L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


It’s a dream come true for cager moms
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
Three women cagers in their mid- 30s are scripting a success story in the 60th Pearls Senior National Basketball Championship being organised at Guru Nanak Stadium.

It was in 1997 that three of them had represented Maharashtra, now two of them have attained motherhood, while the third has turned a professional fitness trainer.

Kajal Ambedkar, Gopika Kachare and Sajida Bagwan, who are living separately from their families, especially the kids, are trying to prove a point not only to the critics, who are gunning for them after they were selected to represent Maharashtra against those who were half their age, but to themselves. For them it just like a page from a fairytale.

They are testing their endurance to the hilt so as to find out that they still have the spark left in them.

While they are giving their best here, probably for the last time, before bidding adieu to the game, there children are being taken care off by their husbands.

They said they have fond memories of this stadium. They have visited here twice in early 90s, “Then the city used to be little quieter. Lots of things have changed since then. Now, this city is bustling with all sort of vehicles and shopping malls have mushroomed like never before,” said Gopika, who turned professional fitness trainer after leaving the game in 1997.

“Though, we left the game but still remained good friends. All these years our topic of discussion has always revolved around the game- basketball- and the good old days, when three of us used to tour together. We realised just how much we missed playing together. As all of us attained a certain level in their profession and personal career we decided to give it a shot for the last time. That gave us the hunger to play one final tournament, a kind of a reunion on the court,” said Sajida Bagwan, a mother of two children, who was full of praise for her software professional husband for allowing her to relive the dream.

“While, I am touring and practicing with the team for the past one month, he is looking after the kids back home, Sajida added.

Kajal Ambedkar, who is director (translations) at BITS Private Limited, has a different story to share.

She said her husband who, too, was a cager represented Maharashtra last year and promised to take care of their child and allow her to play. That, too, after she gets selected.

“It was my turn this time and I told him that I will also represent the state. And the decision to play ‘one final tournament’ was taken when the three of us met at a local coffee house about a month ago. We took two weeks off from our regular schedules, and practiced sincerely at the Anandban Club in Pune,” added Kajal

As Pune team comprised youngsters, the arguably veterans trio found no place in the team.

Then they decided to try their luck from Ahmednagar; here they teamed up with three other moms namely Arnika Patil, Mithila Gujar, and Rekha Nanelu.

From that period onwards there has been no looking back and it has been a dream run so far.

The team started with easy wins over Hingoli, Nagpur, and formidable Mumbai, and finally took revenge from Pune, beating them 92-56 in the semifinal. In the finals they were up against the Railways- India’s best team with a few international stars -was a level above, however, they lost to them by just 10 points and stood runners up in the state basketball championship.

While, Arnika Patil, Mithila Gujar, Rekha Nanelu will quit the game as soon as the tournament ends; Kajal, Gopika and Sajida will continue their dream run.

Though, the team could not create the kind of magic that was expected from them, but these women have certainly left an imprint on their counterparts and other teams participating in the tournament.

Some of them are just half the age. But it’s nice to play with them as a unit. We have good understanding with our juniors, while they are learning from our experience, we are also learning a lot from them,” said Gopika.


Power Theft
Rs 15-lakh penalty slapped on erring units
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 31
The enforcement wing of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday launched a major crackdown on industrial units engaged in theft of power in the city.

As many as 130 factory premises were inspected in Sunder Nagar, New Madhopuri, Bahadurke Road and Jalandhar bypass localities and a penalty of Rs 15 lakh was slapped on units found stealing power or committing other irregularities.

PSEB chief engineer (enforcement) HS Randhawa said 16 teams were set up with their members drawn from enforcement directorates at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Bathinda. These were assigned to carry out simultaneous spot inspection of energy meters, connected load and electrical installations in certain industrial areas housing hosiery and knitwear units with past record of power theft.

In the course of inspections, three cases of theft, 12 of meter tempering, 13 of overloading and another 31 of diversion of load (use of power for purpose other than approved) came to light.

Demand notices of penalty imposed on the defaulting industrial units were in the process of being issued, he said.

According to Randhawa, the enforcement staff had come across cases of theft of power through remote control and other hi-tech devices.

“Drive against power theft will continue and the enforcement wing will spare no efforts to curb the menace of power theft, which was causing a huge drain on the revenue of the board.”



A ray of hope for 12 poor on New Year
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
The dawn of January 1, 2010, will come with a new hope for 12 persons from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, who having lost their eyesights will now see the world with that of those who had pledged their eyes before death.

Having undergone corneal transplant free of cost at a super specialty eye hospital in Ludhiana, these 12 persons got the eyes through an NGO.

There is no bound to the happiness of Pramod from Rajasthan, who after losing his eyesight while welding had lost hope to regain it due to scarcity of funds required for corneal transplant. But then a native of his village told him to come to Ludhiana where he underwent corneal transplant. Smiling through his bandaged eyes Pramod said: “I can’t wait to see the joy on the face of my wife and children for whom January 1, 2010, will indeed be a Happy New Year.”

As they say one philanthropic deed leads to another, Bharat Singh, a daily wager from Patiala, who had come for his corneal transplant volunteered to forgo his chance on learning that there were nine recipients against eight corneas available in the eye bank. As soon as he backed out, the Jalandhar branch of the NGO got another pair of healthy eyes for him.

Overwhelmed by the compassion shown by Bharat for fellow humans, Dr Ramesh said: “People like Bharat Singh are in true words the pride of India which was called Bharat in ancient times. It is people like him who give impetus to our cause of fighting against blindness,” shared Dr Ramesh.

Satpal Mahajan, a retired PCS officer, moved by the sentiments of people volunteering for eye donation, has recently formed Punarjot Sabha in Amritsar, which will motivate people to pledge their eyes after death.

The officials also saluted the people who had volunteered to donate organs of their beloved ones after accidental death as was evident from the fact that the youngest donor in Punarjot Eye bank was eight-year-old and the oldest 125-year-old.



Fake Bill Scam
Two officials plead innocence
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
While Manoranjan Kalia was swift in taking action against 13 erring municipal corporation officials in the fake bill scam, two suspended officers, an SDO and a JE have pleaded innocence.

According to sources, SDO Rakesh Sharma and JE Rakesh Singla have requested the Local Bodies minister, along with Principal Secretary Local Bodies C Reoul and CVO AK Prabhakar, to save them, as they remained suspended from the corporation for almost six months. The duo had pleaded innocence stating that they remained out of service from December 13, 2008, to July 2, 2009, at the time when the scam took place.

They revealed that the suspension orders for the SDO and the JE were issued in December 2008 for trying to influence experts of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, who had come to the city for conducting road test of the Gill Road. The duo was reinstated on July 7 2009. While SDO Rakesh Sharma was asked to join the municipal corporation, JE Rakesh Singla joined the Patiala Municipal Corporation. Singla returned to Ludhiana on August 8, 2009.

The officials have requested the minister that for approval of payments and dates of issuance of cheques to the contractors should be considered on priority basis as they were being involved in a “wrong doing” where they were not involved. Besides, they had pleaded that the forged bills were prepared in April when they were not authorised to attend the office.

When the two officials were contacted, they said, “We are not guilty and are being blamed despite the fact that we have to do nothing with it. We have even stick to the same words when are statements were being recorded by the local bodies vigilance team.” The SDO and JE added that our suspension has come on preliminary inquiry and we are hopeful that we would be given justice.

Engineers’ wing of the local municipal corporation today condemned the action taken against their colleagues. They regarded it as an injustice as 10 engineers were suspended on preliminary inquiry and no action had come against the contractor.

Talking to The Tribune, the Punjab Municipal Corporation Engineer's Association, president Joginder Sandhu said: "If contractors do forged signatures, how could an official be blamed for it. Before blaming us, writing experts should have been consulted to know the exact position. The stigma attached would not only ruin professional lives, but even disturbs are family lives." He added that the engineering branch of Municipal Corporation was completely demoralized at present. Urging the Punjab local bodies department to reconsider its decision and conduct a thorough probe, Sandhu said, "No action should have been taken based on preliminary enquiry".



Man held for killing wife, daughters
Two others also in police net
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
The city police claims to have solved the blind murder case of a woman and her two daughters with the arrest of her husband and two others today. Three of them were murdered near a railway track at the Civil City in the Chander Nagar area on Monday evening.

The accused have been identified as Ashok Kumar (32), husband of the victim, Jyoti (21) younger brother of Ashok, and Naveen (22) friend of Jyoti. They were nabbed in connection with the brutal murder of Simran (28), her daughters Divya, alias Komal (8) and Puja (5).

The SSP added that they had planned to kill the trio in the city to eliminate the suspicion that the victims were killed Karnal. Had this happened everybody would have suspected them for killing?

As per the plan Naveen was hired for killing them and Rs 15,000 and insurance amount of Puja was promised if he did the job well.

On Saturday, Ashok along with Simran and his two daughters came to Saroop Nagar for staying with his in-laws. Jyoti and Naveen also arrived in city the next day and contacted Ashok.

Ashok quarreled with his in-laws and alleged that Simran was of bad character and refused to take her along to Karnal. The family tired its best to settle the dispute but he refused to budge.

Meanwhile, Jyoti, who was in the city called at Ashok’s cell phone and told him that he want to talk to Simran?

Things went on as planned. Jyoti, further told Simran to come out of the house along with her daughters on some pretext.

He told her that he would wait for her at the backyard of a temple near the railway track. From there they would head for Karnal as Naveen, who was a driver, came in a car.

Simran followed his instructions and reached the temple. On reaching there Jyoti told him that Naveen was waiting for her on the other side of the railway track in the car.

When she crossed the level crossing she spotted Naveen standing there and called him. Naveen told Simran to follow him. He told her that the car was parked a few meter away.

When Simran came close to Naveen, the latter took out a knife and stabbed her on the throat. The attack proved fatal.

She cried for help and told her daughters to run. But unfortunately the both girls got stuck in an agricultural field.

The two daughters were witnessed to the horrific scene. Both of them tried to save their lives but were nabbed by Naveen who pounced upon them.

Puja, being merely five- year- old could not resist. Naveen slit her throat and killed her on her birthday.

But Jyoti, instead of showing mercy gagged, while Naveen slit her throat as well.

After killing the three they boarded a train and headed for Karnal.

On reaching Karnal, they told Ashok that they had killed the three following which Ashok raised an alarm and the family started searching for the trio.

In the morning it was Ashok who called the police and narrated the entire incident.



NRI kills local girl
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
When the family of Manjeet Kaur, a local girl from the Daba area,had seen her off at the airport two years ago, they had never imagined that they would have to fight to get her body back.

Manjeet Kaur (23) was allegedly stabbed by her husband, Chamanjit Singh on Monday night in Sydney, Australia. She died on the spot. Chamanjit, who fled away was arrested by the Melbourne police later on.

Wailing at the unbearable loss of her daughter, Baldev Singh said he wanted to perform the last rites of his daughter. ‘‘If only her body can be sent back home, ’’ he said.

Manjeet Kaur was a brilliant student, who cleared IELTS two years ago and went on a study visa to Australia. Since she was already married, she sent for her husband's papers, who also reached Australia early this year.

Nobody knew he would kill his wife.



Training camp for YC workers ends
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 31
A two-day training camp organised by the District Youth Congress (DYC) for its ranks to apprise them of the policies of programmes of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre concluded here today.

The focus of the camp was on centrally-sponsored development schemes and nation-wide programme “Aam aadmi ka sipahi” (AAKS) launched by AICC secretary and youth icon of the party Rahul Gandhi.

A team of experts, comprising Vijay Mahajan, Maan Singh, Puja Chandra, Sunit Madhur and Vinod Sultanpuri, imparted training to the participating workers and educated them with different development schemes of the government.

Addressing the functionaries, including block presidents, district delegates and others at the camp, DYC (urban) president Dimple Rana announced that the Centre had provided a grant of Rs 4,000 cr under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), proposed to be spent for development projects in the city till 2012 in a phased manner.

“The workers ought to keep a close watch on the ongoing projects under JNURM to ensure that the funds are being spent by the state government in the desired manner.”

Rana exhorted the functionaries to reach out to the masses, carry out community welfare projects under the AAKS programme, while at the same time propagating the achievements of the central government and failures of the SAD-BJP government in Punjab in providing any kind of relief to the common man.



MCPI raps govt for price rise
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 31
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has flayed the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities and attributed the inflationary trends to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

The party said it was unfortunate that the union government was blaming state governments for price rise, thereby confusing and misleading the people.

The state committee of the party, which met here today under the chairmanship of Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, called upon the central government to take stringent measures against speculators, black marketeers and hoarders to curb the price rise and bring essential food items within the reach of the common man.

The state government also ought to act in the desired manner to ensure that there was no more exploitation of people with regard to prices of food grain and other items of daily need.

Party national general secretary Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri also attended the meeting and spoke on various political and other issues facing people.

State committee member Kuldeep Singh said in another resolution adopted by the party, the Ruchika molestation case was described as a classic example of powerful people getting away without deserving punishment even for serious offences.

“The case is a poor reflection on the functioning of police-bureaucracy-judicial system in India. The saving grace is reopening of the case under angry reaction by the public and the media. Similar line of action should be adopted in other cases where powerful and high-profile accused had evaded deserving punishment,” the party said.

Through other resolution, the MCPI condemned implication of Lakhwinder Singh Boani, district secretary of the party, in a false criminal case allegedly at the behest of a leader of the ruling party and negligence of doctors at Longowal village in Sangrur district as well as registration of false cases against social activists.

The proposal to increase number of police stations by 40 per cent also came in for sharp criticism at the meeting.

The MCPI observed that the hike in the number of police stations would not only put additional financial burden on the already bankrupt economy of Punjab but also become a major instrument for nepotism since the sole purpose of the exercise appeared to be an attempt by senior functionaries of the ruling coalition to create new posts in the police force and adjust their nears and dear ones.



Delay in LPG supply harries residents
Tribune News Service

Samrala, December 31
A large number of local residents today complained of delay in LPG supply to various areas of the town.

They alleged that in spite of repeated requests and complaints, no action had been initiated by the officials of a gas agency.

“We have been facing the problem of delayed LPG supply for the past two months and nothing has been done in this regard. We have brought this matter to the notice of senior functionaries of the gas agency but to no avail,” said Sanjeev Kumar, a resident.

He said gas agency officials keep delaying the booking and consumers had to wait for over 40 days to get a refill.

However, influential people of the area were getting refills using clout, alleged Gaganjeet Singh, another resident.

Residents rued that consumers had been forced to get refills on the black market from other areas.

HPC manager Kalyan Kapoor said the problem was discussed at a recent meeting of higher officials at Jalandhar and would be sorted out in the coming days.

He refuted the charge of delay in booking and impartial distribution of cylinders.



Cops gear up for New Year celebrations

Jagraon, December 31
The police head of Ludhiana (Rural) police, SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, considering last year incidences has geared up its recourses to prevent any unsavory incidence in the area. Chahal said the police would be alert during the New Year Eve celebrations.

 He said special nakas were being set to tackle unruly mobs if need be. He further added that special nakas had been set up at major crossings to curb drunk driving. The police force will be deputed in mufti in sensitive areas. — OC 



Three medical stores raided
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
A team of drug inspectors lead by state drug controller Bhag Singh confiscated a huge quantity of the Scheduled “H” drugs during a raid conducted at three outlets in Pindi Street, here yesterday.

The team found numerous discrepancies in the records maintained by Satyam Pharma, Khullar Medical Store and Dada Distributors and huge quantity of syrups and capsules.

Drug inspector Rajesh Suri said: “About 550 bottles of syrups and 27, 824 capsules were seized from Satyam Pharma, while 2,120 bottles of syrups and 3,400 capsules were recovered from Khullar Medical Store. And 3,720 syrup bottles were seized from Dada Distributors.”

He added that the purchase records of the three medical shops were found to intact but those of sales were found missing. 



Rs 23-lakh grant for villages
Tribune News Service

Khanna, December 31
Chief parliamentary secretary (technical education) Bikramjeet Singh Khalsa today distributed grant for various development works in different villages of Khanna.

He gave away cheques worth Rs 23 lakh to 48 panchayat members of different villages during a function.

The money would be spent on water supply and sanitation schemes at villages.

He said the SAD-BJP government in the state was working for the poor and had recently chalked out different schemes for them.

He, however, said in spite of various schemes, more needed to be done for the poor.



Pankaj first in dance contest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
A dance competition was organised by Bollywood Dreams Dance Academy in which children between 5-20 years participated.

Various dance forms brought out the talent of the kids who performed on pop and rock, contemporary and street dance. Pankaj, Charanpreet, Nishant, Alisha and Sifty stood first, second and third, respectively.

Winners were given prizes by director of Bollywood Dreams Abhinav S, who informed that the grand finale would be held on January 19.



Canadian MP for more visas to Punjabi students
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 31
“The Canadian government is seriously considering the issue of raising the number of study visas for Punjabis keeping in view the interest of the local youth in pursuing higher education in Canadian colleges and universities,” said Tim Uppal, Member of Parliament from Edmonton (Canada), while addressing mediapersons at a felicitation ceremony organised by the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council here yesterday.

“We will soon approach the Canadian immigration department to increase the number of study visas to Punjabis so that more and more genuine students could avail of higher education in Canada.

“Punjabis should adopt legal means to go abroad. However, students should utilise the education gained in overseas universities and colleges for the welfare of Punjab and its community here,” suggested Uppal.

On international education, culture and sports exchange programmes, Uppal appreciated the role of the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council (PCPC), led by its director Davinder Singh Chhina, in spearheading such programmes for the student community of the state.

He promised to make efforts to encourage education and cultural delegations of Canadian students to visit and explore the history and heritage of Punjab, as well as to perform in Punjab international folk festivals organised by the PCPC.

He said Canadian Prime Minister Stefan Harper was highly impressed with Sikh heritage after his maiden visit to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, this year. “To remove misconceptions about Sikh identity and turban amongst Canadians, efforts were being made so that Punjabis did not face any racial problems due to mistaken identity anywhere in Canada,” he said.

Expressing concern about the drug menace amongst Punjabi youth, he resolved to fight against such evils and channel their energies towards constructive programmes.

He suggested involving youth in cultural and sports activities to check the menace.

Chhina and other office-bearers of the organisation honoured Uppal for his services to the Punjabi community in Canada.

Chhina asked Uppal to play a key role in strengthening international friendship by organising visits of Canadian students to Punjab and vice versa.

Chhina said international delegations and students from Europe and other continents would participate in Punjab international folk festivals in the first week of February.

Sikh scholar DM Singh also appreciated Uppal’s contribution towards Punjabi community in Canada and advised him to promote the heritage globally.

Those present included principal GS Brara, principal Jaspreet Mohan Singh, union leader Sukhdev Singh Rana, folk artists Bansi Lal, Ropan Singh Bajwa, Krishan Kumar, Nitish Kumar, Sikh artistes Satnam Singh Moga and Baldev Singh Bajwa besides others.



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