L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Curfew imposed in four more areas
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Darshan Singh (58) minutes before he succumbed to bullet injuries received during police firing in Ludhiana on Saturday.
Darshan Singh (58) minutes before he succumbed to bullet injuries received during police firing in Ludhiana on Saturday. Tribune photos: Himanshu Mahajan 

Ludhiana, December 5
The city continued to boil up for the second consecutive day following the killing of an activist of a Sikh radical organisation, who was protesting against the holding of a congregation by chief of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan Ashutosh.

Darshan Singh, the victim, who resides at Lohara village, died on the spot. Twelve others sustained injuries when the police opened fire at the Cheema Chowk, where the activists of panthic organisations were leading a march towards PUDA grounds in Urban Estate where the religious discourses by Ashutosh Maharaj was being organised.

Following the incident, tension gripped the city even as the district administration had to impose curfew in four more areas, including Division Nos. 1,2, 3 and 4. Yesterday, the curfew was imposed in five areas, including Division nos. 6 and 7, Simlapuri, Focal Point and Sahnewal, after a mob had virtually taken over the industrial area.

As soon as the reports of firing reached the residents, a few of them closed their business establishments and went home. The shoppers also started returning home after they sensed panic in the markets.

While there wasn’t any panic in the city yesterday, anxiety was writ large on the faces of residents today.

Following the firing, activists of Sikh organizations got the Akalgarh market closed for the day. They even threatened the Gur Mandi shopkeepers to down the shutters. The shopkeepers, however, retaliated and threw empty bottles on the protestors. This made them run for cover.

The news of forced closure of the markets spread panic. The chaura bazaar, other markets in old city and Bhadaur house market was soon closed.

The police had to divert traffic from different city parts as the Dholewal chowk was cordoned off. The Pakhowal Road, Ghumar Mandi, Ferozepur Road and Domoria Bridge had to bear the brunt of the violence, as these were the points from where the traffic was generally diverted.

The situation was under control but tense in the Focal Point area where the curfew has not been lifted. The police had taken over the Dhandari railway track as many officials were seen camping on the spot. Since the agitators had virtually taken over the railway track yesterday, the police did not take any chances.

The residents of the Focal Point area were not allowed to come out of their houses. 


Hearsay led to violence
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
It was hearsay that led to clash yesterday. A Tribune team visited the affected colony to track down the reason behind the clashes. Everyone had a story to tell.

Largely, it was the panic created by the biker’s gang and instigation by the local leaders that prompted the migrants to go on rampage.

The team tracked down the victims who were attacked by the snatchers near GK Vihar in Chhoti Dhandari on Thursday evening.

It also visited a ‘vehra’ situated on the backside of the local railway station and met Ashok Kumar, who led a mob of 3,000 people that laid a seize on the railway track near Dhandri.

Ashok said the other labourers living in the vicinity told him that a migrant was stabbed on the neck near GK Vihar. Later, they came to know that the police has allegedly thrashed the migrants who went to the police station to file a complaint.

This infuriated the mob that later on vandalized the police station.

“We know this much you better visit Jeevan Nagar for details,” added Ashok.

On reaching Ishwar Nagar Colony, Shehzad, stated that every day a migrant has been killed and robbed by the snatchers. Further, the eve teasing is also on the rise in the area and that has actually led to violent protest.

When asked to name anyone who was killed by the snatcher he said, “I have also heard like many other in the locality and I can not tell you, who was killed and who was robbed.”

A social worker Abdul Shakur living in Durga Nagar Colony said that he only know that some one was robbed near GK Vihar and the angry mob pelted stone at police station for inaction.

The only version that seems close to the reality was of Rahul, who drove the victim to the police station.

While talking to The Tribune Rahul said the victim’s name is Upinder and he sustained a scratch following a tiff by a resident of Ishwar colony.

“I took him to Naginder Bharadwaj, instead of taking him to a clinic for first aid. Naginder took him to police station, where the cops refused to register a snatching 
complaint. Following, which the irate mob pelted stone at police station and torched the vehicle,” said Rahul. When asked where was Upinder, he replied that police arrested Upinder.



MC action not for babus?
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Newly constructed picket at ADC (G) Kuldeep Singh’s residence.
Newly constructed picket at ADC (G) Kuldeep Singh’s residence. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, December 5
Though the public has seen the harsh stand taken by the municipal corporation on encroachments, it has failed to remove encroachments by bureaucrats.

A picket constructed by ADC (G) Kuldeep Singh, who had served as Zonal Commissioner, is one such example. The picket at his private residence is right near the MC’s D-zone office, but no action has been taken yet. Moreover, no notice has been served on him.

MC officials said,” Anything beyond the building line is an encroachment and we are aware of it, but since he is with the district administration, we cannot take any step unless the Municipal Commissioner directs us.”

Security pickets outside personal or official residences amounted to encroachment, they admitted, adding that the Officers Colony near Rakh Bagh had numerous encroachments, but no action could be taken as it would create a “rift”.

“The security of the Municipal Commissioner remains confined to the premises of his residence. For senior officials, rules are always bent,” they remarked.

They suggested that if someone pointed out the encroachments by bureaucrats and politicians in the contempt petition at the High Court, some action would follow.

“We cannot do it ourselves because it would put us under a scanner and we are not really expected to openly speak against one another,” a senior official stated.

ADC(G) Kuldeep Singh said: “It is not an encroachment. The corporation allows 2.5-foot to be covered. I have just covered that.”



Ashok Malhotra receives threats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Ashok Malhotra, who organised the visit of Ashutosh Maharaj, chief of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, has received threats for conducting the programme. He received a threatening communique from a panthic organisation here this evening.

Ashok Malhotra, is a noted industrialist and has been instrumental in organising the visit of the spiritual guru of the city. The police has also confirmed the development.



Demolition of shops begins
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 5
Almost all shopkeepers started demolishing their shops near the Phillaur railway station today and started seeking alternative places to run their business. A total of 329 shopkeepers had constructed shops illegally on government land on both sides of the road.

Of them, 227 had lost their cases in court while 102 shopkeepers on the opposite side had obtained stay orders against the demolition.

Phillaur shopkeepers’ association president Des Raj Mal said the 329 shopkeepers had been operating their shops for the past 45 years, but none of them knew about this development due to false assurances of politicians.



Migrants ‘insecure’, urge Bihar govt to intervene
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
The migrant workers, on whom the industrial city largely depends, has started feeling “insecure” following yesterday’s violence. Fearing that false cases could be registered against them, many a labourers are planning to return to their homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Gripped in panic, they have started sending fellers to leaders in Bihar to intervene. The migrants have threatened that they will not resume duties till they were provided safety by the administration.

One of the union leaders from Sitamadhi district of Bihar, Feroz Master told The Tribune that he was an eyewitness to the entire incident that took place at Dhandari yesterday. “The incident could not have taken an ugly turn had the police acted wisely.

The cops themselves were accompanied by anti-social elements who were openly threatening the migrants with swords and sticks. In order to save their lives, the migrant population had to retaliate. The police and the administration has never been sympathetic towards us”, alleged Feroz.

Another trade union leader, Ramesh Rattan, said more than 10 lakh migrant labourers were living in the city for the past several years. He said their condition was too bad. “Their own governments have failed to provide them bread and butter. They come here for jobs. But they are beaten up, abused by the employers and then given a step-motherly treatment by the administration/police.

While returning home with their earnings, they are targeted by robbers and thieves. Where should they go? About 60 per cent of the local industry was shut today as workers refused to go on their duties”, said Rattan.

Meanwhile, there are others who feel that their fellows were being exploited by a few anti-social elements. Sriram, working in a factory at Focal Point, said people who were leading their “struggle”, were not their well-wishers. “We are not in favour of violence. But for vested interests, anti-social elements are using us. Under the garb of this particular incident, people have started misguiding us. The retaliation must be stopped for the betterment of both industry and labourers”, said Sriram, a migrant from Bihar, who had been living in the city for the past 17 years.



Cong men demand President’s rule
Ashok Kaura

Phillaur, December 5
PPCC secretary Parminder Mehta and former minister Rakesh Pandey have described the SAD-BJP government as a total failure on all fronts, be it political, social or religious.

In separate press notes issued here today, the Congress leaders, describing the violence in Ludhiana during the past two days as the result of the failure of the government, urged the Centre to impose President’s rule in the state to protect the lives of the people.

They alleged that the the people had lost faith in the Badal government and there was no law and order in the state, appealing to the people to maintain peace and communal harmony in the state.

They alleged that the police was being politicised due to selfish political motives and the police was unable to control the situation.

Commenting on Thursday’s incident, they alleged that the Punjab DGP had admitted that the Dhandhari Kalan police could not register a case on the complaint of the migrant labourers as police officials were busy at some functions.

They stated that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia and Punjab DGP PS Gill had not dared to visit Ludhiana even after the rampant violence, adding that Sukhbir had returned to Chandigarh from Jalandhar on Friday.



Cong leaders criticise admn
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Local MP and All-India Congress Committee spokesperson Manish Tewari has reiterated his appeal to the people to maintain peace and harmony at all costs.

He appealed to the people not to get provoked by the vested interests bent on disturbing peace and harmony in the city.

In a statement issued here today, Tewari observed that the state government should have been more vigilant, anticipated the situation beforehand and taken appropriate preventive and pre-emptive action.

“Lathis and bullets are not the solution in a democratic polity,” he observed, asking the state government to be more pro-active and instruct the law enforcement machinery to be more sensitive and humane in the discharge of duty.

The Congress spokesperson called upon the Chief Minister to personally monitor the situation and ensure that peace and tranquility were maintained throughout the state at all costs.

He said since law and order was a state subject, the Chief Minister should ensure that the life and property of people were safe and secure.

The MP said he, along with other Congress MPs from Punjab, would meet Home Minister P Chidambaram soon to apprise him of the situation in the state.

Qila Raipur MLA Jassi Khangura also condemned the failure of the police in preventing the violence in Ludhiana and attributed it to the criminalisation of politics which had been taking place under the patronage of the Badal clan.

He observed that instigating the youth with false promises of jobs and contracts for the aim of perpetrating violence against political opponents during elections had been a favoured tactic of the current administration.

The same youth had been feeling alienated and disillusioned with the government, which had failed to deliver any of the promises it had made over the past three years.

“When you fail to meet their expectations, particularly when you have raised those, such situations are bound to arise,” Khangura said, holding the state government squarely responsible for yesterday’s violence in the city.

Khangura stated that the general behaviour of the unemployed youth recruited by the Badals and their henchmen in Punjab was unacceptable.

In many cases, under the patronage of the administration, these unsavoury elements thought that they were above the law.

He added, “This administration has made it almost impossible for the police to control disobedience and public disorder. It dare not arrest the offending youth for fear of annoying their political masters.”



NGOs, social bodies urged to adopt zoo animals
Tribune News Service

Principal secretary forest RC Nayyar examines an enclosure during a visit to the Ludhiana zoo.
Principal secretary forest RC Nayyar examines an enclosure during a visit to the Ludhiana zoo. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, December 5
The state government had recently initiated animal adoption scheme for Ludhiana zoo after it found it difficult to meet the expenditure involved in maintaining ideal shelter and other facilities for animals.

The scheme is currently being implemented at Chhat Bir zoological park; three deer parks at Bathinda, Patiala, Neelon; and a bird aviary at Patiala.

Principal secretary forest RC Nayyar yesterday convened a meeting with city NGOs, industrialists, philanthropists and social organisations asking them to contribute in cash and kind through various projects to sustain zoo expenses.

He emphasised that through the animal adoption scheme, individuals, NGOs, corporate houses, industrialists, social organisations and companies could adopt animals of their choice by paying for their food expenses and upkeep of their enclosures on annual/monthly basis.

Some individuals and NGOs came up with interesting proposals, which Nayyar thought would be elemental not only in sustaining the expenses of the zoo but also upgrading it to a “recreational park and tourist destination”.

District forest officer (DFO) Vishal Chauhan was asked to constitute a local-level committee for maturation of the innovative proposals.

Nominal ticketing for zoo visit, increasing the number of animals and setting up good eateries were amongst the proposals that would be taken up for consideration.

Volunteers of the Punjab Youth Forum, a city-based NGO working for the cause of “healthy and safe environment”, has already adopted three deer, seven small birds, two ducks and one peacock.

Under its latest project “Srishti”, the forum also handed over a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to the zoo authorities for food and shelter of animals.

Ranjit Rai, a member of the NGO, said: “We will adopt every animal in the Ludhiana zoo and volunteer to make it greener and cleaner.”

However, nobody has volunteered to adopt big animals, including tigers, bear and jackal, as the cost of their meals per day is higher than that of birds and small animals.



MC razes structures
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
The municipal corporation yesterday demolished structures that were coming up at a public park near Kocchar Market. ccording to information, a team of the town planning wing, equipped with a JCB machine, go the structures demolished.

Sources revealed that since the encroacher concerned was a neighbour of D-zone ATP SS Bindra, the latter had been kept away from the action.

The encroacher had been trying to construct a shop and was being helped by a SAD councillor. The encroacher had been stopped thrice from carrying out the construction, but was not ready to budge.

Similarly, a building at the posh Model Town market was demolished today. The MC officials revealed that the owner of the building had not been constructing his shop-cum-flat in accordance with the plan passed by the civic body and was asked to stop the work. The shutters put up by the owner were also removed.

The tehbazari wing removed hand carts and tables and demolished 10 kiosks that had come on footpaths. The anti-encroachment drive was carried out in old vegetable market, Chaura Bazaar, Rahoan Road and Hukam Singh Road.



Cops maintaining migrants’ record
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 5
The involvement of migrant workers in criminal activities in the area has forced the Ludhiana Rural police to maintain their record.

The SHO said the task had been outsourced to ‘The RJ Team Helpline’, a private company from Ferozepur. After completing the task, the company would visit villages and towns in this regard.

The company called upon all migrants, landlords employing them and self-employed non-Punjabis to get themselves registered with it. The company had been issuing identity cards to all registered migrants at Rs 60 after verification.

Raj Rana, CEO of the company, said the police had, on numerous occasions, taken this step, but had failed due to the transfer of a few officials and non-updating of records.

Ludhiana Rural SSP Harinder Singh Chahal maintained that it had been noticed that migrants were directly or indirectly involved in crimes. They simply vanished after committing the crimes, he claimed, adding that though this was not an easy task, he was sure that the crime graph would go down after its completion.



Lure of easy money started it all
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Police inaction, drugs, unemployment, illiteracy and the desire to lead a lavish life have been prompting youths to form a biker gang, with migrants falling prey to their plans.

The gang has attacked migrants when the labrourers receive their salaries. Their repeated attacks have spread panic among migrants.

The alleged backing of certain cops to the gang has compounded anger of migrants. Five youths, originally members of a biker gang, are in jail on murder charges.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the cops who nabbed these youths said they did not hesitate to kill migrants for money and it was there repeated attacks that created a sense of fear among the migrants.

SSP SS Gill said Avtar Singh, alias Tari, Hardev Singh, Iqbal Singh, alias Pali, Amarjot, alias Jyoti and Gurpreet, alias Gopi, residents of Rania and Bhani villages, near Sahnewal, were involved in a series of snatching and assault incidents.

They were currently behind bars for murdering and assaulting migrants. Their arrest by the Focal Point police recently provided much-needed relief to the migrants. Little did they know that youths of Wadi Dhandari, Jeevan Nagar, Ishwar Colony and surrounding areas had formed a new gang, which started targeting migrants for money.

Police sources said the gang was equipped with sharp-edged weapons and its primary motive was to kill migrants if the latter used to refuse to pay up.

The migrants alleged that the police was further rubbing salt into their wounds as it used to shoo them away whenever they approached it to lodge a complaint.

The sources said these youths needed money to buy drugs, expensive clothes and attractive cell phones.

These youths used to visit shopping malls. Gopi confessed that he had been robbing migrants as he wanted to impress his girlfriend by gifting her costly items.

The accused confessed that they did not know that one man was killed while another was struggling for life at the CMC following their assault. The youths said they were intoxicated and were not aware of the severity of injuries they inflicted on the victims.

Gopi, the kingpin of the gang, admitted that on the night of November 11, they waylaid Manoj Kumar and his friend near Focal Point, Phase VIII. While Manoj’s friend managed to flee, they caught the latter and thrashed him badly. Manoj died at the PGI.

The gang recently attacked another migrant labourer, Ranjinder Kumar, currently struggling for life at the CMC hospital.



Schools remain open despite DC’s order
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
|Despite Deputy Commissioner’s order to close all educational institutions in the wake of violence, a large number of schools and colleges remained open in the city today.

Defying the Deputy Commissioner’s order, authorities opened the institutions in the morning so as to close before regular timing in the wake of fresh incidents of violence in several parts of the city.

Schoolchildren were sent home in auto-rickshaws, rickshaws and buses even as panic-gripped parents were seen rushing to schools to pick their wards. Meanwhile, the authorities on one hand expressed ignorance about the Deputy C’s order, on the other hand, some maintained that there was confusion over the order till this morning.



Midday Meal Scheme
Schools to get LPG refills on priority
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 5
Teachers looking after cooking of food under the midday scheme in government and private-aided schools will no longer be required to stand in queues for getting LPG refills.

The Indian Oil Corporation authorities have directed field officers of all LPG distributors to provide connections and refills according to the guidelines reached at a joint meeting of the corporation and director general (school education)-cum-director (Sarav Shiksha Abhyan).

According to a communication received by heads of government and private-aided schools providing food to students under the midday scheme, LPG field officers had been directed to ensure that cooking gas refills are supplied to schools as and when required.

However, a sealing limit will be fixed by considering consumption from April to October as basis.

The sealing limit fixed by the field officer will be uploaded in Indsoft software accessible to all distributors.

However, a school head can avail of an extra cylinder by making a request in case consumption in a particular month exceeds the normal usage.

It has also been decided that payment for refill will be received in cash and dealers will not insist on payment through draft.

Guidelines provide that request for refill can be registered by the school head on telephone by mentioning consumer number. The dealer will inform him about the date of supply.

Investigations by The Tribune reveal that teachers looking after cooking of food under midday scheme have been facing problems in procurement of LPG cylinders.

Krishan Kumar, director general (school education), after receiving complaints from the state had convened a meeting with higher authorities of companies supplying cooking gas in Punjab.

It was decided that connections and refill would be issued to such schools on priority. While some schools were issued special connection, 241 cases were pending.

Deepak Kumar, owner of Dehlon Gas Agency, and Jai Pal Singh, owner of Ahmedgarh Gas Agency, claimed they had directed their staff to supply refills to such schools on priority.



Purse containing jewellery, cash stolen

Mandi Gobindgarh,December 5
A purse containing jewellery and cash was stolen from a car here today. The miscreants smashed the windowpane of the car to steal the belongings.

The car was parked near Shaktimaan Kanda on the Amloh road. According to sources, Satish Kumar Prashar, a resident of Gurmukh Singh Colony, was going along with his wife to attend a marriage at Ludhiana.

He parked his Indica car (PB-26D-2366) to see the construction work of his house, leaving the purse in it.

Miscreants smashed the windowpane of the car and took away the purse. According to the victim, the purse contained jewellery worth around Rs 5 lakh, $ 1,500, Rs 7,000 in cash and other valuables. The police said it has taken the car into its possession and investigating the matter. — OC



Stop stadia misuse, sports bodies to urge govt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 5
Perturbed at the misuse of Guru Nanak Stadium by a soft drinks company on December 2, representatives of various sports organisations and sports promoters will organise a prayer meeting at 2 pm tomorrow for the purification of the stadium.

This was resolved at a meeting at the main hall of the stadium here yesterday. It was also decided to urge the state government not to allow any activity other than sports there.

On December 2, a concert was hosted at the state-of-the-art stadium, where famous Punjabi artiste Gurdas Maan performed.

During this show, liquor and non-vegetarian food were allegedly served at the venue. The frenzied crowd swarmed the playing area, besides the synthetic track, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

A seven-member committee was formed, with Punjab Basketball Association’s honorary general secretary Teja Singh Dhaliwal as its president and District Football Association’s president Shivtar Singh Bajwa as its secretary.

Others who attended the meeting included Gurmail Singh and Devi Dyal (kabaddi), Mohinder Singh Grewal (badminton), HS Randhawa and Ajay Pal Singh Punia (hockey), Kishan Singh (wrestling), Jagdish Singh Brar (rifle shooting), Davinder Singh Walia (judo) and Sukhdev Singh Pannu (athletics).

Dhailwal reminded them that a resolution had been passed in 2005 by the Punjab Sports Council, with the Chief Minister in the chair, that no cultural or political activity would be allowed at any stadium in the state, but unfortunately, the function on December 2 here caused extensive damage to the ground.

He threatened to take legal action against the authorities concerned which granted permission to hold such activities at playgrounds.

He disclosed that a delegation of sports personalities would call on the Chief Minister and his deputy soon to apprise them of the situation.

Dhaliwal also spoke to Punjab’s Sports Director Pargat Singh, who assured him that such programmes would not be conducted at stadia in the future.



Chess meet deferred
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 5
The two-day Ludhiana District Chess Championship slated to begin today at USPC Jain Public School, Chandigarh road branch, has been postponed following the imposition of curfew in some parts of the city since last evening.

According to Vikas Sharma, president of the Ludhiana District Chess Association (LDCA), the association decided to shift the venue to Janjh Ghar, near Shastri Nagar in Model Town. However, some participants had contacted him and other office-bearers of the association and expressed their inability to reach the venue.



Ghawaddi sports fest

Ludhiana, December 5
The annual sports festival organised by the Gill Sports and Welfare Association at Ghawaddi village, about 15 kms from here, began today.

Matches in hockey and kabaddi were conducted on the opening day of the two-day festival. In hockey, Dudike thrashed Sudhar 5-1; Roomi drew with Akalgarh 1-1; Takhanwadh blanked Hanskalan 2-0; Ghawaddi prevailed over Jassowal Kular 1-0 and Rampur defeated Dudike 3-1. In kabaddi (62 kg), Konke beat Khathra 21-19; Jassar outplayed Cheemnan 21-18; Khatra beat Konke 20-12 and Jhand outclassed Cheemnan 19-11. In kabaddi (70 kg), Luharmajra pipped Mahela Chak 10-7; Achharwal outwitted Jhand 25-18; Khahi defeated Sudhar 10-9; Kathari beat Ambi Hathoor 12.10; Khatra defeated Lalton 11-8 and Ghaloti beat Dhandhra 10-7. — OC



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