L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Fire destroys hosiery goods worth crores
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Diwali celebrations turned into tragedy for more than four businessmen after hosiery material worth over Rs 1.50 crore, lying in eight shops-cum-stores, was destroyed in a fire caused due to a short circuit at Veer Market in Mochpura Bazaar (Asia’s biggest woollen market) late last night.

It took fire fighters more than three hours to douse the fire, which reduced most hosiery items into ashes and the rest were drenched in water.

The three-storeyed Veer Market caught fire around 9.30 pm reportedly due to a short circuit caused by electric wires hanging outside the market.

Neighbours informed one of the shop owners, who rushed to the spot and informed the others and the fire department.

In the meantime, the police also reached the spot and cleared the road and told people to quickly remove their vehicles from the narrow street to make way for the fire engines. It took nine fire engines to douse the flames.

Residents complained that the fire fighters reached only after an hour due to which the fire spread to other shops also.

“Had they reached sooner, the fire would not have spread and the losses could have been minimised,” Gagan Chadha, a resident, said.

The fire officer blamed the traffic for the delay. Annoyed at the insensitive attitude of motorists, he said: “People do not understand the gravity of the situation. Despite the siren, they did not clear the road and caused unnecessary traffic jam. The police reached the spot and cleared the way for us.”

The fire fighters said the shop owners were storing bulk of polyester hosiery material which caused the delay.

Honey Singla, a hosiery trader, whose shop was gutted said: “I had put in all my money and even borrowed huge amount on high interest to purchase shawls and hosiery material. I was hoping that I would double the amount this season, but nothing is left now. Everything has been reduced to ashes.”

Kakka, another shop owner, said just two days he had received a huge consignment of imported blankets for winter, but these had been destroyed in the fire.


Thankless job, say firemen
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Even after giving it their best shot, fire fighters and the police have only drawn criticism from residents.

Pankaj Kumar, a fire fighter who was the first one to reach Mochpura Bazaar, was allegedly manhandled by infuriated shopkeepers.

“The moment I entered the street and stood clearing the way for the fire engine, a hosiery trader threw a bundle of shawls at me. Later a group of hosiery traders grabbed me by the collar and dragged me toward the incident site,” he said, adding that such incidents were routine on Diwali and “we have attuned ourselves to the treatment meted out to us.”

Another fire fighter said manhandling of Pankaj further added to the delay. “People think by thrashing a fire fighter, the fire department would understand the gravity of the situation and would send a fire engine quickly. Such a practice should be stopped else it would be difficult for us to work,” he said.

Fire fighter Rajinder Kumar, who was visibly exhausted after dousing the fire, held the people responsible for the delay. “People parked their vehicles in the narrow street and rushed toward the fire site, blocking the way for the fire engines. It was after the police reached the spot that the vehicles could be removed and we could reach the incident site. First, they create problems and then blame us for the delay,” he said.

“For two days we did not sleep properly. We are humans and we also feel pain, but unfortunately people do not realise this and sometimes even push us into the fire as if we are Superman and would save everything from burning,” Rajinder Kumar said.

“For nearly 27 years I have not celebrated Diwali. What do you think my children do not miss me on this day? Even they long to celebrate it with me. Someone has rightly said that it is a thankless job,” Amarjit Sharma, in charge of a fire station, said.



Burn, accident cases as usual
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Emergency wards in all leading hospitals of the city, including Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) and Civil Hospital, were abuzz with activity last night due to burn injuries from crackers; road accidents and medico-legal cases arising out of violence during gambling.

Two patients with serious eye injuries and one with face burns were admitted to the DMCH emergency on Diwali. Dr Sanjeev Uppal, in charge of the emergency, said cases with minor hand, eye and face burns were reported at the OPDs. The hospital had received 36 cases of burns sustained from crackers during Diwali until the filing of this report.

The CMCH also received 40 patients in the emergency on Diwali night. The emergency staff said 25 patients had received minor eye injuries followed by face and hand burns while the remaining 15 were road accident cases, wherein a majority of people were driving after drinking.

The Civil Hospital received two cases of minor burns while the number of medico-legal cases went up to 40. The staff on duty informed that a majority of medico-legal cases were a result of brawls that took place over high stakes during gambling. A senior doctor at the Civil Hospital stated that such incidents of violence were a routine affair on Diwali as people from economically weaker sections gambled with borrowed money and were unable to pay the amount on losing.

“It is rather strange that all these cases come from the areas that have already been marked sensitive and have increased police vigil in the wake of Diwali,” the doctor added.



45 incidents of fire reported
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
As many as 45 incidents of fire were reported from various parts of the city in the past 24 hours.

Ludhiana stood second in the country after Delhi, which reported around 150 fire incidents, Kartar Singh, assistant area officer, said. Amarjeet Sharma, in charge of the central fire station near Laxmi Cinema, said: “The situation remained under control till 8.30 pm, but because of the sudden rise in fire incidents, all 18 fire engines were pressed into service.”

Except Mochpura Bazaar, where the biggest fire incident was reported, the fire department remained busy in dousing fire at two other locations.

A godown containing woollen material caught fire near Neemwala Chowk late last night.

In another incident, a truck loaded with chemicals caught fire near the Focal Point and two fire engines were pressed into service to douse the flames. A majority of fire incidents were reported from Khud Mohalla, Lakkar Bazaar, Mahopuri, Focal Point and Moti Nagar. Some reports of fire were also received from the Mall road and Sarabha Nagar areas.

Kartar Singh, assistant area fire officer, said a majority of fire incidents were reported from the old city area as hosiery traders stocked bulk woollen material.



12 days before daughter’s marriage, man ends life
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
A middle-aged man allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the top of a multi-storied shopping mall at the Mall Road yesterday. The deceased was identified as Ranjan Malhotra (50), who was residing near the Mall Road.

According to sources, Malhotra recently suffered loses in business and was under depression. The incident came to light when passers-by spotted his body lying on the pavement of the mall.

When the police probed the matter, the security guard deployed at the mall told that he had seen Malhotra climbing the stairs of the mall. The body was sent to the Civil Hospital for postmortem. In the meantime, the police has initiated the investigation under Section 174 of the IPC.

The police was also probing how Malhotra reached on the top floor of the mall, especially on Diwali, when the entire market was closed.

It is learnt that Malhotra’s daughter was scheduled to get married on October 30 and the family was busy in the preparation of the marriage.

As per information, Malhotra left home on the pretext of purchasing some material from the market. Later, the neighbours told the family members about the incident.



Mega rangoli in vain
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 18
In the wake of the pollution level in the industrial hub of the state already reaching alarming proportions, Praveen Kumar, a fine arts lecturer at the Government College for Women, along with his colleagues Balwinder Singh Khanna and Gopi Verma, made a huge rangoli on a 500 sq ft area at Kipps Market in Sarabha Nagar to convey the message of the devastating affects of crackers here.

However, the effort was in vain since residents continued to burst crackers on Diwali.

Interacting with shopkeepers of the commercial centre, who also lent their support to the initiative, the trio said crackers burst during Diwali wreaked havoc on the environment and added to global warming, which was already at a very high level.

Making an appeal to the people to shun crackers, they had elaborated that in addition to pollution, the crackers also caused fire accidents and created problems for those suffering from asthma, besides newborns and even animals.

“The money spent on crackers and fireworks worth hundreds of crores every year can be spent on establishing educational and medical institutions for the poor and provide them with basic education and much needed healthcare,” they said.



...Crackers worth Rs 12 cr burst in city alone
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Diwali proved to be a festival of toxic gases in Ludhiana as residents went berserk and burst crackers worth Rs 12 crore right till the wee hours of the morning, ignoring all appeals of observing a green Diwali.

Even the Supreme Court directive not to burst crackers after 10 pm went up in smoke as the residents continued to do so till 2 am.

Pardeep Kumar, president of the fire cracker dealers association, Ludhiana, said they sold crackers worth Rs 12 crore this season. He said the sale went on till midnight. “They had bought so much that they had to burst these,” he said, adding that recession seemed to have no affect on the gusto of the residents to buy crackers.

He said last year they had sold crackers worth Rs 10 crore and this year, they witnessed a rise in sales. “The sales picked up two days ago. We were scared that our stuff would not have any takers, but things changed,” he said.

All the stalls put up in various parts of the city witnessed huge rush till midnight. Serpentine queues of vehicles were seen outside the stalls throughout the night as the residents indulged in last-minute purchases of crackers.

Unfortunately, the trend of polluting the environment did not change this year also even as celebrities, environment organisations and schools in nationwide campaigns appealed people to shun crackers.

Environmentalists were happy till 9 pm yesterday since not many crackers were heard. As soon as the clock struck 9 pm, the skyline was lit with crackers releasing poisonous gases. And it did not stop for a very long time.

“Till 11 pm, it had become difficult to breathe. I had to confine myself to a room. It was a difficult night,” Vipin Thakur, a resident, said, adding that he wanted to enjoy the festival by seeing the lights all around, but “staying out was impossible.”



Sacred stones in state of neglect
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
A large number of stones engraved with the saying of Gurus and intellectuals are lying abandoned at various places on the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus, thanks to the apathetic attitude of the authorities.

The stones, meant to inculcate values among students, were installed over 30 years back at selected places on the campus as memorials of the teachings of religious leaders and intellectuals by former Vice-Chancellor of PAU Dr MS Randhawa who wanted the students to read such lines and learn from them.

However, it seems that the cultural and religious heritage has little or no value for the university staff and officials who are no longer bothered about the upkeep of the stones, the neglected state of which bear testimony to the fact.

A stone, with a saying of Guru Nanak engraved on it, is lying abandoned outside the Rock Garden on PAU campus amid wild growth and garbage. Unmindful of the importance of the stone, students, staff and visitors continue to abuse it just like any other normal stone, with many stepping on it, sitting or spitting on it.

The condition of another stone installed in the Rock Garden in the university on the name of Nek Chand, who had helped in the construction of the garden, is also lying neglected and abandoned outside the garden for the past several years. Lying among wild weeds and grass, the stone was meant to be installed at a prominent place in the garden.

Confiding that the university authorities were not concerned about the maintenance of the stones, which are a source of great inspiration for the students besides being a part of the cultural heritage, a university official said most of the present PAU officials and staff were unaware about the presence of such stones on the campus.

“Since Dr Randhawa retired from the university in 1978, these stones have been lying in a state of neglect,” he said.

Not many staff members of PAU know about the presence of such stones on the campus. Most of those whom The Tribune spoke to expressed ignorance about them.



Refusal to store 201paddy variety
Lakhowal visits grain markets; warns shellers
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman, Punjab Mandikaran Board, visited the grain markets for taking stock of the situation prevailing in the market especially the facilities given to the farmers and the purchases made by the procuring agencies. Lakhowal along with chairman Maghar Singh Braich, chairman Gurdeep Singh Gidderwindi, Avtar Singh, Gurdev Singh and others visited grain markets in Mullanpur Dakha, Raikot, Sidhwan Bet and in surrounding areas.

Expressing his concerns over the slow procurement of paddy of 201 and 120 varieties and the attitude of sheller’s owners toward the procured paddy, he said it was very unfortunate that the farmers who believed the government claims had cultivated this variety overlooking the warnings being issued by the sheller owners that they would not be able to store it. He added that, now, when the government had raised the percentage of broken and discoloured rice from 3 per cent to 4 per cent to compensate these varieties, the sheller owners have no right to bother the farmers and the commission agents by not storing these varieties.

Lakhowal warned the sheller owners not to return the truck once loaded with the paddy and asked the secretaries of the market committee to keep a constant vigil on the sheller owners and get their moisture meter checked at regular intervals as there were complaints that the sheller owners had manipulated their moisture meters. He also asked the secretaries to get and FIR registered against the sheller owners and terminate their licenses if their moisture meter is found tempered with.

Replying to the quarries of the farmers that the moisture in the 201 variety paddy is not decreasing despite being dried up for a week, he said in case the farmers problems were not resolved in a day or two, their association would resort to strikes and dharnas and added they were ready for it and had reorganized their body at block kevel to tackle any eventuality.

When Lakhowal and others visited the yards of grain market for conducting the sale, they could not find a single heap of paddy that meets the specifications laid by the procuring agencies.



Public Drinking: Cops, excise dept to blame
Vends thrive due to political backing; motive is to earn profit

KS Chawla

Ludhiana, October 18
Public drinking is becoming a nuisance for those residing in this industrial and financial capital of Punjab. The police and the excise department of the state are squarely responsible for the menace. The politicians are also not lagging behind in the race to ‘harass’ the peace-loving residents.

The state excise and taxation department in its drive to earn maximum revenue has opened the liquor vends in the residential areas of the town and a few areas give impression of ‘liquor roads’ as a large number of liquor vends are operating in certain localities - on one road only - Ferozepur Road, Pakhowal Road and Malhar Road in the posh residential colony of Sarabha Nagar are the examples where the liquor vends are located and the owners of these vends have strong political clout. This can be gauged from the fact that when the owner of a liquor vend opened his shop on the Malhar Road, the residents protested and a few politicians of the ruling party also joined them as the police refused to allow them to erect a vend. But within a week, the same owner opened his shop at the venue under police protection and with the same politicians who had opposed it, standing along with the police as guards.

The public drinking has been on the rise in the posh residential areas and the youth in particular who move in gleaming luxury cars buy bottles of liquor from the vends and sit in their vehicles and enjoy their treats. A few of them could even be seen drinking while sitting on the two wheelers on the Malhar Road, Ferozepur Road, Pakhowal Road and Rani Jhansi Road. Rani Jhansi Road is a very busy road and educational institutions, including a women college are located here.

People are seen drinking in front of their children in full public view. Thus, it has become difficult to pass from this area after 6pm as the business continues late in the night.

The public drinking is also rampant in areas of Model Town, Shashtri Nagar and all those areas where the upper middle class people live. The public drinking is now resulting in thrashing of the people and the police remain a silent spectator. A few days ago (on Sunday) a couple was thrashed by drunken goons and when the couple and their relations went to the police station, they were threatened and an ex-councillor got the accused released from the police custody, This is not the first incident where the politicians are becoming instrumental in getting the goons released.

The political interference has become the order of the day in the day-to-day administration and the district officers don’t put up any resistance. Rather in some cases, they try to convince the politicians that they have helped their men. The police officers don’t attend to the emergency telephone calls although they have the cell phones and claim to listen to the grievances of the people.

The Sarabha Nagar market is another centre of all vices where the youth move about in drunken condition and under the influence of drugs. Eve teasing is very common in this market. Even the shopkeepers feel the heat. A senior doctor of the town lamenting the law and order situation in the town said, ‘The qualifications of a social activist in today’s world is to be the goon’.



MCPI expresses concern over farmers’ woes
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has expressed concern over problems being faced by farmers in selling their produce in different mandis of the state. The party has alleged that the farmers were being made to wait for days together and further their crop was being purchased at below the minimum support price (MSP).

State secretary of the MCPI Kuldeep Singh said in a statement here today that due to inadequate rains and power shortage, the paddy growers had to spend more on diesel to irrigate their crop, which had added to the cost of production. Even if their crop was sold at the MSP fixed by the government, the farmers stood to lose anything from Rs 100 to Rs 150 per quintal.

Making a strong case of payment of bonus to paddy growers, the party urged the state government to make necessary arrangements for immediate lifting of paddy from the mandis to put an end to the exploitation of farmers. The MCPI also sounded a note of warning to the state government against withdrawal of subsidies to the farm sector.

“The MCPI is strongly opposed to proposed unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board,” maintained the MCPI leader, while calling upon the SAD-BJP coalition government in the state to convene a special session of the Punjab assembly and adopt a special resolution to repeal the Central Electricity Act.

The party extended its full support to the nationwide strike on October 28 for which a call has been given by central trade unions to press the pending demands of working classes and other economically weaker sections of society. “It is time for all democratic and nationalist forces to come together and wake the government from out of its slumber so as to take effective steps against skyrocketing prices of essential items,” Kuldeep Singh remarked.



Silence Zones
People violate apex court guidelines, burst crackers
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 18
Residents of this part of Malwa did not spare silence zones from creating noise and environmental pollution by bursting crackers and fireworks on occasion of Diwali last night. Not caring two hoots for directions of the Supreme Court of India some of them used compounds of hospitals, educational institutes and religious places for bursting high-pitched crackers and rockets.

Investigations by the Tribune revealed that a large number of residents from local town and surrounding localities had burst firearms at places situated within silence zones as defined and specified by the Apex court of law.

What to talk of bursting crackers from fixed locations; enthusiasts did not even spare medical institutes, including government and private hospitals where a large number of patients were admitted.

As almost all hospitals situated in the region have provided free or hired accommodation to their doctors and staff members, it was assumed that they (staff members) would celebrate Diwali at these places. More prosperous owners and their relatives burst fireworks worth thousands at their residences situated inside the hospitals or adjoining them.

Situation worsened in government hospitals located in thickly populated areas as people gathered there to celebrate despite resistance from hospital authorities.

Stress suffered by patients, admitted at these hospitals was compounded due to crackers that were burst throughout the night. Though there was a ban on bursting of crackers from 10 pm to 6 am, celebration continued for hours after the midnight. Accident victims and patients suffering from pulmonary diseases were the worst sufferers.

Almost all localities of the town fall within the silence zone. As these localities fell within 100-meter of one or the other medical institute, school or a religious place, people were not supposed to burst crackers.



Widow seeks donations for ailing son’s life
Our Correspondent

Issru Khurad, October 18
Having lost four members of her family due to unnatural deaths within three years, a septuagenarian widow of this nondescript village of Ludhiana district is looking toward good Samaritans and voluntary organisations to come to rescue of only breadwinner of the clan who is on the threshold of life and death due to the renal failure.

While her husband and one son died in two accidents, another son died of renal failure and snakebite claimed one of her daughters-in-law.

Feeling indebted to villagers for continuing expensive treatment and prolonged homodialysis of her driver son Sukhdev Singh Bittu from a multi-specialty hospital of Ludhiana city, Harbans Kaur, a Dalit woman of this village, wants his (son’s) kidney transplanted. Doctors have declared that kidney transplant was must for his survival.

Both kidneys of Bittu were damaged due to deleterious affects of unwanted and faulty treatment given by an unauthorised medical practitioner about two years ago.

The family was shocked when doctors at Khanna declared that reckless administration of anti-pyretic and antibiotics had resulted in renal failure about 18 months.

Though a few villagers, led by former sarpanch Karnail Singh have been managing to get hemodylisis of Bittu done till now, the doctors have now declared that renal transplant was necessary for his survival.

One or two donors from the village have been donating blood regularly too. It is estimated that an amount of Rs 3 lakh is required for the procedure. Bittu’s mother and wife have offered to donate their kidneys to save him.



Actor Binnu Dhillon makes a mark
Manav Ghuman
Tribune News Service

Binnu Dhillon Ludhiana, October 18
Starting from theatre he went on to do serials, then regional movies and finally stepped into every actor’s dream -- Bollywood. Patiala-based Binnu Dhillon is a busy man with lots of projects in his kitty.

He was in the city in connection with the shooting of the Punjabi film, “Cheevan Dariya”.

After masters in theatre and television, he did some serials for Zee Punjabi. He then entered the Punjabi film industry and after doing some grey characters, he worked in Hindi movies like “Dev D” and “Shaheed-e-Azam”.

“TV is easy; cinema is the easiest medium and theatre is the most difficult. There are no retakes in theatre and one has to give the best take, but in cinema, there is a lot of time to give a perfect shot. Sometimes, a one-minute shot is completed in two-three hours. You have enough time to learn the dialogue and make the shot perfect,” he says. Apart from this, cinema gives you money which is missing in theatre. One makes quick money in cinema.

Commenting on the increasing number of actors entering Bollywood, he says entering the industry has become easy these days and more easily for those who have money power backing them. But the reality is that only those stay for long who have the calibre in them. Not every actor entering the tinsel town is stable, he says.

Dhillon says he received good response from the audience for his films “Munde UK de”, “Tera Mera ki Rishta”, “Nalayak”, “Mitti Wajan Mardi”, “Lagda Ishq Ho Gaya”, “Dev D” and “Shaheed-e-Azam”. “I have pinned high hopes on my forthcoming film ‘Mel Karade Rabba’ with Harbhahjan Mann,” he adds.



Cultural mela to pay tributes to Prof Mohan Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
While inaugurating the 31st International Cultural Mela after Prof Mohan Singh, a former Professor Emeritus at PAU, and a famous Punjabi poet, PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang paid rich tributes by garlanding his statute today. He said the poetry of Prof Mohan Singh was a landmark in the history of Punjabi literature.

Dr Kang exhorted the younger generation to promote the book culture to spread the message conveyed by writers like Prof Mohan Singh for ushering in social justice, universal brotherhood and peaceful co-existence. He shared that his father Gurdit Singh Kang worked as an editor of “Panj Dariya” with Prof Mohan Singh and there existed a literary environment in his family.

Dr Kang said Prof Mohan Singh worked as Professor Emeritus at Punjab Agricultural University for a long time. He said it was during his tenure at the PAU that Prof Mohan Singh completed his book “Boohe” and trained many writers who were still contributing towards promoting Punjabi and its culture. The Punjabi Bhawan too came into being with the efforts of Prof Mohan Singh, he said adding that his stay at PAU played great role in making Ludhiana a hub for Punjabi linguistic and cultural activities.

Dr Kang said the Young Writers Association at the PAU, which was the brainchild of Prof Mohan Singh, would organise poetic symposia dedicated to him every year.

The former Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr SP Singh, remembered the time he spent with Prof Mohan Singh and said the poetic acumen and techniques used by him in expressing about his romantic and realistic feelings was splendid.

Renowned farm scientist and the member of PAU Board of Management, Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar said Prof Mohan Singh had laid focus on those aspects of life in his poetry, which common man generally ignored. He described Prof Mohan Singh as an amalgam of scientific attitude and cultural hue.

Jagdev Singh Jassowal, chairman and founder of Prof Mohan Singh Foundation, said he felt honoured that the mela of Prof Mohan Singh had become internationally known and that its start was being inaugurated by the likes of Dr Kang, Dr SP Singh and also Gurdit Singh Kang, the former colleague of Prof Mohan Singh.



Expectants, kids more vulnerable to pollution
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Air pollution caused due to Diwali could harm children and expectant women as crackers contain highly toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, copper, manganese, zinc, sodium and potassium. Exposure to 100 ppm of suspended particulate matter results in headache and reduced mental activity. Nitrogen dioxide being less soluble penetrates the smaller airways and enters into the lungs, causing asthma. Temporary hearing loss can occur due to the high decibel level of crackers. Exposure to excessive noise is known to make children more hyperactive or withdrawn.

Thus, expectant women, children and asthmatics need to be more careful. According to a study, expectant women, who were exposed to the highest levels of carbon monoxide, particulate and ozone were three times more prone to give birth to children with heart defects. Dr Vaneet Kaur, senior consultant obstetrics and gynecologist, SPS Apollo Hospitals, stated this.

She added that crackers like “atom bomb” and “Lakshmi” bomb contain highly toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, copper, manganese and zinc. Others have arsenic, mercury, chromium and iron oxides, which lead to severe pollution after they are burnt. The presence of ultra fine particulate matter in these emissions may be the real reason behind the health implications on pregnant women. Particulate matter is known to cause adverse health effects like heart and lung disorder, respiratory illness, mortality and increased risk of cancer.

According to Dr T.S. Gambhir, consultant, pediatrician, children seem to be particularly vulnerable during Diwali since they are the ones who are most enthusiastic about lighting firecrackers. Extreme levels of air pollution have been found to harm babies.

According to Dr Ashwani Singal, neonatologist and pediatrician, new research conducted by the UCLA shows that even unborn babies are not spared of the harmful affects of polluted air.

According to a recent survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 95 per cent of the crackers violate the noise and pollution norms. The set limit is 124 decibel at a distance of 4 metres from the point of bursting. Even crackers like “phuljari” and “anar” contain highly toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, copper, manganese, zinc, sodium and potassium. Exposure to 100 ppm of suspended particulate matter results in headache and reduced mental acuity. Nitrogen dioxide being less soluble penetrates the smaller airways and enters into the lungs, causing asthma. Temporary hearing loss can occur due to the high decibel level of crackers. Exposure to excessive noise is known to make children more hyperactive or withdrawn.

Dr P.S. Bhatia, Medical Superintendent, SPS Apollo Hospitals, it is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. They can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that is not clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use.



At The Crossroads
Songs that can’t be forgotten

Inderjit Singh Hasanpuri The beauty of a song lies in its being nearer to the sentiments of the people. It may make the people oblivious of its creator and invest it with the charm of a folk song. This has been the case with some popular songs of Inderjit Singh Hasanpuri.

Like his predecessors, Nandlal Nurpuri and Shiv Kumar Batalvi, he has given a new dimension to his songs. In them, the earthiness of Punjabi life has been mirrored so vividly:

Je mundia meri tor tun vekhni, garwa lai de chaandi da, ve lakk hille majajan jaandi da.

Saare pind ch puare paaye haay nee tere gore rang ne.

Charkha mera rungla vich sone dian mekhaan, ve main tainu yaad karaan jad charkhe val vekhaan.

Hasanpuri had many literary and artistic tastes. He was a painter, poet, singer, film-maker and producer of tele-films. He had been endowed with refined sensibilities and subtle perceptions. He had an uncanny instinct for the right word and an unfailing ear for nuances and modulations.

He was a seeker of the joys of life, but never hesitated to face unpleasant situations. He had seen the sufferings of life closely. He lost his father when he was hardly 15 years old. He had to cut short his studies and fend for the entire family.

In these circumstances, he was deeply attached to his mother, for whom he was ready to make any sacrifice. He left home for long spells of time, but his wife and children always kept the company of the old woman in the village.

He knew the ethos of the working classes and could depict their joys and sorrows. His sympathies lay with the so-called dregs of society and he had an ingrained aversion for wielders of power and pelf.

The exploitation of the underprivileged, that was taking place around him, had driven steel into his soul. His heart went out to those who had been marginalised one way or the other:

Kakh lain jadon jawaan

Vairi jaapan hawawan

Kakhon hauli na ho jawaan

Mere magar na pai je mukh, amiye

Nee main khotdi bagaane khet kakh, amiye

His magnum opus is his long narrative poem, Kithhe gye oh din. In it he reminisces about the days when he and his Muslim friend Aslam lived together in their village before Partition.

It is in the form of a dramatic monologue, in which Gurmukh first recalls the days of innocence spent in the company of Aslam. Then he reminds his friend of the shared experiences in the days gone by. In the end he apprises Aslam of the new situations that have developed in the intervening period.

In this way, the poet depicts the social and cultural scenario of rural Punjab in a nostalgic mood. The tone of the poem, though wistful, strikes the chord of hope and joy in the heart of the reader:

Main haan prem pujari maithhon

Piaran bharya jaam na khoho

Aslam maithhon khoh chukke ho

Maithhon mera Ram na khoho

Aakhar kad takk jeena jagg te

Duss chanan ton bin, o' Aslam

Kithhe gaye oh din, o' Aslam!

Hasanpuri had become a legend in his lifetime. He had a queer knack of using common words in such a way that they conjured up sensuous images. His songs swept his contemporaries off their feet and the next generation was under their sway.

He had received many awards, including the Kartar Singh Dhaliwal Award and the Punjab State Shiromani Puraskar. His demise on October 8 shortly after his cultural tour abroad plunged the Punjabi literary world into grief. Of course, his songs will continue to reverberate in the minds of his admirers for long.

NS Tasneem



Greeting people in advance

This Diwali, to avoid last minute inconvenience people had been wishing their near and dear ones much in advance. Residents were seen exchanging gifts two to three days before the festival so that they could be at home for the puja and for making rangoli. There were others who had planned to play cards two days prior to the festival. “Diwali greetings are important so are the cards. We play cards tow to three days before the festival. We had already distributed gifts among our friends. We don’t want to compromise with our card parties”, said a homemaker in a lighter vein.

Shun sweets

For quite some time, those concerned with alarming level of environmental pollution, especially in an industrial city like Ludhiana, have been propagating the theme of cracker-free and safe Diwali. But, in the wake of huge quantity of synthetic khoya and other adulterated items like milk, cheese, along with sub-standard sweetmeat products, being seized by the health officials, it seems the people ought to shun sweets as well. The health officials have also, for quite some time, advocating against consumption of sweets, which are mass produced during the festival season as these invariably contain poor-quality ingredients, not to mention hazardous and non-food grade colours and essences to cut the cost and increase the profits.

Make sharing a habit

Everyone celebrate the festival of lights in their own way, but there’s no harm in trying something new. Let Diwali be based on a social theme like sharing. Well, this sharing does not attribute to exchanging gifts with friends or relatives, but someone who is unknown to you and does not have privilege to celebrate Diwali in your manner. You can share a cracker, a sweet or anything that suits you. The idea may not strike at first instance, but do give it a thought. Because change doesn’t happen, it is brought.

Cards losing sheen

There was a time when postal staff used to work overtime for delivering the Diwali mail. But, today with the coming of Internet the rush has reduced considerably. A few years ago people use to send cards to their near and dear ones, but today everybody prefers to send e-greetings. Cards are sent with the click of the mouse and also received instantly. Today nobody waits for the postman to deliver their greetings. “About 10 years ago, extra staff used to be employed for delivering the greetings on time but today things are normal,” said an old postman from the city. The technology has definitely taken over traditions.

Sugarcane’s daughter

A woman was buying sugarcane for celebrating a festival. As sugarcanes are considered to be a must for this fest she was to hear that it was available for Rs 25 each. She was haggling with the vendor as she had purchased these for Rs 5 each last year. When she was going on and there seemed to be no one stopping him, pat came the a reply from vendor, “ Sugar is sugarcane’s daughter. If sugar can go so costly why cannot the sugarcane?’’ The woman had no answer.

Which colour you want?

The rich aroma of “heena” and its deep red colour on their palms has never failed to fascinate women of all ages. However, the lovely crimson hue of “mehndi” is slowly being replaced by dark shades of maroon, brown, auburn and even black, thanks to the use of dyes and chemicals. So popular is the practice of using artificial colours in “heena” these days that “mehndi” artists now demand to know the customer’s preference of the “shade of mehndi” they want on their palms. “Deep red, orange or black… which colour do you prefer ma’am?” was perhaps the most asked question this Karwa Chauth, thanks to dyes!

Contributed by Shivani Bhakoo, Kuldip Bhatia, Jyotika Sood, Manav Ghuman, Kanchan Vasdev and Charu Chhibber



Vishwakarma Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Vishwakarma Day was today celebrated in the entire city. Both owners and workers of the city industries today offered prayers to Lord Vishwakarma and performed pooja of their machines and tools. Factories and machines were today closed down in view of Vishwakarma Day.

One of the devotees paying obeisance at Vishwakarma Temple said all Hindu scriptures contain episodes of the deity’s glorious contribution. “We should improve our professional skills following the message of Lord Vishwakarma and enhance our abilities to capture new jobs opportunities created with the induction of modern technology, which would be the real tribute to the deity,” he added.

Lord Vishwakarma was the founder of craft, art, architecture and engineering on which the present growth of industry and other sectors is based.

He was the architect and the master of all machinery equipments of Gods and the modern technology which was still in the process of further advancement. Artisans worship him on all occasions relating to industry and start their daily profession by seeking his blessings.

MANDI AHMEDGARH: The Vishwakarma Maha Puja Utsav was celebrated at Vishwakarma temple on the Dehliz road today.

MLA Dhuri Iqbal Singh Jhoondhan was the chief guest of the function that was presided over by Balwant Singh Lotey. Naurang Singh inaugurated the function by hoisting the flag.

Addressing the gathering, Jhoondan said the modern society owed a lot to Vishwakarma who paved way for all mechanical and technical advances.

“It was all due the foundation laid by Vishwakarma that man thought of exploring the outer universe. Fundamentals laid by the great architect led humanity to the age of ultramodern gadgets and space aircrafts,” he claimed.

Brar and his party presented a programme on religious songs and hymns on the occasion. President of municipal council Usha Sood, vice-president Tarsem Kapila, president the Agricultural Implements Manufacturers’ Association Joginder Singh Joga were among others who addressed the gathering.



Vegetables steep, still
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
The prices of vegetables are still on the higher side. It was expected that the rates would come down after Diwali, but wholesellers and retailers maintain that the prices would come down when fresh produce arrives in markets after about 10 days.

Even the rate of the poor man’s vegetable -- potato -- has gone up to Rs 25 per kg, making it out of the reach of the common man.

A domestic help near Ghumar Mandi said: “We don’t know how to survive in such times. The wages have been the same for years, but the prices of basic commodities have gone out of reach. Sometimes, I give my family only rice as the vegetables have become so expensive. I cannot afford to spend Rs 40-50 on vegetables every day.”

Gurmeet Singh, a vegetable shop owner at Dandi Swami, said the new crop of potato, cauliflower, saag and carrot was expected to arrive in the market within 10 days, after which the rates of all major vegetables would come down. A good crop from Hoshiarpur, Khanna and Malerkotla was expected to arrive soon, he added.



100 units of blood collected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
The Hero Charitable Trust, in collaboration with Iqbal Nursing Home, today organised a blood donation camp in which more than 100 volunteers came forward to donate blood.

The team of doctors and paramedical staff from the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) provided support for the camp.

Around 50 regular blood donors were honoured on this occasion by Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja, medical director of Iqbal Nursing Home, along with functionaries of the club.

Manjinder Singh, president of the club, and a regular blood donor, exhorted the youth to come forward for voluntary blood donation, which was a real service to the entire humanity. “Easy availability of blood could give a new lease of life to critically ill persons, accidents victims and those afflicted with life-threatening blood diseases,” he added.



Coke dealer accused of theft, booked
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
The Jagraon police has booked a Coke dealer for forcibly snatching the empty crates and cash from the employees of another local Coke dealer. Jagraon has two dealers of Coke. Gopal Katyal is responsible of distribution of Coke products within the municipal limits of the Jagraon city whereas Amritpal, alias Pappu, has rural part for distributing the Coke products. Both dealers were up in arms against each other for interfering in the area of other dealer. Yesterday Gopal Katyal in his complaint to the Jagraon police on Friday has accused Amritpal of snatching 21 crates of soft drinks from his salesman. He as accused that his salesman had gone to Pehalwal ka Dabha at around 3 pm to hand over soft drinks in his mini truck (PB 10 BU 4589). Amritpal along with five of his accomplices reached the spot on his mini truck (PB 10 TC Temp 2009/2295) and snatched 21 crates of soft drinks beside Rs 2,500 in cash. The accused was booked under Sections 382, 341, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC. Amritpal was arrested immediately and sent him to jail while his other accomplices are stated to be absconding.

Contrary to the case registered, Amritpal has a different story to tell. He said he was supplying coke outside the municipal limits of the city when Gopal Katyal and his men attacked him and snatched 21 crates of soft drink and Rs 2500 in cash from him. Later he using his influence of being a BJP leader, got him booked in frivolous case and got him arrested. SHO Naveen Pal Singh when contacted said they received the complaint from Gopal Katyal. Amritpal never complaint regarding any matter and they had to proceed as per the complaint received. He added that now he had got the complaint from Amritpal and would enquire into the matter.



NRI family booked for duping widow, daughter
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
The Raikot police has booked a family of an NRI and a few others for cheating a girl on the pretext of taking her to Canada.

Harpreet Kaur (20) of Kalsian village near Raikot had complained to SSP Jagraon that Jasvir Singh of Talwandi Mallian village in Moga district met her mother while she was studying in Class XIIth.

Jasvir Singh’s family lured her mother to get Harpreet married and even promised to take her to Canada. Her father had expired long ago. Jasvir Singh started seeing her and on May 15, 2007, got married to her.

They had asked Harpreet mother to spend RS 20 lakh on marriage. Her mother had only 2 acre from the income of which she was sustaining her family. She had to sell off the land to get her daughter married. After the marriage also Jasvir Singh exploited her financially as well as physically.

Harpreet’s family spent Rs 21.05 lakh on the marriage. They had also given a car and cash worth Rs 7 lakh to Jasvir Singh besides other things. Thereafter he went to Canada but never returned. In her complaint she had accused her husband Jasvir Singh, his father Avtar Singh, his mother Harbans Kaur, his brothers Nishan Singh and Navdeep Singh and Lakhwinder Singh of Talwandi Mallian village, who acted as their mediator.

Later she came to know that it was the third marriage of Jasvir Singh and he and his family concealed these facts from her family. The SSP Jagraon entrusted SHO Gurdial Singh to conduct the inquiry who found all allegations as true. The SSP ordered a case to be registered against the six accused. They have been booked under Sections 406, 420, 494 and 120B of the IPC.



Two killed in accident

Khamano, October 18
Two persons died in an accident that took place on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh Road near Mahespura village here. Randhir Singh, a resident of Goslan village, and Manjit Singh, a resident of Rangian village, was going a motorcycle towards Sanghol when a canter hit them near Maheshpura village. Both sustained serious injuries. A police-patrolling vehicle rushed both of them to the local Civil Hospital Khamano. But, they succumbed to their injuries. A case has been registered against the canter driver. Bodies were handed over to the families after a post-mortem examination. Police has registered a case.



3 booked for issuing fake insurance cover notes
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 18
The Raikot police has booked an insurance agent and his accomplices for issuing fake cover note to the unsuspecting customers of an insurance company and duping them after accepting the money for buying a policy.

Jeewan Kumar, manager, New India Insurance Company, Raikot branch, had in a complaint lodged with then SSP (Ludhiana Rural) Gurpreet Singh Bhullar alleged that Gurdeep Singh of Chhapar village, an insurance agent of his branch, has stolen a cover note book from the branch and had issued the same to unsuspecting clients. He also stated that Pyara Singh and his son Ravinder Singh of Ghugrana village, too, were party to the fraud. They used to identify customers for Gurpreet Singh.

After collecting the insurance premium, the three accused used to distribute it among themselves. The matter was exposed when a victim’s vehicle met with an accident. He approached the branch office for claims. In the absence of an authentic insurance cover of the fraud victim, the company could not release the amount. The accused also refused to accommodate the client.

After verifying the insurance cover note of the victim, the branch manager lodged a complaint with the police. The accused were cheating the innocent persons since February 11, 2008. After an inquiry and due legal opinion from DA (Legal), SSP (Ludhiana Rural) Harinder Singh Chahal ordered for a case to be registered against the accused. The three accused have been booked under Sections 380, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120B of the IPC.



BSF men, Ludhiana eves romp home champs
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, October 18
The Border Security Force (BSF), Jalandhar, in the men’s section and Ludhiana district in the women’s section romped home champions in the second part of the annual Punjab Basketball League organised in the memory of Arjuna awardee, Gurdial Singh Mali, at Gure village, near here.

In the men’s section, the Punjab Police and Rest of Punjab secured second and third positions, respectively. Rest of Punjab finished runners up in the women’s section and Amritsar district had to content with the third position.

In the last league fixture (men), the BSF quelled a strong challenge before coming out triumphant 70-58 against the Punjab Police.

For the winners, Vinod netted 13 baskets, followed by MK Mishra and Mohar who contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Gurkirpal chipped in with 13 baskets for Punjab Police while Preetinder Singh accounted for 12 points and Harminder Singh scored 10 points.

In the women’s section, the last encounter was held between Rest of Punjab and Amritsar district in which the former emerged victors 54-35.

International Kiranjeet Kaur led from the front and netted 23 baskets to enable Rest of Punjab to outperform Amritsar eves. Harpreet Kaur scored 11 points.

For the losers, Rajpreet Kaur and Jagroop Kaur contributed 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Manpreet Singh Ayali, chairman of the zila parishad, Ludhiana, and Arjuna awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema gave away the prizes to the winners. Teja Singh Dhaliwal, honorary general secretary of the Punjab Basketball Association (PBA), along with Dr S Subramanian, director of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, and office-bearers of the PBA were also present at the prize distribution function.



Athletics Meet
GMT students bag 9 medals
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, October 18
Students of GMT Public School, Jalandhar byepass branch, secured 9 medals, including two gold, in the Ludhiana Inter-Schools Zonal Athletics Tournament held here at Guru Stadium.

Inderpal Singh proved his supremacy to bag two gold medals in the under-17 years (boys) category. He won top honours in the discus throw and javelin throw events.

In the girls’ under 14 years category, Kritika Sharma gave good account of herself and won a bronze medal in the discus throw discipline while in the boys’ under 19 years section, Dilpreet Singh finished at third place in discus throw.

The relay quartets from this school secured bronze medal in the 4x100 m relay races in the boys as well as girls under 19 years categories while the girls under 19 years team, too, clinched bronze medal in the 4x400 m relay race.

Kashmir Singh Thind and Jasbir Singh Thind, directors of GMT Public School, along with principal Amarjeet Kaur Dhaliwal, appreciated the students’ achievements. They wished them more success in the future tournaments.



T20 cricket trials today
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, October 18
The Ludhiana District Twenty20 Cricket Association will conduct trials on October 19 at 2.45 pm here at the indoor multipurpose hall of Guru Nanak Stadium to select the Ludhiana squad. This was stated by Des Raj, district cricket coach and general secretary of the association.

The selected cricketers would represent Ludhiana in the forthcoming Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial Punjab State Inter-District Twenty20 Cricket Tournament (senior men) slated to be held between October 21 and 28 at Jaito.



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