said it was a major relief for the accused of cross-cases under Sections 123/125 where a number of accused were facing harassment.

A recovery of around Rs 25 lakh in cases under Negotiable Instruments Act, recovery suit and pre-litigation cases of ICICI Bank — wherein 19 cases were settled — was made by the lok adalat.

Raghubir Singh Toor, a lawyer, thanked his fraternity for the co-operation extended by them to towards the lok adalats.

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US delegation visits PAU 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 23
A 36-member KARL (Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership) delegation from the US comprising academics, sale managers, farmers, animal health activists, market, insurance and business executives, farm managers, accountants, etc. visited the PAU to gain knowledge about agriculture and Punjabi culture.

The team led by Jack W Lindquist visited the Museum of Social History of Punjab on PAU campus. They also visited the soybean processing unit of Bachitter Singh Garcha, Deh Kalan,Ludhiana.

In the evening, they held a meeting with the PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Manjit Singh Kang, and officers of the university.

Kang said the PAU was having collaborative arrangement with the Kansas State University and visits to different institutes provided useful exposure to visitors.

Kang presented Lindquist with a memento and floral bouquets.

Lindquist said the delegation experienced exposure in terms of knowledge, broader perspective and communication skills. 

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Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh accident prone 
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 23
Commuters waste lots of time in covering the 8-km stretch from Mandi Gobindgarh to Amloh due to traffic blockade at several places. Numerous accidents have taken place on this road and many precious lives lost but authorities have to failed to rise from the slumber.

Educational institutions like the Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes, Government College for Women and numerous government and private high schools have come up on this road, which has increased the traffic manifold. Besides school buses, overloaded buses and trucks from the steel factories have made commuting risky. The local bus service from Amloh to Mandi Gobindgarh in the morning and the evening can keep a check on overloaded buses.

The PWD has installed weighing bridges (Kanda) on road leading from Amloh to Mandi Gobindgarh. The loaded trucks parked on the roadside wait for their turn on this stretch.

The traffic police and the PWD department should immediately addresses this problem for ensuring smooth flow of vehicles on this road.

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Govt neglecting middle class, allege trade unions
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 23
Paying tributes to the martyrs, office-bearers of various trade unions and labour welfare organisations regretted that leaders, irrespective of their political allegiance, had failed to come true to expectations of those of lower and middle class of society.

Accusing successive governments of supporting upper classes, the leaders called upon the workers to join hands against such forces.

The activists, led by the office-bearers of the Mazdoor Mulazim Talmel Committee, took out a protest march through Municipal Children Park, Railway Road, Chaura Bazaar, Mahavir Road, Galla Mandi and the Gandhi Chowk before culminating at the Bhagat Singh Chowk.

Sikandar Singh Jartoli, president, Punjab School Teachers Union, Hari Datt Sharma, president, PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC), Narang Singh, president, Technical Services Union (TSU), Karam Deol, president, FCI Palledar Union (Azad), Mohammad Khalil, president, Punjab Palledar Union, and Gurdev Raj Bhoombla, president, Shryans Industries Workers Union addressed the rally. 

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Credit card holders at receiving end

The ever-increasing use of credit cards creates more problems than it solves, at least for a large number of users, if not all. If number of complaints of over-billing, incorrect entries, levy of charges under different heads and non-receipt of monthly statements is any indication, the majority of credit card holders, irrespective of the bank issuing the card seems to be a harassed lot. 

Recently, a relative complained of a leading private sector bank issuing an unsolicited credit card over a year ago. Even though the card was not used, the statement received by the card holder showed a debit entry of “over-limit charges” of Rs 500 and the bank demanded an amount of Rs 562 inclusive of service tax.

Lodging a complaint for this levy by the bank proved easier said than done. The monthly statement for the credit card carried no e-mail address where the complaint could be registered. The helpline number was computerised and even after a number of attempts, the call did not mature. 

Details put on the grievances cell mentioned on the website of the bank backfired with the comments: “Contact the helpline”. The situation being back to square one, the harassed card-holder is now planning legal assistance.

Adamant cop

While the Punjab police claims be people friendly with transparency in its working, the Khanna SSP seems to defy this. SSP Sukhminder Pal Singh Mann has refused to release daily crime report for media. While his predecessors have readily released these reports, Mann does not find it worth publishing.

“What difference does it make? I have ordered that no crime report be released to mediapersons,” he reasons. Perhaps the Khanna police may now have few cases to hide, which may scar its already tarnished image. The final blow to the tall claims of transparency and easy access came when he refused to part with his mobile number, which has been given to him for official purposes.

Insensitive authorities

Harpreet Singh, working as clerk in a private company, is lying in the emergency of the CMC since February 28. He was hit by a Punbus (PB 65H 9004) near Cheema Chowk and had to be taken to the hospital. The right hand of the victim has been severely injured. 

Two operations have been done and third one is expected soon. Amar Singh, a retired school teacher and a national awardee, is appalled at the official apathy. “Despite a bus running on behalf of the government involved in the accident, no official has so far visited the injured at the hospital. We have spent Rs 1.5 lakh on his operations and money is now needed. 

I don’t know whom to approach. Who is responsible for helping a common man injured in a road accident? I pray either some responsible officer takes the issue or some responsible public welfare organisation takes up the matter to suggest a mechanism to help in such cases,” he said.

Hypocrisy

What if those preaching rights and laws themselves turn out to be violators? During a recent press conference organised by the All-India Human Rights Association, the society members claimed that they were helping citizens by putting up banners and hoarding all over the city. 

However, when they were questioned that their activity amounted to defacement of public property and was a violation of the MC Act, they failed to come up with a satisfying answer. It is a common predicament of journalists to be caught in such situations.

Begging for compliment

Beggars, these days have become a great nuisance. Starting from a five-year-old to an octogenarian, these beggars on public places will shower on you blessings and compliments to get alms. Comments like “tamatar vargi sohni kudi” and “lambe balon wali, gore galon wali” seem to have become a passe. An acquaintance recently got a refreshing compliment from a beggar. 

She said: “I have been complimented by a young girl asking for alms that my looks are like those of Katrina Kaif and smile is like that of Preity Zinta. I was so happy that I gave her Rs 20 in return.”

Curd politics

Much to the amusement of people, an Akali leader, Kulwinder Singh, is lovingly known as ‘Dahi’ (curd). In all Akali rallies, he is referred to as and addressed as ‘Dahi’. He may not be known better by his real name but his “political” name has made him more popular. 

Not many know the reason behind naming him as ‘Dahi’. However, the most convincing story goes around that he used to provide Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with curd when he was jailed during Dharam Yudh Morcha days. So his name!

Dreaded journalists

During an interaction with a teacher at a school, she remarked: “I am simply scared of journalists. They are in the habit of probing.” Surely I had gone to collect some information. At first, she refused to entertain me because the flying squad had come. The squad members were known to me. Her attitude changed towards me as soon as she learned about this. 

After finishing my work, when I came back, one of the members of the flying squad rang me up telling me that I should not mind her remarks. People must realise that reporting can’t be done unless there is probing of pros and cons of the event. Wonder why people are scared of journalists when they are out to help them.

Nano-mania

Nano is the much awaited car of the year among the female folk due to its small size, cool interiors and low maintenance. Even my 10-year-old niece is excited about its launch and is insisting her parents to get the booking of the car done in advance. When she was asked why she wants this particular car when they already have two cars, she replied it was a cool car and all her friends were asking their parents to buy the car. 

“Nano will be my personal car and I will go to my friend’s birthday parties and tuitions on this car and I along with mum will go shopping in it,” she added. She also wanted a driver for the car and very candidly replied that the car was just for Rs 1 lakh so there will be no problem for her parents in buying it.

Caller ID

Grappling with the chores, it is rather difficult for professionals to entertain unwanted callers and their calls. Driven by their need to get some solace, some cell phone users have a way to christen the callers in most interesting manner. As one of the officials in a PR agency, bugged by a caller using seven numbers, took the liberty to tag the numbers as warning I, 2, 3, ……. Mobiles are not only a headache for bosses but also for girls who work till late at night. 

To evade proposals of partying after work, a young girl had saved her father’s number as “Sheru” with corresponding caller tune of “roaring lion” a warning enough for her male colleagues. Not to miss the police siren set up by another teenage daughter for her father that said: “Time to go home”. But saving friend’s name under nicknames like “Ghora” and “Murgi” adds to the nostalgic moments.

Contributed by: Kuldip Bhatia, Gurdeep Mann, Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Jyotika Sood, Shivani Bhakoo, Kanchan Vasdev, Sheetal Chawla, Manav Ghuman, Anshu Seth

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Letters
Anti-ragging law need of the hour

Ragging should be considered as a crime against humanity. The administration should ensure that the educational authorities were aware of the laws related to ragging.

A number of students from different regions come here to study in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), CMC, DMC, engineering college (GNE) and other professional educational institutions.

Basically, the faculty should be strict towards the senior students over such incidents.

Framing an anti-ragging law ie ‘Prohibition of Ragging’ is the need of the hour, especially after witnessing a heinous recent incident of ragging by senior students resulting in the death of a young boy in Himachal Pradesh.

The Supreme Court regards ragging as ‘human rights abuse’ now, and hence, the educational institutes should adopt sch safeguards to end this menace.

Harpreet Sandhu, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.

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Protest by brick kiln labourers
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, March 23
The Red Flag Brick Kiln Labour Union and activists of the Left parties held a rally in protest against the implication of 16 labourers in a false case by the Dakha police on March 16. The 16 labourers were booked for kidnapping two labourers working at a brick kiln at Raqba village owned by Harpreet Singh.

Left leaders, including Tersem Jodhan, Ranjit Singh, and others took part in the rally which passed through the main bazaar of the town. The protesters raised slogans against the Punjab government and the local police besides brick kiln owners.

Addressing the gathering of at least 500 labourers, union leaders said the government had delayed hike in minimum wages of labourers. They accused the government of conniving with brick kiln owners for implicating labourers so that they could be isolated from others.

They warned brick kiln owners and the police authorities against suppressing the voice of labourers. They also demanded the cancellation of the case registered against the labourers.

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Jalaldiwal boys claim kabaddi title
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 23
Jalaldiwal village team stole limelight in open kabaddi at the annual rural sports fair organised by the Kanganwal Sports Club at the village stadium. The Maherna village team were declared runners-up.

The fair that concluded at Kanganwal stadium, near here, yesterday was inaugurated by Dr Sunit Hind. Iqbal Singh Jhoonda, MLA Dhuri, was the chief guest.

According to Jagtaran Singh, general secretary of the club, over 100 kabaddi players and 200 athletes participated in the meet.

Various speakers, including Dr Sunit, Kuldeep Singh Deepa, president, Jaggie and Dr Shiraj, called upon the youth to adopt sports as a habit.

Former minister Abdul Gaffar and SGPC member Raghbir Singh Saharanmajra gave away prizes to winners of various events.

The open kabaddi championship was won by Jalaldiwal village team, who defeated Maherna village in final match.

The veterans of Ludhiana won the first position by dragging those of Moga to the second position.

Acharwal, Kanganwal A, and Bhoodan teams won first prizes in 70, 60 and 50 kg weight categories.

Kanganwal, Kanganwal B and Lasara teams finished runners-up in these categories.

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