L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Curfew brings life to standstill
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Normal life was thrown out of gear in the city that remained under curfew throughout the day today following yesterday's turn of events in which a radical Sikh was killed in police firing.

The curfew was imposed in areas falling under the jurisdiction of all the 18 police stations. The Ferozepur road that divides the entire city into two parts was heavily barricaded by the police from Jagraon bridge till octroi post in Barewal. All the exit and entry points in the city were heavily guarded.

While the police was allowing people to leave the exit points, the entry was banned. At several places, the police had put stones, tree trunks, poles and even parked tow away vehicles to stop movement.

All the markets were closed, main roads wore a deserted look and at some places, funeral processions and ambulances had a tough time in convincing the police to allow them to go.

Several functions, including birthday parties and official functions were cancelled at the last minute due to curfew. Some people rued they could not even buy essential commodities.

The petrol stations in the periphery did a brisk business as the residents were seen getting their vehicles refuelled. They reached Mullanpur, Sahnewal and Laddowal by travelling on inner city roads.

The pulse polio drive of health department was also cancelled at the last minute. The department is yet to announce the new date.

Some residents rued that the curfew was not implemented in toto. The police was not equal to all as it was allowing some people to move freely while it was stopping others.

Kuldeep Khaira, a city resident, alleged that he was not allowed to go home by the police. He alleged cops were allowing people who were known them to move freely.

Another resident, who is an outreach worker to check spread of AIDS, said his family was not allowed to visit his relative’s house after his daughter's wedding. “It was an important function, but the cops did not allow us to move while they were allowing many others,” he rued. The cops, too, had a tough time at some places.


Commuters suffer as buses remain off road
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 6
For once, the general bus stand in the mega city wore a deserted look and the normal din of buses rushing in and out or people scurrying to board buses was missing.

With curfew being clamped in the entire city, the bus stand wore a deserted look. Commuters were put to inconvenience and thousands of people with plans to travel to different places in Punjab or outside by buses were stranded as the entire fleet of the Punjab Roadways, the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and private transport companies remained off road since this morning due to imposition of curfew following tension and death of a person in police firing during protests against congregation of Ashutosh Maharaj in the city on Saturday.

Some buses did operate carrying passengers to Jalandhar, Chandigarh and Delhi early this morning as even in curfew bound areas of the city, vehicular movement on the state and national highways was unaffected all through Saturday till Sunday morning. But the police directed the Punjab Roadways staff to discontinue bus services at around 7.30 am as the tension was mounting and there was apprehension of buses being damaged.

The persons manning the inquiry counter at the bus stand here said no bus had left after 7.30 am nor had any bus arrived from outside. The movement of inter-state buses also remained suspended throughout the day. “Nearly 2,300 private and government buses arrive and depart from the bus stand every day. But today, not more than a few dozen had operated, that too in the wee hours," said a roadways official.

People intending to travel to different places, including women and children,with no definite information on movement of buses, were seen making hectic inquiries with the roadways staff. Many of them with plans to attend family functions or fulfil other social commitments, had to return homes, which also proved difficult for most of them as the police vigil tightened all over the city as the day progressed.

Kartar Singh, a government employee, waiting at the bus stand with his family members to catch a bus for Chandigarh, was visibly upset because the suspension of bus service had dashed his plans to attend a marriage in the family at Chandigarh.

“I had left little margin for the time of the main function because I expected to reach Chandigarh in about two hours. Now, I will have to go to the railway station, that too if the police lets us go there, to catch a train from Ambala, if available, and then move to Chandigarh,” he rued.

Even though rail traffic was unaffected and trains were running as per schedule, the tight police bandobast made it difficult, if not impossible, for people to reach the railway station to take the trains. A few residents, some of them carrying reserved tickets for outward journey, especially from the old city localities, were not allowed to proceed to railway station due to curfew restrictions.



Educational institutions closed today
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
With no clear directions over the curfew tomorrow, Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg has passed the orders under Section 144 that all educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities, will remain closed on Monday.

The decision has come following a Punjab bandh call given by Sikh radicals on December 7. All school and college examinations scheduled for tomorrow have also been postponed.

However, despite the orders, confusion prevailed among educational institutions, students and parents till late evening as many school and college authorities expressed ignorance about the orders.

Many schools and colleges, including those affiliated with Punjab Technical University (Jalandhar), have postponed their viva and practical and other examinations scheduled for tomorrow.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr JS Sohl, director, the Ludhiana College of Technical Education, confirmed that the first year chemistry viva had been cancelled. Tension in the city has led to uncertainty and confusion among students about PTU examinations scheduled to start from December 8.

Expressing uncertainty about the same, a university official said: “I cannot comment on the Tuesday’s exam right now as we do not have the examination material till date following Punjab bandh call. It is difficult to say how whether the exam will be held as per schedule or not.”

On the other hand, Punjab College of Technical Education director Dr KNS Kang said if things remain peaceful, examinations would be held as per schedule on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, PTU Vice-Chancellor Dr Rajneesh Arora said the university had made all arrangements to hold the examinations as per the schedule and the would start from December 8 without delay if the law and order situation remains in control.

Despite the DC's order to close all educational institutions on Saturday, many schools and colleges remained open. However, fresh incidents of violence in the city forced the authorities to close operations before normal timings and send students home.



Industry losses put at Rs 800 cr
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
The mob violence in the city during the last three days has cost industry dear and, though it is still too early to arrive at a precise figure, total losses have been pegged at up to Rs 800 crore. Factories, commercial establishments and shops remained closed due to the curfew imposed in the entire city.

Sore over the police’s callous attitude in tackling the situation, many businessmen in the city have demanded suspension of the Ludhiana SSP whom they accused of failing to maintain law and order during the past three days. Already reeling under a severe financial crunch, industrialists fear such incidents that might occur again would add to their problems.

The president of the Punjab chapter of the Federation of Association Small Industries of India, Badish.K Jindal, said industry in the city was going through a bad plase. “Industrial units were already facing a labour shortage of up to 30 per cent due to central schemes launched in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. However, the recent violence had created panic among the migrant population, many of whom now want to go back home”. Not only has the violence cast a shadow over the domestic market, foreign buyers, too, have expressed concern over the recent developments.



Brides, grooms in for anxious moments
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Brides, grooms, their relatives and visitors to marriages witnessed anxious moments following curfew in the city.

More than 150 marriages were affected due to the curfew, as the police put up barricades at various parts of the city and did not allow the vehicles to commute on the main roads. The people entering the city from outside were the worst affected, as cops did not allow these vehicles to enter the city.

Tavinder, a resident of Mohali, who was scheduled to marry Gurpreet Kaur of Mullapur at a marriage palace near Baddowal, was caught in the curfew and got four hours late. The delay in the arrival of groom created panic among the visitors, who came from the girl's side.

The parents of the girl were seen frantically calling the groom to reach the marriage palace, as the duo was to be taken to a gurdwara to perform the marriage.

Friends of the groom though managed to reach the marriage palace and told the family to stay calm.

"We know the interiors of the city and somehow managed to reach the spot on time. But the groom and his parents are new to the city and opted to come by the main road and got stuck in the curfew," said Gurjant Singh. Similar scenes were witnessed in other marriage palaces.

Tarun Kukreja, who came from Jalandhar to attend a marriage of his friend, said, "Had it not been my friend's wedding, I would have never come to attend it. It was a horrific day, as there was a huge traffic jam at Ladhowal, from where the vehicles were diverted towards Jodha village.



Police, admn failed to tackle exigency 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
One of the fiercest clashes in the city for the last three days has exposed the preparedness of the administration and the police in dealing with such exigencies.

According to the sources, despite being alerted by intelligence sources, cops fail to take preventive measures to avert tragedy. Intelligence sources reveal that the police was having information of tension between two groups in advance, but they failed to take preventive measures.

While the tension was brewing in the city, bureaucrats and the top police officials were enjoying the Gurdas Mann concert. Three days of terror and violence, which begin with arson by migrants and violent protest by Sikh groups, who were protesting against the visit of Ashutosh Maharaj of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, have also proved that when it comes to tacking exigencies, cops and bureaucrats fail miserably.

Even the politicians fuel the situation and contribute a lot in aggravating the situation. No politician was seen on road requesting the people to stay calm. Instead, there were a plenty of small-time leaders who were seen instigating the public. An MLA of the ruling party exploited the situation to the fullest and proved to be the catalysts in creating a volatile situation the city.

A senior police official said: “What can we do. Even top intelligence officials were not aware that the situation would turn ugly.”

On the other hand, people have blamed top officials for letting the situation go off hand. “Had they conducted rounds of talks with both the groups and managed to affect a compromise the two groups, the situation could have never arisen. If they were not agreeing for a compromise, they could have been detained for security reason, but nothing was done police” said a city resident. 

No timely action

The tragedy could have been averted had the police taken timely action and used teargas shells, water cannons and plastic bullets. However, except lobbing a few teargas shells, the police did not use water cannons and not even plastic bullets. “If water cannon and plastic bullets were used the protesters would have sustained minor injuries. But a precious life would not have been lost, rued a protester



2-day congregation cut short
Ashutosh Maharaj addresses followers
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Undeterred by the ongoing rampage in the city by Panthic organisations, Ashutosh Maharaj, the head and founder of Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan, addressed a gathering of his followers at the GLADA ground in Ludhiana.

The two-day religious congregations scheduled for December 5 and 6 was convened under tight security yesterday.

Swami Vishvanand, the official spokesperson of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, stated that they have extended cooperation to the government by cancelling today’s event.

Despite the curfew imposed by the district administration around the areas leading to the GLADA ground, people sneaked their way to the venue from the narrow streets to listen to the spiritual leader.

Resham Kumari, a resident of Sector 32, Chandigarh road, said: “I am waiting for this event for the past two months and am going to attend it at any cost as this may be my sole chance to see Ashutosh Maharaj.”

Referring to prevailing intolerance amongst people, the leader said no sect preaches violence adding that every sect strives for establishing world peace. The event marked the participation of people from all over Punjab and other states of India as well.

At the same time, going by the strength of their religious sentiments, staunch followers of a Panthic organisation did not refrain from giving a broad axe (gandasa) in six-year-old boy’s hand. “It is his duty as a true Sikh to fight for the honour of his religion,” the young boy said, adding that the axe was to protect the religion and not to hurt anybody.



Violence in city
Poor, the worst sufferers
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Two-year-old Krishna suffered from diarrhoea and high fever throughout the day, but his father, Puran, a domestic helper from Nepal, was not allowed to take him to the doctor by police personnel on duty at Ghumar Mandi.

However, the condition of the little boy became stable after a neighbour provided medicine to him.

The violence in the city had hampered the normal life, but it was the poor man, who became the worst sufferer.

In the absence of any work, the poor, including rickshaw pullers, daily wagers, domestic helpers and factory workers, etc. suffered the most due to the imposition of curfew by the district administration in the city.

Ramanand, a 52-year-old rickshaw puller, said for the last two days, he was not able to earn anything. He could feed himself with just tea and rusks. “But today, I am left with only Rs 40. If the situation remains the same, I will not be able to earn anything in the next coming days. I have left it to God. He will come to our rescue,” said Ramanand in a positive manner.

Hundreds of daily wagers were not able to go out for work today due to the closure of factories/business establishments, etc.

Because of the tense situation, most of the migrant population preferred to remain indoors. Pratap Yadav, a migrant labourer from Bihar, said he had started feeling unsafe in the city. He said in the yesterday's violence, the migrants had no role to play. “But you never know when a false case is registered against you. It is better to remain in the four walls, till the situation becomes normal. But in the absence of work and money, we are finding it difficult to survive,” he said.

Another domestic helper, Bheema Rani, mother of three children, said she was facing this kind of situation for the first time.

“My husband has gone to his native village to attend his ailing mother. Unaware of the situation, I did not store anything for my family. We are facing difficult time. My employer, who lives nearby, brought rice, dal and atta to feed my kids. Living away from home in such tense situation is terrible,” she said, while tears rolled down her cheeks. 



A wake-up call 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
The ugly outburst of migrants, who vandalised police stations, torched vehicles and lay siege to the Dhandari railway tracks on Thursday and Friday, has come as a wake-up call for cops.

The cops were shocked to witness the strength of the migrants, who made the police as well as the locals run for shelter.

But what caught policemen by surprise was the possession of country-made weapons which were used against the police when the latter fired to shoo away the protesters. They filled petrol and kerosene in bottles and threw these on the cops.

Now the police is saying that they are sitting on a powder keg that can erupt any moment.

Narrating an account, a cop said when he went inside the Ishwar Nagar colony to disperse the crowd, he was shocked when a migrant with his country made weapon fired at him.

“I ran for cover inside a vehra and the migrant fired another shot at me. I managed to go out when extra force reached the spot and dispersed the mob,” said Gurjit Singh, a head constable.

Now senior officials are planning to install police pickets in the migrant dominated areas near the focal point.

The presence of county-made weapons has alarmed the cops. The cops are discussing ways and means so that such incidents do not recur in the area. The police is also planning to establish a dispute redress cell so that matters pertaining to migrants could be solved at the earliest.

Further, the police is going to strengthen its intelligence network in these dense colonies, which was a complete failure this time.

It is learnt that many migrants smuggled these weapons from their native states. Cops are now trying to find out whether they were planning do some thing bigger than the Friday’s incident.



Darshan Singh cremated amid tight security
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Darshan Singh (50), who died allegedly in police firing during a protest against the visit of spiritual leader Ashutosh Maharaj, was cremated at the Lohar crematorium here today.

A large number of people, belonging to different sections of society, besides leaders of various political parties, social and religious organisations attended the funeral.

A heavy police posse was in place to keep a check on unscrupulous elements.

Besides, a contingent of anti-riot force was also deployed at the spot.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom was witnessed at the residence of Darshan Singh.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar has announced Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.



Man missing since yesterday’s clashes
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Even after having returned home safe unaffected by Saturday’s violence, Jagjit Singh is very worried man and so is his family. The reason - his 38-year-old brother, Swaran, who had gone out along with him, is still missing.

"My brother and I, along with his seven-year-old son, had gone along with the ‘Akhand Kirtaniya jatha’ to the Feruman Shaheeda gurdwara to protest against a congregation that was being held at the GLADA grounds on Chandigarh Road. Though my nephew and I came back home safe and sound yesterday, I don't have any idea about where my brother might be," said a worried Jagjit.

“We’ve been looking for him everywhere, praying he is safe, but have yet not been able to get a clue as to his whereabouts. "The last time I saw him yesterday was at Cheema Chowk when the police lobbed tear gas shells at a rampaging mob. After the crowd dispersed we got separated," he added.

For the last 35 hours Jagjit has been frantically searching for his brother, hoping someone would disclose his whereabouts.

“My brother devotes most of his time in prayers and ‘kirtans’ and we thought he was probably busy helping those injured in the violence. However, his mobile has remained switched off”, says Jagjit. He added Swaran has two sons aged seven and four, along with a nine-year-old daughter and wife Simranjit Kaur waiting for him.

Suspecting the police might be involved in his disappearance, former SAD councillor Rajinder Singh Bhatia said, "We all fear the cops picked him up and will torture him. In fact many people have gone missing after yesterday’s clashes and this needs to be probed.”

Swaran is a resident of Azad Nagar and runs a confectionary shop to earn his livelihood.



Industrialist denies threat 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
A day after the city received one of the major outbursts, allegedly by Sikh radicals, who were protesting against the visit of Ashutosh Maharaj, chief of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, the local real estate giant whose name was ‘wrongly’ appeared on the billboard has distance himself to be a part of the controversy.

Official sources had confirmed that Ashok Malhotra received threats by some unidentified person yesterday. However, Mahlotra denied any such development and clarified that he had not received any threats from any organisation.

A spokesman of the Ashok Malhotra Group of Companies said Ashok Malhotra did not receive any threats from any organisation.

Later in the day, the spokesman said: “We had not organised any event of Ashutosh Maharaj and the name on the billboard at Jagraon bridge had wrongly appeared.”

He said the company MD Ashok Malhotra was not even in the city and not aware about the development.

Sources said some miscreants allegedly called up a police official and told him that the industrialist have received threatening letters. Following which the cops took prompt action but the family denied receiving any such threats.

“We do not oppose and support the visit of any spiritual guru. We are businessmen and want to work peacefully and such developments are disturbing. We want that the culprit who has played this prank should be nabbed,” said the spokesman. 



Solution to ‘jhuggi’ menace nowhere in sight
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 6
With a population explosion, unchecked influx of migrants and haphazard urban growth, all of which have virtually become a hallmark of Punjab’s industrial hub over the years, the proliferating ‘jhuggis’ (shanties) have become another black spot on the face of the city.

Periodic efforts made by the authorities to clear the slum clusters, which are to found in almost every residential and commercial area, and relocate the squatters have not yielded the desired results.

The presence of unauthorised ‘jhuggi’ clusters in a few of the city’s posh residential localities, including those developed by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), has assumed such alarming proportions that a few residents of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar have moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for removal of the ‘jhuggi’ dwellers from green belts, parks and other vacant places.

A rough survey conducted by the trust’s engineering wing revealed that the number of jhuggis in colonies like Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Rishi Balmiki Nagar, Yamuna Colony on the Pakhowal Road and Industrial Area B numbered over a thousand.

Residents of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and some other trust colonies complain that the ‘jhuggi’ dwellers have become a permanent source of nuisance to them.

“These unlawful occupants on public land, parks and green belts are in the habit of taking their bath in the open, keeping pets even pigs, creating unhygienic conditions, stealing electricity through ‘kundi’ connections and indulging in criminal activities. They pose both a threat to the health and security of residents,” said an activist of a residents welfare society of one of the colonies.

“Removing shanties and shifting the ‘jhuggi’ dwellers is easier said than done,” commented an LIT official when asked why the slums were allowed to come up and what steps had been taken for their removal.

“First of all, no police assistance is made available most of the time. As if this is not enough, efforts to clear the ‘jhuggis’ are often thwarted by bureaucratic meddling as all politicians, cutting across political affiliation, have an eye on the sizeable vote bank,” he remarked.

The civic body is making another attempt to rehabilitate the ‘jhuggi’ dwellers in nearly 5,000 apartments in Mundian, Giaspura and Dhandari Kalan constructed for the urban poor through a centrally sponsored scheme under the Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.

However, only time will tell whether the effort yields the desired results or turns into another fiasco as has been mostly the case in the past.



New road begins to wither
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
While the municipal corporation claims to give better roads to the city, the irony is that officials have failed to provide good ones even near their office.

The stretch of road at Sarabha Nagar near the corporation’s D-zone office has been newly laid and the Municipal Commissioner, among others, crosses it everyday. Yet, none of them have spared a thought to the poor quality of construction material used for re-carpeting the road.

Skid marks show that the road is not in a condition to bear the load of heavy vehicles and would soon be filled with potholes.

Sunil Jain, a commuter, said: “The emotions of Ludhianvis regarding the road keep changing. They curse the civic body for potholed roads and even mock at its officials. When the corporation cannot provide a good drive to its office, how could one expect a smooth ride in the city.”



Foreign delegation visits PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
A six-member foreign delegation visited Punjab Agricultural University and interacted with the officials and head of departments of college of agriculture and college of agricultural engineering and technology under the chairmanship of dean, postgraduate studies, Dr SK Mann.

The delegation comprised Dr Mort Neufville, executive vice-president (retd), Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, Washington DC; Dr Pradip Mukerji, center director, Pacific Asia R&D, Abbott Nutrition, Research and Development, Singapore; Dr David Hansen, senior fellow, Association of Public Land Grant Universities, Washington DC; Dr William B DeLauder, higher education consultant and president emeritus, Delaware State University, Bear; Dr Sammy Comer, director, International Food and Agricultural Development, School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville; and Dr KG Raghothama, professor and associate director, International Programmes in Agriculture, Purdue University, West Lafayette.

Dr Neufville said the need of the hour was to train the best scientists for playing a role in sustaining the transformational change.

He explained how business and industry tie-up with academics could help advance leadership development programmes.

It emerged from the discussion that there were a few vital issues of regional importance like management of vegetable glut, food grain and its storage that needed priority over the national concerns.

Formulation of a committee for the food system leadership was also suggested.

Dr Mann said the purpose of the visit was in line with the need-based requirement of the region. She stressed international-level support building, private food system leadership in India, curriculum revamp, soil water management system, and formation of Indo-US University Consortium.

The discussion led to setting a stage for identifying areas for curriculum development and internship programmes that include agri-business, bee-keeping for honey production, food engineering, integrated pest management, bio-technology, medicinal and aromatic plants, nursery production in horticultural crops, agro-ecology, etc.

Dr Mann added that additional programmes, if introduced, should have different nomenclature than those that were under the ICAR programmes.

The participating members discussed comprehensive nature of education from different facets.



Decision on exam upsets Class III, IV
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 6
Students of Classes III and IV of government schools and their parents are upset over the ever-changing decisions of the authorities in the education department.

While it was declared that their performance for upgradation to the next class would be evaluated on the basis of mid-term examinations under the Parho Punjab Scheme, now they have been asked to appear in the annual examination to be conducted along with Class V.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that heads of the government elementary schools, who were earlier asked not to conduct the annual examinations for the students of Classes III and IV, had now been directed to prepare question papers for these students.

These students will now be appearing in the annual examination along with the Class V students.

Perusal of a communication received from the director-general school education office, Chandigarh, in continuation of earlier letter regarding the schedule of Class V examination, revealed that the decision to conduct the examination for Classes III and IV was taken on the basis of feedback received from certain “outsiders”.

The students will be evaluated at the school level only.

While Class V exams will commence on December 16, the date sheet for lower classes is yet to be declared.

The parents of these students have urged the authorities to stagger the schedule so that their wards could get enough time to prepare for the examination.



200 students felicitated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 6
Over 200 students of Guru Hargobind Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Bahadurgarh, were felicitated during the annual prize distribution function organised on the school premises yesterday.Jagpal Singh Khagura, hotelier and senior Congress leader, was the chief guest on the function.

Speakers, including legislator Jasbir Singh Khangura, chairman Avtar Singh Latala, principal Hardev Singh and Gursharan Kaur exhorted the students to come forward in the fields of academic and extracurricular activities. A colourful cultural programme was also presented.



College students raise awareness on environment
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 6
As part of teaching practice, students of Doraha College of Education carried out fortnight-long activities of academic and cutural interest in students at Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Doraha.

During the course of the teaching work, a painting competition was organised last week for students on ill-effects of plastic, saving energy and environment, and road safety rules. A quiz competition was also organised in which Doraha College of Education principal Dr Sandeep Sawney was the chief guest.

There were five rounds of general science, general awareness, sports, mental ability, computers and visual aid.

Also, to generate awareness among students regarding maintenance of clean and green environment, a tree plantation drive was conducted by them in collaboration with students.The students vowed to take care of the saplings and water them regulary.

On the concluding day, a cultural function was organised by students. The college students thanked the principal and other members of the school for the systematic conduct of the activities.



PAU researchers win awards
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
PAU researchers won maximum awards in recognition of their research presentations through posters during the silver jubilee meet organised by the Society for the Promotion of Plant Science Research at Jaipur National University on December 1 and 2.

Dr SS Gosal, additional director of research (agriculture), was given the distinction award for his contributions toward national/international understanding and goodwill in life sciences/bio-technology.

Shabir Hussain Vani and Gulzar Singh Sanghera, PhD students of the department of plant breeding and genetics at school of agricultural biotechnology, were honoured with Young Scientist Awards.

The second best poster award for research on “Isolation and Molecular Characterisation of Diazotrophs from wheat cropping system of Punjab” was given to Dr SK Gosal, Dr GS Saroa, Dr Y Vikal, Dr SS Cameotra, Neemisha Pathania, Aman Bhanote and Gurloveleen Kaur.

The fourth best poster award was won by Pooja Manchanda, Dr Ajindeer Kaur, Dr JS Sandhu and Dr SS Gosal for their research paper on “Molecular Assessment of Genetic Fidelity of Tissue Culture Propagated Banana Plants”.

Dr Gosal said it was the maximum number of awards won by researchers from a single university.



Two city lads make it to Canada 
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 6
Local resident Raman Rishi Singh Walia and Sharantjit Singh Tagger of Hoshiarpur have emerged champions at the world-level class act Canada contest.

They are among the top 10 students who have been selected for an all-expenses-paid post-secondary education for three years at Sprott Shaw Community College in British Columbia.

“We will get an opportunity to show that Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular have preserved and perpetuated elements of humanitarian culture, inherited from our forefathers. What satisfies me the most is that 3,98,035 people across the world have voted in favour of my slogan against female foeticide, reversal of the depleting water table and population control,” says Walia.

His father Harjinder Pal Singh Walia is the chairman of the Global Punjab Foundation, an international organisation engaged in social reform.

Maintaining that the media, despite intrusion of black sheep, is still capable of changing society, Walia says journalism and mass communication have fetched him his achievement.

Vision for technological advancement has enabled Tagger bags the award. Sole breadwinner of his family, he will pursue a course of his choice in one of the pioneer institutes of British Columbia.

Walia and Tagger have been selected on the basis of video clippings, portraying their story telling, personal presentation, enthusiasm and commitment towards society.

According to Harbinder Singh Sewak, co-ordinator of the programme, Rs 9 million will be spent on the education and stay of the two candidates. The prize also includes books, to-and-fro airfare, transportation and board and lodging.



At the Crossroads
Where has the fellow feeling gone?

IN the present-day world, the people are so engrossed in themselves that they seldom come out of their sanctuaries.

In social gatherings, they mix up with others as a matter of courtesy. Otherwise, they do not communicate with them on the platform of understanding.

The heart is elsewhere, only the brain waves play the game of conviviality. They size up others in the style of one-upmanship.

Ultimately, they dismiss them as persons of no consequence. Hence, the two-way traffic is closed with a dead wall of indifference.

It has been seen that in a party, people exude warmth on the spur of the moment. They sometimes go out of their way to stoop to conquer.

This creates an ambience of bonhomie, which thickens the atmosphere of togetherness. They flit across the floor of the ballroom and at times, tiptoe to offer a red rose to the partner.

It seems to them as if their dreams have come true. Such feelings create enchanting images that fully engross their minds.

But the transitoriness of these illusions become obvious when the mist evaporates in the morning. In the words of an Urdu poet:Raat ko mehve humdumi thhe subbSubho jaage to ajnabi thhe subb

(They were very intimate with one another at night (in a club). But in the morning, they were total strangers to one another.)

To judge others in view of their position in society, while ignoring the basic qualities of the less privileged persons, is indeed a miscalculation.

The high-ups on the commercial scenario and the big bosses in the administrative set-up are accorded a red-carpet treatment everywhere.

It is, of course, the way of the world. But how these persons regard others as fellow beings is the moot question.

They will, indeed, ignore the persons at the lower rung of the ladder and consider them as individuals of no importance.

Therein lies the irony of the human situation. To be self-centred is deplorable, but to consider others as lesser mortals is reprehensible.

There is something in a human mind that craves for recognition, based on proper pride. A human being is deeply hurt when this pride has been provoked.

To my dismay, I have learnt that in the USA, and of course, to some extent, in India too, the host entertains a guest in accordance with his material gains.

They judge, first of all, his worth in terms of his social standing. So much so that a particular bottle of whiskey is served to him after having a glimpse of the size of his car. I wonder what will be served to him in case he comes on foot.

The point I am driving home is that we no more care for others as human beings, rather we categorise them according to their status. This is a wrong trend.

We should have a fellow feeling for others, especially for those who are in distress. To be supercilious is a sin as it indicates the misplaced attitude of superiority over others.

In fact, no one is superior as a person since all human feelings and emotions are of the same tenor. Not mere sympathy, but empathy is required when a fellow being succumbs to a calamity.

There is some sort of a parable that indicates a man’s haughty demeanour on account of his material gains.

It is said that a great conqueror went back to his country as an exalted hero. There he approached a dervish to seek his blessings. The dervish knew about the atrocities the conqueror had committed against human beings in other countries.

The conqueror asked him in a patronising tone, "Tell me what you need, however costly it may be."

He replied, "I want nothing but sunshine at this time. So please get aside to let the sun rays fall upon me."

— NS Tasneem



Akali sarpanch’s nephew opens fire, 1 hurt 
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, December 6
Marriage celebrations turned sour when a youth was shot at the instance of a youth from the girl’s side. Amolak Singh (25), the victim, a resident of Bangsipura village near Sidhwan Bet, had stated that he had a brawl with a group of youths from the girl’s side over the choice of a song to be played by the orchestra.

He had gone to attend the marriage at Taj Resorts at Mandiani village on the Jagraon road along with the groom, Davinder Singh, a resident of Sodhiwala village near Sidhwan Bet, who got married to the daughter of Gurdeep Singh of Mullanpur village.

The group for the girl’s side was in inebriated state. The objection raised the youths from the girl’s side over the song irritated Amolak Singh, who along with his friends exchanged heated words.

A youth from the girls’ side called somebody over the phone. As soon as marriage was over, Manveer Singh, alias Teji, nephew of an Akali sarpanch of Mullanpur village, who is also vice-chairman of the Mullanpur Dakha Market Committee, came to the resort along with his friends identified as Lakha, Rikki, Arashi, Ashu, Baldebi, Gopi and others. Manveer Singh took out a pistol and shot him in the stomach. The victim was rushed to Medicity Hospital in Ludhiana. From there he was referred to DMCH, Ludhiana. The victim is still in critical condition.

It took more than 24 hours to book the accused as the people had identified the accused. Even the police was reluctant to register a case against the accused. Sources revealed that the weapon used in the crime belonged to sarpanch.

However, the Dakha police on the statement of Amolak Singh had booked Manveer Singh and six of his accomplices. 



15 LCDs stolen from shop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 6
Taking advantage of the tension in the city the thieves broke into an electrical showroom, located opposite to the CIA staff at the Ferozepur Road, and decamped with 15 LCDs worth Rs 18 lakh. According to the police, the thieves came in a tempo and broke open the locks of Bedi electronic before decamping with LCDs.

The matter was reported yesterday morning when the worker reached the shop and found the shutter

broken. Cops are suspecting it to be the handiwork of a security guard, as he did not report for duty.

A case has been registered in this regard. 



6 booked for beating up woman 
Tribune News Service

Khanna, December 6
Six persons, including a woman, were booked yesterday for allegedly beating up a woman, who resides at Bharthala village near Samrala.

Laxmi, the victim, alleged that Navdeep Singh, Pushpinder Singh, Manjit Kaur and three other unidentified men entered her house ransacked it and even slapped her. They even broke the entire household items. Laxmi alleged that she was beaten up with an intention of encroaching upon a piece of land that she had recently purchased.

A case has been registered against the accused in this regard.

1 killed in mishap

A resident of Todarpur village died in an accident on Friday night after a speeding tractor trolley driven by a Panchkula aresident hit him. The injured has been identified as Nachhattar Singh, who was going on a motorcycle along with his son. When they reached near Dayalpura village they were hit by tractor trolley driven by Rajesh. A case has been registered on a complaint lodged by the deceased’s son.

2 held for gambling

Machhiwara: The Khanna police yesterday arrested two persons for gambling near the local taxi stand and seized Rs 4,300 from their possession. The accused have been identified as Pawan Kumar of Indira Colony and Beant Singh of Panjeta village. A case has been registered in this regard. 



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